#GiftYourBlog :: Blogalicious Holiday Advent Calendar

Blogalicious wants you to #GiftYourBlog this month! We’re sharing quick tips in this advent calendar on ways you can upgrade your blog life every day of December. Join in and post your progress on Twitter or Instagram using #GiftYourBlog and tag @BeBlogalicious! 

 

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It’s #GivingTuesday! :: Favorite Picks from #TeamBlogalicious

Giving Tuesday

Are you all worn out yet from the holiday shopping bonanza that was Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, and Cyber Monday? Have no fear, #GivingTuesday is here and it will rekindle your excitement for the holidays just as you were experiencing burnout.  This campaign is so in line with our mission here at Blogalicious – giving is a surefire way to guarantee that both the gift-giver and the recipient are uplifted.  Love that!!

#GivingTuesday™ is a campaign to create a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season. It celebrates and encourages charitable activities that support nonprofit organizations.

And there’s so many ways that you can get involved!  The GivingTuesday.org community site is chock full of information, ideas and inspiration to assist businesses, individuals, and families give back.  Take a look here.  Below we share some charities that are dear to #TeamBlogalicious’ hearts. If you’re excited about Giving Tuesday and are looking for gifts that give for the loved ones on your list, consider these meaningful ones:

Heart of Haiti

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The devastating earthquake of January 2010 has made it very difficult for Haitians to make a living. Raw materials have been wiped out, there is a lack of secure sanitary conditions and no funding to support economic relief. Purchasing handcrafted masterpieces directly benefits Haitian artisans by allowing them to support their families with dignity and purpose. Artisans receive half the wholesale price for each item in the collection.

This initiative offers the first sustainable work since the earthquake, enabling artisans to repair their homes, pay for school fees and feed and clothe their families. With steady income comes better nutrition, improved education and access to healthcare.  Learn more and visit Heart of Haiti here.

Global Soap Project

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You remember Derreck Kayongo, charismatic opening keynote speaker from Blogalicious San Antonio? He shared with us his inspiring story behind establishing the Global Soap Project. $12 can provide an entire family soap for a year!

The Global Soap Project makes over one million bars of soap annually which are then given to partner organizations like the Center for Disease Control (CDC), CARE International, Partners in Health, World Health Organization to mention but a few. Through these global partners, Global Soap Project has donated soap in thirty-two countries around the world.

You can learn more about Global Soap Project here.

International Rescue Commission

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Each symbolic Rescue Gift – from a Baby Goat to the gift of Clean Water – represents a program, project or tool that the IRC uses in its critical humanitarian work around the world. Gifts will be used where and when most needed to provide help and hope to people who have been uprooted by conflict or disaster.Gift-givers can browse Rescue Gifts online and dedicate them to loved ones, who will receive beautiful personalized print or e-cards to acknowledge the gift. There is a Rescue Gift for everyone on a shopper’s list, at a variety of price points.

For as little as $24 your donation can ensure a new mother has a healthy birth, $58 will provide one year of education for a young child and $23 contributes to emergency medical care for a sick child. Every dollar counts. Learn more about IRC here. 

Shot At Life

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Shot@Life educates, connects and empowers Americans to champion vaccines as one of the most cost-effective ways to save the lives of children in developing countries. A national call to action for a global cause, the campaign rallies the American public, members of Congress, and civil society partners around the fact that together, we can save a child’s life every 20 seconds by expanding access to vaccines. By encouraging Americans to learn about, advocate for, and donate to vaccines, Shot@Life aims to decrease vaccine-preventable childhood deaths and give every child a shot at a healthy life.

Today in celebration of #GivingTuesday every donation given to Shot@Life will be matched by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. This means a $5 donation will earn Shot@Life $10 to full immunise a child against pneumonia!

ONE

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We’re proud to say that Blogalicious has been a community partner of the ONE Campaign for many years – and they’ve been supportive of the Blogalicious Weekend conference for several years running.  Our very own Stacey Ferguson is on their Women and Girls Advisory Board. The people who run this organization are just the best and their mission is golden.

ONE is an international campaigning and advocacy organization of more than 6 million people taking action to end extreme poverty and preventable disease, particularly in Africa… because the facts show extreme poverty has already been cut by 60% and can be virtually eliminated by 2030, but only if we act with urgency now.

Cofounded by Bono, we raise public awareness and work with political leaders to combat AIDS and preventable diseases, increase investments in agriculture and nutrition, and demand greater transparency so governments are accountable to their citizens. ONE does not raise money itself to build schools, hospitals and the like, but does its work by advocacy and campaigning so that government funds continue to flow to programs that make a difference in people’s lives. ONE works closely with African activists and policymakers as they fight corruption, promote poverty-fighting priorities, monitor the use of aid, and help build civil society and economic development. ONE’s work is strictly politically non-partisan.

And important, and distinguishing characteristic about ONE is that they do not solicit funding from the public – all they want is your voice! With so many initiatives in progress, we’re sure that you’ll find one that resonates with you. See their current campaign to #EndEbola HERE.

Johnson & Johnson

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Donate a Photo, from Johnson & Johnson, is here to help you connect to the causes you care about by taking an action you do every day and turning into a way to do good.

Get involved by donating to USO and Save the Children through J&J’s Donate A Photo app! For each picture uploaded, J&J will donate $1 to support these programs to help deployed service members call home and promote children’s happy and healthy development. JOHNSON’S is matching all Donate A Photo submissions to Save the Children starting #GivingTuesday through 12/31/14 up to $100,000.

 

READY… SET… GIVE!

It’s December and…We See You Being Great! #CUBeinGr8

Ladies,

Let’s talk for a second. We rock. We are friggin’ awesome. We notice your accomplishments and we “double tap” that and put a “like” on it. In this age of Leaning In and in the name of recognizing our greatness potential, we want to step it up a notch.

The Blogalicious community is GREAT! We see you out there curating great content, making great connections, hosting great events and telling great stories. Let’s try something out. Let’s go beyond the ‘double tap’ and the ‘like’ and take a few minutes to publicly acknowledge one another other when you see your peer being great.

 

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Your friend’s post just went viral? Tell her that you see her Being Great! 

 Someone got their delicious recipe syndicated? Tell them: I see you Being Great!

 Just self-published your newest eBook? We see you Being Great! 

 You’ve made it through the day without your hair falling out? We definitely see you Being Great! 

This world could use a little kum-by-ya love and greatness.  Download the above graphic and be sure to tag #BeGreatB6 and #CUBeinGr8. Share this ‘ribbon’ with those that have been inspiring and motivating you.  We would love to see what this greatness campaign inspires.

Hat Tip to Roo at Neon Fresh and Kelly at Mocha Momma for inspiring this “I see you” campaign with two compelling posts.  You ladies rock and need to know that WE see YOU Being Great.

$49 bStore #ShopSmall Small Business Saturday Special!

It’s #ShopSmall Saturday! 

Be Blogalicious has a sweet swag bundle deal while supplies last. We’re proud to have collaborated with entrepreneurs Effie’s PaperTees in the Trap, and Liquid Courage Cosmetics on the products in our bStore!


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I’m A Business…Man :: Blogalicious Community Small Business Guide Roundup

 

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1. Black and Married with Kids video bundle package

2. Crafty Chica line of inspired art and project kits

3. Tees in the Trap {No explanation required}

4. Effie’s Paper: Eye-catching stationary

 

We tapped into our community and rounded up a few more small business companies you can patronize during Small Business Weekend. 

Picasso In Your Casa… 

Inspired art work by Beatrice Clay 

Inspired art work by A’Driane 

Coily and Cute Brown Girl Watercolor Art

 

Because Reading is Fundamental… 

Whose Shoes bundle package by MomsnCharge

Sister Speak: An … Introduction into the Creative Minds of Baby Boomers by Patricia Patton and Friends

Discover your potential with Power of Peace in a Pause by Tierra Destiny Reid

Refresh with Ekene and create the life you deserve to live

Become a Better Version of You and Own the Gamechanger Within by Vernetta Freeney

Sign up and take advantage of 40% off iBlog Magazine subscription

 

Stylin’ On ‘Em…. 

Nubian Skin Tone Hosiery & Lingerie

Shootie Girl Bling Apparel

Inspirational T-shirt line by The Cassie Brown Project

Funky Handcrafted Jewelry and Accessories by JewelryRockstar

Bracelets for a Cause: RLT Collection created by Emmy Award Winning Activist: Rae Lewis-Thornton

 

Primping and Grooming 

Natural Hair products, jewelry and gift bundles by Koils by Nature 

Flor Bella Boutique handmade night time grooming accessories

Lipsticks and Lacquer in bold hues, including the Blogalicious color created  Liquid Courage Cosmetics 

We debuted the “Blogalicious” shade during #BeGreatB6 conference. There’s still a few tubes left.

If you need a break from your natural hair, check out pieces from Nubian Hair Oasis 

 

Come Here, Let Me Coach You! 

Services by BeFree Project 

Boni Candelario’s Coaching and Resume Services

 

 

 

 

 

 

Announcing the #CourageToWrite Movement + Contest Winner: A’driane Nieves

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You deserve to live your courage.

Blogs were born out of the need to spark courageous conversations, and to create communities of people with similar passions, experiences, challenges, and triumphs. One virtue connected  all of these realities: courage. cour·age -mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

Your Voice Matters.

The courage to speak your piece and boldly live your truth is the most fundamental human right. And, with this courage, blogs were born, revolutions were ignited, and Blogalicious came to be.  

Wear Your Courage.

The mission of Blogalicious is to be known as the go-to destination and resource for influential multi-cultural women social media enthusiasts from all over the world to collaborate, connect and uplift one another. To further this commitment, Blogalicious is teaming up with Liquid Courage Cosmetics to help you wear your courage with the #couragetowrite movement. The #couragetowrite movement is designed to encourage bloggers that have stopped blogging or considered the thought of muting their voice. Now is your moment to wear your courage well.

Knowing that studies have shown women wearing make-up feel it gives an advantage at work and made them feel more in control, Liquid Courage Cosmetics debuted “Blogalicious”, a lipstick at the #BeGreatB6 Blogalicious conference

 

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GET YOURS TODAY.

We also awarded the first #CourageToWrite winner while in San Antonio.  Thanks to all who had the courage to share their words and to submit to the contest!

{Congratulations to A’Driane Nieves!}

Submission from: A’Driane Nieves of Butterfly Confessions Dancing in the Light During the Seasons When Darkness Abounds Confession: My greatest fear is that I will lose my life to suicide. I don’t say that to be melodramatic, I simply state it as a fact. As a person living with bipolar disorder, it is a fear that silently stalks me, always watching for a misstep to expose a weakness it can take advantage of, a crack it can slide itself into. Once inside it starts searching for the gaps serotonin has been unable to fill, settling into each one, and methodically goes to work on eroding my mind’s defenses. Sometimes the process is slow, my mental erosion, building up to a collapse. Others it is swift and jarring, flinging me from the light of life into a plunging darkness that swallows my soul instantly. And then there are times when it’s an excavation of my insides, a scooping and hollowing out of my personhood designed to leave me as nothing more than an outward shell of a woman. When I was 13, years of abuse at the hands of my father gave birth to a despair that swiftly engulfed me one Saturday afternoon while my belly was empty from hunger and my father was out on a golf outing. That time it was pills. It was an amateurish and desperate attempt at escaping the hell I lived in that lead me to a drugged sleep but not death. At 20 it found me after a series of rapid changes over a short amount of time and the hormonal shift that comes with miscarriage. Becoming an airman, being stationed at my first base, the dissolving of a tech school relationship that had left me pregnant and then suddenly not, surrounded by people I did not know, working a job that wasn’t what I had envisioned or hoped for when I swore an oath to protect and serve my country, being estranged from my family…it found me in my dorm room and I went to work at my next shift, telling my supervisor I couldn’t arm up and that instead, I needed to be taken to the mental health clinic on base to be seen. It started feverishly raking its claws on the walls of my mind daily just shy of Alex’s first birthday. I was constantly triggered by anxiety and depression, guilt over not being the mother I thought my kids deserved, feelings of overwhelm when he would scream inconsolably, and my thoughts dancing with sudden desires to just leave and never come back. I started seeing a therapist who specialized in treated women with postpartum mood disorders like PPD and its grasp on my mind unclenched just enough for light to enter in again. In July 2011 I woke up on a Monday, found it staring me steadfastly in the eyes and just knew: I wouldn’t make it past the next two weeks alive if I didn’t get help. Even with the help I had been getting, my symptoms had been getting worse. I was dancing with what I know now was hypomania and plummeting into gravity wells of depression hourly. It was constant and unrelenting, its devouring and feasting on my mind. It’s appetite was insatiable and if I wasn’t crying from the burn depression’s cold grip had around my heart, I was screaming from the rage flashing through me…if I wasn’t bounding off the Earth from the energy vibrating through my body and bursting out of my fingertips, I was pressing my sweating, anxious body into the coolness of my bathroom floor, praying each inhalation would quell the panic trying to claw it’s way out of my skin. My mind was too loud, full of thoughts that spun and splintered into chaos at a pace that often left me nauseated. Two days later, I found a sitter for Brennan, put myself on a bus with Alex wrapped to my chest in the Moby, and walked into the VA Behavioral Health Clinic in Philadelphia, with whispers of death roaring in my ears. The intake psych diagnosed me with rapid cycling bipolar disorder type 2 & OCD and put me on a mood stabilizer. Within a week it kicked in and I embarked on a new treatment journey for an illness that I could more accurately name. Treatment has helped, and while other times it just shows up to flirt, every Fall has become hunting season. Suicide is the predator, my life and sanity the prey. No matter how well I’ve been taking care of myself and compliant in treatment, it hunts me down, licking its chops as it circles me, watching…waiting. Two years ago I had to go inpatient to stay safe from its advances. I slowly paced the halls of the VA Mental Health psychiatric ward in Waco in my green, floppy, foam sock shoes desperately wanting to go home to my boys and my life but at the same time stay hidden, monitored by those who whose job it was to not let Death have me. “Do you really want to die?” the doctor had asked me. No. I didn’t. I just wanted relief and couldn’t find it in living with a mind designed to self-destruct…fray at the edges…unravel…erode…become my enemy. It’s found me again as I’m nearing one year postpartum. It’s been a year that’s come with it’s difficulties as I’ve adjusted to mothering three while living with this illness, but joy has found me at various points throughout, grabbing my hand and saying, “dance with me, Addye. Be free.” This is the freest I’ve ever felt in my almost 32 years of living and yet here I am again staring at the whites of Suicide’s eyes and searching desperately for a gun to shoot it with… I want to keep dancing in the light. But my marriage is barely breathing as my husband and I scour the landscape for a path that brings us back to each other. Each of my sons has An Issue that demands every ounce of my mental capacity daily that leaves me exhausted and specialized attention that is straining our finances. Writing here has brought some success this year, but exposure saw my inboxes become inundated with vitriol from those who’d rather the Other stay silent. I look at my baby as he screams and cries like babies do and brace myself against the panic that floods my system. Images I’d rather not see flash through my mind, unwarranted and unwanted. Overwhelm asks me repeatedly throughout the day if I’m done and my breath is labored when I whisper “No.” Worry fills me. Depression courts me. Anxiety ravages my insides, ripping me open, exposing where my heart and resolve are weak. I want to keep dancing in the light. So I tighten my grip as my mind cycles from one extreme to the next. I expand my ribs out as far as my bones and skin will allow and I drink in the morning air as I take Alex to school. I concentrate on the laughs bubbling up and spilling out of my infant son and use it to anchor me to the present. I respond when Brennan asks me if I know that lions are the only big cats that live in packs, and beg him to tell me more so I can marvel at how much information his brain clamors to hold. I take their pictures on my phone and use them to dig in and root deeper when the darkness pulls at me. I paint my lips with my favorite shade of purple lipstick because it makes my heart beat a little faster and my hips sway with power and allure when I walk. I text my friends. I use the internet to distract. I read the words of others, press my hands in paint, go away for a weekend retreat to hold onto myself. I call my psychiatrist and resolve to hold on until December 9th when I can sit in her office and say “help me.” And I come here. Today. To find my way back after struggling to see Why My Words Matter in the hopes that it will help me remember why my life does. For them. For me. I’m here to dance in the light even in the seasons when it can’t be found. Selah.

We thank A’Driane for her beautiful submission and hope that it inspires you to have the #CourageToWrite.

Join the Thunderclap! Details HERE.

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Oprah’s #LifeYouWant Tour Standing O-vation Award presented by Toyota

Live The Life You Want Weekend

In the coolest turn of events ever, the folks at Toyota (our Blogalicious 2014 Title Sponsor) invited me to attend the Washington, DC stop of Oprah’s The Life You Want Weekend Tour as their guest because – get this – Toyota is a sponsor of Oprah’s tour as well! Six degrees of separation y’all. Six degrees.

I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend – beginning with an evening with Oprah and then a full day with her Trailblazers – in fact, I’ve been quoting Oprah ever since.  More on my takeaways later.  One of the highlights of the weekend was watching Jas Booth of Final Salute, a Washington, D.C.-based organization Boothe founded to help homeless female veterans in the United States by providing them and their children with transitional housing – win the  “Standing O-Vation” award.  Thank to Toyota, Final Salute will receive a $25,000 grant in support of their outstanding commitment to supporting homeless female veterans in the local Washington D.C. community.  It was such a powerful moment to witness and what was even more special was having the opportunity to meet with Jas backstage.  She was so humble and focused and crystal clear that her goal was to be out of business as quickly as possible; because that would mean that there were no more homeless female veterans.

Watch her story here:

 

 

Jas shared with us that the money received from Toyota would go directly to help paying the mortgage on the home that she shares with the homeless female veterans and funding activities (like Girls Night In or Move Night) that make the women feel ‘normal.’  Hearing the truths about how veterans are treated from someone who experienced it first-hand was upsetting, and a reminder to use my platform to spread awareness about these kinds of issues.  A huge ‘thank you’ to Toyota for recognizing the important work that Jas and Final Salute is doing and for supporting them in a such a big way.

The driving force behind The Toyota “Standing O-Vation” stems from the automaker’s commitment to fostering women’s interests.  While reflecting the kind of stories that define the brand, The Toyota “Standing O-Vation” is an opportunity to celebrate remarkable women who are not only making the world a better place, but also motivating others to spark their own journey of personal change.

 

You can learn more about the Toyota Standing O-Vation Award winners from each city on the tour, HERE.

 

Disclosure: I was given a complimentary ticket to attend Oprah’s ‘The Life You Want Tour’ as well as media access to interview Jas Booth.  All opinions expressed here are my own.

Watch “black-ish” TONIGHT 9/24 on ABC @ 9:30pm ET

Last week Xina, Jazzy, Jana and I were invited to a premier of the new comedy series, ‘black-ish’ – set to begin tonight on ABC.  I didn’t know what to expect from the show’s pilot, but I knew that Anthony Anderson and Tracee Ellis Ross were both hilarious, solid actors and so I assumed it would be entertaining and a good way to spend my Tuesday evening. I was right.  While watching the first episode, I realized that I was expecting it to be a challenge of the typical stereotypes of African-Americans from a humorous perspective – and it is in part – but it’s also a look at how the Black families that don’t frequently show up on television live.  I quickly related to the story of the fictitious Johnsons, a well-to-do Black family living in a predominantly white suburb, since it was a romanticized version of my very upbringing in Canada. More on that HERE.  From me and my sister being two of a dozen Blacks at our high school (shoutout to Shawn, Shawnette, Joel, Robert, Samuel, Vicki, Janelle, Ian, Sean, and Miki); to my playing field hockey and becoming a junior figure skating coach (for Pete’s sake); to me going to prom with a white guy; to me becoming an avid U2 and Pearl Jam fan (still am!) – I think it’s safe to say that I was definitely ‘black-ish’ for much of my childhood. Probably still am. It wasn’t until I started dating Shawn (see above), that I was introduced to ‘Black Montreal‘ and all that it entailed.  And I loved it. Once I got to CEGEP (i.e. junior college), I joined the Association of Caribbean Students and immersed myself in Afro-Canadian-Caribbean culture – largely by way of going to every single party, block-o, and club possible with my long-time friend Danielle.  (Thanks Dani!)  I can clearly pinpoint that year as being pivotal in helping me find my way to my identity.  And it was just in time too, because the next year I would find myself in the United States of America at a university of 50,000, where only 2,000 were Black – smack in the middle of rural, North Florida.  Like the storyline of the show (or at least the first episode), I found peace in embracing all sides of myself and honored my life circumstances and upbringing without feeling lost in the middle. I applaud ABC for taking the risk of doing something that hasn’t been done in a smart and relatable way, and I applaud the actors for taking on the project – one that certainly will be the subject of backlash from critics, no doubt.  My hope is that the show sparks conversations about identity at dinner tables across America and helps young people everywhere to embrace their full selves – because having both Guns ‘n Roses and Wu-Tang Clan on their iPod and enjoying pâté and collard greens is totally fine. Just ask me.

‘black-ish’ will air on ABC at 9:30pm ET starting tonight 9/24

 

Watch the Trailer:

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