Empire State Of Mind

There are 13 songs titled New York State of Mind and of course we all have heard of Jay-Z’s version of Empire State of Mind and there are 6 other songs with the same title. It just may be one of the most referred to cities in music. New York City is one of the cities I have visited most. It has a spirit of movement and hustle to it. NYC is a place where you cannot resist being inspired just by walking down the avenues and blocks and riding by sights unseen and seen. So, what led me to The Big Apple this time? It was my last city to host Dinner & Dialogue this year.

An early Sunday morning flight landed 5 ladies on an interesting Uber ride from Newark to NYC learning about local eateries and places to visit. Although I have visited so many times, the Uber driver spent the entire 25 minute ride with all sorts of secrets about shopping and entertainment and anything we could think of. He talked and I eagerly jotted notes in my phone. With an early Sunday arrival, we had lots of time to play. We started at brunch at a local diner suggested by the concierge. It was so good. The portions were Texas sized and it was well worth the wait. 

That evening, we went to my favorite steakhouse for dinner and cocktails. I actually fell in love with Del Frisco’s in New York during Spring Break 2012. Every time I visit the Big Apple, I have to dine there. It is a ritual now. After dinner, we went to Babylon, a hookah bar to hear music and really let our hair down. Sunday came and went. Monday meant business. I had a few business meetings scheduled, while the rest of the ladies explored and shopped. I met a group of six for lunch. Our group had grown to 7 as two other ladies arrived later Sunday. Brandy was celebrating her upcoming 40th birthday, so a celebration was definitely in order. We dined and explored the local night life with libations and uninhibited fun! 

Tuesday had finally arrived. Dinner was supposed to be the highlight of the day. But, visiting the Wendy Williams Show was the highlight of my day. Wel to be honest, I am not a fan and it was not on my must do list. As a matter of fact, everything on my must do list was not done. That is what I love about plans. They can be made, but life is not a plan. It is an adventure worth living and experiencing. Anyway, back to Wendy. As I said, it was not on my list, but we all were in! And we all were so glad we went. It was worth the experience. The best part was the “party” during the commercial breaks. It was like a pep rally and day party rolled into one. The dj and hype man were a perfect pair. They kept the audience engaged and pumped up. The celebrity guests for the day were Toni Braxton and Eva Marcille. We were lucky to be present for both since Eva could not come on her original date, so we were the audience for her segment. 

I was full of energy and my momentum was flowing from the Wendy Williams experience. It was the perfect boost to my day. I have to be in great spirits the day of my dinner. It really sets the tone for me and the dinners.  I never know what space the guests will be in, so I am very intentional about creating a great headspace for myself. And I needed it. This NYC dinner was set with the intention of forming new business networks for my brand. I was in contact with several prominent women in varying industries and received great feedback from them even if they were not able to attend. The weeks and even days leading up to the dinner, the guests that were scheduled to attend contacted me with regrets of commitments. 

Transformative Living

Transformative- adjective: causing or able to cause an important and lasting change in someone or something. Oft times when one thinks of transformation, a physical change is the first thought. Or maybe even sometimes a spiritual or radical change. But, what about a lifestyle change? No, not in reference to health or your inner being. But, in regards to your way of life and dynamic.

Recently, I have and am experiencing a transformative shift in my family dynamic. I am 40 years old with a husband and a 21-year-old daughter and 9-year-old son. Jada, my daughter, was already a pre-teen when we learned our family was growing and Jeremy Blake was on the way! Now, fast forward to 2018, we learned our family was growing yet again. You see, I have a younger sister, Tasha, just a year younger than my son. Tasha is a Dallas native and just recently moved to Houston along with our father. So, now Tasha is now a part of our immediate family as she and Jeremy attend school, church, and functions together. I am up being a mom all over again to another daughter.

The entire family is in the midst of transformation. Jada is more like her cool aunt than her niece. Jeremy is her playmate and brother rather than her nephew. And JJ, my husband, and I are her extra parents. And of course, my grandmother is Granny to everyone!

When we are dreaming of our future family, we all typically imagine a traditional family. But, what really is a traditional family? In many instances, in the American culture you find homes without elders. Most other cultures have multi-generational homes and environments. Our new family dynamic has definitely been and is a transformation. This is beyond family pictures and an extra Christmas stocking.

This transformation is one of evolution for us all. Tasha will have a mother in me that she needs to mold and sculpt her life in such a way she is forever changed. During this season of evolution for me, I am stretching who I am as a fearless female being able to adapt and make drastic moves for the betterment of everyone involved. This allows me to revisit my purpose. JJ and Jada have a very unique father-daughter relationship and this situation gives him the opportunity to have another little girl in the house while he watches his not so little girl flourish. At times, it has been like both Jeremy and Tasha are the only child since they were the youngest in their households. Now, they have each other and are creating sibling bonds (and mischief) without a hiccup.

While this not a typical thought of transformative living, it really is when you think about the face of America and blended families. Tasha is one of the catalysts for change in my world. She is a fun loving, naïve, sweet 8-year old that has no idea the impact she has had on our lives. She came in like a roaring storm and wrapped herself around our hearts. I have wondered on many occasions “Why God? I am busy. I have so much going on. I do not have the time or the energy for another task.” He told me this is much bigger than I am. He reminded me I have a task of being a shift changer for others and a catapult. That does not exclude my own family and me. To catapult others, I need another fresh testimony. And Tasha is my testimony.

Nice for What!!!!!!

Five years ago I visited Paris and as most people do in the City of Lights, I fell in love with everything about French culture. My initial plan for my 40th birthday was to go to the Caribbean, but being that my birthday is right in the middle of hurricane season, that posed too much of a risk. I was not up for that at all after Hurricane Ike ruined my 30th birthday in 2008!

So, fast forward 10 years later, 22 Americans traveled to the French Riviera. I used the expertise of my travel agent, Tammy, and the reviews from friends who had been before to create the perfect itinerary. My secret passion is history and all things historical. The depth of ideals, customs, and revelations that derive from history are compelling and captivating to me.

During my birthday celebration, family and friends turned family toured and ventured with me through Monte Carlo, Cannes, and Nice. We walked the cobblestone streets of Saint Paul de Vince. My eyes witnessed waters I had yet to see. I am a travelnoire, but just to see new waters and the endless horizons of God’s creations stop my breath each time. In Nice, the pebble beach was exactly that. Real pebble rocks with rushing, yet calm Mediterranean waters washing over them.

Walking through venues and hotels graced with millions, $30 million to be exact, of artifacts and antiques was a blessing. Seeing God’s glory each day is one thing, but to see what He has allowed the hands of man to create and leave for us to enjoy is on another level. God definitely has a job for everyone. Speaking of interesting jobs, I toured a perfumery compound and learned the process of creating some perfumes. The perfumers are extensively trained and have strict restrictions such as not eating spicy foods, smoking, or consuming alcoholic beverages during training or employment.

Anyone who really knows me knows, I love adventures, but I am a creature of habit in many ways. So, this trip, I decided to venture into a few new things. Lobster rolls were a food I tried for the first time in Nice at Lobsta and they were so amazing. I’m a sucker for fine dining. We found a hidden heel called Rina’s. The seafood linguini was delicious. I went back three nights while in Nice! Amongst other firsts were visiting a wine vineyard in Grasse and touring a palace in Monaco. Overall, the entire trip was one of the firsts as every city we went to was a first for me. My guilty pleasure was eating White Chocolate Magnum ice cream bars each day. Some days twice. Don’t tell my trainer though.

Fearless at 40 in the French Riveria… It definitely was one of the most amazing trips of my life! This one just may get a repeat for 50 and my retirement.

Fearless at 40

“Move ***; get out the way” is a perfect line from Ludacris’ song to describe the shift in my world right now. I am moving out of my own way, stepping out of my own box, and making a bold mindset shift.

Today is my 40th birthday and with conviction and flair, my declaration is being FEARLESS at 40! Fearless at 40, huh? Well, let’s talk about being 40 first of all. Turning 40 is nothing more than a milestone to me and a measuring gauge for my goals. I do not feel old nor am I having a midlife crisis or any of the typical sentiments people seem to have at this age.

Now, the fearless part… Some major life and business revamps and evolutions have begun to take place for me. I intentionally made these decisions based on what I want my future to look like. My ultimate goal is to transition from standing behind the chair by 50. I know. I know. Hold on. I know what you may be thinking, “NaKeitha, you are hair. Hair is you.” You are right. To an extent, that is. Yes, I have been a hairstylist for the past 25 years since my teen years assisting my mother and obtaining my own license and opening my own salon, two be exact. But, I want more. Hair has definitely been my bread and butter and it is so fulfilling. It has also been a platform for me to rise up and flourish. Behind my chair, I hear words from women about being stuck, seeking advice about what’s next, and making bold moves. From behind the same chair, I offer encouragement and empowerment. Now, I want to walk in the same power shoes I encourage them to wear.

Being fearless is about taking risks. People take risks at 40, right? For the most part at 40, your risks are safer with evidence and more of a guarantee that the move about to made will be successful. The risks I am venturing into are the complete opposite. I am shifting into a complete reversal of being a stylist and transforming into consulting. On the road to 50, there will be a gradual decline in my time behind the chair and an increase in my consulting business. The shifts and preparations include knowing a pay cut will be involved (just for a while anyway), investing into the unknown (there goes those risks again), and relying more on what God has placed in me (using my faith to maximize my talents and gifts).

I have created a platform for women titled “The Fearless Female Forum”. This platform will give women the tangible tools, networks, and authority to make a shift or shifts in their own world. I have planned and scheduled a retreat for March 2019. By that time, I will be 6 months into 40. The NaKeitha today will not be the same NaKeitha at 40 and a half. My mindset will be on the incline of growth and power. I am getting out of my own way. And as Ludacris went on to say “causing confusion, disturbing the peace”, I will be a disrupter and breaking up the monotony of life. Find out more about the retreat at www.thefearlessfemale.org .

Pretty bold? Too bold? Not at all. Along with those risks and fearless mindset comes a shift in my relationship with the only One who can make all of this happen for me. I walk boldly into His promises and His light with anticipation of being blessed in return. God cares for me and never said I, or any of us for that matter, have to do one job or task our entire lives. He has designed life for our growth in order to shift us and shift others around us into higher spaces. Think about that. Have you ever gotten something, a job, a new position, or a gift because there was a shift in line and the blessing came to you? Without growth, shifts cannot happen. So, my spiritual journey is on the increase also. It is the core of everything I have set out to do. It will be the strongest part of my life and show its evidence in my relationship with my husband. He is beyond supportive of me and my aspirations and we can only attribute that to our faith in God and that our marriage is centered around Christ. With our marriage being God-centered, it allows our household to be also. Our children will have the legacy and foundation of life we are aiming for them to have. We are setting them up for success through exposure to options we never knew about until our adult lives. And this spiritual relationship with God has also allowed my heart to open more and become a mother to my young sister, Tasha. Talk about shifts in the atmosphere! That’s another blog though.

Fearless at 40 is also embracing my health and financial well being. I am about 10 pounds away from what would be a healthy weight for me in terms of numbers. A healthy body is so much more than numbers though. My body looks great. I feel good, but I am a new sufferer of genetic hypertension. With this discovery, I have to be more deliberate about my lifestyle and choices. Which rolls right over into being more financially fit as well. Remember that pay cut I talked about earlier on? Well, I recognize my investments need to be stronger and deeper and my spending needs to decrease. These fearless and power moves will set my plans to work for me to lead me to my goals.

For me, Fearless at 40 all about being Fierce at 50! You work backwards in life. Set your goal and then plan backwards of how to accomplish it. At 50, I will be a source and force to be reckoned with. Here at 40, I am releasing fears and taking risks to make that happen!

Happy 40th Birthday to me and Happy 9th Birthday to my greatest birthday gift, Jeremy B. Ross, whom I am honored to be his mother to and share this day with.  

New Beginnings

I will record this day in history! And this statement means more than just writing down something. Today, I recorded my first podcast and also went “Live” on Facebook for the first time! It was impromptu, yet planned at the same time. My plans to begin recording podcasts were already set for today, but my voice had other plans and was terribly hoarse. So, I decided to do a walkthrough of the studio and familiarize myself with the logistics. But when I walked in, a spirit spoke to me and it pushed me to record anyway.

My agenda then became to introduce “The Fearless Female Retreat”. It is a two-day retreat designed to identify and release inhibitions we as women have and present and apply tools to be successful despite our fears. My business strategist and the retreat’s title sponsor, Kyra Hardwick, was present and without any set list of topics, I just started talking with her as my first guest. The conversation was so organic and it flowed effortlessly.
So, a little background about all of this! I planned and scheduled my first podcast to be August 22, but I pushed it back. And again today, I tried to. I keep getting in my own way of what it is next for me. Today definitely showed me I have to keep pressing forward past my fears. I am so glad I did not let a little hoarse voice stop me from moving forward. The immediate response was phenomenal! People from all over the country tuned in and commented on the impact the podcast was making already with just our words. Our three major topics were mindset, affliction, and motivation.
Each week until The Fearless Female Retreat I will feature a different guest. Next Wednesday’s guest is a long time friend and entrepreneur, LaShonda Pierce of LaPierce Designs. We will discuss the topic “Divine Assignment”.
Tune in to my Facebook Live on Wednesday, October 3, 2018, at 1 p.m. I am looking forward to chatting with you!

Entourage

I love the holiday season. I absolutely love everything about it from the music to the decor to the festivities. It is my favorite time of the year. But, what I love the most about the holiday season is family. It is the perfect time to reminisce with them, love on them, and showcase them.

Each year, my family takes an annual holiday picture. We have done this every single year since my son Jeremy has been born. This year marks our 9th family holiday photo. When I say family photo, the photos normally consists of my husband (Jeremy), my daughter (Jada), my son (Jeremy Blake), and myself. Each year I’m trying to find the perfect theme for our holiday pictures. My favorite holiday picture of all time was taken four years ago by Alstek Photography. The theme was “FORMAL”. The guys wore black tuxedos and the ladies wore black evening gowns.

This year I wanted to do things a little different. I didn’t want to just photograph my immediate family. I wanted to showcase my extended family better known as the ENTOURAGE. My entourage consisted of my mother (Lisa), my sister (TeLisa), my brother (Cordegus), my nephew (Ralph), my mother-in-law (Patricia), my grandmother (Maxcine), and my cousins (Jamayne, Llewellyn, and Addison). Because I loved the formal theme that we did 4 years ago so much, I decide to do it again with the ENTOURAGE.

It was so much fun. Everyone looked stunning. I loved watching our memories unfold and the outtakes happen. It is not often we see positive images of Black families. I decide to create my own imagery. The people photographed that day are considered my inner circle. I could not imagine life without them.

Who is a part of your ENTOURAGE?

Perfectly Imperfect

Life isn’t perfect. But, Thanksgiving is the idea time to celebrate imperfect relationships, infinite blessings, and intangible gifts from God. We have so much to be grateful for year round.

As I look back over 2017, I am overjoyed about all the amazing things that have happened in my life and all the phenomenal people that are in my life. This year, I was pushed by my friends and mentor to take my brand to another level, to stretch my mind, and to think enormously big.

2017 was filled with new leaps and accomplishments. Earlier this year, I started a webinar series to encourage women to live a limitless lifestyle. My mother and I opened a second salon location. I traveled to Italy for the first time with my girl boss girlfriends. I celebrated 21 years of marriage. My family and I survived Hurricane Harvey without any losses or bruises. My daughter launched her own beauty brand and had the opportunity to service Vivica A. Fox. It was indeed a year of growth and favor!

One of my favorite blessings of the year was being in Steamboat Springs, Colorado during the Thanksgiving holiday with 27 family members and friends. It is always an unforgettable experience filled with so many incredible intangibles. The intangibles included spending quality time with family, enjoying adventures in the snow, soaking in the beautiful scenery, relaxing, and wearing pajamas passed noon.

The take away from this holiday season… Celebrate your blessings throughout the year. No matter how big or small. Happy Holidays

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39

I love birthdays. Birthdays are worth celebrating and looking forward to. Some people dread their birthdays because it’s a sign of them getting older. My grandmother always says, “You can get older or the clock can just stop ticking.” To me, it’s a sign of getting better with time. Improvements are always worth celebrating.

I celebrated my birthday so different this year. I did something from September 23rd to October 1st. Each day I celebrated my birthday in a unique way. Nine days in nine ways. It was so much fun and exhausting. But, I loved every minute of it. Someone asked me, “Why are you making a big deal out of 39 when your 40th is next year?” To me, every day we are alive is a big deal. Tomorrow is not promised to anyone. Who’s to say I’ll be here for my 40th? I hope I’m still alive. But, no one knows when their time is up.

My husband lost his sister on Christmas Eve in 1988. She was 14 years of age. She was riding with a friend and died in a car accident. I’m mentioning her because she never had the opportunity to celebrate her Sweet 16.

Treat every year like a milestone. I’m walking into 39 CONFIDENT, COURAGEOUS, & CUTE.

Hurricane Season

“Simply beautiful” is what I said when I snapped this photo. I appreciated this image so much after sitting in my house for 5 days during the nonstop rain of Hurricane Harvey. Life is so unpredictable. Even the perfect planner was not prepared for this historical storm. This storm sent me through an emotional roller coaster. I had to cut the television off to remain sane during the course of the storm.

Once I disconnected myself from the carnal world and channeled my energy to the spiritual world, my entire outlook changed. I started thinking about what really mattered most. Sometimes, we need hurricanes in our lives to disrupt the normal and daily routines and redirect our focus to the things that matter most like spending quality time with family, getting closer to God, and seizing the moment.

What is important to you may be different from my list. But, I am sure you can agree that the daily routine of life itself can distract us from the things we love and value the most. We work hard everyday to accomplish the American Dream. But, is the American Dream really my dream? Is that really important? Is that what I really need to be happy and survive? What is my purpose? What is my true calling? These are the questions that I asked myself when I disconnected from what was going on in the physical realm.

Hurricane Harvey was not on my radar. It totally disrupted my week. I had to cancel my trip to Seattle. My business did not make money for almost a week at either salon. I felt like a prisoner in my own home. However, I appreciate the new lease on life that it gave me. “Life is beautiful!”

Marriage Matters

How do you remain married for decades and keep the fire burning?  This question is asked of me and my husband on a consistent basis. We hesitate to answer because we never want to give the impression that we are perfect or that marriage is easy, but we’re confident in knowing what works for us and our relationship.

While on vacation at our beach resort in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, we were chilling in the pool surrounded by about 70 to 80 people.  But we were in our own little world, completely focused on one another.  A complete stranger came over and said, “You two are so cute together.  Are you married?”  We responded, “Yes. We are actually here celebrating our 21st anniversary.”  She said, “OMG!  You guys are still into each other.  Please tell me your secret to a long lasting marriage.  I’ve been separated from my husband for two months, and I really want to make my marriage work.”

We spoke with her about the fact that we had gone through a separation period as well.  But we believe that when the good outweighs the bad, marriage is a bond definitely worth saving.

We conversed with Cat from San Diego for 20 minutes about marriage and what we’ve identified in keeping our marriage happy and healthy for the past 21 years.  I wanted to share these keys with you as well, and hope they will be as beneficial to you as they have been to us in our marriage success.

      • Keep God at the center of your marriage.
      • Develop a friendship instead of focusing on being lovers.
      • Have an open flow of communication and laugh as much as possible together.
      • Enjoy the high moments and have patience in the low moments.
      • Work together as a team instead of individually.
      • Continue to date regularly just as you did in the beginning of the relationship.
      • Mentally and physically stimulate one another.  You should know what gets your partner excited.  

These are the principles that have empowered us through our twenty-one years of marriage, and I pray they will continue to help us reach a lifetime of love together.