Thursday, September 17, 2015

Not Fit for the Park

No, I am not in some knock-off historical-looking European-type place or any whimsical forest. This is Houston, Texas, baby. Hermann Park, to be exact. My college roommate (reunited for the weekend, after three years apart) and I took a stroll through the park to get out of the house on Labor Day and finally see the Japanese Botanical Gardens.

I only wore the heels because they best suited the outfit and I couldn't help but think about my sister and my mom. My sister, because she used to tell me all the time that flats make you look frumpy, and my mom, because she would never wear anything without some height--wedge, high heel. I was going for style elevation, ya'll!

I only wore the hat because I pinned up my free-form faux-fro in a way that invited a hat. I only wore that loose crop top because it was a style risk for me. I usually like the look when I see it on other people, but could never imagine myself wearing one unless I could take a mallet to my stomach...or, say, exercise a little more. And I only happened to own something to take a style risk with because the top was 50% off at Buffalo Exchange the previous day. 

All black outfit, all neutral accessories? Surely red lipstick could be the only way to go. Pretty nice all together, I think, but definitely not fit for the park. The wind challenged the hat. The humidity challenged my comfort. But I should have known lol. I felt a little foolish walking over wet, rocky, and muddied pathways amidst tennis shoe-clad people also strolling and barefooted children running through shooting water. But only the smallest amount of foolishness, just a smidge.

What I'm Wearing:
some pants and some top with some shoes and a hat. also an Africa necklace from Nigeria and an elephant bag from South Africa. [being cheeky today :p]

Monday, September 14, 2015

Moo-Moo Ze Um: Of the Bucket List

#14. Visit half of the museums in Houston's Museum District (there are A LOT)

One. So far I've visited one museum. Or rather one and a half (the second exhibit at the CAMH* was under construction, awaiting next day opening). At such a slow rate, I don't see how I could possibly visit half of the Museum District before 2016, especially now that regular school is back in session. Should I amend this bucket list item? Should I amend ALL the bucket list items?! Because I sure haven't run any 5K or gotten strong enough to do more than five push-ups. Four months left. :o

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, free to the public on Thursdays, is magnificently expansive with the coolest exhibits. Check out Shadow Monsters below. A very non-traditional display, not what most would expect to find at a museum. The installation has three huge projection screens and a bucket of random props--bent hoola hoops, crowns, and hats. When you move in front of the screens, monstrous appendages appear off your shadowed body and props. The fascination and amusement last for almost ever, until the whole run ends after November 1.

Shadow Monsters was a nice highlight, but the rest of the sections I strolled through were just as nice. MFAH has its many traditional collections in addition to special borrowed or temporary exhibits--often the ones that cost a little extra moolah to see. Actually, the first thing I visited was this history of photography presented on two sides of a pathway. I am so enraptured by the idea of photography, so that was cool to look through. Technology (and those innovators who create it) is so amazing. To go from daguerreotypes to film to digital, from black and white to color, from dullness to the sharpness of HD-- the progression is interesting to see, especially when we live in a time where taking a photo is so effortless. As easy as it is, I do think we're losing an element of sharing photographs. They're now all trapped on flickr, photobucket, Instagram and Facebook. Forgotten almost as soon as the day they're posted, to make room for the next set of photos to like and favorite. We should at least print the special ones. Make simple albums for keepsakes. Yes...

*The Contemporary Art Museum Houston only hosts two exhibitions at a time, it seems. Whispering Bayou was open while the new one was in progress. This one was also somewhat interactive, like Shadow Monsters, but quite underwhelming to me. But since the CAMH constantly offers new and unique exhibitions, I'm sure there will always be something to interest a variety of people. I'll probably go the CAMH and MFAH. And maybe some of the others...eventually.

in the middle
Every time I visit a museum, I like to look for anything West African. Then anything Nigerian. Then anything Igbo. 
Can this be considered art? Does MFAH take random submissions off the street?

Hip Hip Hooray for Monday! 
For Moo-Moo Ze Umz! 
For culture and intellect and throngs of beautiful people to people watch!!

Monday, July 27, 2015

Flirting With My Boyfriend (Jeans)

Oh, is that a pun in the title? If it is, how great is that? The purpose of puns, sometimes, is to be amusingly lame. No matter, the lame title stays because I don't actually have a boyfriend but I do have these boyfriend jeans. These non-stretch jeans that I never expected to wear as often as I do. Also needed to add some context before disappointing anyone with a misleading title...unless, you know, I'm currently flirting with my (future) boyfriend. Well...

I just thought I looked cute in this: a flirty, feminine top and pants with rips on purpose. I remember when my dad pointed out the rips a couple months ago, as if I didn't know they were there. His expression and response when I told him I bought them that way...still makes me chuckle. Again, with a headwrap to front like my hair is fly. Still perfectly mismatched for a Sunday afternoon, I think.  

the backside
this tree just branched out to me
I am a cheerleader
What I'm wearing:
Hearts black lace top // American Eagle ripped boy crop jeans // Just Fab sandals // greenish scarf of Korean origin, c/o my sister

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Coffee in the Morning

Regular early mornings this summer have me rebuilding an addiction to coffee (or liquid brown sugar-- I like it real sweet). Despite my reliance on coffee's caffeine, I think that coffee is fake. She and her caffeine qualities only mess with your mind, leading you to believe you're more awake or more energized. It's all psychological. Plus that coating/mask she leaves in your mouth to let the whole world know what you've just consumed is so rude of her. Do not abandon breath mints or gum in times of coffee consumption. Please.

However there is a coffee I do believe in. Miguel the R&B singer made it and he makes it well. Have a listen.

Good morning and happy Wednesday!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Testing the Youtube Waters

Hmm, it seems I've been talking about my hair mostly in this recent blog revival. Can't promise this will be the last, though. 

Anyway, several weeks ago I decided to test the YouTube waters. Two extraordinary, cool people (who do not know who I am lol) inspired me to this, along with my frenemies, boredom and procrastination. Those last two definitely played a serious role in turning a thought into an actual creative final product.

Ijeoma of Klassy Kinks did this Nigerian and Natural Tag with Nappy Fu. I thought to myself, "I'm Nigerian. I'm natural. I could do this too." Then there's Shameless Maya who I discovered years ago. I watched her very first video about being shameless (which is something I struggle with in reference to blogging). I really like the positivity and encouragement she promotes on her social media outlets. I should (and you should) really check out more of her YouTube videos and/or feel free to "do you boo." 

I think I started over in recording three separate times until I had two versions, which I spliced together in the only editing tool I have, Windows Movie Maker. Although I never thought it was, editing is no joke. Nine minutes of just me. All I can hope for is that some people watch it and enjoy. As of today it's got 19 views and I can only assume that at least 80% are family member views. Nineteen is greater than five, which was the count after the first two weeks. Sounds great to me!

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Thoughts on Charleston

War Mother, Charles Umlauf*
Twitter (and occasionally Facebook) has become my preliminary news source, particularly for the slew of gun violence, police brutality, and unjustified killings of black people that have recently occurred in the United States. These outlets often don't tell the complete story, just a spattering of details and an overwhelming amount of opinions stained with outrage, frustration, devastation and sympathy. And also, unfortunately, indifference developed from a loss of hope. 

Last night, right before bed, I scrolled across a few tweets with the hashtag #Charlestonshooting or #Charleston. Those tweets expressed exasperation and predicted the media's characterizations of the then-at large young white male suspect. There had been a shooting in Charleston, South Carolina, but I refused to enter it into a search engine. I was afraid to, already (selfishly) tired of hearing about another horrible event, another death, another example of racial discrimination and prejudice and ignorance. I felt/feel tired and these events have not happened to me directly. Not in my city, not in my neighborhood and not to my family. However, indirectly, they affect me and they very well could touch my personal circle. Because that's what being visibly black in America is about, I guess.

How could this not be motivated by race? A white male enters the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church during a Wednesday night prayer meeting and opens fire, killing nine people, then flees. People he does not know. People who had no objection to his presence there--it's a church, open to the public, to all kinds of people of different backgrounds and upbringing. He's in custody now and as of yet, I don't think we know about the details of his motives, at least not directly from his mouth. It's easy for me to say that the motives don't matter, as long as justice is served, but most people want to know why. We can suspect why. But would a confirmation of the why mean anything? If he said to the public that he intentionally entered this church, out of hate, to shoot at black people, would the outright racists and misguided moderates of the country believe us then? 

Only this morning did I seek other, more "reputable" sources to learn about what happened. And I felt like all my thoughts needed to be spit out. I don't usually contribute to the dialogue on social media when things like this happen because I wouldn't be helping anything, I would be draining myself, and I don't even know what to say. Instead I read what my outspoken, enlightened and outspoken acquaintances on Facebook or strangers on Twitter post or share. Then I drain myself another way by reading one too many comments. So I think I should just pray. Keep myself informed and pray for Emanuel AME, for the families who have lost loved ones, for South Carolina, and for the judicial systems.

*Reflects my response to this shooting and so many other events across the U.S. 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Expensive Taste in Green Lace

I will take any excuse to get dressed up. Even though I usually destroy my room in the process by ravaging through my closet and rejecting everything...until the least expected choice starts pulsing with prophetic light. Even though I cannot apply makeup but I feel I must. No bare face allowed while wearing a dress I couldn't zip up all the way (comfortably) a few months ago. This was all for a natural hair meetup, a grand extravaganza with product giveaways, games (ice breakers and Heads Up), a mini fashion show and #AskRachel hilariousness.

Ya'll this dress is Barney's New York. This is a "Blair Waldorf from Gossip Girl might consider buying just because she can" kind of dress. Again, a treasure discovered by my mother. I didn't think it would fit well enough for whatever level of confidence I had going to a Meetup group event solo and for the first time. But it was all good. I was in the company of beautiful women, all dressed to impress, all with beautiful natural hair--no envy (okay, minor envy), great admiration, inspiration and a little bit of advice. Confidence to rock the dress helped unleash my competitive edge and I won some full-size hair products. Yeah!

You got McDonald's money?
 -- #AskRachel
Red and green in June? Does Christmas have a monopoly on this color combo? I suppose there are exceptions to every presumed "rule" of fashion. If rugs can do it, then anyone can. Because people are analogous to rugs of course. 

Is this a half-hearted "yaaaaaasssss" pose? idk
I got yo crazy in my trunk!
-- Tasha Mack, The Game (but only the CW seasons)
 What I'm wearing:
Barney's New York dress // BCBGeneration wedges // JewelMint Flora necklace // Zara clutch // cream bangle from somewhere

What do you think of the color scheme? 
Happy Halfway through June!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Natural Hair Envy

original traced doodle with didlr
I'm on the shuttle, sitting behind this girl whose natural hair is artfully pulled up, pinned into a puff. The edges at the nape of her neck lay relatively flat--beautifully tamed-- and I assume the same is true in the front. From the light of the sun, I can see the dark brown at the ends. Her hair is wispy, like loosened raw cotton or clouds, and it becomes desired in my mind. It looks softer than mine, so it must be. I shrug as I think how I would like to have her hair. If only because it would be easier to manage. Easier to stretch, easier to manipulate and style. 

I think it's easy to confuse manageability with quality. Hair with a looser curl pattern that falls is not inherently better than hair with tiny zig zags that stands up and out. But with the hair typing system and the majority of natural hair representation in a lot of media subtly imposes the idea that a certain "grade of hair" (as Raven Symone would call it) is more aesthetically accepted, more "classically beautiful." The thing is, manageability can be learned. Everyone has to adapt to the features and conditions each is born with. With the luck of the draw, some people may have one aspect of their lives easier than another person. It's not bad and fairness plays no role; it's just the way it is.

As soon as I coveted this girl's hair, I considered whether I had a warped view of what good hair is (but bottomline, good hair is always healthy hair). I questioned why I would, in an impossible scenario, want someone else's hair texture. Reading the natural hair stories of others, some women expressed feeling quite disappointed when, after the big chop or the transitioning phase, their hair did not resemble that of Tracee Ellis Ross or Teyonah Parris or some other fabulous-looking famous or real-life woman. When I cut out my relaxed ends four years ago, I knew to pack away the fantasies I had had. I knew that my hair would be whatever it was meant to be, which is mine and nobody else's.  I generally accept my hair, it's magical (and frustrating) shrinking ability, its texture, and its length. I like it most days, love it some days, and hate it every other day.*

Not really wanting to repeat advice that already exists in a million places on the Internet, I will only say this about natural hair envy and acceptance: admire others, but also admire yourself. To admire yourself, you have to learn how to look and be your best (and I'm still learning, especially about hair...very slowly). Obviously this goes deeper than hair and other expressions of outer beauty. Because jealousy is not cute. Gush over so and so, but also work with what you got. 

Happy Thursday!

*I kid. Or do I? Nah...

Friday, February 27, 2015

Impulse Buys

The best thing about following other fashion/style blogs is seeing so many cool women look so uniquely put together.  This is what made me want to start my own (somewhat) style blog, in addition to the fact that I've had a thing about clothing since the 9th grade.  Back then I wanted to have at least a modicum of cool.  I wanted to look just as stylish as all the other girls.  This is still me (trying to be extraordinary too), except now I never truly lament about outfit fails...I just roll my eyes or cringe and then keep it movin'.  Next time...

The (sometimes) not so cool thing about following other fashion/style blogs is the mighty power of consumerism.  See a pair of fantastic shoes or coat on Instagram or a blog post and oh how we covet!  And now that nearly every fashion blogger includes direct links to the exact items they're wearing, it's just a done deal.  Oh, let me not forget the shopping haul videos on YouTube, also complete with links.  Whether or not these links are brand-sponsored and commission-earning, they all foster inspiration.  Inspiration that may give way to simple replication.  But that's another story I don't have the details for.

It's pretty easy to talk myself out of going beyond online window shopping.  First, having things requires money and I ain't got it like that (yet).  Second, while whatever it is looks awesome, I wouldn't wear it in real life and I don't need it.  Third, life is less about things, more about people and experiences.  More things won't necessarily make anything better.  These three reasons kept me in check, until I read someone's blog post reminding me about the Zara winter sale. 

Sales are probably the worst part of consumerism.  Sometimes Lulu's or Forever21 will send emails reading "Free shipping TODAY only!" or "15% off Happy Hour Sale!"  These ads will have a girl buying something she never planned to buy.  Like I mentioned, I can say "no" 99% of the time.  But ya'll, this Zara winter sale... This is how I acquired this burgundy clutch and iPhone case. $24 mas o menos.  Looking at what I'm wearing now, I just remembered that the jeans and flats were also impulse buys.  Damn!  Maybe I'm not as strong against the sway as I thought.

What I'm wearing:
H&M oatmeal tank // The Limited navy blazer // American Eagle ripped jeans // Mossimo Vikki patent flats // Zara clutch 
(oh yeah, the jewelry details...) Africa necklace, from Nigeria (thanks dad!) // JewelMint spiky bangle (which I accidentally spiked the clutch with) // BCBG gold arrow earrings

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A is for Awkward, B is for Bright

This Valentine's Day I dressed to impress...myself.  A brief break from winter (which, as of yesterday, has ended) allowed an outfit as seasonally inappropriate as this.  Plus, I had a (group) date with Issa Rae at Brazos Bookstore.  

On a book tour to promote The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae (who sounds and acts EXACTLY like I'd expect after watching her web series of the same name) read an excerpt from the book, answered questions from the audience and then signed copies.  I arrived at the bookstore an hour and 15 minutes before the event time so I got a prime seat.  I also got to meet this retired couple who sat next me and I had a lovely chat with the missus. 

However, that prime seat resulted in a non-prime place in line for the book signing after .  All those darn late people standing in the back beat me.  While waiting in line I tried to think of what I would say to Issa Rae once it was my turn.  I thought I would share with her that I would watch her web series and think to myself "No, I don't believe her.  Issa Rae is functionally and hilariously awkward.  I'm actually awkward.  Plainfully and painfully so."

My heartbeat quickened just as I was to walk up to the table.  Everything I had spent the last 15 minutes planning in my head disappeared.  Issa Rae threw me off (ha!) by thanking me for waiting in such a long line and I responded in a nervous babble about my prime seat rationale. How awkward!  Then it was signed, sealed, photographed, goodbye, the end.  
It was still great!

B is for Bright: Rundown on the Rainbow
Why has it taken me 8 months to finally wear this foine yellow blazer?!! (smh).  The watercolor skirt/tank pairing has been waiting for a special occasion because I didn't ever want to look too cute for no reason.  That's the worst (not really, but you know).  It's a simple combination, I think, made happier with the brightest colors I could find. 

What I'm wearing:
H&M teal tank // Zara Basics blazer // Walter by Walter Baker skirt // BCBGeneration wedges // Kate Spade "pocketbook" // JewelMint Flora necklace

Happy Tuesday!
Other link-a-dinks:
Brazos Bookstore
Issa Rae

Sunday, February 1, 2015

How to Have the Best Groundhog Day

Ground the Hog

Forget about Valentine's Day outfit and gift ideas.  It seems we've all forgotten about the innocuous Groundhog Day (February 2), which is clearly more important.  You can celebrate love any (and every) day of the year.  But Groundhog Day is the only day a rodent foretells the imminent coming of spring (or the staying of winter).  In honor of this day, I spent forever and a day putting together this outfit idea.  It had to involve burgundy and hopeful spring pastels.  What do you think?  Maybe not for places where winter actually involves snow and is certain to endure well into March.  And maybe not even for Houston which gave us a 70 degree day in January...hmmm.

Now, how to have the best Groundhog Week (I've just decided that a day is not enough):
1. Do not taunt the squirrels around you because they are fiercely jealous of all the attention the groundhog gets.  You have been warned.
2. Watch the movie Groundhog Day.  I hear it's good.  And the United States National Film Registry thinks so too.
3. Maybe visit Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania.  The groundhog lives there.  They call him Punxsatawney Phil, which is absolutely silly.
4. Eat chocolate, because chocolate is always good, all day, everyday.
5. Dress really well, like to the nines well. You'll look great and feel great and maybe get a Valentine's Day date (if you don't already have one) and keep a date (if you do already have one).  Or someone could handpick you to meet President Obama because Presidents' Day is so close too.  It could happen.

Happy Groundhog Day/Week in advance!
Happy Game Day Too!
Oh wait, I'm not a company trying to advertise something.  I can actually explicitly mention the Superbowl instead of referring to it as the "Big Game" lol.
So, go Seattle Patriots! I mean, New England Seahawks. Err, Katy Perry!

Tuesday, January 27, 2015


There was a period during my undergrad years when I felt as if I were drowning.  Some self-imposed and invisible forces of pressure, serious academic challenges, and near depression made me insufferable and part of my college experience miserable.  Thankfully, this didn't last forever and I graduated at a much better place.  But because of this I feel extra cautious about balancing my workload.  I fear taking on too much might send me over the breaking point and I would prefer not to experience that again.  Erring on the side of caution sometimes makes me so afraid to fail I don't even want to try to prove myself wrong.  And that is unacceptable.

A few weeks ago, in the face of this new semester, I felt this fear.  Immediately ran a Google search because I was sure there was some sort of motivational quote floating around to fit my situation.  And there it is:  "Don't be afraid to fail.  Be afraid not to try."
Because don't they say that you regret the things you didn't do more than those that you did?  For the most part. [To rant a little, I've always hated that one Star Wars quote "Do or do not, there is no try."  Every time I see it I think "What the hell do you know, Yoda?!" First of all, he's fictional.  But second of all, I think I know what he means but I do protest too much lol]
Anyway, cheers to the freakin' semester!  To the first six months of 2015! To doing life!
About trying...I've recently realized that several of my 25 before 25 goals are not finite, not something easily crossed off a list.  Some are continuous and some are quite non-specific.  A consequence of last-minute brainstorming, I guess.  While January has already had more than two posts, I think I may have forgotten that I am a graduate student and posting at least twice a month might not happen...let's see.

*Cracked open the thesaurus for that title word, "embolden."  
That's a bold-faced lie.  Do regular people even own thesauruses in print for their personal use in this day and age?

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Misadventures in Makeup: Eyebrows on Fleek

Before and after: just the brows
This was truly a misadventure.  I want to be on the same level as all these gorgeous girls I see in real life and anywhere else.  And that level requires your eyebrows to be on point (or on fleek, shaped to the gawds, filled to perfection).  I have not had mine properly shaped since May 2014.  I know, I know... I've had a case of the vocal lazies-- I'll look at a mirror, see the unruly bushiness of my brows, and say aloud "I have to do something!" can guess the rest. 

During Thanksgiving I attended a Black Tie event and my friends did my makeup for me.  They tried to tame my brows, hiding the stray hairs with minimal tweezing and concealer.  Amazing trickery.  They made me look glamourous.  And I thought that if they could do it, I could do it for myself.  Still not making time to professionally tweeze, wax or thread my eyebrows, after my final exams I headed to Target for the e.l.f Eyebrow Kit and e.l.f concealer (both in medium).  I had researched online for affordable and effective products.  e.l.f seemed like a good choice.  I had also been watching several Youtube tutorials.  They all make it look so simple.  But this simplicity requires a bit of skill and for me, a lot of practice.  

The first photo above shows the before and after.  Not quite what I was going for but considering my circumstances, the after was definitely tamer and more defined than the before.  I mean, I actually used real makeup brushes to comb my brows and blend the concealer around the shape.  Once I finished doing the brows I thought "What the heck, let's makeup the whole face!"  The after after is right below.
So the concealer is too light and the foundation is a little too dark and the eyeshadow looks like I have two mismatched black eyes.  But I tried.  That's really all that matters.  And I didn't leave the house with this face.  I went straight to the kitchen to make pasta for dinner. 0.o

What's my final grade?
Happy Monday!

After after: foundation and more too
behind the scenes
behind the scenes: not so beautiful mess
(this is so large!)

Monday, January 5, 2015

High End/Low End Resolution

How many sparkles, sequins and metallics are necessary to qualify as an NYE outfit?  I want to pretend I wore this to welcome the new year but there may not be enough sparkles to pass that off.  Plus, I've never attended any kind of NYE celebration before (at least not one requiring the kind of outfits inspired and presented by fashion magazines, blogs, and clothing store sales).  I've always been at home with family.  A little prayer, a little moscato or champagne, and possibly pajamas.  That's all I need, but what I want...that might shift come 2016. 

Anyway, I put this outfit together with pieces borrowed and new for a birthday dinner and afterparty that was not at a nightclub of some sort as initially believed but at a regular pub (where I was a tad overdressed).  My family went out of town for Christmas and I packed specifically for three days.  Having nothing to wear to go out with my cousin called for improvisation.  I wore a high end top by Kate Spade (a lovely Christmas gift) paired with a low end skirt from Forever 21 (borrowed from my cousin).  The clutch is likely from a "fast fashion" type of clothing store, also borrowed from my cousin, while the wedges are one of my favorite purchases, from Seychelles.  Higher end and lower end clothes balance each other out!

Although, I'm not sure that balancing principle works for my photos.  What looks high res on my iPhone becomes terribly low res uploaded and enlarged on my computer (so please forgive these ones).  Sometimes the iPhone takes crisp and beautiful photos and other times, the light is poor or the lens is temperamental.  Whenever a hopeful image comes out grainy I wish for a Samsung Galaxy or Nokia Lumia.  But not really, because I plan to use my current phone until it dies.  No matter if Apple releases the iPhone 6 Plus S or 6c or 6.5.

Oh happy day!

What I'm Wearing
Kate Spade Tatiana top // Forever 21 floral skirt // Seychelles wedge boots // "fast fashion" clutch // JewelMint Forever Audrey earrings

Friday, January 2, 2015

25 before 25

Welcome to 2015! 

That five looks so authoritative, like this year is guaranteed to be strong and firm for everyone.  A good sign of what's to come appeared to my family on the first of this year.  My dad traveled this holiday season so the mother-daughter trio went to New Year's Day brunch at the Blue Mesa Grill. Oooh, the food was delicious! While my momma and I were focused on our waffles and mimosas, a woman approached our table.  She said that she wanted to cover our brunch, in a small act of kindness, a pay it forward gesture.  We were so surprised and overwhelmed by her generosity. Brunch buffet for $20 per person is no small thing!  My family has experienced some not so pleasant moments, especially in the last quarter of this year. So to ring in the new year with such a beautifully positive and unexpected gesture speaks volumes. That five looks fierce for a reason! 2015 will be especially special.

A month ago, in the midst of all the 2014 round-ups, reflections and reviews posted and presented online and on television, I did not purposefully think about my 2014.  Outside of sweeping generalizations and transitions, 2014 was just cool. Nothing traumatic or devastating and nothing life-changing or amazing, but still blessed and with gratitude.  
Long ago, I had traded New Years resolutions for new year themes.  I kept the same theme for years: gorgeousness.  To me, to be gorgeous emcompasses everything: inner beauty, confidence, health and fitness. expressing myself in words, voice and style. To be gorgeous means to be strong and smart and fearless, even when fearful. I thought a theme was clever, but nothing was specific or explicit.  I don't even think I bothered with resolutions or themes in the last two years. Resolutions come as they come, whether that be at the beginning of a new job, a new semester of school, the summer or Black Friday.  It shouldn't matter when they happen.  If a change is gonna come and you want it to, it very well can come about.

Now, instead of a list of resolutions or a new theme (although gorgeousness will never go out of style), I've decided to create a 25 before 25 bucket list.  A few months after I turned 24, I read a Klassy Kinks post about the founder, Ijeoma's 24th birthday.  She solicited her readers for ideas for her 25 before 25.  And I thought "I should do that.  Why didn't I think to do that?"  But I let time pass by, unable to think of 25 things I would and could do before next August. And now I've cheated myself out of four months.  I've got less than 8 months to inspire change and challenge my comfort zone before I reach that mid-twenties mark.  I still can't believe I'm this old.  Sometimes I give the wrong age when asked and then immediately realize "Oops, I'm actually not 23 anymore." 

Let's get to work
Well, here they are.  Maybe I should have counted one of the 25 things as "Think of 25 things," because it has essentially taken me four months to come up with this bucket list (and most in the last 30 minutes).  Tsk tsk.  
  1. Learn enough conversational Igbo to say something more than odimma and kedu (I'm serious and I've already got the iPhone apps to show a lil' somethin' lol) 
  2. Treat my parents to a nice dinner (somehow I've never done this)
  3. Run a 5k
  4. Get the flu vaccine
  5. Sing to an audience (karaoke counts)
  6. Learn how to change a tire 
  7. Learn how to cornrow my hair (or flat-twist in any direction)
  8. Find and reach out to a professional mentor (eek!)
  9. Fortify bridges (as opposed to burning them): connect to colleagues regularly
  10. Be okay speaking in front of people (Toastmasters maybe?)
  11. Read at least five novels for leisure
  12. Relearn how to cook stew
  13. Get stronger (i.e. perform more than 5 push-ups non-stop)
  14. Visit half of the museums in Houston's Museum District (there are A LOT)
  15. Post on this blog at least twice per month
  16. Perfect one makeup look
  17. Address my edges (i.e. what exactly am I supposed to do with this thick castor oil?)
  18. Learn how to cook five new meals
  19. Learn how to swim 
  20. Become certified in first aid and CPR
  21. Attend a conference or convention (for public health or blogging or faith or cultural celebration or whatever)
  22. Figure out and write out a specific career goal (what, when, where, how and know the why)
  23. Finish transcribing my grandfather's unfinished memoirs
  24. Save $1000 (towards a camera and accessories or a trip)
  25. Make a new friend, keep a new friend
Whew, done!  Cheers to the things on this bucket list!  I'll update along the way and I'll do my best to complete them all.  But since time is short and 2015 continues past my birthday, I think a little leeway would be acceptable.  Don't you?  
Happy New Year to all you beautiful people!