Friday, April 11, 2014

Fighting Fibroids with Chinese Herbs and Acupuncture

Source: Wikimedia Commons
Remember I told you I gave the presentation of my dreams last year? Well I almost missed out on that dream. A few days before my business trip to Austin, Texas, I was in a lot of pain. So much so I postponed my flight. Initially I thought it was a bladder infection that just wouldn’t heal. Every time I blinked I had to pee and I was really bloated. The antibiotics I took were helping but once I was done with the prescriptions, symptoms flared up.

I went to the OBGYN, had an ultrasound and was told I had fibroids. One decided to grow right by my bladder, which explained the frequent urination.  Thankfully they’re all small, but those little suckers are mighty. They hurt. The doctor gave me a pamphlet with info on surgical options.  Ibuprofen helped ease the pain and frequent urination, which allowed me make my trip to Austin. I still wasn’t well.


Initially I wanted surgery. Then, a story broke about 13-year-old Jahi McMath. The girl went to Oakland Children’s Hospital for a tonsillectomy and ended up brain dead. That scared the bejeezus out of me. I began researching natural ways to treat fibroids and started asking around for references to people who practice holistic medicine.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Sexpo: A Workshop About Women, Sexual Wellness and Pleasure

I keep describing this workshop as the presentation of my dreams. Last December I traveled to Austin, Texas for the Alternatives Conference. It’s the largest and oldest conference for and by people with mental health challenges. Two of my colleagues and I gave a women-only presentation on sexual wellness and pleasure.  It was such a powerful experience. At least 100 women were there. We talked about overcoming sexual trauma, psychiatric drugs that don’t affect your libido, the power of erotica, sexual anatomy, the G-Spot, history of vibrators, society’s views of women self-pleasuring, how women and people with mental health challenges are sexually stigmatized and more.  You can read all about it here. Or listen to a podcast about it here.


L-R Jenee Darden aka Cocoa Fly,  Lisa Smusz, Kelechi Ubozoh



We also gave a similar presentation again at the UC Berkeley’s 29th Annual Empowering Women of Color Conference (EWOCC). And shout out to the organizers of EWOCC because they’re graduate students. When I was in graduate school, I barely had time to make a bowl of cereal let alone plan a conference. The people who attended our workshop were so cool and asked great questions. One of my favorite comments from our evaluations is “Thanks. I needed this.”  I’m looking forward to doing more of these in the very near future.

It feels good to help people and have fun while doing it.  Big ups to my co-presenters Kelechi Ubozoh and Lisa Smusz.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Women and Sexual Empowerment Series
The cast of 'The V Monologues: A Black Woman’s Perspective'


Tracie Collins
The V Monolgues: A Black Woman's Perspective
 
Our Women and Sexual Empowerment Series continues with a look at a new play that’s arousing interests, “The V Monologues: A Black Woman’s Interpretation.” Tracie Collins is the show’s writer, director and producer. It is derived from Eve Ensler’s groundbreaking production “The Vagina Monologues.” Tracie has worked in theater most of her life and and produced a number of shows. This is her first time in the director’s chair.

 You can see “The V Monolgues” this Saturday, October 19th at the Malonga Casquelord Theater in Oakland, Calif.

 I spoke with Tracie, a charming actress from the play named Renee Wilson; and the play’s narrator—retired San Francisco news anchor Dana King. I never thought that I'd be discussing vaginas with a journalist I admired as a teen, but it was a fun woman-to-woman conversation.

All three of these conversations  were so real and I loved every second of them.

 Now let’s talk about vaginas! Listen here or below.



 



Actress Renee Wilson








Veteran Journalist,
Artist and Actress Dana King 




Cocoa Fly Women and Sexual Empowerment Series: Interracial Romance Writer Roslyn Hardy Holcomb


My favorite book by Roslyn Hardy Holcomb.
It is a MUST read. But read Rock Star first.
I’ve been fascinated with sexuality for a long time.  When I was a kid, I would stay up late after Saturday Night Live and watch Dr. Ruth. I was fascinated by her voice and charm. But then I started learning things. My mother had no idea what was going on until my nine-year-old self asked her one Sunday morning, “Hey Ma, what’s ejaculation? I heard it on Dr. Ruth.”  My mother still brings up the horror she experienced. I thought she handled it well. 

Years later in college I began researching how racism and sexism affects how black women define their sexuality.  Now I’m interested women's work that empowers other women sexually. I’ll be posting podcasts with these fascinating women for the  Cocoa Fly Women and Sexual Empowerment Series.



Writer Roslyn Hardy Holcomb



We’re getting the series started with one of my favorite authors Rosyln Hardy Holcomb. She brings the sweet and HEAT in her novels. We talk about her work and sexual pleasure.  Roslyn even says sex gets better with time. I love talking about books, race, sex and writing. This interview hits on all of these topics. I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as I enjoyed the interview.

Roslyn’s latest novel is Milk & Honey.  Oooh girl!

Let’s get it started…


Monday, October 14, 2013

I Ate My Way Through Atlanta and Blogalicious 5


One of my favorite things about the South is the FOOD. I had to abandon my California, seaweed-salad eating ways and get some fried chicken. The Hyatt Regency in Atlanta has the best food I’ve ever eaten at a hotel. Still,  I made a few stops around the city for some yummy, yummy, buttery, fried and seasoned goodness. 

My first meal in Atlanta was this shrimp burger at the hotel. DELICIOUS! It came with a Mexican-flavored slaw. The buttery, chunky shrimp patty is making me salivate just thinking about it. It was so good, I didn’t put anything on it. I did scrape off most of the sauce. I loved every just juicy bite. 





Yes I ate candied bacon. I have no shame. It was hella good.  It tasted like brown sugar or maple meets bacon. The mix of sweet and salty was delish! It was a topping for a waffle.  The shrimp was also a waffle topping and soooo good. Unfortunately I missed out on the bacon doughnut. Those went quick.



Ish got real at the Dairy Queen. When I ordered hash browns, I thought it would look like those little potato paddies or tots that you get at fast food restaurants. Not at the Dairy Queen in Atlanta. Those hash browns were COUNTRY POTATOES. I loooooove country potatoes. The onions and spice made my pallet happy.





There was no way I was leaving Atlanta without stopping at Gladys Knight and Ron Winan’s Chicken and Waffles.  Fried chicken was a MUST on this trip. Luckily the restaurant was a train stop away. Too bad I found out after paying $10 for a cab, but that’s another story.  Fried chicken and hot sauce are a 
match made in my culinary heaven.


My favorite meal was the shrimp burger. In a close second, surprisingly, was my vegetarian dinner. I’ll get the name of the restaurant to you later, but it’s located in Lithonia, GA across the street from Church’s chicken. The Caribbean-inspired spot will fill you up. I had rice and peace, steamed veggies, plantains and stewed tofu. This made me more full than anything I ate during the trip. I had a food coma. Oh and you have to try their cashew smoothies. 


I used to tease my college friend for being a vegetarian, and she took me to this place.  She was right all of these years! I’m woman enough to admit when I’m wrong, and happily full.




Sunday, October 13, 2013

Run for Your Lives! We’re Under Attack By a Menstruating, Masturbating, Hairy Vagina on an American Apparel T-Shirt



Photo from AmericanApparel.net
Wow this shirt has created a huge uproar. I’m not surprised people are offended, but I like the concept. Would I wear a t-shirt of a woman masturbating while she’s on her period? No, that’s not my style. But I think this American Apparel shirt by designer Petra Collins and artist Alice Lancaster  is challenging us to think about how we view what’s considered sexy and normal in women's sexuality. 

Hairy vaginas don’t get love in these parts (pun intended). Seriously, we frown upon pubic hair and hairy vaginas aren’t considered sexy.  In pornography, the women’s pubic areas are usually bald. Therefore, the pubes are turning people off. 

Then there’s the second taboo-- menstruation. Periods aren’t usually pleasant times of the month for many.  There’s cramping, mood swings, bloating, tender breasts, issues with going to the bathroom and sometimes an odor down there from the blood.  Many cultures consider women unclean when they’re on their periods. But hey, it’s a natural thing and part of the baby development process. We benefited from menstruation blood and tissues lining the uterus when our mothers carried us.  If I bring up periods, with men especially, often they’re uncomfortable and grossed out. We need to look at it a different way. No it's not the most beautiful thing, but it's a part of life and womanhood.

So I assume no way should a woman on her period and with a hairy cha-cha, be horny.  And how dare she pleasure herself. GASP!  Women and masturbation is still a hush-hush topic.  Women have become more open about it, but I think we often associate masturbation more with men than women. There are women afraid to pleasure themselves. Some women see it as a nasty thing that good girls don’t do. But the woman on the shirt clearly has no problems with, ahem, taking care of herself.


While being on your period isn’t considered sexy, the woman on the shirt is aroused. Actually, some women’s libidos increase when they’re menstruating.  While having sex on your period is considered gross to people, a lot of men and women don’t let that stop them if they’re in the mood. So what this woman is doing on her period is not uncommon. 


Basically the artists hit on natural things that many people do/have yet find repulsive in this piece of art: pubic hair, periods and masturbation.


In an interview with Designer Petra Collins and Vice.com:

VICE: What do you think of the media storm you’ve started?

Petra Collins: It’s really awesome. I’m not surprised. It’s exactly what I wanted because it totally proves my point…
And what is your point?
 That we’re so shocked and appalled at something that’s such a natural state—and it’s funny that out of all the images everywhere, all of the sexually violent images, or disgustingly derogatory images, this is something that’s so, so shocking apparently. The graphic on my shirt is a line drawing, too. It’s not even a full-on image.



I agree with her. I’m more concerned about the violence our children are exposed to through video games, movies and television. That to me is more damaging than an image of a lady enjoying her one-woman show. The art on the shirt is not even sexualized. It's just normal. 

To me this is just edgy art. I don’t think people are offended necessarily because it’s graphic. I think people can’t handle it because it’s real. 



My Article on Depression, Religion and Stigma on the Huffington Post




I just realized that I didn't post on here about my Huffington Post article "I'm Depressed Because I Don't Have a Good Relationship with God?" In this post I discuss my past challenges with depression and how mental illness is stigmatized in many faiths. For me, I encountered this in Christianity. Please read and share.

Many people have reached out to me and thanked me for sharing my story. I appreciate the support.  We can end stigma if more of us share our stories and recognize that mental health challenges are a normal part of life. As long as you have a brain in your head, you can encounter a mental health challenge. It could be depression, anxiety, stress, etc.

Take care of your mind. Take care of yourself.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

My Last Day Without You Starring Nicole Beharie Premieres in Atlanta and I Got My Party On

In my last post I told you that a certain blogger kept me out all night in Atlanta. Well, Swirling co-author and Beyond Black & White author Christelyn Karazin knows how to have a good time. She was also in Atlanta for Blogalicious. When she invited me to attend the premiere of "My Last Day Without You"in Atlanta,  I had no I idea I was in store for a fun, long and special night.

I wrote a review of the film a while ago. To refresh your memory, the movie stars "Sleepy Hollow's" Nicole Beharie and the gorgeous actor Ken Duken. Whew that man is fine! Anyway, Ken plays a German businessman named Niklas who is in New York City for one day. He meets a pretty, aspiring singer named Leticia and things get interesting.

Christelyn Karazin and I at the
 Atlanta premiere of "My Last
Day Without You." 
The film has been screened in various parts of the country including: DC, New Orleans, Seattle and Chicago. I would love for it to come the Bay Area (hint, hint to any of the filmmakers reading this).

There were some sistas sitting in the movie theater in front of Christelyn and I. During a scene where Niklas goes in for a kiss with Leticia one of them said, "Oh Lord." Then they giggled nervously, starting texting someone, and one of them turned around to look at me. I don't know why the woman turned to me for help. LOL  However, when Leticia's father embraced a Latina, they didn't react. I understand that I was in the South and maybe black women swirling isn't as common there as in cities like DC or New York. But I find it ironic and sad that many black women are still giving a pass to black men loving across colors lines. While it's still considered taboo when black women do it.

Check out Christelyn's interview with the film's director Stefan Schafer and screenwriter Christoph Silber. The film is inspired by Silber's own personal experience. He met his wife on the subway in Brooklyn.


After the film, Christelyn and I went to Vanquish Lounge for the VIP after party. We kicked it with the director, writer and met Nichole Beharie’s family. She was supposed to attend the screening but couldn’t make it. I’m a big fan of her acting, and one day I will meet her.

I had a lot of fun at Vanquish and everybody was really nice, down the earth. I partied until the bouncers told us to go home. When in Rome do what the Romans do. When in Atlanta do what T.I. said, “Live your life.”

Hanging out with screenwriter Christoph Silber at
the VIP after part to the screening. 
Support this film. Ask AMC to bring it to your city. It’s a really cute romantic comedy and I love cute rom coms. Nicole Beharie and Ken Duken have great chemistry. Maybe that’s why those black women almost died and cried out for the Lord when they were about to kiss. LOL

Follow the film’s Facebook page for updates and to find out if it’s coming to your area. 

Cocoa Fly Works and Plays Hard in Atlanta during Blogalicous 5.






The city of Atlanta has always been good to me. And no doubt, did I have a great time again in “The A.” This time it was for Blogalicious 5, a multicultural conference for women bloggers. This year we celebrated the conference’s much deserved 5 year anniversary.  I highly suggest for any serious blogger to attend. Between the networking and informative workshops, you will definitely walk away with plenty of resources. And the people who attend are awesome. It's truly a community.  This was my first time back in Atlanta since being a Spelman exchange student in 2001. I was so excited to speak at the conference about awareness blogging or covering social issues in social media.



The first night was a Scandal viewing party. Our outfits were Olivia Pope inspired.  I kept it classy with a black dress. Xfinity sponsored the event. We were hooked up with a red carpet, champagne and gourmet popcorn. It was really nice. But I must say, watching the season's premiere with 100+ mostly black women was an unforgettable experience. There was a lot of talking back to the screen. HaHaHa!





Thursday, September 26, 2013

Dear Blogalicious...

Photo by Vanessa of @DeSuMama

Dear Blogalicious,

Normally I adhere to the rule, “What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.” But I couldn’t resist telling people about the amazing time I had at Blogalicious 2012 in Las Vegas.
Last year’s conference was my first. I was a bit nervous because I attended alone. But I’m so glad I took the risk. I was in a space that I identified with so much; a conference full of creative, passionate women with business dreams, who love social media and desire to learn more. I found myself among a group of people who work hard, but make time for fun too. I was in love.

Through Blogalicious I learned more about Google+ and branding.



I connected with a social media maven I’ve admired for a long time. 





I met the first black woman to win a Sundance award for best film director (and she follows me on Twitter).


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