Wellness

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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PMS? No Problem: How To Stop It In It’s Tracks

PMS is the devil. Bloating, uncontrollable food cravings, fits of emotional instability, cramps, mood swings—what’s to like about it? The mood swings are the worst ever, I’m dealing with them right now. This morning I woke up in a funk, and it was so hard to get out of bed. I’m on a cleanse and, usually, I wake up with tons of energy but today was different. I walked into work grumpy, even after I had my medium hazelnut iced coffee and that usually shakes me out of the Monday Morning Blues. I was so confused, but then I checked my calendar and noticed I’m right smack dab in the middle of a full blown PMS party (complete with extra bloating and cramps). Fun.

Premenstrual syndrome describes a collection of more than 150 symptoms that strike a week to two weeks before your period makes its monthly debut; this is caused by an imbalance of estrogen and progesterone levels. As a result you may suffer from stress, insufficient sleep, horrible eating habits, and an overall feeling like poo. PMS sucks but don’t be so quick to raid your medicine cabinet so fast—no matter what your symptoms are, you may be able to fix them with these alternative therapies.


Supplements

Vitamin E and essential fatty acids are PMS rock stars, a study in Reproductive Health noted women who took these supplements twice a day for six months saw major PMS symptom improvements. These nutrients interact with prostaglandin receptors (those little hellians believed to be responsible for cramps). A daily multivitamin should have all the vitamin E you need, I take One A Day Women’s and it has 30 IU which converts to about 22 milligrams. You can take a daily fish oil capsule to get your fatty acids as well, but a calcium rich diet helps control PMS symptoms tremendously too. Make sure it includes leafy greens, almonds, and yougurt and aim for about 1,300 milligrams per day.

Best for: Mood swings, sore breasts, cramps, headaches and acne


Acupuncture

The thought of having needles hanging from your body might may you a little uneasy, but acupuncture can be very beneficial to combating PMS. I read a study that showed this method stifled symptoms in 78 percent of women, that’s huge! Western doctors aren’t really sure how it works, but it’s believed it may increase circulation and elevate endorphins, which enhances your mood and alleviates pain. Most women experienced PMS symptom relief within 24 hours after a session. Depending on how you react to it, you might get treated once a month in the week before your period throws your life in shambles  comes.

Best for: Cramps, anxiety, insomnia, headaches and nausea


Progesterone Cream

Researchers believe most premenstrual troubles arise from out-of-balance estrogen and progesterone levels, so many treatments aim towards leveling out the playing field; this is why the pill is often recommended. Using a natural progesterone cream will have the same effect, there are a few forms that are available OTC and be applied to your inner thighs or lower abdomen before your period.

Best for: Mood swings, cramps, anxiety and insomnia


Herbs

There’s a lot of controversy over whether or not herbs can solve health issues (I personally believe they can), but science suggests they can help lighten the burden of PMS symptoms. Chaste berry (cool name!) may stimulate your endocrine system which may help relieve achy boobs, and those are never fun. Evening primrose (another cool name, it sounds so fancy) may help alleviate anxiety and cramps, valerian root may work as a muscle relaxer which is perfect for cramps, while dandelion root helps reduce bloating. You should definitely consult your doctor before you start a herbal regimen, they can direct you towards how much you need and which ones can work best for you.

Best for: Mood swings, sore breasts, anxiety, cramps and bloating


Sweating and Stretching

Mild exercising can reduce the worst PMS symptoms! I know the thought of moving around more than you’d like to is uncomfortable, but I promise it helps. Working out not only releases endorphins (or “plain slayers”) but it also triggers dopeamine (your natural source of pleasure and satisfaction) and serotonin (a major depression and anxiety fighter). Doing hip and back stretches can increase blood flow to contracted urine, abdominal, and lower-back tension and this eases the tension that leads to cramps.

Best for: Mood swings, cramps, anxiety, and headaches.


Natural Diuretics

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Fluid retention, a hallmark of PMS, builds up as a result of those fluctuating hormones I keep rambling on about and it can make you feel like an overstuffed sausage link. For centuries Eastern doctors have believed that nutrients like potassium, calcium, magnesium, and vitamins B and C act as natural diuretics. Western doctors have finally caught the wave and have been advising patients to snack on bananas, fennel, tomatoes, watercress, and citrus fruits before their periods. And think twice before you rely on your cup of joe or Diet Coke to get things, for lack of a better word, moving. While caffeine might be able to cut down fluid retention, it can also lead to anxiety, so sip with caution.

Best for: Bloating,


DIY Massage

While it may not be as indulgent as the real thing, self-massage can definitely reduce your pre-period woes (#Drake). A rubdown of any kind increases blood flow and eases muscle and mental tension *ahhhh* The essential oils used in massage really make a difference, I live for lavender! It’s a wonderful muscle relaxer, and geranium is a natural estrogen balancer which is much needed during this perilous time we’re all going through. Use several drops of one type of oil in a handful of massage lotion and, starting on your right side above your groin, massage up your waist in a clockwise motion. Once done, move to your left side and work down to your groin again. Doing this for five minutes twice a day during peak PMS time is a surefire way to nix the stressors of premenstrual poopiness. Make sure to use moderate to deep pressure.

Best for: Cramps, headaches and bloating


Clean Up Your Diet

Your diet affects everything—your skin, your mood, your sleeping cycle AND your period. I know it’ll be tough, but you must put down the Cheetos! Refined flour, sugar and processed food have to go! Caffeine needs to be given the heave-ho, stop drinking alcohol (no “buts” please), gluten is officially a no-fly zone, and don’t eat within three hours of bedtime. I know I sound like a diet Nazi but it’s for your own good. Another great tip I learned is to eat evenly throughout the day; skipping meals is NEVER the answer, and it can be harmful to your body. Eating organically as much as humanity permits is the right idea. This tip should be followed religiously for animal products; this helps you avoid ingesting environmental estrogens from pesticides. I’m not sure if you’ve heard, but six different steroidal hormones are approved by the FDA for use in “food animals.” They are estradiol, progesterone (those bastards!), testosterone, and the synthetic hormones trenbolone acetate, progestin melengestrol acetate, and zeranol, all of which make animals grow faster and/or produce leaner meat for food. Dairy cattle are often treated with recombinant bovine growth hormone (rBGH) to increase milk production. Hormones are banned for use in poultry in the US, but that doesn’t stop chicken producers from marketing their birds as “hormone free”; nor does it stop them from using them. Antibiotics are also routinely administered to animals raised for food, as well. 80 percent of antibiotics sold in the US is used on livestock. That is disgusting!


There are tons of ways to deal with the my-period’s-almost-here blues, and I hope this shed a little light on how you can get the relief you need and deserve (it’s your birthright). One major point I that I feel is absolutely necessary for you guys to keep in mind is that you have to (like have to-have to) deal with your stress! (in a healthy way, so no punching out the kid at McDonald’s for not giving you barbecue sauce for your nuggets….you shouldn’t even be there missy *gives you a stern look*). Stress causes heart disease, trouble sleeping, digestive problems, a drop in overall sexual desire (we definitely don’t want or need that!), and a lot of other problems. Stress leads to worse PMS symptoms and, given the content of this post, that would be a little counterproductive. Lighting candles, trying some deep breathing exercises, and journaling are all great ways to stamp out stress. What are some ways you beat PMS predicaments? Comment down below and let me know.

Stay beautiful my dears ❤

16 Lines Of Perfection

The right man for you will want all of you, and he won’t want you any other way than how you are at this very moment. You won’t have to dress a certain way, act a certain way, or hold anything back—you’ll be enough, and never too much. Your strong personality, dorky laugh, and insane love of anchovies will all be quirks that he finds irresistible. Before I met my boyfriend I thought I had to always “be on my best behavior” every time I met a guy. I didn’t want my weird quirks and opinions to scare him off, so I’d only show shadows of my true personality. That, my dear, is total bullsh…crap!

Literally five days before I met my boyfriend I went on a date with another guy, it was a really great date but I just wasn’t into him. When I was with him I wasn’t being myself, I mean I was but not really. After the date I decided to just chill out by myself for a while, dating was just becoming exhausting. Five days later I met the man of my dreams, and it only took me two days to decide that he was the one for me. I’ve been able to be myself and completely honest with him from the beginning. I haven’t held back my thoughts or ideas ever, in fact, he always can tell when I am and he encourages me to tell him how I feel—even if its something he may not want to hear or disagrees with. And I’m not afraid to disagree with him, that’s a big one for me. I used to avoid conflict in past relationships so I wouldn’t make waves because I thought a disagreement would turn into a fight, and we’d break up (either he’d leave me or I’d leave him).

We had our first really big disagreement the other day, and it was over something so insignificant. There was yelling, over-talking, and a little profanity peppered in for pizzazz; he couldn’t see my point and I could see his but I continued to disagree with him. I stormed out of his apartment and sat on the stairs for a while, I was really upset; not by the argument itself but by the way he was speaking to me. The same man that made my heart melt with every kiss he planted on my forehead was now the same man that I now wanted to punch (well not really punch, it’d be more of a “hey you’re being a complete jerk” love tap). I thought about leaving and going home, but something rose up from inside of me and said, “Oh no ma’am! You two are going to work this out, now get in there and fix it!” And we did which, again, was huge.

I’m loud, bratty, and a total control freak. I nag him about his health, fuss when he leaves the toilet seat up (there have been so many times where I’ve gone to the bathroom in the middle of the night and literally fell inside of the toilet), and leave my wigs laying around when I get dressed even though I know it freaks him out (totally unintentional). I pout when I don’t get my way and look like the crypt keeper when I wake up in the morning. And he still loves me, exactly how I am. I’m a handful, I know I am, and he still puts up with me. The man of your dreams, your knight in shining armor, will accept you completely—flaws and all. When you find him, everything will make sense and it’ll be perfect. And if you haven’t found him yet don’t worry, he’s probably just stuck in traffic.

Stay beautiful my loves ❤

The Yogi Diaries: Namaste

You guys, I’m fresh off a yoga high and it feels great! One of my New Years resolutions was to get back in shape (yeah, I know everyone says that). I was so excited about the new year, and I felt like this year is going to be big for many reasons. I had this plan that included getting back to my slim, yet still curvy physique. You know, beach babe ready. But then life was like “Yeah right, girl!”. Typical.

I’ve been struggling to get motivated about exercising, and it’s been having me feel pretty blah. But one Monday night all that changed. So there’s this guy I’m seeing (cue goofy smile) and he’s really into fitness. On his “lazy days” he does mini videos on YouTube and still manages to get a great workout. Did I mention he also has the body of a Greek god? *sigh* He knows I’m really wanting to get back in shape, and he’s always picking my brain to see what’s been stopping me from doing it. So that night, as I’m watching Ohio State and Oregon battle it out in the College Football Championship, he asked me to do one simple thing. Stretch. So I did and it felt amazing! I suddenly had a strange urge to do push-ups. A fire had been lit inside me and I was ready to get to work.

The next morning I laid in bed contemplating on what YouTube workout to do. After some thought, I decided a nice eight minute one would do; just something to ease me back into things. I’m not one for having achy muscles, so I figured I’d do a short video on stretching before I jump right in. And I ended up doing a thirty-five minute yoga video. It. Was. Fantastic. I felt alive after I finished it, it wasn’t like the other yoga workouts I’d done before. I was afraid that the moves would be too rigorous because I hadn’t done yoga in a while, but everything was nice and easy. I stretched my back, my legs, my arms, and even worked my core pretty good. I did  planks without falling on my face. Planks, you guys! It was awesome. The video I did is apart of a thirty day series and I definitely intend on completing it. I’m going to link it below. So if you’re in a fitness funk, or maybe you’re already a workout warrior, just take fifteen minutes and try this video. I promise you’ll want to finish the whole thing. The instructor has a nice, calm demeanor and she makes it fun. You won’t even feel like you’re working out.

 

 

Stay beautiful ❤

 

Redefining Closure

One thing life has taught me is that not all relationships continue to flourish. Recognizing that and being able to move on from toxic relationships, or those that don’t contribute to your growth or well-being, is a very brave thing. The question that often lingers in our minds after we learn to accept this is How do I accomplish this when formal closure isn’t always an option?”. It’s a fair question, and not being able to answer it right away can be terribly frustrating. It is not, by any stretch of the imagination, weird to feel the need for closure; I believe its a necessary part of the relationship cycle. But the issue many of us have isn’t with closure per se, but more about redefining what it is in an attempt to move forward.

Certain things come to mind when we think of closure. Perhaps an image of two people sitting down and talking, laughing, crying, or arguing in order to get to a place where everyone can come to accept the end or shift of a relationship. Maybe it ends with a hug or one last kiss, maybe it doesn’t. It may still hurt, but at least both people can accept that its the end. Its always hard to create new beginnings when we are preoccupied with old endings. That’s why, no matter how much it hurts, they realize its necessary to the healing process and it must be done.

Life (always) does its thing, and sometimes closure isn’t in plain sight. But, equipped with a new outlook, we often are able to achieve some aspects of it that we may have never even been aware of. Closure isn’t some grand gesture or conversation. It could be something as simple as setting new boundaries, or saying “no” when you’re a serial people pleaser. It could be going through the belongings of a friend or loved one who’s life was cut short unexpectedly. Or sharing a few nice words through a Facebook message to a friend you haven’t spoken to in years due to a pointless feud.

I was in a relationship, for a short time, with someone who I cared for dearly. It ended just as soon as it started because of one main thing, infidelity. He cheated on me, with more than a few women, contracted an STD, and tried to give it to me out of spite because he was upset I broke up with him. Craziest thing I’ve ever experienced in my entire life. And to top it all off, one of the women he was cheating with was pregnant with his child. He got her pregnant while he was begging me to take him back.

Classic.

He was a flight attendant for a popular airline, and he explained to me (once I dumped his ass) that every time he flew to a different city he’d stay with a different woman. And they’d have sex. Unprotected. And, because we were in a committed relationship, he’d come home and have sex with me as well. I was so hurt someone I loved had betrayed me in such an awful way, I’d never felt pain like that in my life. And I was disgusted that he could be so careless as to put the health of myself, his, and these other women at risk. I was absolutely floored that he would go so far as to attempt to give me a disease, out of spite, because I was tired of dealing with his shit and left him. Against my better judgement, I kept communicating with him in hopes of receiving some sort of apology. He gave me some brisk  “I’m sorry”, but there was no empathy behind it. It was more of a “I’m sorry I got caught, and it made you upset. And for calling you all those terrible names. And for getting one of my side chicks pregnant. Oh, and trying to blame you for this burning sensation when I pee, even though I know I didn’t get this from you. Can we move past this?” rather than a “Shaniece, I am so sorry I put you at risk, for squandering your trust,  and hurting you so bad. Can you please forgive me?”.

I had to come to terms with the fact that I may never get that apology. For so long I was plagued with the idea that him doing that, admitting to his faults because he was wrong and meaning it, was the only way I could begin to rebuild myself. But that wasn’t true at all. It hurt, and it sucked, but I began to move past it. I made a conscious decision that this one bad experience was not going to define me as a person. I wasn’t going to hold onto that hurt, the anger I had towards him, or let bitterness change who I am. And I definitely wasn’t about to let it stop me from finding a healthy and meaningful relationship. I kept telling myself that I’d be fine, and not too long afterwards I began to believe it.

I haven’t stopped dating, and I really don’t see a reason to. As cliche as it sounds, everything happens for a reason. You just have to trust that God has your best interest in mind. I didn’t exactly get the closure that I thought I deserved, but the end result was the same. I got past it and I’m a happier me. I’m actually glad things didn’t go how I initially wanted them to. Because, if I’m honest, the grand apology I was wishing for wouldn’t have made me feel better. Nor would it have changed anything. I’d still be hurt, and mad as hell. And he’d still be a lying, cheating, no good bastard. Everything that was supposed to happen did.

The road to closure very rarely is an easy or clear-cut one, but I’d admonish you to look at it through new eyes. As you start or continue your journey through it, remember not to be so hard on yourself. Don’t overlook your successes, no matter how big or small they are. Everyday is a victory. Meditate on the truth that you possess the ability to find closure, on your own, and in ways that go beyond your wildest dreams. Revel in the fact that you are in control of this and no one else. And when you are successful in achieving this closure, always remember that you are the one who made it a reality.

Stay beautiful loves ❤

Tough Love: Standing By Your Dreams

Sometimes life can be a gathering of beautiful and amazing moments, memories, and people all wrapped up in a perfect little box with a bow on it. But most of the time life’s a real b-word,and at one time or another we all get to our breaking points. I haven’t posted, sketched, or done anything remotely creative in almost two months. I haven’t felt that giddiness that fashion or any of my other interests and passions normally fill me with, and its been pretty rough. I’ve been stressed out over some financial issues and extremely exhausted because work isn’t yielding what I’ve been putting into it. I just haven’t been feeling inspired lately.

At about 4:30 this morning my boyfriend called and woke me up and, as expected, after our short convo I wasn’t able to get back to sleep. So I laid there in bed thinking about everything, all at once. Usually that’s a big mistake and only adds to the stress that you’re already feeling. After the back-and-fourth between my emotions and reason I decided I was giving up on fashion and going back to a medical based career. Not because I wanted to, but because I haven’t gotten to where I think I should be. And this magical place where I “should” be isn’t being measured by pacing myself or by the goals I’d set up, but by the accomplishments of my friends and people I know in my field. I decided to quit going after my dreams and do some mediocre job because it was safe. But just as I was about to finalize this throwing in of the towel I ran across an article that changed everything. So if you’re feeling like all hope is lost and giving up is the only option, ask yourself these 10 things before you do:

1. Why did you want to pursue this goal to begin with? Has anything changed?

You had a good reason to committing to this goal. Maybe it was getting enough people in your community more involved and excited about recycling, thus helping the environment. Mine was to help women and girls look and feel beautiful any way I could through fashion. And since then nothing has changed, although I realized men like looking and feeling good as well. Often times guys can feel just as insecure about their appearances as women do, so I made room for them on my list as well.

Odds are you still want those things just as much as you did before, you just stopped believing you could because your efforts have yet to yield the results you’ve been hoping for. You have to ask yourself if you push through the discomfort and feelings of disappointment, will it be worth it in the end.

2. Have you been operating with too much information?

There is so much information at our fingertips thanks to the internet, but sometimes that can do us more harm than help. With all the e-books, blogs, teleconferences, coaching sessions, and user forums its so easy to overwhelm yourself with more knowledge than you can apply.

One of two things usually happen as a result: you spend more time planning to act than acting, or you devote minimal energy to minimal plans instead of committing to one solid approach. I have been so guilty of this, and when the time comes to execute what I’ve been planning I’m too overwhelmed to actually do it. Instead of drowning in tons of information, try narrowing it down and start again from a less overwhelming space.

3. Did you set a smart goal?

SMART goals are:

Specific— you know exactly what your world will look like when you achieve this goal.

Measurable— you have a specific plan to mark your progress as you go.

Attainable— you have the attitude and aptitude to make your goal a reality.

Realistic— you’re willing and able to do the required work.

Time-bound— you’ve set a concrete time frame for completion to create a sense of urgency.

If your goals aren’t SMART then you’re setting yourself up for failure, trust me. How could you possibly achieve anything without knowing exactly what you want, or the belief that you could do it? Are you really ready to walk away from your dreams without giving yourself every opportunity to succeed?

4. What’s the worst that can happen if you keep going and not reach your goal?

When I want to give up on something its usually because I’m afraid of failing. Then I think about how other people will be disappointed in me or judge me, or afraid that I’ll have wasted my time. In reality, no one ever judges us like we judge ourselves, and we always grow and learn through the process of striving, regardless of the outcome. If you don’t keep going, you’ll never know how far you could’ve gone, or the person you’ve become through the effort alone. If you do keep going you’ll still land among the stars, even if you don’t quite make it to the moon.

5. Are you afraid of succeeding?

I am a person that likes responsibility until it becomes to be too much. There are tons of things I’d love to do, but I hold off on doing them because I don’t want the power and responsibility to impact, hurt, or disappoint other people. Sometimes I get a little freaked out about what achieving my goals will entail. What if I accomplish something spectacular and nothing else I do compares to it? What if I let those who follow my work down?

If you can relate to this feeling then the following mantra is for you: great power comes with great responsibility, but it also brings great rewards. Make a habit of repeating this to yourself daily, soon it’ll go from being a mantra to being an affirmation. And that is when you’ll see things start to change, because positive thoughts created positive results. If you play it safe you won’t hurt or disappoint anyone, but you also won’t help or inspire anyone. And equally important, you won’t help or inspire yourself.

6. Are you acting on impulse or emotion rather than thinking things through?

Sometimes our emotions give us hints about what we want and what we should do, but other times they’re just responses to stress, and maybe even indications we’re on the right track. But if you act in that moment of intense emotion— be it fear, anger, or frustration— you may regret it once the dust has settled.

So sit back. Take note of what you’re feeling. Feel it fully, without judging it or yourself. Then act when you’ve gotten to the other side. That way you’ll know you made your decision with a clear head.

7. Would you enjoy giving a loved one the honest explanation of why you gave up?

And I mean honest.

Would you tell your child, “I gave up on losing the weight because my emotional connection to food is more important to me than making sure I have more golden years to spend with you”?

Would it be fun to tell your mother “I decided not to go to school because I’d rather spend all my time with my boyfriend of three months then prepare for a career that will ensure I won’t end up jobless and homeless?”

“I know you guys have been supporting me through all this. But I’ve decided to give up pursuing a career in fashion because I’ve been trying and trying and I haven’t styled for a famous magazine, attended any fashion shows in New York or abroad, or reached a blogging audience of 15,000 yet. So yeah, I quit.”

How could I say that to my family and friends without feeling like a total jackass? Or being one for that matter. I had a great reason for wanting to do all of this and none of them were for the reasons that were just stated. Granted experiencing any one of those would be amazing, and they very well may happen one day, but they aren’t the focal points of my mission. Once I recognized this none of that crap seemed as important anymore. My success isn’t measured by the number of shows I’ve done or hits I’ve gotten on my blog. Knowing that there are people out there that value my opinion enough to read my blog or ask me to style them for events, dates, or vacations because of this blog is my definition of success. People that I would’ve never dreamed that would value anything I say read my blogs, follow me on Instagram, and favorite my tweets on Twitter and I think that is so dope. Why would I give that up just because the road I’m on got a little rough?

8. Would your life be better if you gave up on this goal?

I know it doesn’t sound super motivational, but sometimes giving up is a good thing. Maybe you set a completely unrealistic goal and not achieving it has gotten you feeling anxious and inadequate. Or maybe your goal isn’t in the best interest of yours or a loved one and it’d be best to get out before you become too invested to pull out. You could easily use this as a justification to delude yourself, so think about it carefully. Is this goal really a good thing, when you weigh all the consequences of its fulfillment?

9. How much have you already put in?

A concept in psychology called “the sunk cost principle” indicates the more we’ve invested in something, the less likely we are to prematurely walk away. How invested are you in this dream? How much money and time have you devoted? How many sacrifices have you made? Are you really willing to chalk it all up as a loss because you’re not feeling confident in your abilities?

10. What would you tell someone else if they were in your shoes?

Would you tell your best friend to give up because there was no possible way she could reach her goal? Would it be wise to tell my baby sister, who’s a senior in high school, to just give up on college because its a debt inducing scam? And once she gets her degree she probably won’t get a job in her field anyway because the economy stinks to high hell?

A good friend, or older sibling, would practice their finest motivational speech and help her see what they see in her potential. So why not do the same for yourself? As cheesy as it sounds, you need to be your own best friend. You, more than anyone in this world, deserve your belief and motivation. If you’ve gone through all these questions and still feel resolute about the decision to give up, you have my blessing to abandon your goal. And if you don’t, keep working towards that dream that fills you with passion.

Take a different approach if you need to. Enlist new assistance. Scale back your time commitment to something you can more easily maintain. Maybe take a break at the onset of feeling overwhelmed or anxious. But whatever you do, don’t give yourself a reason to one day utter the words, “I quit because I was scared.” Which is what I chose not to do.

determined