Happiness Curated

Hey Everyone! 

A couple of weeks ago, I was inspired by somebody on Instagram talking about personalizing ‘happiness’. She discussed how making happiness a priority can attract the very things that make you happy. She also explained that happiness cannot be sought out in the places we go, things we do or even the people we know, happiness must first be sought from within to generate whatever makes us happy on the outside. 

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For a long time, I thought my happiness was contingent upon the things that happened to me, rather than being something I could create. I often use to wonder why I couldn’t experience ‘happiness’ in some of the same ways other people did. I wondered why I didn’t feel like I was going anywhere, experiencing certain things, or even why I felt stagnant in my personal relationships with people. I wondered so much about everything around me that I failed to realize I stopped taking the time to look inward to understand what happiness looked like for me. I had stopped doing the work to make my happiness a priority, & began to think that other people, places, &/or things were supposed to provide me with that. But happiness, as it turns out, is just a personally tailored experience we must do the work ourselves to design.

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It’s no secret that this year hasn’t been a cakewalk for me. I struggled with my fair share of issues financially, emotionally & otherwise, but in spite of those things finally subsiding, I still felt like I wasn’t completely happy & found that my happiness had become reliant upon things that I saw rather than what I felt. After seeing the Instagram story about happiness, I began to rethink the concept & sought to recreate what it meant for me.

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At the root, happiness for me starts as a feeling & before it could be translated physically, I had to feel it. Now, it didn’t mean extra upbeat attitude 24/7 or bubbling over with butterfly kisses & rainbows, happiness as I defined it for myself meant feeling calm or at ease. When I was in a certain state of ease I found myself to be the most happy. From there I was able to pinpoint the specific things that need to be done in place in order for me to experience a certain level of happiness. I cleaned out my closet, reorganized things, updated certain routines, put a little bit more effort into getting dressed, cooked my favorite foods, watching my favorite movies & somehow began to curate a happiness that best fit me. With each effort to create a feeling of ease, I began putting steps in place to prioritize my happiness. My ‘happiness’ finally started with & was contingent upon me. And once I focused my energy in the direction of ease, I began to attract other things that added to my happiness.

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While it sounds simple enough, happiness truly begins with you, & in order to cultivate that you have to figure out what happiness feels like for you. What brings you the most authentic joy? What genuinely makes you happy? Once you figure out what happiness feels like to you, then you must dedicate the effort to making it a priority through simple tasks that make you feel the most joy. It can be watching your favorite movie, washing your clothes, going for a walk, traveling, having great conversation, listening to your favorite music, laughing or even being kind to others. It can one of those things or it could be all of those things, no matter what it is, it is your job to do the things that bring you joy, so that you can experience the happiness that best fits you…

Until next time…

Peace,

Dij <3


Silver Hoops/eBay   Turtleneck/H&M  Suede Moto Jacket/ZARA   Jeans/TopShop   Ankle Boots/ZARA

Emotional (No Carl Thomas)

Hey everyone :)

Getting older, I’ve begun to notice how careless people tend to be with emotions & the emotions of others. Growing up like many of us, I’ve heard the countless ways that people discount the importance of empathy & emotional intelligence. I’ve been told my entire life that I’ve either felt too much or was overly emotional, without being given a solution to better manage my feelings. For a long time, I felt there was no place for my emotions & I began to internalize them as more of a burden than a tool. I allowed others’ dysfunctional perception of emotion to shape my own & in turn became closed off & seemingly ‘unfeeling’. 

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I’ve seen many people, myself included, take pride in being ‘unfeeling’ or emotionless as if it were an actual achievement, without realizing that as human beings it is an innate part of who we are & directly links to how we connect to ourselves & others. While I’m working to undo some of what I’ve learned & how I’ve been taught, I want to shed a positive light on emotionality & how essential it is not only to our well-being, but in our relationships with others as well.

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Emotion shows up everywhere whether we want to deny it or not. We feel constantly & experience it on regular basis even when we want to pretend that it’s not important. Whether we’re joyous, down, annoyed, laughing, indifferent, confused, or anything in between, as human beings we experience a wide range of emotions and they are ALL valid no matter where they stem from. By discounting their existence & importance, we shortchange ourselves into believing we don’t need or deserve to feel in order to survive, when in actuality it is an essential part of living. 

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The ability to understand & express emotion is an exertion of emotional intelligence. Emotional intelligence is essential to understanding what we need in terms of support & how we connect to others, without it we’re unable to form personal bonds or authentic relationships with others. Emotional intelligence is at the basis of any interaction whether it’s casual, formal, familial, romantic or platonic. Our emotions are also a direct link to our humanity which connects to our empathy (the ability to feel or identify with what others are feeling), allowing us to connect with other people on a deeper level beyond the surface. Emotions create a bond through our innate ability to see ourselves in other people. Many think that just by suppressing everything and pretending its not there, they’re in full control & there’s no need for it, when in reality it just comes out in other ways. 

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Take the time to understand that emotion is an essential part of who we are & utilize it as a building tool rather than a burden or weakness. Use it to strengthen your relationships as well as yourself. The acknowledgement & validation of feeling only allows us to better manage them. Emotion is valid & needs to recognized as such in order to better understand who we are, what we feel, & what we may need… 

Until next time…

Peace,

Dij <3

Silver Hoops/eBay   Choker/The Style Animal  Faux Fur/ZARA   Halter Bodysuit/Forever21   Shorts/Thrifted   Belt/Thrifted   Cuff/Urban Outfitters   Shoes/OFF Broadway Shoes 

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The Art of Letting Go

Hey everyone!

Going through life each day, I try my best to either develop new healthier habits or break old non-serving ones. Of the many habits I’ve tried to strengthen, letting go has been one of them. ‘Letting go’ is a major & challenging part of growth, that can show up in many forms over the course of our lives. It can involve people, places, things, ideas, anything that we allow ourselves to hold onto, are things that can surround the concept of ‘letting go’. Sometimes, that may also mean letting go of feelings or harboring ill will, both of which I’ve struggled with myself. You won’t always be prepared for everything that happens, but loosening the grip around your own idealizations allows you to embrace change as it comes. 

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Since I can remember, I’ve always had a hard time letting go, whether it was of things, people, or feelings, I’ve just never had the courage to let stuff go. I would hold on to pain, sadness, & anger like there was no end or a new day in sight. I wanted to remember what not do or who not to be. I tended to use those things as personal reminders of every experience, which definitely added to the habit. But as I get older I realize not much is worth holding on to in the same ways anymore. And after awhile, it can serve as more of a burden, than a reminder.

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I’ve gained a lot of clarity surrounding the art of ‘letting go’ of things that no longer serve me, whether I understood them or not. I’ve done myself the disservice of holding on to things even when they’d clearly fallen apart, all for the sake of wanting to have a reminder, whether it was good or bad. So much so, I would inadvertently try to recreate moments for myself, even when they’ve already been lived.

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Since stepping into my mid-20s, I’ve become more active in the art of letting go. For so long, I wanted things to constantly be in my control. I woke up one day & started to realize that my reminders had turned into “emotional crutches” & I had burdened myself with things I could not change. I finally understood that all I could control was how I moved & my reaction to it. Not every moment can be recreated, not everybody deserves to stay (or come back), not every feeling can be felt again, & not everything can be undone, but I had to learn how to acknowledge & accept things not only as they came, but as they went. While I’m still learning & certainly don’t have all the answers (Fun Fact: I actively never know what I am doing most of the time lol), I know it’s okay to remember who we once were, what was once felt, and what once was. It doesn’t have to be a burden or even a reminder, but an understanding of how far we’ve come & an acknowledgement of who we’ve grown to be. Change is the only constant & it’s important to embrace it as it comes. 

Until next time…

Peace,

Dij<3

Sunglasses/Amazon Hoops/eBay  Dress/eBay  Belt Bag/ZARA   Cuff/Urban Outfitters   Shoes/OFF Broadway Shoes 

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Self-Care Tip #12: Grieve [Black Girl Grief]

Hey everyone,

This year marks 3 years since we lost my ‘Young Man’. In honor of him, I’ve finally written a Self-Care Tip #12 about Grief. It has been a long time coming & I am beyond thankful to get to a place where I can share without spontaneously combusting. Feel free to comment below, like &/or pass it along. Thank you in advance for taking the time to read… <3 :)

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The Walking:

A while back, I saw an older gentleman wandering the aisles of Staples looking for something. He was around 70, very tall, dark skin with a steady walk. I’d never met or seen him before in my life, but something about him was warmly familiar, so much so, without even thinking I began to follow him. I watched him walk steadily, but aimlessly through a few aisles as he searched for his item. I didn’t know what he was looking for, but I guessed that he was probably looking for mailing supplies. As he walked, I was drawn to a familiarity in him that I had grown to know all my life. His walk in & out of the aisles though slow, was steady & patient. When he finally reached what he had been looking for, I peaked around the corner to see him reaching for mailing envelopes. I realized he walked just like my grandfather.

Remembering:

At that point it had been a year since I lost my grandpa. I couldn’t remember much outside of the random bouts of crying & unintentional moments of isolation, but I could never seem to forget the feeling of losing him. I remember the confirmation phone call like it was yesterday. I remember calling one of my best friends for comfort & reassurance, my mother’s voice when she called, the echo of my apartment when I couldn’t afford any furniture just yet. The worst part was being alone when it happened, my space felt so empty as I screamed into a silence no one could hear. I remember not knowing who to call, the emptiness & feeling more alone than ever. The drive down the freeway to my friends’ apartment, just to be somewhere, felt long & winding. I remember nobody checking on me in the airport while I cried silently at the gate waiting for my flight home. I remember who I was & understanding I would never be the same after. 

I also remember chaperoning a college tour before going home & interviewing for my first position fresh out of grad school. I posted something ambiguous on Instagram & made jokes in front of the funeral home the day of the memorial. I buried my disappointment about people not being there for me deep inside & trudged through work, events, life, & everything in between. I cried alone, but put on a brave face every morning & took off my burdens while falling apart at night. I tried my hardest not to use his death as an excuse, though some days when I didn’t want to leave my house it felt like it was the only one I had.

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Processing:

As an adult, you lose money, you lose patience, sometimes you even lose love... but no one ever tells you how to deal with losing people. It’s something so inevitable, but too devastating to even think about. It’s an arduous task to ask of anyone, but one that requires time, patience and incredible care from not only your support system, but yourself as well. I had so much I felt like I had to do, I didn’t even allow myself the space to feel what I needed unless I was alone. I couldn’t bare to call my mother when she unconsciously carried my brother and I’s grief on top of her own. She lost her father & had to look grief directly in the face nonstop for about 8-9 months as she took care of his arrangements, financial, burial, & otherwise. When I couldn’t keep it together I blamed myself for not being strong enough to carry on for her. I didn’t want to ask for anybody’s help, I just wanted others to recognize my loss & support my family through their grief rather than deal with my own. Having moved away years before, from where I lived I didn’t feel the impact quite like they did & it became something to only deal with from a distance. I carried so much anguish, guilt, disappointment & vulnerability it nearly bursted through the seams of my strong woman persona following the loss. It became too much of a burden to carry on my own that it forced me to look for help even when I really didn’t want to.

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Learning & Understanding:

I’ve learned that for everyone grief looks different & comes in various forms & processes. Relearning how to live your life without someone is probably the most difficult task no one is ever taught to cope with. My ‘Young Man’ was like a third parent & a permanent fixture in my life. There was no phone call made, no picture taken, no story told, no record kept without him being there, it was nearly impossible to imagine life without him. I wanted people to just look at me & recognize the gapping hole in my life, without having to give a whole backstory. I just wanted them to see my need for support in the spontaneous bouts of crying & alienation & understand how important he was. But I soon realized nobody knew how important my grandpa was because you really had to know me to know him, which required talking about it & that made reaching out for support so much more challenging. I didn’t want to have to explain who he was or why I was crying over postage or tell the many stories of my childhood & adolescence, I didn’t want to have share my pain because I was afraid of bringing it to life. More honestly, I just didn’t think anybody could be there for me if they couldn’t recognize my silent suffering. It’s important to let people be there for you, it’s important to talk about loss & while IT IS painful, it relieves some of the pressure off of your grieving spirit. I still can’t remember if it gets better or easy, all I can say is that it’s a process that you never stop learning from. While getting over the initial hurdle was rough, I began opening up & speaking more about my loss & grief. In speaking on it, I allowed people to be there for me & somehow managed to become a support for others during their time of loss. 

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Becoming: 

After I lost my grandpa it seemed like there was a domino effect of loss in the lives of other people I’d known. Friends had lost mothers, partners, fathers, friends, cousins, even pets. Death felt more real & as if it was coming alive all around me. I suddenly found myself utilizing my experience & somehow managed to become the person I once needed for others. I found myself sending scrolls to people I hadn’t spoken to in months, answering phone calls in the middle of the night, & driving up north in the rain without a second thought. It awaken a greater sense of empathy in me I never even knew I had. Being present in any capacity is the most important form of support. Without even thinking, I became the person I needed for other people in my life who experienced tremendous loss. Check on people even if you don’t know them, call even if you haven’t spoken in years, listen when you have nothing say & above all speak when there is something on your heart, because even if you’re unsure you don’t know how your experience can change someone’s life. I’ve affirmed people, sat on the phone in silence, showed up with flowers unexpectedly, cried & listened to people’s stories, I remembered who I was and who I had become after loss. And although, I still miss him endlessly, I praise God for allowing my grandfather to make me a better daughter, sister, friend, & human being, even in death…

Until next time…

Peace,

Dij<3

No, I'm Not Okay & That's Fine...

Hey Everyone,

Long time no post :) Today’s post focuses on Mental Health Awareness Month. While each of our stories may be isolating, knowing we are not alone on each of our journeys makes it that much either to travel, so I’ve decided to share mine below…

I’ve suffered from Depression before I even had the vocabulary to verbalize it. When I was 15, I became extremely withdrawn from family & stopped speaking for days. Not out of spite or typical “teenage angst”, but because I felt sad, isolated & I didn’t know why. And because I didn’t know what it was or want to put it on anyone else, I just stopped talking altogether. Extremely worried, my Dad pulled me aside, urging me to tell him what was wrong, & I couldn’t tell him because I didn’t know what was it nor did I feel like anything should be wrong. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve developed a much better understanding for how I am feeling & learned to better manage my mental health with regular visits to a therapist & various practices put in place to help me cope with my Depression & Anxiety. But as is with life & its ebbs & flows, the good days don’t always last…

I’m not always good & that’s fine. Depression & Anxiety are two very real things & they happen to the best of us. It’s not our job to pretend as if they aren’t happening or to explain them if we don’t want to. Girl, I'm having a hard time, I AM sad & that is what it is. 

Life has literally left me in a proverbial ditch, rut, or whatever you want to call it, since last November. I have received awful news, my financial instability has mounted, some boy really hurt me, things have happened to my friends, more people have died & my car was stolen. That’s probably not even the half of it, but most of what I’m willing to talk about. Things were happening left & right, & just as life mounted, once again so did my Depression & Anxiety surrounding it. It can take a lot to get up everyday, put on a brave face & honestly attempt to answer every other inquiry as to how you’re doing when life is throwing haymakers at you.

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I didn’t even think I was dealing with depression again (unfortunately, as I’ve said before I ain’t new ta dis, but true ta dis), until I found myself spending the majority of my days longing to be asleep & unconscious with several bouts of crying in between. I began leaving my house less & less, & withdrew from a lot of my friendships. I stopped answering calls, declined multiple invites, & even stopped writing. Struggling with so many issues at the same, I began to wonder what the point of living was & allowed my faith in myself to diminish almost completely. I couldn’t deal with my own feelings, so in order to avoid burdening anyone else, I once again stopped talking altogether. Something about depression feels so much more serious, or terrifying even when spoken aloud. Eventually, I found myself wandering aimlessly through the dark alone. It is a terrible feeling, & it’s even more difficult to explain when you don’t even feel like you can sort it out. 

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But if it’s one thing I’ve learned it’s to be honest about where I am & take my time getting through it. Depression is not an easy thing, but it is manageable, under the proper care & circumstances. It means paying more attention to yourself & intentionally taking the time to listen to your own needs. 

Because I’ve spent several months in this space & stopped actively caring for myself, I’ve had to start several things over from scratch with the first step being to admit I was struggling. While it’s been hard, I always make it a point to remind myself that I am doing something about it & that is something to be proud of. I’ve started making lists of things that need to be done down to the very basics of taking a shower or making up my bed (…and yes, it can get so crazy that you may even contemplate having the energy to take a shower). I take things one step, one minute, one hour, & one day at a time. If I cannot finish a task, I give myself a mental break to revisit it without bashing myself for not completing it in a certain time frame. Instead, I make sure to applaud myself for recognizing those things. In my spare time, I try to make it a point to leave my house & interact with others, whether it’s going to the grocery store or seeing one of my friends. You’d be surprised at how much being around people who genuinely love & support you can soften the blows that life throws at you. Many of my friends, deal with either depression, anxiety, or both, & having people in my corner who understand my struggle make it that much easier to work through & even talk about.

No one said that life was an easy road, but sometimes things can get more difficult than we’re able to bare & that is okay. It is okay to admit that things are hard & it is okay to be honest about your struggle. Regardless of everyone else’s journey, yours is yours & it is still very much real…

Until next time…

Peace,

Dij<3

Glasses/Forever21   Jacket/Levi’s-Thrifted   Shirt/Amazon   Jeans/ZARA   Boots/ZARA   Backpack/ZARA

Chinatown Express

Hey Everyone,

As I’m sure anyone following me knows, kimonos have kinda become one of my favorite things, so when it became a fashion trend I had no shame falling in line with the times. I found this beautiful fringe-detailed kimono at my favorite place, Zara, and immediately fell in love. 

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Burgundy is one of my favorite colors that wear all year round, but Fall and Winter are my favorite and probably the most accurate times of year to wear it. The richness of the color just brings out a certain level of sophistication and class that other colors, though amazing in their own right, just do differently.

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The kimono itself is so versatile you can either dress it up or down, but I thought I might try something different by dressing it up a bit. While I, myself, am partial to more casual and streetwear looks, I thought it would be fun to create a date night look for once. I decided to pair it with a little black dress and strappy black heels to spice up the look. Following suit, I added a few bold accessories to accentuate the look and was suddenly ready for somebody to take me somewhere where linen table cloths and a 3 course meal were readily available upon request. Though I don’t get to do it often, I do thoroughly enjoy any opportunity to dress up when the occasion calls for it.

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My friend and I actually shot this look near the heart of Chinatown in Downtown LA some months back. I imagined the setting as the perfect backdrop for this date night outfit I put together and had in mind. And while the look was even better in person, the random security guard rolling around didn’t seem to think so himself and ‘rolled’ up on us a few times. Needless to say, we did the shoot in under hour, under the pressure of our mobile friend there (*eye roll*), which has to be the quickest shoot I’ve ever done to date. That’s probably why I thought I was so clever in naming this post ‘Chinatown Express’ (lol).

Until next time…

Peace,

Dij<3

Kimono/ZARA   Dress/ZARA   Necklace/Gift   Cuff/Urban Outfitters   Heels/Steve Madden

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Multifaceted Multiplicity

A lot of us are placed in a box when it comes to who we are and what we’re portrayed to be. As a black woman, this notion rings especially true for any way in which I choose to move through the world. It seems no matter who we are and what we do, someone always has something to say about it. And while fashion may only be a small portion of it, it can still affect outside perception enough to garner unsolicited opinion *eye-roll*.

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I like to think my wardrobe is a direct reflection of my versatility as a black woman and my ability to move through different environments without being pigeonholed by the expectation of others. My fashion sense speaks to who I am without any regard to how people view or perceive me. Some days, I’m dressy with a lot of colors, prints, and soft, flowy fabrics, others I am a hoodie, pair of jeans and my moccasins. I can dress up, down, sideways, diagonal, or in the shape of a hexagon, in any direction I choose to go I am multifaceted and versatile.

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I get angry, I can be loud, but I am also soft and kind, and one thing doesn’t work without the other. There is a multiplicity to my identity and just like my fashion choices there’s a lot of versatility to who I am and who I choose to be. I am a social chameleon. I can give you all four seasons, just like I can give you academic prose laced with colloquialisms and a little bit a cussin’. I’ve got windbreakers right next to my ignorant fur coats, my thigh high boots are lined up with my oxfords, and my Golden Girl cardigans are right new my hip-hop shirts. My style can be subtle, outright, or mixture of both, but that does not dictate who I am or what anyone may think I am supposed to be. I can be anything and more if I so choose.

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We need to give ourselves the permission and room to be ourselves, and ALL of ourselves. You do yourself a disservice by hiding or conforming to the opinion of others, who 9 times out of 10 can't even be real with themselves. I allow myself the space to be me and in doing so, give others the courage to do the same. And maybe that'll offend some people, but at the end of the day they don't have to live this life, I do and I deserve to live it however I choose. 

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That also means checking myself when I am judging others for their choices & decisions no matter how different they are from mine (unless they're down right malicious or inhumane, then I might make a stank face). But I always try to remind myself and others that ain't no seat up there next God with my name on it, so who am I to make unrelenting judgment on someone else? Sis, he made me too, so again who I am? 

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There is beauty in your multiplicity, God didn’t make us one dimensional, he created each of us with an extensive amount of depth and difference to share and revel in. Recognize all of who you are and have the courage to place it on display for the world to see, chances are life will be that much more colorful when you do… 

As usual, I hope this encouraged and inspired you

Until next time...

Peace, 

Dij <3

Hat/TopShop   Top/MERCY Vintage   Hoops/Beauty Supply   Pants/ASOS   Air Max 90/CHAMPS   Jacket/MadowFutur

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It Never Rains in Southern California

Hey y’all,

Towards the end of the year is when the weather here in LA gets real ambiguous and just kinda does with its inhabitants what it wants. As I’m sure many can assume, Fall is probably the most beloved time of year for most fashion forward enthusiasts such as myself. Like I’ve mentioned in a previous post, it’s the best time to put 65% of your wardrobe and greatest layering ability on display. 

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I just knew by the end of October, I’d finally be able to bust out my favorite jackets, coats, and sweaters for the season, but October came and went and the Lord gave the latter half of California a rousing and loud, “Nah, sis,” in the form a small heatwave nobody asked for.  

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I went ahead and paired my ruffle crop top with these flowy pants I thrifted in Burbank earlier this year. While the outfit itself is pretty summery, the color palette I chose definitely incorporates more neutral and brown tones to give a bit of a Fall aesthetic. I’m assuming based on the recent weather forecast, these colors are as close to Fall as I’ll most likely get, lol. 

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As of right now (meaning the beginning of December), it somehow still manages to be summer in LA and honestly, I just want to wear my coats. But in the mean time, I’ve taken advantage of the sporadic hot weather to get my last few summer outfits in before Fall/Winter comes (IF it ever decides to come). Tony! Toni! Toné! was clearly on to something because their weather forecast from 1990 still rings true in 2017 *eye roll*.  

Until next time

Peace,

Dij<3

Glasses/TopShop   Top/ZARA   Necklace/H&M   Pants/Thrifted   Sandals/Brazil   Casio/eBay   Cuff/Urban Outfitters   Melanin/GOD

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In Living Color

Hey everyone!

I’d say I’m a pretty colorful person, and would probably be described as such by anyone who knows me personally. So it should come as no surprise that my 65% of wardrobe reflects my colorful personality. As I’ve gotten older I’ve begun to experiment and add more pops of color and patterns to my wardrobe. 

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As I’m sure many black women have experienced, growing up I used to hear the incredible tall tale of certain colors not being suitable for darker skin tones. While I use to believe this myself and shied away from certain colors for a majority of my life, by the time I had become more confident in my own personal style, I tossed that notion out the window and began wearing whatever colors I saw fit. 

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This shirt is one of the few louder pieces in my closet that LOUDLY proves that notion wrong. I get so many compliments from everyone on it and how good it looks on my skin, I’m sure it’s hard to think otherwise :)

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Some months back, while I was thrifting in Burbank I met an older white costume designer, who while perusing the aisles took it upon herself to intrude upon my trying on items. While she seemed nice, she was was extremely intrusive and went as far as to look through the items I’d picked. Of the items was a bright orange shirt to which she looked at me and said it wouldn’t be such a good pick because of my skin tone. I gathered the good sense my mother gave me, looked at her with a smile and said, “I’m not you, I’m dark skin and every color looks good on me, and I do mean EVERY color.” 

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Who are we to open our mouthes and say what doesn’t look good on anyone? Don’t be afraid to add color to your wardrobe, as long as the item makes you feel comfortable and above all confident, everybody with an unsolicited opinion can mind their business. And I’m sure my ‘gentle reminder’ will have that woman watching what she says next time ;)

Until next time

Peace,

Dij<3

Glasses/Some IG Shop   Top/Thrifted   Shorts/Thrifted   Sandals/Brazil   Casio/eBay   Melanin/GOD

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Goddess Apparel

Hey y’all,

Since the beginning of spring, I’ve been styling and sporting my Silk Kimono Robe that I purchased from a black-owned online vintage shop last year. Dressing it up or down, I’ve virtually worn it everywhere I could and have received a bevy compliments in the process. Back in November, I spotted this beautiful silk robe and immediately direct messaged the shop’s owner to request that she hold it until I could scrape together my coins and purchase it on Black Friday. Being the kind and dazzling young woman that she is, Imani Jahaan went ahead and held it for me. Without realizing it, I was among some of the very first orders that went out for the shop’s grand opening that Fall, and was more than excited to receive my one of a kind piece. 

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One of my main goals for creating my platform was to highlight specific black businesses and other creatives. This post is no exception to the rule and since I have been wearing my Kimono religiously and plan to transition it into a fall piece, it was imperative I highlight the shop itself. Imani Jahan Vintage is an amazing and upcoming brand ran solely by the equally amazing and dazzling, Imani Jahaan of the same name. Based on the east coast, Imani Jahaan Vintage is a cute online store that specializes in one of kind, beautiful and fun, vintage pieces. Whether you’re fun, flirty, classy, or free spirited, Imani Jahaan has pieces for everyone and every occasion that are hand picked and truly one of a kind.

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While it is still practically summer here in California, I cannot not wait to transition this piece into my fall wardrobe. If you can, support whatever small or black businesses you can find, you never know how far your purchase can go in supporting someone else’s goals and dreams. Paying it forward is always key.  I am still very proud to say that I am Imani Jahaan Vintage’s first California customer, and while you might not be able to find my kimono (because I have it, lol), I am more than certain you’ll be able to find something equally fly or better. Head over to the site to check out some of the dope pieces by clicking the link below.

IMANI JAHAAN VINTAGE

As usual, I hope this inspired you. Support Small Black Businesses :) 

Until next time…

Peace,

Dij<3

 

Silk Robe/Imani Jahaan Vintage   Dress/ZARA   Sandals/Brazil   Cuff/Urban Outfitters   Hoops/ALDO

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The GLO Up

Hey y’all,

Looking in the mirror these days, I love what I see more than use to. I love to see the way I’ve grown into my body and the various ways I’ve learned to love it. The unruliness of my hair, the depth of my skin, the shape of my face, the length of my legs…everything that use to feel like a burden, I suddenly learned how to love. I feel unashamed catching a glimpse of my reflection and admiring it in any reflective surface. Sometimes, I’ll outwardly say to myself, “well you look beautiful today, sis”. I’m cognizant of my posture now more than I’ve ever been. I’ll find myself pulling my shoulders back whether I’m alone or in a crowd, I walk with my head held high knowing in the back of my mind how far I’ve come.

I remember the days when my confidence seemed completely nonexistent and even having the overbearing expectation of others to fix it for me. I wanted people to love me into loving myself. I’d take the preferences of all that I knew of those near and far and try to mold myself into what I thought I was acceptable. I soaked up whatever compliments I received and carried them near and dear to my heart, only to have it shattered when preferences changed. I wanted so badly to be validated, I let others form an opinion of me before I could even form one of myself. For a long time, I honestly didn’t even know I had the power to decide for myself and I, more often than not, let others decide for me.

It was exhausting to say the least, but after a while I learned there was much more to me than I had even allowed people to see. I was consumed with trying to fit into a box. I began to learn and teach myself that what I had was valuable and immeasurable lined up against the standards of others. 

Now, I look to find fresh eyes each day to look upon myself with. It is not easy and on more days than not I’m frustrated with my hair matting together, my butt not being big enough, and feeling way too tall. But the challenge of loving every part of myself is one I gladly take on daily. I dress with a certain level of courage that at one point seemed unattainable to me. I built this confidence from scratch and relish in that. I wear what makes me comfortable and I stand tall in knowing, whether alone or in public, I am unabashedly making the conscious effort to love myself. 

I’ve been able to teach myself that being confident isn't a matter of what other people think of you, but literally a matter of what you think of yourself in spite of the unsolicited opinions of others. I implore you to compliment yourself, create daily rituals that build your self-worth, and above all recognize your opinion of yourself matters more than any and everyone else’s. So wear what you want, smile at your reflection every chance you get, and actively recognize your own beauty because your opinion is the only that matters.

S/O: This week's post also features the amazing Black/WOC business Pink Plastic Babez. Run by two phenomenal young women from the DC area, these girls are for and all about creating pieces that inspire women to love themselves, and this swimsuit has done all that and more for me. Make sure you click the link and support their growing business.

Until next time y'all

Peace,

Dij<3

Earrings/Beauty Supply   Swimsuit/Pink Plastic Babez   Cuff/Urban Outfitters

Messy Boots

Hey everyone,

Lately, I’ve been feeling like a complete mess and not really sure of how to step out of it. I worry just like most people if I should have my life together by now or if it’ll ever be together anytime soon. No matter how much food is my house or if all my bills are paid or how many hours I work, I never feel like I have any stability and by 25 I just imagined that I’d finally have something to firmly place my feet on.

Instead, I’m just feeling like I’m jumping from place to place wondering if stability is even a thing that’s attainable. I want so many things for myself and that just seems so far outside my reach and every path traveled leads to another series of forks in the road, leading to God only knows where! I get up everyday feeling like "sheesh, shouldn’t I have it together by now?" I’m scrambling all the time wondering if whatever decision I’m making is the right one or if it'll finally land me where I need to be. I think of my parents and some of my friends in their 20s, and I wonder why I haven’t figured it all out like they all have. That’s what having everything all figured out is supposed to look like right? By your 20s, just like everyone else who’s seemed like they made it, you’re supposed to know where you're going. Why am I not there, why am I still a mess at 25?

Truth is at this point in my life, I forget all the time that I don’t HAVE to have everything all together. I’ve made all the seemingly right decisions most of what happens after that is purely circumstantial and out of my control. I put so much pressure on myself because of the things that I cannot change or didn’t anticipate, that I constantly forget to look at my life and see how much I’ve accomplished and how far I’ve come in spite of the challenges faced. I’ve learned more about myself and done more than I ever could’ve imagine thus far in my life, and while the money’s not rolling in quite like I desire, I’m still figuring out ways to do what I want with what I do have. I’m trying to work on giving myself room to be a mess, a human being, and not necessarily have everything together. 

I have no idea where this path is going or where in life it’s going to take me, I’m just hoping it takes me somewhere I can lay my burdens down like some edges and firmly place my feet. But until then, I’m down for adventurous excursions, late night conversations, days and weeks of self-reflection, buckets and buckets of tears, falling apart and putting myself back together again, and somehow managing to survive off nothing just experience something. Our mess is just an indicator of our process and it looks different for everyone. We’re not perfect and we shouldn’t feel like we have to be 24/7 at every moment of everyday. Not to mention I have so many people along for this ride with me, who just like me are unabashedly fumbling around, in hopes of getting it together, but somehow managing to live in the moment and enjoy life. 

Though at this moment I wish I could provide more stability for myself, I can appreciate the freedom that comes with constantly being in transition. While I can’t help but worry (because what’s your 20s without a mountain of ridiculous unrealistic worry & fear?), I have faith that it will come. By the time I have it together, I’ll look back with an interesting story I’m too unashamed and full of life not to tell. I’d rather be in process now because by 45, I know I’m not gonna have the stamina or heart for shit quite like I do now.  It’s okay not to have it altogether in this moment, eventually you will. 

Until next time,

Peace,

Dij<3

Vest/Thrifted   Jeans/Thrifted    Top/Thrifted

#FathersDay

Hey Everyone,

This week's post is special project I've been working on the last few months surrounding a poem I wrote about my father. Since today is Father's Day I figured why not share? Shout to my Dad and all the the present accounted for, and attentive Fathers of Color out there... Hope you enjoy :)

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Awhile back I wrote a poem about my dad. He is this larger than life character that loved through his stories rather than his emotions. He told me the only time he cried was when my Mamaw died, when my brother and I were still too young to understand. He fought all his life. He was talked down to, talked about, and made fun of, all the hardships that came with being black, male and from the ghetto. But he told his stories with so much charisma and charm, you’d think he was an impenetrable fortress. Nothing could touch him, nobody’s tears, not our tears, not even his own. He laughed and smiled so big it warmed your spirit from the inside out. And he told his stories with the same vigor and conviction, unmoved by his own personal hardship, he laughed in the face of pain and struggle and animated his triumph. I was convinced at a young age that nothing could touch him, my dad was tough. 

As I got older I carried the same notions with me, even when I left home. I worried about my mom more than I worried about my dad because he was strong and hadn’t shed a tear from what I could see since my grandmother died, I knew he’d be fine. My absence couldn’t have possibly affect him when he laughed in the face of matters much worse. He was my rock and a mirror of all the strength I wanted to convey to the outside world, taking on everything one story or song or joke at a time. I envied him and even modeled a cold demeanor after what I thought was his. I still cried, but I’d never let you see, I knew he’d be so proud of me. But as I got older and came home to visit, the stories I’d heard from him all my life started to sound different. As he repeated the same lines, same hand gestures and sound affects upon newly matured ears, they were no longer as funny. I listened harder and realized I had ignored an entire part of my dad that I didn’t even think existed. In writing off his emotion, without even realizing it I had written off the very innate part of his very being, his humanity. For someone to laugh so loud and smile so warm, it didn’t even register to me that he could be sad or hurt, and it hurt me to realize that I hadn’t seen it. 

One night, my mother and I were having a conversation about my moving away from home and she brought up my dad. I didn’t think twice before saying he wasn’t affected by it. She expressed to me that he cried when I’d left and was even devastated when I decided not to come back, and while she prepared herself for my departure, he had not. On some occasions, he’d find himself praying or sleeping in my old room. In that moment, I understood how small of a box masculinity can put people in, especially black men. A box so small that we end up policing ourselves without even realizing it. All this time what I’d known as tough, was only allowing one side of my dad to flourish in my mind. I can honestly say I didn’t take full note of my father’s emotions until that conversation with my mom. So I wrote this poem for him, to celebrate him and all of who he is, even the parts I couldn’t see. I didn’t think I could love my dad anymore than when I was allowed to candidly know his struggle with sadness in my absence, being allowed access to the very epicenter of his humanity was the epitome strength to me. It is the first poem I’ve ever written about him. I hope through my words I can lift the burden of hyper masculinity if only for a second and let him know I see him for all of who he is… I love you, thank you for letting who I am change who you are… Thank you for letting me soften your heart…

This is to all the present and accounted for black fathers and fathers of color, blood or not, overtly feeling or not, but present nonetheless. I hope the men of color watching understand that the burden of masculinity is not your cross to bare, but an impossible expectation placed on you by the weight of oppressive systems. You are loved, you feel pain as well as joy, sadness, and delight and your tear ducts moisten just as mine do and it doesn’t make you any less. Love is just as much your duty as any woman, you are not exempt from feeling… Your masculinity is not tied to your humanity, your emotion is.. And whether the world sees it or not, know that I do. You are human first before you are man, I see you, your children see you and it’s alright to feel…

Hope this inspired you and #HappyFathersDay to all the fathers of color...

Until next time,

Peace,

Dij<3

Reeeeemix

Hey y’all!

Remember back in the day when every (and I do mean EVERY) other song had a remix? I'm talking "I Need A Girl" parts 1-17 with every other male R&B singer on each version at that time. The early to mid 2000s were it boy, lol. My favorite remix of the decade though had to be Rich Boy's ‘Throw Some D’s’ with every random & known rapper from the south on it just because the song started out with a sample from El Debarge’s ‘I Call Your Name’. I liked trying to figure out whether Rick Boy or El had come on during the shuffle on my iPod once the beat finally dropped. Oh, yeah that was a time to be alive... lol. 

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(Side note: I still have an iPod with a click wheel, because honestly one iPhone like device is truly enough... )

Summer is coming and it’s that time of year when I like to remix some of my favorite fall clothing items into outfits for the current season. I put together an outfit similar to this one back in November with jeans, simpler hoops, and brown ankle booties. I liked the look so much, I figured why not do a remix of it with a spring and summer aesthetic? I’ve always said some of the best items you can buy are the ones you can transition across all seasons, all year-round. To switch it up I’ve paired my favorite bold colored trench with the same lace up bodysuit, but this time with distressed denim shorts, a longer lace up boot (that you’re probably going to see a lot of, lol) and a larger, more dramatic hoop. Not to mention my hair is completely different from the last look and 'summer ready' as well. 

This is also the time of year I like to put my legs on display and pick items that accentuate them. I didn’t see them as much of an asset growing up, but more in the way than anything, lol. I actually don’t pull them out often, so these boots more often than not always get the job of highlighting them done. Subtle with a whole lot of character, quite like myself. The trench is light enough to wear so it doesn’t suffocate you, perfect as the hot days turn into cool nights. I also paired the look with these leopard print cat eye sunglasses. To give this look a more fashion forward appeal and drastic change, I upped the dramatics using my accessories to do a majority of the emphasizing. 

I think my favorite 90s remix has to be, hands down, the remix to SWV’s ‘Anything’ off the 1994 Above The Rim soundtrack. Talk about the perfect house party jam and just an all around feel-good song. Every time I hear it, I’m literally transported back in time to the house party I always wanted to go to, but was never old enough to experience. 

What were your some of your favorite remixes? Do you remember any of the ones that were on a constant loop on the radio back in the day? I mean how could you forget ‘em when they played them every 2 songs, lol. Hope this inspired you to reinvent your seasonal fits, sometimes the best outfits for summer don’t need to be bought, just remixed… 

Until next time…

Peace,

Dij<3

Hoops/Beauty Supply   Necklace/Boohoo   Lace-Up Body/ZARA   Shorts/Thrifted-DIY   Trench/ZARA   Cuff/Urban Outfitters   Boots/Nordstrom’s Rack   Sunglasses/The Left Bank

Insecure: The Reality of Heartbreak

Hey everyone,

-The Intro: 

Do we ever talk about the reality of heartbreak and how it shapes the way we look at ourselves? Do we ever take the time to reflect on how far we’ve come or let it break us beyond repair? Much like any human being, I’ve struggled with my share of heartbreak, but one recent experience changed the way I looked at myself forever. While it did break me in some regard, it taught me a valuable lesson about my self-worth, and in keeping up with the transparent theme of the blog I wanted to share. It’s long, but I hope you enjoy :)

-The Incident: 

A little while back I had the extreme displeasure of falling into a situation with a young man shortly after my grandfather passed. I didn’t even realize quite how vulnerable I was after the loss until I fell in too deep to get myself out. We found ourselves frequenting the same circles and spaces over the last few years before we officially had a conversation. I knew and was fairly certain from the first few interactions between him and I that I did not like or trust him, AT ALL. Ironically, a lot of the preconceived notions I thought were proven wrong after more time spent together, turned out to be exactly right, but I didn’t realize it until after everything had fallen apart. By the time we frequented the same space more often, my disdain had faded into neutrality and I begin to feel as if I had misjudged him. More intrigue ensued following in-depth conversations surrounding life, interests, and future goals. We agreed to meet up one night to collaborate on an outside project and suddenly all the feelings of neutrality and possible intrigue turned into confused passion and intense emotion. He admitted he’d always felt something for me and felt it from the moment he first saw me. All these feelings of confusion and curiosity bubbled to the surface during our intimate conversation that night as he told me things about myself I had always wondered if people noticed or could even see. Without either one of us realizing it, he had suddenly given me what I’d constantly been craving, but couldn’t put words to. All I knew was that someone, a man, had finally ‘saw’ me… 

Following suit was a rollercoaster ride of bullshit and intense emotion. I had fallen in head first based on a flurry of words and descriptions I’d always wanted to describe me. I found myself doing things and feeding off the emotional intimacy and intensity I’d always dreamed of, but ultimately knew I wasn’t ready for. I’d gotten so caught up in the exchange of emotion and words that I truly felt connected to him while his actions directly contradicted everything and said something completely otherwise. I was stupid enough to convince myself that what I felt and what he said he felt was real, even when he had explicitly chosen someone else. I had convinced myself that the intense feeling was enough to compensate for settling to be his option. I just knew I was never gonna feel like this again, so I held on for as long as I could. I did try to get off multiple times, but to no avail when I allowed him to pull me right back in. The emotional tug of war left me drained and feeling immensely inadequate, but still determined and holding on to words from a December night. He said he cared about me, believed in me, would be there and saw what I didn’t think anybody else could, and I felt like I had to believe it, even when my health was jeopardized for it, even when he chose someone else, even when he refused to acknowledge my feelings, even when he ignored and disregarded me, even when he lied and blamed me for the pain he caused. I’d given rides, listened, stayed late, opened my home, answered distress calls, believed in him, and exerted emotional labor to make sure his confidence was in tact all while he inadvertently destroyed mine. I don’t think I ever knew what my love looked like until I added up what I allowed him access to. He rendered me completely helpless emotionally, by the time May came I was completely shattered and my confidence was nearly half of what it was when I let him in. I let him convince me of my newfound worthlessness after being nothing, but a benefit and an asset to him. I wanted so badly for him to ‘see’ me like he did on that night in December, but the hard truth was that he wouldn’t because honestly, he never did.

In spite of everything, I still held on to the possibility that he would ‘see’ me like I truly desired and reciprocate like the many words he’d expressed. While words have always been my strong suit, admittedly they've also been my downfall when it came to my encounters with men. So worried about the words, I always seemed to fail at realizing they carried no real weight. And yet, I foolishly tied them to my heartstrings only to have my feelings weighed down by their inherent, heavy emptiness. They meant so much to me, I forgot people didn't use words in the same ways I did. It wasn’t until one night in late October, long after he’d gone, but still managed to reach back and ask for things, when after listening to me holler at the top of my lungs about the pain that I’d buried, that my friend suggested finally blocking him from every part of my life. After that I knew, I’d never look at men or myself the same…

-The Aftermath: The Reality of Heartbreak

After sending him a well thought out message and blocking him, I felt an emotional cinderblock lift off my chest. But the reality of the damage from the situation following the high of breaking things off left me feeling like I was being ripped a part from the inside out and more insecure than I had ever been to date. I struggled to see myself as I had before I met him. I began to critique every part of myself and picked up a new weight to put on myself, blame and insecurity. I began to question everything good about me and it started to come out negatively in my interactions with others.

The part of me that had been so innate and inherent all my life, my ability to connect with people, had been damaged beyond repair. I lived with a fear that forced me to cower in the darkest parts of my mind where I struggled with my own perceived inadequacies, now feeling as if I wasn't enough. I allowed this person to dig their selfish clutches into an intimate part of who I was and nearly tear my confidence to shreds in a matter of months. I questioned my worth and it forced me to find solitude in my aloneness in the midst of the uncertain intentions and carelessness of others. It was easier to hide in the pain than believe that someone for once might not cause me any. 

I had been in so much pain from the experience, I squirmed at the very thought of any person trying to get anywhere near me. I was terrified of letting anyone near me out of fear that someone might once again jeopardize my safe space. I was no longer open to any new opportunities, not because I was bitter, but because I couldn’t even cope with my own hypersensitivity to people at the time and I blamed myself for everything.

While in the end part of me faulted him for his inability to see the value in me, I took on most of the blame for even allowing him into my space enough to know me in the ways that he did. Many a day, more than anything I blamed myself for trusting someone I knew I didn't trust to begin with. I blamed myself for not paying more attention, for being dumb enough to convince myself that a person could only care about me with their words when they're actions clearly said different. I’ve wasted time, I’ve wasted energy, I’ve wasted money, but not until recently had I ever felt like I wasted love. I blamed myself because I'd worked so hard to build myself up only to feel like I'd thrown it all away based on a tremendous feeling I thought I’d never feel again and wanted to cultivate. So busy trying not place this person in a box and live in the moment, I ignored all the red flags and signs. I worked so hard and wanted so badly for him to ‘see’ me, by the end of it I couldn’t even see myself anymore.

-The Recovery: Falling Apart to Come Together Again

More often than not, I feel like the worst scars are emotional because they're the wounds we or others can't see, and given they're innate invisibility to the naked eye they're the most difficult wounds to heal. By the time I encountered him, I thought I’d finally gotten to a point in my life where I no longer needed to seek validation from others, but I was wrong, lol. I still craved something I couldn’t seem to explain and couldn’t understand why I was so hung up on needing him to ‘see’ me. Turns out, I just wasn’t completely certain about what was so great about myself and I wanted to be reassured. But the truth of the matter was I didn’t need anyone else to reinforce what was already evident.

Regardless of what life may put you through, deep down you know yourself better than anyone else and you have to make sure you’re paying attention to the needs and wants that are inherent within you. You can’t allow someone all the joys and pleasures of who you are and not relish in them yourself. In a twisted turn of events, he showed me just how valuable I truly was as it related to who I was and what I had to give during this whole ordeal. Before him, I hardly realized what I had the power to do, what my love could do, but through the pain he caused I was forced to recognize it. It hurt and sucked more than anything, but while recovering from it I made sure the first person from that moment on who needed to benefit from my love was me. And my recognizing it, only made me want to ration and protect it from anyone else who didn’t deserve it. 

I began severing the ties between my self-worth and a person’s ability to see all of me and my value as a human being. I looked at all that I felt like I’d lost and all that he’d gained from the situation, and thought, “well if what I gave could do so much for someone, imagine what I could do if I poured the same amount of energy into myself”. Rather than assuming that people will preserve me upon witnessing my light, I now do my own due diligence to protect it myself. I've stopped hungering for the need to be seen and recognized, and for once in the midst of doing the work for me, I've been forced to recognize myself. Amidst all that I felt was taken from me with nothing inherently tangible to show for my exhausting efforts, I can admit he gave me that much... A new ability to stop being so careless with me and giving so much of myself to others undeserving of even the shadows my light casts...

-Conclusion: There is sun after the rain…—See yourself first and foremost before seeking the validation of others. 

The reality is people aren't as careful with you as you may be with them, and can go to great lengths to shatter you, so you NEED to be careful with yourself first. I speak from experience when I say that people treat you how you treat yourself. 

I've given parts of me that I've never seen a return on, and while it was extremely painful, I’m now aware I have the capacity to change it. And while it doesn’t happen overnight because the recovery from this was especially painstaking and agonizing, the final change does happen and it’s amazing. Maybe people will never know the scars they’ve left on me, but letting go of them and the pain they caused did more for my well being than holding on to it. Being able to recognize my value in the midst of it is a lesson I’m thankful for. 

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I believe that every one is filled with the capacity to be cognizant of others, and just as women are capable so are men, but it is everyone’s job to exercise that ability. While people are equipped with the same capacity to execute emotional intelligence like all other human beings, a lot of them aren’t challenged to utilize it unless it directly benefits them. I think his negligence with my feelings was incredibly self serving, but that is because he was worried about himself and never me, and when two people are worried about the same person, how could there be any room for you? 

I discuss this story to emphasize knowing your worth and being certain of it, so you don’t have to rely on others recognition because a majority of the time they won’t see it. But as long as you do, it just makes the journey through life and heartache that much easier. I've played my part in my downfall, running head first towards a wave of uncertainty and possibility. I've made the continuous mistake of stemming outside validation to my own self-worth. But in spite of that, I’ve made the conscious decision to make a shift and actively recognize my worth. I think a lot of people like me, but they don't value me. It's even more telling when you're aware of it and they aren't. But it is my job to make my value clear whether people recognize it or not, and even if they don’t, it doesn’t mean that it’s not there. It is inherent not because of anybody’s ability to see it, but because I DO…  

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I hope this story inspired you to remember to recognize your worth, and if you’ve experienced anything similar please feel free to comment and connect below. I finally figured out how to get a comment bar up in here! LOL

Until next time,

Peace, 

Dij<3

Bodysuit/Boohoo   Jeans/ASOS   Casio/eBay   Sandals/Missguided

Self-Care Tip #11: Pamper

Sometimes, when I find myself a bit overworked and overwhelmed, I’ll treat myself to a self-care ritual that benefits my physical upkeep as well as my self-esteem. It’s always nice to look good for yourself and taking care of simple self maintenance tasks can be gratifying in more ways than one. Every now and again when I’m feeling in need of some specific self-maintenance, I’ll take some time out to go to the nail salon to either get a well deserved (or more likely NEEDED) pedicure or full set if I’m feeling dramatic and want my hand gestures to reflect it. Back when I was in 7th grade, my mom took me to the nail shop to get my very first pedicure and it slowly, but surely became one of my favorite things to do for myself. As I got older, it started to become a requirement for my self-care routine whenever I had the funds to dedicate to it. I just love personal upkeep and maintenance that you can showcase whether it’s your hair, make up, outfit or nails, beautifying has to be one of my favorite parts of self-care. So with that, I’d like to present this week’s tip, Pamper, along side T9A’s first ever Black Business feature Nail Dega in Inglewood, CA.

Finding a decent nail salon has to be one of those seemingly difficult tasks for any woman with an affinity for a well pampered manicure and some poppin’ nail art. Since moving to Southern California, there was a little bit of difficulty finding the right shop that not only fit my needs, but whatever was in my pockets as well and with this nail salon I was able to get all that and more. I've frequented a few nail spots from Sunset all the way back to La Brea, but nothing compares to the home and sisterhood I managed to find at Nail Dega in Inglewood. I’ve had my own run-ins with different shops some small, some large, but I could always on them count on to keep it real and very cute.  

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I began coming to this shop a little over a year and half ago after a tiresome google search of affordable nail shops in my neighborhood. I’d had been frequenting and dumping all my coins into another shop, and while I enjoyed going there, I just could no longer keep up with the expensive rates. Looking through Yelp, I stumbled across Nail Dega which was only a few miles away from my house and from the looks of the prices was something my ever-struggling pockets could afford. I checked out their site, looked at the menu, and was sold after I saw their signature pedicure included a Himalayan pink salt scrub and warm towel. With that I booked my first appointment and haven’t looked back or been to any other shop since. 

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In addition to affordability, I love the camaraderie embodied within space and it’s nothing short of inspiring to see a black woman successfully running her own business, I mean who wouldn’t want to be surrounded by that? The ambiance in Nail Dega mirrors the atmosphere of so many black hair salons we’ve become so familiar with and accustomed to growing up, which is what sets it a part from a lot of other shops I’ve been to. With all that’s going on, safe spaces for black women and women of color can be few and far in between and I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t constantly in search of that safe space everywhere I go, so I’m beyond thankful to have found it in space that I frequent to take care of my self-care needs. Not to mention you never know who’ll you’ll meet during your wait for your appointment. During my last stop for a fill, I met and spoke with Ms. Blair who told me about her career in the LA school district while raising 4 ambitious now-adult children to pursue their own dreams. I told Ms. Blair what I aspired to do, and she went as far as to claim it for me which is something that’s always refreshing and humbling to run into on this ever winding journey of mine. The positivity and good energy that seeps from the walls of this establishment will have you returning time and time again based off the good vibes and conversation that floats throughout the shop alone. 

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Booking appointments is very easy and can be completed through their site. Once you’ve signed up, you can receive various discounts and promotions because I mean on top of affordability and quality, who doesn’t love a good discount? Every technician I’ve dealt with is both talented and well trained, but my favorite by far is the owner and head woman in charge herself, O. Always positive, concerned, and ready to check in with you as she shapes your nails to perfection, the experience is nothing short of amazing. When I first started going there, I told my friends I trusted her because she remembered my name and has big fluffy natural hair just like mine, lol. They have loads of colors to choose from and the designs they can do are just out of this world. I brought in a photo for O to do for me and she completed the job better than the picture itself. Sometimes they can be a bit a backed up because of their ever-growing range of clientele (I would suggest booking a late afternoon or evening appointment to avoid the rush), but the service is always A1 and well worth the wait. 

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I’m so thankful and honored to be featuring them as my first Black Business Feature on the site, the first of hopefully many other features to come. So if you’re ever in the Los Angeles or Inglewood area and want to treat yourself to some pampering, please support this growing black business. I’ll be sure to include all their info down below. As usual, I hope this inspired you :)

Until next time…

Peace,

Dij<3

Nail Dega Salon

8460 Crenshaw Blvd.

Inglewood, CA 90305

(323) 487-2806

www.naildega.com

 

Cute

Hey y'all!

Last October, when D.R.A.M. dropped his debut album I discovered one of my favorite songs of all time. 'Cute' has to be one of the greatest songs I've ever been blessed to hear. While the song itself can come across kinda of corny or cliche', I like the authenticity and interest that DRAM expresses through his lyrics when he talks about how cute he thinks a girl is. It would be a matter of days before I knew all the words and was singing them at the top of my lungs every time it came on my shuffle. 

That song speaks to the very depths of my soul and I honestly have no shame in admitting my innate delight for that level of 'corny' cuteness. It got me wondering though, do guys even express this type of interest in girls anymore? I can't even remember the last time a guy called me cute. There's something so endearing about the term itself, just the mere mention of it captures a certain level of innocence that seems long gone once you become an adult. Though I am actively 'trying' (more like struggling) to 'adult', there's a certain level of fun and youthfulness that I like to maintain within my ever-evolving spirit.

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I think there are certain characteristics that can convey any level of ‘cute’. Outside of physical attributes, there are certain things in life that just make things cuter. Whether it’s smile from across the room, a kind of gesture that’s specific to you, or even something that is pretty much innate within ourselves, we all of the potential to be cute. I think of moments I’ve spent with my friends, interactions with the opposite sex, the perfect songs for Spring and Summer, laughter, elaborate natural hairstyles, which are all things that can scream CUTE!

I think one of my favorite compliments in the whole wide world is when people tell me I'm cute. So often I can hear it being thrown back and forth as genuine term of endearment between my friends and I, it’s no wonder I hold it so near and dear to my heart. Whenever I genuinely smile at my mom and look at her with [what I feel like is] a whole lot of love, she'll tell me how cute I am and I honestly appreciate it so much. Probably because she’s actually one of the cutest people I’VE ever met, lol. From her quirks to her genuine love for people and her favorite things, her joyous reaction to a lot of things is nothing, but cute. It’s only right she’d feel the same way about me since I look damn near exactly like her, lol.

What makes you feel cute? Maybe it’s your favorite dress or maybe it’s when you finally take down your hair after having it up for too long? Maybe it’s when your friends compliment you or just waking up and looking in the mirror each morning? Could it be physical or built into the very epicenter of who you are? Or could it be both? Well, no matter what it is I hope you feel it in every way possible, I know I do… :)

Until next time,

Peace,

Dij<3

 

Vest/Etsy   Bodysuit/Boohoo   Jeans/ASOS   Boots/Rebellious Fashion UK   Hoops/Beauty Supply   Cuff/Urban Outfitters

FEARLESS

Hey everyone,

Lately, I've been taking a lot of steps to get outside of myself and my comfort zone. I've gone places, experienced new things, attended different events and even bought interesting wardrobe items. Of the seemingly interesting & random items that I've purchased, was this 'ignorantly' green and obnoxious fur coat.

For as long as I can remember one of the biggest things that has held back me is my fear. My insecurities, worries, uncertainties and self-doubt have all stemmed from some form of fear. I worry constantly about everything from my feelings to my goals to my life in its entirety and making the right choices. I wonder everyday if I’m doing things right and it has taken everything in me to get out of my own way just so I can fully live.

Before starting this blog, I played it fairly safe when it came to fashion, but the more and more I stick with it, the more risks I find myself willing to take. While I’ve always been into fashion as a whole, when I was younger I worried a lot about being on trend and in accordance with what everybody was doing. I remember wanting to be noticed and liked by everyone so badly, and I hoped with all my heart that trying to be just like everyone else would get people to actually ‘see’ me. After a while, trying to keep up with the ever evolving opinions of everyone else, of course, became exhausting. And though I knew I’d run the risk of being judged for my fashion choices, I was honestly too exhausted from trying to keep up to care anymore, lol. So with that first risk being taken, came many more to take on fashion and otherwise…

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Styling this coat made me feel like I had no fear, and I honestly couldn't wait to wear it. I feel like getting it was one of the many ‘new’ risks I decided to take on within the last year. I loved the boldness and outlandishness of it. It was a sort of a wardrobe challenge I couldn’t wait to take on, and in a sense I’ve started to look at my life kind of like that. There are so many things that I want to do and accomplish this year, travel, experience, listen to, create, write and even fully accept all of myself. I feel I’ve finally managed to stop letting my fears of rejection, pain and failure paralyze me and keep me from what I truly want. 

I clearly made this outfit work, so why not everything else?

Until next time...

Peace,

Dij<3

Faux Fur Coat/ZARA   Necklace/Fashion BAWSE   Top/Forever21   Shorts/DIY-Thrift   Tights/eBay   Velvet Booties/Free People

Self-Care Tip #10: Faith

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about my journey and what keeps me going while being in pursuit of my goals. The journey up until now has been a such seemingly arduous task, and I honestly wouldn’t know how to pursuit it if I wasn’t rooted in something spiritually. While my religious belief is something that is more specific, my overall faith in a higher power is more general and what I utilize as my means to keep going. I don’t usually talk about my faith because in all honesty people love to go back and forth about the “right” religion, and that’s just never a conversation I’ve been interested in having or care about. I realized a while back that my faith is more for me and not to perform and prove to other people (of the same faith or not), and once I got comfortable with that aspect of it and I no longer felt the need to have the same kind of conversations that agitated me before. But going on this journey towards self discovery and pursuing goals, reinforcing my faith has been such a major part of continuing on and I feel that no matter what you believe in, your denomination, or your spiritual path, your individual faith in whatever it is you believe can reinforce your faith in yourself knowing you’re an extension of a higher power. So this week’s tip, while a little bit more abstract in concept, but still powerful beyond measure in terms of bolstering self worth and awareness, is Faith.

As many may know from my mentioning, I am a Muslim. I speak about it as freely as I want to or when I feel like it, but it’s never been the first point of conversation for me because I know how people can be when it comes to religious preferences. From a young age, I hated answering people’s questions about my faith. At that time, I can honestly say I didn’t know enough to answer a lot of people’s seemingly invasive and backhanded inquiries about Islam which turned me off to a lot conversation surrounding faith in general. For me personally, I just knew Islam was what I grew up with, it was the head of my household and that was it for me, but until I had my own adversities, I don’t think I knew what faith truly was and how it related back to my religious belief. In a sense, I had a religion, but I don’t think I ever understood what faith was or how to believe for myself. While faith and religion are connected, they’re not always mutually exclusive to one another.

Faith is typically defined as complete trust or confidence in someone or something. While I believed in God, I’ll admit I never had complete trust in Him or myself, I just didn’t know how. As I got older and experienced more things on my own, I started to develop an understanding of faith that made the concept easier for me to grasp. I realized I’d been aimlessly following my religion alone, almost going through the motions without ever actively building my faith. Islam had turned into something I just knew of and was chosen for me, and it made me extremely uncomfortable. While I often claimed it, I felt like an imposter who couldn’t live up to guidelines laid out in the Qu’ran, which turned into another reason why I chose not to engage in conversations about religion. My parents were so steadfast about their faith, and while they tried not to place any specific pressure on me, the example they set in regards to it just made me feel inadequate about my own. I often tried to adopt their journey to faith as my own, because I didn’t feel like I had one. I didn’t realize until I was well into my first year at grad school that I had to build my faith for myself. I finally took the pressure off myself when I realized that it was only for me. 

With the revelation came new understanding, but I still struggled BIG TIME. I struggled all throughout my life with trust and I always felt this immense need to control everything, and when I couldn’t fix or control things it ruined me. I couldn’t just allow things to happen because I wanted to be prepared for whatever the outcome would be and my trust in things working out was nonexistent if they didn’t turn out exactly how I wanted it. I never took the time to understand what faith was to me or how it worked. After leaving first job last year, I remember finally realizing what I truly wanted to do with my life and constantly being worried abut how I was going to get there. One day while I was sitting in my room, for the first time I just said out loud that I didn’t know what I was doing, I was terrified and admitted to trying to control everything in my life, but I needed extra support. In that very moment, I had finally let go and started actively building and reinforcing my overall faith in not only God, but myself. From then on I made it a point to admit when I felt like I was struggling and ask God for guidance to point me in the direction that would lead me to where I needed to be. After that, things started to open up in ways I hadn’t imagined. The distrust I had for my own decisions started to dissipate and as things started to open up I was able to see where the path was going even when I didn’t know.

Realizing what I wanted to do in life and having to pursue it actively, really put faith into perspective for me, placed it at the very forefront of my life, and put me to the ultimate test. It forced me to listen, understand others, trust in the process and rely on something bigger than just myself. The activate process of actuating my dreams forced me to lean on God more than I’ve ever had to do in my entire life. It forced me to trust the process, redefined the concept of letting go, and tested my patience. My faith grounded me in the face of adversity. There were so many occasions in my life where I had lost faith, I ignored signs, or found myself at a crossroads and turned back just so I wouldn’t have to make a choice. My faith reignited my trust in myself and my abilities. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I missed out on something just because I didn’t believe in or trust myself and let everything scare the hell out of me.

My favorite Hadith (the equivalent of a verse) is the story of Anas tying his camel. In the Hadith, when traveling through the desert, Anas asks Allah if he should tie his camel or solely have faith in Allah for protection, to which Allah responded, ‘Tie her and have faith’. After starting to understand faith for myself, I remember praying for opportunities, but dragging my feet doing the actual work to help create them. I relied solely on God without the proper faith in myself, not understanding I had an important role in the process as well. I was reminded through this story that the opportunities I want can and will appear if I make sure to do the work to find the door for God to open it. While I was in between jobs last year, I constantly prayed for a new job, but was slow turning in applications or reaching out because of the amount of work it took, which seemed never ending. I just wanted to be blessed with something without doing the actual work. I learned that my faith in God needed to be coupled with faith and belief in myself in order for my dreams to be actuated…

Faith has made me fearless and I’m learning everyday with this process that that is what I have to be for the sake of pursuing my goals. It didn’t always look like me busting out my prayer rug or cracking open my Qu’ran for the world to see, sometimes it looked like me crying in my car asking for a sign, or sitting on the edge of the bed speaking my dreams into fruition aloud, or hitting my group chat asking for support from my friends because one prayer wasn’t enough or attending a prayer service I had no idea I needed. Faith is big and small, and in not so many words it’s in everything we do and is directly linked to our belief in ourselves. It may look different everyone, but it is prevalent within us all, whether working to get to where we want to be or are just striving to be a better version of ourselves. I told my friend not to long ago that I have no choice, but to believe in myself and my abilities because by default I am a extension of God, so who am I to doubt myself if by extension I am part of him? He gave me these abilities, who am I not to believe?

Trust in yourself, trust in the process… Have faith because you’re right where you need to be… Hope this inspires you, until next time…

Peace,

Dij<3

My Daddy's Favorite Band [Tee]

Hey everyone!

As I’ve mentioned on plenty of other posts and on a majority of occasions involving anything having to do with music, my family’s main form of communication is through music, lol. Though my favorite genres are hands down R&B, Hip Hop, Jazz and a hint of Pop, the older black lady living inside my chest looooooves old school music. Growing up in Oakland our radio was permanently tuned to the Bay Area’s #1 station for oldies, KBLX. Starting out, I didn’t know every artist or the name to every song, but through my parents I knew my old school music. I remember being in the 3rd grade on a field trip headed to a museum in San Francisco when a Spinners record came on the radio. I exclaimed excitedly, “MY DAD PLAYS THIS SONG!” And proceeded to hum the melody and sing whatever words I knew, very much to all the chaperones’ surprise, lol. 

My extensive knowledge of old school music is a combination of both my Mom and Dad’s music taste. While my Mom was more of a pop, disco and R&B from the tail end of the 70s well into the 90s kinda girl, my Dad was THEE funk, soul and ballad master. From the Stylistics to the Delfonics to Slave and every Cameo album under the sun, if my Daddy had it or could sing the melody, we knew it. While his list of favorite bands is probably a considerably long one, one of his favorite bands of all time is Parliament Funkadelic. So, when band tees made a comeback as a trend late last year, I knew I had to pick up a shirt with a band I grew up on and not just for fashion’s sake. Of course, there was nothing wrong with a lot of the other shirts I had seen floating around, but I didn’t want to wear a shirt with a band on it I wasn’t even a fan of. As usual, whenever I like a trend going on, I typically have to go just a little bit off course to be different. 

I figured Parliament is a vintage band, why not find a shirt with them on it? And in my usual fashion, I scoured all corners of the internet for one, lol. In my search, I was able to come across this one on eBay and it was just what I was looking for and wanted. It has quickly become one of my favorite tees and I was more than excited to style it for this post. I can’t get over how much my Dad is always inspiring and motivating me. I actually thought of the title of this post well in advance before I even bought the shirt because I just knew I was being clever, lol. I jazzed it up about with a few accessories and these boots that I’d been eyeing from Nordstrom’s Rack.

Side Note: These days I don’t trust many people who didn’t come up on or have some sort of knowledge of old school music. I just automatically assume your moral judgement probably isn’t all the way there. And I get we all have different backgrounds and come up different, but that’s no excuse for you not to know the basics. When Frankie Beverly & Maze’s “Before I Let You Go”, Cameo’s “Candy” or Luther Vandross’s “Never Too Much” comes on and I look to you and you don’t know even know some of the words? My faith and trust in you is completely broken instantaneously, lol. We’ve honestly got too many resources out here for people to not know their old school music.

Thanks Dad, and to everyone else know your music, know your history…

Until next time…

Peace,

Dij<3

 

Glasses/Online Shop   Choker/The Style Animal   Tee/eBay   Shorts/Mercy Vintage   Boots/Nordstrom’s Rack   Bag/ASOS