Travel Diary: 24 Hours in Washington, DC

I really can't believe it's December! 2016 literally flew by, it's crazy. Last year I had travel on my 2016 list of goals and I've been super blessed to travel tons this year. I've been to New Orleans, LA, Budapest, Nassau, Chicago, Nashville, and so many other amazing places. It's so amazing when you get to do exactly what you love for a living. Well, a little over a month ago I traveled to Washington, DC. My best friend hit me up and told me he was speaking at the White House and he wanted little ole me to be his plus one. I mean so you know what I did right? Flights were crazy expensive so I booked a Mega Bus ticket and took my talents to D.C. for 24 hours. 

Trell and I were able to get soooo much in during our 24-hour stay. After getting in late and crashing. Our first stop, The National Museum of African American History and Culture. We all know how hard it has been to get tickets for this amazing museum but we did it. And let me tell you guys, it's AH-MAZING! I went in proud to be a black woman and I left even prouder. Everyone should experience this museum. 

IMG_4108.JPG
IMG_4130.JPG

It was so much to see, so much we didn't see. We must go back. This museum filled with so wisdom, knowledge, and culture. It's one of my favorite places and I can't wait to share this experience with my family and more friends. I will go as many times as I can that's how awesome it is. 

Of course, we worked up an appetite and headed to go grab some food from Georgia Brown's. THIS PLACE, OMG. Trell talked it up and I promise it was all that and more. The food was ummm ummm good! We ordered like everything, that's how hungry we were, lol. 

IMG_4081.JPG

Next up, Michelle and Barack's house. I was so excited because this was on Trell's list of goals and GOD made it happen. We were going to be inside the White House, not for a regular tour visit but for an event and Trell was actually on the panel. How cool is that? My best friend is one super cool guy. Love him to death. 

FullSizeRender (22).jpg

After tons of walking and security, we were finally inside! 

IMG_4180.JPG

Trell was on an amazing panel with some awesome men and one hardworking woman. I've been following Nadia Lopez ever since one of her students was featured on Human's of New York so it was great to get her perspective on certain topics. The panel had an amazing discussion on STEM, STEAM, & Entrepreneurship and I think the young men in the audience and the three young men on the previous panel learned so much from this group of intelligent individuals. I was so glad I was able to support my best friend and cheer him on. 

From Camden, SC to the White House! 

IMG_4211.JPG

We really didn't have time to do much else because I had a bus to catch 11pm that night. This trip was so inspiring and uplifting. It was exactly what I needed during that time. 

Share some of your favorite spots in Washington, DC below. Have you ever been to the White House? Is the National National Museum of African American History and Culture on your list of things to do? 

XOXO,

Melissa Chanel

Own Your Style with Publix Stocking Stuffers

Sponsored post by Mirum Shopper. All opinions are my own. 

With the holiday's pretty much HERE it's time to own your look. We often stop in the grocery store just to shop for food or grab a few items to hold us over for the evening. Well, it's time to stroll over to the beauty & personal care aisle. This season take your holiday style to the next level by grabbing a few items from Dove, Vaseline, Axe, and tons more. I decided to change it up a bit and create a few personal care items that are perfect for stuffing your stockings at home. We can never have enough deodorant, soap, oils, etc. So why not add them into your holiday shopping and guess what? They're so easy to pick up and grab during your regular shopping trips to Publix. 

Publix Holiday Stocking Stuffers.jpg

Check out the amazing items I listed in my stocking stuffer gift guide below.

  1. Suave 24- Hour Protection Powder Invisible Solid Deodorant 
  2. Dove Dry Oil Beauty Bars
  3. Dove Men + Care Extra Fresh Deodorant Stick
  4. AXE Pheonix Antiperspirant Stick
  5. AXE Black Body Wash

Oh, guess what ya'll? Publix has this new Publix Own Your Look Rewards program. Head over now and sign up at https://www.ownyourrewards.com/. This makes it easier to shop and I mean who doesn't love a great deal and/or rewards. Right now, if you were to buy $30 worth of the participating products I discussed plus several others you'll get a $10 Publix gift card by mail. Any savings is always great savings in my book. 

What products will you be adding to your stocking stuffer list? 

XOXO,

Melissa Chanel

3 Reasons Why You Should Deep Condition

IMG_7651.JPG

Hey ya'll! I hope everyone is preparing for an amazing weekend. I'm currently deep conditioning and reading. Starting my Friday off right by getting my hair together before my normal Sunday wash day. I feel accomplished already! As we all know fall is pretty much here to stay now and as the temperature drops our hair care regimens may change a bit. Well, deep conditioning should always be in that regimen, more often for me because I have color treated hair. Are you keeping your strands strong by deep conditioning? If not, here are three reasons why you should. 

Nourishment

My motto is "good hair is healthy hair" and that should be yours too. Deep conditioning your hair infuses your strands with all the amazing nutrients it needs to stay healthy. Just like you have to eat to keep yourself nourished, your hair needs food too! You're basically putting all the protein that you loose due to normal wear and tear back into your hair. Yes, in order for your hair to grow and be healthy you have to drink water and have a healthy diet, but deep conditioning is also a great way to feed those strands. 

Repairs

Are you thinking about color? Or maybe you're a straight natural and flat iron your hair a lot. Well, deep conditioning helps repair your hair from all the styling, color, or straightening we may do to it on a daily/weekly basis. It helps by shielding the hair from the damage you've already caused to it. Again, it's all about restoring the hair with the nutrients and moisture it needs. If you rock color like me, our hair tends to dry out quicker because of the chemicals. MOISTURE, MOISTURE, MOISTURE...we need as much as we can get! 

Soft & Shine

We all love soft and shiny hair right?! We must make sure we're locking in the moisture by actually putting moisture into our hair. When you deep condition your hair will become more soft and shiny because you're moisturizing those strands. Adding a deep conditioning treatment to your regular regimen will bring your hair back to life. No more brittle, dry stands. Stay it with me, "Yes to deep conditioning!" 

IMG_7664.JPG

So dig deep under your sink or head out to your local Target and grab some deep conditioner for your hair. Of course, I couldn't end this post without sharing my favorite deep conditioner/masque. I deep condition twice a month and I keep a jar of Cantu's Deep Treatment Masque under my on deck. This masque leaves my hair moisturized, soft, and it smells amazing. It's my current go-to when it's time to give myself a deep condition. 

IMG_7660.JPG

P.S.- If you have a free day leave your deep conditioner on for about 40 mins. I enjoy diving into a good book while I wait, it's so relaxing. Right now I'm reading Leave Your Mark by Aliza Licht! 

How often do you deep condition? 

XOXO,

Melissa Chanel

 

 

Travel Diary & More: Dallas, TX

Hey y'all! I know it's been a minute but your girl has been doing the most! As many of you know I'm now Cantu's National Ambassador and with that comes tons of travel educating consumers about the brand and teaching along the way. This past weekend my girl Maria Antoinette ( Cantu's Global Hairstylist) and I took our talents to Dallas, TX!

IMG_3846.JPG

We kicked off our trip with a fun day at the Texas State Fair. Let me just say, everything really is bigger in Texas! 

IMG_3826.JPG
FullSizeRender.jpg

We were in town for not one but TWO events. The first one was the Sally Beauty Executive Influencer Summit. We had our Cantu booth set and couldn't wait to meet all the district managers, store managers, influencers and more. We played some really fun games and let me tell you Sally Beauty knows their stuff when it comes to Cantu! Everyone went away with a prize. We really enjoyed their feedback and learning what the consumers look for when coming into the stores! Fun times, like always.

IMG_3872.JPG
IMG_3867.JPG

They even held a brunch on Sunday and brought everyone together! I mean executives, influencers, brands...you name it. The brunch panel was more than amazing. I learned so much and literally took notes. Maria and I even shared our very own beauty obsessions. And wait, did someone say shopping?! If you follow me on Snapchat (MelissaChanel1) you saw that the Sally team took care of us. We shopped until we dropped and ended up shipping a box of goodies home. So look for the unboxing in a future post.

IMG_3906.JPG

Whew. Next up, Bella Kinks! Yes, we were in town for not one, but two events! If you missed the Bella Kinks DFW Natural Hair Expo, then you missed out on a treat. From the dinner, to the bloggers lounge, the panels, and the shopping...O.M.G! Friday night we attended the welcome Royalty dinner where we danced, ate, and chatted with other bloggers and beauty business owners. Maria even tied our Gele's so we'd be in theme. My feet still hurt from dancing.

IMG_3861.JPG
IMG_3858.JPG
IMG_3864.JPG

Saturday came and it was time for the blogger lounge. This was where we got to hang out and network with other fellow bloggers! Listen ladies, we're stronger together never forget that. It's always great to throw ideas off of other blogger friends and even partner with them for fun giveaways, events, and more. It was great to meet new bloggers, give advice, get advice, and catch up with my blogger boo's I hadn't seen in a while. We danced and danced and snapped pictures and danced some more, lol. Great times and tons of laughs.

IMG_3893.JPG
IMG_3903.JPG
IMG_3900.JPG
IMG_3902.JPEG
IMG_4067.JPG
IMG_3899.JPG
IMG_4058.JPG

Gosh we're at Sunday already huh?! This weekend flew by. Busy, but lots of fun. Maria and I left the Sally brunch relaxed for a few and it was time to head over to the expo for our workshop. Yes, we had our very own Cracking The Curly Code Workshop where we discussed and educated our audience on the Cantu brand, how to use different products, detangling, washing vs cowashing, I mean you name it, we discussed it. We're still getting messages on social media thanking us. It's always great when we can help someone else who may not know exactly how to use certain products or are looking for new hair care regimens!

IMG_4062.JPG
IMG_4061.JPG
IMG_4059.JPG

Exploring Dallas was on our list so we decided to stay until Monday evening. We caught up with our girl Sumetra (Dallas Native) for lunch and she took us to some fun spots for photos.

IMG_3946.JPG
IMG_3949.JPG
IMG_3948.JPG
IMG_3986.JPG
IMG_4001.JPG

I know, I know. That was a lot right? But I wouldn't have it any other way. I really enjoy helping other woman in any way that I can and it makes me even happier that I get to do it for a living.

IMG_3924.JPG

 P.S. - Sending a huge S/o to Mazda and Drive Shop for hooking us up with the CX5! This car was a lifesaver as we drove from one end of Dallas to the next. The ride, the gas, and the navagation got us through the weekend! 

Until next time, 

IMG_3965.JPG

XOXO,

Melissa Chanel

Am I Crazy

IMG_3564.JPG

I know I've asked myself this question a time or two before. Am I mentally okay? This is a illness that isn't talked about much in the African American community. We often laugh it off or quickly change the subject when friends or family are talking about mental health issues and it's not okay. 

It's not okay because so many of our friends and/or family members may have serious mental issues that they're going through on a daily basis. They may need someone to talk to and need to feel comfortable coming to family and or friends for help. I remember just last week reading rapper Kid Cudi's Facebook message to his fans. He wrote about his depression and suicidal thoughts, but he used the word ashamed. Why? Why must one be ashamed to say they're getting help? Getting help is a good thing. Recognizing this is a problem you can't fix is a good thing. If you're reading this, NEVER be ashamed of getting help! I've never had a mental health problem, but I've grown up with people who have. I never thought to treat them different. I was happy that they were feeling better and made sure to tell them if they ever needed me I was only one call away. 

This does not need to be a secret. If someone came to you and told you they needed help would you know what to do? If not, I have some answers. 

I was able to meet up with Alicia Cobb, a local Charlotte Therapist last week to ask her a few questions. Let's jump right into it.

IMG_4086-2.jpg

Please tell my readers a little bit about yourself and background.

I recently relocated here from Los Angeles but grew up a military brat. Half of my childhood was spent on military bases and the other half in a small town in Tennessee with my grandmother. Fortunately for a very long time, I was sheltered from race because in the Army, your rank is what identifies you. For as long as I can remember however mental health was all around me in various settings. I aspired initially to be a nurse while attending Virginia Commonwealth University but it wasn’t until I started shadowing a Social Worker working at VCU Medical Center, that I totally changed gears and gravitated to human services. I discovered a profession where I could be a resource to people with long-term goals of some how helping my family as well. Howard University provided by Master of Social Work with a bonus prize of my first trip out of the United States to Haiti- where I learned a valuable lesson in the power of resilience. A large portion of my learning ground in therapy was split between working in New York, DC, Los Angeles and South Africa. A part of me wanted to be exposed to the largest cities with a fast paced environment to really get my feet wet. I am also a young adult fascinated with the idea of dream chasing. Currently, I reside in Charlotte and train clinicians in family therapy, teach part time in the School of Social Work at Simmons College and developing my private practice—Building Endurance.

What are a few ways we can do better in the African American community to help start the conversation and not feel ashamed?

Honestly, the best way to start the conversation without shaming and blaming each other, is to normalize mental health. One of my life goals is to decrease the stigma—it is okay for someone to be diagnosed with cancer, they usually elicit sympathy but for someone to develop voices or contract HIV unknowingly—they are viewed as the black sheep. Educating ourselves is also helpful in improving awareness amongst the African American community. Many mental health issues have a genetic component that people are totally unaware of, for example alcoholism and Schizophrenia. There is research that both can be identified in generational patterns within families. The third and most far-fetched idea is to just treat everyone with a healthy dose of empathy and respect. As we encounter each other, we have no idea what they are going through and I think it is more comfortable and easy for us to gossip or make fun of that person instead of showing some compassion and vulnerability by doing a basic check-in with them.

How does one know when they need help? 

We always have to be in tune with ourselves. I joke with my sorority sisters and friends constantly about the power in taking yourself out on a date and knowing your own likes and dislikes. There is so much to be gleaned in spending time alone and doing things in a mindful way. Identifying what foods agree or disagree with you, how your body responds with a certain level of activeness, learning what things create a sense of calmness and what stimulates you. You will be more aware of when you need help when things feel off. Some red flags to look out for include a change in routine, restlessness, sleeping too much or too little, a change in appetite, feeling anxious without being provoked, excessive thoughts of hurting yourself, unexplained tearfulness and a host of others. Now, in life, things happen and we have an adjustment period whether that is a move, beginning or ending of a relationship, the loss of someone etc. The importance of knowing when you need help is also knowing what you are like on your best days or your baseline of functioning.

How can friends/family help those that come to them asking for help? 

One of the greatest things a friend or family member can do when someone is asking for help is to listen. Hear the person out, keep an eye out for any talks about harming themselves or harming others because that may call for some reinforcement. Listening to the friend without judging or offering advice or ultimatums can go a long way. Another thing to do is ask what the friend needs. They usually can articulate whether they want you to help them make a decision or spend time with them or whatever other ways they like to be supported. If though, at anytime you feel the person is in danger or you feel you cannot manage the crises—definitely reach out to a mental health provider or emergency crises responder. Most cities provide a mental health service called Crises Mobile or Mobile Crises where a team addresses mental health concerns and if not 911 is a great option.

How do you treat someone that's having a breakdown right in front of you? 

First, remain calm. They are already agitated or panicking and it is not helpful to escalate with them. Secondly, grab a glass of water or Kleenex depending on what their breakdown looks like. It is also helpful to try to do some deep breathing techniques just to help them calm down. If you do not know any, speak slowly to them, remind them that you are there to comfort them, that they are in a safe space. You may even be able to ask if they can describe what they need to help calm them down. You do not want to make any sudden moves or agitate them further—you want to aim at deescalating them, or getting them back to a state of calmness to identify what is going on. Lastly, if it is an emergency that you cannot manage, try to alert someone to assist whether it is a medical or mental health professional.

 What is your website or phone number for those that may need your help? 

My website is www.buildingendurance.com and number is (980) 288-5486. I also offer training on de-escalation, the signs of vicarious trauma for helping professionals, and the importance of self-care.

Why do you think African Americans in particular, don't really deal with mental health as a serious issue?

I think it is easier to pretend something does not exist than it is to address what is occurring. As humans, we want things to be as close to if not perfect, and we are concerned with how other people view us. As powerful as social media is in our lives currently, it can also be detrimental to people who constantly compare where they are in life to where other people are or to where they hope to be. I believe that if we embraced the idea that we all go through things and are all a product of our experiences, we really could create a safer community for each other to lean on. 

Have you dealt with mental health issues or know of someone that needs help? Speak up. Don't be afraid or ashamed of what you or someone close to you is going through. 

XOXO,

Melissa Chanel