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 that 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, I truly felt connected to him meanwhile his actions directly contradicted that 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 chose 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 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, never realizing they carried no real weight. And yet, I foolishly tied my heartstrings to them 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 (essentially a soft read) 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 begin to question everything good about me and it started to come out negatively in my interactions to 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 squirmed at the very thought of any person trying to get anywhere near me I had been in so much pain from the experience. 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 just 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, but merely the benefit, 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 wasted time, I wasted energy, I 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 twist of 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. A midst 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 innate 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 may 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 and 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 is directly linked to them benefitting from it. 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 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, that 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

UCB in NYC: Making A Way

Back during the summer of 2013, I came across this dope cropped hoodie online. I loved the look of it, real sporty and kinda fly, all me. I eyed it up until nearly the end of that summer when it, unfortunately, completely sold out. I, of course, was devastated, but as always willing to ‘make a way out of no way’ to get what I wanted. So, in usual fashion (no pun intended), I scoured the internet for a similar hoodie. When I finally found the hoodie and decided I'd just crop it to get the look I wanted, it ran at $56, leisure funds I clearly did not have at the time. So, being the broke recent college grad I was, I sat on it. Later that same summer I visited my old high school teacher and friend in NYC for the first time. On my last few days there, I was determined to thrift a hoodie I liked and crop it to save myself the energy and money I stressed over the previous hoodie. Low and behold, I found this dope vintage UC Berkeley sweatshirt and made it into what I wanted, and the results turned out better than I even anticipated, as you can see.

I've always been someone who's figured out how to ‘make a way out of no way’, even when I didn't think I could. Creativity has been the lifeline to my authenticity and love for life. These days in spite of the proper credentials received, this idea of ‘making a way’ for my generation has become a bit more of hassle without the proper funds or the right job. And as you would know it, ain’t too many people giving out too many of those, even to degree holders such as myself. Add being a creative to the mix, the work to try to do what you love and make ends meet is that much harder. It seems like more and more millennials like myself and some of my friends, can’t even find a door let alone get close enough to one to stick our foot in it. In spite of the vigor, the incessant need, the want to achieve and work our way up in the field we truly love, it seems nearly impossible, and the obstacles don’t make it any easier. 

Many of us, take dead-end or never-ending soul sucking jobs that prey on our inherent need to survive and make money, while exploiting that valid need and draining the lights that fuel our want and need to create. Many from the generation ahead of us call it ‘paying dues’, and I call that, standing from where I’m at, a crock of bullshit. Many people don’t realize that getting a job outside of fast track fields such as law, medicine or engineering hardly garner any real attention, and the job search has completely evolved since they were half way giving out employment in the 80s and 90s. Now, you’d just be lucky to get a call back from a company saying they don’t want you, lol. The expense of living has tripled over the last few decades, and so finding a means to support your livelihood stays at the forefront of your mind no matter what you may think your true purpose is. I hate knowing that after all the years I’ve spent in school, that many people told me would guarantee me a job, the work I’ve done, and the foundation I’ve laid for myself, I still got more ‘dues’ to pay in experience that somehow needs to simultaneously line up with the amount time spent in SCHOOL! I tell you growing up is not only trick, but trip, lol.

In spite of these inherently annoying aspects that come with moving further into adulthood, I’m more than aware of my ability to make things happen in spite of the ever mounting odds. I feel behind ALL the time, like I didn’t pick the right major, like I didn’t pick the right program or like I didn’t know what I truly wanted to do soon enough, so it landed me in this precarious and agitating space that stretches me more than I’d like. I wonder all the time if I messed up along the way and if all of this strife could have been avoided. But I try to keep in mind that I’m right where I need to be whether I feel like I am or not. I’m positioned right where I need be. And much like I did when I couldn’t get my hands on the hoodie I initially wanted, I am back to ‘making a way out of no way’ except this time it’s in regards to my creative purpose and life (sets the stakes that much higher and sounds scarier, doesn’t it? Lol). But that just makes the process and trip that much more worthwhile.

I'll admit recently I've made the excuse of being too tired to do the additional work to truly ‘make a way’ after being in school for a thousand years and working temp jobs for what feels like a decade, but I realize it is an essential part of the hustle, and I can't keep sleeping on myself and my abilities. I don’t want to just work, I want to work doing what I love. Working from the ground up when it feels like you've been working yo whole life can skew your reality of what it means reap the rewards of your labor. It's like that's why they told you to school, right? To be ahead of the game and have a job waiting for you, right? What happens when you do all that and you're still struggling and can't meet all the expectations set up for you to get a job following suit? You form a support system, build a network, you put yourself out there by knocking on all the doors, and you put your talent and ability on display for the world to see because whether or not somebody else recognizes it right away, you do first and that’s what I’m learning is going to reveal the door and get your foot in it. 

Talk about making a ‘way out of no way’, and excuse me while I show up to these magazines with a resume,  multiple articles in hand, a story to tell, and this dazzling personality in tow in spite of my own mounting fear. It ain’t a race, but a process and it’ll be hard but the come up & pay off I know will be LIT… I went AWF for this post I know, but I BEEN TIDE and needed to get it off my chest, so I hope the realness you’ve received inspires you..

Until next time :)

Peace,

Dij<3

 

Bucket Hat/Zumiez   Earrings/Nordstrom   Hoodie/Thrift-DIY   Men’s Utility Jacket/Forever21   Jeans/Gap   Boots/Nordstrom

Self-Care Tip #9: Disconnect

Hey Everyone,

I’ve gone on and off the social grid a multitude of times for multiple reasons, one of my first being religious when I added social media to my fasting regimen for Ramadan last year. During that month I realized how attached I’d become to social media and constantly remaining ‘in the loop’ when it came to certain things. After that month, I began to realize how much I tied my happiness to the reception of my online content, and began to make it a point take breaks from social media, so that my well-being remained in tact. The last few weeks have honestly been some of the hardest this year starting out, and I’ve found myself stuck in more than one rut too early in the year, whether I was overwhelmed or just drained, it’s been a bit much already. 

I’ve tried my best to remain diligent in my posting, but it’s been a bit challenging given a few incidents that have arisen over the last few months. And I haven’t been able to find much solace in posting given the emotional ruts I’ve found myself in. There was a period of time when I found myself checking my social media compulsively, almost looking for an impetus from others to keep going, and honestly it didn’t make me feel any better about my progress. Social media has almost become the center of our lives and basic socialization, so sometimes it can be hard to log off. And while it can be beneficial and even progressive, when you find yourself constantly comparing your growth and process to others, I think that’s the best time to get offline it. So this week’s Self-Care Tip is Disconnect.

These days, I feel as if I’ve forgotten what life was like before I had social media. Now, it seems as if we’re all living for the spectacle and reaction of others, myself included. Since starting this site, I knew all I wanted to do was create a platform that inspired others to take care of themselves while presenting my basic sense of style and fashion. I realize all in all that our concern with other people’s opinions of ourselves can weigh too heavily on our conscious mind in regards to what we’re doing, how we look, and how we’re living. We give others too much insight into how we feel about things and even ourselves, and often feel obligated to share our opinion even when no one asked for it. It’s as if we’re trying to prove to the world we matter or that we exist when we don’t need the opinion of others to live. I’ve fallen victim to the hype too, and blogging has definitely amplified it for me, no doubt. I worry a lot more than I think about the response to my pages and whether or not people are actually moved by what I’m doing or have to say. The whole idea of being a ‘successful’ blogger literally surrounds the concept of audience response and reaction, and a lot of the time because I don’t feel I have as many followers as I would like or some other bloggers do I constantly feel as if I haven’t made any progress at all. I tend to use readership and outside perception on my social media as a measuring stick for my success when in actuality I know just how far I come, regardless of how far I have to go. I totally forget about the people who come up to me when I’m out and tell me how much they enjoy reading my blog or love my style, and honestly that always places me back where I need to be.

It’s amazing how much we miss out on when we find ourselves occupied with our phones and screens, and as cliche as it may sound, living is so much more fresh when we live in the moment without trying to capture it for the world to see. I can’t even begin to tell you how much peace of mind I’ve had when I wasn’t worried about my phone. Some the best moments in my life, while captured on my camera, are nowhere on social media. I’ve danced with Solange with QuestLove on the 1s and 2s, had the BEST County Fair experience, I’ve gotten the perfect twist out down to the very last curl, I’ve been in formation, I’ve gone to old school festivals with the older crowd (probably was the youngest person there, lol) and knew every word to every song, I’ve met and had a moment with one of my favorite podcasters, I’ve found the perfect spot on the beach, I’ve fallen apart, I’ve fallen in love, I’ve had people fall in love with me, I’ve done some of my best spoken word performances when nobody was around to record it and I’ve put together some of the flyest outfits I can’t remember that no one will probably ever see, lol. I’ve laughed until I cried, written some of my best work, sang, danced, had introspective revelations, and been carefree. I’ve been all of me unscathed by the possible encroachment of anticipating the outside opinion of others. I can honestly say when I’m not thinking about how others may receive (or perceive) my life, I’ve truly lived. And I feel like we all deserve to give ourselves the opportunity to live and just be, no matter how small or big the moment may be. Some of the best moments in life are the ones nobody is around to see. 

While there’s absolutely nothing wrong with sharing, try not to get too caught up in the hype of how your sharing is received (I’m very much included in this conversation and I have to remind myself of this all the time, lol). Be careful not to get consumed in the constant exchange of information that constantly takes place in this day and age. Remember to live for you, and not the spectacle or reception of it. I’d urge you to take the time to log off and disconnect every now and again, maybe for a day, a week or even a month, whatever is needed to make sure your peace of mind is intact. When you find yourself to consumed, constantly updating, or picking up your phone, try deleting a few of your social apps and taking a hiatus. You’d be surprised at how much a step back from it all can put things, even your happiness, back into perspective.

As usual, I hope this inspired you to live in the moment while maintaining your peace of mind, with all that’s going on, you deserve that much…

Until next time :)

Peace,

Dij<3

Stagnancy

Hey Everyone,

Lately, I've been feeling really stagnant in regards to my content and I’ve been having such a hard time authentically creating. While I'm sure I've made many strides in the right direction a lot of the time it seems like I haven't made much progress because all I can see are the ideas I’ve come up with and none of the rewards at this point. I’ve almost forgotten what my purpose is in posting amidst all the pressures I’ve placed on myself in building my audience and trying to gain outside recognition.

I feel like the lack of ‘apparent’ success has forced me to focus too much on the end reward rather than the reason why I started my site in the first place. I get lost in the lack of followers or readership and it’s made me wonder if it's even worthwhile when all I truly wanted to do was create and put my art in one place. It seems as if I’m forgetting more than ever, now that I’m in the thick of things and a little over 6 months in.

I’ve started to care a lot more about people’s opinion than I thought I did because, while certain aspects of creating on a public stage are based on the audience and public opinion, it has been so easy to forget that I do this because I want to and not for accolades or recognition (though it would be nice). Through this platform I truly want to make an impact and I'm utilizing it as a means to place ‘weight back into words’. This site is my first step towards doing that, and the fashion, these looks are honestly just an added bonus, lol.

While I’ve had a few setbacks over the last few months that have slowed down my creative process, I am feeling a lot better about posting and knowing my time will come, even if I can’t see it at this very moment. I try to keep in mind that consistency is key and my main objective is ‘quality over quantity’ and that my 'quality' will eventually get the deserved ‘quantity’ in due time. I have to constantly remind myself that I don't blog or write for the recognition of others, but to produce quality content that inspires and gives insight into who I am as a person. Ultimately, I want to recognize myself, which I realize in states of ‘stagnancy’ I don’t often do. I write and share from a place that’s very pure and natural for me, I am most authentic self when I write, so trying to capitalize on that can sometimes cloud my judgment and place added pressures to be seen by others as someone worth reading or looking into. But I don't write to be seen, either you see it or you don't and that's the bottom line. 

I feel like I forget this so much, but it's so easy to when every time you get on some form of social media it seems like everyone is accomplishing something and making new progress, but you. I just push to keep going in spite of what I may think others are accomplishing or if they are ‘surpassing’ me. Looking at everyone else’s movie reel, while your still cutting and editing can leave you warped, but in spite of that your process still counts. Now, there are some moments when I wish my shit would pop, like NOW and I finally have my moment to shine out in the open, but I just try to stay focused on the grind at hand and keep making content that's thought provoking and jointly eye catching. Movies take years, so who am I to think that my stuff would happen in 6 months?

I’d urge you, whether you’re a creative or not, to keep going and continue to pull from the space that’s most pure and true to you especially in moments of ‘stagnancy’. Those times when you feel ‘stagnant’ in your passion process are the times when you’re going to need to push through the most to get to the other side. You may not see everything, everything may feel like it’s at a standstill, and you might even feel like things aren’t happening quick enough, but the point is whether you see it or not, things ARE happening all the time. Focusing on the smallest accomplishments, may even make the future more tangible. I’m celebrating at this very moment putting this post up because lately I know posting has been a challenge and being able to finish IS an accomplishment knowing the recent challenges I’ve faced, so I’m gonna celebrate it. Every step, no matter how small, is going in the right direction towards a bigger purpose, and one I know is bigger than myself. Everything takes time, and while I’m telling myself this, I want to be sure to encourage other people to remember the same because I know how it feels. It’s hard conversation to have, but it’s very real and very much needed…

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Take it from me, give yourself a break. We are all in the thick of thangs, so I know I ain’t the only one… As usual, I hope you’re inspired and continue to press on and through it, because it’s only a temporary moment in time...

Until next time…

Peace,

Dij<3

Shearling Coat/Manière De Voir   Top/H&M   Jeans/Zara   Boots/Zara

The Rebirth of Cool

Hey everyone,

Contrary to how cool people may think I am at the moment, my brother has always been MUCH cooler than me, and I'm not ashamed to say it, lol. While it took me quite a minute to step into my 'cool' (and what you're now currently experiencing is the result of years of hard work, lol), my Youngblood has been cool and unbothered from birth. 

For those who may be unfamiliar with me, meaning most of you, my Youngblood is my lil brother, Q. For those of you unfamiliar with a majority of my life, still all of you, aside from my Dad, my lil brother is the other portion of where I get my cool, and I figured he deserved an additional feature on the site. He's legitimately the coolest person I've ever met & had the pleasure of knowing, and while it took me a minute to step into my cool, he has always been courageous in standing in his element. It's been almost effortless his entire life & something I truly admire. It was a sense of self & self-love that I was always inspired by, even being the oldest. While he may have picked up some of his latest dressing habits from me, he never needed it to be cool, he was already the very essence of it. 

The rebirth of slick like my gangsta stroll...
— Digable Planets

I picked the quote from Digable Planets 'Rebirth of Slick' because it reminded me of him & his walk is just about as cool as he is, I don't know how this young man does it! And literally it's been the same all his life, just incredible (smh). Also, if you love your sibling you’ll probably just call ‘em, but if you're like me & you actually like your sibling too, it's only admirable that you gas ‘em up & put ‘em on your blog. Henceforth, the nature of this feature, lol.

What you're currently experiencing is the official 'Rebirth of Cool' from my own standpoint. My bruh and I are currently in the process of diving into new things, rediscovering ourselves, and evolving into something new constantly.

 

So where do you get your cool?

Hope you’ve been inspired. Until next time…

Peace,

Dij<3

Dij: Turtleneck/Gap   Windbreaker/Thrifted   Denim Vest/Gap   Chain/ASOS   Jeans/Zara   Boots/JustFab

Youngblood: Sweater/Thrifted   Coat/Banana Republic   Jeans/Gap   Chelsea Boots/Banana Republic   Watch/Gift

Self-Care Tip #8: Podcast

Around January of last year, I remember my bestie, Manda, urging me to listen to something on our day out together. While headed back to my house she quickly pulled out her phone and played a bit of a podcast called The Read. We listened nearly falling out as Kid Fury highlighted some of his most ridiculous moments from 2015. Before I knew it I was binge listening trying to catch up and the podcast had become an integral part of my self-care regimen. If there’s anything I love more than anything it’s to laugh. But as I delve deeper into the world of Podcasting, I learned that other podcasters were doing more than just making you laugh, but somehow adding to the overall growth of their listeners as a whole. So on this blessed Sunday, I present you with Self Care Tip #8, Podcast.

Many may not understand how powerful words can be, but in the words of the illustrious Crissle West “words mean things”, so much so that these podcasters have gone to great and creative lengths to let it be known. Since December of last year, my ever-growing love of podcasts has become a major staple in my daily routine and self-care rituals. I’ve laughed, become enlightened, gained perspective, and learned more about myself than I ever could have imagine before and it is all just by listening to my favorite podcasts. Take a look at some of my favorites below:

The Read

My first ever dip/introduction into the podcast world began with the December 28th, Best of 2015 episode of Kid Fury and Crissle’s The Read on the Loud Speakers Network (via iTunes). These two discuss an array topics ranging from the political to the superficial to the mental to the spiritual, all in a hilariously unapologetic and honest way that leaves you wanting more than you ever could imagine before hearing their voices. From Crissle’s explosive laughter to Fury's spot on monotone comedic timing, you'll be on the floor entirely upon your first listen, lol. Discussing issues of pop culture relevance and aspects of a more political nature spun in with their real life experiences navigating the ever bustling streets of New York City, Kid Fury and Crissle make being unapologetically black, woke, and present the thing to be. Their inherent nonchalance for the pick of topics, just adds even more to their honest and comedic flare. If you need a laugh, an enlightening or just the most thorough of ‘reads’ until the bindings of the front and back covers of your own life fall off, I’d suggest you get into or get lost.

 

The Friend Zone

The Friend Zone was my second taste of the world of podcasts and the eye opening benefits of being able to listen in on a honest conversation of heath, wellness, and realness between friends. While the hilarity isn’t as blatantly seeped into the dialogue as The Read, the spot on comedic references given by co-hosts Dustin and Assante between Fran’s wellness tips and other serious areas of discussion, adds a perspective to your life you never knew you needed. Not to mention the impromptu musical freestyle numbers at the beginning of each show will have you swaying, bouncing and grooving in anticipation each new episode’s weekly topic of discussion. TFZ’s fresh-friendly new take on a mental health and wellness, will have you begging to be put in the friend zone with these three, (well unless you’re like me and already feel in your heart, mind, and spirit that these are your friends, lol). Check them out, I’m sure we’re all constantly due for a routine mental cleaning with a side of laughter and love.

 

Historically Black

Historically Black looks at various historically black people and events that give insight the politically, historically and revolutionary charges within the black community at large. I literally have my degree in blackness and black people, lol, so while this podcast speaks to the academician in me, it can speak to the innate historian in all of us. And with it being Black History month and all, I mean why not? Definitely check out this podcast to celebrate this month, lord knows we all could use facts that aren’t alternative *eye roll*, lol.

 

Comedy Trap House

Another hilarious podcast, that sheds a little bit of light on the male perspective that we could all use in our lives is the Comedy Trap House presented by the comedically inclined brothas of the internet-famous YouTube Channel, Dormtainment. I’ve followed Dormtainment since their early YouTube days recording videos back in Atlanta, and have remained a fan up until now. So when I saw that they were revamping their aesthetic and added podcast to their long list of talented endeavors I knew had to listen and support. These brothas have come up tremendously and have put their rise and struggle on display for a shot at pursuing their dreams professionally in the entertainment industry. While the comedy is inherent, their story, background and growth is more inspiring than ever and needed to provide continuous motivation for driven creatives such as myself. So check out this podcast and support them whenever you get a chance.

 

Insecuritea

Starring the beautiful women of both The Read and The Friend Zone podcasts, Insecuritea is something we all needed a sip of while indulging in Issa Rae’s new hit show, Insecure. The background and in-depth perspective Fran and Crissle provide during their review of the show illuminates the array of issues and experiences that are touched on in the new hit series. At first look at the show viewers may get the series’ most important messages, but upon its second look and review by this podcast you’re forced to delve deeper beyond the superficiality of topics that tend to be glossed over in today’s society, but are not off limits to Fran and Crissle. From sexuality to relationships to life to love and careers, this podcast rounds out the illumination of the black women’s experience from a view of honesty, tangibility, and hilarity that leaves listeners learning and wanting more. I can’t tell you how many thought provoking discussions this podcast has brought up between me and my friends while watching Insecure. 

 

Room For Relations

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This Houston-based podcast, recommended to me by a close friend of mine, has become a staple in my binge-listening sessions. Room For Relations sheds light on love, sex, and relationships between men and women through the discussion of various articles and topics. This podcast is literally a reflection of the real kinds of discussions you may have with both your male and female friends. Run by certified sex and relationship therapist, Eboni Harris, it literally brings new light to the perspectives of both men and women regarding issues and experiences in the millennial dating game and relationship worlds.

Just like you can binge watch via Netflix, you can binge listen via Podcast platforms, such as Soundcloud, iTunes, Google Play, and Stitcher. I wasn’t quite certain what purpose podcasts could serve before I delved deeper into my seriousness surrounding self-care, but they definitely add so much more to your life than you’d think. These are real people discussing real things that are tangible and real to all of us, and how amazing is it to be able to share in their thought processes regarding some of today’s leading topics, experiences, and perspectives that we’re all thinking about and discussing amongst ourselves?

So whether you’re working around the house, sitting at your desk, chilling, or on your way to work or school, you can always indulge in some self-care with these podcasts and open your mind to new perspectives and experiences that leave your mind open for constant progression and growth. These are the podcasts I’d recommend to get you started, but you can always search for more. So if you’re looking to expand your self-care regimen by a little bit, I’d suggest you check out the podcasts above and get into the groove of something new that could possibly add to you.

 

As usual, remember to make sure you’re constantly doing the work to take care of yourself. As always, I hope this inspired you, until next time… Happy listening! :)

Peace,

Dij<3

 

*All Photos are credits of each individual podcast's respective site*

The Men's Section

Hey y’all!

Have you ever wondered if people think of women’s comfort when creating women’s apparel? Well, me personally, I don’t think they do, lol. If they did I think there’d be way more pockets, breathable fabric and substantially less high heeled shoes. I feel like men's apparel is created with comfort in mind, whereas with women's clothing not so much. I'm sure any woman will tell you as fun as getting dressed is, we'd much rather be wearing leggings and an oversized hoodie, at least that's how a majority of my friends and I feel. Braless, in my favorite oversized sweater, ’ugly’, and sprawled out on my couch, relieved of any and all societal pressures is generally what I prefer most. While men can carry their comfort around with them everywhere, for the most part, we gotta wait until we get home, lol. 

Looking back on some of my favorite music videos, some of my favorite artists were taking men's apparel by storm. You think about the wardrobe in the ‘Love No Limit’ video where Mary J and all her dancers were clad in the infamous combat boot and baseball jersey combination. Aaliyah, during the heights of the ‘Age Ain't Nothing But a Number’ and ‘One In a Million’ albums, was always in some oversized menswear. All the dope 90’s greats, TLC, Xscape, Jade, Missy, all utilized some form of men’s fashion in their looks, so dipping into the men's section clearly ain't nothing new. It's almost as if women in men's apparel was an inherent part of the overall 90’s Aesthetic (no pun intended). I can honestly say some of my most timeless pieces are men's clothing, this hoodie and bomber included.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve definitely realized there a various ways to style men’s fashion and make it your own, all comfort included. Take this hoodie for example, to jazz it up and make it my own, I cut it and made it into a cropped hoodie. Right before bombers became a major thing, I copped this men’s MA-1 bomber off Amazon and it’s lasted me since I got it a few years back. Some things never get old, and I guess venturing into the men’s section is one of those things. So if you’re looking for oversized tops or shirts, don’t be afraid to head over to the men’s section to cop a top and DIY it into something of your own.

As usual, hope this inspires you…

Until next time,

Peace,

Dij<3

Hat/TopShop   Hoodie/Thrifted-DIY   Bomber/Amazon   Boyfriend Jeans/Gap   Combat Boots/Nordstrom

True To Self: 90s Authenticity

Hey everyone!

My mom and I speak a lot about authenticity, I just remember telling her how much work it takes to try to appease people and how tiring it can be. We both agreed it just took too much to keep up a charade for the sake of others. I told her deciding to be my authentic self in spite of what everyone else thought was one of the best decisions I’d made coming into (actual) adulthood. One of the main compliments I get from others is my courageousness in being my authentic self and all of who I am, at all times. When creating this blog, as I’ve said many times before, I wanted to convey a certain level of transparency that consistently demonstrated that.

I can't remember the exact day I realized I didn't want to be anyone else, but I do remember when I finally got tired of hiding from the world. For a while, I don't know why, but it just seemed easier to not be myself. Everybody liked someone else, so why not be them? I think part of it had to do with the fact that I wasn't sure who I was or if I even liked who I was becoming. But one day, I just got real tired and stopped caring, lol. 

The day I grew tired, was the day I knew I no longer wanted to perform to sway or maintain others’ ideas of me. My dear friend, Dom, was my biggest push towards letting go of the fear of outside judgment. She taught me that pleasing everyone else was too big a burden for one person to carry. She would say, “you might as well live for you because honestly, besides God, WHO (?!) is anybody else?” (Lol) I bet she didn't even know how such a simple statement could put so much into perspective for me. From there, I learned who I was, was just fine, and those who had a problem with it would just have to deal with their discomfort in their own spare time, lol.

While I am putting myself on a display for the sake of my platform, I am by no means putting on a show. What I put out into the world is exactly who I am and what I feel on a constant basis. I’ve spoken about different parts of me that I’m aware of, the good, the challenging and in between. The outfits I put together for my platform is how I’d dress normally, what I say on my platform is my authentic voice, and my truth is very much present. I’m constantly thinking of various ways to express who it is I am and what it is I am bout. I am about the real, no matter what form it comes in, I am about feeling, no matter how it is conveyed, and I am about truth, no matter who’s standing in it. I am all of myself and I can appreciate others who make the conscious choice to be all of themselves. Creating the visuals for this look was an authentic process for me, the background, the video I created, the music behind it, the outfit are all various parts of who I am. I’m not looking for approval or attempting to give people a reason to like me, I am simply being and whether you like it or not, I’m going to continue to do just that because people don’t pay my bills, and neither can their opinions. 

I know many people are on this hype surrounding the 90s and many people want to incorporate it into their art, but it’s legitimately a part of my aesthetic, the visuals that I put together are proof of my connection to it. The 90s is me, lol.

Don’t be afraid to be all of who you are, and if you haven’t found the courage to do it yet, let this be the message to inspire you to start standing in your authentic truth. There are going to be some who can’t handle it, but those aren’t the ones that matter because again, WHO ARE THEY? Not nobody to be worried about, lol. Remember they don’t add to your happiness, you do… 

Until next time :)

Peace,

Dij<3

 

Turtleneck/H&M   Jeans/Zara   Raincoat/Thrifted   Boots/JustFab

Self-Care Tip #7: Film

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve absolutely loved going to the movies. Some of my best memories revolve around seeing my favorite films. Growing up my Mom would wake my brother and I up early, so we could catch the matinee prices at the theater near Hilltop Mall. He probably doesn’t remember, but on his day off while I was home from school, my Dad took me with him, so he could see Bulworth which was very much rated-R (and probably why Ghetto Superstar is still one of my favorite songs), lol. Of course, as a teen, the movies evolved into the place to meet up, hang out, and be foolish. Back in high school, my friends and I pretended to be grown and always found ourselves at Bay St. (and/or Emery Bay for some of the old heads, lol). But aside from the atmosphere surrounding the ever-evolving culture of movie going, I just enjoyed being able to learn and experience new things through film, while getting lost in the various perspectives and perceptions of life. And with all the amazing films that’ve dropped over the last few months I figured why not talk about it? So this week’s tip is Film.

I’m sure you may be wondering, ‘well what makes this a Self-Care tip’? Well much like the other activities I’ve discussed on previous tips, going to or watching a film gives you a temporary break from reality. More often than not, it forces you to focus on the current task at hand, which is paying attention to a film, so that you can follow a story line. While it seems fairly simple, it literally gives you an opportunity to immerse yourself in something else while taking your mind off other life occurrences. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I’ve given myself a break from life just by going to the movies. And you’d be surprised how freeing sitting quietly in a dark room in front of a large screen can be, lol.

As I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten extremely comfortable with going to the movies by myself, so much so I often prefer it. I love the feeling of having the theater to myself, picking any seat I like and kicking up my feet like I own the place. Before I got the job that I have now, I took full advantage of the time I had off and made my way to theater near my house for all the afternoon matinee prices. Back in October, I saw Southside with You. Most recently, I saw Hidden Figures with my squad, Moonlight on my day off and I’m planning to see Fences really soon. Each film was an incredibly realistic film depiction of blackness through various narratives, real and fiction. The narratives depicted in these films illuminated different sides of the black identity that is hardly ever given the time of day. I highly suggest going to see each film if you can, I know I soaked up and threw my coins at all the black films I possibly could in the last six months, lol. 

My favorite movie of all time is Love Jones, but some of my favorites following that are classics like Coming to America, Cleopatra Jones, and Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon. All of which I can quote down to the very last sentence and own a physical copy of on DVD, lol. And while I have an extreme fondness of black cinematic masterpieces and the blaxploitation genre, I do have a wide range of genres that I enjoy. Some of my favorite movies to watch fall under the action, drama, or romantic comedy categories. I also enjoy indie films, stand-up specials, and good historical documentary, which is why in spite of growing technological advances I still plan to own some sort of DVD collection just for aesthetics sake, lol.

So next time you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or stressed, give yourself a break by watching your favorite movie and treating yourself to an outing at the theater. I promise it’ll be worth it…

As always remember to take care of yourself, your mind, body and spirit will thank you :)

Until next time...

Peace,

Dij<3