Check In

How are your intentions? Are you letting go of things that no longer match you? Are you respectful of boundaries you have set for yourself and others?

It's time to check in.

I've always thought it was necessary for me to set goals for myself, that way I knew exactly where I would need to be in exactly 3 months and 24 days on the 11th hour. Expectations were set for me to succeed, so I did and kept going. It wasn't until roughly a year ago I realized that making plans really wasn't something I excelled in. I am in no way a Type A person, I'm certainly particular about key aspects of my routine, but I definitely don't shy away at unfixed happenings. 

In middle school I kept a journal that I would write my letters to God in. I remember one day that I wrote how fed up I was with my life and how boring it was (dramatic, I know). One of the entries read about goals I wanted to obtain in 3 weeks:

  1. Learn how to crochet
  2. Play more classical piano songs for practice
  3. Lose 5 pounds (society is terrible and made me think awful things)
  4. Get a boyfriend (this one is really funny looking back)

3 weeks came and went and I had a halfhearted attempt at learning how to crochet and nowhere near my other goals. This type of pattern continued to my young adult life until I finally realized that I was doing these things because I thought it would make me happy. It clicked for me when I asked the question, what will make me happy in 3 months as opposed to me setting guidelines as to what I thought would make me happy in 3 months. I know I talk a lot about how cliche things can be, but there's truth to them. Focusing on what makes me happy, what makes me grow into a better human being for myself and the world will ultimately guide me on what my goals should be. 

What drives me to figure out my goals are my inner compass. I talked about trusting your gut instinct, using discernment, and always vibing with what elevates me higher. This week, I'm checking in. Where is my compass taking me now?

Photo taken by Tory Corless ( @vqnsees )

Photo taken by Tory Corless (@vqnsees)

Right Within

"When a year is both your hardest and your greatest" --HeyFranHey

Recently, I have done a lot of reflecting on how hard last year was. This isn't an excerpt for you to feel bad for me--I'm really proud of myself. I'm sitting here typing this in my dining room, overlooking my street, smelling the rose oil diffusing from my room. Right now, I'm winning. I'm happy for the changes, hard times and uncomfortable moments that brought me to this exact moment. 

Right now, I love my life. I'm able to set boundaries, open myself up to others, engage in intimate conversations and not squirm from them, I'm speaking up more and often, I'm finding gratitude in alone time. When I witness I'm no longer align with my power, my magic, I think back on my lessons. My lesson to appreciate and love those who appreciate and love me back. I release concern of things that don't elevate my higher power. I literally vibe different. Every day I wake up and tell myself that I am allowed to be me and whole, that I am worthy of everything coming my way. 

When I'm in alignment--when I'm right within--I am truly unstoppable. After months of feeling like I was pushing for something in my professional environment, I saw a breakthrough. 

Practice discernment into what needs patience and what needs distance. Take time and reflect on what that might mean to you. Notice how your energy shifts when you get angry or upset. Tell yourself daily positive affirmations to help you through whatever may come your way. Seriously set up those damn boundaries and see what grows and what falters. If you were looking for a sign this is it.

Gut Feelings

Happy Sunday.

I think now more than ever I'm starting to trust my gut instincts. Listening to your own inner voice will take you a long way. In a year where more and more women* are taking up space and demanding justice for equal rights, health rights, calling out assaults, and putting themselves first--trusting your gut is something you have to start doing. 

Listening to my inner voice means telling myself every morning when I wake up that I am worthy of good things that happen to me. That I deserve to be in rooms where decisions are made. That I am exactly where I'm supposed to be on my path. 

From a wellness perspective I would encourage to start literally listening to your gut. Maybe you start your days by drinking water with a drop of apple cider vinegar and lemon. Start breathing deeply in the morning to help feel every nerve in your body. By first physically treating your gut, you'll be able to help clear any blocks that stop you from trusting it in the first place. I would encourage you start literally speaking from your gut. Set yourself up with positive affirmations daily that will empower you throughout your day. Start saying "I feel" instead of "I think". Any time you feel as though you may be in a weird situation--get out. If you feel as you cannot safely, tell someone you trust, start documenting any infractions towards you. 

How are you trusting your gut? How are you continuing to speak your own powerful truth? How are you lifting others up, so it's not just you in the room?

Photo taken by Tory Corless ( @vqncvqnc )

Photo taken by Tory Corless (@vqncvqnc)

Breaking Patterns

Hello 2018.

"Break up with pattern not just the person. This is how you clear karmic agreements and their residue on a soul level." --Maryam Hasnaa

I have this habit of identifying persons/things in my life that I want to break up with. Their energy is toxic, draining, or stagnant. It doesn't help propel me in anyway and is way more of a hindrance than I need. I would do this and then find something else or someone else to replace them. So in essence, I would break up with the person/thing, but then continue the cycle by replacing it with something else and acting as if it's totally different (it's not). Have you found yourself doing this? How are you practicing discernment instead? What are you doing to cut off the pattern--not just the person? I found myself recently deciding to break one of my extremely ridiculous "rules" when it comes to intimacy. In my classes this month, I'm preaching to the idea of being more open and accepting of new ideas and patterns. I realized how hypocritical it was for me to close myself off in certain intimate situations when I was literally saying the opposite to my students. 

Last year I found growth within myself that I didn't know was possible. I'm grateful for it because now I'm looking at situations with a different lens and it's better for me. I'm looking to break patterns that lead me to the same conclusion. I'm looking to find better situations that uplift and open me to feel more--no matter how painful it may be. 

My theme for this year is not shying away from things that push me to live a more authentic life. I hope you'll join me in exploring on what that may mean.

Photo Taken by Tory Corless ( @vqncvqnc )

Photo Taken by Tory Corless (@vqncvqnc)

To 2017, with love

This year was trying. On a macro level, it felt like the whole world was suffering. One week felt like three months. Executive order after executive order, specials that we lost, specials that we won, protests that folks marched in, documented and gave money to--it was a rollercoaster. On a micro level, I experienced heartbreak, transformation through teacher training, new friendships that bloomed into business partnerships, a sense of belonging in a new city (for once), taking on racial justice, and maturity for what it means for me to be Rachael. 

A lot of this year I felt like I was swimming upstream. Constantly plugging in where I could, and yet another hole would pop up. I made a lot of mistakes and learned a lot of lessons. The overall theme I got from this grueling year was growth. We are so quick to judge what we see online. It's so easy for me to put up a picture of how happy or great things are in my life, but what you missed were the five minutes before and the five minutes after. I put in a lot of work this year, and there's joy in that. I did this all for a better 2018 and beyond. 2017 pushed me to certain limits I wasn't sure I was capable of. I'm better for it. I'm prepared to take a great leap forward, 2018 will be a year of expansion--I declare it. 

To 2017--

I leave behind anything that no longer serves me;

I leave behind those who suck my energy;

I leave behind the thought that I cannot take up space;

I leave behind any second guesses I may have;

I leave behind the white cis/het narrative;

I leave behind phrases like, "I can't" or "..not me";

I leave behind past mistakes and their hold on me;

I leave behind relationships that have served their length;

I leave behind feeling sorry for myself;

and lastly, I leave behind anything that is not my true, authentic self.

To 2018--

I bring with me a new perspective;

I welcome the idea of expansion;

I welcome new, fulfilling partnerships;

I honor the lessons I have learned;

I welcome being vulnerable;

I welcome more laughter, joy, and happiness;

I promise to be more honest;

I welcome abundance of opportunities;

I commit to finishing my transformative process;

I welcome the idea of learning new things;

I welcome financial success;

and lastly, 

I commit to being my true, authentic self.

Photo taken by Tory Corless ( @vqncvqnc)

Photo taken by Tory Corless (@vqncvqnc)

Twice as Good

"You're an oreo! Black on the outside, but white on the inside."

"You are so pretty for a black girl."

"I love your white girl hair!"

These are things I heard growing up. These are the things that white people told me, a young child, growing up. I used to hate that my parents pushed me to succeed more than the average. If I made a B+, they would ask what a certain friend made and told me I had to do better next time. My hair always had to be done, whether it was braids, weave, or a perm--it could never be unkempt. Clothes would need to be ironed, even jeans! Appearance meant everything. When I was younger, I never really understood my parents obsession with what people thought about us, I didn't understand until college.

As one young black queen who majored in Political Science does, I was watching Scandal one Thursday night instead of participating in #thirstythursday. The episode was after Olivia's (first?) scandal breaks out that she is Fitz's mistress. Her father, Rowan, is seen scolding her telling her she has to be twice as good as them to get half of what they have. Them being the dominant culture: straight, white, cis, men. It was in that moment, watching that scene, that I realized why my parents pushed me so hard. Why they were always so hard on me. They never did it because they were angry with me, or expected me to be a failure, they did it out of love. They both had worked way too hard and sacrificed much--I had to excel. This phrase sticks out more in my head now more than ever. As a queer black woman, I feel like I'm constantly against some tide. To be better, to be faster, to always have the right answers. The other day at work I was told that a comment I had made was seen as "aggressive" and I immediately shut down. That's coded language, it's a micro-aggression and it's just straight up racist. There used to be a time that my blackness was just part of who I am, I knew I was black and I was fine with it. Now, it seems that I've stepped more into it, adamant and loud about it. I'm also fine with this. 

I deal with internalized racism constantly, especially in a city as white as Boston. I'm in very white spaces, my day job, where I practice yoga, the neighborhood I live in, hell even the grocery stores I frequent. I know my presence can be frightening to some, sometimes I embrace that, other times I back down. I'm constantly teetering on whether I should code-switch and talk "white" or say what I really want to and how I want to. I make statements with my hair by making it a vibrant blue or a royal purple. I force you to see my brown skin in the summer. I constantly tend to be on of the loudest ones and stare down the faces of white folks that look at me funny. I'm black and I'm really happy about it. And yes, I'm better. I'm twice as good, I'll always be twice as good. In his most recent album, Jay Z addressed this sentiment of internalized racism on his track The Story of O.J. by stating lyrics of different kinds of niggas, but at the end of the day, you're still a nigga. I feel this so hard. I can achieve so much, but at the end of the day to some, I can still be seen as just that, a nigga. 

What I learned this week is that no matter how hard I'll try to appear to be the good negro, there will always be pushback. What I'm thankful for is the space allowed to express my views in a calm manner and have them be heard. I surround myself with people who aren't afraid when I tell them what they said is wrong or to change their behavior. I encourage those who disagree with me to prove them wrong. I'm inspired by artists like Solange to take a seat at the table or make space for myself constantly. I'm ready to take up more space in 2018, my ancestors have been breathing down my neck to do this for awhile. 

Photo taken by Tory Corless ( @VqNCVqNC )

Photo taken by Tory Corless (@VqNCVqNC)

Boundaries

What is something you're wiling to say yes to? What is something you will absolutely not budge on? What are you willing to compromise on? What is your boundary? Are you aware of it? Do you have respect for it? 

I'm a people pleaser. A pushover (to an extent). I do too much, even when I feel like I'm not doing enough. My second love language is words of affirmation, so I'll always strive to hear that I'm doing well. Lately I've been testing what my boundaries actually are. Sticking up for what I actually want--what I'm actually about--has been the best feeling. I am ecstatic about the great things that have been happening in my life and what I continue to push through. 2018 is on the horizon and the seeds I have planted in 2017 will bloom and make me burst open. Before I set boundaries for myself in terms of health, friendships, relationships and even work--I felt like I was floundering. I'm still finding my footing, but it feels good to have full control in every decision I make. 

If you're dreading always hanging around a certain person, sit with that and think why? Why do you continue to let negative energy invade your space? Cut that mess out. You feel the need to smack some realness into your wack coworker? Tell em. 

You should be respected. You have your own positive energy. You should always have a say. 

Set your boundaries and make them known.

 

Emotionally Full

I want to say thank you, to the Universe, to God, Goddess, and Oshun. 

My heart is so full, my heart chakra is busted open y'all. I cannot express enough gratitude. This past week was amazing. Monday, I took the day off and met with some amazing people. I centered myself after a whirlwind of a weekend and enjoyed the alone time, the time spent with friends and of course, food. I was lucky enough to attend a POCI (people of color/indigenous) management training and spent two days with these people speaking truth to our values. I will probably never get over the idea that I have to work twice as hard to be good enough to my white counterparts. This is generational trauma, it is in my blood. Some days I am grateful for it, for allowing me to push myself to be the greatest. Some days, I am frustrated with it, as it may hinder me and cripple me. It's a fine line I dance around, hoping to find the sweet spot. I'm still figuring it out.

This weekend I was blessed to have two life affirming workshops via You Good, Sis? and helped serve the women of the greater Boston area with my amazing partner. Last night, we celebrated Friendsgiving at my apartment. It's amazing to celebrate being thankful with your chosen family. People you want to be around because they truly make you a better person. My energy right now is on 100. I am so in love with my life and all the amazing things in work. I am emotionally full. I'm covering myself in a imagery blanket of hugs I shared with everyone these past 48 hours. I'm staring at polaroids taken and finding blessings in a snapshot. 

Y'all, I am so happy. Everything is exactly as it should be.

Find your path to becoming emotionally full, I hope I never go hungry. 

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Cusp

A long time ago I learned that I was never okay with things being just alright. I wouldn't really appreciate the good things happening in my life because I was certain something bad was soon to happen. This is called anxiety and I've gotten better at handling this.

Right now, I feel like I'm on the cusp of something, the jumping off point. I think we're in a time where even though things feel like it could all go wrong, it's still tipping in the right direction. Men are being dragged out of the shadows from their sexual assault allegations. Let's just reboot America with all women. It is possible to get justice, it may not be easy, it may be hard--but it's worth it. On election night 2017, we saw a big sweep of first timer candidates take office, and not just any candidates, they're hella diverse. I've always been a huge optimist, even when things go south, mainly because I need faith to keep me pushing.

There's this energy in the air that tells me we're almost there. What that means, I'm not entirely sure yet, but I've learned to trust my intuition on more than one occasion. I believe in the power of prayer, friendship, music, laughing, cooking, and of course, rest. Without sounding dramatic, the reckoning is here. If you've been waiting for a sign, this is it. Take what's yours, do that project and envision even bigger for yourself. We're on the cusp of greatness, righteous leaders, and better representation. 

There are good things happening, and I'm not looking over my shoulder anymore to see if something bad is about to happen. 

Photo by Tory Corless ( @VqNCVqNC )

Photo by Tory Corless (@VqNCVqNC)

Grounding

Sometimes I'm amazed at myself. I somehow manage to survive and wake up everyday when I sometimes have the wackiest schedule. It's funny, it's almost like I purposely do this to myself to see how far I can test my limits. 

After a really busy two weeks, I took some time this weekend and grounded myself. I did things to pull me back into my orbit. I had deep, intimate conversations. I sleuthed around and truly listened. I took public transportation to literally just people watch. I went to a comedy show by myself. I ate a burrito on the sidewalk. I looked at vintage art. I taught yoga and I took a yoga class. I did what I wanted.

I had this running quote going through my mind, "my NO has more power than their yes". 

Say no more. Ground yourself first. Be selfish with your time. Express gratitude when you sincerely feel it. Cry. Yell. Take deep breaths. Demand what you deserve.

The world is not well right now, do your part to make it better.

Self Love Affirmations

There is nothing better than walking away from an event full of women of color and feeling (emotionally) full. 

This past week I got back into my routine after being away for work/vacation. It is hard when you get off your routine. Your whole aura shifts, things slip through the cracks, and your health is something that suffers. For me, I immediately recognized this and put everything on hold. I cleaned, I cooked, and drank all the green juice my body could hold. I journaled and planned and taught yoga. I went back to what made me feel whole. 

I heard this quote recently on a podcast, "Give light and people will find the way". I had a vision about You Good, Sis years ago, I just didn't know what it was yet. I wanted to be in a space with people like me sharing something that was not usually meant for us. The wellness world is awfully white and it can be hard to find something to catch onto when you don't see yourself there. Going through yoga teacher training made me realize I have the onus to make a difference in this world, or at least a dent.

Our theme was Self Care and it is something that I constantly have to remind myself daily--I am worthy of love. We talked about self care practices and how to incorporate them into our lives. We also made mental clarity rollers with essential oils and bonded over how something so simple can make a huge impact in our day to day. Saying no is powerful, you are your number one priority, and lavender makes us all happy.

I hope you all have a great week. Affirm yourself, always.

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Thank You, Universe

If you have ever met me, you know I am a strong-willed (okay stubborn) person. I like to put on many hats. I like to provide for others. If you tell me your birthday, ten months later when it happens I will show up with cookies (ask my coworkers about this). I like to feel needed, but I don't need the acknowledgement from it.

I find it very hard to ask for help sometimes--I'm used to doing things on my own. A lesson that continues to unfold for me this year is that the Universe will always provide. I used to shy away from asking my friends to do something to support me, I didn't want to bother them. Fuck that. If you are pursuing your aspirations, if you are starting a new project, if you are embarking on a new adventure--let your circle know! You will not know the bounties until you ask for it! 

A few months ago, I attended a book lecture and signing by Jessamyn Stanley at the Boston Public Library. I was two months post yoga teacher training graduation and itching to figure out how I could help women of color expand their presence in the wellness world. By chance, I walked down to the front to find a seat and by the end of the night I ended up meeting my new business partner, Jaylee. We decided to co found a space for black and brown women to check in mentally, spiritually and physically. We call ourselves, You Good, Sis? We launched our social media presence a little over a week ago and I have been floored by the support. Friends of friends are liking and sharing our platform, signing up in pairs to bring their partners to our first event. We knew something like this was needed, but the numbers of folks telling us that is truly proves the importance of what we are hoping to cultivate. 

Putting yourself out there can be hard--I get it! We are still in the very early stages of this new project, but the energy behind it encourages me to continue to move forward. When I met Jaylee in early June, I had no idea that this is what would come out of this partnership. The Universe provides when you have set yourself up. Imagine the life you want, set yourself up for that day by day. The power is already within you to achieve everything you want. Note, this does not mean that you are going to do this all on your own--in fact, it may mean leaning on your circle to help you out and that's okay! 

What are you wanting to cultivate? What are your goals to see that next idea take off? Who are the people in your life that you know will help support and elevate you to your success? In turn, don't forget about these folks, you never know when you turn around and lift them up as well.

I feel as though I'm sitting on the edge of something amazing about to happen--thank you, Universe.

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Vibrations

I'm all about the vibrations lately. I'm noticing what colors I'm drawn to, what essential oils lift me up, what energy I attract from others.

This past week I got to see my forever First Lady, Michelle Obama and Issa Rae within 4 hours of each other. They both spoke to the notion of being your authentic self and leading with grace. Women like them--women like me--weren't supposed to make it this far. In fact, some of us haven't. We have to be twice as good in every aspect of our life to barely scratch the surface. The fight to get ahead is a sense of survival for us. Everything we do, every move we make, is carefully calculated. We will leave our mark on this world in hopes of making it better for our future generations.

I commit to finding vibrations that seek to elevate me to a higher purpose. There are a lot of things in this world that are fighting to bring me down, make me feel worthless, wanting me to fail. I won't fall prey to them. I commit to a daily meditation practice to help me feel grounded and think clearly. I commit to nourishing my body with foods that will sustain and energize me. I commit to only speaking positive affirmations. I commit to treating others with kindness and directness. I commit to putting myself first, in everything. I commit to making the world a better place.

With fall comes a whole new season. Find something that will help lift you up and in turn, lift up others. Find your vibration, tune into your frequency--change your outlook.

Take a Knee

Our current president is a jackass, a white supremacist and unfit to lead. Hurricanes are wreaking havoc to nations that have less than we do. Citizens are arguing over the fact that reporters should not be political, athletes should stick to sports, etc. Sometimes it's too much. It's extremely frustrating to go through your day to day with this all looming in your background. You may try and disassociate but realize by doing this your silence only helps exacerbate the situation. I'm speaking specifically to white folk when I write this: do better. Don't be an ally, be an accomplice. What good are your sentiments behind a screen (I realize the irony of me writing this)? Recognize that identity politics will not go away and you have to learn to understand them to produce a better future. 

I think every day I wake up and shock myself that I'm still surprised that certain events still happen. Crooked cops shooting unarmed black men and women, black trans women, and young black children. 45 tweeting out policies as if that's how government works. Events like Charlottesville happening while straight cis white men complain about their identity being trampled on. 

This week I spoke to the notion of being present and letting yourself just be. As important as it is to take breaks and replenish, you also have to fight. Take a knee in all aspects of your life. When you notice a racist comment, call it out. When you know better, do better (thank you for this Maya Angelou). If you don't know the answer, do the research. Ask questions respectfully. 

Weeks like these will continue to happen. Sustain yourself by being around people who fill you up. Protest (safely). Give donations when you can. Educate yourself always. Take a break from Twitter. Watch shows that make you feel good. 

Take a knee, always.

Photo taken by Tory Corless ( @VQnCVQnC )

Photo taken by Tory Corless (@VQnCVQnC)

What I Know For Sure

Like most people, I'm a big fan of Oprah. America's first black billionaire, created her own TV network, huge philanthropist--the one with all the knowledge. I started reading her book What I Know For Sure this week and the biggest lesson I've gotten from it so far is "I’m working on not letting people with dark energy consume any of my minutes on this earth. . . . What I know for sure is that how you spend your time defines who you are.”

This line deeply resonated with me. This past week, I got to see my best friend before she ventured off overseas to pursue her own journey. It's so inspiring to have people like that in my life and it encourages me to pursue my own dreams. What lights you on fire? What are you needing to do right now to achieve your ultimate goal? What have you been given and what can you do with it to change the world? 

Sometimes I definitely get caught up with projects, goals, and the inevitable feeling of burnout. I'm a huge big picture person, so it's hard for me to focus on the little details that will help me reach my goal. I get so overwhelmed and then frustrated and think that I've failed in some major way. What I'm forgetting to realize is that my cup is already full. I have a lot of abundance in my life, so whenever I start to feel small or not enough, I need to bring myself back to the place of wholeness. 

What I know for sure is that I love my job, I love teaching yoga, I love my morning rituals, I love discovering to heal my body through natural remedies, I love spending a Saturday afternoon hanging out with those that fill me up. What I know for sure is that I'm still growing, I'm still becoming the amazing woman I'm meant to be--the amazing woman that my ancestors have spent years whispering into existence. 

Rose Colored Glasses

"You know, it's funny; when you look at someone through rose colored glasses, all the red flags just look like flags." Wanda the Owl, BoJack Horseman Season 2

 

Sometimes your favorite nonsensical TV shows throw heavy knowledge at you. There's something about going through a process and being so excited or potentially jaded that you put up automatic blinders. You fail to recognize what may be tumbling around you and focus only what you think is going well. You're looking at a situation through rose colored glasses and fail to notice the red flags. How many times have you been on the other side of a situation and your hindsight immediately kicks in? You fell gullible to the situation hoping that it would work out in your favor. 

Last week I had the immense pleasure of being in the bridal party of a very close friend. Seeing the genuine look on the bride and groom's face when they saw each other for the first time that day as husband and wife was emotional. It let me reflect on my own life and things I'm grateful for, people I'm grateful for, experiences I'm grateful for. I carried that with me going into my week and offered my students the intention of really basking in the happiness of beginnings. Take everything in as it is when it's presented to you. Don't look for more or less, just let it be. Putting on your blinders ruins things for you in the long run--this is solid advice for life, relationships (platonic/romantic) and jobs. 

Later on this week I attended the Lesbians Who Tech Summit in NYC. It's the first conference of its kind. A community of 25,000 badass queer women** and their allies gather for a few days to talk inclusiveness, technology, and queerness! Being in safe spaces like that always makes me feel inspired and excited for the future. The biggest line I look away from Leanne Pittsford (founder and CEO of LWT), was that "Having quotas just changes the criteria".  To be truly inclusive and have those who are QPOC in any industry, we should absolutely create quotas for that--change your criteria! It makes your company better, it makes your staff better, it makes you better. Do this for your life too, set your standards so that you have the best, diverse folks around you to support you, to help you, to challenge you for the better. As Maya Angelou once said, when you know better, do better. 

There are times in our lives where we constantly have the rose colored glasses on, we fail to see the red flags, mistakenly thinking that they're just regular flags. Take them off. Recognize what is in front of you, confront it, destroy it, move on. Trust your intuition, talk to your closest friends, establish those bonds, make those boundaries.

 

**anyone and allies are welcome to LWT**


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Gratitude

This has been quite the week. The Total Solar Eclipse was an amazing sight to see and witness. The energy alone from the eclipse left me exhausted but also hungry to be more forthright with what I want and put energy into projects I've been talking about doing forever. I cut off relationships (professional and otherwise) that no longer served my need. I invested in tools and persons that will continue to sustain me and my system.

My theme this week was all about gratitude. Gratitude for yourself can be often overlooked. We do things day to day and never really stop to appreciate that all ten of my fingers are functioning as I type this right now. I neglect hearing what my heart or body may be screaming at me and do the exact opposite. Expressing gratitude for yourself can be as simple as acknowledging where you are at in your physical or mental (meditation) practice. Maybe you put energy into projects you've held off on for a bit. Find something to express to yourself that you are grateful for who you are and who you will continue to be. 

We're coming up on a time where you can truly get things done if you focus. Future you will be happy that you made responsible choices, choose yourself first and put the work in. Connect with your Throat Chakra (Vishudda) and come into the balance of knowing that the spiritual forces will guide you every step of the way. If you're able to meditate with crystals, I'd recommend a clear rose quartz as it brings clarity. I offer you the mantra "I honor my own life path" as you find yourself willing and able to find yourself grounded.

Practice gratitude daily and the blessings will follow. Know that you are an unbreakable source that will only continue to pour out love and kindness for others by first renewing yourself. 

Photo taken by Tory Corless ( @VQnCVQnC )

Photo taken by Tory Corless (@VQnCVQnC)

Shift Your Perspective

I've never been someone to shy away from new experiences. You can't really tell, but I actually hate change unless I'm in control of it. Even when I am in control of the process, I still can be iffy about drastic changes like big moves, new hairstyle, or even just taking a different route. I'll push myself into certain circumstances that are not in my comfort zone because I know it'll be good for me. 

My Senior year of high school was five years ago. I applied to six schools and they were all United Methodist affiliated--this was my comfort zone. (except for UTK). Of the six schools I applied to, five were out of state. I felt that I had done my time with Tennessee and I was ready to get out and not join the majority of my graduating class at the big, state school three hours away. I chose a school five hours driving distance from my house and it was relatively small. Every time I would come back to TN to visit or stay for breaks it always felt like a huge reunion and I'm happy to say it hasn't changed. Sure, we've got a degree or two under our belts, have actual salaried jobs, don't live in our parent's house and are living adult lives--but the dynamic hasn't changed one bit. It's what makes coming home exciting and endearing. 

This past week I was in my hometown for a myriad of reasons and walked away feeling restored and simultaneously tired (yeah, I'm still trying to figure that out myself). I was able to take a few yoga classes and reflect on the upcoming eclipse. There's a lot of changes going on for folks right now, I'm sure. New jobs, new friendships, new beginnings--some aspect of your life probably could use some attention. An idea I'm toying around with after hearing it as an intention was to see things through the lens of love. Whenever we walk into a new situation we absolutely have the control to let it be positive or negative. There's a lesson to be learned with everything and I'm encouraging everyone to look at situations going forward in a more positive way. Count your blessings, every day. It's very cliché to say all of this but it's still important. In every situation you're in there will be something for you to rejoice. Being uncomfortable or not having your way is just your ego getting in the way--emotions are just your ego in motion. Recognize this whenever you start to feel off centered and shift your perspective to see through a lens of love instead. 

This is a trying time with Nazi's, 45 and just other things that make me want to pull my hair out daily. Know when you can protest and know when you need to take a break. Protests aren't your thing? Awesome, continue to keep yourself educated without tearing your hair out. You know what you need best--but also know you can't be silent. 

Take things back to the basics, replenish yourself, focus on the energy of love and I can't see why you won't have at least a decent week. Affirm yourself however you need and then go from there. 

Photo taken by Tory Corless ( @VQnCVQnC )

Photo taken by Tory Corless (@VQnCVQnC)

Humanity

Intersectionality, white supremacy, nuclear weapons...just a few things on my mind this week. 

I think it can be vey easy to get caught up in your day to day and try to avoid other worldly things. Unfortunately (or maybe fortunately) for me, I work in politics. It is part of my job to continue to scroll through Twitter, have Google alerts on for certain races, and listen to political podcasts to keep up with the times. Sometimes, that can be too much. Sometimes, it's totally fine to not look on social media for a day. Sometimes, it's okay to get back in touch with your humanity. 

Earlier this week I was blessed enough to see a panel with Kimberlé Crenshaw and Keith Ellison as they talked about the intersectionality of media dealing with politics. For those that don't know, Crenshaw is the person to thank for giving a name to intersectional feminism and what it means to experience discrimination at the intersection of being black and being a woman. It was humbling to be in that crowd and watch her talk about something I've become so identified with. No less than 24 hours later, the news about Charlottesville, VA broke and I once again felt defeated. 

Black woman really showed up and showed out for Hillary Clinton in November 2016. We canvassed, we made phone calls, we donated, we gave our time, sweat and tears--for what? How many times do I need to feel like this? Helpless? Every time I see a new hashtag of another black life lost, it feels as though a whip is hitting my back. Every time I see the actions of a white supremacist go unchallenged, it feels as though the work of my ancestors meant nothing. The fact that my humanity is quite literally threatened every day takes a toll. It's a different meaning to walk into work and have someone ask how I'm doing. Oh yeah, doing great, just a looming threat of a nuclear war on top of me already fearing for my life because of the color of my skin. 

It's a lot to unpack. Throughout my week I always try and find time to connect back to myself. Last week, I gave my classes the intention of releasing things that no longer work, this week I focused on what you need from yourself to reconnect. I didn't know going into this week that the world would yet again flip upside down, but that's the funny thing about life. When the world seems like it's crashing down around you, it's absolutely okay to log off, reconnect and do what you need to fulfill yourself. Not every fight needs to have you there. Burn out is real and you need to always make sure you have a good self care system that nourishes you and sustains you. We're in a pretty long fight. Recognize that wherever you show up, you bring years of ancestors in the room with you. Know that they're there to help when you may be too weary. Know that it's okay to pretend the world doesn't exist, even if only for an hour.

As the respected, civil rights activists Mother Pollard once said, "My feet is tired, but my soul is rested." Know when you need to rest and know when you need to fight.

To the non black folks in my life, recognize your privilege and know your place. It will never be my job to educate you on every single black thing or your racism/discrimination. Know when to show up and know when to shut up.

Peace and blessings going into your week friends. Keep your head up. 

Photo taken by Tory Corless ( @VQnCVQnC )

Photo taken by Tory Corless (@VQnCVQnC)

Release

This week I was given the amazing opportunity to focus all my energy on releasing certain habits, things, and people I was holding on to for my own breakthrough. I used that intention and presented it to my students who took my classes this past weekend.

I was in D.C. earlier in the week for a work training on how to become a manager who "changes the world". It was nice to collaborate with others who also work in a progressive field and we all felt the pressure-especially with the current administration. I came back feeling inspired on good hiring practices and how to be the best manager one can be! There are certainly days where I feel like my job is harder than most, but sometimes just recognizing where the frustration is coming from helps shift my perspective and find the good. On Friday, I met up with a friend to talk yoga and how we can make it more accessible to black women and what that would look like. I can't wait to reveal the news to you all, but just know for now that something amazing is going to happen for black women in the Boston area.

If you know me, you know that I actually hate flying. I'm very much a person that feels that they need to be in control of every situation possible. With flying, I can't really do that. I just have to sit there and tremble every time turbulence happens. I can't listen to music, I can't have a conversation, I must absolutely have a window seat so I can see myself tumble to death if the plane ever crashes. It's dramatic, I know--but you would probably feel the same if you had a near death plane experience in Nigeria at 15 years old (ask my mom about this). I made myself make a list of August intentions. I want to meditate every day for 5 minutes, I want to be more mindful about my food (chew slowly), I want to drink 3 liters of water a day and I want to communicate effectively. My flight had been delayed Thursday night for roughly 3 hours. I was getting frustrated and knew there was absolutely nothing I could do. We're finally in the air and that is when turbulence hits. I start to clench the arm rest, say my mantra and look out the window. It hit me that I hadn't meditated yet that day. I pulled out my phone and put on the podcast The Breathing Club. They talk about yoga, meditation and all things in between. I put on the Grounding Meditation episode and closed my eyes. Ten minutes passed and I finished the meditation and felt way more calm than before. I released what was holding me back and allowed myself to focus on my breathing, connect myself to my root chakra and for a minute there I didn't even realize I was in a huge aircraft thousands of feet in the air. 

There are times when I'm sure you get frustrated or angry at a situation. Maybe right now you're going through that. Friends, it's eclipse season. Recognize what is not serving you and let it go. If something is already straining, cut it off. If you want to cultivate something, put energy towards it. Meditate, cry, laugh, dance--do what you need to breakthrough and find your best self and live your best life. 

Photo taken by Tory Corless ( @VQnC)

Photo taken by Tory Corless (@VQnC)