Girls Empowering Girls

The first time I realized there was a holiday dedicated to the mere celebrate of women was when I was 10 years-old in Johannesburg, South Africa. I went to a local museum and was handed a white rose from the security guard. It’s my lucky day he told me. My face lit up with equal amounts of enthusiasm, confusion and honor. Lucky to be a woman, he said. What a remarkable sentence to tell a 10-year old.

Today, on March 8th, we celebrate International Women’s Day. We root loudly for the women who birthed us, raised us and empowered us. We also use this day as a reminder to root for ourselves too.

One of the greatest glimpses of life is to see women supporting each other. With no traces of envy. It’s a simple pleasure to watch women unapologetically root for each other in the most authentic fashion. Because your friend’s successes will never take away from your own. There is room on the pedestal of life for all of us.

It’s easy to live this life for yourself. It’s easy to aimlessly go throughout your day only keeping you in mind. But it’s another thing to constantly be the person that thinks of others first. To have generosity and kindness seep into every relationship and interaction. Today’s an opportunity to spread some love to others, to other women.

Today, I challenge you to do one of the following:

  • Text a woman you admire and tell her why.
  • Educate yourself on a remarkable woman in history you’ve never heard of before.
  • Compliment a woman you don’t know.
  • Hold the door open for a woman.
  • Go out of your way to schedule one-on-one time with a girlfriend. Ask them how they’re doing. Ask them what they’re passionate about. Pull out the champagne and celebrate whatever tiny victory they have had lately.
  • Shop at a women-owned business. Washington, DC, here’s your list.
  • Surprise your best girlfriend with a gift and a note. A simple reminder that what they’re doing is beautiful and is right.
  • Try, for just one day, to have everything you say about other women be positive. Even if everyone around is saying otherwise.

Now, it’s time to celebrate.

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That’s all for now.

XOXO,

B

It’s Time to Slow Down

In search of some creative agency and a chance to finally slow down, I ran away to New York City this weekend. Which may seem ironic to go to THE city of all cities to find slowness but nonetheless, I found it and I held on to it with every fiber of my being.

 

 

Admits wandering the city with absolutely no reservations, incredibly long meals and being tucked away in my friend’s apartment while it poured down rain, I was present. My mental state was craving to just slow down. To be in an environment where everyone was at peace with doing nothing. No to-do lists, no alarms, no pressure, no rants about what needed to get done. Just people invested in who and what was in front of them. 

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It’s sooooooo easy to get caught up in the busyness of it all, I mean how is it already March this week? Someone, please tell me what happened in February? I feel as if I was robbed of it.

Our culture feeds off being busy. We have romanticized the idea of running out of minutes in a day. We’ve glamorized the #nosleep life. And somewhere along the way we’ve convinced ourselves that the more you have on your calendar, the more accomplished you are.

And I am here to call bullshit. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

I want to bring back the art of slowing down. Make it a trend. Put it on Pinterest. Print it on t-shirts. Turn it into a hashtag.

#timetoslowdown

#slowingdownissexy

As a 20-something of the western world and as a college student, I have become inundated with the narrative that we are supposed to be on our “grind” right now. That being consumed with something at all hours is normal if not expected. That to work as many hours as humanly possible means we’ll reach “success” faster.

But I firmly believe that that’s a major fault or oversight of my generation and of my peers. We’ve been consumed with this idea that being busy is right. And being slow and having a relaxed schedule is lazy.

But we’ve forgotten that it’s in those moments where you have nothing planned and simply invested with what is right in front of you that life’s most remarkable moments happen. That happiness is found.

It’s not romantic to respond ‘busy’ when people want to spend time with you. And it surely is not romantic to consume yourself with school/work/internship/stuff that you forget to take care of your own mental wellbeing.

No homework assignment, no internship, no extracurricular activity is worth sacrificing your mental health let alone your ability to be present.

We’ve become obsessed with going and going and going that we forgot how to just be still.

We look at time as an opportunity to squeeze in as much as possible yet forget to evaluate the quality of how we spend our time.

And even if we are “out here grinding” (as the kids say these days), it is up to us to be intentional about seeking out those moments of stillness, of being present.

I need to remember to give myself permission to say no to extracurriculars, to extra meetings, to extra responsibilities. And instead, say yes to the things and people who make me excited about life. 

My goal for myself is to intentionally seek out the,

  • Three hour long dinners over life talks and red wine
  • Drinking my morning coffee out of an actual mug on my porch instead out of a to-go cup
  • Meditating
  • A full nights sleep
  • Long day-hikes with my best friends
  • Weekend adventures and long car rides
  • Sunset and sunrise viewing parties
  • Night walks to digest the day

I want to find the small moments of joy and just be. And maybe even shed a to-do list or two. It’ll all get done in time. This life is so short and is never a guarantee, it’d be a disservice to be too busy to enjoy it.

Don’t let busy win. Let’s make slowing down go viral.

 

That’s all for now,

XOXO,

B

 

 

February Intentions – Love Yourself

January is always a hard one. I mean yes, it’s alllllllll about starting over, about starting the year fresh and that’s amazing…But with all that good stuff comes a whole lot of pressure, the pressure to start the new year just right, to start the new year perfect. It’s (let’s be honest) a little bit overwhelming.

And if you’re anything like me, you might have let that pressure win in January. The holiday celebrations lasted a little bit longer than anticipated. Sooo many dang celebrations. I moved back to Washington, DC and let the busyness of life take over all aspects. I was busy packing. Busy unpacking. Busy starting new classes. Busy reconnecting with friends. I made excuses (to myself) for not going to yoga. And maybe forgot to workout for a week or two or maybe even longer. Oops. Like I said, I was busy.

There was a lot happening that life simply got the best of me. And before I knew it I was too focused on my to-do list that I forgot about my new year intentions.

And that’s okay. Because now we have February. 28 days to make up for the past 31.

And that’s why I like February. I l-o-v-e the month of February. It’s cute. And I’m a sucker for cute. It’s an entire 28-days filled with overpriced chocolate and Hallmark love stories. It’s a month full of cliches and more importantly, it’s a month where the pressure to be perfect, where the pressure to adhere to all your unrealistic resolutions don’t exist.

My mantra for February is to love my body and love myself, intentionally, ambitious, enthusiastically and confidently.

And my intentions follow that manta because consistency is the golden ticket to this thing that we call life,

February Intentions

  • Give your body some love and eliminate food that doesn’t serve you (sorry dairy, it’s time for a break unless you’re in the form of fancy cheese because cheese plates are love for the soul)
  • Turn off electronics at 10 pm (go to sleep earlier, get your zzz’s)
  • Drink more water
  • Go to one new spot in DC once a week, even if you go alone (make a list and start crossing off places you’ve always wanted to go)
  • Don’t be so hard on yourself
  • Trust your gut but also love your gut (start taking probiotics)
  • Write. Write. Write. (post weekly on the blog)
  • Practice yoga 3x/week

Keeping it simple this month. Sometimes you just need simple reminders to get yourself back on track. So, let’s all commit to treating ourselves right this month without all the “new year, new me” pressure.

That’s all for now,

 

XOXO,

B

The Not So Pretty Guide to Self-Care

Self-care or self-love isn’t always pretty.

I mean yes it’s pretty to take a bath on Sunday morning, drinking a matcha latte. Just like it’s pretty to read Rupi Kaur, eating an acai bowl sipping green tea. It’s pretty to eat cinnamon rolls in bed, popping champagne before noon. It’s pretty to stay in on a Friday night binge watching This is Us.

 

 

I do it. I love it. And I have no shame. You probably do it too.

We call it self-care (which it is) and we feel pretty damn good about it. We give ourselves a pat on the back. And no, there is nothing wrong with that.

But self-care is a little more than just Lush bath bombs and Anthropologie candles. It’s more than the aesthetically pleasing aspects of life. (**cue the big huge sigh)

So, let’s be real for a second. Just me and you.

Let’s finally talk about the self-care that doesn’t make the Instagram. Or the to-do lists. Or doesn’t actually take place because it’s not always fun or cute or exciting.

Self-love is facing the uncomfortable parts of life sometimes. The parts of growing up that we all love to ignore. The part that feels like dirty laundry; hidden, tucked away and sometimes ignored for days (weeks) at a time

The gynecology appointments, the dentist check-ups.

Doing your own taxes, learning to do your own taxes.

Removing your makeup before bed.

Packing your lunch the night before.

Spend time working to better your friendships. Don’t let them slip away so easily.

Getting yourself out of a toxic relationship. Or toxic friendship.

That’s really what self-care is all about. It’s about putting yourself first.

Refilling your prescriptions. Flossing your teeth. Consistently.

Finally not punishing your body by working out and instead finding a workout you *actually* enjoy.

Washing your sheets every other week. Separating your colors from your whites.

That’s self-care too.

What about that pap smear? That test (us ladies) are supposed to get after we turn 21-years old? Let’s schedule that appointment today.

Taking a break from alcohol because we all need a break from alcohol sometimes. Whether you’re 35 or 21, we all could benefit from taking a week or two or three off.

Drinking eight glasses of water a day.

Practicing consistency. In all parts of life.

Getting tested. The tests that everyone likes to joke about but no likes to actually partake in. The tests that we all like to pretend we don’t need because we’re invincible right? Let’s make those appointments too.

That’s all self-care.

And don’t get me wrong. I love to buy myself a $5 bouquet of light pink roses from Safeway and put a face mask on. But we need more than that. Self-love is about loving yourself which means taking care of ourselves. It’s not always pretty but that doesn’t mean we don’t deserve it.

 

That’s all for now,

XOXO,

B

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The 2018 Vision

As we praise 2017 for Khalid’s precious voice making us feel reminiscent of our high school prom date during our morning drives, for portrait mode for making everyone feel like the beautiful model they are and for oat milk because I’m currently drinking an oat milk hot chocolate and all feels right in the world. 

It’s time to say goodbye. Goodbye to 2017.

Now, it’s time to talk about resolutions, we all make them. We all commit to them for three weeks and then come March we realize we forgot what they even were in the first place. Right? Right.

So, this year I’m doing things a little different. I’m making a 2018 vision backed with intentions. These aren’t goals like lose 15 pounds, eat completely organic or workout 4x/week because there’s a pretty big (100%) chance that I won’t do those things. And I don’t really want to feel bad about myself if I don’t do them.

Instead, I’m making a vision for my year. A vision that can be altered or changed as life happens. A vision backed with intentions to guide me and direct me into the next 365 days and I’m posting it on the internet so I don’t 1. Forget where it is 2. Hold myself accountable. 

My 2018 Vision

My vision board,

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My 2018 words,

Respect (respect for myself, commanding respect from others, respecting my body, respecting my time and others time)

Positivity (surrounding myself with positive people, seeking out the positive in every situation)

Creativity (finding creative outlets, seeking out creative projects or hobbies, writing more, taking more pictures, making more videos)

My 2018 intentions, 

  • Mental Health ≥ Physical Health
  • Prioritize and plan quality one-on-one time with people you’re closest with, there’s only a semester left of college and we all know that time goes by way too fast (dinner parties, weekend trips, dates!)
  • You are beautiful. Tell yourself that every day until you believe it.
  • Say goodbye to people who aren’t your champions, who don’t empower you, who don’t celebrate you for who you are, who don’t want quality time with you, who aren’t throwing positivity out into the world.
  • Learn to do a handstand.
  • Give big (or little) decisions 24-hours before you say yes (or maybe even say no for once?)
  • Drink more water and eat less dairy (your stomach will thank you)
  • PET A BABY GOAT
  • Learn to have/love mornings rituals (early morning workouts, coffee dates with a good book, long walks in the neighborhood, journal writing)
  • Climb more mountains.
  • Write consistently on the blog.
  • Graduate college.
  • Read more books written by women of color (continue to learn from people who have different perspectives and identities than you)
  • Don’t apologize for being yourself. Do apologize for unintentionally hurting someone. Your soul, your spirit, your sparkle are not meant to be tamed.
  • Love hard and embrace your sensitivity, that’s who you are and that’s okay.
  • Say no to stuff and yes to experiences.
  • You don’t need to find your dream job at 21 years-old or even 23 years-old.
  • Remember that your success will look different than your friends or your peer’s success. Envy isn’t cute or flattering. 
  • Let yourself be young because you (in fact) are young, sometimes mistakes are just lessons with a little (a lot) bit of embarrassment attached. 
  • Think outside the box when seeking employment and apply to things you don’t think you’re qualified for.
  • Treat everyone (baristas, grocery store clerks, classmates) with nothing but absolute kindness. We all have the power to make someone’s day.
  • Keep your expectations low and your dreams infinite.

 

That’s all for now beautiful friends,

 

XOXO,

B

How to be Mindful

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If I could create one class in college that everyone would have to take it’d be a class on mindfulness and self-care. On learning how to reflect, prioritize ourselves, love ourselves and take the time to stop and be intentional about how we proceed forward.

As we all know too well, the daily little things that make up life can be stressful. It’s easy to complain about the little things and the big things without understanding how that pessimistic perspective seeps in and changes our physical and mental capacity to be happy.

When we aimlessly go through life, taking on the stress, accepting the complaining and not slowing down we’re allowing ourselves to lose control of who we are, how we act and how we see the world.

My story.

My sophomore year of college I was constantly sick. I had heart problems which resulted in far too many trips to the cardiologists and a heart monitor. I had a cold that never went away. A sore throat that never healed. And I could never fall asleep.

I was also interning 3 days a week, babysitting on the weekends, taking leadership positions in two different organizations and taking a full class load. I felt obligated to go to every social event, every party and accept every invite that I was given. I was constantly stressed. I was overwhelmed. But I thought that was how college was, I thought that doing the “most” and being the busiest was deemed as successful and encouraged, I thought it was normal.

What I learned was that I was making myself sick. It wasn’t the weather, allergies or an unfortunate case of genetics. It was myself. I was too stressed out and I wasn’t taking any time to care for myself. In other words, I wasn’t being mindful. I didn’t even know what mindful meant then.

After a not-so-kind talk with my doctor, I realized that I was the only person or thing that could change how I felt. I was the only person that had the capability to change what was happening. It is my responsibility to live a life that I enjoyed and it was only going to change if I was intentionally striving to be better, healthier and happier.

So, I did less. I went on a journey, not an easy one but a rewarding one, to find peace in giving myself time to just be me, with no obligation to anything else. It’s a journey I will always be on.

I decided I needed to slow down. Way down. I needed to breathe and acknowledge what was happening so I could actually enjoy the things I was doing instead of simply doing them and then moving on to the next.

I started to prioritize time to do things that make me happy. Whether that is writing in my favorite coffee in Georgetown or going on a run to watch the sunset at the monuments. I schedule time for myself. And sometimes I prioritize that time over my assignments, work or friendships because I realize that in order to do my best in class, in relationships and in life, I have to feel my best. And in order to feel my best, I need to make time to be mindful.

By being mindful, by practicing mindfulness I was able to get healthy, to physically feel good in my own body. I also found myself happier. I found myself craving positivity and shaming negativity. I found myself discovering what I loved and what I could go without. I found myself content with the present. I found comfort in the uncomfortable and peace in hectic situations. And most importantly, I found myself not stressed. No matter crazy life was, I found myself centered amidst it all.  

I realized that I didn’t need to do what is perceived as normal if I wasn’t genuinely happy doing so.

And while I hope no one comes to the conclusion that mindfulness is a necessity because you are physically ill from stress, I do encourage you to try to be mindful, to relieve yourself from stress and strive toward a more positive and happy life (as cliche as that may sound).

To me, being mindful can look like a lot of different things.

Here are some things that I do to be mindful,

Intentions.

I’ve found a lot of comfort in setting intentions. An intention is a hope/promise you make to yourself that will lead you in how you proceed forward. Each month I make my coffee, pull out my notebook and physically write down a couple intentions that I want to lead me through the next month. When I’m done, I keep them in my planner so I’m reminded of them every day. They can be as simple as,

“Find comfort in where you are and who you are with right now”

“Don’t succumb to gossip”

“Run four times a week”

“Go somewhere new in DC once a week”

“Seek out positivity, always”

“Assume good intentions”

“Drink five water bottles a day”

I’ve also used intentions to guide any trip or adventure I go on. Before I go I write down (on my phone or in a journal) the intentions I want to take with me on the trip. I remind myself of them throughout.

It’s also an amazing thing to share with people or as a building block in a relationship. Set intentions in the car or on an anniversary and hold each other accountable.

Reflection.

You can’t set intentions without reflecting on them afterward. The biggest part of self-care and mindfulness is the ability to reflect on how you are feeling and what you are doing. Take time to go over your intentions, whether that’s at the end of the month or end of a trip. Did you follow through with any? Why or why not? Use this to move forward and set new intentions. One thing I’ve learned is that if you don’t do all the intentions you hoped, that’s not failing. You don’t need to feel guilty. Instead, use that as a chance to grow and learn about yourself.

I favorite type of reflection is high, low, high. After each month, trip or adventure I always find a high of the month/trip, a low and another high. I use those to guide my future intentions and (most importantly) to remind myself to be appreciative and grateful for how life is going because we all know it’s easy to get stuck on the low’s and forget about all the high’s.

Time for yourself.

This is the most important. Find time for yourself. Find things you enjoy and prioritize them. Look at them like a meeting (that you would never miss) with yourself. This could be a Netflix movie, a walk, yoga, a meditation session, a hike or just a coffee date with yourself where you write or read. Find time to escape from your obligations, your to-do list, your work and just be present with yourself.

 

 

 

That’s all for now,

 

XOXO,

B

 

Let’s be Fearless

In my yoga class this morning, my best friend who just so happened to be the instructor, reminded the class to be fearless and to take risks because the worst thing that could happen is that you fail or fall and then start over. The comfort and validity in her voice worked. Every student in that class worked harder. You could feel the motivation dripping out of us. We all reached some new level of success during that class this morning, on own terms.

I needed this reminder. Badly. Fiercely. Desperately. I needed the reminder that being fearless is encouraged and warranted. And not just during yoga class this morning, I needed it for this year. So, thanks to my best friend and one very sweaty yoga class later, I’m setting the intention of being fearless this year.

And I think you should too.

As a woman, as a college student, as a human, it can be easy to play it safe in this scary world of ours. Because safe is easy, safe is encouraged, safe is what everyone else is doing.

As a senior finishing undergrad, there is a lot of talk about what’s next. What’s next after graduation, what’s next after the last class ends, what’s next for us. There’s this assumption in our society that what you do next will determine our success, our career, and our happiness. 

It’s like there is a formula that everyone is supposed to follow in order to find success and whatever we do immediately after being handed our diploma will dictate whether we are on track or not.

There’s an unruly amount of pressure on the decision we make next as if it will set the precedent for the rest of our lives, which (if you ask me) seems a little irrational. 

There is no need to pretend that we have it all figured out, to pretend that we are perfect, to pretend that we know exactly what we want or pretend that we know exactly who we are. Because we’re constantly changing. Our passions will change, our hopes will change, our careers will change and that is okay.

Little do we find people encouraging us to make our own path, to be spontaneous, to take risks, to embrace change, to be fearless in the pursuit of finding what makes us happy, to fail and try again as we continue on a journey of finding out who we really are outside a classroom.

Because the truth is, we don’t really know what we want yet. We haven’t had the chance or time to figure it out. A 9 to 5 job in a cubicle could be what we want. Working for a non-profit in the rural south could be what we want. Traveling the world working freelance jobs could be what we want. Being a yoga instructor, a nurse or a teacher could be what we want. This is our time to figure it out, to try everything out. To try, to fail and to start all over.

And right now, this is our time to figure it out, to try everything out. To find what we like, what we don’t like. To try, to fail and to start all over.

And that is scary. The threat of failure can be scary but let’s make a promise to be fearless and not push away failure but instead embrace it. 

When I think about the person who I desire to be someday, she isn’t safe. She is fearless. She is spontaneous and driven. She is passionate about her work. She embodies authenticity and self-worth. She values kindness. She embraces creativity and desires positivity. She travels. She seeks out discomfort and worships at an opportunity of growth.

That woman will not come from doing anything safe. In order to become her, I need to be fearless, to be willing to try and willing to fail.

As I venture into the unknown that exists once I graduate this May, I’ll need to take this intention of being fearless with me. Because it takes being fearless to fail, it takes being fearless to deter away from social norms, it takes being fearless to try something new, it takes being fearless to seek out discomfort and to embrace change. 

It’d be easy to make the safe decision. To follow the masses, to succumb to the societal pressure, to do what they say and to stay inside a bubble that exudes comfortability. But that wouldn’t be fearless, would it? That would be safe.

I want to embrace failure in this next season of life, to embrace spontaneity and risk-taking, to celebrate mistakes and to cling to imperfections. Because those little, big and (maybe) massive mistakes that I stumble upon will act as the catalyst for my growth into the women that I desire to be.

As I think about what’s next, I want to set some intentions. Intentions for keeping myself accountable to being fearless throughout this next season of life:

  • If something scares you, say yes.
  • Seek out opportunities beyond your comfort zone.
  • Be creative in finding a job that suits you and your passions. Anyone, including you, can be an innovator in designing your own path.
  • It’s okay to not like something.
  • Jump with both feet.
  • Don’t follow others.
  • Embrace change with open arms.
  • Make your soul glow.
  • Act as if no one is watching, their opinions of your life will never control you.
  • Don’t you dare settle.
  • Try everything.
  • Be fearless.

That’s all for now,

XOXO,

B

August Intentions

As you probably know by now I’m a big fan of intentionality. I believe that in order to better yourself, in order to love yourself and in order to love others you have to be intentional.

One way I like to practice this is by setting intentions every month. Essentially this is like goal setting. I set aside time once a month to reflect, to set goals, to look at past goals and to physically write down using pen and paper my intentions for the upcoming month.

August is the month for summer but it’s also the month for change. It’s the transition from summer to a brand new season of fall. It means mentally preparing to head back to school. It means soaking in the last vacations. It means making the most of the moment. It means thinking ahead. It means planning for what’s next. And for me, it means moving across the country, once again.

While August does signal that summer is coming to a close, I am determined to make every spare moment count because I sure have a lot more summer left to see. This month I’m climbing South Sister, backpacking around Mount Rainier, attending a country music concert, trying new restaurants in Portland, writing more blog posts, going wine tasting and of course, doing LOTS of hiking.  

When I set intentions I try to set three types of intentions. Open-ended long term intentions, specific daily or weekly intentions and reminder-like intentions.

So here they are!

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There it is. My 10 August Intentions. Some will easy, some won’t be and that’s okay. The idea isn’t to restrict myself or feel guilty about anything that I’m doing or not doing. It’s just about being intentional about bettering who I am and the relationships I have, including the relationship I have with myself.

I encourage you to apply this exercise to your own life and if you do, let me know how it goes. I promise you that it helps. It helps you become self-aware, it helps you navigate this whole “intentionality” thing and it helps isolate concrete steps you can do this month to live a life that is for you, simply and unapologetically.

That’s all for now,

XOXO,

B