What No One Tells You About Spring In Chicago

What No One Tells You About Spring In Chicago

Heey Spring! Yep this is spring. I took this picture from my window yesterday March 23, 2015
Heey Spring! Yep this is spring. I took this picture from my window yesterday March 23, 2015

It’s Spring time baby! Birds chirping, baseball season and……snow! Yes today March 23, the 4th day of Spring, Chicago was hit with up to 6 inches of snow in some areas. I know what all you out of towners are saying, why don’t we get snow until April Chicago is so lucky…..said no one ever!

You know the funniest shit I saw today? People were actually putting their lawn chairs and house furniture back out in the street holding parking spaces. If you’ve never rode through a Chicago neighborhood after a fresh snow you have missed the pleasure of seeing 1981 kitchen chair sets and old baby strollers hold parking spaces after a hard day of shoveling. It gets so real in Chicago that someone cut a woman’s brake lines on her car after they had returned home and found she’d move their lawn chair and parked her car in their space in the Ukranian Village neighborhood.

Jesus cures the blind, walks on water and holds it down on the parking side in the Chi!  Photo courtesy of chicagodibs.tumblr.com
Jesus cures the blind, walks on water and apparently holds it down on the parking side in the Chi!
Photo courtesy of chicagodibs.tumblr.com
But if Jesus is busy ya know being Jesus grab that old t.v. off of the back porch and stake your claim!  Photo courtesy of chicagodibs.tumblr.com
But if Jesus is busy ya know, being Jesus and all,  grab that old t.v. off of the back porch and stake your claim!
Photo courtesy of chicagodibs.tumblr.com

It’s not all bad though Chicago! When the tides do change and the temp hits 70 we have to enjoy one of the most beautiful and exciting cities in the world.

I took this photo standing on top of the Halsted street bridge looking into downtown.
I took this photo standing on top of the Halsted street bridge looking South East into downtown.

Navy Pier. Shopping that will tire out the flyest of Housewives. Home of America’s 1st Black President. We have an amazing city and sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Throw on that winter coat for a few more days Chi city and get ready for some beauty. It’s almost April, it can’t snow forever! Until next time.-RD

Photo Courtesy of billboard.com
Photo Courtesy of billboard.com

The Chicago music scene has been continuously seeing its star get brighter and brighter. With Emcee’s Common, Kanye West, Lupe and Shawna paving the way, 2015 is seeing the underground Chicago music scene boil over into mainstream label ready artistry. Chicago is home to one of THE hottest up and coming lyrical beasts. Rather singing or rapping this femcee sets the bar high for the competition. Signed to Mosley Music Group through Epic Records Chicago artist Tink has taken her underground following and out of the box lyrics to a soon to be international platform.

Photo courtesy textbooktimbo.blogspot.com
Photo courtesy textbooktimbo.blogspot.com

Before being signed to a major label Tink was already a force in the Chicago music scene. Her first mixtape Winter’s Diary dropped in 2012 to a good reception but it was her A Zae Production, Chief Keef-3 Hunna freestyle that caught the attention of the world. Don’t you just love YouTube? Gotta give it to the platform for allowing such creative minds to upload their craft. What can seem like over night, Tink was scooped up by music mogul Timbaland and since he took her under his wing she’s been making major moves with the heavy hitters of the industry.

In an ode, a dedication, to America’s Babies Tink released the Timbaland produced track “Tell the Children”; in wake of the murder of unarmed teenager Michael Brown by Ferguson, MO police officer Darren Wilson. “Boys being gunned down, your boys is havin’ fun now. With our blood and our sons, disturbing the peace. He’s more afraid of him and he’s the one with the piece?” Going where most of today’s artists are scared to go, or let’s be honest just really don’t give a f@$% about going, she is filling a wide void that’s been left open since…….Lauryn HIll. Yes I said it and that’a huge statement. With flows, verses and vocal ability she covers the versatility in style and delivery, couple that with the honest and necessary for the times lyrics I think we may have someone for the kids to listen to, maybe it’s Tink if it isn’t you? The big homie Yeezy said it best in his 3rd studio release summer anthem Champion, “When it feels like living’s harder than dying, For me giving up’s way harder than trying. Lauryn Hill said her heart was in Zion, I wish her heart still was in rhyming. Cause who the kids gone listen to? I guess it’s me if it isn’t you.”  Not stopping there Tink already has 2015 going crazy with her newest hit Ratchet Commandments. Although a bit vulgar for the first few minutes she does hit dead on the lifestyles of some of our most precious queens and kings. “I told Tim like, I’m irritated, devastated. I thought, I thought we had some young queens what you mean? We act beligerent, generation of ignorance. Chicks live for ‘the Gram so they life ain’t got no significance. And guys is ratchet too, just in another way. You fake fathers never held your daughters, never had a conversation. You too f@#$ng immature to get an occupation.”

Photo courtesy of Lauryn Hill's twitter @misslaurynhill
Photo courtesy of Lauryn Hill’s twitter @misslaurynhill

I’m excited! Music is representative of the people. It’s been a while since we’ve had someone rep the Queen. No disrespect to any current artists but we all know lyrical conversations for the soul of the queen have been on pause for a while. Could Tink be apart of the answer, its too soon to tell but she is certainly on her way. All Chicago love, until next time. -RD

Why 1 Effortless Click, A Hash Tag & A Lunch Bag Can Change America

Why 1 Effortless Click, A Hash Tag & A Lunch Bag Can Change America

This months volunteer's at #hashtagchicago getting down in the sandwich assembly line!
This months volunteer’s at #hashtagchicago getting down in the sandwich assembly line!

We all know that one person can change the world but did you know that one person can change the world one hash tag at a time? This Saturday Chi By Design joined a group of amazing volunteers all brought together through one hash tag. Here’s how it goes. Christmas Day in 2012 a group of friends got together to make some meals for the homeless, they had a blast, played some music and uploaded their experience to social media. A friend told a friend, that told a friend, that told a friend and the next thing you know they had almost a hundred friends in a tiny apartment putting together hearty meals for the homeless all through money that friends pitched in. The group uploaded this 2nd experience to social media under #hashtaglunchbag and before you know it there were groups of caring individuals all across the country pitching in, making lunches and passing them out to the homeless!

This weekend was #hashtaglunchbagchicago’s turn to show up and show out and that we did! I was so excited because this was an all ages community project! My son has the heart of gold and he loves volunteering but some activities are limited to adults, when he was handed his name tag to fill out he felt like the man! I was so happy to see so many kids, teens and young adults come out eager to do some good in the hood!

#hashtagchicago event coordinators taking a moment to smile with the children and teens who came out to volunteer today!
#hashtagchicago event coordinators taking a moment to smile with the children and teens who came out to volunteer today!

The setup was simple. After we created our name tags we walked over tot he decorating station. The cool thing about #hashtaglunchbag is not only that we feed the homeless but volunteers hand decorate each bag and add a personalized card with a message to the recipient of the lunch. Here are a few of the bags I made. You know Royal Diva loves to color!

A note card I decorated for one of the lunches #hashtaglunchbagchicago
A note card I decorated for one of the lunches #hashtaglunchbagchicago

Inserting these inspirational messages grabbed my heart in a way that I wasn’t ready for. Imagine that I woke up that morning with my purpose in life being to help a specific person that I never met before and honestly will probably never meet. Hmmm……feel good stuff man. After we got our decorate on we whipped it over to the assembly line where my son got down and dirty making sandwiches with smiley face mustard patterns. Gotta love kids right.

CBD_HAshtag_LunchPrepareLine

This whole event was made even more special at the close of assembly when we all took a moment of silence for our recently deceased brother in love John ‘LJ’ Hackney who recently made peace with his battle with cancer. Such a wonderful individual and such a wonderful cause! I was so happy to be able to join #hashtaglunchbagchicago and the entire national #hashtaglunchbag movement. Remember this was sparked by 1 group of friends, just imagine the impact we could have on the world if every group of friends came up with one way to help! Until next time, remember to give a little and get a little. Much love.-RD

For more information on the movement, ways you can join and help please log on to hashtaglunchbag.org, on IG follow #hashtaglunchbagchicago and let Royal Diva know how you decided to help @ royaldiva.tv@gmail.com and @chiroyaldiva IG!

The Secret Way Geeks Are Leading Luxury Fashion In Chicago

The Secret Way Geeks Are Leading Luxury Fashion In Chicago

Royal Diva Pop Art in Fashion Geek head to toe.
Royal Diva Pop Art in Fashion Geek head to toe.

When you think of Chicago what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Is it Barney’s or the House of Chanel on Michigan Avenue? If you only think of Michael Jordan and snow storms when you picture the Windy City you are missing out on some of the dopest fashions! One of today’s hottest luxury fashion brands has been in the city for over 10 years and travels all over the country giving a little piece of Chicago to the world. Ever seen one cool as hell illustrated duck with the blue specs?

FG Duck Coat
Signature Fashion Geek Duck Mascot. Men’s waist length leather coat. Photo courtesy of chicagofashionincubator.com

Or the super cool geek logo in bright blocked colors?

Fat shouts to my late night #geek #fleek from Fashion Geek 69 East 16th Street Chicago, Il.
Fat shouts to my late night #geek #fleek from Fashion Geek 69 East 16th Street Chicago, Il.

If you walk the circles of Chicago’s trendy wear then I’m certain you’ve peeped these Fashion Geeks! I stopped by the Store today at 69 East 16th Street and found a cool welcoming environment. They even offered to laugh if I would have hit the electric slide across the floor in my boots…..just like family! 🙂 As I tried a few of the pieces on one thing I noticed was the quality of the materials they use. I was really feeling the deigns on the clothes so I asked store owner and designer Alonzo ‘Zoe’ Jackson a few questions about the pieces and his inspiration.

Born and raised on the South side of Chicago Fashion Geek began when Zoe was a just a teen sketching the now famous duck mascot. The brand started out with handmade pieces created by the founders but as clientele and demand grew, the process did too and the clothes began to be manufactured, although the patches are still hand sewn to this day.

FG Table of Clothes

FG Jesus Piese Sweatshirt

Fashion Geek is one of the most recognizable brands out of Chicago. Celebrities often rock FG including D. Rose,Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco. I asked Zoe what makes his brand stand out from the rest, he said its quality. “I’m ready for a hater to say something, its at the top of everything.” Most pieces range from $40-$600 and you can stop this South Loop treasure at 69 East 16th Street daily from 12-7, 312-465-2664. I had a good laugh or two this afternoon when I stopped by and everyone in there was really nice. Go check out Fashion Geek on IG @fashiongeekzo and Twitter @fashiongeekzo

Only $45?

Only $45?

Royal Diva feeling feminine, pampered and full of love energy. All for 45! Smile ladies.
Royal Diva feeling feminine, pampered and full of love energy. All for 45! Smile ladies.

I have this fascination. No wait. I have this addiction, yes that’s a better word, an addiction. Ever since the calendar days of my life have flipped closer towards 30 I have this insane desire to look and feel………like a lady. Pardon me, in my sexiest Marilyn Monroe voice. I. Am. A. Lady. I love the beauty of a no-chip manicure. How fiercely can I grab hold of the world, my man and these kids with a perfectly polished set of nails? More than a tight skirt can do, these powder pink nails give the world a small glimpse into the life force behind my smile. Only 45?

The other day my sister friend asked me what makes me smile. Of course I said my kids. I like puppies too, they’re cute. She said no. What makes your soul smile? What puts that little tingle in your spine and makes you feel on top of the world. Hmmmm. Good question. The first thing that popped into this overcrowded mind of mines were my bi-weekly Mani & Pedi’s.  The smooth way that bubbling water with the blue salt transforms my urban acrylic oasis into the white Jamaican sands; how those abrasive back massagers become Emery in a Speedo an hour and a half before I have to put the meatloaf on.  I can say nothing makes me feel more feminine, more girly and more like a lady than the $45 I spend twice a month with my sisters in love from the Vietnam.

But the sassy mom takes over my sexy side and says Ahmir could have gotten a new pair of school shoes or a new uniform. Dang $45 could have been my oil change and Chic-Fil-A for the kids since we’re going to be getting home late. How many hats do I wear? Which hat is more important? Is it the mother or significant other hat? The daughter or good neighbor hat? We won’t throw the spirituality hat in this equation…….see what I go through?!?! Or is it the woman hat? Is it the White hat Olivia Pope, Gladiator, She-Woman, I can do all things so I neeeds my bi-weekly mani-pedi escape to the white Jamaican sands and Emery, oh don’t forget the dark-chocolate immaculately sculpted, Emery.

 Insert You, Emery and the best massage here.....

Insert You, Emery and the best massage here…..

Whether its $5 or $45 ladies don’t skimp out on the most important person in the equation, you. Money comes. Money goes. It’s circular. You will continuously have moments of relative wealth and moments of relative struggle. But in the shadows waiting for her day in the sun SHE will always be, you, beautiful lady. Once those small cries turn into adolescent “mommies” and then to deep voiced “Thanks mom’s” and on to “Yes mom I promise to call you more often’s” you will remain. With or without that $45 7 years ago you couldn’t give yourself because the little one could use just one more uniform shirt. If your kids take turns washing their shirts by hand on Saturday mornings because they will last much longer than in the washing machine, then that’s just that much more time you all get to spend together learning shit they should know how to do anyway! Ha! Chicago can be a stressful place, we need your light ladies.  Live a little ladies and laugh a little more. So, tell me now, only $45? Dam right!

The Unspoken Topic Killing the People of Chicago

The Unspoken Topic Killing the People of Chicago

Photo courtesy of publichealthnerds.blogspot.com
                                      Photo courtesy of publichealthnerds.blogspot.com

If you turn on the news you hear people talk a lot about what’s wrong with Chicago. Politicians, pollution, crime etc.. but one problem that plagues this great big beautiful city more than ever goes unspoken about. This kills thousands of Chicagoan’s every year and yet I hear very little talk about it. You know it. I know it. Why are we scared? Why don’t we speak up and provide the very simple solutions to this epidemic.This one CAN be solved. Okay maybe I’m being a little hard on us here. I think people do understand what a major problem this is in my city. According to the Illinois Alliance to Prevent Obesity 62% of Illinois’ adults are overweight or obese. The epidemic that is a silent killer in the Chicagoland area is fat. Bulging belly fat and protruding waist lines are slowly killing the people of my city.

Now am I fat shaming? No, not at all. I’ve spent most of my life in a body that was heavier than normal. I was a fat little girl and I have my moments as a grown adult when I am heavier than I would like to be. That is how I can speak first hand on how devastating this epidemic in our city is. I was fortunate enough to leave home at the age of 17 and start my collegiate career in the beautiful city of Atlanta, GA. 300 days of beauty, more college campuses in a metropolitan area than I can count and a bustling economy were all so welcoming to me. I was in love, until…..it was 101 degrees during the dog days of August and I was walking around campus in jeans and t-shirt. I had beautiful clothes but I had never seen so many people in one place with gorgeous and lean bodies! I mean seriously, everyone from the college students to the locals were slender and in good shape. No one was walking around with their bellies hanging out of their shirts or wearing super tiny shorts with not super tiny legs. This was the first time that I realized that it was not “the everyday normal” to be large and unhealthy.

I'm just saying, McDonald's is headquartered  in the Chicago Suburbs, bad start for our wellness and health initiative!
I’m just saying, McDonald’s is headquartered in the Chicago Suburbs, bad start for our wellness and health initiative!

Perhaps obesity is such an epidemic in Chicago because we don’t see it as a huge problem. Of course those of us who carry around health complications as well as extra weight feel the repercussions in their lives daily but for the people who are in fairly good health there is no constant warning or flashing yellow lights about the damage we are doing to our bodies. (I have a spectacular weight loss story to share at the end of this post but I will forever refer to “us” because this is a community problem and it effects us all.) Had we lived in a climate like Florida, the warm weather and necessity to shed layers of clothing would be a constant physical reminder to us of our extra weight. Perhaps if we lived in New York or L.A. the demanding fashion and business worlds would keep us on our physical toes; but we live in Chicago. A place that gets about 100 days of summer…on a good year, the middle of the heart land where growing crops and raising cattle were our forefathers’ past times. If weather and geography effect the mind in terms of happiness, drives and desires its no wonder we are packing on the pounds.  

Which picture makes you feel the best? Photo Courtesy of blog.dappersnappers.com
                            Which picture makes you feel the best?
                          Photo Courtesy of blog.dappersnappers.com
Which picture makes you feel better? Photo Courtesy of todayszaman.com
                               Which picture makes you feel better?
                           Photograph Courtesy of todayszaman.com

So? What are we going to do? You all know my motto, it’s the little things. Royal Diva will be contributing her .02 cents to the greater good by bringing you FUn, EASy and HEALTHy ways to fight diseases like heart disease, diabetes and fat, and giving you healthy recipes and meal choices. Chi By Design is about to change your life, one. blog. post. at. a. time. No worries, we are still going to bring you the local news and events around the city but we’ll do it with a flair. Stay tuned, Stay healthy and Stay Blessed!

P.S. My Weight Loss Success Story!

This January I was Blessed to give birth to a beautiful, pink, smiling baby girl. She has truly been amazing and brought so MUCH joy to our family. However she brought on the pounds too! For 3 months of maternity leave I and ate slept all day with my baby. In April I was headed back to work but I couldn’t fit any of my work clothes! I was throwing pieces together here and there just working with anything I could fit. I got back working, I got back active. I was feeling good.  Then my grandmother began her decent from this side of life and I was thrown through a major life change again. My life got flipped, turned upside down (fat shouts to Fresh Prince) and I decided then that I would live like my grandmother. My grandmother was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma Cancer at the age of 71. At the age of 73 my grandmother had defied the odds and kicked cancer’s butt! She completely changed her diet, limited her meat intake to 1x a week, ate all organic, fresh fruits and vegetables, got physically active (at 71 WITH cancer!) and 2 years later with the grace of God and the help of her choices her life changed and she was cancer free. In this spirit I began to detox, to push all of those nasty toxins out of my body and began to fill up with the glorious and wonderful foods naturally provided to us. I lost over 30 pounds in 5 months! I hope you can join me in changing YOUR life.

Try my Health, Wellness and Peace Workshop in Chicago on October 11 for a 3 hour session on natural homegrown ways to reduce stress, eliminate toxins and reverse effects from common diseases like diabetes, obesity and various cancers.

To Register for the Wellness, Health & Peace Workshop call 312.721.8112!
To Register for the Wellness, Health & Peace Workshop call 312.721.8112!

Join Royal Diva and her team #Kisses4BreastCancer October 25 as we walk for a cure! If you can’t walk with our team, please consider donating to our fundraising goal here!  $1, $2 or whatever you can spare, we’d certainly appreciate it.

Follow our FB Page @ facebook.com/kissesforbreastcancer or donate here!
Follow our FB Page @ facebook.com/kissesforbreastcancer
or donate here!

What ways are you using YOUR individual power to help?

How the Jackie Robinson West Little League Team Made Me Face My Fears and Become Vulnerable

How the Jackie Robinson West Little League Team Made Me Face My Fears and Become Vulnerable

Perhaps we'll travel this journey together. Photo courtesy of Spanish Photographer Jimmy Hoffman.
Perhaps we’ll travel this journey together. Photo courtesy of Spanish Photographer Jimmy Hoffman.

I ask myself a lot how can I tell you about the city of Chicago and hide myself at the same time. Blogging for me is so personal. I put my heart into everything that I write. But what about the times when my heart feels something that words can only defile. For example, the National Championship winning Jackie Robinson West Little League Team is celebrating a major historic win right now, at this moment in our city. Those babies and the people that support them have taken off work and lined their children on the parade route to give them a glimpse of what is possible when you dedicate yourself to a common goal. But as I watch the news coverage, because I certainly don’t have one of those take off for parades type of positions, and I see Governor Pat Quinn and Jesse Jackson and other public officials, I’m furious. I’m heated. I’m sad.

Photo by @merjourn for the Chicago Tribune
Photo by @merjourn for the Chicago Tribune

As the parade route marches down Halsted I couldn’t help but thank God that these 13 beautiful boys, 13 beautiful Black boys, were being ushered down the street in a trolley and not a hearse. How do I tell my readers, my readers whom 50% are non-ethnic, how sad I feel knowing that as soon as tomorrow there will be another parade down Halsted, a parade of grieving family members for a Black kid just like those 13 Little Leaguer’s on the Jackie Robinson West team.  How can I be honest about the city of Chicago without being vulnerable?

Photo courtesy of Gatlings Funeral Chapel
Photo courtesy of Gatlings Funeral Chapel

I have not addressed the nationwide news story of the murder of Ferguson, MO resident Michael Brown at the hands of police. I don’t know how to. ‘I don’t know how to’ are words that I have never uttered before when it comes to my writing. I have thesaurus’s’, dictionary’s, encyclopedia subscriptions and one of the most photographic memories I have encountered outside of Rain Main. So here’s a moment of silence, a pause, for the death of Michael Brown, the growth of the Jackie Robinson West Little League Team, the maturation of my vulnerabilities and the catalyst of our bonds together through sharing my real self with you.

I hope you excuse my absence and come back for more. My writing can only get better as I open up from a caterpillar to a butterfly and find the courage to share my true self with you and the city of Chicago. I love my city like no other, and together I know you all will get me through this. Thank you for your patience, and remember to always spread love- it’s the Chi-Town way. –RD.

P.S. Thank you to my favorite word-smith Penelope Trunk for the encouragement to write again and let go of my fears of being vulnerable. You my friend, rock.