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

New Year, New Outlook feat. My Youngblood

Happy New Year everyone!

I’m kicking off the first post of the new year with a little something different and bringing on my first feature here at T9A. Many of us have family members who we adore and look up to and mine are no different. I often find myself telling others my favorite people are literally my family and more often than not, I like them just as much as I love them. Now love and like are two completely different concepts, you can love your family, but you don’t actually have to like them, something I’m sure we’ve all learned in one way or another, lol. For those who know of my family and tend to give them the highest praises, my little brother is no exception. 

For those who don’t know this is my Youngblood. As for the name, if you’re wondering why I call him that, your guess is probably as good as mine, lol. I started referring to him as ‘Youngblood’ some years back and for whatever reason it just stuck. That’s typically how our relationship is, if it’s cool and we’re comfortable, we kinda just roll with it, lol.

For those who don’t know, maybe even him included, my little brother was my first introduction to self-love and value. Like many of us, I’ve had my own struggles with self-esteem and seeing my own personal value, but my brother was actually the one who put things into perspective for me and casted a bit of light on the darkness I constantly found myself in. 

He is such an amazing and intuitive human being, I almost feel like he should’ve been the older sibling since half the time I feel like I have no idea what I’m doing, lol. Unlike me, as long as I can remember he’s always known himself better than anyone else. He’s never needed much, never asked for much, never said too much and was always kinda just chillin’ to put it simply. He knew himself way before most people even do and was incredibly confident and steadfast in his beliefs. If he didn’t want to do it, he wasn’t doing it and if he didn’t like you, he wasn’t talking to you, regardless of what it was or how others felt about it, lol. He never seemed to feel any pressure around being his authentic self and always managed to find his way even from an early age. 

A few years back while I was still in Grad school, I was having a conversation with him about love and relationships. While I can’t remember a majority of the conversation, I can remember what he said that changed my life and the way I looked at myself going forward. He was talking about a few of his friends and some of the ridiculous situations they had gotten themselves into. He told me, "I tell people, I'd never treat a woman like that, for what? It doesn't benefit me. I've always wondered how guys think hurting someone benefits them. I have a sister, my sister has been treated badly and I've seen her hurt. I'd never want to hurt someone the way some people have hurt my sister, you know? I love her... I say she deserves better, you deserve better..." And for the first time in my life he made me see myself in a completely different light. By simply being who he is and caring about me, he got me to see the value in myself. 

In spite of having a few more run ins with some not-so-deserving people, I can honestly say that conversation with him was the first step on my journey towards loving myself. My brother taught me that a part of loving ourselves was doing the work to see ourselves the way those who truly value us do. Now this is completely different from having a heavy reliance on the outside opinion of random people to lift ourselves up. It’s taking the time out to understand and value what those closest to us see. My brother valued me enough that it impacted his decision making in his own relationships, and having learned that forced me to reevaluate how I saw and valued myself. We all have people in our lives that value us, whether it’s your sibling, friend, parent or significant other, and these are the people that may have some of the best insight into your value as a person. Listen to those people, and be sure to return the value that they pour into you.

Also a special shoutout to my Youngblood’s first degree! As of December 2016, the Bilal Family has two college graduates under their belt… #BESHOOK2017

I hope this new year brings you blessings, prosperity, a new level of self-awareness, and as always an abundance of self-love. Start the year off right, and make sure you’re valuing and taking care of yourself. :)

Until next time,

Peace,

Dij<3

Dij: Hat/5 Pillars   Scarf/Gap   Turtleneck/Gap   Coat/F21 Men   Jeans/TopShop   Boots/ZARA

Youngblood: Hat/American Needle   Coat/Banana Republic   Jeans/Gap   Chelsea Boots/Banana Republic

The 5 Outfit Rule

Hey y’all!

Looking at these photos, I realized that I’ve literally used each of these items in a previous post and somehow managed to combine them into a whole new outfit, lol. As I’ve become more strategic with my shopping habits, I’ve begun to lean more towards buying timeless pieces, meaning pieces I can constantly wear time and time again, just in new and creative ways. I try to make sure that when buying a certain piece, I can wear it in a multitude of ways and with more than just one thing.

Typically, what I try to remember when shopping or picking up a new item is whether or not its going to have a high level of longevity and wearability. A rule that I’ve creating for myself (so that I don’t go over board) is if I cannot create more than five completely different outfits with an item, I cannot buy it. 87% of the time the rule usually helps, the other 13% when I find myself falling in love with something, we ain’t gotta talk about, lol. The important thing IS a majority of the time (when you stick with it) IT DOES work. So, if you find me in a store or online hovering over an item, I’m usually trying to think of a minimum number of outfits, so I can add it to my wardrobe. This allows me to cut back while getting as creative as I can with my style. 

The next time you find yourself reaching for an item you think you want, but you’re not too sure about how to wear it, take a step back and think of as many outfits as you can with it. You’ll learn quickly just how much you don’t need certain things as much as you thought you did. This process I’m sure will have your wallet and bank account thanking you in the end. Try it out, you may learn something about your style and yourself :)

It's several posts later, and I'm still tryin' to figure what this shirt was doin' in the men's section, lol. Until next time…

Peace,

Dij <3

Hat/Thrifted   Choker/Nordstrom's   Shirt/Urban Outfitters   Trench/Shopping B.A.R.E   Jeans/Fashion Nova   Boots/EGO Official

Self Care-Tip #6: Solitude

Hey Everyone!

I feel like I learn the most about myself when I’m alone. I haven’t always felt this way, in fact I used to spend a lot of time hiding behind people and activities just so I wouldn’t have to be alone. But getting older, I started to realize how much I enjoyed being alone. In not so many words, solitude became my solace from the world and I learned to embrace it. Those moments alone are where I began to learn the most about myself, so this week’s self-care tip is Solitude.

Based on a multitude of experiences coming of age, I’ve started to realize how terrified most people are of being alone. And I honestly don’t blame them, but it’s not as scary or boring as we tend to think. I’ve definitely been there and latched on to people out of fear of having to confront my own boredom and insecurities. Not to say that’s the case for everyone, but typically people are usually afraid to face some form of themselves, good or bad, so we tend to use others as a distraction from that. Given my life as an introvert and specificity in dealing with people, this was an extremely difficult challenge because I didn’t like or trust a lot of people. So when I finally found people that I genuinely connected to, I found myself wanting to be around them ALL THE time, lol. 

I knew the issues I had were with myself, but who wants to spend time confronting that when there are people who can make you feel better about yourself without having to deal with the pains of growing? I’ll admit it’s an extremely arduous task and I definitely understand why dealing with people who lift you up would be easier then confronting our own thoughts and feelings about ourselves.

College was my first lesson in solitude. I’ll never forget my first year, making friends and ultimately, having to make the decision to be alone, lol. Freshman year you meet so many people who you think you’re going to stay friends the entire time, but that’s usually pretty rare depending on the people involved. I’ll never forget calling my dad, complaining about how the ‘friends’ I made at the start of fall quarter had suddenly turned their backs on me come winter quarter (typical, lol). Upon expressing how hurt I was and not knowing what to do, without a second thought he told me ‘Well, be alone’. I sat on the other line in confused, young-freshman silence, and further expressed my displeasure and comfort with the idea, which he only continued to reply with my need to be alone. My fear only stemmed from the fact that at that time I didn’t know how and had a large fear of missing out on typical college memories. Later on, it became some of the best advice I’ve gotten to date.

These days, I’m at my best when I’ve spent some time alone. My dad’s advice has taken me such a long way in my adulthood and even allowed me to develop much better relationships with people. Most days, you can find me reading on my couch, listening to my record player with all the blinds closed, recharging and hiding from the world. My solitude gives me a peace of mind that no one else can give and constantly reinforces my overall sense of self. If there’s any time to do it, your late teens and 20s are the best time to learn about yourself. Don’t let these pictures fool you though, I do leave my house, lol. But a majority of the time unless my presence is requested or required, I tend to do a lot of things on my own. Through solitude I discover new places, new movies, new hobbies, new interests, and new facts about myself, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Contrary to popular belief, in moments of solitude is when we learn the most about ourselves, and while people can be amazing, they can also be very distracting from that.

My ultimate goal is to be at peace with myself, eliminate toxic feelings and elements and energies from my life, unlearn negative and harmful practices and thought patterns, stop checking for people that don’t check for me, create a space that’s nurturing for growth, so that I may generate loving energy for myself and others...

Don’t allow loneliness to scare you, learn to embrace it, it literally teaches you things you’d never know in the company of others. Use your solitude to strengthen your self-awareness, needs and wants. The moment I stopped letting it terrify me, it became my greatest asset and I learned more than I could ever imagine and even better people started to enter my life following suit. This goes for romantic, friendships, familial, and all that. My freshman year following my first run in with solitude, some of the most amazing people walked into my life unexpectedly and I built some of the best friendships I have to date. The moment I gave up using people as a crutch to counteract my own fears and anxieties regarding loneliness, I evolved into a better version of myself.

So go to the movies, download some music, go for a run, do your favorite activity, or cook yourself a nice meal, whatever it may be, do something nice for yourself. Take some alone time, whether it be 10 mins, 1 hour, 3 days, or an entire week spend some time with you, as I always say no one knows you better than you do and the only way to know those things is to embrace your solitude…

As usual, I hope this inspires you

Until next time,

Peace,

Dij<3

Life As An Introvert

Hey everyone,

Not many people are aware and are even surprised to know that I’m an introvert. People think I’m playing when I tell them I don't like people and even laugh, but I’m being absolutely serious when I say that, lol. Of course when I say that it doesn’t mean that people are awful (even though clearly some are) and I spend my days being a recluse, nah, lol. People honestly just take so much to deal with on a daily basis, I constantly find myself trying to navigate spaces and interact with people when I don’t necessarily want to. Since starting this site, I’ve had to put myself out there on a more consistent basis which is probably one of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as an introvert. 

I actually hate having to network and talk to people mainly because I have this irrational fear of embarrassment. The funny thing about it is I didn’t even realize what it was until this year, but when I spoke to one of my friends he told me I’d always been introvert. Through high school well into college I truly I thought I was pretty outgoing, until I realized it was only when I was most comfortable or surrounded by people who I felt most comfortable with. Catch me by myself, I’m literally avoiding everyone and everything, and man do I HATE small talk with everything in me. I hate reaching out because half the time I don’t even know what to say, I hate being out in the open because I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing and other times I just hate being present altogether. Being me has been an incredibly interesting journey as you can probably imagine, lol.

I find so much safety in the things and people that I love, they truly make a difference when it comes battling social anxiety, but I’ve definitely made more of an effort to get out of my own way. In being aware of my hypersensitivity to people, places and things, I’ve just tried to put myself out more one step at a time. The first step was speaking my dreams aloud, the second was this blog, and the third I was going to events, and before I knew it I was out there. It’s hard all the time, but in taking the proper steps that worked best for me I was able to push myself forward.

I feel like I’ll always be an introvert especially getting older and learning more about myself, but I think I’ve finally stopped allowing it to inhibit me going forward. I do loooove my alone time though, it literally gives me time to think clearly, take a break and recharge, and there ain’t never been nothing wrong with that.

Whether you’re an introvert or not, take a break and give yourself some time to recharge, contrary to popular belief solitude is so good for soul…

I hope this inspired you, until next time…

Peace,

Dij<3

Choker/Missguided   Moto Jacket/Zara   Top/Forever21   Jeans/Zara   Boots/Zara

#25

Hey y'all!

Leading up to my 25th birthday last week, I took time to reflect on the past year and the lessons I’ve learned through various situations I’ve experienced. This year has been extremely tough in more ways than I can even count. It was my first time dealing with grief in a substantial way, and situations and people (especially the people) really stretched my ability to cope with certain life changes. Things that seemed minor mounted into major setbacks that left me feeling inadequate and worthless at a time when I felt most vulnerable. Those things just constantly lead me back to the tremendous loss I felt all the time. I lost my grandfather last year and following suit, a dear friendship of mine deteriorated, I inadvertently loved with nothing to show for it, and I had to quit my first job. Oh 75% of my 24th year felt like absolute TRASH, and literally lasted throughout the entire year *eye roll*. I was pushed to my limit in a multitude of ways, but was also shaped for my tremendous growth and progress during this year. A midst the emotional hardship, I learned so much about myself, people and life, and I knew in spite of everything I was beyond blessed and learned valuable lessons. So instead of laying out my goals, I’m going try something different and lay out the lessons. In starting this blog, I wanted to create a certain level of transparency that people could relate to and take from, and I know no better way to to do that than through my words. I’ve been writing for quite some time, but I didn’t learn what impact my words could have until this year. In spite of the [growing] pain I’ve experienced, I know that sharing my stories and lessons can help someone else, and just as my life has been changed for the better (IN SPITE of the worst), so can others. If I can pass on the lesson without the pain, I’ve done more than I could even imagine.

"25 Lessons 24 Taught Me"

1. Regardless of the intention, the capacity to inflict pain is still present- Accountability has become so important to me, while it is important to know your role in your own pain, it’s also just as important to be cognizant of how other people attribute to that. This year, I’ve dealt with people who spent so much inside themselves that they rarely stopped to think about how their actions made others feel, and when confronted with it refused to acknowledge their role. The common thread I noticed amongst these different situations was the absence of accountability. It’s important to understand that no matter what the intention may be behind the action, we still have the ability to inflict pain on others. We're so resistant to being seen as wrong that we'll do whatever we can to skew the spotlight, even if that means disregarding the feelings of others or refusing to take any accountability for our role in their pain. Your intention does not excuse the pain or action, it may explain it, but it doesn’t take away from the pain and a lot of times just disregards it. In explaining the intention w/o the presence of accountability, we can inadvertently explain away the pain of others. If someone is brave enough to bring you their pain and lay it out for you, be cautious, take a step back, acknowledge your role, and then explain. Accountability is sometimes all we need, especially in cases where people are brave enough to bring you their feelings. As someone who’s been on both sides of this, it’s important to be cognizant of more than just yourself.

2. Friendships play a major role in growth- Friendships are the most important relationships we have outside of our family, and in a lot of cases friendships are the family we choose. I don’t think we start to learn just how important they are in our development until the foolishness in our lives really starts to hit the fan. In your 20s, for whatever reason, is when everything simultaneously falls apart and comes together, and when it hits you, it hits hard as hell. I mentioned to one of my friends that during this past year my friendships changed my life. You never know just how much support you truly need until you lose people, terrible decisions are made, you quit your job or pursue your dreams, and I’ve had a run in with all the above, lol. This year, my friendships became a pivotal point in pushing me forward. They are the reason I started this blog, the reason I left my job, they snatched me together when I needed it, put me back together when I unraveled, and held the mirror up when I needed it. A lot of the time, they saw me better than I saw myself even at my lowest points. They consistently reminded me of my value and showed me my dreams were real. When I look at my friends I see myself, and they make me strive to be a better friend based on their presence and who they are alone. We’re never taught how to be a friend, we literally learn as we go, but it’s important to nurture and place value into friendships because contrary to popular belief those are the people that truly help shape us. To ya’ll, and they know who they are, I say, love you and thank you for seeing me.

3. Emotional labor is the most important, forget what you heard- The importance of emotional labor tends to be downplayed A LOT given its association with femininity. Given the emotional expectation placed on women and women only, it’s seen as more of nuisance and inconvenience than a value. I’ve learned many things about emotions, but nothing has been more telling than when exerting emotional labor. Regardless of what emotion it is, it takes a lot to feel, especially when feeling for others. I’ve never been more exhausted in my life than when exerting my emotional labor. My emotional investment in others has shown me not only how strenuous, but how valuable it can be, especially when dealing with people who aren’t as emotionally cognizant. Emotional labor isn’t quite as valued as other forms of labor, but we all need to take better care in understanding that common tasks such as listening, holding a conversation, supporting, and loving people take a lot and should be valued just as much or even more than just being physically present. Men especially need to be taught the value of it and how to strengthen their own emotional intelligence because the expectation of it from women without a return on it is getting BEYOND tired. 

4. Being Emotional is my super power- A lot people think because they’ve seen me cry or visibly upset that me showing emotion in a certain moment can be a weakness of mine that leaves me too vulnerable or open. But I’ve learned that those same people who have an opinion about my emotions are the same ones at a loss because they’re not in touch with theirs at all and have a harder time navigating space than I do. Many do not realize my being emotional is directly linked to my ability to connect with others, create a certain level of introspection that not many people have, write and express myself. Having the ability to feel without fear is a magnificent feat that some can only dream of and it doesn’t make me weak, but powerful beyond measure.

5. Parents are people too- In the midst of growing up, we can fail to realize parents are people too. The expectation for being parents is so high, it's hard to remember the person inside each of our parents is very much alive and present. Just as life is a learning process for us, it is twice as much of a process for them. Being our guides, it's easy to forget who they are extends outside of their role as ’parent'. They don’t always have the answers, they don’t always know, and when kids show up they’re learning with us. My parents reminded me, sometimes the things I sought from them, were things they needed too. They're more than who they are to me, and getting older I learned I could be a guide to them as well. You can be their guide, their teacher, their hug, their kind word or encouragement. They have their own experiences that shape who they are and this year I felt like I went through those things with them. 24 taught me my parents were people and while keeping things together for me they still struggled themselves. Both of them have feelings, struggles, good days, bad days, hopes and dreams. I tried to show up as more than their daughter this year, and in doing so made the conscious effort to be somebody for them to lean on, so they have more space to be all of themselves. Try not to forget your parents are people too.

6. “It’s just best to leave the door open”- I’ve learned the hard way that not everybody you meet on your journey is going to be able to travel it with you. Sometimes life happens, people change, and things become different, sometimes you see it coming and other times you don’t. I love extremely hard which causes me to hold on longer than I should even when things have clearly fallen apart. I keep this picture in my mind of where I want to go and who I want to be there. This year I’ve learned it’s just best to ‘leave the door open’ and by that I mean keep in mind people are going to walk out, disappear, or move on. It’s no point in holding on because just as you grow and change, so do others and their path can start to look different from yours. You want to take all those that you’ve come to love with you on your journey, but sometimes you can’t, and that is okay. Letting go is going to be a huge and hard part of growth. You’ll never be prepared for when someone leaves, but ‘leaving the door open’ loosens the grip and allows you to embrace change as it comes. 

7. Social anxiety is a thing- A lot of people have probably interacted with me and thought “that there is a girl who loves dealing with people, that girl has got to be a people person!” Well, this year taught me I absolutely am not. Dealing with people and even communicating on a certain level actually freaks me out because people take so much. I’m not a “people person”, I’m a “specific people person” I realized, and I’d rather not be bothered with crowds or talking to anyone I don’t know or want to know, and I’m fine with that, lol.

8. How I feel matters- I’ve been the type of person who constantly puts others ahead of myself. While selflessness can be a beautiful and noble thing, it can also be detrimental to your well being. This past year I literally had to teach myself to value and pay attention to how I feel. Whether it was reacting to how I’ve been treated, picking up the phone, or even going out, I needed to be cognizant of my needs and wants regardless of how it made others feel. How could I possibly expect for people to take into consideration how I feel if I didn’t do it myself? How you feel is your truth, but it’s up to you to stand in it, and at 24 I made the decision to stand in mine. I had to decide I’m not doing anything I don’t want to if I don’t feel like it, and things worked better for me that way.

9. I don’t have time for the BS- I have so much I’m trying to do and accomplish, I just decided I don’t have time anymore. I don’t have time to talk to people I don’t want to talk to, I don’t have time to deal with foolishness, I don’t have time figure out if people like me or not, I don’t have time to chase people around, I don’t have time to play around with people, I don’t have time for people to play around with me, I don’t have time to make everybody comfortable, I don’t have time for uncertainty, I don’t have time for inconsistency, the list goes on and on. The point is I don’t have time! So I just stopped making time for the things I constantly had to question. If it costs you too much time and it’s not benefiting you, let it go.

10. Meet people where they’re at- I’ve reached a place in my life where I’m always looking to grow and change, and I’ve come across people who may not be in the same boat just yet. I’m learning constantly that everybody’s pace, time, and path are all different and we should give others the same courtesy we give ourselves. You just gotta meet people where they’re at in life, not everybody is going to know as much as you do, move as fast as you are, or want the same things, and that is okay, it can be a challenge, but it’s honestly okay, lol. Just keep in mind just as you’re growing and changing, so is everybody else and just as you need compassion and understanding for where you are, so does everybody else, remember that.

11. Don’t give if you can’t get- Sounds simple enough right? Well, it's not. I’m a giver, I love to give sometimes to my own detriment, lol. Though giving is good, it can cost you dearly when the wrong people catch wind of your giving nature. I learned the hard way that though we should give as much as we can, many people do not deserve what we have to give. People tend to like to use others as resource, but in the same breath cannot give anything themselves and in those cases you need to be able to protect yourself. There are people who see the benefit of you, but not the value and it’s so important to know the difference regardless of where your love or allegiance lies. What you have is valuable, so of course people would want it for free without putting in the work. Know your value, know your worth, and charge (or cut people off) accordingly...

12. Lost can be experienced in a multitude of ways- I lost in real life, love, friendship and otherwise. They all happened simultaneously as well, and in the midst of it all I wanted to snatch each of my eyelashes out one by one, lol. I realized people don't have to pass for you to feel grief or loss. Once I realized grief is all encompassing, it made it easier to stop denying the pain I felt. They were different, but I stopped treating one like it was bigger than the other because honestly it all hurt the same. Leaving can come in a bunch of different ways, but it can all still hurt the same.

13. Listen to your gut (God-consciousness)- 24 was a test and renewal of faith in not only God and the process, but myself as well. I started leaning on God more this year and took various steps to strengthen my closeness to Him. In doing so, I started to trust myself more in allowing God to guide me to where I needed to be. When I made more important decisions, the feeling in my stomach during those times got stronger than ever before. My dad told me whenever you got that feeling it was your ‘God-Consciousness’ speaking to you and to listen to it. If you ever get that feeling and you feel like something is a bad or good idea listen to it, that’s God speaking to you and it won’t steer you wrong.

14. Everyone has the capacity to inspire- It’s hard to imagine myself as someone for people to be inspired by. I feel real regular all the time. Even back when I performed a lot and people would come up to me, the word ‘inspiration’ never came to mind ever. But this year more than ever I’ve realized just as the people who’ve inspired me, I have the capacity to inspire others as well. It doesn’t matter what we’re doing or how insignificant or singular we think it is, somehow it’s important and anyone can be affected by it. We, as individuals, just have to believe in how powerful our impact can be.

15. Self-care is essential- In order to be the best we can be and meet our full potential, we MUST take care of ourselves. What do I mean by that? Well you know how we take care of others, family, friends and jobs? We have to do the same for ourselves. You have to make sure you’re nourishing yourself, reading, doing things that make you happy, spending time alone, and exploring, you have to take care of you first and foremost before you can take care of anyone else. That can look like a multitude of things like cooking for yourself, going shopping, washing your clothes, taking a nap, or listening to your favorite music are all ways of caring for yourself and nurturing your well being. We tend to forget about ourselves in the midst of our daily lives, but self-care is the best way to replenish the value in ourselves that we constantly put into other things and people. Don’t forget that you matter, take care of yourself… It’s the first step towards having other people value you.

16. It will come, do you in the mean time- If there isn’t a harder a lesson in the world than learning to have patience, then I don't know what is! My God it’s so hard to have patience living in a world where things have become so instant, everything is now, now, I NEED it NOW, lol. It’s hard, but if there’s anything 24 taught me it’s that things take time and we need to have patience. 2016 has been nothing short of pressure cooker for me, I mean I’ve felt as pressed as a panini maker in many of the struggles I’ve experienced this year you’d think I was a whole sandwich, lol. But in taking a step back and trusting God, I’ve realized that I can’t control anything but my reaction to things. I have a lot of anxiety especially about things that are not in my control, but I’ve learned to combat it by doing other things in the mean time. While I was looking for a new job, I took time to do things that made me happy and contributed to my other goals outside of just financing them. I tried my best to enjoy my time off and did free things, lol. In distracting myself with different tasks, things began to fall into place once I stopped worrying so much. I just trusted that things were happening the way they were suppose to and they would work eventually, I just had to be productive in the mean time. 

17. Live for you- This year, as I stepped further into myself I started to finally live for me. It was incredibly challenging up until this point and I realized I had been living for others whether if it was to gain praise, anticipate opinion, or get the approval of others, this entire time. Back in May, I took a risk and went to see the Formation Tour, I wasn’t a part of the Bey Hive, but Lemonade slowly but surely made me into a silent stan, lol. I was going back and forth with myself before buying the ticket, I had had so many doubts and fears about going, and it made me extremely hesitant. But then I told myself “I don’t have any kids, I don’t have no man, I can literally pay off this ticket at the next credit card cycle, and overall I just want to go!” With that I clicked pay, and in that moment I realized for once I made the conscious decision to do something for me because I wanted to, not because of anything else, but because of me. From then on I just started doing whatever I wanted (within reason, lol), and I’ve never felt so alive. So however or in whatever way you choose, live for you, the feeling on the other side of that is beyond amazing and your confidence just mounts from there.

18. Ain't nobody thinkin’ about us- As worried as we are about what other people think with the surge of unsolicited opinion on social platforms, I’ve learned that in REAL LIFE people truly and honestly are not even worried about you. I like to be prepared for any and everything to avoid whatever embarrassment may come my way, but sometimes in preparing for outside opinion we fail to realize that other people have their own lives and are not even worried about us like we think they are. Get off ya high horse, do what you want, I promise ain’t nobody thinking that much about you.

19. Love yourself- Nobody else knows you like you do, and there’s no one else like you. Please love yourself…<3

20. Introspection is key- Introspection means to examine or observe one’s own mental and emotional processes. In this life, it’s so easy to get caught up in everything and with the rise of tech you can access others in an instant. But do we ever take the time to think about our own processes and journey through this life? This year, I’ve taken more steps towards getting to know myself better and relearn who I am as a person. As a human being, I’m constantly growing and changing and it became important to me to take as many moments as I could to reflect. Many don’t realize or even take the time to, but the key to many successes merely starts with knowing yourself and that process starts with introspection. Remember to always take time to learn yourself and reflect, it definitely makes decision making 100x easier, I can tell you that from experience.

21. Happiness is in any moment- We spend so much time looking to be brought happiness, we forget about the inherent moments of joy that happen to us on a day to day basis. You’ve got to be able to find joy in moments rather than in just people and things. I constantly find joy in the smallest things, it’s almost obnoxious, lol, but it truly keeps my spirit in tact. Hearing the beginning of my favorite song while my playlist is on shuffle, smiling at strangers on the street, laughing at corny jokes, landing a good joke, finding a good YouTube video, or getting a hug are all things that I don’t seek, but rather just take joy in. Try to find joy in any moment you can, I promise your spirit will thank you.

22.There’s something on the other side of everything- When we’re in the depths of our struggles, it feels as if there’s no relief or ending in sight, but an important thing that I learned is that there is something on the other side everything whether we realize it in that moment or not. Whether it’s a lesson or reward, know that the strife isn’t for nothing.

23. If I don’t want to, then I’m not doing it- I’m just not doing it period, point, blank. I’ve learned it ain’t my job to please people or feed the egos of others, so if I ain’t feeling it I don’t do it. Just remember you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to, and it’’s up to you not to do it.

24. Pain can visit, but don’t let it stay- When we’re in pain we have a tendency to let pain in and let it overstay its welcome. Whenever I’m hurt, I definitely have a habit of holding on to the pain rather than letting it go because I use it as a reminder of things that have happened. I forget that while it can remind me, it doesn’t have to consume me. It’s okay to be hurt or in pain, and people who tell you otherwise have some serious issues of their own. It’s when we wallow in that that the pain becomes an unhealthy problem. Give yourself time to feel and work through your hurt, it’s only natural. Allow the pain to visit, but don’t allow it to stay…

25. Divest yourself- Sometimes you just need to remove yourself, whether its time, money, or energy, you just need to remove yourself for the sake of your well being. I use to spend so much time wondering why people felt like it was okay to play around with me and my feelings? I would get so tired of it. But then a ridiculous young man that I talked to during Grad School inadvertently gave me the best advice in the world. I was crying to him telling him I felt like I was trying so hard with him, and in turn he told me, “If you feel that you’re trying too hard, then just stop.” It hurt my feelings initially, but he was actually right. From there I got out of my feelings, deleted and blocked him. Without knowing it, that set the tone for how I dealt with people and things that did not benefit me going forward, and I slowly began the process of divesting myself. A lot of people think I’m playing, so I just show them better than I can tell them just how serious I am about my time and energy. You don’t have to value me, but I do and you will not suck me dry of my resources. My favorite thing to do is give a slight read, block you, and leave you with radio silence on the end, lol. If it costs me any parts of my well being, I block it, and divest myself. We need to protect our light at all costs, and if it doesn’t benefit me that’s my first step in letting it go.

It was still an extremely difficult year, ALL THEE WAY around, and I’ll be honest I have been waiting for it to be over since last December, but in spite of that, it was a year of major growth, change and opportunity, and it taught me a lot about myself and what I want going forward. I’ve built stronger relationships and opened new doors. My 2016 has had its proverbial wig snatched several times, and by several I mean 27, lol. I hope in sharing my lessons you see the growth, heed the lesson, feel the authenticity and you’re able to take something with you that you didn’t have before. In the Qur’an, it says “Leave places, things, and people better than you found them…” In reading this, I hope it leaves you better than when you found this post. 

Thankful for another year, may the blessings and growth be plentiful and the GLO’up be merciless to those who’ve tried me, lol. As you can imagine, God is still working on me, but I can proudly say I’m making progress.

Until next time...

Peace,

Dij<3

In My Element...

Hey everyone!

I think in my early teens is when the bevy questions regarding a possible modeling career started flowing in. A lot of people told me I’d be perfect for it, but of course I never really felt secure enough to actually try it for real, lol. On two random occasions I did take a chance though, once in the 8th grade and again during my undergraduate career. When I was 12, my dad was nice and patient enough to take me out on a casting call that I had heard over the radio. I remember putting on my best outfit (at that time, lol) and wanting to impress a boy I liked if I got a call back. Not surprisingly, I only made it far enough to realize it was a scheme where you only received a ‘start’ to a ‘career’ with the right amount of money paid upfront. 

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The second time around, I signed up for a modeling site and booked a few gigs, but nothing substantial or remotely remarkable. The few ‘opportunities’ I had didn’t pan out the way I’d hoped, so modeling just started to seem like an unattainable dream which just discouraged and turned me off to pursuing it any further. During that time, I can honestly say I didn’t even believe in my own capabilities. Even at that point in my life, I was still hoping ‘being seen’ pursuing it would make people ‘see’ me because for while and for a lot of different reasons I felt invisible. Though in some cases I was comfortable, a majority of the time I wasn’t and had hoped whatever attention I could get from trying to model would remedy that.

The results of my second attempt did not render the validation I had hoped (or envisioned) quickly enough and commuting back and forth from Riverside to LA for small budget shows and shoots didn’t seem worth the strife. At 19 my confidence was pretty moderate, but never enough to sustain me. Looking back, my disbelief in myself and lack of confidence in my own beauty and abilities is what really kept me from the opportunities out there. To be honest, I just wasn’t ready and my self-value wasn’t were it needed to be to pursue modeling. My head was completely in the wrong place and could have left me vulnerable to a lot of not so great things during my pursuit. I think in a sense God was definitely sparing me, lol.

I can gladly say now, at nearly 25, my confidence is right were it needs to be to do anything. Since starting the blog, the resurgence of modeling inquiries has come back stronger than ever. Family, friends, random people on the street will ask or tell me to model, to which I always answer reluctantly, “oh nah, but thank you.” It wasn’t until I spoke to my mom recently about the site that I figured I’d do my research and give it an honest try this time. My mom has always been supportive of everything, but I was a little reluctant to show her the site because we didn’t always see eye to eye when it came to how I dressed, and that definitely became evident when I started dressing and shopping for myself. But surprisingly enough, my dad ended up showing her the #BloggersForBlackLives post that I sent to him and she ended up scrolling through the whole entire site and then forwarding it to everyone, lol. We were both EXTREMELY pressed about my finding job when I started it, so I just didn’t want her to know I had begun splitting my time between my job search and the site, I honestly thought she’d think it was ridiculous and that 100% of my time should be going to the job hunt. We ended up having an amazing talk about T9A and the plans I had for it, and she was just so amazed at my writing and the way I wanted to cultivate my creativity to make it into a career for myself. I didn’t realize she had seen the whole thing until she said, “I read it, I scrolled through the whole thing! (lol) But I looked at your pictures and was just like ‘WOW’, she looks like a model, she could really model.” She doesn’t really know it, but everything she said I took to heart, and it meant more than she’ll ever know to have her belief in my creativity and visions. Following suit, I figured I’d give it one more go, lol. 

I researched a few open calls and sent in a few pictures. I only went to one open call, but I sent in a few pictures from this post to multiple agencies and heard back from someone. I have to send in a couple new shots, but they actually want to talk to me, lol. I’m just so thankful for my newfound confidence and fearlessness, it pushed me to put myself out there, drove me to pull together this new site, prepared me to take a risk, and helped in renewing my faith in myself.

It was cool trying something random just because I mean honestly you never know. I hope something comes of my next submission, ya girl would LOVE a side hustle that only involves getting dressed and serving up looks, lol. I’m no longer looking for the validation I had sought out before, thankfully I’m in a totally different place and honestly I just wanted to give it a sincere try while I was in the right place and time in my life to do so. I mean I ain’t have no job at the time, so I wasn’t doing anything else during the day but looking for another one, lol. Nonetheless! Who knows maybe you'll see me in a magazine or poster somewhere, lol idk fam… Anything you can see yourself doing is always worth an honest to-God try :)

Remember to love yourself and support your local black businesses this weekend, y’all!!

 

Peace,

Dij<3

 

Glasses/American Apparel   Necklace/Boohoo   Bodysuit/Zara   Jeans/TopShop   Boots/Rebellious Fashion UK

Self-Care Tip #5: Thrift

Hey y'all!

I’ve probably already mentioned outside of being one of my favorite hobbies, getting dressed has become one of my most important forms of self-care. I love being able to express myself without even having to say anything, and getting dressed most certainly does that for me. I feel most confident when I’m able to successfully put together an outfit that I love and feel confident in. I mean there’s nothing like thinking of outfit and having it turn out better than you imagined. Ever since I can remember, I’ve loved to dress myself, so I’m sure you can imagine when it comes down to shopping I can get very, VERY serious about it. My mom has always been such an efficient, serial shopper, even coped a pair of sandals for a penny once, lol. While I was never quite as good with bargains and deals as she was, when I discovered thrifting I knew I could channel some of her ability to get the right amount of bang for my buck. I loved discovering new and old pieces that allowed me to experiment with my style and challenge my own creativity. I didn’t realize how relevant thrifting had been in building my confidence fashion-wise, until I got questions regarding the one-of-kind pieces that I managed to find. So this week’s Self-Care Tip is Thrift.

If you wanna stunt without spending a lot of money, I'd suggest you thrift. Like a majority of activities that allowed me to explore on my own, I got heavy into thrifting in undergrad. But even further back than that, I can remember my mom taking my brother and I on our first trip to Thrift Town in El Sobrante. Since then I've perfected my shopping techniques instead of just randomly pulling things off shelves like children normally do. But of course, growing up during the golden age of tacky name brand apparel, the late 90s and early 2000s wasn’t really the time for secondhand or “vintage”. I mean unless you wanted to get made of fun of, which for me was inevitable, lol. My good friend, Yamie, actually put me back on to the thrift game in my late teens, and my best friend's style inspired me to take thrifting a little bit more seriously when I decided to start wearing my hair out more. I’ll never forget sending out a text to her and my other friend, Vang, talkin’ bout needing to revamp my style to better suit my natural hair's versatility, lol. 

 &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; My 'Fresh-Prince 90s' Button-Up from a Goodwill in San Diego, CA (You can't tell me this doesn't give you Fresh Prince vibes)

                  My 'Fresh-Prince 90s' Button-Up from a Goodwill in San Diego, CA (You can't tell me this doesn't give you Fresh Prince vibes)

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                                                                                                                 My 'Martin' vest from Etsy.com

Thrifting, much like collecting records, became another outlet for me and way before I knew it, pushed me to get out of my comfort zone. I’ve thrifted from San Francisco to San Diego, but hands down the greatest place to thrift was Brooklyn, New York (w/ SF running a close second). I love the random pieces you can get, the people you meet, and the places thrifting will take you on your search. The best stores were the hole-in-the-wall-one-of-kind spaces with the scent of old hippie grandmothers (maybe even with one running the counter), lol. It takes a certain amount of patience, but is well worth the sifting and searching, I mean I've found some GEMS. You'd be surprised how much you can find for so little. 

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 &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp;Funky Blazer from a Goodwill in Brooklyn, NY

                                                                                             Funky Blazer from a Goodwill in Brooklyn, NY

I'd say about 47% of my wardrobe is secondhand, and it started with my obsession with crazy print sweaters & Etsy. Oh, at that time the obsession was real, and I have a [POPPIN’] sweater collection to prove it, lol. If you're in the LA area and ever wanna go, I've linked a few places down below at the end of the post for you to check out. 

 &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; &nbsp; My favorite Pearl-Beaded Top from American Vintage off Haight St. in San Francisco, CA

                                                            My favorite Pearl-Beaded Top from American Vintage off Haight St. in San Francisco, CA

Now enjoy this photo of me wearing this ridiculously ignorant fur coat. It was $25 and I plan to wear it back home during the holiday to annoy my mother and have my little brother wear it with lots of gold accessories to make me laugh. Honestly, truly can’t wait to style this, lol

As usual, remember to take care of yourself, maybe treat yourself to a bargain or two. I hope this inspired you, until next time…

Peace,

Dij<3

LA Thrift Store Links:

Sunday's Best Thrift

Goodwill (in Hollywood off Vine)

American Way Thrift

The Left Bank

Council Thrift

Keep Your Light

Hey everyone,

This week has been pretty heavy on all of us. It’s hard to even register all that’s happening in the country with the political climate and social unrest. Upon finding out that a flaming all-encompassing bigot and sexual predator would be taking the oval office, I instantly became worried about my safety in this country, and that of others. I couldn’t even begin to fathom the emotional distress I felt regarding the intersections of my identity as a Muslim, Black person, and woman. Whatever prolonged comfort or hope that I longed for quickly dissipated the night of the election. With all the blatant national bigotry just mounting, I worried that I’d loose all that I worked for from school to the love I had built for myself and my people to the renewed faith in God. And as the results and stats of who voted slowly rolled in, it felt as if the hope and progress I had made up until this point was slipping away little by little. But the next morning, though I woke up with a pain on my chest, I began to feel resentful of all the pain and pity I found myself in, and I started to think of all the things I had been blessed with to date. Following a phone call with my mother, I made the conscious decision, though being adversely affected by the presidential results, I was not going to allow the national “foolery” to steal my light or the joy that I had worked so hard to build.

While I can honestly say it is much easier said than done, I can also say that my decision was a step in the right direction for my personal peace of mind. I declared, for myself, I worked to damn hard to allow the outlandish political climate to ruin me and my blessings.

Now I am in no way dismissing the fear, hurt and pain that is present at this time, not at all. But I am trying to be fully conscious of what keeps my spirit and well-being in tact. Too many people have worked, lived, and died for me to get this far and live the life I’ve laid out for myself. It would be unfair of me to think that some fool with no moral compass, innate consciousness, or empathy could strip me of my God-given joy and ability to live, all because the ‘majority’ in this nation showed it’s true colors along with the entirety of its ass. I cannot stop living, I cannot stop loving, I cannot stop spreading positivity and pouring into those in need because of this. I reminded myself I have to keep going for the sake of others in my shoes and myself. I have realized I have a purpose and vision, and that God is working through me to build on the capacity that I have developed to inspire and move others. I have to keep pushing and working in spite of these seemingly terrible odds. 

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Harriet Tubman, Flo Kennedy, June Jordan, Jayne Cortez, Ida B Wells, and many others have lived through times of heartache and struggle, still managed to get the word out and never stopped fighting. I am an honorable descendent of blackness, and through my living and pushing forward I honor those who’ve come before me and paved the way for my greatness. And although I dream of the day when we know longer have to fight to prove our humanity, I would be doing myself a disservice if I stopped having faith and fighting now. 

Long story short, you cannot stop me, nor can you steal my light. It is mine and no one but, I can have it. I’m going to use ALL the melanin and Black Girl Magic I possess to stomp all over your bigotry and ridiculous foolishness, and you’re just gonna have to stay mad because I ain’t going NOWHERE…

Please, please don’t let anyone steal your light or your joy, remember that is your God-given right and nobody runs you, but you… Your self-love and self-care is important now more than ever, so please take care of yourself…

I hope this inspired you, until next time… :)

Peace,

Dij <3

Bodysuit/Fashion Nova   Kimono/Forever21   Sandals/Urban Outfitters   Watch/Michael Kors   Cuff/Urban Outfitters   Bucket Bag/Zara

Ruff & Tuff with my Afro-Puff (Ayyyyeeee)

Hey everyone,

I’ve always aimed to look tough, whether it be through my demeanor or my clothing, I guess you could say I liked the aesthetic of looking tough, lol. Generally, when I’m wearing my hair out in a massive Afro I can come across intimidating, which, I won’t lie, I get a bit of satisfaction out of because I generally don’t like to be bothered a majority of the time, lol. But growing up, I cried A LOT,  and it was outlet I used that not many people understood and often mistook for weakness. With that came a lot of bullying and me feeling like I constantly had to prove my strength to people. It was an exhausting task, and in some cases I felt like I had to fit the bill to a T. I hated being perceived as weak, but over the years I allowed my perceived weakness to became my strength. 

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It really annoys me when people equate emotions to weakness, it’s kind of like equating masculinity to strength, which we all know is not always the case. Instead, I’ve learned to market my display of emotions as a sign of strength and power. My being emotional is what allows me to connect with others on a deeper level than a lot of people can, and that is a rare quality to come by especially in this day and age where people are revered for the lack of emotion and blatant disregard for others. I’m not a fan of being vulnerable, but I’ve learned to embrace it over the years.

I’ve learned that some people’s biggest weakness is not being able to express themselves emotionally at all, and dealing with those people is what makes me tough, lol. People don’t realize it, but it takes a special amount of strength to deal with the emotionally inept. To be in constant contact with the inconsiderate, the rude, the hurtful, the selfish, the mean, the disrespectful, and everything in between and still get up everyday and make the conscious decision to not become those things is an amazing feat. People are exhausting as hell, and having the sheer will power to understand and deal with them, I’d say I’m pretty damn strong, lol. I don’t want to be anybody’s perceived version of ‘tough’, I’d much rather be my own.

My best friend told me I looked like I had just gotten outta Pelican Bay when I showed her one of these pictures, and I really can’t stand her for how accurate that description is *laughs*

As usual, I hope this inspired you, until next time…

Peace,

Dij<3

 

Cropped Sweatshirt/Thrifted & DIY   Pants/H&M   Air Maxes/Champs   Gold Chain/ASOS   Watch/eBay

Self-Care Tip #4: Hobby

Hey y’all,

Back in undergrad, I got into collecting records right before it got popular again. I was in it during the struggle period when you literally had to search high and low to find some of your favorite albums. I started collecting mainly because I really wanted a record player and I LOVE music. I also loved the album art, and I mean who doesn’t love gigantic album art? What started out as simple hobby, turned out to be extremely therapeutic for me. I’m sure you’ve probably heard the suggestion to pick up hobby when you’re feeling down. While it can sound a little corny, speaking from experience, it can actually be helpful a tool in managing depression and stress. So this week’s Self Care Tip is Hobby.

Starting my record collection and investing in it literally took my mind off of everything, and even pushed me to explore things on my own. I couldn’t go to the same place to buy great records, I usually had to find different shops to see if they carried some of my favorite albums. Collecting became my outlet for my stress while simultaneously getting me out of my comfort zone. Researching sites, finding random record stores, and thumbing through vinyl took off the pressure that school constantly piled on. Being in any record store discovering old and new sounds quickly became my happy place away from the madness of my life. It took so much concentration and care, I could literally focus on it for hours on end because it was just for me. Ultimately, collecting became the very first form of self-care I indulged in before even realizing it. 

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Being the music maven that I am, I always loved records. Attached to our old stereo at home we had a record player that my parents played their vinyls on. The first record I ever fell in love with was the 12” single from the Wild Wild West, lol. And later on when my mother dusted off her records upon our move to Oakland, a 7” Ready for the World album with the single “Oh Sheila”. In my house, our main form of communication was through music, that’s how we expressed our love and it became the very essence of my joy, so when I started collecting vinyls I saw it as a new opportunity to reignite that love.

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Music has always been my favorite form of therapy, but the hunt for records is what really made collecting valuable for me and set it a part from downloading. I loved walking into different shops and seeing what they had. The time that I spent looking up albums and visiting record stores was time I invested in myself, and through my hobby I was able to reignite a sense a self that allowed me to get reacquainted with who I was and what I enjoyed. So if you find yourself struggling or stressed out try picking up one of your favorite activities. You could take up a class, learn a new language, play one of your favorite sports, or collect something, as long as it’s something you enjoy and relieves stress. 

For those collectors reading, I’ve taken the liberty of compiling a list of stores from the Bay Area to San Diego that I’ve visited to help out anyone wanting to start collecting themselves. Music is an integral part of who I am and brings me so much joy, and if I’m able to share part of my joy with others in search of their own, I’m more than happy to do so. 

I also have a collection of dope sweaters, and they are envy of all those who meet me and feast their eyes upon their knitted magnificence! LOL

As usual, I hope this inspired you. Remember to take care of yourself and protect your joy, nobody knows it better than you do…

Peace,

Dij<3

RECORD STORES:

Needle to the Groove

—410 E Santa Clara St., San Jose, CA 95113

Record Parlour 

—6408 Selma Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90028

Amoeba Music

—6400 Sunset Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028

—2455 Telegraph Ave., Berkeley, CA 94704

Atomic Music

—3812 W Magnolia Blvd, Burbank, CA 91505

Poobah Records

—2636 E Colorado Blvd, Pasadena, CA 91107

Rasputin

—2401 Telegraph Ave, Berkeley, CA 94704 

—1559 Hesperian Blvd, San Lorenzo CA, 94580 

 Record Surplus

—12436 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

Origami Records (Alternative)

—12436 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

Touch Vinyl

—1646 Sawtelle Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90025

Rockaway Records

—2395 Glendale Blvd B, Los Angeles, CA 90039

Mad Platter

—1223 University Ave #160, Riverside, CA 92507

Groovers

—215 W Big Springs Rd, Riverside, CA 92507

Access Music

—1537 Garnet Ave, San Diego, CA 92109

Lou’s Records

—434 N Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA 92024

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Suede&Leather

Hey y’all!

I can honestly say this year has literally been a [Traveling] Black Girl Magic Exhibition from top to bottom! I mean Rihanna, Beyonce, and Solange dropped magnificent bodies of work all exploring black femininity in various ways, shapes, and forms. The music from their albums is literally still a staple on all my playlists. While I AM basking in the light and creative body of work that is Solo Star at the moment, I LIVED for ANTI when Rihanna dropped it back in January. It was carefree, it was dark, it was rude, and ultimately unbothered, the ultimate feminist work without apology, and I, me myself, WAS HERE FOR IT. So you could imagine when I put together this outfit, it gave off all the ANTI vibes, from the leather jacket to suede thigh highs to the dark lip? Oh girl *chuckles*, I wasn’t playing. 

Growing into my womanhood, I’ve been told I can be pretty intimidating and unapproachable. I tend to speak my mind, hold people accountable, observe, make all the faces, and roll my eyes a lot. People would tell me how men didn’t like that and men would tell me to smile. I HATED THAT. First off, who are you? Second, who asked you, and third, why is my facial expression any of your business? And these are actual questions that I’ve posed to people, lol. 

I’ll admit I tried to soften myself for the sake of others, but then I had to stop and think, why would I live in discomfort for the comfort of others? I’m a black woman, my very existence in this society is made to feel uncomfortable by everyone, why not be all of who I am and be free? My presence by default offends 87.9% of everyone, so why not make myself comfortable? I’m not mean, I’m naturally very kind, but my favorite pastime is minding my business and I’d just like it if others would do the same especially when it comes to me and how I’m choosing to live, lol. 

I decided to keep my attitude on and unfortunately, for those who gave me their unsolicited opinions ANTI amplified it, lol. It was the soundtrack to this outfit and my unbothered attitude towards outside opinion and perception, especially that of the male persuasion. I really and truly had no time to appease the likes of others when I was steady working to love and accept myself. Needless to say, it worked out for the best, and it allowed me to slip further and comfortably into the skin God gave me. I just realized I don’t have to do anything for anyone especially if it means creating a level of discomfort for myself, and people can believe what they want b/c the question again is WHO are you? lol. As long as I’m living and doing what God has laid out for me, I trust that I’ll be fine. You ain’t got to put on a show people merely request, but don’t buy tickets to. And after years of trying to please everyone, I stopped tap-dancing on the people’s stage and moved to doing a smooth two-step in the corner ‘cause my feet were tired and I had to live for me…

I hope this inspired you to do what’s best and live for you. It takes a second, but I promise you’ll get there…

Until next time… :)

Peace,

Dij<3

Moto Jacket/Zara   Shirt/Thrifted   Jeans Shorts/Thrifted   Boots/Ego Official

Waitin' on Fall Like...

Hey y’all!

I’ve been thinking about this particular look for weeks! I’ve just been dying to post it, but I’ve been trying to wait for it to actually be Fall before I posted it. That unfortunately has not happened, so I’m just gonna go head and post it now because I love this coat and it's my favorite thing, lol. I actually have a lot of content, but I have schedule that I stick to, to keep me consistent before I start posting more frequently. 

I’ve really been growing into my style as of late and have been experimenting with statement pieces. This checkered trench was one of them and *whispers loudly* I LOVE IT. It is literally all the things and I don’t know how to act when I’m wearing it. I’ve been finding pieces that seem kinda random to stretch myself creatively and see how well I can style them. So far so good, thank goodness. 

I literally thought up and put together this look along with 2 others one Friday night, texted my homie, and had them shot by Sunday afternoon. I was planning on washing my hair and the only way these looks would’ve worked is if my hair was still pressed, so I had to snatch things together immediately for my vision to make sense. Shoutout to him for coming through and bringing these looks to life on such short notice.

I honestly didn’t realize how much I enjoyed Fall until I stopped being a broke student and finally had the money to get dressed for it. For me (now), it literally just means I have more of an opportunity to showcase 65% of my wardrobe in one outfit and show up and show out in the name of the slay. And if it’s two things I show up in the name of (besides God), it’s in the name of the ancestors and the name of the slay.

Hope wherever you are you’re getting a chance to actually experience Fall, unlike me… *squints & looks off into the distance* I want to believe it’s on the horizon, but the forecast for next week says 88 degrees, so I truly don’t know, lol.

Hope this inspired you, until next time :)

Peace,

Dij<3

Hat/TopShop   Trench Coat/Shopping B.A.R.E.   Turtleneck/H&M   Jeans/Thrifted   Shoes/Rebellious Fashion UK