A Good Reason For A Blogging Break

The last time I blogged, I was heading to Italy with LM for our first anniversary trip. We spent 10 glorious days traveling through Italy, visiting Rome, Florence, Venice and Milan. I drank a lot of prosecco, ate my weight in gelato, saw some of the most amazing sights ever, and enjoyed every moment with my favorite guy, celebrating that we’d made it to one year in our marriage. I came home with every intention to share all the details and photos from my trip. I even started writing – I have the draft posts to prove it. But I never finished them, cause I got distracted by more pressing concerns.

We’d been back from our trip for a week, when I had a sudden urge for pickles, and we just happened to have a jar in the fridge. Before I knew it, I’d eaten half the jar. LM came home, looked in the fridge, and said “damn, who ate all the pickles???” When I sheepishly confessed it was me, he immediately said “oh you’re pregnant, go take a test”.

Before he said it, I’d already been thinking it. I was late and secretly hoping I was, but I also didn’t want to face the disappoint that I wasn’t pregnant. I told myself that I was just late because we’d been traveling, even though I’d never experienced that in my life. I suppose that part of me needed someone else to believe I was pregnant, before I would I would allow myself to. The test confirmed what we both already knew – I was pregnant!

#BabyPi is happening and we’re over the moon.

I spent all summer growing a little human, learning everything I could, and trying to survive all the pregnancy symptoms I was experiencing. I spent most of my first trimester not doing much beyond going to work, falling asleep at 7pm, and trying to control my nausea. I wasn’t even writing for APW, as I had zero energy or ideas, and thankfully the team was very understanding. Once I hit my second trimester, I got my energy back as well as my mojo. I’ve done some great posts on APW, but I didn’t have a strong desire to write in my own space. Why? I have no idea.

So here we are, now 24 weeks into growing this little human. We found out #BabyPi is a girl, and I’m so excited to have a daughter. I really wanted my firstborn to be a girl, as I am my mother’s firstborn and I want to replicate that relationship as much as I can. I’ve also found that this pregnancy has brought my mom and I even closer, as I try to learn as much as I can. My mom is amazing, like best mother ever, and I really hope that I can live up to her example, and parent my daughter just as well. Already #BabyPi is showing that she’s going to be a daddy’s girl – she responds to LM’s requests to kick or stop kicking, and it’s hilarious.

Beyond the excitement of pregnancy, my life has been pretty quiet and chill. Work has been going well, with just enough to keep me occupied but not enough to stress me out. I’m back to knitting, and finally going to start the Etsy shop that I’ve been talking about for months. And it’s football season – my favorite time of year and best excuse to sit on the couch and knit. My goal is also to write here more, here’s hoping I can make that happen.

So…what yall been up to while I was gone?

We’re Headed To Italy!

OMG I'm so ready to get to Italy!
OMG I’m so ready to get to Italy!

Six months ago, LM and I went on an amazing trip to Dubai and Abu Dhabi and as soon as we got back, we were itching to book our next trip. There were a ton of deals, and we booked a deal to Lima…but we wound up canceling when we realized how expensive it would be to do Machu Piccu. A few weeks later, we found an Emirates deal to Italy and we decided to book it!

Over the past few months we’ve planned an awesome trip for 10 days in four Italian cities. We start and end in Milan, and we’ll also visit Rome, Florence and Venice. Lots of people have given us tips on things to do and things to see, but I’m most excited to drink wine, eat Italian food and stuff my face with gelato. Ok, I might be excited about the art and architecture too. And I’m really excited about the Da Vinci and Galileo museums in Florence – I get to nerd out on vacation.

I’ll be sharing photos of the trip on Instagram and my observations on Twitter. Follow me on both to catch all the fun! I’m @Jubilance1922 on both Twitter and Instagram!

Remembering That Time I Was Brave, So That I Can Be Brave Once Again

She Who Is Brave Is Free

Last week, I had a breakfast meeting with my friend BL. I hadn’t seen her in a while and I wanted to catch up, but I also wanted to pick her brain about business ideas. See, BL is my inspiration for where I want to be – not only does she have a successful corporate career, but she has an equally successful side venture. In short, she’s doing what I want to do, so it makes sense to go to someone who is doing what you’re looking to do, right?

Over some yummy breakfast food, I walked BL through my ideas, my frustrations, and my fear of putting myself out there and trying something new. She gave me encouragement, some ideas and some advice. She also gave me a bit of a wake-up, when she looked at me and proclaimed, “dude, you married someone from Twitter, you’re already brave!” Ha. Yes, to most folks, marrying a person you met on social media seems like a crazy idea, so in that regard, I’m extremely brave. But I get what she meant – I’ve already conquered a fear and come out on top, so I simply need to do it again.

Later that day, as I was processing the day and everything we talked about, it dawned on me that there was another time in my life when I conquered a fear and came out on top. Ten years ago, I was a PhD student at my dream school. Up until that point, I’d achieved everything I’d set out to do. I’d made a few adjustments to my life plan, but overall I was still on the path that I’d set out for myself as a young teen, when I decided to pursue scientific research as a career. A PhD in chemistry was my last step before I embarked on an academic research and teaching career. There was just one problem – I was miserable! No one truly explained to me that life as a PhD student wasn’t as easy as they make it seem. I found myself working all the time, either in the lab, or teaching, or taking my own courses. Once my coursework was completed, my workload grew due to qualifying exams and other commitments. I enjoyed my research, and I learned a lot, but I hated the other parts that came along with research. I hated spending hours running NMR samples, or analyzing GC-MS results, because using industry-standard spectral libraries wasn’t allowed. Each Sunday, I got a pit in my stomach, because Monday was coming and that meant it was time for another meeting with my research group. I would sit in those meetings and pray that I had analyzed all my results correctly and prepped adequately, because if I hadn’t, I’d be publicly berated by my research adviser.

I didn’t realize it at the time, but I hated my PhD program so much that it manifested as physical illness. I already suffered from migraines, but they became more frequent in the second year of my program. I also developed tension headaches, which forced me to abandon my lab in the middle of work and seek a quiet, dark place to recuperate. A visit to the health center diagnosed me, and I was given drugs to help the symptoms, but they did not give much relief. As my headaches got worse, my confidence and self-esteem suffered as well. I’d always felt I was smarter than the average bear, but graduate school made me question my abilities. Almost every day I had an experience with a professor or postdoc that left me wondering if I even belonged there. Of course, it wasn’t just me – we all swapped stories of how a professor treated us like garbage for not knowing the answer to a question, or received a bad test grade. My other classmates took it as par for the course, but I internalized a lot of the criticism I received.

The stress, the criticism, my health issues – I couldn’t take it anymore. I considered other options, such as transferring to a different school, or changing advisers. In the end, it was clear to me that simply changing schools wouldn’t solve my problem, because my problem was rooted in the PhD experience. A change of scenery or a different adviser wouldn’t change that. I toyed with switching to a public policy degree, but while I enjoyed the courses and learning something new, but my heart was still in the sciences and laboratory work.

And that’s when I pulled the trigger – I applied to graduate with a Master’s in chemistry, instead of staying to finish my PhD.

I could have pushed through three more years of research, and late nights in the lab, and writing papers. I could have written a dissertation and defended and graduated as Dr. Tucker. But it wasn’t worth it to me anymore. My health was suffering, both physically and mentally, and I realized that a PhD wasn’t worth my health. But it was so scary to make that decision. I feared judgement and ridicule from my peers, family and friends. I didn’t want to be a quitter. I wanted to make people proud of me. And I wanted to fulfill that childhood dream of an academic research career. Quitting my PhD meant saying goodbye to that.

Looking back, I see now how brave I was to give up the path I’d been on for years, and decide to pursue something new. As much as I wanted a PhD, I learned that it wasn’t meant for me. Leaving school and starting my career turned out to be a good decision and a blessing. But in the moment, it was scary and I was unsure it would pay off. Fast forward ten years, and now I feel the same way, only this time I want to walk away from a traditional corporate career. The fear I feel is bigger this time, because I have more riding on it – I’m not a broke PhD student living off ramen noodles, now I have bills and I’ve gotten very comfortable making good money. But my career is also a gift, and I have the luxury to pursue other passions while I work my day job, until I’m ready to make a move. And I have great friends to give me the push I need to take the first steps towards fulfilling my dreams and passions.

Big steps towards my dreams are coming soon – stay tuned!

I Changed My Definition Of Career Success

Successful career list


I’m a typical Gen Y’er and if you’re a Gen Y’er like me, you probably grew up with the same mantra – do well in school, go to a good college, so you can get a good job. Then work work work so you can get all the promotions and climb to the top of the corporate ladder. Making lots of money, having an executive title – THAT was success, and hence what we all should strive for. This mantra was repeated by our parents, our teachers, our mentors, and reinforced in the media. So I adopted it, and I set my sights on achieving it. I started college as an engineering major and interning at a Fortune 500 company. I switched my major to chemistry but headed to grad school, to further my training, and hopefully make more money after graduation.I had a brief flirtation with the idea of going into academia, but in the end I decided to go the corporate route.

When I started my “grown up” career at 24, I was full of new grad optimism and enthusiasm. I wanted to learn as much as I could, and overachieve so that I could get promoted, because that’s what I was expected to do, right? So I volunteered for all these extra projects at work, and did the career development stuff that is pushed to new grads in large corporations. I believed all those stories that said if you work hard and don’t be a lazy young person, you’ll be rewarded. And I was, at least monetarily. My salary grew by leaps and bounds but that promotion? I had to change companies to get it. Despite my work, networking with allies and mentors and career development, for whatever reason, promotions in role weren’t coming my way.

It’s been almost ten years since I started my corporate career, and my view of success has changed drastically since I was a new grad. I had a feeling that my priorities and career goals had changed, and last week showed me that  my definition of success has changed as well.

Last week I had my performance review. I wasn’t super excited about it and expected the worst, not because of my performance but because of the drastic changes happening within my company. I survived many layoffs in 2015, and the subsequent personnel changes resulted in numerous changes to my chain of command. I’ve had 5 direct managers, plus many VPs and other executives that I report to. When the review period started, I realized that there was no one left in my department who could reflect and comment on my entire 2015 performance, because everyone was gone. Crazy, right? So I didn’t have high expectations for my performance review results. My score was decent, and I received a small raise but once again, I was not promoted. When I started with this company 3.5 years ago, getting a promotion was high on my list, but due to circumstances beyond my control it has yet to happen.

I expected to walk away upset, questioning myself, questioning if this is the place for me – the types of reactions that I’ve had before. This time I walked away with a #kanyeshrug and went about my business. And then I paused, and I asked myself if I should be upset because I wasn’t promoted. Like my initial reaction went something like this:

Me: Still got a job? Getting more money? Cool

My brain: Wait, you’re still at the same level you were when you started. Aren’t you upset? You should be upset.

Me: Wait, I should be upset? For why?

My brain: You’re supposed to get promoted! You’re supposed to want to be an executive with a fancy title and a big office! Did you forget?

Me: OH. For real? I’m supposed to want that?

My brain: DUH! Everybody wants that…right?

And that’s when I had to have a quick DM chat with a couple of friends, who talked me off the ledge. I was totally fine until I started thinking, and all those rules about success that I was taught as a child started flooding into my brain. I grew up with a message that success meant a fancy title, a big office, the big money, etc. Everyday I see lists about the Top 30 under 30, or see LinkedIn updates from people I went to school with announcing their promotions and fancy jobs and whatnot. I’ve been conditioned to want a specific type of success but I have not been able to achieve that, at least not yet.

I’m OK with where I am in my career. During these ten years I’ve worked, I see what it takes to get to those high levels, and nothing about it is appealing to me. I don’t want to spend my nights and weekends working. I don’t want to have a company cell phone and spend every waking moment being available for work. I don’t want to go on vacation but still log into work each day (that’s not a vacation). I don’t want to work 60+ hours a week, and not have time to do anything other than work and sleep. None of that is appealing to me. I love my work-life balance and I love that I can leave work at work and pursue other things in my free time. I don’t love that my hard work doesn’t directly benefit my bottom line, but I love that my direct deposit hits my account on a regular schedule.

I’ve arrived at a state of peace in my view of my career. I’ve realized that my passions lie elsewhere and that I value different things than I did when I was 24. I’ve learned that a successful career doesn’t look the same for everyone, and that I have the ability to define success for myself. After a moment of angst, I realize that not getting a promotion is a blessing as well, as it gives me time to focus on the things I enjoy, and less pressure in the office. If I do climb a ladder, it’s going to be my ladder, not a predetermined corporate ladder. I probably will never have an executive title, unless it’s a title for my own endeavor. And honestly, I like the sound of CEO of My Thing better than VP of Corporate Whatever.

What say you readers – what does a successful career look like to you? Have you achieved it? 

I Conquered My Fear Of Wearing A Red Lip, And Now I’m Obsessed

I got into the makeup game late. Unlike other girls who experimented with makeup in their teens, I waited until college to start wearing lipstick and mascara. My first introduction to makeup was MAC Cosmetics, which is a fave brand of many a woman of color. I remember my very first purchase – a chestnut lip liner and a beautiful bronzy brown lipstick, which I wore faithfully for years. As I got older, I experimented with different shades like plum and berry, and even a nice pink, but I was too afraid of red lipstick.

Red lipstick may seem like an innocuous thing, but it carries with it numerous connotations. Ask your average Black woman, and they’ll tell you that someone in their family – be it Mama, Big Mama, or Auntie – cautioned them against wearing red lipstick. In some families, red lipstick and red nail polish were reserved for “grown” women, not little girls or teenagers. For some, red lipstick was a sign that a girl was “fast” – too sexy at a young age. Others said that red lipstick was not for women of a certain skin color – I can’t be sure which one, because I’ve heard that both light-skinned and dark-skinned women should not wear red lipstick (and who even comes up with these rules?).

I can’t say that any of these so-called rules were handed down to me in-person, but I picked them up over time. No one ever said to me “you can’t wear red lipstick!” but something in me felt like I shouldn’t. A little voice inside me said “no, it’s not for you!” and I didn’t have the strength or desire to drown it out. I’d see the magazine spreads proclaiming that red lips were in, but I never thought I could pull it off. Browns, plums, pinks – they were all safe and expected, easy to wear with no stress and no fuss.

Overcoming My Fear

I can’t say there was a moment or event that caused me to tackle my fear of a red lip. I suppose it was a gradual change, that started as I also started to embrace and love more of myself. That started when LM came into my life – his love and admiration of me has rubbed off on me. I’ve become more bold in my fashion choices, and my overall outlook is changed. I feel better and that translates into how I look, and I take more care into my appearance. All that coupled together has given me confidence to try new things…including a red lip.

I took the plunge during a makeover at Sephora. I was having my face done for my bridal shower, and I wanted to try a lip color that I could wear for my wedding. On a whim, I told the makeup artist about how I’d always wanted to wear a red lip, but I was worried I couldn’t pull it off. He listened, studied my face, and walked away. He returned with a YSL glossy stain and carefully applied it to my lips. I turned to look at myself in the mirror, and I immediately loved what I saw. I was wearing a red lip, and it looked great! I had done it! I decided to buy it and use it as my lip color for my wedding, and the compliments I received at my bridal shower confirmed my purchase. I loved wearing the YSL glossy stain on my wedding day – it held up through photos, kisses, and even the delicious food and drinks at our cocktail hour. I only needed to reapply once through the entire night!

Clinique Chubby Stick Chunkiest Chili

After that first taste of a red lip, I was hooked. I started making more frequent trips to Sephora, to try new products and different shades of red. My next purchase was the Clinique Chubby Stick Intense Moisturizing Lip Color Balm in Chunkiest Chili.  Its listed as a brown red, but I don’t see the brown in the color. Normally lip balms are more sheer, but I love how pigmented this chubby stick is. I started wearing this color everywhere, especially because it provides much-needed moisture for the lips.  Around the same time, I also received my Sephora birthday gift, which was two NARS lip pencils, a satin rosy pink, and a velvet matte in Cruella, which is a scarlet red. Now this was a red lip! Bold, bright, and matte! I loved how the satin lip pencil wore, so I also picked up one in Majella, a garnet red with plenty of shine. This was my absolute favorite to wear, and I wore it faithfully every day. I remember the first time I wore it to the office – I felt so bold!

NARS Satin Lip Pencil Majella

My current favorite red lip color is Le Marc Lip Creme in So Rouge, which was the gift in the Sephora VIB Rouge 2015 welcome kit. BTW, I hit VIB Rouge at the end of 2015 – yay! I did not expect to love this color so much, but it’s so vibrant and wears so beautifully, you can’t help but love it. It’s so gorgeous that I have to make myself alternate it with the YSL glossy stain and the NARS satin lip pencil.

Le Marc Lip Creme

It’s been a little over a year since I decided to be bold, and finally try a red lip. Verdict? I’m so happy I did it. It’s given my confidence a major boost, and I see now why so many women say that wearing a bold red lip makes them feel powerful. I never thought that a lip color could affect your mood and your confidence level, but I’m now a believer. Since I’ve started wearing red lipstick, I’ve added several to my collection and I wear a red lip almost everyday. How’s that for conquering a fear?

Do you wear red lipstick? What’s your fave?


After We Cut The Cord And Dropped Cable, I Only Have One Regret

Cut the Cord, Cable TV

Ever had a bill that you hate paying, but you feel like you have no other choice other than to pay it? That’s been my relationship with Comcast, specifically over our cable TV bill. Over the years I’ve seen our bill creep up, until a few months ago when I was shocked to open our bill and find $250+ on the “amount due” section. With that price, you’d think we had every channel you could have, but we didn’t. And even worse, there were so many times when we’d just turn off the tv because there was nothing worth watching on TV.

That $250 cable TV bill was a wakeup call for LM and I. We were fed up! So I suggested that we cut the cord. LM said “can we do that? How would it work?”

Challenge accepted. Let’s figure out how to drop cable.

Research is key

I started by Googling “how to cut the cord” and reading different blog posts. Each resource I found laid out the same general strategy for obtaining content without cable:

  • Get an antenna for local over-the-air (OTA) channels like CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC, CW and PBS.
  • Get some streaming hardware – Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV Stick, etc.
  • Sign up for streaming services – Netflix, Hulu, Sling, etc.

We live in a major city so I wasn’t too worried that we wouldn’t be able to pick up OTA channels, but I did visit the FCC digital transition website to verify which stations we could pick up with an antenna.

Make a game plan and buy what you need

Based on what I’d read, I realized that we needed to buy some things before we’d be ready to cancel our cable TV. LM already had an XBox One in the living room, and we figured out how to download apps like Netflix onto it. For our bedroom, we’d need another device, so I researched both the Roku 3 player and the Amazon Fire TV Stick. After reading reviews, looking at specifications and comparing price, we decided to buy the Amazon Fire TV stick. We also ordered two antennas via Amazon – we chose 2 different brands so that we could compare the picture quality and return whatever one didn’t work for us. Thanks to our Prime membership, we received all our items in two days.

We also needed to look at content providers. We already had a Netflix subscription, which is great for movies and catching up on shows we didn’t watch when they originally aired. We also have access to Amazon Prime movies & TV shows thanks to our Prime membership. We also decided to try Sling TV, which is a streaming service that provides 30+ channels, all for $20 per month. With a Sling subscription, we have access to channels like ESPN, HGTV, Food Network, CNN and Lifetime, and we have the ability to add a HBO subscription for $15 per month.

Set it all up and test it out

Once we received our Amazon order, we had the fun task of unplugging all the cable equipment and connecting the antennas. The Amazon Fire TV Stick physical setup was very easy and the device has an easy walk-thru that made setup really quick. Once the device was working, I was able to install apps like Netflix, Sling and NBC Sports to the device, using the included remote.

LM had the fun task of hooking up the antennas and getting them mounted to the wall. Once we connected the antennas, we did the autofind option on the TVs to find all the OTA channels. The last step was using the enclosed adhesive to stick the antennas to the wall. We decided to place both of them up closer to the ceiling, and near windows to maximize reception.

We spent that night watching OTA tv and testing the Sling. One tip – Sling only works one device at a time. We discovered this when I accidentally kicked him out of Sling when I turned it on in the bedroom. Other than that, we had zero issues with the new equipment.

The very next afternoon, I took the cable TV equipment back to our provider, and cancelled our cable TV. I did upgrade our Internet speed, but even with that change, we’re saving $150+ on our monthly bill.

So is it worth it?

It’s been over a month since we dropped cable TV and we both love it. I’ve discovered that there are a lot of shows I just don’t miss watching. I still have access to programming I like to watch and live sports, thanks to the Sling subscription. I’ve discovered new shows thanks to Netflix and Amazon Prime TV, and we can watch as many episodes as we want in one sitting. I’ve also found myself doing other things that I used to claim I had no time for – writing, reading, knitting, etc. I’m kind of amazed and embarrassed at how much time I wasted watching reruns of shows I’d already seen a million times.

My only regret is that we didn’t do it sooner. We spent months paying for cable TV, and only watched a few channels. We spent a lot of time watching Netflix or DVDs, because there was nothing on cable that we wanted to watch. I’m imagining all the money we could have put into our savings account! But at least we figured it out, and took the plunge. There are a few shows I miss, and we’ll probably get a Hulu subscription to fill that void. But even with monthly subscriptions, we’re saving a good amount of money every month, that can go into our savings account. And who doesn’t like saving money? So far, it’s been totally worth it.

Have you cut the cord? What are your tips for getting content without cable?

I’ve Aged Out Of The Party Scene

nightclub, black nightlife
I’m officially too old for this life!

March 17, 2016 was a milestone day for me. Yes, it was St Patrick’s Day, but it’s also the day that I discovered an important fact – I’m too damn old for nightclubs, especially on a school night.

This endeavor started out with the best of intentions. First Avenue (a nightclub here in Minneapolis, you probably heard of it thanks to Purple Rain) started hosting these Drake Nite parties. The premise is simple – charge $10 and have the DJ play a Drake mix all night. Sounds like a fun night to me, cause I love me some Drake. I missed the first few nights that they had, and my friend KS mentioned that she was interested in going to the next one, which was March 17th. Cool, we got some tickets and made plans to dance the night away at First Avenue.

Day of the party, I remembered that I’m old and that I had to work all day. Would I still be able to kick it after a busy day? Sure, I just need a disco nap! For the uninitiated, a disco nap is a nap you take in the early evening, so that you’re ready to go out and party. When I was 21, I had no need for a disco nap, but at 33, I can’t even think about being up past 11pm without one. So I got in the bed and had my 2 hour nap. When my husband woke me up at 10:15pm, I was ready to swing on him, that’s how much I was enjoying my sleep. I briefly considered bailing, but we’d already bought tickets and I knew my friend really wanted to go.

We got to First Avenue around 11pm and I knew immediately it was going to be a bad idea. There were tons of drunk folks running around thanks to the St Patrick’s Day festivities. Teenagers smoking cigarettes and other things surrounded the door, and were talking in the loud voice that all teenagers seem to use, as if they can’t hear each other except when they are yelling. I got inside and was met by a sea of 18-25 year olds.

I attempted to hit the dance floor, but after I was bumped by the 3rd person, I could feel my anger building. So we retreated to the 2nd level, where we grabbed a drink and found a spot by the railing. The Drake set started around 1130pm and we had some fun dancing and singing along. My friend really wanted to go back downstairs to the dance floor, so we made our way back down to give it another shot. Yeah…I just don’t have the patience for it anymore. The bumping, the stepping on feet, the lack of personal space – none of it is appealing to me. I survived maybe two songs before I escaped and went back upstairs. We finally called it a night at 1230pm and I was home and in bed by 1am.

I set my alarm for 730am, and I still had to drag myself out of bed with all the strength I could muster. I had one drink and got 6 hours of sleep, and yet I felt like I’d stayed up all night. So far I’ve consumed a venti iced coffee and I’m still yawning. As soon as my work day is over, I have a date with my bed for a much needed nap.

How did this happen? It didn’t used to be this way! I remember being in college, being up all night long, maybe getting an hour or two of sleep, and functioning fine the next day. Now, if I’m up past 11pm, it’s a momentous feat and I’m going to sleep in the next morning. I have a strict bedtime and not adhering to it is painful.

I see now why the 30+ crowd loves a day party – you can kick it from 2pm to 6pm, and still get your required sleep. And you don’t have to worry about 18 year olds spilling a drink on you or stepping on your feet. I’ve learned my lesson – the next Drake Nite won’t have me in attendance. I’ll just throw on my Drake playlist at home, and dance in the living room. At least there, I’m guaranteed some personal space and a short commute to my bed when it’s over.


Is It Time To Let Go Of My Pseudo-Anonymity?

anonymous blogger
How I’ve been blogging for years!

Back in the Internet Dark Ages, aka 2004, I started my first blog. Back then, Facebook was just a thing for Harvard students, Twitter was a long way off, and even Myspace was still just for musicians. AOL and AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) were a big deal, and if you did any interacting with anyone online, it was probably on a message board. Blogging was just becoming a thing, and lots of people were doing it just for fun – the idea that you could blog as a career hadn’t been conceived yet. It was in this environment that on a whim, I went to Blogger and set up a blog. It took like 2 seconds, and there I had my own little corner of the Internet, which I called Confessions of a Grad School Slave. During setup, I had to choose a name, and I decided to go with Jubilance, which is my line name (and now a nickname, since I’ve used it so long). In a split second, I decided to be anonymous on the Internet, or at least as anonymous as I could be. I figured it would be a good idea to keep my online presence separate from my offline life.

Years of Blogging Anonymously

Honestly, I don’t even remember what really motivated me to start blogging in the first place. I’ve never been a “diary” or “journal” kind of girl. Growing up I was addicted to young adult serials like The Babysitter’s Club, Sweet Valley Twins, and Sweet Valley High. Every book, movie and magazine geared to tweet and teen girls all mandated that you must have a diary. Where else were you going to confess your love for the football star or lament how much your parents didn’t understand you? As much as I tried, I just couldn’t get the diary bug to stick – it just didn’t appeal to me. But blogging somehow felt different. Perhaps it was the public nature – the idea that anyone could find it and read it. It wasn’t just for me, it was for everyone, a public experience. But by using a pseudonym, was able to keep my blogging separate from my everyday life. It was an “extra”, a thing I did on the side, when I felt like I had something to share.

I could never keep a diary, but the blogging bug has stuck with me over almost 12 years now. For most of those years, I wrote when I felt like it, mostly when I was struggling in some way and needed an outlet. Blogging was always an outlet for me, and never something I took seriously until a few years ago. I always looked at it as a fun outlet and not a practical career move. With the encouragement of friends, I’m finally taking my writing seriously.

Time To Let Go Of the Pseudonym

I realized the other day that while I started blogging with the goal of anonymity, I’ve done a really bad job of it. Anyone who knows how to use Google can figure out my real name, find my LinkedIn profile, my Twitter and other identifying information about me. As the 2016 writing fellow for A Practical Wedding, I’m publishing content regularly, under my real name. My goal has been to gain experience and build my portfolio, and hiding my identity here doesn’t fit with that. At the same time, I love the Jubilance nickname and it will still be in use – on Twitter, my Disqus account, etc. But I don’t feel the need to keep my online life separate from my real world life anymore. In the beginning, I felt that I needed to keep them separate for my corporate career, but now I see that writing IS my career, and I should embrace it.

Moving forward, I’m making changes to Black Girl Unlost, including updating the About Me page to reflect my true identity. It feels a bit daunting to put my name here, but also encouraged. Stripping the anonymity from BGU is step 1 as I move towards a freelance writing career and building my brand.

Planning To Have A Baby Is Easy, The Rest Is Hard


Before I start, you should know what type of person I am. When it comes to decisions, I follow a 3-step approach:

  1. Research whatever thing I want to do
  2. Create a plan on how to achieve whatever thing I want to do, plus a couple of backup plans
  3. Go do whatever thing I want to do, using plan(s) created in step 2

I’ve pretty much run my entire life following this 3-step system. I used it when applying to colleges, picking a major, applying to grad school, finding jobs, finding places to live, etc. This system was in constant rotation when I was wedding planning, because there are so many things to do and so many plans to make. This system isn’t just big life decisions – I’ve used it for small things too. But my point is that I tend to be the type of person who decisions to do something, and then I go do it, after doing my due diligence. Normally I’m fully in control of the things I want to do, and my only obstacle to success is myself.

Aight, now that yall know that about me, I can get to the point of this post, which is this: trying to have a baby is hard. Much harder than I thought it would be.

Wanting to have a baby is new for me. I spent years declaring that I would remain childfree. All that went out the window when I met LM. I fell in love and my ovaries started going crazy. I’ve spent most of the first year of our marriage asking him for a baby. After a lot of looking at each and asking the other “are you sure you’re ready?”, we decided we were ready to start trying to make a baby person.

Remember how I’m a researcher and a planner? I took that same attitude into making a baby. I am nothing if not consistent. I started my research with Expecting Better by Emily Oster. I loved this book and I learned so much. Dr. Oster is an economist, and after her own pregnancy, she wrote a book which dives into the science behind all those pregnancy rules, like don’t drink coffee. I’m all about data, being a scientist at heart, and I love reading journal articles (I know, I’m weird). Expecting Better strikes the right balance of scientific information, and straight-forward explanation, which makes it accessible for everyone. And it covers every aspect of pregnancy, from conception to birth. After reading the book, I also took a look at some of the studies cited in the book…mostly cause I love journal articles but I also like to read the data for myself and come to my own conclusions.

After reading the book, I went to the Internet for more info. I found a couple of FB groups for plus size women who were pregnant or trying to conceive. I read reviews of fertility apps, and I decided to start using Glow. BTW, there are a TON of apps out there for fertility tracking. They are work the same general way – each day you log your basal body temperature, weight, cervical mucus/cervix position, ovulation prediction kit results, symptoms, etc. The apps then use this info to help you figure out when you’ll ovulate, and thus your fertile period, aka the best time to have lots of baby-making sex. I dived into tracking my info on Glow, and reading the forums to pick up tips.

Alright, I did the research, and I was armed with way more information than one person needs. From all that research, I came up with what I thought was a solid plan: use Glow to track my info; use an ovulation prediction kit to figure out the best time to make a baby; make said baby with LM; get pregnant and have a cute baby bump and really cute pregnancy photos. Easy, right?

Yeah….no. It has not been easy. At all. My first clue was with the ovulation kit I got. My first month, I used the little strips, and I was unprepared for how hard it is to read those damn things! Those were a total bust. It’s also not fun to wake up in the morning and try to move as little as possible, so that you can take your basal body temperature before you get out of bed. I refused to check my cervical mucus – there are some things that I don’t want to know about myself. I was pretty good about tracking, and I liked seeing my fertile window and the likelihood of pregnancy by date. But all that information brought with it a feeling of pressure that we were unprepared for. It felt like “today is THE DAY to get pregnant, so if you don’t have great sex tonight, you won’t have a baby!” That does not get you or your husband in the mood, trust me.  The baby-making was feeling a bit like a chore, instead of fun and loving. But we powered through (heh) and I spent the days after ovulation hoping that we’d made a baby.

The first couple of months where I wasn’t pregnant, it was a bit disappointing, but we fell back on excuses for why it didn’t work – we really didn’t try or we didn’t know for sure when I ovulated. It got harder when I tracked, and used the digital ovulation kit, and we still weren’t pregnant. Remember my plan? This wasn’t part of the plan! I was supposed to use all the tools and then get pregnant, right?

For the first time in my life, my research and planning has not gotten me the result I desired. Granted, it hasn’t been very long, but this is the first thing that I’ve ever wanted, that I really have no control over. It’s an uncomfortable spot for me to be in. I’ve always just made up my mind to do something, and then just went out and done it. As my mother says, I have no patience, but I’m seeing that making a baby requires a lot of patience. You go through all the work, and you try to make a baby with your husband, and then you wait a few weeks to see if it actually worked. If it doesn’t, you try it all over again. Rinse and repeat.

I’m not used to this. I’m used to going out and getting what I want and making it happen. I’m a go-getter! I make things happen! Except this. As much as I would love to control it, I can’t. So I have to be content with doing as much as I can do and having faith that the Universe will bring us what we desire, a baby. Instead of focusing so much on all the tracking and whatnot, I’m going to take my mother’s advice and try to relax and enjoy it all. I’m also working on the one thing I can control – my health. This is a perfect opportunity to work on my eating habits, be more active, and bring my weight down.

And of course, we’ll keep having fun trying…wish us luck!

Friday Faves and Some Career News

Happy Friday! It feels like this week has gone by really fast, but I’m happy about that!

My fave looks of the week: I had 2 great items from Gwynnie Bee this week. I really loved the sweater dress, it was so cozy and warm! I was very surprised at how much I liked the black & white cardigan. Normally I don’t do oversized items (it’s a plus size no-no) but I found it to be very flattering on me. I kinda want to keep the cardigan. I also debuted a new sweater from Ann Taylor – they always have the greatest classic pieces. I ended the week with my #BlackGirlsAreMagic tee, which always makes me happy.

Also can we talk about my posing this week? I’m finding my sweet spot in terms of poses.

Gwynnie Bee Striped Sweater Dress Gwynnie Bee Oversized Cardigan Ann Taylor Pink Sweater Black Girls Are Magic Tee

Career News! I’ve talked multiple times about my up and down relationship with my current employer. I took a new internal job in October 2014, and since then I’ve had 4 different managers, been through 3 rounds of layoffs, and had my chain of command (VPs & higher) change 4+ times as well. Well now I’m up to manager #5 because my last manager left the company last week. This week my team learned that we’re changing our chain of command once again, so we have a new VP and our other senior leaders are new in role as well. At least this time my actual job isn’t changing – that happened last summer *sigh*.

As I deal with the day job craziness, I’m trying to spread my wings and push myself in different areas. One of those areas is writing – I’ve written here for years but I’ve never thought of myself as a writer. One of my favorite websites A Practical Wedding announced their 2016 writing internship last November, and I decided to throw my hat in the ring. Well, I’m happy to announce that I was selected as the 2016 writing fellow for APW! I am super excited to join their team – the site is one of my faves and I visit each day. This internship will give me the practice writing that I need, as well as experience writing different types of pieces for the web.

How was your week? Any plans for Valentine’s Day? Hit the comments!