Meet Jenee Darden
1. Write a six-word memoir to describe yourself.
Blessed, Writer, Journalist, Dreamer, Open, Fun
2. Tell us about your blog.
I started my blog CocoaFly.com when I began working as a freelance reporter three years ago. Sometimes when I pitched stories about women, minorities or LGBT issues editors turned down my ideas. I knew these were really good story ideas, but that’s the downside to having a lack of diversity in newsrooms. My mom kept telling me to forget those editors and report my stories on my own website. At the time I posted my reaction to news stories on my website. Eventually, I decided to post my own stories and interviews on CocoaFly.com.
CocoaFly.com is a new flavor in news for women. I cover all sorts of stories. I’ve interviewed authors, singers, activists, everyday women and more. It’s a fun and informative site.
My favorite post from 2011 is my “Saving Our Girls from Oakland Streets” series. I covered a daylong workshop addressing child prostitution in Oakland. Oakland has one of the highest rates of child sex trafficking in the country and many of the children on the streets are black and brown girls. I wrote various posts on the topic and learned a lot.
3. What is your definition of digital sisterhood?
Digital Sisterhood is empowering, inspiring and informing women through new media. The great thing about the internet is that we’re not limited when it comes to being creative with websites, podcasts, apps, etc.
4. What is your favorite 2011 digital sisterhood moment or experience?
I felt the power of digital sisterhood this year when some quack psychologist wrote a blog post on Psychology Today’s website and tried to scientifically argue that black women are less attractive than other women. That blog and a call to protest Psychology Today hit my Facebook page in light speed. I spread the word to my Facebook followers, as did other bloggers, and emailed my friends, family and co-workers. Women across the country sent emails to Psychology Today and their advertisers. The article was taken down within hours. That’s the power of media and women sticking together.
5. The 2011 theme of Digital Sisterhood Month is ‘Celebrate the 4 Fs of Women’s Health: Feelings, Food, Fitness & Fierce Living.” How have you lived fiercely in 2011?
For me, living fiercely involves a lot of travel, shopping, going to snazzy events and living out my journalism and writing passions. I had to alter that definition a bit this year. I was not fully employed much of 2011. I realize being out of work was a blessing in disguise because my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer and I helped with his care. Through it all, I kept my drive and my faith. It was not easy, but when life is weighing you down the only way to go is up. I’m thankful that I’m now working and my grandfather is doing better. Watching someone fight for their life made me appreciate the human spirit. So in 2011 I lived fiercely by having faith and staying motivated. I also launched a podcast for my job called “Mental Health and Wellness Radio.” You can listen to it at http://peersnet.org/radio. I work for a nonprofit that advocates for people who use mental health services called P.E.E.R.S. I love interviewing people. Anytime my work is something I don’t mind getting out of bed to do and helps others, that’s also living fiercely.
6. How do you stay positive and maintain peace of mind?
Staying positive and maintaining peace of mind was extra important for me this year. I keep an empowerment/dream poster in my room that I made with cut outs of pictures and words from magazines. My photo is in the middle. When I feel discouraged I look at that board to refuel my drive.
I surround myself with positive people. I don’t hang with people who enjoy talking about others or always have something negative to say. All of that “Look what she is wearing” or “What’s up with her hair?” is like kryptonite to me. Anyone who finds joy talking about people isn’t satisfied with their life. When you’re really handling business, you don’t have time to criticize others. I want to be around people who uplift, not bring you down.
I maintain peace of mind through prayer and writing in my journal. I’ve been writing in my journal since I was seven and it has become vital in my life. Reflecting on my life in my journal makes me feel better when I’m down and real happy when I write about the good things. Prayer and meditation always brings me back to neutral when life gets hectic. Prayers of gratitude keep me grateful.
7. What are your favorite healthy foods?
My favorite healthy food is flax seed meal. It’s rich in Omega-3 and fiber. I sprinkle some in my oatmeal, grits and cereal. Greens are another healthy food I love. I’m talking collards, mustards, bok choy and Swiss chards. Instead of throwing ham hock in the pot, I chop up fresh garlic gloves and boil them with my greens. This is my mom’s recipe and it’s sooooo good.
8. How do you stay fit?
I’m not a treadmill kind of girl. To stay physically fit I prefer to walk or dance. I’ll use the treadmill when it’s cold outside or I’ll dance in my living room until I get sweaty. Right before typing this post I was dancing to a Carlos Santana concert on PBS. LOL It’s fun and good exercise. I plan on doing yoga next year.
9. How are you planning to live fiercely in 2012?
I’m look forward to 2012. I plan on traveling, meeting new people and doing more public speaking. I want to exercise more. I will take my dancing out of the living room and into a class. Okay, I’ll still dance in my living room, but I want to try some Latin dance classes and learn Spanish. I will blog and podcast more on CocoaFly.com. It was too hard under the circumstances this year, but I will give Cocoa Fly more attention in 2012. I’m excited because I have lot of ideas.
10. Where can we find you online?
Web Site/Blog: http://CocoaFly.com
Podcast: Mental Health and Wellness Radio – http://peersnet.org/radio