My Ode to a Legend.

There aren’t many women in life that I aspired to be or mimic. But for the few that I do, I admire and look up to with great respect. No woman could ever influence me more than my mom. You know how people say they have the best mom in the world? It’s impossible because I literally have the best mother in the world, hands down. No questions and it’s not up for debate! However, television has a way of seeping into kids’ minds and making them want to be what they see and that’s exactly what happened to me. With all respect to my mom, there was no woman I wanted to be more than Phylicia Rashad.

If you know anything about Phylicia Rashad, it was that she played Clair Huxtable on The Cosby Show. Lawyer by day, loving wife and mother by night. By the time the show went off air, I wasn’t even born so I caught “The Cosby Show” show on re-runs. For whatever reason, I saw the show and it just stuck in my mind. She had the family I wanted and was the mom I wanted to be. She loved her husband and handled every situation with grace. She was successful both in her work career and family. She was educated and poised in the same breath. I loved Claire Huxtable as a character so much that even as a child, I could see how well Phylicia Rashad brought the character to life that it made me love her as a real person. I literally had so much respect for her as a person for even taking on a role, portraying it so well and giving little brown girls like myself something to aspire to. Coming up in a one parent household and watching Clair Huxtable balance being a successful lawyer, raise five children, maintain her relationship with her husband all while being witty, funny and fashionably cute while doing it gave me hope. We can say “it was just a show” day in and day out but when people such as Phylicia Rashad take on such huge, impactful roles and leave a mark in a young person’s mind to strive for more, respect and honor is due that person.

She’s so influential that she had Drake rapping about her. “A** on Houston, TX but the face looks just like Clair Huxtable (Only – Nicki Minaj, Drake & Lil’ Wayne).IMG_0453

She’s so influential that she had Drake rapping about her. “A** on Houston, TX but the face looks just like Clair Huxtable (Only – Nicki Minaj, Drake & Lil’ Wayne).

I loved Clair Huxtable so much that I had to do my research on the person behind the role to find out who she was. Come to find out, Phylicia went to Howard University and has won an incredible amount of awards for the plays she was in. Finding out she went to Howard made me want to go all the more, because Howard just produces greatness. Shoutout to Howard for losing my transcripts and not accepting me because of it -_-, still salty! The list of great people that has come out of Howard goes on and on. Not only did I find that out, but I discovered that Debbie Allen was her real sister! I was like, you meet to tell me that the Dance Academy right there in the shopping center on Crenshaw and King is owned by Debbie Allen?! Phylicia Rashad’s sister?! NO WAY! Debbie Allen is so great at what she does, her being connected to Phylicia Rashad doesn’t even matter. Her name holds enough weight on it’s own. Finding out the two were related made me love them both all the more. Both women chose to put out positive images of women in television. Both women decided to believe in themselves and follow their skills of creativity instead of settling and sitting on their gifts. Both women gave back to the community, Debbie Allen especially with DADA, Debbie Allen’s Dance Academy which is in a thriving black community, Baldwin Hills, that needs something such as DADA to keep young kids active. Both women are literally so beautiful on the inside that it shines through their outer.

If I ever was gifted with the opportunity to meet either of these women, especially Ms. Rashad, I’d literally cry. I’m not easily star struck but the tears would just start flowing on sight. I’d tell her how showed me that I could have it all, regardless if it was just a 30 minute television show. I’d thank her for being bold and trusting her gut to follow her dreams that led to her inspiring a little black girl from South Central. I’d tell her how she’s my aunt and godmother in my head; I call her Auntie Licia :). And lastly, I’d ask her for her skin routine because she is living proof that black does not crack. This is my ode to a legend in the black community who influenced me positively by way of television. Thank you, Ms. Rashad.

 

P.S.- If any of y’all know her, HOOK. IT. UP. Thanks in advance.

 

 

 

Paris, France!

It was one of my goals to take my mom on an all expense paid trip this year because she’s more than deserving and it had always been something I wanted to do. I collaborated with my brother because I definitely couldn’t do it alone so we made it her birthday gift to send her to Paris, France and boyyyyyy, did we have a good time!

 My mom had a get-together at a lounge and invited her closest friends so we surprised her and told her that her birthday gift would be her going to Paris and she cried like a baby. It was so cute though! That was literally a moment in life that I’ll never forget. That was on a Friday, and on Monday we had set off for LAX to head to Paris.

img_0304

We arrive at  Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris and we meet this man who says that he’s a taxi driver and would take us to our hotel (found it on AirBnB for $49 a night. A STEAL considering it was Valentine’s Day weekend prior). I asked him how much it would be beforehand and he said it would depend on traffic. Cool, no big deal. It was 11 am and didn’t appear to be a traffic hour at all. Mind you, this man’s car didn’t even have the appearance of a taxi. So he’s talking to us and asking questions, asking us if it was our first time there and blah blah blah. So we get to the hotel and he tells me that the ride would be 70 euros. Y’all…the ride wasn’t more than 15 minutes and there was NO traffic. So I tell him that I wouldn’t be paying him 70 euros because 1: a euro is basically the equivalent of a dollar and there’s no way I’m paying $70 in the U.S. or another country and 2: I asked him beforehand how much it would be prior to us taking off from the airport. So basically, he put us out of his car literally right in front of our hotel and we didn’t have to pay 1 euro for the ride that was once upon a time 70 euros. When I tell you my mom and I laughed the entire trip about that, LOL, we laughed until we cried! It was so funny because we got put out literally right in front of our hotel. He thought he was doing us an injustice but it really turned out to be a favor and a blessing. The guy ended up being an uber driver who pretended to be an actual taxi and tried to get over on us because we were tourists. Moral of the story, be cautious when traveling because people will try to get over on you time after time. Be polite, stand your ground and always negotiate.

The first day we arrived we visited the Eiffel Tower and did a river boat cruise. We were still adjusting to the time difference so it was rough at first but we were so excited to site see that we fought our sleep.

img_0329img_0044img_0051

We were like two kids in a candy store. We were so amazed at the fact of us being in Paris that I’m sure we looked like the ultimate cheesy tourists. We took so many selfies because I was so anxious that someone would run off with my phone or camera. Pick pocketing and theft is a major thing out there because the city in itself is a major tourist attraction. Paranoid would be an understatement of how I felt about handing someone my camera to take a picture. Crazy, right?

Paris had some really good, inexpensive food places. When in Paris, it’s only right that you eat crepes, macaroons and drink coffee like a true Parisian. The bread there, my goodness! The bread alone will make you put on pounds at a time if you’re not careful. From the sweets, to the different types of breads, to the pastas, to the different types of wines…I was in food heaven.

IMG_0310.JPG

img_0383img_0168img_0355

We spent Valentine’s Day in Paris so we saw all of the love birds from across the world there on top of the normal amount of tourists. I thought that I’d witness a proposal but it didn’t happen. I just knew I’d witness at least one! Even though I didn’t see a proposal, you could feel the love in the air. I know it sounds corny, but it’s real. We were in Paris; one of the most romantic cities, if not the absolute most romantic city on Earth on Valentine’s Day celebrating the birth of my mom. It was literally a trip filled with love. My mom and I bonded like never before. We took in the fact that we thought seeing such a beautiful place probably weren’t in the cards that we were dealt in life, but how we beat that circumstance. I can’t even put into words how special this trip was for us both.

img_0107
Cathedrale Notre-Dame de Paris
img_0193
The original Mona Lisa
img_0190
Inside the Louvre Museum (ceiling)
img_0401
Outside the Louvre Museum
img_0405
Finally got over myself and let a stranger take a picture of us! LOL

Overall, my first time in Europe was amazinggg. I’m glad that I was able to experience it with my mom because I know it definitely wouldn’t have been the same if I went with friends or a male companion. I probably would’ve been way too tipsy (or drunk, let’s be honest here) off of their wine to enjoy it with anyone else. You all have to go over to Paris and enjoy all of what this beautiful city has to offer. It’s literally one of the most beautiful places I’ve been; from their architecture to their food to their fashion. We weren’t able to enjoy all of the Parisian hot spots due to the time difference literally beating us up so bad that we were so tired but we enjoyed ourselves nonetheless. Thank you, Paris!

Havana, Cuba!

I had been researching different places to go and for some odd reason Havana, Cuba really stuck out to me. It’s a beautiful city that seems to be stuck in the past especially with their classic cars and their traditional ways of living. So I added it to my “Places to Go” list and figured I’d hit it some time in the summer. img_0270

Long story short, I ended up going way before summer. I had a few days off and figured I ‘d go then, which turned out to be in early February. I had realized that Cuba became a hot spot for Black millennials to travel to so I know I wanted to go before they started putting Starbucks and other American restaurants there. I wanted the most authentic experience I could possibly get from Cuba and that’s exactly what I got.

I did my research and realized that I technically couldn’t go as a”tourist.” You need one out of twelve reasons to travel to Cuba that you can find here. As I did more research, I learned that most people go for “Support of the Cuban people” or “people to people exchanges” as these are the simplest and easiest ways to explain why you’re going if you were to get stopped at customs. I didn’t get stopped by customs or asked why I was traveling to Cuba nor did anyone in line in front of me so it’s super smooth process. I did need a visa to travel there and I purchased it at the airport. I was so glad that I didn’t have to send my passport to an embassy of any sort because my decision to go was super last minute. I paid $100; $50 there there and back. Their money is Cuban pesos which is a called “CUC” and was basically the same as our dollar. Since I had American dollars, they taxed 10% on top of their conversion rate so I had even less money to spend which led me to almost starving, but we’ll talk about that later. If you ever visit Cuba, exchange your money into euros in the airport first. Then once you get to Cuba, exchange it for their money to beat that 10% tax fee. I definitely wish I knew that before I went.

I stayed at an AirBnB for around $30-$35 a night, i can’t remember exactly but it was worth it. Havana does have hotels of course, but when I travel I like to “live like a local” and get a genuine experience. Plus, I always travel on a budget and I’m “frugal” :). Their living standards aren’t up to par with ours but it’s also not unbearable.

img_0076img_0093img_0096

Havana is a basically a beautiful ruin. People refer to it as a country that’s stuck in the past because it’s literally like traveling back to the 1960s with all the old school cars and bright colors of their houses, amongst other things. It’s literally so beautiful and so different than how we live. Their houses are so open and the people are so friendly! They’re not freakishly friendly to where you’re scared or nervous at how friendly they are, but they’re friendly in the sense of proud they are of their country. They want you to see how they live and understand that this is every day living for them and not to have sympathy for them. They’re friendly in the sense that they have a sense of self and want to tell you their story. It was amazing.

img_0129
I met Dayan the first day I got to Cuba after exploring for 20 minutes. He showed me around Old Havana for four hours and told me his story. He was so nice and willing to help that I bought him dinner at a local restaurant.

There was so much ground to cover that I didn’t end up doing all that I wanted to do, like go to Varadero. I heard it’s literally breathtaking there. Since all of my time was spent in Havana, it was only right that I hit all of the hot spots.

img_1379
A rooftop restaurant with an insane view of the city. Pictures doesn’t do it any justice. 

img_0137

img_0119
Pictures above and below are what normal Cuban streets look like, full of color and life. 

img_0130

I was obviously easy to spot as a tourist because of the camera around my neck which you see more often than not. Havana has become a major hot spot for travel in 2017. Beside the cat-calling, the locals wanted to talk to me all the more because I was a tourist. They always asked me where I was from and wanted to know how I was enjoying Cuba. At those moments, I was grateful for my 10th grade Spanish class to which I owe the few Spanish phrases I know all of the credit. Between my Spanglish and their broken English, we communicated just fine.

img_0199
Morro Castle (above and below)

img_0213img_0211

Although I wasn’t able to hit Varadero Beach, I was able to visit Santa Maria Beach. Even though I live in Southern California where the beaches are literally plentiful, it still trips me out when I’m on the edge of another country at their beach. I literally am amazed every time.

img_0233

 

 

img_0243
Their grains of sand were HUGE! I was tripping out.

Y’all…their rum was so smooth! Their drinks were some of the best drinks I’ve had while traveling. They sweeten their drinks with real sugar from sugar canes. They have this wheel that they put the sugar cane sticks through in order to crack them and get the sugar out. I probably enjoyed those drinks a little TOO much, lol. I had to chill because I didn’t want them to sneak up on me.

img_1384

img_0009
This lady was such a boss to me. She was smoking a cigar and reading a book in public. I just HAD to take a picture. Plus, there’s Coolio’s long lost cousin to the far left :).

All in all, Cuba was amazing. It was my first international solo trip and I have no regrets about it. I was so nervous to venture out on my own, especially in a country whose language I wasn’t fluent in but I was perfectly fine. I met amazing people and left with even better memories that I can one day tell my children about, including me running out of money. Cuba doesn’t have ATM machines so the money you come in with is all you have. Now that I know what it feels like to run out of money, ALWAYS exchange more money than you’ll think you’ll need! LESSON LEARNED! That’s what I get for traveling on a budget, drinking and eating so much LOL. From the people, to their culture, to their food and drinks, I enjoyed it all. Thank you Cuba for such an amazing experience!

 

Sugar Baby in the Making?

By the title, you’re probably thinking I’m nuts. I’m not, I promise. For the 16,000th time in my young adult life, I’ve been hit on by a man old enough to be my father. I don’t know what it is that makes older guys feel like it’s completely acceptable to walk up to me and start a conversation that ends in them asking me verbatim,”Would you like to get together some time soon over lunch or dinner?” How about no, but you can tell your son I said heyyyy!

I was talking to two of my close friends about this reoccurring situation of older guys hitting on me. When I say older, I’m talking abut 45+. I’m 24, so that’s quite the age difference to me. But anyway, I was discussing this while hanging out with my friends; one literally laughed in my face and the other brought up a good point that I never really took into consideration. She told me that it’s a matter of how I carry myself that attracts older men. Good point, but still…like no. It’s to the point where more older guys have hit on me than guys that are my age (in the last 6 weeks: older men- 6, guys my age-…my ex hit me up so does he count?). It leaves me baffled, like what is it that makes guys my age basically pay me no mind but leaves older men ready to risk it all? Is it my height that makes guys my age intimidated? Maybe it is the way I carry myself? Am I too much of an old soul? Like WHAT IS IT?! I’m very pleased with who I am and who I am becoming, so I’d never take into consideration dumbing myself down or changing myself in hopes to attract a guy my age however I do think about it more often than not. Older men hitting on me does get old (no pun intended) and sometimes they’re way too smooth for the “I have a boyfriend line.” I told one guy that I had a boyfriend (a big ol’ lie all girls use) and he talked me out of making up my fake boyfriend! By the end of his entire spiel, I was left thinking,”well, dang…do you have one or don’t you? Now you have to think of another lie, dummy!” Just ridiculous.

Although I’ve never dated an older man and would never do it for financial or material gain, the amount of times they approach me has me wondering if I should take a swim in the older pond of salt and pepper-colored beards.

 

  • shanicesade

Cancun, Mexico!

An inside view of my trip to Cancun.

img_0748img_0794img_0798img_0823img_0829img_0878img_0746img_0970

img_0967
all photos taken with iPhone 6+

Cancun was literally one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. It had it’s fair share of being “Americanized” due to it being a hot tourist spot but the views and scenery it offered literally made me thank God for creating such a beautiful, peaceful place.

$1 USD is approximately equivalent to $20 MXN (talk about eating good on a budget) so everything was fairly cheap. No exaggeration, I had the absolute best authentic Mexican food I’ve ever had. The ceviche alone was filled with enough shrimp to leave the ocean jealous. The drinks, my goodness…so strong & good! Plus they were cute and made a face out of the fruit and delivered them on top of their heads to the table. A+ for presentation.

The bus was the main source of transportation because it was the cheapest; $0.60 USD or $11 MXN per ride. The buses run literally about every 5 minutes, if not sooner than that so it was no problem getting around. This trip wasn’t necessarily a “turn up” trip so I didn’t explore the night life. It was more of a reflective, end of the year trip to really clear my mind and dissect all of what happened in 2016 and get clear about what I wanted out of 2017. I journaled, talked to God on the beach and it felt really good to put my phone down and not worry so much about it. Cancun is definitely one of those places you have to experience for yourself to get the full vibe of what it offers. These pictures nor words can really put into what it felt like to be covered in sand with a beautiful view in front of you while drinking a margarita. You just have to go to understand. It’s probably one of the cheapest trips I’ve taken so if you’re looking for a nice but cheap getaway, go to Cancun!

 

  • shanicesade

 

24.

24 life lessons in 24 years.

I seriously cannot believe I’m twenty-four already but I’m beyond grateful to be here. Not that type of grateful that you say you are because it sounds like the right thing to say on your birthday, but I’m genuinely, internally, grateful to make it to another year. It’s just crazy to think that I’m in my mid-twenties. It feels like ages 20-23 were all a warm up for the real deal of mid and late twenties and now that I’m finally here, I’m like…woah. There’s no doubt that a person ever has it all figured out. No doubt that we all have plans for our lives but it never goes exactly as planned. We’ve all had our fair share of life experiences that we’ve learned either gracefully or by needing to see things for ourselves which have led to us learning the hard way. Here are some I’ve experienced in my twenty-four years of living that I thought were worth sharing:

 

  1. You are your greatest investment. It’s no longer your parents’ job to make sure you turn out “ok.” Continually invest in yourself, whatever that may be for you.
  2. Everyone has that thing (or a few) that they absolutely love. Find that and never stop doing it. For me, it’s reading. Give me a book and I’ll literally love you for life…seriously. There’s no better gift than knowledge, especially when it’s valuable enough to impact your life and actually make you change for the better. One book that I’ve read that has changed me is called “The Richest Man in Babylon.” It changed the way I look at finances completely. READ IT if you ever get a chance.
  3. When it comes to birthdays, presence is way greater than presents.
  4. I have definitely learned my drink limit and hope that I don’t go over it again…anytime soon, at least. I’ve a handful (maybe even two handful) experiences of going overboard. Back then, it was fun but now it’s nothing cute about getting sloppy drunk or not being able to remember what happened last night. I’ve also had my fair share of drinks well enough to know what I like and what I don’t like so there’s no more of asking the bartender for his opinion unless I’m actually in the mood to try something new.
  5. Stay uncomfortable. Growth doesn’t happen from staying content and in my comfort zone. There have been times when I have literally had to talk myself into doing something that I knew would be beneficial for me and scared crapless about actually doing it. Regardless if you get what you want by making yourself uncomfortable, it’s a lesson to be learned by actually doing something different to go after what you want. What we fear doing most is usually what we need to do.
  6. Dating isn’t a game anymore. I’m more settled in my ways and actually considering “dating” someone (I’m talking about real, actual dating that’ll lead to a relationship) is a major decision and more real than ever before. I find myself all the more selective because it may lead to something long-term. Another thing, sitting in the car in front of the house is no longer a substitute for a date. Never has been, but we’ve all been there, right?
  7. If you want to do something, do it. I’ve realized this is the youngest I’ll ever be with the least amount of responsibilities. If I want new shoes, I’m getting them (if it’s in the budget lol). If I want to travel somewhere and no one else can go with me, I’m going anyway. The older I get, the less likely I’ll be able to do things like this, so I might as well do it now.
  8. Family is everything. I’m the only girl and youngest of three but my bond with my family is stronger than it ever has been. The older I get, the older they get as well and no one lives forever. As much as I love hanging with my friends or going to a concert, family is just as important and I try to spend as much time with them as I can.
  9. Save for a rainy day and look into other ways of making money. Becoming and staying financially free is a goal of mine and I know one stream of income just won’t cut it so I’m always looking for ways to increase my income. I really want to learn about stocks so that’s definitely on the list for 2017. Find a side hustle. If you’re good at something, figure out how to monetize it and make you some moneyyy!
  10. Remember that one person you thought you’d never get over? Well you did, so kudos to you. They’ve served their purpose in your life and you’ve learned from it. Move forward…and never look back. Like ever. You’ll experience better.
  11. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health and that is just as important as your spiritual health. Bottom line, take care of yourself. We need our bodies to carry us throughout life. Don’t stand in your own way of being healthy. Whatever religion you may believe in (or not), practice those beliefs. A one-way relationship is never healthy so if you’re praying and talking to God, crack your bible (or an app) so He can communicate with you as well.
  12. Even though I’m typically a tennis shoe/t-shirt & jeans girl, I remind myself to get dressed up every now and then and do something nice. It’s necessary to dress the part of being an adult every now and then.
  13. Never stop searching for your purpose. Some people know what it is at a young age, some don’t. I fall into the latter category and because of that, I’ll never stop trying to figure it out. But boyyyyy, when I do, watch me werkkkkk!
  14. Travel as much as you possibly can. It’s so cliché to say, but mannnn is it the truth! One of my favorite quotes is “Happiness is found in doing, not possessing” and it’s absolutely true for me. I think it is just the coolest thing ever when you travel and you make those memories that are literally indescribable or you have a moment of realizing you really are in another country or state and you’re just like “d*mn, I’m really here.” It’s one of the best feelings ever and I think everyone deserves to experience that. Money spent on a plane ticket will always look better than money spent on something physical, remember that. Experiences over tangible things.
  15. Always have your hidden gems of music artists that you enjoy that very few other people know about. Nothing compares to dating someone new and putting them on game about someone you like and them ending up loving it just as much as you do. Of course have your own hidden gems of music for other reasons, but that one right there…YAS! Also, get you a handful of oldies that you absolutely love as well. Anita Baker, Marvin Gaye, and Frankie Beverly & Maze’s music will ALWAYS make me smile and dance. Every. Single. Time.
  16. Appreciate the little things like having a few dollars in your pocket, the ability and use of your limbs and other things like grey Nike sweatpants on a stranger (ladies, I KNOW y’all feel me on this one). It’s the little things that count the most.
  17. You choose your friends and the people you surround yourself with. If they no longer serve a purpose in your life, it’s completely ok to distance yourself from them. Don’t feel guilty or bad about your decision, you are your own biggest concern in life. Enjoy friendship in itself. A lot of people overlook the beauty of a real friendship. It’s so much more than hanging out. I genuinely respect and love my friends for even choosing me to be in their lives. I can be loud, I play way too much sometimes, but I know it’s a respect and reciprocity of give and take that fuels us to continue to be friends. Another thing, have friends of the opposite sex that are literally only your friends! I think it’s a little odd when people say guys and girls can’t be friends without anything ever happening between the two.
  18. Social media has a really tricky way of easily and slyly allowing you to compare yourself to others. It’s so easy to do but it can be deathly and a confidence killer. I’ve come to realize that as bad as I wish I could sing, I’ll never be Beyonce’. I accept that and I still serenade my Snapchat followers every now and then with my beautiful, God given voice.
  19. Respect the timing and process of your life. I know we all have plans for our lives but if it doesn’t play out like that, don’t beat yourself up about it. Just relax, have fun and respect the process. Everything will happen exactly when it’s supposed to. Don’t force it.
  20. When you see someone else doing good, congratulations are in order. Never hold your tongue on a compliment regardless if it’s an “okayyyyy! I see you!” or literally a “Congratulations on ____!” Tweet it, text it, comment on Instagram. Never be jealous, let it be fuel to get you to that ultimate goal you have and be genuinely happy for them. They worked hard, they deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labor. Your time is coming.
  21. Put the work in, never announce your moves prematurely. More work, less announcements. Your work will show and speak for itself. MAJOR KEY! Lol. It took me one good time to realize this. I hurt my own feelings so bad by announcing my moves too early and they fell through. It hurt so bad that I’ll never do it again.
  22. Be so full of life and energy that you light a room up when you walk in. Have such a positive ora that people want you around and notice when you’re not.
  23. Anything out of your control isn’t worth stressing over. You create the life you want to live so never stop imagining and always work toward bettering yourself.
  24. BE YOU! I kid you not, I am wholeheartedly the absolute corniest person I know and will probably ever come across but I know there’s no changing it because it’s simply who I am. There will never, ever be another me so guess what? I’m going to continue to be corny as hell and make myself laugh loud and dance when I feel like it which is just about all the time regardless of how crazy I look. Plus, one day some guy is going to love the hell out of me and my corniness lol.

 

These are the main lessons that came to mind when I’ve thought about all I’ve learned thus far in life. With me turning twenty-four, I just haaaad to name 24 lessons. It was only right, lol. I know I some other ones may have slipped my mind so if you have any to share, please do!

 

  • shanicesade