#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?

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

 

#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