Top Inspiring Moments of 2016

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Uh, it is finally here. My curated list of the Top Moments of 2016. So many things happened this year, so much to talk about. As I wrote this list I felt that it answers a lot of questions. I often get asked, what do you do? Or what is Masconsumption about? Well, this list of events, initiatives and more really gives a good snapshot of what I’m all about. Enjoy!

2nd Annual Valley Gala @ Hat City Kitchen January 2016

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Patrick Hilaire Photography

This was a night to remember. It really solidified a new phase of the brand. DJ Anton3z, was great and no one wanted to leave the dance floor. I collaborated with the chefs, and Brittany Craig for decor. It really became a fun night. Patrick Hilaire and Greg Burrus really came through with the photographs from the event.  The food was good, my family came, just talking about it makes me excited about the next one. Thank you to Hat City Kitchen for supporting this event.

Writing for Jersey Indie and Meeting Sonia Schnee 

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Myself and Sonia Schnee, owner of Jersey Indie at Hat City Kitchen

I remember the exact moment I signed on to become a contributing blogger for Jersey Indie. It was in January, during one of my random excursions to walk around Manhattan. I stopped at restaurant in Chelsea for a delicious burger and champagne cocktail ( I can not remember the name of it). The day before I had the idea of expanding my writing. So in deciding to do something bold for once, I saw that Jersey Indie was looking for bloggers, I simply shot Sonia Schnee (my editor & founder of Jersey Indie) an email. She asked me to call her, and I waited to due to fear of rejection or maybe feeling like I was not good enough? So I sat in this restaurant, stomach in knots contemplating this call. I finally just did it, had a wonderful conversation and it ended up with my first paid writing gig.

Mine and Jersey Indie’s relationship actually began back in 2014. I was pretty bummed about having moved back to NYC but was determined to continue my NJ-based blog. I would still post about upcoming events and stuff I knew my friends were doing. One of my biggest champions on social media (re-tweeting, sharing, tagging, etc.) was Jersey Indie’s twitter and later Facebook account. That support really kept me going. And then we fast forward a year later, Sonia wants to make Jersey Indie a site and needs bloggers.

Jersey Indie is a site geared towards highlighting the creative indie spirit that exists all over the Garden State. What I was doing in Orange fit right in. I believe this was an opportunity to help my career move forward. Not only did it give Masconsumption Media more exposure and validation, but it helped me become a better writer and journalist. The instant I learned that I was going to be paid for my work I wanted to create better content, subjects, and more. You can read my event recaps, profiles, and more on JerseyIndie.com.

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http://www.jerseyindie.com

I was recently talking to my Grandmother, and sharing what I was up to. She admitted to me that the term “blogger” was completely new to her as well as the idea of working “freelance”. At the time, it had been almost 6 months of me writing for Jersey Indie, and I still had not met Sonia. After a couple of phone conversations, I imagined her to be a middle-aged woman who had been doing this for years. Luckily, we finally scheduled a day to meet here in the Valley Arts District at Hat City Kitchen. I was surprised when a petite, beautiful woman in her 20’s walked in. We had drinks and was able to finally meet and it was a great experience. Thank you, Sonia, for believing in me and giving me a chance. It really has been a true blessing.

Delivering Keynote Speech for Junior State of America Debate Club at Dwight Morris High School

Talk about things coming full circle. When I was just a young girl with dreams to become a writer, I joined Children’s Pressline. A youth journalism program based in New York City, where I trained as a reporter, editor, and senior editor. Thanks to the then program director, Katina Paron who saw something in me, it became one of the defining times in my life. So when Katina reached out to me and Molly (who also worked at CPL in the past although not at the same time and what got me the interview at HANDS in 2011) asking if I could deliver the keynote speech for the first conference for student-led JSA Debate Club, I could not say no.

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Myself, amongst the student leaders of the Dwight Morrow and the Academies at Englewood debate club

Brittany and I ventured out to Dwight Morrow and the Academies at Englewood. We met the student leaders of Junior State of America debate club, Melody and Dylan who were dressed and acted very professionally. I was impressed, and even more so when we walked into the auditorium and met the rest of the debate club and conference attendees. I wish I took things this seriously when I was in high school. This was most of the students’ senior year, which made it even more special to me to share my story as a 26-year-old who did not follow any rules to get where I am. (where am I? LOL)

I wrote the keynote speech in the car on my way, with notes from a heart to heart with Molly. but wanted to mostly speak from the heart. I wanted to definitely talk about my time as a youth journalist because it gave me a voice that I did not even know I had at the time. I wanted them to hear that along with my being proactive with my career as well as being bold and recognizing my power at a young age. I encouraged them to see their value before they go into college and ultimately this workforce because I know sometimes it could all seem pointless. (I did not tell them that last part). I also shared what I have done in my 20’s, thinking outside of the box like moving to New Jersey and not being afraid to take a couple swings at things. I shared my journey as a writer and community organizer here in Orange. They were especially impressed by the youth-led Mayoral debate. (Shoutout to RADICAL: Orange).

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Delivering a keynote speech at Dwight Morrow and the Academies at Englewood’s debate club

It was also great to later get to know Melody a little more. She was the connection to Katina. Melody was an intern and writer at Teen Voices and wrote an amazing article, Girls of Color Reflect on Different Ways They Chose a College. Great article and I could see why Katina spoke very highly of Melody. She is intelligent, personable and beautiful inside and out. I was inspired by her being determined to start a JSA debate chapter in Englewood. She was the leader and source of motivation for her classmates, fighting for more funding, space and all. She reminded me a lot of myself, although I was not as self-assured as she was at 18 years old.

All in all, this was one of the most humbling experiences I have ever had. It is making me want to do more to give back to the youth in the way that Children’s Pressline and Katina did for me. I want to ultimately rebrand Masconsumption with all teen and young adult writers, reporters and photographers in the high schools. Everything comes with time. Thank you, JSA, Melody, Katina, and Brittany for all that made that moment happen. Oh, and they also gave me a gavel for JSA Best Speaker. I will cherish forever.

Read recap from the RADICAL: Orange Youth-led Mayoral Debate here: http://ow.ly/JV4q306QgTL

THE TAKEOVER – NETWORKING EVENT

This was a testament to the power of millennials. I wanted to throw a networking event targeting the young ones in that are local or any “doer” in Essex County. I have found that my age group sometimes falls in a gray area, and are not targeted for events, etc. This was meant to bring us all together with ideas, sharing passions and dreams. Since we all gathered at the Firehouse Gallery in May, lots of friendships, collaborations, and more have formed. We shared what we did professionally and hope to in the future. We did an activity that helped us figure out what a dope music festival in the valley arts district could look like. There was a fabulous food presentation sponsored by Britt Bites and local chefs, Diamond, Jeff, Josh, and Leticia. I was able to hear from those I usually don’t when it comes to aspirations and meet new people of different backgrounds. One of the coolest parts was having people there with business and law degrees. This was also the first time I was able to co-host something with Kirk and Shanti who already have their own networking event, Millennial Mondays. It all just fit. Not to mention the cool graphic from Vlad, that made everything even better. I hope to throw the next one in the Spring of next year with many variations.

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Kirk & I at the Firehouse Gallery

We shared what we did professionally and hope to in the future. We did an activity that helped us figure out what a dope music festival in the valley arts district could look like. There was a fabulous food presentation sponsored by Britt Bites and local chefs, Diamond, Jeff, Josh, and Leticia. I was able to hear from those I usually don’t when it comes to aspirations and meet new people of different backgrounds. One of the coolest parts was having people there with business and law degrees. This was also the first time I was able to co-host something with Kirk and Shanti who already have their own networking event, Millennial Mondays. It all just fit. Not to mention the cool graphic from Vlad, that made everything even better. I hope to throw the next one in the Spring of next year with many variations.

We shared what we did professionally and hope to in the future. We did an activity that helped us figure out what a dope music festival in the valley arts district could look like. There was a fabulous food presentation sponsored by Britt Bites and local chefs, Diamond, Jeff, Josh, and Leticia. I was able to hear from those I usually don’t when it comes to aspirations and meet new people of different backgrounds. One of the coolest parts was having people there with business and law degrees. This was also the first time I was able to co-host something with Kirk and Shanti who already have their own networking event, Millennial Mondays. It all just fit. Not to mention the cool graphic from Vlad, that made everything even better. I hope to throw the next one in the Spring of next year with many variations.

I hope to throw the next one in the Spring of next year with many variations. Photographs by Sebastian Francois.

WHO DID YOU MEET? NETWORKING EVENT

This entry has me smiling ear to ear as a proud big sister. Well, we are twins, but LeTrice who is 24 minutes younger than me. She stepped out on her own this year, doing many press events, and now with her own event, Who Did You Meet?

She noticed that in the last couple years in the industry with Avery Watson and more, she was always connecting the right people. Once she learned what you did professionally, she would give you information on someone who could benefit from your skills. Then it hit her, why not throw a series of events where the focus it just that, connecting people. Not wanting to throw the average networking event, she added a twist. When you entered Grill on the Hill in Harlem for Who Did you Meet?, you were asked your profession. For the first one, that person was me.

I noticed, like myself, millennials have many different occupations. It is almost insulting to try to fit any of us in a box. So guests wore color coordinated wristbands according to your profession. This was a cool ice breaker as you went to the event room of Grill on the Hill to the network. Family friend and DJ, Q Shepard who is also gaining traction in NYC, was there to DJ and host, MS Mercy did her thing as MC.

It was a proud moment for LeTrice, her vision/brand, and young professionals in NYC. Our mother, sister Nakia, brother in law Lewis and their friends, NYC nightlight royalty, Niche and Bali. I reconnected with some high school classmates, Trennace and Kai who also work in media and have many prospects. The next Who Did You Meet? events will all have a unique focus with hopes to travel the country for different editions. Look out for more by following Who Did You Meet? (@WhoDidYouMeet ? on Twitter and Instagram)

’92’ A PREVIEW – SYKEZ

Sykez writing in his studio here in the Valley Arts District..photographed by Marco Dorce
Sykez writing in his studio here in the Valley Arts District..photographed by Marco Dorce

Ray, said something recently when he came over to my house on Thanksgiving with my family. He said that I was his manager without ever having been offered the job. I laughed, and so did my family as we know that was his way of saying that I am bossy and that I like to be involved in his music career.

Well, it is more that I am inspired by his music. I listened to his preview stream of his 2016 project ’92’. Still available on his Bandcamp, and I was moved by it. I believe in his talent, and believe that he can find success in making hip hop music. But not just like all of these other rappers, but really can make a difference in young people’s lives. Ones that fall in the gray area, and may need some motivation from a genuine, and relatable point of view. Lyrics that are rooted in the soul of hip hop, phrases that make you examine your existence and think a little differently as we look to move forward. I believe that this can be very effective, locally, in his hometown of Orange, New Jersey.

I have found myself listening to 92 from the beginning to the end straight through without even realizing it. This reminded me once again of hip-hop and the idea of producing a body of work, an album. The songs, listed in a poetic fashion, where can follow the story from track one to fifteen. You see a glimpse of a human artist, developing their art form, expressing himself, learning about himself, life and the world all while we listen.

It is a project I believe all young people should listen to as they venture into this crazy life. I think it brings hip-hop back and has a real feel that I can only compare to J Cole. He is working on a lo of music, projects and collaborating with many different artists to ultimately produce his Illmatic. He is a perfectionist, true artist and will not be rushed. I can not wait to hear what he comes up with next. 

Listen to 92 here: sykez.bandcamp.com/album/92-preview-project-pre-stream

Read my interview with SYKEZ here.

Read recap from Don’t Drop the Mic III at the HUUB here: http://ow.ly/3Fpi306QeLq

CONNECTING WITH SAKARRA OF KREYE CULTURE

Group photo at the Last Supper showcase
Group photo at the Last Supper showcase

How I met Sakarra, owner of Kreye Culture is a story of networking. I will try to connect the dots, here it goes:

I met Kirk at Hat City Kitchen.

Kirk and I with others teamed up to produce the Takeover – Networking Event

Kirk invited his friends Sebastian and Olivier, members of R.E.A.L. Music, and a videographer to The Takeover event.

Sebastian shoots a recap video of the networking event. Ray and I learn of R.E.A.L. Music just in time for Ray’s Don’t Drop the Mic III event.

R.E.A.L. Music performs at Don’t Drop the Mic III and invites friend and colleague, Sakarra.

Sakarra and I decide we have to connect once we learn that we both have media outlets that host events and programming for millennial professionals.

Sakarra and I meet a couple weeks later at Hat City Kitchen where we learn a lot more about each other.

Why is connecting with Sakarra and Kreye Culture is a top inspiring moment of 2016? I’ll tell you:

I have learned how beneficial it is to surround yourself with likeminded individuals. I also learned that sometimes this person may not be your close friends and past collaborators. And you know what, that is ok. Sometimes you need that breath of fresh air, to get a peek into what the other “doers” are up to. There are so many people, with networks, and opportunities out there. The only way you are going to know about them and have access to them and people is to communicate and get yourself out there. Myself, like Shonda Rhimes, have been recently saying “yes” to everything, including stepping out of my comfort zone to visit her studio in Bloomfield and open up for collaborations. Sakarra is a phenomenal woman who has a passion for giving artists and entrepreneurs around her a platform with resources. She also throws events, and more I hope we can collaborate on. 

KING KITTEE HOSTS 1ST EVER SPEED DATING EVENT @ HAT CITY KITCHEN

P.R. and Kadi Cisse (King Kittee) at Speed Dating Event at Hat City Kitchen
P.R. and Kadi Cisse (King Kittee) at Speed Dating Event at Hat City Kitchen, Photographed by Sebastian Francois

At the Last Supper, I met host and overall media mogul in the making, Kadi Cisse aka King Kittee. She was looking for a venue to host a speed dating event. We met at Hat City Kitchen, and the dining room was perfect. The Speed Dating event drew a lot of millennials to promote the event, I did a profile on her and why she felt drawn to making love connections.

I decided to host a speed dating event after reading an article detailing the alarming rates of singles in the Essex county area provided by the census. I feel like a major part of the high rates of singles in the Essex county area are due to the lack of social events outside of the typical club scene (which most don’t usually go to meet soulmates). A speed dating event is something fun and new to many residents in the area — which could hopefully help singles meet other singles and hopefully grow to become something more. – King Kittee

Guests spoke highly of their experience at the event. Briana Heart, a great event photographer, was on the scene. Look at more photos from the event here: http://ow.ly/vhS7306QjwE

Photographs by Briana Heart

BRITT BITES: BRITTANY CRAIG’S CULINARY JOURNEY, FOOD BLOG, CLEANSE & MORE

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Logo designed by Jamie Chiang

Brittany and food are synonymous. She has introduced me to so many good foods. She is truly a foodie. So, naturally, with Britt being uber creative, good at writing, and brilliant when it comes to spotting food trends, she started her own food blog, Britt Bites. Her first logo was designed by Jamie Chaing. An adorable cartoon-version of Britt eating a cheeseburger.

In the month of June, Britt hosted and went vegan for a detox/cleanse. It was an awesome initiative, many of the Valley community participated in. It promoted healthy living, trying new foods and self-discipline.

I did not give up everything for the cleanse, as I wanted to set realistic goals for myself. I did, however, stop drinking alcohol, eating beef, and only drank citrus water. I lasted 2 weeks. I am still proud of this accomplishment and look forward to more cleanses.

Watching Britt and her transformation have been inspiring, to say the least. #proudfriend

You can view recipes, restaurants and more. The most delicious photos can be found on the Britt Bites Instagram @brittbites. Britt is now working her cuisine magic at Better Being NYC and is working on the revamp of her blog.

Go to brittbites.wordpress.com for more information on the revamp
Go to brittbites.wordpress.com for more information on the revamp

Sign up for the newsletter for more information. www.brittbites.wordpress.com

WORLD FELLOWSHIP CENTER: TRYING NEW THINGS

This year, myself and ORNG Ink friends stayed at World Fellowship Center in July. We all look forward to this trip every year. It is like my only vacation and that it is. Surrounding myself with nature, being far away from work in Conway, New Hampshire is rejuvenating. Not to mention, the overall conviviality we encounter there. So much to learn, and this visit was particularly short due to work obligations. But it was still a lot of fun. I drove up this first time around with Tyree (back for the 1st time since 2013!) Ray, and Vlad.

Atop Cranmore Moutain in New Hampshire
Atop Cranmore Moutain in New Hampshire

I also tried some new things. For the 4th of July, I went on a hike with a group from W.F.C., including Naeema, Krystle, Vlad, and Tyree. It was a “real hike”, climbing, and all. But the reward was worth it. On the top of Cranmore Mountain was a view of fireworks in every direction. Me and Ray looked out at probably all the fireworks in New Hampshire.It was beautiful. And of course, the trip would not be complete without kayaking on Whitton Pond. Rachel, Molly, Ty and I got lost for a couple hours, and it was such a memorable moment.

Whitton Pond in Conway, New Hampshire
Whitton Pond in Conway, New Hampshire

And of course, the trip would not be complete without kayaking on Whitton Pond. Rachel, Molly, Ty and I got lost for a couple hours, and it was such a memorable moment.

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Group photo 2016 on top of Hope rock at World Fellowship Center

Till next year…

 BECOMING A COMMUNITY LISTENING FELLOW

Wow, what a blessing is all I can say. Becoming a community listening fellow was a natural progression of my career.

Read my initial feedback on the position here.

Group photo at 100 Year House in front of the First UU Church of Essex in Orange, New Jersey Photography by Briana Heart
Group photo at 100 Year House in front of the First UU Church of Essex in Orange, New Jersey
Photography by Briana Heart

There is so much more coming, please stay tuned and like The HUUB on facebook.

Most due to partnerships with other organizations like the Healthy Orange Coalition and the University of Orange. So far we have hosted, 100 Year House: A Housing Justice Conference, and a Concert for Peace.

ABCD TRAINING

This was truly an eye-opener for me. Over the years, I wondered about the opposing ideologies when it came to people who work for the community. Attending the Asset Based Community Development training for cities showed me why organizations like Ironworks/ORNG Ink, the University of Orange and the HUUB are important.

Read Death and Resurrection of an Urban Church, the article that inspires the community listening fellowship and reflects asset-based community development here.

TRUE YOUTH’S TRUE LEADHERSHIP PROGRAM

Leading What is your Superpower? Workshop at Kelli Copeland Creative Co-op in the Valley Arts District
Leading What is your Superpower? Workshop at Kelli Copeland Creative Co-op in the Valley Arts District

This summer, I teamed up with True Youth for a one-day workshop during their LeadHership Camp for girls. Supershero was the theme and I could not resist getting involved! What is your super power? In other words, what makes you different that other girls? Embrace and own your personality, talents, hobbies and ambitions that make you unique. This was what I wanted young girls to take away. The workshop included:

Breaking up into pairs. At the start of the Leadhership summer camp, the girls were instructed to pair up with a girl they didn’t know. This was going to be their “new best friend”, a girl they got to know throughout the camp. So for the workshop, they interviewed their new best friend asking them about these superpowers. I wanted them to not only get to know each other but embrace their superpowers by talking about them. I was so shy as a kid and often hid some of my hobbies to fit in. I want to teach young girls to be proud of who they are and even more so if they feel they are different than other girls.

At the closing reception held at Kelli Copeland Creative Co-op, the girls showed their work from the and performed. I called my Mom as I was walking home and excitedly talked about how rewarding it is working with children and how I hoped to do it more.

BEING INTERVIEWED (TWICE!) AND CELEBRATING HANDS 30TH ANNIVERSARY!

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Screenshot of my first interview for HANDS 30th retrospective video shot at the Firehouse Gallery in the Valley Arts District

This year HANDS, Inc. turned 30! Pat Morrissy, founder, and executive director is retiring and I was interviewed twice! for the non-profit organization’s retrospective video. I was flattered when Christine Jackson from HANDS invited me to simply tell my story. The first time I was extremely nervous, but the team filming was very nice and encouraging. It was so official, for both I had to wear a microphone, there were lights and I was asked questions by a real journalist. The second time, the video shoot took place at Hat City Kitchen, I was way more comfortable and secure with my position in the Valley and in the bigger picture. I spoke my truth, with passion and I think it showed. The duo who were filming wanted to film more with me. They walked me to my apt on Valley Street and asked me more questions about my journey here. I felt like I was on a reality show, it was so cool. I love getting the opportunity to share my journey because it is like no other and it is important for me to always reflect on how far I have come with the city of Orange. I hope to see more footage at the 17th Annual HANDS Leadership Awards this month!

Pat Morrissy hosted a retirement party at Appian Way. It was surreal as it set in that he is really retiring. People from his past and present talked about his work in the city of Orange. It was a special moment for everyone involved. I am proud that I was able to be there.

Read more from the HANDS 30 Celebration here.

VIDEO RECAP BY SEBASTIAN FRANCOIS

One thing I have always wanted, and needed was a talented, professional and dependable videographer. After meeting Sebastian at the Takeover – Networking event was it! He asked to interview me after the event on camera in front of Hat City Kitchen. From that point on, a pretty good friendship, and working relationship.

Watch Takeover – Networking recap here.

Watch Don’t Drop the Mic performance from O.Live here.

Watch the recap from Hip Hop Summer Series here.

Sebastian is also a member of R.E.A.L. Music, who performed at the Don’t Drop the Mic event. Read my interview Getting to Know R.E.A.L. Music here.

K-Proetic, and O-Live with Sykez, and Ywn at Don't Drop the Mic II at The HUUB
K-Proetic, and O-Live with Sykez, Ywn, and Juice at Don’t Drop the Mic II at The HUUB

HOORAY FOR HIP-HOP! (WHAT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A SUMMER SERIES)

This series of events was inspired by a couple things. One, was Ray’s hip-hop showcase, Don’t Drop the Mic. I remembered just how influential the genre of hip-hop is. Also, how healing it could be for communities who may feel like they are in hopeless situations. There has been violence in Orange, and the community was brought together to protest violence and express themselves through hip-hop at the HUUB. This was a special moment.

The second inspiration was the press and the release of Angie Martinez’s book, The Voice. Angie, a Capricorn like me, is a hip-hop journalist and radio personality formerly at Hot 97. Hearing her press interviews about a part of a growing genre, culture, and radio station, being a part of history, while staying determined and ambitious. This is what I needed to hear at the right time. Listening to Hot 97 growing up in the Bronx was a huge part of my childhood. I wanted to pay homage and show appreciation for hip-hop.

In what I hoped to be a Summer Series, was a monthly party DJ’s by Valley Gala DJ Anton3z, with a hip-hop theme. The first was Jay Z v Kanye West, it was a lot of fun. Sykez and Juice even performed. It could have been the first of programming on Monday nights at Hat City Kitchen where there is normally no entertainment. But after the first one, I was told that the venue could no longer host rock, reggae, and hip-hop events because it would raise insurance. Once again, the genre is perceived negatively. People assuming there will be raucous, and probably a shoot out. It is unfortunate and in my opinion a little racist. But of course, there have been reggae events since.

Fuckery aside, I am glad we were able to host one memorable one. Watch the recap here.

TAKING LEAPS: SNAP FILTER, SPEECHES, BEING MORE SOCIAL & EXPANSION

This year, I have to say I am so proud of myself for taking leaps and stepping more and more out of my comfort zone. I learned that the only way to get recognition is to put yourself all the way out there. Like quite literally. For the past 3 years, and all the events I have thrown, I just now started speaking at them. I would have others, like Marie, introduce the event and welcome guests. But now, I work up the courage (most times with too much champagne), to speak in front of the crowd. I can not let my shyness get the best of me and count myself out.

I even was going to try to get a snap chat filter with my image on it to enhance my personality brand. It did not end up getting accepted as a geofilter, but commissioning artist, Jamie Chiang to illustrate my liking was a huge step. I would have never had the courage to put myself in a position to get drawn and then post it on my social media accounts for the world to see. The finished product was beautiful. This was a career changing moment, for myself, and Jamie Chiang. I am proud to have worked with her.

I also plan on doing a big editorial shoot in the Spring of 2017. For the Takeover – Networking event I even did a presentation about the Valley and potential career paths here for millennials. I wanted to back out during the event, but because there were new faces there people were engaging with me. I am proud that I did that because that is the only way to get your point across.

Giving the Valley Girl Presentation at the Takeover - Networking event at the Firehouse Gallery
Giving the Valley Girl Presentation at the Takeover – Networking event at the Firehouse Gallery

Even more so after reading Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes! I have been getting out of my introvert bubble and being more social. Saying yes to events I would normally brush off. It has been a huge benefit, hanging with my friends and overall it is good to stop working have some fun.

I plan on expanding the Masconsumption and Valley Girl brand in the coming year. Absorbing all  I could this year to move forward. I changed my pinned tweet to GO HARD OR GO HOME because I really feel that way. I need to move up in a way professionally in the coming year, or it may be time to go home. More planning, less talking.

WORKING ON MY NOVEL & NOT BEING A NANOWRIMO 2016 WINNER

My novel is always swarming around my head. That will not stop. I have gone through several planning stages as far as my first novel. I have the overall premise and am confident that I will one day complete it. I am inspired by life, and I believe that I need to do a little more living and learning to complete. I have also been reading more as that is the second best way to become a better writer. I tried my best to complete NANOWRIMO this year, but the month of November was full of distractions, like the election, so I did not get a chance to focus and put enough time into writing for the challenge. I got the idea to begin writing a memoir, or a retrospect at my time here in the Valley Arts District since it has been 5 years now. Mindy Fullilove, MD told me to wait as many things have unfolded here, and I am sure will continue to do so. I will give it some times before I reflect.

SURPRISE PARTIES: HAPPY 26TH TO ME! & HAPPY 24TH TO RAY!

I have mixed feelings towards my birthday. I get extremely anxious as it gets closer, reevaluating where I am in life. Obsessing about whether or not I have achieved enough in the past year, personally and professionally. Between my birthday in January and the holiday seasons, I am an emotional wreck. For my 26th, I had no plans. The 2nd Annual Valley Gala is 2 weeks after so I was just going to lay low. On my actual birthday I planned to just meet a couple friends for drinks, little did I know Ray and my Brittany had other plans. When I walked into Hat City Kitchen on January 11, 2016, I was walking into my first ever surprise party! Ray and Britt planned for all my friends here in the Valley to come, it was truly special. I still get chills thinking about how special it was.

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When it came time to celebrate Ray’s Kobe Year in the summer, I knew I had to get him back. I planned for his family, and friends to gather at his studio on S Jefferson Street for a surprise. Complete with a mic ready for him to perform, his mom’s cooking, cake, and his favorite brand of ginger ale. I got him so so good! It was great to see that look on his face when more and more people came out to surprise him. People really love Ray and it was nice to see them come together for him. Who knows what we will pull for each other next year.

THE BACKSTAGE MAN

As an aspiring writer, I go through my ups and downs. Sometimes I want to just give it all up. I ask myself, what am I doing this for? And then there is always something that happens that brings me back to reality. This one particular time in 2016, that moment was when Ed and Rob came to Hat City Kitchen to celebrate publishing their book, The Backstage Man. Read my story about this experience here.

LUNA! LUNA! LUNA! ANOTHER GREAT YEAR OF PRODUCTIONS

Being able to attend Luna Stage productions is really a pleasure. I feel so fortunate that I have a theater like this right in my neighborhood. As an aspiring writer, it is very rewarding. I was able to see Michael Lally read from his book Swing Theory. The Brothers Size, and Old Love, New Love. Out of everything I have discovered in the Valley, Luna is up there in my faves. For this season, King of the Mountains was a great start to the season. I will not have time to write about This Wonderful Life starring Erica Bradshaw but look forward to the review!

POST-ELECTION POTLUCK @ THE HUUB & COMING TO REALIZATIONS

This year I have also witnessed crazy situations between people here in the valley. I have come to many realizations about the ostensible truths of people and missions. I was able to put it all into perspective after attending a post-election potluck at the HUUB. It was very special, where the community brought food and come together to discuss feelings, and concerns towards the president-elect. Well, guess what, sometimes the bad guy wins, and we just gotta move on and try to radiate positivity. Read the Special Note from the Editor that was inspired by the potluck here.

What Can We Do to Move Forward

Emotions are high since the news of the election. Americans taking to social media to express themselves. Myself and others talked about how exhausting our news feeds have become with negative content. I know everyone wants to vent but I ask that before you post to social media, think of the old saying, “If you do not have something nice to say, do not say anything at all.” Remember to be kind and compassionate to those around you, it is critical to do so now more than ever. In these times we must band together at the local level.

Check out our #Best92016 on Instagram: Follow @valleygirl_nj & @masconsumption

What a year! In 2015, I told myself that if I felt like things were not moving forward professionally I would move on, luckily I did not have to move on. In 2016, I am proud of this year, and hope that things go even bigger in 2017!

Special thanks to everyone who has been supportive this year and been a part of my journey. It is nothing without all you special people!

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1 Comment

  1. After seeing your photos at all these wonderful positive community events…all I can say is “Pretty is as Pretty does.” Wishing you an even more beautiful 2017!

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