S is for Silhouette

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A couple of weekends ago I finally watched Nappily Ever After, & boy did it strike a nerve! It is amazing how a movie can put so many things into perspective that you thought you had dealt with or had forgotten about.

I have been extremely hard on myself lately, especially when it comes to my physical appearance. What’s funny is that I thought I had outgrown this phase—I was sure that I had reached a place where I was confident in the way I look. Now, do not get me wrong, I have been feeling rather “pretty” lately. I have been wearing less makeup, pulling my hair back more, taking the time to dress myself up, etc…but at the core, there are still insecurities there that have been buried under the surface.

So, if you have not seen Nappily Ever After, you should. I will not spend this post telling you about the story line, but I can say that I related to the main character in a plethora ways—mainly her desire to maintain this “ideal” aesthetic. 

I went through the phase with my hair where I wanted nothing but “sleek” looks. If my hair was not flat-ironed or roller-set, I did not feel pretty. Wearing my natural hair just did not “do it” for me, and deep down I knew I had to make a change. I believe I cracked the surface of this issue by deciding to go natural my junior year of high school, but the real work of loving my natural hair has been done over the last few years. I feel a sense of pride knowing that I have taken care of my hair well enough to not only restore it to a healthy state, but to also maintain it’s health in the midst of color changes and various styles over the years. I now have an appreciation for the hair that has grown out of my own scalp, hair that has taught me patience and perseverance. I chose to transition as opposed to doing a big chop, because I wanted to “force” myself to appreciate the present and to learn how to deal with things as they are. I decided a big chop/cutting all of my hair off was not necessary for me to love myself. There are so many beautiful women who have been taking this step lately, and I commend them for it; however, I choose to stay true to myself and do what works for me.

Like the main character in Nappily, it actually causes me stress and anxiety when I wear my hair roller-set or flat-ironed. I find myself constantly checking the weather—especially to figure out the humidity levels for the day and week. Wearing my hair natural allows me to be free from worry. It could rain, snow, or be hot and sunny—my hair would be just fine. That is the type of freedom that I long for.

I also went through this phase with my weight. I talk about my weight journey in a previous post—you can read it here. As I have gotten older, (especially within the last year or two) I have realized the importance of being physically strong over trying to look a certain way. Fun fact: I have minimal upper body strength. This lack of strength has contributed to terrible posture in my shoulders and tons of knots, which cause me to feel tense ninety percent of the time. To combat this constant state of uncomfortableness I get massages at least monthly and previously saw a physical therapist. She was the one who informed me that the knots would go away the more I build up the strength in those muscles. So, I recently hired a personal trainer to help me build the strength my body so desperately needs. In the end, I  would rather have a body that is strong than look a certain way and not be healthy. 

After watching the movie, I felt this immense desire of wanting to feel beautiful. So, I did the only thing I could think of—I took off all my clothes, took my hair down and brushed it out. I sat myself down in front of my bedroom mirror until I felt like I had appreciated myself enough, and once I was done I danced all around that bedroom and even in my bathroom mirror. In those moments, I felt more free and beautiful than I had with any particular hair style and any outfit.

It was such a vulnerable thing to do, even if the only person that could see me was me. My instant reaction was to pick apart my appearance and list all of my imperfections, but I forced myself to shift my perspective and bring an end to the negative self-talk. I decided to pick things that I love about my appearance. For example, I love how plump my lips are, and how they sit on my face. I love my tattoos and the story they tell about the things I have experienced in my life. I love the stretch marks I have and how they remind me of how remarkable growth can be. I love the dimples in my back and the length of my legs. In that moment, I just love(d) me.

I have come to the realization that loving yourself is a lifelong process. As you mature and grow in age, so does your appreciation for everything that God created you to be. My perception of beauty constantly evolves as I adapt to this thing called life, and I know that the greatest feat of all is to love myself wholly and fully. As I continue to grow older and as my body changes, I pray that I am always able to recognize how beautiful I truly am. 

What does the word “beautiful” mean to you? I pray that you see yourself as the beautiful creation that you are. Try the same thing I did–get undressed and sit in front of yourself in the mirror. Tell your reflection at least three things that you like about yourself. Love on yourself until you feel confident and can fully appreciate the magnificence of your body. As India Arie says, have a private party! 

 

“I’m gonna take off all my clothes, look at myself in the mirror. We’re gonna have a conversation, we’re gonna heal the disconnection. I don’t remember where it started, but this is where it’s gonna end. My body is beautiful and sacred, and I’m gonna celebrate it.” x India.Arie 

R is for Rejection

Play “R is for Rejection”

 

 

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re•ject•tion

noun

the dismissing or refusing of a proposal, idea, etc.

the spurning of a person’s affections

So let’s be honest, as much as people like to say that they accept rejection in stride, no one really likes being rejected. Personally, I have been feeling like rejection has been walking with me attached to my hip for the last few months. There are jobs I have applied for that I did not get—many, many jobs. I’ve been spurned by people, both romantically and platonic, so lately I have been trying to figure out what I am doing wrong or if there is something wrong with me.

It is easy to focus on the negative when you start to reflect on the “no”s you might be receiving; it can be quite discouraging and even overwhelming. It is likely your ego is bruised and you are trying to pick up pieces of your face after having so many doors slammed in it…but Beloved, during these times you have to ask yourself which outweighs the other—the rejections or the blessings? Most likely there are only a few instances where you have been rejected—and even then, if you look closely enough, I am sure God has blessed you with something greater.

So how do I deal with rejection?

Honestly, I am still working on this. I have been incorporating a lot of positive self-talk in those moments where I start to question myself or the things I am doing. I try to focus on how I feel about myself, not how other people feel about me, so that my sense of self-value remains in tact. I also encourage myself to find the blessings in my life and thank God for those gifts. Creating a spirit of gratitude often softens the blow of disappointment and allows me to shift my way of thinking.

I try to combat feelings of regret. There are very few things that I regret in life—I put forth a lot of effort to be okay with all of the decisions I make regardless of the outcome. This process involves looking at situations as a learning experience and using them for further self-discovery and self-mastery. I ask myself what each situation is teaching me, even if the lesson hurts a bit. Growth is not always easy, but it is always necessary.

How do you deal with rejection? Responses to this particular journal question ranged from looking at rejection as “it is their loss, and at least I tried”; to “remembering that rejection does not determine my value. I am still important, and I am still loved”; “you cannot get everything you want, sometimes things will not go your way”; and “the right job, person, situation, etc. is right around the corner”. There is not one set way to dealing with rejection—we all process things differently. Find a healthy coping mechanism for you and be sure to put it into action the next time a “no” comes to visit.

Rejection is the sand in the oyster, the irritant that ultimately produces the pearl. x Burke Wilkinson

Self-Care, Skin-Care

My skin care routine has changed so much over the years! I’ve taken prescription pills, used commercial brands such as Clinique or other dermatologist-recommended brands, & the list goes on. For the first time in as long as I can remember, I am actually happy with my skin! My goals within the last year or so have been to minimize my skincare routine and find natural products to replace the commercial brands I had been using. Finally, I have done just that.

Developing a solid skincare routine is a great form of self-care that is often undervalued. Doing masks and steam treatments not only allow you to take care of your skin, but also give you time to love on yourself a little, too!

Here’s my simple skincare routine:

  • Step 1: Cleanse your skin using the Detox/Cleanse/Heal Mask from The Natural Root.

You can purchase this product here: Detox Mask

If you’d like to receive 15% off of your purchase, use my coupon code: anaston15.

I typically use the detox mask every other day or at least weekly. If I am indulging in a little extra self-care, I do a steam treatment first to open up my pores before putting on the mask. The packaging comes with instructions regarding how long the mask should be left on, depending on your personal skin type. I rinse off the mask with cool water.

  • Step 2. Moisturize your skin using the Sweet Honey 2N1 Deep Conditioner.

I never knew you could “double-mask”, until I watched a skincare video from one of the influencers I follow on Instagram, Jade Kendle (LipstickNCurls). I started using the 2NI Honey as a mask after using the Detox mask to ensure that my skin is moisturized, and this has honestly been a game changer for me, because there are days when my skin is very dry and flaky. I either use it right after the Detox or use it the next day. I put the honey straight on my skin and get in the shower and let the steam from the shower open my pores.

  • Step 3: Tone your skin using Dickinson’s 100% All Natural Witch Hazel.

I purchase this particular witch hazel from Walgreens and use it daily. I pour it on a cotton pad and wipe my face to make sure I close my pores and remove any leftover dirt/product, etc. This cleans my skin without over drying it, and it is all I use if I am not using the Detox mask.

  • Step 4. Moisturize using Trader Joe’s 100% Organic Argan Oil.

I purchase this particular argan oil from Trader Joe’s and use it daily. It is lightweight and allows my skin to be moisturized without feeling sticky or weighed down.

On days when my skin is feeling itchy, I will use aloe vera as a moisturizer instead of the Argan Oil.

What is your skincare routine? When developing your own skincare routine, be sure to find what works for you! Different products will work for your skin depending on your skin type–mine is primarily oily, especially in the t-zone. These are staples in my routine, but it took a lot of trial and error to find these products and to see how they worked with my skin. Aim for natural/organic products that will not be harsh on your skin and that can be used for other parts of your body. For example, I also use the Detox mask on wash day for my hair as a part of my deep-condition routine, and I also use Argan Oil to moisturize my hair. Remember, less is more!

XXV

Birthdays have always been important to me. As a child my parents would come eat lunch with me or bring treats for my classmates and myself to enjoy. I’d have my mom check me out of school and we would have lunch together even in high school. I’ve always loved balloons, cake, candles, birthday cards, and especially people singing happy birthday to me. In my voicemails you can find old messages of my dad and grandmother singing happy birthday, and I still have many of my old birthday cards on the dry erase board in my bedroom.

In 2013, my birthday took a turn for the worst. And even though April 15 was always a special day, now it is always a reminder of how blessed I truly am.

After celebrating with a few members of my framily, and a failed plan or two, we decided to hang out at my best friend’s apartment. As we were getting off the exit in her part of town, I heard this weird “pop” “pop” sound and thought maybe the car behind us, with another two of my best friends in it, had blown a tire. So we pulled over in the median and got out to see what happened–to our surprise and horror, there were bullet holes in my childhood best friend’s car. Thankfully everyone with me was okay, but we spent the rest of the night dealing with the aftermath of this drive-by shooting. As a part of their initiation these gang members were instructed to shoot at whatever cars they could find and left a high school student badly injured. 

That night I learned to never take any moment for granted and made a promise to myself that I would always make the best of my birthdays. So in honor of my twenty fifth birthday I want to share twenty five lessons I have learned over the years.

  1. Everything that I am and everything that I have, I owe all to God.
  2. The longest relationship I will ever have in life is with myself.
  3. Honesty is always the best policy.
  4. True love begins with me.
  5. The only person who can make me whole, is me.
  6. It is better to be over-dressed any day.
  7. Start every day with gratitude.
  8. End every day with gratitude.
  9. Patience is truly a virtue.
  10. Family is everything.
  11. God will always be there.
  12. I am beautiful, I am sacred.
  13. You can never stop learning or growing.
  14. It is okay to not be the smartest person in the room.
  15. I am capable.
  16. All you really need is one good friend.
  17. Emotions have never made me weak.
  18. Never become a part of the crowd. 
  19. It is okay to not be okay.
  20. Never let a man convince or try to convince you that you are less than who you are.
  21. You have too much to do to spend your energy where it is not reciprocated or restored.
  22. You may be alone, but you are never lonely.
  23.  Be neutral in your ego.
  24. It is okay to be happy.
  25. But God…

“I’m having a private party…celebrating the woman I’ve become. Happy birthday to me! Happy birthday to me!” x India.Arie

Sister Talks with Anaston & Alexandria Ep. 5 | R is for Recap

 

 

 

My sister bestie and I recently started our very own podcast, called Sister Talks with Anaston & Alexandria! We are both educated brown girls, & bloggers.

Here’s our fifth episode! Join us as we recap 2017 and wrap up the year with the lessons we learned. We revisit each topic covered on Season One of Sister Talks Podcast and share a few things about the future! If you have topics you would like for Anaston and Alexandria to discuss in 2018, share your ideas with them! Comment below or send them an email: sistertalksa2@gmail.com

Sister Talks with Anaston & Alexandria Ep. 4 | B is for Black & P is for Professional (feat. Justin Malone)

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My sister bestie and I recently started our very own podcast, called Sister Talks with Anaston & Alexandria! We are both educated brown girls, & bloggers.

Here’s our fourth episode featuring special guest Justin Malone! We discuss the ins & outs of being Black in a Professional Setting. We talk about our own personal experiences thus far as young professionals, reflect on some of the challenges we have faced, & give a few tips for our audience.

Ep. 4 | B is for Black & P is for Professional

Sister Talks With Anaston & Alexandria Ep. 3 | P is for Physical Health

 

Sister Talks Logo

My sister bestie and I recently started our very own podcast, called Sister Talks with Anaston & Alexandria! We are both educated brown girls, & bloggers.

Here’s our third episode! We discuss the importance of physical health, having a healthy diet, weight struggles, body shaming, cleanliness, & being consistent! 

Ep. 3 | P is for Physical Health

All _____ Given.

 

Why is it that in 2017 it is “trendy” to be a person who doesn’t give a ____ about anything? Our society is obsessed with being numb to everything even remotely related to feelings & emotions. Emotional awareness seems to be this new concept no one has ever heard of, when honestly, it is something that should’ve been prevalent all along. There are books that teach you how not to care about anything, songs that talk about it–it’s like an entire movement. But this is a time, if unrealistically no other time existed, that we need to give a ____ about something.

Honestly, there was a point in time where I tried to be one of these people. I went through a period where I thought I was too emotional, cared too much about people, & needed to turn off the emotional switch that seemed to control my life. So what did I do? I bought a ticket to the “No ____ Given” train & proudly took my seat, ready for the ride. However, before this train even took off, I had to exit quickly. I just couldn’t be a person who doesn’t care about others, myself, & even what is going on in the world. I knew deep down that emotions don’t make people weak (despite what “they” say) & that being aware of my own emotions & the emotions of others, was something I could not continue to avoid.

So once I finally accepted how in-tune I am emotionally, I discovered that I am an empath. But what is an empath? What is empathy? How is it different from sympathy? Here’s what I found:

em•path

noun

A person with the paranormal ability to apprehend the mental or emotional state of another individual.

em•pa•thy

noun

The ability to understand and share feelings of one another.

sym•pa•thy

noun

1. Feelings of pity & sorrow for someone else’s misfortune. 2. Understanding between people, common feeling.

Reading those definitions really doesn’t tell you much, but what I have commonly heard is that the difference between empathy & sympathy is that when you sympathize with someone, you only “feel” for the person, but when you empathize with someone, you actually put yourself in that person’s shoes. Empathy is personal. It is genuine. It is strong. It is perception. That’s me all the way, & when I finally accepted this, I became a lot healthier emotionally.

Empathy for me looks like this: I am extremely aware of the vibes & energies of people around me, & I absorb those vibes & energies as my own, whether I want to or not. This means my mood can fluctuate, depending on who I am around, & certain people’s presence can put me in bad mood. Usually this is more common with my loved ones, but it happens with not-so-loved ones too. I can easily pick up on people’s intentions & motives–if you’re hiding something, I’ll know. I often take on the problems of others & often find myself carrying everyone else’s load. It can even happen in a situation as small as me watching an emotional commercial or movie–I will cry or feel some overwhelming sense of emotion rather abruptly. Especially if it involves elderly people or children or something about love, I will fall a part. Sounds silly, I know, but hey, it happens. My empathic traits often leave me emotionally drained, because I get lost in everything (& everyone) around me & forget to take the necessary time for myself. I don’t deal well with areas of confusion or disharmony, & both cause me to feel highly uncomfortable. I also don’t deal well with people who tend to be negative most of the time. It stresses me out, & I tend to get mad at that person. I am working on trying to separate the two, so that I can focus on whatever is troubling the person in a way that does not affect me

Being in-tune with my emotions also means that I express them more than others. With those I am close to, I am okay with having conversations about how I feel. I’m pretty open & honest, & talking things out really allows me to develop the level of understanding that I need. I am okay with telling people I care about them or that I love them. I truly wear my heart on my sleeve. Life is way too short to run around acting like you don’t care about anyone or anything, & I’ve suffered enough loss to know it. So I tend to give my all in my relationships–all or nothing. Sometimes this is hard for other people to accept or understand about me, but the more aware of it I have become, the less disappointed I feel when I’m too much for another person. Not everyone is equipped to handle what comes with being involved with a woman like me, but because I can handle it, it makes it easier to explain or show others this aspect of who I am.

On the other hand, there are times where I create a wall & bottle up my emotions. As much as I like to talk & no matter how open or honest I am, sometimes it takes a lot of effort for me to talk about myself. These are things I am still working on, & journaling really helps me get everything out in a healthy way. I’m a work in progress, & learning how to function in a healthy way, while being emotionally aware, is a journey. (My blog post about self-care practices can be read here. These are a great way to take some time for yourself & not get lost in translation.) Learning how to live as an empath is something I have to work at every day & sometimes I don’t make very much progress. 

 

Are no ____ really given? Or do you give a ____ like I do? 9/10 regardless of how much you want to identify with question one, you really are closer to the latter. Accept it, & let’s figure out how we can get you to live a healthy life being that way. Don’t get me wrong, this post is not a call to care about everything & everyone. That may not be healthy for you, & can definitely be overwhelming. You have to protect your heart & yourself. My advice is to find something to care about. You better! If it is not people, then I suggest finding a cause that resonates with you. Find something that you can willingly, & safely, dedicate your emotions to. If you identify with being an empath as I do, let’s talk! I have some great resources for you. 


IF YOU ARE SKEPTICAL OF THIS WORD EMPATH, AS USUAL MY ADVICE IS TO DO YOUR RESEARCH. I AM NOT RELATING THIS TO ANY RELIGIOUS OR SPIRITUAL BELIEF. THIS POST REFLECTS MY PERSONAL OBSERVATIONS & REALIZATIONS ON MY PATH TO SELF-DISCOVERY.

 

“I care. I care a lot. It’s kinda my thing.” x Leslie Knope
“A caring heart that listens is often more valued than an intelligent mind that talks.” 

Block Queen

To my girLS & baby sisters, I’m affectionately known as the Block Queen, lol. But what started out as a joke between sisters, has actually turned into a self-care habit.

Now that we are coming to the end of 2016, it is time that we do some “End of the Year Cleaning” to make sure that we are in the best possible position to have a positive start in 2017. In order to do that, we need to cleanse our minds, our souls, our bodies, etc. & get rid of the baggage we have been holding onto & toting around, both literally & figuratively.

It seems as if 2016 was not the best year for a lot of people–it was tough & full of a lot of life lessons & experiences. I am constantly seeing posts on my FB feed from friends & associates confessing that 2016 is a chapter they are ready to close. I believe a part of the problem is that we are holding onto things that God is trying to pry from our hands. Even if 2016 was a great year for you, you can still do some “End of the Year Cleaning” to open the door for even more blessings in the new year. Let’s get started.

So, how can we get our minds & souls right? The first step is to assess what we are feeding our minds & what we are feeding our souls. What are we choosing to actively place in our life? The easiest thing to do is look at the people you are surrounding yourself with. What does your tribe look like? Are you surrounding yourself with people who are uplifting you, encouraging you, inspiring you? Are your relationships healthy & growing? If you are unhappy with your circle, it is time to make some changes. That’s where the “blocking” comes in.

So, we all know what this concept of “blocking” is. You can now easily block people via an option on your iPhone, on Instagram, Facebook, etc. It’s simple. Start with your phone’s address book & scroll through your contacts. You may not actually have to block anyone, but I’m sure there are contacts that you need to delete. People you can’t remember meeting, people you don’t talk to at all, exes, people you drunk text or “emotional” text,  just to name a few. Next, open your messages & scroll through those–delete those text messages from your ex from 2015, delete that argument you had with a virtual thug that was a complete waste of time. Swipe, delete, delete, delete.

The next step is to assess what you are viewing, primarily on social media. Who are you following? What do you spend your time reading? What (or who) are you keeping up with? Ask yourself, “does this serve a purpose in my life?”. You know what is serving a purpose & what isn’t. Be honest with yourself. Sit down, look at the things that are going on in your life–good & bad–decide what you want to keep & what you want to remove. Being in a generation that is completely obsessed & attached to our phones, it is important that we are welcoming positive vibes through those digital sources. If you spend a lot of time on social media, or on your phone period, & find yourself wasting hours keeping up with people or things you have no business being concerned about…then we might have a problem. You know what to do, start unfollowing & unfriending!

Being a Block Queen (or King) is not saying that you should just block people left & right–it is saying that you are strong enough to remove unnecessary people & things from your life without feeling guilty about doing so. For example, if there is a person you just don’t vibe with, & their presence on your TL, in your life, & overall atmosphere just annoys you or creates a cloud of negativity–you need to remove that person. Completely. If there’s a person floating around that you know means you harm & is only around to keep up with you & what you’re doing, block them. That person doesn’t care about you, they only care about what they know about you. The whole “I want you to see this glow up” mentality is honestly not practical. That thought process is more concerned with the other person rather than the person you should be concerned with–you. 

There must be a balance to this process, though. I am not suggesting that you treat everyone as if they are disposable–people are not disposable. Don’t be quick to cut people off because they have offended you or posted something you don’t like. You don’t block people just for the fun of it or in a state of temporary anger. I’ve been guilty of unwarranted block sprees, & it is something that I am actively trying to work on. The point is to remove the toxicity, not to temporarily ignore a person & then follow them or contact them 30 minutes later.

Do you have an inner Block Queen (or King)? Get the digital detox process going. You can do this once a month, but if you feel like that is excessive, then start with doing it in December & again in six months. Take the cleansing process even further & go through your material things–your closet, your hair products, your pantry, etc. Get rid of the baggage & make room for the abundance of blessings God has for you in 2017.

“I’ve carried unworthy people on my back for years…Nowadays, I pack light.” x Ebony Cherrelle