#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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#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

#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

#3: Stuck in Fog


Hello all! Part of my mission with Valencia’s Voice includes reflection, and being honest with myself and others about what’s going on. So that’s exactly what I intend to do in this post. 

For the past couple of days, I’ve noticed that I don’t feel present. I wake up and go through the motions of the day. The day passes, and I end up not remembering any of it. It’s as if night comes by faster than it did before, and there’s nothing new to report. The days all feel the same, and the nights are not all that different either. 

The best way I can describe this is by saying I’ve been stuck in fog. Things are pretty hazy. My feelings aren’t negative, but nothing is clear to me. And I don’t feel as if I’m actually here

As I reflect on it now, I see that it probably stems from the lack of sleep I’m getting. As well as the dissatisfaction I feel whenever I wake up late, which happens because I go to bed too late. It’s a cycle. Sleep late, wake up late, and stay in a dream-like haze until it’s time to sleep again. 

Here’s what I’ve decided to do about it:

  1. Go to sleep earlier – develop a routine of getting ready for bed and sleeping at the same time every night. 
  2. Meditate with the intention of being more present.
  3. Find grounding rituals – things that bring me back to this present moment, such as anything observable with my five senses. 
  4. Talk about how I’m feeling with others frequently. Additionally, engage in meaningful conversations that spark my interest. Perhaps a talk with my accountability partner could bring some focus and motivation into view. 
  5. Reset and assess what it is that I find stimulating, exciting, and motivating in life. 

Understanding this state of mind is an important step to getting out of it. Life is meant to be lived fully. We are meant to experience now. Truly, all we really have is this present moment to live in. I thought it would be important to open up about this fog I’ve been in, and to set up some steps to move forward from it. 

Have any of you experienced anything similar? And if so, do you have any suggestions as to how to move forward? I would love to start a dialogue about this, and create a running list of helpful tips for others who may be feeling the same way. 

All the best,

Valencia Saint-Louis 

#2: Why You Should Have An Accountability Partner

You know what’s great? Having goals. 

You know what’s not? When you don’t reach them.

I was talking to my best friend recently, and  decided to ask them to be my accountability partner. I have a lot of upcoming projects and habits I want to maintain, and I figured some support would do wonders. But then I thought, What exactly is an accountability partner, and what can I gain by having one?

Boxing Coach

I like to think of accountability partners as boxing coaches. The ones that wipe your sweat and give you pep talks. Does that really happen by the way? Or is it just in the movies?

Accountability partners are NOT people that will magically make you more productive or give you willpower. They won’t box the match for you, but they’ll give you some motivation to keep fighting.

Usually when it comes to goals, I tend to move in silence. I don’t let anyone know what I’m plotting until I’ve already accomplished it. But I started to realize that some goals (since no one was holding me accountable to them) became easier to drop. I didn’t stick with them after a while.

For me, I want an accountability partner to help motivate me to continue with my goals, and form positive habits. I’d also like someone to run all my game plans with.

Why Should I Get an Accountability Partner?

I’m so glad you asked! There’s a lot of ways an accountability partner can help you get to where you want to be. Accountability partners: motivate you, support you in what you want to accomplish, give advice and/or resources to help you move forward, and listen to how you want to improve your life. It’s nice to have someone that cares about your betterment, and keeps you on track.

Additionally, regular check-ins with your partner make you more conscious of what you want to accomplish. It also adds some pressure. Progress reports can be a bit embarrassing if you haven’t been doing what you said you would – but that makes you all the more conscious! It propels you to be consistent, to keep your promises to yourself, and to get work done.

Below I’ve included a video featuring my friend Simon Sinek, author and public speaker, to back me up on this. Okay, he’s not exactly my friend, but he’d totally agree with me!

Simon Sinek – Accountability Partners

Where to Start


My best friend and I are currently setting up a date to talk about what we want to get out of our accountability partnership. I already have a bunch of ideas, and I can’t wait to get started. When going into an accountability partnership, it’s important to:

  1. Decide what it is you want to accomplish. What goal do you want to reach? What habit do you want to create/break?
  2. Pick someone that inspires you. Someone that is reliable and can motivate you to be your best (For me, my best friend is very driven and consistent. They inspire me to be self-motivated, and they care about my success as I do theirs).
  3. Establish what you want to get out of the partnership.  How can this person help you with what you seek to accomplish? What do you need most from this person in order to feel motivated and confident about what you’re doing? Talk to your partner about what they can offer you, and make a plan of what works best.
  4. Be vocal about what you can offer your partner. This isn’t just a one-way street. Make sure your partner knows that you are just as much about their success as they are yours. Let them know about the support, skills, and resources you can provide them with to achieve their goal(s).
  5. Set up a time each week to talk about your progress. Make sure you check in with your partner every week (or at least within a convenient, consistent time frame) to discuss how each of you are doing with your respective goals. It could be through text, a phone call, FaceTime, snail mail, walkie talkie, whatever. Check up on one another. In relation to your goals talk about your: successes, challenges, observations, feelings, and reflections.

I’m looking forward to having a partner-with-purpose. A partner-in-productivity. It’ll be nice having someone I can talk to about taking over the worl- I mean, writing blog posts of course. Cheers to many more!

All the best,

Valencia Saint-Louis