We Are Not the Same, And That’s the Point

This weekend has been filled with charged emotions resulting from the latest murder of an unarmed black man named George Floyd. Some of his last words were words spoken by another murdered black man, Eric Garner. “I can’t breathe.” We are now living in a world where police violence is taking center stage, not because it’s blowing up now, but because it’s being overwhelmingly filmed bringing a spotlight on more and more instances of brutality. The Internet has become quite a tool in pushing injustices out of the shadows, but it’s also made haters more emboldened to share more hate and misinformation to fuel further division.  As much as those saying “we’re all in this together”, “all lives matter”, and “I don’t see color” mean well, it all misses the point by a wide margin. All lives cannot matter until black lives matter. All lives cannot matter until black people can live their lives without fear of stepping outside for any reason no matter how they look, dress or function. For those who say they don’t see color? I’m sure most of you mean well but taking away our blackness is not how to approach things. We WANT you to see our color. We want you to acknowledge it. We want you to be willing to learn about us to build a bridge to understand our inherited pain, weariness, anger, fear and sadness. We don’t want you to take our blackness away so you can feel comfortable in dealing with us. We want you to accept it as you would your own race. While we are all part of the human race, until all races can live their lives without fear of deadly prejudice, we cannot be in this together. We need solidarity beyond the black community. We need true allies. We need people who are willing to stand with us all the way. We’re tired of hearing that we should have done this, we should be less threatening, we should “stay in our place”. We’re tired of being placed under foot or under knees or under weapons. We’re tired of living in fear. We’re tired of being in constant mourning. We’re tired of constantly being on guard. We’re tired of having to ask for permission just to live. We’re tired of constantly keeping the receipts of all the injustices and still being told it’s not good enough and isn’t important. See us. Believe us. Stand with us. Stand FOR us. Let us stop reliving the trauma of our race. Stop going to war on us. We want peace but we’re pushed into violence. I don’t endorse violence. I don’t endorse destruction. But I understand how overwhelming frustration can bubble up into something more explosive. I do understand how the path to true peace is sometimes on the other side of a lot of uncomfortable actions. If you want to see this end, so do we. If you’re uncomfortable, so are we. Change begins at the end of your comfort zone. So, if there is to be a real change from repeating the sins of the past, we’re going to have to get really uncomfortable. It is time to change the status quo and take a real look at history and how our refusal to acknowledge all the wrongs of the past has doomed us to be in our current reality of the repetitions of those wrongs. So please get uncomfortable. Get so uncomfortable that you are willing to open your eyes, ears and hearts and are ready to finally make the necessary changes. Let’s get to work.

How I Took Steps to Make Self-Care an Active Part of My Life

Looking back at when I first really noticed the term self-care thrown about, I had a pretty flippant response about it. It seemed a concept for rich people and celebrities and flashed visions of expensive resorts and personal massage therapists in my head. It seemed like something you could only achieve after winning the lottery, marrying rich or saving for years for that special vacation. So naturally, with this snarky view, I promptly pushed it from my head and kept living my life. It really wasn’t until I hit thirty that I really started to take a hard look at my life and how I did things. I was stressed out all the time. I made terrible food choices which upped my weight gain and lowered my energy levels. I took on crazy hours to keep my head above water financially and ruined my internal well-being by going through life like a zombie by working 18 hour days 7 days a week and not taking the time I needed to rest so I could stay healthy while doing my job. I didn’t take the time or responsibility to take a real hard look at my credit and finances so I could live better and smarter and end my paycheck to paycheck lifestyle. I really got an ugly and unflinching look at my life when I moved back home to stay with my parents after failing to maintain a stable life and I hated what I saw. I was overweight, had terrible credit, no career, no plan and no purpose.  After getting work a couple of months after I moved back home, I did have money again but I wasn’t really changing my patterns. I still made horrible food choices, I wasn’t planning my spending, I wasn’t developing a plan to be stable doing something I loved and looked forward to doing daily, I worked and went home but didn’t enrich my life with experiences in my free time. Something had to change. I started to utilize the internet to be more than a source of entertainment. I started doing things I hadn’t done consistently in a couple of years, I took back my weekends and started to try more things for enjoyment and not to just get through a day. I started living rather than just existing and by doing so, I started to see a path for a future I could love. How did I accomplish this buffet of action items you ask? I’m glad you asked. I did the following things to improve my life through adding self-care:

 

  • I sat down and went through my bank account and created a budget in Excel to really take a look at what I’m spending and how I could spend more mindfully and more importantly, have savings and improve my credit. I also used the site, Nerdwallet to get my credit report as a tool to help get my credit back on track. Okay, not sexy or fun but necessary if I wanted to HAVE more fun.
  • I started using Pinterest as more than a way to pass time or make boards of wish lists and wish lives. I searched for healthy recipes I could easily meal prep on Sundays so I wouldn’t have the excuse of being too tired to get lunch together when I got home from work. By using at most 2 hours on Sundays, I had a week’s worth of lunches for work that were filling, healthier than fast food and budget friendly since unless I was getting really fancy, I would pretty much spend about $25 for a week’s worth of lunches. This also awakened my love of cooking and baking so I was not only being health and budget conscious, I was also adding a hobby that made this new habit more enjoyable and sustainable.
  • I started to find ways to incorporate fitness into my life without paying over my kidney and have something I could do at home either when I couldn’t make a class or just needed to decompress. I remembered a site I used called Classpass that gave me lists of studios in my city and nearby areas based on types of workouts I might be interested in and the times I would be able to fit classes into my schedule. Through Classpass, I found a yoga studio and instructor I loved and a new fun but challenging activity called Lyra, a type of aerial acrobatics. The yoga classes helped with my stress levels and dealing with old injuries and Lyra helped me to start rediscovering my resilience in looking at failures as just lessons or goals to smash by continuing to keep at it.
  • I started doing small things for enjoyment and discovery. I took random drives to areas I had never been or hadn’t been to in years. Through that, I gifted myself more experiences by just enjoying discovery and letting myself just do things without a plan or destination. I started taking myself out on “dates”. I wanted in my own small way to put an end to the belief that it was wrong or awkward to be a single woman enjoying a meal by herself without judgment. I found that I enjoyed the leisurely time to sit and enjoy my food and a book or people watching without giving off an aura that I’d “given up” or was “undesirable” by having a public meal alone. I felt empowered in claiming myself as a person first and being single second.
  • I claimed Sunday as a day of rest but not necessarily laziness. Sunday was my “do nothing day”. By that, I don’t mean that I literally spent a whole day doing nothing, I use Sundays as my “no car day”. I don’t leave the house on Sundays except for special circumstances and use it as a day to sleep in, meal prep for the week, plan outfits for work and for my weekly face mask to get a handle on skin care and honoring my body by taking the time to rest, rejuvenate and nurture it.
  • On that same vein of nurturing my body, I purchased a monthly massage membership to further deal with the body pain I have due to old injuries, bad habits and having a desk job. It was a doable amount I could easily put into my budget so I would have the money I needed to live but also have fun when I wanted to and save for future plans.
  • I make sure to do what I need to so I could at least get 8 hours of sleep a night. I know I’m getting side-eye over that number, but I’m not a morning person by ANYONE’S stretch of imagination and need to get a good night’s rest to not have people plotting my death. I don’t always succeed but I mostly do and it makes a difference.
  • I meditate. I used to have limiting ideas on meditation as well and thought of it as some random new-agey thing that was a complete crock, but as I actually did some research into it and found some great podcasts that broke it down into everyday subjects to focus on, I was on board. Thank you Chel Hamilton and Josie Ong for easy to follow and easy to absorb meditation podcasts to keep me sane!
  • Speaking of podcasts, I digest podcasts like food. I’m a curious person and love to learn and attempt to stay current on things. Since I have an iPhone, this is easy for me to do with the iPhone podcast app and Spotify. Between these two apps, I can usually find shows I love for entertainment, learning or just to wind down from the day.
  • And lastly, I surrounded myself with inspiration and motivation. Literally. Again, Pinterest to the rescue. I found quotes and memes that would inspire me to action whenever I looked at my walls and was just looking for a rev up at the beginning of my day or when I needed a reminder of what I was trying to build for myself. I gained a bit of the idea from Being Mary Jane season 1 when the title character would put inspirational quotes on post-it notes on her walls. I saw this as a practice I could easily adopt and put in my soul to keep rising.

So, there you have it, my steps for incorporating self-care in a practical, doable way to take back your life and being at peace with your whole self.

A New Thought To Gain

So here I am, another year into my thirties. I observe and I consider. I know myself better; but by that knowledge, will I do better now than I did in my teens…twenties? I hope so. In my teens, I was too afraid to take risks. In my twenties, I traded for the wrong risks and am still getting on solid ground to deal with the collateral damage. In my thirties, I hope to take some things from my early adult years and hone them in the present to finally become a successful adult. Ideally, I’d take the focus from my teens, the networking and ambition from my early twenties, and the sense to realize it’s okay to turn myself “off” for a while to do some self-reflection and self-healing but to also know when to be completely present in mind, body, spirit to lower my walls to see what lies ahead. I’ve recently been presented with such a moment. I’m still processing it and navigating trusting myself and others and re-evaluating my views on the subject of “yes”. I’ve observed my 30-something friends as they also navigate this decade of life. I notice the married and parenting ones, but my focus is more on the unmarried ones. How are they working to be their best selves? How can I do the same? In the last few months, I’ve drawn inspiration from these friends who are taking a skill, a dream, an idea and making things happen. I’ve finally decided to shut out my biggest doubter, myself, and get things done myself. I believe in doing this, I’ve already started to draw people and opportunities that nudge at my comfort zone and where I feel I am in my abilities; and I will admit to feeling the old fears as well as the will to push forward past the “what ifs” to see what could be. After all, if I constantly let myself be held back by fear of failure and being wrong, I’ll never climb higher. One step at a time is all I can let myself think. Whether that step is small or a giant leap is yet to be determined. Continue reading