Yesterday was my friend’s 26th birthday and we went to a paint and sip party (an event where you paint a picture the instructor sketched as you drink wine). I never been to one before, so it was exciting to participate in one. The picture we painted was of a voluptuous black woman with long flowing hair. She was beautiful. As soon as I saw the sketch I knew what I wanted to do.
I wanted my painting to be colorful and whimsical, so I used yellow and orange as the background. Then I added streaks of brown to give it some contrast and an earthy look. Next, I was inspired by Avatar, because of the Omaticaya clan’s beautiful blue skin—so, I decided to paint my woman blue. Afterwards, I wanted her hair to resemble a tree and painted it green.
Once I finished and took a step back, my painting looked a little flat still. Then I looked over and saw the person’s next to me painting and she was putting gold streaks in her woman’s hair. That motivated me to not only put gold streaks in my jungle woman’s hair, but red and silver as well.
When I saw the finished product of my painting, I was in love with it. My woman was wild, bold and absolutely stunning. It totally resembled my personality.
All in all, the paint and sip party was great even though I didn’t get home until after eleven at night, but it was totally worth it. I’m grateful for being able to celebrate my friend’s birthday and meet some new people too. I’m looking forward to the next time.
I love cartoon movies. I think they’re cute and humorous, but have life lessons undertones. The most recent cartoon film I watched and am watching as we speak is Zootopia. It’s about a bunny named Judy Hopps that grows up and becomes a cop. In the city of Zootopia predators are attacking other animals, and Judy teams up with a con artist fox to figure out why. Although the movie is entertaining, it’s chalk full of lessons for anyone at any age:
- Try and Persevere. Despite her obstacles and everyone (even her parents) believing that a rabbit couldn’t be a cop that didn’t stop Judy. Being a police was Judy’s dream ever since she was a young bunny, and throughout her trials, tribulations and doubts, Judy continued pursuing her dream and became the first bunny police officer. Only by trying (any and everything even if things doesn’t go the way we want) we discover our potential, who we are and are not; what we like and dislike; what works for us, what doesn’t and what can be done differently.
- Acceptance. In Zootopia, there are many predators and non-predatory animals living together, but there were some that are looked down upon. Among this group includes Hopps, because she’s small and the first rabbit cop. Then there’s Nick Wilde, a fox who’s automatically perceived and treated as a criminal, because of fox’s mischievous nature. Throughout the movie, we see this paradigm shift from judgmental and intolerant to accepting. The human world is the same where we have preconceived notions about a person or certain group of people and behave differently towards them. When we learn to accept others, we accept ourselves. Accepting a person or people who is different from us doesn’t mean we have to agree with everything about them, but to respect each other, which is essential for human interaction and connection.
- Forgiveness. It’s amazing to see how fundamental forgiveness is for us to move forward. At some point in the movie, Hopps and Nick look down at each other, because of the stereotypes they’re subjected to, due to past encounters. Holding grudges and dusting things under the rug helps no one, especially yourself! Forgiveness frees you from the negative energy pent inside of you. It doesn’t mean you like what happened, but it means letting go of the resentment, anger, hurt, disappointment, etc. that was developed and carried afterwards. We all deserve to be forgiven (that includes forgiving ourselves), so let go and forgive whatever it is that’s being held onto. We owe it to ourselves.
- Don’t assume. Judy thought she had it all figured out when she believed night howlers were connected to wolves, because of words, such as “night” and “howling.” Who would’ve thought they actually happened to be the flowers that caused the predators to go rogue. Keep an open mind about a person or situation and go beyond the surface of things, because what you think is true might not be.
I highly recommend watching Zootopia for a family movie night or even by yourself. Let me know what you think and the lessons you get from it.
Four-thirty mornings, full time job, grad assistant and student. Then there’s doing work around the house, exercising, and trying to maintain a social life. Ay-yi-yi! It seems like every hour of the day I’m doing something—except rest.
So today, I took the pleasure of doing absolutely nothing other than writing this blog post. My day consisted of waking up at 11 in the morning, eating breakfast and watching Zootopia (twice) with my mom and sister. I must say it feels good to not worry about what needs to get done and giving my brain and body a break. In today’s society, “doing nothing” is viewed as counterproductive and lazy, but it’s much more beneficial than we think:
- It can boost creativity. Earlier today, my sister was telling me that she feels more creative when she’s bored doing nothing. Ironically, studies have shown that when people are bored they find interesting ways to stop their boredom—hence, allowing those creative juices to flow.
- It allows you to face thoughts and feelings you’re avoiding. When you’re always busy, it can be used as a defense mechanism from confronting thoughts and feelings that bring and can keep us down.
- Our brains can relax. The brain is dependent on downtime, so it can recharge, process data we take in, support our memory and learning. However, by the expectation of “doing more,” our brain is denied this need.
- Strengthens our nervous system. Constantly doing something adds stress on our nervous system. As the nervous system continues to be over exerted and pushed to fatigue it can lead to health problems. For optimal health and healing, we need to give our nervous system time to recover and restore its energy.
Taking time out to do nothing can be a challenging thing to do at first (that applies to me too), but it’s definitely one of the best things to do for your mind, body and soul. So, I encourage you to carve out some “do nothing” time and do just that, nothing.
Have you ever been faced with a situation (big or small) that you perceive to be negative or can spiral into something negative? That was me a few weeks ago—Halloween weekend to be exact. I’ve already made an entire blog post on it discussing how a seemingly bad day becomes an amazing one, so I’m not going to go too much in detail. However, I will talk about how that experience relates to changing your thoughts and perception to be more positive.
On Halloween weekend, I met up with classmates at a restaurant to go over our group project. I drove all the way up north from the south suburbs for about an hour, only to realize that I forgot my license and money at home. Instantly, the critic in my head started blaming me for being irresponsible and I was for sure this day wasn’t going to get any better. However, I calmed myself and shifted my thoughts to be more compassionate and forgiving by reminding myself that I’m human and am going to make mistakes from time to time. Once I did that I proceeded to have a good day.
Another instance was later on when I went to a party that I was supposed to be going to with a friend. However, he cancelled. Feeling afraid, because I didn’t want to go by myself, I almost went home. But, I saw it as an opportunity to do something by myself and enjoy it, and that’s exactly what I did.
In both of these situations I could’ve stayed upset and allowed them to ruin my day, but utilized my power of choice to make the best of the situations, and you can too! Here’s how:
- Breathe and see a situation for what it is. Don’t attach any judgments, feelings or perceptions about what’s going on. Don’t blame anyone (including yourself) or anything for what occurs. I know it’s hard, but that’s the best way to make a clear and productive choice.
- Believe that you can handle any situation. No problem, regardless of how hard, stressful or painful is too big to handle. Beliefs are the driving force to our thoughts, feelings, actions and reality. If you believe something is too big to overcome, you will stay stuck. Conversely, if you believe you can overcome anything, you will overcome everything.
- Find the opportunity and keep a positive attitude. This situation is in front of you for a reason whether that’s in the form of a lesson or an action. And, it’s your duty to find out.
- Be patient. It’s tempting to rush or cut corners when things aren’t going our way. But, stay level headed and embrace the situation. Don’t allow yourself to become anxious, frustrated and start complaining.
- Turn to the power that’s greater than you. Trusting this power will motivate and empower you to weather the storm. You will believe that things shall pass and you’ll be a better and stronger person in the end.
You have the power to overcome any obstacle that comes your way. Remember to breathe and follow these steps. You can get through any and everything by seeing the best in it all.
This has been a focus of mine during my journey of self-discovery, establishing healthy boundaries with myself and with others in my life. That goes for family, friends, co-workers and lovers. Without boundaries, we allow and accept whatever treatment we receive from others and ourselves whether we like it or not. There have been plenty of times where I’ve had people in my life that mistreated and disrespected me, but never confronted them about it, because I didn’t have the courage to AND I didn’t know what my boundaries were.
As I’ve been spending time to get to know myself, I’ve been focusing on developing healthy boundaries, and here’s how:
- Understanding what boundaries are. Boundaries are areas of physical, emotional and intellectual space between you and another person. They are the lines that help you decide what types of communication, interaction and behaviors are acceptable and unacceptable for you.
- If you don’t have any boundaries or aren’t enforcing them, why? Think about what’s keeping you back from expressing what you want, need, like, dislike and what you find acceptable and unacceptable. For me, it was the fear of abandonment and confrontation. More often times than not, we do not set and enforce boundaries, because we are afraid of being rejected, abandoned and disagreement. We also don’t have boundaries, because we simply weren’t taught them.
- Get clear on what’s important to you and how you want to be treated and why. This is the step that I’m on. I noticed that communication is important to me, because it builds trust and is a symbol of respect. Not only during disputes, but also when it comes to hanging out with a person.
- Identify the parameters of your boundaries why. In my last article, I talked about how I set a boundary with my friend when it comes to communicating when we have plans with each other. My boundary was to let me know in advance if you are unable to or decide to no longer go instead of informing me at the last minute, because it’s disappointing and disrespectful to cancel a commitment with late notice.
- Respectfully and firmly communicate your boundaries with others and let them know when they violate them. Please don’t curse people out.
- Activate the consequences immediately when a boundary is violated. Remember to act with integrity. When you do not enforce your boundaries, people will continue to violate them, which causes anger, resentment and disappointment. DON’T wait until the second or third violation occurs. Enforce it the first time.
- If the violations of boundaries continue, be willing to let go of the relationship. It’s an unfortunate thing to happen, but some people cannot, will not and do not honor people’s boundaries. And, if that’s something that’s going to keep causing you heartache and distress then the best thing to do is to let them go.
- Be able to uphold your boundaries. If you can’t practice those boundaries yourself, such as being on time, you can’t expect the other person to.
- Be aware if your boundaries are practical and if they’re fulfilling your purpose of having them. Only through experience you’ll figure out if the boundaries you set are keeping you physically, mentally and emotionally safe. If they’re not, be willing to release them and establish some new ones that are a better fit. Remember, boundaries are meant for safety and self-preservation NOT to control others, so it’s important to know the distinction between the two and your motives.
Setting boundaries is a huge step in practicing self-love and self-care, building self-confidence, self-worth and empowerment. It can be scary at first if you’re not used to establishing them and you may even feel guilty or selfish, but be patient and kind to yourself and unapologetic about your boundaries. You more than likely will ruffle some people’s feathers, but you’re not in charge of their reaction. Remember, you matter and deserve to be respected and honored!