Finding Home Again

Friday, May 30, 2014

What made you want to return to Birmingham?

A few weeks ago someone asked me that question and I realized I didn’t know how to answer it.
This question is not the same as someone asking what brought me back to Birmingham. I know how to answer that.

Unhappy with the lack of opportunity for advancement at my newspaper job, I decided to pursue another career goal of mine: teaching. When my husband discovered that the Alabama School of Fine Arts was hiring an English teacher I jumped at the chance to work at my alma mater.

I can say without exaggeration that the Alabama School of Fine Arts changed my life. I left that school not only with a great education, but also a strong sense of self  and the courage and confidence to be true to who I am. I poured my passion for the school onto the pages of my cover letter and within a few weeks I had been interviewed for the job and hired.

I suppose you could say I wanted to return to Birmingham so I could give back to the school that gave so much to me. But when I left Alabama at the age of 22 I had no intentions of ever coming back. And I spent my first year back in Birmingham regretting my decision to return to my hometown.

Why is my water bill so expensive? Why is my rent more than the average house note? Why is Alabama still taxing groceries? Will Birmingham City Schools ever improve? Why does this city still feel so segregated decades after Jim Crow?

Then I found my people.

In my latest post for WBHM I explore my loving yet complicated relationship with Birmingham and how finding my people made my hometown finally feel like home. 

Author Maya Angelou dies at age 86

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

We all woke to sad news this morning. 

Author, poet, and activist Maya Angelou has died

When I learned of this a felt a sadness akin to that of losing a relative or a friend. I never met Ms. Angelou but she touched my life in a way I struggle putting into words. 

She is one of the reasons I am a writer. 

I started reading her poetry at an early age and I found myself in her verse. 

She, along with poets like Nikki Giovanni, urged me to write poetry of my own and as terrible as my poetry may have been compared to theirs those exercises helped me find my voice. 

Ms. Angelou was brave enough to tell her story and thus gave me the courage to tell mine. And she showed me that writing could be a form of activism. She showed me that writing could change the world by touching one life at a time. 

And every time I read "Phenomenal Woman" I feel beautiful, powerful, and divine. 

Young Maya Angelou

In honor of Ms. Angelou's memory, USA Today compiled a list of 13 of her best quotes. Here's my favorite: 

 "My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some style."

This is the way I want to live too. And I thank Ms. Angelou for inspiring me not only to write but to live a life worth writing about. 

I'm 'Restless' and Virtual Book Clubs Don't Work

Back in April I attempted to host a virtual book club here at The Writeous Babe Project and it was an EPIC FAIL. 

My pal Mariam warned me. When I asked readers if I should host the book club online or IRL she said that "Online is too easy to back out of...I just think your participation will be much richer...if you do it in person." And boy was she right. Even I backed out of my virtual book club once I was buried beneath all the papers I have to grade at the end of the school year. 

So let's try this again. Sort of. 

This summer I'm co-leading a Church of the Highlands small group with my friend Jamie Golden of Jamie's Rabbits. For six weeks we'll be reading and discussing Restless by Jennie Allen. 

Are you feeling restless these days? I am.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not bored. I have way too much going on in my life to ever be bored. But I am in a state of longing for what's next. I'm wondering what all the many things I'm doing right now are leading to and sometimes I wonder if they're leading to anything at all. 

Sometimes I feel as if I'm unraveling. And that's why I need to dig into this book and I need to dig deep. 

Restless is described as "a practical plan to identify the threads of your life and how to intentionally weave them together for God's glory and purposes." 

Yes to all of that. 

This book doesn't suggest that we add more things to our to-do list (thank God) but invites us to be still and see how God is already moving in our lives. Through this group we'll dig into five areas: gifts, suffering, places, people, and passions. 

This study promises to help me, to help us, untangle the thread of our lives and assemble them together in one place to reveal a beautiful plan designed by the Creator: God's Agenda + my threads + the need + the Holy Spirit = my purpose. 

So this isn't technically the Writeous Babe Book Club. It's a Church of the Highlands small group. But it's kind of like a book club only we'll meet weekly and there will be some praying and lots of Jesus talk. 

If you're a woman in the Birmingham area and would like to be part of this small group, email me at for details. 

The group begins June 1 and we'll meet every Sunday from 4-6 p.m. 

Summer Intentions

Monday, May 26, 2014

Happy Memorial Day!

Many folks consider today the unofficial start of summer and since I am a teacher that is certainly the case for me.

Summer break is on!

So I thought I'd celebrate with a list of my intentions and goals for this season.

Co-lead a bible study small group with my pal Jamie through the book Restless by Jennie Allen.
Attend Y'all Connect.
Go to Art on the Rocks.
Spend quality time with my mom, my cousins, my best friends and my husband.
Host a family game night at my place.
Rediscover the best of Birmingham.
Host See Jane Write's first mini-conference! (Wanna come? Get your tickets here.)
Exercise twice a day most days of the summer.
Get rid of my muffin top. (Yes, I know this goal is a bit anti-feminist. No, I don't care.)
Buy new running shoes and start training for my next half marathon.

See Beyonce and Jay-Z live at the On the Run Tour!
Take a romantic trip to New Orleans with hubster.
Take a spa trip to Atlanta with my bestie DeShaundra
Attend BlogHer '14 (and take a selfie with Kerry Washington).
Read 10 books.
Freelance more and work to see my byline on some of my favorite websites.
Redesign this blog.
Grow the readership for this blog.
Attend WordCamp.
Buy some stuff: a new phone, a Do You Boo tank, and a maxi dress for every day of the week. (I really like maxi dresses.)

What are your plans for summer?

On Being a Woman of Power

Monday, May 12, 2014

The B-Metro Blog Team
We're raising our glasses to the power of women!

Last week I had the opportunity to cover B-Metro magazine's Women of Power party, which celebrated the release of the magazine's annual Power of Women issue.

As part of the B-Metro blog team I shared highlights of the party via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. 

The Power of Women issue is my favorite. Last year I had the honor of being one of the women featured. The profile See Javacia Lead focused on my work with See Jane Write

I was quite excited to see several ladies of See Jane Write at last week's party, which was held at Vino in English Village. 

Abiola, Jane, and Shella came out and represented for See Jane Write!

The turnout was great and everyone seemed to have an excellent time. 

We enjoyed delicious free hors d'oeuvres from Vino and live music by Gabriel Tajeu. 

Along with Vino, the party was also sponsored by Alabama Power and Cadillac, who showed off some gorgeous new cars. 

At the party I had the chance to chat with Raquel Morgan, a top commercial account manager at Alabama Power, about what it means to be a woman of power. 

Raquel Morgan of Alabama Power
"Being a woman of power is about being willing to give back and being willing to uplift other women," Morgan said.

When asked what advice she would give to young women graduating high school this month, Morgan's response was simple yet wise: "Enjoy life, but make smart choices." 

Morgan has worked for Alabama Power for 15 years and says it's a great place to work for women and for anyone. 

"I've been given so many opportunities and resources to excel in my career path," she said. 

Morgan said that one of the women of power she admires most is Bobbie Knight, who is the head of the Birmingham division of Alabama Power. "I admire her integrity, her strength, and her intelligence," Morgan said. "And she has great fashion sense!"

How do you define a woman of power? What women of power do you admire most? 

Cross-posted at

Celebrate the Power of Women with B-Metro Magazine

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

It's no secret that I love B-Metro magazine and its annual Power of Women issue is a prime example of why I'm such a fan of this publication. 

Each May B-Metro honors women of Birmingham striving to make the city a better place. I had the privilege of being recognized for my work with See Jane Write in last year's Power of Women issue. (Check out my profile, See Javacia Lead.) 

This year's honorees will be celebrated at the Power of Women Party, 5-7- p.m. on Thursday, May 8 at Vino (1930 Cahaba Road, Mountain Brook)  in English Village. I'll be part of the B-Metro Blog team broadcasting party highlights via Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook. 

The party will include complimentary food, a cash bar, and door prizes. Giveaways include tickets to the Regions Tradition golf tournament, a $50 gift card to Another Broken Egg, and a $25 gift card to Full Moon BBQ. 

Get your picture taken at the "Selfie Stop" photo station and enjoy live music by Gabriel Tajeu. 

You can learn more about the women who will be celebrated at this event in this month's issue of B-Metro

Head to Facebook to RSVP

And then read about this year's honorees at the B-Metro website.

You can follow my event coverage on the following social media channels:

Instagram  - @writeousbabe

Appreciation Gifts for Your Favorite English Teacher

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Editor's Note: This is a sponsored post, but all opinions are my own.

Being a teacher is tough. Your lunch breaks are 20 minutes long, you can't even use the bathroom when you need to and nearly everyone from parents to politicians blames you for the downfall of society.

But May is that time of year when folks actually thank us teachers for the jobs we do. Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day and highlights a week-long celebration of us educators. I've already received heartfelt notes of thanks from parents and students and even some delicious cookies.  

Whether you're the parent of a school-aged child, a college or graduate school student, or simply someone who appreciates the sacrifice and hard work of educators, many people are giving thanks to the teachers in their lives this week. And this is a great time to go out and buy those end-of-the-year gifts too.

Don't get me wrong. I'm certainly not in the education profession for gifts and I suspect no teachers are. In fact, I didn't even know students gave teachers gifts until my first year as a high school English instructor. But, trust me, the memory of a thoughtful gift can certainly get a teacher through a long night of grading papers.

If you're shopping for your favorite English teacher and you're not sure what to buy, I'm here to help. Whether you're shopping for end-of-the-year teacher gifts, Mothers' Day gifts, graduation presents, or gifts for bridal or baby showers, Swoozie's should be your first stop. This quaint and cozy shop specializes gifts for all occasions and offers superb customer service

Here are five fabulous gifts for your favorite English teacher, all found at Swoozie's Birmingham

Personalized Journal 

Most English teachers not only enjoy reading great literary works, but spend time writing great works as well. Add a personalized journal to your favorite teacher's notebook collection. Personalized journals are $19, plus $6 shipping and are usually delivered in 7 to 10 business days. Swoozie's offers personalized agenda books too. 

Kate Spade Office Supplies

Teachers can organize their desks in style with Kate Spade office supplies. At Swoozie's you'll find pencils ($20), binder clips ($18), notepads ($8-10) and more. 

One of my favorite items is this Kate Spade notebook inspired by The Great Gatsby ($14). 

Gift Book 

Every English teacher loves to read, but every teacher needs a break from dense literature every now and then. Swoozie's has an impressive gift books collection which includes The Happiness Project One-Sentence Journal for Mothers ($16.95) and Stuff Every Woman Should Know ($9.95). 

Box Sign 

Right now Swoozie's has a section of its store dedicated to gifts for teachers. It features box signs ($9.95 - $14.95) for your teacher's desk, including a hilarious one that states: "I will not yell in class, I will not throw things, I will not tease the other kids, I am the teacher..."

Travel Tote

OK, if you give your child's teacher an expensive travel tote (this one is $136.95) at the end of the year it will probably be considered bribery. But if your wife is a teacher and you give her this tote as an end-of-the-year gift that would be considered a smart move toward maintaining a happy marriage. (I hope Mr. Bowser is reading this.) 

Now it's time to get a gift for yourself. Register to win a $20 Swoozie's gift card. All you need to do is leave a comment about your favorite teacher. You'll also increase your chances of winning by following Swoozie's Birmingham and on Facebook and Twitter. Contest ends at 5 p.m. on Friday.

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My Week As a Fashion Blogger

Friday, May 2, 2014

I had a blast at Birmingham Fashion Week 2014 hanging out with my pal Ivette Thomas of 

In my next writing life, I want to be a fashion blogger. 

So last week I dove head first into the wild world of style by covering Birmingham Fashion Week 2014

But first I needed something to wear. Early last month I enlisted the help of Megan LaRussa Chenoweth, founder of fashion consulting firm Southern Femme.

Chenoweth helped me put together two looks for Birmingham Fashion Week. For my first outfit we "shopped my closet." Chenoweth showed me how to put together old clothes in new and unexpected ways. She paired a coral peplum top with a cobalt blue pencil skirt. It was actually look I'd wanted to try, but I worried wearing two bold colors together would be too much. Chenoweth explained that these colors work well together because they share the same vibrancy. And she advised that I go with neutral accessories, because "You don't want to look like a Crayola box."

I wore that outfit to Birmingham Fashion Week's Homegrown night, which was a showcase of local designers. 

Megan LaRussa Chenoweth of Southern Femme and I shopped my closet for this look.

Then we headed to Target to shop for a maxi dress. I bought two and of those decided to wear the floral frock to Birmingham Fashion Week's Lifestyle night. When I got dressed that evening my husband said "You look like you should be sitting on a rock playing a guitar singing India Arie's 'Ready for Love' while the seagulls fly by." 

I think that was a compliment. 

I sported this maxi dress to the Lifestyle night of Birmingham Fashion Week 2014.

The best part of my time with Chenoweth, however, was a writing exercise she had me do. 
Write a sentence that defines your style, Chenoweth instructed. Like a good student, I pulled out my notebook and pen and quickly got to work.
"OK, I think I have it," I announced a few minutes later. "Javacia is always effortlessly stylish, exuding confidence and power while still being approachable and feminine."
Chenoweth smiled and said, "Perfect!" I'd made my teacher proud.
I wrote about my style journey with Chenoweth for WBHM, Birmingham's NPR affiliate, and chatted about my experience last week on air. You can read my article and listen to my interview here
Elizabeth Singleton at Birmingham Fashion Week 2013
Photo by Brandon Pinola, Courtesy Birmingham Fashion Week

Birmingham Fashion Week was inspiring. I was inspired by Elizabeth Singleton, the winner of the Emerging Designer at Birmingham Fashion Week 2013. The designs she showed at this year's Birmingham Fashion Week were inspired by a sunset. How admirable to be inspired by the simple yet spectacular beauty of nature! Singleton lives in New York these days but is determined to make Birmingham look good while she's there. You can read my interview with her at See Jane Write Magazine
I also had the chance to interview Milo Beloved of the local vintage lifestyle brand Harold&MOD. During our chat I realized that writing and blogging are always on my mind. So much of what Beloved had to say about his work as a designer could also be applied to my work as a writer. And so I wrote 5 Lessons Bloggers Can Learn From Fashion Designers for 
I'm ready for my close up!

The major takeaway from my stint as a fashion blogger was this: fashion is more about confidence than it is about clothes. From my time with Chenoweth and my interview with Singleton to my chats with other bloggers covering the event it was clear that when it comes to great style confidence is king. This was obvious in the daring designs I saw on the runway and the bold and beautiful models who wore them. 
And so I realized that perhaps being a fashion blogger is not what I really want. What I truly wish for is a blog that, as my style statement articulates, exudes "confidence and power" and inspires the same in my readers. 

You're Invited to Swoozie's Housewarming Party

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Birmingham babes! 

You are invited to Swoozie's Housewarming Party at their new location at The Summit (next to Bed, Bath & Beyond). Swing by between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. for cocktails, a chance to snag great door prizes, and big discounts. 

You may know Swoozie's best for its personalized printing services, but the store has so much more to offer. Swoozie's would be a great place to grab gifts for Mother's Day or for the graduates in your life. If you're getting ready for a summer soiree, check out Swoozie's stylish drink pitchers, wine glasses and serving platters. If you're headed to a baby shower soon Swoozie's has you covered there too with everything from plush stuffed animals to chew-beads necklaces -- a trendy trinket for mom that's also baby friendly. Swoozie's also has a wide variety of stationery, jewelry, gift books, and more. 

Why should you go? Swoozie's is a company that values bloggers. Wednesday evening Swoozie's hosted a special exclusive event for bloggers that I was honored to attend.  And not only is Swoozie's a good place to get gifts for family and friends, but you'll find great gifts for you too. With journals, notebooks, and notepads galore, Swoozie's is a writer's dream!

Be sure to follow Swoozie's Birmingham on Facebook