I just came here to update my blog, and blogger has gone and updated their entire user interface with no option for me to "revert" to the old interface, and now I am thrown.

I feel like somebody's parent trying to figure out technology... 

oh, wait.

I've been wanting to write about this topic for a while. Then I saw Andrea's post about her new vehicle and was re-inspired all over again.

So, let me set the tone by taking a quick walk down memory lane.

(Scroll to the bottom for my list of pros and cons)

I'm so extra.

It's been one of those years where you just have to lean on what you know.

Streaming services are starting to highlight a variety of Black films to watch if you’d like to understand our struggle. Selma (2014), Just Mercy (2019), Hidden Figures (2016), The Help (2011), The 13th (2016), The Hate U Give (2018), and other similar movies are all being promoted and streamed for free on many platforms. This is great, and I’m glad more films with a Black lead/cast are being pushed to mass audiences, but at the same time, I am frustrated!

As a Black person, I don’t always want to watch movies like Harriet (2019), 12 Years a Slave (2013), Birth of a Nation (2016), and I Am Not Your Negro (2016). While these movies were made about us, I’d argue they were not made for us. These are not FUBU films, and while they do have their own place in the film canon, there is more to our story than our struggle.
When I sit down to watch a movie for date night, or for girls night, or for a night in with my family, I’m not turning on something that will remind me of my ancestors’ pain; I have enough reminders of that in my regular life. Instead, I’m choosing to watch something that tells parts of our story that rarely get shown to mainstream audiences, because if there’s an all black cast, the marketing is always tailored to black audiences, because themes like love, pain, fear, and the like can’t possibly be universal. Right?
One thing white people have probably never experienced is going to see a movie specifically because the cast features people who look like you (whether the plot looks appealing or not). This is a unique part of the minority experience in America that I have come to recognize in recent years.

So today, I’m sharing a list of Black films that do not focus on our existence in relation to white people, but ones that feature us in regular, non-racial scenarios... because we have those too! While general audiences were praising movies like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days (2003) and Love Actually (2003), we (Black people) we’re watching those but also enjoying goodies like Deliver Us from Eva (2003) and The Preacher’s Wife (1996). I grew up loving Clueless and House Party. Get you a girl (or guy) who can do both. We love a well-rounded viewer.

This list is not comprehensive, but I tried to include a variety of options from different decades. Most are from the 90s though, since this when many of my favorites were released, and I only want to include films I personally love and cherish. Are movies like Shaft (1971) and A Raisin in the Sun (1961) classics? Yes, of course! But they're not personal favorites. The more well-known Black films like The Nutty Professor (1996), Good Burger (1997), Coming to America (1988), etc. were excluded. I also omitted movies where a black lead was paired with a white lead (i.e. Men in Black (1997), Training Day (2001), Shawshank Redemption (1994), etc.) Those are important, too (Money Talks (1997) is one of my all-time favorite comedies), but I find the presence of white main character usually makes the movie more “palatable” for non-Black audiences, and that’s not the purpose of this list.


Rom Coms



Quarantine 2020 brought out some crazy things in all of us. Some people turned to baking bread from scratch. Some turned to Tik Tok. Some turned to online shopping. Some turned to at-home fitness. Me? I turned to stress cleaning and candle burning.

I re-vamped my office space over Memorial Day weekend.

My "office" was previously located in our upstairs loft area. That space overlooks the living room downstairs, and it would get too loud throughout the day with the child, the dog, and tv and other random noises. My concentration was compromised, so I migrated to our bedroom since I could close the door and tune out the other sounds.


I went down a creative rabbit hole on YouTube late last night and feel the need to share this message from fellow creative Reggie Ballesteros.

He's a stay-at-home dad and photographer, and he recently teamed up with some other content creators to talk about all the ways us creatives (specifically photographers) get stuck in our own head when it comes to putting ourselves out there.

2020 has been a constant reminder that things can always get worse.


Not even a pandemic will keep me away from my favorite tacos.


I feel like it's been ages since I've listened to anything for my own pleasure, just for the sake of listening. At home, during the day, if I get a moment of silence, I just sit in it. I enjoy it more than ever these days, because it's so rare.

Yesterday, I was out running errands and decided to listen to a random Soundcloud playlist. Soundcloud has been my preferred music streaming service for years, and now I remember why - so many good artists that don't hit the mainstream are hidden in there. 

Lianne La Havas' cover of "Say a Little Prayer" started playing, and I just put it on repeat... and then proceeded to go down the rabbit hole of her discography. This woman has the voice of a goddess, and so, I wanted to share.


❤️
This week was a whirlwind.

another day, another evening stroll. ❤️


People are out here cutting their own bangs, making sourdough bread from scratch, learning new TikTok dances, and doing push-up challenges on social media. Me? I'm just reading to stay sane. There are a couple from the archives, a book, and a financial report about having babies.

All over the place this month.

I'm not usually one to share a bunch of favorites posts, even though I love reading (and watching, on Youtube) the ones other people post. My annual roundups are filled with things that stood out over the course of a full year, and I don't take the "favorite" title lightly. When I find a favorite, I stick with it. I'm not one of those consumers who likes to try new things just because. If i'm trying something new, it's usually because my old faithful has been discontinued or I can't find it anywhere around town.

Shelter in place, however, has given me time to appreciate all the things around my home that I love. It's a short list, but the best ones are!

if we all have a vice, mine is candles.

i have been talking about tidying the backyard for literally three years now. we had finally worked it in the budget and we ready to call people out for quotes and estimates. then the pandemic happened. maybe it’s just not meant to be. at least my blooms are still bloomin’. 
🌺

Hey! Want some stuff to read and chew over that has absolutely nothing to do with this global pandemic? You've come to the right place! Grab a cup of something tasty and gather 'round.

***

I'm part of a slack channel that's all about finances, and for the month of March, the group is sharing weekly money diaries. The idea is to track every bit of discretionary spending outside of our monthly bills. It's been eye-opening to see all the times I swipe my card for random things and to see the total creep up by the end of the week.

It'll also be interesting to see how spending changes during a global pandemic. Do I buy enough groceries to fill my fridge? Do I order take-out to support local restaurants so they can pay their bills? Do I participate in these really good random sales since brick-and-mortar stores are seeing less foot traffic? I don't know, but I'm figuring it out as I go along.

Anywho, I shared it on the slack channel but also feel like it'd be fun to document it on TAS. So, here's everything I spent last week, before the world health organization declared a global pandemic.

Back in 2015, shortly after J and I got married, I started working a temp job in downtown Decatur, GA. Right next door was a newly opened smoothie shop: Kale Me Crazy. Everyone at the job would talk about it, mainly because of the quirky name, but our newlyweds budget was so tight that I couldn't justify the price tag of a gratuitous smoothie, not even on payday. 

Now, almost five years later, Kale Me Crazy has multiple locations around Atlanta, including one near my current office building (why are they so obsessed with meee???), and now... I can afford it. LOOK AT GOD!

So today I stopped in for lunch to see what I've been missing.

There's an episode of Broad City where the girls visit a pop up shop in New York. The whole place is a frenzy - a madhouse. One of them buys a shirt and they leave. About 10 seconds later, they realize the saleswoman forgot to remove the security tag, so they turn around and go right back. The pop up shop is gone. Nothing but white space and empty racks with hangers in disarray. Hilarity ensues, and the whole episode is comedic gold.

Until this weekend, I had never been to a pop up shop, but that's the idea I had in my head. Glossier arrived in my city a few weeks ago, and curiosity finally got the best of me this weekend. So I dragged Gabriel and Meredith out to Ponce City Market, where we stood in line for about 20 minutes before entering the shop. It was, indeed, frenzied, but not nearly as wild as shown on Broad City.


I grabbed a few things (boy brow, balm dotcom), but more than anything, I really want that Byredo candle (above)! It will be mine at some point in life.


Some brunching 🍴
Some home shopping 🐶
Some sitting in Atlanta traffic 🚘


I hardly ever share pictures from around the house, and that's mainly because there's only about one hour each day where the natural light shines through well enough for quality shots. Most evenings are spent chilling out with candles lit and a book in hand or a movie on the big screen (usually both at the same time because I love background noise),

In an effort to share some simple, everyday moments, I took a few pictures of what 7pm in the Active Spirit household usually looks like and am posting them here - in all their grainy and fuzzy glory.
I'm not a person who chooses a word for the year, but if I were, this year it'd be REST. Lately I've been read so much goodness about work and rest and how they should often operate in tandem. I haven't been seeking out this content; it's been finding me. Today's roundup includes two lengthy pieces from Atlantic, and a book.

Enjoy!


I've started and deleted this post a couple times because I'm not even sure it's worth sharing because it's really not that deep, but this is a blog, not a literary journal, so I'm just going to post it anyway.

For the most part, J and I are both mindful spenders. I'm the more frugal one in the relationship, but over the years, making money moves together helped us become super intentional about where each dollar goes. We still splurge. We still travel. We still make room for fun, and there are some weeks where we lose track of the budget altogether. But we make sure to never be in a position where our money is seemingly disappearing and we have nothing to show for it.

December was a heavy spending month. Christmas shopping, unexpected car maintenance, unexpected vet bills, and extra commuting around town all added up. After Christmas, I looked at our bank account and decided we needed to hit the reset button for 2020. On New Year's Eve, both agreed to a no-spend January. I popped a bottle of Prosecco from Trader Joes, and we stood in the kitchen hashing out the terms while making dinner.

The Rules

We called it "no-spend" month, but really we just significantly cut back on all miscellaneous spending. Here's everything we could buy without a second thought:

I brushed the dust off my old Nikon camera and took it for a spin around the house this week. While the gear itself is probably worth very little money, my D3100 will always have sentimental value. It's the first camera that ever made me excited to take pictures, and even though it's considered ancient and inferior by today's standards, it still takes decent snaps! Granted, it does struggle with indoor lighting. Unless the sun is shining bright through the windows, the images come out grainy or blurry (or both), depending on the settings. So, out of 30 pictures, only two are worth keeping.

I think that's what's so frustrating about creative endeavors. You can work on something for hours and barely have anything to show for it, but success is still measured by the numbers. Over the years, I've had the chance to rent, buy, and otherwise fiddle with higher quality cameras, and it's humbling to see what kind of magic you can create despite the limitations. It can (surprisingly) be a solid source of inspiration.

That being said, I'm sharing some things that help me out of a creative rut:

March will mark eight whole years of blogging for me. EIGHT. YEARS.

I started The Active Spirit (TAS) as a creative outlet (more details in this post), and now it feels more like an online journal than a creative hideaway. The hobby took off as an actual career for many people in the mid-2010s, and everyone left blogger/blogspot for the likes of Wordpress and Squarespace. I'm still here hanging out on Blogger, and I have no plans to leave any time soon. Here's why:

I was doing a digital declutter of my phone files recently, and I came across my baby names list from when I was still pregnant. It was a very short list, and I deleted it without a second thought, but then I thought maybe I'd share the names we'd brainstormed before Gabriel made his grand entrance.

Oddly enough, the name Gabriel wasn't even on the list. I had thrown it out there once, but I don't think either one of us cared enough to actually write it down. I had always maintained a stance about seeing my baby before giving him/her a name. When I was holding him in the hospital, he was looking up at me with those big, wide eyes like a perfect little angel. He was my Gabriel; I just knew it, and J agreed.

Here are some other baby names we considered:

I haven't read a good book in a while. I have, however, been reading articles and think pieces left and right. It's my favorite way to find a break in the day. Instead of scrolling mindlessly, I'll grab something from my pocket queue for a quick, meaty piece of content to consume. I'm not usually a fan of non-fiction works, but thanks to so many good reads lately, I'm opening my heart for the likes of Trick Mirror by Jia Tolentino (a couple of her articles are below) and To Hell with the Hustle by Jefferson Bethke.

In the past, my recently read posts were focussed on the books I've read, and the articles roundup appeared in a filter the fluff post. There's really no good reason to split the two. Whether it's a book, magazine or online article, it's all getting read! So... it's all going in one place from now on.

Okay, that's a long enough intro. Let's get to it. This one's for all my working women out there.
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