Be Mindful of Your Check-Ins

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3 months into 2019 and so far its been an amazing year.Not because life ain’t been lifin because it definitely has, not because people haven’t disappointed me, not because I didn’t revert back to behaviors that my highest self wouldn’t condone a few times. But because through it all I’ve managed to remain hopeful. When I reflect on times in life when I felt my world was ending, it was because hope had somehow escaped me.

I wan’t effectively checking in with myself. I wasn’t asking myself questions that prompted critical thought and empowered me to make the right moves.

To thrive, to level up, to be successful, to get the most of life, you have to have a vision beyond what you see. Do more of the things that give that vision more life until it’s realized.

This time last year, I wasn’t clear on my vision. I was clear on the discomfort around me, and since I focused on that, I stayed there until life reminded me that I’m That Bitch! Life is filled with endless possibilities but its all cause and effect. Everything in this moment is the effect of the somethings you did yesterdays ago. What do you want to see and feel in the tomorrows later on down the line?

I’m grateful for tools like my Layered Living Planner reminding me to check-in with myself. Being reminded to be honest with myself about what I’m doing, where I’m at, and where I’ma be based on that keeps me on track.

April is for aligning. 2019 is a breakthrough year.

Happy Monday. Remember to check in with yourself frequently enough to keep you focused. If you check-in with yourself and you’re good, check in with someone else and lift them up.

Be Mindful of Your Traumaversaries...

My grandparents back in the day day.

My grandparents back in the day day.

Yesterday felt so heavy, my feet felt like cement blocks that I slowly dragged through an infinite fog. I couldn’t see where I was going but I somehow knew where my feet would land. Kendrick Lamar whispered in my ear, “Ain’t nobody praying for me,’ as I scrolled Instagram and stopped at a post that read, “Your grandmother’s prayers are still protecting you.” Synchronicity hit me as I realized what day it was.

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She would’ve been 86 today. Birthdays were the most special occasion when I was young. My grandmother had an address book that was an information hub of random tidbits, a rolodex of every person she had met and when their birthday was. For my grandmother’s birthdays, my aunts and I would wear her favorite color, purple and we would all go for breakfast and maybe a fashion show or whatever my grandmother wanted to do to celebrate her. I miss those days.

This year, I’ve decided to prioritize honoring myself which means acknowledging my nostalgia and being mindful of the days that are reminders of pain but not allowing myself to dwell there. In 2019, as I continue to move through my healing and on through thriving, I’m being proactive as days approach that could send me toward places where I don’t want to dwell. I am the source of all I seek, including al I thought my grandmother carried with her when she died. I thought I lost so much when she passed, but its like the end of The Wiz when everyone finds out they’ve had everything they’ve been looking for all along.

At some point you have to trust the evidence of your life.

I feel my grandmother’s spirit right here with me today and I’m grateful to be in tune with it. I’m grateful for all of the lessons my pain and trauma have taught me, they’re part of life. I’m no longer claiming L’s as losses, only life lessons and life changes. I’m walking into this week welcoming joy and preserving my peace, determined to not allow traumaversaries to get the best of me. I release the comfort of the downward spiral that usually comes when things don’t go as planned. I trust that in the end, life gives me whatever experience I need to level up and thrive in life.

Be Mindful of Your Unlearning...

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I was around 12 years old when I learned I didn’t have the right to feel beautiful. I was only allowed to wear my hair in a low bun at the nape of my neck, wearing it down or in any other style that made me feel beautiful would make it fall out, I was told. I could only wear tee shirts and jeans that were at least one size too big. The goal was to keep men and boys from even looking my way, boys liked beautiful girls so I couldn’t be beautiful.

In the two decades since the many behaviors that made me shrink, made me feel less than, and stole my power were introduced to me, I’ve done so much reprogramming internally to rid myself of thoughts and things that don’t stem from love. Feeling beautiful is a part of thriving at life, and I plan to do it well. Whatever you need to unlearn so that you can thrive, I’m sending you the strength and courage to do so.

Don’t Ever Say Impossible.

Be Mindful of Your Healing...

A plague swept through my job and had me feeling like death for a week. It was probably the flu but me and my stubbornness usually just allow things to run their course. So for almost 10 days I felt way less than 100%, I barely felt 60% most days. All my body wanted to do was sleep, I had no appetite and no energy. I pushed through a few of the days and still went to work but also still felt like shit. And it got me wondering what if by pushing through I actually prolonged my sickness. By not properly caring for myself and acknowledging that my body wasn't at its best, was I depriving myself of a proper healing? It’s definitely possible.

As I sat with my thoughts more and more, I realized I have a tendency to do the same things with my emotions and feelings, I just push through and suppress them or ignore TF out of them. It’s not healthy tho.

You can’t thrive until you heal.

Without really taking the time to sort through your “stuff” and deal with or process experiences, you can’t reach that sublime level of life where you thrive.

I don’t know about you, but I want to thrive this year and beyond. No more pushing through without processing. I’m taking my time to sit with myself and sort through my stuff so I can identify the cause and prevent undesired effects. I’m taking the time to visualize my thrive and to really feel it through. Simply pushing through life is like walking through blindingly thick fog. I want to be present, I want to be intentional, so I’m aligning with thriving from here on out. Happy Monday, I hope you’re thriving out there.

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All images taken by Erica Westley.

Be Mindful of Distractions...

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They come at the best-worst times. Yes, best-worst meaning when you’re already looking away from the light and somehow caught a glimpse of darkness. When you’re already on the edge about to slip, some person or some thing comes along and tries to nudge you off the cliff.

We all get distracted, the question is , would you bounce back or bounce backward?
— Kendrick Lamar

Stop being friendly to fuck boys. Stop allowing the bullshit drama that won’t matter tomorrow stress you out. Stop allowing that friend to drain your energy with the shit they won’t get together. Stop using toxic ass beauty products. Stop medicating as a temporary escape and deal with your life. Stop romanticizing mediocrity and take responsibility for living well.

Feed your dreams so that they come to life. Maryam Hasnaa mentioned creating a “To Feel” list instead of a “To Do” list. I want to feel focused, peaceful, challenged yet empowered, and safe to be all of me. I’m doing things that bring those feelings about, anything else is a distraction. We off distractions!

I am the source of all I seek.

Let’s keep the main thing the main thing and stay focused on our focus today and beyond. Be great and be on your shit!

Be Mindful of Your Triggers

The day I received the proofs of these photos from my photographer, I sent them to a few friends. I prefaced them with, “Here’s a sneak peek at some of the pics I took the other day.” Of course a few ppl gassed me (as they should cuz this is a SLAY), but there’s always that one person that has to find something to dislike.

“Can I be honest, they make you look bigger than you are…”

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My first instinct was to spazz angrily via text but I didn’t, I sat with my discomfort for a minute to decipher the root and analyze. I wasn’t at all upset with him sharing his opinion, but I couldn’t figure out the intention behind it. Before I give any unsolicited opinions or advice, I ask myself if I’m helping or hurting by expressing myself. I didn’t like that it was implied that looking bigger is such a negative thing that I should be bothered by it.

“Thank you for your honesty. Should I photoshop myself to lookin thinner or should I diet?”

I sarcastically and passive aggressively asked. I grew even more livid when I received a response to this. Clearly those weren’t real questions. I regained my wits and expressed my reasoning for preferring he shove his opinion where the sun doesn’t shine and find someone else to criticize. I tried and tried to understand how a comment such as that couldn’t be ill intentioned, but it just didn’t sit right with me. I was triggered AF because I spent my entire adolescence not being allowed to be comfortable with the skin I’m in. I wasn’t allowed to feel or be beautiful for a long time, and his comment took me back to teenage me who never knew the power in feeling and owning her beauty. Now that I’m grown, I refuse to allow someone else’s opinion to shake the love I’ve cultivated for myself.

BRUH, CAN’T YOU SEE I’M CHANNELING BEYONCE AND A BEAUTIFUL ASS PHOENIX BIRD?! IDGAF about looking bigger than I am, I’m not a flat tummy tea pushing IG model, so a roll, looking bloated, or any other society deemed imperfection being brought to light isn’t really a concern of mine. Beyonce brought FUPAs back this year anyway.

I had a whole “Hey Mirror Bitch,” moment with myself and concluded his delivery was trash. However, I was proud of me for expressing myself and making the effort to turn this trigger into a teachable moment. I went to an open discussion about self love a few days after this transpired and through so many people sharing thoughts and opinions on self love, I discovered several common themes. The most impactful one is that self love is the greatest safety against your triggers. Had I not taken the time to strengthen the love I have for myself, I would’ve crumbled in that moment. So while this opinion was trash, I’m grateful this happened because it’s showed me how much I’ve grown and allowed me to do the work by expressing myself.

Happy Monday and Don’t Ever Say Impossible!

*photos via EricaWestley.com

Be Mindful of Your Peace...

Anthony Bourdain mural by Bradley Theodore located on Delancey St between Ludlow and Essex.

Anthony Bourdain mural by Bradley Theodore located on Delancey St between Ludlow and Essex.

"Rest in peace," we're taught to encourage the dead to do. But why wait until you pass away to seek peace? The noise, the distractions, the everyday bullshit that tries to keep you caught up in fear and things that don't serve your highest good only have as much power as you give them. Once I decided that bs wasn't real, life became easier to enjoy. Once I prioritized preserving my peace and acted accordingly, life felt that much sweeter. I disengage with anything and anyone that disturbs my peace of mind. My peace is too precious not to protect. My peace is the foundation of my strength and power. My peace fuels my passion for living well, life is too short to not seek peace while you're here. I hope you find some peace and some joy today!

Nothing real can be threatened, nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of god.
— A Course In Miracles

Be Mindful of Your Demons

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Be mindful of your demons, they'll haunt you until you face them. Acknowledge them. Feel them Allow them. And then grow from them. My number one demon has always been myself. My self-doubt. My insecurities. My fear of failure. My fear of success. My fear of others not approving. My fear of being uncomfortable. My fear of not measuring up. 

My demons have broken me down, more times than one, and each time I used them to level up into a better me. Me demons lift me, in spite of the struggles they yield. Our demons and our struggles usually hold the key to our life's purpose, and fulfilling our life's purpose is what will bring us the greatest reward. Learn your demons and then use them to motivate yourself to be better than yesterday. 

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All limits are self imposed.
— Icarus

Who am I to hold me back? I was born to thrive and what better way to thrive than mastering my faults and flipping them to work for me. 

Be Mindful of What Matters

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A couple of Saturdays ago I turned 32. I kept my birthday on the low, didn't really plan anything as big as I usually do. Mainly because there was a dark cloud hovering over me. In addition to being stressed because life be lifin', my anxiety attempted to cripple me as the day approached. The prior two years someone I knew passed away within days of my birthday.

I thought I was in the clear, but then I got a text. It was the same week as Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain as well as the same cause. It was difficult to celebrate this year, as I was again grappling with grief. But as much as I could I pushed through my pain and reminded myself that life is meant to be lived while we're here. I'm grateful for the friends who reached out and surrounded my with great energy and love. It was one of those things I knew I needed and knew would help me find some joy despite my initial resistance.

I reflected back to when days were always dark for me and times were always hard, it was when I felt like I didn't matter to anyone and that somehow the lives of everyone around me would be better without me. I'm grateful to have been emancipated from my own destructive thoughts. I've been extra conscious of expressing to those around me that they matter and doing my best to be as kind as possible to all who cross my path. We may not always know what others are struggling with, but we know how to treat people with care. 

Life gon life regardless, so focus on what matters. You being here is enough evidence that you matter. Mental health and wellness matters. Finding joy in everyday matters. And for me, sharing my experiences and reflections matters. I'm seeking my writing rhythm again, because being all that I was created to be matters.