Reimagining My Life Led Me Back To Bikram Yoga

I’ll never forget the day. I was enjoying my day off from working fast food, and mentally preparing to start community college after deciding to no longer join the navy. Sitting on my mother’s old washing machine I found solace as I replayed someone saying, “think about what you love to do, and make it your career,” over and over in my head. Since my sophomore year of high school I knew I wanted to be a journalist, but as I held an issue of Cosmogirl in my hand it seemed to click.

I always loved reading magazines since I was a tween. I had my first subscription to Teen and YM magazine at 12, and had countless magazines all over my room. I loved reading the featured stories- they were always so interesting, eye-opening, and in-depth. Even if I didn’t see myself in the mainstream magazines I always had Vibe, The Source, Honey, XXL, and Sister 2 Sister.

That day on the washing machine is when I decided the magazine industry was going to be my focus. I never gave up on that dream over the years. Fast forward past attending Howard University, internships, and moving to New York City, and things didn’t pan out exactly as I had hoped over the course of my career. Being on the other side of 30-years-old has me reimagining my life.

What I want now looks different. What I value has shifted. I’m clearer on the lifestyle that brings out the best in me. This has been one of the hardest self-realizations I’ve had to have about my career EVER.

Luckily, I’m a millennial with access to various new options thanks to digital media. But I’m still not sure what I want my new career to look like.  

At the Pretty Powerful You Vision Board and Manifestation workshop with OmNoire and XONecole, I asked life coach and feng shui expert, LaShell Wooten, about how to imagine a new life when suddenly you no longer want what you wanted, and don’t know what’s next. She advised me, and the rest of the audience, to lay in bed when waking up, and think about what you want to do that day before getting ready for work. It could be whatever I wanted. There were no limits.  

Necole Kane and I after the Pretty Powerful You 2018 workshop

As I practiced this exercise almost everyday since that sunny, late January afternoon the one thing that has stayed consistent is going to bikram yoga in the morning. I wake up just wanting to have that 90 minutes to be physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually connected to myself. I’ve been doing yoga since I was 19, but tried bikram five years ago when I first moved to New York City. I ended up falling in love with it.

It wasn’t until January 2016, when I found myself unemployed (again), nursing a broken heart, and trying to figure things out that I attempted a 30-day challenge. Those 30 days changed the way I saw myself, and felt about my strengths, weaknesses, judgements, and resilience. I was empowered by myself in the mirror, and by Stephanie Pope Caffey, the black women who led the class (and owned the studio).

My first time doing bikram yoga documented on Instagram June 28, 2013

For the first time I realized how disconnected I was from myself, and was able to change that in a way I wasn’t expecting. I always think back to that month in hopes of practicing consistently again. The older I get my health in these areas have become paramount to me living my best life.

Here are the things I discovered in each area while practicing bikram:

Emotional

To be honest I don’t like feeling emotions, especially not several in a day. I’m more of an analytical person #virgo.

I can be very hard on myself and judgemental, but in bikram that just makes the class harder. I had to give myself grace and permission to try, push, and start again if I needed. With everything in life some things are easier than others, and bikram is no different. I wasn’t emotionally in a space to accept that truth at that time.

In the beginning, I made myself wrong or bad for what I couldn’t do. Eventually I had let the feelings pass like a wave and keep it moving. The kinder I was to myself the easier it was to get through the class.

Over time, I learned when it comes to having control over my emotions there’s a difference from stuffing my feelings, and letting them pass. I had to let go of what I wasn’t or was, and just be or else the bad emotions would follow me from pose to pose. I recognized that every day was going to be different, and that was okay. The highs and lows didn’t have be a “thing” every time. It is what it is, and can remain that way.  

Spiritually

When I read The Purpose Driven Life by Robert Warren, (I wrote more about that experience here), I remember in the book it saying how everyone worships different. Growing up in church I thought you always had to be loud, singing, dancing, etc. until I read that. I instinctively knew I was a quiet worshipper, and that was how I connected with God. I love peace and quiet.

As much as I LOVE the city and turning up I’m actually a very quiet person most of the time. With other workouts that I enjoy there’s always music playing to get you hype and motivated. This was the first time I worked out in complete silence. The only sound was my breathe, and the instructor giving the poses- after a while I began to tune the instructor out and just flow.

Staring at myself in the mirror as I maintained my poses made me feel deeply connected to myself and God like never before in those moments. I felt like I was worshipping God through each pose, breath, and sweat bead dripping from my pores. Through that I also connected to myself. It was a connection I didn’t even realize I yearned for.

Physical

Being a plus size girl I’m aware of other people’s limitations put on my body. During my 30 days, the instructor didn’t limit me. She pushed me to go deeper and stretch further, and gave me modifications- which never happened in classes led by white instructors. I saw, and felt, my own strength and capabilities through various poses.

I became more intune with my body, and what does and doesn’t work for it, and I listened to it. If at no other time in my day I had to listen to my body in bikram.

Also, I love sweating! It’s not as enjoyable when I’m all dressed up with make-up and stuff on, but half naked in a yoga studio is perfect. After a couple of weeks my face cleared up. My body was detoxing, and my appetite changed. Eating the wrong foods before bikram (i.e. dairy, alcohol, fried food, and carbs) can make a big difference in performance and the intensity of being in the hot room. I also had some of the bed sleep in my life! #Ilovesleep #sleepovereverything

Living in New York I’m constantly walking around, so I never underestimate the power of stretching. My ability to move quicker, swifter, and without the limitations of tight muscles was liberating after every bikram class. I felt taller, my posture was better, and my breathing was deeper.

Mental

I love the heat. I’m a summer baby, and grew up on the west coast, but being in a room at 106 degree is completely different. Moving, twisting, turning, going up and down while literally sweating everything you have inside takes mental focus and stamina.

Bikram is a safe space for all body types, races, and physical capabilities. Everyone is practically naked. In any other circumstance I would be self-conscious of various things about my body, but I have to let it go. If for no other reason, but to concentrate on not dying from a heat stroke.

You have to be able to control of your thoughts to get through it all because once class starts you can’t leave the room. Focusing has never been a strong area for me, but when it’s either focus or mind fuck yourself into feeling like you’re about to die- YOU FOCUS! One bad thought will have you believing you’re suffocating or can’t breathe. Mental and emotional focus are not optional. I’ve had to take complete accountability for how I’ve shown up to the mat and performed whether good or bad.

Some days were better than others, but the more I did it the more the heat and time were no longer a thing for me. I realized how little it was about physically doing yoga, and being able to have mental stamina. Something that I’ve struggled with no matter how much meditation and other tricks I’ve tried in the past.

One of the best things a bikram instructor said was think of it like you’re swimming. I love to swim so I always go back to that when the sweat becomes too much.

As I reflect on what was once a dream for my life, and discover what is to come for me I’m glad I have this marker of confidence to pull from. I saw, felt, and believed in myself just because, and that is power, love, and faith.    

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Valentine’s Day Mixtape:Beyonce Edition

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Beyonce is without a doubt known for her girl power anthems. We appreciate her for those songs of course, but what’s a woman without a man?! Bitter (if you ask me). There’s no questioning the fact that Beyonce not only has a man but the ring to go along with it.

Just as much as she can sing, dance, and dazzle us all on stage mesmerizing her husband, Jay Z, is also something she’s proven to be good at. Afterall, she is a Virgo.

Beyonce’s love songs aren’t about the sex as much as it’s about the love, admiration, and appreciation she has for him. Anybody can sing about sex *cough Kelly cough* but it takes a real woman to let her man know her true feelings and emotions towards him. It takes even more courage to be vulnerable and submissive as well. That my friend is true intimacy.

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Among all that she makes it clear that her man is the only man she wants. Men need to feel confident in knowing that there is no one else in the world you’d rather be with.

For this Valentine’s Day I put together 14 of Yonce’s best songs that you can dedicate to your man while reminding him he’s special this season. I suggest you take notes if you need to. (lol)

1- Be With You
Key line: “I am your woman, I belong to you

2- Hello
Key line: “You dont have to try so hard for me to love you, you had me at ‘Hello!‘”

3- Rather Die Young
Key line: “I’m giving you my life, is in your hands, and what I’m gonna do, is be a woman and you can be the man… I’d rather give up everything than to live my life without you

4- Baby, You’re The Only Man
Key line: “Baby you’re the only man that I want, Youre the only man that I love, You’re the only one that truly makes me happy, and I’m so happy I met you

5- Beyonce Interlude/Gift From Virgo
Key line: “How I wish I could be with you right now, every morning, every afternoon, every night I wanna be with you

6-Crazy In Love
Key line:”I look and stare so deep in your eyes, I touch on you more and more everytime

7-Lay Up Under Me
Key line: “Boy if you just call I’m on my way, when it comes to my baby I bring my best… cause its obvious to see that you’re where I wanna be

8-Dreaming
Key line:”I think the luckiest girl in the whole wide world could be me, I get to be with the one that I want anytime I please

9-Halo
Key line:”I found a way to let you in but I never really had a doubt

10-I’m Glad There Is You
Key line:”In this world where many people play at love but hardly stay in love I’m glad there is you

11-Speechless
Key line:”I know that you love when we touch like that, I can feel you need me, feels so good to me, feels so good to me

12-Countdown
Key line:”Oh killing me softly and I’m still falling, still the one I need I will always be with you

13-Slow Love
Key line:”I need a little laughter, and love will follow after

14-Dance For You
Key line:”Boy look into my eyes, when I’m grindin’ on you, this is beyond sex, I’m high on you

My Beyonce Love Songs Deluxe Edition features songs that I love, but might not be considered romantic, they’re straight forward nonetheless.

That’s How You Like It
I love this song! A woman who appreciates her man’s swag and thuggish appeal, if your man is a thug, can definitely let this ride out as she thinks of him.

What’s It Gonna Be
If finding a man at the club appeals to you this song will definitely get your mind right for the man on the dance floor, at the bar, or in VIP that you’re plotting on.

Poison
For the dysfunctional lover who is addicted to her man in any way and unsure if she wants to stay or leave him this song will speak to the conflict inside your heart, body, and soul.

Any Questions? Let me know your thoughts.

Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!
-TheJournalist25 xoxo

All Of The Lights

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Every place you vacation has something special about it. When it comes to Las Vegas no matter how many times I visit or how old I get I’m still enamored by all the lights. It makes me feel like anything can happen and is happening at every moment. It brings the same excitement I got as a child at Disneyland.

There are so many lights with a variation of colors and blinking patterns spread all around the strip and city. There are lights inside and outside the hotels along the walls, up, down, and all around. I’m a woman all about the details and the lights awaken my curiosity of how it all comes together. It may sound weird but it’s actually very sobering for me in “Sin City”.

The lights signal that things are moving and shaking whether you see it or not just like life. You may not see things that are happening but there are always things going on. I guess as a nosy journalist I’m always looking between the lines to find the hidden story. The lights do that for me. I know inside every hotel, casino, store, restaurant, and club things are happening and there is a story.

The lights and billboards are constantly moving with advertisements for the various live shows in the Entertainment Capital of the World. People are constantly flying into the city, checking into the hotels, moving, shaking and deals are being made 24/7 hours. People refer to New York City as the city that doesn’t sleep but I beg to differ, Las Vegas NEVER sleeps!

The lights bring about inspiration and beauty in its own way. A beauty created and designed by humans. It has its technicalities and equations that make it work (oh, ya’ll didn’t I was a nerd) and it all comes together for us to experience. They’re a sign of abundance and money to be made, won, or created. Driving (or walking) down the strip puts you in the middle of it all. Each hotel, casino, and light was once just somebody’s vision now made a reality.

The realist in me knows that everything that glitters isn’t gold, but the romanticist in me doesn’t care because I  choose to create my world among the city’s illuminating lights.

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What are your thoughts on the lights? What do you love about Las Vegas? Is there another city full of lights that I need to check out?

-TheJournalist25 xoxo

A Bitch Like Belle

Belle

I was born a real bitch that does real things. I know this because my favorite Disney movie has always been Beauty and the Beast since it came out in 1991. With that being said Belle is my favorite Disney princess and always has been and always will be. Why? Because she’s a real bitch, that does real things.

Okay, for starters Belle is smart, loves to read, is an oddball in her town but comfortable in her own skin. She’s beautiful and all the dudes want to get with her, but she’s too smart to fall for those losers. She’s a leader.

Then, she’s bold enough to 1) reject Gaston on a regular 2) go look for her father when nobody else would and stepped up in a strange person’s house without permission. She tamed the beast aka a thug with a heart. Only a bomb bad bitch (read: bold, genuine and real female) can do that. She loved him for him only to become a princess. She loved him past his flaws, but also challenged him to be better. During her time in the castle she treated everybody nicely and with respect. `

Overall, she wasn’t perfect, but she did what was necessary and reaped the rewards because of her genuine nature.

How can you not love let alone appreciate a bitch like Belle?!

As a little girl I was never really big on reruns and watching the same thing over and over, but I could watch this movie all day. I wanted to be her for Halloween and had my room and birthday party themed after Beauty and the Beast. You couldn’t tell me nothin’ and still can’t (obviously).

I still have the movie on VHS, but not DVD 😦 (gift idea for any takers).

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May I also add that she inspired girls all over the world to love reading. BAD BITCH! I’ve dreamed about having a beautiful library in my house since I was six. My place of living will never be complete without a some type of library area if not a room just dedicated to reading separate from my office/work area.

Get It Bitch!

I absolutely loved that golden yellow gown  she wore as they ballroom danced. The color inspired my prom dress and will be incorporated in my wedding colors (not that I’ve planned my wedding or anything).

Lastly, I’d like to add that she didn’t wait for true love she simply lived her life and stumbled into love with her not so charming prince. Four things you can learn from Belle when it comes to love:

1-Don’t be so consumed with yourself and career that you leave no room for love. She could’ve told the beast “look I ain’t got time for you I’m busy reading this book” but she didn’t. Not only that, but there was no other women to persuade her to date him she did it because she wanted to. (Ladies, ya’ll know what I’m talkin’ about.)

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2-Love takes effort and work. She went through some rough patches with the Beast even in the beginning but she saw beyond all those claws, sharp teeth and growling. In the same vain she recognized the effort that he put in also with the dinner and little changes he made. He also still made sure she had the best.

3- Let it go. She could’ve held a grudge against the Beast because he captured her father and then held her captive but she didn’t. Letting go of the anger and negative feelings toward him allowed her to fall in love. You need to let go and forgive the past men and even the dumb things your current man does to move forward and make room for love.

4-She genuinely had her man’s back. When they went to kill her man she was on her full ride or die chick. She might even be one of the original ride or dies. She saved his life and made him wanna be a better man. I just love that scene when she grabs his shirt and pulls him from falling with Gaston. #realbitch

Don’t Front On That Peabo Bryson Version OF Tales As Old As Time.

-TheJournalist25 xoxo

A Love Like This: Domestic Violence

There I was in the street, with a fist pulled back ready to fly into my face while the other hand tightly gripped me by my jacket. I stared into my boyfriend’s eyes as a way of daring him to actually hit me, but also fearful that he would.

I was 18 and embarrassed.

I come from a past where my father abused my mother and my grandfather abused my grandmother. There I was staring into his eyes about to fall victim to the vicious cycle.

Unfortunately, domestic violence doesn’t have an age, race, or class to strictly match the face. It can happen to anyone. It manifest in multiple ways- physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual.

Several events took place before the day I stood in the street about to be punched in the face by my boyfriend. It started with name calling, manipulating me emotionally, lying, and other huge red flags.

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Recently, I attended a Teenage Domestic Violence conference that empowered the young ladies in attendance to protect themselves by not attracting abusive men. I couldn’t help but think “Wow, that’s a great place to start.”

Yes, it’s important to know the signs of an abusive partner, but starting from the inside out is a better solution than what to do when it happens. During the conference the girls learned about eating healthy, doing yoga as a way of exercise and meditation, and affirmative ways to think of themselves. All of these everyday things play a major role in attracting the right friends and partners in our life. Something most of us weren’t lucky enough to realize as teenagers.

Abusers choose people who they believe they can abuse. There were plenty of stories told to the young ladies about women being abused emotionally, mentally, sexually and physically. I decided to keep my story to myself. The early signs that a relationship wasn’t going to be healthy and so on were also presented to them. The day truly encompassed everything for these girls to put in their toolbox of life.

I was glad to see them receptive to the information. I noticed they wanted to know how to help other girls who may need help with unhealthy, abusive relationships. Sometimes the hardest thing to do is see your friend in a bad relationship and not be able to help.

Nearly three out of four (74%) of Americans personally know someone who is or has been a victim of domestic violence. 

Approximately one in five female high school students reports being physically and/or sexually abused by a dating partner.

These girls didn’t want to just help their friends but any girl they saw who may need help. That’s what it’s about being able to help our fellow sisters with the information we have.

That day in the street I felt alone and vulnerable as so many women do when abuse of any kind is in their life. Luckily, for me his fist went down to his side instead of crash landing on my face, but for many women this isn’t the case.

One in four women (25%) has experienced domestic violence in her lifetime.

Later that evening after the conference the organization that held it, New Star Family Center,  had a fundraising dinner. I had the pleasure of attending thanks to Kandee Lewis, a facilitator during the conference and executive director of Positive Results Corporation. I learned more about their efforts in helping women trying to escape an abusive relationship.

The money is being raised to build a comprehensive center in Hawthorne, CA (Los Angeles) that help women get all the help they need when leaving their abuser. These things include getting a restraining order, legal counsel, car seats for their babies, etc in one place. This makes it easier than having to go to several buildings and find different organizations that provide all the help they need. Especially since most women leave with nothing.

I found that this is very important because it takes a woman being abused an average of 7 times before actually being able to leave their spouse for good. Just remember the several times in “What’s Love Got To Do With It” Tina Turner tried to leave Ike Turner. Now imagine regular women trying to do the same thing.

I’ll admit I never gave the process that much thought. I thought you just eventually leave the person or kill them. Boy, was I completely wrong. I’m glad I was made more aware of the numerous affects domestic violence can have on not only the individual but the family as a whole during the conference and fundraising dinner.

I was also happy to see the support of local officials like Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Mayor of Hawthorne, Daniel Juarez and his council members. They’re just as important to the process as everyone else who are looking to help.

I thank God I was able to leave my boyfriend at the time without having to worry about children, where I was gonna live, and my saftey, but most women aren’t this lucky. I’m glad to know there are organizations out there like New Star who make it easier for those women and teenagers.

What has been your experience with domestic violence? Any thoughts about prevention. Let me know in the comments.

-TheJournalist25 xoxo

*Note: bolded statistics are from Domestic Violence Resource Center 

A Love Like This: Teenage Years

Burr... I really really like you in the cold

Oh boy! Has it been cold in Los Angeles lately or what…

This weather has me all bundled up before leaving the house…

One evening, my teenage neighbor was out on his lawn with a girl all cuddled up. At first, I was like ‘hell naw its too cold out here for that’, but I had to refrain from my judgement because I quickly remembered being a teenager sitting outside in the cold (and the dark) without a care in the world but my beau. It brought about nostalgia for me living at home again.

Then I really had a flashback once I got into the car and Dru Hill was on the stereo. For some odd reason… actually because I have an active imagination “These Are The Times” began to play in my head (although that wasn’t the song playing) as I backed out of the driveway. It was like something out of a music video. LOL (I can’t help but to laugh at the images that were in my head).

I had to smile reflecting back to when dating seemed so simple and talking on the phone til the wee hours of the morning wasn’t a problem as long as your mother didn’t wake up. It wasn’t about marriage as much as it was about the moment(s).

Personally, I had some of my most romantic moments in the winter (now that I think about it). As adults, we consider this time of year cuffin’ season and cuddle buddy time, but as a teenager it was just about I like you, you like me, lets talk about God knows what all day. I feel like Dru Hill’s “These Are The Times” captures those moments best with its lyric.

There’s nothing comparable to teenage love and its simplicity. It definitely served as a great precursor to dating as an adult.

Would you agree or disagree? Speak on it!

Season’s Greetings,
TheJournaist25 xoxo

A Love Like This: Four Seasons

I’m a Cali girl at its finest,  and the one thing that I always loved about the west coast was the warm sunny days that never seemed to go away. I hated rainy and gloomy days. At one point I didn’t even own a pair of tennis shoes for when it rained. Despite my love for the warm weather I always felt like I belonged on the east coast. I wasn’t sure how I would like the weather once I actually got there because of my love for the sun, but was willing to see.

I had never experienced the changing of all four seasons until I moved to Washington, DC January 2, 2007, to matriculate at Howard University. I don’t remember it being hard for me to adjust to the weather except trying to walk in the snow without falling and the humongous rain drops when the sky opened up and poured out water and heavy wind.

The biggest adjustment was  seeing the sun shining bright from my window only to be hit my the freezing cold breeze at the foyer of Lucy Diggs Slowe Hall. In LA, if the sun isn’t out then its cold, but this rule didn’t apply in DC.  After, becoming friends with the weather channel I was better prepared for my trips to class and whatnot. It was nothing a pea coat, scarf, and gloves couldn’t fix. After understanding that the sun is out, but the air is cold in January through April I grew to adore cold days.  These days seemed to be radiant and pleasant compared to the summer heat that came along with the sunshine in Cali.

Eventually, I found beauty in each season, even fall and winter, which I previously despised growing up in Los Angeles.

Now that I live in Los Angeles again for the first time since 2007 I cannot stand the heat all the time. The constant season of summer/ spring is boring and no longer feels natural to me. Its October and I’m not experiencing the proper setting for my romanticized thoughts (tagline).

Being back I realized the importance of the seasons changing. The transition from one to the other is absolutely beautiful, not to mention being able to dress differently or mix and match the styles. Your mood even gets a chance to slightly change to match the season. How you experience things in the city can differ from season to season. Walking up and down the same street even feels different with each seasons.

What I’m trying to say is that being able to live in an area where the environment and atmosphere reflects life is amazing and I miss it. Life is about the cycle of different seasons, and fall, winter, spring, and summer are symbolic of that.

The changing of the air, energy, and light every four months just did something to me. It gave me something to look forward to. Being able to accept change allowed me to understand the beauty even more.

Earlier this year I paid close attention to the bulbs popping up on the trees in February while snow was still on the ground. I would closely watch everyday coming to and from my apartment as they slowly began to bloom. That bulb is no different from you and I, each and everyday as we sew into our lives and others eventually we will see the flowers bloom.

I still vividly remember leaves turning brown and withering away only to return in a few months.

Even the difference between a rainy day in the fall and summer have become so symbolic to me. I went from hating the rain to waiting for a rainy day to come.The beauty that can come from pain sometimes is how I look at the rain. With no rain you will never appreciate the sun, and things will not grow. Summer rain is just a reminder that things don’t always go as planned, but to still make the best of it.

After the rain a resurgence of energy is in the air. A new outlook on the day.

I have truly fallen in love with fall, winter, spring, and summer. They all mean something different for me. I miss them and hope to reunited one day to the cycle of seasons. I know you’re probably thinking I’m crazy right now and that’s fine.

What’s your favorite season?

-TheJournalist25 xoxo