The 5 Habits I’m Ditching For a Happier Life

There’s something about getting older that makes a person take stock of all the habits, shortcomings and skills in their repertoire, then decide what to keep and what to kick out. I call it the “garage sale years” – your “house” (mind) is cluttered with all the stuff you’ve accumulated over the years, sometimes stacked so high you can barely get any light in. You side step this, hop over that, or maybe you find yourself buried.

This is where I find myself – setting up piles of all the stuff that no longer suits me. In my case, it’s a list of habits that once made sense as I was struggling to regain control of my life and depression, but now I’m in a place that’s safe enough for me to abandon them. Being habits, they will be hard to let go of, which is why I have to work on clearing them out as they pop up. Here they are!

Apologizing for things I can’t change

Guilt and I are *very* well acquainted. I don’t like to inconvenience people and what feels more intrusive than depression and anxiety? I’ve convinced myself that if my mental health can be exhausting for me, it’s got to be a hassle for everyone else. But here’s the thing: people who love you want to help. They can’t be my therapists, but they can be my support. My husband has forbidden me from saying ‘sorry’ after every panic attack, or day I can’t get out of bed. I couldn’t me more thankful for him, because he’s gotten me to re-evaluate what’s my fault, and the answer is none of it is my fault. You can’t control what makes you unwell, or I would wager you wouldn’t be unwell. Ya dig?

Checking up on people who’ve hurt me

Literally why do we do this? I know this behavior isn’t something only I struggle with. It’s the pull that makes us slow down to gawk at car accidents or watch reality TV. Watching other people struggle is a validation of our own pain. I will admit that I used to go to the Facebook pages of people who belittled or abandoned me hoping to see they’d lost an eye or had been heartbroken, too. It’s ugly stuff, to say the least, which certainly does nothing for the health of my own heart. I stopped doing this a while ago (yesterday) and I already feel loads better about who I am.

Hiding my shine (self sabotage)

I used to think it was a sign of humility when I would hide my skills until someone stumbled upon them. Now, I realize I was scared to death people would laugh at me if I failed at something I said outright I could do. In my younger years, I couldn’t wait to show what I could do – singing loud, playing hard, and stepping up to lead because it felt so good – but somewhere along the way I was taught that boys don’t like girls who are too sure of themselves. Feel free to roll your eyes! Then, that seed grew into an ugly tree of self-doubt and fear of failure. Today, I’m ready to rediscover and share all the ways I kick ass.

Expecting perfection from others

Have you ever wanted more than a person could give? Maybe you wanted your grandfather who always criticized you to cheer when you got straight A’s, or you have a sister you can’t reason with about politics. I used to get so bent out of shape when people didn’t meet my standard – a standard I set for myself that was too lofty for someone without wings to meet. The truth is, we’re all limited. Limited by our education, experiences, opportunities, and willingness to be changed. Maya Angelou said we should believe people when they show us who they are – good or bad. To me that means I can’t expect someone who can barely add to suddenly do calculus.

 

Being afraid to knuck when others buck

I was a little it of a rabble-rouser during my early 20’s. When I wasn’t partying like a total fool, I was protesting, confronting and calling-out bigotry and injustice. I butted heads with a girl on my floor freshman year who was an Ann Coulter drone. I argued with and gave up on friends who wanted black folks to “get over” slavery. You didn’t get to say wild stuff and remain my friend for long. That’s who I was for most of my life, thanks to my parents. They always taught my brother and I to say something when we saw something, which I took to heart. After my breakdown, I was so afraid of losing the few people I had left in my life, that I started letting stuff slide. I stopped being the person who would tell the truth, because I was afraid I would be alone. But who wants a life of silence? What good is company that you can’t grow with? More importantly: how can I look at myself with a sense of dignity if I don’t honor a good quality? This habit is one that’s been around longer than it should have, and I am happy to let it go.

 

There you have it, folks! As you’ve probably gathered from this post, all of these habits are about comfort. I settled into a state of ease by giving up what made me LaKase, and made excuses to stay where I was instead of growing.

What habits are you ditching for a happier life?

 

Friday Media Prep

We did the damn thing, guys. As Friday blooms around us, with promises of a beautiful weekend in my neck of the woods, I want to share the things I’m going to be enjoying over the break! Below you will find my suggestions for entertainment as you unwind from the restrictions of the work week.

Solo: A Star Wars Story

I mean…. it’s Star Wars, so I’m in. When news of this movie first dropped my immediate reaction was a soft meh. A few months later, there were the reports that the directors, Lord and Miller, were being fired from the production due to clashing with the studio, and I was just about over it all. After the first trailer, my disdain whittled to an eyebrow raise, then the final trailer had me reconsidering my doubt. I’m now looking forward to giving the movie a chance, in no small part due to my appreciation of Donald Glover and Thandie Newton.

 

Image result for solo a star wars story
Image via https://letterboxd.com/film/solo-a-star-wars-story/

Westworld

I have to thank Jesse Kadjo for forcing me to watch this show while she was in town for my bachelorette party last year. We were supposed  to be working on blog posts and site development, but the HBO gods wouldn’t let us live. I was a fan of the original film starring Yul Brenner (thanks to AMC marathons on the weekends), so I thought I had an idea what to expect; oh how wrong I was! The show is a masterclass is storytelling, drama, action and development and I highly recommend it to anyone with the patience to experience the unfolding of a world. Season 2 is underway, but season 1 is still available on HBO apps.

Potential triggers: sexual violence (not like Game of Thrones), murder, abuse, explosions.

Image result for westworld

 

Active Child

When I like a song I will listen to it on repeat until I know every word (and start to hate it). I have been *loving* listening to Active Child for a few weeks now, without getting tired of his impressive range. “1999” and “Stranger” are the two tracks I’ve played to death thus far. I absolutely love watching the music videos due to Ashley Eva Brock’s beautiful costume design. It all reminds me of a Miyazaki movie, which will never be a bad thing.

 

 

That’s all I’ve got for today! Next week I’ll include my book selections as well, so stay tuned. As always, thank you for joining me and stay safe this weekend!

Noto Botanics: The Gender-Fluid Cure To My Self-Care Slump

Anyone out there as addicted to Pinterest as I am? I could scroll through the outfits, inspirational quotes, and art for days – which I’ve done on more than one night when I should have been planning posts! I regularly find myself tumbling down rabbit holes of information, discovering people or concepts that the omniscient Universe just knew would keep me distracted for hours. I floated through my “Hair” board on the site, looking for a little encouragement to keep on with my growing my locs, when I stumbled onto the face of Gloria Noto. It was an old article on Refinery29 about cool hairstyles in LA and her face popped out to me immediately. So, being the internet sleuth that I am, I consulted my partner in crime (Google), to find out more about the captivating character. As always, what I “discovered” was exactly what I needed.

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Image via notobotanics.com

 

Gloria Noto is a makeup artist and business woman who founded Noto Botanics to cater to people with a desire for products that are glam without being harmful. The products are multi-use, i.e. oils you can use on hair, face, and body and good for customers across the board. I’m aesthetically drawn to the clean, crisp packaging, but more so enraptured with the glorious mix of oils and herbs designed to take you to the spa with every use. I’ve always struggled with dry skin, so a big part of my beauty routine is the application of oils, butters, and hydrating serums in order to ease my ashy woes. I’ve found myself in a bit of a slump lately, as my routine seems to have plateaued leaving my skin wanting something different. After being on the hunt for something I can use on my face and hair, Noto is a godsend.

Deep Serum
Deep Serum Image via notobotanics.com

 

I’m looking forward to giving Noto Botanics a try, because stagnation in routines – particularly the self-care variety – seems to lead to abandonment, which I have no desire to do. Even better? Gloria shared with V Magazine that Noto Botanics raised 15k for organizations such as Planned Parenthood and LGBTQ Center of LA. I’m all for a company that is concerned with the exterior and interior betterment of the community.

I’ll keep you updated on the magic as I move forward! What products are you looking forward to trying? What do you do for your beauty routine? Hit me in the comments with your suggestions!

It’s OK To Be Happy

My mother excitedly shook me awake at 2:30 a.m. on Saturday morning with more enthusiasm than she had any right to muster. I immediately started questioning every choice leading me up to that painful moment, because I’m well past the age of being able to do anything before 7 a.m. or after midnight. After a few groans, I rolled out of the bed I used to sleep in every night until I left for college, shuffled into the bathroom I knew like the back of my hand, then plopped onto the spot on their couch I’d claimed back when my brother and I would fight at the drop of a hat. You might be wondering why a (seemingly) intelligent woman like myself would subject herself to physical anguish and mental torment. Well, the answer is quite simple: The Royal Wedding.

As I mentioned recently, my mother and I are romantics – the kind who coo and melt at displays of affection, watch rom-coms on repeat, and read emotional drivel like our lives depend on it. I hate us while loving us, even more so as we watched Anderson Cooper build up the arrival of celebrity guests and a wedding dress like it was the moon landing. We passed mini pigs in a blanket and mini cupcakes between us that had been provided by my long-suffering father, and sipped on sparkling grape juice. Within thirty minutes I was awake enough to be excited for the pageantry, and I was soon enthralled by the magic of the music, location, guest list, and their love. Just take a listen to this beautiful music played by cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason and try not to feel something!

Still,  I couldn’t ignore a feeling of guilt floating in my belly, one I often get when I’m happy. With the world on fire around us, children being gunned down, people of color being subjected to racist vitriol and women’s lives regularly terrorized, I often feel like my happiness is unwarranted. My past isn’t perfect, but I currently live in a state of security. I have love. I know peace more often than torment, and my water is clean. Not many people can wake up with their only worries being what to wear or what to put into their smoothies. So, I regularly get that twinge in my neck when I laugh too loud. My body jolts itself out of the reverie, because there’s still so much work left to do.

As a survivor, my guilt has another level I’m only just now uncovering, but one that has nevertheless been ever-present. Essentially, I have a form of survivor’s guilt, but for the little girl I was that had to die so that I could survive. I felt guilty for experiencing happiness when I was the only one who knew what she went through. For years I’ve been mourning her passing and in the process became a monument to her rather than an individual. In my quest to reshape my life as I see fit, I’m finally ready to say enough is enough.

I know I’ve been a proponent of not avoiding conflict in the pursuit of comfort, and I always will be, because living life as a well-rounded person requires both eyes being open. However, I can’t neglect to add the truth that we do indeed deserve our happiness. There was a moment – rather a sermon- during the wedding that made my brain snap awake in regard to this.

I’m not a particularly religious person, but I don’t think you have to be a Theologian to believe what Bishop Curry was saying. My journey has taught me a wonderful lesson that I have to work on remembering when I’m feeling guilty for needing joy during these dark days in the world: my happiness honors the little girl I was. By living, working, going on adventures, bringing joy to others and sharing in theirs I take back what was taken. In loving myself, I’m learning how to love other people. Besides, I’ve found that nothing pisses off bigots, misogynists, and tyrants more than oppressed people joyously taking care of themselves

Above all things, I want to be a good person, a worthy ally, and someone others remember fondly. To that end, I will be happy as long as I have room to feel it. You deserve to be happy, too. I hope you’ll let yourself experience joy this week while also fighting for what’s right in whatever way you can.  As always, thank you for taking this journey with me.

 

“Love is not selfish and self-centered. Love can be sacrificial, and in so doing, becomes redemptive. And that way of unselfish, sacrificial, redemptive love changes lives. And it can change the world.” Bishop Michael Curry

St. Beauty Is Giving Me Life

Every Friday I will feature the books, movies, TV shows, and other works of art that have been inspiring me, or that I’m looking forward to experiencing. Please share your suggestions below!

We lived to see another Friday and that is enough cause for celebration in my book!

behind the scenes yes GIF by The SpongeBob Musical

In honor of you and I making it through a week that everyone I’ve talked to has said was complete trash, I’ve got some sweet tunes to share! Have you heard of St. Beauty? This lovely duo hails from Atlanta, GA where they are part of Wondaland Art Society, an artistic collective featuring talents like Janelle Monae and Jidena. That’s not bad company to keep.

Despite having different singing styles, Alexe Belle and Isis Valentino blend their voices so seamlessly that the music almost feels like a lullaby. My favorite song right now is “Not Discuss It”, as it reminds me of the music my father played during our road trips. The video is so captivating in its gauzy softness that I’ve watched it countless times. It really evokes a 70’s mood that is so dreamy.

 

Their second single, “Caught”, is just a fun time with the catchy chorus and bopping rhythm. Isis’ sweet voice is a nice juxtaposition to the fed up girlfriend feel. I obviously dig it.

 

I hope you fall in love with these two as much as I have! You should check out the rest of the tunes on their debut album Running to the Sun . Enjoy your weekend, kids!