A New Year is Upon Us! Could it be that life itself is round and every ending is actually a beginning?

Friday, December 31, 2010 4:00 PM

So, you won't find me waiting around for a new calendar year to make all kinds of drastic resolutions or anything like that. I try to reflect and develop myself everyday. I hope that you are already claiming an amazing 2011 and ready for new and challenging things in the year to come! Click over to PLPT to see what we're giving away, and affirmations and reminders for the new year. And then click on over to The Fresh Xpress to see my Top Black Girl Pride moments for 2010! If you're proud and you know it, leave a comment! LOL.

I came across this beautiful prayer, manifesto, testimony or however you interpret it, online sometime last year and I printed it out but didn't write down the source. So, I apologize for not having a source for you all, but nevertheless wanted to share.  I read this every single day, preferably in the morning.    Hugs to all of you and thank you for reading my little blog! :)

Grant me the strength within to love all living things and to make a positive impact on all I encounter today.  May I attract positive people and circumstances to me that I may be more effective in my undertakings.  May no one be too important nor too unimportant to greet with a kind word.

I seek the strength to live completely in love, as I release my fears.  I grant forgiveness for all I hold against myself and for all I hold against another.  May I be a tool for healing in the world.  I ask for the fortitude to be the embodiment of selfless harmony to the extent I am able today.

I will be generous with my time, resources, and myself to the best of my ability without resentment or reluctance.  For I know that what I give others I give to myself as well.

I seek happiness, peace, and freedom from suffering today.  As such I wish it for all other beings as well.  I am thankful for all that I have been given.  I am especially grateful for the beauty and harmony that exists all around me, if only I am willing to see it.

Finally, I seek a patient acceptance as events unfold in my life.  Help me to see the big picture and not get bogged down by unimportant details.  I understand that all my experiences are chosen by me at some level for my benefit.  Thus, I seek to understand, to learn and to open myself to every wonderful possibility.

Amen

~Author Unknown (sorry!) 

Tell me Mama

Wednesday, December 29, 2010 12:00 PM

source
Tell me mama, is your life a bed of change?
And tell me mama, would you live your life the same?
Or come back and rearrange?
Tell me mama, how is freedom?
~Thinking of You, Lenny Kravitz

I've mentioned my mom and a family history of mental illness before on this blog, but I've never really gotten into the weeds.  Everyone has a story. I used to very ashamed of mine. No matter how normal and well-adjusted I tried to be, I felt like a big, fat fraud. I was an escapist. Not wanting to be associated with the realities of my own life, I did whatever I could to hide the truth. I hid myself in self-destructive behavior and denial. My stuff was buried so deep that I almost tricked myself into believing that it wasn’t there. Life has a way of not letting you escape, though, and whatever you suppress will keep showing up and showing up.  I read somewhere once that "nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know."

So, my mom has paranoid schizophrenia. She went undiagnosed for years, and the rest of my family ignored the issue. I appeared to be taken care of, so I suppose they thought I was fine. I wasn’t. Years of being subjected to paranoid episodes ranging from mild to severe took their toll on me and I internalized all of it. She was finally diagnosed when I was in college. By then, I'd become accustomed to compensating for her oddities by trying to appear as normal as possible, and smoothing things over when she made a mess. Underneath it all, I was afraid that the illness would be passed down to me, and that I too would struggle with mental illness.  I was so worried that I was doomed to lose my mind, that I almost made it happen.

She doesn't take her medicine because it makes her feel "funny."  She's pretty much retreated into her own little world.  She lives hundreds of miles away from me, which equally concerns and relieves me.   I often wonder how aware she really is.  Sure, I talk to her but I never know how she truly feels.  I wonder if she's lonely or perhaps disburdened by being so far away from everyone.  All of us who she once thought were out to get her.  Does she feel free or afraid?

A Hot New Lover

Tuesday, December 28, 2010 12:00 PM

source
Yes, that's Diana.  I love her.


No matter what your personal beliefs, goals or challenges are, the best thing you can do for yourself is learn to love everyone, everywhere, all the time.   All of the circumstances we face are custom made for us by us.  Learn to love the coworker you can't get along with, the in-laws who judge you, the professor who has a secret plot against you.  Why?  Because all of these people have been strategically placed to help you grow. 

Always be in pursuit of love.  Treat your job, your education, your finances as you would a hot new lover that you are courting.  Think about how you would go after that new love.  You'd always look and smell your best.  You would have your game tight.  You'd be charismatic and creative in how you show your personality.  You would find ways to create desire and curiosity in what you have to offer.  You would stay motivated by imagining what it will be like to completely win over this new love and have your way with it.  Would you want your new love to see you lacking confidence?  Questioning yourself?  Shying away from things?  Or would you want them to see you determined, assured and spirited??

How would you respond to misunderstandings and setbacks?  Would you sulk and complain?  Would you give up?   Or would you lean on humility and honesty to work it out?  You have to be willing to work at what you love, right?  It ain't all roses, ya know.  You must want it enough to do it for free, to give yourself fully and unconditionally, with no expectations.  That's what love is.

How about trying to treat whatever you are doing as if it's a new lover?  Why not?  Love rocks.  It works no matter what the object of affection may be.

Reflections on My Hair Story - Defining My Own Good

Monday, December 27, 2010 9:00 AM

source

"My whole family has good hair, except for me."

Please excuse the term, but this is how I used to talk. What is "good" hair anyway? When I was a little girl, good hair was silky, wavy, and definitively curly. I clearly remember wishing my hair was silky and straight like all the women on my mom's side of the family. My hair was big and bushy and too knotty to wear "out" like my cousins, so I always had to wear braids and twists. No hair blowing in the wind, no hair to whip around like the white girls in dance class, and no cascading curls to dangle from my ponytail. I longed for straight, flowy hair that didn't have to be braided or greased. Eventually, I discovered that there is this magic in a box called a relaxer that could make my hair hang and shine. I even thought that a relaxer would allow me to have "wash and go" hair. Like I said, I thought it was magic in a box. I harassed my mom until she finally gave in and let me get one.

That was the first paragraph from the very first post I wrote for this blog - My Hair Story.    I like to go back and read my old blog entries, journals, and reflections because I always learn something from myself.  I remember how pressed I was for straight hair.  I'm sure that I even shed tears about it.  And finally I got that straight hair that I wanted - or so I thought. 
 
Even when my hair was relaxed, it would get fuzzy and poofy very easily.  It was like a wild animal that had been tamed, but was easily triggered to revert back to its natural ways.  Looking back, I have trouble connecting with that girl who was so pressed to change such a natural, distinctive attribute.  It makes me think about areas of my life now that I so desperately want to change.  Do I want to change these things for my own self-development? to impress or please someone other than myself? to fit in?

Back then, I defined a certain grade of hair as "good".  When my hair didn't fit that mold, I rejected its natural texture and insisted on altering it.  These days, I regard certain character traits as "good" and too often I assess myself as lacking these "good" traits.   What I can learn from this part of my hair story is that we each define our own "good" by simply being as true to ourselves as possible.  We should not distress ourselves by trying to change what flows from us naturally.  Why should we deny ourselves?  Everything that flows from us organically will bring about enriching experiences that reinforce our identity and that, my friends, is universally good.

Authentic Courage with a Trembling Heart

Wednesday, December 22, 2010 6:00 PM


"We become authentic the same way we become courageous.  By doing it.  Not by thinking about it.  Rosa Parks didn't think about becoming the symbol of the Civil Rights Movement when she refused to give up her seat and go to the back of the bus.  But her authentic and exuberant commitment to equality pushed through her reserve, joining with the Energy that created the world.  Exuberant means not only "joyously unrestrained" but "displaying something in abundance." Rosa Parks displayed an abundance of authentic courage.  And at that defining moment, can we doubt that her soul was "joyously unrestrained"even if her heart was trembling?"

-excerpt from Simple Abundance by Sarah Ban Breathnach

My Christmas Wish - Simplicity

8:00 AM




"I seek a patient acceptance as events unfold in my life.  Help me to see the big picture and not get bogged down by unimportant details.  I understand that all my experiences are chosen by me at some level for my benefit.  Thus, I seek to understand, to learn, and to open myself to every wonderful possibility. I am especially grateful for the beauty and harmony that exists all around me, if only I am willing to see it."
~author unknown



 

Tender Loving Hair: My Current Staples

Friday, December 17, 2010 5:00 PM



My Current Product Staples:

Shampoo:
Curls Creamy Curl Cleanser
SheaMoisture Shea Butter Shampoo
Giovanni Triple Treat Shampoo

*For several months earlier this year, I stopped shampooing altogether.  However, I realize now that if I never shampoo, then I'm not removing product build up and I'm making it difficult if not impossible for my moisturizing products to absorb into my hair.  Now, I shampoo as needed when I feel the build up - usually once a month. 

*I always apply a rinse out conditioner to my hair before I rinse out the shampoo.  And/Or I add Extra Virgin Olive Oil (EEOO) or castor oil to the shampoo for added moisture and slip.

Cowash Conditioners:
Tresemme Naturals Nourishing Moisture
Aussie Moist
Herbal Essences Hello Hydration
Yes to Cucumbers

*If I'm out of deep conditioner, I will add EEOO or castor oil to one of these for a deep conditioning treatment.



Deep Conditioners:
Aubrey Organics Honeysuckle Rose Conditioner
Pantene Curly Hair Deep Treatment
Cholesterol

*Aubrey Organics is super thick, so I prefer to use it as a deep conditioner.  I think it's made of magic; it makes my hair so soft. 
*I keep a jar of any kind of cholesterol conditioner around as a back up.  I typically add EEOO or castor oil to it.

Moisturizing/Detangling Spray:
Jane Carter Solution Revitalizing Leave-In Conditioner
Bee Mine Juicy Spray
Infusium Moisturizing Leave-In Treatment

*I want to try this homemade moisturizing mist recommended by Moptop Maven

Creamy Leave-In Conditioner:
Kinky Curly Knot Today
Cantu Shea Butter Leave-In Conditioner
Giovanni Direct Leave-In
Deva One One Condition




Creamy Moisturizers/Styling Creams:
Bee Mine Luscious Moisturizer
Carol's Daughter Hair Milk
Miss Jessie's Baby Buttercreme
Miss Jessie's Curly Pudding

Oils/Butters/Sealers:
Bee Mine Hair and Scalp Moisturizer
Oyin Handmade Burnt Sugar Pomade
Homemade shea butter, coconut oil, aloe mix
EEOO
Castor Oil
Grapeseed Oil
Tea Tree Oil



Staple Care Techniques:

Oil Rinse:
After a shampoo, I rinse my hair clean and massage an oil through my scalp and hair.  I let it sit for awhile, then rinse and follow up with a cowash. 

Pre-poo:
The night before a hair washing session, I like to douse my hair with coconut oil, put on a clear plastic cap with a scarf over top and sleep on it.   Shampoo or cowash in the morning.  Sometimes I pre-poo with a deep conditioner.  Same process.

Recondition:
When deep conditioning, I apply the conditioner to my hair in sections and either sit under the dryer (rarely) or use a warm towel for however long.  After awhile, I go back through and reapply the conditioner (without rinsing) and get back under the dryer or towel. 

Plain Rinse:
If my twist out is starting to get tangly, but my hair is not dirty.  I will just rinse my hair in the shower without shampooing or cowashing.   I'll use a spray detangler on my wet hair, and then I'll moisturize, retwist and seal.

Dusting:
Just about every single time I twist my hair, I dust my ends.  I twist my hair to the ends and just snip off anything at the very bottom that looks scraggly.



Anything you want to know more about? Let me know. I opted to not include links to all the products, but if you look something up and can't find it, just let me know that too.

Are You Your Sister's Keeper??

Monday, December 13, 2010 2:45 PM



"I ask this day that I might be an instrument of peace in the world. May I take care to think only thoughts that lead to a positive world for myself and others. Help me to bear in mind the effect my thoughts have on the world I come to experience.

May I join with other compassionate beings to lend my thoughts and efforts to creating a better tomorrow for us all. I am taking action to make the world a better place in every way I affect it today. May I find peace and healing for myself as I work to be part of the solution in the world." ~author unknown

******

This quote is why I write, why I blog, and why I tell all my business online about my experiences with depression and anxiety.  I've been pretty candid on this blog about my journey and my ongoing dedication to staying in the light.  I support any and all initiatives to increase awareness about mental and emotional health, particularly for women, in the Black community.  For Harriet founder, Kim Foster, is launching a project to shed light on the importance of mental health.  Click here for the full call to action.  See below for the essentials. 

******
Why?

Only 1 in 3 African Americans who need mental healthcare receive it (1). We often make mention of the emotional baggage that we, as Black women, carry, but these discussions are rarely transition to promotion of concrete solutions for emotional wellness. Furthermore, the black blogosphere often makes the mental instability and emotional trauma of Black women the butt of the joke (see: videos of former actress Maia Campbell or Marta Girl).

Though this project will not eliminate challenges in access and affordability (though we will try), we can make headway in dismantling the fear and shame that accompanies seeking treatment.

What?

We are assembling a directory of recommended mental healthcare professionals around the country as well as resources for women experiencing mental illness and emotional trauma. For Harriet will also publish regular features for the My Sister’s Keeper Project including essays, Q&As with mental healthcare professionals, tweet chats and more.

Get Involved

Contribute: Send psychiatrist and psychologist recommendations to mentalhealth@forharriet.com. In addition we’re looking for the websites, blogs, books, movies, podcasts etc. that could be of encouragement to women enduring emotional trials.

Blog: Let your readers know about the My Sister’s Keeper Project or your own experiences with mental illness or therapy. Send us the link, and we will post it her and on the My Sister’s Keeper section of Voices Lifted.

Share: Honesty is the key to wellness. Share your own mental health experiences with your Twitter followers Facebook friends, and feel free to share this post and others in our My Sister’s Keeper series on Twitter.

As usual, if you have something to say about the project or mental and emotional health, feel free to submit a piece to For Harriet.

Lastly, your donations help to keep For Harriet running. If you have $5 to spare, they would truly appreciate your support.

For more information on the My Sister's Keeper Project email MSKProject@forharriet.com.

Do you know anyone suffering from mental illness?   Have you personally experienced a sadness or feeling of instability that won't go away?  Guess what?  It's more common than you think and there's nothing wrong with talking to someone about it.

My Ideal Life Narrative in a Word: Love

Thursday, December 9, 2010 2:25 PM



...Misled I bled till the poison was gone
And out of the darkness arrived the sweet dawn...
"I Used to Love Him" ~ Lauryn Hill
photo credit

 As I reflected on my ideal life narrative for the Reset Your Life challenge, I felt moved to think back on what my actual life narrative was just a few years ago. In a word, my life narrative was fear. Fear is the opposite of Love and the root of all suffering. And I suffered. I lost my religion. I lost my faith. I lost my identity. And I remember wondering what I would lose next. I reached a point in my life where I felt that I wouldn't survive if I didn't escape from fear; I just didn't know how to do it.

The world we live in is fueled by an undercurrent of fear. Fear of living, fear of dying, fear of having too much, fear of not having enough, fear of disaster. Many of us live in fear as an accepted way of life. Many of us can't even escape fear in church. I spent all of my teen years in fear that I would be struck down for my carnal thoughts and that my sinful nature would be found out, exposed and I'd burn in a river of fire for eternity. When I think back, I realize that I have always been afraid and therefore I've always held myself back and held myself in.

When we allow fear to control our thoughts and decisions, we stay right where we don't want to be - in fear, treading water, losing energy. When I decided to seek counseling, I learned that the cause of my pain was that I'd been conditioned to live in fear. I learned that it was OK for me to seek my own truth and find God in myself. I wasn't broken or doomed; I was simply on a journey full of contrasts and extremes. I learned how to tap into the Force that had been with me all along, sustaining me and keeping me safe, even when I wasn't aware of it. That force is Love. As I continue to rediscover and become one with the Love inside of me, my sense of power increases, and my fear about life decreases. I'm happy to write my ideal life narrative with this foundation. If my life narrative consists of nothing else but "She loves, she is love, and she will always love", then I am perfectly content with that.

I try not to get into religion on this blog, because I don't think that religious preference matters. Love and fear are universal terms that we can all understand and connect with. How we all choose to identify the source of these things, is up to each of us individually. Your truth, your choice. For me, Love is everything.

1 Corinthians 13: 1-13

1 If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 And if I give all my possessions to feed the poor, and if I deliver my body to be burned, but do not have love, it profits me nothing.

4 Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, 5 does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, 6 does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; 7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. 8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the whole comes, the partial will be done away.

11 When I was a child, I used to speak as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a (wo)man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I shall know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13 But now abide faith, hope, love; but the greatest of these is love.

Are you afraid and can't seem to find a way out?  Talk to me in the comments, email me, or connect with me on twitter

Reset Your Life - My Personal Mission Statement

Tuesday, December 7, 2010 12:49 PM

       
  
Are you participating in the 31 Day Reset on the Happy Black Woman blog? It's not too late to join. Rosetta has brilliantly laid out a 31 day plan of reflection and preparation to step into 2011 with confidence and purpose.

You’ll get exercises to help you:

*Rediscover your passion and purpose in life
*Get clear about your goals for the new year
*Create a map for your ideal life
*Try new things and live outside of your comfort zone

For Day 5, the challenge was to create your own personal mission statement, and I've decided to share mine here.  

My intention is to approach life with an open heart and open mind. Of all the things I value - love, compassion, creative expression and personal development are foremost. I choose to focus my life towards what is important to me, and I release the need to diminish my individuality to avoid judgment. I embrace my life and my journey as a complex, versatile woman who is full of extreme contrasts, evolving ideas, and a passion for personal freedom. I commit myself to living Love as a way of life. I commit myself to being authentic in all my relationships and always accepting the Truth without fear or resistance. In my personal life and career, I will seek to align my values with my message and my actions. I know that this alignment will connect me with my purpose and the community that I intend to serve. I believe it is my calling to shed light on the depression, low self-esteem, and poor self-image that is so prevalent yet unspoken among women in our communities. I will use my skills and even my weaknesses to add value and perspective to the necessary conversation about mental and emotional health.  I will promote inner beauty as the key to confidence, success and self-fulfillment. I will stay open to new challenges, address anxiety with action, and never apologize for being who I am.

So, what do you think?   Have you ever written a personal mission statement?  This is something I will revisit in about six months to see how my mission has evolved.  Feel free to share yours with me here or over at Happy Black Woman.   I will be sharing my Ideal Life Narrative later this week.  This is fun!  :)

Stretch. Grow. Love.

Thursday, December 2, 2010 5:27 PM





Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson