Potluck of Life: What do you bring to the table??

My department at work had our annual Giving Thanks potluck this past Friday. Everyone had to bring something to contribute to the meal.
People brought different food dishes, desserts, appetizers and eating utensils.
Some people went over the top and brought 3 dishes (me), some brought stuff that couldn’t possibly be for the 25 plus staff to all have a taste of. I mean three crab cakes? Really?

Two people did not bring a thing but their empty stomachs, AND the person who was supposed to bring the drinks didn’t even show up to work! Yes! I am 100% serious, we were back and forth to the water fountain with those paper cone cups, it was really a fiasco! Everyone kept asking me “who was supposed to bring the drinks?” LOL.
I just can’t.
People crashed uninvited from other departments, ate and left.
Just BOLD, and you know what, honestly, I think this is a PERFECT metaphor for life.

What role do you play in your life and others around ? Are you a contributor? The over selfless contributor? Are you the shameless freeloader? Are you doing the bare minimum just to say you did something? Are you the inconsiderate one who does not hold up their end or crashes the party unexpectedly?

Oh wait. Maybe….you have too many of these types of people in your life.

Here is what I think of when I think of these people.

The Contributor- Always thinking of, or giving to others. Gives without needing to receive and enjoys harmony among their peers. They can be counted on. Would like to consider themselves selfless. Helping others comes natural to them. Loves to set a positive tone for others around them.

The Over Selfless Contributor- Loves to give but maybe a little too much. Finds extreme satisfaction in making someone else happy, despite what it may take out of them. Risks ending up feeling unappreciated but still goes over the top for the sake of others.

The Shameless Freeloader- You often wonder if this person thinks of anyone other than themselves. They will know its your last and still ask you for it, and it seems it just doesn’t register to them that maybe you actually need it. Not necessarily a bad person, but definitely a selfish person.

The Bare Minimalist- This person does the absolute least expected of them only to be able to gain from others. You technically can’t say they haven’t done anything to contribute, but you almost feel like you’d prefer they not be a part of anything. They get to appreciate the fruits of others labor while others often feel cheated by them.

The Inconsiderate- There’s a very thin line between being selfish and simply just not caring. This person crosses that line. They are careless when it comes to considering other people’s feelings. They make the conscious decision to not think of anyone but themselves and only see things from their own perspective. Maybe they are unaware of their actions, but calling them out about it them tends to be pointless.

Any of these people sound familiar to you??

Imagine life and your relationships are a potluck. Everyone should be doing their part and bringing something to the table. That is how it is most successful, when people give, and people receive. It’s unfair when one person is holding up their end and has to overcompensate for someone else who hasn’t or isn’t contributing.

Do you bring something positive or negative to the table? Do you drain from the energy or contribute to it? Think about your friendships, family relationships, relationship with your significant other.

What role do you play and what role do you allow others to play in your life?

Do you need to re-evaluate your own actions or maybe re-evaluate your relationships?

Food for Thought.

Love you, Neffi


 

Self Discovery Series Part 4:…This Is Who I Am…..

You have now entered the finale to this series! If you need to catch up here you go>>>

Part Uno
Part Dos
Part Tres

The main goal of this series has been to stimulate your thoughts. When you hear the words “self discovery”, people tend to think it means to find yourself.
Nope, the big deal is not to
find yourself, we are already found.
What does find yourself even mean?

Self discovery is about knowing yourself. So I wanted to stimulate your thoughts on getting to a place where you are in tune with YOU underneath all of the outside influences. Your thoughts of how you perceive others and how others perceive you, and how easy it is to get it all wrong. Thoughts of knowing your truth and owning it. Thoughts of finding assurance, security, and happiness in knowing who you are, defined by your own standards.

The easiest way to get to know yourself is the same way you would get to know anyone else right? Questions, listening, paying attention. Trust me it’s okay if you haven’t been. We barely make time for intentional self-discovery. We’re just bombarded with messages from other people: what they want for us, what they think of us, how they perceive us; and we forget to listen the voice that matters most, our own!

I am no expert but I know what works for me, and only hope that the things I share may work for you as well. Through this process, I have learned more about myself as well. Part 2: Perceptions meant a lot to me. It threw back into my face how I can also be part of the problem. Assuming things about people I don’t know, writing my own story about them before one word of conversation. Creating snap judgements of people based on their expression or clothing, or how I (and this one I do a lot) create a character and personality for someone after simply reading an email from them.

I asked a few of my friends: my “sister friend” of over 11 years Mone, and a few of my blogging sisters Sam, Pebbles, and Cherishe to really dig deep like we talked about in Part 1, and tell me who they are, and I created a video montage of their responses. These women inspire me everyday and I am humbled to know them.  Embarking on a journey of self discovery is one of the most rewarding paths in life you will ever take, and one of the most beautiful things to witness happen in someone else’s life.

Don’t believe me?  Just watch. Click the video below to hear their self written stories :).

*VIDEO*

Just want to say thank you to these ladies for being vulnerable and open and muses for me and others around them all the time, I love you guys.

woamn with tears on face

Photo Credit

Although the journey of self-discovery never ends, you’ll know you’ve reached a good place when you’ve developed a greater sense of self-pride. You will be proud of the person you are and embrace even the ugliest things about you, because without them, you wouldn’t be you.

Teach yourself how to accept and love yourself for you who you are, no matter what you’ve been through and what you’ve learned in the process.

Acceptance makes all the difference in your confidence, self-esteem, and overall sense of self love. Love is loud and infectious and it stands out. Love yourself and others will have no choice but to fall in line hunny.

Own yourself, own your thoughts and your mind, and know that there’s nothing anyone can do or say that can take you away who you are, who you define yourself to be, from YOU.

I hope you enjoyed this series and it inspired you to get to know the “man (or woman lol) in the mirror” more.

Love, Neffi.

 

Self Discovery Series Part 3: Show Me What You See

Uno, Dos, Tres! Let’s get part three of the Self Discovery Series going! If you haven’t gotten with the program, you’re seriously under a rock and it’s not okay lol.

Catch up here by clicking on the links to part 1 and part 2.

So last week we talked about perceptions and how easy it is for people to have misconceptions of who we are, or perceive us incorrectly. They are seeing us through their own eyes, but we have the power to control what they perceive because their perception relies on what we are showing them.

A few weeks ago my blog sisters Brianna and Sabrina came to me with THE dopest idea! They found it here and it’s an experiment where a girl decides to let her boyfriend dress her for a week because he doesn’t seem to see her the way she sees herself. I decided to do this experiment with family members because as I mentioned in part 2, perception starts with external appearance. I wanted to see myself through my mother’s eyes, my brother’s eyes, and niece’s eyes. I felt like these were three great perspectives. My mother has her own image and expectations of me, my brother is super nonchalant and rarely compliments me lol, and my 6 year old niece idolizes me and is SUPER GIRLY so I knew this would be interesting.

So I asked them to dress me for work the next day. The only direction was to choose something that they feel is reflective of me through their own eyes. After they chose the outfits I asked them WHY they chose that outfit, and what did they think others would be able to perceive of my image on first sight.

I started with my 6 year old niece, Sanaa. This was interesting, just like I thought it would be. Let me start by saying she demanded everything from chokers, rings, makeup, shoes, I mean the whole 9.
blog author neffi young niece rummaging through clothing drawer
She landed with leopard cat ears (No it was NOT halloween), a gray camisole, brown suede skirt, olive blazer, brown choker, and furry platform sandals. I mean… look at her outfit in the picture above, she wears tutus and tiaras all day, I knew she would be over the top!

So umm yea… I mean impressive sense of style for a 6 year old, but I would NEVER go to work in those shoes or randomly with cat ears. When I asked her why she chose this outfit she said I am a beautiful person and the outfit makes me seem like a “nice beautiful girl”.

Next up was my Mom.

blog author neffi's mother pictured holding up burgundy pantsShe chose a burgundy tunic, black jeans, and black boots. Also I don’t know what’s their obsession with chokers lol but she chose a choker.

She said she chose this outfit because it looked more sophisticated than I normally look (I disagree lol) and that at my job I should be setting an example and looking the part. I teach young people ages 16-24 work readiness skills at The Door, a Nonprofit organization in NYC, and she feels I am more effective if I look more serious and sophisticated. I think I teach just right in my sneakers and sweatshirts but hey, perception is everything right?

Lastly, I asked my brother to select an outfit for me for work. All I can say is Lord have mercy lol.blog author neffi brother pictured holding up pants

This young man put in jeans with THE BIGGEST holes… for work!!. I looked like I was headed to a bar-be-que in the summer!

His thoughts behind the outfit was I looked stylish and “fashionable” and looked like “the people he sees when he goes to the city”. In his opinion, the outfit set a relaxed chill tone and he likes chill people. Younger brothers lol. He dressed me as a reflection of himself, how HE dresses, jeans and basic top.

This experiment went easier than I thought but I guess it was slightly biased because I only buy clothing I like (duh). It was interesting though to really pay attention to how much clothing is used to measure perception. My niece said my outfit made me look like “a beautiful person”, my mom said I was being a “role model” and my brother said I was “normal and approachable”. Although we have been taught not to judge a person solely by his or her outward appearance, even now as adults it remains to be one life lesson we hardly ever comply with. People tend to associate a specific clothing style with a certain personality, job affiliation, social status, and actually….our status period.

So as we are working to create our own narratives and take charge of how people perceive us, like I talked about in Part 2, knowing that perception starts from the outside is key.

quote photo

The homework for this week is to test out this experiment yourself., it was super fun and interesting! Ask a family member or friend to pick out an outfit for you for an specific occasion, such as work, school, a date, wherever. Ask them why they chose what they chose, ask them what is the message the outfit sends?. This concept of perceiving people at first sight is one I find to be unfair and sometimes pretty hurtful but the truth is, that is really how it works. People say things like “dress the part”, “dress for success” or “dress for the job you want” and when you do the experiment this week it will open your eyes to your clothing language. We already have a clothing language for the most part right? Sweatpants means “I’m relaxing”, a tie means “business”, so when you are more aware of your message, you continue to control your story. Let me know how it goes in the comments after you do it!

Until next week!

 

“Style is a way to say who you are without having to speak.”

– Rachel Zoe

Self Discovery Series Part 2: Perceptions

Woman allowing other woman to see her through her eyes

photo credit: Jezebel.com

Last week in Self Discovery Series Part 1: Who Are You?, we talked about uncovering your true self and defining who you are on your own terms.
I hope you did the homework!
This week I want to get into
perceptions and how to handle the discrepancy between external perception: how others see and would describe us,
and
self-awareness: how we see and describe ourselves.

How many times at one point or another has someone perceived you totally differently than you believe yourself to be. You may have heard something like:
“I thought you were mean when I first met you.”
“I thought you were quiet”
“You seemed like…”
And you just wonder where they get these ideas from? lol

How people see someone vs how they really are (facial expressions)

photo credit: buzzfeed.com

Or the other way around: you met someone and created an image of them that totally differed from the person you grew to know. The biggest factor in someone’s perception starts with a first impression. The discrepancy this causes is that our image only partially reflects our personality.

I’m sure you’ve already been told time and time again how important first impressions are and how hard they are to reverse, and that’s true. People’s perception of you is initially their reaction of the “surface”or “top layer” of you, based mostly on your external appearance.

a self discovery pyramid

artist: Revalatori; https://www.instagram.com/revelatori/

You end up being pre-judged solely on your facial expressions, demeanor, your clothing, those sorts of visual factors, and not the real you. A person can create an entire judgement and story for someone else without speaking a word to them. You look at someone who appears angry and think they had a bad day and that they are NOT the person in the room you’ll ever approach. Then you talk to them and they say they’re not angry at all, that’s “just their face” lol and they’re actually having a great day.

All of our interactions are opportunities for us to see more deeply into who we are, who we are showing to people, and how we can begin to refine ourselves and make sure we are narrating our own stories. We should view every encounter and interaction as a mirror through which we can discover something important or new about ourselves.
We can then use what we find as valuable information in the process of arriving at a deeper self-understanding and self awareness.

So the questions of focus are:

How do people see you?
and
Does it match who you feel you really are?

Now, does it really matter what others think of you?? Some would say nope, just do your thing doesn’t matter what people think. When you’re talking about perceptions and what “people think of you”, you tend to meet resistance because most people feel strongly about not living for the world where everyone is too judgy anyway, and they shouldn’t care what anyone thinks. I know I’ve ran the “you think I care what they think of me?” line too many times before LOL.

Which is right…but to an extent. There is nothing wrong with having the confidence and free spirit to ‘do your own thing’ and live without the pressure of caring what everyone thinks of you; but it’s dangerous to disregard other people’s perceptions of you.
Imagine believing that you come across as a confident person. You speak clearly, you “don’t beat around the bush”, and you have no problem sharing your thoughts right However, people actually see you, not as confident, but as cocky, arrogant, inconsiderate, conceited, insensitive, or “feeling yourself”.
What are the consequences likely to be? How many relationships can be broken..or never formed? How many opportunities could pass you by? How many people would you be rubbing the wrong way?

Getting to the bottom of how people perceive you is one of the essential elements of understanding how you come across to them. Does how you represent yourself daily match who you say you are/ who you want to be? Once you know this, you can start to think about adapting your behavior so that their perception of you is what you want it to be, not what they have assumed or decided for themselves.
Put yourself in a position to control their perception of you.
This is YOUR show, direct it.

Let’s say you had a candy company and the candy was A-Ma-Zing but the wrapper was so unappealing and un-engaging that no one ever really brought it. Customers looked at that wrapper and assumed the taste of the candy was just an unappealing as that wrapper. First thing you would think is “ change the wrapper” so customers wouldn’t have the incorrect assumption and end up knowing it for the amazing candy it is. Make sense?

I challenge you to think seriously about how others view you.
This week’s homework is: Ask a diverse group, a few friends and family members, to tell you what they think of you? What did they think of you when they first met you?
Also reflect on some of the misconceptions and pre judgements people may have had of you, and you of others. If you are not happy with some of the conclusions you come to, then you know what to work on. This is not for you to feel ‘judged’ or misunderstood, because that can happen. They have some nerve to see you differently from the way you see yourself, how dare them? Lol.
Seriously, appreciate the honesty as it comes your way.
A life with all YES men has NO growth.

The thing is, if you’re willing to be honest with yourself you will quickly realize that you may have some things to work on.  If all their perceptions seem so far fetched, what has led them to these conclusions? Self- reflect on THAT. What changes can you make to reverse the perception and set a new tone?
That is how you continue to make progress on your journey to self discovery.

Until we meet again next week for part 3!

“How you are isn’t always as important as how you are perceived. Perception is the gatekeeper between your essence and your image. And your image is the only thing others truly see. Changing yourself is at best half the battle. Changing how you are will give you peace, but changing how you are perceived will give you power.”
– John Bastien

 

 

Self Discovery Series Part 1: Who are you??

For the past past few weeks I’ve been meeting a lot of new people and I have been put into several situations where I’ve had to introduce myself and give this sort of “quick spiel” of who I am. Also, I have some upcoming assignments that have been forcing me to really dig deep and look into myself. One major assignment is a personal essay of why I have chosen the career of Human Services, helping people.
A few months ago I had to give a speech that asked just that question: Who am I?

I remember brainstorming about being the middle child of 7 siblings, my cultural background, being an aunt, my job, and blah blah blah, and I landed on basing the speech on my zodiac sign, Leo. I find that I use that to define me a lot. I’m comfortable in finding comparisons between myself and a female lion/ queen, and that starts the basics of how I would describe my personality, actions, determination, and confidence. The truth is, I think that question “who are you?” may just be the most complex question on earth. It’s so vague and so heavy. I asked my best friend what is the most complex question on earth, expecting agreement from him, and he said “if you’re talking to a female it’s what do you want to eat?” LOL. There is some truth there, I’m not gonna lie. After that I asked him “who are you?” and he answered “ I don’t know. Who am I meaning what?”, and that response only proved my point.

I decided to do a four part series, this being part 1, on self discovery and the concept of self defined identity because we’re always discovering ourselves right? We’re such fascinating, diverse, and ever changing creatures that a question like “who are you?” at any given time can have the possibility of so many different answers. The American English Dictionary defines self-discovery as “a becoming aware of one’s true potential, character, motives, etc.” It can also be defined as “the process of acquiring insight into one’s own character”.

Self-discovery means many things. You do not get to know yourself simply by growing up and growing old. Knowing yourself is a conscious effort; you do it with intention and on purpose. It means finding your purpose in life, it means digging deep into your childhood and revealing experiences that shaped you…good and bad. It means realizing what your beliefs are and living by them. The effects of self-discovery include happiness, clarity, fulfillment, and even enlightenment. It can end with you completely changing the course of your life, and starting to follow your true passion and purpose.

The journey however is not always an easy road. The journey includes fear, doubt, confusion, misunderstanding, and literally re-visiting all your choices and experiences in life, including choices that were made FOR you, but ‘whoo’ I’m not gonna go there yet.

The journey starts with basically interrogating yourself.
To begin with, do you know yourself well?
Are you clear about what you want in life?
Do you have a sense of purpose?
What defines you?
What makes you happy?
If you stop to think for a second, you may find that you have answered “no” or “don’t really know” to some of the questions above. Which is fine.

If I were to ask you who you are, what would you say?
Would your answer include your name, sex, or ethnicity?
Would it include your job, relationship status, age, or faith/religion?
Would you include your parental status: “I am a mom, dad, I have no children”?
Would you list character and personality traits? Take a minute to think about it.

Would it be easier to recollect someone’s else perspective or description of you? What about recollecting what your parent’s want you to do or be, which defines your current life? Example: “I’m going to school for nursing, my mom says I will always have a job once I’m in the medical field” Is it easier to recollect your shortcomings and how you’re not the person you want to be right now? In my experience it always seems to easier for people to list things they regret or wish happened, than to state confidence and firm belief in who they are now in this moment.

I’m asking a lot of questions but it’s only because I really want to get you thinking. My biggest goal for this series is to challenge you to dig below the surface. What if the condition of answering the question “who are you?” was that you could not include any of those outside factors I just mentioned. Yes they are a part of you, I’m not taking that away, but what those things are, as I like to call them, are “molders”. Those things have molded you into the person you are. We have many different people in us. There’s you at work, and there’s you in social environments. There’s you with family, and there’s you with friends. Sometimes there’s a different person for different friends!
Then there’s
YOU. Underneath it all. In private moments. What is that person like, what do they want out of this life, what do they believe? What is his/her core values?

artist: Revalatori; https://www.instagram.com/revelatori/

Up until now, it is very possible that you don’t have a clear idea of who you really are. Self discovery should be an important goal for everyone. It’s only through discovery of self that we can identify our purpose and fully actualize and maximize our potential. Maybe you haven’t spent enough time getting to know yourself. Maybe you’ve been defining yourself by the things mentioned earlier, or the things you do or don’t have.

What are the steps to self discovery? How do you burrow below these things in the picture above and find that true self?

I love sharing outside sources because they give me more insight into topics I find interesting and I know can provide you more insight and follow up on the topics touched in my posts. Today I want to share these posts with you A Journey to Self Discovery, Simple Steps to Self Discovery, and hope it can help you begin your journey or continue to navigate your journey to knowing you, and creating your own identity profile.

To get the most out of this series it’s going to be important to be open, honest, and committed with yourself. Until we meet again next week, I want you to find 15 minutes in your down time to do the following:

Find a quiet place/ time where you won’t be distracted for the time. Take the first 5 minutes to enter a space of relaxation. You can close your eyes and just breath, or meditate, whatever it is that will get your mind clear.
Next, reflect on these three questions:

Who am I? Why am I here? What makes me unique?

I would suggest you speak your answers out loud as they come to you as though you are outside yourself, talking to yourself. Or write it down, which I always prefer by the way, visualization is everything. It doesn’t have to make sense, just whatever consciously comes out, make note of it. Do so for 5 minutes. After a few minutes if you possibly draw a blank and feel like “that’s it”, no. Don’t get uncomfortable by the silence and keep thinking. Now take the final 5 minutes to reflect on how this made you feel, what did it give you insight into? What memories came up? How have these things contributed to who you are today? How much of it can you say is your identity?

Okay, that’s your homework and it’s the first step to clearing the blur and getting down to the real you. The posts I shared also give you other soul searching exercises and thought provoking questions to help you as well.
Until part 2 next week, Safe and fruitful travels down your journey 🙂 Love ya!

 

“That wonderful and terribly frightening journey of self-discovery. That process of growth, of being an independent person, of learning who you are and what you want from life, is the real secret of life, happiness and beauty.” – Diane Von FurstenBurg

“You is Kind. You is Smart. You is Important.” Affirmations 101

You is Kind. You is smart. You is Important.

In class last week my professor reminded us that we are now approaching the halfway point of the semester.​ Excuse me??? As someone who re-entered school last semester after 5 years, I honestly still get amazed at how fast it flies by! These past two weeks I’ve been one paper or presentation, (or blog post lol) away from yanking out a few hairs, I swear. It’s been this cycle of work, school, homework, meet with my group, argue with my group lol, have a life, work harder, school, repeat. Weekends have become GOLDEN, but yet I spent all of mine studying for a midterm that I thought was yesterday and it wasn’t! Delusional much?? Lol. I had forgotten how intense and stressful this time can be if you let it, and as I looked at my peers faces in our
“MTA packed train” style elevator, I could tell I wasn’t the only one. I like to think I can handle pressure pretty well and make sure I always have my game face on, but me needing Tylenol in the middle of class says otherwise lol.

First of all I want to applaud us all for making it to the “halfway finished” line. Whether you think you’ve been floating, sinking, or swimming, you’re here and that’s what matters. Secondly, it honestly doesn’t have to be stressful; it’s only as stressful as we allow it to be. It’s super important that through all this stress of midterms, and priorities, or whatever else we have going on in our personal lives, we stop.

Stop and take a second to look up at the sky, take time to talk and listen to people, sit and eat a REAL meal with a friend or family member and don’t start complaining about how school is killing you.

Photo Credit: fullcupthirstyspirit.com

(Sidenote: If I were you I would screen shot this bad boy right here^^^ good stuff 🙂 )

I want to share with you this one simple thing that has been keeping me motivated and grounded. Daily affirmations. An affirmation is basically a statement of support or encouragement that you tell to yourself. It is defined by Dictionary.com as “emotional support or encouragement”.  You know how right before you start a test, or approach something new, and you’re hyping yourself up, telling yourself “ you got this” or
“you can do this” ?? That’s an affirmation right there.
A resource I’ve been using for a nice variety of creative affirmations is a FREE app called “
Unique Daily Affirmations.” It’s an app that sends you out a daily positive affirmation to basically “help you succeed in your endeavors and make positive changes in your life.”

There’s tremendous power in affirmations. They are you being in conscious control of your thoughts. They are short, powerful statements and when you say them, think them, or even hear them, they become the thoughts that create your reality.
Research has shown that we have about 35,000 thoughts a day,
more or less
(Leading Edge Journal).
Imagine the impact on your life if most of those are negative. It gets worse. Our thoughts carry over, so whatever you are thinking about, gets carried over to the next day’s 35,000 thoughts. So, if you’re thinking majority negative thoughts, you will only cause yourself to think
more negative thoughts, if that makes sense. It takes you back to what your parents and friends and other people may have told you like “ be careful what you wish for” or “What you think is what you get”.
Now, imagine if most of those thoughts were positive, motivating, uplifting and
self building??
Aha, there’s the magic.

Photo Credit: The HoodWitch

My affirmation for today was”:

“I will succeed because I am focused and passionate about my goal.”

Shoot, I only said it once and I believed it!  

You can set the app to alert you at any time of the day you choose. My affirmation releases at 12 midnight every night. So whether I’m writing a paper at that time, preparing for the next day, or I even just end up waking up to it, it always comes right when I need it. We all need that extra push here and there. That extra “you are confident and can do whatever you set your mind to boo” and it’s exactly what I love this app for and think you will love it for too.

The app is available for Apple and android users.

If you’re not into apps or you just prefer the old school black and white press, here are some websites that simply list affirmations that you can peel through and find your own gems.
https://www.prolificliving.com/100-positive-affirmations/
http://www.louisehay.com/affirmations/
http://dailyburn.com/life/lifestyle/instagram-positive-affirmations/

Print a few and in the morning randomly select one. Let your heart guide you to the words you need. That’s one way to be blessed by them. Or you can simply search for the one that connects with you.

Remember, The key is repetition so you want to flood your brain with the positive thoughts. Say it over and over throughout the day. When you feel yourself slipping, when you’re washing your hands in the bathroom mirror, when you’re taking a selfie. The way you choose to think is just that, a choice; and the beauty is that choice is yours!

So no, unfortunately I didn’t give you the “abracadabra” to make midterms and homework or stress in general go away, I simply gave you the “push through, you’ll be fine, you got this”.

Your life may not turn around overnight, but if you’re consistent and make the choice on a daily basis to think thoughts that make you feel good and affirm yourself, (because face it who can love you better than you???) you’ll definitely make positive changes in every area of your life.

Remember who put you on, Love ya!

Photo Credit: Politico.com


Mask On

picture obtained from mindfuldragon.com

If you’ve ever flown on an airplane in your life I’m sure you have heard the following words:

“If the cabin air pressure changes dramatically, oxygen masks might fall from the ceiling directly in front of you. Follow the airline’s instructions in operating their masks. If a child is seated beside you, put on your own mask before helping to put a mask on the child.”

It is standard protocol that flight attendants recite these safety instructions to all passengers before takeoff. There’s a reason why. Your job, first and foremost, is to help yourself and take care of your own needs. Hence why the flight attendants encourage you to secure your oxygen mask first. When you ensure your own safety, you have a better chance of saving others: your family member, your child/children, the other people you’re traveling with, or another passenger. If you try to put the mask on someone else first, chances are you’re going to pass out  before you can even get their mask on them. You and the person you want to help have both lost.

The moral here is: You have to make sure you are taken care of first, and THEN you can effectively help others.

obtained from horizonmagazine.com

Whether it’s in your line of work, with family, friends, or anything else, we sometimes find ourselves giving and giving, and helping and sacrificing for others until we’re drained with nothing left. As someone who works in the nonprofit sector and is currently a Human Services major, I know how demanding it is to dedicate your life and career to helping others, and I take pride in it. We all have a common goal of ultimately wanting to make a difference in the lives of others. This doesn’t just apply to someone in nonprofit, I think it’s true for most people. Many want to make a difference in the lives of their friends and families, or in their community. Striving to do so, it’s easy to become overwhelmed with the expectations and responsibilities that may carry.

Have you ever found yourself realizing you’ve committed to too many things but not wanting to drop any and disappointment someone, so you just let it kill you?
Have you ever stayed late at work because your boss asked, but you really needed to be resting?
Have you ever said yes to something or someone you didn’t have time for because it was your friend or family member?
Do you see where I’m going with these questions???

If any of this sounds familiar to you, or brings up your own scenario, you probably consider yourself to be selfless, giving, and helpful. There’s nothing wrong with that.
I wish all of humanity possessed these traits, but self care has to be your priority.
As indulgent as the phrase “self care” may sound, it starts with just a few basic habits that are crucial to your functioning. Making sure you get enough sleep, making sure you take time every day to dedicate to yourself; reading a book, taking a nice long bath. Those are some of the many basic things you can do to elevate your mindset, and mental and physical health.

Sometimes taking care of yourself often begins with saying “no” to others, and “yes” to yourself. That can sometimes invoke feelings of guilt because you’ve had to turn down helping or doing something for someone so you can enjoy that much needed nap;
but don’t apologize for making yourself a priority!
A better me, is a better me for me AND you!
You have to be a little selfish at times to be completely unselfish when it counts.

As a woman, I relate to naturally being expected to be a nurturer, a giver, selfless. This school of thought of woman expectancies and our “role” has been passed down through generations. We see our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and neighbors take care of their family, friends and significant others, and plop down tired at the end of the day. Who takes care of them?? We see them constantly putting themselves last and everyone else first. We watch them end up putting their health and well being onto the back burner to please others, and we tend to end up in that cycle ourselves. That doesn’t truly help you and in the long run it has its consequences. I’ve learned from my experience (and theirs) that helping others is almost impossible to achieve if you are going through turbulence in your own life.

When you’re in an angry space, the last thing you want to do is put on a smile for others.

When you’re in a negative mindset, you’re unable to make a positive impact on others because you are consumed by your own issues.

When you’re unhappy, you don’t have the will to try to make someone else’s day, or hear about someone else’s problems, because you’ve got your own problems to worry about.

When you’re TIRED, what energy do you have to put into someone else?? You aren’t doing anyone any favors by not showing up for them fully because you’re exhausted.

You are absolutely useless to anyone else if you are depleted and gasping for the time and energy you’ve completely given away before you’ve met your own needs.
What can be poured out of an empty cup? Nothing.
What happens to a battery you never charge? It doesn’t work!
You will get to the point where taking care of others will consciously, or unconsciously, feel like a huge burden if you aren’t taking care of yourself as well, and will eventually lead to resentment. This isn’t good for anyone and this is what harms relationships.

I am a “me time” cheerleader. I always put myself first because when I am full of energy and happy, it spews out to everyone around me; at work, at home, wherever. When I’m walking around with a smile, I’m brightening people’s day, and I’m present and able to help and be my best self. I’ve also realized that on the other hand, when I am doing too much, I end up complaining about all those things and blaming them, when I should be looking at myself. Self care isn’t just important, it’s crucial. It’s the number one driving force of all around healthy living.

Self care is the best care. Put your own oxygen mask on, then you can assist others. THEN you can be fruitful at work without over exerting and burning out.
THEN you can do favors for your friends and loved ones without regretting that you agreed to do it.
THEN you can continue to make your positive impact.
It has to be done in that order or you will end up burned out with no energy left for yourself.

Everyone I know, myself included, can do with a little bit more self care and self love. Where do you begin? That’s a question a lot of people have because they assume self care means go out and shop, or take a day off work for a spa day. Those are great (seriously!) but it can be much simpler. You might know exactly what it is you need to do for you that you have been neglecting. If not, or you just need motivation, I want to share these two posts that really highlight the importance of self care and the simple ways you can start to show yourself more attention. I hope they inspire you to take care/ better care of yourselves so you can live your best life and in turn inspire and be better for those around you.

50 ways to Practice Self Care
Help Yourself Before Helping the World

obtained from i.ytimg.com

P.S I watched a video last week of an interview on the Humans of NY facebook series. It is an older woman proclaiming how much she loves herself first, and then she loves you second, and I said “who found this video of me in the future??!” Lol. Her words really spoke to me because it is exactly what I believe when it comes to self care and putting myself first. Check her out, seniors are the precious gems in this world, they carry all the wisdom 🙂 Video

Happy Birthday Queen Bee!

Today is a special day hunny! I introduced you to this phenomenal woman a few weeks back, my mom Rachel, and today is her 56th birthday! Right now her and I are having a poolside pina colada (yes at 9 am, it IS her birthday lol). I decided to dedicate this post to her, I’m absolutely obsessed with her, and so happy to be sharing another birthday with this chica.

I think one of the greatest blessings in this world is a mother. A mother’s love is a lifelong, selfless, forgiving, giving, unique love that you can only know if you are a mother. I am not yet a mother but if I could be only a fraction of the mother she is one day, I know I will be great. I actually strive to be twice the mother she is, so my unborn children are in for some RIDICULOUS lovin’!

One thing I know about my mom is she has dedicated her life to her 5 children and 3 grand children. I have seen her give her last, time and time again for any of us. Her love for us kept her from home from work for our stomachaches and headaches (the real AND the fake ones), pregnancy nausea, or just playing hooky every once in awhile. Her love put us first always and set the highest examples for us.

One of my favorite childhood memories with my mom was writing poetry together. I probably only contributed a few words or some grammatical adjustments, but she always put my initials in her signature. I want to share with you my mother’s own words that reflects her motherhood, a poem entitled “Children”, written by her back in 2000. Enjoy 🙂

“Children”- Rachel Noel Pg 1

“Children”- Rachel Noel Pg 2

“Children”- Rachel Noel Pg 3

Happy Birthday Mom!!!

Kitchen Clinic

I spent most of this week being shunned at work. I had a slight cold, or maybe it was my allergies..I’m not sure. All I know is everyone I sneezed around automatically asked me if I was sick, and hit me with the side eye/ “get away from me” look lol.

-retrieved from me.me

I’m much better now and still think it was just my allergies, but I still looked to my virtual bible Wellness Mama anyway for a natural remedy. Wellness Mama is a website that is full of hidden gems and I’ve been in love with it for about 2 years now. In the creator Katie Well’s words, it is a website/ blog full of simple answers for healthier families through practical tips, real food recipes, natural beauty and cleaning tutorials, natural remedies and more”.

I’m an avid practicer of holistic medicine and home remedies. Alternative medicine and other healing practices that fall outside of the realm of western, or “traditional” medicine have always been with us from generations and generations ago. I remember in my younger years my mom would put nutmeg on me and my siblings body aches, or boil ginger and mint leaves to make one of us tea for a stomach-ache.

There’s amazing power in being able to naturally heal and cure yourself. You can honestly remedy or alleviate pain from so many minor or major sicknesses, aches, acne breakouts, etc; with things you already have right in your kitchen cabinets!
I call it the “Kitchen Clinic”.  

Back in January I became lactose intolerant, yes that’s a thing. I suffered serious cystic acne breakouts from the slightest hint of milk, or cream, or anything dairy. At one point, both of my cheeks were totally dominated by giant red pimples. It’s taken me a while to get used to. I only now, have finally mastered reading labels and identifying code words and other names for lactose ingredients such as casein, ghee, and whey. In the beginning I was blind to it all. I spent the first few months testing it’s limits. “Hmm I can probably get away with just one mozzarella stick right??” NOT!!

Wellness mama was my go to for remedies to soothe the burning, irritation, and inflammations from the flare-ups. I was like a Halloween witch in my kitchen whipping together cinnamon, tumeric, peppermint leaves, lavender essential oil, honey, oatmeal, and brown sugar for an exfoliant and face mask. In about a two-week span I had controlled it and moved on to phase two, recovery from any scars/ war wounds left behind from the battle. For that, I use a toner concoction that includes apple cider vinegar, aloe vera gel, and lemon; followed by coconut and tea tree oil as a moisturizer.

When you really begin to study and learn the internal and external benefits and healing properties of the foods, spices, fruits, and vegetables we eat and have in our fridges all the time, you will be amazed. For example, people spend so much money on bleaching creams for scars and spots when lemon is a natural bleaching and skin lightening agent just as efficient. Rub it on any acne spots or any scars and you’ll start to see results after just a few times.

I’ve used wellness mama to help (partially) transition from store-bought personal hygiene products such as toothpaste, lotion and deodorant, to all natural and homemade versions made by me. Literally, I have had most of the ingredients needed already. The most I’ve had to purchase was storage containers and things of that nature. Not only do you save money, but you actually KNOW what you are putting on, and into your body. I don’t know about you, but I have no idea what cocamidopropyl betaine is, and it’s in the toothpaste in my bathroom right now. Plus, you get the satisfaction of saying you made it yourself.

A lot of people argue “it’s not that serious”, and say we all grew up on these “chemicals” and haven’t died yet which is true, but do we really know if it has been harmless? Researchers have connected many household items to various cancers and other abnormalities, so why not take small convenient steps if you can, to live a healthier lifestyle and combat illness before they start.

I say give it a try. I’m not telling you to go throw away everything store-bought because I haven’t even done that, but I hope to be fully transitioned one day. Maybe transition your skin care regimen to a natural one. Or maybe instead of using Sally Hansen Nail growth serum, eat more foods that contain vitamins and nutrients for healthy nails, or try a home remedy such as this one.

I just wanted to share this gem with you. I live by this website and others for everything from acne relief, to a headache remedy, natural teeth whitening methods; I mean everything, and I think you will love it too.
Next time you’re in Target looking at that face scrub that you love that costs $15.99, check your cabinet. Do you have Sugar? Coconut oil? Lemon?…..Yes? Then you already have face scrub at home! Take that 15.99 and get 3 new pillows.

If it can’t hurt, then it can only help right?? 🙂

Luv ya!

“Yes, Filter”

Have you ever had a conversation with someone and felt emotionally drained after?
You listened to them complain and complain and eventually you felt worse than them?
Or let’s get even more real.
Have you ever walked into your job or any place, and had to talk to a certain someone and it’s almost as though immediately there was a dark cloud over you?
That’s called picking up unwanted energies.

I find that lately there has been too many moments where I’ve had to work super hard to protect my energy. I don’t watch the news much. Not because I don’t like what’s on it, but I just don’t watch TV much period. Especially not at 7pm, or 11pm, or whatever time the news comes on lol. I watched it the other night; it kind of just happened, and honestly, I felt emotionally drained after. From hearing the latest of our current administration’s agenda to literally rip away civil liberties, freedoms, and the rights of people who occupy this already “great” America. To the unresolved situation with the young girl from Chicago, Kenneka Jenkins. Then on to visuals of the damage caused by the recent hurricane disasters, all piled in with your everyday violence.
In this hour long news reporting I can only recall maybe one uplifting segment.
All I could think to myself is “What is this? A horror show??”

I went from sad, to angry, to over it, to angry, to sad again, and I couldn’t shake it. It’s an eye opening experience to watch all of these occurrences from the comfort of my own home and think “This could be my cousin. This could be my sister, my brother, a friend……Could this be me??” and it becomes unexplainable how the possibility of something like that makes you feel. You hear the victim’s families talk about how much of a great person the victim was, or how the entire situation was a “wrong place, wrong time” occurrence, and it really finds a way to hit home.

It reminded me why I never really care to watch the news.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not trying to “block out” all of the bad news of the world, that’s most likely impossible. I make sure to stay up on current events and topics worldwide.
I just filter.
I consciously monitor what I am taking in and putting out emotionally and mentally.

You know how “No filter” is one of the OG veterans of Instagram captions?
In my life I say “YES filter”. I filter out negative conversations, negative thoughts, and I release anything that does not serve me well. I filter IN love, mantras, optimism, happiness, shared laughter, positive affirmations, positive people, positive situations, and anything that makes me smile.

I was not always in the place I am today. I have had to let go of many people and many things I used to enjoy partaking in along the way….casualties of the filter. I had to be dedicated to being my own life’s gatekeeper. Watching the news a few nights ago, I felt pity and helpless seeing some of the situations I was watching. I was filtering it in, in a negative way; which is something I used to do (and still sometimes do) naturally; take on everyone’s issues as my own instead of finding productive ways to help with them.
I took in these transferred unwanted energies and let it plant its seeds and grow.

Now when I think of protecting spiritual and mental energies, I use these analogies:

  1. Only light gets rid of darkness. Picture yourself as a huge lighthouse sending out positive light and love in all directions, everywhere you go, to everyone you meet, to every space you occupy, near and far.
  2. Stop being a negativity sponge, soaking it all up, allowing it to bloat you, and then waiting to either dry up or be squeezed out aggressively.

So instead of allowing the news, or anything else for that matter, depress me or dim my light, I think of ways to send love and positivity. Lighthouses help people find their way, help them feel safe and guided. When someone is experience darkness you do not go dark with them, you help them see light. Someone is unable to tell their family they love them today, I’ll make sure to tell mine. Someone is unable to hug their friend or sleep in a warm bed, I’ll be sure to be thankful and grateful every day, and pour love and happiness back into everyone and everything I can.

What’s in your life that you know you should have cut ties with a long time ago yet still haven’t? Filter out grudges, animosity, complaining, self-doubt, negative beliefs and comments about others, and instead filter in all things positive. Fill your mind with encouraging and loving words. The best way to protect yourself from negative energy is to be a source of positive energy yourself. My counseling professor said in class last week “Anytime you are talking about someone, speak as though they are standing right behind you” and it really put into perspective some things for me. It affirmed my belief that having the right mindset will serve as it’s own filter for what you put out into the universe.

It’s very important to create a foundation of awareness of the energy we’re encountering on a daily basis in our lives. We need to use our filter to cleanse, ground, and protect us from energies that are darker, heavier, and more negative.The better our filter is working, the more we become the people we strive to be; our best selves, living our best lives. If you don’t believe me, try it, watch your life blossom baby!