Going to school in America where shootings are the “new norm”.

img_4435These are my girls at school!  Happy-go-lucky and free to be a teen and pre-teen!  They are students, learning, growing, making friends and having fun! img_3188

To my friends, colleagues, and followers: have school shootings in America become the new normal, commonplace?  There have been 288 school shootings in America since 2009.  There have been 433 shooting incidents in America since the Santa Fe, TX shooting on Friday – that just three days ago.  In 2018, there have been 22,190 total shooting incidents in America and 16 school shootings in American in 2018.  Why?

Twenty-three (23) families have changed: 8 students and 2 teachers are dead; 13 others were injured.  One student who was a Pakistani exchange student who came here to study with American students and interact with American families.  Her family will never see her again.  Why is this the “new norm”?

As I sent my daughters to school today, it was like nothing happened on Friday.  It happened and life has gone on.  The same students that I see every school day were at the bus stop.  The country is not having a moment of silence; it is contained to the state of Texas.  If the reports are correct, more students have died in school shootings this year than soldiers in the two (2) wars that America is currently engaged.  So I wondered, is this the norm in other countries.

Based on what I learned, it is NOT!  Again, since 2009, here are the number of school shootings for other countries.  Mexico – 8; South Africa – 6, India – 5, Canada and France – 2, China, Germany, Greece and Russia – 1, all other countries listed including the UK are zero (0).  Let me put it another way, America is 36 times more likely to have a school shooting than any other country in the world!  So this is just the norm in America!

I agree with Arne Duncan, former Secretary of Education 2008-2015, that it is our responsibility as parents to ensure our children’s safety.  The question becomes, how do we do that?  Is it something that we need to do collectively?  Is it even a problem for my community?  We need to have the conversation.  We need to talk about if and how gun violence affects our children, our families, our communities.  We need to discuss options to make a difference, to make our children, our students, our teachers, our communities, our seniors, our colleagues – Americans safe!

Are you willing to have the discussion with me?  Or, are we going to continue to live our lives as if this only happens to other people, until it happens to us?  What are the steps that we can take as parents?  Should we work individually or collectively or both?  What role do the politicans that we elect play?  What is the political responsibility to affect change in this area?  Is there one?  Are the parents of the student who committed this heinous act responsible for providing access to these guns and other weapons of mass destruction?  Let’s discuss, and then take action.

 

Happy Black History Month

When I opened Google on February 1, 2017, to my delight, Google wished me ‘Happy Black History Month’ highlighting Edmonia Lewis, an African-Native American sculptor born in New York on Independence Day 1844.  On February 1, 2018, Google highlighted Carter G. Woodson, an Black American writer and historian considered the “Father of Black History.”

Go out and learn more about your history.  Lots of times we discuss the great Black Americans who built this country and helped our community begin to grow and thrive.  Now I want you to learn your history.  Who are your parents?  Who are your grandparents?  Where do you come from?  These are my children.  I want them to know where they come, who they are, what great people came in our family before them.

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Our children need to know and learn who the great famous Black women and men in world history.  That is very important.  But just as important is for them to know and learn who the great Black women and men in our family histories are.  Make it a part of our Black History activities.  Talk with your ancestors and learn about your family.  That’s what I plan to do.

This month, I have decided to dedicate time to learning my family history and hope that you may do the same.  Make Black History Month GREAT again!!!

 

Put God First

10695039_10204683380864339_793525817_n-e1518187998456.jpgWednesday, February 8, 2018, I attended my first Paparazzi Regional event called EmpowerMe Pink in Phildelphia, PA.  There was a lot going on in Philly that day: there was a MASSIVE parade for the Eagles who won Super Bowl LII.  People were everywhere.  The city shut down 5 miles of streets and people were required to take public transportation just to get into the city.  There were no cars, trucks or SUVs on the street of Phildelphia that day!  Just hundreds of thousands of people celebrating a long awaited victory for a team that they never gave up on.

The Eagles were not the only champions in town that day.  Thousands of Paparazzi Independent Consultants traveled to Philly by car, bus, train and plane to hear from the champions, like Trent Kirby, Chani and Ryan Reeves,who started our company and share with each other stories of success and hope!  For me, it was AMAZING.  I was reminded of the power of hope, the importance of consistency and the hard work of discipline.  Most of all, the meeting confirmed my goals, my heart’s desire, is waiting for me to attain it.  Nothing and no one is holding me back but me.  That stops now!

Everything I am, all that I have, all that I’ve accomplished, all that my children accomplish is by the Grace of God.  I was reminded of a commencement address that Denzel Washington gave at an HBCU recently.  I went back and listened to it this morning (following one of the tips that Trent taught us to start each day listening to motivational videos).  Now I’m sharing it with you.

Denzel Washington – Put God First

Be blessed and make today GREAT!!

Clean Beauty – Routine Changes

This post is reprinted from “Because I’m Addicted” on bloglovin at bloglovin – Because I’m Addicted  I thought that it was a great article, so I’m sharing it with you!

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If you’re not into clean beauty, I get it! I really do. The truth about non-natural beauty products is that they work – really well! There’s a reason beauty is a multi-billion dollar industry, and when it comes to benefits like clearing skin, fighting aging, nourishing your hair, etc. a lot of the toxic products get the job done BUT that can come with a price: your health.

Women who wear makeup and use beauty products on a daily basis can absorb an average of 5 pounds (five pounds!!) of chemicals into their bodies each year. Everything that we slather onto our bodies goes directly into our blood stream. So just like being mindful of what we eat and drink, we need to be mindful about what we’re putting on our bodies in the same way.

What they’ve discovered is that the chemicals being used are proven to cause cancer and are endocrine disruptors which can increase production of certain hormones; decrease production of others; imitate hormones; turning one hormone into another; interfering with hormone signaling; telling cells to die prematurely; competing with essential nutrients; binding to essential hormones; accumulating in organs that produce hormones. Scary stuff!

So, if you want to start making switches to clean beauty but aren’t ready to give up your Tom Ford foundation (I feel you, girl!) my suggestion is to make three simple changes to daily used items. The first two are the products that are used all over your body: soap and lotion (if you don’t use this daily, you still need to change this one). And the third, deodorant. Switch those three to organic/natural/clean and you’ve made a big change in the amount of toxins you’re absorbing annually. Yay, go you!

Product recommendations:

Organic soaps: Makes 3 Organic Eucalyptus Cedarwood Soap (highest rated by the EWG), Dr. Bronner’s (what I personally use) & Pure ProvenceOil/body butter/organic lotion: Organic Matcha Body Moisturizer,  Aura Cacia Organics Skin Care Oil Sweet Almond, Fig & Yarrow Body OilTrue Botanicals Body Balm (I love their Frankincense + Sandalwood) plus more below

Non-toxic deodorants: Erbaviva, Agent Nateur, ORGANIC 101, EO Organics & Schmidt’s  plus more below

He Who Must Not Be Named

It was the best of times… Many of us are feeling so sort of way. Between the election results, today’s social, political and economic climate, Super Bowl LI, and the list could go on, we just find it hard some days, some moments to deal with “It”; however you define It.

A friend shared Bernice King’s (the daughter of MLK Jr.) advice on how to deal with It:


“1. Don’t use his name; EVER it’s like acknowledging the class clown (45, he who will not be named, Him upstairs, Mista, etc will do)

Briggsy Note: it’s like “he who must not be named” in the Harry Potter series! If it works for Michelle Obama, Dumbledore and Bernice King, it works for me. 

2. Remember this is a REGIME and he’s NOT acting alone;

Briggsy note: what is happening is very strategic. While certain world leaders may be using 45, so is the GOP.

3. Do not argue with those who support him – it doesn’t work;

Briggsy note: this speaks for itself! Anything else I could add would only solicit negative reactions and feedback. 

4. Focus on his policies, not his orange-ness and mental state;

Briggsy note: these are distractions from what is really important, which includes Hitler-like rhetoric, business interests, taxes, relationship with his children, where his wife lives, etc. 

5. Keep your message positive; they want the country to be angry and fearful because this is the soil from which their darkest policies will grow;

6. No more helpless/hopeless talk;

Briggsy note: Focus on what’s important in your life. I’ve started spending less time on social media because I found it affected my mood. Focus on those things that you can control, keep your thoughts positive, your words, deeds and disposition will follow. It’s contagious! 

7. Support artists and the arts;

Briggsy note: Go to the theater, symphony or a play. Follow @randallstownmom for local news on the arts and artists. The page is being updated weekly. 

8. Be careful not to spread FAKE news. Check it, check it twice;

Briggsy note: get your news from reputable organizations and news programs. There is a lot of fake news being spread. Be vigilant. 

9. Take care of yourselves; and

Briggsy note: learn to say ‘No’ sometimes. Be true to yourself first. You can’t help others when you don’t take care of you. I’m the first person that needs to take this advice. 

10. Resist!

Keep demonstrations peaceful. In the words of John Lennon, “When it gets down to having to use violence, then you are playing the system’s game. The establishment will irritate you – pull your beard, flick your face – to make you fight! Because once they’ve got you violent, then they know how to handle you. The only thing they don’t know how to handle is non-violence and humor.”

When you post or talk about him, don’t assign his actions to him, assign them to “The Republican Administration,” or “The Republicans.” 

Briggsy note: only post about he who must not be named if you must and only if you must. He does not deserve that much attention from you. Plus it’s so much bigger than one man. Don’t let the GOP play you. 

Reassigning his actions will have several effects: Republican legislators will either have to take responsibility for their association with him or stand up for what some of them don’t like; he will not get the focus of attention he craves; Republican representatives will become very concerned about their re-elections.

Briggsy final note for this post: It’s time to change our focus, be purposeful in our actions and know that our future is bright. Stay sexy in a great pair of shades!

90% Of Teens Have Used Social Media (But They Still Prefer Engaging Face To Face) [STUDY] – AllTwitter

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90% Of Teens Have Used Social Media (But They Still Prefer Engaging Face To Face) [STUDY] – AllTwitter.

By Shea Bennett on June 27, 2012 8:00 AM
A new study has shed some light on the ways that teenagers are using social media, which has quickly established itself an important – and influential – part of their everyday lives.

Some 90 percent of 13-17 year olds have used social media, placing it ahead of texting (87 percent), email (77 percent) and instant messaging (63 percent), with one in five saying that platforms such as Facebook and Twitter make them feel more confident.

The survey was undertaken by Common Sense Media, who polled more than 1,000 13-17 year-olds around the USA – essentially the first generation to have “grown up” on Facebook. The survey showed that nine in ten teens had used social media overall, with 27 percent having used Twitter.

51 percent of teenagers visit a social networking site daily (second in usage only to texting).
Facebook was the social network of choice amongst teens, with more than two-thirds (68 percent) using this channel. Twitter captured second place (6 percent) and Google+ finished third alongside MySpace, with just 1 percent of the vote.

The study also revealed that meeting in person was still a teenager’s favourite way to communicate with friends, with almost half (49 percent) preferring this method. Texting finished in second place (33 percent), with less than one in ten favouring social media for friend engagement (7 percent). Twitter alone captured just 1 percent of this vote.

Face-to-face communication was generally preferred because it is “more fun”.

It’s not all roses, though – one in three teens (36 percent) said that they sometimes wished they could go back to a time before Facebook. The report concludes, however, that while we should proceed with caution, teenagers and social media are, overall, a pretty good mix.

“None of this means that there’s nothing to worry about when it comes to teens and social media,” write Common Sense Media. “The concerns are real: about privacy, bullying, hate speech, body image, and oversharing, to name a few. And we won’t know for a long time how the immediacy of digital communication may be shaping interpersonal relationships and social skills. But the results of this survey do help put the challenges and pitfalls of social media into a broader perspective and offer reassurance that, for the most part, the kids are all right.”

(Source: Common Sense Media. Social chat image via Shutterstock.)

School and Business Delays for Tuesday, Feb. 18

Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Cecil, Harford, Howard, Montgomery and Prince George’s County schools operating 2 hours delayed schedule.

Queen Anne’s County schools are 90 minutes late.

Washington Federal offices operating on time.

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services opening at 9:30 am.

Side streets are slippery but main roads clear. Be very careful and leave early.

A Snow Day & EVERYTHING is CLOSED!!!

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Here is the view from my front door! Those are two large SUVs covered in snow – Cadillac and Ford Expedition – blanketed by Mother Nature.

The snow has come and it’s still coming. Freezing rain and sleet are expected this afternoon. Amazing!!

There is no reason to list the schools, government offices or other businesses that are closed. Everything is closed. Let me say that again! EVERYTHING IS CLOSED!!!

If you don’t have to leave home, DON’T!!! Unfortunately, I see shoveling in my future, because my husband has to go to work and has a sprained wrist. Wish us luck! I feel like a postman – “neither snow nor sleet nor rain not dead of night will keep me from my appointed rounds.” I may have paraphrased but you get the point!!

Well, let me get to work then back to bed I go – wishful thinking.

Changing your Finances in 5 minutes

Jessica Szymanski gives some great financial advice. Here is a repost if get most recent blog that I follow in Twitter. It only takes 5 minutes to read his blog and 5 minutes change your finances. I highly recommend following her blog!

I have already done some of these things and the difference it meant for me is amazing! I’m about to create my Pinterest board!! Get Excited!!

“I’m big into New Year’s resolutions. I think it’s because I love fresh starts and clean slates.

This year, I have a few resolutions. First and foremost: If it takes less than 5 minutes, do it now.

It’s surprising how many things we put off that could get done in 5 minutes. For example: calling to make a doctor’s appointment. Or unloading the dishwasher. Or deleting junk email. The list goes on and on.

Turns out, most of the things that you procrastinate on aren’t actually difficult or time-consuming – you just avoid doing them because they feel like a pain in the neck. But crossing a small to-do off your list can offer an outsized peace-of-mind reward because it clears mental clutter and makes you feel that you accomplished something. There’s also some evidence that this approach sets you up to achieve bigger goals, too.

In the spirit of making good on financial resolutions both big and small, here are 10 ways you can get your finances on track in the next 5 minutes or less.

Sign up for an IRA.

Unsubscribe from 3 online retailer emails.

Check the beneficiaries on your 401k to make sure they reflect your spouse or kids.

Set up automatic bill pay—no more late fees!

Take the first step in teaching your child about money. Snag this cool piggy bank that helps kids understand that money can be used for 4 things: saving, spending, donating and investing.

Sign up for paperless communications with your bank.

Change your light bulbs to CFL bulbs. They last 10 times as long, use 90% less energy, and can save you $40 over the lifetime of the bulb.

Sign up for a 529 account to start saving for your child’s college education.

Remove 2 credit cards from your wallet, and put them in a drawer where you’ll forget about them.

Create a Pinterest board called “My Retirement” and start pinning photos of what you want your retirement to look like. Refer back to the board when you’re feeling down, to remember what you’re saving up for.

The clock starts now. What can you do in the next 5 minutes?”

Jessie Szymanski writes about personal finance. You can find more of her posts at