Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Living Life Tour

"Not all those who wander are lost." -J.R.R. Tolkien

If you follow me on social media, you have probably observed the use of my latest hashtag #livinglifetour.  Even though I've always been an avid traveler, this summer I decided to embark on an 18 day journey across Europe before the celebration of my 30th birthday.  After months of planning, this trip has finally begun, and I can't wait to share some of the best memories with you on this blog.

Stonehenge (London).

Platform 9 3/4 (London).

Putney (London).

Amy Winehouse's Apartment (London).

Tribute (London).

Eiffel Tower (Paris).

Arc de Triumphe (Paris).

Versailles (Paris).

Notre Dame (Paris).

The Grand Canal (Venice).

Gondola Ride (Venice).

Wine and Dine. (Florence)

Tuscan Steak. (Florence)

The Death Walk. (Florence)

Wine Tasting. (Florence)

Entertainment. (Florence)

Firenze. (Florence)

Colosseum. (Rome)

Vatican City. (Rome)


Tradition. (Athens)

Parthenon. (Athens)

Agora. (Athens)


Lunch. (Mykonos)

Perfect. (Mykonos)

Super Paradise. (Mykonos)


Michael. (Crete)

ATV Life. (Santorini)

Ultimate Fail. (Santorini)

Below are my thoughts on each city:


I think I've found my new home away from home.  London was similar to big cities in "America", but the people, food, and culture were absolutely amazing! From visiting Buckingham palace, to purchasing tea at Fortnum and Mason, to eating at Nandos (Rihanna's favorite restaurant), London is a unique mix of the historic with the modern (and everyone speaks English).  Even though I flew through pounds like I had a press in my backpack,  I can't wait to visit again.  And I'm sure it will be sooner rather than later.  One of the most memorable moments from London was being able to stand outside of the gate of the late Amy Winehouse's home in Camden.  Amy will always remain one of my favs that gained her wings well before we were ready to see her go, and the tribute from her fans in front of her apartment touched my heart to its core.  I had intentions to see her recently released biopic in London before our departure, but unfortunately, time was not on our side.


Before the start of this trip, I knew that Paris would steal my heart, but it did nothing of the sort.  While the sights were breathtaking and the food delicious, the anti-American and anti-hygenic people of the city left a lot to be desired.  I've honestly never been to a city filled with such foul attitudes accompanied by foul smelling people.  I just believe in picking a struggle, you can't have a nasty attitude and nasty smelling body.  From the rancid smells to the lack of participating English speaking French people, a lot was left to be desired.  However, there was one highlight that saved Paris from being nixed off of my travel in the future list.  Versailles.  As a Marie Antoinette fanatic, I was more than stoked to walk the halls of the historic, yet still breathtaking Versailles, even though we only had 30 minutes to navigate due to a time restricted tour and crowd at capacity.  I can't wait to go back and revisit on a less crowded day and view it in all of its splendor.  


"Every cognac is a brandy, but not every brandy is a cognac."

From the moment I discovered that all cognac comes from a small town outside of Paris (or else it is brandy and not cognac), I knew that this was one place that I had to visit.  And where Paris lacked in American enthusiasm, Cognac opened its warm arms and grasped a place in my heart.  Jayne, our experienced tour guide, arranged informative tours and cognac sampling at Courvoisier, Remy Martin, and Camus (Hennessy is closed for renovations), three of the world's top 5 cognacs, and we embarked on a journey of cognac 101.  I'm not sure whether my extreme happiness at the end of this tour was dedicated to my cognac consumption or excitement in finally meeting some nice people in France, but I look forward to one day revisiting with my brothers and/or male counterpart.


It was hot. I got lost.


I think I've found my favorite European city thus far.  From the people, to discovering Tuscan steak, to the picturesque landscape and the natural beauty of structures that have survived the test of time, Florence stole my heart.  And while discussing Florence, I must talk about 2 noteworthy experiences.  On our first night in Florence, we partook in a lovely feast in the Tuscan hills.  This entire European trip has been filled with various tours from many different companies, but this one stole the show.  We were treated to a 4 course meal with 4 wine selections, and both the chef and host were extremely personable and entertaining.  Personally, I think that the host had been sipping some "vino" himself, but hey, what's Italy without a little wine.  It was at this beautiful farmhouse in the hills that we discovered the Tuscan peoples love for steak and the beginning of the end for my delight in American cuisine.  The link for this tour is below, and I'm sure that the price won't stay this low for long.  If you're ever in Florence, I would recommend it with 5 stars:

What this tour overcompensated for in good cheer and delicious cuisine, our second tour in Tuscany almost sent me packing.  Since every Chianti daytime wine tour was sold out, I found a tour that involved an easy-medium walk of Florence and included a wine tasting at an exclusive Tuscan villa in the hills.  When the tour guide showed up in full workout gear with us being the only three patrons, I should have known that we were in deep trouble.  We shall call this tour the "Death Walk."  After hiking up 140 steps (no exaggeration) and up the Tuscan hills through winding roads that often required us to clutch the wall to prevent becoming road kill, we finally made it to the villa.  While the villa was just as beautiful as described and the wine and food pairing were superb,  we definitely caught a taxi back home.  Easy-medium walk my ass.


How does the old adage go?  When in Rome, do what the Romans do....  If that involves eating a lot of pizza, doing a lot of drinking, becoming a Gelato connessieur, and being one hell of a foot soldier, call me Roman.  There were so many architectural marvels in Rome, with the Colosseum being the one that stopped my heart.  Standing outside this majestic structure, I could hear the crowd cheers as the gladiators fought to their deaths.  Like really, I'm serious!  But even with all of the marvel that the Colosseum had to offer, I'm sure that my favorite would have been the Trevi Fountain.  And I say would have been, because of course, it is still under construction.  However, I still made my wish.  *shrugs


While our first day in Rome was spent sight seeing, day 2 was dedicated to seeing the ruins of the once glamorous city known as Pompeii.  I think that the only city that intrigues me more than Pompeii, would be the city of Atlantis (whether mythical or not).  Needless to say, our tour of Pompeii was not only informative, but hilarious.  Not only was Pompeii a city of fine architecture and riches, but also a city of brothels where gay sex was the norm.  And to think, our society likes to think that we are in the end of days.  The sins of man haven't changed, just the way in which they are cloaked.  Let that sink in for a moment, it's deep, I know.


Let me start off by saying, our stay in Athens was rough.  It is a shame that our stay in this marvel of a city had to be marred by a traveler's worst nightmare... Lost luggage.  In the matter of a one way flight via Vueling Airlines, you can go from being best dressed to struggling choosing supermarket panties and deciding how to recycle today's outfit for tomorrow.  I spent my first day in Athens trying to keep the group's spirits up and trying not to succumb to the fear of our luggage being forever lost in oblivion.  However, we eventually sucked it up, hand washed our drawers, and handled it like some champs.

Since a day was wasted wallowing in our feelings, my time in Athens was minimal.  However, I did get to marvel at the city view from the top of the Acropolis (after almost sliding to my death due to the lack of grip on my converse and muscles in my legs) and find my favorite restaurant of the entire trip, Agora.  I'm not usually big on repeating restaurants, especially in a new city, but the staff and food was so good, that we made it a point to return the second night.  And the free fruit, ice cream, and shots at the end of each meal, only sealed the deal.

Let me not forget to add that we were also able to find some good deals on clothes at the mall in Athens.  Due to the $50s per day we were given for each day our luggage were lost, we were able to find some steals to hold us over for a few days.  I spent $100 and was able to replace most of my necessary toiletries and get 2 swimsuits, 2 pairs of sandals, 3 dresses, 2 shirts, and a skirt thanks to the end of summer/recession sale at H&M.  Won't he do it!


If there was one place I wish I could have experienced in my early 20's, it would have to be the Mykonos, my second favorite place of the entire trip.  The beaches were beautiful, the people were friendly, and the party scene rivaled anything I've encountered in the past 29 years (and I like to party).  From champagne showers to gorgeous Italian men that clearly liked black women, Mykonos owes me nothing (but a new liver).  If only for one city this trip, I was able to be my usual "free spirit with a wild heart" self and just live, live like no one was watching. We drank, we partied, and we drank some more.  And it was in Mykonos that we became one of the few Vueling customers to ever recover their lost luggage.  Perfect ending, right?


From the Mykonos, we traveled via ferry to the largest island in Greece, Crete.  While we arrived in Heraklion, I opted for our group to stay in a small village about 20 minutes from the city known as Archanes.  Crete was the portion of our trip where we could just let our hair down, rest our tired toes, and just chill and marvel in the beauty of our travels.  And that is exactly what we did.  Within 24 hours of arriving in Archanes, we had become one with the locals, including one of the only two taxi drivers, Katerina.  If you're ever in Archanes and need a driver, call her (0030)6944-232224.

In Archanes, life takes place in the city's square, which was a short trot down the hill from our residence house.  In the square, you could find your restaurants and bars and mingle with the city "folks."  And at the end of each meal, they resumed the tradition of not allowing us to leave without enjoying complimentary shots, fresh fruit, and dessert.


I've always said that my perfect honeymoon destination was going to be Bora Bora... Well, that was before we took a day trip to Santorini.  Santorini was everything that every picture has every shown, and it was the epitome of the beauty of Greece and all of its marvels.  From the white buildings, to the blue beaches, to the rolling cliffs, my only regret is only being able to spend one day enjoying it's beauty.

Instead of opting for a traditional tour, I was able to talk my traveling compadres into renting ATVS to tour the island like some bosses.  Until you've zipped through cliffs without barriers at high rates of speed without a map or care in the world, I'm going to venture to say maybe you haven't lived.  Before this trip, I might have been the ride on an ATV behind her man kind of girl, but thanks to this trip, I'm now the get your own and meet my ass at the top kind of woman.  Hell of a difference....

End Notes

I started this 18 day "sabbatical" with a heavy heart and a wounded spirit with a slight vendetta with God.  So many doors have recently been closed in my face, without rhyme or reason, and I was beginning to doubt my purpose, or whether I even served a purpose.  I came to Europe looking for my muse...  the potion to heal my wounded heart and ego.  And I left with so much more... Not only did I find my muse, but a renewed lust for life, and a better understanding of why sometimes God has to make you uncomfortable to allow your true purpose to shine through.  I'm back focused, and all I can say is thank you God.  Thank you for the traveling grace, thank you for the trials, and thank you for putting me on the right track to finding myself.


Friday, March 20, 2015

International Day of Happiness - 3/20

"If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never be fulfilled. If your happiness depends on money, you will never be happy with yourself. Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize there is nothing lacking, the world belongs to you."  -Lao Tzu

Many times, because we are human, we allow ourselves to dwell on the negative and not the positive things that occur in our lives on a daily basis.  Even on our worst day, God gives us something in which we should just say thank you.  Below are ten things that are currently the source of my happiness:

  1. I am currently working on some projects that are going to set me apart from any other new authors right now.  It's always exciting when you have a strike of genius.
  2. My debut novel, Fashionably Deceptive, is almost at 100 reviews.  
  3. My family is gaining back the closeness that we had lost, and it is refreshing.
  4. Punishment is Due, my next novel, will be headed to editing soon for a July release.  
  5. St. Paddy's Day was this week, and I partied like a rock star.
  6. My siblings are absolutely phenomenal, and each possesses qualities that make me a better person.
  7. I just love the Oliver-Davis's.
  8. I haven't completed a book since 2011, but I recently got my mojo back and am halfway done with the 3rd and final book in the Fashionably Deceptive series.
  9. My non-profit will be launching in less than 30 days.  I refuse to be great and not be able to make a difference.
  10. The planning for my trip to Europe is coming along, and it is destined to be the trip of a lifetime.  

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Reason for it All

"The purpose of life is to matter, to count, to stand for something, to have it make some difference that we lived at all."
-Leo Buscaglia

Once upon a time, I lived for other people.  Their feelings, their lives, their beliefs, their needs, all influenced my life.  When they hurt, I hurt, when they failed, I felt their pain, and when they were at rock bottom, I was willing to lose myself trying to save them.  And then, one day, I realized that while I was shouldering the weight of their world on my shoulders, I was losing myself in the process.  And when I finally collapsed under the weight of their trials, they were never the ones there to save me.  Over and over again, I faced the same lessons, I save, I mold, I make you the best you, and in the process, I lose a part of my soul.  I've said it numerous times and will restate it again and again, God will give you the same test until you learn to pass it. And I had to fail that heaux over and over again before a light a bulb finally came on.

I spent much of my 20s learning and growing and making some of the same mistakes over and over, losing sight of what really mattered.  I've always been destined for greatness, and excelling in my passions has always come with ease.  I was the kid that never studied and excelled, the young adult that's worst is better than most people's best, and the woman that can conquer the world if I put my mind to it.  Not arrogant, just aware of my God given talents.  But I've also always been the woman that wears her heart on her sleeves and on more than one occasion, a man has almost been the reason why I allowed myself to wallow in self pity and stop reaching for the stars.

One of the hardest things about blogging about my life is that I'm fairly private.  Even my closest friends only know what I choose to tell them.  I choose to carry my own baggage in silence because I know what it's like to carry the weight of someone elses.  I never want anyone to hurt with me or because of me, and even deeper than that, I never want to be the source of anyone's pity.

However recently, I had the epiphany of all epiphanies.  Why do we allow ourselves to worry about things and people that don't really matter?  That goes for the men, the day to day nuisances of life, the minor trials, the tribulations.... That goes for it all.  If it's not going to matter 10 years from now, why do we allow it to matter today?

I'm not immune from crying.  I'm not immune from pain.  I'm not immune from hurting, because I am human.  But what I am immune from is allowing someone else's BS to dictate my life and make me feel like less of a woman.  My purpose in life is so much bigger than any relationship, any stressors associated with a 9-5 job, any  drama that is not my own... I'm just out here chasing the reason for it all, and that's the only thing that matters.  Keep the main thing, the main thing, and that main thing is greatness.


Monday, February 9, 2015

Free at Last

"The hottest love always has the coldest end." -Drake

If you would have asked me if I was over him, I would have told you, yes.  I didn't have any contact with him, I'd suppressed all thoughts of him, and I refused to speak of him, good or bad.  I was done, literally and figuratively, block listed his ass from my phone and my so I thought.  And then I ran into him, a year later, unprepared, and in the most unlikeliest of places.

Neither of us are big club people, even though we have both been known to party with the best of them.  So, every now and again, we allow our friends to drag us out for a night of drunken fun and barely memorable shenanigans.  The other night was not an exception.  After making sure my hair and makeup were on fleek, and my outfit snatched, I stepped out for a night with the girls.  And in the midst of dancing and drinking, I was literally hit with a blast from my past.  I don't know who spotted who first, but I do know there was enough starring going back and forth for one of my friends to finally say, "Do you know him?"

First, let me say, we both have a group of close friends that we usually hang around, however, neither of us happened to be with that group of friends that night.  And had we have been with the usual, I definitely don't think that the night would have began or ended in the same manner.  Low key, since I discovered that I was still resentful, it might have ended in drunken blows, or with another missed opportunity to say all of the things that should have been said long before that night.

I hadn't seen him in over a year, and our situationship had ended long before that, but laying eyes on him stirred up all of the emotions that I thought I no longer felt.  It is putting it lightly to say that our situation was passionate and intense from the beginning.  We fought and we f*cked, and then we repeated the cycle.  We cared deeply for one another, but we didn't talk, we allowed everything to reach tipping point, and maybe assumed that good sex would smooth everything over.  Drake said it best, "The hottest love has the coldest end."  And one day it all blew up.  He moved on, literally and figuratively... I didn't, and while it hurt, it just was, and I accepted it, and push it to the furthest realms of my mind.

And then, at the bar of this club that neither of us had ever been too, we met, again.  My first inclination was to pretend that we hadn't been meeting each other's eyes and to just avoid any contact with him.  But that plan was quickly nixed by a quick girl's trip to the restroom.  Our eyes met, and this time, he decided to be the bigger person and initiate the conversation.  It's almost ironic that in a place usually filled with ill intentions, I was able to make peace with a man that I used to love.

I didn't know that the apology mattered, I didn't realize I needed to know that he still cared, I didn't care to ever consider that maybe he had loved me too (even if I loved him more)....  We shared a night, a night that I will never regret, and from that night, I gained the one thing I didn't even know I had been missing.  Peace.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

What's Your Fit

"History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it.

-Sir Winston Churchill

By now, you probably know that I frequently straddle the fence between saint and sinner, and on more days than I care to admit, I sometimes allow both legs to hit the darker side full throttle.  I'm a thrill seeker and a typical Sagittarius that doesn't know a life without pushing boundaries. However, this morning I awoke surprisingly early (10:00am is early to me), after a night filled with many libations, with a heart that longed to hear the word.  I wish that I could embellish my story and say I got fresh to death and headed to the holy house, but it's 2015.  So, I more like pulled on a tshirt, because I think it is blasphemy to watch church in the nude, and tuned into my local pastor via live streaming.

Ever since I finished The Alchemist, I have been more in tune with the signs of the universe and the reasons that people are brought into my life.  I'm also more cognizant of the things and people that I allow to consume my time and the role that they play in the overall picture: fulfilling my destiny.  So, today's sermon came right on time.

The title of today's sermon, "What is your fit," coincided perfectly with my current sentiments about life.  What is my destiny and what steps am I taking to fulfill it?  And one of the key points that resonated for me was leadership comes from great collaboration.  You can not be at the top of your game in any arena of life without having great minds with which to collaborate.  And it was that point that led to today's epiphany.

I am a critical thinker and an analyzer.  And I'm also slightly imaginative and delusional, hence the reason I write fiction, anything goes for a great story.  With that being said, I often come to these grand conclusions, especially with my current mindset, about why certain people with certain attributes seem to come into my life at certain times.  Sometimes I chuckle and have to thank God for not allowing me to get caught up with that select few of unambitious men that I knew I wanted to marry when it was "our" season.  Thank you God for your sense of discernment, when I clearly had none, because I know I fought you tooth and nail to hold on to some of those niggas.  However, in my last post, I spoke of the men that are currently in my life, and how they all seem to fit the same mold.  And today, it all began to make sense.

In the words of my pastor, "One thing I've never seen is God NOT show up (even when we wanted him to mind his own business)." And when he shows up (stomp 3 times), you know he likes to show out.  I realized today that I haven't finished a book since 2011.  I've done some editing and some updates, here and there, but for the most part all of my books were finished years ago.  And as much as I love to write and will start random novels here and there, I have not finished a single book since Punishment is Due (my next release).  That means that for over 3 years, I have just been sitting on my gift.  Readers all over the country are acknowledging my talent, and I don't have anything to give them after I release Punishment is Due this summer.  Nothing.  Nothing at all.

So, a few months ago, God brought "him" back into my life.  We've always had a special connection, but it wasn't until he moved back to Houston that we were able to actually spend more time together and establish the deeper bond that comes from close proximity.  However, I still didn't get what God was doing in my life.  Then almost simultaneously a couple of months ago, he sent 2 more men, that are almost just as passionate about their gifts as "him" and spend just as many hours living and breathing life into their dreams, foregoing sleep to fulfill their destinies.  And today, it all began to make sense.  Your team fuels your dream...Let that resonate for a second.  Being surrounded by this team of successful men, that all came from nothing, but that are making their dreams come true, makes you want to start producing and creating and training for leaving your legacy on the world.  Many people fear dying and leaving their family behind or dying of a debilitating illness, etc, but my greatest fear is dying without reaching my pinnacle of success and leaving behind the type of legacy that has people talking for years to come... Not a Monica Lewinsky type legacy, but a Maya Angelou type legacy.  I will not settle for anything less.

And what God has done is given me a team that inspires, that motivates, that creates, and that won't settle for anything less than greatness.  I might not know my exact fit yet, but believe me when I say, 2015 is about to be a hell of a year. #StayTuned

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Trust Issues Part 3

I consider myself to be a planner... I'm organized, I'm a control freak, and I walk around with my Erin Condren Life Planner attached to my hip like it's a vital artery.  But every now and then life likes to throw you a curve ball. A curve ball that always seem to come at moments when they are least expected.  2015 is supposed to be about stability, business ownership, and creating a solid brand, and somehow I have ended up with a starting lineup of potential "baes." Like I really needed to complicate my love life.... I've continuously joked about the grandiose engagement that was going to occur near my 30th birthday, and not even 30 days into 2015, and I've lost my mind, my focus, and my celibacy.  And the crazy thing is that, I also am starting to feel like I'm slowly drifting away from "him" even though, ironically, I've seen and talked to him more this year than I did the entire second half of 2014. I knew that we were finally on the path to getting it together....And then ....

I've always feared that somehow life would always pull us together at the most inopportune times...  And he's let someone come into the mix that is slowly stealing my interest and that will possibly steal my heart. As much as I like to have control over my surroundings, I have a built in desire to play with fire.  And this new one (clenched teeth emoji)... He has ignited something that I have not felt in a long time... In all honesty, they are so much alike professionally, that's it's starting to look like I've found my "type", but there is one thing that this new one has that he doesn't ... A passion. He's an artist, we are artist, and when two creative souls connect, there's always hot, steamy fire and desire. #StayTuned