#20: Hiatus, Feelings, Recent Favs

*4 months later*

After the ridiculously long hiatus, I’m back. And it feels good.

Where was I, you might ask? Well, after I finished finals, my summer kicked off with a trip to Atlanta, a new internship, and a whirlwind of emotions to say the least. It’s been a very eventful season so far. So thank you for bearing with me. I’ve had at least 3 people in the past week ask me what happened to the website. Thanks for the push, y’all. Let’s chat.

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Beauty from Atlanta.

What I’ve learned recently…

For starters, I learned that vegan Chinese food places exist in places like Atlanta. If you’re in the area, I highly suggest a place called “Herban Fix” for fusion cuisine. And I for one want to say how AWESOME that is! Not sure if I’ve told you this before, but I’m a vegetarian. That just means I don’t eat meat (e.g., chicken, pork, beef, etc.) but as long as I’m not eating at a steakhouse, I can usually sort through sides and veggie platters and find something to eat. Walking into a vegan food spot was a whole different experience – I could eat absolutely everything that was on the menu. And that felt amazing! More vegan food places, please! If you know of any great vegan or vegetarian restaurants near you (no matter where you are), let me know. I’m always down to travel and eat great food.

Another pretty important thing that I’ve learned is how to truly love my natural hair. Almost two years ago, I decided I would stop using relaxers on my hair and instead grow out my tightly coiled, natural strands (shoutout to my beautiful friends and family who helped me with that transition).

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That moment when you successfully do a twist out but one loose strand wants to ruin your picture and you won’t allow it. That’s meeee.

I knew I wanted to try going natural at some point. I also knew by the warnings of many that it would be a lot of work to maintain. But I wanted a real relationship with my hair – so yes, sis, that took and is still taking work. As all relationships do! But the work is so worth it! Wash day for my hair is a self-care day for me. Twisting and seeing how versatile my hair is has been a beautiful experience.

Another gem that has come up for me recently is the idea that you attract and maintain relationships with others based on how you make them FEEL. I was speaking with my dad about this in the car one day, and it really stuck with me. It seems like so often when we’re looking to make real connections with other people, we place a disproportionate amount of that energy on things like our appearance more than how we feel and how we’re making the other person feel. Now DO NOT get me wrong. Keeping yourself healthy and taking care of your physical attractiveness is essential for both feeling good in general and initially catching someone’s eye. Continue being a snack, please. The issue comes in when we forget that for the people in our relationships to feel good when they are with us, we have to be authentic and feeling good ourselves.

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We all know that person that lights up a room when they step in. We all have a friend that we feel entirely safe with and can confide in. We all know someone who is basically doing a killer stand up comedy set whenever we see them. The point is, we remember how the people in our lives make us feel. That sticks out to us a lot more than other stuff like aesthetics, especially in the long term. So be yourself, and bring joy to others when you can. Doing so allows others to genuinely connect with you and want more of that sweet, happy feeling they get when they just think of you.

What I favorite recently…

DayDesigner planner – if there’s one thing you’ll learn about me, I like planners. LOL okay let’s be real here, I love them. And this one, in particular, is super useful to me because of the weekly and monthly spread. To build a great life, you gotta get strategic, people.

Summer Durant – “Same” – Spoken word poetry has always held a place in my heart. Here’s one of many that have stuck out to me recently.

Latino Men Try Therapy For The First Time – I’m a big advocate for taking care of your mental health. I also believe that specific communities (like those of people of color and men) need to be encouraged to do so more because of the stigma surrounding things like going to therapy, opening up about how you’re feeling, and being vulnerable. This video appealed to me for all of those reasons.

Tyler Perry’s BET Award Acceptance Speech – help somebody cross.

Four months was four months too long to be gone, I know. Let’s start again. For now, have an incredible week and enjoy the last of July! And tell me, what have you learned recently?

#19: Midterm Season

Hey peeps!

Long time, no post. I know, I know. But I promise I’ll be back soon! I wanted to check-in to let you know that last week was Spring Break for me and now I have midterms all week (p.s. send help), which is why I haven’t posted in a while. I’ll be back on my flow as soon as these tests are over!

Although this isn’t my usual weekly reflections post, I wanted to leave you with a few gems and favorites to hold you over until the weekend:

  • What you should think about: Take the time to figure out what you TRULY value, be honest with yourself, and spend more time doing things that align with that. What do you value the most? Work, relationships, your health? How are you spending your time now?
  • Fav natural product you should try: If you haven’t tried African Black Soap, I HIGHLY recommend it. Especially if you have “problem” or “acne-prone” skin.
    • Note: you’ll likely find this at any beauty supply store near you, but I included a link to an “Amazon’s choice” African Black Soap. The tip I’ll give with buying these soaps is to choose those that look less neat and more “earthy”. There are marketed African Black Soaps that are completely black and smooth, but I’ve read that for the best quality soap you should go with the ones that look closer to this:

 

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Source: Google Images – Cleopatra’s Choice

 

May we all prosper this week — and may these test scores be ON POINT. Sending you positive vibes, always.

Valencia Saint-Louis

#16: Energy Management and Weekly Favorites

Happy Friday, everyone!

I know what you’re thinking… it’s been a while. 

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I couldn’t even tell you what kept me occupied these past two weeks. The days seem to fly by so fast now that I don’t seem to remember what I did the day before if I don’t journal or write it down somewhere. But now I’m finding space and time to sit and write. I’m getting a lot better at managing my energy, carving out alone-time, and reducing stress.

My calendar (and my room) are less chaotic, and I’ve actually gotten to a point where I feel at peace. It almost feels… suspicious. You know what I mean? It feels like because I’m not stressing out that I’m not doing enough. Which is probably just a product of associating being stressed out and “busy” – a word I never like to use – with being productive. Which is NOT the case. At least not 24/7 bad stress.

I’m learning how to work smarter instead of harder and to be intentional about what I do and why I do it. Like I mentioned in my last post, there’s a cost to everything. Being intentional about how we spend our time and energy is super important.

 

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Me to me when I try to take on the world before lunch ^

 

If you’re a student, a leader, a Type-A, or anything of that sort, here’s some advice I can offer you that’s helped me find peace these past two weeks:

  1. Ask for help when you need it. Yes, you are fully capable of doing anything you put your mind to. But you are also more productive and at peace when you have the support from others that you need to get to the next level. Let others help you.
  2. If you can help it set aside 30 minutes to 1 hour every day, at the same time, for you to you decompress and relax. Put it in your Google Calendar. I’m serious. Make it as much of a priority as your schoolwork, work, or client meetings are. Use that time to listen to your needs.
  3.  Prioritize connection. Life is more than what you do. It’s the connections you make too. Be in flow with people that make you happy and feel most alive.
  4. Take slow, deep breaths.

I hope you had a nice Valentine’s Day if you celebrate it, and that you’re showing yourself and those you love lots of love this weekend!

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Weekly Favorites

Podcast: Oprah Winfrey, Part 1 (Oprah’s Master Class: The Podcast).

Youtube Video: Oprah’s Tearful Speech at Power of Women

Article: 7 Essential Tips For First Time Managers in 2019

InterviewCharlamagne Tha God – Combatting the Stigma Around Mental Health in “Shook One” | The Daily Show

Quote: “The grass is greener where you water it”

#15: What’s the Cost?, Needing to Recharge, Weekly Favorites

Hey peeps!

Last week was my first week back to school, and it felt nice. All the classes I’m taking this semester are aligned with what I want to create, experience, and do moving forward so I’m happy about that. For example, I’m taking a class on creating podcasts (*wink* – so expect to hear my voice in the near future!) It also kinda feels good to have a schedule and see familiar faces again. I’m feeling productive, which of course, always makes me feel good.

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Introspection Time: What’s the Cost?

With the start of a new semester, I also re-celebrated the importance of mentorship, introspection, and relaxation. I spoke with wonderful people about how important it is to do things purposefully and to always ask yourself what you’re giving up whenever you decide to take on something new. As someone who is known for leading different initiatives and participating in multiple things, this was a much-needed reminder. There’s a cost to everything; saying yes to one thing means saying no to another. So yeah, I could start another club. But what is that saying no to? Yeah, I could pack my schedule with lots of meetings but is that at the expense of my personal health? What will have to give?

And that’s been kinda hard… thinking about what has to give, I mean. There’s so much I want to do but I keep trying to remind myself that:

  • I have plenty of time; I don’t have to do everything right now, at this moment in my life. 5-year plan, anyone?
  • Doing more doesn’t mean you’re getting a lot more done.
  • Delegating is necessary for survival. Lol.

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Needing to Recharge

After the full and beautiful week I had last came to a close, I realized something big. I need to take time to rest and recharge. Let me say that again for the future-me looking back at this post and nodding her head – I NEED to take time to rest and recharge. And if you’re someone who is in school, working, taking care of others, or just living a full (I never like to say busy) life, then I encourage you to soak up that reminder too. In the past couple of days, I felt like my days consisted of waking up, immediately getting to work and interacting, and coming home only to do more work and fall asleep. So naturally, my body and mind feel a little cheated. Like, hey what happened to all that relaxation and me-time we got during break? Why’d that stop?

Not to say I don’t LOVE the things that I’m doing and the connections I’m making. It’s just that everyone needs a little me-time, you know? Especially considering the fact that I consider myself an introvert (maybe an ambivert) who needs that alone-time to prevent and deal with feeling drained.

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Weekly Favorites:

This week I felt a lot closer to my loved ones and a lot more productive than usual. Sobering discussions and extensions of love kept me grounded this week. Here are some of my favorites from the past couple of days:

Podcast: Oprah’s SuperSoul Conversation with Daniel Goleman on Emotional Intelligence

Place: Target – I made a trip there this weekend and it reminded me of how much I love that place!

App: Google Calendar (my SAVING GRACE during the semester)

Quote: “The master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house” – Audre Lorde

I hope you have an awesome week ahead, filled with introspection and plenty of time to relax.

#14: Prioritizing Connection, Restless Sleep, and Weekly Favorites

It feels like a lot happened this week, even though I didn’t do much. I wasn’t as productive as I have been for the past couple of weeks, but I took a lot of time to check-in with friends and connect with my family. There were a lot of phone calls, laughs, and real conversations. And now that I think about it, maybe I needed a week like that. I’ve spent so much time thinking about how I can be productive by getting stuff done, but perhaps not enough time reconnecting with my loved ones and trying to work on the relationships that matter a lot to me.

Prioritizing Connection

A major lesson this week: in the midst of trying to personally develop in your career, studies, financial pursuits, etc. make sure to prioritize your relationships with others. Relationships are what connect us. So after your meeting today, call up your best friend. Or maybe while you’re cleaning, check-in with your brother. Make time for real connection.

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Restless Sleep

Towards the beginning of this week, I had some trouble falling asleep. I kept tossing and turning. I think it’s because I kept doing important, stimulating, and creative work right before going to bed super late. So, of course, the second my tired body hit the bed my mind was like, “WHY ARE WE POWERING DOWN?? More ideas! More creativity! Time. To. Be. Up!”

Thankfully my sleep got a lot better once I:

  1. Shut down my electronics about an hour before going to sleep.
  2. Went to sleep earlier.
  3. Stopped eating at a certain time.
  4. Took some deep breaths and stretched before sleep.

 

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Now that I’m going back to school, I have to fix my sleep schedule… and quick lol. I’m ready to go back but at the same time it feels like I never left.

Weekly Favorites:

P.S. did anyone see the new M. Night Shyamalan film, Glass? I saw it yesterday and thought it was shot so well! I won’t spoil anything, but it really makes you think about our own perceptions of who the good and bad guys are.

Hope you had a week filled with connection, good sleep, and good movies!

#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