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

Be Good.

 

I know that I am a good person, & I strive to be a selfless person.

Being a good person means that sometimes, you will be taken advantage of…unfortunately. I’ve battled internally with being who God created me to be, a good person, & who the world is trying to turn me into, someone who is not so good. By “not so good” I mean someone who is not a “giver”,  & is cold-hearted & selfish, for example.

A part of me being a good person means that I also try to be selfless. I tend to primarily be concerned with other people more than I am concerned with myself. I take care of others before I take care of Anaston & a lot of my time is spent making sure that I am being “good” to those around me. Frequent thoughts revolve around questions like: How can I help this person? Can I give them my time? Are there any other “things” that I have to give? How can I make them happy?

I previously viewed being a good/selfless person as a personal problem. Why is it that I give so much of myself to others, & all people do is take? I am rarely on the receiving end of anything…& that has bothered me. So I often ask myself “why do I give?”. It is important that my intentions behind the things I do are genuine & not self-serving. Do I give to get something in return? No. Do I give just to be able to say I gave? No. Do I give because I don’t want what I have? No.

I give primarily because nothing that I have is mine. Yes, I have earned some things, worked for some things, I own some things, but none of it is mine. It all belongs to God. So who am I to not give what I have to someone else? This way of thinking is new to me, & it came to mind one Sunday during church. (In the bible, it’s referred to as “stewardship”. God owns everything, we simply take care of the things he has blessed us with.) Looking at it that way, it is easier for me to not to be so offended when someone only takes from me.

But I am learning that while it is great to be selfless, & it is great to be “good” to other people, it is even more important to be “good” to me. There has to be a healthy balance between my concern for those around me & the concern that I have for myself. I went through a period of time where I tried to be all about Anaston…& trust me, that neither worked for me nor did it last long. So now I’m trying to find that balance & create boundaries where I give of myself in a healthy way. I discuss how I am doing that in my post Take Care of Your Star Player

Do you identify as a selfless/good person? How are you maintaining the healthy balance in your life? I think we all strive to be good human beings, but it is important to make sure that our actions & intentions are aligned. You cannot give to someone just for the bragging rights or because you expect something in return. Give because you can. Give because it is who you are. Give because you love. But be sure that when you give, you save some for you. It’s a bad feeling to wake up one day & realize that you have given so much of yourself & you have nothing left for you. 

 

 

“I give because I know what it is like to be without. To long for & to be ignored; to speak & not be heard; to care for & have nothing returned. When I give it’s because I know the value in what I have in my heart. When I give, I am all in.” x Anonymous

Wait on God.

 

On Wednesday I went to a new church, expecting to attend a Bible Study service. To my surprise when I arrived, it was actually Day 3 of Vacation Bible School. I decided to stay though, & see what the message for the night was about.

The Pastor of the church put everyone in small groups and asked each of us to discuss a time when we waited on God and blessings followed. We were supposed to think about David’s story & reflect on the similarities of his experiences to our own. I, of course, was nervous because I did not know any of the people in my group, let alone anyone at the church. Fortunately, the women I was paired with were very welcoming & social.

Two of the women in my group shared their testimonies. One told us about how she struggled figuring out her career path. The end result, after some time passed etc., was that she found her calling in counseling. She is now happy in her career and believes she is doing the work God called her to do. The other told us about her car breaking down, being without a car & having to ride the bus. She talked about saving & after some time passed being able to purchase a new one. Both stories showed how important it is to wait on God in all areas of your life.  When it was my turn, I smiled & said I didn’t have a particular situation in mind & that their stories were great to share with the other church members. I kept thinking to myself “When have I really waited on God?”  

Later that night once I got settled in at home, I began to think about why I didn’t feel like I had a testimony. I realized that I actually did have a few, & one deals with this blog.

I had a blog in high school that I maintained until my first or second year of college. It was a tumblr, so the content really wasn’t focused on one area. I honestly did not have much of a vision for it. So after I completely lost interest (& prepared to begin law school) I deleted the blog & went on my way. For the last year or so, I had been thinking about starting a blog again but was unsure how or what my niche would be. So…I waited. I spent time thinking about what my purpose would be, what content I would want to share, etc. I researched hosts and started reading other bloggers’ content. My sister, Alexandria, launched her blog, which gave me the push to finally relaunch my own. So I did, & here we are today.

This blog has been a blessing for me already in more ways than one. I have received more positive feedback & support from my loved ones & family than I ever imagined. More people have opened up to me about their stories & battles, which solidifies that this is something I have to do. We have to start having the conversations that make us uncomfortable, educate ourselves about the things we don’t know, & accept the things society tells us we should be ashamed of. I hope that my blog gets us moving in the right direction & that I can change some of the misconceptions about self-care, depression, anxiety, etc.

Imagine if I had started my blog too soon…I may not have followed through with it or even conveyed the right messages. By doing what didn’t feel like waiting at the time, God was creating a blessing for me that I could only imagine. I was able to prepare myself & launch the blog when I was ready, not just when it seemed like a good idea. 

Notice that during my wait, I was able to prepare myself. Simply waiting is not enough. You must also be productive during your wait. Seek out God & ask Him what He wants you do to. Work on the things within yourself that you want to grow or change. Have faith in Him & be confident in your abilities. Write out a vision and set goals. Be intentional with what it is you are asking Him for, so that when He blesses you, you are as ready as you can be. 

Are you waiting on God for something?  I don’t think there is anything wrong with waiting. It is important to be patient, but you have to decide what to do while you wait. Pray and ask God for your blessing, & make sure that you are also preparing yourself for that blessing to come to fruition. Speak the blessing into existence! Claim it as yours, & God will make sure everything you deserve & more is yours for the taking. When we wait on God instead of looking for that instant gratification, I think the blessings are that much better & we appreciate them just a little bit more. 

 

 

“A (wo)man who is the master of patience is master of everything else.” -George Savile

Authentically, Anaston.

Over the last few years, I have been taking steps to live an authentic life.

Looking back on my childhood/middle school experience (& probably even some high school & college years) I tried to hide parts of myself out of fear of what others would think of me. In elementary school, I was teased because I have big lips. My head was big, I was small, and here I was with big lips to top it off. I remember my first grade teacher sat my entire class down & told them how they would all regret not having lips like mine & how people got surgery to get them (we see how that trend has progressed, right?). Even though I was young, I think that was my first introduction to the lesson: it is important to be proud of everything that relates to who you are.

So what does it mean to be authentic, exactly? Well, according to Merriam Webster, it means:

  • Real or genuine : not copied or false
  • True and accurate

Hiding parts of myself to make others feel comfortable cost me a lot, & it wasn’t until my sophomore year of college where I first began my battle with depression (I didn’t recognize that I was experiencing depression at that time, but years later I believe some of my experiences that year triggered it) that I realized just how much. The trade-off for trying to make others comfortable was that I was uncomfortable. I was insecure, anxious, & I often felt alone & misunderstood. 

Once I realized what I was doing to myself, I began taking small steps to ensure that first, I was comfortable with me; & second, that I was able to just be myself, no matter who I was around.

So here we are today–I’m 23 years old, & I am still on my “authentic journey”. I’m still figuring out the ins & outs of Anaston & still learning that its okay to be transparent about who I am. This blog is a way for me to be transparent. Those who cannot accept me or handle the things that come with me will lose out on me, & that is something that is out of my control.

As I am progressing on this authentic-self journey, I try to remind myself to focus only on me & the talents God gave me. I stay in my own lane. In a society that is full of IG models, lifestyle bloggers, & fashionistas, it’s easy to want to change things about yourself to fit in with other people. It’s also easy to get discouraged when you see other people doing things you are doing or want to do. The reality is, there will always be someone better. There will always be someone doing something similar. But what sets you apart, is you. God made one you, & anything you do will be special because of who you are. 

I’ve also learned to not let people convince me that I need to change things about myself. Although I am a flawed person, I try to not let negative opinions about my personality sway me. If there is something that I really need to work on, I know exactly Who to turn to & how to do the work. For example, most people suggest that I am too outspoken. I tend to be the person that talks about things others are too afraid to, & over time, I have realized that I have to own it. I remember sitting in chapter meetings in undergrad., being the person who would say the things no one else wanted to, & feeling like sometimes I said too much…but I later realized that I actually gained respect from my sisters because I spoke up. As long as I am respectful & cognizant of the things I say, I see being outspoken as a huge asset. If everyone is too reserved to say the things that need to be said, do you know how many people’s stories will never be told? 

So what can you do to start living your life as your authentic self? I think the first step is to “have a little talk with Jesus”. God created you to be exactly who you are & He makes no mistakes. Whatever & whoever you are came from Him, so why not turn to him first when it comes to you? Are there things about yourself that confuse you? Ask God about them. Are there things you want to change? Tell God about those, too. Once you’ve consulted Him, it will become much easier, but it takes practice every day. The next thing you can do is be honest with yourself. If you can’t be honest with your star player, then it will definitely be hard to be honest with other people. Once you’re honest, just accept who you are & be open to growing as a human being. Before you know it, you’ll be living your life as your true, authentic self.

“Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.” -Nelson Mandela