Dear Creatives: Here’s why self-care is not selfish

Photography by JP Hanney

“May this season reveal to you that your identity should not be bound up in your productivity, but your perceptivity. You’re more than these roles you perform.”

I took a break from blogging on my website for a little over a year. At first, it wasn’t intentional. Then, weeks and months started to go by and I simply couldn’t fix myself to sit down and write; I dreaded blogging and it was no longer a fun hobby. It reminded me of how I felt in school when I had a paper or an extensive project due and I would procrastinate until the last-minute, every time. Once I mustered the courage and strength to sit down at the keyboard to type, everything was forced–each word, each sentence, each thought. When this happened, I immediately thought to myself–WHY are you doing this? If you’re feeling burned out, why are you forcing it? Let it flow or let it go! Self care for me in this moment looked like taking a short break from blogging. I’m glad I did. Message: Less forcing, more flowing.

Seasons of creativity

As a creative, I’ve learned that creativity comes in waves. Some seasons I’m overflowing with ideas, thoughts, ways to get ahead, and full of motivation and energy to get things done. No, I don’t feel like I always have to be motivated to do things I love. Sometimes, your passion and drive will motivate you and propel you forward. However, when you’re in the midst of a crisis, creativity flows and sometimes it doesn’t. In my case, it didn’t. Last year I had a lot to deal with in my personal life that required the majority of my time and attention. In addition, I was still grieving the death of multiple family members– the closest being my grandmother who I paid tribute to in a previous blogpost (here). It was all too much, but  it was only for a season. I suspect that there may be creatives out there feeling the same way during the COVID-19 pandemic and that’s okay. It’s perfectly okay to give yourself grace and compassion during this quarantine, whether God has put it on your heart to be productive or create, neither is wrong. Remember, trust the spirit, not what social media or the world guilts you for doing or not doing. Message: Know the season you’re in.

Self care empowers your best self

I preach this all of the time! Self care is giving the world the best of you instead of what’s left of you. You cannot pour from an empty cup. As a matter of fact, what’s in your cup is for you and your overflow is for everyone else. If you don’t have overflow, it’s okay not to pour out, because you need it! Yes, this is an example of radical self-care and an important factor in your overall well-being. It’s easy to pour out when we don’t want to deal with our own stuff. But, if you take breaks and take a step back to care for self… it will certainly propel you forward and empower you to give to others 100 times over. Message: Sometimes taking a step back propels you forward. 

Remember your why

I had to dig deep and figure out why blogging and sharing became such a job for me last year. At the core, I drifted away from my  “why.” Why did I even start this platform to begin with? I literally went back to reflect on my very first blog post (here). Upon completing my reflection, I was reminded that My Living Spree blog was created to motivate and inspire people by sharing my self-care journey, with hope that they too would embark on their own self care journey (living spree).

Purpose over perfection

In all honesty, these are the negative thoughts that ran through my mind– How can I empower and inspire other people when I am not empowered or inspired? How can I help people become the best version of themselves when I am STILL becoming? Then, I realized that there is strength in vulnerability and sharing the journey. There are other people in the world who need to read my message and hear my story. And those who are also on the same path of becoming as me! None of us have arrived. Why? Because we are constantly evolving. Even if my message is only for one person, one reader, one viewer…it will serve its purpose. That is the true posture of purpose. I came to realize that it wasn’t about me being perfect, it was about me operating in my purpose. 

Find strength in vulnerability

What I learned is, I have to first believe in myself and in my brand before anyone else. Growing up, we were taught that being vulnerable was a sign of weakness. “Don’t let anyone see you sweat.” “You have to be tough and be strong no matter what.” This is one of the biggest lies I told myself and honestly that all of us have told ourselves. Especially (black) women. On the contrary, what I’ve found is that there is strength in vulnerability. There is power in sharing your story, because that is how God gets glory. That’s the true posture of purpose. Someone out there is depending on you to step into who you were called to be. It is by no mistake that you went through what you did and came out unscathed. It’s not enough for me to post beautiful pictures online and not tell the story behind them. That is selfish and self-absorbed. 

It is my belief that sharing my story will help others, because they will be able to see parts of themselves in my journey. It is my hope that you learn from me by staying true to yourself (who you are at the core) and trusting yourself. That is the biggest lesson I’ve had to learn during this journey. I have to leverage my platform in my own expression and stay unique to who I am. Comparison will lead you out of your purpose. If I can’t trust in anything else, I can and will trust in myself. Moving forward, I am betting on myself. Message: There is strength in vulnerability.

Top: Nastygal |Pants: ZARA

A message for creatives

  1. You are more than what you make
  2. Your productivity does not determine your value
  3. It’s okay to do nothing sometimes
  4. Not everything you do has to result in a product/service/outcome
  5. Not everything you make has to be important, significant, or good
  6. You can choose to not share what you create and make things just for yourself
  7. You can keep secrets to yourself, whether it’s not sharing upcoming projects, events, or techniques
  8. You are allowed to say no
  9. You are allowed to rest
  10. You must take care of yourself so that you can create

I hope this posts helps someone realize that sometimes a step back is a step forward. No matter where you are in your journey… KEEP GOING! Know what season you’re in and give yourself what you need to help you fulfill your mission. This is a marathon, not a sprint.

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On a living spree with: Loren Sanders of Lavishly Loren

The Lavish Life meets The Living Spree

I’ve been following Loren Sanders (@lavishly_loren) on Instagram for a while now and I honestly fell in love with her content right away. We shared so many similarities and became instant supporters of each other’s platforms. Loren is uplifting, positive, and I love her transparency. Not to mention, sis can SLAY all day! Quite naturally, I wanted to share Loren’s incredible story because she is definitely on a living spree!

ALLOW ME TO INTRODUCE MYSELF

Lavishly Loren is a fashion and lifestyle blog authored by Loren Sanders, a frugal fashionista and an adventurous jet-setter. Loren is a self-proclaimed “trend-savvy and budget-friendly” fashion maven who loves everything travel, beauty, reflection, women empowerment, and slay. Her muse is the lavish lifestyle. She effortlessly creates economical but sumptuously rich, expressively styled “looks” without breaking the bank. She also loves to jet set to the next island or country whenever she feels the need to live lavishly. The goal of Lavishly Loren is to inspire, share and empower others to live their best “Lavish” life, frugally.

I launched my blog as a birthday gift to myself so that I could create a safe space to express myself how I saw myself. Here we are six months later. Lavishly Loren is live and in full motion! My initial blueprint or intention for my blog was to use it as a creative outlet and public journal in a way. Little did I know that by sharing my challenges and experiences, I would be encouraging other women as well offering styling services.

Prior to my launch, I sat and thought for months about how I wanted to express myself, what is my real purpose, and what tool or platform should I share both. Often times, social media has a funny way of making things look peachy perfect when behind the scenes it’s really creative chaos. I wanted to be sure I was being my true self because it’s important to be relatable and genuine to who you are. As a Blogger, you have this pressure to continuously produce content. Which leads me to one of my challenges as a new blogger.

OVERCOMING CHALLENGES IS KEY

One challenge is freeing myself creatively. As a Blogger, you want to be relatable and sometimes you can get caught up in the “am I sharing too much” or comparing your art to other Bloggers or Creators. Truthfully, this is a constant ongoing challenge. As a person and as a Blogger, you’re constantly evolving and offering a certain level of vulnerability that you normally don’t offer up. I think that requires a unique type of courage.

Another challenge is, balancing my 9-5, blog, social life, relationship, styling services, and still have time for me. The balancing act is overwhelming at times and you really have to be real with yourself, often. You can’t do everything, period. You have to say no, you have to take mental breaks, and you just simply have to put you first.

MANIFESTING, LUV ENJOY

I’m a huge believer of manifesting. My blog is a big part of my manifesting journey. I’m continuously growing as a person and my blog challenges me to continually self reflect and be aware. That’s something that I really wanted to be intentional about. I’m not a jealous person by any means, I love to see other women smash their goals. It’s funny because when I see other women accomplish something that’s on my goal list or that’s aligned with my vision, I’ll say to myself “I’m next” and then BOOM it happens!

I’m so thankful and honored to have an amazing tribe of people on and off social media that support me wholeheartedly. I’m also thankful to be a guest blogger or featured blogger for MY LIVING SPREE. It’s actually a great example for what I manifested to happen in my first year of blogging. Not only did I get to be a guest blogger but I’m featured on the exact Bloggers blog that inspired me to start blogging from jump. Look how God works!

If you’re ready to live your best “Lavish” life, I want to help you! Be sure to follow me Instagram @lavishly_loren and subscribe to my blog Lavishly Loren. Last but not least, if you are ready to Slay With Me, I am now offering styling services. Definitely contact me if you are ready to slay, live life, and love yourself. Until next time, I’m Manifesting Luv, Enjoy!

Lavishly Loren: Fashion+ Travel= Lifestyle

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A Staycation in Style at Hotel Alessandra Houston

“My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive; and to do so with some passion, some compassion, some humor, and some STYLE.”

Maya Angelou

My first experience at Hotel Alessandra was last year in June 2018, when I visited for my very first staycation. Needless to say, this experience left a lasting impression and I knew I had to return one day. So, I booked a one-night stay and I was so excited to experience Hotel Alessandra all over again!

Top: Thrifted | Skirt: Zara | Shoes: Steve Madden

As I pulled up to the hotel, the valet and concierge greeted me with smiles and grabbed my bags quickly. I was offered a cold bottle of Fiji water and escorted to the second floor to check-in. The staff was friendly, welcoming, and excited for my arrival.

Accommodations

The rooms are cozy, yet sophisticated and offer amazing downtown views encased by floor-to-ceiling windows. The bathrooms are marble with a free-standing tub, which opens up by sliding doors to the rest of the room.

The interior design of the room is stylish and sleek. I spent most of my time snuggling in bed or lounging on the beautiful emerald couch that was nestled right under a reading lamp. This was the perfect place for relaxation, which was the ultimate goal of my entire stay.

Amenities

There’s a second floor restaurant and bar inside the hotel, so guests don’t have to leave the premises at all for good food or a good time. Lucienne restaurant specializes in modern Mediterranean cuisine and offers breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. I definitely plan to return soon to try their food as I’ve heard so many good reviews!

Lucienne Restaurant

Across from the restaurant is Bar Bardot, which specializes in serving delicious, hand crafted cocktails and small bites. I had their truffle fries and they were so delicious!

Bar Bardot
Top: Thrifted | Skirt: ZARA | Shoes: Missguided

I spent some time on the 5th floor rooftop pool area enjoying the amazing views of downtown Houston. The pool area is small, but really nice. I actually prefer the intimacy of small pool areas, especially for rest and relaxation. Unfortunately, the weather didn’t permit me to take a dip in the pool. But, I plan to return during the summer to have some fun in the sun!

Top: Nastygal | Pants: ZARA | Headwrap: Thrifted
Rooftop Pool

There is also a spa on the 5th floor, which plan to visit during my return. I love getting massages and facials as part of my self care. I found a deal here that offers EITHER a 60-minute Alessandra all-inclusive massage OR a classic Custom European facial for only $99! (Please note, this offer is only valid Monday-Friday). Needless to say, I’ll be scheduling a massage pretty soon!

Dress: Shop NR Closet
Use Code: LIVINGSPREE for 20% off at checkout

Convenience

Hotel Alessandra is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Houston. The hotel is minutes away from the Toyota Center, Minute Maid Park, George R Brown Convention Center, and Discovery Green Park—some of Houston’s main attractions. If you’re looking for entertainment and nightlife, the Houston House of Blues and Lucky Strikes Bowling Alley are next door along with other eateries and bars you can visit.  Also, Main Street is 2 blocks away and offers more restaurants, lounges, bars, and beautiful downtown scenery perfect for photo ops.  Two of my favorite places, Forever 21 and Starbucks, are next door to the hotel as well.

Jogger Set: My Living Spree

Top of the line from start to finish

Hotel Alessandra prides itself on providing a luxurious, yet familiar experience for all from start to finish. I can truly say I received 5 star service. They even offer complimentary car service for guests who need to be picked up or dropped off at local destinations within radius of the hotel. Not only does the hotel offer free rides, but they offer free rides in a fancy car! Yes, the black Maserati is the complimentary car for all guests to ride in style.

Lasting Impression

If you’re looking for a perfect place in Houston for a staycation, Hotel Alessandra is a standout hotel. The accommodations are top of the line and the staff are super friendly and helpful. The entire experience will make you feel like you’re on vacation at a luxurious European resort, yet you’re right at home!

Be sure to check it out one day! Rates are pretty good on the weekends, which is perfect timing for an inexpensive getaway. If you have any questions or need more recommendations let me know. 🙂 Until next time, let’s go on a living spree!

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Moodie Foodie: Healthy Food For Any Mood!

Lately, I’ve been in search of ways to eat healthier, while simultaneously making it fun and cost-friendly! For people like me, healthy eating can be a chore and meal prepping can be mundane. Do you feel like you don’t know where to begin when it comes to making healthy choices or rather you’ve been eating healthy but need new ideas and recipes? If the answer is yes to both, then this blog post is for you! I’ve teamed up with a fellow Vanderbilt alumna and food blogger, Garrah Carter-Mason, to bring you tips and ideas to eat healthier foods! Garrah has a wonderful food blog filled with inspiration for delicious meals to cook and restaurants to visit! Below, Garrah shares a little about her healthy eating journey, her secret to saving money when grocery shopping, and her favorite go-to meals for everyday life!

Making a lifestyle change

Healthy eating has become “something like a phenomenon” and I’m loving it! I started my healthy eating journey in undergrad when I decided to cut red meat out of my diet. I ate fish and chicken for years and eventually cut those out as well. Now, I am a vegetarian and my body loves me for it! I advocate for healthy eating because I want to see people live longer, stronger, and healthier lives. My body changed in a major way since I changed my lifestyle.  

Dispelling the myth

I know you’re probably thinking—Why would I even try to eat healthy when it’s so time-consuming and expensive? Well, I’m here to tell you that’s a myth! I eat healthy every day (with a cheat meal or gluten-free donut every now and then lol). I don’t spend a ton of money and my meals don’t take a lot of time to prepare!

What’s my secret? Well, let’s start with grocery shopping! I go to the grocery stores (Kroger and/or Trader Joes) once a week and spend about $30 dollars (crazy, right?). My shopping cart is usually filled with alkaline water, nut milk, beans, veggies, fruits, protein supplements, more veggies and more fruit! These items aren’t really that expensive especially when you purchase a variety of fresh produce.

A day in the life

I’ll go through a day in the life (with a breakfast, snack, and dinner recipe) to show how easy eating healthy really is!

Breakfast

Breakfast: 5-minute avocado toast | Ingredients: 2 slices of sourdough toast, 1 avocado, crushed red pepper, sea salt, black pepper, fresh squeezed lime juice, and cilantro. Toast the bread, mash slices of avocado on it, and add toppings. See, easy peasy!

Midday snack

Now, let’s do a midday snack—a smoothie bowl! In a blender, combine frozen fruit, protein powder, coconut water, and 1 avocado. Blend together until smooth. Pour into a bowl. Top with coconut flakes, chia seeds, granola (plenty of it), and fresh fruit of your choice. Again, that took all of what, 5 minutes?

Dinner

Now, I know most of you reading this are probably in school or working a full-time job and don’t have time for long, drawn-out recipes. So, here’s a quick and easy one. It’s called a Buddha bowl, and you can make it any way you want. All it encompasses is a protein, a starch, and veggies of your choice! I roast chickpeas in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Add them to your bowl. Also add fresh corn, kale, brown rice, and scallions. Top with salsa. That’s it! I promise it’s as easy and good as it sounds.

Your body will thank you

Now you see that healthy eating doesn’t have to consume your life; it can actually be fun once you get the hang of it and start seeing results! I am a testament! Since I’ve changed my eating habits I have been able to maintain a healthy weight, my skin is better, my digestive system is better, I have more energy, and I am all around a happier person! All you have to do is just start by experimenting with the recipes above and add foods that you like! Mix things up a bit and always find ways to look for new inspiration when you start to get tired eating the same things. No matter what you do, continue eating healthy and make it a habit and it will eventually become part of your lifestyle!

For more recipes: check out my blog @birdfoodie on Instagram and BirdFoodie on Facebook! If you have any questions or would like to get in touch, please email me at birdfoodietn@gmail.com. Stay tuned for the plant-based recipe book that I will be releasing soon!

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EmpowerHER: The PowHER of Your Unapologetic Self

“Phenomenal Woman, That’s Me” –Maya Angelou 

Image above captured by Urban Love Tree Photography

From Cubicles to Cocktails

Recently, I attended an amazing event entitled “The PowHER of Your Unapologetic Self,” hosted by one of my fellow Houston bloggers—Christa Clarke! This event was part of her signature series Cubicles to Cocktails, a quarterly soiree for success-minded women of color to unite after work and exchange thought-provoking conversation over cocktails. Sounds fun, right?! IT WAS!

Christa’s blog www.freeingshe.com and Instagram page @freeingshe are both dedicated to empowering career-driven women of color to truly flourish in ALL aspects of life! She is the go-to person for inspiration on ways to invest in your career, create your ideal lifestyle, and for tools/resources to live life unapologetically free. She produces amazing content, so do yourself a favor and go check out her webpage and social media when you get a chance!

Sip and Shop

It was such a pleasure seeing so many success-minded women of color networking, fellowshipping, and investing in one another. The event hosted local vendors and attendees were able to sip and shop with minority-owned businesses prior to the start of the workshop. Here are some of the local vendors in attendance that evening:

 Kisa Kisa Fashion | www.kisakisafashion.com/
Sterling Silver Vision | Instagram @sterling_silver_vision
I Am So Kate Boutique | www.iamsokate.net/
OurFroPicks Natural Hair and Body Care Products | OurFroPicks.com/
Spectrum Bartending | www.SpectrumMobileBartending.com

After the first hour of the soiree, the setting transitioned into a workshop. Tracy Carmen-Jones, President and Founder of The WaterLight Group, led us in a thought-provoking discussion on the importance of being your authentic self in the workplace.

Unzip the layers

She used her hobby of skiing to drive home the message that in order to be your authentic self in the workplace, you have to be vulnerable and relatable! For example, when we go skiing we have to layer up. We put on a tank, a shirt, a thermal, a jacket, and a coat. But, if you want your life to change at work, you are going to have to unzip the layers! You want your fellow colleagues to get to know you as a person, so when opportunities arise they will consider you.

What are you a resource for?

People want to know who you are—what makes you relatable? Can they consider you a resource? Performance capital alone is not enough. You want to establish performance capital AND relationship capital. For me, I want my colleagues to know that excellence is the standard and that I am the go-to person to get the job done as far as performance! As for relationship, I want my colleagues to know that I am fun, outgoing and creative! I am currently “on a living spree” and I am not shy about sharing my travel experiences, my creative pursuits and fashion inspiration. I am not ashamed of who I am and I want to own that same confidence in the workplace as well as outside of the workplace.

Create Your Own Personal Narrative

As Ms. Jones stressed, you are the creator of your personal narrative—what do you want to say? You get to decide what people know about you and how they interact with you. Decide what you want them to know and LIVE IT! Start talking about the things you care about and things you like to do. Start creating your own personal narrative in the workplace!

Bring YOUrself to Work!

I encourage you to consider topics you can bring up next time you have a conversation in the workplace. I challenge you to figure out what exactly you want your colleagues to know about you professionally and personally and begin developing that narrative in your conversations and interactions the next couple of days. What can you do as early as tomorrow to have more open dialogue about yourself in the workplace? Could you possibly attend a happy hour after work with coworkers that you don’t normally engage with? Take a coffee break or attend lunch with someone mid-day? Remember, you create your own narrative. Bring yourself to work, not your representative!

Don’t forget to check out Christa’s website www.freeingshe.com and subscribe to her blog for updates on the next Cubicles to Cocktails event. Trust me, you do not want to miss it! Invest in yourself, invest in your business, and invest in your life!

 

 

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