Sunday, December 23, 2012

Myomectomy in the UK or the US?

The following question was sent to me by viewer struggling with the decision of having a myomectomy abroad or in the U.S. You can read her post in its entirety here.

Dear CandidAnn:
My dilemma: Where to have the surgery?

A. The U.K., where the surgery will be close to free but I live alone, have no family there, the environment is not great, I don't really trust the medical system there, plus I am still waiting for the appointment to see the Consulting Gynecologist (specialist) for the first process.

B. The U.S., where I can have the surgery as soon as I can meet with a surgeon and schedule the surgery, I have no insurance in the U.S. so I have to pay for the whole surgery, my family reside in the U.S. so I can stay with them, the environment is more hospitable for recovery.

Monday, December 10, 2012

My myomectoy experience: Healing at Home

If you or someone you know is thinking about having a myomectomy to get rid of fibroid tumors, this will help to prepare you for some of the things that you might experience while recuperating at home. Everyone's experience is not going to be the same. I am NOT a doctor. I am only sharing my experience.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

How to Photograph Milky Water

Have you ever wondered how photographers are able to make water look milky? This photo tip will show you how easy it is in 2 simple steps.

1. Set your camera to a long exposure, somewhere between 1 - 3 seconds. You will have to decided how long of an exposure depending on the lighting conditions. The long exposure gives the water time to move creating that milky effect.

2. It's impossible to keep your hand steady for these long exposures. You will need a tripod to pull this off. Setting your camera on a tripod ensures a tack sharp photo for this type of nature photography.

Milky Water Effect
Nikon D200 • ISO 100 • F-Stop 1/13 • Exposure time 1.5 sec • 50 mm lens • Natural Lighting

Using the same setup, my husband captured this photo in Grand Central Station.

Canon Rebel T3i  ISO 100 • F-Stop 22 • Exposure time 30 sec • 50 mm lens • No flash

Friday, November 30, 2012

My Existential Crisis

I wouldn't classify myself as an insomniac, but lately, unsettle thoughts causes me to toss in bed. My husband is out cold lying next to me, so I write. Some might say I'm a bit of a control freak, however the way I see it, I like to be proactive with my problems. Having a plan settles my mind.

I feel weird giving voice to my issues because I know that many people are having a much more difficult time in this economy. If I could control my thoughts, my emotions, and my sleep pattern, all would be well. But I can't. I'm here in this bed, trying to figure it out and take action. Hell, that's all any of us are able to do. Please keep in mind that I don't believe in airing out any personal issue that 1) I'm not prepared to deal with publicly and 2) I don't believe in airing out other people's business.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

How to: Party Photo Booth for Events

Shooting a party or celebration? Here's a fun way to break the ice with guests while creating lasting memories for your client.

A photo booth is an inexpensive way to add fun photographs to an event. The idea comes from traditional booths you would see at a fair. Remember inserting $1 into the machine and taking a few funny photos with a friend? Borrowing from that concept, I re-created the photo booth idea at this wedding and no, an actual booth is not needed. Here's what you do...

If possible, look for a non-distracting wall to set up. You don't need a lot of space, just the right space. Once you find the correct exposure, the only thing left to do is engage the guests to have fun while you snap away. To make things exciting, add a few items from your local party supply store. Guests are sure to have a blast making it easy for you to capture wonderful memories for your client.

Nikon D700 • ISO 100 • F-stop 5.6 • Shutter speed 1/125 • Lens Nikon 18 - 200mm • 1 light diffused through umbrella

Monday, November 19, 2012

DIY: Applying Loose Nail Glitter

Sinful Colors Nail Glitter
Sinful Colors #30103 Sparkle City
If you like ultra sparkly nails, you'll want to try this out. I picked up this loose nail glitter by Sinful Colors at Walgreens for $1.99.

The container holds 2.5g / .09oz of glitter. There's a sifter on top to control the amount that falls out.

I was able to snap a few photos but I was afraid of getting glitter on my camera so I didn't capture every step. Either way, the process is very easy. Here's how to do it...

1. Paint your nail with a clear nail polish.
2. While the polish is still wet, sprinkle on the loose glitter.
3. Clean up any access glitter around your nail. Use a nail stick to get around your cuticle.
4. Paint another coat or two of clear nail polish to seal.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Lipstick Storage Solution

If you love lipstick like I do, check out this affordable 60 compartment lipstick display, by Azar Displays. I've had this for almost a year now and I LOVE it.

The display makes it easy to find the color that I want, since I'm able to see all of my lipsticks at once. Each lipstick is held within its own compartment, so whenever I take one out, another lippie doesn't fall into its place. The front row is a tester slot that's slightly lower than the other 60 compartments. The display currently retails for $12.50 + S&H.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Call it God, good karma, or a life lesson

As many of you might know, my parents are from Barbados. My mother grew up in the country section of Barbados named Bridgefield and she was poor. Keep in mind, we're talking 3rd world poor... no shoes, no indoor plumbing, no electricity. My grandfather died when my mother was a young girl and my grandmother struggled at times to put food on the table for her children. Although my mother was just a little girl, she remembers Auntie Idell sneaking yams and potatoes out of her family's garden to bring to my grandmother so that she could feed her children. My mother never forgot this.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

My myomectomy experience: Going home

I've heard of other women having a morphine drip, but Yale Medical Center, they did not give me one. I white knuckled it until it was time to take the catheter out, then I caved in. Here's what happened...

Between 6 - 8 am I tried to get some sleep but I felt a weird feeling, as if my bladder was full. Strange since the catheter was in place, right?! I tried to sleep but that all too familiar feeling that happens right before the pee-pee dance takes place was getting stronger. I raised the back of my bed up and decided to investigate. I pushed the button to call the nurse. In my raspy voice, I told her that the catheter was as full. She said o.k but no one ever came. The pressure in my bladder was getting painful so decided to figure out what was going on myself.

Friday, October 19, 2012

My myomectomy experience: Overnight at Yale

Although I was extremely drowsy, I remembered to have
hubby get my satin bonnet. I was not about to mess up
my mini twist on these non-satin pillows.
The first thing I noticed after surgery was that my voice was sore. I didn't sound like myself. The breathing tube made my voice hoarse and raspy. By this time, it had been over 24 hours since I last ate. I wanted food. My friend Ayana made some homemade cookies for me. I desperately wanted them down my sore throat and The nurse gave me the cafeteria menu. I had hubby order stir fry vegetables over rice for me since my voice was all weird. She proceeded to show me a few other things that were waiting for me on my rolling table.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

My myomectomy experience: Getting Ready

Today is the first day that I feel like my brain is able to focus enough in order to write.

Thanks for all the text messages, emails, phone calls, etc. I tried to keep up with them but, I have not been able to get back to everyone. Please forgive me. I am thankful to each of you that have reach out to me, said a prayer for me or even just thought about me. The first few days post-op are rough and I think I underestimated it all.

I was tempted to make this a short and sweet post, but as someone that has recently gone through this (actually I'm still going though this), I thought it might help another woman finding herself in a similar circumstance, should she happen to find her way to these series of blog posts. Let's start the day before surgery.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Saving money on the daily

Saving money is an active part of my day-to-day life. Listed below are some additional things that I do in order to save money. Please feel free to share your money saving tips below.
  • I still utilize the library. I have an Amazon Fire and I love it but sometimes e-copies are more expensive then paperback (Amazon doesn't tell you that).
  • Sites like Groupon and SweetJack are a great way to save money. They offer excellent discounts on a variety of things ranging from dinners, spas, electronics, etc. It's a great way to get more money for your buck.
  • I bring lunch to work with me on most days. There are days that the cafeteria is serving something that I really like so I treat myself to it. But paying .44/oz for lunch can become quite expensive.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Giving yourself a fun allowance

As cliche as it might sound, the saying "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" is very true. Swinging the pendulum in the opposite direction is very tempting when you are trying to get your finances in order but try not to become obsessed to the point of not enjoying any of the fruits of your labor.
Every week that I got pay, I took $25 to buy something that I didn't need but enjoyed. It ranged from cd's to lipsticks. It was my small way of enjoying some of my hard work and discipline.

As eager as you might be to get on the straight and narrow, you have to give yourself some room to flex. Here's another cliche that holds true "Everything in moderation".

Just because you are tighting the belt, no one has to know. Instead of spending $20 for a pedi, go ahead and buy a bottle of good nail polish and do it yourself. Perhaps going to the movies is your thing. Catch the matinee and enjoy yourself.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Donating blood to myself for surgery

I am scheduled to have an abdominal myomectomy on October 12. My surgeon informed me that I might need a blood transfusion because sometimes patients loose a lot of blood during the surgery, therefore I decided to donate my blood to myself.

I met Winsome, RN, at the Yale Apheresis Center on October 1 for my first donation. I'll have to make two donations before my surgery, so I'll be back there on October 8. Not only was Winsome a strict professional but she made me laugh and I felt confident in her skills. Boy did she get on my tail for not eating breakfast before donating but once she checked my blood count, twice I might add, she decided it was safe for me to donate that day.

When someone loves their job, it makes a world of difference. While I'm out recuperating, I will be doing a lot of thinking about perusing more things in life that make me happy. I have my fair share of "would of, should of, could of" just like everyone else, but I'm hoping to throw more caution to the wind and allow myself the freedom to dream a bigger dream for myself. I don't care if all I do is shoot photos and make YouTube videos, if it makes me happy and I'm not hurting anyone, why not do it?

The upside to giving my blood is that I get to eat a bit of red meat to replenish my iron. I went to Whole Paycheck Foods over the weekend to get a steak. It's the only place that I know of that has 100% grass fed, no hormone, no antibiotics meat. One thing is for sure, at $22.99/lb, I definitely will not be a regular meat eater but good Lawd, did it taste good.

Monday, September 17, 2012

How I rebuilt my credit with a secured credit card

Utilizing a secured credit card can be a great way of rebuilding your credit history. How can I be sure of this? It's the method I used to repair my credit. Since no one would extend credit to me, getting a secured credit card was the only way I could establish my credit again. This is how it worked for me.

I sent $500 to the credit company and they sent me a credit card with a $500 credit limit. The $500 security deposit I made to them was held in a savings account. Every other aspect of the credit card functioned the same as an unsecured credit card. Like any other credit card paying on time is very important.

After 6 months of timely payments, the credit card company offered to triple my credit limit if I made another deposit. I sent them an additional $500 deposit and they added another $1,500 to my credit limit. I now had a credit limit of $2,000. After 1 year of timely payments, they sent back the $1,000 deposit plus interest and the credit card was converted to an unsecured card.

I wasn't on easy street yet because the interest rate on the card was horrific. It would take more time before other credit card companies with better interest rates would be willing to extend credit to me. Until then, I had no other choice but to suffer the high interest rates but here's something that I learned along the way.

Although I had to wait 7 years for the bad credit card to fall off my credit report, as I was establishing positive credit history, it only took a few years of responsible credit usage before I was able to get an American Express Charge Card. Granted my FICO score was not impressive yet, with each monthly billing cycle I was able to get my credit out of the gutter. As long as I kept everything current, it was just a waiting game for my FICO score to rise.

There are no quick fixes at repairing your credit. The key to this is consistent timely payments.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A lesson from Jane

While I was working at Lehman Brothers, there was an older white woman named Jane Edelman. I never dared to ask how old she was, but I'm sure she could have qualified for Social Security. When Jane's husband passed, she decided to go back to work. She wanted to show her children, that she was not going to just sit down and die. She was still an active player in this thing called life.

Jane somehow overheard me talking about trying to fix my credit. She pulled me to the side and gave me this advice. She told me to get a private loan from a bank. She didn't care if it was $1,000 or only $500. Neither did she care which bank I got the loan from. She told me that once I got the money, put the entire amount into a savings account. When the payments were due, I should pay the bank back their own money. The interest would have to come out of my pocket, but that was the price I had to pay to get positive credit history.

When you are looking for information, do not discriminate who gives it to you. I'm not saying to just take advice from anyone. But don't write off people that you might not have initially thought of. Keep your mind open. You are not looking for a best friend; you are looking to learn from anyone friend or foe! Lessons are everywhere.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Save Money by Paying Yourself First

After you've worked hard for your paycheck, don't you think that you deserve the first cut of your salary? Finding money to save, especially in today economic climate, might seems like an impossible task. Saving money should not be an afterthought, it should be your first thought. As I worked on paying off my debt, I would commit a part of my budget toward savings FIRST.

Before I paid any bills, I set a portion of my salary aside to save. Sometimes I was only able to save $20 from my paycheck. There have been other times when I was able to save hundreds of dollars per check. Either way, I am still committed to this practice today. The money that you save by paying yourself first is NOT for vacation or some new piece of electronics. As you are working toward your future, this money is to invest in an opportunity, your dreams, your future.

God forbid you have an emergency. At least you know the money is there. My definition of emergency is something like dental surgery, you are out of work because of a health issue, or you need to repair your car because it's essential for work.

Set up an automatic deduction from your checking account into a savings account. For me, the money comes out the day after I get paid so I don't have much of a window to spend it. After a while, you will forget that you are deducting this money and will learn to live without it. Hopefully, after a year, you will be able to see the hundreds if not thousands of dollars that you have been able to save through consistency.

I also want to add this. NEVER let anyone know how much money you have in your emergency account. Biggie said it best in the "The Ten Crack Commandments". Never let no one know, how much, dough you hold, cause you know, The cheddar breed jealousy 'specially if that man fucked up, get your ass stuck up. Letting people know how much money you have saved, especially broke ass people, you will quickly start getting request to "borrow" money. As for me, I'm always "broke". Once people know that you are a reliable back up source of money, you will quickly become a 2nd source of income to them.

Don't get me wrong, I believe in helping people but, I believe in helping those that help themselves. After all, that's the way I learned.

Related Posts:
Want to fix your credit? Here's the 1st step!
10 Tips to Live Below Your Means
Change your Thinking, Change your Spending

Monday, August 20, 2012

Change your Thinking, Change your Spending

Control your expenses. Once I got my apartment, I didn't run out and furnish the place immediately. My first purchase was a bed. Other than the computer (my boyfriend, now husband, had to purchase it on his credit because I wasn't credit worthy), I literally had nothing. I was living out of a suitcase because I had no dressers. My dad gave me his microwave so most of my meals were made that way until I could purchase pots & pans.

When your happiness is at stake, it's funny how little we actually need in order to be happy. I purchased a 26 inch RCA television from P.C. Richards & Sons. Since I had no credit, I had to buy things with cash. I patiently waited for holiday sales when buying electronics. Once I got a television, I tuned into The Suze Orman Show regularly. She offers excellent financial advice.

I made a pact with a hippie co-worker to stop buying clothes unless it was socks and underwear. Think about it. Do you ever wear all of the clothes in your closet? Unless you've had a significant weight loss/gain, many of us buy clothes because shopping is a pastime. I rediscovered items that I hardly wore and put them to good use.

I got all of my dressers / armoires from the Thrift Store. As a matter of fact, I still own those same dressers because the quality of the wood is something that you just don't see too often anymore. When I finally moved, I remember when one of the movers saying "Be careful with this, I know it's expensive because it's real hardwood." Haaa, the price on those 2 dressers was so little, I don't even remember what I paid for it.

The New York Public Library (NYPL) is an awesome resource. The NYPL, and most library systems, allows you to transfer books from one branch to another at no cost. I would sign on to the libraries website and put whatever books I wanted to read on hold. If you take advantage of their free online service, your books will put to the side for you and all you have to do is pick them up.

Some of the changes you make might be for the short term but your mindset should always be open to learning more. Always look to educate yourself on different ways to save money. Don't just say, "Oh, I have everything I want now. I'll stop saving." As someone that left her parents house at the age of 19, I have learned to get knowledge from multiple situations. I am constantly learning. I will take valuable information from any source. Even people that I can't stand, teach me what NOT to do.

A few examples of what not to do:
• Counting on someone paying you back by a certain date, which you need in order to pay your bills
• Calculating how much of a bonus you will receive and using that number as part of your budget
• Assuming that you will get a tax return
• Lending money that you can't afford to lose / Investing money that you can't afford to lose
• Choosing a vacation that forces you to come back to a huge credit card bill
• Dating someone that doesn't have the same financial outlook and doesn't want to change

Monday, August 13, 2012

10 Tips to Live Below Your Means

Finding the money to start paying off your debt can be done numerous ways. Below are some of the things I did to get my credit back in shape. I'm always looking for more information because you never stop learning when it comes to finances. I didn't just do these things until my credit was "fixed", but I still practice these things today. Consistency is key.

Live below your means. As a rule of thumb, I made sure that I rented an apartment that I could pay for with 1 week's salary. If you get paid every 2 weeks, divide that into half and that's the amount you can afford for rent. Back in '97, my salary was 45k/year. My weekly take home salary was around $750. I found an apartment across the hall in a small building because a friend spoke to the landlord on my behalf. It was a small 1 bedroom apartment for $625/month. You might have to give up that large apartment and move into a smaller one that's more suitable for your financial needs. If you have to move back in with your parents, pay them rent, and do what you have to.

After living in that apartment for 3 years, I realized that I needed to start saving for a house. I moved into my Mom's basement apartment for 2 years. I paid her a slightly lesser rent and I didn't have to worry about cable, heat or electricity. From time to time my mother would sneak into my refrigerator and steal my orange juice to make a "night-cap" for herself, but hey... it was a small price to pay.

Since I lived in NYC, I sold my car and went back to taking public transportation. The cost of car insurance in NYC is extremely high. God forbid you get a ticket, that's more money out of your pocket plus registration, gas and maintenance... goodbye. I won't say that it was easy going back to public transportation but I knew what I wanted and looked at it as a temporary situation.

There are other things that I currently do in order to save money. Take a look at the suggestions and videos below. Feel free to share some of your money saving ideas.
  • Unplug electronics that you're not using. Don't just turn the power off. Pull the cord out of the wall.
  • Change your bulbs to energy saving light bulbs. They cost a little more up front but are worth it.
  • If you have subscriptions that's not necessary for business, get rid of it.
  • Instead of getting manicure / pedicure, do it yourself.
  • Before buying another expensive lipstick, look in your stash, you might already own a dupe.
  • Buy a good quality toothbrush, toothpaste and floss. Dental bills are very expensive, avoid them.
  • Have new or gently used electronics / products? Sell them on eBay.
  • Consider temping for a short period of time. Use the extra check to pay down your debt.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Want to fix your credit? Here's the 1st step!

Having bad credit at an early age was both a pain in the butt, yet a blessing in disguise. Once I learned how to climb my way out of the mess I created, I learned invaluable lessons that stood with me. In no way do I claim to be an expert at repairing credit, this is just a very detailed account of the things I did in order to fix my credit and get out of debt.

Get your credit reports from the three credit bureaus, Trans Union, Equifax, and Experian from Also obtain you FICO score, so that you know where you stand. You might have to pay for it, but if you have an American Express card they might offer it to you once a year at no additional charge. Once I saw how much debt I was in, I had to make some lifestyle changes in order to pay down my debt. I'll go through those steps in later posts. Once I had my credit reports in hand, this is what I did.

Write down all of the debt from on each card with the interest rate next to it. Don't get emotional about what you are looking at. In order to get through this, which is very possible, you need to be strategic.

Call each of your debtors and find out if they are willing to negotiate a debt settlement. Let them know that you want to make good on your debt, but you need them to negotiate within your means. The only thing they can do is say "No", but if you are able to come to an agreement, you might be able to save both money and time. *Please note: I do not have any experience with Student Loans. Check out the Student debt repayment assistant at Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. I've never used it, but Suze Orman speaks positively about it and I trust her financial opinion.

Start to pay down on your debt. Rule of thumb: pay down as much as you can afford to the card with the highest interest first while only paying the minimum on your other credit cards. Once the 1st card is payed off, take the money that you were using to pay the 1st card and combine it with the 2nd card. When the 2nd card is paid off, take the money from the 1st and 2nd card and pay off the 3rd card. You see the pattern? As time goes on, your debt will go down and credit will improve.

There are no quick fixes at turning bad credit into good credit. As time goes on you will establish good history. Whatever you do, don't ignore the problem. You're wages can be garnished. Your student loans debtors can take your income tax returns. It's much better to address the issue taking the offensive approach rather than a defensive one. You should also know that you do not have to be harassed. Take a look at the Cease and Desist Letters from

The next blog topic will discuss, how I found the money to pay off the debt.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Getting a contrast MRI

I was praying these XXXL pants
would not fall off
As much as I look forward to my FNC videos, yesterday I had another acronym to contend with... MRI.

I finally decided to take further action in dealing with my fibroids. Not only are they painful, pressing down on my bladder, creating a kangaroo pouch in my lower abdomen, but I'm just so sick and tired of dealing with all the multiple daily issues that come along with having fibroids.

Right now, I'm leaning towards getting a Uterine Fibroid Embolization (UFE). My GYN however suggests that I just get a hysterectomy but I'm not parting ways with my organs so easily. Especially since I'm only 37 with no children.

A UFE is still going to involve having surgery, but it's a far less invasive option. It basically blocks the blood supply to the fibroids, thereby shrinking them (in theory). Before getting a UFE, a MRI scan is required to see the size and placement of the fibroids on my uterus.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Wet n Wild megalast nail polish swatches

I love it whenever I purchased something that works and it's cheap inexpensive. During a trip to Walgreens, I picked up a few Wet n Wild Mega Last nail polishes and I love them.

They feature a flat applicator brush head, making it easier to paint the round edges of your nail. Priced at only $1.99 at my local Walgreens, I had to go back and pick up a few more. They have a creamy look, no shimmer, and an opaque finish. I also purchased a few of their Fast Dry nail colors, and I am not disappointed in my selection at all.

The pictures below include 2 coats of polish, no top coat.

ManiCurve Pro Brush
218A I Need a Refresh Mint

206C Undercover
213C On a Trip

214C I Red a Good Book
217B Disturbia

225C Sage in the City

237C Gray's Anatomy
I took this one without (left) and with (right) a flash because the color is a mixture of grey, green and purple depending on how light hits your nail. Love that.

Monday, July 2, 2012

A Girl Like Me

It's late and I'm searching through the online bookstore at I'm in search of a book with someone I can relate to, someone that I can identify with. I'm not saying she has to be an exact match, but damn... can she have natural hair? Hyperpigmentation issues? At least, let her jeans gapped in the back like mine does.

One of my gripes with books classified under the "African American" genre, is that they are usually told from a narrow perspective. I appreciate a variety books, but I can not say I've been able to identify with many of the characters. Where are the books that tell the story of an American girl, which happens to be Black. As an American woman, with West Indian parents, looked upon as African American, my life is much more complex than the simple characters presented in many of these books.

Where is the girl that must be multiple things to different people on the same day, in one language, but in different dialects depending on her location? Where is the girl that was not taught about credit scores, yet must network with those that were taught to invest at an early age? How does she continue to manage the question, "Where are you from?", when experience tells her most people will either lose interest, assume too much, or looked upon her as a case study.

No one is addicted to or sells drugs in her family. This is not a slave narrative, or a story of colorisim. No street hustlin', no fuckin' random men, nor any rappin' to make it out da hood. She grew up with both of her parents. She is in a loving committed relationship with her husband, that although is not perfect, it's a positive one that requires real damn work that's not for punk-ass people.

Can this girl find her place in the corporate structure? How does a creative person continue to get up every day and puppeteer herself for a check, granting her a life deemed as successful to her parents. This girl works for multi-millionaires on a daily basis and knows how extremely far away from "financially successful" she is. Where does this girl find freedom to be herself? Stability to pay her bills? Time to please her husband? Balance to keep herself happy? Could she be an entrepreneur?

Is this story too boring to be told? It seems like the shelves are filled with all types of stories from other people. Spiritual walks, tales from a shop-a-holic, you name it, people have written about it, but where's the story with a girl like me?

Perhaps, this is the book that I need to write. If you know of a book like this, please let me know.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Taking your Business Beef to the Tweets

Social media networks have changed the way we interact with each other. "The story behind the story" is happening right now on Twitter and many of us don't want to miss out, some might even hope to be a part of the action.

Celebrities are no longer as unattainable as they once were. With the click of a button, you are granted access to follow their promotional / emotional lives. They no longer need to wait on a Publicists to release an official statement when that smart phone is at arm's length. Certainly, they can clear up a situation themselves, right?

As a photographer, I can relate to artists wanting to take control of their business themselves. After all, it was your original idea and without your vision and talent, there would be nothing to fight over. That is the mindset of many artist. Unfortunately, the entertainment business is actually "The Business of Entertainment". Business comes first, then your craft. Fans want to know their celebs on a personal level, but lines can quickly get blurry as Twitter enters the arena.

Some of you might know that I work on the Comms & Marketing team for an Investment Bank. Two components of our team is Events / Hospitality and Public Relations. Before I worked with this team, I didn't have a clear understand of a Hospitality team and importance of clients feeling a sense of familiarity and accessibility with whom they choose to do business. Clients can choose to do business with a multitude of companies but when they feel like they know the firm on a personal level, they are inclined to keep doing business with them. Can you see were I am going with this?

Switch the words "company" with "entertainer", then swap "client" with "fan" and you will understand one of the reasons entertainers might choose to use social media platforms to reach out to their fans. A loyal fan base helps to ensure that you are in business for years to come. But what happens when an artist needs to address a situation that is salacious. Should they patiently wait on the sidelines, spending money for a PR team to react, when they could address it themselves on Twitter at no financial cost. This is when shit has the potential to gets nasty.

Is it good business for celebrities to use social platforms as a vehicle to address their business issues? Here's a thought. Have you ever been done dirty in a business arrangement yet made to look like you were the one being negligent? Have you ever worked with a company that took no responsibility for their wrong doings? Suppose that company was very large and their statements about you influenced public opinion making it difficult for you to continue your craft because your name was ran through the mud.

Think of all the work and years of sacrifice you put in potentially shot to hell. Think of all the things you did for that company and didn't even asked to be paid. Your phone is sitting right there. What would you do?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Why I didn't sleep well last night

All though my house was technically on the MLA listing since Tuesday, the For Sale sign was installed today. I'm nervous. If someone tells me to "Let go & Let God" one more time, I'm going to head butt the shit out of them. I've done the work to get it on the market, but what "work" can I do to settle my emotions? And where am I going to live? I haven't quite worked that out yet. I'm going to miss the peaceful small town of Woodbridge, that's for sure. I was raised in New York, but I've never been a city girl. How does that happen?

Tomorrow I will be in Brooklyn meeting the family of my sister-in-law to be. I'm always a little nervous when it comes to meeting new people. I'm not shy at all, I'm just introverted. Thank God my new sister-in-law is awesome. I'm so blessed in the "in-law" department. I'm kinda hoping to fade into the background at tomorrow's dinner. I'm also praying that no one asks me any questions about my job, my future plans, or what's taking us so long to have kids? Fifteen years together, almost 7 years of marriage, it's a question I've come to expect.

I want to start filming Friday Night Confessionals again, but since those videos are so honestly me, I'm afraid of what's going to come out of my mouth. Plus, I found out that my mother discovered CandidAnn. She literally stood up all night watching every— single—video. She said, I could be like "Opal". It's cute how she never says Oprah's name right. But then she started crying... loudly. It never feels good to be the cause of your mother's tears. She knows how terribly honest those videos are and it affected her overwhelming. It's nice to have a place to share my life lessons and experiences with others. Perhaps someone might relate to me, perhaps I can encourage, but is it worth making your mother cry?

What is my talent? I'm so use to taking action on the skills I've aquired for employment, I'm not sure I know what my God given talent is. Suppose my talent doesn't yield me any money? That's a major problem for me. I remember what it's like being broke, drinking Kool-Aid instead of real juice, and my only "doctor" was the free one at Planned Parenthood on Third Avenue in the Bronx.

What am I going to where at tomorrow's... actually today's dinner? It's exactly 2:58am. If I was a wealthy woman, I'd have a stylist choose all my outfits. I'd choose my own lipstick though. Lipstick is awesome. And no one would eff with my hair. My days of having a hair stylist are over.

I just ran my hand across my stomach. That stupid fibroid is contorting my stomach. I use to have a really flat stomach, and sometimes you would see my abs. Been thinking about that myomectomy... not happy about that.

Hubby will be home soon. I should get some sleep.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dear Ann: Are Microsoft Office Certifications worth it?

The following question was sent to me by one of my YouTube subscribers.

DEAR ANN: Hello. I hope this message finds you well. I really enjoy your videos and look forward to when new ones are posted. I wanted to ask your opinion on something. I was watching your video where you mentioned what you do at your job and have wanted to do that myself. I researched and found that my local community college (I already have Bachelor's degree and am in a dead-end job and do enjoy learning MS Office products). They have certification course for $1,895 and was curious if I should do that, or use and earn my experience that way. I am not wanting this to be the end all be all to my career aspirations, but it will make me more marketable and it will be something I truly enjoy learning.

Thank you for your time in reading this message. I look forward to more videos. Take care.

– A subscriber

DEAR VIEWER: As you might already know, I have spent the last 15 years of my career working for various Investment Banking firms, creating presentations and various marketing materials. I started off with only Word, PowerPoint and Excel under my belt. Today, I have also learned HTML, Adobe Photoshop, Indesign, Illustrator, Dreamweaver and a few other speciality programs. In keeping with the Microsoft package, I have never been asked to supply my Microsoft Certifications to an employer or agency and neither have any of my colleagues. While I'm sure it looks good on my resume, it has never been a pre-requisite for my job.

Microsoft offers a wide array of certifications. Many certifications have different expertise levels, such as professional, expert, master, trainer, etc. I am Microsoft Certified as an expert in Word and Excel. PowerPoint is so straight forward, you are either certified or not, there are no levels. Since my employer flipped the bill for the exams, I took them. Would I recommend anyone paying for Microsoft Office Specialist certifications on their own? Honestly speaking, my answer would be 'No'. If you desire to become a Master Microsoft Trainer, I can see the certifications perhaps holding more weight on your resume but job related experience and great recommendations always trumps over MS certifications from what I have seen.

Most employers will have you create and/or format a document in an allocated amount of time in order to test your knowledge and accuracy. The skills needed for an Investment bank will differ than a law firm. PowerPoint is the easiest to learn of the three programs, Word and Excel are more difficult. Don't be discouraged, it is impossible to know every function in these programs. I've been doing this for years and I still learn a new tricks from time to time. If you are interested in this field, consider starting off as a desktop publisher. You mentioned, which is a wonderful site. Many of my colleagues have learned additional software applications there.

Instead of getting MS Office Certified, I would work on getting a portfolio together. Below are a few basic skills that I highly recommend you become familiar with as they apply to most fields. This is not an all inclusive list, because every job has specific needs.

I hope I was able to answer your question and best of luck.

– CandidAnn

Microsoft Word
• Styles
• Table of contents
• Table of authorities
• Track changes
• Having both landscape & portrait pages within one document
• Table formatting
• Page breaks vs Section Breaks
• Mail merge
• Pagination
• Inserting graphs from Excel
• Headers and Footers
• Bullets and Numbering
• Linking vs Embedding
• Non printing characters

Microsoft Excel
• Creating graphs / Chart wizard
• Setting up a database
• Freeze pane
• Formulas
• Auto filter and pivot tables
• Importing / Exporting data
• Tables
• Formatting / merging cells
• Headers and Footers

Microsoft PowerPoint
• Master slides
• Slide transitions
• Animation
• Importing from Word / Excel
• Drawing toolbar
• Inserting pictures
• Tables
• Align and distribute objects
• Bullets and Numbering

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Heat that's good for your hair

Since I have become natural, one of the things that I am very cautious of is the use of heat on my hair. Used incorrectly, it can permanently alter the texture of my hair which is also known as heat damage. Does that mean that all heat is bad? Definitely not.

Once a week, usually on a Sunday, I wash and deep condition my hair. The difference between "conditioning" and "deep conditioning " is the application of heat. The use of heat while conditioning helps the product to penetrate your hair shaft, creating very soft and well conditioned hair. There are a variety of ways to deep condition your hair, this is my personal favorite.

I have been using the Thermal Spa Electric Heat CapThermal Spa Electric Heat Cap for years. Weather you have relaxed, natural, color treated, straight or curly hair, it's a great way to treat your hair. This is a universal product for anyone interested in maintaining healthy hair.

Unlike a hooded dryer, it is light weight and portable. You can easily take it with you while travelling. I personally do not like sleeping with a plastic cap and product on my hair so I enjoy the fact that I only need to use it for 30 minutes to get results. Compared to other deep treatment hair devices, I find this to be reasonably priced at less than $30.

I can personally vouch for my heating cap, as I have owned it for over 10 years and it's still going strong. Once, I accidentally left mine on while I walked away and the sides of the plastic melted into each other. I immediately repurchased the exact same one. Once I know something works, I tend not to try other brands.

My only negative thing to say is that after ten years of using it, the elastic band that ties at the bottom has worn out, but that's just the nature of elastic. I simply tie the two pieces together in a loose knot and keep it moving. I love it when a product simply works and this one definitely does.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

It's all about "The Presentation"

I think that it might be worth explaining to you guys what it is that I do for a living as it might be mentioned on during Friday Night Confessionals.

For 15 years I have worked at various Investment Banks including: Lehman Brothers, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and my current employer. I know nothing about the business of Investment Banking, as I work in a "back office" (non-client facing) environment. Back office employees can range from the copy center staff to our Legal and Compliance department.

The department I work within is Corporate Communications & Marketing. Here is a very brief run down of what that is comprised of:
Internal Communications – communication to be distributed within the firm.
Public Relations – media and press issues related to the bank.
Marketing – assists in branding trade show booths, giveaways, events, etc.
Events and Hospitality – organizes client events on behalf of the bank
• Creative Services – This is where I earn my keep

Myself and two other persons on the creative team, work with all of the aforementioned team members, front and back office staff to assist with the following:
• pitch books & presentations. I am a Microsoft certified expert in Word, PowerPoint and Excel
• posters
• html based invitations
• brochures
• collateral and credentials
• designing giveaways (t-shirts, towels, etc.)
• advertisements

The importance of any design team is that everything to be presented, via any consumable must
1) look professional and 2) maintain the firm's brand identity.

Every company has a specific look and feel. For instance, Playboy uses a playful bunny on their models while in King Magazine you will see someone's badonkadonk scattered every where. Both are are men's magazine that use sex to sell, but they use a different approach.

In our banking environment, branding is stripped of polar emotions and is focused on color and design elements. The team members in Internal Comms, PR, Events, etc all create content, but the design team is responsible for making it palatable for a targeted audience.

The important thing you should know about branding is that EVERYONE is a brand, not just (in)famous celebrities, but YOU! When you walk into an office, everything from your hairstyle, clothing, choice of shoes & purse conveys something about your personalty to your co-workers and to your boss. What do you think you are saying to them?

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

No fear, Inspiration, and a good book

It seems like whenever I sit down to write these blogs, way too much is floating around in my head lately.

I intended to write a blog about SOME of the reason why I decided to sell my house, but that would be way too long so I made this video instead.

This is right after work, no makeup, just me and my thoughts. I have disabled the rating and comments. Please feel free to tweet me or leave a comment here on the blog. Straight from my heart to you...

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

6 Tips to Photographing Jewelry

Are you thinking about starting a homemade jewelry business? If so, here are a few things to consider when photographing jewelry.

1) Diffused Lighting
Jewelry is highly reflexive so it's a good idea to stay out of the direct sunlight. Avoid blown out highlights by using diffused lighting or natural soft light from a window.

2) High Aperture
Customers want to see as much of the jewelry as possible. Use the highest f-stop possible in order to have sharp focus edge-to-edge. We're aiming for a wide depth of field so think high (big numbers) apertures.

3) Tripod
You might find that using a high aperture / f-stop forces the camera into a slower shutter speed. With slow shutter speeds, the camera is susceptible to camera shake from your body. Since jewelry is an inanimate object, you can set everything up with the help of a tripod to make sure neither the object nor the camera moves.

4) Get Close
If you have a macro lens or even a macro function on your camera, this is a perfect time to use it. Get as close as possible to fill the frame. Crop out the extra background to keep the focus on the jewelry.

5) Use Plain & Clean Background
Remember, plain does not mean white. If you have a bold website, don't be afraid of using a blue or red background. The background should compliment the look and feel of your website. The focus should be on the jewelry so make sure there's nothing in the background that shouldn't be there.

6) If you are not happy with it, don't use it
Photographing jewelry is not easy; it's small, highly reflexive, and awkwardly shaped. Take your time. I would recommend setting up a temporary space that you can go back to until you are completely satisfied with how each piece looks on your site.

Best of Luck and Happy Shooting!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Free simple budget, with an Excel download

Do you have a hard time saving money because you have juuuust enough to only pay your bills?

Saving money should not be a choice between paying a bill or saving for an emergency. If you've ever had an unexpected emergency without any reserved funds to pay for it, this post might be able to help better prepare you financially. A pivotal moment for me came when I was about 19 years old. I had a horrible toothache that began to abscess. The pain was excruciating. I desperately needed medical attention. I could not afford to pay the dentist to fix the tooth, so I lost a tooth that could have been saved, due to lack of funds. This is when I realize the importance of having an emergency fund. My parents did not prepare me to understand personal finance, so I had to learn about it for myself the hard way... through trial and error.

Nothing in life is guaranteed for any of us. Neither our health, our career path, nor our plans for the future are guaranteed. Having a savings plan does not guarantee that you will always be financially secure but it can make a huge difference when "life" unexpectedly happens.

I am not a financial advisor. I am simply a real person that had very little knowledge about finances and how credit works, to a bit more knowledgeable, thereby more financially stable than I was in the past. I am always up for learning new things, especially if it helps my family and I during difficult times.

Below is a free Excel spreadsheet to get yourself started, please feel free to customize it to your liking. I tried to make it very simple, however you will need a few basic MS Excel skills to work with it. Please feel free to make the spreadsheet your own. Build on it. Run with it. Share it.

Please note, if you are at work, you might not be able to see the spreadsheet object below.

Simple Budget Spreadsheet -

Monday, March 5, 2012

Why coconut oil is a conditioner / sealant, not a moisturizer

Speaking with a friend on Skype, I was made known about a Black model named Wanakee Pugh. She has extremely long healthy relaxed hair. That was the spark that ignited my interest for information on how I could grow my own hair. Unfortunately, I came across lots of conflicting information on the web. No surprise there because let's face it, anyone can post anything on the web. Be that as it may, I was still in search for strictly the facts.

After getting my mind wrapped around the idea that water is good for my hair, I needed to find a way to seal that moisture into my hair shaft. I've tried a few options, some I still use, others I didn't really like, however when it came to the matter of coconut oil, there was lots of conflicting information that I came across. Some people believe that it's a moisturizer, others disagree. I just wanted the facts, so I took to Science and here's what I found.

Hair is comprised of different bonds. For simplicity sake, I will only discuss the Keratin Protein Bonds and Hydrogen Bonds as it is applicable.

Water (H20), has an affinity to the hydrogen bonds found in our hair. The hydrogen in water temporarily breaks the hydrogen bonds in hair making it elastic whenever water is applied. This makes sense as water contains 2 hydrogen molecules.

Coconut oil is high in fatty acids. These fatty acids have an affinity to the amino acids (protein) in our hair.

Subsequently, coconut oil and water respond differently within the hair shaft. Since coconut oil has the ability to penetrate the hair shaft, don't get confused with the idea that it is moisturizing your hair.

It's is true that coconut oil has the ability to condition your hair since its molecules are small enough to penetrate into your hair. When coconut oil has reached its capacity, meaning no more molecules are able to fit within the hair shaft, any remaining oil will sit outside the hair shaft thereby acting as a sealant.

You may have heard of the term "protein sensitive". When coconut oil is added to the hair of someone that is protein sensitive, the hair shaft becomes stiff and feels like hay. Why doesn't this occur when water is added to the same head of hair? It’s because different molecular reactions are taking place within the hair shaft. This makes sense because water and oil do not mix so I can't imagine them performing the same tasks within our hair shaft.

Water is the only moisturizer for hair. Commercial hair products that claim to be "moisturizing" can be deceptive. Only hair products that contain water as a main ingredient are moisturizing your hair. Some commercial products get around this by acting as a sealant to wet hair, thereby holding the water into the hair shaft, yet still marketing the "moisturizing" label. This can be misleading because without the hair being previously wet, the product is unable to seal in water that is not present.

Clever marketing can be very confusing if you don't understand how the ingredients function. This is the reason why I took it upon myself to find out the difference between H2O vs. Coconut oil as moisturizing agents. When you understand how these ingredients work, you can then apply them appropriately, aiding in a healthy hair journey.

I hope this helps clears up any confusion about water vs. coconut oil as a moisturizer.
The information presented in this post has been derived from my personal research and study. I read every single word of the books and/or journals listed below. Please feel free to do your own scientific based research.

— The Science of Black Hair by Audrey Davis-Sivasothy
— The Journal of Cosmetic Science, Effect of mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil on prevention of hair damage, Rele, Aartis and R.B. Mohile
— The influence of humidity on the viscoelastic behaviour of human hair, P. Zuidema, L.E. Govaert, F.P.T. Baaijens, P.A.J. Ackermans, and S. Asvadi 


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