Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Black Girls Rock: A Reflection

I watched this inspirational, motivating, and entertaining awards show on Black Entertainment Television and I felt bittersweet regarding it. As an undergraduate student, I was a mass media communications major. During this time, I conducted research on the images of black women in the media. I had somewhat of an understanding of what was going to be exposed to me through this research. I knew that the images of black women included being oversexed, mammies, angry, impoverished, dependent on governmental assistance, uneducated, overly reproductive, and that is to just name a few. I knew that it was going to be difficult to see positive images of black women in the media with the exception of the occasional Claire Huxtable sprinkled here and there; however now in 2013, I find that this still reigns true. As these women on Black Girls Rock accepted awards for their amazing accomplishments within the fields of education, entertainment, sports, and others disciplines, I listened to them discuss the lack of positive images of black women within the media. I listened to them as they encouraged young black girls and older black women to strive to be role models, to strive to set an example, to be visible, and to keep pushing to make a difference as black women.
This message inspired me and forced me to reflect on the environment that I inhabit; the world of higher education. I can recall numerous conversations that I have had with my peers about women of color, specifically black women within this field. Last year, I served on a panel discussion at GLACUHO focused on the recruitment and retention of women of color. During this conversation many themes emerged including women of color specifically black women feeling as if they still needed to overcome certain stereotypes and perceptions within their work environments such as not being perceived as intimidating, controlling their emotions and passion to prevent being seen as the “angry black woman” , feeling powerless, not being exposed to mentors, feeling isolated, and working to the point of exhaustion to show that they are capable and deserving of their positions. This is so disheartening to me and as someone that has had to decline a job opportunity because it was extremely transparent that I was being hired as a token…I know these barriers and obstacles all too well.
So as I continue to mature as a professional and a woman, I have to ask myself, what do I do with this information? Years ago, I posted a blog post titled “If not me, then who?” As I continue to reflect on the thoughts that I have shared in this blog post…I keep asking myself this question over and over again. Black Girls Do Rock in Higher Education, but how do we ensure that we are visible; that we can overcome and destroy the barriers and obstacles preventing us from soaring to the top.

At this point, I do not have the answers, but I hope to at least begin encouraging others to start pondering the question. It starts with dialogue; dialogue inspires a vision, and vision coupled with action can change the world.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Ph.d Chronicles: Re-Evaluating life plans

I can be a bit of a control freak at times. I like to know where my life is going, the steps it will take me to get there, who will be on the journey with me, and any other critical pieces that may come into play. I never imagined being on this doctoral journey with my partner would create such turmoil with the controlling and planning part of myself.

In an effort to maintain my cool through these overwhelming times, I have been reading a blog titled, The Graduate Wife. As I have been recently struggling with the notion of not being in control of my future, and needing to take every day, every week, every month one step at a time, I knew I needed to hear how others have tackled this. I needed some support. I needed to read some stories that resonated with my own.

As I perused the blog site, I stumbled across an article in the advice and support column. It was of a woman seeking some advice because her husband's PH.d journey was delaying her dream to start a family. She was struggling with the idea of moving across the country and away from her family while her husband started school. Along with this they both juggled with the idea of having a baby. This woman wanted to know how she could be supportive of his dreams while still remaining focused on her dreams and needs as well.

This was ME! Maybe not specifically, but at the root of her concern were mines. How do you maintain the support that you need to have for your spouse while also not losing sight of supporting yourself?

As I begin the read the post, the first sentence resonated so strongly with me that I had to take a moment and reflect on it. It stated "The first rule – and the last rule, and every rule in between- of the grad student life is this: to survive this adventure, you have to be willing to accept that this journey will ask you, at different times and in different ways, to let go of your expectations for how your life will be."

So your asking me to do probably one of the most difficult things in the world? Let Go.

 In order to be a supportive partner and be successful in this journey together, I am realizing that I have to let go. I have to be willing to let go of all the plans I had when we first started dating, and be prepared to develop new plans with my partner based on the uncertainty of this graduate school journey.

To take time and go through all the goals, dreams, aspirations, and visions I have had for life in these next few years and decide which ones will we focus on, which ones will we put on hold, and which ones will we let go of seemed like such a daunting task; however I am certain that this will allow me to begin to build the new life with my future husband that I seek.

The article went on to state that "Sometimes being stripped clean of everything you hold tightly leaves your hands empty, wide open, and ready to receive something new and beautiful, something greater than your imagination would have allowed. In other cases, the things that are closest to our hearts are meant to be protected, cherished, and cultivated; and the most difficult part is identifying what those are, then working out – together [with your husband] – how to bring them to life.

So although I am feeling a bit overwhelmed and trying to find the balance between being supportive and maintaining a sense of self...I know that the next stages of my life will require me to let go of some of that control that has been a major part of my identity all of these years. I can not say it will be an enjoyable task, but in the end, while on this journey with my partner, I am confident that we will be much stronger for it.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Are you the go-to person?

Sometimes you attend conferences, workshops, seminars, etc...and you hear things and then you never think about them again. Sometimes you attend these same events and you hear something and you chew it on for months and months, or every once in awhile you think about it.

This happened to me after the 2013 NASPA IV-E Women in Student Affairs Drive In Conference. During the Senior Level Panel discussion, Dr. Patricia Telles-Irvin of Northwestern University posed the question: "Are you the go-to person? If not, how do you become the go-to person?" This question and this thought has been constantly going in and out of my mind since June. As I think about this notion of being the go-to person, I ask myself a series of questions along with that:

Do I want to be the go-to person?
If so, to whom do I want to be to go-to person for?
What am I the go-to person for?
Am I prepared to be the go-to person for whatever that is?
If not, how do I prepare myself?
And all importantly, how the heck do I position myself to be the "Go-To" person?

I know, call me a thinker, a reflector, a worry wart, but two of my top 5 strengths are futuristic and strategic, so my long lists of questions seems to make sense; at least to me anyway.

Over the summer, I really begin to process what this meant to me. What is my definition of being the go-to person and how will I know that I am successful in becoming it. I wanted, well actually needed, to make sense of this for myself. I did not want to use anyone else's definition of success because I wanted to set realistic expectations for myself based on my goals. Trying to achieve another person's version of success can sometimes be a daunting and impossible task especially if they are not based on your values.

Being a go-to person to me means the following:

1. I have a solid reputation and individuals see me as having some level of competence and expertise in a certain area.
2. I have a strong support system and individuals will speak highly of me and advocate for me even when I am not in the room.
3. I am looked upon to serve in a variety of capacities specifically being a change maker.
4. I am trusted to create and implement new initiatives and strategic priorities.

As I continue to grow as a professional, I am confident that I am achieving in these 4 areas. I constantly review them and adapt accordingly, thinking about ways I can be better and how I can continue to move forward in each of them.

How do you define being the go-to person? As you recollect on your professional journey, have you been the go-to person? In what areas? If this is a desire for you to become the go-to person, what steps do you need to take to get there? How will you measure if you are successful?

I hope that my thought process has sparked you to take time and chew on this for yourself. Feel free to tweet me @Bdenisecole and tell me what being the go-to person means to you, and/or comment on this post as well.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Chronicles of a Ph.D Partner: His and Her's Introductions

I can recall months and months ago, helping my partner to determine which schools he would apply to for Ph.D programs. I can remember hearing him say something about California and probably giving him the death stare, as I had just moved to Illinois for my second full time job, my first choice position in my search process and California was a $500.00 plane ride away. I knew that committing to him meant taking on the role of eventually becoming a Ph.D partner, but I am not quite sure I was ready for the transitions I would endure through his journey, a journey that had inevitably become my journey as well.

This blog post is an introduction to a series that I am hoping to sustain over the course of the next three years as I navigate the life of a ph.d partner. My loving partner will also contribute to this series from time to time, and I do believe that there will be quite a few duo posts (such as this one) which will give you two interesting perspectives on various challenges and triumphs throughout our journey. I am sure that my perspective will be the most enjoyable to read as well as the closet to the truth, but I must afford him the opportunity to share his thoughts as well...it is only right!

We add to this journey the joy of being a newly engaged couple, the excitement and stress of wedding planning, the patience of navigating a long distance relationship, and the sometimes competitiveness that comes with being both student affairs/higher education professionals. Having been in a relationship for a little over a year (when its right, its right)...we also are continuing to learn each other each and every day.

Our journey is unique and our journey is real. Join us as we travel to Ph.D.  :)

In the words of President Barrack Obama, “let me be clear”… I am not a blogger. I barely understand why one would blog and why another would read it. To take it a step further, I don’t have a Twitter account. Yes… a student affairs associate who doesn’t tweet. We exist. I share this seemly off topic mini rant because I was told that I had to be “honest and transparent.” So I’m putting my cards on the table. This “ain’t my thing.”
However, I am in a relationship with a fantastic woman whom I love dearly. I wooed her (yeah, I said wooed), we feel in love, I proposed, then left. I moved two states away to pursue my dream of making someone call me Dr. and/or Professor; benefiting the community and creating intellectual property to affect change are bonuses. In following my dream, I bought a bit of turmoil to the relationship. So… I may not like blogging. I may create posts that scream, ever so slightly, “this ain’t my thing” but I do it gladly.
In a relationship you compromise. You watch Four Weddings and Say Yes to the Dress, you plan birthday celebrations when you could care less, and you take a break from reading “Understanding College and University Organization” to write a blog post when you would rather be playing Skyrim. These compromises seem meniscal when compared to creating a situation where some of life is postponed about 3 years.
So… here it is… The first of many of my posts. She says “join us as we travel to Ph.D. J”. I say, enter at your own risk and hang on… it’s going to be a bumpy ride. Oh… and my posts will DEFINITELY be more fun to read. They will be LEGEND… wait for it…

Friday, September 13, 2013

Putting your Best Face Forward: Creating the Masterpiece

By this time you should have already read Part 1 and Part 2 of this blog series. You should have an idea of the type of foundation that will work best for your skin type. I am sure many of you are sitting with it in hand as you read this blog post wondering what to do next. The next step to creating your beautiful flawless professional look is to get the right tools. Having a great foundation is one thing, but knowing how to apply it is crucial to create a flawless look.

I use a variety of tools to apply my foundation and my tool of choice is dependent on the temperature outside, the type of foundation I am using, and the type of finish I want.

Tool number 1: My Fingers!
Yes, my trusty fingers. I utilize my fingers a lot during the summer time to apply tinted moisturizers and sheer foundations. The heat generated from your body helps liquid and cream foundations to blend seamlessly into your skin. This can get a bit messy so make sure you keep some makeup wipes near your vanity so that you do not get foundation all over yourself. Also be sure that your fingers are CLEAN. My favorite method to apply foundation to my face with my fingers is to put small dots of foundation all over my face and blend it in an upward motion utilizing my fingers. This will create pretty shear coverage so if you are looking for a fuller coverage I would recommend you utilize another tool.

Tool number 2: A Sponge
Sponges are great to use and will give you a nice amount of control over your product. They provide pretty sheer to medium sheer coverage and also absorb some of your product, so I personally refrain from using sponges often. To use a sponge correctly, you want to dab it into the foundation and lightly blot it over your skin. Do not sweep the sponge across your face as you will create streaks. You want to bump or press it all over your skin in order to create a seamless look. My favorite way to use a sponge is to dampen it with water and squeeze the excess water out of it. Next, I dab it into my foundation to pick up the product and apply. By dampening the sponge, I create a dewy look to my skin which is perfect for those days when I am going for a "my skin but better" look.

Tool number 3: A Makeup Brush
My tried and true tool to apply my foundation is a makeup brush. I use brushes on an everyday basis to apply my foundation as I much prefer a medium to full coverage look and brushes provide me with the opportunity to deposit more pigment onto my skin evenly. For liquid foundations, you want to use a brush with synthetic fibers as they do not absorb as much product, and you want to make sure the brush has a tapered tip as this will allow you to deposit product around the curves of your face. For powder foundations, you want to use a thick fluffy brush with natural fibers as natural fibers will soak up some of the powder preventing you from applying too much on your face and creating that ghostlike look. When applying using either type of brush, be sure that after you pick up product you tap off the excess product ever so lightly...this will help you to control how much product you are depositing on your face. Too much liquid product on a brush can cause you to leave brushstrokes on your face...so start off with a little and apply more as needed.

I know this is a lot of information, but I hope it is helpful. Below are some of my favorite sponges and brushes to use to apply foundation. Until next time, Stay Pretty :)

Favorite tools for foundation application
Sponge: Beauty Blender
Sponge: Sonia Kashuk Blending Sponge
Brush for liquid foundation: Real Techniques Expert Face Brush
Brush for liquid foundation: MAC 187 brush
Brush for liquid foundation: MAC 190
Brush for liquid foundation: Sigma Flat Top Synthetic Kabuki – F80
Brush for liquid foundation: ELF studio powder brush
Brush for powder foundations: Ecotools buffing brush
Brush for powder foundation: ELF studio powder brush
Brush for powder foundations: Any quality Kabuki brush

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Putting your Best Face Forward: Starting with the Right Foundation

If you read my first installment of this series, then you are ready to move on to finding the right foundation for your skin type. If you haven't ...do not be that person that skips ahead, go read the intro to the series first!

Now on to the good stuff. After reading the introducation you are probably more confused than ever about which foundation to choose as you can go with Revlon, Covergirl, NARS, MAC, Chanel, Clinique, and the list goes on and on...Below I will explain how to choose the type of foundation for your skin type and some of my favorites. This is not an all inclusive list and everyone is going to be different. So if you try something that I suggested and it does not work for you, please, do not blame me, it is all trial and error with this thing called makeup.

If you have dry skin, you want to stick to formulas that are hydrating and moisturizing as these formulas will put moisture back into your skin. You will more than likely benefit from using cream based, liquid, and some stick foundations. On the market are these new hydrating powder foundations, but that just sounds odd to me so I am not sure if I would recommend those, but to each their own, check them out, they may be amazing.
If you have oily skin, like mines, please for my sanity use oil-free foundations. Your skin will respond better to oil-free liquids and powder foundations. I have sometimes used souffle foundations and creams but I have to set them very well with powder. Mineral makeup has also been known to work well for Oily girls...think bare minerals.
If you have combination skin, you can go either way. Determine if your skin has more oily or more dry spots and choose a foundation accordingly. You will have more of a trial and error period than others, simply because your skin may respond to foundation differently in different areas. There are quite a few foundations geared toward combo skin out there such as Revlon ColorStay for Combination/Oily skin.
For all of you that are blessed to have "normal" skin...whatever that means, you might want to stick to just using a powder foundation or cream to powder as it is the easiest to apply. If you want full coverage or have some blemishes that you want to cover up, a liquid foundation may be a better option for you.
I know you are saying that is a ton of information Bobbie and there are a million products out there. You are most certaintly correct reader, and this is where you may have to do a little research. First decide what your price range is. Once you have that in mind, you can narrow done the brands that you will be looking to purchase from. I suggest you to go to a department store or local beauty store like ULTA and tell them the type of foundation you are looking for and get color matched. It may be a bit pricier than grabbing some Covergirl from Walmart but the initial investment of a higher end foundation is worth it.
Plus, insider tip, once you know your coloring for higher end foundations such as Chanel and MAC, you can just google them and compare them to drugstore and other brands. For example: I would google the following phrase: (MAC NC45 and Revlon Colorstay) and I would get tons of information on the best color of revlon colorstay foundation for someone who wears MAC NC45. WINNING!
I hope that this was helpful.  Please find below a list of some of my favorite foundations and the skin types I think they may work the best for. Feel free to ask any makeup questions in the comment box or send them to me on twitter @Bdenisecole

Favorite Foundations and suggested skin types:

MAC Studio Fix Fluid: Oily Skin
MAC Matchmaster Foundation: Normal/Combo Skin but I have found my Oily skin loves it.
Revlon Colorstay: Comes in Formulas for all skin types
Chanel Mat Lumiere: Oily/Combo Skin
Neutrogena Healthy Skin Liquid Foundation: All Skin types
Benefit Cosmetics Some Kind-A Gorgeous: Normal/Combo/Oily Skin
Makeup Forever HD Liquid Foundation: All skin types, trial and error
Makeup Forever Mat Velvet: Oily Skin
Mac Mineralize Satin Finish Foundation: Dry and Normal Skin
Chanel Vitalumiere Satin Smoothing Fluid Make up: Dry Skin
Urban Decay Naked Liquid Makeup: All skin types, trial and error
IMAN Second to None Stick Foundation: Oily skin and dry skin

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Putting your Best Face Forward: The Intro

I get asked all the time about makeup. Many people knew me from my Health and Beauty Youtube videos before they ever met me in real life. Throughout the course of my work day my students always comment on my makeup, and I get emails and messages on youtube from my subscribers to come back and do more beauty reviews and videos. In an effort to share some knowledge about a topic that I most certaintly love while also helping individuals to put their Best Face Forward, I have decided to start a short little blog series devoted to
Makeup and Image for the Professional Woman.
A few days ago, I received a facebook message from a woman asking me how I achieved flawless skin. She was specifically referring to my skincare regimen...needless to say, I responded to her in big bold letters: FOUNDATION! I am laughing even as I write this, because good foundation applied correctly will give you the appearance of flawless skin and people will think you use miracle berries as face wash when really you just applied a little Estee Lauder before you left the house.
Do not get me wrong, skin care is key to achieving great makeup. You have to start with a great canvas before you can paint a masterpiece, right? I will not go into the specifics of skin care here, but please, before you tackle the fine art of makeup application, make sure that you have a great skin care regimen that works for your skin. This might require some trial and error, but do your research. There are quite a few factors that will affect what products you use and how you use them including but not limited to: type of skin, your age, skin conditions, your environment, etc...so research based on those factors and remember to K.I.S.S (keep it simple, sweetie) ...the simpler and more natural you can go with your skincare, the better.
Now on to foundation. Makeup foundation is a tricky beast to tackle and will probably require a few posts to really explain it thoroughly. One important thing to note when trying to find the right foundation for you is your skin type. If you do not know your skin type, it will be very hard to find the right foundation. I have oily skin...like severly oily skin. By midday depending on the type of primer I've used, I look like a disco ball. The foundation that suits my skin the best are oil-free liquid foundations, souffle type foundations, and powder foundations. So my first order of business is to help you find the right type of foundation for your skin.
Check out the next installment of this series for all of my tips to find the right foundation.
In the words of my youtube personality, Akabobbiedoll03: Stay Pretty :)