Ce’Marie’s Progress & Check-In

Imagine your daughter exploring her imagination, expanding her mind and loving reading. Now imagine her discovering all the possibilities of who she can be. Ce’Marie books offer this, imagination and so much more! Let your little girl get hooked on reading with Ce’Marie as we discover the long-kept secret: being different is the new black. Join the movement!

Above is Ce’Marie’s original pledge to parents and its readers, created in November of 2013.

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Now lets fast-forward to March 2015. By mid-March, I had finished about 3 rough drafts of Ce’Marie picture book. Thinking the third draft would be the one, I started looking into editors and making preliminary plans for Ce’Marie’s launch party. I was so stoked! But I had to slow it down; planning for the launch party was interrupted by the tough realization that Ce’Marie was not all the way, 100% ready for its big debut.

After taking Ce’Marie (text only) to a critique group, I received constructive criticism that made total sense to me. Following the critique, I thought long and hard on my next move. I desperately wanted to be finished with her, but I knew I’d later regret the decision to proceed with putting it out IF I did so purely out of complying with my ego and not because I felt it was best. So, commence with my launch party planning or go the extra mile and figure out what needs to be done to push my newly-finished Ce’Marie picture book to the next level, that was my big question.

I chose the latter.

I knew in my heart there was something more that had to be done to really achieve the high standards, well-worth-it end-result I dream so much about.

So since around the time of my last post on March 20th, I have been re-working book 1 of the Ce’Marie series. And guess what… I’ve decided to turn what started out as a picture book into an early middle grade chapter book! I feel this is the right move and the best direction to take Ce’Marie. I am extremely excited, a bit anxious but more excited. I know Ce’Marie Version 2.0 (hehe) will be the product I’ve been working so hard and diligently to produce; something of substance and value, something I can be proud of and smiling ear-to-ear happy about–and not to mention, have no shame in bragging on! LOL.

This is not to say that I am not happy with the picture book I have created, because I am. I am proud of myself. I did just what I sought out to do–and then some! Like, me, yep me–I did it! I wrote and illustrated my very own children’s picture book! That’s an amazing accomplishment that I take pride in.

My standards for myself are higher than ever. A few friends who have experienced the book in its entirety actually love it just as much as I do. But I do not have a feeling of completion with it, just yet. There is just something missing… And I have accepted this. I have set new goals and timelines of deadlines — this baby is underway and I’m inspired more than ever! CeCe’s going from a luxury Mercedes to a transformer Tesla. Vroom! Vroom! ;) And the picture book itself will definitely not go to waste — in fact, I can’t wait to share how I’m turning this minor “setback” into a major accomplishment and beautifully thought-out product.

So there’s my lengthy update on Ce’Marie. She and her BFFs’ are doing wonderful and going on many cool adventures! Stay tuned, bookworms :)

Until next time friends, Carpe Diem!

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“Perfect Imperfections” – Part 1 – Why You Should Stop Trying To Live Up To Perfection

Growing up, boy did I put a lot of unnecessary stress on myself.

Even at a very young age. I’m talking first grade young, so like 6 years old. I remember growing up in Arkansas, one of my parents would take my brothers and I to school. My oldest brother would always get the privilege of getting dropped off first – so not fair!

I felt like I had places to be, things to learn, tests to Ace. How could you do this to me mommy?!

Well, seeing as we were always either barely on time or running late, as a junior high student, my oldest brother being tardy actually meant something. But the way I reacted, each and every morning – you would have thought me being tardy meant the end of the world.

Cognitive of time, I cried my little eyes out. I hated being late. Not only was it just not right, it was embarrassing, I never got to enjoy the play time before the bell rang for class to begin, and worst of all – it knocked me out of the running for having perfect punctuality.

Attendance – now that was an even bigger issue for me. I wasn’t ’bout to miss no days, huney. Sick, tired, chicken pox and all – I demanded to go to school (thankfully didn’t have to worry about the chicken pox scenario, ‘cus I’m sure I would’ve lost that battle). I hated the thought of getting behind. What if I missed an important lesson? What if I missed something amazing that only happens once in a lifetime? What if, (Uh Oh), I missed a key assignment that would have aided in me learning something for an upcoming test, which then would cause me to earn anything below an A+?

Oh, no. I wasn’t having it.

And God forbid I don’t receive the ‘Perfect Attendance’ reward at the end of the school year, among my other honors, I would have a fit. * flashback moment

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Achieving perfection was something I had naturally always fought for. I wanted to be the best. And to me, the best meant perfect. But as you may know, perfection is merely an illusion of the imagination. What may be perfect to me may be a disaster or mediocre to someone else.Stress Meter Showing  Panic Attack From Stress And Worry

The determination of reaching perfection in all that I did only made me sick, literally. The stress “perfection” caused me over the years, built up inside of me. My stress level was out the roof. I developed bad anxiety. I welcomed thoughts of negativity and self-doubt. Taking on the task of being perfect meant I also took on a persona of being perfect. So what did that mean? That meant I began caring absolutely too much about how I was perceived by others.

Even when I knew I was doing an excellent job, the unknown thoughts of my peers ate away at my confidence, thus making me insecure about not only my abilities but also my decisions. I second-guessed every move and decision I made, asking myself, “Well how would xyz take this? How will that make me seem? Is that the right thing to do? Maybe I need a few other opinions…” I no longer trusted myself to make the right, sound decisions alone.

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Who gets to judge accomplishing perfection? Because if we simply judge perfection for ourselves, will we ever be good enough to stand tall against our own standards? If we judge perfection of different situations, things, outcomes, others, and etc, individually… What makes his standard of perfection any better (or worse) than my standard of perfection?

Absolutely nothing. Our individual thoughts, feelings, experiences, and definitely societal norms, shape our perception of perfection – which (good news!) makes “perfection” totally subjective, thus arguable.

~ ♥︎ ~

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So, I challenge you today to stop conditioning yourself to achieve “perfect” outcomes from your “perfect” goals. Let the idea of needing to be perfect go. It’s simply unhealthy. And be careful of the thoughts you feed your brain. Just as you protect your money, protect your mind and thoughts. Your mindset is the difference of you being happy or defeated.

Instead, here’s something to feed on: begin to love who you are and believe in yourself and your capabilities. Be OK with those quirky things about yourself that you or others view as different – those traits are your unique perfect imperfections. So stop wasting time telling yourself how you wish you were… or what you wish you had… and instead live in the now and strive for excellence. The difference of striving for excellence as opposed to perfection, you ask? A wholeee lot (chuckles).

Stay tuned for Part 2 of “Perfect Imperfections”   :)

xoxo

5 Good Reasons to Take Your Kids to the Library

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When I was around 3 or 4 years old, I remember my mother took me to the local public library. I was an avid reader by that age, whether I read the words correctly or not, I was a true storyteller – sharing an elaborate story based off its illustrations alone.

So going to a place that housed so many books, on top of books, on top of books… I was right in literary heaven! From colorful picture books to interesting topic-specific fact books, I wanted them all to come home with me. And with my new library card in tow, the library became a weekly venture for my mother and I.

Why should you make sure your kids take occasional trips to the library? Christine French Cully, Editor in Chief of Highlight Children, provides these 5 Reasons to Take Your Kids to the Library:

1. Regular library visits inevitably leads to more reading.

  • Remember, within the first 5 years of a child’s life, their brain and knowledge is working at a faster rate than it’ll ever work. So go, feed that baby’s brain. They’ll thank you in a big way later, after graduating from an Ivy League university ;)

2. When you visit the library, you can expose your kids to more books and magazines than you can afford to buy.

  • Take home as many cool books as you can carry out to the car. Then after that load is read, return it and get a whole new pile of books. Explore the many aisles of the children’s section and allow your kid to pick up his/her favorites. It doesn’t get much better than that.

3. Your local children’s librarian can recommend books that you may not know of or think to suggest, broadening their tastes and expanding their minds and vocabulary

  • Constant learning and exploring their imagination is the point, right? :) And you’ll be surprised – by what books you may see as random – your child fall in love with and want read to him/her every night

4. Library time is active, not passive

  • Libraries often host events where they bring in animated storytellers, different engaging shows and even the authors themselves come in and interact with the kids. Connecting with their favorite books and its authors along with the other little library goers, really gives the children an invaluable experience.

5. Owning a library card teaches kids responsibility.

  • Owning their own library card make kids feel responsible and important. They learn to keep up with it and value their belongings.

To read the entire, original article, click here.

How about you – what are your library stories? Do these 5 reasons sound about right to you? Or based off the 5 reasons will you now take your kids more often? Let us know below! :) #SomethingAboutCeMarie? She loves books!

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Work Cited

Original article is courtesy of Huffington Post.

View the original article here.

Notes to all the Special Mothers out there on Mother’s Day

Today is Mother’s Day… Ce’Marie and I would like to wish all of the fabulous mothers out there a wonderful, happy day and year!

Here’s a special note from Ce’Marie to her mother:

“To my pretty, caring and hardworking mommy, I love you! :) :) You are shapping shaping my life to grow up and become a fun fierce, brave Queen, like you. You are our #1 fan – always going above and beyond to help us pursue our dreams. Thank you for believing in me and all of my bright ideas. I’ve been told my imagination is stupid and dreaming is for losers – and I believed it for 1 second until you told me it’s actually pretty unique and a good sense of wild. You taught me to not worry about what mean people say and to just enjoy being free in my imagination. I thank you mama for never belittling my dreams and instead telling me to shoot even higher than the stars… Momma, I hope you like my our card I we got for you – I really really hope so because I spent all of my allowance on it. ~ ♥︎ ~ P.S. it was alot of my idea to get you the bamboo plant, thought it would brighten up your desk while at work. I hear you sometimes talk to daddy about the stress of work, so this should help alot tremendously. I got Rewo [Ce’Marie’s older brother] to pay for it – I told him he owed it to us mommy ;) Ms. T [Ce’Marie’s school teacher] always says, ‘Keep up the hard-work, because someone is taking notice and another is always watching while the other is taking notes.’ I never really understood what that meant, until now (well more like 42 minutes ago when I asked Rewo). Well, I’ve taken notice of your hard-work and now I’m watching you while I take my notes :) xoxo, Ce’Marie Your Kids”

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And a note from the author of Ce’Marie books to all the responsible, great mothers out there who are making a positive difference in the lives of their kids and others:

I thank you.

I thank you for all of your hard work and dedication in raising strong, confident, smart, and loving children. We need more people, and especially more mothers, like you in this world! It is no easy task to not only birth a child but to also raise a child. Raising children takes strength, determination, money, PATIENCE and a good heart. So to all the mothers out there who are taking care of business and making it happen, I applaud and humbly thank you. And those of you superwomen who have to do it alone, I take my hat off to you. Today was designed in honor of the mothers and your persistence in making sure when it came to your family, sh* got done correctly, each and every time!

So… a toast to you, a beautiful future and a blessed year of happiness. Cheers! *clink *clink *clink

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And lastly, the most difficult note to compose – a note to all the Nigerian mothers who are awaiting the return of their innocent daughters:

We are all praying for you. We want our girls back. We want our daughters back, and we want this NOW!  So #BringBackOurGirls!

I pray that they are safe and unharmed. I pray that God helps them get through whatever it is they are battling. And when they do return (I am talking this into existence), I pray they suffer no more. We love you all and wish you comfort in God’s word. You AND your daughters will overcome this.

Your daughters will remain in our prayers until they are declared well and in your loving arms.

Written with so much love, empathy and concern,

xoxo

R.

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Thank you for the beautiful pictures! (Picture Credits)

#RockACrown[LA] and #BringBackOurGirls!

Wow, how could I forget to share this event with you all! Ce’Marie and I attended a wonderful event this past Sunday afternoon. It was called #RockACrownLA.

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The purpose of the event was to raise awareness of the #BringOurDaughtersBack movement. A good 35-40 LA dwellers came together to pray and stand in solidarity at Manhattan Beach on May 4th. I heard about it via social media and instantly knew I wanted to be a part of it.

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As we walked up to the designated meeting area, we noticed a group of gals and guys – old and young – gathered in a circle. It was such a beautiful thing. Everyone had on their head-wrap “crowns”, as suggested by the organizers. With my head-wrap on, I felt a sense of connection to the young Nigerian girls.

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Unsurprisingly though, a lot of people had no idea what had occurred in Nigeria on April 15th. So they had no clue as to why we were there. There were some who thought we were preparing for a church ritual while others thought someone had just gotten married. After explaining to curious onlookers why we gathered there and what we were doing – they were stunned at the news. They had not previously heard about what happened to the over 300 Nigerian schoolgirls. And what touched my heart, outside of the event itself, were those who, after being informed of why we were there, stopped what they were doing and joined us for the cause – signing both the petition on charity.org and the contact sheet with their information for notice on future #Bringbackourgirls events.

I left the event feeling a great sense of inspiration. From church to brunch then lastly to the beach, I had had a wonderful, invigorating Sunday.

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How about you? Have you been enjoying your weekends? Do you fill them with activities that you are passionate about? Tell us below :)

 

 

#BringBackOurGirls

Dear Friends,

It has been 23 days since my friends in Nigeria went missing from their beds on the night of April 15th, 2014.

I am sad and hurt by this tragedy. But I remain hopeful.

I pray everyday for all of my friends that are missing, along with their families, my other friends remaining in the area, the people of Nigeria and my American friends who have friends and/or family affected by the kidnapping.

My mommy has been allowing me to watch the news coverage about the kidnappings with her. She knows how much the well-being of the kidnapped girls mean to me. The news lady had announced around April 16th or 17th that at least 53 girls were able to escape. My mother and I were so happy to hear this! However, there are still at least 234 of our friends out there who have not returned home. But I remain hopeful.

I asked my mommy, the day after it aired, how such a thing could happen to them when they were under the supervision of their school’s officials. ‘Cause at my school, there are so many rules about the fence that protects the perimeter of my school. Like, no talking through the fence, no going outside of the fence, no fetching flying balls on the other side of the fence, no shoving things through the fence, no playing on the fence, no looking at the fence…ok, I made this last one up – but I think you get my point :). My school is very strict about the fence. And I used to hate that and complained to my mom all the time about it. But she would always tell me it was for our safety from strangers.

Now, I understand.

The news lady also told us that the men who took my friends came late at night while everyone was sleeping. I usually talk to my friend, Adebukola (I like to call her “Kola”), at least once a month around 9:00pm her time and 1:00pm my time. And my other friend, Ifeolu (I call her LuLo), at least once a month as well, but the time fluctuates. I have not heard from either of them since the kidnapping took place at their school, Chibok Government Girls Secondary School. I am worried. But I still remain hopeful. Because I know that my friends are all strong and smart. And every night before I go to sleep, my mommy, daddy, sister, brothers and I pray for them together. I pray that they are all safe and unharmed. I pray that they are even stronger than expected and more intelligent beyond their age and grade level so that they are able to figure out their escape. I also pray that Kola and Lulo are OK and safe at home with their parents.

I hope our prayers are being heard each night.

Friends, I must go now. I want to catch the ending of Oprah reruns with my mom. But I will keep you updated on whatever I hear about our girls. I will also let you know immediately when my friends either skype, email or write me a letter – I know my friends are well and safe and I am positive that I will be hearing from them soon. My mommy tells me to just pray and watch out for their communication. And I do. Everyday after school, I run home, check the mailbox, log onto skype and turn the alerts volume all the way up so that even if I am outside, I will hear the skype ringer.

xoxo,

Ce’Marie

 

 

How I Spent My Sunday: Los Angeles Festival of Books

A goal of Ce’Marie’s:

Be a featured guest at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books – 2015!

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This past weekend was the Los Angeles Times’ Festival of Books (FOB, #BookFest & #latimesfob) at USC! This was our second year attending as guests and each time we’ve dreamed of attending as featured guests with our name, book and character getting recognition there. It’s only a matter of time… :)

But in the meantime, we thought we’d go ahead and participate in the wall of “What Books Inspire Your Fire?” Can you guess what book would that be for us? Yep! Ce’Marie! It’s on its way to completion — the writing and illustrating process definitely inspires the fire within us – without a doubt ♥︎

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The atmosphere there is always amazing – from the excited children to the caring parents to the starving artists and the scrumptious food, Festival of Books is always a fun and happy place – a close second place to Disney World as the happiest place in the world :)

At FOB, one can receive free books of different genres, possibly have the opportunity to meet the authors behind their favorite books, get autographs from authors, receive pamphlets and other literature explaining an array of subjects, enjoy free bookmarks, purchase books at discounted prices, and so much more!

Will we see you there next year?

xoxo

iLove… iCRE ❦ TIVE

As the R&B singer August Alsina says, “Man, I love this…, Man I love this…, Man I love this…, I love it! I love it! I love it!”

My feelings exactly.

I love working towards this something that has been nothing more than a thought and a dream, for so many years. I love going to sleep thinking about what’s next and how will I go about that – all while wishing my body and eyes weren’t tired in the first place.

I love the progress I make each and every day. And the feeling of accomplishment when I’m able to cross out a line from my ‘To-Do’ list, YAY!

I love talking about my vision for the brand, what the end result will be, what I desire its impact to be. I love seeing a dream come into fruition, a dream that so many people have misunderstood, mocked and looked me upside my head for pursuing.

Ce’Marie has been the source of my happiness.

Broke, tired and sometimes doubtful, I still remain happy with faith and hope, and the ability to stay true to my calling – all while  e m b r a c i n g  |  me   &   i n s p i r i n g  |  others.

Check out my work station. Super small. But my dreams and goals don’t like to be upstaged, no way ;)

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Here’s a special Sneak Peek at what’s been sewing at “La Chambre de Ce’Marie” (aka The House of Ce’Marie) on that very desk above…

Special Note to Those out There w/BIG Dreams & even BIGGER obstacles:

Whoever is out there reading this – I believe in you. I believe in your abilities. I believe in your vision. I encourage you to pursue whatever dream you have that has been weighing your thoughts down, tapping at your heart and whispering to you nonstop. This does not have to be a full time pursuit, if that is not feasible for you – take it one step at a time, one foot in front of the other until you are able and ready to run and conquer. Do your research. Refine your skills. And in the meantime, continue to sew your seeds, be kind and helpful to others, and believe in yourself and your abilities.

xoxo

 

 

International Reading Month – Let’s Read!!

While over on Amazon’s site looking for my pastor’s book, Purpose Awakening, I noticed on the homepage that this month is International Reading Month! What are you currently reading?

Screen shot 2014-03-20 at 8.41.08 PMLately, I’ve been reading The Writer’s Market – 2014 Edition by Robert Lee Brewer, a NYLON magazine, my business plan. I’m also slowly reading The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison and soon will add Purpose Awakening to this month’s group of books.

A few of my ‘International Reading Month’ recommendations – For the parents:

  • Purpose Awakening by Toure Roberts

& my all-time favorites since high school…

  • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
  • Great Expectations by Charles Dickens

Screen shot 2014-03-20 at 9.09.18 PMReading with the kids:

  • Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
  • Lies and Other Tall Tales by Christopher Myers and Zora Neal Hurston
  • Harlem by Christopher Myers

Interesting combinations, huh? :)

Let me know your thoughts along with your favorite books. What are you reading this moth?