Five Ways to Love Yourself in the Midst of a Crisis

21 08 2014

In light of the most recent events happening in our country and the rest of the world, I’ve seen a few a friends remind their social and email networks of the importance of taking some time out to self-love and self-heal. It sounds a little pseudo, but stress really does kill you — and you can’t tell me that folks aren’t stressed the hell out these days.

Thing is, my dad always reminds me that your brain doesn’t know the difference between physical and mental stress. That it all seems like you’re banging your body up against a brick wall.

So to help combat that a little (and to pay the reminder forward¹), here are my top five suggestions to loving yourself in the midst of a crisis/storm/stressful time.

1. Take some time away from whatever it is that’s stressing you — I know, I know. It sounds like you’re just avoiding things, but sometimes you have to step away from the stressful stimuli to gain perspective and also to not go crazy. That’s not saying to get under the covers for days, but you shouldn’t be afraid to turn off the TV, power down your phone, and avoid the Internet for even a few hours to help you de-stress.

2. Do something that makes you happy — For me, that’s usually dancing or hanging out with loved ones doing nothing. Your happy place will be unique to you, but you should find it and engage in it at least until you can find yourself laughing genuinely.

3. Get a hug from someone — Yes, the photo for this post is someone hugging herself, but understand, there’s power in the touch of loved ones. Let someone hug you (even if you’re not a hugger), and let him/her do it for longer than 30 seconds. You’ll see.

4. Get some rest — Sleep is so important. And I say this as someone who is a night owl and rarely goes to sleep at a reasonable hour, but I also speak as someone who can feel the difference when I get a restful eight hours of sleep and when I barely get four. My body knows the difference, and so does yours. And your body will break down if you don’t let it refuel to the level it needs.

5. Don’t feel guilty for thinking of you — I used to have this problem (sometimes still do). When I made time for myself in the midst of a stressful situation, I’d feel like I was letting folks down or being selfish. But I had to learn that it’s not about being selfish. It’s about self-preservation. And if you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be there for anyone else.

Those are my top five suggestions, but what about you all? Do you have any that would be good to share?

1 I also want to be sure to thank those who included me in their reminders. It was much needed!

PS: WordPress tells me this is my 700th post!! WOW! That’s kinda crazy — thank you all for coming with me on this crazy ride thus far. Here’s to at least 700 more :)





On Trying Desperately Not to Feel Defeated in Light of #Ferguson

19 08 2014
Images created by Shirin-Banou Barghi and shared on Facebook

Images created by Shirin-Banou Barghi and shared on Facebook

“If you are silent about your pain, they will kill you and say you enjoyed it.” — Zora Neale Hurston

Like many, this past week has been a rough one for me. I’ve struggled with watching the footage from Ferguson, MO and reading of other unarmed Black men being killed because their bodies made someone perceive them as a threat. I’ve gone from angry to sad to exhausted to making sure I’m hyper aware of everything going on and then back to angry again. I’ve wrestled with the already cynical, slightly militant, HBCU graduate side of myself that wants to raise my fist all day long (because that’s what is engrained in me to do as a Bison) and yet doesn’t truly believe anything I do will amount to much when I see peaceful protestors getting tear gassed every time I turn on MSNBC or CNN. I’ve signed petitions and talked through potential legislation with friends who walk in that arena about what can truly be done to help stop this from happening again (because that’s what is engrained in me to do as a Hoya). I’ve even contemplated how realistic it is to crawl in the bed for a few days, roll the covers up over my head, and pretend like the world doesn’t seem to be collapsing before our very eyes on our TV screens.

And while all of those thoughts have run through my head, another one remains. One that tells me, “You don’t have the luxury or the right to feel exhausted. You, who knows the history of this country; you, who volunteers in her community; you, yes you, can’t run and hide from this moment. Because your people are being treated as if they are terrorists in their own land. Because your peers are going straight into the thick of things, getting arrested for simply exercising their rights to be a part of a free press, and fearing for their lives as they attempt to identify themselves as media, hoping that makes a difference. Because someone’s child was killed, seemingly because he committed the very harmful crime of jaywalking while Black. Because yet another child was killed.”

It’s because of those last thoughts that I don’t get under my covers and just cry. But that doesn’t mean the desire isn’t there — especially when it feels like Black people are having to constantly explain our rage and pain. Be clear — this isn’t to vilify everyone, of course, but it’s to acknowledge that because of some folks’ action, I’m tired. Tired of hoping one day people will get it. Tired of being disappointed when they don’t. Tired of knowing that to some individuals, it will never be important that a Black kid bled out on the street from bullets that should have never even gone near him. Just because he is Black.

How many times do we have to see a Black mother or father get on TV and tell of how he or she now has to answer a child’s inquiry of if he will get shot simply because of who he is? How many times do we have to see the images of the brutal over reactions to Black bodies in public spaces? What’s it going to take for some folks in this country to acknowledge that we are human beings???

I wrestle with those questions too, obviously.

I wrestle with a feeling of despair that wants to take over and force me to give up.

I wrestle with a feeling of helplessness, wondering if anything I do matters when we can’t even prevent our children from being gunned down by the people who are supposed to protect them.

And because of all that wrestling, I’m so damn tired y’all. But I’m a daughter of Howard, which means I’m a sister of Zora… so I know. I know despite my wrestling, I can’t keep quiet. Despite the despair that wants to take over, I can’t give up. And despite the exhaustion I feel, I can’t tuck myself under the covers and act like nothing is happening. Not when there’s so much more work to do.





Say Yes to the Kiss

14 08 2014

Clearly y’all know I like to kiss. Well, actually, that’s an understatement. I looove kissing. But have we ever talked about all the different types of kissing between partners or potential partners on here?? I think not!

Well, never fear — the wait is no longer.

One thing to note about kissing is that the level of intimacy or passion within each kiss is completely dependent on the kissers. For example, a single peck can be just as intimate as playing tongue hockey if it’s with the right person, kind of like how holding someone’s hand can send chills down your spine if it’s someone you’re really into. And speaking of the peck, let’s start there.

1. The Single Peck: This can come in many forms — the peck on the cheek, the one in the crease of the cheek and the mouth, straight on the lips, etc… But the key about the single peck is that it typically doesn’t last longer than about 3 seconds. And that’s in cases when someone decides to lay a lingering peck on you, which, uhhhh is super sexy by the way. (Or at least I feel sexy when I do it haha.). But even with the shortest, simplest version of the kiss, there can be such variation of intent. You may find yourself giving a relationship peck to your partner if y’all have been together for a while or it could be a teasing peck between two would-be lovers.

It can mean goodbye or hello, stay or leave. It can be really soft, with the lips barely touching their counterpart (cheek, crease, other lips, etc…) or it can be intense and hard and signify anguish and pain. Either way, I think when most people mention kissing, they tend to overlook the single peck in their minds. However, the simplest version of the kiss shouldn’t be under-estimated. It’s got a lot going on in its favor.

2. The Multiple Peck Kiss: Like its cousin, this kiss is short in nature, but with its succession of kisses included in the definition, it can also last for quite some time. You see this kiss happen when someone plants short, sweet kisses on his/her partner’s face or you get kisses on the back of your neck. This kiss can also be used to go up or down a person’s body, so obviously it’s a pretty intimate one.

3. The Forehead Kiss: Ohhhh the forehead kiss… so controversial you are! I’ve found that this kiss either has one of two meanings when it happens. Either a) I really care about you/love you, etc… and want to protect you, or b) I really care about you/love you, etc… as my friend. There’s really no in between.

4. The French Kiss without Tongue: (not to be mistaken for the French double peck on the cheek kiss) This kiss is one of passion and fire. It can be a part of a make-out session, but even alone, it is able to signify the very clear intent that “at some point, I would like to rip those clothes off of you.” That’s some powerful stuff. Also, usually, when you see people get wowed or swept off their feet by a kiss, it tends to be in this category. That’s no mistake.

5. The French Kiss with Tongue: Oh tongue hockey faithful… this kiss is 9 times out of 10 leading to clothes coming off or being pushed aside. It’s very rarely a stand alone kiss, but also I realized recently, I’ve also very rarely used this kiss post my early twenties. I could be alone in this, but I think I’m probably not.

So what’s your favorite kiss? Did I miss it? I think I have a tie between the single peck and the french kiss without tongue, but really I’m likely to swoon from either one with the right guy.





On Long Distance Relationships (but not the kind you’re thinking of…)

12 08 2014

A couple weeks ago, I spent most of my time running the Washington, D.C. streets with my oldest niece and the only relative I have who lives anywhere near me (one of my sisters/her aunt). And while we had a blast, we also spent so much of our time catching up on life. You see my niece, along with my brother, sister-in-law, and other niece and nephew live in California, so while we Skype and talk on the phone, it’s not quite the same as her being here. Which, of course got me thinking about how most of the people I count as essential in my life do not live near me.

I mean we talk about long distance relationships in terms of lovers all the time and how a majority of us don’t want to participate in them, but it hit me that I’ve been engaging in long distance relationships for quite some time now. My parents are long distance. So are my bestest friends. Same thing with my nieces and nephew, my godchildren, my siblings with the exception of my one sister, etc…

And maybe that’s why I know just how hard they can be when you try to have one with someone you want to be with — because long distance relationships are hard as hell with the people already in my life.

There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I could see my godchildren more… that I don’t wonder if my being so far away is a disservice to them. And I can’t even count all the times something has happened to a close friend that’s made me just want to hold him or her, but of course my arms don’t stretch states away. Or just even wanting to be there more times to celebrate the good in their lives. Sure I make it work — we have a lot of technology available these days — but there’s nothing quite like being in front of the person you love, you know?

It’s an interesting aspect of life these days, really, when you think about it. Because while my case might be extreme (and really, I don’t think that’s all that true either), I think most of us experience this in some way. I don’t know anyone in my generation who has all their close friends and family in the same place as them. Do you? Probably not.

Instead, I believe we’ve all been living life, carrying on long distance relationships for some time now, failing at some, succeeding somewhat at others — but never really flourishing. Because again, Skype and Facetime can’t replace the simple effectiveness of a hug or laying your head on someone or laughing with them in person. Technology can and will never be enough.

So what do you do? We can’t all make pacts to go back to where we’re from. Even if we could, it wouldn’t help matters. Sure I’d be around more of my family then, but I met some of my closest friends in college. They’re not going back to my hometown! And our parents (for the most part) didn’t experience this spreading out of relationships to the extent that we have, so as much as we love them, it would probably be the blind leading the blind if we asked them for help.

Plus, I don’t know about y’all, but mine would just say come home as if that was the cure to all problems lol.

I’m actually not quite sure that we can do anything except continue to cultivate those long distance relationships in ways that sort of make sense for each one. Some friends, I know email works better for them. Others, it’s texting. Some family members I know I need to schedule phone dates with, and some people I have to just schedule weekends and trips with. But I do those things because as much as I (and we all) hate long distance relationships of any kind, those people are important to me, and I need them in my life in anyway possible. Distance be damned.

That doesn’t make it any easier though, especially during times when they need me and I can’t get there.

What about you? Do you find yourself trying to juggle long distance relationships in your life as well? And what are some ways you think work better than others?





Throwback Thursday — In My Dreams

31 07 2014

On this Thursday, I’m hitting you guys with an oldie but goodie! It’s a post I wrote several months ago, but it’s pretty near and dear to my heart and kind of reminds me of the days I used to write poetry when I was younger (it’s not a poem, but it’s closer to that than a regular blog post).

Hope you enjoy (and enjoy the rest of your week/weekend.) I’ll be continuing to traipse around Washington, DC with my sister and our oldest niece for the next few days — so basically the exact opposite of relaxing, but so much fun!

Without further ado — here you go!

_______________________________________

In My Dreams

In my dreams, we are happy.

We are both filled with hope and expectations, enjoying just the mere presence of each other’s company.

Just us.

Me.

And him.

We are laughing heartily, because that’s what we do when around each other. But we are not laughing out of obligation. Our sounds come roaring out of us like water from Great Falls — booming with power but unable to stop the flow.

Our hands are sometimes entwined, fingertips dancing along each other’s skin. Embracing the other without even having to envelope because the slightest touch is intimate.

We are close. But not invading either person’s space. Our limbs have no concept of needing room from the other. At times, we are simply quiet. Breathing the other’s air. His chest lifting when mine does. Our heart beats synched to a perfectly timed beat. At others, we are again boisterous, giggling from the inside jokes only we know.

At no point are we scared.

Instead, we are comfortable. Comfortable in our skins. Peaceful in our happiness. Sure. Sure of the purpose we hold in the other’s life. Certain that God put us together for a reason. Maybe even a lifetime.

This is what I see in my dreams.

I see his eyes staring into my soul. His nose breathing in my scent. His lips curling up into the slightest, contented smile. I see us throwing caution to the wind and trying out this thing neither of us knew we wanted. Any hesitations halted by the pure joy we experience when we are in each other’s arms.

What I don’t see is a utopia. This is not a fantasy. It’s a real, living, breathing choice we’ve made to trust and honor and be open. My dream is not about frolicking in the meadows or traipsing across the country. It’s about two people who realized, somewhere along the way, despite what hardships are sure to come just living life, they are happier when life includes the two of them. I am happier when my life includes him.

We are free in this dream. Free to laugh, love, and be in the moment.

We are simply… us.

Just me.

And him.

Blazing our paths through this crazy world and grateful to have the other along for the ride.





GUEST POST — Dancing the Night Away: A Shoe Story

29 07 2014
Photo: black patent leather pumps from Nine West

Photo: black patent leather pumps from Nine West

Today’s guest blogger comes to us from the blog, Cake and Eggs. Brenda is a an aspiring author, occupational therapist, introvert, foodie, voracious reader, and someone I’ve been wanting to get on here to do a guest shoe story for quite some time now. (So glad she finally agreed!!) You can check out her blog by clicking the link attached to it and/or follow her on Twitter @cakeandeggs.

____________________________________________

By Brenda, Guest Blogger

“Hey, I’m Martin.”

“I’m Brenda.”

We met the night before at River walk. He was the groom-to-be’s friend and too damn cute for his (or my) good. We didn’t speak much past the basic pleasantries, but I spent a lot of time looking. He was tall with broad shoulders and impressive biceps, a football player’s body. My favorite part though? His smile, it was almost shy.

I was not supposed to go to the wedding reception; I was simply on vacation and roommates with the bride’s cousin. Last minute — and I mean super last minute due to flaky guests — I found myself at the reception, seated a few tables away from my new crush. I was dressed a bit casual for the wedding, the dressiest thing I had with me was a short black and white flowered dress with a deep V-neck that I paired with my black patent leather nine west heels.
Back then, I wasn’t a big dancer, not in public anyway, but surrounded by my roommates I felt more uninhibited.

Plus this girl was trying to catch the attention of a certain man.

It’s hard to remember which song brought me to the dance floor but while going wild to Justin Timberlake’s Sexyback, I whirled around mid-shoulder shake and found myself face to face with my crush.

A slow smile spread across my face before I could stop myself. We stared at each other for a long moment until I blurted, “I love this song ” over the music.

“Me too!” he yelled back. This was our entire conversation that night. It was not about the words, it was the connection and the dancing.

After a spirited dance session, things slowed down a bit for the bouquet toss. I have always been an overly enthusiastic participant in this tradition because why not? I was a hopeless romantic .

The bride tossed her bouquet in the air and without even trying; I caught it.
Guess who caught the garter? It was like a scene straight out of my favorite Jennifer Lopez romantic comedy. We posed for pictures, his arm draped around my waist, and later, I danced with him while winking at my roommates over the vast expanse of his shoulder.

Three hours later, the DJ announced the last dance of the night.

Before this wedding, I could not even tell you who sang this song but on this particular night, they were reading my mind. He put on (I’ve Had) The Time of my Life, and I danced with Malik as if it was my last, belting the lyrics at the top of my lungs. I was sad to see the night end knowing I might not see him again.

Once the song faded, I walked over to the table slightly limping after hours of dancing in heels and began gathering my things. I pretended not to watch him greet his friends and saunter out of the room without saying goodbye. I swallowed back my disappointment and pretended not to care.

That is until I felt someone tap my shoulder, and I turned around thinking it was one of my roommates.

Instead it was Martin. He smiled that shy smile of his again.

“Can I have your number so I can call you sometime?”





The Easiest Way to Guarantee Less Sex from Your Partner

24 07 2014
A view of the spreadsheet in question... Photo via NY Post

A view of the spreadsheet in question…
Photo via NY Post

If you were to happen to be wondering what the easiest way is to make sure your partner wants to have as little sex with you as possible — I’ve found it for you! (Not sure why you’d want to do this if you’re not celibate or a virgin or taking things slow… but you know whatever works for you.)

Create a spreadsheet detailing all the times you’ve asked her for sex over the past few weeks and she’s turned you down. Oh, but don’t forget to send it to her as she’s heading on a 10-day trip. AND you can’t leave out the fact that you won’t miss her on those 10 days, because it’s not like if she were there, you’d be having sex anyway.

Oh…. what’s that you’re saying?

That’s not something you’d actually like to do? Hmmm. OK. Because I mean I thought that was the goal… no sex for you and your lady. No? Oh.

Listen, I get it. I’m sure this guy was super frustrated mentally and physically about the lack of sex in his marriage. I would be too. And I also get that asking your partner for sex is something that leaves a lot of people feeling extremely vulnerable.. and then to be rejected almost every time he asked — I get it. It’s not a good combination.

However, this spreadsheet business won’t produce the effect he’s looking for. Shaming your wife into more sex never does.

And really, what they should be getting at is why she doesn’t feel comfortable having sex with him anymore. Could it be because he sounds entitled to her body? Or not at all interested in the fact that she’s admitted to feeling less secure because of recent weight gain?

I’m sure it’s a combination of those and more. And while I initially laughed at the craziness and audacity of the spreadsheet, the more I thought about it, the sorrier I felt for the wife. From the outside looking in, it doesn’t seem as if she has the most supportive husband in the world. Maybe he is — but that spreadsheet doesn’t show it. It shows all the times he made note to himself that she didn’t fulfill his needs.

But here’s the thing. It’s no secret that guys want sex (ladies do too, but we’re talking about the guys here for a second). So if your lady is constantly rejecting that, you have to know there’s a deeper reason behind it. She’s not actively trying to not fulfill his needs, but I’d be willing to bet she felt like he wasn’t concerned about hers.

Wouldn’t it have been better for him to say, “Hey babe — I noticed that you haven’t really been eager to make love these days. Is there something going on? What can we do to get our connection back?” I mean, c’mon — that would have been so much better! And guess what? It probably would have actually gotten him what he wanted, because she would have felt like he was so sweet for being concerned about her.

This spreadsheet, on the other hand, was an attack. A hurtful attack by someone who felt rejected, but not anything that would actually help their marriage. I hope he’s learned that by now. At the very least, Reddit users have told him so.

Have you ever done something like this before? Not necessarily creating a spreadsheet of all the times your partner rejected you, but acted out in anger and hurt and realized later that a better way was available? What did you do to resolve it? Maybe we can give this dude some suggestions too, because he’s got a lot of making up to do.

 








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