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Ovarian Cancer Research Fund – Support This Weekend

In Family, For the Stilletos, Jewelry on July 27, 2012 at 7:00 AM

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among American women.  American Cancer Society estimates 22,280 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States in 2012 and about 15,500 women will die from the disease.

When ovarian cancer is detected and treated early, there is a 92%+ five year survival rate.  Unfortunately, many patients aren’t diagnosed until they’ve reached an advanced stage dropping their five year survival rate to less than 50%.

The good news is, with ongoing research, 50% of women are surviving longer than five years after diagnosis which is a vast improvement from 30 years ago when the survival rate was 10% to 20%.

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund supports research:
• to find better tests that can diagnose ovarian cancer earlier and more precisely,
• to understand what causes ovarian cancer, and
• to develop improved treatments.

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT THIS WEEKEND with a purchase from Stella & Dot

http://www.stelladot.com/ts/fpth5

All proceeds from the “tribute bracelet” purchased July 27th – July 29th will directly benefit OCRF.  This is a beautiful bracelet for a beautiful and worthy cause.  Show your love this month by supporting a worthy cause!  Let’s help fight this disease one beautiful bracelet to one beautiful woman at a time!

Generous and Gorgeous!  That’s What’s Up!

Great Steak

In For the Stilletos, For the Ties, Restaurants on July 27, 2012 at 5:59 AM

(This is a little back dated but it’s been on our minds since we went to the restaurant so it’s worth posting and sharing another great find in Atlanta)

On June 26, 2012, we celebrated our lucky in love 13th anniversary.  Yep, THIRTEEN YEARS!!!  That is just in marriage.  The great thing about our anniversary is that it also coincides with the time we went on our first date which would be 22 years ago! Not bad for a couple of kids who were blessed and fortunate enough to find each other in high school and create a friendship that we never even knew would go so deep.

In our usual celebration style, we went to a restaurant, particularly a steak house.  Wow!  We thought we had tasted some of the best steaks in the nation already until we took a trip to the Old Fourth Ward in Atlanta and sat down at Kevin Rathbun’s Steak restaurant.  This was some of the best dry-aged steak ever.  It was the most flavorful, tender steak you could sink your teeth into.  Before we indulged in this great feast, we first started with the lobster fritters and baked escargot.  Can you say YUM?!

The atmosphere was perfect.  It wasn’t too stuffy where you felt out of place even in nice jeans.  The decor is modern but down to earth fitting right into the niche neighborhood of the revamped Fourth Ward district.  And, just as charming and humble and inviting as the restaurant, Kevin Rathbun himself is just as normal and present in his restaurant just as if he was any other great chef.  You can easily find him walking around, cooking and just doing what he does best.  Iron Chef hasn’t gone to his head which makes you want to go dine with him even more.

If there was one critique, and this really is only one, desserts are not his specialty.  Now, mind you, we are not chocoholics so we really can’t attest to the specialty dessert that is filled and covered in chocolate.  So maybe that is delish.  However, the creme brûlée and bread pudding were good but nothing to really brag about.  That’s okay because everything else was absolutely perfect.

So, if you’re looking for a nice anniversary spot or just your next date night or even just a spot to have some great food in a great environment, we highly recommend Kevin Rathbun Steak.  Enjoy!

Great Steak! Great Love! That’s What’s Up!

For the Love of a Challenge!

In Family, For the Stilletos, For the Ties on June 4, 2012 at 3:25 PM

Here’s our challenge for June.  For the love of a challenge.  For the love of fitness.  For the love of YOU!

Every year, my company has a challenge to get everyone geared up for summer or maybe even to get you back on the wagon from that new year’s resolution you made a while ago to get back into shape.  Well, we’re sharing the challenge with you.

For the entire month of June, complete the Ironman.  Now, for those who want an extra challenge, time yourself for each leg of exercise you do daily.  For others (like us), just complete the challenge.  If you’re really up for a challenge, see how many ironman’s you can complete in the month.

Here are the details for completing the ironman

Run 26.2 miles

Swim 2.4 miles

Bike 112 miles

You can do it in any order and you can start and stop during the entire month.  Just keep track of how much you’ve completed so that you can pick up where you left off.  Again, if you really want to push yourself, also keep track of your time.

For some great tips and nutrition guidelines for completing the ironman (remember, we’re doing it over the course of a month), please visit their website.

Now ladies, particularly some of my soul sistahs, I know you’re probably thinking.  Girrrrrrl….I was with you until you said to swim.  My hair! Oh, my hair!  The running and biking is already going to sweat it out but dang, swim too?  So, here’s a tip.  Swim last!  Complete the biking and running first.  Then, swim the last week.  Or, try to swim the 2.4 in one day.  It’s the least of distances, so push yourself.  You can do it.  I wish I could recommend the best swim cap to completely keep your hair water free but I’m still waiting and looking for that one.  To be fair, I am completely natural so all I can do is recommend some good hair products.  I personally love Elucence  or you can also purchase at curlmart.  The entire line is great.  From the clarifying, to the shampoo to the conditioner.  And, because of the swimming, the clarifying is good to use.   Anyway, If I need to straighten, I blow dry with an ion brush and an ionic blow dryer with Paul Mitchell’s smoothing super skinny serum.  I then flat iron with a flat iron that got me in the mall.  While I usually don’t go for these kiosks, I must say, I don’t regret this purchase at all.  It’s the Bellezza flat iron and I’m all about it!    It really is one of the best purchases I’ve ever made.  You can also always two strand twist, put a little moose or gel in to make it curly if your hair does that, or braid it up, weave it up, whatever.  Whatever will make it easy for you to complete the 2.4 miles by the end of June!

Now, let’s get to work people.  We’re already 4 days in so my apologies with the late notice.  But, we can do this.  Ironman (Iron-woman) here we come!!!!

Ironman.  One month.  That’s What’s Up!

Redefining Successful Women

In For the Stilletos, Relationships on March 16, 2012 at 12:15 PM

I’m going to stay on this topic of common bonds and connections and take us to our next topic.  I recently attended a session, a powerful session that discussed this very same issue.  As part of Women’s International Day, my workplace brought in Sophia Nelson, author of the book, Black Woman Redefined.  Although this is the topic of her book, the discussion was not just about black women but all women and how we all need to define or redefine ourselves within various aspects of life.  Of course, I completely agree with this platform for similar reasons that she mentioned in her talk.  Namely, we, as women cannot move forward if we are continuously being defined by the likes of “Real Housewives” or “Basketball Wives”.  (I’ll save that discussion for another day, as there is definitely a hot issue that surrounds the “media women” of today).  Considering that we were in a corporate environment, however, the discussion centered on redefining yourself in the workplace.  Although women in this country are over 50% of the population, make up more than 57% of the professional work force and earn over 52% of professional degrees, their positions within the workplace are grossly disparate with respect to such statistics.  And for women of color, the statistics are even more staggering.

While women are recruited for their talent, educational accomplishments and overall prowess, their development, pay and overall treatment in corporate America often leaves them plagued with frustration.  Even in 2012, women are still not matched dollar for dollar on the payroll and the average female worker loses approximately $434,000 in wages over a 40-year period as a direct result of pay inequities See, Arons, Jessica, “Lifetime Losses: The Career Wage Gap”, Center for American Progress, December 2008.

Retention is one of the biggest issues for women and even more so for women of color, Nelson reported.  For many of you, like myself, who have witnessed the inner walls of the Fortune 500 companies, these statements are no surprise.  We see us at the entry-level positions.  We may even see us in upper management and executive ranks (that we had to claw and work thrice as hard to obtain).  But, honestly, when you think about the numbers (over 50%) and then you look at the Executives and the Board of Directors for these companies, the numbers are not equally reflective.  Why is that?

Oh there are so many reasons and I’m sure I’ll follow this article up with several discussions to address the “whys” of corporate America, but for now, let’s just focus on this idea of common bonds and connections.  As a woman, particularly a woman of color, specifically a woman of color who is a patent lawyer (yes, the statistics just narrowed to less than 2%), walking into a room full of white men is nothing new.  From the legal side, women account for about 33% of the legal field and from the science side, women are less than 12% of scientists and engineers.  (Again, for women of color, these numbers decrease significantly).  Despite these daunting statistics that I carry on my back daily, I have to say that I have had some pretty pleasant experiences when I enter a room of predominantly white, male scientist who are basically my clients within the company.  (Considering that my name is “Kenya”, it should be no surprise when I enter a room as a black woman giving a face to the voice of reason that has been helping them to move their business forward over the phone).  Finding a common bond here is usually relatively easy since first, there is a more collaborative dynamic as service to client and second, not too many people share a fascination with polymer chemistry.  But what happens when I enter a room filled with colleagues or leaders who have a direct impact and influence on my career and, better yet, have nothing in common with any aspect of me except that we work at the same company?  There is no client-service relationship.  Instead, a hierarchical relationship may exist.  So now what?

As I stated in a previous article, we have more in common than not.  I truly believe that and approach everyone with this mantra.  I challenge myself constantly to find a person with whom I cannot find a common bond.  I challenge you to do the same.  It may appear impossible or you may think, “Kenya, you’re taking this ‘Love Revolution’ too far now”.  But, honestly, I try not to meet a stranger.  I learned this from watching my oldest daughter interact with people who she meets.  Certainly she’s a little shyer in her younger years but it doesn’t take but a few minutes to begin talking to someone as if she’s met them before.  There’s something to be said about that kind of confidence.  I also believe EVERYONE is essentially human.  They put their pants on one pant leg at a time.  Maybe they jump into them but the end result is the same.  While a level of respect is given should I meet my company’s CEO or other executive officer, I don’t, however, feel that respect equates to a level of fear.  True.  Some people in “ranks” are simply unapproachable and operate from atop a mound that looks down upon their underlings.  Although I find this military style of power to be dwindling as companies are becoming more successful under the younger, more approachable CEOs like Tony Hsieh of Zappos or Larry Page of Google, certainly there are still a few leaders left from the generation of yesteryear.  They operate based on fear and that style tends to trickle down as the model for management.  Fear in this regard is just a manifestation of differences.  Remember what I said previously about differences?  Common bonds are more powerful.  So, if you find yourself amongst those who are just so different and seem so unapproachable because you don’t see commonality, shake their hand, smile, make a connection that way and anyway.  Break that barrier!  If you don’t get a chance to talk and determine what you have in common, you’d be surprise how far a smile will take you.  Not returning the grimace or not adding to the fear and the manifestation of differences will help you focus on the work at hand and the issue that brought you into the same room.  Again, don’t dwell on the differences.  So what, you’re the only woman in the room.  Move and work towards what has brought you to that room.  If you operate on fear, it will undermine your value and ultimately undermine your presence.  Don’t undermine your presence.  You are there for a reason.  Show it.

Additionally, as part of her talk, Nelson focused on the things women can do to change the game of women in the workforce and shift the present paradigm:

Find a sponsor. This is distinct from a mentor.  This is your connector.  This is the person who helps to build the relationships that will be crucial to the success and advancement of your career.  They are the ones that can help make the connections that will break those awkward or fearful introductions.  A sponsor will boast of your talents and put you in front of the people who can help your success.

Find a mentor.  This is different than a sponsor.  A mentor is the traditional guide and advisor of your career.  This is a person with whom you will have more interactions in comparison to your sponsor.  You will have a closer relationship with your mentor and this person will be more of a role model with whom you can bounce ideas off of.

Know your value.  Live by your ethical standards and integrity.  Understand what it is you do well, what matters most to you, and what enables you to thrive and be fulfilled without compromising those standards and integrity.  I can only hope that those days of Mad Men for women in the workplace are over.  You know what I’m talking about!

Live the 3 “S’s”. Savvy. Style. Substance. These are three things that make up who we are as individuals.  Understand what your unique business style is, how to incorporate it into the working world, and use it to build meaningful relationships with power players so that you can stand out.

Define.  Redefine. Connect.  Succeed.  That’s What’s Up!

I Have To Say It……………….

In For the Stilletos, Just Thoughts on March 12, 2012 at 12:01 AM

I have to say this.  I’ve shared my comments in response to articles I’ve read on line.  And, I’ve chimed in to a friend or two’s Facebook status regarding the topic.  So, I might as well bring it to my own forum.  I try not to get too political on our blog but I think the straw that broke the camel’s back is now beginning to kill the camel.

Let me just say for background: although I’m a born and raised Christian, this has never stopped my respect or acceptance for the existence of other religions.  Some members of my family and some of my closest friends are Muslim.  Some of my closest friends are Jewish.  I have a few friends that follow the faith of Buddha and some who just believe in the power of the Universe.  And, our wedding was a Catholic ceremony with our reception at the hall of a Jewish temple with a Muslim photographer.  (Not sure how we pulled that off, but we did it).  Honestly, although I follow one faith, I really don’t see a difference in the underlying message of all faiths: Love, Respect, Human Kindness and Decency.

With that being said, I’m not really sure how we reached this so called religion of rights.  Again, I’m a Christian.  Specifically, I am Catholic, and a woman, and like 98% of other catholic women, I use birth control.  It doesn’t matter why, how or when I use it either.  It makes me no less Catholic or no less Christian.  And, my religion shouldn’t determine whether or not any medication that I take should fall under my insurance plan for $20 or outside of it for $120.  I find it absolutely ridiculous that a drug that happens to have a benefit within the simplicity of it’s name has suddenly become the hot debate amongst politicians who will never have to use it, will never understand its use through first hand experience or have no idea what its use even really does (obviously from the discussions).  It’s a simple-minded discussion that has been confined in use to the plain meaning of its name, “birth control”.  It’s a ridiculous debate.  Maybe if we called it Viagra or Cialis and ran sexually implicit advertisements, we could be more tolerant or accepting of its use under our medical plans.  And, this isn’t about government telling religions what to do.  That’s a scapegoat argument.  This is about giving women the ability to take a medicine within an affordable means under their health insurance.  This is about equal rights for ALL women regardless of religion to pursue the same rights and freedoms for their bodies and pay for it the same way they do other medications.  This is a woman’s right argument, NOT a religious right argument. Yes, controlling conception is an aspect of the drug.  And, it seems perfectly logical to me that if one is not ready to conceive, we’d rather prevent that conception then to fall into another debate of the early ‘70s.  Again, however, that is only ONE aspect of the drug since it also known to alleviate PMS, cancers, endometriosis, hormone imbalance and a list of other things that won’t cause you to be a “slut”.  I don’t know but horny old men taking little blue pills seems to fit that definition a lot better.

Nevertheless, the freakin’ NERVE of the Catholic Church to be worried about some birth control and the women who take it.  So, let me get this straight.  It is NOT okay for a woman to take birth control if they work for the Catholic Church or an affinity thereof, but it is okay for a man to use his influence as a leader of the Catholic Church to seduce little boys into sexual acts? YES! I went there!  I went there because I am sick and tired of people hiding their discriminatory and ridiculous beliefs behind their religion and playing the religion card when it comes to EQUALITY and the rights of others.  Whether it is women, gays, or other civil issues, I’m tired of people hiding behind their doctrines of what is right according to their religion ONLY when it is convenient to do so.  HOG WASH!!! Call it for what it is.  This is about women having any kind of control.  And, this is the reason there were NO women during the discussion surrounding the fate of health care policies concerning this drug.  Birth control, body control, leadership control in the Catholic church – where are the women?

No, really.  Where are the women?  Where are the Catholic women who are subjected to the unbalanced health insurance plans?  Where are the women on Capitol Hill who were shunned from attending discussions that really have more to do with them than those who were in attendance?  Is the Catholic Church that powerful that women are just silenced?  Really.  What year is this?  Am I just a bad Catholic girl for saying all of this, is there some code I’m violating or maybe I just don’t get it.  Maybe that Episcopal spin-off I attend is starting to influence me?  At least the women on the Hill could have rose in objection.  I mean, even if you don’t relate to the pill itself, remember, this is bigger than just the pill.  It’s these “pills” that are causing women to still trail behind in numbers within government and collectively voice concerns over similar issues or trail behind in pay within the work force of  America or trail behind in invitations to discuss issues that directly affect them.  They are all our “pills”.  And, if we don’t stand up and voice our concerns, unwanted pregnancies will be the least of our concerns in this country.  We’ll find ourselves going backwards and facing issues faster than you can say Dorothy Height or Elizabeth Stanton!

Regardless of beliefs, however, take the discussions regarding religion OUT of the political debates.  I do believe in the separation of Church and State and while I understand how this whole birth control/religious freedom topic came about, take the religious topics and beliefs out of the politics.  It doesn’t belong and it’s a dangerous, slippery slope.  We’re already starting to see comments regarding religion tiptoe on the brim of volcanic political debates and I personally don’t think it’s appropriate within the diversity of America.  Talk about issues that should be under government control like bringing back jobs that have flown overseas, bringing back the quality of our public education systems, bringing our taxes under fair and just control, reduce our animosity between other countries who want to bring about war.  Stick to the real issues! I’m so tired of these lazy-minded, hot button topics talking politicians who want to dodge meaningful issues to fulfill personal agendas rather than working to really make this country great.  You can’t rise to power by simply taking another person down.  I think this country and the people of this country deserve better than that.  If you want to rise to greatness and be the leader of the free world, just freakin’ be great!!!!

There!  I Said It!  That’s What’s Up!

Happy “Breath”day!

In For the Stilletos, For the Ties, Spas, Travel on August 31, 2011 at 12:01 AM

Yesterday, in the customary tradition of her birthday or what she likes to call her “breath”day, Kenya took the day off for herself and went to her favorite Spa.  Located at one of our favorite Atlanta boutique hotels), Mansion on Peachtree (because you know we like to boutique), the 29 Spa offers just what your mind, body and soul needs on that special day or even the days “just because”.  Just like the exquisite simplicity that is offered by the hotel itself, 29 Spa adds a sense of tranquility with a touch of “ahhhh”.

Highly recommended and often favored as the usual treatment is the spa package, “Finest Blend”.  With 29’s “Secret of the Vine Facial” and 29’s “Right off the Vine Massage”, this package allows you to reset and glow from head to toe.  We also recommend “Sommelier’s Selection” which is more like a traditional massage and “Stomping Grapes” which, is similar to a sports massage.  “A Touch of Mineral” is another favorite for those of you who love a good stone massage.  If, however, you’re looking for a nice combination of two services, again, the “Finest Blend” is a great choice.  The massage begins with a nice exfoliation to remove dead skin cells and reveal smooth radiant skin.  This is followed by a classic massage that relieves the stress and tension we all carry within our lives.

What separates this spa from many are the little things that make a big difference.  The table is heated which, is an oversight by many spas, both in day spas and in drop in spas.  Why all spas don’t make this a staple (other than those that are outdoors in Arizona in July) is beyond comprehension.  Additionally, the robes are properly weighted and made of comfortable, plush fabric.  There is nothing like a cheap and/or itchy waffled robe to begin your moment of relaxing.  Yes, there are a couple of nice waffle robes but, they are rare and honestly, they just aren’t as comfortable as soft, plush.  More importantly, 29 Spa puts them in the warmer for you while you are being serviced so that they are nice and warm for you to walk out of the room.  Ahhhh!  Any-who, another nice thing are the linens.  Soft, comfortable and velvety linens adorn the massage tables and comfort you while you lay in a state of vulnerability.  There is nothing worse than bad sheets when you’re trying to relax.  And, with the inner “Martha Stewart” that constantly yearns to escape from Kenya, linens are at the top of the grading curve in spa critiques.  Additionally, the head cradles are comfortable and stable.  As head cradles have become more popular for positioning the body into a more neutral and relaxing position while lying on your stomach, their ability to be a fantastic amenity has not necessarily caught on within the industry.  Sometimes they slide, can be loose or quite frankly never get you quite right into position.  And, the price of the massage does not seem to dictate whether or not the head cradle is good.  It is simply determined by the type of table the spa tends to invest.  Sometimes the cradles can be so annoying, it gets to a point where they just have to be removed in order to continue and enjoy the service.  29 Spa must have picked the right one.  Thank you!  Lastly, and right up there with the linens are the products used.  While a pleasant aromatherapy scent fills the room, the products used for both the massage and facial are top notch.  The massage oil glides smoothly but doesn’t leave you feeling greasy and unclean afterwards.  Additionally, they smell great but not overwhelming with any particular minty, floral or butter scent.  You are simply left feeling pleasant.  The products used for the facial were equally impressive.  The best way to test whether products used in a facial are really good is whether or not the extraction on the nose is painful.  Most people need the pores on their nose extracted.  Sometimes, the process can be quite painful as estheticians dig and dig the dirt from the tip of your nose.  If the process leaves you looking like Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer and your therapist digging like they’re a 49er Miner, it’s probably time to find a better place with better products for a facial.  It may not be just because you have been doing too much “brown-nosing”.

With a dip into the hot tub and a light lunch on the terrace, the day served its purpose to rejuvenate and relax the mind, body and spirit.  As stress builds up in all of our lives and finds its way as a leading cause for high blood pressure and heart disease, we highly recommend taking a time out for YOU.  If you can’t seem to find any other date on the calendar for yourself, make it a new tradition to mark your birthday for your body’s maintenance.  Just like you take your car in for an oil change; take your body in for a life change.  Each year for your birthday, schedule a physical check up (including breast and pap for our “Stilletos” and prostate for our “Ties”), then schedule a massage.  If you have only have time to do it in one day, see your doctor in the morning and follow it up with the spa in the afternoon.

We have talked to many people who have never taken the time out for themselves.  And, 9.5 times out of 10, it’s not because they can’t, they just simply haven’t.  Life is short.  If you take at least a moment to recharge you, you will have that much more energy and then some for those that you take care of.  It doesn’t have to be a day at the spa, it can simply be a day sitting in a quiet house by yourself, sleeping in, enjoying a good book or just simply doing nothing and going nowhere.  Whatever you like to do, just take a moment and breathe.

Your Birthday! Your “Breath”day! That’s What’s Up!