March in Review

Saturday, March 31, 2012

The end of March is here. It's time for me to take a look back at my intentions for the month. Let's see how I did: 

Guest blog.
  • Fail. Maybe next month. 
Write more articles for Clutch. For real.
  • Finally, I made good on this intention. Check out my latest article here
Write and submit an essay to one of my favorite publications.
  • Another fail. I think I'll put this on the back burner until summer. 
Post at least one Blog Like a Girl Q&A.
  • I had the pleasure of interviewing feminist fashion blogger Courtney Mirenzi of Those Graces. 
Start a new workout regimen.
  • Fail. And my expanding waistline is the proof. Since I finished my half-marathon training I've had a hard time getting back in the groove of a regular workout routine. I hope I can get it together in April. 
Go out on another girl date.
  • I did very well in this department. Gotta have your girlfriends. 
Spend Spring Break in Louisville and write about my trip.
  • I did spend Spring Break in Louisville and had a wonderful time. I didn't write about it though. I did, however, write an essay about poetry and Carrie Bradshaw while I was there. I'm sure you're wondering what poetry and a Sex and the City character have in common. Stay tuned. I plan to post the essay next week. 
Straighten my hair (not with chemicals and it will just be this way for two weeks).

  • Done! Check me out:

I'll be back tomorrow with my April intentions. 

How a Journal Saved My Blog

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

For months I have been very frustrated with my blog Georgia Mae. I felt the blog was losing its focus and my enthusiasm for the project, which I began nearly four year ago, was waning. I even wanted to delete the blog and start all over. But that’s all changed, recently. Surprisingly what turned it all around was returning to something I loved to do back before we knew what a weblog was: journaling.

I started keeping a blogging journal. I took an unused journal I had wedged between some books on my bookshelf, dolled up the cover and a few inside pages with stickers and magazine cutouts and started carrying the thing with me everywhere.  I take it to work, church, brunch with friends and even the gym. Before I leave my apartment I make sure it’s tucked in my bag.  Before bed I make sure it’s on my nightstand. My blogging journal must be near me at all times.

So what’s so special about it? How did it reignite my passion for blogging? Honestly, I don’t really know. But I know I’ve been a blogging maniac since I started keeping it. So my advice to you is to get a blogging journal of your own. This is different from the editorial calendar I encouraged you to create a few weeks again. You still need that too, but the blogging journal will help you feed that calendar with brilliant posts.

In my blogging journal I keep an ongoing list of post ideas, specifically for topics that I want my blog to focus on. If I’m inspired but away from a computer I’ll even start jotting down a rough draft of a post. I also record random thoughts that I may want to share with readers later in an inspirational post. And I write down blogging goals as well.

Do you keep a blogging journal? If so, take a snapshot of it, post it on your blog and share the link to that post in the comments. And I’d love to know how journaling has helped your blog.

Blog Like a Girl: Courtney Mirenzi of Those Graces

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Courtney Mirenzi of Those Graces 

I stumbled upon Courtney Mirenzi's blog Those Graces a few weeks ago and, to be honest, when I found it I felt giddy. Those Graces is something I'd been looking for for years -- a feminist fashion blog.

Recently I had a chat with Courtney about her decision to add a feminist slant to her style blog and her social media success. 

You decided to add a feminist slant to your blog about a year ago, right? How did that affect your blog’s readership?

I made the decision to incorporate feminism into my blog a little over a year ago. (Read about her decision here.) Since then, I've been incorporating feminist issues relating to body image, how to buy makeup with ethics and many more. I think what I ultimately learned from changing course is that a blog could and should be what the writer wants it to be. At the end of the day, most of us blog as a hobby and it can often be stifling to stick to just a few narrow topics. 

As far as my readership, it definitely went up after I made a conscious effort to share more of my opinions on feminism and women's issues. As someone who reads a lot of blogs, my favorites are the ones that really open up and address hard hitting questions. In posts where I've shared my thoughts and feelings on difficult topics--those are the ones people love to read and share their opinions on. I want my blog to be a place where people can share their thoughts. 

How do you reconcile your passion for fashion with your feminist beliefs? 

Being a feminist definitely makes me take a second look at the world I see around me including fashion and feminism. It has made me look at issues more critically, which has in turn driven me to speak out about issues you don't often see on fashion blogs.  Ultimately, I think any person has a wealth of interests, some of which might conflict. I think the key is just keeping an open mind and skeptical eye on the world around you.

What advice would you give to aspiring bloggers considering writing about fashion with a feminist slant?

I went into blogging with this very rigid idea of what my blog would be. I started off as a budget fashion blogger, but over time I learned that my blog can really be anything I want it to be. For anyone wanting to write a blog about fashion with a feminist slant--I would say be open to change and don't be afraid to switch directions or talk about things that may seem unpopular or controversial.

When it comes to beauty and feminism one of the things I’m really concerned about is how we as women can improve our self-image and work to help build the self-esteem of young girls. Any thoughts on this topic?

I think the best thing that women can do for each other is just be honest. For years there seemed to be this wall up where self help "experts" didn't admit their own flaws or feelings. I think it's important to share with other women that we may feel down on ourselves or degrade ourselves due to unhappiness with our appearance. The second you just open up and be yourself, the quicker other women will relate to you and the easier it is to help. I think making self-image and self-esteem part of everyday conversation is also important.

You and your blog were recently featured in the Boston Globe. Congratulations! What general advice would you give to bloggers looking to get their names out there? 

Thank you so much! You know, it's a funny thing. The writer of the article literally emailed me out of the blue and asked me if she could interview me. Sometimes good things truly do just happen out of no where! 

My advice to bloggers is to respect your readers because they are your community and the most important people (aside from yourself!) at the end of the day when it comes to your blog. If you build a strong community, good things will come. 

Cross posted at

7 Steps to Successful Public Speaking

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Eleanor Roosevelt speaks to a war-time audience while Rose Pesotta and others listen.
Image via Creative Commons

In 2010 Vikki Grodner of the Birmingham-based event planning company The Grodner Group started what she calls New Girls Network. Grodner told The Birmingham News that the New Girls Network is "our version of the good ol' boys network, a way for women to gather and learn from each other."

New Girl Network events are designed to help professional women network with their peers; Grodner also uses the group to offer educational sessions to help women in their careers. 

Yesterday I attended a New Girls Network event for the first time eager to learn from guest speaker Donna Francavilla. Francavilla, a veteran radio broadcast journalist, also owns Frankly Speaking Communications, a company that provides consulting and training in media communications and presentations. 

Having good public speaking skills is important regardless of your profession. Like or not introverted writers, you never know when you'll have to give a presentation at work or maybe even discuss your book or blog on the local news. Francavilla essentially keeps her clients from looking and sounding stupid. 

Here are a few tips I picked up from her talk yesterday. I present 7 steps to successful public speaking: 

1. Do your research. Whatever the topic of your talk or interview may be, your goal, Francavilla said, is to sound like an expert. But don't panic. For a short TV or radio spot knowing just 5 minutes worth of information on your subject will help you sound as if you really know your stuff. 
2. Don't forget fashion. If you're speaking before a group or on television you need to chose the right outfit. Seriously. While crazy shoes, dangly earrings, and eye-catching head wear may be distracting, Francavilla recommends wearing bold, bright colors. These shades help you appear more confident. Also, be sure to wear something you feel good in.  

3. Practice. How you sound is important. Duh! So make sure you enunciate and project your voice. Record and listen to yourself to figure out ways you can improve. 

4. Be hands on. I'm a person who talks with my hands, something I always thought was a problem. Francavilla, however, says it's not. Natural hand gestures make you seem more open and approachable. 

5. Make eye contact. Don't be scared!

6. Think of Mom. OK, so let's say you are scared. One thing Francavilla says can help calm you is to imagine you're speaking to someone you care about. 

7. Ask yourself, what would Jesus do? No, I'm not saying you need to preach to your audience. Francavilla says the best speakers, the best communicators are not only authentic and relatable, but they're also good storytellers. She gave political examples such as President Barack Obama and President Ronald Reagan. And Francavilla reminded us that one of the reasons Jesus' message was so powerful was because he spoke in parables. Yeah, he performed miracles, but the man could tell a good story. So people listened. 

If you live in Birmingham click here to join the New Girls Network mailing list. 

3 Lessons We Can Learn from Chris Routly

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

You've seen it before: commercials for things like diapers and detergent that not only suggest that women are the sole caregivers in a family, but also imply that when dads are in charge we're in for trouble. For example, Kimberly Clark's HUGGIES has a new campaign promoting its diapers and wipes trumpeting "Dad" as "The Ultimate Test" for their products. 

In one commercial, for example, the voiceover says: “To prove Huggies diapers and wipes can handle anything, we put them to the toughest test imaginable: dads, alone with their babies, in one house, for five days, while we gave moms some well deserved time off. How did Huggies products hold up to daddyhood?"
Some of the promotional materials even implied that dads would neglect changing a soiled diaper to finish watching the game. 

After reading something like this on a feminist blog you may think "How sexist?" but when watching the commercial at home you probably didn't give it a second thought because ads like these are all too common. 

But one man did notice, and he decided to do something about it. 

Fed up, illustrator and blogger Chris Routly, who is a a stay-at-home dad, decided to speak out and started a petition calling for an end to "Ultimate Test: Dad" element of the company's advertising. And it worked. 

After getting media attention and collecting over 1,000 signatures, Routly announced Friday on his blog, The Daddy Doctrine, that Huggies/Kimberly Clark reached out to him and outlined a list of changes the company plans to make to its campaign including airing a new TV spot featuring real dads out and about with their babies to test the diaper. 

Even though I'm not a parent, Routly's story really struck me because I believes it teaches us three valuable lessons:

1. Dads aren't dumb. And dads are caregivers too. In fact, as Routly mentions in his petition, even though full-time at-home dads are still statistically few in number, according to the 2010 U.S. Census, approximately one in three dads regularly acts as their child's primary caregiver, while their spouse works, in a two-parent household. 

2. Sexism hurts men too. So often when I have a conversation with someone about feminism I get questions like "Well, women have rights now. What's the point?" or "Isn't feminism unfair to men?" But gender stereotypes are alive and well and women aren't the only ones affected by them. When we say that caring for the home and for children is woman's work, we're not only implying that women who work outside the home are sub-par parents, but we're also suggesting that stay-at-home dads are somehow not real men. Or we make assumptions that men simply can't be good caregivers, period. That's not OK and these are exactly the kinds of  things feminism exists to challenge. 

3. You can make a difference. Chris Routly could have just sat home and complained about these commercials to his family and friends. But he did more. He wrote about it on his blog and filed a petition through And his efforts paid off, showing we don't have to be politicians or policy makers to effect social change.

Monday Motivation from Benjamin Franklin

Monday, March 12, 2012

"Either write something worth reading or do something worth writing." -- Benjamin Franklin

Weekend Links: Sunday Reads

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Hope you all have had a fabulous weekend so far. Here are a few links to check out during your down time this Sunday:

Facebook recently announced that Pages will switch over to the new Timeline layout that is currently on most profiles on March 30. If you have a Facebook page for your blog (which I hope you do) here's how the new layout can actually help your blog.

If you're thinking about starting a second blog, read this first.

Liz Henry at The Six-Year Itch explains why she refuses to call herself a mommy blogger. 

My Latest Clutch Magazine Article and My New Fitness Goals

Thursday, March 8, 2012

My pretty new dumbbells
Photo by Rachel Kramer Bussel
Image via Creative Commons

In my latest article for Clutch magazine I discuss ways adults, particularly women, can help empower teen girls to have a more positive and healthy self image. While I think we should offer words of encouragement, we also need to walk the talk and be good examples of self-confident women. This means, as I state in my article, not complaining about our weight or waistlines (something I'm very guilty of) in front of young girls and having an active lifestyle. I have learned that one of the best ways to feel good about my body is to focus on what it can do instead of how it looks (which is why I ran 13.1 miles in below freezing temperatures last month).

Last year, after being weight obsessed for months, I got rid of my scale. I decided to replace my goal of "lose 25 pounds" with "complete a half marathon." And I did it!

After my race I knew I would need a new fitness goal or I'd get fixated on my weight once again. But I couldn't think of one. I thought of nine! And I'm posting them here so you all can help keep me accountable. Here goes...

1. Make weight training a habit.
I hate lifting weights. It's boring, it hurts, and too many of the machines require that you stick your butt up in the air for all the gym rats to see. But alas, I know strength training is good for me. Studies show it takes 21 days to form a habit. So I'll consider this goal accomplished once I do weight training three times a week for three consecutive weeks. (Keep in mind this will probably take me until the end of the year.)

2. Conquer my fear of Body Pump.
From step to spinning to dance aerobics, I love group fitness classes, except for one class -- Body Pump. I hate this class. Why? Because it's a weight lifting class.  Well, it's a torture chamber disguised as a weight lifting class. But I'm determined to one day become a Body Pump regular. One day.

3. Run a 10-minute mile.
I'm a tortoise on the trail.

4. Complete a 5K in 30 minutes.

5. Complete a 10K in an hour.

6. Complete a half marathon in 2.5 hours.
Yes, I actually plan to put my body through that again.

7. Do 50 push ups without taking a break.
21-year-old Javacia could do this. 31-year-old Javacia is lucky to do 5 push-ups without stopping.

8. Obtain my group fitness instructor certification, again.
I miss being a certified fitness fanatic!

9. Obtain my personal trainer certification.
This has been a dream of mine for over a decade.

What are your fitness goals?

The Art of Focus: How to Discover Your Niche

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Photo by Mark Hunter
Image via Creative Commons

Ask me about my websites and I will most likely tell you that I'm a lifestyles blogger. But lately I've realized that for me "lifestyles blogger" is the answer I give instead of saying "Frankly, I have no idea what my blog is about!" Now, I'm not saying this is the case for all lifestyles bloggers. In fact, pretty much all my favorite blogs would fall under that category. But even lifestyles blogs, the good ones at least, have focus, something I've struggled to find in my 3+ years of blogging. 

In last month's issue of Upscale magazine Angel Laws, founder of the internationally recognized celebrity blog, offered a few tips for finding your niche. She recommended making a list of five things that really interest you then mixing up a a couple of those into a topic that has your personal touch. 

I am very interesting in women's issues, faith, fitness, race matters, and maintaining healthy friendships and relationships.  I've always wanted to have a blog about feminism, but one that all women would feel comfortable visiting and one that also explored my Southern values and how I work to reconcile them with my feminist ideals. My plan is to slowly move my other blog,, in this direction. 

As for this blog, I decided to to follow the advice of Jeff Goins. I'm currently taking his free blogging tutorial Intentional Blogging (which I highly recommend). He suggests a three step process to discovering your niche. First, choose your subject based on your passion. Next, choose a theme, which is a particular area of concentration within your topic. Then you'll decide on your objective. What do you want to accomplish with your blog? What's your goal? 

Here's my objective for this blog:
To help women writers achieve their goals as I share inspiring (and sometimes funny) stories of my journey to make my own writing dreams come true. 

Ta-da! I have a niche. 

So why is it so important to have a niche? I think it can be liberating. In the past I have felt so stressed about my other blog because I felt it necessary to post commentary on EVERYTHING going on in pop culture and news. But that pressure is eased when you have more focus. And Jeff Goins says "The rule of thumb is this: The more narrow your focus, the more you broaden your audience."

Believe it or not, it's also easier to come up with ideas. I once feared establishing a niche because I thought it would be limiting, but I believe having a niche inspires you to be more creative as you think of all the ways you can explore your topic. Taking just a few minutes to brainstorm ideas based on my objective for this blog I came up with dozens of ideas. Here's a sample: 

  • Business cards for bloggers and writers
  • How to cover events as an independent writer
  • The art of guest blogging
  • How I used my blog to help me fall in love with my hometown
  • How to make a media kit
  • What to wear to a blogging or writing conference
  • Signs you’re a real blogger
  • Signs you're a real writer
  • How to throw an event to promote your blog

Team Katniss Fashion

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

As my closest friends (and my students) know, I'm a major Hunger Games geek. I've been counting down the days until the premiere of the upcoming movie inspired by Suzanne Collins' novel. (Only 17 more days to go!)

I'm a writer and nerd so, of course, I had to read all the books in The Hunger Games trilogy before the movie. If you haven't, I encourage you to do the same. Yes, it's Young Adult literature, but it's very well-written with a compelling plot and complex characters. And even if you're a blogger, journalist, or essayist, I truly believe that reading non-fiction can help your craft as the art of storytelling is so essential to all forms of writing. 

I'm also a girl with a passion for fashion so, yes, I've been wondering, "What will I wear when I go see the movie." And here's my answer:

Get it here

The feminist in me could not resist. You see, The Hunger Games has a Twilight-esque love triangle and just as Twi-hards sport Team Edward and Team Jacob gear, there are plenty of t-shirts out there boasting Team Peeta or Team Gale. But Katniss is the hero of this story so let's celebrate her instead. Girl power!

But, just for fun, here are some other examples of Hunger Games-inspired fashion, all from in honor of National Crafts Month. 

The Girl Who Was on Fire
Boy Shorts

Buy these here

Custom Painted Vans

Check these out here

I Heart Cinna

I think I'm gonna buy this one too

Hunger Games Inspired Peep-Toe Pumps!

Available here

And now the boys...
If you love the boy with the bread, click here
And if you like the bad boy type, check here

May the odds be ever in your favor...

Monday Motivation from Ray Bradbury

Monday, March 5, 2012

image via

"You must write every single day of your life…You must lurk in libraries and climb the stacks like ladders to sniff books like perfumes and wear books like hats upon your crazy heads….may you be in love every day for the next 20,000 days. And out of that love, remake a world."    
-- Ray Bradbury

Weekend Links: Sunday Reads

Sunday, March 4, 2012

sun grass
Photo by David Hetre
Image via Creative Commons

Happy Sunday!

Hope you all are having a great weekend.

Here are a few stories you should check out as you're relaxing today:

Last Sunday was all about the Oscars and while Viola Davis didn't take home the Academy Award for Best Actress, according to The Daily Beast, she did win big in another way as she made a political statement with her lovely natural hair 'do.

And Essence reveals that Davis' choice to sport her natural hair instead of a wig was a very empowering moment for the thespian.

And while we're on the topic of minority issues, check out these two articles on how the black community is embracing Pinterest and the top 10 African Americans to follow on Pinterest. (No, unfortunately, I didn't make the list. But feel free to follow me at

If you're visiting my blog because you're procrastinating on a piece you're supposed to be writing and feeling your passion for words is waning, please read Jeff Goins' wonderful post on how to fall back in love with writing.

March Intentions

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Another Spring flower
Photo by Alejandro Mallea
Image via Creative Commons

March is here and I’m so excited because Spring Break is just around the corner (one of the many perks of being a teacher). I’m also excited about my goals for the month. Here are my March Intentions:

Guest blog.
Write more articles for Clutch. For real.
Write and submit an essay to one of my favorite publications.
Post at least Blog Like a Girl Q&A.
Start a new workout regimen.
Go out on another girl date.
Spend Spring Break in Louisville and write about my trip.
Straighten my hair (not with chemicals and it will just be this way for two weeks).

What are your plans for March?