'So What?' - The thing about |black| women

Dear diary...writing this for a friend...

I was born into a broken system.  Subsequently, I’ve grown up in a world where much of my identity has already been defined for me. 

I am a woman (and) I am black. 

As such, my job is to find my purpose within the walls that have been built around me and then to stay ever so calmly and content within them. 

I was born into a system where I live as a juxtaposition. 

Where I am expected to be strong yet sensitive simultaneously. Where my tears are a representation of weakness and vulnerability and/or my hyper-emotional nature. 

I am expected to have some deep intrinsic power running through my veins because of the colour of my skin.

Yet, I am expected to be unintelligent and lacking social grace because of the colour of my skin. 

I am expected to have some deep intrinsic peaceful and nurturing spirit, because of my anatomy.

Yet, I am expected to be superficial and wildly unhinged because of my anatomy. 

I am expected to either be Maya Angelou or Shanaynay but no one in between. 

I am expected to exist within multiple spaces; work, home, school, extra-curricular, etc, and seamlessly code-switch between them so as not to appear divergent.

I live in a world where I experience much, but am not afforded the opportunity to speak freely about how those experiences affect me.

If I do speak outside of the rules defined for me and how I should present myself, I’m either too feminist, or I’m a bitter, black female. 

There’s just no in between. 

I’m supposed to allow people to treat me how they define me. 

I know this because it wasn’t until I decided to step outside of these rules that I realized other perspectives of my identity are not yet fully welcomed or understood. 

Disclaimer: this is NOT a complaint. This is fact, and is meant to encourage thought into how we view women; to encourage a dialogue that is long overdue. 

Women are not static or passive creatures. 

We are not pets meant to be trained, or to execute carefully instructed actions on cue. 

We are not victims of our pre-determined circumstances although it may seem that way. 

We women are fluid in our identities. We are free thinkers. 

Finally, in this era, it is becoming more acceptable to discuss the truth about women’s identities although not yet entirely acceptable to accept these alternate views. 

Things are changing; slowly, yet surely. 

There’s a movement on the horizon. Make sure you’re on the right side of the conversation too, men and women alike.  

 

Xxxo,

s

 

'War' - The Key to Protecting Your Peace Pt. 2

 
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I left off in PT. 1 expressing that the key to peace, ultimately, is acceptance. What I didn’t discuss is how to accept; and it’s always easier said than done. 

To accept peace, you need to be resolute. You must invest in the truth. You must shift your time and energy into finding and grasping on to the positive side of the moment you are in; and there always is a positive side.

Here’s an example. I recently moved into a new space on my own. I’ve decided that this will be a safe space for me and for anyone who walks through my door. That being said, I need to create and protect that space and the peace within, right?

...Negative energies are real. Be careful where you meet them, and be even more careful not to carry them around with you... 

To protect my safe space I do something very intentional before I walk through the door. When I get home, from work or wherever the day has taken me, I sit in my car – and I sit there for a while before getting out and going inside.

I take time unpacking my day; thinking through the things that happened and intentionally releasing whatever negative energy I may be carrying into the atmosphere OUTSIDE of my condo.

I never bring it inside with me.  This is important. To resolve a negative moment,  it needs to be fully released. Let it go so you are free to grasp on to the positives instead. 

To illustrate; recently I had a rough day at work. I felt undervalued, overworked and unseen; we all do at some point or another. When I parked my car outside of the condo after work that evening, I thought about all the things that bothered me and then forced myself to let it go.  Then I intentionally unpacked the positives to be found in my situation. Most importantly, I have a job. I have a job that supports me in a way that allows me to be completely self-sufficient. That’s huge. It’s a blessing. And it’s not meant to be enjoyed in oblivion. 

So when the bad days come – and they will – know that they are there to humble and to remind us that we are often in positions that we need to be grateful for.

Go through your moments. Feel all the feels but be very intentional with where you allow those feelings to ruminate. There is a place for negative energy, but that place is out in the atmosphere where it can dissipate without latching on to something or someone else. Interrupt that negative cycle. Free yourself. 

Be intentional with your acceptance too. Choose to see the good. It's not always easy, but it will always bring you peace. Because, peace is balance. #protectyourpeace

 

Happy accepting,

Xxxo

-s

'War' - The Key to Protecting Your Peace Pt.1

 
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2017 was a whirlwind of a year for me. In trying to balance out an onslaught of adulting that was thrown my way after returning home from my stint in Shanghai, China, I ended up also battling heavily with my mind and emotions too. Among many other things that Anxiety tried to rob me of, it also made it very difficult for me to remain clear-headed at all times.

There were moments when I felt I’d bottomed out completely. I was foggy, groggy, cranky, filled with angst, and just emotionally un-balanced. 

During one of my particularly low moments I was able to grasp onto something. I realized that peace was at the helm of reaching true balance. There was no way for me to attain freedom from my anxiety without first accepting peace.

Protecting your peace means accepting what peace is and fighting to maintain it with your whole being. Sounds a bit oxymoronic doesn’t it?

Peace is…

a choice that we must make in every moment, as necessary.

Peace is a constant negotiation, “for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world… “

Peace is allowing yourself to make mistakes and forgiving yourself for making them.

Peace is also forgiving others; especially those whom you love, or who love you, yet may hurt you in spite of that.

Peace is deciding to go to bed with a clear conscience; with no malicious thoughts for the day you had, nor for the day ahead.  

Peace is resigning to the fact that you can only control YOU. You cannot control what life will throw at you, BUT, you have full control over your reaction(s) to it all.

Peace is choosing to find the happiness in all situations and unapologetically dismissing all negativity that tries to enter your space.

Peace is choosing to be humble at all times while still realizing your own self-worth.

Peace is also the absence of the demand to reaffirm your worth in the presence of others who may not value you.

Peace is realizing and accepting who you are and where you are right now.

Peace is also accepting the life-journey that you are on right now and trusting that process; even when it’s painful.

Peace is to be still…. to be patient…. to take your time in processing, adjusting, and deciding how to move forward.

...So protecting your peace means to understand and reaffirm peace in your life daily, and by any means necessary. Thus, it involves being active and present at all times too. What it doesn’t mean is that you will be a pushover. I guarantee that the way peace will ground you, no one will be able to shake you from your foundation.

 

Happy peace-protecting. 

Xxxo,

-s

'The Story of Beauty' - The Harvey Weinstein Effect (#METOO Pt. 2)

 
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Let's set the record straight; social status does not prevent an abuser from abusing. Applaudable works do not nullify terrible decisions. Seemingly good people, can have very dark demons in their minds, and can be living very normal lives. We can thank individuals like Harvey Weinstein and the like for making that publicly clear.

Actually, I'll argue that social status and positions of power can simply provide a sort of sanctuary where an abuser can hide within, and remain safe from judgement.

What I've noticed in western culture, because I can't speak for any other culture to which I don't belong, is that we have a tendency to deviate from speaking about things that are sexually deviant. Perverse conversations make us uncomfortable so there's a tendency to stay silent.

It's okay, on a level, to speak about sex or sexual relations as it pertains to an adult man and an adult woman. That's the the only socially accepted sexual norm that is harmonious between Church and State. And although we're working on the others, departing from that safe structure of male to female encounters as the sexual norm in any way, is deemed "deviant" and "not okay".

Then there's the issue of power and status as it relates to sexually inappropriate behaviour. Take the example of childhood sexual abuse. The conversations I remember having had in school around sexual misconduct went as far as, "if someone touches you inappropriately make sure to tell your mom or dad, or another grown-up". Essentially we are taught to share our troubles with a person in power. Right?

However, this systematic way of dealing with abuse leaves room for much error. What constitutes as inappropriate? How far is too far? And what if, as is often the case, the individual who is abusing you just happens to be one of  these individuals of power; who you've been told is supposed to keep you safe? What then? Who do you talk to, if you can no longer trust the grown ups or people in power anymore? You're left in silence, the violator continues on with his life, and society carries on none-the-wiser. 

So abusers can hide behind their social status and power because they aren't being held accountable for their actions. And they aren't being held accountable for their actions, in part, because there is a lack of trust in the system as to how to judgement really operates and who judgement and justice really serve. 

So that leaves us with these truths:

Your abuser can be a father to daughters. 

Your abuser can have sisters.

Your abuser can be an upstanding and respected church member.

Your abuser can be someone well known, loved... and even trusted. 

Mine Certainly was. 

Looking forward, thankfully in 2017, here is where we now have the power to rewrite, and change the narrative that exists. Make abuse a conversation at your dinner table, with your friends, with your colleagues, with your children. 

Make sure the line is drawn between what is right and what is wrong when it comes to inappropriate behaviour. 

Make sure your community of peers have a safe place to come to should there be something wrong. It is up to us to change the outlook of our future. 

#METOO

 

Xxxo,

-s

 

 

 

 

'The Story of Beauty' - #METOO Pt. 1

 
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***DISCLAIMER: SENSITIVE CONTENT***

First let me begin by saying that I while I am a victim, I WILL NOT be victimized, and thus am in no position to receive pity. I have always lived my life privately. 

Second, let me apologize; not for what I am about to say, but for the timing of what I am about to say. I wish I had been stronger, wiser, and less selfish sooner. Many of us have a story of abuse. Here's mine.... 

When I was much younger than I am now, my step-father sexually abused me. Not once. Not twice. But enough times for me, at around 12 years old, to have to think about my sexuality and sexualization sooner than I'd thought a girl of my age needed to. 

(I will not be victimized.)

At some point I told my mother, and their marriage eventually fell apart. But that wasn't before my abuser made it out to seem as though I had imagined it, or made it up, had or somehow misunderstood his hands in places where they should not have been. 

This man, whom I trusted to protect me as my surrogate father, took innocence from me, that at such that young age I didn't recognize the importance of, nor did I know how to fight for it. 

I'll admit that I knew something was wrong at the time, but I was afraid of the consequences of coming forward and holding him accountable for his actions. It wasn't until I was much older, that I found out that many other women in my community had suffered at the hand of his abusive behaviour. #METOO

Let me make this clear, the victim is NOT to be shamed, nor blamed. It is NEVER your fault.

(I will not be victimized.)

I have since grown up. I have seen therapists, and have I dealt with my abuse in such a way that I am completely okay to speak about it, (although I am still a terribly private person.... I'm pretty sure my bestie doesn't even know my real last name! Lol). Any way, that's the short of it. But the lasting part of it is this....

Dear men, my body is mine. Please do not misunderstand that. If you forget, or you have been misguided, you will be reminded. Please do not sexualize me at your leisure. 

Dear women, your body is yours. Don't be afraid to express something that you feel is not right when it comes to your body. Don't worry about "getting him/her in trouble". Don't worry about being ostracized or victimized. 

(We will not be victimized.)

Those who choose to ostracize and victimize you for telling your truth are the weak ones; not you. Remember that. You are greater than your situation. You can make it out. You are not alone! 

PS. I still have family members who choose not to accept my story... stay strong. You are not alone. 

I stand in solidarity with all women, little and grown, as we deal with these issues on a lifelong basis. 

#METOO

 

Xxxo,

-s

Dear Diary - 10.03.17

 
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Dear Diary,

Guys suck; at least in 2017, they do. 

I feel like things would have been so different if I were 29, 10 years ago. 

When it comes to love, I don't compete. Who knows if that's a good or bad thing, I just don't. It's not my nature. If it's meant to be, it shouldn't be forced. 

I don't get jealous in relationships either. I think attraction, sexual or otherwise, is normal, natural, and healthy. It's what you do with that attraction that can be potentially unscrupulous. 

That being said, recently, my ego has gone on a bit of a trip. It seems that nowadays I have to put in a lot more effort than my usual when getting to know a potential mate, and the shift seems unbalanced. 

Guys don't chase anymore. There's no need. Their interest levels barely peak when meeting new girls. I can't blame them either. Tinder, Bumble, Instagram, etc, have brought the search to just one instantaneous swipe, or "like" away.

Online situation-ship shopping with relatively quick delivery. The perfect one-stop shop. If you don't like how one looks, or the description doesn't fit, move on! You can easily find another. Or pick up two! See which one fits better, and return the other. No love lost. 

Needless to say, the era of instant gratification is officially upon us. 

How can I tell a guy, no, or to slow down, when there are at least 2 other girls lined up behind me waiting in the shadows like vultures with a yes?? 

No. I haven't placed myself on a pedestal; just in a different lane. 

Some like to take the highway, it's fast and efficient with much less stops and interruptions. 

Some, like myself, prefer taking the residential roads so as to get a clearer picture of the complex fabric, and beauty of a city.

Preferences.

Get it?

I want to take my time, I want to be able to make love. From Scratch. Intentionally. With substance. And soul. I want all the feels. And I'd like to take my time doing so. 

However,  somewhere along the adventures of the last decade or so, society has shifted from us taking our time, to rushing through a lot of the intricacies in life. Precious moments barely matter anymore. We don't slow down enough to notice them. 

We seem to have lost much depth and breadth when it comes to the getting to the roots of intimacy, relationships, and love.

There is no bitterness in my heart, I'm more perplexed than anything. I'm still learning, and I'm still happily single. Equally, no one has yet to peak my interest levels either. But when he does, we'll be sure to take our time. 

#freefallin

Until next time my friend,

 

xxxo,

s

 

 

'C.R.E.A.M' - 7 Ways to Think Differently about Fiscal Responsibility

 
 

Okay Millennials. I know it's hard. We can't get the good jobs we want because our parents haven't retired to give up their positions, because the government is screwing them on their pensions... Not to mention, we have school loans on top of school loans because we were told to pay tons to go to school which would secure us jobs...but instead secured us all minimum waged retail jobs. 

Then we have car loans because we can't afford to live in the city, because it's too expensive; and small business loans because we're all entrepreneurs now because we can't get secure jobs, because our parents are working until they're like 80).... It's a vicious cycle.  

But being fiscally responsible is something that needs to be brought to the forefront of our minds. We've been taught everything else in school about adulting, except this one crucial part. 

Here are several ways to get you started towards a more financially responsible lifestyle.   

1. BE INTENTIONAL - Never be caught off guard. Keep track of your receipts and see where your money is going. You'll be surprised to see how you spend your money, and where you have room for savings.

Always go over your credit card statements. Do this monthly, to start. Make sure you are well acquainted with where you are spending, and what you are spending your money on. 

2. BUDGET - To affectively budget correctly, start by writing down what you need to spend monthly, with your fixed-spendings first (rent/mortgage, school loan, transportation costs, etc.) This is your baseline, these things do not change until they are non-existent. 

What you have outside of your fixed-spendings is what you need to be aware of and extra responsible with. 

3. DO NOT SPEND WHAT YOU DON'T HAVE - This is crucial. Outside of big spends like a mortgage, if you don't have the tangible money in your account, DO NOT SPEND IT.

Credit is not yours. It is a loan, and it is a loan with interest that often revolves and grows fast.

4. THINK SAVINGS - Have the bank automatically remove 10% of your paycheck every two weeks and put it away somewhere where you don't have access to it. Start small, but start thinking about saving, differently.

After a while, you won't even notice that it's not there anymore. Then you can increase the amount you are putting away monthly.

5. NEVER RELY ON ONE INCOME- This is something that most Millennials already have "in the bag" so to speak. Always have a side gig. Use your side gig to save at least two month's fixed expenses, so that you're never without in the event something goes wrong with your main source of income.

I suggest that your side gig be something that is not physically or emotionally taxing, or terribly time consuming. Your side gig doesn't need to be a huge secondary income, but have one and save what you make from it. 

6. BE STRONG - Be responsible with what you have. Don't give into the pressures around you either. So your friends want to go to dinner and you only have $40 in your account. Maybe going to a fancy expensive resto isn't a wise choice. As a matter of fact, maybe you shouldn't go out and spend your last 40$ at all. Invite them over for dinner; potluck style. 

7. NO IOU's - My mother has a saying, it's probably not hers but I like it, she says: "never borrow from Peter to pay Paul." Meaning, don't get into the habit of taking from one source to supplement another. 

So think differently about the money you have. While you may not be a millionaire, you have enough to be living within your means and saving towards a secured future. 

 

Happy fiscal thinking.

 

Xxxo,

-s

 

Dear Diary - 07.25.17

 
 

Dear Diary,



It's been a while since I've reached out, and I'm sorry.

Life has a way of giving us involuntary breaks from things that we need breaks from, without warning...

Anyway, I'm here now; at least pieces of me are here. No,no, I'm not broken. I mean, okay I was.....we can talk about that later. 

But I'm fine. I'm still in "pieces" because I'm polishing up, and refining the pieces of me before I glue them all back together.  

Apparently I've grown up. Or at least the process has begun. I'm 30 this year. I know. Crazy. 

No, I didn't end up getting married or having all those kids like I said I would; I told him no... And no, I didn't become an actress or a singer either. I ended up leaving the program after my third year and coming home.

Oh! I did finally meet my dad though. That was interesting. We chat every now and again. It's not a perfect relationship, but I guess we're working on it. 

I also cut off all my hair and lived in China for a year. China...grew me in ways I didn't even know were humanly possible. I'm still adjusting to being back in the West. 

Love has been good to me. I've been hurt, a lot, but I've also loved just as much, and have no regrets. I'm happily single now, but I think I may be ready to mingle... a bit.

So yes, I guess you can say things have changed; for the better, though. Honest. I am stronger. Smarter. Healthier, and happier. We have so much to catch up on. 


Until next time, my friend. 


Xxxo,
-s

'Don't Give Up' - The Three Keys To Staying Motivated

 
 

So here's the thing about being, and staying motivated. You almost have to be motivated to stay motivated. It's a vicious cycle that some have a hard time mastering. 

Let's be honest, not all of us are born with pompoms in our hands and are able to be cheerleaders in life. 

Furthermore, not all goals are even easy or fun to think about completing. Some of us have to work hard to be excited about completing those goals.

So here we are. Remaining driven is challenging, but there are a few keys to unlocking a steady source of inspiration, thus having the ability to remain motivated towards completing any goal.

 

1. Your Environment - I can not stress this enough. You need to surround yourself with the right elements for success. 

a) Your friends. They need to motivate you. If your friendship circle isn't challenging you for the better, then reassess whom you spend your time with. You do need a positive support system at all times.

b) Your surroundings. They need to bring you light in every way. Light leads to happiness. Don't discount your innate need for sunshine. It's scientific. Make sure you're getting enough natural light. Pull up the blinds in your office, or your bedroom. etc, and let all that light in. 

c) Your Mind. Be careful what you consume here. Read, watch, and listen to positive things. Feed your mind healthy, and positive reinforcements. You are what you eat, right?

2. Check-up and Check-in  - Don't forget to spot-check. Set yourself reminders to check-in with yourself regularly. See where you're at in relation to completing whatever it is you set out to do. 

Track your progress with your check-ins. Know that each step, no matter how large or how far, is still a step forward on the path towards completion. Remind yourself to keep going. 

Also, remind yourself of the idea of what completing this goal will feel like, and what it has the potential to do for you.

3. Celebrate the small wins! You don't start with the finish line being close to you; it's usually far away. As you journey towards the end, celebrate every mile that you pass.

It's important to acknowledge that you are moving in the right direction. That'll help you keep your good energies high. 

The most important part of any journey is recognizing that you are on one. Any while motivation isn't necessarily natural, it is 100% attainable. Keep going. 

 

Happy Motivating.

 

 

Xxxo,

-s

Mask Off - I'm Coming Clean Pt.1

 
 

I'll start by admitting that 2017 has mostly been an erratic year. There's been a lot of breaking. So far, I've broken a lot, and I've been broken a lot; all thanks to the truth. 

Coming clean is important because it holds the key to releasing your soul. I've never felt more free in my life than this year, although it's been filled with a lot of disruption up to this point. 

In coming clean you learn a lot about yourself, and the person(s) whom you come clean to. You learn who's there to support you in your errors, and/or who is there to reciprocate the love you've shown in vulnerable moments. 

                                                                        ...

I came clean to a friend last week. I told her I thought she was an amazing human being, I told her why, and I told her why she was so integral in my life. Our relationship had been rocky for a while, but amidst our rough moment, it was still important for her to know how much she meant to me.

Last week I also came clean to my mother, and I told her something that had been pressing on my heart. Although I knew it may have hurt her, it was also equally important for her to know. It didn't go over well, and it definitely hurt her, but we got past it. 

Now coming clean doesn't mean going HAM and telling everyone everything that's on your mind at all times. Remember, the truth is relative. Your truth might not be someone else's, so tread lightly. Your truth is just that; yours. 

It also doesn't mean bearing your soul about the things that only bother you. Coming clean is about being vulnerable too, and sharing the lovely things about this life that deserve more attention.

Always tell the truth in love and with as much kindness as there is oxygen to breathe. Be wise and discern when the timing is right and then let it out. Put the truth in the atmosphere and deal with whatever happens next.

Don't hoard too many things in your heart and soul. Set them free so they can do the same for you. So now.....

The person who's been troubling your soul - tell them

The person whom you love - tell them 

The person who's your person - tell them

The person who needs to know they're veering in the wrong direction - tell them

The person who needs to know they'll be okay - tell them

The person who hurt you - tell them

To yourself, about yourself - tell yourself the truth

Speak up. Life isn't "short" as they say, but every waking minute does unequivocally matter.

 

Happy coming clean.

 

Xxxo,

s