The Real Queen to Be . . .

December 10, 2010
After seeing Princess Keisha and her Prince, I thought they would be perfect for my Love Jones column at Jones Magazine. Their story ended up being even more amazing than I could have imagined. As the queen of saying "I have a boyfriend" when I didnt and being Miss Independent, I totally related.

See their story:
It was the busiest time of the year for model Keisha Omilana: New York Fashion Week. On the heels of her national Pantene ad, she was trying to find a casting and chatting away with her Ford Models agent in 2004.

Prince Kunle Omilana watched her and waited half an hour. He then introduced himself, said she was the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen and asked her out. She declined, made up a fake boyfriend and went down the train station stairs.

“My woman’s intuition said go back,” she says. “And when I did he was there waiting and told me ‘This is the best decision you have ever made.’ ”

And it has turned out to be just that. “I knew he was special on our first date. He had rose petals that led to our table and looked in my eyes the whole night.” Now the two are happily married and run the Wonderful Brand, which features fashion, television and online properties. Along with business, their style is also in sync.

Nigerian Prince Kunle came to New York from London to find his bride, a la “Coming to America.”  Princess Keisha had no clue he was royal, until meeting his family shortly before he proposed. She was happy to find a man who celebrated her success. “The first thing he loved about me is that I was driven, independent and a career girl.”

 On their fourth wedding anniversary Princess Keisha snagged this black gown from the Christian Dior outlet in Florida. “I wanted to feel like Old Hollywood that night, so I wore the mink throw passed down in my family from my great, great grandmother.”

Thoughts on My First Love

December 3, 2010

From Heart & Soul.com:

In my relationships workshops with teens and college students, I always ask about their first love. What was the person like? What did you like about them?
After smiles and talk of childhood sweethearts, I kindly burst their bubbles (sorry ladies).
Like most women, my first love is mom dukes. It is the original relationship and the first person’s acceptance and love we crave.
And last week I got to spend some time with my first love. I got to be surrounded by the first arms I ran to feel around me, and curl up in the first shoulder nook I claimed ownership to.
The older I get the younger my mother gets to me. I am increasingly able to see her as a woman complete with her own desires and dreams, and not just my shield and comforter. I flipped through old pictures and along with wishing they had saved me some of the fab clothes, I felt closer to the women in my family seeing pictures of them through the years.
These ladies did a lot for me to have the freedoms I enjoy, including living out my dreams in New York and heading to a book party tonight to celebrate the release of “Daring to Be Ourselves” by Marianne Schnall.
The book features quotes from inspiring women including Maya Angelou, Gloria Steinem, Cameron Diaz, Eve Ensler, Kerry Washington, many other phenomenal women . . .  and Charreah Jackson.
After the shock (read intimidation) and excitement of being included, I wondered what I said that was being published alongside game changers and poet laureates.  When I got my copy in the mail, I could only smile.
Under the section of what inspires you, there I was quoted about how seeing my grandmother and the powerful women before me do so much with a little kept me moving, along with wanting to do the same for my own granddaughters. I had shared that with Marianne more than a year before, a few months after losing my grandmother.
So tonight I am celebrating my first love, her first love, and the power that comes from standing on fabulous shoulders
Check out “Daring to Be Ourselves” now on sale: http://www.daringtobeourselves.com/

It feels good to be a Black woman

November 20, 2010
This post started on Nov. 6th and I kept hoping to finish this post this a few weeks ago, (yeah I know):

I am so happy to be a Black woman. And this weekend feels like our coming out party.
"For Colored Girls" is in theaters and I definitely encourage people to see it, regardless of your race, gender or feelings on Tyler Perry. I had the pleasure to interview writer Ntozake Shange on her work being adapted for the film and her life. And her honesty was refreshing and invigorating.
Being so starved to see faces like mine on screen with stories I can relate to.

Also excited for Black Girls Rock! The show was AMAZING and excited to tune in again. That's me, Jess and Charanna at the taping.

Update: So Black Girls Rock was historic and eems I even had a cameo. The calls and Facebook updates came in of friends who spotted me at the show. Exciting to be a part of a great moment for Black women and motivated to continue to share our stories and to be a leg as Ms. Ruby Dee so elegantly stated. My crazy and oh so cool buddy Jessica even took a screen grab of us at the show after the dynamic "Four Women" performance.

I was surprised that so many Black men had something bad to say on "For Colored Girls." But my insightful boyfriend may have a clue. Sitting in Kitchenette after a packed matinee of the film, I asked him would he recommend it to his guy friends. His reply was simple. "Naw. They not ready for that. May hit too close to home."

Happy November!

Why I love living in Harlem

October 28, 2010

Got an email from Black Atlas about Marcus Samuellson's new restaurant in Harlem called Red Rooster.   I was already excited about his new spot being on me and my roomie's block, and this video only added to my joy.

The red door next to the Maysles Cinema at :55 is our building. Luckily the Fried Chicken spot has closed and we are getting a new African/French bistro downstairs!

As you can see in this video, Harlem includes the diversity of our heritage and history as people of color. From high brow art to low hanging pants, it's all us.

Some of my favorite spots are featured including the Studio Museum (free on Sundays!) and 67 Orange. I'm glad Marcus is using his celebrity to spotlight our part of town. I happily shared with him a few weeks back that I had one of the t-shirts he designed for Target and he grinned right back.

Moving on up, uptown,

I gotta Love Jones . . .

October 23, 2010
 After going to the Jones Magazine meet and greet at their office, I liked the brand even more as fan the show on Centric.

So I pitched the EIC Tracey a column called Love Jones to combine style and strong couples. It kicked off on the website this week!

The Kudjoes continue to take Hollywood over while looking fabulous. Not even Nicole's chocolate boots can still the spotlight in this family portrait, with their children Nicolas and Sophie.

“Boris makes me feel like the best thing ever and I appreciate him and love him for that,” Nicole said.

Love is definitely fashion's best accessory.

Check out the full piece here: http://jonesmag.com/fashion/love-jones-nicole-ari-parker-and-boris-kodjoe/ 

I'll Drink to That

October 1, 2010

It was happy hour. He was sitting at the bar with a little time to kill. So he sent a few text messages to friends just checking in. Then that feeling of somebody watching him came over.

She was sitting at the bar multitasking. Texting, and watching him out of the corner of her eye.

She waited just long enough to break eye contact to let him know she was interested, but only if he was of course.

The softness of her glance let him know she was hoping he made a move.

So he ordered another of whatever she was drinking.

She looked confused as the bartender brought the drink over, until he explained it was from the gentleman across the room.

She smiled and mouthed thanks. He gave a thumbs up, rounded the bar  . . . and walked to the door.

Just before exiting, he felt a tap on his shoulder. She thanked him again. Then asked what she came over to say. “You’re leaving?”

He gave a sheepish smile and a “Yes,” and jetted down the stairs.

He rounded the corner, and met me for dinner. Over a creamy dessert, he told me that story. And I fell a little more in love.

Fashion Week

September 25, 2010

I wrote a whole post on my experience at fashion week, which Blogger decided to delete. So this it.

For Colored Girls like me . ..

September 14, 2010

So, so excited


September 7, 2010
I was  looking for a clip for an article I wrote, so I  Googled myself. I then discovered I will be included in an upcoming book featuring some powerful women.  I am THRILLED and so honored. And not going to wonder how I made the cut, so that I dont find myself edited out:)

Daring to Be Ourselves
From Interviews by
Marianne Schnall
About the Book As a freelance journalist, Marianne Schnall has interviewed many of the world’s most interesting and influential women. In Daring to Be Ourselves, she brings together for the first time the most inspiring and empowering quotes from these interviews. The result is a compelling collection of insights and words of wisdom from women such as Maya Angelou, Jane Fonda, Gloria Steinem, Madeleine Albright, Eve Ensler, Jane Goodall, Melissa Etheridge, Cameron Diaz, and many others.
A diverse group of women of all ages and backgrounds is included in the book—from actresses to activists, comediennes to poets, recording artists to Nobel laureates. Their voices come together as one as they speak out on a variety of important issues, like equality, overcoming adversity, aging, finding balance in life, taking care of the earth, and more.
Thought provoking, enlightening, and even humorous at times, this book is a valuable resource for women and girls everywhere. It conveys the message that when women dare to be themselves—when they embrace their power, speak their truth, and believe in their dreams—they can transform the world.
Full list of women included in Daring to Be Ourselves:
Madeleine Albright • Isabel Allende • Maya Angelou • Sandra Bernhard Margaret Cho • Cameron Diaz • Eve Ensler • Melissa Etheridge • Jane Fonda • Carol Gilligan • Jane Goodall • Charreah Jackson • Annie Lennox • Elizabeth Lesser • Wangari Maathai • Courtney Martin • Pat Mitchell • Kathy Najimy • Natalie Portman • Gloria Steinem • Loung Ung • Alice Walker • Kerry Washington • Betty Williams 

Marianne interviewed me during the Women & Power conference last year.  So humbled to be among a group of such amazing women. The book will be released on November 15th.

Loud and Clear

September 6, 2010
Saturday afternoon me and my boyfriend took the train out to Lakeview in Long Island for a family get together and bbq of my adopted auntie Marcia Gillespie.

We weren't sure what to expect, but the second we were scooped up from the station and walked through the door it was like we were a part of the family. On the ride over her niece told us about the tight-knit Black neighborhood they lived in, and pointed out Donnie McClurkin's house a few doors from theirs.

The day was GORGEOUS. Marcia took us to the park and nature preserve not far from the house that was beautiful. I wish I had brought my camera to capture the big and small sunflowers and lush bushes and tree limbs we had to duck under on the walkway. We realized this was something we both needed. A time out from the hustle and busy-ness of the city.

Getting back to the house we mixed and mingled, until the food was ready. I started talking with Jehmu, who turned out to be the President of the Women's Media Center, which blew my mind as I had just applied for a media program there literally hours before, and she would be making the decision. We both laughed and I realized you definitely have to be ready for what you ask for, as she asked me questions right there.

Then it was time to eat. Baked beans, grilled chicken, okra, fresh corn, potato salad, sweet potato pie and on and on . . . I just kept thinking how gorgeous and good it felt  out there. Then it was time for gut-busting laughter for the next two hours. We realized the universe was answering our requests with the quickness and all put a few more wants and wishes out there.

I couldnt have asked for more as I soaked up the wisdom and stories of so many great women. Marcia's stunning and newly 75 year old sister was in town from Vegas and we discussed Avatar which she had just seen in 3-D, which lead to how Aboriginal people had their children taken in Austraila. The next door neighbor Doris, who has been married for 51 years and looks 49, offered to teach me to play Bridge, after warning me its a step up from all the card games Ive played and telling how she travels the country playing and attends the annual conference. You know I accepted:)

The good stories and good food continued. I got invited to speak at another college and to top it off Jehmu offered us a ride back into the city. During the drive, manfriend answered the "How did you all meet?" question and Marcia told more of her experiences as EIC of Essence in the 70s.

What a night.

Once home I told my boyfriend, it would be great to have a car to get out of the city like that more often.

The next morning I got an email that after three months of waiting, I was now a member of Hertz Connect, to rent cars by the hour easily in the city.

The Universe is not playing . . .

Girl’s Best Friend?

August 27, 2010
 From my Lovestruck column at Heart & Soul Magazine's website ...

Is being in a relationship like riding a bike?

I was catching up with my cousin last week, who is probably just like one of your cousins. She’s the gorgeous, successful, fly and single one, with enough ambition to share.

After getting her career to where she wants it and hearing her biological clock get a little louder (her words: “I feel my eggs starting to dry up. I’m not Halle Berry!”), she is ready and hoping for a serious relationship that leads to more.

With her own starting five of men to take her out, meeting guys isn’t the problem.

But wanting to actually share her time and space with someone? An issue.

She’s gotten so used to doing her own thing and having the place to herself, she’s looking at her watch and ready to show any suitor the door before the nightly news starts.

So she developed the perfect plan to getting better with intimacy: get a dog.

My eyes lit up with this revelation.

She then filled me in how a dog was the perfect prep for a boyfriend, how it will make her more warm and affectionate, her top choices for dog (must fit in purse) and friends who’ve rebounded from depression by getting a dog.

I congratulated her on being honest enough with herself to realize she wasn’t totally open to the intimacy she craves. That’s not easy. I also wished her well, if this was what she really wants.
But later that night I wondered if Madame Fifi will become another reason the new guy can’t come over.

If the real issue is wanting to build stronger connections with the opposite sex, than that’s where your focus has to be. A dog can be a beautiful part of your life and more studies prove how smart they really are. But, I have yet to meet the dog who can rub your feet or make pancakes on Saturday morning.

What do you think? Is getting a dog a good way to prepare yourself for a relationship?

Charreah K. Jackson is a writer, editor and certified family life educator. An Atlanta-native, she now lives in Harlem, New York.

I'm Lovestruck . . .

August 24, 2010

I'm excited for a new column on HeartandSoul.com called Lovestruck.

Here's my first post:

I told myself these would be my Regine years. The years where I would have fun dates learning about life and myself. Have a rotation of guys to take me out on my schedule. Then right around 30 meet my special guy and begin my version of happily ever after, which includes keeping my career and splitting all household duties.

But making plans of course made God laugh. I soon realized quantity wasn’t quality and took a break from the dating scene all together. And as these stories go, the imperfect guy who was perfect for me showed up, and ahead of schedule. Along with splitting kitchen duties when we are together, our happily ever after also included us getting laid off exactly three weeks a part last year. And I wouldn’t change a thing.

I’m Charreah and I am lovestruck. Not the sappy-can’t-live-without-you kind. But literally spellbound by the power of one word and emotion to transform our lives. And I’m on a mission to do my part to encourage more people to value it, and know what to do when they find it.

In relationship workshops I host, I always ask why spend so much money on dating from new hairdos to dinner, and not know how to make it work after date three or the first fight?

And for Black women loving Black men, the issues are even more complex.

I look forward to sharing my experiences and those of others with you here. But we all know what can happen to the best-made plans.

Check it out at Heart & Soul's website every Tuesday and Thursday.

Fashion's Night In

August 20, 2010
I had an amazing time yesterday!! Ending up in Brooklyn mistakenly couldn't even dim the light on a great night.

I went to the Jones Magazine Fashion Preview at the mag's tip of Manhattan office. Already downtown at my job near 8th st, I trained it down. I quickly learned that just because the N now goes local in midtown, it doesnt below 8th st and the train went from Canal St. to Atlantic Ave.

But it all worked out perfectly, as I arrived at the cute office of the North Star Group, which houses the Source and Jones magazines. "From hip hop to high fashion" publisher Londell McMillian of both shared during his talk . . .

I felt like I was at another family reunion with so many fabulous and positive people of color. Well some are family, as a few former Essence coworkers now work at Jones including their Web Director and Glamazon herself Jessica, my fellow HU grad Judene heads up sells for the fashion glossy and more.

It was time to head in the conference room for the presentation by Jessica and the mag's EIC Tracey Ferguson. I was a big fan of the show "Keeping Up with the Joneses" and was excited to see this magazine continue to grow and Tracey, a friend in my head, in person. Up until that point I wasnt sure who the event was targeted for, then realized it was for fashion bloggers. The magazine wanted to invite bloggers in to start to build a relationship. How sexy and smart! Social media is the present and future . . .

I flipped through and could see the growth from the last issue, literally. The magazine was thicker. good sign. The content is AMAZING. Great sign.

Tracey shared the theme of the next few issues (including a Black Girls Rock one) and encouraged those in the room to send ideas. I asked about the realities of going in to high-end businesses for advertising and explaining women like us to the brands Black women covet and they discussed the new grounds the magazine is breaking including a partnership with Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. I felt an excitement I didn't realize had waned. I was known as the magazine-loving girl in college , and hanging with the Jones crew made me remember why. As Londell said, Jones is the little magazine that did!

It all felt full circle, as the gift bags were from Motions, one of the clients at my firm. Leaving out I ran into my old Essence cube mate and surrogate big sister Bridgette. Be sure to check out her blog, Black Bridal Bliss, which she still manages to update while styling for People Style Watch. Work! That's what we as Black women have mastered.

I am filling out my subscription card (something I haven't done in YEARS) and cant wait for my next issue to arrive. Be sure to check out the magazine, the Jonesmag.com site and support a brand that is supporting us!!

A Family Affair

August 13, 2010
You know I love a family reunion.

So seeing my dad and boyfriend dressed in similar ties before we headed to church on Sunday had me grinning.

We were in the deep South for the gathering of my dad's family. And my New York-born and bred manfriend handled it like a champ.

But getting there was a headache. We got to the airport in good time, only to find that though we booked on United and our printouts said that, we were actually leaving from US Airways. We got on a airpot shuttle to get to our gate. That bus went everywhere but where we wanted. I was fighting the feeling that we were going to miss our flight. Finally we get to the gate. I'm wondering if they will let us check in and mad at everyone including my boyfriend for not being as mad as me. We check in but our seats are gone so we are now both in middle seats. Le sigh. At least we made it.

We land in Charlotte and the rental car company of course tries to slide in weird charges. We start the 1.5 hour drive and there is a Bojangles on every block.  We definitely aren't in New York anymore. I sing off key to the radio and Steph cracks jokes if all my family will be singing. I let him know he is in store for a treat. We get turned around a few times, but finally we arrive in Cheraw, SC.

We check into the hotel then head over to the banquet hall. The first person who spots me is my Aunt Sug, better known as Gloria to her lawyer friends.

For the next 40 minutes its more of the same as I get warm hugs from relatives and introduce this man who means enough to me to bring to the reunion. It felt good to be surrounded by so many people who love me.

My grandmother was pretty in pink and commented on how good we looked together. Her brother, the funniest and oldest guy in our family regaled Steph with stories of his time in the big city.

Then the busy body cousin was upon me to pay my dues. I paid and introduced her to the boyfriend I mentioned last summer. She replies by introducing me to her husband. She was single at last year's reunion. Work!

We played cards, ate good and caught up with family for the rest of the day.  Sunday morning we spotted my great uncle and cousin looking sharp as they got ready to head to church to lead the service. We headed to my grandmom's house where my dad was happily preparing breakfast. He wanted to spend more time with Steph and got it over a plate of grits and eggs. Dad was quick to invite him to Atlanta for some of his legendary fish, and was confident I had told Steph about his cooking skills. My brother is als a good cook. Having the three most important men in your life cook better than you as a woman is very new age. I'm getting use to it.

I'm also getting use to my 11-year-old sister continuing to grow. She gave me some cute white sandals and I wore them to church. Someone had given them to her and they were too small. Yes, you read that right.

We headed over to the family church which sits across the street from my grandmother's house. Before I could get too comfortable in the pew, my aunt was telling me and other cousins around to head to the choir loft. The family was the featured choir. As I tried to think of every excuse, I got beckoned again.

Well, guess Im in the choir and they'll be some singing Jacksons after all. We loudly whisper hymnal numbers down the row. Then its time to sing. I snuck this picture of my dad and his brother from my seat in the choir loft. It's the same head!

After service we grabbed a plate at grandmom's then it was time to head back Charlotte. But not before different relatives gave me their feedback on my boyfriend: they liked them, they liked us together.

We played punchbuggy but with Bojangles spottings. I won 6 to 2. See how many Bojangles their are in Charlotte?

Even though we were only in South Carolina for a day, it felt like five with all the time we spent with my relatives. Gotta love family.

Scar Tissue

August 12, 2010
It's not every day, every week or even every month, that I think about my cancer past.

It's intentional not to dwell on the what-ifs of what could have happened and focus on what-is. I am alive. That is the blessing.

But every now and again the tight lid I have on that chapter of my life opens just a little and leaves me undone.

It can be visiting a friend and seeing their orange dish washing detergent that bares a striking resemblence to the chemo IV.  Or noticing someone notice the scar on my left arm from my port.

Or days like today, when I feel someone has wasted my time.

I'm not easily offended. I am my father's child in that regard. he can even find a compliment when he is being insulted:)

But what gets under my skin every time is feeling like my time, my precious precious time, has been wasted.

In those moments I come to face to face with the reality of how much I cram into every day, every week of my life.

Of the reality that I live like there is no tomorrow, knowing there really could not be.

Of the reality that being faced with death has me gulping down life.

Damn scar tissue.

Window Seat Revisited

August 9, 2010
Me and my boyfriend were both stuck in the middle seats on the flight down to Charlotte over the weekend. Yes, E.Badu was on repeat for takeoff.

And I get back to this new "Window Seat/Get Munny" video. I dig. But why was the first thing I noticed was that he opened her car door when they were changing cars? You can take the girl out of the South, but . . .

The Essence of ESSENCE

July 29, 2010
My mini feed for four days straight has been filled with stories, thoughts, blog posts, New York Post items and more on Essence Magazine hiring a White woman as Fashion Director. Even Anderson Cooper is talking about it.

I had nothing to say and wasn’t looking to stir up or add any fuel to the “controversy.”

I think I was waiting for Essence, a place I consider family, to have a chance to respond. Essence Magazine Editor-In-Chief Angela Burt Murray did just that with a statement yesterday.

I had the opportunity to watch Angela in action for three and half years during my journey from intern to Associate Editor at the magazine and website.

And I tell you, Angela is a hard working woman. She was there early. She was there late. And always looking fabulous. She read the comments posted to the website and sent in, and forwarded many to the staff for us to know what readers were saying.  She had and continues to have much respect for the millions of women who trust her to celebrate them. 

She has also drawn much criticism for decisions like this last one, and some she had nothing to with her, like Essence selling to Time Inc.

She has rarely responded. Until now.

Many commented on her response to the hiring that they wanted more of an explanation. But I was surprised she was that personal.

I remember getting an email from her last summer after me and my good friend Niema Jordan wrote a story in the magazine on 10 New Places to Meet Black Men. I would love to say I was exaggerating when we were called pimps and worst by blogs about the feature. After being called to the floor, I responded on this here blog.

In her email, Angela was understanding and asked that we not respond to criticism publicly.  That was her style and I understood.

So seeing her response to the hiring controversy made it apparent that this swirling story had hit a nerve on both sides. 

Black women are right to demand their publication provide what they want to see. For better or worse, Essence has been positioned as the Black woman’s Bible, so any issues with the magazine are treated as personal.

And as Angela pointed out, that same passion needs to be present in demanding good schools for our kids, demanding our men protect us and themselves from AIDS, and the biggest demand that we as Black women not cease every opportunity to tear each other down.

One thing that hit a nerve with me are the people who seemed the most upset over the hiring were often the same people who said they don’t read the magazine. That doesn’t add up.

Michaela Angela Davis’s response came from a place of love.  I felt her. But a lot of the other stuff is coming from a dark place. It’s easy to tear other people down when we aren’t feeling our most fabulous. I’ve been there.

Yes, it would be great if Essence had a Black Fashion Director.  I get what it means to have Black women in the front row at fashion week. 

But that’s just it.  I see us there!

Since joining the fashion and beauty pr world, I’ve been able to attend many fashion shows and I see US up and through the tents. From running the show to photographers and stylists. 

Seeing June Ambrose front row at the Brian Reyes show in February and hearing people whisper “who is she?” made me smile at her amazing story of success. I also realize the importance of having “us” in places we are few.

We can’t look to Essence to be everything for every woman. One reason I didn’t take the hiring so personal is that I love Jones Magazine, and many other outlets that offer great style tips and features for Black women.  And the internet offers even more amazing places that tailor to your specific fashion palette, and not just one style for “Blackness.” I stumbled on this site today http://cocoandcreme.com/, and LOVEEE it. Everything I want as a young and stylish (my opinion:) Black woman.

So if Essence doesn’t do it for you anymore, you have every right to grow as the magazine does the same. But we as Black women, we still have to co-exist and support each other. Criticize, yes. Condemn, no.

Former Essence EIC Marcia Gillespie was at my apartment over the weekend, and that woman is a CLASS ACT. She always reminds me that live is short, so to enjoy it and be present.  So like everything else in my life, I take from Essence anything that is beneficial or helpful for me, and keep it moving.Because at Zora Neale Hurston said years ago . . .

“Sometimes I feel discriminated against, but it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company? It's beyond me.”

Six Reasons We're Loving Omarosa’s Dating Show

June 22, 2010
Black women have gotten mostly cast as loud, money-hungry, power-hungry or just hungry on reality TV since the Real World began and MTV was still playing music. We appreciated VH1 trying to clean up its act this year with "Let's Talk About Pep," Chilli's dating show and the Ray-J and Brandy clan, but that may have all been canceled out with "Basketball Wives."

Then, enter Omarosa’s new dating show. It's funny, and what most of our mommas teach us to be above all else, classy. Here are six reasons we are tuning in.

#6 Brother, May I
Let’s start with the obvious. Eleven clean-cut and successful Black men interested in possibly being in a relationship with a Black woman? We're in.
In a time when the media is blasting that there are no "good" Black men, it’s great to see the invisible black man given some shine. Of course a few are probably looking for more personal gain than actually settling down, but at least it’s a reminder that the dating pool isn’t as dry as the NYTimes and ABC like to report.

#5 Success is Nothing . . .
Omarosa has used her not-so-positive reputation to her advantage. And her new show proves she may be smarter and more likeable than she’s been given credit for. With all her degrees and success, she is honest that she would still like a companion to share her life with and build to that next level, while breaking down the successful Black woman “I don’t NEEEED a man” image.

#4 Holler, she want prenup.
When Omarosa had the guys sign a prenup, some cringed. We smiled. So many of the Black women on reality TV now are famous not for their own talents, but the guy they once dated (Basketball Wives, Housewives of Atlanta, Tiny and Toya, etc.) It’s good to see a woman who pulled herself up by her own stilettos.

#3 Power of Partnership

Even if it is overdramatized for TV, the name of this show hits home. Calling it The Ultimate Merger is a reminder that marriage is the most powerful partnership and that it impacts every aspect of our lives. You can be a movement by yourself, but why not be a force together?

#2 Praying Man-tis
In so many dating shows, it’s overly superficial and pretty obvious the main person isn’t even really looking for love (We're looking at you Ray-J). Omarosa is taking her quest serious and enlists the help of her spiritual adviser. Glad she realizes marriage is a spiritual bond, centered on something bigger than ourselves.

#1 Al B. Sure
His entrance alone with his Louis V garment bag slung over his shoulder had us glued to the screen. Add to the fact that Al and O have already dated, and the seasoned singer is the sweet icing on this addictive cake.

Are you hooked too?

Catch The Ultimate Merger every Thursday at 10pm on TVOne.

My First Love

June 16, 2010
My first love came to town last weekend. I was part tourist/ part tour guide, as we hit some of NYC’s hot spots.
I could see how the years had changed us since we lived together and how much is still the same.
I had to reconcile the fantasy I had in my head with the real person. The image I had been carrying around with the human being in front of me.
I had to accept my mom for the woman she is.
Like many women, my mom was my first love.
The first person to make me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world and the person whose affection and approval I craved.
But as much as I preach to take people as they are, I had a hard time doing it for a person who has made the biggest difference in my life.
But, Im learning. Im trying. Im living another day to get better and better.
We had a blast having lunch with my new love and his mom, hanging in Harlem and taking a boat tour of the Statue of Liberty.
And I was happy to make good on my Mother’s Day Gift to gift her Denzel Washington.
We had an amazing time at Fences on Sunday! I got nervous when I realized our show was the same day as the Tonys. But Denzel and Viola were there and did not disappoint. It made it even sweeter as my mom watched them win the awards just a few hours after us seeing them on stage.
That play is a blog post in itself, and I love me some August Wilson. See it if you can.
As for me, I’ve taken my mom off the pedestal I didnt realize I placed her on. And embracing her powder-on-the-neck, loudest-in-the-room self just as she is.
IMG 0028 300x225 My First Love

A Family Affair

June 2, 2010
I didnt fall off the face of the Earth, I promise. With Memorial Day officially kicking off summer, it's far past time for an update.

All is well in my world, as these 8 pounds Ive picked up in the last 8 months prove. Blame it on dating a man who can really cook!

I spent Memorial Day weekend with my boyfriend Steph and his family in the Poconos, celebrating his grandad's birthday. Yes, that's his real name. After a year together, I can retire the Sherlock moniker. Yay! The funniest part of the trip was the fact his 2 year old nephew and 82 year old granddad both seemed to be a little sweet on me:)

We considered the trip our sneak peak into what life in the suburbs would be like for us. He rented a mini van and I was navigator as he drove us, his sister, nephew, mom and great-aunt from the big city to small town Pennsylvania. We passed many deer and other animals along the way. I was a bit nervous about meeting a lot of people from his family. But it turned to be an amazing time. I got a little wide-eyed as his cousin's husband, a pediatrician, told me I was two years away from a woman's fertility peak, but his wife, a doctor herself, let me know it was a scare tactic to get us moving on babydom. Whew.  Around 35 is still when the drop happens.

We got back Sunday and the next morning I moved into a fab new apartment with one of my best friends and loving it already. That afternoon, I was in heaven to skip barbecues and block parties and head straight to Target and load up the van for supplies for the new spot. Just as I was trying on suburban life and considering taking it home, it was time to return to Sex and the City mode and head back to work in the fashion and beauty PR world.

I am thoroughly enjoying my new gig and stretching myself in new directions. It also doesn't hurt that I'm actually getting paid to be on Facebook for part of the day.

The gig and new apartment have allowed me to see myself from different angles and its been enlightening, to say the least. My mom is coming to town next weekend for her belated Mother's Day gift, tickets to see Denzel in Fences. I didnt get the tickets I wanted and paid almost double for the ones I did get. BUT, all's well that ends well. Keeping on my happy face.

Death At a Funeral: But Love Lives

April 22, 2010
chris rock regina hall
Like death, life can often be unpredictable.

My boyfriend and I had planned a Caribbean getaway to celebrate our first anniversary in April, and I could already taste the pina coladas. But circumstances changed and he had to be in town for a work project, so we had to postpone. On the verge of a "woe is me" party, I checked myself (with his help) and had an awesome celebration right in Harlem doing what we love best: laughing.

We were front and center opening weekend for "Death at a Funeral." After seeing the slapstick trailer and feeling let down with the Why Did I get Married sequel, we weren't expecting much.

But the movie turned out to be well-made, REALLY funny . . . and include functional couples (you know I was looking:).

My heart went out to Chris Rock's onscreen wife Michelle, played by Regina Hall. At 37, her clock is ticking loudly after trying for a baby, and when her calendar says she's ovulating she tries to coax Chris Rock to try for their baby, before heading to his dad's funeral downstairs.

Before we can judge her for being so persistent, we see why when her mother-in-law played by Loretta Devine won't let her forget she hasn't reproduced. Trying to fix the grieving wife a plate, mom-in-law tells Michelle, "You can't comprehend death until you have give life." Ouch. I would have been meditating for my neck not to swivel at that comment.

Through the many snubs from her mother-in-law, Michelle stays strong for her husband on what is obviously a rough day, including being outshined by his little brother, played by Martin Lawrence. And I felt their stress of possibly not being able to get the house they've been saving for with a possible unforeseen expense.

This is a real couple with real problems, while trying to make it work. I could relate.

I respect Tyler Perry for his hustle and have laughed at the movies, but this family was a lot more like mine and my friends than any TP sitcom, family reunion or mad black woman diary. . . . Folks going for their dreams and making each other laugh along the way. I dig it.

After Brandy & Ray J: Bringing Back the Love

April 12, 2010

After two seasons of Ray J's Flavor Flav style "search for love," I didnt plan on liking his new show with Brandy.

But I do.

When his dominating mom Sonja Norwood gets on the camera and says how she is ready to get her own life again and work on her marriage my ears perked up.

In the year of the Tiger-like scandals, and Beyonce's dad Mathew admitting he has a new son younger than his grandson, it's refreshing to see a couple working on making it work.

These are two people who realize where they went a little wrong (Brandy and Ray J are old enough to be handling their own lives and mess ups!), and are working on their relationship after raising a family.

Where she's loud, he's quiet. Where she needs a plan, he's a let it flow type of guy. I know I'm not the only one who can relate to opposites working out quite nicely:)

Then the show mixes in some inevitable fighting between Ray and Brandy, as their relationship evolves.

We met Ray-J over a decade ago as Brandy's brother. And now she's working to not become known as Ray-J's sister. He took a low blow saying to her "Check my bank account" during a disagreement in a office meeting, alluding to the fact he may be funding more of the family business now. But I cant say a word as my last argument with my brother ended with me ready to physically fight . . .

So for someone starved to see the Black middle class on TV, this real family with real ish, and working to keep the family strong is definitely filling a void.

Ray J and Brandy: A Family Business airs Sunday evenings on VH1. Plan on watching?


March 31, 2010

Yes, Im a old lady. And lured the boyfriend to come with. It was an amazing night.

Essence Magazine’s Mikki Taylor: Lessons on Love

March 17, 2010

A day brown girls around the world hoped wouldn’t come: beauty industry legend and Essence Magazine editor Mikki Taylor is retiring from the magazine after 30 years!
But I can’t be mad at all as she leaves as the height of her three-decade career after inspiring millions of lives and is off to grow Mikki Taylor Enterprises and continue to change the world.
And you know what else she is off to do? Spend more time with her life partner, her husband.
When I interned at Essence, me and the rest of the interns were of course awed by the fact that she really was as beautiful in person. She glowed. After staying a part of the staff and working from intern to editor I had time to take some serious notes.

NYC Event: Shaun Neblett Play Event on March 23

March 16, 2010
Along with being an amazing publicist and hustler, Thysha Shabazz is the girlfriend of Shaun Neblett, a teacher and gifted writer.

He is having a staged reading of his play Homage 3: Illmatic in Brooklyn next week at no charge! If you can make it, you will be happy you did. My boyfriend and I went to a reading in November and it was a great experience. The writing is so strong. This reading is a special pre-conference event for The Tenth National Black Writers' Conference in Brooklyn. Here are the details . . .


He Loves Me.

March 11, 2010
From Love Jones Lane
“How does your boyfriend feel about you writing about your relationship in the open?,” my friend asked.
She’s considering blogging about her relationship for a magazine she works for, but not sure her boyfriend would be cool with it.
I became completely aware of what I had in that moment.

I told her not only does my boyfriend support the site, but was the first person to email in a essay (full disclosure: he’s a writer).

I had been holding on to his post, but some things are meant to share. Here’s his story of finding love. . .
It was the summer of 2006 and hot as hell when I was invited to a Fourth of July rooftop BBQ in Brooklyn. DJ CEO was on the 1’s and 2’s and the drinks were flowing.
I was introduced to a beautiful young lady who was also a HU Alum @ the party. We shared a few laughs and took a few pics. I was interested but my status was a little “complicated” at the time so I didn’t make a move. We kept in contact via Myspace (eeewwww!) and went about our lives.
As chance would have it, last spring she ran into a good friend of mine that works on Broadway and they exchanged info. A week or so later he needed mystery shoppers to check out one of his theater employees and offered me show tickets.
There was one catch: I needed a date and it was the day of the show.

10 of My Favorite Memories of Love

February 10, 2010
So I celebrated my 25th birthday this week. I had a blast celebrating with some of my favorite people.
The morning didn’t start off as great. I was fighting a cold, which I blamed for a random moodiness, and was hungry after skipping breakfast.
But a call with my dad during lunch snapped me out of the funk. He reminisced on the day I was born and how bright my eyes were that day – echoing the bright-eyed sentiment my mother had put in her card to me. In that moment I remembered it ain’t all about me. I gotta keep smiling because there are people who need a little light. It hit me again later that night when I found out someone who doesn’t even like me, was reading this here blog.
Even when the headlines hurt and the phone doesn’t ring, I’m shooting to stay bright-eyed for 25 more years and beyond.
And to celebrate making it to 25, here are 10 of my favorite memories of love.
10) “So just forget about you and me?”
I always remember that line from “Love and Basketball” when Monica and Quincy break up in college. Sure her losing in the basketball game for his affection and him coming back with “double or nothing” is sweet. But what made their happy ending appealing, was the fight it took to get there. Their story is a great lesson on no matter how great a connection, timing really is everything.

Looking Good in Love . . .

February 4, 2010
Isn't this gorgeous? And its not an ad. Its their engagement photos.

Get more details at Love Jones Lane.

New Blog: Love Jones Lane

January 31, 2010

So I know I seem to have a new blog like every five minutes, but this ones been on my heart A LONG time and I finally just sat down and did it. (beefed up my skills a little as well, using websites and tips to build it and create a logo myself:)

Welcome to Love Jones Lane, a new place to celebrate and discuss strong relationships and real love.

The media returned the spotlight to Black women being single and scared, and I finally had enough.

So far gone from the idea that we could have the lives and families we dreamed of that it didnt take anyone else to call us bitter bitches. We did it ourselves.

Of course, there is no denying to great work to be done to rebuild relationships between Black men and women, and our families.

For February, each weekday a love story of people of color in love and committed to making it work will post. And this is a community, so please feel free to write and send stories or leads to black couples, at love@lovejoneslane.com

Cut up my V-Card, I just got laid.

My bf shares his story of getting laid for the first time . . .

I remember it like it was yesterday, Oct. 14th 2009, the first time I ever got laid.

It started like any other day until I was called into a closed-door meeting w/ my director. I got a strange feeling of deja vu. It started with: “There's no easy way for me to say this...” Right there, I knew. I did my best to hold in my smile as she continued. “...We’ve had some major budget cuts and we have to let you go.” I smiled and cracked a few jokes as we went over the details and I left her office smiling from ear to ear. You see I had dreamt this whole scenario about a week before it actually happened. When I awoke I was happier than a fat kid at a cake convention.

Some of my co-workers were a little nervous as they were in line to be called in and didn’t know what to expect. They asked me what my meeting was about, but I told them it was nothing major and kept the news to myself.

By the time we had the official dept. meeting I was totally out of work mode. I had stopped my ‘to do’ list and shredded it with no intentions of looking back. At some point in the meeting one of my coworkers burst into tears as she started her farewell speech. It was pretty good, so good I found myself whispering ’end scene’ as she finished.

After the meeting I spoke with some of my coworkers and was my usual smiling joking self. Those that were staying offered their sympathy but this wasn’t a sad time for me. I felt like that guy at a funeral who tells everyone: “Don’t be sad, it’s a celebration and that’s what the deceased would want.” They didn’t know how to take my good mood. Which compounded the strangeness of it all since I was the ‘deceased’ In this case.

My last day was Friday, October 16th, 2009. I packed my personal belongings over the preceding 2 days and even was gifted a large bottle of Hennessey as well as taken out on a final team lunch with several of my coworkers.

I was distinctly reminded of my graduation from College. A bittersweet moment in time when goodbyes are said; and although you’re happy that its over, you know things will never be the same again. With my ‘V’ card officially handed in I popped the bottle of Hennessey and poured cups for all who were up for a drink. We drank until the bottle was done. I sent my farewell email along with an important note to myself. As I walked outside to catch a cab my blackberry vibrated with a new message. It was the note I had just sent.

It said “Welcome, to the rest of your life Steph.”

Small World After All

A saved post from November . . .

New York may be the capital of the world, but it's also a small town, where your boyfriend's cousin is also your best friend's boss.

You see the same people around and quickly discover mutual acquaintances when you do meet new faces.

Forget six degrees. It's two and a half.

So when it comes to careers and couples, your past can definitely be your present.

Me and the boyfriend were laughing hard earlier this week at one guy's laid off story of getting his first interview in months. He got to the office and he and the CEO kept thinking the other looked familiar. Then it clicked. The CEO was the same guy the interviewee bullied in elementary school. He was promptly escorted out with security.

Fast forward to last night and I am mingling with colleagues at a Good Hair panel, ready for a lively and hearty talk on our issues as Black women when it comes to hair, color and all the issues in between.

I take a seat and the lady behind me taps my shoulder.

"You went to Howard?" she asks.

"Yeah," I answer, having no memory of ever meeting her. She says how she remembers me and mentions a mutual acquaintance. We laugh and talk. She's originally from the city but has travelled all over the world and is back figuring her next move. She asks for my info for us to hang out sometime and I give her my email address, since I dont have my new cards yet. I tell her to email me her info, when she says she can do better. She pulls out her colorful business logo, with her info on the back.

"My boyfriend has one of your shirts," I say, eyeing the one of kind logo. The shirt is DOPE and I asked him all about when we wore it. He mentioned a t-shirt designer who was growing her business.

She looks at me inquisitively, not sure if I'm sure this is the same company.

"He went to Howard too," I share. And she perks up and asks his name. I realize I may have stumbled into TMI, as I stall, then say his name.

"Yeah, he brought one of my first designs, Tell him hello." she smiles and we eye each other at the happenstance of us sitting a row a part and how our paths have crossed.

My work buddy gets there and we settle down as the panel begins. It's amazing and so many different stories of black hair and identity are shared, and why we do what we do to our hair, a topic Chris Rock NEVER addressed. As one sister says how she hasn't gotten a promotion since going natural, Michaela Angela Davis shares how she was chased because of her natural blond thick braids, as girls surrounded her to cut them off.

Afterwards, I mingled some more and said by to former coworkers, friends and my new found t-shirt making acquaintance.

Later that night, the boyfriend and I have movie night and I break out my Phase Ten cards, as Stevie Wonder plays. It's about 3am.

I remember the t-shirt maker's hello and break out the logo card and tell him my story.

He smiles. . . Then says he use to have a thing for her.

I try and think back to what her facial reaction was when I said his name.

He's launched into their story of timing always being off, sending messages between their friends they were interested at different times, and one always having a boyfriend or girlfriend when the other was single, so they never dated.

I sigh. Glad their was no ex drama there, curious how she feels about the situation of stumbling upon me . . . and wondering if we still will grab drinks.

Back to work . . .

January 17, 2010

I know it's been a minute, and please excuse the delay:) But I come bearing plenty of updates.

Right after interviewing for the job and turning in the edit test, the Christmas holidays came. Me and the boyfriend spent Christmas in New York and had a blast.

On Christmas Eve we finally saw the Xtreme Mammals exhibit at the Natural History Museum.

And two days after Christmas, we were on a train to Connecticut to celebrate his birthday at a Bed and Breakfast I found online (Im always on the prowl for a good deal and found a great one:). Then we were back in the city to celebrate New Year's Eve as one of his friends came to town.

I had an extra reason to smile as we brought in the next decade. A few hours before heading out, as snow flakes fell to the ground I got a call I had advanced to the next phase for the job and would be speaking the next week with the client I would possibly be working with.

Refelctive as 2010 began, I headed to the potential job's office for the conference call with the client. And I was feeling I overprepared, as I walked out not sure what they thought of me and thinking, "Is that it?"

And it was. Two days later I got a call and was offered the job. It felt (feels) surreal that it all happened so fast, and replying to a posting on MediaBistro has lead to so much. I didnt have long to think it over as I reviewed the offer letter, while editing the tropical clothes I was taking to Mexico the next day. I prayed, then replied to the email, and accepted the job.

At 9am the next morning I was in a cab to the airport. Along with celebrating the 26th birthday of one of my favorite people, I got some R&R in before going back to a day job.

I came back excited for an awesome new opportunity as the Social Media Editor at a fashion and beauty PR firm.

I also vowed to myself to use the knowledge I had gained with my past work experience including these promises to myslef:

1) Use EVERY Vacation Day

2) Remember perception reality, look at yourself through other people's eyes

3) Have a full life outside of your job. It will help keep everything in perspective as you work hard

4) Write down what you want out of the experience and be sure to achieve those goals

5) Always remember your worth!

Thanks for all the support!