Trying To Be “Good Enough” Is Total Bullsh*t

“Only something as insane as human beings would ever asked themselves if ‘I’m good.’ You don’t find oak trees having existential crisis. ‘I feel so rotten about myself. I don’t produce as much acorns as the one next to me.’” ~Adyashant


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The feeling of not being good enough is a problem that affects everyone from time-to-time, regardless of age or social status. I’ve struggled with feeling like I’m not good enough for most of my life, especially in high school and my early college years. As a blogger, I’ll see the the success of others around me and immediately feel bad about my blogging journey. As an entrepreneur, I’ll see someone hit it big by what seems to be overnight success, not taking into account the road they had to travel to get to where they may be. I’ve met many of my peers who are successful and that’s when those feelings of inadequacy begin to creep in.

Sometimes I feel inadequate about my abilities, where I am in life, and the state of my career when I look at everyone else. You should never ever do that because your journey has absolutely nothing to do with someone else’s, but that’s easier said than done. When I’m trapped in the little bubble that is my mind I feel like I’m the only one dealing with this, but when I look around I see that’s definitely not the case. Most people spend their entire lives trying to be good enough, to be liked and appreciated, many times without actually succeeding at filling that void within themselves. It’s insane to see how everyone tries so hard to be “somebody”.

Society has conditioned us to tie up our self-worth to how much we “contribute”, and these supposed “contributions” often refer to the amount of money we earn or the social status we have. It creates an artificial duality between “successful” people and others, which leaves most of us feeling like outsiders. We then load up on self-help books, articles, and even conferences that tell us we have to do everything in our power to “get better”. We have to read more, learn more, strive more, push harder in order to get to where we want to be. But I’ll let you in on a little tidbit I’m just now realizing:

Trying to be “good enough” by “getting better” just doesn’t work. 

When we feel we’re not good enough—not successful enough, not smart enough, not attractive enough, not rich enough, not accomplished enough, just not enough—our efforts to break free from that state of mind by “getting better” are doomed to fail. Why? For three reasons: the Hedonic Treadmill, Goal Pursuit, and Social Comparison.

 

The Hedonic Treadmill

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This is the psychological process in which we readily adapt to improved conditions—and promptly take those improvements for granted. Let’s say you’re stuck at a job that you absolutely hate, and your dream is to change careers and open a bakery. You finally quit your job, lease a space, and create the uber chic bakery of your dreams. At first, you feel overwhelmingly happy and truly blessed that you were able to accomplish something so amazing, not to mention you left that boring, dead-end, crappy job behind for good. As time goes on, however, you find going to work less exciting and pleasurable. And eventually, you return to the same level of happiness you were at when you were at your last job.

Sonja Lyubomirsky, author of The Myths of Happiness, says, ” The more we attain, the happier we become. But, at the same time, the more we attain, the more we want, which negates the increased happiness.” The upside of this process is that we adapt surprisingly well to worsened conditions. But the problem is that the improvements of our circumstances, whatever they may be, shift our reference points (the standards which we asses ourselves, our performance, and our experience of life). This doesn’t mean we don’t enjoy these improvements, that enjoyment just doesn’t last as long as we think it will and they aren’t as fulfilling either.

 

Goal Pursuit

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Goals can be great motivators, but they can have some unexpected consequences with the power attached to them. That power can have the ability to render the journey towards reaching them less fulfilling, which can be a huge demotivator. Chrisitan Jarrette, editor of The Psychologist magazine, warns, “Stay focused on your goals and you spoil your experience of the activities you’ll need to pursue. In turn, that makes it far more likely that you’ll drop out early and fail to achieve the very goals that you’re so focused on.” Lyubomirsky also notes, “The empirical evidence reveals that the critical factor in whether goal pursuit makes us happy lies in enjoying the journey and not in realizing the end-goal.” The problem here is that we generally view “getting better” as “not there yet”, which causes us to fixate on the goal and how far away we are from it, instead of the process and the most recent steps we’ve taken.

 

Social Comparison

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We Earthlings are deeply social creatures, we’ve evolved a reflexive predisposition to think about other people. This impulse is so deeply rooted that neuroscientists believe that thinking about others is our brain’s default activity. As we look around us to understand what others are doing—and how they’re doing—we inevitably use this information to assess ourselves. The issue here is that comparing ourselves to other people is the primary culprit of those feelings of inadequacy and discontent. So if you’re comparing yourself to a high-achieving person, “getting better” is a surefire way to never be “good enough” because there will always be someone who’s accomplished more than you have. So stop setting yourself up for the same L over and over.

 

So what can you do? Manage your aspirations. I know that sounds like a total load of crap after reading all of that, but there are specific things you can do to achieve this. For starters:

 

Cultivate Gratitude 

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  • Reflect on the shortness of life and how blessed we are to be alive in the first place. Are you healthy? Gainfully employed? Do you have a roof over your head? If so, you’re doing a hell of a lot better than most people are. Be grateful for that.
  • Consider how much worse things could be and how good you have it.
  • Focus on the present moment and resist regret (which pulls you into the past) and anxiety (which pulls you into the future).

 

 

Set Goals Wisely

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  • Focus on micro-goals and celebrate small victories along the way.
  • Adopt a growth mindset and learn from your failures, which are inevitable (sorry, boo).
  • Recognize your incompetence as a temporary thing and prioritize learning and growth, which go hand-in-hand.

 

 

Live Your Values

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  • How you manage your time shows what’s truly important to you, so use it wisely. We each have the same amount of hours in a day, days in a week, and so on; how effectively are you using the time that’s been given to you?
  • Ask yourself, “What has my attention right now?”. Your attention needs to be focused on one thing at a time. We can pay continuous partial attention to multiple things, but we can only truly focus only on one subject at a time.
  • Let your values (what you judge as important in life) inform your vision of yourself, not your accomplishments or set-backs.

 

There are loads of people who are regarded as “successful” from society’s standards, but aren’t from an objective point of view. Take Cult45 (Donald Trump), he’s filed bankruptcy six times, has had two people close to his campaign for presidency indicted on twelve counts including fraud, has went on record admitting he grabs women’s genitals without their consent, has absolutely no f*cking idea what he’s doing, and somehow people still see him as a successful business man. So if that can happen for him the sky is the limit, trust me.

And being a complete “failure” under society’s standards can never make you a failure as a human being. Nothing can turn you into a not-good-enough person without your consent. Sure, you’ve failed at some things and some of your friends may be more “successful”, but does that really mean you’re not good enough? That you’re not worthy? If you buy into society’s expectations, then yes. But if you don’t (which you shouldn’t), it’s a clear “HELL NO!”. Trees don’t have self-esteem issues, and wine (one of life’s greatest treasures) doesn’t ask itself, “Am I good enough?”. So why should you. That question is irrelevant! Strike it from your thought space. You are who you are, and that’s damn good enough.

 

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Get Organized: How To Take Your Closet From 0 to 100 (real quick)

Fall is here, and I seriously can’t hide my excitement. Chunky knit sweaters, cute booties, Halloween, Thanksgiving…football! So you know what that means, right? No more gladiator sandals, denim shorts, maxi dresses, and tank tops. That also means it’s time to clean out that closet of yours in order to pave the way for the goodies to come. In my old age, cleaning has been something I’ve looked forward to. The reward of having an actual reason to shop after I’m done made me that much more giddy to get down to business. And y’all, it was time.

My closet had gotten out of control, there was crap everywhere. So much, in fact, that I couldn’t find anything I needed. I lost two cardigans, a pair of leather joggers, and a moto jacket. Enough was enough, I was tired of being a slave to my cluttered closet. I was tired of digging and digging for one missing shoe only to lose the one I started with in the aftermath. And I was so over losing one piece, re-buying it, and finding it a couple days later once I didn’t need it anymore. The process was smooth and took a lot less time than I thought it would (I had sooo much crap piled up). So if you’re looking for tips to whip your wardrobe into shape, keep reading.

 

 


 

1. Dump It

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Designate any open space available to you and dump your closet in it’s entirety. Shoes, clothes, scarves, magazines, everything. Dump it. If you have shelving units, shoe trees, or any other kind of organizational tools yank those out too; a plain, empty box is what we’re going for.

 

 

2. Organize the troops

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Once the contents of your now empty closet is in the designated space start grouping it all by categories. I put all the casual tops, jeans, skirts, and shorts together until everything is completely separated in piles. I like to group all my work clothes together in rubber lockers,  this is what I wear about sixty percent of the time and I need those pieces to be easily accessible.  I hate having to dig for them…which is usually why my closet gets messy. During this phase I usually crank up my iTunes and sing very loudly (off-key). Feel free to do the same, it makes the process a little more fun and a lot less like necessary adulting.

 

 

3. Assess the wreckage

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As you’re grouping everything, take note of the pieces you currently have. Keeping this in mind will stop you from impulse buying and re-buying pieces you already have a good amount of. Take an inventory of  what kind of staple pieces you have, and how many. How many pairs of jeans? How many pencil skirts? Blouses? White t-shirts? Little black dresses? These are the items that will stay current in your closet rotation no matter what season it is. If you have to make a list, then by all means do it. Take it with you while you’re shopping so you know what items to get that compliment each of them.

 

 

4. Trash the extra sh*t

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Toss everything you haven’t worn in thirty days. If you haven’t touched it in a month, chances are you won’t in another. This is stage where I say au revoir to last season’s items. This step is very therapeutic because you’re literally making room for better things that suit you. I find it kind of symbolic: I’m getting rid of the things that I’ve outgrown for newer, cuter things that fit the current season of life I’m in. Perhaps I’m looking too much into it.

*shrugs*

Also, get rid of anything that doesn’t belong in the closet. Extra bathroom towels, magazines, books that you haven’t read in months, ect. Find the proper place to store that crap, your closet is no place for any of it.

 

 

5. Round up the undesirables

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Take everything you’re getting rid of and bag it up for donation. I was thinking about selling some of my things on one of those apps or at Plato’s Closet, but I decided against it. For one, those app things take too much time and I wanted that sh*t gone like ASAP. And Plato’s be playing games, so I decided to donate it to Goodwill. I figured it was the right thing to do, why not pay it forward and help someone get a job at the same time?

 

 

Okay so now that you’ve organized everything and gotten rid of all the extraness, you’re probably wondering how the hell you’re going to finesse this stuff back in that empty box. Well, darling, I got you on that too. Here are some things that worked wonders for me:


 

Use wasted wall space

Instead of hanging your robust scarf collection on hangers and taking up valuable rod space, attach a towel bar to your wall to create a personalized display for your collection on unused wall space. See more at The Chronicles of Home »

Instead of hanging fifty-two scarves on hangers, thus taking up valuable rod space, attach a towel bar to your wall to create a super cute way to display your collection on unused wall space. The inside door of your closet is perfect for this.

 

 

Keep your top shelf in formation

You're about to fall in love with shelf dividers. These nifty organizers have the ability to keep different items separate, while also preventing piles from toppling over — so you can stack sweaters way higher.
See more at I'm an Organizing Junkie »

Shelf dividers are about to become your new bffs. These babies keep everything on top separate and they prevent piles from toppling over if you decide to fold some things. But I like to use them with this next item.

 

 

 

Canvas storage bins

The easiest way to take your closet from junky to jaw-dropping? Pick your colors wisely: All-white hangers are clean, while light blue containers add an element of surprise.
See more at A Girl and Her Blog »

I’m extremely uncoordinated, and the last thing I want is to have a heavy rubber bin knock me clean out. I can see it vividly: my arms stretched overhead, straining to get hold of a bin full of sweaters. I get a handle on it, but then it slips from my grasp and BAM! Retrograde amnesia. The great thing about the canvas route is that they aren’t heavy, and they’re super easy to move around. So if I do have an accident, which is inevitable, I won’t die from head trauma. I also like to color coordinate each of them so I know exactly what I’m reaching for.

 

 

 

Double-duty storage

This tall, narrow shelf holds shoes on the bottom and accessories on top, making it a shoe rack and a vanity all in one.
See more at Freckles Chick »

If you’re going to add storage to your closet, go for pieces that offer the opportunity to multitask. This tall, narrow shelf holds accessories on the top and shoes on the bottom. It’s a shoe rack and a vanity all in one, plus it frees up a lot of space for other things.

 

 

 

Label like a maniac

The more you take advantage of labels, the less likely you'll end up throwing that random sock without a mate into whatever bin you come across (and then losing it in the black hole that is your closet forever).
See more at In My Own Style »

Have you ever gone to your grandma’s and opened a tin of Christmas cookies, only to find out it was really a sewing kit? Not labeling your closet bins offers the same level of disappointment. Labeling also keeps the chances of you throwing random crap together relatively low, and it just makes everything look much neater and structured.

 

 

 

Add a (chic) mirror

If you put a mirror in your closet, you don't have to take your clothes out to examine your outfit. So you're much more likely to put items back on the rack immediately after deciding they didn't make the cut.
See more at Paper Daisy Design »

Mirror mirror on the wall, who has the chicest closet of all? You do, my dear. Putting a mirror in your closet is a great move because it means you won’t have to take out your clothes to examine your outfit. And you’ll be much more likely to put the items that didn’t make the cut right back where they belong.

 

 

Label (yes, again) your laundry

If you separate your darks and lights as you get undressed, you won't have to waste 10 minutes sorting through clothes come laundry time. Organized and efficient.
See more at Whose Idea Was It to Buy This House »

 

Organizing your clothes as soon as you’re done wearing them is sure fire way to eliminate clutter. Why waste ten minutes sorting on laundry day when you can jump right to business? Organized, efficient, and effective.

 

Do you have any closet cleaning tips? Tell me your favorites in the comments so I can give them a try too!

 

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Time To Get Honest About: My Breakup

I just made the not-so-difficult choice to end my relationship, and I’m not even bothering to tell the guy. Why? Because I haven’t the emotional or mental capacity to deal with him anymore. I’ve been numb for the past couple days, then the feels hit and I figured I should post about it. I had this nice, frilly, ladylike post all set up and half way through it I decided to take a nap. As I arose from my slumber I opened my laptop, reread over what I had written, and I was highly annoyed. It was lackluster, completely devoid of how I’m really feeling. Y’all I’m mad as hell and there’s really no other way for me to say that. I took the time to try and build an entire life with someone (we were planning on getting married) and he crapped out on me, he doesn’t even try anymore. And I’m done with it.

There are all these cute, prissy articles about how to get over a breakup and, as nice and wholesome as they are, they’re a flaming pile of sh*t. Yes you should forgive them, because forgiveness is for you not the other person. No you should never try to get over it as quick as possible. Yes it hurts, no you won’t feel that way forever, and yes you will find love again. But, my God, they’re so cliche! They feel so robotic, and they all say the same things. I’m deep, deep, deep in my feelings right now and I think that’s a good thing. I’m not planning to act on the wide range of emotions I’ve been going through, but I believe I should be transparent about how I’m feeling and the steps I’m taking to get over this sh*t and back to my fabulous self. How do I feel? Well…

 

I feel hurt.

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I pictured a life, our life, being this amazing and perfect union of two dope ass people tearing sh*t up and setting the world ablaze. We’d have successful careers, a nice house, four beautiful Black babies, and would be together forever. I knew I wanted that with him when I first met him, and if I’m honest a small part of me still wants that. But not enough to keep living this bullsh*t day in and day out. Making plans and then cancelling on me, repeatedly. Having expectations of me that were unreachable. A sickeningly large emotional detachment. That is what I was living with. It hurts, and I hate every minute of it.

I feel devalued.

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Like I’m nothing, which is insane because I know I’m f*cking amazing. A damn unicorn. But when I’m with him I feel like trash, and very small. I feel like an ant in high heels is taller than me. Now that I don’t feel obligated to deal with him I feel free, like I’ve finally come up for air. He’s not a terrible person, but he made me feel like sh*t and that’s not okay. And he knew I felt this way but that didn’t change how he treated me. I had to accept the fact that he knew what he was doing and he didn’t care enough about me to stop doing it. That broke my heart into a million pieces.

I feel angry.

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If I could punch him in the face repeatedly, I honestly would. I put my goals and dreams on hold for someone who won’t even fight for me. He may be a total dick head but that was my fault, I should’ve never stopped moving forward because of someone else. I’m mad at him for not being honest with me about how he feels, and for overstepping so many boundaries. I’m mad that he made all these wild claims about how great of a husband he’d be when he was a shitty boyfriend. How when the time came for him to step up and be the man he’d just walk away, like it didn’t even matter to him one way or the other.

I’m angry at the fact that I had no voice in our relationship, every disagreement with what he wanted was seen as a betrayal. My feelings weren’t taken into account, he couldn’t see outside of himself and I allowed him to do this. I’m angry at him, but way more angry at myself. I was expected to give up my friends, my job, my career, everything I’m passionate about for his ass.

“You want me to give up everything to be with you, what are you giving up?” “What do you mean? I’m going to be busting my ass working two jobs to support us!” So I’m sacrificing my life, everything and everyone I love, for a burden you decided to take on yourself? Nah. Y’all I can’t. I cannot, and I shouldn’t have to.

 

I feel exhausted.

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Fight. Makeup. Repeat for all of eternity. That has been my life for the last few months. There’s drama at work, at home, and with him and I can’t take it anymore. I work forty hours a week running a $2 million dollar business, I have eleven employees to look after, sales goals, visual merchandising moves to plan and execute, marketing promotions to enforce and take care of, conference calls, dealing with crazies on a daily basis. Then I get home and I have creative differences with my family, which is even more stressful. Then I have to deal with a raging narcissist that’s so wrapped up in himself that he can’t be bothered to give a sh*t about what I’m going through. I feel like I’m drowning, I’m too tired to blog or work on my business plans and that kills me. It’s always me catering to him, me comforting him, me boosting him up, me tirelessly telling him I love him and what do I get? Exhaustion. I can’t even bring myself to tell him to get lost because it’s just going to tire me out even more. I don’t want to tell him all this sh*t because I have so many times and I’m sick to death of beating this dead horse.

So, if you’re reading this…I quit you.

Breaking up with someone is rough, even if you know it’s the right thing to do. I’m not listening to love songs, or taking the time out my day to bash him because neither of those things solve anything. It was a short relationship, but the feelings were pretty deep. So what am I doing to heal from all of this and move forward? For starters:

 

1. I’m getting back to me.

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I love to write, it takes me to a place where I can unload my deepest thoughts free from judgement or the opinions of those who really don’t matter. When I started this post I felt like the ground was splitting apart beneath me and I had no safe place to run to. But then I started writing, it made me cry at first. I kept getting up from the table because I just couldn’t face what was happening. But I pushed through it, and I’m glad I did.

Books, music, cooking, makeup, making memories with my friends and family; these things make me happy. I invested so much time and energy into someone who didn’t deserve me that I forgot who I was and what I wanted out of life. No more, and never again. I’m going to write, and create, and give myself the life I know I deserve. I’m taking care of me, because I’m the most important person in my life. You should never feel bad or selfish for taking care of yourself, that’s literally the best thing you can do. I made the decision to do just that, and I’m a happier me.

2. I allowed myself to feel everything…freely.

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I felt hurt, discarded, deceived, and broken but I didn’t run from any of those feelings. Letting myself feel those things was hard, because I know I’m a strong person. But feeling helpless for a short time kinda forced me to fall back on what I’m really made of. Perseverance, determination, an amazing drive, confidence, and an unusual amount of optimism. I felt the pain, I didn’t fight it, and I accepted it for what it was. I was pretty pissed off, I mean, who does he think he is? I’m f*cking awesome! I have a great head on my shoulders, I’m smart as hell, I’m a vibrant person, I’m talented, and resourceful. I’m a pretty dope ass woman, and it’s important that I never forget that. You are an amazing woman, nobody can do what you do. Nobody has your perspective, no one on this Earth can bring what you bring and how you bring it to the table. Nobody. Those are the thoughts that sobered me up and got my head back into the game. That’s the kind of inner coaching you have to do for yourself.

3. I’m starting a gratitude journal.

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Everyday, starting today, I’m going to write down everything I’m grateful for. I just listed sixteen things off the top of my head, and I’d be able to jot down a lot more but I really want to finish this post before I got to work. In five minutes I feel more energetic, enthusiastic, and ready to conquer all of my problems and goals. I look at this list and see all the things God has blessed me with, which is the total opposite of how I’ve been looking at my life lately. I used to think about and focus on what I didn’t have or what I needed, tossing aside everything I already have. And it’s a lot, way more than what most people have and I’m grateful. I know you feel crappy, but write down what you’re grateful for. It could be as big as having a great job or a sizable 401k (which every millennial should have) or as small as finding a Snicker bar in your purse that you forgot about. Write it down and read it every time you feel like your life is sh*t because, chances are, it’s not as bad you think it is.

4. I’m learning how to forgive him.

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I honestly don’t know where to start with this one. On the one hand I’m completely done with his ass, but on the other I kinda feel bad for him. The term narcissist is used too loosely but I really do believe he is one, and that breaks my heart. But that’s absolutely no excuse for the way he acted and how he treated me, I still have to forgive him though. I don’t want the next guy to pay for what he did because that isn’t fair to him (whoever he is) at all. I had to understand that the behavior he exhibited was a projection of how he viewed himself, it had nothing to do with me; I was just the landing strip for the bullsh*t he aired out. Never allow yourself to be anybody’s personal punching bag, learn how to stand up for yourself and say, “Enough is enough”. I hope he finds peace and I wish him the best, but sometimes you have to love people from afar.

5. I’m learning how to forgive myself.

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I let this happen because I was blinded by my feelings for him. I let him talk down to me, I let him call my dreams stupid and unimportant, I let him shrink me down to nothing. I did it, and now I have to forgive myself. I dropped the ball and that’s okay, it happens. I’m not wasting my time beating myself up about it because it won’t change what happened, but it did teach me many valuable lessons. This one bad thing happened and it grew me as a person, I went forward and not backwards. That’s a blessing! Bumps in the road are going to happen, learn from them and grow from them; they’ll shape you into someone you never dreamed you could be. I accept adversity because I know I’m going to get through whatever it is with a whole new perspective on life, you should do the same.

Three days ago I couldn’t get out of bed, today I’m ecstatic about what tomorrow holds for me. I’m really glad I took the time to write all this out because I feel so much better, so much sharper. I haven’t talked to He Who Shall Not Be Named these last seventy-two hours, and I’m still pretty solid about never speaking to him again. But if I do, so be it. I hope this helped someone who may be going through this too. I know when I look back and reread this, I’ll be very proud of myself for making these decisions. Look at me being a responsible adult! Well, I must be getting ready for work my loves. Tah tah for now 🙂

 

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Say Yaaaas To: Inner Peace

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Inner peace sounds so…Kumbaya-y. What exactly goes through your mind when you hear it? Maybe you picture an advanced yogi (who sips green tea and eats organically grown whatever the f*ck) sitting stoically atop a mountain, completely unmoved by the world around them. Perhaps the actual lyrics to Kumbaya play in your head continuously until you have to drown them out with trap music. To be honest, I never really gave the idea much thought until I had none. Like, I literally had no peace in my life at all. So yeah, after that I felt like it’d be pretty awesome to have some and not go off the deep end and into the abyss. I’m still learning how to make these things an everyday habit. Because once you acknowledge the need for more peace, or peace period, in your life everything isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. But it does get better, and that’s what’s important.

So what steps did I take to achieve the peace that I so desperately needed? Well first, I made the conscious declaration that no one and nothing is worth my peace. I was getting so frustrated and upset because, unbeknownst to me at the time, I was choosing the situations and relations with those around me over my own peaceful state. I felt obligated to put these things before myself and I was drowning in the mess it created. It was exhausting to deal with and so much of my energy was devoted to it, so I never got a chance to do the things I needed to do. Updating my blog, practicing my writing, working on my business ventures, meditating, getting the proper amount of sleep; all of these things suffered because I couldn’t get this sh*t together. “No more, dammit!” is what I told myself.

Next, I stopped trying to change the people around me. People are control freaks, and if you say you aren’t one you’re a liar. It’s in our human nature to control things, and that doesn’t mean we’re horrible people. I guess that’s a survival tactic of sorts, whatever the case is we don’t suck because of it. A lot of the time our control freak ways come from a good place, like with my parents. To me, at times, it seems they’re nagging and complaining is completely self-serving and annoying as hell. And it absolutely may be at times because they’re human, but it comes from a really good place. They love me and they want me to do well, better than they did, and I get that. It may not always come out the best way but I get it. Well now I do.

Before I’d get so mad and frustrated without that understanding and it’d completely ruin my mood, sometimes my whole day. And it still kinda comes off the same way at times, but how I’ve learned to deal with it has changed dramatically. Now I’m just like, “Whatever”. Which seems so dismissive but, well, whatever. My parents will feel how they feel regardless of what I decide to do. They take their stance because they’ve seen me at multiple stages in my life and, to them, I’m still a baby. Today I turned 29 and I’m still a kid to them, I will always be because I’m their baby. I’ll always be inexperienced, or immature, or whatever but does that mean I don’t know how to make the proper life choices? NAH! So why get upset and bent out of shape about it? They’ll feel how they feel, I’ll react to it , and my problems will still be there. So why not take that energy I’ll have expressing those extreme emotions and put it towards actually fixing my problems?

Next came this important thought: “Worry about yo’self!” I saw a four year old tell her dad that in a Facebook video while he was trying to help her buckle herself in her car seat. Out of the mouths of babes! Worry about yourself and your own sh*t! Not your brother’s, or your boyfriend’s, or you coworker’s, or whoever. Yours! You are the only person who is going to take care of your business, because that’s your responsibility and no one else’s. Plus people have their own issues they need to deal with. I had to stop trying to be a savior to those around me while I sank in my own problems like a boulder in quicksand. I’d feel so bad about thinking about me and only me, but I shouldn’t have. Worrying about you and your’s and how you’re going to attack your problems doesn’t make you selfish; that makes you a responsible adult. And you should never allow yourself or anyone else to make feel guilty about that. Acknowledging this took so much stress off of me, it was amazing!

Also, if I can be absolutely frank with you guys, I stopped giving a f*ck about dumb sh*t. Who said this, how that person feels about when I did blah blah blah, what people will think about whatever the hell. Dumb sh*t. How is any of that serving me in positive way? How is this enriching my experience on this planet? If it ain’t then it gets the heave-ho, no questions asked. Like even how I’m writing this I’m thinking about how some people I know will feel about my verbage. Should I speak in a more censored and politically correct manner? Should I write this like a term paper? Or should I just say how the hell I feel and roll with it? What I chose to do is pretty clear, but I had to stop giving so much pointless sh*t space in my thoughts. Things are much, much better now.

Celebrating my accomplishments was another step I took towards achieving this blessed peace I absolutely needed. Like that one Nationwide commercial said, life comes at you fast. And when it does, in the absurdly overwhelming fashion we’ve grown accustomed to, it’s difficult to get excited about what’s going right. I just moved back home to Georgia with my parents, again. I’m trying to save money, again. And get a car, again. And not explode from frustration…again. I’m literally starting over from scratch, step one. AGAIN. I’m back in the same situation which is, I guess, a bit different from starting over. When you begin something new it’s fresh and untouched, but getting back up after a particularly bad fall isn’t as exciting. It kinda sucks because the sting of disappointment is still very present, and your ego is still bruised. But you have to pull it together and move forward.

Yes I’m back home but I have a better job. And I have the opportunity to save a ton of money, which is such a huge plus. I’m not so bogged down with all the obligations of being on my own, which is a blessing. I get to gather all my responsibilities and deal with them while I prepare to go back out into the minefield that is adulthood. Yeah, I’m here for all that. I learned a lot being away from my family and out on my own, that’s helped me make better life decisions. That’s a lot to celebrate about dammit! I’m adulting and at a optimum level, without the unnecessary presence of that awful depressing film that covers you while you’re doing it. Blessings on blessings on blessings, y’all.

The peace of mind I’ve acquired from doing these things has been phenomenal. My mood is better, my creative juices are flowing freely, I sleep better, I have more energy,, my edges are robust and plentiful, my skin is giving me all types of bronze goddess yaaaaaas-ness. Having inner peace has been a real slice, and I’d slice your face clean off if you tried to interfere with that. I’m prepared to protect my peace at all costs. I wouldn’t actually mutilate someone, but I’d sure snatch a wig or two for it. My energy is so important and I’ve make the clear choice to give it only to things that are in my best interest. Taking that a step further, I’m very careful about who’s energy I allow into my space. That’s just as important as being responsible for my own. When someone is operating from a negative space they aren’t able take ownership of that negativity, and it’s up to you to protect your space. Whatever it takes, as long as it’s within reason.

I feel…f*cking fantastic! And I’m glad I’ve had the presence of mind to take back control of my life. My mental and emotional state is at an all time high and that’s manifesting itself into my physical space. So now I’m in a much better position to do thing things that I need and want to do. Sh*t’s amazing, you should absolutely try it. Seriously. Do it and tell me about it, I want to hear how you guys are flourishing. So email me, my contact info is on my About Me page (click on the hyperlink that says QueenMing under my picture and it’s at the bottom of the page). Well I’m about to go enjoy the last little snippet of my birthday, and actually be present during this call I’m on with my best friend (she’s describing her #BlackGirlAngst about Girls). So I’m going to go do that. Until next time my Beautiful Black Queens!

 

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How To Not Suck At: Resting

A new year always brings out the hustling spirit in all of us.

“This year I’m going to grind and get this money!”

“The grind don’t stop in the ’17!”

“2017 is the year of the grind!”

Yeah. Grind, grind, grind. Work, work, work because hard work always equates to success right? Not really, but that’s a discussion for another time. Let me ask you this: With all this working and grinding you’re planning on doing this year, when do you get a break? I honestly believe that you should  kick of this year of dope shit by resting.

Now to the serial over-planner that may sound like pure blasphemy, some would even say lazy, but I promise you it’s very important. We d0 way too much, all the time. Just think about your day for a minute. You wake up, get ready for work, go work (hate every minute of it depending on where you are in your career *cough cough*), get off work, go home, cook dinner (or order sushi like I do), take a shower, look up and it’s already 10:30 pm. And that’s the short version, not including the coworker or boss that pissed you off, the daily reminder of bills, debt, relationship drama, your unruly curl pattern, errands that need to be ran, and all the other countless surprises adulthood has to offer. You need to go somewhere and sit down!

Resting is not laziness, laziness is laziness. Taking the time to rest is so important for your physical, mental, and emotional health. Case in point: About a week and a half before Christmas I got sick. Yeah no big deal, right? No you don’t understand, when I get sick it’s always something crazy like the Spanish Flu or the Bubonic Plague, nothing simple like a cold because that’s my life. At first I thought it was cold, then it got worse, and I’m like, “Yeah, this is the flu. No worries, it’ll be over in a week or so”. Nah bruh. I was sick for two full weeks, and while this was happening I was working forty-seven hours a week. Why? Because the grind don’t stop! I had to push through it, a little snot and mean dry cough never hurt nobody.Yup I pushed myself through it all the way to Regions Hospital’s emergency room, and it wasn’t on my own accord. My mom, who’s eleven hundred miles away in Atlanta, had to threaten me bodily harm if I didn’t. And I’m afraid of her (still, at 28) so I went.

The diagnosis? A respiratory infection and the stomach flu. See? Fuckery. The physician’s assistant looked at me and said, “So how many days off do you want?” I was like, “Umm just give Saturday off” She looked at me like “Bish wheeeeet?!”

Her: So you want to go back Sunday?

Me: No, but a day should be okay. Can’t really afford to take too much more time than that. My boss would flip out.

Her: *stares blankly, obviously confused*

We kinda just sat in silence for a few moments, which was awkward. But then she said, “Your chest x-rays are okay for now but if go outside in this weather you will get pneumonia. It’s going to be below thirty this weekend. Your body needs to rest, you’re working entirely too much. I’m putting you on restriction for three days, that’ll be in your doctor’s note which you can give to your boss on Monday. Double up on the fluids, and don’t even dream of getting out of bed.”  So I did what she said and by Monday I was still sick but far far better than I was before. But that whole situation got me thinking. Why is it so hard for us to rest when we need it the most? We kill ourselves in the pursuit of success, become damaged in the process, and wonder why our efforts don’t yield the results we desire. You can’t obtain abundance when you’re running on E.

Sometimes when we’re exhausted we gravitate towards people and activities that drain us even more. Or we convince ourselves that we’re being productive and a break isn’t really necessary because all this shit isn’t going to complete itself, right? Well screw all of that. You need to relax, refresh, and recharge. Today. Like right now, and we’re going to get through this together.

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    1. Disconnect from the world around you.

Get off Facebook (or IG, The Snap, ect.). Turn off your phone. Cut the TV off and get rid of any noise wherever you are. Do you hear that? It’s quietness, and you need more of it. You can’t make clear and calculated moves in an environment that rivals Jacksonville State’s Marching Southerners. Don’t think about what’s stressing you out, instead focus on what you want to see happen. Visualize yourself stomping that problem’s ass into the pavement. It’s very satisfying, trust me. Focus on how good it feels, don’t worry about the complexities of how it’s going to get done. You’ll figure that out later. This moment is all about enjoying the fullness and warmth of how good it feels to not think about all of your issues. Visualizing is so important and it’s the first step in applying the Law of Attraction into your everyday life, and it works. But that’s an entirely different animal, and another post for another time. Every time you feel your stress level spiraling out of control, go back to that thought of you knocking out your problems’ two front teeth. It’ll revolutionize your thoughts in a very major way.

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2. Tend to yourself.

When I feel stressed, overwhelmed, or like I’m drowning in my problems I tend to myself. First, I clean my house. Seems like a small thing but it’s really a big deal. Usually when I can’t think straight my house is a mess; my thought space manifests itself into the environment around me. And I’ll let it go because I’ll be too tired to take care of it right then and there, but shortly after I just can’t take it anymore. I’ll drop everything and clean until my heart is content. When I’m done I feel so much better. I know where things are, it smells good, I just feel centered and content. So now when I go to handle my problems I can do so with a clear head because all that worrying and stressing wasted away while I was washing dishes and sweeping the floors. I wasn’t focusing on them which stopped my wild imagination from running all over America, which helped put the shine and sparkle back into my stove top, which stopped me from going off the deep end and snatching a couple wigs in the process.

Another way I tend to myself is by getting my nails done. I know that nearly every woman in the tri-state area does this but getting my nails done is like borderline a religious experience for me, I’ll make an entire day out of it. Why’s this so important? Because I don’t have to do anything but sit and be pampered. Sure I’ll have to drop a few coins, but the peace of mind I get from it is money well spent. Being able to walk into that shop and say, “I need a fill-in, a pedicure, and my brows snatched” and they say, “Yes ma’am” and get me right makes me feel like the Queen that I am. And that’s how I should feel all the time, that’s how you should feel all the time. You are a strong, amazingly talented, hard working, intelligent, drop dead gorgeous and dazzling adulting superstar. Don’t let life’s problems allow you to believe anything less than that.

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    3. Rest your body.

Your sleep system works like a bank, you can only withdraw what you deposit and most of the time you find yourself swimming in overdraft fees. Thirty-seven percent of American women chug more than three caffeinated beverages a day according to the National Sleep Foundation. Stop making Starbucks rich and get some sleep! It plays an important role in your physical health. It’s involved in healing and repairing your heart and blood vessels, keeps your immune system on it’s toes, and improves your memory. Ongoing lack of sleep has been linked to increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and stroke. I know you don’t want any part of that. Plus, have you been around someone who hasn’t had a good amount of sleep? Not fun at all. I’m the worst when I don’t sleep enough. I’m cranky, I whine a lot, or cry, and the smallest things set me off. God bless the poor souls who have to deal with me because I’m a hot funky ass mess. Eight hours a night is a must, no exceptions. When you get in bed silence your phone, don’t ask questions just do it. You’ll thank me in the long run. And its okay to sleep in sometimes, there’s definitely room for passive rest on your off days. This was a big challenge for me because I used to not be able to turn off my “grind” switch, but boy have I made up for lost time.

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   4. Journal

When we have problems we like to sound off and unload those problems on the people closest to us. That’s become second nature to us but if you’re not careful it can easily become the foundation in making your loved ones an emotional dumping ground. They love you and want the best for you, but nobody wants to hear drama and negativity all the time. So write it down, and don’t hold anything back. Write down exactly how you feel in that moment, it doesn’t even have to be complete thoughts just as long as you can understand it. This is extremely therapeutic because you’re only reliving your pisstivity once instead of over and over again if you told multiple people. Have you ever noticed how exhausted you feel after you tell five people the same emotionally charged story? You’re ready to go take a nap, or just stop talking altogether. Yeah, journaling cuts all that out. I use Journalate when I need to blow off some steam and its great because its free, I do love free. Or if you like kicking it old school go out and get a physical one. All of my journals are pretty, and the pens I write in them with are pretty too. Why? Because that makes me excited to use them, I look forward to writing about my day, or my goals, or the latest thing happening in my life no matter if its good or bad. I get all of those thoughts out of my head and onto those pages so I can make room for others that get me closer to my dreams. You should do the same.

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5. Create a bedtime ritual.

Rituals are bomb as f*ck. I have one for every occasion you can think of, but none of them pop harder than my nightly ritual. I’ll light some candles, pour me a glass of wine, turn on some music, eat a fabulous meal, wash and exfoliate my skin, condition my hair, take a long hot bath, lather every inch of my body in oil, dry off, get dressed, and go to bed. How do I feel afterwards? F*CKING FLAWLESS! The entire time you know what I’m thinking about? Absolutely nothing. I think all day and it feels good to put my mind into airplane mode. By the time I get dressed I can barely keep my eyes open, I knock out, and I stay that way until the morning. When I don’t do this I stay up all night scrolling through Facebook, I think about my problems until I drive myself insane, and I toss and turn all night when I finally start to fall asleep. Which one is the better option? Exactly. Get a routine going, I have one for the morning and the night, it works wonders.

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6. Recharge your emotions.

This one’s a biggie. Being around people who are positive and emotionally healthy is imperative to your well-being. You want to be around people who want to see you win. Someone encouraged me to be alone on my off day and I looked at them like they were crazy. I had just moved to Minneapolis, I didn’t know anyone there (which is strange to me because I know tons of people back home in Atlanta), and I felt like I really needed to get out there and meet people so I wouldn’t turn into a hermit. But they were onto something good. I spend over forty hours a week around people at work. Short people, fat people, dumb people (mostly dumb because *retail*), semi-sort of smart people, nice people, rude people, people with bad ass kids, old people, young people. Just people. And all the time. Taking two days out of the week to spend time with me and replenish my energy and emotions was very wise advice, I’m glad I was smart enough to take it. Because if I hadn’t I’d probably would’ve lost my mind by now.

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7. Refocus your spirit.

Your mind and body are usually at the forefront of your consciousness, and your spirit tends to get lost in the shuffle but its just as important. Resting comes full circle when you learn how to focus your spiritual self. I’m not talking about practicing religion but more so realigning the balance within yourself. When doing the things I’ve mentioned thus far I always find some time to slip in some meditation. I know some people may be turned off to the idea of meditation but that’s because they don’t understand it. You should definitely try it because it’s amazing and its been scientifically proven to help your overall well-being. It lessens worry, anxiety, impulsiveness, depression, creates better cognitive skills and creative thinking, reduces blood pressure, kicks PMS’s ass, and even helps with inflammatory orders and asthma. How? Because it disconnects you from stress. People really don’t realize just how much stress can f*ck your shit up. It leads to heart disease (which is the leading cause of death worldwide), insomnia, diabetes, digestive problems, and a wide range of other ailments which are all good reasons to keep calm and realign your chakras.

Working hard and going after your goals and dreams is great, I applaud you for doing that. But sometimes we have to know when to hit the pause button and take a moment to breathe. You should never feel bad for taking time for yourself because that time is so necessary. Here’s to being a more complete human being, let’s make this year a spectacular one. Cheers!

Reality Check: Time To Get In Formation

” Your winter is someone else’s summer.”

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That quote unleashes some very visceral emotions inside of me; things I’ve kept tucked away while I try to keep up with the day-to-day busyness of adulthood. But it’s high time I let them go because holding on is doing me absolutely no good. I’ve realized, while amidst the thick of the fuckery I’ve been through this year, that I have a high propensity for being a perfectionist. It’s so high, in fact, that it keeps me from going after the things that I want and need to do. I’ll set out to do something and, midstream, I’ll freeze because I think whatever I’m doing isn’t good enough and the follow through ends up being super wack.

I haven’t updated my blog, worked on my business models, or any of my interests because I’ve allowed my circumstances to get the best of me. This year has been pretty tough, definitely the coldest metaphoric winter I’ve ever experienced. I’ve been homeless, I was assaulted, I’ve been abandoned several times, heart broken more than once, and many other trials and tribulations have ensued. I’ve let those things mold me into someone I don’t recognize when I look into the mirror, and that terrifies me. I’ve allowed myself to become this person who, when standing face-to-face with obstacles, she gets emotional and has a pity party for herself long before she attacks them. And when I finally do, I’m exhausted from the roller coaster ride I put myself through. I’m at the point where I’m sick and tired of not being in control of my own destiny. I’m completely over just existing and I’m ready to start living again.

I’m not sure what point you’re at in your life as you’re reading this. Hell, you could be doing great in life, and if you are good for you. Do that shit! But if you’re stuck in the same old rut and you’re ready to get back to where you were before, or even transcend beyond that point (which is always a good idea), then I’ll offer you three pieces of advice that have jump-started my will to live life more abundantly again no matter what my circumstances are. You can Google the phrase “How to get your shit together” and easily find 1.3 million articles on how to do just that, each one offering fifty plus ways to turn the lemons life has hurled at your poor peanut shaped head into lemonade (all hail #QueenBey!). But I think three is a good place to start. There’s something about that number that resonates with me; I think it signifies harmony, and we could all use a little more of that. Plus, I think these three things open the door to many more good habits that can and will help push you into the right direction. So, let’s begin.

  1. Get objective feedback from a trustworthy source.

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Emphasis on trustworthy. So not that one coworker who’s always having money problems, or your cousin Ray Ray who can’t hold down a job for longer than sixty days, and definitely not your super “independent”  man hating aunt who hasn’t had a bae since ’86. This person should be close enough to you where they know exactly what you may be going through, but are far away enough to see the bigger picture, and wise enough to point you in the right direction. You could be focusing too much of your attention on a problem at work or a relationship that doesn’t serve you, and that person has the ability to come in with a fresh pair of eyes and give you the perspective you would’ve taken longer to achieve on your own.

I have friends who keep me moving forward even when I can’t seem to pull it together sometimes. When I’m dealing with a tough situation in my personal life, or I’m entertaining something or someone that is challenging my self-worth (it really doesn’t matter what it is) one or all of them will individually or collectively say to me, “Bitch….no!” And they will proceed to snatch my wig to and fro until I get myself back into formation. They’re present enough to know the details of whatever the problem is but also able to take the emotion out of what I’m telling them in order to help me come up with solutions that will work to solve said problem. I am so grateful for them because I tend to be very dramatic all the time  sometimes and I have this annoying habit of making mountains out of molehills. Silly me.

2. Acknowledge what’s working

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You are incredible! You are a work of art, absolutely divine, and so so talented. Never allow yourself to lose sight of how special and unique you are. Focusing on the deeper reality of the spirit instead of where your ego is just may be all you need to pick yourself up and keep moving forward. It doesn’t matter how many times you think you’ve fallen short, it’s really about your perspective. You could be bombing at one thing but blowing something else out of the water in another area of your life.

One of my biggest adulthood boo boos is not saving enough money. And by enough, I mean none at all; I’m the worst at that. I’ll have the best intentions when I’m planning out my bills but then I’ll get so anxious and overwhelmed about deadlines and such that saving goes completely out the window. I have really bad anxiety about being homeless again. It’s at the forefront of my mind when I think about and handle money. “Oh I can’t get those shoes, gotta save for rent. I can’t be homeless again” “Nah, I’ll just eat at home. I can’t be eating out, gotta pay my rent so I’ll have a roof over my head” “I gotta get it together man, I can’t go back to that shelter”

I’ll get so caught up in what could go wrong if all the bad shit I cook up in my head happened simultaneously (which never does), that I rarely acknowledge all the things I’m doing right. For one, I actually care about paying things on time. That’s a win, because a lot of people really don’t give a shit. I’m responsible (did you hear that Mom and Dad?), or at least I try to be as much as I can. And as much as I panic about it, I do pay all my bills. I’m actually coming up with ways to say money that will have many long term benefits instead of short term ones; another step in the right direction. Doing that helps me focus on the future and gets my brain thinking about how I’m going to achieve my next set of goals. When I’m in this frame of mind I’m in problem solving mode instead of panic mode, which does wonders for my nerves. Instead of holding my face in my hands saying “Oh my God, oh my God. What do I do?” repeatedly I ask myself “What am I doing now that’s gotten me to this point?”, “What do I want to see happen in this area?”, and “What can I do to turn this shit around?” And then something amazing happens. I’ll remember that I’m pretty damn awesome and I can do anything I put my mind to. Perspective.

3. Meditate on gratitude and appreciation.

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It may sound super cheesy, but a little gratitude goes a long way. Frustration has a way of making everything seem really really shitty. Your boss may have been a total douche to do in front of some really important people, and you’re so pissed off that you sit there and stew over it all day, then some jerk cuts you off in traffic, and you’re so hell bent on getting home that you forgot to hit up that one place you love because they’re having a 25% off sale on your favorite wine. Then you finally get home, after all that, only to trip over an ant playing soccer on a cotton ball and you hit your pinky toe on that same corner of the coffee table that you have at least two hundred times minimum. Stupid boss, this all your fault.  You work tirelessly to be amazing at what you do and your boss never shows any appreciation at all. You come in early, you leave late, you blow the roof off the place, and you get nothing in return. Not even a nod. Your life is absolute shit and it’ll never get any better, plus you won’t have any more functional toes left because of that damn table. It’ll never get better, right? Wrong. Sometimes a brief moment of stepping out of a disheartening situation to an appreciation of something general, no matter how small, can take you forward a few steps to detaching from what isn’t working. And when you do that you create space that gives you room to shift towards a better view.

I get so bogged down about bills, and adulting, and how I should be so much further along in life than I am right now. I beat myself up about not writing enough, or not having the funding to start my businesses, or about how bad I am at remembering to do laundry that I forget to be grateful for all the things that I do have and have been blessed with. I have a great living space that’s warm, and inviting, and it’s my sanctuary. When my mind becomes cluttered and I can’t think straight, I’ll look around and see that the state of my thoughts have manifested themselves into my living space. So I’ll clean it up; wash dishes, do laundry, clean my bathroom, reorganize my closet, everything. And when I’m done I get this overwhelming feeling of pride and gratitude; I’ll look around and say to myself “Wow, this is my place. This time last year I was staying with this person and that person, then I ended up living in a hotel, then a shelter, then somebody else’s place, then a place where the roof was leaking. Now I’m here, safe, warm, and back on track. Thank you Lord”.

That one moment gives way to many more that allow me to see just how far I’ve come in such a short amount of time. I thank God for everything, and every time I do the Universe takes note of it and I attract more great things my way. When I spend money, on whatever, I always thank God and the Universe for allowing me to have it; and I say to myself “There’s more where that came from”. When I’m cleaning up and I find a dime or a penny I say thank you out loud. When I make some bomb fajitas, I say thank you (out loud), because God didn’t have to bless me with the resources to make that party in my mouth happen but He did and I’m grateful. Gratitude really does go a long way and soon you’ll begin to realize just how much you really have, which takes the focus off what you don’t have and that makes room for you to get what you want to have. See how that works?

Life can serve a pretty mean uppercut, but that doesn’t mean you have to settle with getting your ass kicked everyday (bob and weave my G). I promise if you do these three things every time you face a problem, you’ll get through it and with a level of style and grace that may surprise you. It’s 2:30 in the morning and, as I’m writing this, my problems seem to be much smaller than I thought they were before I started this post. There’s freedom in that, I feel lighter. And my goals seem much more attainable. The same can be true for you, all you have to do is apply what I mentioned above and you’ll be Gucci. So go knock it out the park, kiddo.

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No, You Cannot Touch My Hair

I cannot tell you how many times—on the CTA in Chicago, while waiting in line at the Walmart pharmacy, and on the street— I’ve had someone ask to touch my hair. Friends, classmates, church members, and complete strangers always seem so comfortable touching my hair, with our without permission. These interactions often leave me feeling violated, angry, and frustrated. You’re probably wondering what’s so special, so absolutely extraordinary about my hair that magically turns the average pair of mitts into magnets. To be perfectly honest, nothing at all. Just your typical head of Black hair.

Non-black people don’t seem to understand why these social dealings evoke such high emotions for Black women, so I’ll explain why. But first I’ll give you the somewhat complicated history between my hair and I. For as long as I can remember I’ve always hated my hair. Now I know this seems a little counterproductive with me being a proud natural woman, but it’s the honest truth. I hated how thick it is, the curliness, and it’s rebellious and unruly nature. I hated the childish ponytails I sported day in and day out, plaited down to the tips and secured with a barrette. I hated how unpleasant life became every time I got it wet. And attempting to detangle it after a shampoo? Yeah, right! I remember sitting in between my mom’s legs every night before bed while she got me ready for the next day thinking to myself, “You know what? This is some bull!’

Different cultures have their own ceremonies that become a defining moment in a youngster’s life.  Young Jewish boys celebrate their transition into manhood with a Bar Mitzvah, while girls in parts of Latin America mark their journey into womanhood with a Quinceañera. Adolescent Black girls get perms and this is a monumental occasion, a right of passage. For us it means that we finally get to look like what’s been considered “normal”; “normal” meaning having straight hair. At age eleven my entire world changed, and my mom finally allowed me to get one of these coveted perms. I had lost all feeling in my scalp but I’d finally made it to the Promised Land.

My decision to go natural was an organic one, and about a year after I did the movie Good Hair came out and it had Black people, primarily women, in a tizzy. In the Black community the term “good hair” always reserved for biracial kids or the ones who claimed to have “Indian in their family” (growing up, the number of times I heard someone claim to be part Cherokee were too many to count). Their hair was considered “almost white” but it had an edge to it, the edge being the frustratingly perfect curl pattern that I could never seem to achieve. And then there was this myth going around that relaxing your hair made you a sell-out, that it’s a Black woman’s subconscious attempt to adapt her appearance to look like a White girl. That’s unfair. Yes, the standard of beauty has mainly (and some might say solely) highlighted European features for some time, but wanting super straight hair does not mean you inherently want to look or be White, that’s crazy. And that’s not to say looking or being White is somehow evil, but for so long the ideal beauty has always had blonde hair and blue eyes. So my decision to say no to the creamy crack and abandon everything I’ve ever know to be true about my hair was a pretty big deal. And I’ll have to say it was one of the best decisions I ever made, because with that giant leap of faith came an outpouring of self-acceptance.

From that day on my hair struggles became a cakewalk. I was flyer than ever, my life became full of glamorous selfies, and the lack of lye led me to discover unicorn piss actually cures cramps. Okay, not really. Trying to figure out the best products and regime was pretty difficult. I had to do a lot of research in order to figure out what works for me, all naturals are not the same. It took me a while to get my hair to cooperate and do what I wanted it to, so for someone to come up to me and stick their hands in my hair really pissed me off. The things I have to do to finesse my fro—washing it, detangling it, styling it—all take a lot of time; so yeah, the hands of a stranger aren’t welcomed. My journey as a natural has been a beautiful experience, but every time I encounter someone that’s a little too touchy feely I feel like a Pomeranian puppy. Once I was at work and I was discussing hair with a coworker who is also natural, we were exchanging thoughts on different products we use, and another coworker (a Caucasian woman) jumped in. “Do y’all spend a lot of money on your hair?” We both looked at each other like “Girl! Did she just…?” Now I love this girl I really do, she’s very sweet, and I know she didn’t mean anything by it but I just couldn’t believe she said that out loud. I was about to go all the way in on her, but I realized non-Black individuals really don’t know much about Black hair. I said, “Do you spend a lot of money on your hair?” and that question was met with silence. Instead of that snarky remark I should’ve taken that opportunity to explain to her just how different our hair is from everyone else’s.

We, Black women, are very sensitive when it comes to our hair; we always seem to find ourselves defending it, even amongst Black men. If you wear your natural texture it’s nappy, if you get a relaxer you’re a sellout, and if you wear wigs or weaves you “want to look/be White”, there’s absolutely no middle ground at all. In many companies, wearing a fro is a dress code violation; I remember my best friend recalling an incident at a former job involving this. She worked at a rather large car washing company, and one day she was secret shopped by the higher ups at corporate. She did pretty well, they said she was very polite and knowledgeable when it came to company policy, but when it came to her appearance they said she looked “unkempt”; she was wearing her fro out that day. I think “unkempt” was a politically correct way to say her hair looked nappy.

Once, in light of my mother’s burning desire to have grand kids, I folded under the pressure and decided to give online dating a try. This really handsome White gentleman sent me a message expressing his interest, and soon we exchanged numbers. Upon texting him I was flooded with a bunch of stereotypical Black girl question. Among “Can you twerk?” and “Is your booty big?” he asked “Is that your real hair?” As if he hadn’t offended me enough. So because my hair is long and curly it automatically has to be weave? This is an everyday struggle for naturals. I can’t tell you exactly what I said to him, but just know it was littered with some very colorful language. Why the anger, you ask? I’ll tell you why, take a trip with me back to the 1800s. I’d like you to meet Saartije “Sarah” Baartman

Sarah was a South African woman who, after being sold into slavery by the Dutch, was trotted around Europe for exhibition. She was fooled into believing that she would find riches and fame, but instead was put on display in both England and France because her large buttocks, big hips, lips and elongated labia were curiosities that Europeans had never seen before. In 1810 she became a freak show attraction, given the name Hottentot Venus. Surely she couldn’t be human because she didn’t look like a White woman, so therefore she was considered inferior and made to dance for the entertainment of White people. She was poked and prodded, absolutely humiliated. After the circus no longer wanted her she became a prostitute and later died from disease in 1815, she’d only been in Europe for five years and was 25 when she died. Even after her death she wasn’t allowed dignity; when she died they cut out her vagina, her brain, and her skeleton, preserved them in jars, and placed them all on display along with a plaster of her actual body. For one hundred and sixty years people could walk into a museum, look at Sarah Baartman’s vagina, brain and skeleton and see what she looked like naked. In 1974 they took down the display, but still kept her remains. It wasn’t until 2002 that they were finally sent back to her home in South Africa and she was given the proper burial.

History records that Sarah was a highly intelligent woman with an excellent memory, she had a particular knack for remembering faces. In addition to her native tongue she spoke fluent Dutch, passable English, and a little French. Aside from her large breasts and buttocks she was described as having graceful shoulders, slender arms, and charming hands and feet. She was also very skilled at playing the Jew’s harp, could dance according to her country’s traditions, and had a lively personality. If reading about Sarah made you uncomfortable it should, and I’m glad it did because that means we’re getting somewhere. Every time you reach out to touch a Black woman’s hair or make an offensive remark about it, whether knowingly or unbeknownst to you, you awaken the hurt and pain that comes with Sarah’s story; we become Sarah Baartman and we have no say so in the matter. Please don’t mistake my desire to want you to know how we feel as an opportunity to point the finger at White or other non-Black people as if to say, “Look at what you did to us!” I just want this to resonate with you.

Curiosity about Black hair isn’t a bad thing, and I’m sure many well-meaning people don’t mean to offend me in these situations. But there is a fine line between interest and treating Black women like urban zoo animals. If you have questions about natural hair or the Black experience that’s great, ask away! You can approach a close Black friend or coworker but tread lightly, remember we’re sensitive creatures. If you don’t have any Black friends you should seriously think about diversifying your circle. But if you feel compelled to reach out and touch, just remember it’s best you keep your hands to yourself.