Eat Good Feel Good – Smoothie Guide

Happy  New Year!!!

Yes, it’s the time where everyone is trying to be healthy or just lose the pounds that they’ve gained during the holiday season. When making a shake or smoothie it can be extremely difficult to find the right way to make one. Issues include, not knowing what to put into the smoothie, or having a blender that will be reliable enough for you to mix your shakes daily.  In this guide I will break down what it takes to make a great smoothie every time.

The Blender

So this is something that many people skimp on and this can be an important component to how you make shakes daily or multiple shakes throughout your day. There are many different options when it comes to blenders but I definitely will recommend that you make an investment in a good blender. Here are my recommendations:

An expensive but worthy investment

Blendtec

Blendtec is a little bit noisy but the blade on it is amazing. It also has preset controls where you literally just press one button and it will make your smoothie based on a set time and pulse pattern. It has a great warranty( 3 years Motor 1 Year Jar). Also, you could save money looking at refurbished models instead of new but you will lose out on the warranty. Click the link below if you are looking to purchase this blender.

Vitamix

The Vitamix is also an expensive but very great choice. I’ve linked their certified refurbished model where you can save some money and still have a great blender. The difference with this one is that it’s a manual control blender so you will need to pulse when blending your shakes.  This still is a great reliable blender for daily use. It comes with a 5-year warranty.

Bang For you Buck

Ninja Professional

If you are looking for a decent and pretty reliable blender the Ninja is a great bet for you. It will service you pretty well but you definitely have to be careful what you throw at it and load it well. Overall it blends pretty well and I use this as my backup blender.

Making Your Shake

So you have your blender now its time to make your shake! Below you will see an awesome infographic I first found in Men’s Health Magazine and I’ve used this as a guideline in how to make a great shake.   Below you will find the infographic and I will go in- depth with each step and finally in a separate post I will give you my personal shake recipe.

The Graphic

The Base of Your Shake

As a base for your shake. This is pretty self-explanatory. You can either go for plain yogurt, or Greek Yogurt( I use Greek myself) aim for yogurts that have low amounts of sugar. Fat you can go 0% or 2% some fat can be good depending on your goals.

When it comes to milk or nut kinds of milk (like almond milk) you can also go for the same idea as yogurt Or you can add a twist and use 100% juice. I normally use Bolthouse juice as my base.

When it comes to choosing protein there are a lot of options out there. I tend to try to use protein powders that are just that. Protein powder. Won’t go too in- depth but there are varying levels of quality and type when it comes to protein. The most widely used protein will usually be Whey Isolate. Then there are two types of protein Casein and Whey Isolates which have different properties.

Here are my recommendations for protein powders:

All Natural but a Bit Expensive

Bluebonnet 100% Natural Whey Protein Isolate Powder, French Vanilla

 Dual Action(Whey Isolate/Casein) Protein Original – 2.1 lbs – Powder

Great Value Protein Powder

Optimum Nutrition Naturally Flavored Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein, Vanilla, 1.9 Pound

Fruit

Fruits are pretty self-explanatory. You definitely want a variety. When possible, use frozen fruit (unless the fruit is in season). Depending on the blender you may have to let the frozen fruit thaw. Try to stay away from very citrusy fruits other than oranges.

Vegetables

Self-explanatory here as well. Be careful when adding veggies they can drastically alter the taste of your shake. Experiment and try to find a good combo if you would like to add them.

Thickener

These can add more texture to your shake. These are optional due to the fact they can definitely alter how your shake comes out. Be careful when adding these as they could be a bit harder to blend.

Health Boost

These are some great tips just to add a health boost to your drink. I actually found a great post-workout powder that can provide a great health overall health boost. This is what I recommend it combines a ton of health boosters:  Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator, Tropical, Tub, 19oz

Additionally, I add flaxseed to my shakes. Some of the best I’ve found is the following:

Spectrum Essentials Ground Flaxseed with Mixed Berries, 12 Ounce

You can also find individual containers for some of the items listed.

Flavor Boost

Finally, when it comes to flavor boosts cinnamon, honey, and vanilla extract have been extremely great add to my shakes. I’m not sure how great maple syrup would be but experiment a bit and you may find your best taste to your shake.

Final Thoughts

For this post, I hope this has provided you with a great start to creating a great tasting and healthy shake. There are many combinations that you can create and this gives you a great guide in making an awesome shake. Check out this post with my personal shake recipe!

By: K. Ritch
Previously posted on:https://yngblkaffluent.wordpress.com/
#AreYouVSOP #TheVSOPLife
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Having Trouble At Work?

 

Having trouble at work? So was I.

I started at this company 2.5 years ago, when I was on the heels of a divorce and I moved 30 min. away from my core group of people. I took this job in transportation, an industry I had no experience in. Needless to say, my 1st year was miserable. People questioned me, my skills, and even my writing abilities – as a journalist, I was insulted. I had a horrible review. I had never felt so unfavored in any position.

Every day I imagined myself getting a new job and boastfully slamming a resignation letter on my boss’s desk, but that never happened. Every opportunity that was offered to me fell through for some reason – budget, resources, timing etc. So I ended up staying in this position because I needed the money.

I changed my prayers from finding a new job to changing my circumstances at my current job. I asked the people in my Bible study group to pray for me and with me. Slowly, but surely, things started to turn around.

My biggest critics were taken off my projects, and my attitude about my job started to change. I found reasons to be grateful for my job, and I started working on the things people criticized me for. My next review was amazing. It was a complete turnaround from the first one. As things got better, I continued praying. I didn’t want to go backwards.

In October, I had the unique opportunity to take a position in NYC doing exactly what I wanted to do – public relations, and I really had an opportunity to shine. To my disappointment, the assignment ended abruptly, and I feared going back to my regular assignments and having to work with the naysayers again.

I just knew my “winning” streak had ended a couple weeks ago, when I was working on a report that took me twice as long as I anticipated. When the project manager called me, I just knew he was going to let me have it, but instead he told me I did a “phenomenal” job.

I called my boss to let her know that someone actually used the word “phenomenal” on a report I worked on. To my surprise, again, she told me that she had good news too – my promotion!

I’m still growing, but prayer works and God’s grace is real. I hope this helps someone.

Stacy.

*Previously Posted on Proccessingpain.com *
Twitter:
@StacyGrahamHunt Ig:@stacyreports
#AreYouVSOP #TheVSOPLife
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Get in Formation: From Stacey Dash to Beyonce, you really don’t care about black history!

Beyonce broke the internet and the hearts of many white people when she release her latest single, “Formation”. She sent even more people into cardiac arrest after performing this single for the halftime show on Superbowl Sunday. Following critiques of her performance, video, and lyrics,  many found themselves defending the queen bee and all things black. Black pride and activism flooded the internet. Why does time always reveal an opportunistic moment to revolutionize a distinct appearance of malicious intent? Is black culture only hardwired to unite during seasons of oppression and tyranny? “Say it Loud, I’m black and I’m proud” filled our spirits up with a pride; so fulfilling that it raised a united fist to the heavens.

Since this black panther inspired performance, everyone likes “their baby’s hair with baby hair and Afros” Beyonce’s video highlights police brutality and the strain relationship between black communities and law enforcement. It seems like the most honorable times for African Americans came during a period in our lives where we mattered the least to this civilization. Whips screamed across our backs. Sweat drenched the dirt and dusty gardens as seeds were watered only to be plucked by our blistered fingers. A nation under GOD was built off the backs and labor from black faces. Bills, laws and civil rights were written in blood as a result of people sick of living a life that was unjust, as well as unfit for humanity.

Our culture, our legacy should be told by us and should never be written as HIStory. Now let sit back for a moment and reflect on Stacy Dash. Now Ms. Dash may very well be one of GOD’s most beautiful creations. As fine as she is, I find it terribly difficult to boyishly admire such a disappointing public figure. Let’s address the misguided truth that escaped her lips without clear thought. During an interview Stacy made a comment that referenced the abolishment of Black History month, referring to it as “culturally biased” and “UnAmerican”…. As she continued to dig her own grave with black people, and has no desire to renew her “black card” which was revoked sometime in 2015.  Stacy’s words, although completely IGNORANT bare some relevance for discussion. A few years ago, I questioned the motive and intentions of our people by saying, “the only way we as African Americans would appreciate Black History month is if some lobbyist or politician called for the abolishment of its recognition.” As I sit on Facebook and other social media outlets, I am reading the outrage, the memes and status that are currently trending about this topic. As I observe and recognize people’s right to be upset with an African American woman cosigning the abolishment of black history month I also find myself in a predicament. I feel as if Black History month is very undervalued and not appreciated by the masses. It’s even more alarming to hear this coming from a black woman. The question really is, what if Black History month was officially removed and no longer nationally recognized. Let’s examine this a little further.

When was the last time any of us really celebrated Black History Month in all the magnitude and glory that we celebrate any other moment of history? More people get together for Cinco de Mayo and St Patrick’s Day to honor another culture’s history that we don’t even understand (or care to understand). Yeah, you can make the argument that both days celebrate with libations. Let’s be real everyone loves a reason to drink excessively, but in the same breath I have no problem sipping some cognac on Frederick Douglass’ birthday (kidding not kidding). The sad reality is many African Americans fail at recognizing black history month and couldn’t even tell you much out about black history.

Now, hypothetically speaking, what if black history month was abolished? How would that make you feel? What would miss in honoring the month? What traditions would become lost by your own doing? I wonder what Carter G Woodson would say to Stacy Dash? If you are reading this last sentence and wondering who Carter G Woodson is you and Stacy Dash have more in common than you think.

As someone that actively honors and respects the history that our ancestors endured I use February as a privileged opportunity to publicly pay homage to our culture. Many people question the motive of black history month being the shortest month of the year in addition to sighting that black history month should be studied all year. Although these opinions are very much so true February is the shortest month of the year, but that is not the reason why it was chose to be black history month. The month was chosen because of Fredrick Douglas’ and Abraham Lincoln’s birthday being in the same month. Even if you did know why,  you should still appreciate the fact that we have one month to enlighten the world about the struggle and progress that Black People have overcome. So many people are in absolute denial or choose to remain ignorant about the contributions that we have made over the years.  I am a Christian, male, that celebrates Easter and Christmas on nationally recognized days. In spite of the fact that  Christ should be celebrated, studied, and worshiped every day. I adopt the same principles to that opinion and choose to proactively celebrate a month that is by no means culturally biased or un-American.  People make comments and ask questions like, there isn’t a white history month so why should there be black history month? Ignorantly failing to ask the question why we had to instill black history month in the first place. That inquiry alone lets me know the depth of knowledge and lack of understanding on how strategic HIStory tries to write US out of it. There is nothing culturally biased about taking time to acknowledge historic FACTS that are clear defining moments in American History and should be studied by EVERYONE. So while you all organize your thoughts on social media about Stacy Dash, and Beyonce take a pause for the cause and ask yourself, would you miss Black History Month if it was gone? Who’s the real sell out?

 

Just in case you fit that category let us guide you into some suggestions and help you celebrate black history month the V.S.OP way.

Here are ten ways to celebrate Black History Month the V.S.OP way:

  1. Read a book that celebrates or articulates African American Culture. A few recommendations: The Autobiography of Malcolm X, Message to the Black Man, Roots, The Souls of, Black Women in White America just to name a few
  2. Attend a local Black History month program. Use your resources and find out what’s going on in your church or community.
  3. Organize a soul food potluck with your friends preparing all the traditional and cultural foods from many nations.
  4. Sit down with your family and watch a historic African American biography, or documentary that highlights the true struggle of black history in America
  5. Everyday research a black history fact and share it with your peers via social media. Create memes and other trending ways to pass along the information.
  6. Have a sit down conversation with the oldest member of your family and have them reflect on memorable times that they experienced growing up during their years of life.
  7. Teach your children something about black history. Lord knows the school systems aren’t doing that. Educate them on who people are and how significant African Americans have been to our society.
  8. Support, refer and spend money in black owned businesses.
  9. Watch a black film with a group of friends and have a discussion.
  10. Organize, or participate in a march or demonstration that celebrates  black history month.

 

By Mr. NiceGuy
Twitter: MrNiceGuyVSOP
IG: Trev.s.op
#AreYouVSOP

V.S.OP Spotlight: “Cut From A Different Cloth”

The Virtually.Seizing.Opulence (V.S.OP) team is happy to introduce to some and present to others, Mr. Tommie Lark, Jr. the Chief Executive Officer of Superego, LLC. Tommie was born and raised in Massachusetts.Some would say that the odds were stacked against him from the time of conception, as he was born to two teenage parents. Things become harder for Tommie when he was seven years old. His father was murdered, leaving his 24 year old mother with two young children to raise.

Despite the early traumatic loss that Tommie experienced, he excelled as a student and joined the Amherst Chapter of “A Better Chance” (ABC), a college preparatory program. In addition to his success in the classroom, Mr. Lark also experienced great success as an athlete. His prowess as a scholar athlete led to him being accepted into the prestigious Wesleyan University, where he served as the captain of the track team and went on to be a four-time All American Triple Jumper.

While balancing his coursework and a rigorous training schedule, Tommie found time to join the Beta Beta Chi Chapter of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated. Phi Beta Sigma is an international Fraternity founded on January 9, 1914, on the campus of Howard University in Washington, DC. As a member of the Fraternity, Tommie utilized the leadership skills that he gained at an early age and served as the President of his Chapter for two years. In an interview with the V.S.OP team, Tommie shares how he overcame the adversities of being born to teenage parents and losing his father to go on to become a college graduate, All-American athlete and up and coming entrepreneur.

V.S.OP: “Tell us about your journey. How did you get into the industry that you are in?”

TL: “I am someone who came from nothing, born in a society where most that looked like me would be predisposed to drugs, violence and poverty. I somehow fell into the fashion industry, but I am using my brand and movement to redefine culture and make sustainable living more accessible to underrepresented millennials.”

Tommie truly believes in the old mantra that “it takes a village to raise a child,” and he attributes much of his success, both personally and professionally, to individuals that served as mentors and role models for him.

TL: “Coming from nothing, I am grateful and know the importance of giving back. I would not be where I am today without the support and guidance of many along the way including the staff of “A Better Chance”, my coaches and the brothers of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Incorporated.”

Defining your purpose can often be difficult to do. People spend a great deal of time trying to establish who they are or to make sense of what they are placed on this earth to do. Tommie believes that he is living in his purpose and is using his craft to inspire others to achieve greatness. He also envisions himself as a barrier breaker in the fashion industry and has established lofty goals for Superego, LLC.

Coming from nothing, I am grateful and know the importance of giving back. 

 

V.S.OP: “What makes you do what you do?”

TL: “My purpose in life is to do what I do. I was given a gift, destined for greatness. It is my duty to give back and uplift our youth, paving a path for them to have a more positive future.”

V.S.OP: “Where do you see yourself in 10 years?”

TL: “In 10 years I would like to be a successful business owner that is known for changing the very fabric of reality (making hemp the new standard for t-shirt as opposed to cotton). I would like to have concept stores around the world, connecting the dots and empowering creatives to live their dreams. I would eventually like to start my own foundation or non-profit organization to give back to youth in underprivileged areas.”

V.S.OP: “What legacy do you want to leave behind through your craft?”

TL: “(BE)lieve in (YOU)rself. I want to leave this earth knowing that I have made an impact, knowing that my children and grandchildren will be born “Cut From A Different Cloth.” I want people to feel comfortable in their own skin, knowing that life’s a journey of creating yourself. Do what makes you happy and never let anyone get in the way of your dreams.”

Success is not easily attainable and this is even more evident in companies trying to establish themselves in major industries that have been historically dominated by larger corporations. The V.S.OP team inquired as to the challenges that Mr. Lark has faced as he seeks to “change the very fabric of reality.”

(BE)lieve in (YOU)rself. I want to leave this earth knowing that I have made an impact, knowing that my children and grandchildren will be born “Cut From A Different Cloth.

V.S.OP: “What are some obstacles that you have faced in pursuit of your goals?”

TL: “I was born to lose, but built to win. Born in poverty to high school sweethearts, losing my dad to violence as a child. Raised by a single mother working 3 jobs to provide for my siblings and myself. I was able to get over all of the obstacles in my way. Currently, a major obstacle that I am facing is building a brand from the ground up and spreading awareness. As a small business, working capital is always an issue, but we continue to work with the means that we have in order to get to the next level.”

Seizing opulence is not only about achieving success, but making an impact while doing so. Those that are living the “opulent life” are individuals that intend to use their personal brands to excel within their industries while shifting the social conscience of everyone that they encounter. Mr. Lark was candid in sharing that he hopes to inspire future generations and create a better living environment for them through his company’s success.

V.S.OP: “What does your craft mean to you?”

TL: “My craft is everything to me, as I am set out to literally change the very fabric of reality. I am introducing a sustainable alternative to the very wasteful fashion industry in a way that makes it ‘cool’. I want to appeal to the youth, educating and empowering them to make conscientious decisions that impact their everyday lives. Through our clothing we are empowering society, the environment, and in turn, our economy.

V.S.OP: “If there is one piece of advice that you could give a young person looking to get into your industry, what would it be?”

TL: “One piece of advice that I would give to a young person looking to get into any industry would be to study the greats and become greater. Complete your goals and value the process. Be patient and persevere through it all! Hard work pays off, so work hard and never give up!”

The V.S.OP team is happy to share that at the time of the interview with Mr. Lark, his company had recently launched a kickstarter campaign to raise $25,000. The campaign was a major success and Superego, LLC met their goal! Mr. Tommie Lark is the epitome of resilience, perseverance and creativity. He is an up and coming leader in the fashion industry and is certainly living the “opulent lifestyle”. Tommie Lark, we salute you for all that you represent and for being “Cut From A Different Cloth!”

For information on Tommie Lark, Jr. and Superego LLC, please see below:

Superego: www.superegoclothiers.com
Twitter/Facebook/Instagram: @SuperegoWorld
Personal Twitter: @TommieCFADC
Personal Instagram: @T_Larkington
Email: TLark@SuperegoClothiers.com

Written By: Tai D. Richardson

V.S.OP Vision Board Challenge

Virtually Seizing Opulence CHALLENGE

#VisionBoardChallenge

It took 7 days to create the world as we know it. A lifetime was spent from up high pondering the perfect plan of action. Like a game of chess, every move was strategic. Life as we know it began with a Vision. Even the great creator, whatever you may call him/her/it, executed a masterpiece that was deemed perfect, and everything was as it should be. The word VISION takes on a powerful meaning not easily gifted to random empty vessels. Webster defines the word as the ACT or POWER of IMAGINATION: UNUSUAL discernment or FORESIGHT.  Every great man or woman that has done something eventful, that impacted the world, started with a vision. All great leaders have a very POWERFUL testimony as it relates to having a VISION that they put into ACTION.  

So why are we even discussing thoughts and ideals that surround the makeup of elite visionaries?  Well it’s that time of year again. 2016 is among us, and we all share something in common as we depart the present year. Many of us typically sit back quietly and do a true evaluation of self. Personally, I always take a look at my year end review and assess where I am in life. People across the globe speak about plans for their NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTION. People who know me can attest to my creative capacity. I have been told I am an innovative person that is full of ideas. One of my personal mottos is “My vision is clear, now let the journey begin.” Most of the time when I have a vision, it usually happens first thing early in the morning. I see an amazing ending to something that I would like to do. That thought alone excites me enough to pursue maximum efforts to begin working on the project. My business partners and friends get so frustrated with me often. They say that I give them ideas that are “end sighted” (yes, I just made that up).  I have been told that my vision, when presented only consists of the X-Z while A-W is lost, unclear, or not properly outlined.  

Have you ever had a dream that excited you, but you only remembered how great the ending was? When trying to tell a friend all about your dream, you get so frustrated because everything that led up to the ending remains a blur. You remain excited while they’re stuck in between a delayed chuckle or the, “I had to be there” type of awkward moment. That’s how a lot of us set goals and articulate our visions to others and, most importantly, ourselves. The disappointing fact about my ideas is simple. I leave a lot of ideas on the table because I lose sight of the vision after the initial thrill or excitement wears off. As I exit 2015 and approach 2016, I want to be sure that I eliminate this problem so that I can properly and successfully MASTER my goals. Around this time last year, I was speaking to a good friend of mine, Elijah Oliver aka Take Flyght Captain, and he mentioned something about completing his yearly vision board. Strangely enough I never really paid that concept any mind until I started writing this piece here tonight.  What is this “VISION BOARD” and how can it help me be an elite coal conqueror? Let’s take a closer look.

 

#VISIONBOARDCHALLENGE

WHAT IS A VISION BOARD?  A vision board is one of the most powerful ways to help navigate your way to help you clarify, concentrate and remain consistent towards achieving your goals. You are Picasso, Mozart, and Steven Spielberg; given a blank canvas or script for you to begin manufacturing your vision as you see it.  By gathering a list of images, words, pictures, or slogans you can orchestrate a harmonic symphony of your visual goals.

WHO IS A VISION BOARD FOR?  This vision board is for anyone that is looking for an exciting way to organize their expression of self. Vision boards can be utilized by anyone in any capacity, as a way to act as a visual reminder of what you aspire to achieve.

 

HOW DO I MAKE A VISION BOARD? The V.S.OP way is simple.

Identify the person places or things that encompass your NOUNS.

  1. Who are people/persons you want to associate with to help you with your goals?
  2. What are some places you wish to visit, travel to, or retire in life?
  3. What are things that you absolutely enjoy and make you happy? How do you reward yourself?

 

Write down ADJECTIVES that drive your personality. How would you describe yourself?

  1. Be honest with yourself. What are a few things about your personality that have delayed your goals?
  2. What are words or images that you can use to articulate positive energy that will serve as a reminder of who you are and what you excel at?

 

Finally select three VERBS to drive your why. (You why is a specific reason why your goals are important to you)

  1. Be organized and plan for success.
  2. Be action oriented and put your plan into fruition.
  3. Be motivated and resilient as obstacles present themselves.

 

WHAT MATERIALS ARE NEEDED? This project is very simple and can be completed with just a few pieces of material.

  1. A pen and paper to brainstorm your Nouns, Adjectives, & Verbs
  2. A poster board, scissors, glue
  3. Magazines, internet printings of images

 

WHEN DO I BEGIN? Well there is just only one question. #AreYouVSOPIf you are reading this BLOG, you have already begun. The challenge is on. You have now been chosen to participate in the vision board challenge.  I challenge you to send this blog to 7 people on your social media and give them 7 days to post pictures and videos of their vision board on social media. Organize vision board parties with your peers and start 2016 off with a bang. No Goals Left Behind!  Join the members of V.S.OP with The VISION BOARD CHALLENGE. The journey is on. #AreYouVSOP #VisionBoardChallenge

 

 

Mr. Nice Guy Signing Off

@thevsoplife

Happy New Year

Feature Image from http://ethnicskinaficionado.com/vision-boards/

A Part of Me Died with Sandra Bland 

Last week I watched the police dash-cam footage of Sandra Bland’s traffic stop. As I watched the horrific interaction unfold, a slow numbness took over my body, followed by fear and panic. I felt like a toddler who lost their parents in a department store. I was scared and confused. Why was she stopped in the first place? Why was she asked to get out of her car? And why was Sandra arrested?
Trying to tweet the hurt away, I took to twitter to vent out my frustrations, but that did not help. My tweets were met with Internet trolls. While I responded and scrolled through the #SandraBland hashtag I saw words like combative, attitude, belligerent and insubordinate to justify her arrest and consequently her death.

 

I sat up in bed overwhelmed with emotion. Sandra was a brave and bold woman. She was a black, educated, millennial, young professional who moved to a new city to mobilize her career and pursue her passion. The more I thought about Sandra, the more I saw myself. I looked up at the ceiling and felt this feeling I can’t explain with words.

 

I usually pray at night before bed and that night was no different. But when I knelt down to pray, the words didn’t come out. I was at a complete loss of words. As warm tears rolled down my face, I knew a piece of me died with Sandra Bland. My friends would describe me as articulate. My parents would describe me as outspoken. My supervisor would describe me as stern and just. But if I were found dead in a jail cell, what would my media narrative be? How would my personality translate in a police report? I wept. My shirt was drenched in tears and the words still didn’t come. I simply didn’t know what to say. I wept some more.

 

Then I said the names of my friends one at a time. Then my sisters. My cousins. My mentors. My neighbors. My classmates. My aunts. I wept harder. I was completely distraught at the thought of such amazing women; such amazing people; being one self-advocacy moment away from a justice hashtag. Any of them could’ve been Sandra Bland. I wiped my face with my shirt and sat at the edge of my bed. A part of me died with Sandra Bland. I pray I get it back.

V.S.OP Spotlight: Slay Washington The Voice of CT

The Opulent Corner would like to introduce to some and present to others, Mr. Avery “Slay” Washington. In 2007 while attending a party at his Alma Mater, Tuskeege University, “Slay” took a risk and asked the DJ if he could get on the microphone; eight years later, he reigns as one of the hottest names on the Connecticut event and party scene as he is rapidly gaining notoriety throughout the Northeast and beyond.

Avery was born in New Orleans, Louisiana and moved to New Haven, Connecticut as a young child.  The son of a Social Worker and an Administrator in Higher Education, academic excellence has always been at the forefront of Avery’s mind.  Through focus and determination, Avery obtained his Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration in 2011. Though he worked hard in the classroom, Avery made sure to maintain balance and have fun.  In an interview with VSOP, Avery shared that his initial draw to becoming a host was the ability to improve people’s experience.

VSOP: “What drew you into your craft?”

AW: “I saw that people had great ideas for events but they were bland and missing the energy and hype elements. I felt that I was the missing link to an event being successful. Before I knew it, I was hosting the majority of the parties at the student union as well as at local clubs in the surrounding area.”

Public speaking and performing in front of large groups of people can be a nerve wracking experience. However, Avery got his start early on in life.  As a lifelong member of the Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church, Avery would often be called to lead the opening prayer or to serve as Worship Leader for Men’s Day Celebration and other church observances. It was evident early on that Avery had a special gift to connect with others, but more importantly, he enjoys the process of interacting with his audience.

AW: “My craft is my passion, I truly enjoy hosting events and seeing other people happy or laughing because I have enhanced the event experience.”

In addition to being extremely personable and professional, Avery has a reputation for putting his best foot forward at all times. He is not bashful in sharing that he seeks to stand out as the best in his field.

VSOP: “What does opulence mean to you?”

AW: “Opulence is being the absolute best at what you do. Opulence is when your worth is your wealth.”

VSOP: “Where do you see yourself in the next ten years?”

AW: “In ten years, I see myself on a major television network or radio station daily hosting a show or program.”

When thinking of a word to describe “Slay,” the first one that comes to mind is versatile. Not only can he hold down the mic at a club blazing the latest in R&B, hip hop and reggae, he can also serve as the Master of Ceremonies for a fundraising gala, fashion show, wedding or a black tie affair.

Slay doesn’t only seek opulence as a small business owner, he also excels at his full time job as an educator in the New Haven Public School system.  When he is not hosting events or spending extra time with students, Slay can be found serving his community as a proud member of the Chi Omicron Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.

 

VSOP: “Tell us about Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Incorporated.”

AW: “Omega Psi Phi is a brotherhood that is well respected in the New Haven community and all over the world for our service and uplifting African American males. We are celebrating 104 years of brotherhood.”

Avery has dedicated his life to improving the conditions of others.  Whether it be through community service or by him making an event come to life with his uncanny ability to use wit, humor and charisma to get the crowd to “turn up”. Avery is a firm believer that iron sharpens iron and suggested that up and coming event hosts seek out professionals in the field as mentors.

VSOP:”If there was one piece of advice that you could give to someone looking to get into your industry, what would it be?”

AW: “Find the person that is most popular or the best at what you are interested in. Follow that person and their art form. Also, seek a conversation with that individual in order to understand their motives and ideas.”

The road to success is not always navigated through a straight path. When seeking opulence, one must have faith, determination and a love for the grind. Slay Washington exemplifies all of these traits and more; as an educator, community activist and one of the hottest names of the hosting scene, he is truly living the opulent life. We salute Slay Washington for who you were, who you are and who you will become!

 

 

Slay Washington can be reached at:

Website: www.slaywashington.com
Instagram: @SlayWashington

Now there’s only one question to ask, #AreYouVSOP?

#OpulentBeats: FNX for the Culture

FNX is Like a Knight of the Golden Era Transported in Time to Save Hip-hop From Non-lyricism” -Kool G Rap

 

Everyone has their own struggles to deal with and to eventually learn from. However, it’s being able to rise from it all with confidence, poise, and grace that sets FNX (formerly known as ‘Symon Feenixxx’) apart from others. Hailing from Norwalk, CT FNX is not your ordinary rapper that you hear today. While today’s rap artists promote the status quo – rapping about money and jewelry – FNX is a blend of social consciousness, lyrical bravado, and a mixture of that same urban grittiness.

“Music inspired me to persevere. Persevere and self-educate myself. When I was going through it, the thing that held me down was my walk-man and tape deck. That’s why I’m so loyal to the cause and loyal to the culture. I feel like I owe it to hip-hop to do the best I can”

Inspired by the likes of Nas, Tupac, and Eminem, FNX displays a range of lyrical content not popular amongst modern day rappers. From songs discussing mental illness, ‘Monsters’, to songs about strippers, ‘Private Dance’, FNX holds one thing constant in his music – bars.

FNX has big time potential, and it is easy to tell that he is well on his way. Despite such, it’s more than just the music for him. It’s not about becoming a huge star in the hip-hop game, but just inspiring those along the way through educating and motivating.

“I see me and my team making an impact with our music but passing the blessings I received from Hip-hop forward.”

FNX currently has out “Blue Moon” and his most recent project the “Who Am I” EP which delves deeper into his unique vision of life in the future and how his music has led to a higher knowledge of self. FNX says FNX Vol. 1 the mixtape is coming out soon as well. FNX continues to make moves and an impact while doing it. You don’t come across too many artists who are actually doing music for the love of the culture, not for the money and fame. In his last words in the interview FNX said it best, “Make sure you do it for the love of the art and love of the culture. And if you’re not, you need to find something else.”

 

Check out FNX‘s Marching Prod. by Kenny Ca$h, from the “Who Am I” EP

 

 

FNX Links:

http://www.fnxmusic.com/
www.soundcloud.com/fnxmusic1
https://www.facebook.com/Fnxmusic1
https://twitter.com/Fnxmusic1

 

An Open Letter To Rachel Dolezal

Dear Rachel Dolezal,

I would be lying if I said I wasn’t waiting for an apology. Not because you can’t identify as a black woman or can’t feel particularly vested in black culture, but because it is likely that your actions and decisions have hurt and offended people of color, specifically women of color. The gall of you to finally make a statement and then disgorge responses that  were clearly homegrown on a farm of entitlement and white privilege. Let’s get a few things clear Rachel. Although you are a scholar and professor, you seem to have conveniently confused racial indeterminacy, the understanding that individuals can have multiple racial identities and race is not a fixed variable, and racial misrepresentation. Rachel, racial misrepresentation is theft; cultural theft to be exact.

It took no time at all for the good people of twitter to talk about black privilege, noting that black privilege must exist since you decided to become a black woman. I’m convinced that black privilege is a myth and I could be wrong, but I know that white privilege is alive and well. It is white privilege that helped you, as a white woman to feel entitled and empowered to claim blackness as your identity. You appropriate from black culture, and pose as a black woman fighting for the oppressed, while gaining access to prominence.

Your dishonesty devalues and erodes the experiences of those who actually did struggle growing up as people of color. You missed your calling to be an ally; correction, you declined your calling to be an ally. Instead, you used your privilege to assimilate and appropriate black culture. Growing up with black friends and adopted siblings does not constitute as growing up black.  You did not look this way as a child and you cannot recall genuine memories and experiences growing up black. You lied to propel your career forward and in doing so you occupied the platforms for REAL black women to share their authentic stories. Stories like mine. Tell me Rachel, how often did your peers accuse you of “acting white”? And unlike Jeff Humphrey, “I don’t understand the question.” will not suffice as an answer for me. I have spent much of my life defending my blackness. The label of “acting white” has been a social and academic mobility barrier for black people all over the US. If I speak in an educated and eloquent way I am “acting white.” So tell me Rachel, growing up how often was your intelligence and academic ambition a wager of cultural and racial exile?

You can identify as you please but also recognize that your actions minimize and trivialize the experiences of black women.  To add another layer to chaos, #transracial was trending on twitter and some began to erroneously equate the transracial experience with that of transgender. Yup, conservative commentators found themselves “caping” for you, claiming hypocrisy, since there was large acceptance of Caitlyn Jenner as a woman, but not for you as a black woman. Please note how your actions have distorted and regress identities that are already marginalized. I could go on and on about this but I won’t. I’m patiently waiting for you to “clarify that with the black community.”

Sincerely,

A legitimate African American (or as you prefer, black woman)

V.S.OP Spotlight: “The BARMAIDE”

Joiah “The BarMaide” Ladson

Its a pleasure to have our first of many Opulent Spotlights to be a close friend to the VSOP fam, Ms. Joiah Ladson. You might remember her as one of the best mixologists in the tri-state area, but now she can be found mixing it up as she ascends the fitness circuit traveling with the BarStarrz and matching the most effective workout regimens for her clients as a personal trainer.

Joiah was born and raised in Queens, New York, and was an active child as her parents ensured that she was engaged in organized sports. She left New York to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science with a concentration in Biology which she received in 2011 from the University of New Haven. While attending UNH, Joiah participated in many clubs and activities, but according to her own admission, her favorite activity was drinking. She shared that though she had amazing nights while under the influence, it took a toll on her well being.   In an interview with the VSOP Team, Joiah shares how she overcame her bout with alcohol and transformed from bar waitress to the “Barmaide.”

VSOP: “Tell us about your journey. How did you get into the industry that you are in?”
JL: “For years I struggled with alcoholism, it was taking a toll on my life and the people around me. I was spending too much money on alcohol and neglecting my bills. When I wasn’t drinking at my bartending job, I was drinking at home or at some other Happy Hour. In addition to drinking, I also had terrible eating habits. These habits included Doritos, fried chicken, Chinese food, daily trips to McDonald’s, bar food and non stop snacking. Within a few months I was at my heaviest weight, my stress levels had skyrocketed, bills piled up and I determined that it was time for a serious change. At this time I stopped making excuses for myself, signed up for a gym, cleaned up my eating habits and reached out to a few of my personal trainer friends that could help me get my life together.”

Alcoholism is a serious issue to face, and it controls many people’s lives. It is not uncommon for alcoholism to lead to bouts of depression and other life altering conditions. Joiah was able to replace the bottle with an outlet that not only improved her health, but also, her well being and her wealth.
JL: “I saved about $400 per month by eliminating alcohol purchases, and I gained an amazing body in return.  After about six months of working out on my own and with friends, I hired a personal trainer for some extra fitness advice. My personal trainer saw my drive and dedication which led us both to believe that I had a career in personal training. I decided to get into training because I realized the joys that fitness brought into my life. I knew I’d be able to connect with my clients on multiple levels because of what I had been through. I wanted to let people know that happiness and longevity are just a workout away. Exercise and healthy eating have the same addictive qualities as alcohol and drug use, except the results are much more rewarding.”

 

Many people would be satisfied with facing and conquering their demons, but this is only the beginning for “The Barmaide”.  Just as anyone who is seeking opulence in their lives, Joiah has goals and big goals at that.

VSOP: “Where do you see yourself at in the next 10 years?”
JL: “In ten years I see myself still involved in health and wellness, but more so as a brand.  I want to produce literature, digital apps, clothing and do motivational speaking that help promote my message.”

VSOP: “In regard to your message, what legacy do you seek to leave behind through your craft?”
JL:  “The legacy that I’d like to leave behind is that everyone struggles but that shouldn’t deter us from seeking better. You don’t have to be a product of a negative environment because life is so much easier when you’re happy. When you’re in a negative mind state, opportunity knocks but you’re too busy sulking that you won’t get up to answer. Once you change to a positive outlook on life, opportunity just walks right in.”

 

Opportunity is what many are waiting for, but just as Joiah stated, if you are not ready it will pass you by. As you continue to grind toward your goals and aspirations, remember that obstacles and barriers are meant to teach us lessons.  The road from bartender to “The Barmaide” has been riddled with obstacles, but Joiah has faced each challenge head on with intensity, and she has learned from what she has endured to get to where she is.

JL: “Throughout this journey I’ve faced some health and financial obstacles that slowed my process but never stopped me. Participating in Spartan Races taught me that obstacles are meant to be overcome. I’ve been in the hospital for severe dehydration and starvation, ruptured ovarian cysts and emergency wisdom tooth extraction. Unexpected car/medical issues that I didn’t budget for would take away from my grocery and gym membership funds but I always found a way to pull through. Besides the medical and financial issues I was still battling my addiction. For the first few months into the journey I had to really convince myself that I did not NEED alcohol. I embrace everything I’ve been through because it lets me know that I can overcome challenges. If I had to do one thing all over again I would alter my spending habits and budget more wisely.”

VSOP: “What advice would you give a young person looking to get into your industry?”
JL: “ To the young person looking to get into personal training and all around wellness I recommend that you do your research. When I started working out I wasn’t familiar with the science behind it. I currently hold three different certifications which allow me to better assist my clients in reaching their goals (Certified Personal Training, Performance Enhancement Specialist and Corrective Exercise Specialist). Use your resources and understand that even after studying the science portion you’re still not the smartest person in the world. There is a constant exchange of knowledge in this field that will allow you to excel. Practice what you preach. On a number of occasions I’ve seen trainers advise certain workout and meal regimens but they’re overweight with poor eating habits. Just like the airline oxygen mask principle, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. Let it be understood that your body is your business card and your lifestyle is your resume.”

VSOP: “In your opinion what is opulence?”
JL: “Opulence is health, because health is wealth. The greatest luxury I can ever obtain is a fit and healthy body that can perform the way a body should.”

 

Life is an ever changing path with many twists and turns. One that “The Barmaide” herself has traversed and is still progressing along with a far more positive outlook. With her drive, passion, perseverance and know-how, Joiah has defined her opulence and is certainly seizing it, truly living the VSOP Life. Salute to “The Barmaide” for who you were, who you are, and who you are becoming!

Now there’s only one question to ask, #AreYouVSOP?

Joiah “The BarMaide” Ladson

IG: @The_Barmaide
Twitter: @MamaJ_UrHiness
Email: jlads19@gmail.com