2020 Vision

(This blog post was originally written in January of 2020, and due to a lot of life happening I did not post it on time. I decided to keep this post pretty much in original form, with a few revisions. The words still hold true, even in April.)

Now that 2019 has come to a close, I am beyond excited about the fresh start that 2020 will bring. Beginning a new year + a new decade feels like the start of something new, would you not agree? But in order to make room for the new things, you have to walk away from the old.

If you are like me, you probably had to let a lot go to close out the year. Despite whatever cliches people claim they do not follow, I always use the end of a year as an opportunity to shed things that are no longer serving me. Be it clothes, shoes, food, or even relationships, it all has to go!

2019 was a rather strange year for me in terms of my relationships with others. I suffered a lot of unexpected loss, honestly. My uncle passed in April, which set a series of events in motion that changed me tremendously and set my world on fire. You see, family has always been very important to me, but my family environment had become very toxic. (I know this is a term that has been so overwhelmingly used in 2019, so bare with me.) In addition to the usual, run of the mill family issues, we were sweeping some deep rooted issues under the rug. The rug was so lifted off the ground because of all of the chaos swept under it, that I finally reached my breaking point.

So I broke. As a result, so did a few of my non-familial relationships. During a time when I needed people the most, the ones I thought I could count on were no where to be found. And when the dust settled, I was met with a lack of empathy + a ton of dislike that had been hidden for so long.

So, I had to sit down and have a conversation with myself about how I wanted to navigate relationships moving forward. Just because things did not work out with a few people did not mean that I could risk abandoning ship and leaving friendships in the wind forever. So, I traded in my old way of doing things, and I learned what I need to do differently. I had to come to terms with the fact that I needed to let some things, and some people, go…for real this time.

The biggest lesson I have learned is that sometimes a door needs to stay closed, no matter who is knocking. I am the queen of second, and third, and fourth chances. I will forgive people and let them right back into my life no matter what wrong has been done. I try to give others the same grace I would want myself, so it is hard for me to stop letting people circle back around. The circle back does not serve me though. Nine times out of ten the relationship continues to display the same patterns as before, and someone ends up hurt. (Mostly me.) On the other hand, I too need to end the “circle back.” I will go searching for people I have not talked to in years to try to rekindle + rebuild something that is dead and gone. But why? Why do I have such a hard time letting go? I am still figuring this out, but I know sometimes I need to be left alone and leave others alone too.

If you never called, never sent a text, never showed up, would you still be friends? This is a hard pill to swallow, too. But I really do not think it’s fair to be the only person putting forth effort in any relationship. The level of effort may change, there will be give and take, but if someone is putting forth no effort at all…you know everything you need to know. Test it out. If you stop texting or calling a person first and you never hear from them again, you might want to keep it that way.

You can tell the story without tainting the characters. This one pretty much speaks for itself, right? Expressing how you feel about a person or a situation that occurred with said person does not have to diminish or defile their character. They are allowed to still be a good person, a good friend, good at what they do, etc. In the same breath, you can, in fact, tell the facts of a story without remotely getting your feelings involved. Let people decide for themselves, beloved. When you talk about a person enough, you start to influence how other people view them and feel about them. Now all of a sudden your venting session has ignited animosity within another person who has nothing to do with the situation at hand. It is hard to keep a neutral party, when only one side of the story is being told, and it is negative. Being on the receiving end of this has taught me to also be careful with who I talk to about an issue or challenge with someone else. Intermingling separate relationships like that can be a recipe for disaster. Most of the time it really is no one else’s business but you + the other person involved. So I check myself before I start telling someone a “story” and ask myself “what is your end goal?.” If I just want to be heard, I probably need to save the conversation for my therapist.

Everyone has their version of the same story, but the truth will always come to light. I am learning to stop defending myself when it comes to the things other people have to say about me, and man, this is hard. Although I am far from perfect and find myself making mistakes, it bothers me when people try to paint a false narrative about me. I honestly think it would bother anyone who is human. After defending myself and my character over so many years, it has become exhausting. People are going to believe what they want to anyways, so why waste the time trying to convince them otherwise?

Ask for what you need. As great of a communicator that I think I am, I have realized that I tend to hold a lot inside. This is mostly because I process things emotionally a lot quicker than others, and it is often hard for me to communicate with people who choose not to address their own emotions. I will let many small things turn into big things and eventually air out all of my grievances, leaving the other person confused. I have adopted some passive aggressive behaviors that I am beginning to notice and address. In order to receive what I require of the relationships in my life, I have to express those needs.

Learn your people’s love languages. I started sending my friends the quiz to find out what their love languages are. I know that I can be a great friend, but if I am not loving someone how they need, it really does not matter how great I think I am. I want to make sure that I really am living up to the “great friend” standard, so I am working on paying more attention to what others say they need from me and being okay with doing just that. I think I try to love people how I want to be loved or how I think they should be loved, and over time I have realized this is quite counter productive.

Speaking of love languages and needs, it is okay to teach people. I have talked about this concept on both Twitter and Instagram—society has convinced us that we are above teaching people how to love us and how to be there for us. This train of thinking destructs relationships before they even begin. People do not have the blueprint for you when the first meet you. They do not know what you need. You have to show them and give them the opportunity to rise to the occasion. This also means that you have to know what you need, but that is a conversation for a later time…

Forfeit the battle to win the war. Sometimes it just is not worth it, okay? I have had many minor issues with friends that caused the end of a relationship when things could have gone differently. You have to decide what is important—the relationship itself or being right? It may be better to agree to disagree than throw away a forever friend over a temporary situation or disagreement. Losing my uncle affirmed for me that life really is short, and some things just do not matter in the grand scheme of things.

So I am sitting down with myself + the people (figuratively) who have to go. I am being honest, vulnerable, and direct. I am taking ownership for my mistakes and wrong doings and I am saying goodbye. Because the truth is, although I let a lot of the wrong people get too comfortable with me in 2019, I really got too comfortable with myself. I am making those necessary corrections now, shout out to Rob Hill Sr.

What, or who, are you sitting down with? Part II of this blog post will discuss the habits + lifestyle practices that I assessed closing out the year and the changes I needed to make. It is healthy to check in with yourself + your relationships when entering into a new phase of life. While you can use the fresh start as a chance to do things differently, do not be afraid to make those changes at any time. A fresh start can be a new hour, new year, new decade.

“The best is yet to come.” x Frank Sinatra

Take care!

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

Conversations with Anaston Ep. 2 | My Depression Story

I’m back with Episode 2 of Conversations with Anaston! In this episode I am sharing a piece of my story regarding my experience with depression. Often times we shy away from telling our stories and being honest about the challenges we face with our mental health, so I am sharing my story in hopes that I can continue to encourage others to do the same. So in honor of #TakeCareOfYourSELFTuesday and #MentalHealthAwarenessMonth here is my depression story.

Out of Grief

 

 

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On Saturday, January 6, 2018, I received a phone call from my mother informing me that my great aunt Evelyn had passed. Although I knew she had been battling cancer, I did not think that news of her death would come so soon, especially since it was the beginning of the new year. The news of her passing instantly reminded me of the day my mother called me when my Granny passed. I started to feel the same emotions and was completely consumed with sadness. It broke my heart that yet another family member had passed away–a family member tied so closely to my beloved Granny. 

I spent the rest of the day wallowing in grief and sadness. As far as I was concerned, my day had been ruined. The plans I had were already cancelled and this news was the icing on the cake. So I did my best to spend the day processing through the grief the best way I knew how. As I mentioned in Grandmother, the Alchemist. grief is a tricky thing. There is not one right way to conquer it, and it can come in waves when you least expect it.

If I felt like crying, I cried. I slept when the tears ceased to fall, and I watched Harry Potter movies to take my mind off of things. Sunday rolled around and I still could not bring myself to get out and face the world. I realized that I had not processed through my Granny’s death as much as I thought, and it frustrated me.

Later that Sunday afternoon, I was able to pull myself together and set a game plan for how I was going to make sure I did not let this loss be the story of my 2018. I had already revisited my goals for 2018, but I knew I needed to be a bit more intentional about the changes I wanted to make. I also knew that just writing them down on paper was not going to cut it this year–I needed to start taking action and make changes right then and there. I needed to get excited about the things I wanted to do, and I needed to accept that in the midst of death, life still goes on. I had to realize that I owe it to my Granny, my great aunt, and every other family member I have lost to live my life fully. They would want me to. Something good bloomed out of my grief and although I am still processing, I am able to do so with much more positivity. 

Now I have seen a lot of debate about goal setting this year. A lot of people are against it, do not quite understand the need for it, etc. But I encourage you to not get so caught up in the word “goal”. An intention for the new year can be viewed as a goal, any changes you want to make can be viewed as goals–the way you view this concept should be personal to you. 

What are goals? Well, according to good ol’ Merriam Webster:

goal

noun

2. the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result

So like I said, a goal can be anything. Desires count, efforts toward achieving something count, it all counts. If I am doing actual goal setting, here’s how I approach it: I try to organize them by the different areas of my life, and I create a map, of sorts, to help visualize what I want to achieve. Here’s an example:

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 1. Set the actual goal.

Ask yourself what it is you want to achieve. Is there something you want to learn? Something you want to improve? Something you want to do more of? Or even something you do not want to do, if that works for you.

2. Why do you want to achieve this goal?

Once you have set the goal, start looking at your intentions. Why is this important to you? What is fueling this particular desire? Make sure your heart and mind are in the right place.

3. How can you achieve this goal?

This is the action part. You may not know initially how to go about achieving the particular goal you have set, and that is okay. Thinking about it will allow you to get the wheels turning and inspire you to try new things to achieve what you have set out to do. Do not be afraid of what may feel like failing along the way–use it as motivation to keep pushing you into greatness. 

4. Affirm that you will accomplish exactly what you set out to do. 

You have to believe that you can do whatever it is that you set your mind to. God created you to be great and he has equipped you with everything you need to live out your purpose. So encourage yourself. Write out affirmations related to your goals and remind yourself daily that you will be successful. Before you know it, you will be doing everything you intended to do this year. 

No matter what approach you take to “goal setting”, always remember to give it all to God. It is important that you surrender yourself to Him and His will. He knows what is best for you and can be a great help when you are trying to figure out what you hope 2018 will be.

What is your plan for 2018? Personally, I am focusing more on intentions this year and keeping the goals I set in 2017 for inspiration. I have never been fond of setting “new year resolutions”, but I have found that setting goals helps me stay focused on being the best Anaston I can be. I use them as a reminder when life starts to get chaotic and I am searching for inspiration to do something.  This is a work in progress though, and once I have a clear understanding I will share with you. If you have set your goals, intentions, desires, etc. for 2018 share them with me! I’d love to witness the greatness you are going to achieve. 

“In all things in 2018, be intentional. Be convicted in your intentions and the year and life you want will manifest according to God’s will. May your 2018 be full of light, love, and an abundance of blessings.” x Anaston Jeni

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

Try a Little Tenderness

 

Have you ever heard the saying that you are your toughest critic? For some reason, we tend to be the hardest on ourselves–always critiquing, criticizing, & analyzing who we are & even the things that we do.

In one of my recent posts, So You Had a Bad Day, I discuss some of the ways I recover from feeling down. What I don’t mention is that days like those can also cause me to beat myself up about my progress (or lack thereof). Bad days can create feelings of insecurity & cause me to second guess myself in areas where I previously felt secure. It’s easy to be hard on yourself at times like these, but at some point you have to show yourself a little compassion & realize whatever it is, it is okay. You’re human, & things happen.

As we are winding down into the last few months of 2017, I have started to focus more on having compassion…not just for the people around me, but primarily for myself. As someone who has experienced depression & currently experiences anxiety, it is easy for me to feel like there is something wrong with me. It is easy for me to pick a part the pieces & be hard on myself in those moments where I feel as if I have failed.

In order to start practicing more self-compassion I am trying to find ways to add practices to my self-care routine where I am intentionally building myself up. One of the ways I have achieved this is by writing myself love letters–you can read about this practice here. I have also started utilizing affirmations. I must admit, when I first heard about the concept of affirmations I was skeptical. I really didn’t believe that telling myself different things over & over could affect how I felt & improve my mood…but now that I have actually given affirmations a try, I notice that they make it a lot easier to love on myself. Here are a few tips when it comes to affirmations:

#1: Start with pre-written affirmations. Practicing affirmations can be awkward at first, so using pre-written ones, like those written by Alex Elle, can really inspire you to write your own.

#2: If you can, write them down. Writing down your affirmations allows you to revisit them throughout the day. For me personally, it’s easier to write them on sticky notes & post them on my computer or put them up around my apartment.

#3: Don’t get stuck on the routine. Although I am trying to make affirmations a part of my morning routine, sometimes it just doesn’t happen. So instead of getting frustrated with myself, I try again the next day. It also helps to still find a few minutes to be intentional throughout the day or reread previous affirmations.

Listen, life is far from easy. There will be bad days, you will make mistakes, & sometimes you will fall. Those things don’t mean that you have to stop loving yourself along the way. Self-compassion means that you recognize these not-so-great moments & you try to comfort & care for yourself thereafter. Self-compassion means that you operate with a certain level of understanding instead of judging & criticizing yourself.

Be careful not to go overboard, beloved. There are days when I straddled the fence of self-compassion & self-indulgence. You must still do the work & recognize the things that you need to work on. Avoiding them will be counter productive, & self-compassion won’t be able to help you.

If you’re not supposed to pass judgment on other people, why do you pass judgement on yourself? You weren’t created to be perfect–humans are not perfect. Compassion is something we all deserve. Spending some time directing that compassion to yourself will allow you to have clarity, feel good, & it should be comforting to know it’s always there. Try writing some love letters & affirmations, & let me know how it goes.

 

“You can search throughout the entire universe for someone who is more deserving of your love and affection than you are yourself, & that person is not to be found anywhere. You, yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love & affection.” x Budda

L is for Love, Pt. II

 

I wrote L is for Love a little over a year ago when I was heartbroken, disappointed, & at one of the lowest points in my life. Growing through that experience forced me to put the pieces of my heart back together again & fall in love with one of the greatest loves of my life…myself. Going through a break-up or a fizzling out of a relationship is never fun, & it is rarely ever easy. Figuring out how to enjoy your alone time, love yourself, & get back to happy can be hard, ugly, & full of ups & downs…but I did it. I did it before, I did it then, & I keep doing it every day. In a moment of transparency I want to share with you one of my most beloved practices on my journey of falling in love with myself.

I write myself love letters.


Dear Anaston,
I pray you love yourself. I pray you love yourself wholly, fully & as fiercely as the love you pray for & seek in other people.
I pray you love yourself when you are at your worst. When you are down to the bottom, tear-stained, battered, & broken. When your mind is working against you & you are anxious, afraid, & your faith is wavering. I pray you love yourself enough to recognize when you need to pour into you & that you are never too self-conscious to ask for help. 
I pray you are able to look at yourself in the mirror, stripped from everything that society & the world around you wants you to be & that you are happy with the woman who looks back at you. I pray you love yourself when you don’t get invited to that event & get passed over for that opportunity. When everyone is busy & the only person you have to come home to is yourself…and Pablo.
I pray you love yourself when you stumble & fall in this dating life. When he doesn’t answer your text messages or return your phone call. When you think “this could be something”, but it doesn’t work out. I pray you love yourself enough to stay the course & be confident that God has created the partner just for you.
I pray you love yourself when he comes. When he sweeps you off your feet & all your practice & work finally pay off. I pray that you can wrap yourself up & dive into the love that God talks about in the Bible. I pray you love yourself when you find yourself in love & you’ve traded your heart for his. I pray you love yourself when your routines change, when someone else is in your space, & when you have him to come home to…and Pablo.
 I pray that you love yourself enough to know exactly how beautiful you are. That you love every bump, every hair, every pound, & every inch of your skin. I pray that you recognize your worth, your talents, & your intelligence. I pray that you love yourself enough to be neutral & humble, knowing that you are here to just be you, to serve, & to love.
And if no one else ever tells you that they love you, I pray that you love yourself enough to be rooted in just that…the love you have for you.
I love you,
Anaston

 

Why wait for someone to write you a love letter? One of the things I’ve always dreamed is that my husband will write me love letters (I’m old-fashioned like that), but until & hopefully after he comes, I will write them to myself. Both writing & reading the letters that you write can serve as an immense healing tool as you put your pieces back together. You discover things about yourself that you may have forgotten & you give yourself some much needed love. When you’re feeling down or discouraged, read one of your love letters & refill your love tank. I’ll share other practices that I’ve tried throughout this self-love journey in another post, but I wanted to share what really helped me figure out how to love Anaston. 

Have you ever had your heart broken? How did you get through it? Let’s face it, break-ups & the ending of a relationship doesn’t mean that you no longer love that person, but if you spend time redirecting that love back to you, it’ll soften the ache just a little bit more. 

 

“Today I affirm: I am responsible for doing the work in my healing. I am my own validation. I am abundantly full of all that I need.” x Alex Elle

So, You Had a Bad Day?

 

Lately, the anxiety I have been experiencing has been through the roof.

& despite being in a healthier, happier place mentally, I still have been feeling anxious. The anxiety led me to have a few bad, pretty emotional days during the month of July. I started to question if I really made any progress mentally & if my self-care practices were really working. Why, after being able to recognize all of the progress I made, was I starting to feel like I was back in the same place as June 2016? Honestly, I fell off the wagon in some areas & really had to push myself to stay on track.

So what happens during these “bad” days? What do I do? How do I recover?

A bad day for me usually occurs when things aren’t going my way. Let’s be real. If everything went your way the entire day, what would you have to feel bad about? & most of the time, it only takes one thing to start the domino effect of a bad day…People failed to meet my expectations, so I’m disappointed. I made mistakes, so I’m frustrated. Things are happening that I didn’t plan for, so I panic. All the decisions I have to make are looming in the back of my mind, so I procrastinate. Someone said something I didn’t like, so I’m offended. & before I know it, what may have started out as a great day has now become a “bad” day. In encountering a few of these days lately, here’s what I have learned:

I have learned to feel whatever emotions I am feeling at the time. Too often we try to process how we feel before we really even feel it, & this perpetuates a never ending cycle of hurt. In order to move past something, you actually have to deal with it. Otherwise, whatever it is will resurface later. Dealing with it can take time & many different bouts of emotions, but what’s important is that you allow yourself to grow through the healing process. You must tend to yourself mentally & emotionally. So I sit in whatever I am feeling until I am ready to move past it, & I don’t necessarily give myself a hard time limit of when I need to be “okay”.

Even though I don’t give myself a hard time limit on when I need to be okay, I don’t allow myself to sit in those less-than-desirable emotions for too long. It’s okay to be sad, cry, or even be angry, but if you feed too much into those emotions it can be more difficult to bounce back. So experience the feels, but be careful. 

Sometimes, I do nothing. Which may sound counter-productive, but it works for me. If I am having a bad day, sometimes that just means I need to rest. So, I rest, & I rest, & I rest some more. I binge watch a few shows, catch a few movies, & eat my favorite snacks. I lay out by the pool, or at the beach. I sleep. I give my body the time that it needs to rebuild, after subjecting it to so much every day. Allowing my body to rest also gives my mind time to rest. As I mentioned in Ep. 3 of Sister Talks with Anaston & Alexandria, our generation is known for not resting, which is exactly why so many people are experiencing mental & physical health issues. Part of living a long, healthy life, is knowing when to rest & when to slow down, so take a vacation from #NoDaysOff & relax.

& I like to be left alone. If I am not in the best mood, it is not necessary for me to cast that negative energy on other people. I don’t send out invitations to a pity party–people don’t always want to hear about everything that is going wrong with you today. Do you know someone who always has a “woe is me” story every time you talk to her/him? Don’t be that person. I can also tell the difference in my conversations when my mood is off. I’m usually easily irritated, short, & very nonchalant. That’s not fair to whomever I’m talking to, so it’s best to wait until I can participate in a conversation the right way.

Being left alone also means I take a break from saving everyone else. Sometimes you have to be unaccessible, & if the people around you are really for you, they will understand. Being by myself allows me to give Anaston the attention she usually gives to other people & other things. As I’ve started paying more attention to my mental health, I’ve realized that anxiety can be caused by the people around you. Always worrying about what everyone else is doing, the problems they are having, etc. can cause you to be a big ball of anxiety. 

Have you had a bad day recently? That’s okay. No one said there wouldn’t be bad days, but it’s important to remember that they don’t last always. Develop your own routine for a bad day, so that when those days come you are able to get through them with a little more ease. Don’t be afraid to take some time for yourself, do nothing, & experience what you feel. You’ll be better for it in the end. 

 

“Breathe, it’s just a bad day, not a bad life.” x Anonymous

 

 

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

 

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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 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

Conversations w/ Anaston: #MeTooGirl

 

In honor of my one-year blogiversary, I have revived my YouTube channel & started a new series called “Conversations w/ Anaston”! Here’s the first video! Be sure to like, comment, & subscribe!