Category: Storytelling

Interpreting Maya Angelou’s Phenomenal Woman…


She’s Unbelievable

by Crystal Tousana

It’s easy to believe

When I rise, I breathe

Men want to know me

Not because my body is perfect

Because it’s not

I have no perfect curves

My moves are delicate

My legs stand tall

They see confidence in my eyes

When I speak, I tell the truth

My honesty is through the roof

My heart is on my sleeve

I’m unbelievable

You can read the entire poem here:  Phenomenal Woman

Share your version of Phenomenal Woman in the comments.



Follow crystal on Twitter @ TousanaC

Prickly Stubble on HER Scalp

The barber says what you want Miss

She stumbles on her words

Her lips are tangled and worthless

Words spill from her soul

Cut please

The barber taps his clippers with hands shaking and eyes bulked

She says once more; cut please

Barbers stare into scalps of men refusing to look at Miss

She bounces on the empty chair, says louder and prouder, cut please

Clippers buzzing to the tunes of silence

She drifts to a free and easy life

Chairs spinning, left, right, up, down

Coils dance, twirl, float, free fall, glide; hug the floor


He says, you pretty

Miss pearly whites gleam with confidence

Miss refuses the mirror

Head held high


She leaves the men in the cave weak and speechless

His Property, NAW!

He discretely and quietly protects his property

No other man near or far

His almond colored eyes pierce her soul

Her heart pulsates to the sounds of nature’s movement

She quickly gathers her conscious while maintaining a certain level of interest

Her body remains whole

He often tells her to surrender

She says my body is my own

Surrender my body, man NAW!

It’s my body

It keeps me alive

It’s my sacred place

Truth is, it’s not your property

You can’t control my inner sanctuary

Man please

She refuses to allow his control to sacrifice her peace

She says, my body is my own

She fuels her body with nutrition, hydration, and fine wines

She bathes and caresses her skin with scents from mother earth

Her body is her own

Strengthen by meditation and deep breathing, her body forgives her heart need to be owned

His property, NAW!

A Super Short Poem- A Relationship DISTRACTED

Having date nights, long walks and endless conversations is what she fantasizes about.

IMG_0851 (1)

Her friends and family notice a change in her swag.

Passion spills from her pores.

Life shines through her eyes.

Her spirit seems to be unbreakable.

She’s ready for a life partner. An unconditional love.

The moment Mr. comes into view; Miss knew there was something special about him.

His charm, intense glares, and easy spirit tingled her heart.

Never had a man patiently waited for her to reciprocate.

Life is beginning.

Attraction is evident.

Communication comes slow and easy.

The world disappears when she sees Mr.

Miss wishes for more private moments away from lurking eyes.

It never comes.

She quickly realizes distractions is what he prefers.

He’s distracted by how she communicates with others.

She’s distracted by being the focus of attention as the relationship crumbles.

He’s a magician. He disappears more and more.

Relationship distracted
He vanishes without a word.

Miss reaches out.

No response.

Is he serious? No!

She dodges pain.

She contemplates sending a final message to simply say, Thank You!

Bye Alopecia! – A Poemstory

I wake up and stare as you shine in glory.  Whatever!


You don’t scare me.

You don’t define my past or future.

You tried to take my self-esteem.

You almost did.

I survived.


From the moment you took my scalp, I feared the stares, points, and eyes of sympathy.

Some empathy.

Take yo tired and weak strands and get a life.


Mine is not for the taking.

Yeah, you made me cry waiting for healing power.

I separated the two.

Healing is in my soul. My strength.

Power is my words I speak as I remove you from lips.

My lips speak no words of sadness.

They only spit the truth.

My truth is free from the weak strands.

I’ll never accept you.

IMG_0783.jpgBut I’m not sad.

Sadness is an emotion far from my tears.

My tears have turned to joy.

Joy of accepting your shine and glory.

Yes.  We were meant to be.

Alopecia.  Thank You.

I’m free.

In too DEEP! – A Poemstory

Loving, laughing; and believing in happily ever after is an ultimate goal.

At least I hope so.

I’ve never heard anyone confess to wanting anything different.

Life serves up all kinds of cues to what feels right in relationships. What complicates matters is getting in too DEEP!

Let’s keep it real. There’s no denying the moment our emotions outpace rationale.

Heart fluttering, eyes twitching, voice quivering trying to find the right words to express what’s happening on the inside.

But wait! That’s not the person I know in the mirror facing me. I feel no tears but I see them in the lady staring back at me.

Perhaps, it’s too DEEP!

It’s human nature to attach to what feels right.

Acts of kindness, wellness checks, and smile checks.

Balancing the scale of emotions.

Upward spiral. Downward spiral. Stimulating moments of much-valued attention.

The roller coaster flips, speeds, twirls, and screeches to a halt.

Get off girl. Gather your thoughts. Stand still. Find your center.

Immersing ourselves deep into a feeling can’t be practiced. It just happens.

What matters, is how we respond to that feeling.

Getting close is fun in the beginning.  We’re both winning.

But when is close too close as trust gets in the way.

He said. She said. Who said what gets all muddled in a tangle of words that bounces off every secure object in the room.

It would be easier to just walk away and say nothing. Yep! Just vanish.

Independence is lurking in the wind. Life of autonomy is racing through my mind.

The brain is rational. The heart is anxious.too-deep

What’s happening? The world spins.

Holy crap, I’m in too DEEP!

Crying over LIFE and Candy Crush

“My great hope is to laugh as much as I cry; to get my work done and try to love somebody and have the courage to accept the love in return.” Maya Angelou

The train is ticking down the tracks; I’m waiting patiently to run to the back seat without being too aggressive. I need to get my dry eyes closed in case another tear drop. I open my eyes from time to time, pull out my favorite magnifying mirror to make sure I’m not swelling.

A year ago, I decided to allow myself to cry. I cried when I ran out of life on candy crush. I cried when my dog ignored me. I cried when the sun went down. I cried when it got too cold outside. I cried when life seemed to be too much. What was phenomenal is when I cried in excitement.

After years of bottling up emotions, I realized crying wasn’t so bad. I just needed to figure out if crying was my thing. Then one day, I cried over someone giving me too much attention. What’s that all about. The last thing I want is to be accountable for my emotions. I willed myself to stop crying.

Walking around teary eyed without a single drop falling is challenging. If someone looked at me funny or with sympathy, I’d just say my allergies are going crazy. Occasionally, one dropped. As if anyone cared, I would announce the air is drier than normal this year.

Dang it, why did I start letting myself cry. This stuff is too much. Having emotions is exhausting. Why are others so good at it? I’ve witnessed people cry and then push forward with ease. Now I’m feeling like a train wreck.

What’s confusing is trying to figure out the difference between happy and sad tears. The days of excitement and sadness, my tears felt the same. One day I looked in the mirror to figure out if perhaps there’s a visual difference. Only thing I can detect was that red eyes burn through sad tears. The happy tears are shiny.

Crying is an emotion I’m no longer afraid of. Quite honestly, I’m not sure it’s my thing. I’m ok with it though. I admittedly wish that I didn’t hold back tears. I’m imagining my year of tears would fill a gallon water bottle. I’ve decided to get a gallon size bottle and start filling it with some positive words for the rest of the year. I’m not going to force myself to do it on a time schedule or have a specific strategy. I’ll fill it as I see fit.

Rather I’m crying over the chocolate in candy crush defeating me, a Lifetime Movie taking me down with tears or discovering my heart, I’m still on the fence about my newfound emotions.

If you’re reading this and feel some emotion or NOT, it’s ok either way. I’m just happy to find out I’m not going to explode and disappear into space because I cried.

Cheers and raise your favorite beverage of choice to CRYING!

I cry a single tear to the act of crying.pexels-photo-228963.jpeg

Making Nonprofits Shine: Infusing great stories in your next social media campaign

Having a persistent and strong desire to bring awareness to your favorite charity is a great feeling. Telling friends to show up for events to support clothing and food drives, collecting donations for a run/walk to provide much-needed funds for research, and volunteering hours to fight for what matters most in communities brings positive outcomes to nonprofit organizations. After events, what’s next?

I recently started studying what makes some charities shine and others fail to perform. In today’s super chatty social media space, it seems impossible to not reach goals when creating campaigns for charitable causes. Challenging the next best charity event to perform at optimum speed has become more of a “wait” and “see” game.

If the right people with that “it” factor spread the word, your campaign will last a little longer. But don’t get too excited.  Even the super cool and popular people can lose traction getting the word out about important events to raise awareness. The answer to what’s next is to tell impactful stories about your charity. Building strong brand stories around your charity purpose will not only build trust but also gain access to a diverse audience of supporters.

Leaning solely on “shouting out” and sharing announcements about events on social media doesn’t work when campaign strategies are not designed to reach the right audience. What works effectively is creating and tailoring brand stories and moving images dedicated to stirring emotions and tailoring authentic messages. Most importantly, reaching out for support should connect what matters to potential donors and others willing to get involved.

I found a phenomenal story in a McKinsey Quarterly article titled, The Power of Storytelling: What nonprofits can teach the private sector about social media

The article references a case study from the Dragonfly Effect by Jennifer Aaker and Andy Smith: The Dragonfly

The excerpt discusses the great work of Scott Harrison. Mr. Harrison was a successful fashion promoter that excelled at bringing models and hedge-funds kings together, and selling $500 bottles of Vodka. Mr. Harrison sported nice jewelry, clothes, cars; everything young men dream of. After years of having everything, Mr. Harrison’s passion for the rich life fizzled. He wanted to make a difference. He walked away from everything to start a nonprofit to bring awareness to diseases and medical problems related to inadequate access to clean water.

Watch and listen to Scott Harrison’s amazing story here: Charity Water

Harrison’s organization gained incredible success because of the following design principles of engagement:

“Tell a story”

  • Viewers fell in love with his cause because he evoked themes of “redemption,” “change,” and “hope” by discussing why and how he started his charity in media interviews and YouTube videos.

“Empathize with your audience”

  •  Harrison promoted compelling stories.

 “Emphasize Authenticity”

  •  Commitment to transparency by sharing results of donor’s generosity.

 “Match the media with the message”

  • Create distinctive messages for Twitter, Facebook, and other social media websites.

Here’s the Dragonfly Effect model:


Because Harrison’s story and the Dragonfly’s Effect are super awesome examples of making nonprofits shine, I will end with one of my favorite quotes:

“It is necessary to help others, not only in our prayers, but in our daily lives. If we find we cannot help others, the least we can do is to desist from harming them.” Dalai Lama

Donate to Charity Water


The Power of Politics in Social Media

My streaming tears felt as though they would never end. For a moment, I felt my parents presence and thought to myself they are dancing in the sky. Standing in Grant Park, my sister and I couldn’t believe what we were witnessing.

On November 5, 2008, Grant Park felt as though it was frozen in time. For a few seconds, there was dead silence across Chicago’s downtown. Then it happened in an instant; the big mega screen read “Obama Wins.”

Under the deep blue starry sky, embracing strangers were calling friends and loved ones, and taking to social media to express excitement and to confirm it’s real. People were yelling, Oh My God, Is this true! Frantically jumping, praising in different languages and faith, people snapped pictures and shared on social media.

When President Obama came out with his family, it felt as though I knew them personally. No doubt, they felt the same. The crowd felt warm, accepting and ready to embrace the unthinkable. People of all ages, races, national origin and economical backgrounds seem to forget for that moment, we are different. What was evident was that we were all equally ready for change.

Travelling the country, running in local food joints, standing in front of crowds of admirers, Candidate Obama talked of being a skinny kid with a funny name. He dreamed of one day making a difference. To this day, he talks of living in a time of extraordinary change.

Not only did the country experience social change, what it means to be a politician catapulted into a prime time event across multiple channels. The best thing that happened to the campaign was the “Right Button” to click.

Yes. Candidate Obama’s entire support system revolved around that button. The goal was to reach as many supporters and every dollar possible out their pockets to support an unimaginable political experience. The “Red Button” was much greater than any face-to-face conversation in political history.

From the moment then Senator Barack Obama announced his candidacy; I knew it was history in the making; win or lose. I voted. It was just the routine to honor the work of my parents and their generation to give us the right to vote and voice our opinion.

Tasking themselves to find the right messages and images, Mr. Obama’s staff found the perfect match to go with the red button. An image of Barack Obama’s family and a red “Learn More” button improved the campaign’s signup rate by 40.6%. The sign ups translated to 2.8 million more email subscribers, 288,000 more volunteers, and $57 million in donations. [Source: A/B Testing: The Most Powerful Way to Turn Clicks Into Customers]

Eight years later we are watching and waiting for the next rising star to take social media by storm. As President Barack Obama makes his exit from the White House, I can’t help but think about the power of a click and share. I’m predicting future generations will be voting 100% remotely and even more data to use when making choices.

50-plus: Looking to Fashion to Celebrate

Approaching the big 5-0 doesn’t scare me. Relinquishing my playful sense of style to a mature 50ish look is what scares me. I’m not trying to be the best dressed but I damn sure want to be known and recognized for a distinct signature look.

More than half my life, fashion has not been a priority. Wearing simple, basic and interchangeable outfits is my thing. My choices of colors are black, beige, and grey. Yes! I agree. Boring.

First, I must diverse for the sake of my blog’s purpose and go down the dreaded path of finding out what marketers look for in a fragile “fashionista.” Marketing to 50-plus women is no easy task in a world with competing images.

Acknowledging that 50-plus women are not willing to wear floral drapes or black leggings with “pink” written on their backside is an important first step to identify and segment in marketing campaigns. An older audience is where the quiet big spenders are more tempted to spend extra dollars to get professional, mature, and sexy looks.

In a Huffington Post article titled, Marketers Wake Up To The Power of 50 Pocketbooks, it states that, “Savvy brands are finally acknowledging the size and economic influence of boomer women. The 50-plus group accounts for between 70 percent and 75 percent of the financial assets in the U.S, with women 50-plus living in households that own 60 percent of U.S. wealth, according to AARP media sales. And over the past decade, the population of women 50 and up has grown at a rate of a million per year, 10 times the rate of 18-to-49-year-old women.”

Smart phones, tablets and wearable gadgets are increasingly becoming the favorite go to devices for shoppers of all age brackets. 50 plus women are in the mix. Consumers have access to retailers at their fingertips and will do whatever it takes to create a positive personal and professional brand image.

So the journey begins and I question if I should look to women I admire or wing it like the true fashion misfit that lives deep in my soul. I plan to take First Lady Michelle Obama’s advice and at least try to have fun as I transition into a new found sense of womanhood and accomplishment.

Mrs. Obama said, “If I can have any impact, I want women to feel good about themselves and have fun with fashion.”

I found a great article that perfectly matches my taste and comfort level. Barbara Hannah Grufferman shared 10 Must-Have Wardrobe Items For Women at 50+.

Below is Ms. Barber Hannah Grufferman’s master list of must-haves to keep your fashion smart, youthful and appropriate at 50 plus:

  1. Dark denim, mid-rise, boot-cut jeans
  2. Dark denim, mid-rise, straight-leg jeans
  3. White jeans (boot-cut or straight-leg)
  4. Great-fitting pants- lightweight wool blend
  5. Black fitted jacket
  6. Black pencil skirt
  7. Cardigans
  8. Tank tops
  9. Dresses- wrap dresses, sleeveless sheath dresses, and “fit and flare.”
  10. Cropped black leather jacket

While wearing these super cool clothing items, don’t forget to style up or down with awesome shoes and accessories.

Join me my 50-plus sisters on this journey to being fashionistas on a mission!