Friday, December 31, 2010

Love Notes - Friday 12/31/10

On this last day of 2010, we are wishing you a safe and happy New Year's Eve and all the best in 2011.  We're looking forward to a year full of possibilities!

Remember to leave a comment here, if you want to be entered in the giveaway. 
In your comment, let us know your facebook and/or twitter name so we can find you.  We'll announce the winners on Monday.

 Take these quick reminders into the new year with you!




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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Affirmations for Starting Over

The new year is upon us, and this is the season where many people make lists of "resolutions" or things they will change in the new year. The problem with these resolutions is that few people actually keep them. After a few weeks or months, they fall completely off-course, abandoning the changes they resolved to make.

You'll find that we don't address the idea of "New Year's resolutions", as we do not embrace this idea in its entirety. We are of the belief that, while the new year provides a beautiful metaphorical starting point for changes and new beginnings, the day to start taking right actions toward the change you want to see in your life is always today--THIS day, moment or hour. Waiting for a specific box on the calendar, or tick of the clock to move toward our goals and dreams is often a trick of the ego to cause us to procrastinate, and to continue to live in fear. This is not to say: do not reflect on the lessons of the past year and make decisions on what to change going forward; but it is, instead, to encourage you to be in a constant state of reflection, and to honor yourself by being aware of what steps you need to take daily to reach your goals.

We encourage you to accept that your best life has already begun, and to carry these affirmations with you into the new year:

I know that the best time to start over is always right now.

My life is dynamic--in a constant state of change--and I embrace change as the catalyst for growth.

I evaluate myself continuously.

Each day, I align my actions with the intent of achieving my goals.

I walk the path toward my dreams diligently and without deviation--no matter how tough the terrain.
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Monday, December 27, 2010

Wrapping up 2010 with Giveaways!

"There are two ways of spreading light;
To be the candle or the mirror that reflects it."
~Edith Wharton

As the year winds down, we hope that we have helped you in some small way to escape from negative thinking, embrace your individuality, and believe in your authentic worth and purpose. 

Giveaway #1: Available as a magnet or mousepad

We aspire to be a source of comfort and rejuvenation when your spirit needs a boost.  You can use our search feature to browse the archives for posts on everything from sadness and depression to visualization and goals.  In the coming year, we look forward to more growth and interaction with you.

Giveaway #2:  Available as a laminate

To show our appreciation of your readership, we are giving away hard copies (magnet, mouse pad or laminate) of the affirmations above to serve as visual reminders for your office, cubicle, bedroom, or wherever you see fit to post up some motivational goodness.

In order to enter this giveaway, we are asking that you 1) follow us on twitter or like us on facebook and 2) leave us a comment telling us something you've learned about yourself in 2010.  The drawing will close on 12/31/2010 and we'll randomly select two winners that will be announced on 1/3/2011.

We have many more giveaways planned for 2011, so stay tuned! :)
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Friday Love Note - Happy Holidays


As we enter this season of love and giving, we would like to take a moment to express our love and gratitude for all our readers. Whether you subscribe and read regularly, stop by occasionally, follow us on twitter or fan us on Facebook, connecting with all of you has been a beautiful experience and we are extremely grateful!

We hope that you take pause from all the hustle and bustle of this season to fully recognize and enjoy the important people in your life. The holiday season is about giving—but not always those gifts that can be purchased; it is more important to give of ourselves. The gifts of time, love and affection will last much longer in the hearts of those we share with than anything that can be bought. The holidays should be about being with those that we love—not how much we can do for them. Instead of swallowing the commercial meaning that has been attached to the holiday season, let’s create our own individual experiences of love this season that give it true meaning for us.

Happy Holidays,
Kim and GG
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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Pretty Things: Sustainable Jewelry

Monique Pean has turned the jewelry industry on its ear with her socially and environmentally conscious pieces. The 2009 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winner garnered the nod with her non-traditional baubles, including a bridal collection, made completely of recycled and sustainable materials. She routinely partners with organizations that draw attention to global issues, like Charity: Water (which seeks to aid in bringing clean water to impoverished nations), draws inspiration for her collections from the issues these organizations seek to draw attention to, as well as donates portions of her proceeds to their causes.


Buffalo Horn Earrings at Barneys New York

Fossilized Walrus Ivory and Diamond Necklace at Barneys New York


Pink Tourmaline Bib Necklace at Barneys New York
Of note, are Pean's engagement rings, formed from recycled platinum and gold, as well as repurposed industrial diamonds that are normally discarded as trash.


Photos:
Refinery 29
TheGloss.com
Kaboodle.com
I would be highly inclined to wear an engagement ring made of sustainable materials, and I find these to be both exquisite and unique. Is this idea appealing to you, or would you rather go the more traditional route?

It's fantastic to wear jewelry that makes you look beautiful, but Monique Pean's gives you the opportunity to feel beautiful inside about what you're wearing as well. While her jewelry is not currently at a price point that would make it widely affordable, the effort and the work behind creating these items--and the attention it draws to the issues surrounding some of the gleaning practices for precious metals and stones--is admirable and inspiring.
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Monday, December 20, 2010

The Spirit of Money - Part 3

The wise who are trained and disciplined
Shine out like beacon lights
They earn money just like a bee gathers honey without harming the flowers
And they let it grow as an ant hill slowly gains in heights
With wealth wisely gained
They use it for the benefit of all.
~Digha Nikaya



Two weeks ago, we began this series with a reality check intended to help us discover and acknowledge our financial patterns.

Last week, we talked about some practical ways to change those patterns and replace old habits with new ones.

This week, we want to share a vision with you. Financial freedom is not just about personal security and wealth. When we see the connection between our purpose in the world and the spirit of money, our financial goals can reach beyond personal gain into a context that includes our families, our communities, and the world. In other words, our financial maturity creates the capacity to be fulfilled and give back. Thinking of it this way, helps us to see a bigger picture and a compelling reason to keep building.

Sounds good, right? Well, in order for this perspective to actually play out in our actions, we must internalize this thinking and develop the conviction to support it. Conviction is our constant reminder of why we are doing something. So when temptation presents itself, we can zoom in on that bigger picture - that vision of our calling and the abundance we could share with the world. We can become aware of the role money plays in our lives and put it to work for meaningful activities.

Reflect and save these affirmations to keep your mind and spirit focused on abundance.  Click here to print out a copy for your inspiration board.  Just click on File, then Print (PDF).

Money is simply energy that I exchange for what it is that I need.
There is plenty more where that came from.
My understanding of the connection between money and soul can bringer deeper meaning to my financial life.
I have abundance of all good things in my life, including my finances, because I believe that I am abundant.
I honor myself when I stick to my financial goals.
I recognize that I confuse the Universe when I ask for something, but do not take the necessary steps in the right direction.
I deserve prosperity.
I have plenty of time and money.
The Universe showers abundance upon me.
As I express my needs, they are met.
As I give, I receive, receive and receive.
There is limitless supply and it is mine.

Did you find this series helpful? Share with us in the comments, connect with us on twitter, or tell us about it on facebook.
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Friday, December 17, 2010

Love Notes - Friday 12/17/10

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

What Role Will You Play Today?

In this PLPT guest post, Professor/Pastor Lawrence Ware helps us to evaluate the difference between being ourselves versus playing out the roles we identify with.

Photo credit


We live in a time of role-play. We are all labeled as something: black, white, smart, stylish, mom, dad, employee, Christian, Muslim.

We all have a role—and we play our roles well. We identify with our roles. In fact, we feel empty without them. We take tests to figure out ‘what’ we are. Are we introverts? Extroverts? Visual learners? Type A personalities? Simply read the Facebook updates of your friends to see the role they have adopted for the day.

We love roles. We so identify with our roles, that if one were to be taken away—stripped, really—we would be lost. We see ourselves as the significant other of another human being, and when that role dies, a piece of us dies as well. We crave roles. We need to be something to someone.

There is just one problem. Roles can be confining.

We can allow ourselves to be someone’s something for so long, so intensely, that we forget who we were to begin with. We can spend so much time trying to be everything for everyone else that we forget to be ourselves.

The philosopher Soren Kierkegaard has something to say here that is of significance:

A man who as a physical being is always turned toward the outside, thinking that his happiness lies outside him, finally turns inward and discovers that the source is within him.

What Kierkegaard says here is simple to understand. Peace and joy are within, not without. The roles we play are all defined and sustained by what is external. They feel internal, but they are external. A mother must have children; a teacher needs students. Roles are what people and things say you are—not who you are.

You are not the role you play. You are not what others need you to be. You are not the content of your bank account or your credit score. You are not your degree, your job description, or your resume. You are not a mother or a sister. You are not a lover or a fighter.

You are you, and all those things are in addition to who you are. Let roles be what they are—things you step into, but not things that define who you are.

The holiday season is a time for gifts. So let me give you one: yourself. Stop overly identifying with the roles you play. Stop feeling like you need to be the perfect mother, wife, or lover; be who you are, who you were born to be. Be free.

Lawrence Ware is lecturing professor of philosophy at Oklahoma State University and Pastor of Christian Education at Prospect Church. He writes for Tikkun and Religion Dispatchers all while living in Oklahoma City with his wife and sons.
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Monday, December 13, 2010

The Spirit of Money - Part 2

“If you want to feel rich, just count the things you have that money can't buy.” ~author unknown

Last week, we asked ourselves some revealing questions our financial habits.  For some of us, the reality we uncovered was not pretty.  If you didn't read last week's post about the spirit of money in our lives, you can do so here.  

The objective last week was to acknowledge your habits and patterns. You can't begin to change anything without first having an understanding of what you are doing that isn't working.  Think of this journey very literally as a trip: if you are using a GPS for directions, you must first state your current location before you can proceed to your next destination. Consider that you are now traveling from point A (financial instability or poor financial habits) to point B (clarity around the purpose of money in your life), and view these posts as your roadmap. 

Now that we know what isn’t working, let’s explore various ways to change course.  The simplest way to do this is to replace your old habits with new ones. Ever notice how if you take something that a toddler is enjoying away from him or her, they will become upset? But if you take away one thing and replace it with another, their attention is barely diverted as they shift focus to this new and exciting thing. By switching out your old erratic behaviors with sensible ones, you are re-training yourself to exercise more practical habits.

1.  Document.   Keep a money journal or spreadsheet.  Be completely transparent as you capture everything you bring in, and everything you spend. This should include bills and “other” expenditures that are coming up - wedding gifts, girls’ nights, trips etc.  Microsoft Excel works well for this, as well as programs like Quicken or Quickbooks. 

2.  Get online.  Join an online personal finance service like mint.com or mvelopes.com that helps you to manage your money, create savings, and generally works to give you an understanding of how you spend money.  

3.  Steal away.  Hide money from yourself.  Keep an emergency $20 bill hidden in your wallet, leave singles in the closed compartments of your car when you get change from a toll or a drive-thru, slip a $5 bill into a dresser drawer. You will be less likely to spend these funds if they are not mixed in with the rest of your money or in your checking account, and they’ll be a pleasant “surprise” when you need them.

4.  Sleep on it.  Give it 24 hours before you buy. This will help you learn to distinguish between ‘needs’ and ‘wants’ and cut back on impulse spending.

5.  Always pretend like you don't have any money.  Be creative.  Make a conscious decision to live below your means.

6.  Educate yourself.   Read books on personal finance by authors like Suze Orman and George Kinder. Subscribe to money management emails like Daily Worth or Dave Ramsey’s newsletter. It doesn’t matter which resource you use as long as the information is presented in a way that you can understand. Choose which works best for you.

7.  Hustle.   Create additional revenue streams. Get that part time job you’ve been considering, take on some additional freelance projects or start that side hustle you’ve been dreaming about. 

8.  Pay yourself first.  Allocate to your savings before you pay bills; if you give away all your income, you will never be able to build any savings for yourself. Establish savings accounts with sites like ING Direct where it takes a few days for money to become available--making it more difficult for you to withdraw, and allowing you to pause long enough to consider if you really need whatever you are transferring the money for. Sites like SmartyPig.com allow you to save for a rainy day, but also towards specific goals. 

9.  Avoid payday loans like the plague. Period. The short term solution is not worth the long term interest that accrues against the loans or the potential damage to your credit if you can’t pay them off. 

10.  Tell someone about your financial goals. It is often easier to stick with a plan when there is someone cheering you on and holding you accountable for your actions.

These are just a few suggestions to help you achieve clarity around your spending habits and to aid you in making more sensible financial decisions. Please share any additional methods that have worked for you in the comments and stay tuned for part three next week.
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Love Notes - Friday 12/10/2010

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Happy Black Girl Day!

In celebration of Happy Black Girl Day, let's take a moment to be thankful for the women who came before us and paved the way for us to be outspoken, independent, creative--and whatever we darn well please!

Debbie Allen
Debbie Allen, in her own words, is an artist.  She's a dancer, actress, producer, playwright, choreographer, director, composer and author.  She is a creator and a visionary.  I admire her for her talent, her longevity and her contributions to the arts over the years. I'm inspired by her determination to stay true to her passions through racism, failed relationships, and failed projects.  She says that her poet mother raised her to believe that she is a citizen of the universe and that this makes her limitless and boundless.  I hope to instill this same creative freedom in my children, and I'm thankful to Ms. Allen for providing me with another example of a phenomenal woman whose life is her testimony.
-GG

Diahann Carroll
Diahann Carroll first graced the silver screen in early roles in the cinematic features, Carmen Jones (as Carmen’s friend) and Porgy and Bess. From there, she blazed a trail for Black women through the movie and television industry: in 1962 she won the Tony Award for best actress (a first for a black woman); in 1968 she starred in the television series Julia--which made her the first African American actress to star in her own television series where she did not play a domestic worker; and in 1984 she became the first black actress to star in the award-winning night-time series "Dynasty". Growing up, I always admired Ms. Carroll’s poise, the way she walked, and the slight sass with which she sometimes spoke. Through marriage, divorce, birth, death and even breast cancer, her apparent vigor for life and openness has remained constant. Though she was once quoted as stating, “I like to think I opened doors for other women, although that wasn't my original intention”, her accomplishments serve as a reminder that just because something HASN’T been done, doesn’t mean it CAN’T be done—and completed with beauty, style and grace. Her book published in 2008 entitled, The Legs Are The Last To Go, is high on my “to read” list.
-Chic Mommy
 
Lena Horne
Lena Horne is probably most widely known for her beauty and her talent on stage and in film—but she was also passionate, creative and outspoken. The most poignant quote I ever read from her speaks volumes about the unique strength of her character: “My identity is very clear to me now. I am a black woman. I’m free. I no longer have to be a ‘credit.’ I don’t have to be a symbol to anybody; I don’t have to be a first to anybody. I don’t have to be an imitation of a white woman that Hollywood sort of hoped I’d become. I’m me, and I’m like nobody else.” This clear sentiment about self-love and freedom from being limited by others’ judgment speaks to the intention I set for myself daily. We can also be reminded by Ms. Horne’s civil rights activism that it is imperative that we remember to serve others, particularly when an abundance of opportunities has been given to us.
-Chic Mommy
 
Diana Ross
Few women have had as much of an impact on music and the entertainment business as Diana Ross. She evolved from the lead singer of The Supremes to an acclaimed solo performer and actress.  Throughout her career, she continued to recreate success, as her identity and audience evolved.  Since I was a little girl, I have viewed Ms. Ross as an icon of beauty, fashion, grace and charisma.  I remember having her concert in Central Park on VHS tape and watching it over and over. I knew every song, every dance, every tear drop, and I wanted my hair to look just like hers.  As a grown woman, I have a deeper appreciation for Ms. Ross and how she has had such an amazing career while experiencing the ups and downs of her personal life.  Her story reminds me that we shouldn't be afraid to pursue our dreams and create a path where there is none.   She has been quoted as saying "I'm not really a songwriter - I'm an interpreter. So in a sense I am an actress first and foremost. I act out the songs, and I lead with my heart."  
-GG

For more ways to celebrate Happy Black Girl Day, visit The Beautiful Struggler.


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Monday, December 6, 2010

The Spirit of Money - Part 1

"Do not value money for any more nor any less than its worth; it is a good servant but a bad master." ~ unknown author

Do you sabotage yourself financially by overspending, undersaving and not living within your means?
 
Do you feel stuck in a job that limits your ability to express yourself and stifles your freedom because you simply need the money to pay your bills?
 
Do you pursue money to keep up with the Jones' and maintain a certain appearance of status and wealth?
 
Do you want to support an aging or struggling family member or give back to your community, but find yourself unable because of your financial limitations?
 
Are you always in debt, playing catch-up, and barely making it paycheck to paycheck?
 
Are you living a hood rich lifestyle with lots of material things and no real assets or savings?
 
Do you think that you will never achieve financial freedom or wealth, as you perceive it, so therefore you might as well live it up now?

Are you dishonest with yourself about money, avoiding prudent money habits and ignoring your anxiety about it?

Do you chase money and find yourself never having enough no matter how much you make?
 
If your answer to any of these questions is yes, then like me, you would benefit from taking a deeper look at your perceptions about money and its role in your life.  For example, this might sound crazy to you, but I never believed that I was cut out to be wealthy (yeah, as if there is a wealthy gene and I didn't get it).  Honestly, it seemed like a lot of work and I didn't think that I was passionate enough about anything to work that hard. Based on this belief, my approach to money was to spend it when I got it because I never expected to be able to afford the things I wanted based on my own success or hard work.  I can't say that I consciously was aware of these beliefs at the time, but now I am quite aware.
 
Are you?  Are you aware of your emotional patterns with money?  Do you realize that you have the power to change those patterns and therefore change your life?
 
Today, take some time for reflection to be honest with yourself about your finances.  Ask yourself the questions above and answer them without fear or judgment.  Think about your first experiences with money and the messages you received from your environment growing up.  Are you clinging to old ideas that you know are false?  How have your beliefs and conditioning around money hindered you and caused suffering in your life? 
 
We hope that this soul searching and reality checking will help you 1) discover your patterns and let go of them  2) achieve clarity and sensibility and 3) learn how to create the life you want based on a deepened understanding of your purpose and the spirit of money in your life.
 
Please share your reflections with us in the comments and stay tuned for part two next week.
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Friday, December 3, 2010

Love Notes - Friday 12/3/2010

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Not Buying It

**As you can see, PLPT is undergoing a makeover!  Bear with us as we continue to post while we're under construction.**

Photo credit
I don't subscribe to the notion that there are "no good black men out there". I know that there are, because I know good black men personally, and I see them in my day-to-day life. I know that there are, because I was raised by a good black man, because my black male friends are good black men, because my girlfriends are being loved by good black men and because I have dated good black men.

I think some women get tripped up because they confuse "perfection" with goodness; or because they confuse material possession with goodness. We have to be careful about determining someone's worth based on what they have acquired, as opposed to what they inherently have inside. Being a good man is not always about having things or giving gifts, but it’s also about giving time, love, respect, esteem, etc.--the non-tangibles that frame a loving, healthy relationship. We must also have enough clarity to recognize a wonderful man when we receive him, no matter what the label in his jeans reads, the type of car he drives or the title on his business card (if he even has one). I’m not saying not to have preferences surrounding such things; I am simply nudging you to look a little deeper.

It is important, nay paramount, that we remember that we receive what we call into our lives through our own words and actions. If you say "there are no good black men" you will not attract good men. If you lower your expectation on what constitutes good behavior, the men in your life will lower their behavior to fit the bar that you've set. If you excuse the behaviors of men who are of poor intention because "there are no good black men" anyway, they will continue to behave poorly because they can.

I am raising a young black man and I refuse to tell him that he can't be good because he is black and black men are not good. I'm going to continue to show him how to respect and treat a woman and continue to help him to aspire past being just good, and onto being great.

I recognize that there are larger issues at play here—issues that are rooted deep in the psyche of the black race and embedded in the history of this country. I've seen and heard the statistics on the number of black men in jail, and I'm aware of the uneven ratio of black men to black women in the U.S. I understand that, if you're still single, finding your good black man might be more difficult than it has been for others. My point here is that it's not an impossible task, nor do any of the hurdles to their coupling with black women negate their existence. I just can’t hop on the black male bashing bandwagon when I know so many intelligent, creative, honest, respectful, educated and responsible black men--whether they are available or taken--and I tip my hat to them for being more than a statistic, more than a stereotype or a generalization and for being even better than "good".

**
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Monday, November 29, 2010

Fake It 'til You Make It

**As you can see, PLPT is undergoing a makeover!  Bear with us as we continue to post while we're under construction.**

 

The world is governed more by appearance than realities so that it is fully as necessary to seem to know something as to know it. ~Daniel Webster

How many times have you given up on an endeavor because it seemed too complicated?  Not only have I given up, but sadly I can recall many times where I have not even started.  We don't want to expose what we don't know, right?  We don't want step out of our comfort zones into the unfamiliar.  We are afraid of the risks, so we psyche ourselves out of the rewards.
 
All of us have different goals, but we should all foster an approach that is creative and fearless. Look at it this way, you may not be a professional in your field of choice just yet, but you CAN learn to be a professional researcher, question-asker, networker, and all around go-getter.  You CAN become skillful in the art of making things happen, and this alone can catapult your confidence and stature.  Who cares if you don't know all the technical aspects if you have the vision and the determination to make the dream come to life? 
 
Don't know how to "fake it"?  The whole idea is to exude the confidence and importance of someone who is already doing what you are setting out to do.  Act like, think like, talk like you mean business, even if you are just fact finding and exploring.  Get ready to be adventurous and try the following tactics: 
 
*Be aggressive with your pursuit of information and tell people what it is that you want to do.  Learn how to sell yourself . When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them about my day job; then I speak with passion and purpose about what I'm working towards outside of that. 

*Find a mentor or expert who can be a resource for you.  Through social networking and blogging, you can have access to people that normally would be hard to reach.  If an expert in your field has a blog, follow it and share thoughtful comments on a regular basis.  Stalk Follow them on twitter.  Build a relationship until you feel it's appropriate to ask them to review your business plan, art, writing, whatever.

*Join organizations to connect with people of similar intention.  Go to conferences.  Take business cards even if you don't officially have a business yet.  Work with what you have.  Bring your ideas and your energy and get people interested in you while absorbing the knowledge and advice that is available. 

*Create opportunities.  Volunteer your time.  Start a blog.  Start a committee at work that allows you to specialize in the area you want to develop.  Do things for free.  Just participate and get involved in anything that is tied to your goal.  You can build a resume, media kit or a portfolio solely off of work that you've done for free.  Plus, when applicable, you will feel more confident having a tangible way to show your vision.
 
Remember that for whatever it is that you do, there was a time when it was unfamiliar to you.  What else would you add to this list to help us all become the gutsy go-getters that we need to be to accomplish everything??
***
 
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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

5 Keys to a Fantastic Day

Photo Credit
Morning is the most important part of the day as it sets the tone for the remainder of the day. It is at this time that decisions are made—whether consciously or unconsciously—about the mood or feeling we’ll carry with us, how we will react to the difficulties we may face, and how productively we’ll execute our daily tasks. I like to use my morning routine to set a specific intention each day, for example: focus, balance or productivity. My mornings consist of 5 essential elements that I call my keys to a fantastic day.   

  1. Daily prayers/affirmations – Prayer is the time for speaking. Ask for whatever it is that you will need to get you through the day, whether it is patience, creativity, courage, determination—you know yourself well enough to know what you’ll need in extra doses.
  2. Meditation – Meditation is the time for listening. Spend even as little as 5 minutes per day in silence and gratitude, with an open heart, and you’ll be surprised at the clarity you can achieve.
  3. Exercise – You’ve heard it before: exercising in the morning gives you energy, gears up your metabolism for the day and releases endorphins that help you to be in a great mood. It’s all true.
  4. Vitamins –Take a daily multi-vitamin. Try vitamin E to promote healthy hair, skin and nails. Use Echinacea to promote healthy white blood cells and a strong immune system. Slip a sublingual vitamin B12 for sustained energy throughout the day. The use of supplements works differently for each individual; listen to your body, pay attention to how it operates, so you’ll know what you are in need of and where to supplement.
  5. Breakfast – Having breakfast is the best way to jump start your body and your healthy eating habits for that day. Start with super foods that increase metabolism, help you to feel full and give you energy like fruit, fruit smoothies enhanced with vitamins, proteins and whole grains.
What other simple things do you incorporate into your morning routine to help set the intention for your day?
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Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pretty Things: What I've Learned About My Natural Hair

When I decided to stop relaxing my hair, I had many ideas about what it would be like to be natural.  Now that I'm about five years into my natural hair journey (that includes transitioning), many of these ideas have been proven quite wrong.  I absolutely love the fullness and versatility of my natural hair.  I expected that and haven't been disappointed.   However, there have been many challenges that I didn't expect! 


1. Just because my hair is not chemically treated does not mean that it will automatically be healthier and grow longer. My hair is naturally thin and dry, so I have to be gentle with it, keep it moisturized and protect it from drying factors like wind, cotton sheets and wool sweaters/coats. When I first decided to go natural, I had this idea that with no chemicals and little heat, my hair would be so strong and resilient that I'd be able to wear it out all the time without any consequences. This is NOT the case. I get single strand knots very easily, which I did not get when I was relaxed, so this is something I didn't anticipate. This leads me to my next discovery.



2. Since my hair is prone to single strand knots, I have to keep my hair stretched most of the time to avoid them. I stretch through banding, braiding and blow drying. Although my favorite style is a twist out with no rollers at the end, my ends do better when they are stretched with a roller. I make sure that I don't blow dry more than once a month, and I keep it on the medium setting. In the summertime, I don't blow dry at all. I hardly get regular split ends at all anymore, which is great. But damaged ends are still damaged ends, so I have to keep certain hairstyles to a minimum to avoid the knots.



3. Protective styling is the best thing I can do for my hair for length and moisture retention. Like I said earlier, I really thought that I'd be able to wear my hair down all the time if I was natural, but that just doesn't work for me. Yeah, I get bored with it sometimes; but since I've been bunning for the past couple of months, my hair has really been thriving, so it's worth it. Plus, I find all kinds of ideas for styles online and it forces me to be creative. There are so many options with natural hair and my hair is now thick enough and textured enough to give me lots of options.



Are you transitioning or already natural? If you have dispelled any myths or made any discoveries on your journey, please share in the comments! Also, if you're experiencing any challenges, let us know.
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Friday, November 19, 2010

Love Notes - Friday 11/19/10

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

All I Really Want is Peace, Love and _____

All I really want is peace, love and the freedom to be limitless.


I look forward to the holidays every year for the traditions and the family time, and of course for the giving and receiving of gifts. Who doesn't? While it's very easy to get caught up in the ads, the sales and the sensationalism of the holidays; I want to redirect your focus a little bit to ask you a question.

What do you want to give yourself this year?

This is a great time to begin reflecting on the past year and thinking about whether or not you've given yourself everything that you deserve. Have you honored your feelings? Have you told yourself how beautiful you are every day? Have you taken steps towards your goals? Why wait around for someone to give you something material that will only give you fleeting satisfaction.

If you are denying yourself of anything at all, now is the time to pull out all the stops and give yourself the best present ever. No one else can give you the joy and confidence that comes from self-love.

I'll share first.

All I really want is Peace, Love and Freedom.

** There is no reason that I should waste a moment on worry or insecurity. I give myself the freedom to live in the light and be myself regardless of how people respond to me.

**I let go of the need to buy things and I embrace the love of creating things.

**I don't need to feel stuck in any situation. I give myself the freedom to create my own path and my own opportunities.

**I give myself the freedom to Dream big. Love big. Give Big. In every corner of my life.

**I let go of guilt and shame. I'm free to travel light and go far. Free to see myself as worthy of every good thing.

**I give myself the freedom to do what I love.

Now your turn to complete the sentence: "All I really want is Peace, Love and ________."

Please share with us in the comments. :)
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Monday, November 15, 2010

Our Tendency to Over-Indulge


Photo credit

When it comes to food, I have at times stuffed myself too full of a good thing--despite being able to visually identify when there was too much in front of me. Often, when I’ve found something particularly tasty, I have continued to eat, even when my stomach has alerted my brain that it was full. Even though I make primarily healthy food item choices, anything in excess can prove harmful, right?

Do you ever find yourself engaging in similar behavior or feeling like no matter what you do, your actions toward food are counter to your intended health or fitness goals? Over-indulging is so often a result of learned behaviors or habit, more than actual hunger. Many women have ingrained beliefs about food that keep us from meeting our goals:

- We tend to view food as entertainment, tying eating into other activities like watching TV, reading or having time to ourselves.

- We let our emotions dictate our eating patterns; we eat when we celebrate, we eat when we’re sad, we eat when we’re bored, we “treat” ourselves to food as “rewards”, etc.

- We eat out as opposed to making food at home (often for the sake of convenience) and when we eat out, we do our best to consume all of the large portions of food placed in front of us in order to avoid waste.

There are solutions to countering this self-sabotage. Instituting some or all of them could aid in:

- Weight management
- Loss of pounds/inches
- Less bloating/a flatter tummy
- More energy
- Healthier self-image

Some solutions include:

- Eating smaller portions (Erika of The Black Girl’s Guide To Weight Loss offers a fantastic suggestion for doing so here)

- Purchasing groceries and preparing meals and snacks at home, in advance, so as not to be caught off guard and make a poor food choice

- Scheduling meals and snacks (for example, planning to have a small meal/snack every two hours) and sticking to the plan

Most importantly, if we value physical wellness, we have to work to change the way we think and make our behaviors consistent with what we say we want. We have to learn to be responsible with food and to express gratitude for food as a gift of nourishment for our bodies, and not take the abundance of availability of food for granted.

Affirmations:

I confuse the Universe when my behavior is counter to my words. Therefore I will train myself to exercise control when consuming food.

I will recognize food as a source of nourishment, designed to keep my body fueled, energized and healthy.

I will refrain from over-indulging—this does not serve me nor does it benefit my body. I cannot perform at the level of my highest self when I am lethargic and heavily weighed down by too much food.
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Friday, November 12, 2010

If You Want to Change Your Life - Start Believing in Yourself

"I found God in myself and I loved her. I loved her fiercely." ~Ntozake Shange
photo credit



As we head into the weekend, I'm continuing to fly high on productive energy. This is what happens when you deliberately surround yourself with like-minded folks and fill your mind with positive thoughts. When I reflect on the past year, the biggest change I've noticed within myself is that somewhere along the way I started believing in myself with the same persistence that I used to doubt myself. I still hear the doubts whispering in my mind, but they are drowned out by the cheering, high-fiving and brainstorming. I feel like I'm finally all in.

Is there something you've been preparing to do forever, but haven't started? Are you waiting for a sign? a four-leaf clover? Are you waiting until you're good enough, financially stable enough, happy enough? If you feel that you're still not ready, the best advice I can give you is to start telling yourself everyday all day that you ARE ready. You've always been ready. You have the tools within you. The only thing you are missing is your own self-approval. You can handle whatever comes your way when you believe in yourself. That's it. How do you start believing in yourself?

Be true to yourself. Attach yourself to the truth of who you are and don't let go. Celebrate your wins. Face your fears. This builds confidence. Don't dwell on your mistakes. Mistakes mean that you are learning. Ask questions. Lots of them. Work hard. Hold yourself accountable. Don't be swayed, manipulated or hoodwinked by negativity. Don't beat yourself up. Celebrate yourself some more. Laugh at yourself. Think of yourself as important and relevant. Picture yourself doing what you want to do and revisit this image often. Believe in it. Feel it. Be patient. Find the value in everything you do. Be your own best friend. Create and share fearlessly. Celebrate. Stay the course. Drown out the haters. Believe. Love the process of becoming. Believe.

What other things can you do to start believing in yourself??

Have a great weekend, dreamers!
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Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Happy Black Girl Day!

In celebration of Happy Black Girl Day, let's take a moment to be thankful for voices that inspire us, lyrics that give meaning to our emotions, and soulfulness that floats through our speakers and earphones from the beautiful artists featured below. There's nothing like a Happy Black Girl playlist to boost a worn out spirit and redirect negative thinking. When your internal soundtrack is pumping music that supports an inspired outlook, you can't help but feel good and attract good things. If you don't have a Happy Black Girl playlist, create one immediately. Perhaps these tunes will get you started.

Jill Scott - One is the Magic Number

Photo Credit
"So many times I define my pride Through somebody else's eyes
Then I looked inside and found my own stride,
I found the lasting love for me
If I'm searching for my spirituality
Passionately I must begin with me..."

Corinne Bailey Rae - Put Your Records On

Photo credit
"Maybe sometimes, we've got it wrong, but it's alright
The more things seem to change, the more they stay the same
Oh, don't you hesitate.
Girl, put your records on, tell me your favourite song
You go ahead, let your hair down
Sapphire and faded jeans, I hope you get your dreams,
Just go ahead, let your hair down..."

Erykah Badu - Didn't Cha Know

Photo credit
"Time to save the world
Where in the world is all the time
So many things I still don't know
So many times I've changed my mind
Guess I was born to make mistakes
But I ain't scared to take the weight
So when I stumble off the path
I know my heart will guide me back..."

India Arie - I Choose

Photo credit
"I done been through some painful things
I thought that I'd never make it through
Filled up with shame from the top of my head to the souls of my shoes
I've put myself in so many chaotic circumstances
By the Grace of God
I've been given so many second chances
But today I decided to let it all go
I'm dropping these bags I'm makin room for my joy..."

Mary J Blige - Just Fine

Photo credit
"I like what I see when I'm looking at me
When I'm walking past the mirror
Don't stress through the night
At a time in my life
Ain't worried bout if you feel it
Got my head on straight, I got my vibe right
I ain't gonna let you kill it..."

For more ways to celebrate Happy Black Girl Day, visit The Beautiful Struggler.
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Sunday, November 7, 2010

Black Girls Rock!

If you somehow missed tonight's presentation of Black Girls Rock on BET, I implore you to find it online or to catch the repeat on Tuesday night at 8pm. Black Girls Rock was a phenomenal celebration of Black women and girls who are lighting up the world with their gifts, giving back to their communities, and just being generally outstanding people.

There were so many amazing Black women in the audience and on stage. Those celebrated, to name just a few, included Iyanla Vanzant, Raven Symone, Keke Palmer and Ruby Dee. I found myself clapping feverishly in my living room at Iyanla's rousing acceptance speech "..Black girls rock because we have no other choice. We have no other choice but to honor our grandmothers and great grandmothers and those who walk and stand in the embodiment, the female flesh form of the Creator. We have a responsibility to rock the world, to rock the community, to rock our families, to rock the planet--so that our grandmothers will know that they did not die in vain!" I almost cried at Ruby Dee's breaking down her legacy presentation to say that part of the word "legacy" is "leg"--and that she hopes to be the leg that the next generation can stand on. I couldn't help but smile at how radiant and beautiful everyone, including host Nia Long, looked. There was a joy that just radiated from the eyes and faces of everyone in the room.

The musical performances were touching as well--including an amazing rendition of Nina Simone's "Four Women" performed by Marsha Ambrosius, Jill Scott, Ledisi and Kelly Price; as well as a version of "I'm Every Woman" that closed out the show. Monica, Keri Hilson and Fantasia sang their hearts out as well.

It would be impossible to target a high point of the show because this was truly just a fantastic presentation from start to finish. It has left me feeling proud, inspired, refreshed, renewed, invigorated and ready to conquer the world! It isn't that Black women didn't already know that we rock, or weren't already secure in our beauty and strength, but instead it is that we loved seeing our fellow Black women being appreciated, loved, and revered by each other. That's the real story of so many Black women in real life. So often our haunting issues are highlighted in film, in music etc--here was a moment where only our beauty and accomplishment were the focal points. And it did not arrive a moment too soon! Thank you so much to Beverly Bond, the founder of Black Girls Rock and to BET for giving us a forum.

I've taken away so many beautiful quotes from the women of Black Girls Rock that need to be shared. I have adopted so many new mantras and affirmations that I’ll continue to carry with me. I hope they speak to you too!

“You can’t take my joy, cause you didn’t give it to me.” ~Monica

“Don’t try to be a special person. You ARE a special person.” ~Marcelite Harris

“Black girls need to be reminded that they rock from the inside out.” ~Iyanla Vanzant

“The world will tell black girls that they can’t rock—that they don’t rock. But a ha! We all know they do.” ~Iyanla Vanzant

“When you grow up being told you’re less than special, you sometimes act less than special.” ~Beverly Bond

"I've been told No more than I've been told Yes. I love being told No. I always say - You're obviously not the person I should be talking to." ~Raven Symone

"I rock because sometimes I'm scared and that's alright. I rock because I'm not afraid to cry. I rock because I'm loved and I'm able to love. I rock...I rock." ~Anika Noni-Rose

“I know enough to know I’m not yet where I’m going to be...I’m always becoming.” ~Ruby Dee

I rock because I’ve learned that where I’m going is more important than where I’ve been, and that everything I’ve done has served me in some capacity. I rock because I’m so hooked on growth and knowledge that I’ll never stop growing and learning. I rock because I’m no longer afraid to be authentic—I rock out loud!

Ladies, why do you rock??
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Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Start of Something New

I step into the unknown and am excited for what's to come!

Photo Credit via google images
It is always exciting when something (or someone) new happens in our lives. The pleasure and the giddy anticipation of what could be tickle our fancies and send our imaginations running wild. This mostly serves to increase our enjoyment and sends positive energy into the situation, but there comes a moment where we stop enjoying and start wondering… “Where is this going?”…and this is often the moment where fear and judgment set in. We begin to question, label, and judge every aspect of the situation, wanting to determine if it is “good” or “bad”, “right” or “wrong”. We start to nitpick and analyze and over-analyze instead of remaining present. What we really need to be focusing on is being open to receive understanding about exactly what it is that we need to learn from this new thing. If our vision is clouded with doubt, uncertainty or frustration, we’ll fail to see clearly what we have in front us. We have to remain open so that we can enjoy the journey; so that we can recognize opportunities when they are presented; so that we can receive what Life is sending us through this assignment.

When you find yourself panicking over the future (or how you wish things would go, or feel they are supposed to go) try gently reminding yourself to be at peace, because the Universe has already worked this thing out on your behalf.

Affirmations:

I will enjoy this great thing without having to label it.

I trust that the Universe has my back, and that there is a vision for my future that is beyond what I can grasp with my understanding.

I accept this assignment with gratitude and vow to complete it with grace.

I will revel in the delicious ambiguity of what lies ahead.

I move bravely forward and refuse to concede to fear.

I forgive myself for doubting Life's good intentions for my journey.

I release the need to need anything beyond what God has already placed inside me.
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Monday, November 1, 2010

Pretty Things: Winterize Yourself Inside and Out

originally posted on Curly Nikki on 10/22/2009:

When your inner and outer energies radiate in harmony, you are blessed and spiritually magnetic. ~Jasmine Heiler

As the temperature drops and the layers of clothing increase, every woman must go through a change in their beauty routine to prepare for the cold months ahead. If you know like I know, a beauty routine is not just about creams, oils and powders. If you don't have a regimen for inner beauty as well, your skin will not glow and your hair will not shine with the true brilliance that comes from a healthy spirit. Periodically, it is essential to connect with your body and soul to seek out your hidden needs and develop a plan to meet those needs. The change in seasons presents an ideal opportunity to do just that. With the many responsibilities and challenges that women face, Lord knows that if we don't slate this time to care for ourselves, our needs will quietly fall by the wayside along with our peace of mind and eventually our feminine allure. Call me greedy, but I need to maintain my peace AND my allure in order to feel like my freshest most super-charged self!

So, how do we maintain a warm and glowing aura through the long, cold winter? Below I have provided some tips to help you prepare the goddess that you are for the upcoming season.

SKIN
Winter skin requires more TLC because of dry air and low humidity. Use a moisturizing soap and remember to exfoliate because dead skin cells are even more abundant on dry skin. Using an oil-based moisturizer, lather yourself from head to toe daily when you are still damp from the shower to lock in the moisture. At night, anoint your feet and sleep in a pair of footies to stay soft through the winter. Use a humidifier at night to create a dewy environment for your skin and hair. Your nasal passages will also thank you.

HAIR
Winter brings harsh winds, wool coats, sweaters and hats i.e. torment for your precious locks. It's up to you to be proactive about preventing seasonal damage. Line your wool hats with silk or satin to avoid breakage. When you are wearing a wool sweater, where your hair pinned up or in a bun. Avoid leaving the house with wet hair that could freeze in the low temps and cause serious breakage. Easy on the hots! Heat styling makes the hair more susceptible to damage from the cold and wind. Speaking of wind, protect those tresses. Wear your hair up or under a hat to avoid the tangling that results from the wind going blow for blow with your hair. Condition, moisturize and protect. Opt for the thicker, creamier deep conditioners. Use moisturizers that truly absorb into the hair like coconut and avocado oil. Implement protein and/or henna treatments to strengthen your hair against the elements.

!Biased Plug ~ Winter is a great time to start transitioning! If you've been toying with the idea of growing out your relaxer, go for it. Winter air is dry and the winds are unforgiving, so the weather lends itself well to protective styles like braid-outs, twist-outs and roller sets which are ideal for transitioning to natural ~ End Biased Plug!

BODY
The winter blues are partially caused by the body not producing enough serotonin, the hormone that affects a person's state of mind. When you exercise, your body produces more serotonin and thus improves your mood. If you don't currently have an exercise routine, start off with low impact exercises, such as tai chi, yoga or deep breathing. Yoga, especially, has been shown to be very effective in dealing with depression because the focus and concentration help you reconnect with your mind and spirit in such an enlightening way. Many people think they could never do yoga because they are not flexible. I would argue that the beautiful thing about yoga is that each pose has a variation that is appropriate for your level of flexibility and strength. Find a beginner's class and get your downward facing dog on. One of the disciplines of yoga is no judgment, so don't worry about anyone staring or snickering if you can't hold a pose.

SPIRIT
Winter depression or "Seasonal affective disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that tends to occur (and recur) as the days grow shorter in the fall and winter. It is believed that affected persons react adversely to the decreasing amounts of light and the colder temperatures as the fall and winter progress." ~Medicinenet.com.Light things up! Increase the amount of light in your home and wake up earlier to spend more of your waking hours in the daylight. Like exercise, light also stimulates the level of serotonin in the body. With night falling so early in the winter, it's no wonder that our disposition begins to mirror the darkness. Journal your thoughts and feelings and take action if you notice a trend towards melancholy feelings. Make time for quiet meditation and prayer. Do some soul searching. Reflect on where you are right now and where you want to go. Let go of past mistakes and look forward to new opportunities. Allow the beautiful evolution of the seasons happening around you to inspire a beautiful evolution inside of you.

MIND
Don't let the winter blues sneak up on you! Do something interesting and creative, even if you think it's outside of your character. Keep yourself busy with activities and adventures. Sign up for that cooking or art class that you've been wanting to take. Find a book that challenges your way of thinking. Further your education. Take on a new challenge at work. Make it something that scares you a little bit. Find the personal value in stepping out of your comfort zone and challenging yourself. When your mind is consumed with something new and exciting, you have less time to be preoccupied with sadness and doubt.

Have you given thought to how your routines will change for the winter? Please share your tips with us below.
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