Tuesday, December 20, 2011

::Sweet Healing - Growing Pains::

I'm forever grateful.

Last week was rough. I had a medical emergency that I'm currently still in recovery from. Thank God that I'm here and able to feel the pain & agitation of healing.

Through my short years I have experienced more than the average young woman my age. Then again, everyone has their own limits and breaking points. Through prayer & listening, I've come to understand full circle that God has something really great in store for my journey called life. Honestly, I could've been gone. But, I'm still here. And that says THE MOST about His divine plan for me.

I'm definitely not trying to force feed my Faith or beliefs onto anyone who chooses to enter this Conversation. This is simply a gathering of my personal thoughts & experiences as I continue on my #BeautifulCrusade. I've never been one to be able to recite a plethora of bible verses & parables to define my spiritual relationship with #BigHomie. I'm pretty solid in knowing first hand what He's done for me AND what He will continue to do.

Every so often if I don't get a chance to have a long, prayerful conversation, I just find a way to tweet, write or recite the words strength, courage, faith, grace, wisdom, knowledge, humility, vision, discipline and discernment; a small prayer request for the things I hope to embody. With every encounter, circumstance, etc, I'm learning more & more that you can't be blessed with these things without being tested in some sort of way. 2011 has been a series of tests and I never fully understood why.

What happened to me last week was ultimately Him making sure that I was ready for plentiful blessings to rain down in 2012. If you keep knocking, eventually the flood gates will open & overflow.

Right now I'm sad and eager simultaneously. Pain was never meant to be easy. But with healing comes renewed strength & restored motivation to take on what's next.

This'll probably be my last post of 2011. I'm actually glad to end it in a way that is optimistic & hopefully inspiring. Through it all I have remained steadfast & resilient. I promise to myself that I will remain in that state of mind, preparing for a new year.

Thank you for your comments, prayers, positive energy, retweets, encouraging words and warm hugs. It means everything in this moment right here.

I live to love. I love to love. I was made for it. And I'm still here to give plenty of it.

Eternally thankful,
Charrise Renee

Monday, November 14, 2011

::Sweet Updates - Everything But The Kitchen Sink::

It's been forever since I last posted.

I guess that's how this personal blog thing has been going for me for the part year & a half that I've had it. Hopefully, very soon I'll get to a normal posting schedule. (Keep your fingers crossed)

The past few months have been a series of stress filled activities that have had me hanging on by a whisper of sanity. Not that things have been an ultimate nightmare or anything. I've just been stretching myself a little too thin, what with working 2 jobs & somehow pulling off a whole series of events in the month of October alone.

I'm definitely not super woman. Nor would I want to be. That'd take away from my human-ness, and I need that from time to time...

Right now I'm at a point where I'm getting a lot of clarity. As a new year quickly approaches, I'm forced to look back on 2011 in a way that allows me to actually see who I've become.

My growth is apparent. For a moment I was concerned about who & where I "thought" I was supposed to be right now. Upon further thinking, I'm slowly teaching myself to just live.

2011 was the set up for a stellar 2012. I'm ecstatic to experience what's next. I'm currently entering into some key decisions that will shape the next phase of my life & the young woman I am growing into nowadays.

As far as my emotions, they've been all over the place, as usual. But I'm pretty sure my heart is in the right hands. Every day, moment by moment, I am enjoying every opportunity to love a little stronger & deeper than the day before. This summer I learned a key thing about myself: I love to love. I live to love.

"Nothing but death can keep me from it"

Until then, the #BeautifulCrusade continues...

Much love,

Thank you...

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

::Sweet Review - Sweetheart Conversation Live::

If you follow me on The Twitter, you may know that almost every Sunday & Thursday evening I host #SweetheartConversation. During this chat, we discuss varying topics; mostly life, love & society related. As I always say, I feel like these conversations are necessary for the growth & understanding of a people. We live in a digital society where micro-communication is overly prevalent and no one is spending quality time talking and more important, listening.

This Sunday was my first time hosting #SweetheartConversation live in a physical setting. We had a great turnout with people from different backgrounds & point of views that was essential to the discussion.

One topic that really stood out was if monogamy is a realistic ideal or if that's something that doesn't exist for the current generation. From Sunday's discussion, there were a few views that said monogamy definitely does exist. It just depends on the maturity level of the individual & what they're willing to adhere to & contribute.

On the opposing spectrum, there was the idea that you do or believe what you saw as you were raised. How you operate within a relationship correlates directly to your upbringing. One man said he's always had "something on the side" because monogamy isn't fathomable from his own understanding.

I totally understand both sides. But I do feel if you really care for someone & want to practice monogamy, you make the choice to do so. As long as you clearly understand the definition of something you can put it into action. Sometimes I feel that people use their upbringing as a a crutch so they can continue to do what they've been doing. To blame a single parent home environment on the inability to stay faithful to one person... I don't fully believe that as a solid reason.

But of course, we are all entitled to our own opinions & ideas. I can only say how I feel and agree to disagree.

Whenever I do #SweetheartConversation, it amazes me how many different views there can be on one topic. I learn so much each time. Those varying views help me to accept the differences that make us individuals.

Stay tuned on Twitter every Sunday & Thursday for #SweetheartConversation. I hope you'll join in on the discussion.

Much love,
Charrise Renee

Saturday, August 13, 2011

::Sweet Uncertainty - The Question of Greatness::

The worst thing about having a dream is knowing there are going to be obstacles & people trying their damnest to deter you from it.

I've had so much clarity & discernment lately that its almost scary... And I've had the distinct ability to know when something is it into my path as a test or a road block. Keen sense of foresight, right? But, the crazy part of it all is not having the strength or the courage or the freedom to face & defeat what's stacked against you.

I'm at a crossroads. Almost a year ago, I took a leap of faith and did the unthinkable. Now, here I am: handicapped by circumstance. I know exactly my purpose and what I intend to achieve. But being back on Chicago has proven to be a gift & curse. With my return came much growth; personal & professional. At the same token, I'm now at the mercy of those who love me most. They don't see me as a young girl who has grown into a woman while away. To them, I'm still Polly, Rannie Mae, Mook, Reese-Mo, Grandmama's Lil Sweetheart...

How do you make family realize and accept your personal growth & transition into adulthood? It's like I'm lost in the translation of adolescence and womanhood; infinitely forced into neutral. 

I've lost my voice. My much-ness has been traded for the safety of realest thought.

I used to be so bold; full of action and audacity. I guess you can't have everything, right?

To whom much is given, much is required. I've prayed and asked for wisdom, discernment, discipline, faith, knowledge, determination, strength, etc... I suppose I never took into consideration how much of a load I was asking for and what would be my prerequisite in order to obtain these virtuous qualities.

It takes a strong willed & firmly grounded individual to set out on a journey of personal growth. And even stronger one to do everything they've been purposed to fulfill. In all of my progress & learning, the biggest thing I've learned is that I definitely have a long way to go from here.

The journey continues and is never easy...

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

::Sweet Accountability - I Am My Sister's Keeper::

In various print and web magazines, there is always talk of the relationship dynamic between women: how we support each other (or lack thereof), Waiting to Exhale moments and the occasional cat fight or two...

But from my indirect and direct experiences, there is definitely a lack of support among women. We don't have the same camaraderie as men do. We're quick to super-friend up and in the same breath tear each other down. I honestly feel a responsibility to be accountable for the uplifting and support of my fellow woman. (Let's sing Kum Ba Yah now, please...)

What's depicted of us it that there's always an underlying ulterior motive when it comes to a group of women. Until recently, I had never experienced genuine love and support from my female peers. In the past 2 years, I have seen a great deal of support from perfect strangers as well as ladies who I have grown close to through trial and triumph.

I feel a personal responsibility to support my fellow woman at all times. I know first hand what it feels like to have no support system behind you. We must push each other, console each other, guide one another and have a level of respect for any woman that we come in contact with. Change starts with one. I'm a firm believer that I have received so much so that I can have the ability to give so much. That's what I intend to do.

I've seen what evil and negative thinking can do to us. Looking out for self does nothing for the advancement of us all. When you are selfish in your efforts, you are only hurting yourself in the end. With that being said, it is essential that we as women do what it takes to ignite a fire within ourselves to light up the younger generation (s) of young ladies to come.

I honestly am the young woman I am today because other women poured into me when I was empty and uncertain of myself. When I was OF this world, I was shown sisterly love and I continue to encounter it on a daily basis. I get it in real life interactions, social media friendships and strangers who genuinely connect to the love I have within my own spirit. It's such a beautiful thing to experience those moments...

A quick story before I go:
Last March (2010), I went to jail in Atlanta. I spent 4 days in Wright Street population for something that I didn't do. To the average individual it may seem like a cruel mistake. But when I actually began talking to the women imprisoned, I knew my reasoning for being there was perfect purpose in action.

My cell mate was a woman by the name of Miss Judy. She was imprisoned for prostitution and possession of a controlled substance. Miss Judy was knowingly a slave to her addiction and couldn't do anything about it. She told me tales of her euphoric, nightmare-like highs, how walking the "strip" was like a fashion show and the other men made her feel pretty. She told me she got high to escape her past reality. She was raped at the age of 13 and felt like the life she now lived was her punishment for letting that happen.

I tell this story to say that there are women who have no hope, no voice, no support system. Miss Judy poured her heart out to me because I took the time to listen when no one else did.

Please don't let us walk around as sisters in this world alone. We must be accountable for the success and support of the next woman.

Open your heart and listen.

Much love,

Thursday, May 5, 2011

::Sweet Gratitude - Appreciation in Abundance::

It's been such a long time since I've really written from the heart. I woke up this morning to tears of gratitude and appreciation for life. Where I'm at now is essentially what I've been praying for these past five years.

I am a whirlwind of positivity. It amazes me when I look at the people that have been placed in my life and the amount of support I have... it's surreal. I'm so thankful.

Last year around this time, I was miserable. I had a corporate job that I LOATHED entirely, I was in a place where I was unsure of my role as a young woman, and I didn't know my next move to get some piece of happy. I took some constant thought and giving in to a lot of tears to bring me to this place.

I am still struggling financially... But I am the happiest I have ever been. The craziest thing is, my family doesn't understand my journey or my happiness; and I'm OK with that. My train of thought and my sanity... My happiness and smile are not meant to be understood. My tears flow freely from a place of solitude and evolution and God, it feels so good. (More tears begin to fall as I write. I am in overflow at this point.)

I want nothing more than to share this feeling. I want to help others get to this happy, to this piece of peace. This is essentially why I blog and why I am so open to share my story. Feelings like this aren't meant to be kept secret.

Honestly, what I am learning every second of every day is life is an experience that is meant to be shared. This is how we connect and relate to one another. Without it, we are not living but merely existing in solitude among the masses.

I love my life... I'm so grateful to have lived it thus far.

Much love,
Charrise Renee

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

::Sweet Growth - #BeautifulCrusade Check-In::

I haven't posted in a while... This feels semi-foreign to me. Then again, writing is like air and I haven't had a chance to breathe in a while.

There has been A LOT going on in my life lately and I'm unsure where to begin. Growth and change is happening right before my eyes and at times it gets to be overwhelming. It's a mixture of excitement, joy, nervousness and anxiety all wrapped up into this journey of the #BeautifulCrusade.

Career-wise, there is definitely a lot of headway being made for myself and those around me. In the almost 4 months that I have been back in Chicago, so many great connections and progress has been made. But I'm borderline riding the fence of reality and blissful insanity.

I've been pulling 37-hour days to make sure I get everything accomplished that my heart is set on. This past weekend was a big emotional roller coaster as I experienced something of the same caliber that I went through last year around this time. And at the same token, my body is feeling the effects of long days with little to no quality sleep time and recovery. I'm a ball of confusion as of late but, call me crazy, I kinda like it.

Last night, I had a great conversation with some close friends of mine and it really made me see that I have a lot of emotional work to do. I've come a long way thus far but I still am dealing with words left unsaid and feelings unresolved. It's frustrating to want to move forward emotionally knowing that all other areas of my life are moving forward at a rapid rate. I'm playing catch up and it feels like death in a box. lol

On the flip side of trying to move past emotion, I'm also learning a lot about people and how we perceive them versus who they really are. Again, I have met some AWESOME people who I wouldn't trade for the world. These people are right in step with me in this #BeautifulCrusade and are witnessing & supporting my journey. It's a new kind of friendship that I've formed with some of these people that is helping me day by day get through asking myself some of the toughest questions.

In the same breath, I'm meeting new people and trying to be a good judge of character. Just recently somebody showed me who they really are and I have chosen to believe them. I will say, who they've shown themselves to be is not the same as who I thought they were... I now know which file folder to save certain people in based on how they treat myself as well as others. (Word to @AfrosNBabyHair ;-D )

All in all, I'm struggling money-wise. No doubt about that. Actually, being back home this time around I'm struggling the most than I've ever been in that aspect. But, I am having the time of my life! I am genuinely happy and more focused on my journey rather than my lack. It feels good to know that the direction my life is taking is only upwards from here. I've lived another day to share my story and be better than I was when I went to sleep last night. That, my friend, is a beautiful blessing to withhold.

Thanks so much for reading and supporting my #BeautifulCrusade... I can't describe the feelings I have. I am so overjoyed by what's going on in my life and within myself as a young woman that it almost brings me to tears as I type. I'm deep in gratitude, humility, joy, thankfulness, faith, strength and dedication...

hope you all are having a great week. Holla at me on "The Twitter" lol ;-D

Much love,

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

::Sweet Profile - The Wonderful Ladies of The Red Pump Project::

With March being Women's Appreciation Month, I have decided to profile different women making grandeur strides and differences in their particular line of work or organization. I am truly in awe of how I continue to be surrounded by great woman after woman since moving back to Chicago.

Before I moved back, I had heard plenty about The Red Pump Project but never knew the faces behind the work and the great details that makes The Red Pump Project what it is. The Red Pump Project does an awesome job of making people aware of HIV/AIDS through various forms of discussion, education and initiatives. The Red Pump Project is known for the Rock the Red Pump Campaign, The 2nd Annual Rock The Red Fashion show as well as a plethora of other projects and nationwide events.

I feel an urgent responsibility to share their work with anyone that will listen and that's the purpose of this blog post. Get to know all about The Red Pump Project as Karyn & Luvvie answered some questions below about what they do, why they do it and how you can help.

The Red Pump Project Founders
Karyn Brianne Watkins
Lovette "Luvvie" Ajayi

What inspired the Red Pump Project? Was it based on personal experiences or a general desire to educate and inform?

In February of 2009, Luvvie and I randomly had a conversation discussing how HIV was an issue that we cared passionately about. She mentioned that she had an idea to do a formal event centered around a red shoe, and that was pretty much the end of that conversation. I later learned that National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day was approaching and reached out to her about creating a social media campaign to get the word out to our peers and discuss how this disease was affecting us as women. Luvvie designed a blog badge, I came up with the name, "The Red Pump Project," and we started reaching out to our blogging peers asking for their support. Over 100 blogs participated in the campaign and from there, we had to ask ourselves, "What's next?" That's how we decided to turn our "idea" into a nonprofit organization.

What actions were involved that brought the Red Pump Project from just an idea to a full blown movement including a successful blog, events, campaigns and ambassadors?

This experience has really taught us that nothing is random in life. After March 10th, we saw that there were people who were inspired by this movement and we knew that we had to keep the momentum going. We assembled a team of supporters and friends and started laying out the groundwork to evolve from "Red Pump" the campaign to "Red Pump" the organization. Luvvie and I both work full-time, and it hasn't always been easy. But, knowing that this is our passion and there's so much work to do, we realize that we can't give up. I can tell you this...None of this would be possible without our core team, our ambassadors in different cities, and people who believe in the greater cause of HIV/AIDS prevention.

Does the Red Pump Project target a certain age group of women?

No, Red Pump doesn't target any specific age group. Being so grounded in social media, we've found that our movement has really found a home with women between 18-30, but women of all ages support what we're doing. It's great to see young women and older women really unite around fighting HIV/AIDS. There's so many key lessons that both age groups can learn from each other.

Why do you feel that HIV/AIDS is still such a taboo topic in the black community?

There's this stigma attached to the disease that can be SO difficult to overcome and it's killing us. Although we represent only 12% of the U.S. population, we account for 45% of new HIV infections. That's HUGE. Our community is being disproportionately affected by this disease and our lack of education is really one of the things that serving as a huge disadvantage. So many of us think that HIV/AIDS is still a gay man's disease, but that's not the case. Black women and teens are making up a greater number of new infections. For instance, Black women account for 61% of new HIV infections among women while Black teens (who make up 15% of the US teens) now represent 68% of new HIV infections among all teens. We've been raised to think that sex is a taboo topic, so we brush things under the rug. Teachers, pastors, parents, neighbors...we all have to start talking about HIV/AIDS in an open and honest way. And, Red Pump wants to do our part to help start and maintain those conversations.

What does it take for us to open up the dialogue about the topic so that we can comfortably be informed and protect ourselves?

First, we have to let go of the judgement. Then, we have to start with the facts. There are many people in our community who don't talk about the issue because they don't know any of the facts. Even when we do those two things, I think that our community needs to accept that every conversation is not going to be comfortable but it will be real. And, real talk, real facts, and real action are exactly what we need to fight this epidemic.

What are the top three misconceptions about HIV/AIDS?

1. You can only get HIV/AIDS if you're gay or a drug user.

2. There's a cure for HIV/AIDS.

3. You can't contract HIV/AIDS from oral sex.

What are various ways that men and women can openly help the Red Pump Project? How can someone get involved?

For starters, just talk to your family and friends about HIV/AIDS and get the dialogue going. Anyone who knows us knows that we're some communicators and that's the base of this whole thing! When it comes to directly helping Red Pump, people can support us by "Rocking the Red Pump" badge on their websites, hosting a Red Pump event in their community, creating content for our blog, and supporting events held by our Red Pump Ambassadors. We are all over the web (literally) and encourage people to earn more about what we're doing and keep up with the events and programs that we're rolling out this year. Our website is www.theredpumpproject.org, and we're also on Twitter (@RedPumpProj), Facebook, and Tumblr. People can also feel free to directly shoot us an email at karyn@theredpumpproject.com or luvvie@theredpumpproject.com.

I encourage EVERYONE to get in the know about your status and begin the dialogue with others in your circles. Change begins small and with you. We as a whole are definitely powerful beyond measure and have the ability to come to solutions regarding the hard conversation & issues of sex and HIV/AIDS.

I'm currently in the process of planning a #SweetheartConversation LIVE where we will have an in-depth, candid discuss about sex, STDs, HIV/AIDS, and how we relate to one another sexually. Until then, join me tomorrow on Twitter as a moderate #SweetheartConversation as it will pertain to the taboo topic of sex. I feel that this is a serious matter that we all need to discuss openly and respectfully. I hope you'll all join me.

March 17th, 2011
Use the hashtag #SHConvo to join in!

Much love,

Facts from HIV/AIDS 101 via The Red Pump Project

■Every 9.5 minutes, someone in the US will be infected with HIV.
■There are more than 1 million adults and adolescents in the United States living with HIV. Approximately one-fifth of them (21%) do not know that they have been infected.
■In 2006, women made up 25% of the persons living with HIV in the United States. Women also represented 27% of new HIV infections in 2006.
■High-risk heterosexual contact is the source of 80% of these newly diagnosed infections in women in the US.
■From the beginning of the epidemic through 2005, almost 86,000 women have died of AIDS and AIDS-related complications.
■The largest number of HIV/AIDS diagnoses during recent years was for women aged 15–39
■Seven of the 10 states with the highest case rates among women are in the South.
■In 2006, the CDC estimates that almost 46,000 young people, ages 13-24, were living with HIV in the US. Women comprised 28% of these HIV/AIDS cases among 13-24 year-olds.
■The rate of AIDS diagnosis for Black women was approximately 23 times the rate for white women and 4 times the rate for Latina women.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

::Sweet Thoughts - Late Night Reflections::

So it's 2am and my mind is heavy w/ thought. Too late to call anybody so, I guess I'll blog.

I can't neglect my female tendencies. With all the drive and ambition that I carry, there is still a huge part of me that yearns for compassion. For emotional connection & attention from a male counterpart...

I've been alone for a year and a half. On this #BeautifulCrusade I've grown closer and closer daily to understanding my place & purpose as well as creating a definite path for my goals.

With all the busy details that my newfound day to day life brings, I still think about what its like to be in a relationship w/ someone... sharing moments, memories, laughs and feelings. And those feelings & emotions that are translated into a warm embrace and kiss... (Excuse my mushiness, but I did state that I'm a female, right? ;-D

It seems as if lately I've been surrounded by a good deal of relationship images and it makes me think about what I really want out of a man. Someone who I will enter into love & growth w/ as well as enjoy life with...

I miss cooking for someone, late night conversation, intimacy (no, not sex), etc. My frustration lies in the realization that I know exactly what I want for my life. And I refuse to accept any old proposition on my heart.

Single is good. It's teaching me to love me more and be patient. I'm sure it'll be someone great when love finds me.

Until then, I find myself daydreaming of the possibility of romance to come...

Much love,
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.6

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

::Sweet Objectives - Hydrate Yo' Hydration!::

I am so excited for this Sweetheart Health Challenge!

The challenge officially went underway last week and judging by my e-mails the participants will keep rolling in! I'm happy to see that so many people are making the commitment to take charge of their health and embark upon this health challenge with me!

This week we launch our inaugural objective which is to Hydrate Yo' Hydration! ;-D Water is a KEY factor in our overall health and wellness. It has so many awesome benefits such as aiding in the process of loosing weight, flushing kidneys, moisturizing hair (Woo woo woo to the #NaturalHair ladies!), as well as a plethora of other vital qualities.

As for the challenge goes, we need to make sure we are getting the necessary daily allowance for ourselves. Me, well, I don't really drink water AT ALL lol! I'm big on juice and tea and occasionally pop. I drink water when it's really hot, after a vigorous workout or if there are no other options. This is TERRIBLE! I gotta do better!

Two ways to measure our daily water intake that I learned from our Sweetheart Health Challenge guru @RenishaRenewed is that we either drink 8-10 glasses a day or drink half our body weight in ounces daily. So if you weigh 140 pounds, you'd drink 70 ounces of water. The latter form of measurement seems more doable in my eyes. 8-10 glasses just seems like so much! My plan is to drink bottled water and refill accordingly so I know my ounces after each bottle is gone.

My challenge for myself personally is having will power to break bad habits. Being a chronic juice drinker is one of them. So this week's objective is really going to push me to put old habits aside and form a new one!

Also, we are doing our first Fit'N'Fun Tweet-Up this week! We will be engaging in some awesome Vinyasa Yoga over at Core Power Yoga in the South Loop of Chicago (555 W. Roosevelt Road, Chicago, IL 60607). More details below!

I hope to see everyone come out to our fitness tweet-up this week and that we all try our best to adhere to the Hydrate Yo' Hydration objective! Remember that true change and results begin with the first step of commitment!

If you have any questions or need help finding a Yoga class in an area near you, please don't hesitate to contact me! E-mail me at Charrise@CharriseRenee.com or holla at me on Twitter: @CharriseRenee!

Fit'N'Fun Tweet-Up #1
Saturday, March 12, 2011
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm
Core Power Yoga
555 W. Roosevelt Road
Chicago, IL 60607
Class: Introduction to Core Power #1
Notes: Please arrive 15-20 minutes early for registration and instructions. Also, eat something a few hours before had and come hydrated as well as bring water with you. Vinyasa Yoga is set in a warm room, but not extremely hot. Come dressed comfortably in yoga pants, biker shorts, basketball shorts, t-shirts, sports bra, etc. See you there!

Much love,

Join me EVERY TUESDAY EVENING at 8c/9est (pm) for #SHC chat on Twitter to discuss our objectives, progress, etc! And don't forget to check out the Renewed Fitness Blog for more tips on this week's objective!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

::Sweet Life - The Sweetheart Health Challenge::

So, a few posts back, I mentioned that I'm supporting my mama in her Weight Watchers journey. The other week she was doing a mini-workout and I came up w/ a bright idea.

I'd like to incite a Sweetheart Health Challenge amongst my fellow Tweethearts. So often, our health concerns and overall wellness falls under the radar because we don't have the support or drive to go head first and strive for fitness and better health habits.

What The Sweetheart Health Challenge would be is an 8 week program where every participant will set a unique goal for thenself whether it be losing weight, toning up, eating better, etc. Whatever works best for you!

Then, every other week in the Chicago area, we'll meet up for various tweet-fitness activities. From zumba, yoga, spinning, dance, whatever! We'll get together, have fun getting fit together and experience different forms of fitness.

Weekly, we will Twitter-chat about our goals for the week, challenges we faced, and overall support one another as fellow Twitter health peeps.

At the end of the 8 weeks, we'll have a Tweet-Up celebration thinga-majig. It's all in fun and getting to a healthier you. I know there are are a lot of things I need to work on and prep for bathing suit season. I'm sure I'm not alone ;-D

If you'd like to join me in The Sweetheart Health Challenge, please e-mail me at Charrise@CharriseRenee.com or holler at me on Twitter!

Hurry and sign-up, we start March 1st!

Much love,
Published with Blogger-droid v1.6.6

Thursday, February 10, 2011

::Sweet Cinema - "Mooz-Lum" Film Insight::

The #BeautifulCrusade continues and its very evident that the coming of age story is not just something I'm dealing with alone...

Yesterday, I had the awesome opportunity to interview Qasim Basir, writer and director of the new, independent film, Mooz-lum. I also was privileged to attend the pre-screening as well.

Mooz-lum is the story of a young, Muslim, African-American male, Tariq (played by the fresh Evan Ross) who struggles with identity and journey of self-discovery as a freshman in college. He has some inner battles with religious ties and understanding the new world that college life offers. The movie gives some hard hitting depictions of faith, hope, tolerance, understanding, self-awareness and forgiveness,

The story is actually an autobiographical memoir, if you will, of Qasim Basir's life. It parallels in a sense that he is a Muslim African-American male. This is his story.

Sitting down with him, I got a chance to get a feel for his own journey and his passion for creating a platform for difficult conversations to begin. He says that in America, there are distorted representations of Muslim Americans. There are also skewed views of how the Muslim woman is portrayed. This film definitely gives an in depth look at both roles as well as the Muslim family as a whole.

I saw myself in the film. It really was a mirror of the #BeautifulCrusade and what it means to know who you really are and be true to your purpose and beliefs. We all at times struggle with identity and who we are meant to be in this world. Qasim Basir has genuinely created a voice for those who can't speak of their personal journey.

I encourage everyone to go out and watch Mooz-lum this weekend. It is a limited, independent release through AMC and it's growth depends on how many go out and see it this weekend. This is definitely a story that needs to be told to the masses so get out and support passion and purpose. For those here in Chicago, it can be seen at the AMC River East, 322 East Illinois Street, Chicago, IL 60611.

Here's a listing of all other cities that it will be opening in initially:
Los Angeles - AMC 30 Block
San Francisco - AMC Leows Metreon 16
Detroit - AMC Star Fairlane 21
Philly - AMC Franklin Mills Mall
DC - AMC Hoffman Center
Dallas - AMC Grapevine Mills 30
Houston - AMC Studio 30
NY - AMC Empire 25
ATL - AMC North Dekalb Mall 16

If you  don't see your city listed, you can Demand It! in your town ;-D

Also, take some time out to visit the website and Facebook page

Much love,

Thursday, February 3, 2011

::Sweet Self-Esteem - Embracing My Sexy::

I'm young, I'm single, and dammit I'm sexy! ;-D

Mind you, I've come a LONG way accepting all of this. In the past few months, I have been coping with the idea of being unattached. Granted, I've been single for quite some time now, but recently I've had to understand that this is probably a good place for me... Until the right one shows himself, of course.

Growing up, I've always been the odd one out. Kind of awkward. I'm the tall, short-girl. I've been too skinny. Never had 'Good' or long hair. Regular brown eyes. Overly ambitious and inquisitive. Too-big, toothy smile. Four-eyed, tooth-pick legged brat (Gosh elementary school kids are evil! lol). Flat butt, no chest... The list goes on and on...

All these things about myself are what other people deemed negative. And in turn, made me feel the same. You know how the saying goes that "if several people are saying the same thing about you then it must be true"? I believed that saying early on, based on my school aged peers.

It wasn't until coming into adulthood that I began to realize and believe that it's not what THEY say that makes you who you are. It's what YOU say and believe about yourself. This #BeautifulCrusade has offered a lot of positive insight about myself. I am truly learning who I am as a young woman and how I best operate within my purpose.

I understand that society has varying definitions of what Sexy is. Long hair, voluptuous physical features, exotic eyes, etc... None of this I have. But, I will not be defined by societal standards and generalizations.

My sexy is beautiful. My sexy is intelligent. Motivated. Ambitious. Awkward. Gorgeous. Free-spirited. My sexy is whatever I say it is. And because of that, everyone else has no choice but to acknowledge and respect it.

I am divinely created the way I am for a distinct reason. Whatever that reason is is bigger and greater than I can ever fathom or wrap my head around. how dare I question its beauty and deny who I am? Crazy, right? The haberdashery of it all! lol

So many young women struggle with confidence and self-esteem issues because of not being "up to par" with society standards. This is clearly an epidemic among the masses, inciting an identity crisis of epic proportion. (Mattel should sue! hmmph!)

I'm writing this post to show that against what THEY say generally, everyone is uniquely and beautifully created. Each with an individually purpose. And guess what...?

THAT'S Sexy!

Embrace your sexy... It's kinda fun ;-)

Much love,

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

::Sweet Misconceptions - The Myth of "You Complete Me"::

Hypothetical conversation:
Her: This feels so right. It's like, you're everything I've ever needed...
Him: I know, what I've been searching for forever, I found in you.
Her:It's kind of like...
Both: You complete me....

Err, nope.... lol

In conversing with my sis @_JTrue last week, we spoke extensively about various relationship ills and how people view what they need or want in a partner based on past problems...

One person hurts you, and then you go into the next relationship expecting the new person to fill a void that they didn't create. You can't expect to fix you through someone else.

We are already complete and who we are meant to be. Does anyone expect their partner to enhance them and build them up? I do.

I guess that's why I'm taking this time out right now to truly work on me and get my career and "stuff" (lol) in order before I get into my next relationship. I don't want to bring a whole bunch of baggage or insecurities into a relationship and be leery with trust issues. That's not healthy nor fair for the relationship and the other party involved.

I want my partner to make me a better me. We would enhance each other based on our already developed character traits and values. The whole idea of being equally yoked. I'm not looking for him to over compensate for what I lack. I would hope that he would accept and love my flaws and if need be, help me make those flaws into unique strengths. And the same in return for him.

From what I know of my peers, people jump into relationships for the wrong reasons and then, in turn, jump out because of unforeseen conflicts. Without fully knowing someone and their background, you can't possibly know whether you'll have a successful and progressive relationship.

I'm working on my friendships and relationships that I am currently rooted in. How I nurture and maintain those relationships. My communication efforts and making them more clear and streamlined for understanding. Hopefully, this will better equip me for my next relationship.

At this point, within this #BeautifulCrusade I am learning a lot about myself. Getting better in tune with my flaws, my character, my goals and my values. That way, I can say honestly, I know who I am and what it is that I want in life and within a relationship. Without knowing that, I'd definitely be confused and slip that "You complete me" line...

Today I realized that in order to grow exponentially, I have to let go and have faith that there is definitely something great waiting for me later on when I'm ready.

In the meantime, I continue to pray for patience and to stay humble in all my efforts; personal and professional relationship-wise.

Much love,

Thursday, January 13, 2011

::Sweet Definitions - In Search of Intimacy::

What is intimacy?? Do we even know that word anymore?

Lately I've been thinking about intimacy and what the true definition is. Within our daily conversations, the meaning of what it means to be intimate gets so skewed. I feel like I can't even mention the word because some one's gonna instantly relay intimacy to sex and that's not all it is...

Intimacy in my life has been lacking. Not just in my romantic relationships (mind you that is of abysmal void right now, lol), but also in friendships and my spiritual pursuit. Intimacy is, imo, a connection. Its something deeper than just a physical touch. Physical is easy... Being intimate, now that's something that takes consistent effort and maintenance.

Being back home in Chicago, I've gotten a chance to look at relationships with new eyes. Specifically those relationships that shaped my upbringing. My family has very different dynamics of relationships and I have the chance to see things from various standpoints. Especially marriage.

Then I was thinking about what I wanted for myself whenever marriage decides to make that ultimate appreance within my life. I know a lot of young women have this idea of marriage and we all want it. But do we ever really think about the true dynamics of marriage and what it entails? And what we will actually have to give in order for it to be sustained?

If anybody knows me, you know I'm big on friendship. Guys who approach me romantically lately get the turn around because I'm not trying to run into anything that isn't solidly built on the grounds of a friendship. Most guys that I get approached by are physically driven and not too much concerned with the actual meat and potatoes necessary for a successful relationship...

I'm in search of intimacy. I'm in search of that bond that two kindred souls share. The beauty in quiet observation. The beauty of in-depth conversation between two minds. I want deeply-rooted understanding. To know someone intimately is to know more than what color their intimates are (Insert girlish giggle here hee hee).

Whenever that time comes for me, I want an intimate relationship where there is comfort in silence and not awkward uncertainty. That's attractive to me. Love develops, grows and maintains within this type of intimacy, imo.

And again, I'm only speaking from my ideals. The real intimacy that I can speak of at this moment is intimacy with myself. Really understanding who Charrise is and knowing how to love me regardless what mistakes I make and regardless of who decides to not love me.

This time around, in love, I'm making intimacy the standard and not the exception. I think it is a truly beautiful think and I can't wait to positively know what it feels like...

Until then loves, I'm figuring this thing out. and continuing my #BeautifulCrusade at all times.

Much love,

BTW, I did the BIG CHOP and let go of my #NaturalHair...
For now!

1. associated in close personal relations: an intimate friend.
2. characterized by or involving warm friendship or a personally close or familiar association or feeling: an intimate greeting.
3. very private; closely personal: one's intimate affairs.
4. characterized by or suggesting privacy or intimacy; warmly cozy: an intimate little café.
5. (of an association, knowledge, understanding, etc.) arising from close personal connection or familiar experience.
6. engaged in or characterized by sexual relations.
7. (of clothing) worn next to the skin, under street or outer garments: intimate apparel.
8. detailed; deep: a more intimate analysis.
9. showing a close union or combination of particles or elements: an intimate mixture.
10. inmost; deep within.
11. of, pertaining to, or existing in the inmost depths of the mind: intimate beliefs.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

::Sweet Beginnings - New Year, Ramblings and Weight Watchers::

First post of 2011!

I'm so glad to see another year! I can vividly remember the past two years and all that I have been brought to and through. In such a short amount of time, i have learned so much about myself and the "real world". I can honestly say, I wouldn't take back anything because my experiences in turn have made me einto the young woman I am today. Yet, I still have so much more growing to do...

I recently moved back to my hometown of Chicago and I am certain I made the right decision. It feels good to be back around familar faces and places and have the exteded ability to help my family and grow closer. since I've been back, I've been doing some heavy bonding with my mama and grandma and I've learned so much from their infinite wisdom. I guess absence really does make the heart grow fonder in the sense of loved ones and genuine appreciation.

Speaking of my mom, she's recently began participating in weight watchers and I am so proud of her! I love her drive and see results so far. She's happy and I'm glad. I've committed to helping her workout three times a week to get her back active as well as attend meetings with her. I'm trying to convince her to buy Just Dance 2 for the Wii so we can use that as one of our daily workouts lol

In lieu of all the new beginnings, I still have frustrations. I've tried seperating myself from certain people who have been cancerous and not good for my #BeautifulCrusade journey. But I still find myself dealing with certain individuals who try to force their favorable outcomes on my life. I really dislike pushy people... Really really.

In my opinion, people try to control the mindsn heart and lives of others when they can't control their own or are missing something very pertinent to their happiness and overall lifestyle. Then again, maybe they are only children or oldest out of siblings and can't help it. ::Insert shrug here::

I know what my plan is for my life... loosly. I know what I intend to achive, Lord willing, and I don't need outside sources directing it.

Too many cooks in the kitchen make terrible cornbread.

The craziest part is that I have to continually repeat myself about it! I guess I gotta shut those people out too and have extreme tunnel vision with no distractions. Just my tight cirlce of supporters and my awesome, crazy loud family.

Which brings me to my last and final point: My family might be a little of kilter and over bearing at times, but I love those people, man. Nobody's family is perfect. This is the one I've been given and they're mine for a reason. And for whatever that reason(s) is, I appreciate them more than ever before. I know some people who have even crazier families than mine or none at all. So, I'll choose to love them unconditionally, regardless of their faults, and be forever grateful.

With that said, the #BeautifulCrusade continues...

And check out fam-bam pics that I snatched from the new, never dying photo album, facebook (Thanks, Ma!)

My Auntie Diane, My Auntie Janice (California) and MY MAMA!!!!

Auntie Diane (Holding her granddaughter, Brooklynn and standing behind daughter Gabrielle), Grandma and Grandpa

Much love,