Cause Life Is Not A Rough Draft- Just Some Of The Circumstances

drafturbana

Photo courtesy of Urbana Tumblr.com 

I am a sucker for a good story. My friends are too. When we gather, whether face to face or via a phone or skype date, they can count on me having a good story to share and life has rarely ever allowed me to leave them disappointed.  And, I’d be lying if I didn’t share, I kinda like being the one they can always count on for a great story. Now, I d o not, I repeat, I do not go out in hunt of a good story. I promise.  The stories find me. It’s like this weird “she likes stories” LoJack thing going on. The stories find me, I readily surrender, and it’s a done deal.

 

So, in true perhaps subconsciously asked for gift from the universe to  Ahyana King form, there was no way I was leaving Buffalo to move back to Philadelphia this past week, without a story. And honestly, maybe at this point, the creme de la creme of stories.  Now, I’m not going to give you the story right now. I know. You feel  led on and want to go read some other blog right at this point. I don’t blame you. But, do me a favor? Hang in there. I am going somewhere with this whole story thing.  However, as great as the story is, what I realized, as I laid in bed in my sweet hotel room in DC on my impromptu girls trip get away, staring at the beautiful brick rooftop patio on the hotel across the now quiet street from our hotel, was there is having a story to tell about someone or something and then there is wanting someone or something to be a part of your story. I had met someone who I want to be a part of my story- it’s a choice, it’s my right to edit and add, as opposed to edit and delete. It’s a pot twist with a yes and and not a no, not today, not ever.

When I write,  I remind myself to tell the story that is mine to tell.  I am reminded that I have ownership, and with that comes responsibility for sure, but also freedom. I am free to create distance between what is happening and what I am creating in my life, or to move closer with curiosity or caution (sometimes both), compassion, and commitment, because it is my story, my life, and I am not victim to cosmic happenstance.  You are not victim to cosmic happenstance.

draftthemadmoiselle

Photo courtesy of The Madmoiselle.com

I know. You read that and maybe you are tempted to roll your eyes. Maybe you succumb to your temptation. It’s cool. You’re probably thinking that there is a lot in life that has “happened” to you legitimately through no fault of your own. I hear you boo. I didn’t ask to be born with any of the social identities I have, especially the ones that have incurred pain and oppression (cause make no mistake, I heart my social identities even if others don’t), and neither did you.  I realize that you didn’t ask for the life changing diagnosis, the fertility challenges, the layoff, the death, car accident, flood, wildfire, earthquake, or to live in a country with corrupt leadership and years upon years of ethnic wars and genocide.  Those things write themselves into our stories.

However, we get to choose the impact and role they play in our life stories. Every incident doesn’t need to be the climax. We can choose if the circumstance serves as context for our stories, giving understanding to our sensitivities, passions, and decisions. The story can be, we are unable to have children. Or it can be, because we were unable to have children, we decided to adopt, and to adopt children with special needs, because we learned that children with special needs are not as readily adopted as children without them. We can decide that because we witnessed government corruption, we will run for office, engage in community mobilizing, or be like my rockstar friend lola Adele-Oso and start organizations like Act4Accountabilty that work to hold governments more accountable for their actions or lack of action.

We are still the chief editors of our stories even when life decides to author a chapter of it here and there. We still get to choose if it is just a story or we want to integrate it into our story- if we want to own it or let it own us.  I have to tell you, when you chose the latter- integrating it into your storm, it’s a bit vulnerable, yet super empowering.

My hope for you this week is that you choose your story versus a story. That you move closer to your current circumstances, perhaps with caution, and edit as you need. Just make sure you realize that editing is not always about subtracting. Sometimes it’s substituting and sometimes it’s adding or multiplying. Engage in your life this week, and as much as your mind, spirit, and body can manage (self care is important and for some of you, your story right now is begging for some deleting), be all in, show all the way up, linger, talk it out, work it out, shoot, dance and sing it out.  Get all up in in you and all that you are and do this week. Get all up in the bed time story with your little one because you really do enjoy parenting and time with them. Get all up in their soccer game, all up in the person trying to get to know you better at their soccer game (unless you are already with a partner- please don’t be flirting and cheating and then trying to say I told you to “be all in” and you want to “add to your story”). Focus at the meeting and when the numbers or idea doesn’t make sense, carefully craft and ask your questions or pitch your alternatives at the appropriate time. Get all up in the research to start your new business, even if the last two didn’t go as well. Everybody who has a business didn’t hit it out the park on the first swing.  Get thee to that weight-watchers meeting and figure out this diet and exercise thing, so you can create the shift you want, for the level of health you want (or your doctor says you need). Remember, life in it’s entirety is not a rough draft, just some of the circumstances. My hope for you this week, is really what it has been since this blog was launched four-ish years ago- that you live, and when your story comes to a close, those who read it will know you wrote your story and not a story. xxoo

2015 Dylan & Ceara LA

Photo courtesy of Tomas x Alex.com

Glow Through What You Go Through

gtgpinterest

Photo courtesy of 41 Media Tumblr.com

“My name’s Dan,” he said and extended his hand.

I smiled and extended my own. “Ahyana,” I said.

He complimented my hair, made a joke about his own mostly silver cropped bone straight tresses, shared he’s a regular at this particular Starbucks and has no idea how we’ve never crossed paths. I told him I tend to come in the mornings and being here in the afternoon was not my norm but is where my day had led me.  He smiled, said he didn’t want to keep me from whatever I was working on, but just wanted to say hello. “You’ve got this glow and you’re just really giving off some good energy. You’ve got great vibes.”  I smiled, returned to the project that brought me to Starbucks on a sunny gorgeous Saturday afternoon, and was grateful that it was just a light short conversation-  nothing more. He strolled over to the high top two seater table near the pick- up counter to wait for his order.

Staring at the presentation on my screen, highlighting the text to change the font, I laughed. He was perhaps the fourth person to mention this “glow.” The others previously weren’t acquaintances, but friends. They were friends I’d known for the past 8 to 15 years, friends who knew that the past 8 months had been really hard, two who knew that just the past 48 hours had been really painful, like headed to the hospital kind of pain. Shucks, the past 48 minutes had even been a struggle. Seriously. Starbucks on a sunny gorgeous Saturday afternoon was in part because I needed to focus and get some things done, but it was also the best I could manage in an attempt to deal with my anxiety.  Anxiety that came as an attack just a few days before and had been coaching me to stay home, inside, in my bedroom where it was safe, familiar, and I had some control.

I wanted to go to the art festival downtown. I wanted to go capitalize on the semi annual sales with my collection of rewards and coupons. I wanted to get my nails done before heading to DC to present at conference about mental health and wellness for Black and Latino students. I wanted to go to Target and see if that light weight white and multi colored striped tassels at the ends throw that I thought would look great draped over the chair in the corner of my bedroom was still there (and still on clearance).  But I was too anxious and thought that perhaps I’d stick close to home today and maybe later try to do some of the things I wanted to do, or maybe Sunday would be better than Saturday. After all Saturday was better than the anxiety I was feeling Friday, and Friday was better than Thursday.

So, I took my differently styled blonde curls, made up face, fun floral printed swing dress I snatched up with whispered thanks to Jesus at Nordstrom Rack during my last trip to Philadelphia, grabbed my laptop ad went half a block to Starbucks and met Dan, who said I was glowing.

gtgpinterest1

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

I’m calling the glow friends and Dan the random older guy coffee shop man are referring to as my glow through what I’m going though glow.  More simply stated- my making it glow.  Because after all, that’s all I’m doing- I’m making it. Not barely and not swimmingly, but slowly, purposefully, creatively, tenaciously, rebelliously. I’m committed to pushing, pulling, and pumping the breaks when I need to. I’m devoted to advocating for myself as fiercely and persistently as I have for the students and clients I’ve been privileged to work with other the past 12 years.  It’s that don’t call it sweating, call it glistening kind of glow. That flickering flame in dark moments that just keeps burning because it keeps getting fanned, sometimes by myself, sometimes but my tribe of family and friends glow.  It’s the glow that comes from a deep knowing that I’m going to be alright, everything will be okay, and despite the circumstances, when I focus, I don’t need to worry about a thing. It’s the result of a decision to constantly be in touch with myself, letting in who and what I need to let in (wine, chocolate, Redbox movies, a smaller and tighter circle of friends, church, etc.), and keeping at bay who and what I don’t (an entire pizza, candy/sugar, too much wine, brother man  who tried it and brother man who keeps trying it, etc.), and not beating myself up for those necessary decisions kind of shine.  By the way, if you need to let in that whole pizza, go on and do your thing.

I started this post when I was so over editing my presentation for Friday afternoon. I’m finishing it the following day, in Stabucks, but no Dan. I’m finishing it having managed to get my nails done, gone to Target, tried lunch at a new coffee shop downtown that I stumbled across while meandering the streets of the art festival (mhmm, I made it there), and having made peace with the weekend coming to an end and capitalizing on those semi annual sales online…or while I’m in DC this week.  I’m finishing this post with the same glow.

I’m also finishing it holding space in my heart and prayers for those reading this who feel like you’re doing anything but making it and made it is nothing more than a cute artsy font mantra on a canvas or mug you rolled your eyes at while making it to the line in TJMaxx. You’re making it. We’re making it. You’re glowing and I bet you don’t even realize it. You’re glistening girl. You are oozing with the hope that comes with knowing that your current circumstance is not it. You are working this life thing out-refinancing, downsizing, parting ways with relationships that are more harmful than healthy, applying to go back to school, applying for the promotion, filing the HR discrimination or harassment complaint, going to the gym, admitting that your anxiety, depression, grief, etc. is more than you want to handle on your own. You. Are. Glowing.  Your light is shining and it’s lifting others and you. Trust me.  For those of you whom life has granted you some reprieve and overall things are pretty good, that is awesome!  You got a glow too. Just do me a solid- point out the glow in others this week. Someone might need to hear or read (mhmm, you can send a little text, email, tweet, direct message, snail mail, etc.) that you see their light, even if it’s embers from a fire that is so close to being out and needs you to speak life to fan the flame and kindle a full on bonfire type of glow. Shine on this week. Don’t give up. Reach out to the people you trust care for you and let them know what’s up and what you need (or don’t need, or think you need). Glow through what you go through. Stay lit! xxoo

Glow through what you go through1

Light Bulb Moment No. 2

lbm2herkindoftea

Photo courtesy of Her Kind of Tea Tumblr.com

It was only day two at my new gig and I was so tired.  Like showered, in my pajamas, dinner devoured, on my couch, feet up, television on by 6:30pm and we’ll see if I stay awake past 9pm tired. But even in my weariness, I was determined that I wasn’t going out like that tonight. The night before I absolutely gave in to the tired and watched TV until I woke up and realized TV was watching me. Tonight I knew I needed to make some time to do something that feeds my soul. Michael Ealy on my television wasn’t gonna cut it. So, I decided I’d listen to a pod cast.

The pod cast that caught my eye…“7 tip for Surviving Seasons of Change” with Chrystal Evans Hurst. Kinda perfect for a chick like me on her third out of state move forte last three summers. As I listened and she talked about giving yourself time. Like slow it down. Be flexible. And then giving yourself space. Physically, but also mentally, and emotionally. Then she said “Change is hard. Change takes work.” “Oh my gosh yes!,” I said to the four walls of my bedroom.

You’d think that as a counselor by training, practice, and purpose in life I would know this. That I would eat, sleep, breathe this fact. However, I knew that part of my weariness was not just because of all that comes with a new life change but how I was managing it and how gracious I was not being with myself in the change.  How much I was leaning on my grit, and leaving behind the grace that is needed because change, even when it is necessary or chosen in hopes of something amazing, it is hard and it takes work.  The things in life that are hard and take work (relationships, loss of any kind, trauma, a promotion, going to school or back to school, weight management, etc.), are the things in life where we are all the better for when we choose to honor this truth and treat ourselves with grace, love, understanding, and care. 

Here’s hoping this adds a little light to your day! xxoo

Women With Beauty and Style History- House of Ross

It’s the weekend, and for me it’s another long weekend.  I’m beaming, especially since there’s supposed to be more mild weather here in the mid Atlantic. Thank you sweet baby Jesus. It’s the little things. So with milder weather, at least for me it means a little more boldness in style. A little more pattern mixing, block color concocting, sunglasses showcasing, wedges wearing. It means lingering a little longer in bed on Pinterest and oohing and ahhing over some of my style icons, like Tracee Ellis Ross who admittedly gets some of style awesomeness from- her momma, Diana Ross. So here’s some of my favorite looks from the House of Ross. Until Monday- happy styling and weekending! xxoo

Photo courtesy of They BF.com

Photo courtesy of They BF.com

Photo courtesy of The Bosh

Photo courtesy of The Bosh

Photo courtesy of Essence.cm

Photo courtesy of Essence.com

Photo courtesy of Elle.com

Photo courtesy of Elle.com

Photo courtesy of Wire Image

Photo courtesy of Wire Image

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Photo courtesy of Medium.com

Photo courtesy of Medium.com

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

 

#Hello2016

Photo courtesy of Panda Whale.com

Photo courtesy of Panda Whale.com

 

Hello and welcome to 2016 ! I don’t know about you but I am really really REALLY excited about the new year. I am super grateful for all that last year has brought me and taught me. I am absolutely looking forward to going all in in 2016; unabashed about sharing in more detail those lessons with our LIVE community and using those lessons to further encourage and support our LIVE community.

I’m not going to rattle off a list of resolutions. I’m not going to provide my 2015 highlight reel. But I am absolutely going to use one highlight from 2015 as my springboard, our spring board into 2016- “Baby Steps in your big girl panties”.  It was the title of one of my slides as I presented at the Black Girl Project 5th Annual Summit in Brooklyn, New York this past October.  I got to speak with beautiful women off all shades of brown about depression. I know, who gets giddy about depression? Actually it was more of me being giddy to have a very frank conversation with women about how to recognize, manage, and recover from depression. It’s hard to be, do, and LIVE well when you are depressed and don’t know it or how to manage and heal. Emphasis on hard, not impossible however.

The slide resonated with the attendees and I was seeing it re-posted on Twitter and Instagram. It was pretty amazing the impact  that seven little words had. Seven little words that spoke the truth about the power we have to heal, to be, do, and LIVE well.

A few weeks ago one of the attendees re-posted the phrase on Facebook and the likes and comments were rolling in. Self included. It was such a perfect on time reminder.  The kind of reminder that made me want to start the year off sharing with you about going all in- which can be so scary, yet so necessary if we are going to LIVE purposefully. However, I find that the only way we can go all in is if we make a decision (big girl panties) and are open to the process of fulfilling that decision (the baby steps). Easier said than done, I know, but that’s what I am here for. Absolutely on board with being a part of your baby steps towards whatever you decide to go after in this season of your life (even if its rest- sounds a little strange, but I know for some of us learning to let go and trust and rest is difficult) and whoever you decide to be (single, happily married -some of y’all are married but not happy, a parent, sober, a writer, more loving or gracious with yourself and others, a student, an entrepreneur, an activist, etc.).

I’m also going to offer two $25.00 gift cards to Victoria’s secrets so you can literally get yourself some big girl panties. Here’s how that is going to work. You have until 11:59pm Sunday January 3rd, 2016 to like and leave a comment on the The Simply LIVEd Facebook page about something you are taking baby steps towards in 2016 OR you can follow me @AhyanaJenise on Twitter and do the same. Just be sure on both pages to use #BeDoLIVEWell2016. I will announce the winners noon Monday January 4th, 2016 which means you have plenty of time to take advantage of the Victoria’s Secret semi annual sale.

Here’s to another year to be, do, and LIVE well! xxoo

 

No Words

Photo courtesy of Magda Andrzejesk

Photo courtesy of Magda Andrzejesk

I’m not sure of it is my nature or the ways in which my education and experience as a counselor has nurtured me, but I am very okay with silence. I don’t find it awkward or comfortable. When it reaches out to hold the moment’s hand I extend my own to welcome it.

And so when he slumped over on the makeshift bench in my kitchen, and began to cry I placed his hand my own and sat with him. We sat in the silence. I wanted a few words to comfort him. Just a few simple but powerful ones and yet I knew that nothing would be more powerful than the quiet of the night settling in and allowing the room to fill with his breath, his tears, and soon his words. The silence made way for his words, words I was certain had only run amuck in his mind, but never tumbled off the tongue to tickle his ear. They were hard, crunchy, painful words. They were his hard crunchy painful truth. I was grateful that whatever words I searched for eluded me and that silence made her presence and her power known.

Photo courtesy of Go Feminin.de

Photo courtesy of Go Feminin.de

Silence has a way of making room for us. It has a way of making space for the hidden vulnerable uncertain parts of our humanity, lacking in judgment, abundant in patience. It has a way of coaxing us to painful yet courageous confrontations with truths we let linger in our souls but are in denial about its very existence.

The past few weeks have been full of experiences that continue to leave me with fewer and fewer words. I have found more solace in times of silence, more peace when the noise has come to cease, more clarity in the absence of chatter. I have found myself better able to listen to and access what I need to be, do, live well. I’ve been more confident in and happier with my decisions, at ease when I’ve said yes and when I’ve said no.

Photo courtesy of More Magazine.com

Photo courtesy of More Magazine.com

Last week I reminded us to make time for what we need. That in the US, between Thanksgiving and the New Year we are often busier than other times f the year, traveling, attending parties, hosting parties, shopping, returning, volunteering at annual events to support our communities, etc. If we’re not careful to get what we need in seasons of busy we do ourselves a disservice. This week I’m letting you know  sometimes you need silence. Sometimes it is the quiet that speaks volumes in and to our lives, giving us the clarity and resolve we need to make decisions that help us in our commitment to living incredibly, victoriously, and emphatically. May you find yourself speechless this week. May silence extend her hand and may you willingly extend yours to hold hers.

 

Flashback Friday- Girl Music Groups

I have many stations on Pandora that I heart. The station that’s gotten a lot of love from me recently has been my TLC station. Translation- good music from the 90’s and early 2000’s with girl groups like Total, 702, and Xscape in constant rotation. Why not welcome the weekend with some good throw back girl group music. Until Monday! xxoo

Back To Style Basics- Denim

I may or may not be a smidge disappointed that it’s half way through September and the weather is still hanging out in the mid to low eighties in my hood. For as much as I do love to rock a frock or slip into a pencil skirt, I’ve been wanting to slip into my jeans again. I’m ready for casual Friday to be a legit casual Friday which to me means- denim! These are a few of my favorite cuts, and I also have some of my favorite bands like Gap and Banana Republic. I’m also a bit of an old school classic girl so I’ve got a few pairs of Levis too. Just remember, as with any article of clothing, fit is key. Every brand cuts their jeans differently, so try them on, see where they rise in the waist, maximize or minimize your gluteus maximums, the inseam (so important), and if the hemline compliments your height. Until Monday! xxoo

Photo courtesy of Mama Bee.com

Photo courtesy of Mama Bee.com, Boyfriend Jeans

Photo courtesy of Budget Fashionista.com, Boot Cut Jeans

Photo courtesy of Budget Fashionista.com, Boot Cut Jeans

Photo courtesy of Running With Scissors.com, Trouser Style Jeans

Photo courtesy of Running With Scissors.com, Trouser Style Jeans

Photo courtesy of Lands End.com, Straight Cut Jeans

Photo courtesy of Lands End.com, Straight Cut Jeans

Photo courtesy of Harper's Bazaar.com, Flare Cut Jeans

Photo courtesy of Harper’s Bazaar.com, Flare Cut Jeans