the writeous babe project

writing my way through life as a southern fried feminist

On the Run Toward a Real, But Fabulous Life

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Last night I went to Beyoncé and Jay-Z's On the Run show in Atlanta. I want to pretend to be music writer like my husband and give you a concert review, but it's hard to find words to describe such an epic experience.

I want to tell you all about the set list. I had so much fun I didn't sit down during a single song. Beyoncé not only performed songs from her new album -- like “Partition,” “Haunted” and “Pretty Hurts” -- but also older cuts like “Why Don't You Love Me,” “Single Ladies,” “Baby Boy” and many others. 

I want to convey how impressed I was by Bey’s performance, but I think my husband summed it up best in his review for his blog Soul In Stereo. He writes:

Beyonce…proved to me that she's the best performer of our generation. Bey's arena-rattling performance of feminist anthem "Flawless" nearly had the crowd in hysterics. Her ability to connect with fans up in the rafters is truly a sight to behold. Bey morphing from enigmatic specter on "Haunted" to acrobatic pin-up girl on "Partition" is one thing, but her true talent lies in her  immaculate vocals. She sounded studio perfect on every single song - never out of breath, never off key. It's mind-blowing that a woman who spent nearly three hours stomping around a stage and swinging from chairs could pull of the simmering ballad "Resentment" without a flaw.
She's not bossy. She's the boss.

I want to tell you about how I got chills during the performance of “Flawless.” I worried Bey would omit the second verse of this song for the concert and not let us hear Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wise words on gender inequality. But I not only heard Adichie's words booming across the Georgia Dome but also saw them displayed before me on the Jumbotron. For me, seeing the word FEMINIST displayed larger than life at a mainstream music concert is nearly a religious experience.

I want to tell you about how I felt like a teenager again during the show. The beat dropped for “Run the World (Girls)” and Beyoncé asked all the women in the audience who make their own money and buy their own shit to make some noise. I screamed until my throat was sore. In that moment I was 19 again, which is how old I was when I saw Destiny's Child live. It was the same day I purchased my first car with money I saved from working two jobs. When they sang “Independent Women” I felt like they were singing it just for me, like the whole world was celebrating what I had accomplished that day.

View from Row 11 

Bey did a cover of Lauryn Hill's "Ex-Factor" and memories of high school heartbreak came flooding in. But then I looked to my left and saw my amazing husband standing next to me. No more heartbreak. No more wondering “who I have to be to get some reciprocity.” I closed my eyes for a few seconds to thank God for sending me a man who truly loves me for me.

On the Run Selfie with My Boo!

My husband went with me to the show because he's a huge Jay-Z fan and because I figured this show could and would be the ultimate date night. But I worried the show would be Beyoncé featuring Jay-Z and that hubster wouldn't have a good time. I worried for nothing. The show was definitely a shared ventured and I was so impressed with Jay-Z. He was so charismatic and energetic and such an overall great performer that I found myself enjoying his sets just as much as Bey's. I was jumping up and down like a chick in a mosh pit as soon as I heard the first few notes of "N*ggas In Paris." I was brushing my shoulders off and I was singing about my hard knock life.

Mr. and Mrs. Carter’s collaborations were golden. They had amazing chemistry on “Upgrade U,” “Drunk In Love,” “Part II (On the Run),” “Young Forever” and more. Bey even joined Jay on tracks like “Holy Grail.”

As my husband described in his review:

“They looked like they were having the time of their lives bouncing on stage like teenagers during "Drunk In Love" while, later, coming off like the mature married couple on "Young Forever." They didn't sound like two artists sharing a concert billing, they sounded like two lovers sharing their experiences with the world.”

I want to tell you about all of this and more. But none of this is as important as what I want to tell the young women in my life. Many of my female students are big Beyoncé fans and I swear some of them were more excited about the fact that I was going to the show than I was. On my little black dress for the show I wore a glittery red star with Beyoncé's name on it that was made by one of my girls.

I went into the show thinking about them and how I wanted to leave with something inspiring to tell them.

When I arrived at the Georgia Dome the words THIS IS NOT REAL LIFE were displayed on the Jumbotron. I stared at the statement for a moment wondering what it meant but as soon as the show began I got lost in the magic. I got lost in the music and the Bonnie and Clyde-inspired cinematic scenes that played out in the background.

But at the end of the show while Bey and Jay performed “Young Forever” the movie reel changed. Images of the Carters shooting guns, robbing banks, and speeding down highways were replaced with video footage from their wedding and the birth of their child. We saw scenes from family vacations and adorable moments of Jay-Z doing push-ups with Blue ivy on his back and pretending to sit on her back as she attempted to do push-ups too. And then these words filled the screen: THIS IS REAL LIFE.

And suddenly I knew the message I wanted to convey.

It's fine to admire celebrities like Beyoncé. I think it's even OK to be interested in their lives to a point, but don't forget about your real life in the process. Don't become so obsessed with watching Beyonce live out her dreams that you neglect achieving yours.

Be your own Beyoncé.

Feeling flawless the morning after the show -- even with frizzy hair!

If you admire Beyoncé because of her body confidence, don't strive to look like her. Strive to love the skin you're in and to love the body you already have. If you admire her for her talent, figure out your passion and strive to cultivate a talent of your own. And if you admire her simply because she's rich, then, dammit, get rich yourself!

When Sheryl Sandberg interviewed Beyoncé for her feature in Time magazine as one of the most influential people in the world she asked her the question she loves to ask all women: What would you do if you weren't afraid? Bey's answer: “Watch me. I'm about to do it. You can, too.”

Yes, you can, too.

So sure, watch Beyoncé for a moment but then go out and be fearless (and flawless) yourself.

A Little Black Dress, for Your Blog

Monday, July 14, 2014

The other day a reader asked me, " How are you doing these poster type things you've been using as the main photo on your blog?" This question made me happy because it meant that this reader had noticed my swag, my Word Swag, that is. 

Word Swag is an app that allows you to create beautiful custom text layouts in a matter of seconds! No, this isn't a sponsored post for Word Swag. I'm simply telling you about this app because I love it and I think you'll love it too. 

I learned about Word Swag last month at the social media conference Y'all Connect. In her talk, social media guru Kim Garst spoke a lot about the value of visual content. Articles with photos get 94 percent more views, she told the audience. In fact, Garst believes every brand should develop a visual content plan. She even wrote an e-book to help you do that. (You can download 17 Quick and Easy Ways to Create Visual Content here.) 

As I mentioned in my Y'all Connect recap post, while listening to Garst's talk I realized that if social media is like a cocktail party (which people often say), visual content is your little black dress. It makes you look good and gets people's attention. And once you have it you can show that you're beauty and brains.

Lately, Word Swag has been my favorite place to shop for a little black dress for this blog and for the See Jane Write blog. 

When I wrote about the inspirational networking event Cupcakes and Conversations I used Word Swag to highlight the main message I took away from this event. 

I've also been using a website called Canva to create graphics for my blogs and even for fliers for See Jane Write events. 

I used Canva to create a graphic for the Bloganista Mixer that See Jane Write hosted last month. You can check out pictures from that event here.

And I used Canva to create a graphic for the Bloganista Mini-Conference that's set for Saturday. 

What apps and websites do you use to create visual content? 

How To NOT Leave BlogHer '14 Feeling Like a Loser

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Last year, I left BlogHer ’13 feeling like a loser.

In fact, I wrote a blog post about it. But I must admit that after that post was featured on and was one of the site’s most popular posts, I certainly felt I was #winning.

In a couple weeks I’m heading to San Jose for BlogHer ’14. I’m determined to leave this year’s conference feeling on top of the world.  To make that happen I must do some things differently and I think any BlogHer newbies should consider following my lead.

Don’t compare yourself to others. I left BlogHer ’13 feeling like a loser because I was surrounded by women bloggers who had landed major sponsorships and book deals through their blogs and women who complained about having "a paltry 5,000 Twitter followers."  I spent my 48 hours at BlogHer comparing myself to these women instead of focusing on my own mission, plans, and goals.

Check out the Writeous Babe logo I designed for my new business cards. 

Don’t forget your business cards. Last year I ordered new business cards just for the conference and I left all 50 of them sitting right on my nightstand. So if you are heading to BlogHer ’14, go put your business cards in your suitcase right now. They will especially come in handy during Friday morning’s BlogHer Style Speed Dating.

Don’t forget to party. Last year I didn’t wholeheartedly participate in conference activities. I was in Chicago not only for BlogHer but also to visit a friend. I often skipped the parties so that I could head back to my friend's place. While I don’t regret this because my friend and I had a blast, this year I’m staying in one of the official hotels and I plan to hit every party.  Sure, this conference is about advancing my writing career, but it’s also about having fun!

Don’t arrive without a plan.  Before heading to the Silicon Valley, figure out what you want to get out of this conference and use this to determine what sessions you will attend. Knowing your overall objective for the conference can also keep you from getting caught up in the comparison game. With a solid conference plan, you will know your path and you can stay in your lane.  My goal is to figure out what’s the next step for my blog and who I want to be in the blogosphere.

Don’t leave without a plan, either. I am a teacher and I am a nerd so when I attend a conference I leave with pages and pages of notes. Then I come home, put my journal on my bookshelf and leave it there to collect dust. Not this year. In addition to taking notes, I plan to draft an action plan, too. I will compile a list of steps I will take based on what I learn on each session and give myself deadlines by which to complete them. 

Kavitha and I reunited two months ago in Birmingham!

Don’t be shy. Whether you’re going to BlogHer alone, with your best friend, or with a group of blogging buddies from your hometown, be sure to use this conference as a chance to meet someone new. This is the one thing I did right last year. I met the wonderful woman behind the blog Kavi360 and we still keep in touch today. At BlogHer don’t look at the women around you simply as potential followers, see them as potential friends.

What are your tips for making the most of a blogging conference?

Balance Is a Unicorn

Monday, July 7, 2014

Last year when renowned journalist Soledad O'Brien gave a lecture at Birmingham's Alys Stephens Center one audience member asked her a question often asked of highly successful women who juggle busy careers with motherhood: How do you balance it all?

O'Brien's answer was quite simple. "I don't," she said.

O'Brien went on to explain that sometimes she has to pour her whole self into her work and at those times she's probably a crappy mom. But at other times she puts work on hold so she can focus solely on her family, even if that makes her a bad journalist in the eyes of others. She said she realized she can't always be great at all her roles in this world and that's OK.

Her words reminded me of a profound statement I'd heard a month or so previously, also spoken by a woman juggling a career with motherhood. During a panel discussion at the 2013 Blogalicious conference Aliah Davis McHenry -- a blogger, PR pro, wife and mother -- was asked the key to balance. She leaned into the microphone and said, "Balance is a unicorn."

The crowd erupted into laughter and applause.

I found both O'Brien and McHenry's words quite comforting. Even though I am not a mom I am a wife, daughter, sister and friend and I often feel as if I'm failing the people in my life because I'm so busy building my business, writing and teaching career. And when I do spend time with family and friends I often feel I'm slacking on my professional life. So with their words I let myself off the hook.

But then I started to wonder if this was a godly approach to life. Philippians 4:13 says I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, right? So doesn't this mean I should be able to achieve balance?

Maybe not.

This summer I've been co-leading a small group of women through the book Restless by Jennie Allen, a book all about discovering and walking in purpose. And this book has revealed to me that when you're walking in your purpose things can get messy.

In a section written by Allen's husband Zac, he writes, "God never promises balance."

God promises us that if we are walking in our true purpose we will have peace, but this doesn't mean life will always be orderly and neat.

Zac explains that what you, what I, what we have been calling balance was really a determined effort to control our lives at all costs. But God is in control. And, again, God never promises balance.

This life we're living now that we are pursuing our passions, this life that feels chaotic, is likely a symptom of a person attempting to follow God, a person attempting to run after her dreams.

What I Learned After Exercising for 181 Consecutive Days

Monday, June 30, 2014

Today is an important day.

It marks the end of my GirlTrek challenge to walk/run 100 miles in June and...

Exhausted after a 6-mile walk/run but still smiling as I pose with my GirlTrek mile-tracker calendar for June!

I did it!

I laced up my Nikes and pounded the pavement of my favorite trails all month long. Some days I walked two miles; some days I ran six. But in the end it all added up to 100 miles!

Today also marks the halfway point of my yearlong challenge to exercise every single day in 2014. I haven't missed a day yet!

Exercising for 181 consecutive days has taught me a lot about myself.

I've learned that I need both variety and routine. I get bored very easily. In fact, boredom pushed me to take on the GirlTrek 100-mile challenge. Believe it or not, exercising daily has become easy to do. M workouts are now as much of my daily routine as taking a shower or brushing my teeth. So I needed to spice things up a bit with an extreme challenge.

Yet, I still like the sense of routine that a challenge offers. I knew to meet my goal I needed to walk or run most days of the week and so there wasn't much wondering about what my workout of the day would be. So I learned that I like routine but I like to change up my routine every month or two.

I think I will apply this to my writing. As I said, I get bored easily -- even with my blog. Every month I come up with an idea for a new blog that I'm tempted to dump this one for.  Instead, I think I will set a routine of blogging three days a week and do a different blog series every month or so in order to not get bored.

Variety truly is what helped me get through these 181 days of exercise.

I've spent many days walking and running on my favorite trail and even in community races such as the Color Me Rad 5K and the Girls on the Run 5K.

I've exercised at a boxing gym, a spin studio and in my living room.

And I've had fun every step of the way. Six months down. Six months to go.

Are you a fitness blogger in the Birmingham area? Then you don't want to miss the See Jane Write Bloganista Mini-Conference, a one-day conference for fashion, fitness, and lifestyle bloggers. You can get more information and buy tickets at Use the code WRITEOUS for $5 off your ticket.