The New Year

As always, my goal for the new year is to write more consistently than I have in the past. Thankfully I got an early start last year as I got the opportunity to write some articles on mental health. However, as I’ve continued to learn and work in the field I’m seeing the value of placing my thoughts on paper or rather typing it out on my phone. I’ve bought more books, focused on growing my private practice and taken a more intentional approach on learning more about relationships. Last year took everyone by surprise and like most, I found myself having to make some significant adjustments. However, one small mercy was that I was already working from home to a large extent so it wasn’t as difficult to transition. This year I want to invest in myself and in my relationships and take the time to enjoy the present. I want to be more consistent in self care and give myself the same grace that I give others.

Taking inventory

After years of waiting and hoping I finally got into a relationship with long term potential about a year ago and things are going well. The thing that has been surprising is how different my expectations were from reality. I work with black women who have educational and financial standards for their future boyfriend or spouse and honestly I used to be one of them. No one wants to be in a relationship and do worse financially then they were before. However, in the past year I’ve learned more about some of the intangibles that mean more than what a guy makes or his level of education. Women can easily get caught up in what a man does instead of evaluating who he is. One thing is significantly less obvious than the other. Dating a project isn’t about trying to rehabilitate a man but it’s not the same as supporting a man who has a clear path and plan for the future. Many times the past is a great indicator of the future. Instead of asking about a five year plan, it’s better to ask a man about a five year plan he’s has in the past and what year he’s in presently. It’s easy have aspirations but it’s much hard to put in the work to manifest them. If a man is serious his actions will show it. Giving you a girlfriend label doesn’t indicate he’s serious. Is he applying for jobs to move closer to you? Has he given you his timeline for moving in together? Is he introducing you to his circle of friends? These are all indications that there’s a good chance he’s sees a future with you. Women are quick to complain that a man has wasted their time but in reality they have wasted their own time because they weren’t being held hostage and they got committed too soon without verifying that the other person wanted the same thing. Taking inventory means that you understand where you are in your life and you intentionally choose to make decisions that align with your long term goals.

Loc’d Up

Like many, I was happy to see laws like the CROWN Act happening in various states across the country. Historically there are certain cultural norms about hair and what constitutes being a professional hairstyle and more often than not the rules do not include an understanding of the intricacies of Black hair. Today I took the step of getting Sisterlocks and embracing the hair I’ve been given. It took about 18 hours of patience and sitting in the same spot but it went by pretty fast. It was nice to be still for a moment and take a break from some of the daily demands and responsibilities I have. The flat iron, pressing comb, and curling iron is technically a thing of the past and while it feels daunting, it feels good to start something new. In the period of a year I’ve had several major hair changes that have included a drastic cut, color and making a choice to not use heat on my hair. I’m excited to start this journey and find out more about my natural hair texture and also explore some styling possibilities when my hair matures. It all begins today.

Staying Sane

This has been a rough year for millions of people and it can be hard to be optimistic and see the silver lining. A lot of people are working remotely and while it’s great in preventing infection, it can be incredibly isolating. Living and working in the same space just isn’t ideal. But here are some tips to help you cope with 2020 blues.

1. Get centered

I admit that I’ve never been one to recommend mindfulness but that’s changed since I started incorporating various practices into my life. Guided meditation, yoga, and visualization practices can do wonders for helping you to manage depression and anxiety. Many times anxiety tends to be centered around what has happened in the past or something you’re worried about in the future. Staying in the here and now can help to put things in perspective and to consciously gently challenge some of the negative automatic thoughts that precede anxiety.

2. Do something

While there’s nothing wrong with taking a break and having lazy days, there’s nothing like engaging in an activity that brings you joy. It could be an outdoor walk, trying out a new recipe, connecting with an old friend, or just sitting comfortably with an adult coloring book. Make it a priority to do three things every week that bring you joy. You’ll find that it will help you with managing stress and adjusting to change.

3. Take a break

Working remotely can mean that you don’t take as much time off work as you did before. Don’t neglect to take a vacation. Even if it’s just a staycation. PTO is available for a reason and while you might be tempted to save it all up until you can travel again, consider taking a few days off to give your mind a break. Schedule a day where you have nothing to do and stick to it. Step away from screens and stretch your body and eyes for a few moments. Take 5 deep breaths before sitting down to work. Don’t be afraid to make time for you and to step away from work so that you don’t burn out.

Building emotional connection

I ran into this picture and thought that it was a great idea to utilize for couples who just want to try something different to build their relationship and emotional connection. It’s more ideal for partners who live together but anything can be modified for social distancing or living apart. Happy June!

The (hopefully not) new normal

There’s been so many changes lately and the funny thing is that I started a new job right before everything shut down so it’s been a learning curve adjusting to a new process while navigating policy changes related to patient care as a result of the current client. Yes, that was a mouthful. Everyone is coping in their own way and some better than others. I’m glad to see that there is more attention around mental health and that people are reaching out but as it’s also equally imperative that therapists’ take the time to reset and recharge between providing emotional support to individuals while being (sometimes) in a similar personal situation. I’m finding myself saying “no” more often than I used to due to juggling several responsibilities and taking classes. One clothing brand has given a 50% discount to all healthcare workers and I was so glad to finally get a jacket that would be perfect when I go into work at the crack of dawn and it’s still chilly outside. While I think that a show of support is great, what would be even better would be compliance so that the rates of this virus can come down. But there’s nothing more American than protesting and people don’t like being told what to do regardless of the fact that it’s for the greater good.

February 29

Today is the extra day in the year that only happens once every four years. I remember being amazed as a kid that there were people who didn’t have birthdays every year because they were born on a leap year. I think back to the last February 29th in 2016 and I was totally in a different space. I had just started a cubicle job and was wondering how long I would be able to make it because I knew after only three weeks on the job that it wasn’t a good fit for me. But I was excited to finally have a stable job and the opportunity to see what corporate life was like. I was reminded today of how disconnected I’ve become from some of the aspects of my life that previously held such great importance. Since then I’ve finished school, held several jobs, relocated multiple times, and got into a relationship. It’s been quite an eventful four years and I’m hopeful to what the next Leap Year will bring.

Closing out the month

It’s been an amazing birthday month that has been filled with some significant changes. I’ve traveled to the Caribbean, presented at a conference in Philadelphia, started a new job, and went to Ireland (pictures coming soon). It has been a busy month full of traveling, job interviews and a new routine along with a new workout plan. I’ve recommitted to personal growth and doing more things that are in alignment with my long term goals. I’ve also had the opportunity to deepen some friendships and settle more into the idea of settling down for a bit. It’s been quite a shift but it’s been a great change. One thing about life is that change is inevitable but there’s also the opportunity to grow and meet the challenges that arise. My 30th year so far has been off to a good start in a way that I definitely did not anticipate but have enjoyed so far.

Changing or challenged

I recently realized how much my circle has changed. I’m not in close contact with many of the people I grew up with and over the years I’ve also grown apart from some friends I met during my college years. One thing I like about my current circle is the fact that everyone wants to do better. There’s intentionality around improving personally and professionally. One great quality of a good friendship is that you feel accepted as a person. You aren’t judged or made to feel like your friend is trying to change you. However, I’ve come to realize that the mark of a good friend is one that challenges you to grow—even if it’s an uncomfortable process. They aren’t trying to change you but they also realize opportunities for growth that you may not see so they challenge you to be better. Constructive criticism feels different when it comes from someone you know who genuinely has the best intentions for you. Instead of becoming more defensive, it’s easier to internalize what they’re saying. This type of a friend is rare to have and if you find one be grateful and keep them around.

Course Correction

I’ve been attempting to write a bit more consistently and it’s been quite a challenge. One thing that has been interesting for me has been the recent increase in working with couples as a therapist. It is such a different vibe than seeing a person by themselves or a family as a whole. A spouse/partner can be your best friend or worst enemy and a lot of things in between. One thing that many of my clients have in common is the fact that they failed to make the small changes that would have helped them to avoid the major issues that came up. They grew apart over the course of months and years and they became so comfortable with avoiding meaningful communication that the other individual has become a stranger. But the truth is that you can’t undo years of damage overnight; there’s too much disconnection and both people have been going in different directions. It’s in those times that a major course correction is necessary. One of the things that I’ve learned is it the importance of making minor course corrections when they are still minor. Checking in, talking about tough stuff, and making time for each other are some of the things that have to be done intentionally because it can be easy to lose sight of the big picture and take your partner for granted. Developing healthy communication patterns and fighting respectfully and effectively while remaining emotionally connected is a narrow tightrope to walk on. However, the things that are worthwhile are worth doing well. Great relationships don’t happen haphazardly. They are maintained through intentional effort, time, and emotional connection.