“YOU are not of this world, you just live in it”. — My mama used to quote John 17:16 as she would look dead into my eyes while straightening my pleated uniform and looking around our housing project lined street. Our house was exactly 0.4 miles from one of the deadliest housing projects, D-Block, in Yonkers, NY.
Retrospectively, that world that “I didn’t live in” provided me with lessons that has made me a successful administrator and continues to give me an edge over my competitors and peers in the professional world.
This is my ode to the hood:
Mama- You kept us under your wing. Protected us from the world around us.
Yonkers- So different from the oasis you grew up in, on your beautiful island.
Babies having babies, people slinging drugs.
Displaced persons, mangled families
Just trying to live, to rebuild their lives
Fighting against the patriarchy and the weight of systematic oppression
Cops, shrouded in blue, busting down doors, just spitting distance from our own front door
I remember you whispering: “You are not of this world — Remember that”
But I was, Mama.
Because I was not blind, and I was not deaf.
I hoarded the lessons of the street.
Breathing them in until they flowed like oxygen through my veins
Stuffing them deep down.
Burying them away below the layers of brown skin, so that my white,rich peers would not happen to catch a glance of them.
I hid them, so I would not be found out.
So that they wouldn’t call me or assume me- Ghetto
Now I’m a professional and it’s the hood lessons chosen time to shine
The ones that have made me strong, creative, bold:
The importance of the witty clap back.
To use my voice boldly.
To sound the alarm-
To identify- Danger.
I learned ….
Look both ways before you cross the street.
Look up, down and around before making a move. Be strategic
To make something out of nothing.
To create my own sunshine, when skies were gray.
Follow your gut.
It’s ok to be different and to march to my own drum.
A little skepticism is healthy.
Think Twice Before you Speak.
To make the food stretch, when there was little or none.
To tell the truth plainly
To tell a brilliant and clever story
to know when to mind my own business
The importance of boundaries
The significance of family
Both blood and chosen
How to take action and when to break rules
To initiate change and not to wait for it to happen
I yawned and wiped the sleep out of my eyes. Then I stretched my hand out, feeling around the left side of my body for my phone. I find it, tucked slightly beneath my left hipbone. I unplug it and pick it up. As per usual, I opened the follower insight app first to check for the faithless unfollowers that I lost during the night. However, unlike other days, this morning I had awakened in Havana, Cuba and there was no data or wifi on hand. Instead there was a sign: “no available service”. I immediately felt a slight surge of panic, but just as quickly that feeling subsided and I breathed a deep sigh of relief.
It was in that moment, on an old creaky mattress on the floor in Cuba, that I realized that somewhere along this journey of Live.Laugh.Boss, I had stumbled off the wellness path and had started to embody the two things that I hate the most and advocate strongly against.
2. I had allowed marketing for my blog take over a large component of my life.
My first blog post launched on March 16 ,2017, and I’ve tried to be faithful in posting once a week ever since. I am not always successful with my weekly posting but I try to practice what I preach by being self-compassionate when I am unable to post on time. But that morning, laying on my uncomfortable mattress in Havana, Cuba, sun-blazing brightly through the silky, bright blue curtains; I realized it was the first morning in five months that the first thing that I saw was not going to be my Instagram insights.
In trying to grow this blog, I’ve become obsessed with taking photos, writing and posting to Instagram daily. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy doing the activities and taking the photos. However, there’s a part of me, an old habit, that has snuck back in to my wellness world: the compulsory need for perfection. I was spending hours of my time, editing photos and blog-posts, re-taking photos that were good enough. Wanting to kidnap and freeze every moment in time to share with all of you, instead of just living my life and allowing the blog to be a part of it.
I know that this is a part of the growing process as a new blogger, figuring out the balance between work, fun, play and life. I’m still learning how much of my life to share and what parts of my life need to remain strictly private to maintain my wellness journey.
Things I’ve learned thus far:
There are positives and negatives to entrenching myself in my blogging world. On the positive side, since I started writing Live. Laugh. Boss, I have felt more like myself than ever before. Encouraging myself to write as often as possible, working out consistently, eating healthily and finding new and exciting ways to enjoy life every single day, has been exhilarating. Writing the blog keeps me accountable to maintaining and documenting my chosen wellness lifestyle.
On the other hand, there’s the exposure. Prior to the birth ofLive. Laugh. Boss, I was not a frequent user of social media. I would actively check my Facebook or Instagram once a day, more to consume media rather than to add to it. Now, I feel like I am constantly checking the insights to see how many likes I have on a post or how many new followers or unfollowers I have. The consistency of it can be exhausting. The other negative is that I find that FONLU (fear of no living up) has found a way to sneak into my amazing blogging experience, working it’s hardest to steal the joy from this experience. I’ve noticed that when I post something particularly vulnerable or a piece that was particularly fun or life-changing to write, my ego takes a hit if I feel that people do not respond to it the way that I expect. For example, if it does not get the right number of likes, comments or new follows. Then, when I’m feeling low from the “failure”, I scroll through my Instagram and see a friend posting similar content that gets 200+ likes. Damn! That FONLU can sneak in and fuck up my afternoon but I’m determined not to let it.
So back to my mattress in Cuba. Since I was unable to check my Instagram or medium followers. I made a list of vows to myself on my phone to remedy the negatives of my blogging experience.
Here are a few:
I vowed, that no matter what, Live. Laugh. Boss will always be written for me, to express my opinions, feelings, emotions and thoughts.
I will not allow it to take over my life.
I will check my followers only twice a day. Once in the morning and once at night, either right after my daily 4pm Instagram post or right before bed. I will continue to live in the moment and not ruin the authenticity of all those moments by trying to capture them in a photo or video but will allow some of my wellness moments to continue to be private and just for me.
I will not take the loss of followers personally. It is not about me or the content, it’s about them. That’s okay.
I will choose two wellness activities per week that will be photo fasted. I won’t even take my phone.
These are the vows that I make to myself and to you all, Tribe. I pray that as you all venture through your own life journeys that you will take moments to assess yourself and your actions and not be afraid to make changes that are right for you and your sanity. Remember, just because you have a set-back moment or you find yourself giving into FONLU, you are not a failure, it happens to the best of us.
I never understood why being a “pussy” was supposed to be an insult. We all know that vaginas are the coolest of all anatomical parts, because they embody resilience, strength and perseverance. People who desire to be successful leaders or entrepreneurs can learn a thing or two about Bossdom from learning more about the vagina.
Vaginas are habitual and resilient:
For better or worse, the life cycle of vaginas are strictly habitual and cyclical. It does not cut corners or eliminate steps when working towards the final product of a successful pregnancy. The vagina has a mind of its’ own and knows when it’s get-it on time. You know what I’m talking about, that “smarting” feeling down in the nether regions. It’s as if the vagina has its’ own google playlist featuring Trey Songs, Marvin Gaye, and Usher that starts to play in your pants right on time each month. The sexy playlist sends out physical signals to remind the person that ovulation is near and it is baby making time by changing the PH of the vagina, the stickiness, and the scent.
The vagina is resilient because it cannot always fulfill its’ monthly objective of baby-making. Sometimes, pesky obstacles such as abstinence, birth control, the pull-out method, etc. get in the way of the end-goal:
but the vagina does not give up on it’s mission even when it fails.
All Hail Vagina! The Pivot Queen!
When the body fails to conceive that month, the Vagina does not fret about it, she pivots instead, resulting in what can be an unpleasant but necessary menstrual period. In the moment, the pivot may feel uncomfortable and painful but come the following month, the vagina is back on schedule working towards reaching the outcome. One-day perhaps, it’ll succeed, until then, it never gives up, just tries and tries again.
Successful people are like the vagina. If at first, they do not succeed, they try again. They define their own benchmarks for success and they find methods to meet them. When they miss their benchmarks, they don’t beat themselves up, they analyze why they missed them, regroup and pivot. They recognize that pivoting is not an admittance of defeat but an avenue for growth. They do not wallow in self-pity but instead are determined and resilient to succeed.
Vaginas are Self-Cleaning and Self-Healing:
Vaginas are colonized by protective bacteria that helps to maintain the vagina’s healthy PH levels. The bacteria help the vagina to fight infections and to keep foreign invaders out. If it happens to get a micro-tear it’ll heal itself within a few days without aid.
Successful people are also self-cleaning and self-aware. They are cognizant about people and habits in their lives that are detrimental to progress. They cut off haters and Debby-Doubters and instead surround themselves with people that reflect the lifestyle that they desire to live. They analyze behaviors that hinder productivity and work to reverse them. They have a clear and concise mission but are not afraid to reassess, realign or cleanup their current processes to better fit their mission.
Successful people are also self-efficient and self-healing by being critical of themselves but also being self-compassionate. They are consistently reading and researching how to hone their crafts. They do not get stuck in their ways. If an employee or a work habit is affecting outcomes, they do not wait for outsiders to affirm their suspicions, they observe, research and cut-away the negative energy but they remember that the team is a living entity and will need time to heal, so they provide a space for healing and for team-members to tell their truths.
The Scent of the Vagina can be Affected by Diet:
A healthy vaginal PH is between 3.5-4.5 but that can fluctuate based on what a person is eating or coming into contact with. Vaginal PH can change due to semen in the vagina, douches and even ovulation, resulting in a change in the vaginal scent or worse in the case of the douches, a yucky yeast infection. The scent and even taste can change based on things that you eat. Pineapples and other deliciously sweet fruits have always been rumored to have a fruitier influence on the vagina’s taste and smell.
Like the vagina, successful people are aware of information and vibes that they intake or entertain. They keep the haters and ambition deterrents at arm’s length. Successful people know that consuming toxic vibes will shake your core and confidence instead of strengthening it. Be protective of your essence, your scent and your brand. Everyone will try to weigh in to your dreams, and your business goals. Successful people are careful of the advice that you take from people. Successful people also know the importance of building a healthy Tribe of builder-uppers. People that will encourage you and help to feed your soul, even when you are down or when you’ve taken a misstep.
Successful people know the importance of sorting advice. They maximize useful information and ditch the rest.
Remember, your vision was given to you and you alone so do not allow it to be clouded by another person’s vision for you.
No Two Vulvas Are The Same:
Every vulva has a different shape, color and scent that is unique to the vulva-holder. The vulva is unconcerned about what other vulvas are doing or not doing. They do not get jealous or feel sad because other vulvas have lighter periods then them, or push babies out of them faster than they do. They are proud of who they are and do what they must to survive and thrive.
Successful people are also inwardly rather than outwardly focused. They are unconcerned about what their friends or peers are doing. They are not jealous or feed into FONLU (fear of not living up) or imposter syndrome. They focus their energies towards being their best selves and reflecting that in their work and lifestyle. They do reserve an established amount of their energy to encourage and build other people up that are in their Tribe. Laying the groundwork for good karma never hurt anyone.
Vaginas are Hardworking and Have Diverse Functions:
Vaginas are the hardest workers! They can push whole beings out of the body and bounce back from that. How many other body parts can do that? Even though they have superhuman abilities to push out and sustain life, they do not limit themselves to this one functionality. No, no, no.
VAGINAS ARE THE GURUS OF DIVERSIFYING FUNCTIONALITY.
Not only do they work to produce life each month but they are also pleasure havens of love! They love to orgasm and try new things. They do not discriminate or limit themselves to one type of pleasure. They are adventurous and are capable of four distinct types of orgasm: clitoral, vaginal, blended and multiple.
Successful people also know how to be adventurous and diversify. They do not have just one gig or make money by only one mean. They diversify their incomes, have healthy social media presences and invest smartly. They are not afraid of change or taking risks, even when they are a bit scared of the outcome. They strive to be innovative even when that means doing something in a way that is different than they are accustomed or comfortable with.
Amid all that hard work, successful people also know when to relax, have fun and take care of their mental and physical health. They build self-care into their daily lives because they know that investing in their happiness and their bodies results in more productivity.
Please Note: I am aware that not all vulva-holders experience some of the anatomical phenomenon discussed, this post is not to discredit any fems realities or truths.