The Art of Self-Love: Protecting Your Magic as a Black Woman

The Art of Self-Love: Protecting Your Magic as a Black Woman

"How you gonna win if you ain't right within?" -Lauryn Hill
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“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.”—Audre Lorde

I’m pretty sure we can admit; black girls are the reigning queens at getting the job(s) done, hands down. We’re the nurturers day to day and we’re living busy lives, whether it be attending school, grinding at work, or taking care of others. We do these things to the best of our abilities all while dealing with life’s every day struggles, and of course societal oppression. Such women are goddesses, and quite frankly, deserve the world if you ask me. But it can seem like a daily and constant cycle of wake up, grind, take care of loved ones, sleep, repeat.

As black women, our self-care is vital. Naturally, our two sides, the nurturer in us (the gentle side that doesn’t want to let our friends and family down) and the boss in us (the fierce, get-sh*t-done-and-prevail-over-any-and-all-hurdles-towards-my-success) can prevent us from taking care of ourselves, if there isn’t a healthy balance. Where is our “middle”? I’ve talked to plenty of women who unfortunately believe that they must sacrifice their happiness in order to look out for their families, jobs, and/or education.

Now, don’t get me wrong, many fail to see that working hard is an amazing form of self love. What better way to say, “I love me”, than to put my all into getting what I deserve in the long run? However, we all know that too much of something isn’t a good thing. In fact, I am able to work hard in a more proficient manner by taking care of and loving myself. I feel like many of us fail to see that rejuvenation periods are actually major keys to success. Like Audre Lorde says, self love and care are acts of preserving who you are as an individual. Think of it as preserving your magic, like putting your skills, talents, nurturing and hardworking abilities on a charger. Just like your phone that needs charging and your car that needs fueling,

So. Do. You.

If I help myself first, I find that I actually have more energy to give into helping others and doing what I have to do, and I can do my tasks enthusiastically! We need to remember that our needs are just as important as anyone else’s. Many of us were raised to live by, “put others first” as our primary motto. There is nothing wrong with sacrifice and it is indeed necessary from time to time, but it should not involve giving up your sanity and/or happiness. If you see anything in your life taking you to a negative space, it is your duty to yourself to confront it, whether that means having a heart to heart with someone you feel is weighing you down (or distancing yourself from this person), or breaking up big tasks into smaller ones.

It is okay to say no to that party and go to sleep or have some time to yourself. There’ll be tons more parties and you’re still cool to those who matter. It’s okay to sit and have hot tea or a glass of wine with your favorite show after a long tedious day. Ma’am, it’s been a long week, and you know good and well that you are more than deserving of that candlelit bath.

So with that said, if you are reading this, remember that you are only able to give healthy love, when you love yourself. You are a queen, so treat yourself as such! I totally understand as someone who works through depression myself that it can be easier said than done, but, it is vital to remember that self love and care is a continuous practice, and is not a destination or something that you can take a day off from. Take it step by step, and make it a point to practice it each and every day. I hope the tips provided below find you well on your journey!

My Top 10 Self Love/Self Care Tips:

  • Ground yourself spiritually. My spiritual practices keep me grounded. You DO NOT have to be religious to be spiritual. Meditate, pray, do yoga, or go to church if that is for you. Create your own rituals that instill peace within you. Anything that truly resonates with your soul will do.
  • Make a vision board that embodies everything you are, that you love, and what you desire for your life. Pick out magazine clippings, photos, images, odds and ends and glue them all on to a poster board (or a cardboard box!). Hang it up where you can look at it every day.
  • When I’m feeling less than fabulous, I throw on some Erykah Badu, India Arie or Lauryn Hill. Those three always set the vibes right for me and help me vibrate higher again. And of course those are my personal faves, but just turn up some happy tunes to get you going again!

A Few Songs (of many) I’d Recommend:

  • Erykah Badu

-Didn’tcha Know

-Bag Lady

-On & On

  • Lauryn Hill

-To Zion

-Ex-Factor

-Nothing Even Matters

  • India Arie

-Beautiful

-Little Things

-There’s Hope

  • Taking your time with your day always helps, especially in the mornings. Brew/buy your favorite coffee or tea. Don’t just rush out of bed, be still and say a prayer or meditate. Take your time on your makeup. Before you leave, look yourself in the mirror and tell yourself you are beautiful and that you love yourself dearly.
  • Work out! Those feel-good endorphins are no joke! After a nice exercise routine, you’ll feel refreshed, motivated and ready to take on the world. This practice is healthy mind, body and spirit.
  • If you need to go to counseling, GO. I’m not playing. I don’t care what your father, mother, sister, auntie, or your cousin says. Please go. Your mental health comes first and FOREMOST. Many fail to see that inner issues can creep slowly but surely into aspects of our lives if they are not addressed or healed.
  • Pamper yourself! Take a bath complete with candles and soothing music, paint your nails, and/or a facial. Can’t take a bath or hate them? Invest in an all-natural body scrub to use in your morning or nightly routine. When you’re looking good, you’re feeling good. Also, I highly suggest that every woman invests in organic coconut oil for skin and haircare. The tropical scent and your smooth skin will have you feeling like a Nubian goddess within seconds.
  • Take yourself to bed earlier. Get everything taken care of and get some well deserved rest. Sleep lessens depression, irritability, as well as makes you feel ready to take on the day, not to mention retains memory for all you college gals. Put your phone ACROSS the room, drink a hot cup of tea, and focus on your breathing before you tap out.
  • Keep a journal. Journaling is a healthy way to release the thoughts and feelings we harbor throughout the day. For me, writing is my life. It continuously keeps me in tune of who I am and where I am in my life's journey. Even if it’s one line, make it your goal to write something every day. Don’t know what to write? Here are a few examples:
  • “Today, I will show myself love by_______”
  • “Two (or more) positive things that happened today are______”
  • “Tomorrow, I will create a better day by______”
  • Write down the top 3-5 things you love about yourself. If you can write more, WRITE MORE by all means! Now next to each quality, write down how you will you enhance these things, or how you will do you do better to remember these things when you’re feeling down.
  • Write a 10 sentence autobiography about yourself, containing a couple of sentences about your past, present and future each. This is a great way for you to see your legacy in plain sight, and to remember who you are and where you are headed. Hang it up or store it where you can see daily.
  • Drink PLENTY of water. Great with inner and outer properties. You’ll feel better and your skin will love you lots!

I hope you enjoyed these tips and that they aid you well on your self-love journey!

Peace and light always,

Maya

Cover Image Credit: https://blackwomenofbrazil.co/2015/09/01/from-the-first-heartbreak-to-a-nonexistent-love-life-how-my-loneliness-taught-me-self-love/

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A Love Letter To The Girl Who Cares Too Much About Everyone But Herself

This one's for you.
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You, the girl with a heart full of love and no place big enough to store it all.

Our generation is so caught up in this notion that it's "cool" not to care about anything or anyone. I know you've tried to do just that. I'm sure there was a brief moment where you genuinely believed you were capable of not caring, especially since you convinced everyone around you that you didn't. But that just isn't true, is it? Don't be ashamed of this, don't let anyone ridicule you for having emotions. After everything life has put you through you have still remained soft. This is what makes you, you. This is what makes you beautiful. You care so deeply and love so boldly and it is incredible, never let the world take this from you.

Have Your Voice Heard: Become an Odyssey Creator

You are the girl who will give and give and give until you have absolutely nothing left. Some may see this as a weakness, an inconvenience, the perfect excuse to walk all over you. I know you try to make sense of it all, why someone you cared so much about would treat you the way they did. You'll make excuses for them, rationalize it and turn it all around on yourself. You'll tell yourself that maybe just maybe they will change even though you know deep down they won't. You gave them everything you had and it still feels as if they took it all and ran. When this happens, remind yourself that you are not a reflection of those who cannot love you. The way that people treat you does not define who you are. Tell yourself this every day, over and over until it sticks. Remind yourself that you are gold, darling, and sometimes they will prefer silver and that is OK.

I know you feel guilty when you have to say no to something, I know you feel like you are letting everyone you love down when you do. Listen to me, it is not your responsibility to tend to everyone else's feelings all the time. By all means, treat their feelings with care, but remember it is not the end of the world when you cannot help them right away. Remember that it is OK to say no. You don't have to take care of everyone else all the time. Sometimes it's OK to say no to lunch with your friends and just stay home in bed to watch Netflix when you need a minute for yourself. I know sometimes this is much easier said than done because you are worried about letting other people down, but please give it a try.

With all of this, please remember that you matter. Do not be afraid to take a step back and focus on yourself. You owe yourself the same kind of love and patience and kindness and everything that you have given everyone else. It is OK to think about and put yourself first. Do not feel guilty for taking care of yourself. You are so incredibly loved even when it doesn't feel like it, please always remember that. You cannot fill others up when your own cup is empty. Take care of yourself.

Cover Image Credit: Charcoal Alley

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4 Helpful Tips To Keep You From Getting The Flu

It's not like you want to be sick.

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Every year, every change of season, it seems like the communal health of the world gets flushed down the toilet.

The turn of Spring brings allergy season, and right now, we are at the very start of flu season. According to the CDC, flu season lasts from October to sometimes as late as May, with peak activity starting usually in February.

The flu did not waste any time this year. I live in an apartment with three other girls. I am the only one to not get the flu or a flu-like illness, and it is mid-October.

It is actually possible to not get sick while in college and to not get the flu. Here are a few simple and very helpful tips.

1. Get a flu shot.

Want to not get the flu? Get the flu shot. Simple as that, for the most part. It is not a cure, but it is the best precaution you can take. Don't forget, you could still get illnesses like sinus infections or strep throat, which are other common illnesses during this time of the year. But, you got your flu shot, now what?

2. Wash your hands with soap and invest in hand sanitizer.

People aren't perfect. You aren't always going to use soap when you wash your hands. Yes, that is a little gross, but here is me reminding you to always use soap every time you wash your hands. Don't forget to invest in hand sanitizer. Think about all the handles and surfaces you touch all day long that other people have also touched all day long. Sanitize your hands and you'll thank me later.

3. Vitamin C!

Got your flu shot and washed your hands and you still feel a little sickness coming? Pick up some orange juice and even some vitamin C tablets. Last year, I could feel myself getting a little bit sick and I took a vitamin C tablet every morning for about three or fours days, and guess what? I didn't end up getting sick and felt pretty close to 100%.

4. Wipe down surfaces.

No one likes to clean their dorm room or apartment. I know that because I hate doing it, and I'll push it off as long as I can. Suck it up and grab some Lysol wipes. The best thing you can do, at least, is wipe down surfaces like countertops, tables, and door handles. If you're living with other people that are sick, they're touching all these surfaces and handles with their grubby sick hands. Wipe that stuff away!

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