sing from your heart.

Lately I’ve been voicing my ideas on a project I’m launching to a select few people I admire. Unsurprisingly, the universe has manifested my visions into a reality.

When your vision is so clear, so pristine, so vast that your soul is begging for you to put it out in the world, the universe makes it’s way into your life by showing you who can help, and propel you to take action to make it concrete.

Writing in one of my favorite places to eat in Baltimore, Sia’s “Chandelier” played when I walked inside.  Aside from the fact that this song is an absolute banger, I took this as a sign to revisit her albums.

For those unfamiliar with Sia or her music, she has managed to survive depression and anxiety by being completely vulnerable through her music, and winning awards along the way.

Her music is a reminder to always sing from your heart, speak your truth and if you don’t, your thoughts will eat you alive.

 

would you like a receipt?

“Today was much better than yesterday’s 5 hour meltdown”

I wrote this sentence in my journal, the day after meeting with a financial advisor.

This meeting would’ve never happened if it weren’t for a conversation I had with my brother. He works for a financial investment company (not as an advisor but something completely different) and although I don’t know exactly what he does, I trust his judgment when it comes to money. He basically called me out on my shit and told me to look into investing in my financial future like I do for my health.

Initially, I booked the appointment to hear about different portfolios I could be investing in, considering my current employer doesn’t offer a 401K, and I’m actually taking adulthood seriously. (I do want a family within this decade).

Growing up, my family never really talked about finances. Conversations around money were more along the lines of “I don’t have anything, ask your father” and my dad responding with laughter. Getting the mail was always daunting because out of the 20 pieces, half were probably bills, and at a very young age I thought credit cards were the devil.

Meeting with this financial advisor turned from a conversation about investing to a wake up call that I needed to hear.  After the meeting I spent the next 5 hours wallowing in this hole I (unnecessarily) dug for myself, and it was precisely what I needed to feel in order for me to take everything seriously and pull myself back to the surface.

Until that day I had never tracked my spending. Granted, I don’t have a ton of debt in comparison to the majority of people in the U.S., but it’s enough that I feel it’s a block in my path to progress, and [financial] freedom.

So, for the past two months I’ve kept all my receipts from my purchases and have tracked them on everydollar.com.

Thinking I had to ask for a raise or find another job that pays more in order for me to “survive” was a false assumption. Tracking what I’m actually spending my money on provided clarity on where I could allocate any extra money towards paying off debt and saving.

For those who think “I don’t make enough money to save, let alone invest.” Try again.

For starters, I’ve been using digit to automatically pull money from my bank based on what I spend into a savings account.

This is a referral link, and if you’re interested in saving money without even thinking about it, try it out.

a taste of space.

My nephew who lives 2,300 miles away from me is 3 years old. He’s in this phase of having meltdowns and nightmares and although him and I don’t speak often enough, I completely understand what he’s going through.

He just started school full-time, he has a baby sister on the way, and being 3 means that there are a lot of things that he can actually understand and remember – yet it may be difficult to actually articulate his feelings. It sounds stressful to be 3, and with stress at this age comes nightmares. So, to shift his mindset from scary to something more light-hearted, my brother & sis-in law have been asking him what he’d like to dream before bed.

The other day I got a text from her letting me know what he wants to dream about. My nephew said he wants me to take him to space in a rocket ship, to take the moon and bring it back home to eat. (Someone connect me with Elon Musk so I can make this happen, k thanks).

My nephew and I are tight, even telepathically. That same day, before I even received the text, I had spent 2 hours in a floatation, sensory deprivation chamber.

There were moments where I knew I fell asleep for what felt like an eternity but in reality was probably about 20 minutes; and there were moments where I knew I was awake and literally did not feel a thing.

Quick backstory. I’ve had back pain for over a year and am currently in physical therapy for it. There hasn’t been a day in over a year where I didn’t feel pain and aches throughout my body or tingling and numbness in my hands & feet.

Since time didn’t really exist while I was floating in this chamber, for the first time in what felt like forever, I legitimately did not feel a thing. I didn’t feel the water around me or any tension in my body for the majority of the session. I felt as if I were floating through space, defying gravity as each second passed by.

Floatation therapy is considered safe (still check with you primary care physician first) and I do feel that anyone could and should experience this, however I don’t recommend trying this if you haven’t spent time alone in your thoughts in the comfort of your home.

I have therapists, both physical and mental; I’ve been practicing yoga & meditation consistently for over a year and as a result, I have a great grasp on my body awareness. I feel everything and know how to articulate and pinpoint where the majority of these feelings stem from. I’ve channeled my depression & anxiety through these practices alongside Reiki, CrossFit, eating farm-raised and/or organic produce 80% of the week, and taking supplements & vitamins that enhance my focus & health.

Even with all of this “practice” I still entered the chamber with anxiety. I immediately tensed up and felt my upper back and neck tighten, the same areas where I’ve had pain for as long as I can remember.  However, what I’ve learned over the course of the year is that during moments of this intensity, I need to breathe through it. As in, focus on what I know is true to be constant for as long as I live – my breath. The moment I can channel my anxiety to the one thing that that I can control, is when I become more relaxed. The tension becomes less intense, and lying down in complete darkness and silence feels less daunting and more comforting.

I don’t think that I would’ve lasted 2 hours in this chamber had I not practiced meditating or therapy on my own. During my CrossFit days when I felt everything should be intensified x 1000, the thought of relaxing would’ve felt foreign and uncomfortable. There were moments during the session where I did panic and wanted to get out (nothing locked me in this space, by the way; the door is easily accessible and I could’ve gotten out whenever I wanted). And again, in the moments where my “fight or flight” sensors went off, I recognized this is the exact time where I not only needed to face this tension and acknowledge it, but to focus on breathing through it.

Floatation therapy is an incredibly useful method to navigate the spaces within your body and mind. I felt like I unlocked a dimension within my body, which even days later I’m still processing what I experienced and more thoughts are coming up from this session.

I find it interesting to only assume that my nephew already understands this feeling – of channeling his stress into imagining and tasting a place (that he has yet to see first hand, yet knows it exists) that’s free of the gravity of the world to alleviate the stresses of his physical existence.

 

 

it’s in my blood.

Activism. Writing. Researching. Storytelling.

Back in September when my aunt & uncle came to town, a friendly debate came up amongst my family. This isn’t abnormal considering after family dinners, a night cap almost always involves coffee while discussing politics – specifically around U.S. and Haiti – with my father ‘leading’ the conversation by mostly arguing against what else everyone is saying. Or at least striking up another point of view, to stir the pot.

When the topic of activism came up during times of political turmoil, coup d’etats and fighting for human/civil rights in Haiti, I asked something along the lines of ‘who were the women who were fighting for justice in Haiti.’

The room fell silent as everyone seemed to be deep in thought, with my dad mentioning…’yes, there were some women who were involved’ but no specific names were dropped. My aunt, Marlene answered in a way of genuine curiosity and concern saying that she didn’t know any off the top of her head, but that she’d do some research for me.

A few weeks later, she sends me a beautiful piece on what she found and I’m proud to share that her story has been published on Abernathy.

Enjoy!

my voice matters.

A few weeks ago, I started recording my thoughts through the voice memo app on my iPhone.

It honestly feels archaic to share this, but I’ve found voice memos to be the perfect app to allow me to brain dump in the middle of driving, heading from one place to another or just when pen & paper weren’t near by.

voicememo

I travel a lot for work.

By travel I mean, I sit in traffic and feel the need to pass the time to be productive since I  have zero control over my surroundings.

I listen to podcasts when I want to feel like I’m kickin’ it with my fam & the juiciest news stories that CNN won’t talk about, on morning edition.

92Q to remind me where I live & come from, and every other NPR show to expand my thinking.

I pay for a Spotify membership each month, but yet in these moments where I’m literally solo & retaining all the information from listening & tap-dancing on each platform, I feel the need to verbalize what I’m thinking and learning from these outlets.

Maybe this stems from my fear of getting alzheimer’s, or the notion that I’m exposed & aware of so many things, more so than I can handle that I feel the need to record everything possible.

Sometimes learning feels like a double-edged-sword.

As I’m navigating ways that I process information, I’m breaching the edge of a visual learner to auditory, depending on the topic that I want to focus on in a particular moment.  This comes at a cost when I attempt to formalize my experiences on platforms like this.

I’m in tune with almost every aspect of my life & surroundings, that I could pick 10 things in the span of an hour that peaked my interest, or inspired me in some fashion and come up with a story on how I was meant to experience this particular topic.

Perhaps I make it difficult for myself to not just listen to what’s on the radio, or hit up spotify, and just take whatever I see or listen to as is, but as an overly dedicated person to analyzing and questioning everything, more often than not, I feel that I need to hear the stuff that I’m actually thinking.

And this is coming from my personal experience of only knowing that pen to paper could clear my thoughts, to having the dopest therapist [#realtalk], to finding that I have so-many-things-in-my-head that if I don’t get them out I’ll feel like I’ll implode.

Sort of.

My point is that voice memos have actually helped me in more ways than one to:

1. get over the fear of hearing my own [awkward] voice
2. brain dump
3. revisit and actually listen to what I’m saying, even if it’s days or weeks later

It’s a pause in time.

Ever since I began diving deeper into my own practice of self-care and what I define that as, I’ve learned to live with my own thoughts.

Replaying what I said a few weeks ago feels ancient, yet it taps me back into the feeling I had when I initially voiced my sentiments.

Most of what’s shown on social media platforms are instant gratification “think pieces” on stories that have literally just been announced.

I often find myself thinking, ‘did these people even try to sit with their thoughts before writing this?’  A lot of what we read and consume hasn’t been sifted through and/or massaged.

Yes, massaged.

Often, there are instances where a particular topic is brewing, and someone immediately responds for reasons unrelated to building substance.

But what if instead of reacting immediately, you just sat there with the feeling, let it pass…and revisit it later when you’re, a bit more clear headed & have facts to back up your assumption?

Patience should be prioritized, and I know firsthand, there’s a fine-line between deadlines and getting a message across.

Voice memos allow me to dig deeper into the actual feeling I had when I initially hit record, and it gives me space to forget about that particular moment, to absorb everything else that I need in order to revisit and come back with a more complete, comprehensive assessment.

Memories come and go. Attachments to feelings can come and go as well. But what trips me out, and what I’ve found time & again, is that my voice matters & it’s here to stay.

 

The 6 best moments of year 30.

Why 6? Well, mainly because it’s my second favorite number and writing about 22 moments just sounds tiresome.

Anyways. This year was a blur!

It’s as if everything happened all within the span of a few months, but clearly, a year has passed. If it weren’t for my own personal documentation, bits and pieces shared with the world through various methods of venting , I would’ve forgotten some major milestones.

This was the year of questioning everything and everyone ranging  from my peers, to the content of whatever article or book I read, to my family and myself. It was the year of understanding what it actually felt like to dig deep within and not being afraid of what comes up as a result.

Through this, I became increasingly curious on how my world works and why I cared, and continue to care so much about everything I experienced and everyone I met.

The 6 best moments that happened this past year were: 

  • Getting hired to work for with ivivva
  • Attending Ruckusmakers
  • Writing an e-book
  • Taking vacations (yes, plural)
  • Hiring a therapist
  • Getting my first  tattoo: “l’union fait la force” meaning strength in unity

Each moment listed was an almost direct result of the former experience. Funny how that works.

Major takeaways from each:

  • Create the environment you want to live in. Working truly as a team and not only knowing you’re being supported, but actually feeling it makes every task less daunting and more meaningful.
  • Keep investing in yourself to create value. Always. No amount of money is ever too large or too little to know your worth.
  • Share your story and be honest & vulnerable in the process.
    Related…
  • Know when to disconnect.  If I were to do the whole “hey I’m going to write a book!” process again, I’d carve out the day after it’s published to do nothing but sleep…for several days.
  • Answers to questions most often come from within. My therapist has managed to ask the questions I haven’t been asking myself. It’s magic, really.
  • Five years ago I swore I would never get a tattoo. Yet, this year, I have never felt so grounded in my life.  The work and experiences that I went through leading up to August 2015 validated what I know to be true.  Know your roots. Can’t know where you’re going if you don’t know where you came from been.

What has managed to stick throughout the course of this year is constantly challenging myself to be better than I was yesterday. The only way to see this through is to reflect on what I’ve done.

30 was good to me.  Looking forward to what this next year will bring.

don’t forget to dance.

 

“But, I can’t even dance to this!”

Him, “just live in the moment.” ::grabs my hand::

Next thing I know we’re in the front of the stage, the only duo on the floor, while everyone else watches.  A live band was performing and the lyrics were unfamiliar to me (mainly because they were in Spanish),  but still I sensed the vibration and passion that was amplified by these musicians.  He takes the lead and starts twirling me around, pulling me in and out of rotations, and before you know it, we were salsa dancing.

The last time I felt like this on a dance floor was when ?uestlove was performing at The Florida Room.  This place was a go-to spot in Miami on nights, in my case Mondays, to just chill and unwind and drink $12 vodka tonics (with 2 limes).  During winter music conference (my favorite time of the year in Miami, Art Basel is a close second), guest DJs would come in each night, and ?uest was ending the week by performing on a Saturday.  There aren’t too many opportunities to say this was the best week ever, but this by far is in my top 5 list.

The Florida Room was designed by Lenny Kravitz, had the feel of your basement turned into a speakeasy and later dance club, with lights just dim enough to see silhouettes swaying around. Five of my closest friends who just so happened to be music lovers, came to experience the beauty behind ?uest’s art and as I can only speak for myself, this night was pure gold.

About twenty minutes into his set, I spot a photographer taking pics of me dancing.  It was genuine, as if he appreciated what he saw so much that it needed to stand still in time.  A few songs later, we ended up dancing and I felt the music and energy literally move through me.  Music tends to do that for me. Once I’m in it… I’m in it.

I love researching the producers and composers of songs that move me. ?uest has a beautiful way of piecing together his songs which creates art. His set is his signature. He blends cultures, inspired by his travels and exposure to the world, and as a result, no one in the room is left standing still.

[This is beginning to sound like an ode to ?uest. Maybe it is. Alas.]

In both instances, I let go of every inhibition I had and let my dance partner take the lead.  In both instances, I felt an out of body experience, and I didn’t want it to end.  Reflecting on these moments that involved pure dance, partly inspired by Rihanna – my new spirit animal, I noticed I was no longer in control.

As a coach, most times by default, I’ve managed to subconsciously build systems in my head to be in teacher mode more often than not.  There’s a time and place for this, and I learned the dance floor isn’t one.

Not everyone needs to be coached in every moment.

Fall back, live and don’t forget to dance.

 

drop the weight.

Often enough, I get asked how I work out, what specific workout routine I follow and what I eat, because whatever I post on social media seems to be catching someones attention.

The truth is, I stopped doing what everyone was telling me I should do: “CrossFit every other day! Eat less carbs! Do paleo!”

I tried a bunch of different workouts and meal plans to see how my body reacted/responded, and came up with something that actually works, for me.

I dropped the weight.

This means, the weight of the world, the weight of the pressures that I put on myself, the weight of sticking to a number (e.g. scale, plates on the bar, counting macros).

All this excess ‘stuff’ helped me focus on what I could control, which is ultimately moving in my own body weight (see: yoga) and more importantly, my breath (see: yoga, again). Something as simple as just remembering to breathe has been incredibly helpful in every aspect of my life. When the weight of the world seems too heavy to bare, deep inhales and slow exhales lighten the load.

For those just getting into the swing of things as far as working out goes, start with the easy stuff.

The things that come natural to you or things that actually excite you, that doesn’t feel like a work out.  Whatever that is, stick to it for a month.  Get in to a routine of doing that thing and track how you feel each time you do it.

Don’t worry about the number of pounds you’re lifting or seeing on the scale. Actually, throw the scale away.

Walk outside for 5 minutes.  Do jumping jacks during commercials. Literally, just focus on breathing.

The more in tune you are with what you can control – your own body, your own breath – the weight (of starting) doesn’t feel as heavy.

i’ve been busy.

Busy exploring my surroundings. Feeling like a tourist in the place I grew up, experiencing everything with a new lens.

Busy surrounding myself with explorers. Healers, entrepreneurs, marketers, designers, teachers, activists, those who lift me up.

Busy practicing the art of self-care. Telling people no, digging in my mat, reflecting, meditating and listening.

Busy facing the trauma of what I’m exposed to. Gripping the wheel each time I pass a cop, tensing up, forgetting to breathe, thinking of who I’d call if I were to get pulled over.

Busy. Understanding, learning, researching and teaching.

Occupying my time to reflect and engage; to live fully present, in the midst of busyness.

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.” Seneca, The Shortness of Life

 

8 minutes to post.

Writing something down is easier to get away with not doing said thing, because no one knows about it.

However with me, there’s something finite about seeing ink on paper. Especially if it’s defined as a goal.

August 1st.

It’s been 31 days since I last published, and I set my intention to post something tonight, with 8 minutes left in the day.

Thinking of every excuse means you’re hiding.

Post.