black women, health, women

Being Nanekia…GirlTrek A Walk To Self Discovery!

nik girl trekA little over a week ago thanks to #BlackGirlsInCle I had the opportunity to attend Girl Trek Cleveland Edition. I was excited 1. to find out more about Girl Trek, 2. To get out of the house on a Friday night for a little me time. Go on over and read my review of the event on www.blackgirlincle.com. The space, the vibe, the sisterhood was overwhelming and as with each experience I get to learn more about myself. So what did I learn this time around…Keep reading!

I’ve been living this outside my comfort zone lifestyle for a while. I’ve been many places alone, which no longer bothers me, this experience was different, it took me to a new level of being uncomfortable and I was completely there for it. I’ve had to do a lot of self reflecting and soul-searching lately, this was a decision I did not take lightly as in order for me to become better, to be available to encourage others to be their best selves, in order to live by example, I can’t be bullsh*tting myself. If there was any of that left, the #girltrek experience pulled it all out.

  1. All the ladies in the room were told to stand silently against the wall and leave all judgements including judging ourselves outside the room, there were a lot of ladies but we manage to do it. Then we were told to really think about ourselves and be honest with the answers we were giving. Step forward if you have improved your healthy living lifestyle, step forward if you have left an abusive relationship, step back if you remain in an abusive relationship, this went on with multiple questions until we were uneven. As I gazed around the room I saw women who were just like me, standing on my own in life figuring things out. I’d experienced some gains and losses and I wasn’t alone.
  2. As we remain in silence we were brought to a circle to do a rhythmic dance exercise. Honestly I had no clue what we were about to do, but the spirit in the room was refreshing and inviting. There were so many melanated faces in the room as we looked at each other the music began. First there was a slow beat, which we swayed to, then the build up and as the music began to heighten we were instructed to dig, scooping low (floor) then releasing at the top (above our head) as we scooped the sound was one of great pain from each person, but then the release was a roar, like we had found freedom and we needed everyone to know. The more we scooped the greater the release until you could feel the humming in the room get louder and louder with every release. Not sure if my description is giving you the full picture, but imagine being weighted down and you feel like you can’t get up, but then you manage to get up and now you can’t even feel the weight of what you were carrying. I felt all the pressure of that day being removed from me, the issues with co-workers, kids not cleaning up, missing date night, loss of friendships, too many meetings, goals not reached, the weight of all the issues I’d been having I could no longer feel. What did I feel? I felt my sisters carrying me, I felt with each hum of their voices they were helping me release. This was magical because let me tell you, a girl was extremely tired of carrying that weight!
  3. The Wonder Stories of Wonder Women! This part of the evening was amazing. You all know I like a good story and these were stories of women right here in my community, sharing defeat and triumph. With each shared story I felt closer to these women I did not know. We experienced joy, pain, laughter, anger, so many emotions and so many divine connections made. Once the stories were over we were told to grab a sister, hold her hands and look her directly in her eyes. No smiling, just studying her face and seeing her story in her eyes. Have you actually ever looked at another woman? Not her outfit, make-up, shoes (we know I love shoes), not her smile, but what’s in her eyes. Staring into this strangers eyes I began to notice things I hadn’t about her and we had been sitting next to each other for at least 2 hours. If you are so inclined really look at someone, and you will see their story. This was magical for me and I’m not going to lie the tears began to flow, because I knew my story, that behind my smile, behind the jokes, I was crying my eyes out tired and I didn’t see rest in site. That sister hugged me so tight I felt my body go limp and finally rest!
  4. Finally we get to the walking part, LOL! I mean all this emotional stuff and now you want me to walk. If you read my #blackgirlincle article then you know that 137 black women are dying each day due to preventable diseases. For me personally I know stress correlates directly to some of my health issues. Being able to relieve some of that stress and set myself free was amazing. So what does walking have to do with this? It’s a form of self-care we should start taking advantage of. When I’m angry, take a walk, when I’m sad, try taking a walk, when I’m happy take advantage of that boost and take a walk. Our ancestors found freedom in walking and you can find it too just take your first steps.

Girl Trek is on a mission to get a million African-American women to join the movement by 2020, I’m one of those women! My road to travel in getting me together started when I decided to take that single step, to live a life that defines me and no one else. What will your walk look like? Will you join us?
onika jervisOnika Jervis, Chief Engagement Officer. Girl Trek

Veronica VeryVeronica Very, President & Founder, Wonder of Women

Morgan DixonMorgan Dixon, Founder & CEO, Girl Trek

parenting

I Don’t Wanna Go Broke!

blog photo 11.20.18Hey Hotties! How many of us remember that Toys R Us kid’s song. I knew when I heard it around the holidays Christmas was fast approaching. Well now Toys R Us is no longer around ( insert sad face), is that due to poor financial planning, biting off more than they could chew, like the Tootsie Roll commercial “the world may never know?!” What I do know is I don’t want to see any parent going broke trying to provide a “Christmas” experience for their family. So below you will find a few ways I am curbing my spending during this upcoming holiday season.

Forbes predicts that parents will spend $495 per child. With Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales, parents are pouring out big bucks for electronic items, collector items, and lifetime experiences for their children. Our children are living their best lives and we are going broke for them to do it! So how do we stop the cycle of unnecessary debt and enjoy this season. I’m going to tell you what I’ve done and hopefully it helps you.

  1. I made a list of the individuals I was going to purchase gifts for. I would love to splurge on all my nieces, nephews, aunties, uncles, and cousins but that’s not feasible. I’ve kept the list very specific and assigned a dollar amount to each person.
    (example)
  2. Name Amount Spent Remaining
    Symone 150 75 75
    Jamiel 150 63 87
    Anissa 150 92 58

    Once the amount allocated is gone that’s it, there is no more to spend.

  3. I started shopping 2 months ago. I allotted an amount from each paycheck to go towards the holidays. This way I wasn’t rushing to buy things just because I had to get a gift and I was able to budget between bills and extracurriculars. Also while I love a good Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale, there have been some amazing sales going on if you sign up to receive promotions from those stores or vendors. While the emails may get to be a bit much at times, I love being the “first” to know about the sale and getting that extra 15-35% off because I signed up with them.
  4. All gifts matter! Here’s is where your parental guilt may cause you to break the bank spending this season. DON’T DO IT! If you can’t afford it, then that’s it, making a choice between paying a bill and your child having the new Jordan’s is a no brainer. Now don’t get me wrong I love seeing the excited look on my children’s faces when they get the gift they really want, but I’ve also instilled in them that appreciation for the gifts they receive is the greatest gift they can give back to me as a parent. (cause let’s face it they not breaking their little banks to buy us gifts). You are doing the best you can, don’t allow social media, TV, YouTube, or other parents make you feel guilty about what you can and cannot afford. You run your household and you know what you need to keep the needs of the family first not just the wants.
  5. Now if you are one of those people who just have to get EVERYBODY a gift, but you know you can’t afford it, here’s my back-up plan. Get photos of you and your family and have them printed, then create a holiday memory book for family members to display in their homes. Get artsy with it, no grandparent can resist a photo album with the little painted baby hands on it. Or you can bake cookies and give them out, this allows for you all to do a family activity and share with others.

Debt is something we should start teaching our children early to steer clear of. As much as we want to fulfill a want, discipline in spending habits will go a long way to secure their futures. What is your budget looking like this holiday season? How can you save?

parenting

Being Nanekia…UPDATE- Weight Loss Journey

1F234308-FEEE-4A06-B707-A18D0FF9417BWe are still on this journey!!! For the last year and a half I’ve been doing what everyone says will help me lose weight. From taking a bunch of workout classes, to adjusting myself to different diet plans, trying weight loss shakes/teas and supplements. All of these things are popular because I’m sure just like I do, you see them all over social media and along with them you see the pictures to prove their results. So what have I lost?!

When this journey first began I wanted to lose 50 pounds, that was my main goal. I focused only on that and nothing else. From week to week I would see loss and gain. This rollercoaster was driving me crazy, there was so much to keep up with. And then the devastating fact that I had not lost 50 pounds within the time period I’d given myself set in. I was disappointed. Would I ever drop this 50 pounds?! As I was getting dressed I noticed my pants didn’t fit anymore, they were significantly bigger. I was annoyed thinking something happened with the laundry, I go look in the mirror and there I saw it. I looked different. My body had formed this nice little shape that I had not noticed. I was so stuck on losing 50 pounds that I never took the time to embrace the changes I could actually see my body going through. I was looking and feeling better! Should that have been my goal?

What have I gained? A new-found respect for others and their weight loss journey, an even greater dose of self-confidence, the ability to be consistent with my workouts and love for myself at all stages of this journey. I’ve also learned about what I really want on this journey and as much as I want to look good, feeling good has become more important. I can keep up with the people in my workout class, I’m not out of breath when playing with my daughter, I’ve become even sexier (eyebrow raises) I feel good. I’ll take those gains over any amount of loss!

What journey are you on? Are you taking the time to enjoy the course or are you so focused on the goal you can’t enjoy the journey? Take time out to enjoy it all, it will be worth it in the end.

parenting

It’s A Shame! Part 2

IMG-0190So let’s just say in the last few weeks shaming has been at an all time high. I’m not sure why others take such liberties to tell you about how you should feel bad, but they do. I often wonder what do these people tell themselves when they look in the mirror or when someone corrects them about being who they are. How do they feel? Apparently not bad enough to stop doing it to others. In this week’s shaming story, it’s just me and this body that I am in, that I love but apparently someone felt I should not be so crazy about.

I was in my office minding my business, on this day my hair was wrapped up like a Nubian goddess, I had on a perfect floor length sundress, face was au natural, and my scent was a hint of coconut. I was feeling good, not just about my look but I was having a good day. Then I felt the room get dark and an evil presence enter who wanted to take my happiness away. I’m joking no evil presence just someone else who does not work in my office decided to tell us about the detox she was on. As I try to shy away and head to my office she notices. Excuse me, I wanted to tell you about the detox what’s going on with you?! Who me?! She then proceeds to question my head wrap and explain how a real lady does not wear that type of adornment outside of her home. She assumes that underneath my scarf my hair must be a mess and I should really take the time, just a few seconds and do something besides the scarf. She’s an older woman and I respect my elders so I respectfully nod at her suggestions. You would think it would have stopped there, but I guess because I didn’t completely lose it on her about the hair comment she thought she should continue. Next, apparently I need to detox because my face was super red and it was probably red because of the toxins in my body and not enough water. Again I just nod and try to respectfully move toward my office. 15 minutes later a discussion about how my spirituality was reflected in my look and I need to get right with God, I finally tell her to be blessed and to have a good day. Now I failed to mention earlier she wasn’t just having this conversation with me, but my other co-worker was present as well. Yeah, she was trying to shame me in front of someone else.

After she left, my co-worker asked why I hadn’t responded with a swift, you need to be checked demeanor. My response, I’m confident enough in myself to know that what her thoughts are, are not my own. Why would I take the time to explain that I’d been wearing my hair in a nice flat wrap waiting for it to dry before I removed my wrap, but that I was proud of myself for finally learning how to correctly tie the wrap up on my head ( I watched a billion YouTube videos), that I was in the midst of a rosacea flare up, that instead of covering it up with make-up I decided to let my skin breathe and for the first time in days my skin felt cool. Or why would I explain that me and Jesus are super cool, that we talk on a regular basis and all is well with my soul. I knew that she had already made up in her mind to judge what she didn’t know and she didn’t want to get to know. Why waste time and effort trying to get her to see beyond her own thoughts. And checking her would just feed into her already negative thoughts, so instead I just nod.

But what if I wasn’t confident in myself, what if I was at my breaking point and one more comment would have sent me over the edge? People don’t often think before they speak and sometimes they don’t realize that their helpful advice isn’t so helpful. For me I’ve been in love with who I am for a long time, but a lot of women I work with or speak with are just learning this, what damage is being done my others to take them off the path to self-love?!

I challenge each of us to not assume we know what a person has going on based on one glance and our opinion, but if you really care to get to know that person and if you don’t ZIP IT! Have you been shamed? How did you handle it?

parenting

It’s A Shame!

IMG-0358 (1)I honestly hate that this is a conversation we have to keep having but it’s a very necessary one. I’m talking about the conversation around Mom Shaming! It’s a tough enough job nurturing and guiding these people we’ve been given, but to have someone take a hammer and shatter your confidence in this area it’s a bit much. We all know we don’t have it all together, yet each day we at least attempt to put on this brave face and join society. The last thing you need when trying to hold it together is someone giving you the look. We all know the look, when someone tilts their head up in the air slightly to look down upon you, mom’s also have that stare, but it’s an ancient secret I can’t reveal here. Why do we, people think it’s okay to make someone feel bad about their parenting, just because they may not do it the way we do it doesn’t make it wrong. Can’t we all learn from each other.

So here’s the story Anissa loves to where these kitten heel boots she found. She puts them on with her favorite dress and I watch as she transforms into this character that is a singer, actress, mom, superhero, teacher and doctor. I can see her become empowered and it makes me feel good. The other day she wears this magnificent outfit with me as I grocery shop. Everyone is admiring her little boots with the heels. She in turn clacks them together and gallops away so they can see and hear them. She loves to put on a show. As I giggle, I hear a whisper, “She think she’s grown,” I look around to see who thinks they’re grown, because I’m obviously grown and so is the other lady in the aisle and then there’s just Anissa so who is she talking to?! I ignore and keep reading the package and Anissa keeps clacking. I then hear, “Who would let their little girl wear heels?” So now I know she’s talking to me because unless a ghost was going to reveal himself to us both we were the only ones in the aisle. I politely inquire about her comment with an excuse me. ” I was just wondering where you got those little heels? They are cute, how is she walking in them?” My reply, better than some grown women I know!

As Anissa and I walk out of the aisle I could feel her staring and shaking her head. If I wasn’t confident in who I am as a mom I would have questioned myself and probably took away Anissa’s shoes because of course if this one lady is thinking it someone else must have thought it too.  I know that shoes don’t cause Anissa to grow up any quicker, I also know that she likes the shoes because of the sound they make when she walks. So why was this lady so concerned?! She wasn’t, she didn’t care about Anissa’s welfare she just wanted to judge me based on what she thought she knew. What did she know? Absolutely nothing!

This was just a small incident for me there have been countless others where people assume their opinions matter just because parenting styles don’t match. The beauty of our world is that we are all different, which means the people we raise will be a little bit of us and a whole lot of different. What gives any of us the right to stop that progression? So my advice to the shamers…STOP IT!

Have you ever felt like someone was trying to shame you? How did you handle it?