• focus on what you can control

    Focus on What You Can Control

    One of my favorite coping strategies is to remind myself to focus on what I can control. There is so much that I can’t control in the world and it’s all scary! Yet, when my anxiety starts going 8 miles per minute, I bring myself back to life by focusing on what I can control.  Focusing on what I can control is not turning off the world. It’s just deprioritizing the mental space that you were giving that was never in your control. For example: I can’t control if people vote in this upcoming election OR what the outcome is. I can control if I vote or not. So, when my anxiety…

  • Bible Verses for Tough Times - Galatians 6-9

    Bible Verses for Tough Times

    Starting a new business in a highly competitive field, in the middle of a pandemic, seconds after getting married is what some people call “doing too much.” Yet, when I made the decision to go full time with ODStorytime, I knew the Lord was telling me to move and I’d figure the rest out along the way. A month later, I now understand that my success is dependent on a strong relationship with God. Entrepreneurship, life in a pandemic, and working to intentionally create a healthy marriage has illuminated my need to be well versed in what the bible says about navigating tough times. I’ve changed my morning routine to include…

  • ODBeauty

    5 Tips for Preventing Maskne

    One of the most annoying side effects of the pandemic has been maskne. Maskne is a term that describes the acne that pops up under your mask after a full day’s use. Wearing a mask all day increases heat and friction on the skin – which is essentially a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause the skin to break out and become extremely dry and damaged. Like treating all skin conditions, everybody needs a custom routine to treat and prevent maskne. However, there are 5 common things anyone can do to keep maskne at bay. Wash your Mask After Every Use! Gently wash your mask after every single use.…

  • kay jewelers and neil lane wedding rings

    Kay Jewelers & Neil Lane #LoveIsUnstoppable Contest Win

    I entered the Kay Jewelers’ and Neil Lane “#Love is Unstoppable” contest at the very last minute. The lucky winner would receive a Jet Blue Vacation voucher, and a pair of Kay Jewelers and Neil Lane rings for their wedding picked out for them by Neil Lane himself. I was casually scrolling my Instagram feed when I saw the contest and 5 minutes later I entered. I figured, why not? Actually, I figured I had no way of winning because “little ole’ me” never wins contests like this. After I entered, I immediately put it out of my mind.   Unfortunately, the day we found out that we won the…

  • ODLifestyle,  Uncategorized

    Black-Owned Honeymoon Packing Essentials

     Our honeymoon caught me by surprise. I placed so much of my energy into getting ready for our COVID wedding, that I completely forgot to put thought into what I needed to pack for our honeymoon. I spent the day before we left washing clothes, packing, frustrated, and wondering why I waited until the last minute. Fortunately, since I stress shopped all throughout wedding planning, I already had everything I needed at home! Here are my top three honeymoon packing essentials! “Black With Plants” Tote Bag  Plant Economy is a Detroit based, black-owned business, that makes “plant products for plant people.” Their “Black With Plants” Canvas tote is the perfect size for…

  • ODLifestyle

    The McNeil Wedding Story – Love Never Fails

    When I still lived in Jacksonville, right before my big move to the city, I secretly prayed over my love life. I had an intimate conversation with God about the type of partner I wanted. I asked Him for someone who was: kind, fun, purpose-driven, and a partner in every sense of the word. In that quiet moment I prayed for my husband, our life together, and the legacy that we would create. Afterward, I sobbed and released years of feelings of inadequacy and fear. Immediately, God filled me with a calmness and assurance that soothed my entire body. Even though I felt silly asking Him for a man, I…

  • ODLifestyle

    Three Black Woman-Owned Businesses to Shop with this Juneteenth

     Juneteenth should be a national holiday. This is the day where enslaved Texans learned about their freedom…two years after the Emancipation Proclamation was made effective in 1863. As a native Texan, this holiday has never NOT been part of my life. We host BBQ’s, parades, and parties to celebrate the strength of our ancestors. We honor their sacrifices and create joy in the midst of the horrible atrocities that African Americans have to face daily. To honor Juneteenth, you can learn more about American history by virtually visiting the National Museum of African American History and Culture. Here you can learn more about the struggles that African-Americans have endured for centuries and the importance of…

  • joshua and alyssa mcneil at wedding engagement photoshoot

    The ODMcNeils – Love Never Fails

    Over a year ago, Joshua James proposed to me in front of our family and friends and changed my life. Over a year ago I “said yes” to the man I trusted to help raise my kids with love. I “said yes” to the man who consistently makes my stomach hurt with laughter. I said yes to the man who is walking proof that God exists and that He favors me. Since then, we’ve grown together in incredible and unpredicted ways. We’ve managed job loss, death of family members, mental and physical health issues, and so much more that has tested our faith and relationship in more ways than one.…

  • Creating Magic from Nonsense

    My COVID Story – Creating Magic from Nonsense

    I spent 2019 “preparing for my year of victory.” I was working a job that pushed me to places I didn’t know I could go. I spent silent moments questioning why God gave me such a big vision for ODStorytime only to have it accompanied by crippling depression and anxiety that kept me from going after my dreams with everything I could. Eventually, I finally found some peace as I orchestrated my re-vamp around our wedding. This summer I planned to graduate esthetician school, get married in Paris, switch careers, honeymoon in Italy, and do so in a carefully curated vacation wardrobe of all white with rose-gold accessories. It is…

  • COVID-19 Survival Tips from Nature

    Survival Tips from Nature

    Since lockdown began, I have been binge-watching animal documentaries on BBC America and National Geographic as part of their Earth Day campaign. Learning about the hunting styles of lionesses or watching sea otters devour a sea urchin is entertaining af. It’s also an incredible distraction technique that helps me not mass obsess over COVID-19. Unfortunately, as I’ve become consumed with learning about sea dragons, I’ve been beating myself up about the level of productivity that I haven’t been producing.  Social media is inundated with quotes that say something like “If you don’t find all of Voldermort’s Horcrux’s during this time you don’t lack time you lack discipline.” Or my personal favorites that remind people…