Digital Sisterhood Month’s Guest Blogger Series – Jenee Darden


Jenee Darden

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

Twitter: http://twitter.com/CocoaFly

Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Cocoa-Fly

Podcast: Mental Health and Wellness Radio – http://peersnet.org/radio

 

Digital Sisterhood Month’s Guest Blogger Series – Carla Schwartz


Carla Schwartz

Meet Carla Schwartz

1) Write a six-word memoir to describe yourself.

God loves me, therefore I love.

2) Tell us about your blog.

I started blogging in September 2010. I am an aspiring interior designer who had loved reading design blogs for years and decided to take matters into my own hands. My blog’s name is decorativity and the focus is interior design. I feature product roundups, artist interviews, design ideas & resources, and inspiring interiors. My favorite post from 2011 was also my most popular, when I went behind the scenes of the Design Star Auditions in Atlanta. It was such a memorable experience and I made some lasting friendships.  http://decorativity.wordpress.com/2011/01/20/blogging-the-design-star-auditions/

3) What is your definition of digital sisterhood?

I consider digital sisterhood a network of support that reaches across physical boundaries. Blogging, attempting a career switch, finding time and space for creativity…these things are not always easy. I can’t tell you how much encouraging blog comments, emails and tweets have meant from my digital sisters. They keep me going and help me stay focused when times get hard and life gets crazy. I have some incredible bonds and precious advice from these relationships.

4) What is your favorite 2011 digital sisterhood moment or experience?

This might have been technically the very end of 2010, but I had such a great time on the Digital Sisterhood Radio talking about the lavish! unconference. That was my first experience in that type of media and it was so cool. I also accomplished a dream in early 2011, publishing an article on Design*Sponge. This was a big goal of mine and everyone rallied digitally, sharing links to the article and cheering me on.

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?

Starting a blog in the latter half of 2010 got the ball rolling–2011 was all about following through. I tried to “fiercely” water the seeds I had planted. I’ve had cool opportunities come up in interior design, including freelance writing work. Freelancing was a goal I listed in the radio show a year ago, so I’m thrilled to now be published in print and online. As far as feelings (and food) living away from my parents, with friends all in our mid-20s has taught me communication skills, independent living skills, and given me an extended family of friends as we all try to figure out life together. I’ve also tried to take some non-conventional side jobs so that I can pursue my dreams more freely. I have now become a part-time gymnastics coach. So that pushes me to tackle Fitness 🙂

6) How do you stay positive and maintain peace of mind?

My faith in Jesus Christ is the only thing that truly gives me peace. Trusting God doesn’t always come easy but when I do, I see everything in a more positive light. My amazing family and friends also comfort me and make me smile!

7) What are your favorite healthy foods?

I was raised to eat healthy, natural foods and enjoy everything else in moderation. Healthy food has so much more flavor than junk! I love fresh fruits, and crisp veggies like bell peppers and carrots. Hummus makes the perfect snack. Lately I’ve been putting orange blossom honey on everything. Two Peas & Their Pod is my current favorite food blog, everything they make looks delicious. I also love the recipe section of Self Magazine’s website. They make smart substitutions that still taste good, and everything I’ve cooked from this site has been a success.

8) How do you stay fit? 

I competed in gymnastics during high school and it’s my absolute favorite sport. I’ve remained a passionate fan, and now I get to use that passion for the sport and apply it to coaching! This is has been a crazy jump into the deep end of fitness after years away from the sport and struggles with injuries. But I have to say I love the challenge and it pushes me to try to maintain fitness every day of the week. I enjoy pilates, walking and stationary biking.

9) How are you planning to live fiercely in 2012?

I hope 2012 is the year I can move my career to the things I love full-time. It will likely be a combo of writing, designing and coaching, but I am ready to see major change! I also want to keep sharing my love of design through blogging.

10) Where can we find you online?

Blog: http://decorativity.wordpress.com

Twitter: http://twitter.com/decorativity

Facebook: www.facebook.com/decorativity