… By Whatever Means Necessary

Announcement: F*$k Donald Trump! His mis-calculated actions and lack of compassion, coupled with his ignorance and narcissism are not just deplorable, but also diabolical. I can’t wait until American citizens rise up in aggressive opposition of his heartless policies, cold leadership, and show the world our efforts to be the example that we set out to be.

Viva Obama! …. 1f620

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Deep Breath) Ok friends, now that I’ve gotten that out of my system, let me focus on the real reason for this post:

 

self-care

 
After the suicides of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain (sidenote: I’m still not convinced that Anthony committed suicide and highly suspect foul play, however, I will consider the possibility for the sake of this post) sent the world into shock, the general response was: “You just never know what people are going through”. This is true. You never know what someone else is dealing with, or the state of their mental and emotional health. Unless you’ve had in-depth conversations with that person, one should be slow to judge and not assume anything.

 
But another major lesson as a result of all this is: “Just because you have money does not mean you are happy.” I think this was the realization that shocked people the most. It’s one thing to understand that you never know what someone else is dealing with. However, the general consensus is that whatever you are dealing with in your personal life can be easily resolved with an increase of funds. For the majority of people, their problems are money-related, and they would love to have a fraction of the earnings of these celebrities if it would mean lessening the weight of their financial burdens.
For the majority of people, the thought was: “Why in God’s name would you kill yourself when you have SO MUCH!

 

 

They had everything: booming careers, beautiful homes, fancy cars, designer clothes, the freedom to travel, access to any and everything, and loads of cash. For the majority of people, it simply doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense because we have been conditioned to believe that money equals happiness. Despite the countless suicides of various celebrities, their drug problems, and the public display of mental/emotional breakdowns that can come with fame, the public still believes that money is the key. However, it was something about the deaths of these two people, especially Anthony Bourdain, that seemed to strike a deeper cord with people. Reality was hitting hard. The nation was beginning to see the error of their thinking.

 

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Money is nice, but ultimately it will not give you the peace and the joy you deserve. I think what really gives peace and joy is knowing that you are loved and living out your purpose. This love includes a certain level of self-care that should be made a priority in everyone’s life. It is vital to take care of self. Maybe that means seeing a therapist, going on vacations, being with friends, going to church, engaging in your favorite hobbies, etc. We all must do what we can to keep ourselves full. Operating through this world can easily drain you and you must find a way to re-boot.

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I started thinking about how I implement self-care. One of the things I do, besides engage in favorite activities with close friends, is pray and meditate. I may not meditate on a strict schedule everyday, but I do make time during the week to get quiet and connect with myself. I also listen to music as a way to elevate my energy. Working out has become an important part of my self-care also. I’m not always excited about working out, but I can always feel a physical improvement afterwards. My body just feels better after a good workout. Keeping this blog is an additional part of my self-care. Having a platform such as this to express oneself, regardless of how many people read it, is always a great thing.

 
But the last big thing that I do for self-care is turn off the news. I know that it is important to stay informed, and I do stay abreast of the important events that have taken place. However, I’ve noticed that, especially during these past two years, my energy gets low after watching the news. Especially being African American and hearing report after horrifying report about another unarmed black person getting shot — R.I.P. Antwon Rose — or harassed by cops, and the growing outcry of bigots and racists who insist on “taking the country back” ; my emotional, and mental health must be protected. So I turn the news off. I realize that I have to keep myself full not just for me, but for the young people I teach and motivate. I refuse to pour fear and hopelessness into them. The world supplies them with enough of that. The responsibility I feel for my students can come with pressure but it also demands that I take care of myself so that I can be the best for them. This sense of responsibility has been a great incentive for me to maintain my health.

 
I urge you: Maintain your health friends. The world appears to be getting louder, and the need for introspection is getting greater. You must not allow the world to drown out your inner voice. Take a moment to get quiet and remind yourself of all that you have to be grateful for. Self-care is one of the pieces of armor you will need to maintain your sense of self in an ever changing world. Keep your peace …

… by whatever means necessary. 

 

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Smile? … But Why??

 

A woman modeling a 'bag' dress.  (Photo

Cat-calls can be annoying, but, currently, there’s one particular word that I’ve heard men say that really gets under my skin. I stopped by Leimert Park one weekend where there was an event with drummers, music, and food and merchandise vendors — it looked interesting, so I walked through. As I was walking, a man with a beard, long locks and dark shades, blasting music from his speakers, leans over and shouts to me, “Why don’t you smile? Smile.” And like a puppet, I complied and smiled. Immediately afterwards I was like, “Wait. Why did I do that?” Another question to ask is: Why did this guy tell me to smile??
Now, there are those that might say, “Well he meant no offense by it, he just wanted to see you smile. No big deal. Chill out.”

Here’s my response to that: 1. I am very chill … chill to the point of freezing. I am cool as ice. I know that this man meant no offense. However, just because he meant no offense doesn’t negate the fact that his statement was odd and unnecessary. I am not enraged by his comment… simply annoyed. 2. Why does this guy need me to smile??? There I was, happily living my life, minding my own business; yet he felt like he needed to make a suggestion — rather yet, an improvement — on how I should carry myself.

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Now, normally, I would have brushed it off, but he is not the first man to say this to me, and my girlfirends have experienced the same thing. He didn’t nearly leap from behind his speakers to tell the man walking behind me to smile like he had done to me, nor was he an enthusiast passing out fliers suggesting that the whole world smile. He picked me out and decided that I was the one who needed reminding. What’s also interesting is that I have yet to have a woman shout at me telling me to smile, nor have I ever felt the urge to tell anyone else to smile.
So why do men say this to women?

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I’ve thought about it and I have drawn two possible conclusions:
1. Perhaps it’s their way of simply trying to get a woman’s attention, and perhaps even start a conversation with a woman they find attractive.
2. Perhaps a woman who is not smiling really throws off their sexist idea of how a woman should carry herself, and that, in their less-expanded minds, a woman should always be wearing a smile. I feel like this idea stems from the 1950’s housewife image that was heavily promoted during that time and continues to be promoted today. Without ever prioritizing her own wants and needs and the vital self-care that is integral to a happy, healthy life, this woman raises the kids, manages and cleans the house, tends to the husband, and cooks… She does this all with impeccably-styled hair that never seems to have a strand out of place, an hour-glass figure that seems to require no real effort to maintain, wearing a perfectly ironed dress that accentuates her small waist with heels and, of course … a nice, bright smile.

 

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This is bullshit. Guess what, as a human being, I am allowed to experience whatever mood I like and sometimes I’m not in the mood to smile. Often, I’m not overcome by any mood at all and I’m simply going about my day, not even thinking about whether I am smiling or not. I’m just being. If me simply being makes a man feel uncomfortable because I am not accessorized with a beaming smile that would place him at ease, then that is a personal problem and has nothing to do with me. I do not have to smile for anyone. I don’t have to be anyone other than who I am, and I don’t care how that makes you feel.

Therefore, to all the men out there who have made the repetitive mistake of broadcasting this command to women: STOP! We are the ones in control of our emotional/facial expression — not you. So, unless you are on some kind of spiritual campaign to get the world to smile and live in a state of gratitiude, unless you are telling the men to smile as well, then you should take it upon yourself to kindly smile at me and say absolutely nothing, your silence will be GREATLY appreciated. I know it’s hard, but I believe it’s time you experience being seen and not heard …ssshhhh… just smile baby.

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