self-awareness

judgement day.

It’s been 160 days. That’s 5 months, 9 days, and 16 hours since I have touched this blog. No lie, I was on the verge of just deadin’ this shit and pretending it never happened but how? It would be physically impossible for me to stop doing the one thing that is possible no matter how sad I am, mad I am, defeated I am, etc. Writing is such a big part of my life and self-expression keeps me healing.

I am still not in remission yet but THAT is not the basis of this blog, judgment is. And I am not talking about judging myself, I am referring to that judging little chick inside my head that judges others. It is about time that I hold myself accountable. We all judge and quite frankly, when it comes to me, I am over it.

I want to work on accepting people for where they are and to understand that their freedom may present different than mine and that is OKAY. I am not the gatekeeper of self-development or getting free. As much as I love to empower others, I can think terrible things in my head and I am working day and night to change that. Judging others for their journey is not what I want to project. I want to cultivate understanding, compassion, grace.

So, this is my plan. Every single time I catch myself internally going “why are they ____?”, I ask myself “why not?”. Whenever I turn my nose up, I will try to go inward and ask myself “How does their happiness impact yours? IT DOESN’T”. Because who am I to determine what freedom, happiness, joy, overcoming, strength,looks like for anybody else? I have been doing this for about a week or so now and it is hard but for me, it is NEEDED.

We all have things we don’t get about others but that is okay. I want to accept others as I learn to accept myself. I want to judge others less as I learn to judge myself less. I want to embrace people where they are even if it’s from a distance as they embark on this journey like I am. The more I learn to accept the more I’ll learn to love.


i carried this for years.

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"You seemed very curious as a newborn Boop. It seemed as if you were absorbing EVERYTHING. You had a very intense and piercing gaze, but not in a bad way. You were a happy baby, always smiling. You were also a trick baby (not the pimp, prostitute type of trick) but the kind of baby that was so easy that it tricked you into thinking that yep, I could do it again. Lol" - Kimberly Banks (My Mom)

 

Feeling motherless had become embedded in the fabric of who I was for so long. I truly believed I was unworthy of a mother's love. I taught myself that if a mother didn't want her child then the child was not enough. I truly believed that. I spent years feeling unsafe, unloved, and neglected but something in me couldn't pull away from the hope that one day I would be able to ask my mom "When did you realize that you couldn't take care of me?". 

Asking the hard questions was something I prayed about. I wanted the courage to ask, to mend a strained relationship, to accept what the truth was even if I didn't like the way it made me feel. Through therapy and my own spiritual journey I found myself doing the unraveling of what happens to a motherless child. When I got to the core, there she was, me, 7 years old holding on to an oversize Tigger shirt and a stuffed pig that smelled like my mother. She was unsafe. unloved, and neglected and she carried that with her in those items. 

As I talked to her I found out that she didn't hate her mother, no, she loved her mother more than anything else. She had questions that needed answers and she was waiting for me to ask them. She was waiting for me to release all of the assumptions and get the facts.

Last year I got to ask my mom those questions. I asked her about her childhood, her adult life, and the question that haunted me everyday --- why couldn't you keep me? I learned that she, in her late 20s, felt helpless and lost. I could tell she had been working on herself because her responses were clear and genuine. We talked for hours.

As the conversation pressed on I realized something. I never looked at my mother as another woman -- always as this goddess like person who denied me their love. I never thought fully about her own life traumas or her own mental health battles. I was a child and the thought of going to school and having people ask where my mom was haunted me. Mother's Day made me sick and I hated holidays. As I got older I swore off all children in hopes that I wouldn't be like her. 

I was a child but now I am a woman. I am a woman who is in her late 20s dealing with things that have sent me over the edge. Things that have made me question my own existence. I can feel my mother's trauma and pain through my own. I can finally relate.

My mother, although absent for most of childhood, has always loved me. No matter how mad I get through this process of creating our own relationship --- she still loves me. She encourages me and reminds me of who I am -- every single time we speak. She makes me laugh. She makes me remember what it felt like to lie in her arms even when we are miles apart. I haven't hugged my mother or seen her in 5 years but I can remember her scent. Being able to just call her about anything has changed my entire life and I will be able to hug her again, very soon.

Family hasn't always been the kindest to me but I value the relationships I am building with them now. I am rewriting our history one relationship at a time. I am the missing piece that will complete this puzzle.

 I was told once by a good friend that I am here to break my family curses. I am here to wash away my families shame. I am here to heal and save my family and that starts with my mother.

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Come shine with me!

deactivate.

 

It’s Mental Health Awareness Month and I have deactivated my twitter account. Let me explain how it got to this point. Social media is a big influence on our lives. It is can really infiltrate your mind and spirit. I love social media and have dedicated my own academic research to it. I love to study how people use it and how it impacts the minds of those who look like me but I never realized how much it impacted my life until my therapist said something.

We all know by now that what we ingest becomes a part of us. We are not removed from absorbing the energies of others – good or bad. Everyone is inherently good and inherently bad. That’s just the reality of it all.  This applies to our social media accounts too.

For the last 3 weeks or so I have been finding myself using Twitter less and less. I have always found myself feeling anxious when certain topics are brought up. I have also felt anger, sadness, and even jealousy in the past. On the flipside, I love networking and talking to people online who have the same interests as me. What has pulled me away from Twitter is the noise. The opinions, commentary, and bickering that comes with having many different types of people on one platform and I am not equipped to handle that – at least not right now.

My friend Ashley had some posts on her IG story where she talked about curating your timeline to align with who you are at that moment. It resonated with me because I have found myself attempting to silence the noise of a timeline I created based on past interests and ties to people I’ve met.  At first, I was muting, blocking, and unfollowing people but then that became overwhelming. My therapist has worked very hard with me to stop oversharing online and to also not use social media as a diary. LIFE CHANGING, okay?! Learning to disconnect and keep my personal business – personal, has been helpful – especially when I am dealing with my own mental health. The good days can turn into bad days if I see something that is triggering or if someone is just being negative online. The way we speak about protecting our energy is so beautiful and I think that it applies to your mind and also your social media accounts.

It’s sometimes frustrating to constantly have to filter my social media accounts to make sure it aligns but the work has to be done. In order to grow and continue on my own journey, I have to be realistic about my attachment to social media and the relationship I have with it. There is NOTHING wrong with using social media but I do believe, for myself, it can be a battle of the noise vs. my own inner thoughts and ideas. I have to work on separating the two.

When manic or depressive, social media usually doesn’t help. That is when I over share the most and that is when I can put myself in situations I don’t want to be in. When I am feeling low I don’t want to see certain things but I have always had trouble REALLY disconnecting without finding myself back online.  I also have this fear that if I disconnect from Twitter that my blog will go unnoticed or I will not get some of the opportunities I have gotten in the past. My blog has it’s own Twitter but it doesn’t have as big of a following as I do on my personal account. But really, why do I care? SEE, this is why I need to take a break. I need to find out why these things matter in this way. I know what is for me is for me but I still attach that success to my online presence.

It is a big part of our lives and my life but in order to heal, I have to really set some boundaries for my damn self. So, as a Black woman who battles with her own mental health, I have found that disconnecting has helped me work on my own shit. I love the support I get online but I also don’t like the feeling of needing validation from others in order to feel good about myself. This may not be you but it has been a trend in my life at times.  For now, I am deactivating my account, in 3 weeks I may reactivate it, or I may wait the full 30 days and allow my account to be irretrievable forever.  I don’t know.

My mental health is more important to me than being on certain websites that can stunt my own growth. It is okay to say “this is becoming too much” and dip. There is nothing wrong with doing that. There is also nothing wrong with going away and coming back. Your mental health is important and in order to really grow you have to be realistic with yourself about your weaknesses and lack of self-control when it comes to certain websites that may be filling you with a lot of negativity. The noise can really alter how you grow. It can really test you and your foundation. The noise can make you revert.  In order to preserve myself, I have to remove myself from things that can make me revert or at least try my hardest to do so.

 

 

The shit just isn’t fun anymore and I am mentally exhausted. How do you disconnect when it all becomes too much? Do you disconnect at all? Comment below with your thoughts!

 

Come shine with me!

roots.

Poetry month is coming to an end and I honestly have enjoyed every moment of sharing my work with you all. I have a small following of readers and it's a blessing to know that someone is interested in my work and actually finds it helpful in some way. 

With everything that has been happening this year in my life unexpectedly, I have found that being outside and planting my feet into the grass is one of the most therapeutic things for me. I have noticed that I am more concise with my words and I am starting to find myself not interested in the things that used to occupy my mind and time. With every moment outside amongst the flowers, birds, trees, and sounds of the wind I find myself becoming more open to the possibility of putting my phone down and allowing myself to become one with the outside -- even if just for a moment. 

Being grounded is something I have always struggled with. I often found myself trying to control things that were totally out of my control. Past trauma and pain and "the struggle" are embedded in the fabric of who I am but that didn't mean that I had to be married to those emotions, that pain, and those memories. I was operating out of a place of "I have to struggle in order for my life to mean something" and sometimes I still think that way.

To combat that I force myself outside as a reminder that I do not have control of anything -- except my reactions. I can choose what to keep and what to let go. I can choose what to divorce that is no longer serving me. Being outside is a reminder that as long as I can plant my feet into the ground and allow myself to breathe for a moment that life goes on. 

I have been using Twitter less and less daily but I posted something recently that not only resonates deeply with me but seems to resonate with others. I said, 

"I am divorcing my attachment to the idea that I have to struggle all my life. I am divorcing the idea that I have to perform to be loved. I am divorcing the idea that I cannot accept myself the way that I am right now." 

I meant that with every bone and breath in my body. I am really tired of being married to the struggle and to that struggle mentality. I am not a victim anymore. My life will have ups and downs that I cannot control. The only thing I can control is how many moments I can allow myself to go outside, plant my feet into the ground, and breathe freely. 

Next month is #MentalHealthAwareness month. I will be taking a hiatus from my personal social media accounts to focus on some inner work for a few weeks. I have some great features for next month's blog from some of my favorite people. Follow the blog's Twitter and Instagram for updates! I will be using those accounts during my hiatus from my personal accounts to keep you all updated on posts. 

Poetry month has been a blessing to me. I hope it's been a blessing to you too. 

Fin.

Come shine with me!

I AM.

When was the first time someone told you that you were not worthy?

 

Wow. It’s been almost 2 months since my last blog post and after talking to my homegirl Davia over at Redefine Enough, this question came up and we both agreed that sometimes it isn’t the first time it was said but more so the first time it was felt.

I was small, can’t remember the age, but small. I remember feeling lost and confused. Having the recent death of my beloved father and the funeral arrangements causing what seemed like chaos to me had emotions high, which was expected. Was I worthy enough to ride in the limo that took all of my dad’s kids to and from the funeral? Was I worthy enough to be accounted for in the small half dozen of children he had before he passed? I was small but I can remember that feeling of not being sure if I would be “allowed” to ride due to grown-up issues that, at that time, I did not understand.  I can confidently say that at that moment I didn’t feel worthy and that it would be a trend in the years to come of me trying to prove my worth to those around me and even to myself.

Let’s take an empirical look at the word “worth”, like what does that really mean? Not from the dictionary but what does that mean in our world. Worth is something that is talked about a lot, just like self-care, and self-love. We see these words, sometimes attached to only monetary things and then we see lists on how to gain said things or achieve them. I believe I’ve said before that the journey doesn’t end; this applies to all of the above as well.  Worth, based on experience, can go from knowing you are purposed to be here because you are here and that being ENOUGH. To depending on someone else or something else to provide that validation that you are purposed to be here. That feeling of seeing the finish line but having it pulled further away as you get closer due to your own “rules” and “guidelines” for being good enough, for being worthy.

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My worth was always contingent on accolades. It was based on my grades, extracurricular activities, my hair, my clothes, and my achievements. I believed that in order to be worthy I had to be perfect. I had to go above and beyond, always. I had to push until my arms were weak and then use other body parts to push until I was on my knees and then I would drag myself until I was skin and bones. But then and only then would I feel worthy for just a second in time, a moment of “you did it” and then back to feeling useless.

I am not going to lie to you all but I still find myself wondering if I am worthy. I “know” I am worthy simply because God, the stars, and the universe made it so but do I “believe” I am worthy? Not all the time.  It’s really a battle of the mind. A battle of that small child who remembers vividly what it FELT like to feel unworthy not when someone said that she was. I am reassured often that I am worthy but reassurance doesn’t erase the inner-work that has to be done.

I am working on giving myself my flowers, it’s a struggle but “self-praise is the best praise” and even when I give myself flowers and that “you did it” feeling arises – I sometimes can still see her, that small child, wondering if she is “worth” it.  I don’t have a profound anecdote for figuring out how to combat the feeling of unworthiness. All I have are these words, my experiences, and this affirmation  “I am worthy just because I exist and I will always be worthy just because I Am. ” I hope to say this when I want to push myself past where I should be, when my health isn’t the best and I need assistance on bad days, when I need to sleep instead of working, when I need to retreat, when I need to take a hiatus because life is hard. I am worthy. I am worthy. I am worthy just because I AM.

 

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You are worthy too, just because you are.

 

Come shine with me and welcome back! 

A Mindset of Discipline (Part One)

I try my hardest to be as organized as possible. I have planners galore, calendar notifications, and apps to assist me in my type a-ish ways. The issue isn’t organizing. The issue for me has always been time management. 

Time management is such a key role in really getting shit done. You can write as many to-do lists as you want but if your time management skills are lackluster you will suffer. I know I have suffered greatly. I always got things done but the quality wasn’t half as great as it should have been – in my honest opinion.

There are some things that may flourish under pressure but that type of stress and anxiety can be…team too much. In 2018 I vowed to take on a new level of discipline in my everyday life. Discipline is what helps me have a better grasp at time management. Discipline is literally the glue that holds all that shit together. Without it things can/will fall apart.

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So, we are 24 days into the New Year and I have been the most organized in my entire life and I have been really utilizing my 24 hours. My discipline has been extremely on point and I am really proud of myself.  This is all wonderful but it is not easy.

Because I have allowed myself to slack off on things in the past like work, school, self-care, even this blog….this has been a challenge. Being consistent with my discipline is an everyday process. I am constantly trying new things and seeing what works and what doesn’t work.

Here are some things that do not work for ya girl:

  1. Phone reminders
  2. Alarms
  3. Multiple Planners
  4. HELLLLLLLA Project Management Apps
  5. MULTIPLE Accountability groups
  6. Excessive social media use
  7. Imposter syndrome when trying to get shit done (we will talk about this another time)

In the past 24 days, I have realized that those 6 things literally slow me down. I find myself spending more time focused on those things rather than getting shit done. 

Here are some things that do work for ya girl:

  1. ONE planner that I spend every Sunday decorating & organizing for the week
  2.   Trello – This is a project management tool that allows you to create different boards for different projects. I have boards for my finances, classes I teach, personal projects, blogs, and ideas. There is an app for your phone as well.
  3.   Forest App - This app has a Google Chrome extension as well, it allows you to blacklist websites (on chrome) and limits phone use so that you can get things done while planting trees.
  4.   Perspective: Daily Journal App – This has helped me track my moods and journal daily about my day. It is very helpful for those with mental illnesses and any type of chronic illnesses, too. I am able to track my food intake for my autoimmune disease & mental illness, symptoms, and my pain levels.

It may not seem like much but those 4 things have literally kept me in check this month. I realized that sometimes all it takes is a few things to create a mindset of discipline.  I can see the difference in how I work day-to-day. I feel more balanced and grounded.

The feeling of discipline, so far, has provided me with so much extra time to do things like reading, writing, and even meditating more. I low-key find myself feeling like I have Beyoncé’s 24 hours daily because I get so much done without feeling super overwhelmed all the time.

This is only part one of my whole new mindset of discipline blog post. I will be coming back in a few months to talk about discipline in my spiritual practice. I am hoping that in 2018 we are all able to provide ourselves with the discipline in our lives that we deserve.

 

What are some of your favorite ways to stay on track? Do you notice that when you are not being disciplined in your days that shit goes left?

Comment below!

 

 

Come shine with me!

Friendships and Friendshits

FIRST THINGS FIRST -- HAPPY NEW YEAR! I MISSED Y'ALL!

 

I went to an event last Saturday that was an open discussion on a variety of topics. There were women from all different backgrounds there but we all shared one common thing, our Blackness. It was beautiful to be in a room full of women who looked like me, knew what my “looks” meant, and would say “girllll” in unison like a choir. One topic that we talked about that stood out to me most was friendship.

The question went something like this “How important is it to have friends? Do you need friends to live?” The faces across the room said many different things before our lips could even speak. Some said, “What does this even mean?” other faces said “Ummm yeah girl!” and then there were faces that said “What friends?”. The faces invited a very interesting conversation. The panelists all agreed that friendship is important and that we should all have a sister circle, even if it’s small. The audience had other thoughts. Some agreed, some expressed their own situations with toxic friendships, and some just remained silent.

Friendships are so interesting. The definition is not just what we see on dictionary.com , it encompasses our experiences, expectations, and aspirations. It embodies what we value and what we will not put up with. I was so surprised to see that my poll on twitter unanimously had 50+ votes that basically said that we need to have a real ass talk about healthy friendships.

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Clearly, we all have had our share of shitty friendships. So what I have done is broken down friendships into four sections. Now, these are the things I think are important in building and maintaining healthy friendships. There are so many more things to add but I am going to focus on communication, discernment, forgiveness, and  “the reality”.

Communication: Okay, so boom, we suck at communicating. It’s a fact. Everyone has their own way of expressing themselves and sometimes our communication skills cause the biggest problems in our friendships.

Passive aggressiveness hands down can take a situation from solvable with a quick talk to not speaking to someone for years OR it can lead to bottling up your emotions until you burst. That shit is not fun.

 In my own failed friendships, I have noticed that lackluster communication, not having HONEST communication, is usually why shit doesn’t work out. If there is a problem, someone either doesn’t say anything or the receiver doesn’t want to hear what they have to say. This shit is also not fun.

In order to grow in your friendships, you must tend to the garden in your friendships. Are you asking questions? Are you expressing your dislikes with grace and compassion? Are you actually listening or waiting to project your own issues onto them? Your friend is not your therapist, your punching bag, or your journal.  Your friend should be someone you can confide in for comfort and support and you should be doing the same.

Forgiveness: Often times when someone does something we don’t like we don’t always tell them and if we do we may meet them with anger, all bad. We get upset, become passive aggressive, or we shut down. That’s not only unfair to you; it’s unfair to your friend.  People can’t apologize for things they don’t know that hurt you. Your friends are also not mind readers.

When I was a preschool teacher I would always encourage my students to use their words to express how they feel. I would tell them to use “I feel ____ “ statements.  I’ve noticed, in my own friendships, that I am guilty of not always telling my friends when they hurt me. Over the years and through some failed friendships I realized that when I didn't not speak up, things couldn’t be resolved.

 Speaking up about what hurts has made it easier for me to forgive. It has also made it easier for me to discern when it’s time to let go. You can forgive a friend and end the friendship too. Forgiveness isn’t a band-aid for a shitty friendship. Forgiveness is for you, honestly. It’s saying that you have healed from the situation and you are releasing that pain. Releasing that pain may come with realizing that you must release that entire friendship or it may make the friendship even stronger but forgiveness must happen.

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Your friends are humans and humans make mistakes. Sometimes a friend may say something that triggers something in you they knew nothing about. Talk to them, tell them how you feel, forgive them and based on how that conversation goes – proceed accordingly.

Discernment:  I honestly sat on this one for days. Discernment is hands down a thing that we are always polishing and learning how to do better each day. Sometimes we ignore it. Shit, I know I have. Ignoring it is how I ended up in some toxic friendships for years and didn’t even realize it until I was drained and ready to fight everybody.  We have to listen to our gut. We have to practice discernment in our friendships daily. Earlier I talked about letting go and discernment is very helpful in making that decision.

 Being friends with someone for 15 years is nice but if that friendship involves a level of repetitive drama that literally drains you, let that shit go. Your discernment 15 years ago is not the same as it is now. Some friends you met back in 2017 need to be let go too. Friendships evolve and some dissipate. It is O K A Y. Your intuition and gut are the first red flag, listen to it.

Discernment is also a reminder to mind your business. It’s very easy to want to provide your friend with unsolicited advice, suggestions, and things they didn’t ask for. It’s our way of showing we care but sometimes being quiet, listening, and minding our business is showing we care,too. We can often project what we think would work for our friend's situation because it worked for us. I, too, am guilty of not minding my business in the past and doing too much. Luckily, I have learned to listen to my gut and to be an active listener to my friends.

“The Reality”: I hate to say this, actually I don’t, but some of us are bad friends. That is the reality, the tea, the shade, the whatever you want to call it.  The things we demand from others we are not even providing.  One thing I also remembered being told growing up was “if you have a problem with all your friends then maybe…JUST MAYBE…you are the problem”. Don’t shoot the messenger, I am just telling you what I was told.

We often forget that we can be the problem in our toxic friendships. It’s not always them, it’s you, and that’s just the way the cookie crumbles. If you want to have healthier friendships, start with what type of friend you are vs. the type of friend you want to have. What you want in a friendship should also be what you are bringing to the friendship. You can’t show up at the dinner table with your fork, plate, and cup but expect your friend to provide all of the food that is needed to nourish that friendship. Show up for your friends, be present, and pour into them as they pour into you. Everyone’s glass should be getting refilled at the same damn time.

It sucks to know that you may be the problem but sometimes we can be shitty friends because of our own mess. We have to turn the mirror on ourselves and really learn how to be a good friend and what being a friend means to us. You can go from being a shitty friend to being a good friend with work. Evaluate your past friendships and see if there was a common thing that went left, hold yourself accountable, and work on changing the parts of you that may be causing the toxicity in your relationships.

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Whew, okay, that was a self-drag in four parts. I have been on the good side and the shitty side of friendships. I have been a terrible friend and I have grown to become a better friend. I have let people go and have been let go. It’s never an easy process and yes it hurts terribly but it happens.

What are 4 things that you think are important to remember in a friendship?  Comment below and let me know!

 

Come shine with me!

Perform No More

This is the time of year where everyone is figuring out what they have accomplished, going over mistakes they made, and trying to figure out what’s the big goal for next year. There will be vision board parties, new year new me posts on IG, and think-pieces about what to bring into 2018 and what to leave behind in 2017. All of these have a purpose and a place. All of these have significance to someone.

Throughout the year I have tried to find ways to better myself. I have done this through many different modes -- therapy, exercise, diet, friendships, healing, writing, dancing, reading, studying, retreating, reinventing myself..all necessary. One thing I can say I haven’t done is mastered self-preservation. I have found many ways to stay afloat and to exist but I can be honest and say that I have neglected certain things about myself that I need to preserve.

Self-preservation is often tied to extreme things like death or just staying alive.Then there is the flip-side where it can be seen as a way to protect oneself from the outside world and societal/systemic schools of thought that can break a person down. Doing just enough to not end up hurt physically but what about the mind. The mind needs preservation too.

I had a good friend tell me that my “form of self-care was making sure others were doing self-care but what about me?”. Sometimes we can get into the cycles and rhythms of helping others preserve themselves and ignoring the glaring red flags in our mind that we need to preserve ourselves first.

How does this happen? I believe it stems from the need to feel needed, the desire to be wanted, the eagerness to make sure others are doing well. Nothing is wrong with this but in order to really be of service to others, we must first be of service to ourselves.

I had to ask myself the hard-hitting questions. “Are you happy?” “How do you feel physically vs mentally vs emotionally?” “When you wake up do you feel ready for the day?” Let’s just say the answers were not all “love and light” like one would expect. I spent most of my year so concerned with my presentation that I didn’t take time to work on my preservation.

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Because of this, I got sick, a lot, and none of my remedies were working as well or as quickly. My lack of mental preservation impacted my physical body. So, I had to do some digging. I had to figure out what I needed to do in order to preserve myself.

I had to first realize that my lack of care for myself was going to kill me and that I really have a lot of work to do in the “attempting to live for others and be perfect” department. Shit can be so toxic and foolish. This I know.  I had to secondly realize that the more I ignored the signs of letting go of things the more difficult it would be to really be open to my blessings. And lastly….I had to quit my job.

From here I am not sure of a lot of things but the one thing I am sure of...is my decisions. I know that in order for me to continue to shine I cannot present instead of preserving. I cannot tell others to shine their light if I continue to let my own light dim when I feel weak or scared. This isn’t an empowerment piece, it’s a redirection piece. Shit, we all have moments where we forget how to take care of ourselves. This was my moment of many.

New year new me? Nope. New year, same me, better observation of self, less presenting for others, and grave preservation of self as a WHOLE.

 

How do you plan to preserve yourself moving forward?

 

Come shine with me!

Martyr

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It took me 7 days to figure out what to write about. Usually, I have my topics pre-planned but none of them felt right. None of them felt appropriate for this week. I found myself talking a lot about boundaries, friendship, and releasing over the weekend to multiple people. It was evident to me that many of us don’t set boundaries, especially in friendships. We allow ourselves to be a martyr for the sake of friendship.

I vote no.

Boundaries are essential to our everyday life. We need them in order to protect ourselves.

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Therapists, healers, “the friend that’s always there”, all need boundaries for those they interact with.

Shit, we all need to set them.

When we don’t set boundaries we find ourselves in situations that really aren’t for us. We find ourselves being used or grouped into traumas that are not our own. We don’t deserve that. We also find ourselves giving so much without receiving that we become resentful. We don’t deserve that either.  

I battled for most of my life with setting boundaries. I have found myself being put in compromising situations just for the sake of “being supportive”. I’ll be damned. It took me years of being burned out, secretly resentful, embarrassed and hurt to realize that I am not a martyr. I am not a mother to all. I am not a savior,

I realized, through therapy, that boundaries are important because without them you may become codependent on helping others….which can be manipulative in a way.

My boundaries change from person to person but the overarching "theme" (if you will) is "distance" and not being a "martyr". It hurt at first to set boundaries but I started small. I made myself more available to me than others. I made it clear when I didn’t want to or didn’t have time to do something. “No” became my favorite word. I ended friendships that no longer served me or that were attached to not-so-good people. I stopped going places I didn't want to go, this included family gatherings too. 

I still struggle sometimes with boundaries when it comes to meeting new people but I am working harder on discernment and really allowing my inner compass to guide me. If I get a weird feeling about something or someone, it’s a hard stop for me now.

We don’t have to be everything for everybody. We never will be, so we have to stop trying. The only person we can be present for in that capacity is ourselves and even then we need boundaries. I set boundaries for myself, too. I know that I can only drink a little before I find myself drinking too much. I know I have to set boundaries for the environments I allow myself to go to. I know I have to set boundaries for the people I am around so that I don’t end up triggered. We need boundaries for ourselves too.

As the year closes out, I encourage you to reevaluate your relationships. I encourage you to see if you are a martyr and lack boundaries. Are you constantly being disrespected? Are you finding yourself in far too many compromising situations? Dead that shit. Set those boundaries.

It will not be easy but it will save your life. I know boundaries saved mine. Don’t feel guilty if others don’t get it, it’s not for them, it’s for you.

Protect and preserve your energy.

 

Come shine with me!

Losing My Balance

Anxiety can be paralyzing for some of us. It can feel as if the world is closing in on us and we cannot break free. There are so many ways to manage anxiety on a daily basis and as someone who suffers from it greatly, I have had to work super close with my own therapist to figure out what works and doesn’t work.

My anxiety looks like heart palpitations, crying, self-deprecating thoughts, and blame. If you didn’t know, I suffer from Bipolar 2 and PTSD, so when my anxiety kicks in….it can make me feel as if I am losing it.

This week hasn't been the best for me mentally so I have had to tap into all of my "tools" to manage not only a depressive episode but the anxiety that follows rapidly behind it.

For the last 2 years, I have worked so hard to stay afloat. The journey hasn’t been easy and it’s not a race so there isn’t a “finish line” for me. Sometimes I want to stay in bed, not eat, shower, or even speak to anyone. Other days I want to scream, fight, cry, or disappear. These are just a few of the things I have felt. When I feel these things, I feel like I am losing my balance. I feel like I am outside of myself looking in at someone foreign. 

Managing my anxiety is a process and a lot of trial and error. It’s not #SelfCareSunday but I promised you all way before this blog (on Twitter) that I would do a post about anxiety and with the way the world is set up right now, shit….we all need it.

Don’t feel guilty for putting your mental health first.

Here are some ways I manage my anxiety:

Therapy - Therapy has helped me immensely and my therapist has been able to give me coping tools for when shit just ain’t sweet.

Aromatherapy- There are so many scents that can be used to elevate your mood or relax you when you are feeling anxious. Candles, incense, and even essential oils can relax you. The vibrational frequency of essential oils can clear your mind at rapid speed. You can put them in a diffuser or even get a bracelet or necklace to wear the scents. Spray bottles also help. 

Top 3: Rose,Lavender, Myrrh. For a complete list look into purchasing Essential Oils Natural Remedies: The Complete A-Z Reference of Essential Oils for Health and Healing or type in your ailment + essential oil blend on Google.

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Crystal healing - Crystals also have healing properties. You can meditate with them, wear them, or keep them around to help with your anxiety.  Here are some I use for healing my own anxiety and depression.

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Music - Creating playlists with soothing sounds, favorite songs, or songs that can change your mood are great for anxiety. I have a few, if you all are interested, I can post them on my Twitter page. (Comment below)

Meditation & Yoga- Both of these allow you to center yourself and be as present as possible. There are so many different types of practices on Youtube or apps for your phone like Insight Timer. I created a short Youtube playlist of some that help me.

Affirmations - Affirmations can be super helpful in times of stress. If you are online as often as I am or use your phone frequently, there are a few ways to find affirmations daily. Shine Text is a great FREE tool that sends you daily inspirational texts. Their twitter page is also padded with awesome uplifting things. Another person I follow who posts daily affirmations is @forevermines, her page is such a breath of fresh air and I can always refer back to it for some affirmations. 

There are so many other ways to manage anxiety outside of the 6 listed above. What are some ways that you manage your anxiety? My therapist always tells me that anxiety is fear. I will continue to work hard to make sure that I don't let fear cause me to feel anxious. I hope you will try to do the same.

 

Come shine with me!

Salvation

 

 

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I often listen to audiobooks on my morning commute to work. Most of these selections are considered new age, enlightenment, or even self-help. One book, in particular, The Power of Now, has been resonating with me more now than it did when I first read it, chapter 8 specifically. Eckhart Tolle talks about relationships in a way that not only made my head spin but also made me evaluate my own marriage & how I interact with my husband. Tolle also made me think about past relationships with lovers and even friends and how they panned out.

He talks about Salvation, which is a word I used to tie to Christianity solely. When seeking love or seeking refuge we sometimes believe that another person will be that redemption for us. That way of thinking can make us become obsessive and set expectations that are irrational. We have all been there before, chasing unrequited love in hope for salvation or settling for anyone as a friend or lover just to say we have a “person”.

I had a talk with my husband a few days ago about my real thoughts prior to marriage. We talked about societal pressures and confusion. I expressed how I felt like it was the “thing to do” in order to be whole, he felt the same. We then talked about where we are now, a year later, and how as we both go through the journey alone yet together, we can see that we are whole persons and that we do not “complete” each other. That idea of “completion” puts pressures on someone to be “everything” to one person and that is an unrealistic and irrational task. I realize now that the reasons for our marriage were immature but luckily those reasons have drastically changed.

My healing journey sparked the curiosity in my husband.  He knows that I cannot be his salvation and I realize that he cannot be mine.

Salvation is not elsewhere in place or time. It is here and now. - Eckhart Tolle

 

We are both blossoming in our own ways. I am learning who I am as a woman, who is queer, and married to a man and what it means to be present in salvation. He is learning who he is as a man, with a queer wife,  and what it means to be present in salvation. We are learning to continue finding refuge in the present and redemption in ourselves. From that we can bring transformation into our marriage without trying to transform each other based on our own egotistical agendas.

 

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Often times I get asked about marriage, love, relationships and I tell people constantly that your love for yourself reigns supreme. In order to blossom you must nurture yourself. Relationships are nice but how are you as a partner to yourself? That is more important, in my opinion.

How you treat yourself is important. It is one of the most important themes of life. How you love yourself is important. Do you treat yourself with the love and compassion you give others? Are you seeking refuge in things and people?

Shit, I know I have and I know I will again and again but I also know that I will gently remind myself that my refuge is within me. We all deserve to find redemption in ourselves, even if it is a lifelong journey.

 

Have you read The Power of Now? If so, did you like it? I would love to hear your thoughts! Comment below!

Come shine with me!

A Trip Around the Sun

A photo from my last trip to a park before my Solar Return. It was so beautiful. I can't wait to experience parks in the Fall months.  (Louise F Cosca Park - Waldorf, Maryland) 

A photo from my last trip to a park before my Solar Return. It was so beautiful. I can't wait to experience parks in the Fall months.  (Louise F Cosca Park - Waldorf, Maryland) 

 

Birthdays have always been super important to me. I always celebrate the birth of others as if it was my own. Seeing people make it through another trip around the sun brings me so much joy because many of us deal with things that could have killed us.

For my 27th solar return, I felt a switch. Something in me, as it got closer, became more aware, compassionate, graceful, and gentle. Something in me became more peaceful, expressive, calm, and reflective. Something in me changed.

I did a soul healing while in Charlotte for my birthday. It began with a foot soak and ended with a meditation to open my heart chakra. During this particular meditation, I could feel my heart opening, activating, and inviting love in while releasing love out.

Leading my life with love, compassion, and grace was my only goal for my 26th trip around the sun and for my 27th I want to allow that love, compassion, and grace to glow.
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This year for my trip around the sun, I am doing something different,  I am setting goals that feed my soul and spirit.

  1. Be Present - Often times I preach being present to others but I forget to do it for myself. For this trip I will continue to focus on the now and not the past or the future.

  2. Speak freely and let my words thump- When we speak we may say things that drop little stones but for this trip I want my words to thump when they hit. I want them to stick, to be intentional, to be powered by higher vibrations and love.

  3. Use sex as a tool and not just an outlet - Studying Sex Magick and Tantra has completely changed my views on what sex is and what sex can do. For this trip around the sun I want to put my studies in motion and practice more intentional sex acts and healings. I also want to provide others with the knowledge and resources to work through their sexual wounds or traumas.

  4. Take care of my physical body- I was so focused during my 26th trip around the sun on taking care of my mind that I forgot to take care of my body. I want to use this trip to create an apothecary in my home and to find remedies for my autoimmune disease & other ailments. I want to be gentle with my body like I am with my mind.

  5. Jump with no fear- I can be quite methodical and tedious in my planning. For this trip around the sun, I want to take the leaps off the cliff of fear and achieve my wildest dreams. I cannot keep hanging off the cliff with one hand, I must let go, fly, and allow my light to guide me.

These are my 5 "soul goals" for this trip around the sun. We all have goals and aspirations but which will feed and serve your soul and spirit? Which will provide you inner peace and push you to lead your life with love?

Comment, email, or tweet me with some of your own "soul goals" for your solar return or just in general. We don't have to wait for a new year of life or a new year to set "soul goals". Start today.

Our “glow up” isn’t a destination it’s an ongoing exploration of who we can become and become again and again in different ways. We take many trips around the sun, let’s make them intentional. Let’s make them self-serving for once.

One of my friends gave me a great idea of sharing some of my self-care tips. So every sunday I will be posting a blog post with a self-care tip. If there is anything you want me to write about, let me know!

 

Come shine with me!

Sex·u·al·i·ty and Spir·it·u·al·i·ty

Photo from my sister studying abroad in Paris. 

Photo from my sister studying abroad in Paris. 

 

I am spiritual, yes, but I am also sexual. I am a woman who is attracted to the inner workings of others, not just what they present on the outside, no matter the “classification”.

So when I think about what it means to be a sexual being and what sexuality is I cannot see it in terms of just physical. I see it in terms of purely spiritual now. I am looking at this from an aspect of what serves the spirit, intellect, and your sexual desires.

We are sexual beings and sometimes physical attraction can supersede your best judgment. Being self-aware makes it difficult to give into those ideas about sex that used to drive you.  Spirit/soul, whatever you call it, is genderless. It is a compilation of everything but gender. Every person has both masculine and feminine energy in them which is what their spirit may present. For a lack of better words, the spirit wants what serves it.

As you go through your journey and begin to heal those parts of you that determined how you looked at sex and relationships, you will see that although someone is highly attractive, if it doesn’t feed that spirit, then it stops at the attraction.

 

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It is nearly impossible to force yourself to be attracted to what doesn’t serve you when you are on your path to ascension. Your body will not experience arousal the same. Physical touch will not feel as heightened unless your spirit is moved. It will be difficult to fuck dummies. I am being quite frank here but people will not be able to lure you in by just their outer appearance.

 

I am not saying that you will only be sexually aroused by someone you love but I am saying that your arousal will come from the spirit to the flesh. Discernment is the key here. Use your light to figure out what serves your sexual urges.

 

I have a task for you all this week that may or may not push boundaries. I encourage you all to try intentional masturbation.

 

Here is my take on what it is and how it works:

Intentional masturbation is something that I roughly coined myself. I am not the first person to think of it, I am sure, but I stand by it. It is setting intentions prior to arousal and manifesting during orgasm. It involves setting the mood. Scents are super important. If you are prone to nervousness when masturbating, I suggest lavender for it’s calming factors. Once you begin your session focus on how your body feels and listen to it. When you are about to climax, stop. Mimic the concept of edging. As you begin to edge allow your intentions to come back and as you climax release that intention.

 

I believe this form of arousal allows you to fully be in tune with what your body wants while also being in tune with what the spirit wants. The climax allows you to release not only physically but spiritually which provides a natural high feeling.

I used this method a lot during the healing process of my sacral chakra and heart chakra. It helped me do a lot of healing. Most of my intentions were centered about sexuality, trauma, and releasing what no longer served me.

I suggest this to most of my clients because it can promote clear and healthy decisions, especially sexually.

What are your thoughts on spiritual vs physical attraction? Do you feel like you can differentiate between the two? Comment below, tweet me, or email me your thoughts.

 

I want us all to have better sex with people who serve our spirits.

 

Come shine with me! 

*I am doing a birthday giveaway. Here are the rules.

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Go Outside

 

Being self-aware is bittersweet.  Sweet because you get to grow and evolve, change your school of thought, and really understand whom you are. Bitter because shit ain’t always love & light, rainbows & butterflies, or easy.

The journey to being self-aware is exhausting & exposing. It can seem like you can’t catch a break. The healing journey never ends and that is what makes being self-aware so important. Being self-aware allows you to look at yourself in a mirror and be honest. It pushes you to think through things and to be able to identify your triggers. Being self-aware allows you to reach a higher consciousness of who you are.

Over the last few weeks, the word “baggage” kept coming up. I was involved in situations where others projected their own problems onto me and attempted to leave their problems at my feet. In the words of the late great Mac Dre, it is “not my job” to deal with your problems in that capacity. These bags that we carry around prevent us from reaching that level of self-awareness that is important to grow.  They prevent us from moving forward.

I had a shit ton of bags on me. I had bags full of horrible things that happened to me and things that I had done that I wasn’t so proud. I projected those emotions and that pain onto others and out into the world. I was not self-aware because I was not doing the work to work through my past problems. I was simply ignoring them and allowing them to tell me who I was.

 My self-awareness stemmed from a few things ­– therapy, healing sessions, crystal healing, oracle/tarot readings, and exhaustion. I was tired of carrying not only those bags but also the burdens that came with having them. I wanted to feel lighter and be able to find my own inner peace & happiness.

Now, I am self-aware. It is an everyday process but I have my “toolkit” to keep me in check. I revisit old journal writings and see where I have grown. I listen to certain songs to see what emotions they provoke and dissect the memories attached to them.  When I feel myself getting anxious about the past I talk myself through it with questions like “why do you feel this way?”, “What does anxiety feel like right now?”, “What does your breathing feel like?”, “What sounds do you hear/what do you see?” in order to ground me. The biggest self-check tool is paying attention to how I handle things. Am I being reactive in a way that does not serve me? Am I approaching the situation with grace? Those two questions let me know if I am embodying old habits or embracing new ways of thinking.

Grace is what keeps me from projecting past pain onto others. Grace is what guides me through my day-to-day interactions with others. Compassion also assists in how I handle myself and how I embrace those around me.

Self-awareness is about reaching a point where you can look in the mirror and say,  “this is who I am and that’s okay”.  It is reaching the highest form of you. It is self-love in my opinion.
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This past Sunday I went on a nature hike at Rock Creek Park and I sat by a body of water. I sat and I talked and I listened. I took in the sounds around me, I studied the way the water moved, I even acknowledged the way my body felt in that element.  Here are some photos from that hike.

 

I encourage you to shine your light in nature this week. Find a park, trail, or sit on your front steps. Take a journal or your notes section in your phone and identify what you see, feel, hear, etc. Identify what parts of your surrounding align with who you are. Does the sound of cars passing remind you of how busy you are? Can you hear the tree leaves moving? Take the time to go outside and inhale the fresh air.

If you decide to do this, tell me about it in the comments below, on twitter, or via email. I would love to see photos and hear about your experience.

 

 

Come shine with me!