Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Infamous They

Call her what you want but Erykah Badu dances
to the beat of her own drum and inspires many by doing so.


We are always concerned about what "they" will say. They say we can't do it. They say that we must fit a certain definition. They say that this is right and this is wrong. They say all kinds of things, don't they? They know what's best. They know what we should be afraid of, what we should look like and who we should date.

The infamous "they" are the general public, the media, church, family, friends, coworkers, neighbors, strangers even naysayers and haters. Many of us will listen to anyone and anything other than our own divine intuition. No wonder we are stressed, anxious and unhappy. The reason we are so attentive to what they say is because we are not confident in our own self-direction. When we allow ourselves to follow the whims of general opinion and what we think they want us to do, we end up completely losing sight of who we really are.

Here are a few ways to silence the opinions of the infamous "they" and tune into the voice of the fabulous, undeniable you:

1. Stop judging where you are in life as right/wrong or good/bad. Accept every part of yourself with grace and honesty. This builds confidence and is so attractive.

2. Don't tell all your business to everyone you talk to. Everyone doesn't deserve a front seat in the show that is your life. Confide in people who are supportive and constructive. Even then, don't look to other people to tell you how to feel.

3. Try new things to get over the fear of not being perfect. Frequently stepping out of your comfort zone helps you to become an expert at handling unfamiliar situations. Too often we don't try things just because someone else told us that it was difficult for them. Form your own opinions based on your own experience instead of relying on what others have told you.

4. Don't seek approval from people before you make moves. People may try to dissuade you. People may be disappointed. This is your life and you owe it to yourself to experience it in your own way.

5. Trust yourself. We each have our own unique, divine power. Don't hand over your power by following someone else's agenda. The definition of success is being true to yourself and following your heart.

6. Challenge everything. Don't accept anything without passing it through your internal filter. Does it ring true for you? If not, don't internalize it. Everything in this world is subject to perception.

7. Have faith. Change your thoughts. Fill your mind with positivity. Focus on the life experience that you want to have and let nothing distract you from it.

What other ways can we learn to stop worrying about what "they" say? What can we do to become self-directed, confident women? How do we stop caring what other people think when most of us were raised to care?
Read more »

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Project: Seven Hours of Sleep or More

“They sleep. We grind.” That’s a phrase I see tweeted often by Miss “FatBellyBella” aka Erykah Badu (usually as I’m doing my early morning timeline scroll). And I sometimes feel just a little bit guilty as I’m getting out of bed because I was indeed one of those who was sleeping. But then I remember that I’m just one of those people that needs rest. I currently average approximately 5-6 hours of sleep per night after squeezing in as many of the professional, parenting and personal tasks that I can cram into the other 18-19 hours of the day. I start out the week on Monday with a positive attitude, a big smile and my “to do” list tucked safely under my arm; and I find myself getting high off my level of productivity and accomplishment. However, by about Thursday I am tired, uninspired and quite honestly, wearing my cranky pants. I still get things done, but certainly with less enthusiasm and vigor as earlier in the week when my sleep cycle was just beginning. I also find that my body communicates pretty clearly when it wants a break. I carry exhaustion in my back, neck and shoulders. So what is the simple answer here? To get more rest.

Photo Credit
According to, “most healthy adults need between 7.5 to 9 hours of sleep per night to function at their best.” Here are some reasons why sleep is so important:*
1. Sleep Reduces Stress - When your body is sleep deficient, it goes into a state of stress. The body's functions are put on high alert which causes an increase in blood pressure and a production of stress hormones. The stress hormones also, unfortunately, make it harder for you to sleep.

2. Sleep Bolsters Your Memory - Researchers do not fully understand why we sleep and dream, but a process called memory consolidation occurs during sleep. While your body may be resting, your brain is busy processing your day, making connections between events, sensory input, feelings and memories. Your dreams and deep sleep are an important time for your brain to make memories and links. Getting more quality sleep will help you remember and process things better.

3. Sleep May Help You Lose Weight - Researchers have also found that people who sleep less than seven hours per night are more likely to be overweight or obese. It is thought that the lack of sleep impacts the balance of hormones in the body that affect appetite. The hormones ghrelin and leptin, important for the regulation of appetite, have been found to be disrupted by lack of sleep. So if you are interested in controlling or losing weight, don't forget to pay attention to getting a good night's sleep.

4. Sleep May Reduce Your Risk for Depression - Sleep impacts many of the chemicals in your body, including serotonin. People with a deficiency in serotonin are more likely to suffer from depression. You can help to prevent depression by making sure you are getting the right amount of sleep, between 7 and 9 hours each night.

5. Sleep Helps the Body Make Repairs - Sleep is a time for your body to repair damage caused by stress, ultraviolet rays and other harmful exposures. Your cells produce more protein while you are sleeping. These protein molecules form the building blocks for cells, allowing them to repair damage.


While this is not new research, nor is it a comprehensive list of the benefits of getting sufficient rest, it is a good reminder for us to allow ourselves the benefit of sleep, as it ultimately can refresh us and help us to better accomplish those daily goals. If we want to be at our best during the day, we have to remember to set ourselves up for the best with the combination of sleep, exercise and diet that is healthiest for our individual bodies.

To this end, I am recommitting myself (recommitting because I did this previously for about a month and then was back up to my old tricks) to getting 7 hours of sleep per night at the very least. It is my hope that this will help me to avoid oversleeping, allow the proper amount of time in the morning for me to prepare for the day, and aid me in being more punctual. What are some of the ways you organize your schedule to ensure that you’re getting enough sleep?
Read more »

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Pretty Things: Low Maintenance Beauty

The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak. ~Hans Hofmann

photo credit

While watching Lost the other day on Netflix, I thought to myself: if I was stranded on an island for months, I would look a hot mess! No tweezers, no razors, no makeup or nail polish, no HAIR PRODUCTS?!?! The visual is just too disturbing to contemplate.

This train of thought led me to realize a few things:

* I'm always worried about how I look
* I'm more high maintenance with my beauty routines than I admit to myself
* High maintenance routines are not necessary to look good
* I want to live more simply and require less stuff

Why is it that I am always distracted by thoughts of how I look? Key word: distracted. I love being a woman and expressing my femininity. Don't you? We want to feel good about ourselves, and part of that is looking good. But often we, OK I'll speak for myself, I take it too far and become obsessed with my appearance and allow it to affect my focus on other things.

My preoccupation with beauty can take up a lot of time, and I'm convinced that I could leverage some of this time to concentrate on other areas of my world. My life is a constant juggling act and there are still so many more things I want to do with myself. To create the capacity for more living and loving; I need to simplify - cut back - slow down. I realize that this will require a whole mind shift, but I'm ready to work at it.

Some ideas I've been considering lately:

* How much time do I spend per week on my hair versus how much time I spend writing? If you follow me on my personal blog, then you know that two of my passions are healthy, natural hair and writing. I am so full of ideas and words right now. All I want to do is write, but with a day job and a family, I have limited time. With the time I was spending on my hair everyday, I could be writing and creating.

* How many times am I late to work or a function because I can't get my hair, clothes, makeup just right? Too often, I'm rushing, I'm distracted and I'm wishing I had more time. Shifting my philosophy to low maintenance beauty will allow me to savor my experiences more. For example, I'd rather have two pair of jeans that fit me perfectly, than 10 pair of jeans that just take up space in my drawer. See what I mean? Simplify.

* How do I define my ideal outward appearance? My current response would be healthy, big hair in perfect disarray, clear blemish free skin that doesn't get oily, having the perfect outfit for every occasion....I could go on. With this wish list perpetually on my mind, no wonder I always find myself trying to improve something about how I look. Why not look in the mirror, be content and feel blessed? I'm a woman, a mother, a daughter, sister, friend and more, and when I see myself through their eyes, I know that I am beautiful just the way I am without a lot of frills and fuss.

Developing a "work smarter not harder" mentality about my beauty routines, is just another way to be true to my current reality and keep my priorities in check. By honoring my time and spending it wisely, I'm loving myself and creating the space for new experiences. I still want to feel beautiful on the outside, because this makes me feel more confident to express my inner beauty. So, my intention is to work towards that unique balance of inner and outer energy that attracts the life and opportunities that I desire.

This excerpt from zen habits speaks to this concept of simplifying and savoring life:

Savoring life starts with a mindset. It’s a mindset that believes that excess, that rushing, that busy-ness, that distractedness, isn’t ideal. It’s a mindset that tries instead to:

do & consume less
slow down
be mindful & present
savor things fully

In what small ways, whether related to self-image/beauty or otherwise, have you been able to simplify your life? Is the time you spend on your appearance or other external factors distracting you from simply enjoying life? What can you do about it? Do you disagree with this philosophy? Why?

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. ~Leonardo DaVinci
Read more »

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Productive vs. Busy

I recently took two tests on the New York Times website: one that tests your focus and level of distractibility and another that tests how fast you juggle tasks. I got 100% of the focusing tests correct, meaning I was not easily distracted. According to the article, “Researchers at Stanford University found that high multitaskers performed poorly when presented with multiple distractions, meaning they had trouble filtering out irrelevant information. Low multitaskers were not affected by the distractions and could hold more items in their short term memory.” I fared differently on the tests for juggling tasks, being very slow to switch in-between tasks, even when repeating the same task. “Researchers at Stanford found heavy multitaskers to be significantly slower at switching tasks…and even slower to complete tasks even when the tasks were the same.”

The bottom line of the results is that by the measurement of these tests, I am a low multitasker. This is not news to me. I am keenly aware that I am very methodical in the way that I execute things, preferring to take my time and do them properly and review them, and then review them again before being assured that they are complete and correct. I don’t deal well with distractions, preferring to focus on each task individually, and I often lose track when I am disrupted, for instance, if I am in the middle of a project and a coworker interrupts for assistance. Though I am able to switch gears, I do so more slowly. While the results were not surprising it was interesting to see the research attached and to have confirmed that I generally work in a way that is best for me to be at my highest level of productivity.

With so many distractions now—television, internet, phones, instant messenger, text, social media, blogs, etc.—it’s very easy to be constantly busy doing something, watching something or communicating with someone. To this end, we often mistake being busy for being productive. Productivity involves actually setting goals or attacking tasks with the intention of a specific end result, yet many of the things we find ourselves doing just keep us busy. I am certainly guilty of it at times. I almost get jittery if my blackberry, with its multiple email accounts and social media outlets is not either in my hand or in my direct line of sight; I often read or watch television while I eat; I scroll through my twitter timeline while waiting in lines—there’s a continuous stream of activity that occurs around me and I have to catch myself and remind myself to put the phone down, turn the TV off, close out my email, etc. and really focus on the task(s) at hand. This is why yoga and meditation practices work so well for me. They help me to slow down, set intention and map out a clear path of milestones of productivity for my day.

The NYT also posted a related article about the effect so much technology is having on our brains. It’s an interesting read, and the tests are linked within. I would encourage you to check it out.

How do you manage ensuring you are productively accomplishing tasks or working towards goals each day and make certain that you’re not just doing “stuff”? Would you take these tests? How would the outcomes affect how you work?
Read more »

RSS Feed Like us in Facebook follow me!