What Do You Truly Believe About Yourself?

How do you know what you believe about yourself?

Pay attention to what you say out loud or to yourself when you make a mistake. Watch out for things like:

“You’re/I’m so stupid.” 

“You/I always mess things up.” 

“Of course you/I messed that up.” 

Pay attention to what you say out loud or think when you are given an opportunity.

Watch out for things like:

“I can’t believe they picked me.”

“I’m just lucky.”

“This will never happen again.”

Really evaluate what you allow people to say to you or around you. Especially friends and loved ones. There is a difference between someone who has a healthy sense of skepticism and someone who has malicious intent. It hits your ears and your heart differently. 

Notice the people who are always critical but not complimentary. Those who try to make you think or feel like you can’t do anything right.

Distance yourself from the people who always have something negative or pessimistic to say about you, your job or the world. Especially when you’re sensitive to such messages. That is a part of the reason why I am not a fan of most broadcast news. The constant stories of death and doom really affect my mood and I have to do what I have to do to protect my peace, so most of the time I turn it off. 

Pay attention to your feelings when you’re scrolling social media. If you notice yourself: 

– Constantly comparing your life to the life of others.

– With strong feelings of jealousy or resentment.

– Feeling the need to have what someone has in terms of material possessions. 

– Being a Social Media thug or bully.

It may be time to detox from social media for a day, a week or longer to cleanse your palette. When I’m feeling off spiritually, mentally or emotionally, I stay off of social media. I turn to spiritual sources or face to face encounters to balance it all out. 

How do you feel about spending time alone? If you feel super uncomfortable, there may be some negative feelings that you are harboring about yourself. Things to watch out for:

– What will other people think about me? 

– People will notice that… (irrational ideas about people being able to see an area of vulnerability or weakness).

Pay attention to how you treat your body. When faced with stress do you turn to healthy or unhealthy practices?

– drugs or alcohol to numb whatever pain exists. 

– Over or under rating to feed or starve the pain (I personally struggle with this).

– Unprotected sex or sexual experiences that you would not do or be comfortable with if you weren’t feeling stress. 

The law of attraction states “you attract what you believe you deserve.” It does not mean you attract what you say. It does not mean you attract what others believe or even say. 

Pay attention to what you truly believe about yourself & whatever you need to do to transform those beliefs, do it. 

Go inside of yourself and ask yourself why. Questioning oneself helps to get to the bottom of lots of issues. 

See a therapist & talk to a counselor. That objective (& professional) set of eyes is helpful to uncover & reveal certain things that may be suppressed.

Notice the patterns. When you notice the patterns you can predict (and change) future behavior.

Think about your whole self. We sometimes think that because we have our mental life’s together, everything else is in tact. Think about your emotional self, your spiritual self, your physical self. Even if one area is off, it has the potential to negatively impact the other areas. 

Pay attention to your parents, family and circle. I believe that not only do we inherit our looks from our parents, we also inherit a program from them. Many mental illnesses are genetic, and our parents stuff often becomes our stuff. Unpack it! When it comes to the people we choose to spend time with. It’s only natural that they impact you. You’re breathing the same air. Their waves (vibe) come crashing into yours & your waves often sync to theirs, depending on who has the strongest vibes. I believe that is what makes group think so dangerous. All of they group energy syncs up, for better of for worse. 

You cannot attract what you don’t believe you deserve. I hope this was helpful. I wrote the title of this blog last night before bed & woke up abnormally early & felt the urge to finish this piece & publish it. I hope it’s helpful for you!

Chicken Ramen 

Tonight I made Chicken Ramen from scratch. I picked up the Ramen Noodles from Costco and the rest of the ingredients from my local grocery store.

Here is the recipe: https://www.chowhound.com/recipes/easy-chicken-ramen-31487


I added more Sesame Oil (because I love it) and seasonings (Slap Yo Mama, Onion Powder and Garlic Powder) at the very end. I also boiled the eggs completely as I don’t like the lightly boiled (runny yolk) eggs. 


The dish was a winner in our book! It took about an hour to prepare and will be added to our rotation. 

When The Ancestors Speak: A Tour of the Whitney Plantation

This morning, I wrote an entire blog post about NASA’s discovery of a new solar system complete with photos and everything. A good 400 or 500 words and I accidentally deleted it. I didn’t have enough time to re-write it as my friend and I had scheduled a tour of the Whitney Plantation, as I am on vacation here in New Orleans, LA for Mardi Gras.

The first time I visited a plantation was about 2 years ago and I visited Oak Alley and the Laura Plantation. You can read about those visits here. The Whitney Plantation was closed at the time that I visited, and it is the first of it’s kind in the country as it focuses on slavery from the perspective of the enslaved. According to the website:

In 2014, the Whitney Plantation opened its doors to the public for the first time in its 262 year history as the only plantation museum in Louisiana with a focus on slavery.

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Through museum exhibits, memorial artwork and restored buildings and hundreds of first-person slave narratives, visitors to Whitney will gain a unique perspective on the lives of Louisiana’s enslaved people.

 We did the first tour, and at the end of the tour, our tour guide invited us to participate in the “Special Black History Month” Event taking place. After joining the group we learned that a Yoruba Priest and a community of predominantly African American and African people were doing a special ceremony to honor the enslaved ancestors. 

Throughout the experience my friend and I were brought to tears as we both witnessed and participated in the sacred experience. At Whitney Plantation there are several memorials that include the names of enslaved people. Throughout the ceremony there were frequent references to “being the light,” and to calling forth the energy of the ancestors to lead and guide us throughout our journey. Click here to learn more about the Whitney Plantation. 

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There is one memorial that is dedicated to the German Coast Uprising of 1811, the largest slave revolt in US History lead by Charles Deslandes (1780 -15 January 1811) who was a slave driver. On the evening of 8 January 1811, Deslondes, inspired by the Haitian Revolution, led between three hundred and five hundred slaves in rebellion. Deslondes was executed on 15 January. His body was mutilated, dismembered, and put on public display as a warning against other attempts at slave uprising. The heads of those who revolted were displayed along the Mississippi River, and the memorial is being designed. We did an entire ceremony honoring the lives of those who lost and at the very end my friend and I both touched the head of Charles Deslandes. The status was actually very warm. To be sure that I wasn’t making things up, I asked my friend if the sculpture was warm/hot when she touched it, and she said it was. When we moved on to the next exhibit, we touched another sculpture and the sculpture was cold, as the temperature outside was 68 degrees. 

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Approximately 24 hours before that, we sat down with a psychic named Reina. I had pulled the Warrior Card twice from the deck and Reina said “that’s who you are, the warrior.” There was also a point when we were visiting one of the memorials and I came across a quote from Harriet Tubman as well as a photo of her. I’m a big believer in signs and confirmation and that experience where the statue was warm gives me chills. 

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New Orleans feels like home for me and it has since the first time I visited. I feel a sense of restoration. I feel a sense of peace & calm and I feel recharged, which is why I try to make it to NOLA as often as possible. I love it so much that my husband & I have even talked about purchasing property here. The Whitney Plantation was built in 1752. New Orleans from a perspective of history is one of the oldest settlements in the United States and you feel that. 

I don’t believe there are accidents and I don’t believe there are coincidences. I am thankful that I was able to bear witness to what I witnessed today, to pray and be prayed for and over, and to feel a renewed commitment to the struggle that has been the experience of the oppressed people in our world… 

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I could go on and on about what I learned from today and may post in a future post, but more than anything I just want to express gratitude to God for allowing me to be in New Orleans at this time and to be able to witness & experience what I did at Whitney Plantation. 

In loving memory of the many whose lives were lost and whose experiences made it possible for me to be here today, especially the children.

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A special thank you to John Cummings, the Whitney Plantation’s Owner, who we also had the honor of hearing from & meeting today. Learn more about him here.

 

31 Things That Can Be Done Instead of Bringing The FEDs to Address Chicago Violence 

Chicago is a city that I care deeply about! It has been the place that I have called home the longest. It is the place that gave birth to and raised the love of my life. As a former Chicago Public School Teacher and the leader of an arts organization I do not believe that “sending the FEDs” is the solution to our challenge with violence. Additionally, my husband ran for City Council in 2011 because we love the city. We lost by a narrow margin and many of the ideas below were a part of our platform. We continue to be engaged with community and work frequently with elected officials and community leaders to advance a collective agenda that addresses our challenges.

The relationship between community and police (citywide) is not in the best shape. Sending more law enforcement may further that distance. I also believe that there are other things that can be done to get at the root of the problem.
Chicago has had the highest rate of African American unemployment for the last 2 years. 47% of Chicagoans African American males are not in school or not employed. We need to have a more proactive approach at addressing the root causes that LEAD to violence. Committing an act of violence happens for a variety of reasons not being able to communicate or express ones frustrations or emotions (which are skills that have to be taught), not feeling a sense of purpose or promise, the feeling of not being respected, being taught that violence solves problems, and I could go on and on.
I don’t individually have the capacity to singlehandedly address our challenges but I do not that this issue will require a multi-pronged set of solutions and none of the solutions are mutually exclusive.
I couldn’t sleep, after thinking about the possibility of the FEDs being sent to Chicago, so here are some ideas, 31 of them, that could help to decrease crime. I will continue to do what I can via Donda’s House and the work we do with developing, supporting and training young creatives, and I encourage others to keep doing the work until we can lower the crime rate.
31 Things That Can Be Done In Lieu of Sending the Feds to Chicago
1. Invest in more social workers and counselors in Chicago’s schools.

2. Invest in more therapists, case managers & counselors in After School Programs.

3. Recruit more detectives as of 70% of murders in Chicago go unsolved. If someone commits a murder, they are likely to remain free.

4. Attract more businesses on the South & West Sides of Chicago, with an agreement to hire people that live within a certain mile radius.

5. Support small business development and entrepreneurship programs in Chicago.

6. Establish scholarships at Chicago Universities for students from high crime neighborhoods to pursue degrees with a 4 – 5 year residency in that community requirement.

7. Offer more programming outside of sports and recreation in high crime neighborhoods.

8. Encourage the development and sustainability of block clubs.

9. Host regional block club conferences, so neighbors can share best practices.

10. Expand the CAPs program to include paid youth liaisons, who can work with law enforcement to foster better community relations.

11. Host a neighborhood Exchange program so that Chicagoans can see, experience & trade ideas on community improvement.

12. Start a “Nonprofit Organization” resource center so that folks who are committed to positive social change can connect with space sponsors, funders and other resources.

13. Increase media coverage (especially regional and national news) for non-violent stories & stories that highlight the good that is happening in the city (this is also something that citizens can be encouraged to do).

14. Encourage more people to become mentors in the many mentoring organizations that exist.

15. Invest in the urban agriculture programs.

16. Add more grocery stores to the South and West Sides.

17. Invest in more trade schools and programs (plumbing, electrical, etc.) that offer short term programs that lead to certification.

18. Support the development of Year Round employment opportunities.

19. Offer some type of free transportation voucher in high crime neighborhoods so that youth can travel to jobs & enrichment programs, where transportation is often a barrier.

20. Provide more support to those who are transitioning out. Incentivize success in some way.

21. Offer micro-loans for those who were once incarcerated, to decrease the likelihood of returning to prison due to being unable to find employment.

22. Go on a Listening tour to hear from individuals on the ground who have had proven success with youth & operations in high-crime areas

23. Support more life-skills training through faith and community based organizations.

24. Offer an incentive for churches to collaborate on programming initiatives for non-members in communities that they reside in.

25. Work with the philanthropic community to identify orgs to support that have a proximity to high crime areas.

26. Institute city-wide conflict resolution training that is engaging and age-appropriate in High Schools.

27. Support art therapy and unique approaches to therapeutic delivery.

28. Create a Chicago Youth Council with representation from every neighborhood in the city. This body could brainstorm and implement solutions. Youth are very capable and should be involved more in addressing the city’s issues! This also creates a pipeline for Civic Leadership.

29. Host an annual “Chicago Works” day where Chicagoans can bring a youth from a high crime neighborhood to shadow them for the day. You don’t know what you don’t know and you can’t be what you haven’t seen!

30. Get academia involved! We have so many historians and researchers who have been studying the city for decades! They can tell us what has worked in the past, what hasn’t worked so that we can be data-informed about the violence.

31. Vehicles are more regulated than guns. We should know what happens to a gun from the time it is made to the time it shoots bullets. Guns that are stolen, transferred to other owners, etc. should be more regulated. There are too many unregistered guns on the street & if you own a weapon you should be required to keep the government or law enforcement informed about that weapon or be held accountable for the crime it commits. I’m not saying if your gun is stolen, and someone commits a crime you should be held accountable. I’m saying if your gun was stolen and you did not report it, you should be accountable. If my car is involved in an accident, my insurance company holds me accountable. Gun owners (and sellers) should be more accountable.

Also check out my husband’s response which is published in Crain’s here.

You Can Always Make Another Choice…


We often feel pressured to make certain decisions because of our age, our families, our culture or our fear of what other people can say.


Caption: Me when I decided to go natural in 11th grade! A huge decision for such a young age! I haven’t had a perm since before 11th grade! Natural hair was also not popular at this time, so it made me a bit socially awkward. 

When I was 25 I had to make the difficult decision to leave and divorce my first husband. It was difficult because all I could think about was what would other people say? 

Another very difficult decision was to leave my job at one High School to go work for another school. I loved the students so much, and would also have to sacrifice not having my own classroom, which is gold for teachers! Especially tenured teachers! 


Caption: This was my classroom at the school I decided to leave. 

In both of those cases I had to make a very difficult (and public) decision. On the other side of those choices were amazing benefits. In the case of divorce, I would find a better life partner. I would experience the type of love I’d always craved and fantasized about growing up. In the case of the school, I had the chance to work at one of the best schools in the country, under the best principal that I had ever witnessed. The skills that I learned at the school have been very applicable to my work outside of the classroom. Not to mention, that people attribute my teaching ability & professional skill to having the opportunity to work at such a competitive & well respected institution.


Caption: My famous word wall, that I always had up in all of my classrooms. 

If you are unhappy with anyone or anything, you have the right & ability to make another choice or to change your mind. 

Save Time with Fresh Freezer Meals

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Caption: Me whipping up my Chicken Freezer Meals. This recipe called for Catalina Dressing and Apricot Jam. 

Like most people, when the weather starts to turn from Fall to Winter, I go into hibernation mode. I’m obsessed with keeping my refrigerator and pantry full of food, my gas tank filled with gas and for whatever reason I get obsessed with the way fabric feels. Give me a good flannel, some cashmere, or a soft jersey t-shirt blend.

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Caption: The link below provides a step by step process for putting together the meals. The entire process took about 30 minutes. 

While looking up good savory recipes I came across this link with 5 Freezer Chicken Meals. Essentially, all of the meals have boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken thighs and you change out the seasonings. You make all of the meals at once, throw them in a ziplock bag and freeze them. When you’re ready to prepare them, you thaw them out and can bake them in the oven or use a crock pot (slow cooker). I’m a huge fan of the slow cooker, because I like a good flavorful meal when its cold outside. I’m also a big fan of using the slow-cooker, because it’s low maintenance and easy! I’ve posted about my love for the crockpot here.

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Caption: All of my ingredients laid out. During the Winter I make beans at least once per week. 

I didn’t just stop at making the freezer meals, I also picked up some frozen stir-fry veggie blends, smoked turkey tails (which I add to my beans and my fresh veggies), Jasmine Rice and White Rice. I break down the larger stir fry packs into smaller single-meal packages using Freezer Bags.

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Caption: On each of the bags you label the meal and write instructions on how to prepare it. My plan is to thaw out the meal the night before I plan to prepare it, and then toss it in my crockpot. 

I’m planning to use the frozen chicken meals once per week and will give a full review. I’ll cook up some veggies and/or rice to go with the meals as well. What are your favorite crock-pot recipes (feel free to post in the comments section)? How do you save time in the kitchen?

How To Avoid Messing Up Your Hair While Working Out…

Caption: Last night after my hairstylist RJ hooked me up! 

One of the biggest concerns that we have when working out is how to maintain our hair. I’m natural and have been for over 20 years, but I wear extensions. Curly extensions usually hold up with minimal maintenance. Straight extensions can be a disaster when you mix sweat & heat in. I used to think that all I needed to do was tie my hair up under a cotton bandana (or scarf) and I’d be good to go.

Well this morning I experimented with something new. I took 3 hair clips, the ones that look like this:

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I took my bang and clipped that up. Then I parted the back section and pulled the left half into one clip and the right half into the final clip. I then took a bandana and folded that up to create a headband and wrapped up my edges like this:

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The good thing about this was the bandana caught all of my sweat, and the hair remained sticking up in the air so it didn’t get wet with sweat.

After my shower, after I had a chance to wash my face I took the clips out and combed my hair & it was ready to go, undamaged. Here is my hair post sleep & post workout with no heat needed at all. I also don’t wrap my hair! I just sleep with a satin bonnet. RJ says with the right cut you shouldn’t have to do all of that for maintenance and I totally agree (and see exactly what he means).

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I was very excited about this because I saw my hairstylist last night to get my hair washed, conditioned and styled, and would’ve been mad if my workout this morning ruined it.

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Post-workout, I’ve been jamming to my 90s Playlist. If you’re on Spotify you can listen to it here.

Here are 5 songs that I have on the playlist:

“U Send Me Swingin” by Mint Condition

“In My Bed” by Dru Hill

“Crush On You” by Lil’ Kim

“Candy Rain” by Soul For Real

“Weak” by SWV

It has 326 carefully curated songs and over 24 hours of music. I hope you enjoy it!

 

Summer Body In Progress…

I started using the video recommended by our 31 Days of She’s Gotta Show Coach Akisha here. It is a 15 minute Shaun T Insanity Workout.

In the past, I have not been successful when I try to workout any other time of the day than first thing in the morning. I have also used the excuse, “it’s too cold outside” or “I don’t have a gym.” I am very excited to know that the only things I need to exercise I already have – my ipad and some gyms shoes!

I weigh 197 pounds. In order to not discourage myself, I am only planning to weigh myself once per week. My goal is to lose at least one pound per week.

I also sometimes to try to do too much too soon. Rather than stacking on the kettle bell, the jump rope and all of those things, I am going to just stick to the 15 minute workout first. In a week or two, once that gets easier, I may start adding an extra 5 minutes for something else. I will also take advantage of natural ways to get more exercise like walking the dog and walking with my honey.

Be sure to follow the hashtag #31DaysofShesGottaShow to follow our journey. There are a group of us getting to it!

 

A Conversation With My Temple…

Last night I signed up for a 31 Day Fitness Challenge with Akisha Lockhart of All I Need Is One Mic. I signed up for a number of reasons but mainly because I haven’t been putting my health & fitness at that top of my priority list. In fact, when it’s time to start cutting, editing and making room, fitness is always the first thing to go.

I haven’t liked to work out since I ran track in High School, and my love for running track wasn’t because I actually enjoyed running. I loved running track in High School because I loved winning. I loved to literally kick up dust, and push my body – my limbs, my feet, my lungs to their maximum capacity. My self-confidence increased every time I cleared a hurdle. I’m not quite sure if I was running towards something or running away from something but running gave me life.

Now that I’m in my thirties, I’m much more willing to have tough conversations with my self. One of the tough conversations that I need to have with myself is whether or not I’m treating my body like I care about it. In fact, I would argue that except for the mini health vacations I’ve taken, I’ve neglected the things that my body needs most – stretching, cardio, water and healthy food.

I see older people who need walking aids. I’ve witnessed older people’s bodies only work with pills… lots of pills. I feel like terminal illnesses are peering over my shoulder, especially considering that High Blood Pressure has taken residence inside of my body.

I know there is no quick fix, but I’m tired of:

  • Not feeling comfortable in sleeveless shirts.
  • Feeling winded when I engage in minimal exercise.
  • Aching feet, an aching lower back and tension in the shoulders.
  • Feeling frustrated when I really want to wear something but all of the good sizes (my sizes) are taken.
  • Grabbing a soda pop to cope with stress.
  • Feeling like I have to crop my photos from the chest up because I’m uncomfortable with my midsection.

Weight creeps up on you and the older you get, the harder it is to get it off. As I join this 31 Day fitness challenge my goals are simple:

(1) To get at least 15 minutes of exercise a day. I will be using the video that Akisha recommended from Shaun T of the Insanity Workouts.

(2) To make better food choices (at least 7 – 20 oz bottles which equals a gallon of water, less sugar, little to no bread and no fried foods).

I don’t have any other outcomes at this time, but just wanted to share what I’m going to be on. Feel free to join us! This time next summer I plan to have addressed all of the things I’m tired of. I will be blogging about my experience here, on Instagram and on Snapchat. You can follow @blkgrlunmasked on all social media channels.

The first official day of the challenge is today, November 3, 2016. I hope you can join us, and please feel free to share resources, encouragement & tips in the comment section below!