If You Don’t Like Your Reflection- Change Your Outfit

outfit taibo bacar

Photo courtesy of Taibo Bacar

I may have been more ready for my sister’s 30th birthday celebration than she was. And by ready, I mean, let’s get this party underway, bring on the guests, let the planning cease and the partying commence, DJ cue the music. Planning had been underway for months. Color schemes, set up ideas, decorations, visioning the flow of people traffic, music selections, menu items and drink selections, and of course…party worthy outfit selections.

A few days before the birthday festivities I thought it was time to come out of the various outfits I’d put together in my head mode and actually try on the outfits. While it wasn’t my party, I wasn’t Cinderella. No need for me to not look cute too.  I tried on the outfit that in my head was “the outfit.” And sure enough…it was not. The hard work I’d been putting in to slowly lose the pounds I’d gained over the past year was paying off, and so things didn’t fit as well as they had when I initially purchased them and tried them on a few months back. With mixed feelings (I mean who doesn’t want to lose a few inches? But who wants to scramble for a great party look at the last minute?)  I changed the outfit. I tried on another, and another until finally what I saw in the mirror gave me all the feels a great outfit is supposed to give. I kept remixing my look until I was pleased with and confident in what I saw.  And if you’re just a tiny bit curios about the winning look, just check out my IG @AhyanaJenise, there are plenty of fun birthday festivity pics and video from this past weekend’s party.

Sometimes we don’t like what our life’s mirror reflects- and that’s fine. What’s not so fine is when we don’t “change the outfit “until we see a reflection that we take pleasure in, smile at, snap a selfie cause we’re so cute, accept, compassionately loving towards, and confident in. If you don’t like what the mirror is reflecting, change the outfit.

If you are finding that your life these days, emphasis on your, is not reflective of you- your beliefs, values, core characteristics, talents, goals, purpose, or abilities, let alone the future you see for yourself, then you have to change it up.  You have to notice the top is a little looser or tighter than you’d like, the pants not as flattering as you remember, and the hues of blue too drastic and not giving you the monochromatic look you imagined. You have to choose between the block heel or the stiletto, if you can get away with the slipper style flat or a pointed flat, if mixing up the patterns between your shoe and the dress is something you can pull off.  Only you will know if the sequins is too much or the dress as understated as it is needs the sparkle of a great necklace or cuff style bracelet. Only you will know for sure what in your life needs to change in order to reflect the life you know you were created to live.


Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Like many friends and family knew, I knew that I needed to resign from my job long before I actually did. But only I could actually resign.  You know like only you can, whether or not the person you are about to marry is really the person that will best complement your life and the future you desire for yourself.  You know like only you can if you haven’t heard back from whatever university or college you’ve dreamed of attending is really because you never completed the application (not an unorganized admissions office). You know like only you can know if you are living above your means, no matter how awesome the sale is, or if you are living below your potential because the past is still painful and humiliating and holding you captive. You know if the job you have is a job or what you believe to be work that is meaningful, vocationally fulfilling, and allows you to use your gifts, talents, and abilities. You know like only you can if you’ve been having an emotional affair, telling yourself that because no physical boundaries have been crossed you and your actual partner are just fine.

You also know what needs changing.

Don’t look at this screen and shake your head and say “Oh Ahyana, but I do not.” Nope boo, you do.  You know if it’s the fear that needs addressing and dealing with the past issues of rejection or abandonment. You know if you just need an accountability partner. You know if you are fighting feelings, beliefs even, of unworthiness. You know if you need to return the engagement ring or not bring so and so home for the holiday just to keep up the façade for your family. You know you need to leave your job and find meaningful work, and in order to do so you may need to start spending less and saving more, look at going back to school, consider a pay cut, etc.  You know if you need to break up with Ben and Jerry, despite their unfailing faithfulness. You know you need to confront certain people in your life and stop letting them run all over you. See, I told you you know what you need to do.

Now if this was a Nike ad, I’d say just do it. I’d say make sure in your reflection you can see the iconic swoosh. I also know there is a gap between knowing what we need to change in our lives and changing it.


Photo courtesy of Pop Sugar.com

I really really liked the first outfit I tried on for my sister’s party, but together, the top and the skirt did nothing for me. I had to start by acknowledging the outfit was not working for me the way I hoped or needed it to. I had to be open to the idea of another possibility that something else I already had would work better, and better reflect me. Something had to change. It ended up being the skirt.

So this week I’m just gonna ask you to baby step it. I’m gonna ask you to just be open. Be open to looking at your life and seeing what it’s reflecting back. Hold on to the feel goods. Hold on to the peace, the joy, the excitement, the freedom. Relish it. And if there are some areas that are being reflected that you are not feeling, that no longer suit or serve you, linger there and be open to changing things up. xxoo



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


Weekend Infatuation- New York City

Welcome to the Weekend! It is Friday and you can find me in Starbucks on Fulton in Manhattan, just a few blocks from the hotel that I will be home until Sunday afternoon. Later you can find me over in Soho browsing the racks at Bloomingdale’s. At some point you will catch me in an number of thrift stores, Union Square, Macy’s on 34th street, in Koreatown, at a food truck, oh and at ABC Home and Carpet. Basically, you will find me doing the things I love in a place I love- the city. Specifically- NYC, but the reality is I just love cities.  To me, weekends were made for doing things we love that we don’t get to do during the week for any number of reasons. Weekends are made for giving our minds, bodies, and souls the nurturing necessary to be the best lovers we can to the objects of our affection. Any recommendations to places to go, things to do, places to eat or hear goo music you can let me on Twitter @ahyanajenise.  #DaretoShare Happy Weekending! Until Monday! xxoo

Photo courtesy of Estillo Tendances.com

Photo courtesy of Estillo Tendances.com

Me Myself and The Lessons

Wednesday I shared I was beyond excited to attend The Yellow Conference. This morning I want to share that my excitement was worth it. It was an amazing time. I am still high fiving myself for attending. And, I really want to share some of the things that were great reminders and really resonated with me in hopes that they may do the same for you. I also really really really want to take this last day of the month to remind you to take care of yourself. You only get one you and you are worthy of the healthiest version of yourself that you can offer. You are worthy of your best energy, creativity, ideas, care, and love. Which is why I want to wrap this month by sending one of you some love from The Love Letter Library. Nicole Ahr, the founder of The Love Letter Library has a sweet collection of stationary, journals, pens, and totes, and they are all in the name of love. She has an even sweeter story about how she started her business about live, and it started by her leaving love letters for people reminding them of how loved and worthy of love they are.  So if you would like to receive a free “Love Is My Jam”  bundle from Nicole,  keep up the love for The Simply LIVED Life by not only reading the blog but joining the community by liking our Facebook page by clicking here or following @AhyanaJenise on Twitter. If you like or follow before noon EST Wednesday September 2nd, 2015 then you will have entered to win the bundle. Winner will be announced Friday at noon EST on Twitter and Facebook.

perfect is the enemy of good (4)

Words by Jocelyn Hefner

perfect is the enemy of good (6)

Words by Vik Harrison

perfect is the enemy of good (7)

Words by Jeff Shinbarger

perfect is the enemy of good

Words by Liz Forkin Bohannon

perfect is the enemy of good (1)

Ten Ways to Self Care This Weekend

Now, you need not do all 10 but I believe in options. So that’s what I am leaving you with this week. Ten wonderful ways to self care and for the most part I think you can do them on any budget, whether you are single or partnered up, child bearing, free, or have three kiddos, live in the city or a place outside the city, and well you catch my drift. They are pretty friendly and feasible ways for you to give yourself some good lovin’ this weekend. Oh and there are giveaways. So read on, comment below and tweet me @AhyanaJenise using #SelfcateTSLL10 to win a self care kit.  See how committed I am to helping you be good to you. Until Monday! xxoo

Photo courtesy of Matt Stanley

Photo courtesy of Matt Stanley

First Friday

City, town, or hamlet (ok maybe not hamlets) but city and towns alike across the US often have First Friday events that are anywhere from free to low cost and open  to everyone. Do yourself a favor and after you read this post, google to see what is going on in your city/town tonight, cause it’s First Friday.  A lot of these events have two things in common- art and good eats. If you like either or both treat yourself and get out there. My quaint new little town with about four traffic lights, no Starbucks, and all the stores close at 5pm- has First Friday festivities. So yours probably does too! Google it.

Photo courtesy of Corbis Images.com


It is easier than you think. I know your eye just twitched at the word unplug but you really will be okay. If you are not on call for your job, have a loved one in critical condition at the hospital, or have to pick someone up from soccer, work, the train station or airport, unplug for a stretch of time. It doesn’t have to be the entire day, but give yourself an hour even. And by unplug, I don’t just mean your phone, but tv, laptop, ipad, and all your blessed social media platforms. Just be with yourself as a way of being good to yourself. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Bloglovin’, Snapchat, will go on just fine without you.

Photo courtesy of Real Beauty Spot.com


Please don’t be insulted. I am not suggesting that you are one who doesn’t but if you are like many folk, you shower as opposed to actually bathing, like getting in the bath tub and soaking in whatever you choose (sometimes I like lavender, sometimes I’m all about oatmeal). Sometimes I play music and sometime I don’t. Sometimes I light candles, and sometimes I don’t. I love an early morning bath but don’t mind indulging in one later in the evening either. Run the water and soak away the cares of the day. For you moms- seriously, just take one before the kids wake up or after you put them to bed. You will thank yourself. The 3 minutes to shower instead or extra time in bed will be tempting but resist.

Photo courtesy of I Am Beyonce.com

Get outside

Unless you live in a place that is in the middle of a serious hail storm or the temperature is set on melt human flesh, get yourself outside. There is something about fresh air that really works wonders for the body. You can do whatever you desire. Garden, sit on the porch and read, take a walk around your neighborhood or development, go downtown and walk around your city’s numerous outdoor sculptures, murals, or dedicated outdoor spaces. Just get out!

Photo courtesy of Forever 21

Photo courtesy of Forever 21


As in take one. If you can. Even if it is a day trip. That is what I seriously love about the eastern seaboard. In a day, depending where you start, you can easily be in a quaint town or busy city within two hours or sometimes less and just explore that area for the day.  A perk to my new town- in under two hours I can be in DC, Philly, or Baltimore. Sometimes physically getting out of a familiar space just reawakens our sense of self, wonder, our creativity, and helps us tune in to what’s going on with us a little better.

Photo courtesy of Tasty Kitchen.com

Photo courtesy of Tasty Kitchen.com


Not to sound like your momma or your auntie, but don’t underestimate how eating a good meal can make you feel and fuel you for whatever else lies ahead. Growing up Saturdays were for “big breakfasts,” aka not cereal like we ate during the week. My mom would make home fries, bacon, sausage, homemade biscuits, and eggs. Or there were pancakes or even French toast. All that to say- weekends are perfect times for slowing down your morning routine, foregoing the Starbucks, Dutch Bros., or Dunkin Donuts. They are perfect times to contemplate what you are putting in your body, making the decision to put something good for your body in your body, and then getting  busy in the kitchen…or someone else’s kitchen. There is no shame self caring via eating at a local restaurant.

Photo courtesy of GQ Magazine

Photo courtesy of GQ Magazine


Sometimes I’m Beyonce. Sometimes I’m Janelle Monae. Sometimes I’m Michael Jackson. I really enjoy dancing, not for exercise. No you will not see me in anyone’s dance aerobics. But I do enjoy dancing around my house, sliding on my hardwood floors, and rocking out by myself. It’s exhilarating and I’ve never felt worse for it.

Photo courtesy of Dominique Bennett.com

Photo courtesy of Dominique Bennett.com


I like writing. You know this because you read what I write. Thank you. I also keep a journal and sadly my current journal is coming to an end and I must get a new one. I know that seems less tragic tan I am making it but here’s the deal. I like journals without lines. I love the liberty of a lineless journal. Sometimes I write vertically and other times horizontally. Sometime I draw pictures and well the lines just jack all that up. Can I tell you how hard it is to find a decent lineless journal? The last one I got was on sale at Anthropologie in Seattle when I was visiting. But writing I have found to be the place where I find my voice and myself. It is unfiltered, uncensored, raw, vulnerable, passionate, 100% Ahyana. I highly recommend you sit down and write. Not text, tweet, type, but write. I also suggest getting yourself a nice journal to write in. There is power in words, putting them down on paper, and releasing them from our heads and hearts. 

Photo courtesy of Happy Day Out Tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of Happy Day Out Tumblr.com


I still have a bottle of bubbles my dad gave me a few birthdays ago. The car that came with it reminded me to make time to play. I am 31 years old as of yesterday and I giggle and smile every time I open those bubbles and blow them even if just for a few minutes. Bubbles are super cheap. Go by a bottle and blow them please and thank you. If that doesn’t suite your fancy just do something that awakens and engages your inner kiddo. Do a few cartwheels, jump rope, got to the park and swing on the swing set, get your kid, bff, or partner to play a board game with you.

Photo courtesy of Everyday Trifles Tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of Everyday Trifles Tumblr.com


Don’t resist rest. Rest by the way is not necessarily sleeping or sitting and doing nothing but looking at your ceiling. Although it can be either or both of those things. Rest is really releasing the need to have to do any number of things. It is releasing al of the things on your to do list and taking in the moment and who you are in the moment. Okay that may be mindfulness. You catch my drift. Rest for me has been a nap. It’s been watching a movie and allowing myself to fall asleep if I so choose. It’s been drinking tea in my back yard and taking in the beautiful sky that the Pacific North West has trademarked (I really think it has), it’s been writing handwritten notes to friends, or creating corny cards to send to those who have a love/hate relationship with my corniness, it’s been curling up on the couch and reading a book. Our minds, bodies, souls need rest. If you really want to take care of yourself, rest.

Okay, so these are 10 things you could totally do this weekend to self care. And I am pretty sure that some of them, like bathe and eat you were going to do anyway. Why not do them with intention? And about that giveaway- oh I would love to send you a self care kit with goods to help you do a lot of the things on this list. All you have to do is leave a comment below telling me which of these ten things you are going to try to do this weekend and send me a tweet @AhyanaJenise using #SelfcareTSLL10. Easy peasy and you are on your way to a lovely self care kit (stuff from my favorite shops to do just about everything on this list)  Just be sure to share by 11:59pm EST Sunday August 9th, 2015. Winners (there will b e two) announced next Friday on the blog!

Can’t LIVE Without- New Year and New Changes

Photo courtesy of Elite Daily.com
Well we officially rung in the New Year one week ago and well I am still going to say it –Happy New Year!I spent much of my New Year and the past week in bed with the itis- bronchitis, tonsillitis, and laryngitis. When I wasn’t hacking up a lung, blowing out my eyeballs, or trying to only breathe through my nose and not swallow, I was doing what probably more of us than will admit do around the new year,- thinking, assessing, and evaluating. I think it’s a commercialized habit because really we can do those things and implement change at any moment.
Photo courtesy of From Up North.com
Nonetheless I was assessing and evaluating and there are a few changes that I am making this new year, some in in my personal life, others in my professional life, and a few in my blog life- the life I get to share with you. Starting next week I will be cutting back on the frequency with which I post and posting three days a week, Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays.  Monday and Tuesday’s posts will look similar to the ways in which they have for the past year and a half (wow, a year and a half!!!) while Friday will be a little different with a little more flavor and funk. So keep reading, check as often as your heart desires, even if your heart desires to read on a Thursday and feel free to catch me LIVE-ing life, on social media @AhyanaJenise.  xxoo
Photo courtesy of Oh So Beautiful Paper.com

The Weekend…San Francisco xxoo

I wasn’t up before the sun, in anyone’s long line, giving insincere smiles, and saying happy holidays. Nope, nope, and nope. I was in bed until the sun crept through the curtains and I peeked out of the window of my aunt’s second floor Union Square condo and smiled because I am in my favorite city on VACATION. That’s right. Not traveling for work, not working from home, but on vacation and will be all the way through Monday. There’s Sausilto to visit, the Marina to see, French bakeries on Maiden Lane, Aveda to have my hair done at, 1300 on Filmore to dine at, the Oakland Art Museum to get lost in, my aunt to converse with, and a few friends to gather and laugh with.  I’ll update you on the adventure in SF on Twitter @AhyanaJenise. The fun has begun. Until Monday xxoo

Photo courtesy of All Posters.com

Photo courtesy of Ultra Linx.com
Photo courtesy of Coastal Living.com

The Simply Excited Life

Photo courtesy of Moxham Store.com
I was excited for her. In fact over the past couple of days I’d been excited for several people. For my friend who started graduate school. For my sister who finally found the perfect place for her and my nephew to move to.  For my student who had never been to a conference during her time at the university and I not only got to financially support her attendance, but to attend with her. For my friend who said yes, to a date, not a proposal. And for my colleague who was on her way to a conference where a woman who had d been instrumental in her professional and academic career would be here and they’d get to connect.  Lots of excitement.
I didn’t mind telling these people how excited I was for them. I didn’t mind sharing in their happiness, a happiness that wasn’t directly related to me in any way. I didn’t mind cheering on the success of others because to me it was and is a privilege to be a part of the lives of those who are living, experiencing their own joy, and achieving their goals. 
There is something to be said for empathy. For being able to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. It’s a relational authenticity that I’ve seen strengthen relationships and inspire people.
Photo courtesy of Escapadeblog.com
When I share how excited I am for people I don’t just get a “Thanks girl thanks,” or “It is exciting right?,” or even an “I know.” I also get “It was so hard to wait for this,” or “I almost gave up but I’m glad I didn’t,” or “I never imagined this but thank God.”  The relational authenticity turns into a reciprocal authenticity. My authentic communication of excitement, happiness, and joy for others is returned with the reality of the journey to the very moment we’re excited about.
I get to learn about how hard it was to save for the new place prior to the start of the new job that now offers great benefits and the salary increase to save. I get to learn about the struggle within the male dominated field that assaulted her confidence at times, yet that was fortified as a result of someone having worked through the same challenges in the same male dominated field.  I get to learn about goals and possible career paths and anxieties and fears around choosing correctly or not being enough.  I get to learn about the slow step by step process of putting yourself back out there to date and finally taking a risk and saying yes.  I get to learn about the people with whom I have relationship.
Photo courtesy of Curiano.com
I’ve said it before and I don’t mind saying it again. We’re relational beings. We thrive in relationships. I like to think we thrive in ones where there is authenticity and reciprocity; where we can rejoice and be excited, learn about the heart aches and smile at the present reason the heart celebrates.
Selfishly I’ll admit, being excited for and with others, helps me to stay hopeful about the things that I want to see come to fruition and be excited about.  It grounds me in the fact that much of life is a process and not to lose heart. It helps me stay focused on my goals and to trust that in due time all that I have worked for will yield results. Very real and exciting results.  
Photo courtesy of Charlotte Walker as pinned on Pinterest.com
Plus being excited keeps pity parties away. It keeps us from dwelling on the negative, what didn’t work out, who wasn’t what we wanted or needed, failed expectations, etc.  Excitement focuses on the now and yet. It dwells on the goodness of the moment and the possibility of more goodness in coming moments. See, who wouldn’t  want to be excited?
I’m hoping you get some excitement this week; preferably the drama free kind. I’m hoping that whether it’s yours or someone you know that you get to experience all of the goodness that comes with being excited. The twinkle in the eye, the glowing smile, the laughter, the feeling light and free, the anticipation of goodness and the contentment of a good moment. I’m also hoping that in all of that excitement you’ll take a moment to share it here or on twitter @AhyanaJenise. I’d absolutely love to join in the excitement and to hear your journey to your excitement. xxoo

The Simply Released Life

Photo courtesy of Steve Miesel for Vogue Italia

“Perhaps we’ll have a funeral. Oh, yes, and I will wear all black, maybe the new black maxi dress.”I though to myself. I was on the elliptical in the gym, looking out at the gorgeous green being wooed by both sunshine and gentle breezes. It was my last day in Seattle and my first time in the fitness center. A morning walk up and down the hilled emerald city’s streets weren’t going to help me release my frustration courtesy of a conversation I had that morning. 

“Or I could wear the short black dress with the drop waste. And, I wish I had a hat. Ooo, with a veil.” I continued in my thoughts. Because even in sadness fashion somehow matters right? Not really. But I thought it would help with the process I needed to engage in of letting go of some things. I am going to ask for a funeral. I am going to email my counselor and tell her I need to do so something physical as a means of letting go of some things, of stripping them of their life since they were stripping me of mine. 

Photo courtesy of Steve Miesel for Vogue Italia

I would write down everything and everyone that I needed to let go of. I would even write them to look like tombstones. And then I would bury them. I pictured myself digging up dirt and burying the paper tombstones of things and people I needed to be finished with. Then I pictured myself digging them up. That’s the thing with burying things at some point you could dig it up. I didn’t want to dig anything up. I didn’t want the ability to dig anything up. I wanted to let things go. 

The machine stopped abruptly jolting me out of my faux funeral plans. The screen told me to prepare to go in the opposite direction. And so as my legs pushed in the opposite direction my mind did too. “A release party!,” I thought. What if I had a release party?! I’d get helium filled balloons, write what or who I needed to release on them, and release them into the air. I would wear a cute party dress and sandals. I would maybe wear heels, and have cupcakes and sparkling lemonade. I would celebrate letting go of things that have been hard to let go of but we’re necessary to let go of. So I told my counselor we were going to have a release party. 

Photo courtesy of Max Wanger Photography

Sometimes, no matter how hard we try to rid our minds of things it takes a physical action to truly free us. Sometimes the physical action is saying a phrase or mantra aloud. Sometimes it’s writing affirmations and then reading them aloud. Sometimes it’s creating a ritual to help transition, like showering as soon as you get home from work to wash away the day and embrace your evening. I did this often when I worked primarily with trauma survivors. The physical coupled with the mental is powerful. Mostly I would assert because it helps us to put that which bothers, hurts, frustrates, disappoints, angers, worries, or scares us, out there. It strips those things of the power they hold over our lives when they live rent free and shame dependent in our minds. We see it for what it is and we realize often through those physical acts how unhealthy and life draining they are the we will do almost anything to release them. We  see the toxicity and we deny it’s dweling in our lives any longer. 

I must admit by the time we get to doing some type of physical activity or ritual to release it usually means those things we need to kick to the curb should have been kicked to the curb. It usually means we knew a while back that Tyrone or Tanya weren’t healthy additions to our lives, our eating habits and refusal to exercise were out of control before we gained 17 pounds let alone what is now 75, or that the complements were never compliments and were always sexual harassment. However some part of ourselves found comfort in Tyrone or Tanya, late night binge eating and finding any excuse to not wear the sports bra tat will highlight our back fat and send us back into the arms of Ben and Jerry,  or the attention from the colleague or supervisor. But last I checked comfort like this leads to mediocrity and mediocrity is the antithesis of LIVE-ing.  

Photo courtesy of “We Like To Party”  Production Team

Don’t get me wrong, I get it. I honestly do. I mean I am the one having a release party cause I’ve got quite a few things that I can see I have practically mangled because I have held to them so tightly. While they have taught me lessons and spurred growth, they no longer serve a purpose in my life and I need to release them. Not bury them, but let them take flight right on out of my LIVE centered, purpose filled, made for more, abundant, life. 

My hope for you this week is maybe just maybe you will think of a few things it’s time for you to release. Maybe it’s words spoken to you as a child hat you have carried with you, maybe it’s a failed relationship, maybe it’s a fear of being in a relationship. Maybe it’s disappointment, guilt, anxiety, unforgiveness, or betrayal. Whatever is cheating you from you being the best version of you are the things, relationships, and people you  want to release. As you release it, it releases you.

I will keep you posted on the date of the release party. I’ll even take picks and share some of the things I will be releasing. And if you follow me on twitter @AhyanaJenise and look for #releasepartyLIVE, I’ll let you know when my party is and you can totally attend. You can release some things from your life the same time I am. Or, you can have your own #releasepartyLIVE and keep me posted on how it goes. 

Photo courtesy of Tuck and Bonte on Etsy.com

The Simply Fed Life

Photo courtesy of Eileen Goodall on hubpages.com

A few Sundays ago I attended a ridiculously sweet birthday brunch for a ridiculously sweet friend. Her vintage second floor flat with huge windows letting in the spring sunshine we longed for all winter was filled with the smell of fresh flowers, the sound of fresh fruit and veggies being chopped, and the sight of champagne, juices, and fresh fruit for a variety of mimosas and other  sweet brunch cocktails.

I handed the birthday girl her gifts, some goods from Lush and a bottle sparkling mascoto, hung my jacket and handbag, and joined my friend in the kitchen. Her menu included everything from an asparagus feta cheese frittata to stuffed crepes with fresh strawberries, roasted beets with goat cheese and balsamic vinegar, to roasted potatoes with peppers and onions, to Persian cucumbers and humus to an almond cake. And, the list seriously goes on.

We talked, caught up, laughed, chopped, sliced, whisked, taste tested until our hearts were content. When the other guests arrived they joined in by making drinks and we sat, eating and talking until we were full.

Photo courtesy of Emily of The Clever Carrot.com

I didn’t just go home with an appropriately full stomach. I went home for full of energy and joy. I had mental lists of ideas for new recipes and snippets of great conversations to use as inspiration for my writing. I had  a peaceful fully engaged in the present heart and mind. To be honest, I went home full of life. That doesn’t always happen for me on Sundays. I usually have to work extra hard to stay in the present on Sundays, enjoy the day, and not think about Monday, getting up at 5:30am, being in the continued strain of transition and culture change occurring in my suite and the campus,  and all the challenges that work can bring especially serving those with metal health challenges. This Sunday I didn’t have to do that. In fact it reminded me of another Sunday a few weeks prior where the day was full of life. I spent the day feasting upon things that were life giving to me instead of life draining. 

That’s what happens when we spend time nourishing ourselves. That’s what happens when we make time to feed ourselves with the things that add to our lives, enrich, inspire, and push us closer to our purposes. We feel appropriately full. I say appropriately because if you have ever stuffed yourself, you usually feel a bit lethargic afterwards and are wondering did you lose self control pre or post slice number 4 of the sundried tomato, spinach, and fresh mozzarella cheese pizza. When you nourish yourself with things that enhance  your wellness you shouldn’t feel lethargic.

I’m not great at memorizing. While I have a great memory and often remember names, faces, and how to get to places, memorizing is not a skill I consider to be a strength. However, there are a few scriptures that I have memorized, hold close to my heart, and use as a guide in how I choose to live. One such verse is one that says “I came that you might have life, and have it to the full.” Yup, a foundational piece to my faith system is living a full life.

Photo courtesy of designers Blithe and Vine featured in Social South Magazine

Now, living a simply fed life which creates a full life does not mean stuffing your life with a variety of things to do. It does not mean go go go, and yes to every gallery opening, milestone birthday celebration, new restaurant opening, trunk show, bridal shower, baby shower, marathon, etc. Those are all super exciting, great opportunities to dress up (minus the marathon) and look fabulous, travel, meet with friends and make new ones, etc. They are also great opportunities to leave you drained and running on empty, feeling full of resentment for not being a better steward of your time, energy, and ultimately your life. They are great opportunities to leave you bloated aka full of gas but nothing nutritional and substantive.

If you’re going to LIVE fully you’ve got to feed yourself well. That’s everything from what you put in your body and on your body to what you allow your mind and spirit ingest. That includes how much exercise you make room for and rest you make room for. It also includes how often you allow yourself to be the go to for every one’s problems and how you frame challenges in your own life.

Feeding yourself well means reigning in all that isn’t well and figuring out how to let those things go to make space for the life giving things.  It means everything from the music we listen to. I am a sucker for R&B. I love a good slow jam and a ballad. But I can only listen to so many songs about an inability to get over the person you loved and how they cheated. I enjoy watching television from time to time, but I can only watch so much especially with this influx of “reality” television programs  that constantly has women talking terribly about each other and physically fighting. I am a foodie, and you all know this especially if you follow me @AhyanaJenise on Twitter. Yet, after a while the delicious happy hour cocktails, Latin fusion dishes, and milkshakes do have an effect not only on my waistline but the energy I have to do everything I need to do.  I enjoy many of the people I work with across the university, but as the transitions on our campus take a toll some of the conversations have been consistently full of  negativity, excuse making, blame shifting, and I have had to have conversations saying “We can’t talk about this stuff. It’s draining.”

Eartha Kitt “Sweet as Honey” Photo courtesy of Cafleurebon.com

 Now once you  start cutting out the life draining it’s time to beef up the enriching. Otherwise you go hungry. If you’re like me, sometimes I go way too long without eating and then when I do eat I over eat and sometimes that includes overeating things that are no good for me. When you make room for the things that feed you, allow you to be your truest and best self, those are the things you want to have more of in your life. If it’s enjoying the outdoors then wake up earlier to enjoy a walk in your neighborhood and then prep for work, or pick a night or two a week to do it after work or after dinner. If it’s learning and you are on a budget, there are free online classes offered through Coursera. Take a class. If it’s cooking like it is for me, then cook more and invite people over to enjoy the wonderful works of your creative mind and hands. If it’s travel, then travel. I have a separate savings account solely dedicated to traveling because traveling refreshes me. If its writing, write. Don’t censor, just write until your heart is content but before your fingers are gnarled.

We are LIVE-ing beings and we need those things that beget life to help us LIVE. We need meaningful filling Sunday brunches that we go to instead of church and we go not feeling guilty that we skipped church. We need trips to nearby cities like New York and Washington DC to be immersed in the culture of others, people watching and observing others engage in life, or observing the life of the universe as we sit on a park bench drinking a tall chai soy latte.  We need to go everywhere save the bathroom with our cameras and capture the things that intrigue us, minister to us, speak to us, draw us out and in.

Do something that brings you life this week will ya? Feast on something that make you a better you and testifies to the reality of the existence of an abundant life. Nourish your mind, body, and spirit with that which your soul can say was a step closer to the purpose you were created for.  Feed yourself so that when your finished you can say “That was delicious.”

Photo courtesy of Gerti Deusch for Getty Images