Light Bulb Moment No. 2

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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

Light Bulb Moment No. 1

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Photo courtesy of Bantu Wear 

I have been told that the perkiness served up by most Starbucks baristas is not coincidental. Starbucks doesn’t have the market on joyful, enthusiastic, optimistic people. They just make it a part of who they are and if you are going to work for them then you have to buy into and be who they are. I have known this tidbit for years, when a new client of mine came straight to our first appointment in her uniform.

Yet, as I waited for my tea and smiled at the barista thinking “It must be so nice to do work you look forward to coming to and makes you smile everyday,” is beyond me. Because as soon as those words left my mental mouth I realized that I too could do that. However for the past couple of years I totally bought into this myth that I didn’t need that. That I didn’t need to be positively emotionally connected to my job, it didn’t need to make me happy just money to pay blasted bills. That to expect happiness or joy from my job most days than not was unreasonable. Kinda like expecting any of my celebrity crushes to just pop up at my place and take me to dinner in Paris (that is unreasonable…they don’r know where I live…or me. )The barista called out my drink and smiled as he passed it to me.

Here’s what I’m thinking. I’m thinking it’s absolutely okay to desire, expect, and seek a job or jobs that add or show potential to add joy and happiness to our lives. There are no guarantees and we probably should shy away from our joy and happiness being primarily reliant on factors outside of ourselves.  Still, lack of guarantees should not have us thinking we are seeking to much by seeking joy and happiness in an activity that uses so much of our time, energy, ability.  I say, ignore the super pragmatic basic well meaning folks who say as long as you get a paycheck emotional welfare is overrated. I’d say it’s underrated. A job that makes you happy (assuming g nothing illegal makes you happy, or anything that harms you or others) is not asking for too much. It may be what you need just as much if not more than the paycheck. 

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

Falling In Love…Again

Photo courtesy of  Pinterest.com

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

There I was on my olive green sofa, under the mustard yellow and white chevron velour throw, with my stove top popcorn and glass of pinot grigio watching season five of Sex and the City. Charlotte, the hopeless romantic was sharing that she amended her “one great love in a lifetime” rule to include two great loves. Charlotte’s marriage had ended and she refused to believe that she was destined to never fall in love and marry again. She was willing to fall in love again.

Falling in love again isn’t just for Hollywood. Everyday people find the courage to fall in love again too. One such woman is Akirah Robinson, LSW, and author of Respected, a book written to help women bolster their sense of self-worth and as a result, become better prepared to participate in healthy romantic relationships. Akirah speaks from her own experience of a very unhealthy relationship that she didn’t let stop her  from ending, loving and healing herself, and then meeting, falling in love with, and marrying her now husband Dan. I got to chat with Akirah recently about falling in love again and this is what she had to say-

TSLL: When you think about when you fell in love with Dan versus the young man you were in an abusive relationship, what do you feel was different?

AR: A big thing for me with Dan was he had himself together the way my ex never really seemed to. When I met Dan, he had a career that he was passionate about, a car,  and a group of friends. He had a life that he could share with me. My ex and a few other guys I dated were finding someone, me, because they didn’t have much going on for themselves. Dan was looking for someone to complement the full wonderful life he had. Dan wanted me. He didn’t need me.  There’s a difference.

TSLL: What else about Dan made you feel like you could open yourself up to dating and falling in love again?

AR: This may sound strange, but Dan shared with me that he was friends with all of his exes. I know to some that would seem like a red flag. But for him to be on good terms with women he has dated in the past communicated maturity to me. He has never bad mouthed an ex and that was big for me. My ex would refer to his exes as bitches.

TSLL: We often hear people talk about red flags regarding dating. You even used the phrase a moment ago. What would you consider were greenlights that dating Dan was healthy?

AR: I met Dan online. We got to know each other at a pace that worked for me. Our first date happened after five lengthy phone conversations.  By the time I started dating Dan I also had a better idea of what I knew I needed and wanted. I knew I didn’t want someone who was going to put me on a pedestal. I was still leery of being someone’s everything. I also wanted to be with someone who was looking for a relationship- not someone who was dating for the sake of dating. It helped that Dan was clear in his communication about what he was looking for. He was clear in communicating his interest in me and direct in communicating wanting to get to know me more. Yet he did it in a very respectful slow paced way. He would ask if I wanted to see him and clearly shared that he wanted to see me. His clear consistent communication communicated respect and removed any doubt about how he felt about me.

TSLL: What would you encourage other brave hearts- those working on a comeback from an unhealthy or traumatic relationship experience to do to heal and maybe fall in love again?

AR: Give yourself time. You are going to feel bad for a bit and you really will be okay. I am also a huge advocate for therapy. Depending on how deep the pain goes it may be good to find a counselor or a support group- people who can either relate or model compassion. You have to be compassionate and loving towards yourself before you can do that for someone else. Also, identify what you need from a potential partner and don’t be afraid to need those things. Healthy relationships are ones in which two people can express what they need and work together to meet those needs from a place of respect and love.

Want to know more about healing, healthy relationship building, self love and respect? Visit Akirah’s blog at http://akirahrobinson.com/blog/or pick up a copy of her book, Respected.

Back To DC

Last weekend I went back to DC but for the first time with a group of some of my absolute favorite gal pals. We ere celebrating my birthday. While my birthday was last month, between moving back across the country and staring a new job at a new college, I presed pause on the celebrating. It truly was a mere pause and last weekend I pressed play. We played like nobody’s business. After checking into Club Quarters Hotel, we spent the afternoon with some of us getting manis and pedis and others of us shopping. We spent Saturday night at Cuba Libre. We had dinner and after dinner cocktails and then took it to the dance floor. I forgot how liberating dancing was. We called lights out not long after 2:30 Sunday morning only to head to Starbucks a few hours later and take our coffees and lattes to the park to people watch and daydream aloud. Before heading back to Maryland and Pennsylvania we had brunch at Creme. The ambiance and food were beyond amazing and so worthy of going back for. Sharing a few pictures from the weekend that was. The weekend that whenever I think back to it, makes me immensely grateful for friends and looking forward to more memory creating with them. Until Monday! xxoo

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Silvie is great at catching candid shots.

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A rare not so camera shy moment of yours truly xxoo

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We’re cute…heading down and out to eat and DANCEEEEE!

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Headed out for the night, me, Steph, and Silvie…Serena is playing photographer

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Grilled pineapple guacamole @CubalibreDC #Foodie

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Mango Curry Glazed Salmon #foodie @CubaLibreDC

Sweatin out my press, sweatin out my blow out @CubaLibreDC

Sweatin out my press, sweatin out my blow out @CubaLibreDC

Beauties who brunch @Creme14

Beauties who brunch @Creme14 Me, Steph, Sil, and Serena #SASS

Green Eggs (Spinach and green chilies) and ham (turkey sausage for me) and hollandaise sauce and my grits are to the side. yum #foodie

Green Eggs (Spinach and green chilies) and ham (turkey sausage for me) and hollandaise sauce and my grits are to the side. yum #foodie

the BEST coconut cake everrrrrrrrr

the BEST coconut cake everrrrrrrrr

We shared it cause you know- sharing is caring!

We shared it cause you know- sharing is caring!

Serena and I xxoo

Serena and I xxoo

Silvie and Steph

Silvie and Steph

Back, Back, Forth and Forth

As my favorite east coast nephew and I strolled into Target he pulled my hand and pointed up, “Look Auntie” and laughed. As I looked up there were cardboard pencils suspended in the air that looked like rockets as a part of the Back to School Marketing extravaganza that has swept the US.  My Instagram and Facebook feeds are full of pictures of the young mostly smiling occasionally front toothless children of friends and family. Moms of the Twitterverse are sharing their ideas for getting back into the swing of the school year and prepping for transition such as first year of middle school and starting high school. And then there are those of us who are going back to school ourselves or maybe back to work or if you’re like me your still settling in after moving back to the east coast. The B word is stamped all over sweet September. And I’m not fighting it. Mostly because there is something to going back in order to move forward.

backbackjessphotographies

I’m not a fan of living life in reverse. I am a fan of learning from the past in order to better live in the present and plan for the future. Let’s face it there is a reason cars have rearview mirrors. And how often do we use them to back up, then pull forward, to park, get out, and do whatever we need to do for the day or evening. What’s behind us serves a purpose as to what lies ahead of us. If we don’t pay attention to what’s happened to us (and I mean pay attention, not ruminate, dwell on, or recreate) we fun the risk of trying to build our dreams on unstable foundations, foundations that are made of denial, avoidance, ad cover ups. The past can be a powerful teacher so that in the future we can be powerful masters.

This month we’ll talk about what going back can look like, why it can be daunting, closure, the power of acknowledging pain as well as pulling out the positives, and how to journey back to ourselves and the core values, behaviors, and relationships that make room for us to LIVE well.

Photo courtesy of Milk and Ice Tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of Milk and Ice Tumblr.com

It’s September and I just want to say Welcome Back! xxoo

5 Ways to Love Yourself on a Lunch Break

Every day millions of Americans waste the almighty lunch break. Okay maybe not mullions. I don’t know the actual statistics, but I do know far too many of us don’t take a lunch break. We don’t even bother to eat lunch let alone actually break. Which I think is sad because believe it or not there is so much fruitfulness that could indeed come from your lunch break, whether it’s 30 minutes or 60 minutes. So today I thought I’d suggest 5 ways you can take care of yourself during your lunch break. OKay maybe six ways because some of yall might need to start by creating the habit of actually taking a lunch break. So look at number one as less of a suggestion and more of a foundation.

Photo courtesy of Mark Hunter

Photo courtesy of Mark Hunter

  1. Take a lunch break- You will get paid no more or no less if you take your lunch break. Even my hourly wage earners. Due to labor laws after a certain amount of time you must have a lunch break (and your employer is only obligated to allot you the break not pay you), so take the break. While you’re at it, please eat. Eat something. Might I suggest something on the healthier side that doesn’t come from a vending machine. If you want to be a good steward over your lunch break and your body, pack a lunch from home. This way you save time in terms of going some place to grab food and you control what is going into your body. Despite all the plastic surgery options, you still only get one body. Take care of it! 

    Photo courtesy of  Little Yogi Tumblr.com

    Photo courtesy of Little Yogi Tumblr.com

  2. Stretch- Chances are you are on of the many employed people nationally and globally who sit at their desk for the bulk of their day. Your lunch break is a great time to stretch. Many a times I have closed my office door, turned on a yoga video on YouTube, and done 20 to 30 minutes of yoga right in my office. It has been good for my body and my mind. Or gofor a walk. Get up and away from your desk and go for your a walk. Your body will thank you.

    Photo courtesy of Tony Anderson for Getty Images

    Photo courtesy of Tony Anderson for Getty Images

  3. Go for your goal- I am blessed with a 9-5 gig, well actually my new job is 8:30 to 4:30 and I get an hour for lunch. However I know that the only people I want to work for forever is Jesus and myself. So I use my lunch breaks to work towards my goals as a full time entrepreneur. Whether it’s researching, scheduling meetings, actually meeting, building my social media platforms to actually engage with others and not just post and throw information at others, or pin pictures on Pinterest that I want to use on my blogs, I use my lunch breaks front time to time to work on my goals. You can do the same. Let’s say your goal is to buy a house, Use your lunch break to research a realtor or the neighborhoods and schools you may want to move to. Or let’s say you want out of your current work situation bit want o work for another company, this is the time to search and apply (I might recommend that you search and save jobs on your phone and actually apply from your personal computer). Wanting to head to Paris in the Spring? (Me too btw.), but start researching places to stay, and things to see or do. Time to nurture your goals is time to nurture yourself. 

    Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

    Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

  4. Explore– One of the things I Ioved about working in downtown Philadelphia was that unless the weather was below freezing or melt your flesh, I’d take every opportunity to go out and explore. Sometimes it was a new park and other times it was a new store. Who am i kidding, most of the times it was a new store ans scoping out a new restaurant to go to for happy hour later. The point is, it was time that I would walk and wander. I’d meet new people, observer the rich architecture in the city (especially in older buildings), maybe stumble across a great sale, or just new ideas for how to style my clothes or home. I work in a small town now and I take  the time to explore the town and visit the boutiques that are just a few blocks away from my office. Don’t underestimate the ways in which allowing yourself to explore can renew your energy, creativity, and productivity.

    Photo courtesy of 33 ridges.com

    Photo courtesy of 33 ridges.com

  5. Connect- When I lived on the west coast the phone date was my friend and lunch time was a good time to call several folks who were wrapping up their day on the east coast. I was “company’ for several people’s commute home on the east coast. I enjoyed it because it was a way to tend to our relationship. Self care doesn’t have to be done by yourself. It can be a time where you connect with others who leave your soul feeling brighter and lighter. You can of course use this time to connect with people face to face as well. For my busy mom’s who usually can’t do a happy hour or dinner during the week, make use of lunch breaks to connect with your friends in other departments. For my financially savvy folks, brown bag that lunch and gather outside in the park, in the company cafeteria, or in someone’s office. Talk, laugh, and live (but don’t gossip, and for those in relationships, don’t vent about your partner. Leave the toxicity and negativity at the door. Talk to your partner instead of about them, that’s how many a relationship goes awry- unless the relationship is abusive. That is different).

    Photo courtesy of Full Start.com

    Photo courtesy of Full Start.com

  6. Get grounded- Whether you choose to pray, journal, meditate, listen to a sermon online, or ready a few of your favorite spiritual blogs, sometimes using the middle of the day to center yourself is really great way to love yourself. I will visit Redemption’s Beauty in a heartbeat for words that instantly remind me that God’s gt everything in control and i need to chill and let Him do His thing. I have also started carrying my journal to work, especially on the mornings where I didn’t journal before work, and reflect and write during my lunch break. Sometimes I will walk to the coffee shop, journal in hand, and grab a soy chai latte (or green tea latte if I hit up Starbucks) and connect with me, myself, and I.

So reader, it is Monday, this the “official” start of the work week, which means depending upon when you are reading this you have 5 or 4 lunch breaks on the horizon. Use them wisely and more importantly use them to LIVE well. xxoo

Me, Myself, and Mindy Kaling

Photo courtesy of Birchbox.com

Photo courtesy of Birchbox.com

Tuesday nights were my comedy nights. I’d make a big ol’ bowl of stove top popcorn, smother it in butter, pour a big ol’ glass of white wine, sit cross legged in the center of my couch,  and laugh my heart out at New Girl and The Mindy Project.  If you called or texted during those shows you didn’t exist to me. Granted I would check my text and voicemail to make sure no one died or was dying- no one ever died or was dying.

Watching the Mindy Project gave way to buying her book “Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me?”.  I started the book and could not put it down, except when I had to like to go to the bathroom, pay for the soy vanilla latte I wanted to sip on as I read, go to work, oh and sleep. Then of course you had Mindy on a series of talk shows where she was talking about being herself. But not like her Beyonce self, Brad Pitt self, or Sarah Jessica Parker self.No her real brown Indian not a size 2, 4, or 6 and I don’t need to be , no blonde hair and no Hollywood I’m not dying it blonde either, I like and eat sweets several times a week if  I want  self. It was somewhere between refreshing and revolutionary. Which is kind of sad if you think about it. A human being being a human being, not a version of a human being- mind blowing. Nonetheless Mindy was out there being all authentic and as someone who was feeling like she was losing her own authenticity I was beyond appreciative of all that Mindy was daring to put out into the world. That she was daring to continue putting herself out into the world, her not a fan of one night stands, believer in marriage and romance, knows the difference between men and boys (and by boys- grown men according to age but not lifestyle) and preferring men, has experienced rejection and lived to tell about it, hardworking, ridiculously humorous, and unapologetic self out there.

Photo courtesy of Style Caster.com

Photo courtesy of Style Caster.com

It’s hard to care for, love, nurture, and protect that which has become strange to us. It’s hard to recognize our thoughts, voice, hopes, and dreams, when they’ve been smudged by hardship and unexpected circumstances that we never bother to clean (aka process- make meaning of when possible, let go as often as necessary). It’s hard to convince others that we matter when we have stopped reminding ourselves that we matter.

Mindy Kaling could have written about any number of things but she chose to write about herself. And even then, she could have offered up a version of herself, the version that didn’t admit to enjoying doughnuts so much, the time things didn’t work out with a guy that she spent half a day and dropped some money on preparing to go to dinner with only for him to cancel via text, or that she has items in her closet from Forever 21 (or had anyway she totally left that jacket at a party she skipped out early  on), and the list goes on. Read the book, I’m not offering up cliff notes.

The point is watching the Mindy Project, as well as reading and rereading her book has been a great reminder that one of the best ways to take care of myself is to be myself. It is hard keeping up with a version of me. It’s much easier to be my authentic self and live in a way that honors that person. It makes for better and healthier relationships, decisions about how I spend my time, energy, and creativity, career and academic decisions. It allows my yes to be yes and my no to be no, for my boundaries to be in place and effective.

Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed.com

Photo courtesy of Buzzfeed.com

I’ve had guys ask me what was the best date I went on and I don’t hesitate to share that it was going to a basketball game where we had amazing seats. Afterwards we went to his place and had pizza and wings.  The second best date, just going to his place and watching the game and having pizza and wings. Do you know why these dates stand out? Because I was so myself, not a version of myself.  My jeans, t shirt, and bomber style jacket and boots. My sloppy top knot and mascara and lip gloss only beauty regimented face. All of my trash talking and eating three slices of pizza and about half the wings  and not caring what he thought about a girl who….likes to eat pizza and wings self.  I was comfortable. I was bringing myself not a version of myself, not selling myself, just myself to these dates.  While things didn’t work out in the long run, it wasn’t because of the aspect of myself that I enjoyed basketball, pizza, and wings at his place. It was because of a different aspect of myself. But here’s the thing, I didn’t change that for him and I don’t regret that choice.

The jobs that I’ve enjoyed the most were jobs where I could show up, not a version of me that met my employers satisfaction.  The friendships that have lasted the longest are the ones where I could show up. In fact one of my friends is particularly amazing at making room for people to show up whether at their best or absolute worse.

Be your doughnut eating, forever 21 jacket wearing (read the book), three slices of pizza and half the wings with the guy on date number four eating,  calling out gender bias and discrimination in front of the administration, self. It is liberating. It’s hard to take care of prisoners, especially the self imprisoned.  And if you need some serious modeling of how to just be you grab your copy of Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?. Read, laugh, love yourself, be yourself, eat a doughnut, and repeat.

photo courtesy of Food52.com

photo courtesy of Food52.com

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

Unplug

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

Bathe

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

Trip

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

Eat

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

Dance

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

Write

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

Play

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

Rest

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!

Life In A #Hashtag

Photo courtesy of Sarah Sarna.com

Photo courtesy of Sarah Sarna.com

Part of why I’m glad to have this whole month to share about self care is because there are so many aspects to self care. Okay lies. There are two. Self and Care. But the self is pretty complex and there are so many different ways to care for ourselves depending on who we are, need, and desire. And, a lot of that is grounded in who we know and believe ourselves to be.  So today we are starting with the basics. Self 099 or as I posed the question to a few of you “What’s your life’s motto in a hashtag?” The way I see it, we all walk around with words we hold as truths, that motivate us, and shape our behaviors, and communicate what we value and believe.  Words are powerful and communicate who we are, what we care about (including ourselves), and where we are headed.  So these were some of the “My Life In A Hashtag responses people sent to me. Thanks for sharing!

Photo courtesy of Cuded.com

Photo courtesy of Cuded.com

#Betheexpectationsoffurexpectations and #Timewaitsfornoman- Barbie F.

#WhenIRiseWeRiseTogether and #ImLikeAPhoenixiRiseFromTheAshes- Sabine S.

#WorkHardPlayHarder and #LiveOutLoud- Caroline D.

#Daretobeextraordinary Madeline H.

#Workhardstayhumble- Camina H.

Photo courtesy of Miss Femme Xo Tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of Miss Femme Xo Tumblr.com

What’s your life’s motto in a hasthtag? #DaretoShare

Me Myself and Drugs

Photo courtesy of Esther Boutique

Photo courtesy of Esther Boutique

I will be 31 in a few days and a I reflect upon this past year I made decisions that I consider the greatest decisions I could have made this year. The first was to take a leave of absence from my old job and the second was to resign from that same job.  I remember my decision to take the leave of absence very clearly. Mostly because my other option was drugs.

It was a Wednesday morning in March and I had just woken up. Literally just smacked my alarm to keep it quiet and barely had both eyes open. As I sat up in bed I mentally rummaged my cabinet for any prescription drugs I still had that would put me in a mental and emotional daze for the day. I didn’t want to die and I didn’t mind physically showing up to work. I did mind having to be mentally and emotionally available. I crawled out of bed and started a variation of my morning routine (I skipped the gym), turned on the tea kettle and hopped in the shower. By the time I was finished the kettle went off. As poured the hot water into the blue mug I stared at the codeine ladened cough syrup bottle. I could mix it with the tea I thought. I reached for the bottle and I stared at it. Then I then put it back. I closed the cabinet door and wept. I cried for about thirty minutes. In fact at this point I had started to get up earlier during the week to leave myself enough time to cry and then pull myself together to head to the office on time.

I drank the cough syrup free tea and headed to campus. I was in a haze for much of the day but not a drug induced one. No it was a “What is happening to me?”  haze. How had I allowed myself to get the point of waking up and immediately wanting to disconnect from my reality? How had I allowed myself to be in a reality that was so painful? How did self medicating instead of self caring become a viable option?

Photo courtesy of Design Taxi.com

Photo courtesy of Design Taxi.com

Within the next week I called HR and shared I needed to take a leave of absence. Nevermind the fact that spring break was upon us and I was out of the office for the entire break. I was gonna need more than a week.  The woman in HR sounded alarmed, concerned, and of course HR- code for had the company’s best interest in mind. It didn’t matter. She walked me through the process which included going to my doctor. I went to my doctor where I blubbered my way through the appointment. All the doctor asked was what bought me in and I just went from human being to human puddle.  I took familiar questionnaires to assess my anxiety and depression. Familiar because as a former counselor I would administer and score them for my own clients.  I wasn’t the least bit surprised when they reflected symptoms high enough to warrant my doctor not only providing the medical documentation needed for HR to grant the leave of absence, but two medications, and her suggestion that I quit. “You are beautiful, bright, and I just think you can do way better than this place. Besides, they have demonstrated they won’t change and you have changed so much, you are sick. Go to the pharmacyand get yourself together, “ she said.

Photo courtesy of Me

Photo courtesy of Me

I took a month away to recuperate and get myself together. It. Was. Hard. The first two weeks were a struggle and I had to push myself. Push myself to eat, bathe, exercise, talk to concerned friends and family members, write, live. It was hard to live. Not exist. I was excelling at existing, but living felt painful.  The third week was still hard but getting easier and I am sure that was because I flew back east.

It was just before I left the east coast to head to LA for a few days that I went to DC and started to feel myself again. I didn’t mind going out and about to explore. I was excited to visit some of my favorite museums, take the train to the Pentagon city mall and shop, sit in Federal Triangle Park, get small eats from a variety of food trucks near my hotel, etc.

When I returned to work on campus I caught up with a dear colleague and friend. As I shared about my time away and even some of my concerns about my return we had the conversation that helped me quit. We had the conversation that echoed the sentiments my doctor spoke the month before.  I hadn’t been back on campus a week and knew that quitting was inevitable. It was inevitable because there was no way I could be the best version of me in that community. There was no way I could be a healthy mediocre version of me in that community. A drugged up counseling twice a week living pay check to paycheck because I spend my money on drugs and traveling version of me is probably what I could have mustered.

Photo courtesy of The Family Photo Journalist

Photo courtesy of The Family Photo Journalist

We live in an American society that measures our worth by how much we self deprecate as opposed to self care. We are constantly being measured by how hard we work, how long we work, how much we do, and how we struggled to do it. We accept anxiety and depression as norms, rites of passage seeking all those weary enough to cross there threshold, while the resort of rest and self awareness struggles to stay open for business. Please note, I am not taking lightly those who struggle with anxiety or depression. I am saying however that sometimes those diagnosis are responses to choices we make for lifestyles we choose to lead that are so unhealthy and feel more necessary than they really are. We look at self care as a luxury for the rich and famous. We declare ourselves neither and thus we don’t self care.

I started by sharing that I think during my 30th year I made two great decisions, a leave of absence and then quitting my job.  I think I really made one- to take care of myself by any means necessary.  Maybe that was God’s birthday gift to me these past 12 months and this month I am sharing that gift with you. Keep reading the blog this month, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for ways to self care, to encourage others in your life to do similarly, let go of the guilt that comes with taking time for yourself, and chances to win some things to help you with your self care journey. Remember, you are not selfish, lazy, or less than for making a commitment to be who you were created and purposed to be. And you aren’t selfish, lazy, or less than for deciding to leave a situation that doesn’t allow you to be such. You are the lead in your life and thus responsible for taking the lead in caring for yourself. You have to take the lead for making choices that allow you to be the person you were born to be and do the work you were gifted to do. Besides, when you model how to care for, love, forgive, be gracious towards you, others can follow suite. They can both learn how to do similarly for themselves but also how to do similarly towards or with you in their relationship with you. Here’s to you, me, us, and self care! xxoo #TSLLSelfcare

Photo courtesy of Bippity Boppity Boo Tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of Bippity Boppity Boo Tumblr.com