August 27, 2015

10 easy ways to save money for attending conferences

By Tatianah Green

Conventions and conferences are great ways to meet new like-minded people and develop a skills or to better yourself. I went to two events this summer: a conference and a convention. 

There are conferences, festivals, conventions, expos for pretty much everything! If I could I'd go to more, but the way my budget is set up, it's not going to happen unless it was FREE. 

From annual events to specialized weekends, it is possible to take advantage of what these events offer and still pay your tithes and bills.

Thankfully I found in my recent travels that there are several ways here and there to save money while attending conventions and conferences, especially for those who are traveling solo or single:

1. Register early!!! I was reminded by my blog sistah Winnie to register for Blogging While Brown to lock in the early registration rate. Sometimes we find that we have a little extra money to spend on a trip and then you find out about an event at the last minute. Consider just signing up for the event's newsletter to receive email updates on the next conference/event and get those early registration rates!

2. Know when to book your flights. If you choose to fly, book flights on sales (Tuesday-Thursday) and as early as possible. Deal sites and Southwest Airlines sales occur nearly monthly, so you have to be diligent about grabbing that good deal on a flight to your event. I was able to lock in tickets to the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) convention in Minneapolis from Chicago on Southwest for only $172 roundtrip during one of their big sales in June, a big savings for me compared to driving several hours in a rented car to the convention. I'm also not opposed to bus or Amtrak transport, but I didn't use them this year.

3. Stay with family or AirBNB. I'm only going to blog about what I actually did for this year's living arrangements. In Texas for the Blogging While Brown conference, I stayed with my aunt and uncle and drove a rented car to the conference. I rented a car because I wanted to drive to Houston afterwards and you need a car for them Texas highways. So the money I spent on the car ($300) I made up for the costs by staying with family and one night with Winnie (thank you girly for your generosity) at the host hotel in Austin. 

For the NABJ convention I tried AirBNB for the first time. It's an affordable way to stay in destinations without all the hotel costs. In a nutshell: it's like staying at a friend's home and paying them for that stay. My total stay cost = $193 for 3 nights/4 days. Yes hunty, that was probably how much is was for one night in the host hotel, but I made a choice and saved some coin staying in a rented private room. The house was actually all to myself, as my host was out of town for that same time period, even better!

4. Take public transit if available. I'm used to the Chicago transit system, so taking the metro train in Minneapolis a few weeks ago was easy and convenient for me. I chose my AirBnB spot because it was close to public transportation. The cost for my ride per day = $1.75-2.25 on weekdays, $6.50 for a day pass on Saturday. You can take the Metro transit in Minneapolis to the Mall of America and to St. Paul. Minneapolis is a beautiful city, I'd definitely recommend visiting this place solo or with friends and enjoy the weekend in the Twin Cities.

5. Go to as many free receptions as you can. NABJ actively emailed attendees in advance about upcoming free events and parties to RSVP for or to show up. I met a former Chicago reporter and he invited me to attend a free reception hosted with finger foods and free drinks. Sponsors put on these events to meet attendees, network, or unveil their latest products and services. The food was so tasty and it was another way to meet new people and make acquaintances. Save money on food and beverages by attending a reception. 

6. Make new friends and connections over lunch. Thank God I found some foodies like myself on these trips. I was able to meet with my blogging and journo friends for food. Sometimes you get a better deal eating with a group or you can get your meal covered, thanks to Colin Udoh for your generosity at Hell's Kitchen Restaurant! Plus, your new connects and friends may know of better tasting food spots in the city you're in and save money there instead of paying more downtown or in the hotel. Don't forget to use your debit/credit card to rack up points on food purchases. I have Chase and I get triple points at restaurants the first weekend of every month. 

7. Keep a water bottle refilled. These convention venues are relentless about their money and will charge up to $3.00 for a water bottle. I brought a water bottle and refilled it with the water provided at special luncheon stations (not fountains), saving about $6 a day. At the BWB Conference I also did a Walmart run and bought snacks in bulk to keep my cravings at bay and save money versus paying more at vending machines or losing time by leaving the conference. You know your hunger and thirst levels--plan accordingly. 

8. Stock up on free giveaways and goodies. Please don't judge me on this, but you can score a lot of free goodies and swag during your conference visit. In fact, some would suggest packing an empty bag so you can have space to bring all those new things home. I was able to get free food, pens, notebooks, hair supplies and more for myself and friends. You can save money on gifts or souvenirs by gifting those items or use them for the future. I'll never have to buy another pen again! 

9. Bring your business card for connections and contests. This one came in handy for both conventions. A business card is your key to some events and the opportunity for people to catch up with you long after the event is over. You're going to be meeting people all day long, so a memorable business card will set you apart. Other than that, a lot of sponsored activities want your business card in exchange for a giveaway or prize at the events. I went to one session in which they did a business card pull for a new iPad! Get your cards in order before you attend any conference or convention, you never know what they'll be good for outside of networking.

10. Volunteer for the conference host. This I did not do this year, but there are many conferences and events that will allow you access to their event for FREE just by being a volunteer. One of my sisters attended Lollapalooza, an annual music festival, for free by being a volunteer. Those tickets are pricey and sell out quickly! If you're in the city that the conference is located, see about volunteering before/during the event and you may get the chance to attend for free or steep discount. 

**For those interested in attending Heather Lindsey's Pinky Promise Conference the dates and registration are already available for 2016. I'd love to attend with a group of my fellow sisters in Christ for this in July 2016!**

Also for my fellow bloggers and new media entrepreneurs of color, Blogging While Brown hosts their annual conference next summer as well. Check their site for updates on the location, dates and when to lock in those early bird rates.

What conferences and events are you interested in attending this year or next? If you have travel questions for me, send me an email at

August 25, 2015

Do you have Fear of Missing Out when it comes to love?

By Tatianah Green

I've recently learned about FOMO, also known as "fear of missing out," and it's context in social media. When you're not involved in something like your favorite social media site, you don't get to see the updates on what your friends are doing and you may have this overwhelming sense of anxiety that you're missing out on something. It hit me today that it's possible to have such a feeling about relationships. 

Men and women often romanticize the idea of being in a relationship, dating or being well on the way to marriage. It's a fun feeling to feel and experience romantic love, but to fear of missing out on it? 

How does your FOMO rate? Take the quiz here

 You may get that anxiety when you find out that someone you know is having a baby or their second with their spouse. When a friend gushes over the details of their wedding plans. When you realize that you may be the last in the crew or family to get in a long-term relationship or married. Those are just a few examples that can raise anxiety for some of us singles, causing us to second-guess our pace in life and God's will for our season of singleness.

I read a quote earlier this year with the simple truth: "If you were supposed to be in a relationship/married right now then you would."

Yes, that's true, but it's too matter-of-factly for some of us singles. We want some reassurance that we aren't being left in the cold out here while everyone else we may know in our lives (online and in person) are booed up. 

My FOMO rate was high! SMH
After being around family this past week, I see some of the realities of marriage and that FOMO feeling starts to fade. Marriage is beautiful and it can get ugly sometimes. It's fun at times and work at others. If you're single and fear missing out on relationships or marriage, break the fear by getting a dose of reality about singleness and marriage in this pivotal season of your life. 

You're not missing out on anything based on what you see out here. Everyone's marriage and relationship is different, and though it may be a challenge to fight the temptation to want what someone else has, remember that you too have a story that's currently being lived out page by page.

You may fear missing out on important events and activities set up for married folks. Trust me when I say that the married folks need that and then some. Marriages need the encouragement and opportunities to promote romantic love and spiritual bond between husband and wife to help keep their relationship strong. As a single, you have a wider variety of opportunities in life to take advantage of. You may even find some married people having FOMO feelings about you living your best life as a single.

It's true that what God has for you is for you. He knows and feels that concern like you. He knows your thoughts and wants you to let go of those minor fears and anxieties about love. Stay true to God's promises, to His perfect love that casts out all fear. His version of love is pure and it's patient. True love waits! And if true love is willing to wait, then my fellow beloved, you can too. 

In this waiting and preparing process you don't have to deal with FOMO, you can get engulfed in feeling gratitude, joy and peace for missing out on ungodly relationship drama caused by lack of discernment, impatience and disobedience. Praise and thankfulness is powerful enough to kill the fear you have about missing out on those seasons that have yet to come for you. Don't let it make you negative, bitter, complacent or depressed. You can make it and I'm here with you. Best of all, God is with us and reminds us to be content and faithful.

For more on  how to fight FOMO, read "10 Reasons to Toss FOMO Out the Window" by Daisy Rosales. 

August 11, 2015

Toure' and Sarah Jakes Roberts are expecting!

By Tatianah Green

I'm so excited! This summer has been the season for babies. Not only in people who I admire online, but also in my life. I was on YouTube today and found out the news that Sarah Jakes Roberts and Pastor Toure Roberts from One Church L.A. are expecting a new bundle of joy!

Source: Instagram

"When P.T. and I found out a few months ago that we are expecting a baby I didn't want to tell anybody," Sarah shared regarding their new life together being in the public eye. View the announcement here:

I am happy for the couple who wed in November 2014. Sarah and Toure have children from previous relationships, so this new baby will definitely be a welcome blessing to their loving family.

Shout out to the many couples who have welcomed or are welcoming babies into this world in 2015-2016! From Tamera and Adam Housley on July 1st, to Heather and Cornelius Lindsey about a week later on July 8th. My own cousin Rahshana and her hubby Rene welcomed their baby girl Elyse Isuk into the world on July 27th. I got to meet my baby cousin in Minneapolis over the weekend, hold the 6 pound princess and shower her with Hello Kitty goodies! 

On July 31st, Jamal and Natasha Miller of Married and Young welcomed their first child Harvest Ann! My coworker Danny and his wife are expecting their baby boy TODAY! Wow! There are countless others but I had to take notice of all the births and pregnancy announcements this season. God is amazing! 

Despite what goes on in the world, people are still going to get married. People are still going to have children. I pray that the Lord keeps us all in these special moments during these trying times. God's plan and purpose is bigger than ours! Let's strive to be in His will so that these babies can grow up to be who God destined them to be, healthy, strong and secure in His mighty love.

July 31, 2015

When it comes to love, walk don't drive

By Tatianah Green

Me at the @JesusIsTheReset
prayer board
Have you recognized these traits in our generation? We tend to want things quickly and how we want it. We move fast and at times want the easiest thing, event if it's not the best way to handle things. Quickie marriages, 24 hour divorces, microwave relationships, etc.; just putting things on a fast track. 

One of blessings I've come to appreciate as a single is the option (and need) to slow down. It's good to walk instead of run or drive all the time. It's better to rise early so you don't have to rush anywhere but take your time.

I was reminded of this when I decided to walk to get some food instead of drive like I normally do. On my near mile journey, I rediscovered several great things on my way to the destination. I found a local library (love books), a cultural association for my mom's home country, local shops and restaurants that I would like to visit one day, and of course--people.  

If I had driven to my destination instead of opting to walk, I wouldn't be able to see those places clearly and get a chance to examine them and make notes for the future. I wouldn't have practiced facing the minor conflicts within that God wants me to face (i.e. social anxiety). It reminded me of how many times we singles want to rush through this seemingly "long journey" called singleness and just be married to our destined mate. 

Trust me, I tried rushing and it's no good for any of us. As much as you want to get to your destination, when it comes to relationships, it's better to walk than to run or drive. 

We do have time to examine the ones we pursue or who are pursuing us. God is the creator of everything and He runs time. Let the desire to rush not be your portion because rushing brings forth anxiety and can cause you to be impulsive without sound judgement.

When you enter your dating and courting season, make it known what your desired destination is (i.e. marriage) and walk instead of drive to it. Get to know this person and what they are about. Get to know them in ways you wouldn't be able to if you were "driving." My fellow writer Tiya Sumter gave some great wisdom to expand on this if you want more information (CLICK HERE).

What will you see when you walk instead of drive? In the meantime, here's a song by Christon Gray called "Slow Down." Enjoy your weekend!

July 28, 2015

SOS: Be someone's tour guide

By Tatianah Green

Have you ever hosted a friend or family member in your hometown or the city you live in? It's cool to have have a guest or two over for a weekend this summer to explore your city together. 

My mom came to visit from Florida with her friend who's never been to Chicago. Although my mom lived here most of her life she didn't get to see the sights like Cloudgate aka the bean in Millennium Park or see the fireworks up close at Navy Pier.

It felt good to spend time with my mom and serving as a tour guide. On Saturday we endured the hot summer weather and ate some yummy food (Yolk in Lake View, lunch in Millennium Park, and dinner at Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.). 

We took an architecture tour of the city, cruising along the Chicago River and learning about the city's history. It ended with a nice view of the Saturday night fireworks show at Navy Pier which take place every Wednesday and Saturday during the summer season. 

Whatever you decide to do when you host someone, have a flexible plan available. We went to the Shedd Aquarium only to turn right back because the line to get in wrapped around around the building. 

This weekend's meals from Yolk, Pappadeaux, 
and Bubba Gump Shrimp Co.
In moments like that you gotta just "make it work" and find something else to see or do. Stay hydrated and take breaks in cool places like a park, museum or by the river. 

Best thing about hosting someone else is that you may feel like you're on a vacation too. What will you do when someone comes to visit? Have fun!

July 23, 2015

SOS: Spend time under the stars

By Tatianah Green

Source: Matt Payne (Flickr)

Summer days are great, but summer nights are simply magical. Except for the bugs, summer nights are one of the best parts of the season because it’s warm outside after dark, there are more activities outside, and of course—stars. 

God granted a group of us a beautiful night under the stars on the beach in northwest Indiana this month for my sis Russelyn’s event. It was her desire to have a fellowship gathering and worship the Lord on the beach. Putting her hospitality gifts to use, she had food, refreshments and other items that our group of ten needed for a night out at the Indiana Dunes State Park. We had music, sand, and lots of bug spray, glory!

Us at Indiana Dunes after worship and prayer!
What I enjoyed the most was the chance to chill and enjoy the Lord’s presence outside of the everyday four walls of home or church. The earth is His, and the fullness thereof. God gave us the world to explore and take care of; what better way to admire His beautiful creation than at night? At night things are still and quiet, allowing you to better focus on nature and seek the Lord. 

As a bonus, we got to see the stars where we normally wouldn’t be able to in the city and suburbs. Being on the beach miles away from the bright lights and bigger city allowed us to see the Big Dipper, the North Star, and shooting stars! God truly gave us a spectacular rain-free night for worship and prayer; what will you do under the stars this summer?

Let me know your favorite summer night activities at @BLISS_BCS

July 21, 2015

Ashley Madison gets hacked: when cheaters get exposed

By Tatianah Green

AM's map of most adulterous countries with U.S. in the top 3
Cheating, infidelity or unfaithfulness in marriage, is one of the biggest offenses in relationships. Nobody likes or wants to get cheated on. It happens though and very often nowadays in dating and marital relationships. To make matters worse, there are individuals, organizations and companies that benefit from adultery and the sin of infidelity, like the marriage dating website Ashley Madison

In recent news it appears that a hacking group the Impact Team has breached the site's security and threatened to release the private information of those who have profiles and accounts on this seemingly private website. At first glance most would say that's what the participants get. Some are on another angle, saying that publicly releasing the names of nearly 37 million AM global customers is taking public shaming and judgement to the next level. I'd like to share a faith perspective on this issue:

1. One part of me wants the people involved to feel exposed. That part of me is the girl who witnessed my parents fight. Who found out that my dad was not being faithful to my mother. Who realized that infidelity was a pretty active spirit in my family on both sides. Those who kept this online affair a secret should sweat some because it is very foolish to believe that doing dirt on the Internet was 1. safe and 2. private. If you don't learn it now, you'll never realize that everything posted online has potential to be traced back. What's done in the dark will come to light #thatsBible. That's also a popular theme in shows like Maury and Cheaters. We spectate and live off of someone else's drama and feed our inner desire for vengeance to be served. "In part I want them to feel what it's like to be on the side of the loved ones they are hurting..."

2. But they are already hurting. No man or woman who is truly happy with themselves or their spouse is going to just up and cheat. There's something that they are searching for that they themselves cannot fulfill or understand. Similar to the film Addicted, there are spiritual, mental and emotional reasons for infidelity and those battling the temptation should seek help to explore why they feel the way they do. The fact that there are nearly 37 million people signed up for the notion of having an affair means that something is wrong within, that... 

3. It's all about the condition of the heart. The word says that godly sorrow brings forth repentance, and I believe that's the key we're missing in this case. Worldly articles are going to talk about everything BUT the condition of these folk's hearts. The "customers" on Ashley Madison are just like you and me: sinners who need to repent and get it right with the Lord. The last thing I want for any of them is to be given over to a reprobate mind in which they continue to do what they do and reap the consequences of sin. Sin leads to death, no matter how big or small, but when you decide to humble yourself and turn away from the wicked ways, God will see you through... 

4. Because God knows all about it. He knows what it's like to be cheated on. We cheat on God with sin; when we are disobedient to His way. We cheat on Him when we bow down to other idols in our lives or in society, when we flee to people instead of Him. It hurts Him too because His love is so great for us no matter what we've done. He knows us deep in our core and is patient to see us turn our hearts back to Him. In light of this recent news I'm reminded of Jesus coming to the rescue for a woman caught in adultery. She was about to get stoned to death by those who thought they had it all together in terms of morality and spirituality. Jesus asked that whoever was without sin cast the first stone at her. Everyone did not use their stones and walked away. 

Do you know how relieved, frightened, perplexed and vulnerable that woman may have felt in that moment? A man (God in flesh) named Jesus came and stopped others from taking her life. She may have been caught up in sin and was about to die but Christ intervened. He asked her where are her accusers and did they condemn her, which she said no. Jesus then said "Neither do I, and sin no more." 

No more adultery but now a new lease on life because of Jesus. Because we have all sinned, it's not up to us to cast judgement, but to bring them before the Lord in prayer so that they receive the opportunity to repent, even if that is by means of being exposed. The fall of man (the first sin) left Adam and Eve feeling exposed. It may not be pretty, but it just might be the wake up call that some will need so that they too can make the decision to sin no more. What are your thoughts?