Saturday, December 1, 2012

World AIDS Day 2012

Today is December 1, 2012. Today I woke up in reasonable health, warm, and my mind already racing about what is to take place throughout my day. My days for the most part, are started with reflection and prayer to set my mind and spirit up for what is before me. For sanity and humility sake, I try to think gratefully about the things that could really be wrong in my life because of things that I’ve done, yet I’ve somehow escaped consequences that should be. I should be homeless, I should be sick; I should be dead. Real talk. So I am humble in knowing that while there are things I don’t have to deal with on a daily basis, there are some who, for whatever reason, do. It has nothing to do with anyone being better than someone else, it’s the cards we were dealt. Today is World AIDS Day. I am not aware of how many people I know who’ve dealt with knowing or being someone living with HIV/AIDS, but I know I have loved, touched, hugged and have laid beside someone who did, is, and was. I don’t know, I am never unaware that I too could’ve been infected at some point my life. If for nothing else, all 3 of my children were conceived the old-fashioned way. It only takes one time, one encounter, one night, one minute for any one to be infected. I cannot stomach those who still think HIV/AIDS is a gay man’s disease. The woman in the Congo is not a gay man, neither is the little boy in Bangladesh. And the gay man who does have it in Atlanta, is not the woman in Harlem, or the senior citizen in Chicago. Closed-mindedness is corny. Anyone can be infected and affected, and can hit closer to home at any given moment. “World AIDS Day, held each year to commemorate the millions of lives affected by the AIDS epidemic, has a new mission: “Getting to Zero” by 2015. World AIDS Day brings together people from around the world to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS and demonstrate international solidarity in the face of the pandemic. The day is an opportunity for public and private partners to spread awareness about the status of the pandemic and encourage progress in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment and care in high prevalence countries and around the world.”(World Health Organization- For facts and information on the HIV/AIDS, visit

Monday, October 1, 2012

Passing It On

HAPPY OCTOBER EVERYBODY!!!!!!From as far as I can remember, my mom and dad always had me around something creative. Scores of coloring books, fabric, harmonicas and maracas were found in some corner of my home. My fondest memories of my Saturday piano lessons were of my dad and I going to the diner to get gyros and chocolate covered graham crackers. I still have my childhood piano which acts as a wonderful book case and storage for my fabric underneath. I wish I knew what I did with my first books of poetry. I remember sitting in my room with the marble notebooks, writing about my life as an angry teen, or writing songs that I imagined being sung on the radio. Whether I sang them or not, I knew I had hits, so I shared them with other musicians. If I may be honest,that is how my oldest son got here, from "sharing my music" with a then aspiring music producer... Anyway, the point is, my whole life has been surrounded by all of these wonderful acts of art. When I was a teen mom, I took advantage of the free programs that they had to introduce us to culture. I dragged my first born all over and visited every museum in New York City, from the Guggenheim, to the Transit Museum, and the Intrepid. We didn't know Spanish, but we knew El Museo del Barrio , MOMA, and of course, the Museum of Natural History. This is what I loved as a child, so yes, as a parent, I "force" it on my kids. Good thing this creative gene is strong and lasting, all of my children can sing, though only my daughter bypassed the shy gene, I have to catch my sons singing. I remember hearing my son at two years old singing the songs from the Backyardigans in perfect pitch, I mean perfect! My oldest son sits at the computer all day making beats that I promise you, rival some of these producers today. I need him to go ahead and get that going so he can buy momma a brownstone in Brooklyn somewhere. So yeah, I am bragging, my daughter has the dancing grace of a swan, and spends hours writing short stories at 7 (tomorrow she will be 8, YIPPEEE). Did I mention she is an excellent make-up artist, contouring and doing winged eyes like a pro? That is my fault for giving her my makeup kit from beauty school to practice.
This past weekend we attended the DUMBO Arts Festival in Brooklyn N.Y. I wanted to celebrate my daughter's birthday and have a great time being outdoors in the most beautiful time of the year in NYC. And beautiful it was. We spent most of the time in the area designated for children's arts and crafts, but we sneaked out to catch an impromptu one-man Shakespeare street performance by a guy who called himself "Ralph". I've never seen Macbeth done quite like that before. Ralph travels the country on his bike performing for anyone who will let him.
I don't know,I mean I try to share what is important to me with my kids. As a parent, I probably like most real parents, can think of a million things we do wrong when raising our children. I probably am frustrated often, cuss at them every now and then, and refuse to share my food a couple of times every two years. So, I choose to share what I know I have down-packed. I'm glad they don't seem to mind either. Spending time passing these things on is what makes my life full, and in those moments, complete.
My daughter is a photographer too, she caught these two of me....

Friday, September 28, 2012

NYC Graffitti Hall of Fame

(James top of James Top Productions) I’ve said it many times; an artist usually will choose their tools based on what is around them when they first get the creative spark. Perhaps a little boy’s father had an old guitar in the basement, or a little girl found her mother’s lipstick behind the couch. Did you go to art class in high school and the teacher only had clay around? What about being a pre-teen and your mom sent you out to buy a loaf of bread, only to find the neighborhood kids “tagging” the side of the bodega? I know growing up in the 80’s, some of my fondest memories were of the boys break dancing on the block on top of opened cardboard boxes. I remember my cousins and the older boys sneaking spray paint cans out of my garage and spray painting whatever wall they could find. I also remember them getting in trouble, and being regarded as vandals because they defaced public property. What is sad is that these were the stories heard and broadcasted publically, and it took away from the beauty of the art form that we know as graffiti. Graffiti is indeed an art, born out of the streets of New York, and other inner cities, it has had the greatest influence on what we know to be Hip-hop culture today. Originating in the New York City subways, graffiti was an expression of a culture that expressed themselves loudly and colorfully with its music, fashion, and even political involvement. By definition, the word graffiti is defined as markings, initials, slogans, or drawings, written, spray-painted, or sketched on a sidewalk, or wall of a building. Some of the most common styles of graffiti have their own names. A "tag" is the most basic writing of an artist's name; it is simply a hand style. A graffiti writer's tag is his or her personalized signature. Tagging is often the example given when opponents of graffiti refer to any acts of hand style graffiti writing (it is by far the most common form of graffiti). Tags can contain subtle and sometimes cryptic messages, and might incorporate the artist's crew initials or other letters. We don’t see it anymore on the E or the A trains. If we see it on a wall anywhere, it was artfully placed with the permission of the owner. Due to laws passed that attempted to label graffiti as vandalism and defacement, great lengths have been taken by the artists over the years to preserve the integrity and expression of the much loved and respected art form. Graffiti is urban pride, our modern day Venus die Milo, our reference to a movement that is withstanding and globally identified.
I’ve come across a movement who knows firsthand the power and pleasure of the graffiti art form, and works tirelessly to preserve its legacy. James Top Productions was created by legendary graffiti artist James Top in 1998 to create unique graffiti art experiences that focus on many areas from educational workshops, lectures, gallery, event presentations, murals, video production, tours, and graffiti artwork to community and charity projects. James Top Productions has worked with some of the world's most recognizable brands such as ABC Sports, SONY and Time Warner to name a few, along with a roster of premiere graffiti artists here in NYC and beyond. September 22, 2012, James hosted the NYC Graffiti Hall of Fame in East Harlem, New York. Located at 106 and Park Avenue, the event showcased Live Graffiti Art by the 2012 Graffiti Hall of Fame Artists. They were painting as onlookers took pictures and watched the magic happening before their eyes. The crowd was ethnically diverse, as I saw so many representing the graffiti culture. One common thing was shared, this I can tell you. The respect and love for what so many of us have been influenced by in every way here in America was evident. You could see chests puffed from the artists, and the admirers alike.
(I and the legendary Albert "Lava1&2" Mercado) Graced by the musical appearances of Mic Mania, The Legendary Grand Master Caz of The Cold Crush Bros. & Rodney “C” of Double Trouble, it really was a beautiful time of hip hop authenticity. Actually for me, being there inspired ideas for a photo shoot. The colors on the school ground walls spoke to me. The contrasts and the lines gave me a vision to do something quite similar in makeup. I will keep you posted on that….:) The NYC Graffiti Hall of Fame was a splendid display of the new generation of artists who have taken the torch and keep it lit brightly. My 17 year old was perturbed, not knowing where I had gone. Him being a music aficionado, he expressed how he would love to have been there. I wasn’t even thinking about the influence of it all reaching all the way back to his generation. Though I am quite aware it has. His responses however, solidified that indeed the movement is as strong and relevant as ever. Again, I was so grateful to be surrounded by creative souls, expressing themselves in their truest form. An artist is an artist, no matter your medium, no matter your canvass, and no matter how you chose either of the above. Art is just that. For more information about James Top Productions, visit,
(Grand Master Caz and Special K)
(We think we are models:)told you a shoot was inspired....)

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Living Beautifully

Makeup, music, soul, color, life, in my opinion are all aspects of true beauty. All of the above come in so many different forms, and should be recognized and revered as special in their own individual ways. As a make-up artist, I am blessed to encounter so many variations of beauty. From high cheekbones, hooded eyes, full lips, to porcelain, olive and blue- black complexions, I have the privilege of accenting and enhancing what is uniquely beautiful about the women I service. What also makes my job easier is that there are products that allow me to do what I do, and that they perform the necessary duties I require when I use them. It is great that I know my color wheel, and that I will mix up a formula with multiple products when I need to. Especially when dealing with women of African descent, our complexions and undertones run the gamut. It’s not “one size fits all”, so I appreciate when there are products that consider the needs of all beauty types. For me, it’s a requirement, both professionally and personally. September 25, 2012, I had the pleasure of attending a monumental event, celebrating singer/songwriter Esnavi as one of the faces of Alison Raffaele Cosmetics. The line will be carried in select Duane Reade stores in the LOOK Boutique nationally and in Puerto Rico. You will see Esnavi as the the first African- American woman to represent the campaign where the products are sold. Alison Raffaele’s passion for beauty has often been drawn and inspired from music and fashion as an veteran make-up artist. Known for her work in the industry, notably working under Bobbi Brown, Alison already had the respect and trust of her clients and colleagues. As I spoke with her at MarX Restaurant(, I had gained a new-found respect as I listened to her speak about her diligence in providing a complexion line that worked amazingly, and boasts ingredients that are eco-friendly and effective. Alison clearly has a passion and love for her artistry and her clients. Putting together a cosmetic line that is paraben, talc, mineral oil, fragrance and gluten free openly displays that. Choosing Esnavi as one of the faces of Alison Raffaele Cosmetics is also a display of beautiful living in a real, identifiable form. Known as one of the hottest rising musical artists of this decade, Esnavi is known for her flair for fashion and beauty and identifying with artists that she really believes in. She won’t wear an outfit she doesn’t like for flattery sake, or shout out an artist that she wouldn’t personally stand behind. That alone says a lot about Alison Raffaele Cosmetics. For an artist to put her name and face to something, I’m inclined to believe we may be on to something. I am glad Esnavi and Alison Raffaele chose each other. A merge of two of my favorite art forms, makeup and music, and a message of true beauty behind each brand. Simply, this makes me happy. I can see a face I identify with when I purchase and use a product that really works for me. In my gift bag, I received “True Concealer Skintone 6”. I am wearing it now, I will wear it tomorrow too, because it matches my tone perfectly, hasn’t slipped during the day, and is weightless. I’ve been experiencing “Unexpected Love” lately. I cannot think of the phrase anymore without thinking of Esnavi’s hit single. All of this going on at the same time, and I feel beauty in my life right this moment. Kind of corny? Yes it is, but who can tell anyone what beautiful living is to them? -See Esnavi’s story here and information about Alison Raffaele Cosmetics at -For the latest information about all things Esnavi, visit

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Nice and Social

With New York Fashion Week Spring 2013 still in full swing, I think the fashion world is probably still teeming over with inspiration, creativity, and excitement. Wanting to bask in that sentiment, I headed to Harlem, New York to visit the new location of Sociallite Accessories, an exclusive woman’s accessory boutique located at 2084 Lexington Avenue ( I honestly lost my breath a little when I walked in. It seemed like all of my personal style was hanging on every wall. From the jewelry, to the handbags, I quickly had to remind myself my children needed uniforms for school, and that I needed running water to live. If there is nothing I love better in my accessories arsenal, is a true statement piece. Sociallite Accessories is filled with them. They cater to the trendy, fashion forward individual who loves quality and individuality, without having to forego food for 2 weeks. They even have a section catered to “Lil Sociallites”, accessories for girls. Owner Yenitza Lindsay was such a doll, accurately pointing out pieces that she thought I would like just from her quick assessment of me. She pulled out a two-finger ring with an antique shear on it. She did that after I had chosen a minimum of 12 pieces I wanted to leave with, so I just went ahead and made it 13…
Yenitza Lindsay and Yours Truly
Aside from wanting to leave an establishment with what you came for, you want to feel like you’ve made the right decision to spend your time and your money there. You get that at Sociallite Accessories. The space is intimate, the staff is personable, and they have great products. Let’s be honest, I don’t like people who aren’t nice. Period, Point, Blank. From talking with Annbeth R., friend of Yenitza’s (who I have connected to as well), to chatting it up with the supporters and customers, your shopping experience here won’t be a disappointment. I even walked out with a lovely pair of earrings that I wore the very next day, and I still had enough to pay my water bill (I’m from Queens). Head out to Harlem, visit Sociallite Accessories, treat yourself, feel good about it, leave feeling nice and social. Add a little love to your jewelry box and create a little budget to go back and do it all over again.
These are the ones I snagged, you wouldn't believe for how much... For the first person who can guess how much I paid for my earrings, I'll give them a pair of earrings, courtesy of Sociallite Accesories. To be fabulous will cost you nothing but an educated guess!!!