Cheers! My Birthday Celebration with the Napa Valley Wine Country Tours

After losing my grandmother a few weeks before my birthday, I really needed to celebrate life. I know she would want me to do that. This year, I decided to ring in a new year of life in wine country. My soror traveled up from So Cal to visit. This would be her first time in Napa. I didn’t want to drive so instead, we bought bus tickets for the Napa Valley Wine Country Tours.

Let me tell you something, going on this bus tour was one of the BEST decisions I made. The Napa Valley Wine Country Tours bus isn’t just any bus. It’s a limo bus that looks like a VIP club lounge on wheels. We paid $119 for an 8-hour trip, visit to 4 wineries in Sonoma and Napa counties, continental breakfast and lunch. It was worth every penny. The tastings aren't covered in the bus fare, but they ran about $10-$25. Wineries won't charge you for tastings if you buy a bottle. I recommend this for tourists and any Bay Area locals who have folks visiting from out of town and want a short excursion to Nap…

So Excited About My First Journalism Award!

Jenee Darden poses with her first journalism award. 

What an amazing month. I went on my first trip to New Orleans and partied with sorors at our Boule. I took one day to catch up on some sleep before getting R&R in Napa. In between my travels I visited KQED in San Francisco to receive a New America Media Award for Outstanding Community Reporting-Radio.  Remember that piece on the film Dark Girls that I did for my job's show Mental Health and Wellness Radio? Well my story of being a dark-skinned girl in a "light is right" world, along with coverage of Dark Girls and other amazing interviews helped me garner my first journalism award.

The award means a lot to me because the last few years have been rough. I was dealing with long-term unemployment, got into a bad car accident, had to leave a city I loved because of joblessness, only to return to the Bay Area and help care for my dying grandfather. That's not even all of the hurdles I faced.  Receiving this award felt great.

Belva Davis and I chatting about
my story and black hair. 
Last year, I attended a book signing at Barnes and Noble by veteran journalist Belva Davis. She is the first African American female anchor in the Western United States. She was promoting her memoir Never in My Wildest Dreams.  She and I discussed how journalism has changed and I told her I was having trouble finding a full-time job. I felt bad because I couldn't afford to buy her book at the time.  Fast forward to 2012 and she's presenting an award to me at the New America Media Awards. It's amazing how God works.

And how ironic that exploring an issue that pained me for years in my adolescence, colorism, was a blessing in the end.

I'm just very thankful. Below is the video to my acceptance speech. We were only given one minute. In the short time I acknowledged my mama, my guests in the audience, the people who sign my paycheck and the deceased. I'm just keeping it real.

For all of you who prayed for me, cheered for me, mentored me, made me laugh when I was down and told me not give up when I wanted to---I thank you.

Thank you.