My husband told me he made our appointment to take new headshots next week. Instead of being excited and happy about it, I immediately went into panic mode.
My hair is currently in its natural state, and my hair appointment is two weeks away.
Before I could ask about the details, I said, “noooo; my hair appointment is in two weeks.”
See, he didn’t think anything was wrong with my natural hair, and quite frankly, neither do I. But I’ve been conditioned to have a weave to look more professional. The thought of having my headshots with my natural hair scared me.
That is a reality for a lot of black women. Our hair has become something that we have to think about more than any other race to the point that the chemicals we put in it to meet “professionalism standards” are killing us.
I will be brave and take my headshots with my natural hair. This is why the crown act is so important. As I continue to unlearn these ideologies that have made my hair an issue, I will continue to speak about this journey.
Analyze your buying behavior and you’ll probably realize that you’re buying things not even because you want them but because you feel “you should”, explore this with me as I reflect on how my reading habits has changed.
As a kid I’ve always loved reading. Sometimes I wonder if I loved reading because I loved it or because it provided me a good escape from my reality. In elementary school I read books provided to me by my teachers, whether assigned, in class library or weekly library trips, I was in heaven. Don’t even get me started on scholastic book fairs.
I gravitated towards books that looked girly; yes, I judged books by their covers and titles. If it was pink or purple, it certainly was coming home with me. I also was loyal to my favorite authors, I figured if I loved this book by them then certainly I’m going to love the others, and for the most part, I was correct.
Moving on to my teen years when I discovered black authors. I had started going to the library after school to do my homework, read books and check them out. The local librarians new me by name. I read books by authors like Omar Tyree, Mary Monroe, Terry McMillan, and so many more.
It was a haven; these authors were writing about characters I could relate to, look like it, or aspire to be. Around the same time, I was also inhaling any urban book my way. I think I was in a book club before I even knew what a book club was. A classmate of mine would get a popular urban book, and they would read it, and the next reader would have about two days to read it to pass it on to the next book. I used to lock myself in the bathroom just so I could finish my book.
Needless to say, I was a voracious reader. But something has changed in my adult years. While I still love reading and am always reading something, I realized that I wasn’t picking out my books based on what I wanted anymore. All of a sudden, I started to care about “Oprah’s book of the month,” “Obama’s top ten books,” and the “NYT best sellers book list.” The issue with sticking to these lists was that it limited me finding books that actually brings me joy, make me laugh or help me dream. These lists are less likely to have a book by Eric Jerome Dickey or Omar Tyree on them.
It left me reading books that left me confused or unimpressed. Don’t get me wrong, Truman Capote’s “in Cold Blood” is still my favorite book, followed closely by “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozie, but I trailed away from being true to myself about the books that I like. I am filling up my home library with books that are hailed as literary genius by people who don’t support authors who write characters that looks like me. Why is that?
While this analysis is about my reading habit, it goes far beyond reading. Too often we find ourselves doing things, buying things that we may not even care for just because it’s what’s in right now. That’s like me ordering a venti vanilla blonde from Starbucks when I really want is a cafe con leche, home style, on the stove, using a strainer with Carnation milk and sugar, but it’s not “what’s in right now”.
I’ve been challenging myself to be more honest about my choices, do I want something because I genuinely want it and am curious or because I feel like I’m supposed to want it or for me to be able to participate in the social conversations about that topic. Try that exercise with yourself and you’ll be surprised about your behavior too.
I leave with this quote I read on the internet, “we spend so much money buying things we don’t want to impress people we don’t like” or something like that.
If you feel compel to ask a woman, when are you going to have a baby? Don’t. It’s none of your business. Truth be told, family planning is a personal matter, you don’t know if a couple is experiencing challenges that
they may not be comfortable sharing.
As a newlywed, this question becomes annoying; I am constantly harassed by well-meaning folks who ask, “Any news yet?” Or those who give unprovoked advice like “don’t wait too long”. Honestly, it’s very frustrating. In one day, I had called three family members to check up on them and everyone felt concerned about the state of my uterus.
I became visibly annoyed as the conversations went on to the point that I told a family member I would stop calling if they kept asking me when I would get pregnant.
Growing up in the Pentecostal church, I felt like it was a rite of passage, people got married and had babies. Some couples got married and didn’t have babies, but I wasn’t sure why. I remember learning a very awkward lesson one day. My cousin who had been married for some time was chatting about life with us and I asked “when are y’all going to have a baby, it’s been some time?” I wasn’t prepared for the answer. He said, “well, we just had a miscarriage this morning, so why don’t you ask God”. I felt so awful. I feel like miscarriages and overall reproductive problems were not ever talked about where I was from that I didn’t even know it existed.
As my generation got older, more of us are talking honestly about reproductive struggles and measures. Do I have to tell someone my reproductive struggles so that they can sympathize with me and stay out of my uterus? Should I have to tell people, yes, I’m married but we don’t want kids right now. What makes people feel so comfortable with asking these invasive questions?
I’ve been dealing with a gluten sensitivity issue, and when it flares, I will look about 4-5 months pregnant (no exaggeration). I went to work one day fully bloated with this gluten belly and there was nothing I can do about it. My students were whispering to themselves whether I was pregnant or not. The day before, I had just given them the speech that it’s rude and invasive to ask people if they’re pregnant. So on this particular day with my stomach stretched out, a student challenged me that I was indeed pregnant and lying about it. It was very uncomfortable for me because we were trying then and I had just taken a test that read negative, but here was this boy accusing me of lying about something that was already challenging for me and none of his business. I did my best to compose myself but had he been an adult, I don’t think I would have been so calm.
I haven’t been married for a year yet, let me live my life. My reproductive journey is between God, my husband, and me. When I get pregnant, I promise I will not shut up about it. Until then, If you see me a little boated, mind your business. If you see that I’ve gained weight, mind your business some more. 💙😘
February came rushing in with deadlines and stress. I have been dealing with a lot of personal issues that it’s starting to wear me down. I decided to go back to teaching (I can’t help it, I love the craft), and teaching this year is still a challenging task, so I am busy! I am also teaching three different writing courses remotely.
As I have stated before, I am not making New Year’s resolutions anymore but am making monthly goals. I have two goals for February, make all of my doctor’s appointments and write more. While on the surface, these goals sound attainable, unfortunately, I am the cliche millennial who hates making doctor appointments. I would send them an email if I could. I still have not figured out why I am so uncomfortable calling people to make appointments. This goal is vital as I am taking charge of my health and need to meet with new doctors to get my care plan in order.
The second goal, write more is also very important. When I was younger, I used to keep journals and diaries now;, it’s a struggle for me to put “pen to paper.” I hope to keep this blog alive by actually writing! My goal for February is to post five articles, here’s to keeping me accountable.
I don’t know how many times we have to say this, but here’s another reminder, it’s a mirage. I am guilty here too, by the way. I often have to repeat these mantras to myself, “comparison is the thief of joy” and “social media is a curated art form”, these are necessary for me because it is so easy to get caught up in an aesthetic and then send yourself (talking about myself) in a depressive spiral.
I remember one year, all I wanted was a christmas tree. I finally went and got the tree, a fresh tree from Stew Leonards, and some decor from marshalls and was just so excited to put it together. I didnt really know how to decorate a tree but I was so happy to be doing it and then I scrolled my Instagram explode page and was DEPRESSED. I was busy comparing my sad looking tree to these overly decorated trees; the very thing that had me so happy and excited now had me upset. I immediately took a social media break.
I really believe that social media breaks are necessary because we are driving ourselves crazy with the amounts of advertisement thrown at us and then going into debt to keep up with it.
I had a breakthrough moment last week. I was feeling overly stressed about not being able to maintain my home to the Instagram worthy look (y’all know what I’m talking about) and kept saying “those other moms can do it, why can’t I?” My husband assured me that it was ok but I wasn’t taking his word for it. Feeling defeated and overwhelmed, I signed up for a housekeeping service, I did what I had to do.
The kicker is, I was comparing my real home, where people are living, moving and working to something that doesn’t exist. The influencers are now revealing that their pics are staged!!!! SERIOUSLY! I was losing my mind over someone shooting pics at the local Ikea, furniture store, or Airbnb, I had to laugh at myself.
I just want to end by saying, you don’t know anyone’s life because you follow their social media. You cannot speak to their happiness or sadness unless they tell you. It is a mirage, they are CHOOSING what they share.
Every January 01, we get inundated with the declarations of friends and families sharing their resolution for the year. I think back to the many resolutions that I have made and didn’t keep one of them.
In 2018, I resolved to be debt-free; I worked hard at it. I downloaded every money management app I could find, wrote down the balances on my credit cards, and was oh so determined to tackle them. I got a copy of my credit history on Experian, decided to call up old creditors to make arrangements to pay them off, and felt like I was on a good path. I mean, what else could go wrong?
That goal seemed feasible enough; I was making good money for a 28-year-old working as an NYC teacher and an adjunct instructor. I was a girl with a plan. But the problem is, that plan was done by March. I wasn’t disciplined about it. Yes, I paid down my credit cards (ONLY TO USE THEM ALL AGAIN); what was the reason? I didn’t create a goal that would address my actual problem (irresponsible spending). Upon evaluation, I had to come to terms with that the plan was not correct for me or didn’t address what I needed to focus on because my mentality was “YOLO” or “I’ll make that money again.”
In 2019 my goal was to choose myself more. This was a coded goal based on this toxic relationship I kept going back to. I laugh at the thought that I needed to make it a resolution not to go back to this relationship. Funny enough that I can be so bold to laugh at Khloe Kardashian and her drama with Tristan Thompson when I was just as dumb. (Hmm, maybe she could consider making it a resolution). Anyways, I had decided that for the last year of my 20’s this relationship no longer served me, and I couldn’t give it one more year, knowing it wouldn’t result in anything fruitful. This is the only resolution I have managed to keep to this day. I had an awkward conversation with him by March and haven’t looked back.
In 2020, I chose to be more intentional with self-care. I’m going to blame this goal on the Covid-19 pandemic because the world shut down around March. 2020 was still a big year for me because it was when I turned 30. I became fixated with skincare; I knew I had to take care of it if I wanted my black not to crack. I was intentional about wearing sunscreen and my products having SPF. I told myself I would get my hair done more often and make my nail appointments routine (especially pedicures).
That goal was important because I realized I didn’t do a good job taking care of myself. I am always making sure everyone is good; I overworked myself and had trouble accepting downtime and relaxing. So I decided to focus on myself. When the world shut down in March, my self-care goals went out of the window. I slept late, ate less, and was not getting pedicures.
I didn’t have a resolution for 2021. I didn’t even think about it. So much had changed in my life that I was just focused on navigating life. But throughout that year, I learned a lot about myself, things that I can’t even admit out loud because I am still coming to terms with them. So instead of New Year’s resolutions, I’m focused on monthly goals. For 2022, I will be more patient with myself. I give so much patience to everyone else, but I skip me. I plan on making monthly goals with actual actionable steps that I can follow through on.
I’ve been having an emotionally stressful month, and one thing I realized is that it takes away my joy. I haven’t been able to write anything or finish anything because I don’t want to let my feelings seep into my writing. I’ve decided to hold myself no longer hostage to that mindset because writing is therapeutic for me. Reading is another form of therapy and I have not been able to do much of that either. The most recent book I read was a young children’s book by Kate Dicamillo, that’s pathetic!
My emotional state leads me to look up some tips for pushing yourself out of a funk. If you’re in a funk, I hope these tips are valuable to you.
1. Make your bed– tale as old as time, but it works. One thing that works for me when I decide I will get out of my funk is that I clean my space. I change my sheets, clean my room and light up some candles or a humidifier and liven up the room. By creating a new scene in my bedroom, it creates a new mood for my brain.
2. Eat breakfast– I typically don’t eat breakfast and usually rely on coffee to hold me until lunch, but I’ve found that when my mental space isn’t in order, I become quickly irritable and short-fused. Hunger is now a no no and my patience becomes thin. When id normally be ok with not eating and still teach a classroom of fifth graders with lots of enthusiasm, when I’m in a funk and hungry, it’s just not going to happen.
3. Listen to music. Music is therapeutic and I am thankful for it. When you have time and you’re in a good mood, go through your apple playlist and create a mood lifting playlist. If you don’t have time, say, “Hey Siri, play some music I’d like,” Shortly, a playlist of your faves will be playing.
4. Pray & Meditate– some quiet time with yourself and God will do you wonders. We take in so many messages at a time in a day; we need the reminder to listen to God, speak to him and take our deep breaths.
5. Limit social media- social media is addictive and at times it can be a major root of our funk. Don’t forget that you’re submerging yourself into an endless messaging pool with all types of advertisements and subliminal messages at once; it’s important to limit that Noise.
These tips work for me. I hope they work for you too. Remember, I am not a license therapist. If feelings and symptoms persist, it’s best to speak to a mental health professional.
I recently read this book, “Still I Smile: Finding Joy Amidst Life’s Circumstances” by Wodline Hippolyte, and it gave me some things to think about. The book is available on Amazon; I’d recommend you purchase it to support a new author.
In this book, Wodline details how her upbringing and dealing with a physically abusive father influenced her navigating her relationships with men, ultimately making excuses for their red flags. The pivotal moment in her life is during her divorce and undergoing a metamorphosis as a woman transformed. What I noted most was that Wodline identified herself as a Christian woman with so much faith that it left me thinking that she stayed in certain situations due to the “gospel.”
I don’t want to give away too much of the book, but I am finding that there’s a big trend with Christian women suffering in relationships longer than necessary to avoid judgments. I sometimes that think that the mythical proverbs 31 woman has been beaten into us as a way to keep us silenced.
Woah Woah Woah, I’m not even trying to criticize the Bible, but I want to talk about Christian culture (specifically in Black churches and, directly, Caribbean churches). It is common to see a church filled with women and kids and about 20% men. Most of the women in the church are married, their husbands do not attend church, maybe for the occasional religious holidays and anniversaries, but they’re far from being pious. The men would drop their wives off at churches and and then flock to the streets, it wasn’t a secret, but it wasn’t openly discussed.
Why do these women stay?
I do wonder what is it about church culture that keeps women in silence? A woman would rather become roommates with her husband instead of getting a divorce to avoid public opinions. How do we put ourselves first? How do we say “mind your business” to the naysayers? Wodline’s story isn’t that unique, but her raw truth is. I think we owe it to ourselves and one another to tell and live our truth.