#11: New Year + Fresh Energy

Happy New Year everyone!

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(Side note: What a beautiful man^, am I right?)

With each new year, it seems everyone is set on creating resolutions and changing their lives. And you know what? I love it. I really do. Because even if the motivation for others is short-lived, it’s still a shift and reminder for me to continue to clarify and pursue my own goals. We all need reminders. I mean yeah, it might be annoying that everyone and their mom is now going to the gym all at once, but it’s also exciting. People are taking action. And you know what? I applaud them for that. Every small action is significant. 

But, I’m not gonna sit here and promote inconsistent action. So I have a challenge for you; what’s something you can consistently work on this year? One thing. For me for example, I’m going to do my best to blog and update this website every week. I’d love to produce content that is engaging, open, and helpful. As much fun as it is blogging about my weekly favorites and what’s going on in my life, I want to make sure everyone that reads these posts gets something useful out of them.

Let’s take this fresh energy and use it to plan for the pitfalls and days where we lack motivation. Let’s celebrate this newfound motivation and use it to create accountability pacts and incentives! WE GOT THIS! Cheeers!

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#10: Loving Myself, Michelle Obama’s Gems, and Weekly Reflections

What a week; I feel like time is flying by. And I can’t lie this week I wasn’t super productive, but I do have to pat myself on the back for doing a couple of things like continuing to listen to Michelle Obama’s audiobook titled Becoming, cleaning, grocery shopping, attempting to paint my nails, and most notably — going to the gym!

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Thank you, thank you *takes several bows*. Yes, I’ve been making it to the gym (after all, I can’t let this membership go to waste!). I’m working on distance running and toning up my body right now, so today I did 2.0 miles in 35 minutes including a warm up and cool down, with 4:45 seconds on and 00:40 seconds off. Then each day I alternate which region of my body I want to work. I’d say I’m off to a good start so far.  I’ve been working out with my best friend and let me tell you, she keeps me accountable.

I think a combination of going to the gym, eating well, and doing some end-of-the-year reflection has helped me love myself more as a result. Not only that but like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, journaling has been helping me out a ton too. It feels good to connect with my body and mind; to slow down and give myself that space. I feel healthy! Plus I’m here for the confidence boost too.

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This week I’ve also been collecting all of the gems from Michelle’s book. I love how self-aware she is, how real and candid she is about how her relationship with Barack started and how it’s evolved over the years, and how compassionate she is. Listening to this book is making me think about my own aspirations, patterns, relationships, and development. It also prompts me to ask myself, “What do I want my life to be like in X amount of years?” How do I want to write my story?

And on that note, here are some weekly reflections and favorites I came across this past couple of days:

  • Intuition is powerful. Listen to it. In silence, before making a decision, and before asking others for advice.
  • Our thoughts affect our mood. That may sound obvious, but we underestimate how amazing we can make ourselves feel through thought alone. When we think positively about ourselves and what we have, when we think in terms of gratitude, affirmations, favorite memories, and the like, we naturally raise our mood. We do that, simply by thinking! To me, that’s an incredible superpower.
  • Note to self: spend more time with the people that make you feel full and in flow. The feeling you get from that is unlike anything else in this world.

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  • I am more than enough. You are more than enough. We are abundant. We have so much value; our abilities, our manifestations, and our existence are magnificent.
  • Decide to decide, show up, and flow.
  • Favorite: The app Digit — I just started using it to work on saving for goals like paying off student loans and making a “fun” budget
  • Favorite: Sweet potato! Yummmm! I’ve been making a salad complete with leafy greens, sweet potato, hummus, avocado (if I’m feeling like it) and some dressing. Delishhh.
  • Favorite: Running!

I hope your week went well and that you recognize the power you have to make next week even better. Keep thriving, sis.

All the best,

Valencia

 

#9: Taking Care of Myself, “Becoming,” and Weekly Reflections​

This week mostly consisted of me sleeping in until around 10/11am, hanging out, watching lots of Marvel movies, and finding moments to center myself. And you know what? I’m soooo glad I got that time to reset, connect, and reflect. I think I needed a shift from the usual stuff, of being studious and mobile.

Speaking of shifts, this week I came to the conclusion that I’m in the midst of a big, energetical shift. In a spiritual way. Things are changing, and the best way I can describe it is that I feel as though I’m growing new wings; I’m learning new skills, adulting a lot more, and giving myself the space to BE. To create, and fail, and win, and work.

Perhaps the shift is that I’m prioritizing myself. The feeling of it feels new and beautiful.

It’s in the moments that I find myself coming back to myself, the moments when I get quiet and listen to my needs, that I feel amazing. I feel present. This week reminded me of that. I think what helped was that I finally picked up a paper and pen and started journaling again; that physical act of writing helps me ground myself. Do you have something like that? Something that brings you back to your present being and helps you tap into your intuition? For me, writing is my go-to.

 

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Source: Soul Pancake

 

Speaking of prioritizing myself, I got a gym membership! —- Nowwww, before you roll your eyes and peg that I only got it because of the new year, that’s not the case. I just happened to buy my membership at the exact time that an explanation like that would be predictable LOL, but in reality, I got it because now I feel like I have a better understanding of what works for me. And since I’ve attracted a lot of athletic people in my life, I have a little bit of guidance if I need it. Plus now I happily have a few gym buddies willing to go with me! Not only that, but I’ve been working on letting go of limiting beliefs about my body and my abilities.

I’ve also decided that comparing yourself to people in unhealthy ways is a trash way to get nothing productive done. The reason I mention that last bit is that for a while, I think that’s what subconsciously held me back from putting my fitness first. It’s easy to compare yourself to someone you perceive to be in beautiful shape, feel bad about it, and do nothing as a result. That’s easy! And it’s limiting. You know what takes a little more energy but gives you a lot more satisfaction? Acknowledging the beauty in others, and realizing that it doesn’t minimize your own. Applauding those you deem as beautiful, and using it as motivation to help you. Almost like a little reminder to love yourself and work towards being the greatest version of yourself; the version that feels happiest and healthiest.

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This week I started and continued listening to the audiobook of Michelle Obama’s, Becoming, and I love it. Even though I’ve lived a very different life experience from Michelle so far, there are certain messages that stick out to me. As if she’s speaking to me. Some of those messages are that 1) failure is a feeling long before it’s an actual result, and that 2) We continually choose our partners. I felt, perhaps too well, her story of being asked by another black girl why she “talked like a white girl”. I remember experiencing that in 6th grade and being so confused and oddly offended because I knew it was mentioned to me in a way that made me seem “other”.

I listen to this audiobook when I’m doing practically everything, and now I’m up to the part where Michelle talks about meeting and interacting with Barack. I highly recommend picking up a copy or downloading it on sites like Audible.

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Some of my weekly favorites and highlights this week were:

  1. Movie: Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (loved that movie!)
  2. Book: Again, Michelle Obama’s Becoming
  3. Song: SUMMER by The Carters
  4. Video: Jay Shetty on Impact Theory (I am fascinated by his story and mission; this interview made a real impact on me to the point where I’m ready to watch it over and over again).
  5. Weekly Highlights: Seeing the beautiful tree at Rockefeller Center, doing yoga, spending time with someone sweet, and calling my best friends.

I enjoyed this week. I consumed a lot of good content and, amongst connecting with others, I took some time to connect with myself. Sounds like a solid week to me! My intentions for this upcoming week are to enjoy the holidays, go to the gym, hang out some more, and to push myself a little further. Let’s see how the week unfolds and what manifests.

Wishing you wellness.

#8: Beautiful video; “What could happen if we love and give unconditionally?”

A mentor of mine sent me this video recently titled, “What could happen if we love and give unconditionally?”

As I watched the video, I thought of how important it is to love and give without expectation. To love and give to people even when they are tough to deal with (because in reality, we all are sometimes). I thought of the love that surrounds my own life and how fortunate I have been to receive help, guidance, care, and affection from all degrees of connection. I’ve been aided by strangers, comforted by family members, acknowledged by peers, and uplifted by several mentors in my life. It makes me emotional to think about how much support and care has been extended to me.

And now I wonder, what could I do today to spread that love to someone else? How can I give more without expectation? How can I show more compassion?

Something to think about.

Original Poem: We’re Just Talking by Valencia Saint-Louis

We’re Just Talking by Valencia Saint-Louis

 

Tripping, not falling

Skipping, but stalling

Kissing, not calling

After all, we’re just talking

 

But there’s this hypnosis

Some oils and potions

That fill me with emotion

(And) lead to the road of devotion

 

Our bodies say what our mouths swallow

I drink up your gaze but still feel hollow

Walking contradiction, I hope you follow

Today’s just lips, but what brings tomorrow

 

Feelings chase me, and I chase the feeling

Of having a love that feels like dreaming

That makes being tied down feel so freeing

That nourishes me in all of my being

 

I pause and play at the same time

I stop and go at the same sign

Dancing over the same line

Singing again, the same rhyme

 

Tripping, not falling

Skipping, but stalling

Kissing, not calling

After all… we’re just talking

 

#7: Back at it again…

Hey peeps,

If you scroll down and view my earlier posts, you’ll be able to tell a couple things. For one, I fell OFF – I haven’t posted for well over a year. And second, I renamed my site. It used to be Valencia’s Voice, which was nice and all, but I like the sound of my full name a little more.

So what’s to come with this new round of posts? A lot of reflection, weekly favorites, and a whole bunch of creation without limitation or expectation.

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By creation I mean anything that comes from me; anything I produce. That could be blog posts, online articles, poems, songs, videos, or anything of the sort. Whatever stems from me. The bit about these creations being without limitations or expectations means that I am choosing to create freely. I am choosing to write, sing, record, and create in any way that calls me, without overthinking it. Without worrying about whether or not others will receive it well. Without trying to define and label what “it” actually is.

I hope you’ll stick around and check out what I publish and present moving forward. I’m excited to see what will manifest!

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Original Poem: Lost by Valencia Saint-Louis

Lost by Valencia Saint-Louis

Mixed, muddy future as Mother Earth melts

Dirt becomes dirty by man’s touch

Who will pull the trigger first?

Those looking to protect

or defend

a system

or a God?

 

I am looking for humanity.

Can you help me find her?

Is she among the rubbish?

Is she between the divisions

we make between ourselves?

Does she care for the children

who are no longer cared for?

 

News is not news anymore.

Shut it off.

 

I’m looking for empathy

Is she paddling the waters

of the Earth

Soaked searching for refuge

Perhaps she is grieving

Wondering why we’ve lost her

Perhaps she is in labor

Giving birth to the movements

We need to find her.

 

I’m looking for humanity

in the cracks

of our foundation,

in the cries

of the living,

and the warnings

of the dead.

Perhaps she is at war.

Is she captured by greed?

 

I’m looking for humanity.

#6: Blessed, Overwhelmed, and Braided

Happy Sunday! Let me update you on what’s been going on recently.

For starters I had a wonderful birthday weekend celebration FILLED with partying, food, friends, and cake. My friends threw me a surprise party, and for the first time I went to the Cheesecake Factory! Their ‘Oreo Dream Extreme Cheesecake’ is amazing, and I’m missing it.

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With another year under my belt, I’m really excited to start another one. As I read my cards and spend time with loved ones, I find myself more mindful of the fact that these moments matter. I feel a wave of gratitude wash over me as I receive hugs, beautiful words, and massive amounts of affection. I’m a believer that every day we are alive is a blessing; a blessing that prompts us to create and decide. I’d like to add to that.

Every day is a blessing for us to create, decide, and love.

Aside from all the wonderful birthday wishes, I’ve felt pretty overwhelmed by the amount of work I’ve taken on. You know when you bite off more than you can chew? I took a realllllly big bite.

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I’m grateful for all the opportunities that have been attracted into my life, but it’s been difficult trying to manage it all. As a student, I’ve found some helpful organizational habits that have put my schoolwork in place. If you’re a student, or know someone who is, check out this article I wrote for HerCampus with tips and apps that will make the semester less stressful.

Lastly, I put my hair into braids! I’m going natural, and wanted to try a protective hairstyle before I trim my hair (I’m transitioning instead of big-chopping). I’m looking to learn as much about natural hair as possible. I’ve searched up Youtubers, asked friends, and researched on various websites. If you have any resources or helpful information, please comment below!

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No, this picture’s not of me. It’s of a beautiful goddess named Amandla Sternberg! Also shout out to the beauty that’s in the header photo! Not sure of what her name is, but we should be friends. I like her glow!

Weekly Favorites

From Monday to Sunday I enjoyed lots of good food, music, and conversation. Here’s some of what I enjoyed most:

  1. Nine Track Mind (Deluxe Album) by Charlie Puth – My favorite songs are Suffer, Some Love, River, and of course Attention.
  2. Holy by Jamila Woods – this song makes me feel so calm and empowered.
  3. He Like That by Fifth Harmony. I can’t stop watching the music video for this song! These women are incredible, and their songs are really catchy!
  4. “Our mission right now is to get better, to get disciplined. It might take some time to master all the elements, but that’s how it’s supposed to be. Aang didn’t master fire, water, earth, and air in one day” – paraphrased motivation from my accountability partner and best friend! (shout out to those who know all about Avatar: The Last Airbender… no that’s not the movie with blue people)
  5. The Cheesecake Factory! The avocado egg rolls made me melt. Also the cheesecake I mentioned earlier *drools on keyboard*

This week was eventful and beautiful. Cheers to another one filled with food for the soul, mind and body! I intend on being fully present, and productive this upcoming week. What about you?

All the best,

Valencia Saint-Louis

#5: Five Practices for Being Mindful of How You Feel

Hellooo! It has been quite some time; school has pulled me back into her arms recently.

At the end of my last post, I promised that my next post would be all about the practices and resources I’ve used to help me be mindful of how I’m feeling. By being mindful, I mean these practices have helped me open up an awareness and consciousness of my feelings. And guess what?

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It’s time for a self-checkup! Here’s a list of practices I use that cause me to ask myself, “Valencia, how are you feeling?”, and help me answer that question fully:

1. Pacifica

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This app has made me think about how I feel more than I ever have before. It’s very helpful if you are/have ever dealt with clinical or general depression and anxiety. The app allows for me to plug in how I’m feeling based on a scale (great–awful), and hashtags like #scatterbrained or #grateful, or any hashtag I want.

I’m able to track my mood throughout the day, and throughout the week. I’ve been able to identify what events caused me to feel really good one week and sought to duplicate those events the next week. It’s caused me to be really introspective about how I’m feeling. And no one sees it but me.

What’s more? The app gives me the option to engage in guided meditations, which I’ll get to later in this article and a hope board – where I can put anything that inspires me. Once I open the app, I am greeted with a quote and a calming background of my choosing. I think everyone should track how they’re feeling. Learn more about Pacifica here.

Have you used Pacifica or anything like it? How do you track how you feel?

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2. Voice Memos

I use voice memos purely for two reasons – to record myself singing and to record myself talking. Talking??

Yes, talking! To myself…

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Hear me out! When you vent to a friend or family member, you usually feel better right? When someone really listens to you and how you’re feeling you feel lighter, correct? Well, what if you don’t have someone around or don’t feel like talking to other people?

You should be your best friend – and as your best friend, it’s important to talk to and listen to yourself. When I make voice recordings, I usually talk about how I’m feeling in full. I talk about how I’m feeling internally, any thoughts that pop up, and how I’m feeling externally. Example:

“This couch is really soft. I like the feel of it a lot. I was a bit bothered today by (insert scenario here) though. I’m feeling a bit hungry at the moment too. That made me think…”

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What have I found by doing this? I’m glad you asked. Talking is very cathartic. And by having this recording – which you can listen to after or delete immediately – you have a feel for how you feel. Sometimes I end up solving my own problems by talking them out.

3. Journaling

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I am the BIGGEST advocate for journaling. As a pensive person, writing things down is my saving grace. When I journal, I free-write, allowing myself to write down whatever comes to mind. Usually, I write at the end of the day, detailing the following: how I’m feeling in the moment, how I felt all day, what I did today, what I learned today, what I’m grateful for, what I want to happen tomorrow, etc. The list truly goes on and on…

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Aside from emptying my brain onto pages, I’ve gained a lot of insight about how I feel about certain things in my life and what events cause me to feel certain ways. I’m able to look back and read my own development – you grow a lot from journaling, in a matter of days sometimes. It’s a safe space for me to be as aggressive, crass, sad, excited, grateful, or (insert emotion) that I want. Plus seeing how you feel can be a game changer. By writing in your journal you can express how you feel with all your heart’s intent, and by reading your journal you can look observationally at these feelings to see what they tell you.

Buzzfeed knows what I’m talking about, and there are dozens of Youtube videos to guide you if you decide to pick up that pen. Pssst, you really should!

Question: Would you like to see a whole post dedicated to journaling? I’m thinking of so many resources and tips that go along with journaling, but we have to get to the next on our list here which is…

4. Meditating

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Okay, okay, I’ll be honest. I don’t meditate as often as I’d like to. In fact, when I meditate it’s actually an accomplishment – but I’m striving to be better! What I’ve noticed with meditation is that it encourages the act of being mindful and of being in the moment. Some of the most helpful guided meditations I’ve listened to encourage identifying how you feel before and after the meditation. After I have a successful meditation I realize the following things:

  • Mentally I feel lighter, and I have fewer thoughts swimming through my mind. The thoughts that I do have are more pleasant and clear-headed.
  • Emotionally I feel good, stable, and gentle.
  • My body feels softer, and all tension that I had before the meditation has floated away
  • I feel much more present. No brain fog for me!
  • I take notice of my surroundings a lot more.

If you’d like to have a clearer mind and better understanding of how you feel, start with some guided meditations. There are free ones on Youtube and some free ones on the Pacifica app I mentioned earlier.

5. Taking a shower

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There’s something about running water that gets you thinking about life. Whenever I take a shower, I use that time to let myself reflect on how I’m feeling.

Am I worried at all? Stressed? Symbolically, I use the water from my shower to wash out all thoughts of worry or stress from the hours before. It really helps me to identify how I’m feeling, and to dissolve anything that doesn’t serve me at the moment.

Next time you take a shower, use that time to tune in to your star player… you! Take note of how you’re feeling, and let yourself feel that in full. Feel the water, feel the soap, and feel the feels.  

Let me know what mindfulness practices you’ve found helpful, and what tips or resources you’re considering using!

 

All the best,

Valencia Saint-Louis

#4: After the Fog (Life Update)


Life update! 

After publishing my last post, I took some time off to understand how I was feeling. Simply put, I learned a lot about myself. 

I found that I wasn’t feeling useful, excited, and that I wasn’t as mindful as I usually am. I found that when I experience episodes of stress or moments in fog, that it helped to talk about these feelings with others. Even if they couldn’t do anything but listen. 

I took to revitalizing my self-care routines and practices, which helped recenter me. Once I had this time to reset, I came up with some conclusions as a result:

  • Every day is a blessing; another opportunity for us to create and decide.
  • Our lives are what we make of it. We have the power to decide what we want to do and how we want to perceive life. 
  • When you’re open with others about the stress that you feel, a lot of people are understanding. 
  • Sometimes you need a break, or to switch up your routine. 

Meditating helped me strengthen my personal connection with God, and I found that showering became another grounding ritual for me. Getting my eyebrows threaded and nails painted lifted my spirits as well. I feel like a lady again instead of Chewbacca! 


Now that I’m going back to school, I want to maintain being as mindful and present as possible. My accountability partnership has helped me become more aware of the progress I’ve made with my goals. I feel motivated to continue pursuing my goals with consistency and determination! 

My next post will be about the practices and resources I’ve used to help me be mindful of how I’m feeling. It’s important to tap into how you feel. We ask others all the time, but really, how are you feeling? And what can you do to feel better?

I’m grateful for what I’ve learned in this time off. And I can’t wait to share more!

Wishing you well,

Valencia Saint-Louis