Starting Your Dreams Later In Life and Embracing the Detour

Jenee Darden speaking at Creative Mornings I know it's been a while since I've posted anything but that's because of my job. I'm working as a reporter covering Oakland and I host an arts segment on the radio where I get to interview amazing artists from around the Bay Area. Plus I'm publicizing my book  and building my speaking career!  You know what's funny? I thought this would all happen by the time I was 27-30.  Nope. That wasn't God's plan for me. I'm finally beginning to do the things I've wanted to do and I'm almost 40 years old. Some people reading this who are 40 will say 40 is still young. But some younger people reading may think 40 is nearly ancient. But I'm writing this post for those who like me, thought their career and personal dreams would come true much early in life. I'm here to tell you not to give up.  You know, death inspires life. A number of my relatives and friends have passed away, ranging in

Cocoa Fly at Blogalicious 2012

It was ON AND POPPIN' last weekend at the Blogalicious conference in Viva Las Vegas.  I met  amazing women blogging about really cool topics. I traveled solo to Blogalicious. It was my first time at this conference and I was a little nervous, but everyone was so friendly. And they were excited about blogging.  I think I'm going to make Blogalicious an annual trip. Shout out to Stacey Ferguson aka Justice Fergie and her crew for their hard work.  Anytime I had a question they were right there and extremely cordial.  
There were so many great speakers including "Today Show" contributor Mario Armstrong and writer Harriet Cole.  The location was perfect. OMG, I am now in love with the Red Rock Spa and Casino.  Between the hotel, workshops, free drinks, good food,  cool parties and spa access-- I was in heaven. I know that sounds weird to say since Vegas is known as "Sin City," but this was a fly trip. 

Here's a photo tour of my fly time at Blogalicious:

I arrived Friday to this lovely, spacious room and comfy bed. I loved this room so much, that I didn't go out one night. I just wanted to enjoy it. Red Rock rocks! 

This hotel is about chilling. Check out the marble soaker tub and the TV. But that's not my favorite thing about the room. When I walked in, I smelled bleach. I think they clean the bathroom with bleach, but I have to confirm. I can't remember a time walking into a hotel room smelling bleach. 


After I pried myself away from room, I headed to a tea hosted by Sears/Kmart. No matter where I go, ya'll know I have to hook up with a soRHOr. And I've wanted to meet this lady for a long time. It was great to finally connect in person with Digital Sisterhood blogger Ananda Leeke! I'm excited about her research on digital media and women and can't wait until her book comes out.  Ananda has a great spirit and a gift for encouraging people to not only dream big, but make it happen.  By the way those cocktails you see are sweet tea mixed with vodka.  It was made so well that I didn't know there was vodka in it. Luckily I figured it out in time. 

Later on that night I went to a Ladies Night Out pamper party sponsored by McDonalds.  They treated us to free manicures, make up makeovers, chair massages, food (not just McDonald's food), DJ and drinks. It was a lot of fun.


I finally got my smoky eye!  The makeup artist at the McDonald's party did a fabulous job. 

After a night of partying, I liked being greeted by the chic hallways and room doors at the Red Rock. They look more like entrances to Penthouses or upscale apartments. I felt fancy. :) 

Saturday, I checked out some workshops and kicked it at the pool. I didn't take pictures of the pool because I wanted to do something for me...chill out. 

 I was hyped about director Ava DuVernay (left) speaking at Blogalicious. I loved her 2011 film "I Will Follow." Earlier this year, DuVernay became the first black female director to win a Sundance award for her latest film "Middle of Nowhere." It's about a woman who falls in love with another man while her husband is incarcerated. It looks like a beautiful love story. The film also explores how a family's life changes when a loved one is locked up.  I love DuVernay's work because she makes complex black characters (as should most filmmakers). And I was extra excited to see the star of the film is the beautiful Emayatzy Corinealdi.
Some of you may remember her from the short film "Akira's Hip Hop Shop." I spoke with both ladies and they are down-to-earth cool.  Please support their film.

All I have to say is Doug. E. Fresh. Gain hosted this party. Correction, this was a par-tay. Doug E. Fresh is a great hype man/MC.  I danced the whole night. The free drinks were flowing, the music was pumping and I felt great. I think I only sat down one time the whole night. And I paid for it the next day, but I had a great time.

Sunday arrived and just like that, the conference was wrapping up. :(  I woke up extra early to indulge in the spa downstairs. The Red Rock's eucalyptus steam room is simply amazing. 

From amazing spa to awesome Alma. Alma is the kind of woman who I would want to go to her house, sit in her living room with a cup of tea and talk about life for hours. We discussed relationships at the conference and I benefited from her good ol' common sense. I can't wait until she gets her blog up and running because I want to interview her for the Cocoa Fly podcast. 

My fellow blogger, homegirl (she's from the Bay Area) and AKA sista greek Rhachelle Nicol has serious drive and hustle. I still don't believe she has given birth to five children. She looks like a 20 year old and is no bigger than the snap of my finger. J

Rhachelle has overcome a lot in life. She blogs about domestic violence and healing on her blog.  I respect her for telling her story and helping other women.  I felt like I knew her before we met at Blogalicious. I'm still trying to figure out where we've met. 

Blogalicious could not have ended the conference any better. Keynote Harriette Cole was awesome. Cole is an author, former lifestyle editor at Essence, and former editor-in-chief of Ebony.  She spoke about being mindful of how much info we put on our blogs, and to think before we criticize other people, companies, org, etc online. And she talked about differences between blogging and journalism. The audience gave her a standing ovation.

And just like that, Blogalicous came to an end. Again, I had a great time. But I wasn't done with Vegas. I had a date...

...with the strip!
The flight back to Oakland on a Sunday was so expensive, that it was cheaper to stay on the strip on Sunday night and fly back Monday morning.  I got a room at Treasure Island for $79.  The lady at the check-in desk hooked me up with an amazing view from my room.  What a way to end the weekend. I love Vegas. 

Here are few of the bloggers I met over the weekend:




Natural hair


Health and Wellness
(She blogs about living with MS)

(I read two posts and was cracking up)


  1. "I am now in love with the Red Rock Spa and Casino" One time I wanted to go there but now I'm playing online and it is very comfortable


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