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.

Making progress

Making a lifestyle change is hard and there can be so many barriers and challenges with remaining consistent. Last summer I was challenged to change my mindset and lose the weight I had been procrastinating on addressing. Everyone has different levels of comfort with their body image and their weight but I knew that it was time for things to change. While you can be happy, self accepting, have high self esteem and be overweight, I knew that it wasn’t working for me. I was tired of taking long airplane rides to other countries and being unable to comfortably fit into the seat while being ashamed to ask for a seat belt extender. It just wasn’t what I wanted. I was over my clothes not fitting right and only being able to wear certain select items in my closet because I had “outgrown” the majority of what I had available but didn’t want to spend more money to buy more clothes. I believe in radical self acceptance but I also believe in changing your lifestyle and being healthy if that’s a goal you have for yourself. It was a long, long road that still continues but I’ve made progress. I started with a personal trainer (aka my boyfriend), made the decision to no longer be vegetarian, I got off medication (after consulting with a doctor), started weight training, and changed my diet drastically. It wasn’t an overnight change and it didn’t happen as soon as I would have liked but I lost 45lbs and I’m still working towards my goal. Last week was the first time I could pick things from my closet to wear that I haven’t been able to fit in over 5 years. It was an amazing feeling and having a supportive partner has been great. I still have some progress to make but it’s nice to finally comfortably sit in an airplane seat without being black and blue from the armrest digging into my thigh. I’m determined to remain consistent and to continue to make progress. After all, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.

The cool thing to say

I saw the picture below recently and I have to say how accurate it is with the recent events of all the protests and the focus on police brutality. Many organizations and companies have pledged to financial support various initiatives related to supporting Black people but I can’t help but wonder how many dollars will actually impact them directly instead of being eaten up in “administrative costs.” Showing solidarity and support is suddenly the cool thing to do and while it’s nice I wonder if there will be any lasting and impactful change made. Honestly, I doubt it.

Cooking Chronicles

This pandemic has driven many to turn to food as a source of comfort. I would be lying to say that I haven’t indulged in the occasional “bad” carb after a particularly stressful day. People are cleaning out the junk food in supermarkets while leaving the produce and grocery aisle practically untouched. The emphasis on certain comfort foods reminds me of one of my favorite food experiences as a kid and teenager. Camping. There is absolutely nothing that tastes as good as food made by a campfire after a long day of hiking. I went camping with a group of people and while we were outdoors, no expense was spared as far as the food budget. S’mores, grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, tacos, peach cobbler, vegetarian hotdogs and other delicious wonders were available in abundance. It was a great time to enjoy nature while also experiencing the community component of preparing food in large quantities and having good conversations as we huddled around the campfire for warmth. Nowadays, I find myself preparing more food than I ever have at any point in my life. I make dinner in the evenings and meal prep for most of my lunches at work. I’ve become more comfortable doing it and I find myself making more things from scratch and passing on some of the more processed foods. Nothing excessive but just a more intentional effort to eat a bit healthier than before.

Beaches

Typically I avoid traveling in the summer as it’s a time where most people are out and about and prices tend to be higher. However, I’m considering breaking my invisible rule to explore some National out of the way places that aren’t overrun with people. The first thing on my list is a beach. I’ve seen some great ones over the years and I’m looking forward to seeing some new ones this summer. We’ll see.

Portugal
St. Maarten
The Bahamas
Tortola
Jamaica
Aruba

The luxury of femininity

Women go through a lot. We are increasing in numbers within the workplace but we still are generally the ones held responsible for household duties and we also bear children. The scale seems just a bit crooked at times. Women in high profile positions are often asked how they manage being a mother and having children while no one would dare ask the corresponding question to a man. There’s a certain amount of hardness that comes along with being able to navigate a professional job. Sure, you can be a bleeding heart but you’ll burn out fast and have nothing to show for it. I’ve noticed this myself in my years of practice work. There’s a certain level of professionalism that is expected regardless of one’s emotional state. After being in the workforce and dealing with multiple challenges, many women don’t want to go home and do hobbies that engage and enhance their feminine traits. It’s a luxury that most black women aren’t provided as many are sexualized and expected to grow up early. It’s a luxury to be able to embrace more feminine traits of softness and emotional processing while simultaneously completing job duties. It’s a lose lose situation at times. There’s such a need for honest dialogue around femininity and what it means in the face of a world where women’s rights are constantly threatened. Does equality take precedence over chivalry or is it the other way

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.

Changing focus

I was having a conversation the other day with a woman who was at a crossroads in her life. She had focused on her career and had finally come to the realization that she wanted to have a husband and children. The challenge is that the made the decision in her 50s. Now, I know the whole cliche about how you get wiser as you age and the fact that age isn’t anything but a number. However, the rules are different when trying to find a significant other after a certain age. Chances are that a younger woman has a better chance of getting married and having a family than someone who is middle aged. It’s not necessarily fair but it’s reality. I remember the decision I made to focus on my career and while I didn’t regret it, I also realized that it wasn’t what I wanted to focus on long term. The relationship that I’m in right now is the result of a conscious decision to grow personally so that I could be my best self in a relationship. I’m glad that my focus has shifted because it’s been valuable in defining what’s important to me and how I want my life to be moving forward. A lot of changes have occurred and I’m looking forward to what is next.