Wednesday, December 30, 2009

On Parenting

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My child is a unique individual: thoughtful, perceptive, wildly inquisitive, fiercely independent. And while I believe I played a part in enhancing these traits and allowing them to flourish, I don't believe I am responsible for them. Oh no! He came here that way. Those things are just what make us compatible mother-son partners for his journey. I understand these aspects of his personality, and the truth of who I am allows me to relate to him, and to test him and to help him push beyond his limits. You see, I don't believe that as parents we are meant to try and turn our children into miniature versions of ourselves. Sometimes, it happens that way naturally and exhibits itself in certain aspects of their personalities. But children come into this earth as their own people, with their own personalities in place and their unique journeys already unfolding. We parents are meant to just teach them the rules of living while they are here, so that they can decide to live within them, run outside of them, or break them into tiny little pieces (and certainly I mean those rules applicable to limitations and fear--not the laws we have to abide by that could land them in compromising positions legally). We have to protect them from evil, because their innocent minds make them easy prey for those that mean them harm. We have to expose them to new things and show them what the world has to offer so that as they experience these things, they might recognize something that calls out a truth they see in themselves.

We are bombarded daily with "to-do" lists for parenting: "this is what a good parent should do; a good parent never does that; your children aren't getting enough of this, or doing enough of that". Isn't parenting difficult enough without everyone trying to shape themselves into the same cookie cutter mold? It just feels like an impossible task when there are so many different types of adults and children involved. And the end result is that we end up feeling guilty for not living up to these expectations that are imposed upon us, or to what our neighbor/sister/friend is doing in her family. We end up feeling that if we choose to spank our children, or if we work outside the home, or if we don't make our own baby food in a food processor, or if we can't volunteer at our child's school etc (the list goes on and on) that we are not good/great parents.

So maybe it will be easier if we let ourselves off the hook for being these super human, all important figure heads of dictatorship and authority, and judges of right and wrong...and just enjoy our children. We can show them what love, loyalty, trustworthiness and responsibility look like and let them follow suit. Show them how to make healthy choices to nourish mind, body and soul, and then watch them make healthy choices on their own. Maybe my child doesn't keep his room clean, but he's a straight A student-well that's my compromise. Maybe your child won't eat vegetables with every meal but you can sneak them in once per day and that's your compromise. It's all about deciding what works best for the unique spirits that make up our own family units. I think we could save ourselves a lot of stress if we see ourselves as responsible only for teaching our children lovingly as they develop; guiding them gently to better choices when they inevitably make wrong ones and hugging them until our arms hurt so that they feel safe. Because in the end, they are God's children/children of the earth/children of the universe. Their purpose is already implanted in them--we are simply temporary stewards and seed waterers. The control is in the hands of a higher power and just as we trust it to bring the best for ourselves, we should trust it to do the same for our children.

Well, that's just what I believe...
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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Prayer for Beauty

by Anita Revel, from The Goddess Diet, See a Goddess in the Mirror in 21 Days.

I goddess, ask for the willpower to take charge of my life, my body and my habits, for the sake of my health, peace of mind and self-respect.

I goddess, believe my body is sacred, a treasure and a pleasure, a luscious wonder and miraculous manifestation of the respect I have for my magnificent Self.

I goddess, am ready to receive blessings of dignity and grace during my transition, good health, and renewed energy to do anything I set my mind to.

With love to myself, and for myself.


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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Be About It

Remember how people used to talk smack on the playground when you were little? One of the things you could taunt that made you sound tough and fearless was, "Don't talk about it, be about it." Meaning "I'm not afraid. Do what you will. Bring it on!" As children, we had no idea of the power of those words, but lo and behold they actually ring quite true into adulthood. We have to be just as unafraid now as we were then, challenging life to "bring it on!" and do what it will, because we can certainly handle it.

When you're going about making changes in your life, or reaching for your dreams, don't just talk about it, be about it:

If you're sure that relationship isn't for you, and you know you need to move on--do it! Don't wait. You're wasting valuable healing time.

If you're ready for a new job, stop complaining and put a plan in place to find one. It may take time, but at least you're working toward a goal.

If you're serious about your dream, then be serious about it! Visualize, research, plan, sow seeds, network, take a class, get that degree. Whatever you need to do to make it happen, do it!

Whatever your struggles or your desires, you have the power to affect change in your situation at any moment you decide to. So stop talking about it and be about it!

Ready for change

*Learn more about feeling the winds of change and transformation through the goddess, Oya.

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Do you see what I see?

When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
Your imperfections? Your big this or small that? Do you see a reflection of criticism, thoughtless comments and judgments?

Is it easier to perceive your uniqueness as unbecoming than it is to own it as oh so right for you? Do you long for thicker hair? straighter hair? clearer skin? smaller waist? larger breasts?

Do you see all the things you can't afford, haven't accomplished and the vices you have yet to overcome?

Do you see all the people who have told you that you can't, you won't or you shouldn't? Do you see all the moving obstacles in your path? Are your eyes deep with the pain you have seen and felt?

Do you see a victim that has been lied to, betrayed, misunderstood and cast aside? Do you see someone who has fallen short? Do you see defeat?

...Or do you see what I see? Beauty is a state of mind, you know. So for beauty to spring forth from your mind, you must think it before you can see it.

When I look in the mirror, I see how far I have come. I see the little girl that I used to be and the grown woman that I have become. And I see beauty in the evolution that is me. I see an inner peace that makes my blemishes fade and my hair shine.

I see the loving hugs my long arms have given, and the smile that has brightened many spirits. In my eyes, I see the sparkling perserverance of a spirit that won't quit.

There are familiar roadmaps etched on my face, mama scars on my belly, and dancer's feet in my shoes. And I love the comfortable gangliness that signifies my walk and even manages to come through in my talk.

As the image in the mirror changes over the years, I vow to see what I believe - love, faith and peace - for there is nothing more beautiful than that.

If you don't see your own good, then who will see it?

Believe it. See it. Celebrate it. Share it. Love shines when all is dim.
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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

About Labels

Often, when something happens in our lives that elicits a strong emotion like joy or excitement, we label this thing that has happened as "good". Likewise, when something happens in our lives that elicits a strong emotion like sadness, hurt or anger, we label this thing that has happened as "bad". The thing to remember though, is that these are labels, created by imperfect humans, that do not speak to the true definition of a thing.

Often, we feel hurt or sad because of our attachments to people and things. There is absolutely nothing wrong with attachment as it is a very natural human thing. But, we have to be able to let go of these same things when the Universe says it is time--and this is where we tend to feel emotional. The key is to remember that the very things that cause us to feel hurt or sad are often things that Life is trying to move out of our way to make room for things that are bigger and better for us. Sometimes we see the end result and have understanding of why Life made certain changes, and sometimes we never know. The key is to acknowledge and accept that we may not be aware of the bigger picture. We have to get to a point where we are accepting of the fact that life is always working on our behalf and that we sometimes cause our own feelings of hurt by working against the natural ebbs and flows (cycles) of Life.

So what to do. First, stop labeling things as good or as bad. Say to yourself "this is the thing that happened." Second, say "this is how I feel about what has happened". You're human--you are going to feel a certain way about it. State that feeling out loud, feel that feeling way down deep in the pit of your stomach, live with it, revel in it, and then let it go. Also, be sure to state that this is how you feel--not who you are. For example, "I FEEL hurt" as opposed to "I AM hurt". See the difference? When you put out that something is a part of your being, you label yourself, and you become that emotion. Emotions are powerful, but they are temporary. Give yourself the power to let them go. Third, be open to change. Life is made up of a series of events, occurrences, challenges, opportunities etc. It is a journey, during which we are meant to do many things, meet and touch many people and embrace a host of experiences. Be open-minded and open-hearted. Be fearless.

The bottom line is that you'll be able to live a much richer life if you refrain from passing judgment on your life and instead embrace whatever comes your way--not as a good thing or a bad thing...just a thing.

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Monday, December 7, 2009

The Art of Silence

By nature, I am a quiet, laid-back, thoughtful person. I’ve been called everything from shy and reserved to stuck-up and conceited, because at times, my silence makes people feel uncomfortable. I used to think something was wrong with me for being this way and that I should change myself to make others feel more comfortable. Over time, I’ve grown to appreciate my ability to sit back and peacefully observe people and situations. I try to choose my words thoughtfully, because once they are out of your mouth, you can’t take them back. We should all ask ourselves before we speak, “Is it thoughtful, is it kind, does it improve upon the silence?”

Food for Thought:

You don't always have to have something to say.

Every time we open our mouths we release a powerful energy. If we could learn to hold onto that energy, it could be used to nurture our dreams, heal our bodies and fuel our minds. But we always have so much to say. Talking can take us off track, knock us off our center and kill off our dreams when we speak mindlessly. Talking is something we must learn to use, not something we must always do. That is a power in silence that energizes the mind, body and soul. Think of the sun, moon and stars. They all appear silent and never fail at their job. There is wisdom in silence. Think of the mountains and trees. They never have anything to say, yet it takes great effort to bring them down. There is love in silence. Think of the womb. Perfect timing, order and completion accomplished in total silence. Silence is an art, a tool of the wise. When we perfect the art of silence, chances are we will get a lot more done.

~Author Unknown

Disclaimer: At times, my silence has been more a function of insecurity than confidence. This is why silence is an art that must be learned. It is important to feel the release that only truth and communication can give you. Find the courage to express what you really want and articulate your feelings in a thoughtful way.
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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Spend Little, Live Much

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It's that time of year, lovelies! Holiday shopping is in full swing, and I don't know about you, but I am not trying to overspend this year. I am on a mission to simplify my life. I am the only one who can do it, because I am the only one guilty of making it complicated. That's hard to admit, because I so badly want to point fingers, but it's true. I came across the following post at , one of my favorite self-development and empowerment websites.

It's kinda long, so I've shortened it for PLPT. To read the post in its entirety, click here. It's definitely a worthwhile read to help you get your mind right heading into this season. Enjoy!

There are two challenges that people face when choosing to live a more simpler life: owning little and wanting little. Yet people fuse these challenges together into a larger “live simply” goal.

Unfortunately, they’re two different beasts that need to be tamed in their own ways.

Owning little requires a practical approach – systematically decluttering your life and eliminating the unnecessary. Wanting little on the other hand is focused on the way in which we think, a far more blurred aspect of simplicity.

Sincerely wanting little is difficult. It goes against our firmly rooted desire for certainty, for ownership. To cut through this psychological attachment requires more than step-by-step processes or following a list of tactics, it requires a shift in your thinking, a shift in the way you approach your day to day life and how you make decisions.

1. Have a vision for your life. Goals are somewhat useful tools to get from point A to B, but they often lack depth, emotion and meaning, and without those three things there’s a deficiency of purpose and drive.

Think about the lifestyle you want as a whole instead of simply focusing on your desire to want very little. What do you want to own? How will you spend your time? Where will you be? Be specific.

This outline acts as a funnel. Desires for more may attempt to flood your life, but because you’ve clearly defined what matters to you, only the things conducive to your aims will make their way through this funnel. It becomes much easier to say “No” to something when you’re certain it’s not apart of the bigger picture.

2. Find your motivation. What is your why? Why do you want little? Because it’s trendy is unfortunately not enough to quench your lust for stuff. Personally, I want little because I have dreams of traveling the world for months on end, and stocking up on gadgets and gizmos doesn’t exactly gel well with that.

3. Experience the benefits. No matter how many times you hear the benefits of wanting little, or visualise your motivation with all the intensity in the world, experiencing an uncluttered lifestyle will always be the best way to switch from a “want more” to a “want little” mindset.

4. Be noncommittal. Decisions become scary when they’re set in stone. In other areas of life a little fear could indeed be a good thing, but it’s unnecessary and undesirable when striving to eliminate the desire for more – the challenge is difficult enough without adding further resistance.

5. Understand the psychology of influence. Marketing and sales are apart of this world and it’d be silly to chastise those sectors because in reality we’re all marketers and salespeople – all livelihoods are fueled by being heard and mutual exchanges. But that doesn’t mean you need to fall into the trap of cheap psychological tricks.

6. Grow into it. Start with small victories. Be mindful of all your purchases and desires and regularly ask yourself “Does this fit into my vision?” You will stumble, it’s the nature of the beast. The world wants you to want more, and the world is a mighty challenger.

7. Lose yourself. Purchasing is a process we lose ourselves in. First something catches our eye, then there’s the inner conflict (should we buy it?). If we convince ourselves that we should part with our money, there’s that little buzz you get of claiming ownership. You take the product home. And then you use it.

It’s an exciting sequence of events – full of uncertainty and possibility – that we get swept up in. But the problem is, it mostly ends with buyer’s remorse, a dented bank account and all the other costs of owning stuff.

What you need to do is learn to get lost in activities rather than acquisition. Instead of being strung along by the latest gizmo, learn to transplant that process into an outlet such as writing, music or drawing. Focus on doing interesting things rather than buying interesting things.

8. Crunch the numbers. It’s likely that you have a passion that has expenses (like travel or reading) or, at the very least, you would like to put away some money for a rainy day. One simple trick I use to avoid acquiring things is compare the cost of the particular thing in question, to the expenses of my passion.

For example, backpacking through Thailand is something I dream of doing. Now, say it costs $25 per day to live in Phuket. If I were to see an Xbox game selling for $50 I’d ask myself “Is that game worth sacrificing two days in a foreign culture?” Most of the time the answer will be a resounding “No” and it’s in those instances where you’ll be dodging a purposeless impulse buy.

If the answer comes back “Yes,” nothing is wrong with that. Wanting little isn’t about depriving yourself of what’s important to you, but eliminating all the clutter that makes its way into our lives. But make sure you’re being honest with yourself.

Read more from David at his blog, Adventures of a Barefoot Geek, or subscribe to his feed.
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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Seasons Change

This past year of my life has been full of tumultuous change and as a result, amazing growth. In the past I've feared change and avoided it at all costs, preferring what I perceived to be the safe haven of routine. But what I have learned is that change is inevitable, necessary and always ultimately good. Sometimes we have to go through a tremendous amount of pain or learn difficult lessons in order to recognize the good, but we are always smarter, stronger and more self-aware when all is said and done. I have gained insight throughout my recent growth experiences that I might not have otherwise. Perhaps these are things that others already knew, but I finally have my own personal clarity in these areas. Here are some of the things that I've learned:

When obsessing over external things that are out of your control, learn to turn your focus inward and become re-aligned with self.

To find joy in the unexpected. It's happening anyway--might as well embrace it.

You must be your own support and comforting presence. Self-soothe.

When obsessing over love and relationships remember: no one else can love you quite like you can love you.

Always follow your instincts. This is your inner guide, the realm of yourself that is most connected to Spirit. Its job is to protect you.

Even if you had to learn the lesson the hard way, the point is that you learned it. Celebrate.

When deciding to be the "good guy" in any situation, recognize that it is a full time job, not a temporary contract. You will most certainly be called upon to be just as gracious again and again. But don't worry, you can handle it.

Your breath is a divine gift and the key to maintaining your peace. Breathe deeply: as you inhale, bring positive thoughts and things into your consciousness; as you exhale, let go of all things negative, toxic and fearful.

Your body will acknowledge the things you won't admit to yourself (outward physical symptons of stress). Treat yourself well inwardly and your body will outwardly reflect it.

You can't be Superwoman, Wonder Mom or Domestic Diva all the time. It's okay (necessary even) to take a break now and then--relax, recharge, regroup and get back at it tomorrow.

There are always going to be bad days--and that's okay--because they help us to recognize and appreciate the really really good days. (The same goes for friends, men, jobs and wines.)

It is important to let go of expectations and desired outcomes, and to instead let life just work itself out. Dream, put in the effort and let the Universe do the rest. Even if things don't turn out the way you think you want them to, they will turn out for the best.

There's a difference between knowing these things and putting them into practice--the ability to live these lessons in every day situations, while the world around me is in chaos and threatening my peace, is what helps me to know growth and to feel more emotionally balanced. I hope some of the lessons I've learned can you help you through some of your life's changes as well.

A work in progress.
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Monday, November 23, 2009

Choose Your Own Adventure

Remember those "Choose Your Own Adventure" books? At every crossroads you had to choose Option A or Option B which would lead you to a different part of the book and down a different path. I loved those books! Even if I didn't choose the most exciting option, every adventure was meaningful and taught me something. I wish I had that kind of fearless abandon in real life!

As adults we are faced with major decisions that we agonize over in fear of making the wrong choice. We want to go this way, but we are afraid of what people will think. "What is she thinking? She's going to ruin her life!" And what will people say if we fail??? Surely the combination of failure and the criticism that comes with it will count us out for good! We are taught to believe that things should line up a certain way in our lives, and if they don't, we must be doing something wrong. We don't want anyone to know when we are struggling and that we don't have all the answers. God forbid we stumble, fall down and actually get banged up! Someone might find out that we're not perfect! These unrealistic guidelines often paralyze us into inaction.

Lest I be judged, lest I be labeled, lest I be written off - I better just play it safe.

Perhaps our choices are meant to be imperfect. Do we really think that any worthwhile endeavor will be risk-free? That we can please everyone? That we can avoid challenges and stay in a cozy, comfort zone for our whole lives? Well, I certainly used to think that. I thought that once I got it together (whatever that means), I'd be immune to unsexy things like bad days and bad decisions, everything would always go my way with minimal effort on my part, and that my life would be photoshop perfect. Isn't that how it works?

Negative. We can have our best laid plans, but life throws curveballs, doesn't it? Well, I believe that what we may think is bad, is usually a blessing in disguise. Self-discovery is always an unpredictable factor in our development. We can never know when we will discover something about ourselves that makes us reconsider the choices we've made and the way we think about things. Sometimes we think we are sitting pretty, heading due north on cruise control and just like that we hit a detour and we find ourselves on an unpaved road, almost out of gas with no rest stop for miles.

Am I preaching to the choir here?

I came across the Christine Kane's blog recently (which is full of down-to-earth, inspirational treasures), and I have found so many goodies there.

The following excerpt really comforted me and reminded me that I can fall down, change my mind, do something different and follow an unexpected path and still be successful. My imperfect, often clumsy actions can lead me into my own personal, free-lovin, God-trustin perfection.

Check it out:

The trick to success, especially when you’re trying something new, is taking imperfect action. Here’s exactly three reasons why:

1 – Taking Imperfect Action, teaches you about abundance.

The people who get stuck in the “wait til it’s perfect” trap believe there’s one and only one chance to “make it.” Taking imperfect action says, “There’s always more chances!” And there are!

2 – When you take Imperfect Action, you’re discovering yourself, not waiting to be discovered.

So many people are waiting to be discovered, approved of, noted, validated – always by someone “more important” than they are. Taking imperfect action makes you discover yourself. Once you realize that being unstoppable is simply about taking the next step, then you have absolutely no need to be discovered. Any validation that comes is like icing on the cake.

3 – When you take imperfect action, you learn that there’s no such thing as failure.

If you do something imperfectly, and you “fail,” then the lesson is to try again imperfectly. See how liberating this is? If you like to tell people or yourself that you tried and failed, then it’s time to take imperfect action again!
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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Affirmations of Value

*I am valuable.
*I walk in beauty.
*I release my habit of self-criticism.
*Self acceptance brings me joy.
*I release myself from harmful judgments.
*I am the best thing that's ever happened to me.
*I am free to be myself; I accept myself as I am.
*My insecurity is replaced with shining confidence.

*Venus, Roman goddess of love/self-love. Courtesy of

Remember to live in abundance. Affirm yourself and all the strength and beauty that lie within your character. Focus not upon the things you do not have, but upon the value of all the things you do have and of all the things you are. Fill yourself to the brim with contentment and positive energy and more of the same will come to you.

Peace and Blessings

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Magic Happens When...

Sometimes we get so overwhelmed with trying to figure things out that we forget to take time to live in the moment and appreciate the small things that make life so sweet; the seemingly insignificant, but magical things that we encounter every day that can transform us in ways we don't even recognize. I came across this in one of my weekly emails and it reminded me to always search for the magic in life.

Magic Happens when:

* Women gather. Whether it be a sacred gathering in intimate circles, closed covens or wonderfully open Goddess Conferences*, women conjure magical connections between heart and humanity, young and old, the hurt and the healthy. Likewise, they do the same when they gather at play-groups, in supermarket aisles, at beaches, at fashion shows, or even in the kitchen around a steaming coffee pot. Magically, feelings of isolation disappear, balance is restored, and the world is safe in the hearts of these women.

* Children laugh. A laughing child is the epitome of innocence and pure happiness. A child's laugh is not contrived or forced. It flows instinctively and with the pure chi energy of the heart. A child's laugh is a sacred measure of purity and emotional health. When you hear a child's peals of laughter and you feel a burst of happiness that flows through you... well, that's magical.

* Fortuna smiles. Knowing that you deserve the best is the easiest way to have Lady Luck smile upon you. You are lucky when you get lost but find a new, prettier route to your destination. You are lucky when you lose your job but end up being able to live your passion in more fulfilling ways. You are lucky when you become single for suddenly the ocean is full of fish! Those with joyful intentions are rewarded with success and prosperity, so stay positive for magical outcomes.

* Humanity unites. When the news headlines are dominated by sporting and personal achievements as we're seeing in the Olympic Games, I feel a magical bond to every brother and sister in every town, state and country. Broadcasters place war and sadness on hold, and instead we celebrate the triumphs of the sporting elite. In each step, stroke, flip and cycle, every athlete demonstrates how each of us has the potential for excellence, accomplishment, elation and magic.

* Benevolence reigns. "Imagine, it is so," says the Law of Benevolence. Imagine the best for others and watch as grey clouds lift. As they are showered in blessings, revel in the power of your benevolence as you are karmically blessed in return. Imagine a world full of kindness and almost immediately you will see that people are naturally compassionate, children are safe and the elderly are revered. Imagine how happiness is found easily and indeed, begin to see it in the glint of an eye, in the steam from a slow-cooked meal, and in the conscious reminder on passing bumper stickers that yes, "Magic Happens".
-Anita Revel

Have a magical week!
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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

PLPT GEMS - Meet Leslie

Peace Love and Pretty Things celebrates the depths and complexities of a woman's spirit and the potential that lies therein.

Our GEMS feature showcases women who are tapping into their unique talents and breathing life into their dreams.

GEMS stands for:

Grace and
Encouragement for
Motivation and

The women who are showcased as PLPT GEMS are accessible examples of women who are doing interesting things, overcoming challenges, expressing themselves and making a difference in a unique and beautiful way.

As they share their stories, we hope that you will read something that inspires you to reflect, laugh, cry, dare, question, create, understand, and most importantly - get involved. The world needs your perspective and your contribution. When you focus your energy on a goal that reaches beyond personal gain into a context larger than yourself, there are no limits to what you can create.

PLPT GEMS presents ~ Naturally Leslie
Writer. Counselor. Natural Hair Advocate.

1. What is your passion and what is your outlet for it?
I am passionate about personal growth and development. Part of that I get to express through my work with young people as a school counselor and part of it I get to express through my blog. I love watching young people develop emotionally and socially and I also enjoy helping women along their natural hair journeys.

2. How did you get started? How did you prepare yourself?
Professionally, once I realized what I wanted to do, I decided to go to grad school at UNC Chapel Hill to study school counseling. It was a 14 month program and I finished last June. The blog I decided to start in January of 2009 on a whim! I had never done anything like that and I decided this would be a great way for me to expand myself and get out of my comfort zone. As a result, I have met so many wonderful people and have had the opportunity to work on some amazing projects. It has exceeded any expectations I had going in and I continue to learn from it.

3. What obstacles did you have to overcome?
The biggest obstacle to my professional growth was simply coming to a place where I understood what I wanted to be myself! For so long I felt lost and with no direction. It was such a relief to me to realize that I could really help other kids discover their talents and abilities and how that could be used to point them toward possible career paths or study interests. In terms of my natural hair blog, Naturally Leslie, the biggest obstacle was getting over being vulnerable enough to put my thoughts and ideas out there for all the blogosphere to see and critique! I worried about who would read or what people might think. I have since gotten over that and I really just enjoy the dialogue it creates with other women and men about issues that matter to all of us.

4. Is your passion your full time occupation? If not, how do you balance it with the your other responsibilities?
I feel lucky that I do have a career that I love. Sometimes it is overwhelming to be so busy at work and then have posts to add to my blog. I like to update it daily but since school has started I don't get to devote as much time as I'd like. The blog is a great outlet for me considering my job, while rewarding, is quite stressful!

5. How do you stay motivated and overcome doubt, fear and negative thinking?
Seeing kids realize their potential motivates me. Hearing stories about women coming to accept their natural selves motivates me. I love watching people discover new parts of themselves and growing into that place of self-acceptance and understanding. It all motivates me! When I get negative or down, I remind myself that everything happens for a reason, good or bad. I love not knowing what the future brings and I refuse to have fear about it. I take things one day at a time and try to learn from everything.

6. What advice would you offer to others who are searching for their purpose or are afraid to take the first step towards their dreams?
I would say just do it! Easier said than done, I know, but the reality is that you must take a leap of faith. Know that you are strong and you can handle most anything that comes your way. Rely on those around you for support and ask questions. Always be a learner and continue to work toward positive personal growth.

7. Name someone who has inspired you and why.
Of course my mom. But I don't just say that because it is the obvious thing to say. As a single mother and professional social worker, she showed me first hand how to work hard, sacrifice, be professional, and care about other people, regardless of their backgrounds. I love her!

Want more Naturally Leslie? Of course you do! Click on the links below for her thought-provoking articles featured on The Coil Review and Curly Nikki.

The Coil Review:

I Confess: I Am My Hair After All
" I love India Arie’s “I Am Not My Hair”. It’s uplifting, clever, and has a nice beat. I think it expresses a powerful sentiment about our culture’s preoccupation with the physical. We do tend to judge people based on looks and we sometimes make unfounded assumptions about what those looks mean in the process. While I agree that the whole of me cannot be summed up by a hairstyle, much of who I am is reflected in how I have chosen to wear my hair."

Curing Curl Envy
"For most of us in the African American community, beginning from the time we are children, we are socialized to believe that having a certain “grade” of hair is better and more desirable. While there is nothing wrong with admiring a fellow natural’s hair, it becomes a much deeper issue once admiration transforms into jealousy."

Curly Nikki:

African American Beauty: Deconstructed
"How do we reconstruct our own beauty within the context of the greater society in which we live? How do we grow to feel comfortable in our skin and celebrate our sexuality without conforming to or perpetuating pre-existing stereotypes about the oversexed Black woman?"

Black-Latino Identity
"I think no matter how you choose to label yourself, people will always go on what they see first. Unfortunately, there is still so much negativity surrounding what it means to be Black because of the history of stereotypes and under-representation (in a positive way) in the media. I think it's cool that we are beginning to see more and more people of color being represented in a positive light in our culture."

You can also follow her at

Thanks so much for sharing, Leslie!

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Take the Plunge

I just turned 32 years old, y'all. And I feel like I've earned it. I survived my twenties and lived to tell the tale! No matter how lost and confused I was during that time, I'd go through it all again to achieve the awareness that is blossoming within me now.

With this awareness comes a call for action! I couldn't ignore it if I tried. I know what makes me feel alive, and I realize that my best efforts on this earth will come from me investing my time and energy into what I love. You know, align myself with my purpose. Take my passion and make it happen.

Fancy talk aside, I'm bout to flip the script.

Big life changes can be daunting, but in some way, we are always going through major changes whether we acknowledge it or not. The next recreation of you is always brewing under the surface. I'm excited about this new me, and the new me's that I haven't met yet that are waiting for me down the road.

"We have the ability, right and power to create whatever we want in our lives. All we have to do is see it. We can choose to see the unlimited possibilities, rich opportunities and unchartered waters. We can choose to see that doing what we want with ease, having what we want with joy and being where we want can be used as projection and perception. When we use our eyes to project what we want into the world, we send forth the creative power of the soul's force. When we use positive perception to interpret what we see, we avoid falling prey to doom and gloom. If we can look beyond today, its challenges and obstacles, we can create a better tomorrow. If we can see, it must come to be. That is the law."

In keeping with this theme, tomorrow we'll be highlighting a woman who inspires her readers and students with her passion for personal growth and development. Whether she is writing on her blog about self-image issues that affect all of us, or helping a student discover their strengths in order to position themselves for the future, Naturally Leslie is an example of a woman living out her passion and encouraging others to do the same.

Check out Naturally Leslie on tomorrow's GEMS feature.

In the meantime, ask yourself, are you sitting on top of a goldmine of potential because you are afraid to take a leap of faith? Don't deny yourself and the world of what you have to offer.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Affirmations for Dreaming

You have all the time you need to do the things you love, and accomplish everything you desire. Start with these affirmations, and let the dream realization begin!

*I see and accept the path intended for me

*My future is full of juicy possibilities

*I invite new choices into my life

*My goals are becoming manifest

*I deserve to have my dreams realised

- Epona, Celtic goddess who brings dreams to you and helps manifest them. Courtesy of
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Monday, November 2, 2009

Know Thyself

photo credit:

Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will find them gradually, without noticing it, and live along some distant day into the answer.
~Rainer Maria Rilke

If you resist reading what you disagree with, how will you ever acquire deeper insights into what you believe? The things most worth reading are precisely those that challenge our convictions. ~Author Unknown

Life is a process of becoming, a combination of states we have to go through. Where people fail is that they wish to elect a state and remain in it. This is a kind of death.
~Anaïs Nin

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.
~Nelson Mandela

To know what you prefer, instead of humbly saying "Amen" to what the world tells you you ought to prefer, is to keep your soul alive.
~Robert Louis Stevenson

There's more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line.
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine.
~Indigo Girls

That's the way things come clear. All of a sudden.
And then you realize how obvious they've been all along.
~Madeleine L'Engle
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Thursday, October 29, 2009

So Ambitious?

“The motivation for me, was them telling me what I could not be. Oh well. I’m so ambitious!”Pharell on Jay-Z’s “So Ambitious” (Blueprint 3)

On this track, Jay-Z recalls all the people in his life who told him he’d never amount to anything, that he couldn’t make it and that he was destined for nothing; and how he used this negativity to fuel his ambition. As I listened, I began to think about my own life and what it was that I was told about myself growing up. I realized that ironically, I was told just the opposite all my life! I was encouraged and pushed and told that I was destined for greatness; that I was intelligent and talented and could shoot for the stars! There was praise and opportunity and more praise. Instead of being propelled forward by this though, my response was to shrink from it and to live below the expectations placed upon me, for fear of disappointing all those people who were rooting for me. I had thoughts like, “What if I’m not as smart as they think I am?” “What if I CAN’T do it?” I was not in tune enough with myself to be able to see me as others saw me and I was terrified that I would be discovered to be a fraud. Crazy, huh? Yep, I know.

It’s interesting to see the ways in which fear manifests itself in our lives. I had and still struggle with a fear of success. Oh, I can see it for what it is now, and my self-talk is such that I counter it with positive thoughts and push past it, but it kept me stagnant for a significant portion of my life. I never really did whatever it was that I thought I might like to do, or anything that felt purposeful, or worked any harder than what came naturally--because I thought that I might fail and that people might be disappointed in me. But even worse, I thought that I might SUCCEED—and oh boy, what would I have to live up to then? What I didn’t do then, that I do constantly now, was to counter that thought with the one that says it is okay to be successful. It’s desirable to be successful! Success, earned through the efforts of our God-given gifts and talents, is what we were made for!

Not only have I learned to ignore that crippling limitation called fear, I’ve also learned to care just a little bit less about what other people think; especially because in reality, it isn’t really about what they think at all—it’s my own doubt that rises to the surface. So I have to remind myself to be my own cheerleader and to stay focused on my vision. And now, even if I make a mistake or don’t get it right the first time around, I don’t worry so much about what people will think. Chances are, they’ll be supportive either way, and when I am winning at my endeavors, I’ll only be proving to myself what they’ve known all along.

So my ambition is now fueled by my own self-doubt, negative self-talk and fear. When I find myself responding to the same old things in the same old way, I pause and conduct a little exercise.

1. What is it that you’re afraid of?
2. Why are you afraid of this thing?
3. What are the challenges presented here?
4. How can you turn them into opportunities?
5. What is the worst that can happen if you just give it a try?

1. You CAN do this.
2. If you couldn’t, you wouldn’t have been given the tools, the insight or the opportunity. They would all be someone else’s.
3. It is okay to be successful!
4. It is okay to exceed expectations—even your own!
5. Accomplishment is nothing to feel embarrassed about.

Try this exercise when you find yourself facing the things that you’re fearful of and see if it makes a difference. I think you’ll be amazed at how clearly you see things and how well you can focus on them without the veil of fear covering them.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to see myself as others see me, and to be ambitious enough to succeed beyond my wildest dreams!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lean On Me

Atleast once a week, I get completely overwhelmed with everything I have to do, need to do, want to do, and don't do. Last night, my weekly visitor was here and in full effect!! Wooooosaaaaaaa!

This excerpt reminds me not to be so hard on myself, to ask for help when I need it and to take life as it comes.

Have a peaceful and productive day!
Every woman is every other woman trying to figure out who she is.
Women of color have been led to believe that they must be everything to everyone. As a result, we do not know how to ask for support when we need or want it.
We become angry with others when they are not there for us, but we must realize people cannot, will not and do not know how to help if we do not know how to ask.
Take sixty seconds for yourself and ask what yourself what you need. If it is assistance with a project, a shoulder to cry on, a special something you need or want for yourself, let other people support you. We make judgments about what people can and will do and we move on our assumptions. We never really know what a person is willing to do or capable of doing until we ask. Nothing is too big or too small to ask for if we need it.
When we don't ask for what we need, the need keeps getting bigger.

If I need support today I will ask for it.
~author unknown
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Spiritual Assignment

"A Spiritual Plan is a statement of clear intention about what you desire to experience within yourself and a clear definition of what you must do to make it happen."

I thought I would share a portion of my spiritual plan--some of the broader statements that apply to many of us, but that we sometimes forget when we're in the midst of the very things that threaten our peace of mind. When it comes to peace of mind, it's all about the little things that we do each day to bring us joy in the midst of all the external "stuff" we have to deal with that is out of our control.

I desire to experience total transformation from the inside out, that will affect my physical and mental well-being, and lead me to live in my purpose and live out my destiny. A transformation that will bring a peace that radiates throughout the entire accumulation of my experiences--from motherhood to relationship to career to friends, family and finances. I want to know who I am, have faith in who I am, and believe in what I am capable of; I want to be okay with all that I am, no matter what negative words, thoughts or influences try to arise to combat it. I want to be able to move forward to new life experiences without the fear that comes with walking into the unknown, and without the regret that can come with leaving the old life behind.

In order to make this happen, I must:
- Spend time in silence, meditation and/or prayer daily
- Look for the lesson in every single experience
- Stop judging my experiences to be "good" or "bad" so that I can see the lesson in them
- Revel in all things positive around me--even down to the tiniest things
- Be honest always with others, but more importantly with myself
- Do what feels right and true and honest--not what feels good at the moment
- Pamper myself physically, mentally and spiritually

What is your spiritual plan? How will you work to achieve it?
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Is it me?

Do you wonder why you keep attracting the same kinds of men into your life? Friendships? Financial Situations? It doesn't matter - the law of attraction does not discriminate. I recently came across the following excerpt and wanted to share. If we are honest with ourselves, we can all relate to the truth in these words. And if we take it a step further and are proactive with that honesty, we can make actual changes in our lives to break these cycles. The only way to make change in your life is to change yourself.

When you are not happy with yourself, you cannot be happy with others. Everyone comes into your life to mirror back to us some part of ourselves we cannot or will not see.
They show us the parts we need to work on or let go of. They reveal to us the things we do and the effects they have on ourselves and others. They say to us openly the things we say to ourselves silently. They reveal to us the fears, doubts, weaknesses and character flaws we know we have but refuse to address or acknowledge. We can usually see the faults of others very clearly. We all have people in our lives who anger or annoy us, who rub us the wrong way. They may create confusion or chaos. They may bring pain or disruption. They may reject us, abandon us and create some sort of harm.
Before we get busy trying to fix the person or remedy the situation, we should ask ourselves:
Why is this person in my life?
What am I doing to draw this to myself?
How do I do what they do, and how can I release this need?

When we cleanse, heal and bring ourselves into balance, everyone in our lives will do the same or DISAPPEAR.

~author unknown
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Until Today

Excerpt from Until Today! Daily Devotions for Spiritual Growth and Peace of Mind....

I will realize my own worth when I accept...God has given me some things that nothing can change.

Your worth is not measured by what you do. Nor can you calculate the degree of your worthiness by what you possess. Your worth is a function of your being. Your being is colorless, genderless and believe it or not, ageless. Your being is worthy of honor, admiration and respect. It is a vessel of love and light. It is a beacon of inspiration. Beneath all the things that you have told yourself, been told about yourself, maybe even hold against yourself, there is a being that you must learn to honor, value and embrace. It doesn't take much to learn how to do it, and it is well worth the effort. How you learn to "be" with yourself and how you honor the being that you are will ultimately determine how worthy you feel.

Don't be harsh with your being. Don't waste your time regretting things you have done or ways you have been. If you take a nice, long slow, deep breath, you will feel the truth of your being. Try it now. Take a nice, long, slow deep breath. Slowly release that breath and take another one. Sit in the stillness that is sure to fall over your being while you silently remind your being of its worth and value to the world. This simple practice will put you in touch with all of the love, light, joy and inspiration you need in the world. This practice allows you to embrace your being.

In learning to embrace your being, don't look at your mistakes. It is a given that we will all make some mistakes in life. It is a given that you will make inappropriate choices for inappropriate reasons. They will in no way affect your worth. No matter what you say or what you do, nothing can minimize the worth of your being. Your worth is a gift from God. Your worth is a gift of grace.

Until today, you may not have realized that God established the worth of your being when you were given the gift of life. Just for today, remain focused on the idea that your worth is not what you do or have. Embrace the gift of your being.

Today I am devoted to embracing my worthiness as a divine gift!

Click here to purchase
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Love and Sacrifice 101

Just like a song in my heart
Just like oil in my hands
Oh, I do love you

Still I wonder why it is
I don't argue like this
with anyone but you
We do it all the time
Blowing out my mind

~Like a Star by Corinne Bailey Rae

There's just simply nothing easy or effortless about love. Once the euphoria of infatuation fades, understanding how to love your partner is the only thing that will sustain a long term union. We have these ideas of how love should look, talk and feel and often these ideas prevent us from experiencing the authenticity of true love. We all know that putting love first is the key to making a relationship work. But how many of us truly know how to love without conditions, without pride, and without judgment?

I would argue that most people don't even know how to love themselves that way, let alone another person.

Love is one thing and expressing it is another. Where many of us fall short is that we are not able to put aside our expectations so that we can actively express love in a way that feeds the relationship.

For example, what makes me feel loved is not necessarily what makes my partner feel loved. Taking the time to learn each other's needs -- whether we understand them or not -- is crucial.   This creates an atmosphere of safety and trust where communication keeps the chemistry alive.

Speaking of safety and trust, when disagreements do arise, our egos are on the defense - telling us that we cannot let someone get the best of us, outshine us, or have the last word. But humility tells us that we are secure enough in our character to step aside and let someone else be heard. What would happen if we didn't feed the fire and we just stopped and listened? What if we could be quiet long enough to consider another perspective and honor it, even if we don't agree with it? Imagine that. You have to decide what's more important to you - strengthening the relationship or strengthening your ego?

Much like my relationship with myself, I've also come to understand that love is not dependent on how much growth we see, whether it's spiritual, intellectual, financial or otherwise. We are all in a constant state of growth, and the real opportunity to show love is to accept the person for all of their circumstances - favorable or not. You can support and encourage change, but if your love is dependent on that change, your partner will feel that and reciprocate that doubt back to you.

None of this will make sense or resonate for you if you don't already have a healthy relationship with yourself. Self-love is a prerequisite for any healthy relationship. For years, I felt cursed that I would never be happy in a relationship until I realized that my unhappiness came from within. My self-loathing manifested in a build up of resentment, misperception and dishonesty. Ultimately, honesty saves relationships. Constructive honesty creates the space for intimacy and friendship to grow.

What do you think? Consider the idea that love is not about expectations and demands but finding a middle ground on which two people feel respected and treasured as individuals.
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Buried Treasure

Gifts are an interesting thing. They're innate and planted into our spirits--designed to help us grown, learn, commune, share and affect the world around us in a way that is special and unique just to each individual. Many people can have the same gifts, but not one of us can use them in exactly the same way, or give and receive the same things when they pour out of us. We have a responsibility to these gifts; to honor the truth that sits deep in our souls, waiting to be lived--waiting for us to do something, to help someone, to initiate change in our little part of the universe.

Communication is my gift. The spoken, sung and written word are my tools. To use my words in a way that is dishonest, deceitful or hurtful is an abuse of this precious gift I've been given. I endeavor to always use my words in a way that is truthful, helpful and freeing for myself and for everyone around me. It is my intention that my voice be healing to any ears that hear it, and that it always matches the pure intention of my heart.

What is your gift? How are you using it? Are you sharing it with others or are you being selfish with it? What can you do to expand on your gift? Take some time and explore these questions. Write down the answers in your journal. You'll be surprised what you'll learn about yourself and what peace the journey into self-discovery can bring.
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Hair...Don't Care!

To relax or not to relax? To loc or not to loc? To fro or not to fro? Once upon a time, in a little world called Conventional, I never considered any of these questions. Straight meant great, and life was simple. As soon as my mother allowed me, with no ifs ands or buts, I relaxed, fried, straightened and spritzed my hair into forced cooperation to achieve the shiny, frizz-free look that I desired. How I loved the sizzle sound that the curling iron made on my freshly spritzed hair! Me, not relax? Absurd.

I have always loved hair and paid more attention to it than clothes, shoes or makeup. In the 80s, I loved shiny, tight freeze curls and fingerwaves and ponytails shaped like fans on top of my head. In the 90s, I sweated asymmetrical haircuts, more frozen spiral curls and fierce swoops in the front that covered one eye like Aaliyah. I tried it all. I posted pics of my favorite artists all over my wall from Word Up and Right On magazine, and these were the images that I emulated.

When I entered college in the mid 90s, I remember thinking that natural hair was only for women with naturally silky hair that didn't "require" a relaxer to be manageable, and "african pride" women who were channeling their ancestors through their hairstyle as a show of rebellion and nonconformity. In my mind, I never considered myself to fit into either of these categories, so as if I didn't have a choice, I relaxed my hair all through college.

It's now been 10 years since college graduation, and I'm finally noticing the ongoing discussion and controversy around Black hair. Wow. Where the heck have I been?? To relax or not to relax? It is a big, fat, hairy deal to some - and to others, not so much. After all, it really is just hair. But just like light skin vs dark skin, skinny vs full-figured, and the haves vs the have nots, we always find a way to let the hate creep in and distract us from loving and supporting each other.

At one extreme, you have those natural hair advocates that have obvious disdain for Black women with relaxed hair. From comments I've read on blogs, they believe that if you relax your hair, you are denying your true self i.e. trying to be something you are not. At the other extreme, you have relaxed Black women who view natural hair and the women who rock it as unsophisticated and unkempt. School Daze, anyone?

Isn't there always going to be someone who doesn't appreciate your beauty? Do I need to fulfill one definition of beauty in order to feel worthy and appreciated? Is it my duty as a Black woman to wear my hair a certain way? Can I explore myself without my relaxed or coily sister making sweeping assumptions about my identity? Can I live????

You know what? It's my hair and I don't care. I don't care about the people at work who stare at my hair and ask why my hair is poofy and big on some days and straight and subdued on other days. I'm happy to educate them...or not. On the other hand, I didn't go natural to join a club of women who sit high and look down low on those who still relax. It's my hair - my choice. Your hair - your choice. Why anyone would feel threatened, angry or unhappy about how someone else chooses to wear their hair escapes me.

Trust me, I'm not trying to play down the significant impact of hair on women in the black community. I am aware of the controversy and the implications. I, too, want my daughter to feel beautiful with her hair in its natural state. I, too, see the need for discussion and education abuot the cultural stereotypes and pigeon holes. But with all that said, it's still JUST hair. I DON'T want my daughter to define herself by anything other than her character. All tangible things like hair, clothes, skin, shape - the things that define beauty for most people - are guaranteed to pass away. We should enjoy what we've been blessed with and have fun with it while we have it. Our preoccupation with the physical will only lead us into jealousy and egotistical thinking which are counterintuitive to inner beauty.

I feel that God gave me this head of hair to explore my creativity and express myself. I see the warmth and quiet abandon that are characteristic of my spirit reflected in my hair. For me, it's part of the adventure of my life. From fried, dyed and laid to the side to twists, braids and unruly curls who knows what I will try next. Learn. Create. Unlearn. Recreate. Relearn. Do it all and do it YOUR way.
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Infinite Possibilities

Mike Dooley, author of the infamous notes from the Universe, has put more of his insight into his newly released book, "Infinite Possibilities, The Art of Living Your Dreams":

"Infinite Possibilities is a fresh and inspiring look at how each of us can turn within to discover our true purpose, ignite our imagination, and manifest our desires. Mike Dooley explains that our dreams are not accidental or inconsequential, but rather serve as invitations to understand the truths about ourselves, hinting at the lives we can create. Once you learn to open your heart and mind, thinking far beyond what spirituality has traditionally meant, it becomes evident that life itself is the ultimate adventure, filled with opportunities that day by day lead us to discover who we really are and why we are here."

As a devoted subscriber to the daily notes from the Universe and a believer in the message of self-love and spiritual understanding that they promote, I can't help but think that this book is going to take the reader on a beautiful journey into the realm of self-fulfillment and purpose.

If you are interested in hearing more, you can tune in tonight at 9pm EST to hear Mike talk about "Infinite Possibilities", read some of his favorite passages, and explain the trail that has led to the release of this book. Leave a comment if you would like the call-in information. You may also purchase the book here.
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Friday, October 2, 2009

S on my chest

I came across the following post recently and was immediately drawn in by the plight of the writer that seemed to be plucked out of my own personal book of grievances. I have these lofty aspirations of being Every Woman, but I get tired y'all. Tired of trying to be everything to everyone and everything to myself and on top of that keep my house clean and my toes done. I have my outlets, but I'm forced to protect them like a guard dog and that in itself often drains me.
Am I wrong for turning my ringer off when I need peace and quiet?

Should I feel guilty that my sanity requires that I write everyday and sometimes I have to shut the world out to do so?
Well, maybe not.
But I wish people wouldn't take these things personally.
And I wish that I didn't care so much when they do.

This was how I was feeling when I came across this post from The View From Here ( This blog is a great find. There's no bells and whistles and no pretenses. Just candid thoughts and opinions, honest observations and amusing anecdotes delivered with intelligence in a girly context. So me.

The following excerpt is from the archives of The View From Here. The post is called I'm Not Your Superwoman and you can check out the article in its entirety when you visit the site.

So what exactly do y’all think would happen if I gave up my Strong Black Woman card for a few hours, a few days, a few weeks, shit a few years even? Would I ever get it back or would it be permanently revoked? I understand that as Black women we are supposed to be all things to everybody cause that’s how our mamas did it, our grandmamas did it, they mamas mamas did it…that’s how us Black women have survived through slavery, brutal rapes, family separation, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, segregation, discrimination, racism, strife, disease, poverty, and just regular day-to-day living. But I gotta admit something, I’m tired. I need a break. And I don’t even have kids or a husband, so I can only imagine the extra stress those things bring.

I do have what seems to be that innate gene in Black women that makes us feel that we have to carry the world on our backs, like Atlas. But what if we shrugged? What if we took time for ourselves and did what made us happy for once? Forget what our friends, our family, our church, our co-workers, our men (or the man we tryna get) say we need to do, should be doing, haven’t done, please volunteer for this, please cook something and bring it to the potluck, teach Sunday School, chair this committee, read this essay for your cousin applying to college, help mama with this, the dishes need doing, your husband or man needs loving, the kids noses need wiping…what if we just said fuck it all and lived for us?
As I get older, I find myself taking on a lot of responsibilities. And sometimes it becomes overwhelming: working, side hustling, volunteering, trying to fulfill my personal dreams and have a social life. And I wonder, who can I turn to if I’m always the one who is called on? When do I get to crack? Sometimes I fear that maybe I say “yes” to too many things, so that I don’t have to time to be sad. And that’s not the way to go either. Balance is necessary. Listening to my body and accepting my emotions are necessary. I am reminded of lyrics from Jill Scott’s song, I Keep : I keep smiling when I come through, and I cry when I need to…So, I am learning to find joy in all aspects of my life. I am learning to stop worrying about what I don’t have yet and just keep moving towards my goals. I’m learning to take care of myself first because it’s the most that I can do. I am beginning to accept that I can’t do it all. And I’m not even going to try. So let me get that Strong Black Woman guest pass.
Written by: Rum Punch

A note from The View From Here:
WE ARE: 5 women navigating our twenties in search of peace, happiness and love (or not).
WE WRITE: about everything and nothing. From the insane to the mundane- you will find different paths taken, lessons learned and lives lived.
WE THINK: you'll enjoy it...Warning: Consumption of these views may leave you enlightened while intoxicated.
**Special thanks to Rum Punch for allowing me to resurrect this post from 2007 to share it with PLPT readers. I know they will dig it.
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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Ugly Truth

Accountability”. It’s a tough word to own. It’s not always easy to look at myself in the mirror and stare straight into the middle of my mess. To confront those things I said I wouldn't do again...that I did, again; the lies that I told myself to avoid confrontation with myself or with others; the self-sabotaging behaviors; the overcompensating for my weaknesses instead of owning them; the guilt. It’s downright scary to look myself straight in the eye and say "You messed up." It doesn't seem natural that I should accept my flaws instead of burying them if they don't fit in with the picture I want people to see. It’s disconcerting not to be able to dismiss things as unimportant and just explain them away. Yes…it is quite painful to see myself, exposed, staring back at me from clear unbiased eyes. It just makes me uncomfortable. And it should--because that's how I know I'm learning. Even though my mouth isn't catching up with my brain, I'm kicking myself and saying in my head "Don't be so stupid!"--and that's how I know I'm growing. I care that I look like a fraud--projecting a false, shadowy image onto the parts of me that want to shine. It’s important to me not to just feel better or to look better but to BE better. And that can only happen if I'm honest--with myself and everyone around me about the good about me and the not-so-good about me. Honest about where I'm flawed, and then thoughtful enough to fix it. It is only with eyes and soul wide open that I can see the holes in me, let them gape open, and dive way down deep inside them to figure out how they got there; then slowly begin to fill them from the inside out. Introspection, thoughtfulness, candidness--those are the tools I will start to cloak myself with daily until they meld onto my skin and begin to save me from myself. I will stand up and point the finger at myself--but instead of shying away from the accusation, I'll confront it head on and accept the consequences as an opportunity for growth—no matter how painful. I’ll ask myself the tough questions and LISTEN carefully to the answers I give. Remind myself that it’s harder to build and maintain the lie, than to just accept the truth of what has happened, what has gone wrong and what just…is.

I read something recently—a daily motivational email with an unknown source that happened to circulate to me—that resonated with me, because its message is very similar to these feelings of accountability. Although it’s directly related to failure, the same rules apply, and I can easily substitute the word “faults” for “failures”:

Owning failure
When you fail to get the desired results, what's the first thing you must do? Take credit for it.
If you don't take credit, you don't learn the extremely valuable lesson for which you've just paid dearly. If you don't take credit and own your failures, you'll continue to experience more of them.
Instead, go ahead and take complete credit and ownership of your failures. Because when you take full ownership of your failures, you fully empower yourself to successfully get beyond them.
What you own, you control. When you choose to own your results, then you put yourself in control of those results.
When you own your results, you can decide what those results will be. And they can be whatever you wish to make them.
Admit your failures, take credit for them, embrace them, and own them. When you willingly take responsibility and ownership even for the failures, you're positioned for magnificent success.

The sooner I can hold myself accountable for all the parts of myself, and move to acceptance; the sooner I can heal, and prove myself worthy of this amazing journey I’m being allowed to travel.
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Monday, September 28, 2009

PLPT GEMS - Meet Sunshine

Peace Love and Pretty Things is about the celebration of the depths and complexities of a woman's spirit and the potential that lies therein. Our new feature, GEMS, will showcase women who are tapping into their unique talents and breathing life into their dreams.

GEMS stands for:
Grace and
Encouragement for
Motivation and

The women who are showcased as PLPT GEMS embody the boldness and vulnerability that are required to step out of the box and offer something intimately personal to the world. They are accessible examples of women who are doing interesting things, overcoming challenges, expressing themselves and making a difference in a unique and beautiful way.

As they share their stories, we hope that you will read something that inspires you to reflect, laugh, cry, dare, question, create, understand, and most importantly - get involved. The world needs your perspective and your contribution. When you focus your energy on a goal that reaches beyond personal gain into a context larger than yourself, there are no limits to what you can create.

PLPT GEMS presents ~ Sunshine
Liberator. Entrepreneur. Natural Beauty Advocate.

1. What is your passion and what is your outlet for it?
My biggest passion in life is the liberation of minds! Especially the minds of African (black) women in the United States. We are the most manipulated and emotionally distraught women in this country. Our families are in jeopardy and as an ethnic group we Africans are on the bottom when it comes to so many things i.e. business ownership, home ownership, etc. We are at the top in so many other things, heart disease, obesity, depression, death at the hands of a member of our own ethnic group and consumerism. I believe this can be turned around when our women return back to their natural minds as the Queens we once were. My outlet for that is firstly my life! I try to be the change I want to see in the world. I aim to lead by example. As a result I have started my own Natural Products Business Peace Love and Sunshine Products where I sell all natural products which promote simple beauty. My blog is also an outlet Natural Hair…Natural Products, I talk about natural hair, but I also try to focus on natural hair acceptance. I focus on learning to look within for your beauty as opposed to feeding into media and societies lies that outward beauty is most important. I try to impart to my readers the beauty in natural hair (without weaves and heat) and how embracing it can be the first step in embracing themselves, their roots, their culture, and their purpose. I also put out You-Tube Videos with motivational information.

2. How did you get started? How did you prepare yourself?
This all started when I took out the weave I was addicted to, cut all of my hair off into a fade and decided to learn who I was underneath the façade I had been tricked into buying. I decided to learn to hone my other talents and learn how to get through life on the merit of my intelligence, personality and drive. I let go of the idea that physical looks alone were going to get me where I wanted to be in life.Once I embarked on my new natural way of thinking, things just started to fall into place. My husband (who is my best friend) and I sat down and decided together what we wanted for our lives and we made a plan. We sat down together and we wrote out the goals we had for our lives. We made a wish list of the things we wanted and the accomplishments we wanted to make. Seeing the list prepped me to do the hard work that it would take to make our dreams a reality.

3. What obstacles did you have to overcome?
Self- doubt! Whenever we embark on something new, there is always that fear that we cannot do it. That fear is usually what keeps most of us at a job we hate, in a relationship that is not worth it, overweight etc. We doubt ourselves and our abilities and we are afraid to leave our comfort zones. Getting over myself and my own insecurities has been the biggest obstacle. What holds us back from reaching our full potential in life is our own self imposed insecurities, and fears. It’s usually nothing external, but more our own interpretation of the external things.

4. Is your passion your full time occupation? If not, how do you balance it with the your other responsibilities?
Yes it is! My husband and I decided we did NOT want to spend the rest of our lives working to make other people rich and working to help other people live their dreams. We wanted to live life on our own terms. As a result we decided to take a pay cut and I stay home and work on our business while he works outside the home. It takes budgeting, planning and sacrifice, but it is sooo worth it. However there is still some balancing going on because first and foremost I am a wife, keeper of the home and companion to my husband. Working for yourself can consume every hour of the day since there is always something that needs to be done. I have to learn to work and also take care of my other duties so nothing gets neglected.

5. How do you stay motivated and overcome doubt, fear and negative thinking?When I start to feel negative thoughts creeping in I know they are lies first of all. I know that it is simply my own insecurity coming to the surface, so I do things that help me feel better about myself and my goals. Going for a walk outside always helps (sounds corny, but it works) I live in a beautiful little cozy town on the water where there are trees and all sorts of birds all around. Going out in nature and seeing everything the Creator has made, always reminds me how he made me with the same care. Trees thrive (and live much longer than we do) relying simply on what the creator gave them. When I think about that I know that I too have everything I need within me already and that helps get me back on track. Also I am a strong believer in daily affirmations. I have them already written out and when I need encouragement I recite a few over and over. They are usually things like “I am talented!” “I WILL have a physical natural beauty supply store” “I am a great business woman!” It really helps to say these types of things out loud. The more I say these things the more I believe them, and the more I believe them the truer they become! And lastly I do not surround myself with negative people or people who are not headed where I want to go. Since I choose to be around supportive people, they help if I am down. They are always there to remind me of what I have already accomplished and they keep me going.

6. What advice would you offer to others who are searching for their purpose or are afraid to take the first step towards their dreams?
Turn off the TV! Start Reading! Start doing daily affirmations. Let go of the toxic people in your life who are doing the same things they have always done and have no desire to do anything new. Decide what you really want, decide you deserve it, and believe the only thing stopping you from getting it is you. Start thinking positively. You are in control of your own life, so start controlling it!

7. Name someone who has inspired you and why.
Malcolm X is a great inspiration for me. Seeing how he started off lost and going with the flow of life never thinking anything was wrong with what he was doing (basically being controlled by society) and then to have a rebirth and completely turn his life around, is amazing to me. It shows me that no matter where we start, we can still finish where we want to. No matter how much we have messed up or how much time we have wasted, or damage we have done, if we just decide to do things differently, we can. We can reinvent ourselves! And also because he was not afraid to speak the truth. He stood behind what he believed in no matter who was against him. I find strength in his courage! (There is sooo much more I want to say about him! I can really relate to him and I hope my life inspires even one person the way his life has inspired me).

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Sunshine, your words are inspiring and your message is so necessary. Thank you for sharing with us. PLPT celebrates and supports you. xoxo
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