Stay Ready So You Won't Have to Get Ready

Monday, January 19, 2015

A close friend of mine has this saying: "Stay ready so you won't have to get ready."

Over the past year I've taken this to heart, making sure I always look nice when I leave the house -- even if I'm going to the grocery store. You never know when or where you'll run into someone who could lead to your next big business deal. And it's important to look your best because, as this friend also says, "You are your brand."

But lately I've realized that the concept of staying ready applies to so much more than your appearance. As a writer, my blog and website must look their best, too. After all, you never know who's looking.

This morning I was featured on ABC 33/40's Talk of Alabama. I was discussing how I succeeded in exercising every day for 365 days. This segment came about not because I pitched the idea to the show. It happened because one of the show's producers read my blog post about my fitness challenge and she contacted me about coming on the show. What an honor! But this is an honor that wouldn't have happened had I not been updating my blog, had I not had current contact information posted on my site, and had I not checked my email.

Think about how you feel when your house is a mess and an unexpected guest drops by. The same thing can happen with your blog. In 2013 my blog was featured on Clutch Magazine. I had no idea this was about to happen and so my site wasn't really ready for guests. I got a TON of traffic from this article and, believe it or not, I still do. But I always wonder how many of the people who visited my blog from that article didn't stick around because my site wasn't at its best.

Here are five tips for how to keep your blog ready for guests:

1. Be sure your About page is interesting, informative, and up-to-date.

2. Be sure your Contact page includes an email address that you check regularly.

3. Be sure you have high quality content on your home page.

4. Be sure your blog doesn't look like a ghost town. Either update it regularly or remove the dates from your posts.

5. Be sure you have a way for people to subscribe to posts by email or to subscribe to your email newsletter.

What tips do you have on how to stay ready so you won't have to get ready. 

My Hair Is My Brand and That's OK

A few years ago I realized that, whether I like it or not, my hair is part of my personal brand.  Even though I want to be known for my writing, teaching, and feminism my curly coif frequently steals the show. I could pout about this or I could roll with it. I decided to go with the latter and I often use conversations about hair as a way to break the ice when meeting someone new or when at a networking event. 

I'm a member of a Facebook group for naturalistas like myself and was recently put #OnBlast. This means I had to answer some questions about my natural hair journey. And when you put a writer on blast she's going to turn it into a blog post! So...

How long have you been natural and how did you come to the decision to go natural?

I started wearing my hair in its naturally curly state in 2002. Back then "going natural" wasn't a thing. I didn't even say that's what I was doing. I just said, "I'm wearing my hair curly now." While I did have a relaxer when I was younger, I got relaxers so infrequently that I never had an addiction to the so-called "creamy crack." My drug of choice was heat. I basically tried to burn my hair into submission using the hottest blow dryer and flat iron I could find. This process was ridiculous and, of course, very damaging to my hair. During the summer of 2002 I was living in Louisville, Kentucky for an internship and my roommate at the time, who was watching my tussle with my tresses, said to me, "Maybe your hair doesn't want to be straight. Why don't you just wear it curly?" 

Her words changed everything. As crazy as it might sound, in the 21 years I had been alive at that time NO ONE had ever said to me that it would be OK for my hair to not be straight. Growing up I had always been made to believe that pretty hair was straight hair. But in that moment I decided to embrace my curls. What was amazing is that after embracing my natural hair I began to embrace my authentic personality as well. Accepting your hair is a great first step toward accepting yourself. 

Did you big chop or transition? 

I transitioned even though, as I mentioned, this is not terminology that I used. I just stopped getting a relaxer and stopped straightening my hair. And then I went to a local drug store and just started experimenting with hair care products. At one time I even used mousse! 

What advice do you wish you had but didn't at the start of your journey?

Any advice would have been helpful! There were no natural hair blogs or YouTube channels to help me back then, Fortunately, my cousin Tasha went natural at the same time so she was my support system and my partner in hair product experiments!

What's your favorite product, style, regimen, and/or tip? 

People who know me well know that I get bored very easily. I think this character trait has been transferred to my hair because after using a product for a long time one day it will just stop working on my hair. So I change products every year or so. That said, I am a walking, living, breathing advertisement for Shea Moisture. Even when my hair or I get bored with a product I just switch to another Shea Moisture product. Previously, I was all about their Coconut & Hibiscus line. I used the shampoo, conditioner, Curl & Style Milk, and Curl Enhancing Smoothie. Recently I've replaced Curl Enhancing Smoothie with the Superfruit Complex Hair Masque (which is supposed to be a deep conditioner, but I use it as a leave-in). I really like how my hair shines when I use that. And I've recently started using the Shea Moisture Manuka Honey & Mafura Oil Intensive Hydration Conditioner. It's great for dry hair and it smells so good I want to marry it!

The main tip that I would give to naturalistas is "Do you boo!" Seriously. Find the products, regimen, and styles that work best for you and don't worry about what everyone else is doing. I love Shea Moisture, but you may find that those products don't work for your hair at all. Yes, it's fun to get tips from friends and if their suggestions work for you -- great! If not, that's OK too. Going natural is about being authentic.  

3 Must-Read Pieces on Selma

Monday, January 12, 2015

On Friday night I saw Selma, Ava DuVernay's film that depicts the 1965 Selma-to-Montgomery marches which led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act. 

I cried off all my mascara less than ten minutes into the film.

As I left the theater I knew there was no way I would be able to write a blog post about that movie. There simply are no words to express how powerful it is, no way to describe the impact it had on me.

Fortunately, others have been able to find the words that escape me.

My husband, who is a columnist for The Birmingham News, wrote a compelling piece on why the movie is especially important at such a time as this -- in the wake of Black Live Matters protests and other modern-day civil rights issues.

Birmingham-based blogger Alexis Barton wrote a great review detailing the many reasons you should go see this movie RIGHT NOW, including the fact that DuVernay highlighted the contributions that women made to the movement.

And in his piece for WBHM 90.3 FM, Birmingham's NPR station, Andrew Yeager captured the reactions of Selma residents who saw the movie, some of whom were actually involved in the marches and have the scars to prove it.

I am disappointed that some people are attempting to discount the movie due to "historical inaccuracies" such as President Lyndon B.  Johnson's portrayal and the exaggerated tensions between President Johnson and King.  First, as my husband states in his article, the movie is a drama not a documentary. Second, as Barton writes, "I don’t hear these arguments around films or television shows like Gone with the Wind or Mad Men, pieces of pure fiction which also play fast and loose with historical characterizations." And finally, such complaints completely draw attention away from the true message and purpose of the movie.

This is not President Johnson's story!

This is the story of the men and women who put their lives on the line for a right that many of us today take for granted. This is a story about the courage and dignity of a people determined to no longer be treated as second-class citizens.

And this is a story that everyone should see.

Help Me Run Like a Girl

Here are three things you should know about me:

1) This year I am striving to walk/run 1,200 miles.
2) I must listen to music when I run. My body is incapable of making the motions one must make in order to run without music playing in my ears. Seriously.
3) The last time I updated my running playlist the United States hadn't yet had an African American president.

OK. That last statement is a bit of an exaggeration, but Nas' song "Black President" (which was released during Obama's first campaign) is on my playlist.

My point is this -- I desperately need some new music to run to!

I'd love a list of girl power anthems to listen to as I run the Hot Chocolate 5K in Atlanta on January 25.

Can you help?

Here's a list of some of songs I currently run to so that you can get an idea of what I like:

"Run the World (Girls)," Beyonce (I'm probably never replacing this song.)
"Fergalicious," Fergie
"4 Minutes," Madonna ft. Justin Timberlake
"Bang Bang,"
"Boom Boom Pow," Black Eyed Peas
"Countdown," Beyonce
Everyone Nose" Remix,  N.E.R.D. ft. Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Pusha T. (No, that's not a typo in the song title. Yes, this is a song about using drugs.)
"Eyes Like Yours," Shakira
"Headsprung," LL Cool J
"Hero," Nas
"Lights Camera Action," Mr. Cheeks
"Street Lights," Kanye West
"Streets on Fire," Lupe Fiasco
"Stronger," Kanye West
"Tunnel Vision," Justin Timberlake
"Yellow," Coldplay

What songs should be on my new "Run Like a Girl" playlist? 

5 Things That Made Me a Happy Feminist This Week

Friday, January 9, 2015

1. Clarissa Explains White Supremacy. Yes, you read that right. Here are two of my favorites from this new meme series.

2. This Vine video.

3. The Body Love Conference asked us all to add one more resolution to our list -- #lovethemirror.

4. 12 Historical Women Who Gave No F*cks. This BuzzFeed article by Hannah Jewell may have the faint at heart clutching their pearls due to all the f-bombs, but it is inspiring nonetheless. I am currently working on perfecting the art of not giving a f*ck, so this was perfect timing.

5. And finally, I saved this to make me laugh when lupus and I are in battle.

What made you a happy feminist this week? 

5 Mistakes You're Making When Setting Goals

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Most  people love setting goals and resolutions in January and I'm certainly in that number. At the start of a new year I always commit to pursuing lofty aspirations. But for years these goals would often be abandoned by April! Finally, I figured out what I was doing wrong. Chances are, you're making many of the same mistakes.

On Wednesday, January 6, I hosted a goal-setting workshop for members of See Jane Write. I walked the women in attendance through my own goal-setting process and shared anecdotes about some of the mistakes I've made when goal-setting in the past.

Here are five mistakes you may be making when setting goals:

1. You're setting too many goals. When I was a teenager every December I would make a list of 99 things I wanted to do the following year -- 99 things! Obviously, I never accomplished all of these. In fact, by spring I'd completely forgotten about most of the things on my list! I recommend setting about 3 to 5 major goals for the year. If you need help culling your list, remember that your goals should always be a reflection of your values. Don't take on a goal just because someone told you it would be a good idea. Do what's best for you and the life you want to create.

2. Your goals aren't big and bold enough. Yes, your goals should be realistic. If your aspirations are too outlandish you might feel defeated from the start. But this doesn't mean your goals should be small. They should ruffle feathers and raise eyebrows. Challenge yourself! Otherwise, you won't be very motivated.

3. Your goals aren't measurable and specific. Don't simply say you want to be a more successful blogger or get in shape. What do these things look like? Do you want to earn a certain amount of money from your blog? Do you want to run a half marathon? Specificity will give you the direction you need.

4. You're only setting long-term goals. One reason I didn't accomplish many of goals of the past was simply because I got bored with them. If you know me well, you know I get bored with things VERY easily. But I realized that by breaking my 3 to 5 one-year goals into several 90-day goals I stayed excited about my pursuits. At the end of each quarter I could set new 90-day goals so I felt like I was taking on a shiny new project, but I was actually still working on the same one-year goals I set on January 1. These 90-day goals will also keep you from feeling overwhelmed.

5.  You're not sweating the small stuff. While 90-day goals are great, you need to break down things even further. You need what I like to call momentum moves. These are things you do on a monthly, weekly, and daily basis to help you accomplish the 90-day goals. So if you want to earn more money from your blog you'll probably need to blog more. Your momentum move could be to take devote four hours each Sunday  to writing three blog posts for the week.

If you need more help with goal-setting this year, consider enrolling in my new time management e-course How to Write and Have a Life. In this course, I will walk you through my goal-setting process and show you how setting goals in such a way will save you time and make you more productive.

How to Write and Have a Life

Monday, January 5, 2015

How do you do it all?
People ask me this question a lot despite the fact that this is usually asked of career women with kids and I have no children. 
But I suppose the question is valid because I do quite a bit. I am the founder of See Jane Write, a network for women writers, bloggers and entrepreneurs based in Birmingham, Ala. For this group I organize and host workshops, panel discussions, social events, and an annual conference. I maintain this blog and I freelance for a number of local and national media outlets.
And none of this has anything to do with my full-time job!
I said that I don’t have children, but that’s not exactly true. You could say I have 100 kids because that’s how many teenagers I teach at a fine arts high school located in Birmingham. 
On top of all this, last year I exercised for at least 30 minutes every single day. I train for and run half-marathons and other road races. I am active in my community and I have a husband who would actually like to see me sometimes. (Believe it or not, I even manage to cook dinner for him most days of the week.) 
My point is this: I’m busy. And I’m sure you’re busy, too. And because of your hectic schedule you’ve probably convinced yourself that you don’t have time to pursue your passions and chase your dreams. You think you don’t have time to maintain and market a blog. You don’t have time to write a book. You don’t have time to pitch stories to your favorite publications.
None of this is true. 
You have the time and on January 1 I launched an e-course that I hope will convince you that I'm right.  I present to you How to Write and Have a Life -- an e-course on time management designed specifically for women who write and blog.

Here's a sample of what you will learn over the course of more than a dozen lessons:
  • How to set goals that will help you better manage your time
  • How to get rid of bad habits that are wasting your time
  • How to adopt healthy habits that will make you more peaceful and productive
  • How to rekindle your romance for your blog
  • How to write more, read more, and stress less
  • How exercise can make you a better writer 
  • How to give yourself a break 
In addition to those lessons you can also receive support from me and an online community of other women who want to write and live a life worth writing about.
But, Javacia, I don't have time to even take an e-course on time management!

Stop that. Yes, you do.

All lessons for this course are posted, however, I do plan to release bonus lessons based on student feedback to address any major time management concerns you have that weren't covered in the original lessons. I'll also post new lessons as I learn even more about how to write and have a life.
Feel free to work at your own pace. Each lesson will include a homework assignment, but there are no completion deadlines. This course isn’t meant to add to the stress of your life. The goal is to reduce it.
So are you ready?

Click here to enroll today.

Got questions? Leave them in the comments of this post or email me at 

Resolutions for Writeous Babes

Friday, January 2, 2015

Yesterday on the blog I declared 2015 the Year of the Writeous Babe and in my manifesto I explained exactly what a writeous babe is.

To stay writeous, to be a babe and be a boss, there are certain things I need to do this year, certain goals I need to set and good habits I need to adopt. You can call these resolutions or if you hate New Year's resolutions you can call them whatever you'd like, just consider taking on a few of your own.

Here are my writeous resolutions 2015:

I resolve to begin each day with this.

I will begin every morning with prayer and meditation. As I get older I'm becoming less and less religious and more and more spiritual -- focusing less on rules and rituals and more on being in constant communion with the Creator and learning to recognize and relate to the part of God's spirit that I believe exists in each and every one of us. Nonetheless, I do believe it's important to have some personal spiritual practices in place. For me this means spending time each morning writing in my prayer journal and reading and sharing inspirational verses of Scripture.

New Year's Eve selfie with my man!

I will spend more time with my Beloved. My husband is my heart. Our marriage is not perfect. Some people think it is, but no relationship can make this claim. But through tough times our bond has only gotten stronger and our union more complete. No one on this planet knows me, understands me, or supports me the way he does. We are both fiercely ambitious and, therefore, both insanely busy. Thus, we must be very intentional about spending quality time together. We have vowed to devote two days a month to just the two of us.  

My bestie since 1995!

I will text, call, or email a gal pal every day and I will spend quality time with a woman or girl in my life once a week. A writeous babe believes in the sanctity of sisterhood. This year I will text, call, or email at least one girlfriend of mine (about something not business-related) each day. Additionally, I also will have face-to-face time with a woman or girl in my life each week -- whether that's meeting for coffee, dinner, or brunch or going for a walk. 

I will walk/run 1200 miles this year.  Last year I exercised every single day and, believe it or not, it made me a better writer. This year's fitness goal is to walk/run 1200 miles by the end of the year. To accomplish this I will need to get in 100 miles a month. (Miles only count if I'm wearing athletic shoes and walking or running for fitness. In other words, the pacing I do in my classroom doesn't count.)

I will blog three to five times a week. A writeous babe blogs like a boss. If I have the time to exercise every day for a year, I have the time to update my blog the way that I should. There are no excuses. 

I will get a massage every month. A writeous babe believes in self-care. She knows wellness is not a luxury. So this year I'm getting a massage each month to knead out all the knots from all the work I put in at the keyboard, in the classroom, and on my favorite running trail. 

I'm ready to take this year by storm! But first, I need brunch.

I will focus on three major goals: 1) Earn $100,000 in my business 2) Be recognized by Forbes and 3) See my byline in one of my favorite national magazines. If you think these goals are too lofty, you are not thinking like a writeous babe. 

What are your goals and resolutions for 2015? 

Worried that you don't have time to pursue your goals for the year? Check out How To Write and Have a Life, a time management e-course for women who write and blog. 

The Year of the Writeous Babe

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Happy New Year! 

I declare 2015 to be The Year of the Writeous Babe. 

What's a writeous babe?

A writeous babe is a woman who writes and lives a life worth writing about. 

A writeous babe is a woman who blogs like a boss. She has an entrepreneurial spirit and is ready to transform her writing into wealth and her blog into a business. 

A writeous babe is not here for the starving artist cliche. She knows she must be a well-fed writer so that she can nourish the world around her.

A writeous babe is a goal digger! She has the imagination to unearth bold and beautiful dreams and the courage to make them come true. 

A writeous babe has some stories and she wants to look good while she shares them. This is not vanity. Her stunning beauty is simply the result of self-care. A writeous babe rejuvenates her body with exercise, replenishes her body with delicious, healthful foods, and restores her body with relaxation and rest.  And everything with which she adorns her body -- from the hair on her head to the shoes on her feet -- celebrates her unique and authentic style.

A writeous babe believes in women's empowerment and the sanctity of sisterhood. Thus, part of her life's work is to help other women and girls find their voices and let them be heard. 

Are you a writeous babe?

Of course, you are!

And this year you will begin to live the life of your dreams and I am here to help you do so. 

All year long every blog post I publish, every newsletter I send,  and every e-course, webinar or video training I release will be aimed at helping you accomplish your goals and build a beautiful life. 

Are you with me? 

If so sign up for my new weekly newsletter and for my new Facebook community

Let's do this! 

Javacia Harris Bowser is the creator of How To Write and Have a Life, a time management e-course for women who write and blog.