My Workout Playlist: Fall 2012

I have a confession to make to you all today, ladies and gentlemen.  I HATE WORKING OUT. Yeah, I said it! It's not the actual working out that I don't like, it's just that it takes a lot to get me motivated.  I'm that chick that needs a little force when it comes to getting off the couch and moving!  Now don't sit in front of your computer or read from your phones or iPads and judge me because I know I'm not the only one.  And if my friend and fitness guru Wil is reading this, I hope he isn't too disappointed in me lol. 

I admitted all of that to say that I often need an incentive to get my body in motion.  Sure being fit and healthy should be enough, but I need a little something more to get the blood pumping.  And that's where the music comes in to play.  Music motivates me to move, so getting up and moving along with the beat really helps get my workout going.  This is a common element in working out, as you can always see folks in the gym or jogging down the street with their iPods pacing along.  Though I shared a workout playlist with you guys before, I tend to update it with different songs frequently so that I don't become bored with the routine.  Check out the songs on my current playlist below:   

Do You Love What You Feel- Rufus/Chaka Khan
Supersonic- JJ Fad
Get This Party Started- Pink
All Night, Don't Stop-Janet Jackson
Feedback-Janet Jackson
Crush- Ciara
Get Me Bodied- Beyonce'
Cold Blooded- Rick James 
Got to Be Real- Cheryl Lynn
Tell Me When to Go- E-40
'Pon De River- Elephant Man
Poison- Bel Biv Devoe
Vivrant Thing- Q-Tip
100 % Pure Love- Crystal Waters
Slight Work- Wale
Faster- Janelle Monae

For now, these songs are doing a good job of working up a sweat.  And as you may notice, Faster by Janelle Monae is still on my workout list. It's one of my favorite songs, has an excellent tempo, and its lyrics remind me to run faster!  Needless to say, it's not going anywhere soon.  

Are there any songs that are constants on your workout playlist?  If you don't currently have a workout playlist, be sure to check out Jog FM, a site that helps you find workout music according to your walking, running or cycling time.  And if you have musical tastes similar to mine, feel free to bookmark this post, as my actual playlist is embedded below.

Dre Writes: The Burgundy Lipstick Story

My obsession with lipstick dates back around two decades ago.  I was always fascinated by the way it made my aunt's lips the first thing I noticed when visiting her as a child.  It left such an impression on everything.  It made others hang on to every word that escaped her lips.  It even left its heavy stain on the glasses she drank from and the silverware she ate from.  It made such a statement that I wanted some of my own.  Somehow I knew I would not be able to get my hands on any for myself though.  Grown-ups have a way of letting children know that certain things are for grown-ups only so I knew none would be outright handed to me.

One day I came up with what then seemed like a novel idea.  I made up in my mind that during the next visit, I would get some lipstick from my aunt without her knowing.  The wheels of the plan were set in motion on the way to her house soon after.  Upon arrival, I was so anxious I couldn't even sit still!  While no one was looking I decided to sneak up to her room and find her makeup bag.  It wouldn't be very hard, because when my mother went anywhere, she had four children with her.  I was one of those four.  No one would notice I'd be missing with three younger children to fuss over.

In the short moments that led to me being in this space and time,  I had to make sure to remain unseen and quietly creep off into my curiosities.  In record time, I found myself quietly closing her room  door and spotting that bright red vintage makeup bag with the golden zippers. I carefully drew back the opening seams of that bag to uncover hidden treasures of  honey brown-stained sponges, circular contraptions with "Fashion Fair" imprinted with gold strokes, black pencils with clear toppers and big fluffy brushes.  I rummaged through the bag with my little curious fingers and large inquisitive eyes looking for the big prize.

Finding that single tube of lipstick immediately made me feel powerfully statuesque in all my 4 foot glory.  Twisting the bottom of the cream colored tube and smearing the stick of burgundy color onto my lips made me very visible.  In fact, it transformed me into quite the diva.  Wearing it removed me from the blur that was "the four."  It also gave me access to a secret of beauty among the women in my family. It was their way of being noticed in a room full of women without saying much.  It was also a good way to get in trouble with my mama, had she caught me wearing it.  It would be worth the risk though. After basking in the application of the lipstick and enveloping the magical, mystical feeling I imagined my aunties felt, I would wipe it away in a haste, without anyone noticing.  Or so I thought.  The haste of my mother's footsteps was much faster than the quick swipes of my forehand I thought would make me go back to being unnoticed.  Too bad the color was so heavily pigmented, my lips were left stained with shame until my bedtime bath.

I had almost forgotten the burst of excitement I felt in that brief moment of time.  My reflection in the illuminated mirror back in 1992 with a crimson grin dripping from my chin had nearly escaped me.  It wasn't until I peeked into my bedroom twenty years later that I found that same bashful smile grinning back at me, one part proud yet one part afraid.  I smiled to myself, and indeed let my reflection know I was amused by her new smile.

I didn't make her take it off, either.  But I did inform her that I could see her just fine without it.  I still wonder to myself, however, if she feels the same way about me.

What Ever Happened To.. Jesse Powell?

Back in 1996, Jesse Powell crooned his way into the hearts, minds, and affections of women everywhere.  His sugary sweet and saccharine vocals even accompanied women down the aisle.  He captivated us with his charming looks, silky smooth voice, and love-laced ballads.  And then he left the public eye, leaving fans wondering, "What ever happened to Jesse Powell?"

Though he emerged on the music scene during the time of R&B greats like Brian McKnight, Joe, Keith Sweat, and Ginuwine, Jesse Powell was known to hold his own in the music industry.  He released four albums, with his sophomore album Bout It, Bout It gaining the most success at Gold status.  He is also the brother of Trina and Tamara Powell, who you all may remember being featured on Somethin' For the People's hit single "My Love is the Ish.."  That used to be my jam, too!

Below are the three singles I remember Jesse Powell most by:  "I Wasn't With It" (the song that introduced me to him), "You" (my aunt's wedding song and a beautiful one at that), and my personal favorite "Bout It, Bout It."

Does anyone know what Jesse Powell is up to these days?

NYX Round Lipsticks: Review + Swatches

Are you still rocking your beautiful nudes and pink lips into the fall season?  Well, as much as I love the plum pouts rising to the occasion recently, I love nude and pink lipsticks also.  So for the ladies who love nudes and pinks as much as I do, and for those of you who aren't quite ready to step into that deeply-hued lip-rocking territory, I have a treat for you.  Today I'm sharing a few NYX lipsticks that I love to wear in any season.  Even before I became a big lipstick fan, I first played around with NYX lipsticks and found colors I was comfortable with wearing.  For my non-lipstick wearers, I hope this post makes you want to try out a tube! 

The NYX Round Lipsticks first appealed to me because they offered both "safe" shades and shocking shades of lipstick.  I was in awe when I visited Cherry Culture for the first time to make a lipstick purchase.  Afraid bright colors wouldn't compliment me at all, I decided on five lipsticks and clicked the BUY button.  Two years have passed and the colors Darling, Thalia, Power, Strawberry Milk, and Narcissus are still among my favorite lipsticks. 

My Thoughts

The NYX Round Lipstick comes in sleek, black packaging.  It is embossed with a pretty white font, distinguishing it from other lipsticks.  At the top of the tube, each lipstick has its respective color and name printed on a sticker.  I love this, because on some lipstick packaging it is not clear what the color is or the name wipes off over time.

The NYX Round Lipstick goes on very smooth. It has a creamy consistency and gives great color payoff with just one swipe. The lighter colors, such as Strawberry Milk and Narcissus, tend to have a streaky consistency.  One would have to play around with these colors a bit to get the desired consistency on to your lips. **For the light colors, I suggest filling in the lips with a nude colored lip pencil first, and blotting lipstick with a tissue after desired application.**  Below are the swatches-- first with flash, then without flash.

1)Variety of colors- There are currently 144 shades of NYX Round Lipstick available.  That means there is a shade or two or ten for everyone!
2) Budget-Friendly Price-  These lippies are currently on sale at the Cherry Culture website for $2.99!  Now  is a good time to snatch these up!
3)Sleek packaging- As I mentioned up top, the packaging is boss.  It has the clearly defined signature look of a higher-end lipstick for a fraction of the price. 
4)Great color payoff- The lipstick delivers a big punch of color without drying.  And for the price, I think it's a win-win!

1) Streaky consistency with lighter colors- As I explained earlier, the lighter colors tend to streak upon application.  However, with careful application, this problem can be solved with ease.
2) The "off" flavor of the lipstick- I know this may not mean much to some, but I can't help but taste the faint flavor of fragrance or something when I apply this lipstick.  This doesn't necessarily make it a deal-breaker, as many lipsticks have a distinctive smell or taste.  But with wearing CoverGirl Lip Perfection Lipsticks and MAC Lipsticks, one can become spoiled with using lipsticks of a sweet smell or "taste."

Would I repurchase?
I have and I will again! In fact, check me out wearing Thalia, my go-to nude lippie of the bunch. 


Dre Writes: It's The Little Things

Today when I arrived home from my day-to-day, I found myself smiling uncontrollably.  Not just a sly little grin, either.  I was beaming brightly like a first-grader on picture day!  There was nothing exceptional about my day at all.  I didn't get any roses from anyone "Just to Say I Love You" nor did I get a special call from a long lost friend.  My place wasn't squeaky clean when I got here either (usually the sight of the kids' toys make me cringe). But nonetheless, I was undeniably happy.

You see, from time to time I have a tendency to focus on the stressful aspects of life: deadlines, unmet requirements, mile-long to-do lists, you get the idea, right?  Well today, I decided to focus on the positive things.  Training required for my social work program requires that one learns to face situations from a solution-focused/strengths-based perspective.  Rather than identifying a problem and mulling over it, one should use his or her obstacles to draw up possible solutions.  And instead of thinking about all of the things going wrong or the things one is without, he or she should identify all of the strengths and positive energies circulating in his or her direction.  I rattle on and on about all of this to say that I was genuinely happy.  I got out of the car and smelled the rich floral scents on the way in.  My jacket enveloped me from the cool, crisp weather outside.  I was able to drink in the beautiful horizon and the smile of my wonderful children when I crossed the threshold with perfect eyesight.  I, as well as my family, are in great health and we are well nourished.  I lived to see another day.  God gave me another day to sort through dreams and aspirations of my choice.  Realizing these "little things" that I often forget brought joy to my heart.

As trite as it may sound to some, when we look at all of the highlights of our lives, we have no room to mull over the dark days.  So I invite you all to let the little things in life bring you happiness.  Take time to stop and smell the roses.  Enjoy a refreshing cup of pomegranate tea as I am doing while I type.  I encourage you to take part in any small gesture that makes your soul smile.  Just thinking about the small blessings you have received in your life should bring you happiness.  And if not, know that being able to read these words is a great blessing within itself.  I wish that my dear father would have been able to read some of my words before he passed away, but he began to lose his sight as his health failed.  So just remember, blessings are all around you.  Just take the time to let the "little things" make you smile.

from the archives: november 2010
photo credit

Tuesday's Tunes: Volume 4

Happy Tuesday, ladies and gentlemen!  How is your day going so far?  I hope all is well with each and every one of you.  I also want to thank you all for stopping by my little corner of the web today.  You could have been on any other site right now, but you're here rocking with me.  And for that, I am very appreciative :-) 

For this week's installment of Tuesday's Tunes, I would like to share with you a few songs on my playlist today.  I hope you enjoy the selections!

Miss My Love by Antoine Dunn- What can I say about Antoine Dunn and his smooth Baptist Church soul- stirring vocals?  I became a fan of Antoine Dunn after hearing his single "Can't Forget" a while back.  So I was pleasantly surprised to hear the release of another single in "Miss My Love."  If you like this song and are asking yourself "Who is Antoine Dunn?" please get familiar by visiting his site at  His debut album Truth of the Matter will be released on October 16, a week from today, so be on the lookout! 

I Don't Know Why I Love You by Brand New Heavies- Anyone who has ever heard this song cannot ignore the beautifully painful lyrics N'Dea Davenport is forcing out of herself in "I Don't Know Why I Love You." I never knew love and pain coupled could sound so good! As a fan of the Brand New Heavies, I must say this is one of my favorites by them.

Cheers 2 U by Playa-  The first time I heard "Cheers 2 U" I was riding in my mom's minivan enjoying a chocolate-covered vanilla ice cream bar.  We had just left the grocery store and it was apparent that music and the ice cream were all that would ensure a peaceful 30 minute ride home for mommy and her four precocious children.  It's crazy what songs memories attach themselves to.  After hearing this song I went home and  begged my cousin to buy me Playa's album by the same name. As my siblings can probably recall, this allowed me the opportunity to play the tape repeatedly in the car and house until everybody got tired of hearing it.  I wonder if any of them grew to love the late-great Static Major as much as I did.  

Never Make a Promise by Dru Hill-  This was such a touching song. I love each sentiment that the song leader "Jazz" expressed in these lyrics.  "I promise I'll never hurt you, I'll never make you cry... I'll keep you safe, I'll keep you warm, I'll keep you satisfied."  And he vowed to keep these promises in the video, when he learns his pregnant girlfriend is being abused by her stepfather.  This one is definitely a tear-jerker for you.   

Cherry Wine by Nas featuring Amy Winehouse- If you know me well, you know I Stan for three rappers.  Nas happens to be one of them, so you can probably imagine how much I have played out Life Is Good since its summer release.  My favorite track from the album, "Cherry Wine," features the vocals of the late Amy Winehouse in the chorus.  In the video, Nas serves the drinks in this classic bar setting as projections of Amy performing adorn the walls.  

Are you a fan of these tunes?  What are you listening to?
Please share in the comments :-)

Dating 101: Things I Wish I Knew THEN About Dating

How often do you run into an old flame and immediately reminisce on what used to be?  Brief exchanges with an ex-beau always take me back to moments lost in time, reminding me of the girl I used to be way back when.  I went into getting to know individuals in all the wrong ways and created so much unnecessary drama for myself after getting to know quite a few of them.  I often wonder what life would have been like had I been given a manual or self-help book for dating in one's late teens.  I also wonder if I would have even taken the advice.  You ladies remember what it was like to be young and just KNOW you were in love with someone new every three months right (I hope that wasn't just me)?  Well I decided to share here a few things I wish I would have known then about dating, since I can't go back and give the old me any pointers.  

I wish I would have...

Recognized the importance of getting to know myself first.  During our teenage and young adult years, it's so easy for us to become so immersed in what's going on around us that we lose sight of ourselves.  I know this was true for me, hence the years I spent trying to "find myself" in early adulthood.  Did I "find" myself?  Not exactly.  But I did begin to identify my values, truths, and personal qualities I either wanted to enrich or improve.  I didn't have all the answers back then, but I do believe being true to myself and standing firm in my beliefs would have made a difference in the people I allowed to come into my life.  I had no clue who I was, what I wanted, or who I wanted to become.  So that made it easy to get involved with others who (a) also had to clue who they were or (b) knew I had no clue who I was and wanted to take advantage.

Discovered what dating meant for me.  I never defined the meaning of dating for myself, so I had a hard time understanding the concept.  Did it mean I was going steady with someone?  Would I form a relationship similar to those I saw in movies?  What exactly did dating mean?  The dictionary defines dating as going out socially with someone, usually out of romantic interest.  But this definition wasn't quite what I was looking for, so I began looking anywhere for answers.  Did I take ideas about what my friends considered dating?  Yes, I did.  Did I jack images of what dating should look like from movies and popular television shows?  Again, I did that.  So in gathering from various places I ASSUMED what dating could mean for me.  This ended up being when a flashy guy with a nice car decides to take me out everywhere I want to go, do all the things I want to do, and pay for everything! Not really, but yeah.  That's about all the thought I put into it.

Considered my reasons for dating.  No matter what I thought dating should look like, those ideas never really materialized for me.  I was very passive at this time in my life, so I had a tendency to take the "passenger's seat" approach to dating.  In other words, I allowed others to make the decisions for me.  Sometimes we waste time with people simply because they ask us to, and that's a no-no.  I really wish I would have took the time to ask myself some of these questions:
  1. Was I attracted to this person?  Or was I just going with the flow?  
  2. Did I even like this person enough to share my time with them?
  3. What about me made them want to share their time with me?
  4. Am I just bored and looking for something new to do?
  5. Is the person I'm interested in dating for the same reasons I am?
Considering each of these things thoughtfully would have saved me so much time! Not to mention the disappointment I could have avoided!

Understood the art of getting to know someone else. Oftentimes I confused the idea of getting to know someone with getting to know "about" someone.  See, in getting to know "about" someone, I was tuning in to the gossip circulating about that person.  These are things I let sway my decisions in choosing a boyfriend.  I didn't realize there was a difference in getting to know someone and learning about someone.  When you get to know someone, you discover his or her likes, dislikes, aspirations, personality traits, quirks, and pet peeves.  You learn what type of person they are by being around them, taking note of their body language, and paying attention to how they respond to things.  You also give another person the opportunity to get to know you on a more personal level.

Getting to know a person does NOT mean get to know about his or her exes! How many of us have asked all up in someone's past business with another before learning about them, personally?  And how many of us have spilled T about our past relationships before sharing about us only? Yep, I did these too. Smh.

Relaxed a little! I now realize that dating should have been a fun time for me.   It's an interesting thing to get to know another person.  It gives you the opportunity to share space, stories, laughter, and good times with another.  For me, dating brought forth so much pressure simply because I was working hard at the wrong things.  I was reading all of these advice columns in magazines that encouraged girls to do THIS to make him like you or dress like THAT to get his attention.  I was so focused on making sure I appeared to be the ideal girl for someone that I forgot to just relax, be myself, and have fun.

What is something you wish you knew THEN about dating?

Photography by William Stitt
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