Familiarizing Thyself with the Word ‘No’

NoYou know what I don’t miss? Driving home from a party two hours away from my house in a mix of groggy, tad tipsy, exhaustion at 4 a.m — or even worse: having to crash on someone’s couch. I now hang my head in shame admitting that I might have put myself and others at risk for the sake of upholding my position as the “loyal and reliable friend.”

[Ed note: I would never, ever get behind the wheel if I was drunk. That’s a “no” in my book.]

But anyway, I’m pushing 30 and the word “no” is becoming just so darn sexy and convenient. I get a thrill every time I get to say it: “Nope, can’t do it.” There are just so many cons to situations that involve leaving my house past 10 p.m.

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  1. The egregious activity called getting dressed. Like, why can’t they allow slippers, robes, and bonnets in the club? I’d be there every weekend. Seeing as I rarely ever go out, I’d have to spend hours digging through my closet, trying on clothes that I already know won’t fit. (Work clothes > Club outfits.)
  1. Heels are painful. I’ve mastered the art of busting out a Naomi Campbell walk in 5-inch heels, but should I have to do it if I don’t have to?
  1. It’s late. Seriously, my bedtime is at 10 p.m, maybe 11 if the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” is on. You can’t possibly expect me to get drunk and stay awake for three whole hours.

Some people may call me a prude and that’s totally fine. I’ve reached a point in my life where I realize that time is limited and valuable. More important than the general concept of time is “my time.”

Folks are quit to contribute to the widespread misconception that you’re a “hater” or “not in support” of people if you don’t attend everything they merit worthy of a celebration. Damn that! I’m happy for all the recent graduates, the newlyweds, the mothers and/or fathers-to-be, the people moving to new cities, and those with new jobs. I also reserve my right to express my congrats without forsaken my own comfort and peace.

My mother always told me that it’s impossible to be all things to all people. Sometimes you have to exercise your right to turn down an invitation. If you give all 100% of yourself to other people, then what do you have left for yourself?

Obviously, there are certain exceptions to the rule (i.e. supporting a real friend who has held you down forever), but you should in no way feel guilty about not being up to something.

Choosing Minimalism: Why Scaling Back Is Good

MinimalismA few months ago I watched a video from one of favorite my bloggers. I am just inspired by everything she does —  she could give a tutorial on blowing your nose and I’ll be ready with a pen and pad. This blogger is known for having the most beautiful hair and bringing her audience an array of styling ideas that just seem endless. Her sense of style is artsy — without trying too hard, unique, crisp, and just impeccable; plus, her skin is super-flawless. In a nutshell, she’s basically an internet icon to me. But anyway, she hit me out of the blue with a video discussing “Minimalism.”

I’ve heard the term used before in regards to fashion, which basically relates to clean lines and minimal distractions within clothing. There’s also the minimalism art movement of the post-World War II era, which focused on works with pared down elements of design. What’s different here is her focus on lifestyle, which expands to fashion, beauty, home decor, food — just about everything.  The ultimate goal is to cut back on all the frivolous things in life. Less makeup, less clothes, less clutter —  getting rid of all the junk to make room for space and clarity.

The idea made so much sense. For years I was the girl who had things because it was popular. I’ll admit it; I was a follower. New Jordans came out, I had to have them. MAC was releasing a new limited edition lipstick in a shade I probably already owned? Still purchased it.

I just did stuff because everyone else did it, and every time I followed the pack I never felt fulfilled. I’ve never finished a tube of my so-called “must-have lipsticks.” Not a single one.

Some minimalists are extreme in a sense that they live in a one room shack, eat only what is necessary to not go hungry, and don’t own a car. I’m not trying to go that far with this concept, but I am intrigued enough to rid myself of unnecessary things in order to attain peace of mind and clarity.

SimplicityWe can’t take these things with us when we die. They are going to stay right here on earth. Instead of spending our days frantically chasing the latest hot find, we could be enriching our minds, spending time with family and friends, and improving ourselves sans the assistance of garbage goods.

I realized this even more when I started to look at people’s priorities and analyzed their reasoning for needing things. Yes, I’ve been known to dish out a room full of side-eyes. We don’t need “stuff.” A brand new car when you already have one that runs fine, a 4-bedroom house when it’s just you, a pair of $600 Louboutins when Nine West has shoes in the same color and shape — all fall under the category of unnecessary things to me.

We are a culture obsessed with consumerism, but I’m stepping off the wheel because I refuse to keep up. It becomes a stressful competition.

Minimalism for me is taking a look at my life and adding the things that are needed. Right now I live in a cozy apartment which fits my current lifestyle. Even if life were to suddenly change, say I hit the lottery, I don’t see the value of being sucked into a world that is motivated solely by money.

I want to continue to chase things of value that have longevity and purpose. Here, watch Ambrosia talk about changing her lifestyle.

No More Mediocre: Setting and Accomplishing Goals

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Disclaimer: It’s been a minute, right? Things probably look a lot different around here. I’ve been through a lot this past year and through some miraculous jolt of perseverance, I survived. I’m not 100% where I want to be, but thankfully I’m not where I used to be. In 2014, my life completely changed. Things that I felt were impossible became a reality. Now I want nothing more than for people who know me to live their best life (h/t Auntie Oprah.) If sharing my experience can help another person, then I’m all for that.

— Now on to that good ‘ish —

Is it me or does the idea of setting goals seem like it’s becoming a thing of the past? Just think back to being in elementary school. Back then the learning place took on the mission of incessantly drilling the message that any goal could be achieved “as long as you put your mind to it.” (We’re all familiar with that cliche saying, right?) It’s perplexing now that a singular concept, instilled in us since childhood, is lost on a vast majority of us as adults.

Let’s keep it funky: A lot of us are swimming upstream and hoping and praying that things somehow turn in our favor. We’re hoping the rough currents of life have mercy on our slackness and keep our mediocre asses afloat. If you are leading a lifestyle that is more reactive than proactive, then it is highly likely due to lacking a goal-oriented disposition.

Maybe it is the fear of failure that keeps us from admitting we want more. Or maybe we are so entrapped within our cynicism that accomplishing something we want seems intangible. As a person who has struggled and seen more dark days than light, I’m here to tell you that goals can be achieved, and not just by luck either.

On December 31st of every year, many of us go on a mad dash to conjure up a list of random things we want to achieve called our “New Years Resolutions.” By the end of January this list has more often than not, dwindled and fallen by the wayside and we’ve sunk to a new low in our quest to become more productive.

Newsflash: Success isn’t a sprint — it is a destination that requires making dozens of conscious, self-assessed tweaks along the way.

In a perfect world we all would have held onto that unconquerable, free spirit we had as kids; but in real life, we have to work hard against the spirit of defeat. We have to fight for our optimism to live; we have to concentrate on being focused to actually be focused.

Goals are in essence small promises you make to yourself to obtain your ideal situation. Ask yourself a few questions: Am I living under the thumb of circumstance? Do I play the victim? Are my moves dictated by health, finances, or other things in my life that I am not too keen on? If you answered yes, then stop it right now. Life is way to short for that kind of thinking.

Now that we understand goals, here’s how to make them your bitch:

It really does depend on your personality type and your individual preferences, but, on a broad scale, the best thing to do is to listen to yourself — not mom, not your mentor, not your partner, but yourself. Sit down in complete silence and think about it. Try to feel what need isn’t being fulfilled. What is that special something that you have been itching to do?

Once that idea comes to the forefront of your mind, make a list of the steps required to accomplish it. Next, set a schedule with a finish line, so that you can hold yourself accountable and actually see your goals clearly on the horizon. Finally, adopt a positive mindset, so that regardless how intimidating, disparaging, or out of touch that goal appears — you are confident that success is waiting on your arrival.