Living Angry: The repercussions of self-care neglect.

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It may have been a slam of the mouse or keyboard and quite likely a muttered expletive under my breath that had the young naive intern pop up over the top of my cubicle and exclaim “Whoa…you’re ANGRY!
I exclaimed “What!!” My other co- worker popped up and quickly tried to explain that “No…no she only meant…”
I then realized 2 things…

1. The intern thought I had an angry personality.
2. My co-worker also thought that I was an angry person AND also capable of losing my temper with this young intern.

I was quiet the rest of the day and lost in my thoughts because Angry is not who I am and the very thought that the people around me saw and experienced me as this person was horrifying, not so much because I care about their opinion of me but because deep down I knew that it was true. I had become this extremely stressed out individual who had devolved into Cruella Deville.
I could not stop thinking about it and I went home and cried. I was a hurt and mortified ball of shame…those were my first feelings and then I thought of the job I was in that was sucking the life out of me that I choose to remain in with all the excuses I gave myself. I thought of all the “yes” answers I gave to friends and family even when I felt like a puddle on the ground.
Then I began to think of how I was failing myself by neglecting my self-care; I wasn’t sleeping enough, saying ‘No’ enough or investing enough time to just breathe.
I love to read and the extent of my reading had gotten to cursory flips through the pages of the most available dog-eared magazine.
Dear God what have I become!?
Thus began a deliberate process of accountability and action regarding my selfcare.
My Self-Care Mandate.
Thank you naïve intern.
I started taking stock of my personal wellbeing and the first thing I did was see my family doctor and take a month of short-term disability leave from my job, I then connected with a personal trainer and started working out 3-4 times per week.
This was the beginning of me establishing radical self-care and showing gratitude for and to my whole being.
Radical self-care is a priority for everyone and it can be hard for loved ones to understand and be supportive because they often don’t see your pain and your personality changes don’t make them panic. They don’t understand your insomnia and racing mind if they themselves can sleep through the world ending and they also don’t see the need to go to the gym in horrible weather because what’s the big deal about endorphins and supple joints.
Sometimes family and spouses don’t understand because burn-out has never been their journey or the journey of anyone close to them. Yay you…first in line!
Yes…I was in the throes of a full on burnout and didn’t realize.
According to http://www.helpguide.org this is the definition of a burn-out:

“Burnout is a state of emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. It occurs when you feel overwhelmed, emotionally drained, and unable to meet constant demands. As the stress continues, you begin to lose the interest and motivation that led you to take on a certain role in the first place.
Burnout reduces productivity and saps your energy, leaving you feeling increasingly helpless, hopeless, cynical, and resentful. Eventually, you may feel like you have nothing more to give.”

My experience also had a very debilitating effect on my body and I suffered chronic migraines that only a pitch black room and medications could help, but the scary thing that had me diving into my self-care regime like my life depended on it (which it did!) was when I…of robust physical health, strength and vigor was knocked on my ass with a case of shingles…you heard me, the thing that mostly 70 year olds and people of advanced age gets!
I thought I was dying and had to be off work for three whole months!
I was crying. All the stress in my life that I neglected to address had made me so ill.

http://www.helpguide.org says:
Physical signs and symptoms of burnout:

Feeling tired and drained most of the time.
Lowered immunity, getting sick a lot.
 Frequent headaches or muscle pain.
 Change in appetite or sleep habits.

Emotional signs and symptoms of burnout:

Sense of failure and self-doubt.
 Feeling helpless, trapped, and defeated.
 Detachment, feeling alone in the world.
 Loss of motivation.
 Increasingly cynical and negative outlook.
 Decreased satisfaction and sense of accomplishment.

Behavioral signs and symptoms of burnout:

Withdrawing from responsibilities.
 Isolating yourself from others.
 Procrastinating, taking longer to get things done.
 Using food, drugs, or alcohol to cope.
 Taking out your frustrations on others.
 Skipping work or coming in late and leaving early.

My point is this…neglecting self-care can have extreme consequences and all of us have a responsibility to take care of number 1, as is often said, you cannot pour from an empty cup.
I often recall the instructions given on a flight on what you should do in case of an emergency; you know the spiel you get just before a flight where the flight attendant’s flailing arms show you where exits are and such? One of the things you are mandated to do is to put your oxygen mask on before you help anyone else with theirs, even if it is your own CHILD!
Whoa!
It a simple instruction which I have always found profound because I find depth in the simplest of things and because it makes perfect logical sense.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FIRST.
Some will make you feel as if you are selfish for taking care of yourself but you know and understand how and what you feel and if you have chronically neglected your well being you will feel the effects and you’re not in a good place for yourself or anyone else. .
So let your teenagers wash their own clothes and let them wear the pink briefs if they take a shortcut and didn’t separating whites from colours. (spell check just told me to spell colours without the ‘U’ but I’m not gonna do it!)
Let your husband make the bed even if he’s terrible at it…the corners don’t have to be tucked, it’s not that serious.
You can’t do everything, you are one person let your family and friends know and let them know you’re feeling overwhelmed.
Courageously walk away from the people, places and situations that suck you dry and threaten to leave you as a mummified carcass.
Let go of the guilt you feel for saying “No” to especially the people you love; and last but not least, do what you love whether it be a job in an organization or an entrepreneurial venture. Listen…I’m not inferring that any of what I had to do was easy, It’s a hard process to say “No” when you’ve always said “Yes” and I still struggle everyday but it gets easier and the people who love and care for you, over time, gets more understanding of the lifestyle you’ve chosen.
Self-care is a journey that never ends, it continues for all of our lives and with the world and society structured as it is; Radical self-care is; without a shred of doubt, a mandatory lifestyle.
Love
Andrea

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UNFINISHED MELODY: Return to Forever

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It would have become greater still…the unfinished harmony
The lyrics, the music…the arrangement had promise aplenty
It had the makings of a hit…a transcendental classic caressing the airwaves into infinity
It’s incomplete…this rhapsody of souls, accepted to never be written to the end.
Will we hold it up and peruse it from time to time, and longingly wonder…was I wrong to abandon this could-have-been masterpiece?
Was this the one that would overturned life and time and transform into ethereal glory?
Should we have allowed it to gather dust and become scratched; removed its protective sleeve like an abandoned long playing record we thought would not become a classic treasure?
Should we have closed our ears to those who thought perhaps it wasn’t good music?
The music whose beginning strains woke us up to who we are, our composite of clay and gold; bad but incredibly good.
Made to love, made to glow, made to dream, and made to do…exemplary and extraordinary things.
Unanswered questions, unfinished melodies, atrophied music but still and always with the lustre of golden unexplored love.

“Space”… Not loosy goosy anything goes.

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I think the hardest thing in a relationship is to find

someone who understands their spouses need for time alone.

I think because most believe “time alone” is code for cheating or needing this time is an act of rejection.

“Getaways” are normally seen in a positive light because it means vacation, relax, and rejuvenate…just chill…but a getaway from one’s spouse is “Oh my God!” he/she needs space, something’s going on.

From what I’ve heard and observed, when something is actually going on, no one asks for space.

Getaways are very necessary for relationships, occasional time apart can actually bring longevity and harmony to relationships.

Time apart thwarts the “Law of diminishing returns effect”(I totally just made up this effect, but there actually is this “law”)

“In economics, diminishing returns (also called law of diminishing returns,

law of variable proportions, principle of diminishing marginal productivity,

or diminishing marginal returns is the decrease in the marginal (incremental)

Output of a production process as the amount of a single factor of production is

incrementally increased, while the amounts of all other factors of production stay constant.”

So in layman’s terms…picture you’re in a desert and you’re super thirsty… (and please keep your mind out of the gutter, this example is totally clean! A thirst for water people! You freaky bunch you!)…and you come upon an oasis, you rush to drink and your first gulps of water are soooo satisfying, you can’t believe you treated a glass of water before with such disdain; as you continue to drink however, it’s not like when you just started and soon you’re quenched and done…I guess what I’m trying to say is, everyone need a little space sometimes; to miss someone, to crave them like when you just met.

Girls night out, guys night out, alone time, sabbatical. (A sabbatical is a little long but who knows it may just be the thing depending on the situation.)

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder”…most of us have heard this before and it’s true; a nice little break from your spouse can have you jumping their bones when you come together, like it’s the first time and making sounds you’ve not made in a long time.

You kiss more, touch more…you smile more and love more. It’s like make-up sex without the breakup.

So the next time your lover says they need time alone don’t take it as an affront, just know that some people need it and it can serve to make your relationship more healthy and animated.

Of course there needs to be established trust and there also needs to be people who are reasonably secure with the one they’re with so they’re not suspicious of everyone who comes close.

I’ve lost friends because of insecure spouses and it sucks!

Don’t guilt your partner if they need to be away by themselves for a few hours and partners, don’t feel guilty if you feel that time away is important for you.

Everyone needs a little space sometimes. And remember; that space also includes your partner’s’ phone as well, for all the snoopers out there…just sayin’!

DO NOT snoop in your partner’s cell phones, personal privacy is a right for everyone, even if it’s your man/woman. Think about how uncomfortable it feels when someone steps into your physical personal space…well, phone snooping is a hundred times worse! Take it from me, this will not just rock the boat, it will overturn that vessel and set you adrift hanging on to flotsam and jetsam!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not all loosy goosy and anything goes, you need to make your expectations clear and dare yourself to trust each other, make sure wires aren’t crossed and areas aren’t grey and you go about thinking you’re in an open relationship when you’re really not (that’s called communication, but I’ll talk about that some other time!)

All in all just respect each other and remember that though you are two different people you’re on the same team working toward individual and corporate goals.

Keep it loving, caring and understanding and once in awhile break out the massage oil and the wine and have a party for two!
Now y’all go on and get loving!

Mental Illness: Please dont say “Bootstraps”

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**This blog post is dedicated to all the affected families and

the entire First Nation community of Attawapiskat Canada. **

 

People in crisis are often mandated to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. They are then left to their task which they must be able to do. It is an expectation.

If they seem and are unable, there is often puzzlement and irritation by the mandating party and their cohorts.

“Why the hell can you not!” What is wrong with you?!” “He/She is just lazy and doesn’t want to…they just want to wallow and feel sorry for themselves.”

Mental illness and other invisible illnesses are often overlooked and have a myriad of stigmas attached and those affected often suffer in silence for fear of being stereotyped and not wanting to suffer the ignominy often associated with the illness.

People often refuse to be medicated because this would somehow make it real and they would find that intolerable.

Those who suffer feel it to be a weakness on their part and that they are “broken” and asking for help (medical or otherwise) would validate this.

Where I grew up I believed mental illness to be glaringly obvious by all the “mad people” I saw living on the street; dirty and unkempt, several shades darker with not having bathe in years. Most were naked and unperturbed with genitals and breasts hanging out. They were not beggars, they just ate from the garbage or ate what some kind soul gave to them.

This was how I saw mental illness…in what I thought was the only form.

I would try to talk to the ones who didn’t look so threatening…I was thought “crazy” by my friends and the people who walked by. I was always curious as to what cause them to become ill.

At that time I thought causative agents could only be traumatic life events, I did not take into consideration heredity or other factors.

On many occasions they were lucid enough to tell their story; often disjointed but nonetheless coherent.

As I grew older, I understood. I met people who had jobs, friends and families but had periods when they locked themselves away because they could not be around people as they were so socially anxious. People who could not take care of their hygiene, not because they were “nasty” or “dirty” but because by themselves they just could not muster the energy to clean themselves.

People who perpetually wanted to die.

I met people who would get so lost in sleep it seems they are almost never awake. The ones who would eat to feel and those who would eat nothing.

There are those who lose themselves in drugs and alcohol to dull pains that they are unable to explain.

My mother is way past her retirement age and refuses to retire because her passion for working with and being a part of the healing of the mentally ill is everything to her. Some call her Mom and have adopted me as sister.

Mom is my hero.

There is constant work by individuals and organizations to try and bring awareness to mental illness and its challenges and to bring visibility to this invisible illness.

Mental illness does not show its severity with broken bones or bloodied and bruised. Many don’t ever realize or believe that someone is ill until there is an incident of self-harm, suicide or attempted suicide; or until someone suffers a publicized episode.

Even with the many programs to shed light on this illness and its ramifications, many are still in the dark.

As individuals, and citizens of the world, we have a responsibility to educate ourselves and to as best as possible be in tune to what mental illness is and how it can present. Let us keep an eye on those around us and help them heal. Let us understand that a bad mood is different from a depressive episode and that while you can snap out of your “blue mood” and pull yourself up by your bootstraps; but forthe person battling mental illness “bootstraps” is an insult.

There is so much shame associated with this disease that some will never tell, not even their physician.

Within the black community it is especially “secret”, families are afraid to acknowledge mentally ill relatives because they’re “shame”. As a community we have come a long way since I was a child and exposure to other communities has helped us to be more forward thinking in our outlook.

I hope we all come to the place where we are more aware, more accepting and more dedicated to identifying ways in which we can support and help the ones suffering to heal and live full lives.

MORE THAN GREEN STEMS

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oliver wendel holmes

We often hear the phrase “change is good”, it is often an overused and clichéd phrase; a filler for awkward pauses.

Kinda like LOL.

We have to admit however that some change is good…great even!

We go through many stages in our lives and we have many graduations…some incremental and some larger than life so to speak.

As poet Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. once said:

“The mind that is stretched by new experience can never go back its old dimensions.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

It can be decidedly uncomfortable to have this change occur, although the fact that it is happening means that, whether you believe it or not, it is an elective experience. While it is quite exhilarating in the midst of this change, to now go about your daily life in this transformative state initially can be quite painful and confounding.

Don’t worry, you get to be a pretty flower after or a marvel super hero of your choice!

You can find yourself in the throes of dissatisfaction because your conversations have changed and bouncing back at you… sometimes this can call for change in your choice of sounding boards.

You may even try to change back to your pre-metamorphosis state because “This is Bulls…t!” No it isnt…this is transformation.

You have expanded…your mind, your consciousness…what you look for in a lover, a friend…yourself.

Your expectations are a lot more discerning and you first and foremost set for yourself a higher standard.

I know what you’re thinking…”I have lost myself, lost who I am”

Not in the least…you are still who you are…you have just reached in and pull on your potential and dared yourself to grow exponentially.

You have experienced your summer.

Your petals have emerged and you have discovered that you are more than green stems…that you have vibrant color and soft silky petals and you have pollen to share that help others thrive.

Rally through the first stage of discomfort with the understanding that you might unfortunately lose friends and acquaintances and some might chose to examine you from afar as if you are moldy cheese.

Before you instinctively smell yourself, remember …you are now gourmet; artisanal even…

Now…I must emphasize that a true transformation has nothing to do with ego and hubris but has everything to do with growth and the expansion of your potential. The fact that this often comes with a change in our circle is completely normal and natural for our self-care, growth and increased potential.

You don’t have to cut people from your life, you just need to change their gradient of impact on you…to increase or decrease that is the question.

I believe our ultimate goal is to be better humans, to develop ourselves, share with others, save the trees (we all have a little tree hugger in us) and in our lifetime experience world peace!

It all starts with us being our most authentic, putting our best foot forward (I don’t even know what this means, both my feet are best! I have a good side, but a best foot, I don’t think so!)

Anyway… my point is…grow, bloom, find out if you are a purple flower or a pink one, or yellow or…

You are much more than green stems.

Yours Truly,

Purple Flower and sometimes Storm and Cat Woman.

When I was 13…a hair journey

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When I was 13…

  

 When I was 13, I announced to my very conservative mother that I wanted locks in my hair.

This declaration was pretty bold but I have always been clear about what I wanted; this doesn’t mean I’ve always gotten it but the people who mattered and were the “powers that be”, knew.

I did not get my hair locked that year or any of the ensuing years.

(To be fair, I also wanted to enter the convent and become a nun, which also didn’t happen.) Oh well…

Living in Jamaica, one did not just wear locks unless you were a musician, artist, Afrocentric artistic executive or your average madman (mentally ill) on the street.

I think more than an average loc’d hairstyle, what I really wanted was to wear my hair in its natural form with the ease of “wash and go”.

As the years passed I went through many hair stages and none of them were locks!

For a number of years I wore my hair natural…under duress because it was a requirement of my then church.

I despise weaves and wigs but nevertheless have worn them; I find them cumbersome, hot and a pain in the ass! Excuse me if I have an affinity for touching my scalp and washing my hair outside of a rigorously planned hair insurrection!

In 2013 I began wearing braid extensions fulltime and allowed my natural hair to grow and be free of chemical processing.

I loved it!

So began the drooling for locks once more and I set about researching.

This time I didn’t have to ask permission!…Who’s a grown girl…?!

It was decided…locks were a definite go!

Opinions were given, stigmas reawakened but I was resolute…locks it would be.

I began loc watching and approaching complete strangers that had loc’d styles that I loved; I needed a referral. There would be no random Google search to help decide who would have the happy privilege of locking my tresses.

I decided on the Sisterlocks method of interlocking, where individual locks are created using a specific tool.

After a few months of doing my “pre loc” investigations, I found my licensed Sisterlocks consultant, had my initial consult and secured my 2 day appointment and waited!

The day came and my loc installation took 34 hours! I have very thick hair and I wanted tiny locks…egad!!

I knew from my previous research that I would not be wowed right away but had to be patient and wait for the look I wanted.

Fast forward to 10 months in and I am more pleased by the day, I have a full glorious and coily bush (hee hee) grazing my nape and tickling my ears…I am happy and growing happier with each inch of new healthy growth!

I love my “unfooled around with” hair and its definitely loving me back!

My advice to anyone thinking of having locks done is to research, research, research! Find looks that you like (on real people!) and don’t be afraid to stop them and ask who did their hair (compliment them first!), I collected a lot of contacts before I finally decided on a loctician. People are generally very proud of their locks and happy to share stories and encouragement.

Everyone usually has high praise for their loctician!

Remember…not all locks are created equal and your best choice for this permanent and pricey hair installation is a trained and certified consultant.

The curl patter of your hair and the size of your locks will mostly determine the look of your locks. For me , I have coily pipe cleaner tendrils which are awesome sauce!

Suffice it to say, there is a lot of “running hands through” and hair twirling going on.

Hair love lives here and its a beautiful thing!!

LOVE…Gotten. Understood. Seen

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“IF YOUR WOMAN ISN’T A REVOLUTIONARY SHE WILL PERSUADE YOU TO BE A SLAVE” – Unknown

“Why would he love HER! she is no youngin’ and she’s not rich (in money)
I don’t get it.
She doesn’t have a ‘bangin’ bod’ with booty inserts…well rounded. She is not ‘light skinned’!
I don’t understand.
What does she bring?…I cant see.
Why her!?”
You don’t get it because your view is flawed.
You don’t understand because you’ve been mind raped and your thoughts are not your own.
You have been captured; held for ransom yet unpaid. ‘Bamboozled, hoodwinked…Led astray and ran amok.’ ”
You can’t see because you are blind; you do not know Queen.
Your royalty sailed away from your shores with shiny cheap trinkets in its place. Birthright sold on the backs of oiled and shiny men…women…children.
He loves her because she loves herself. She regales in her womanhood; her royalty…the fact that she is Queen.
She is confident.
He loves her because she KNOWS love, energy and respect.
Because he feels her across time space; across distractions.
This is why he loves her.
She feels his joy, anger, sadness…she is wind beneath his wings
Balm for that which ails him.
He loves her because new age lover she is not; tit for tat lover…never.
He loves her because she is easy to love and with her he is free…really free.
I am not unclear. I know why he loves me. 💜
– A.s.Goulb

WHO’S HOUSE!?! (Title credit: Someone’s Inspiration)

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image

I haven’t written on the blog in a long time so as the New Year begins this is somewhat of a reflective posting.
I’m sharing with you some insights I have gained throughout the past year.
All of my experiences I try to learn from and 2014 was a year of many lessons.
As I walked through some personal experiences; the people around me who were privy to it shared their thoughts and only a treasured few saw it for what it truly was; a time of growth and blessings.
I’m not knocking the ones who had a different vision…they are all my friends and people I treasure in my life. They however, showed me things that made me sad.
They showed me that a lot of people are living very limited lives akin to gangrene, upon which they put the prettiest, brightly colored bandage and ignore the fact that an appendage or two may fall off and that they face imminent death.
I found that people place an inordinate amount of importance in the material things of life while they ignore their heart, mind and their inner peace.
Now don’t get me wrong…I’m not advocating for a pious life of poverty and downtrodden-ness (is that even a word!?); having material possessions can certainly make ones’ life easier and more comfortable and you can buy more shoes!
What I indeed advocate for is perspective and the understanding that in the grand scheme of things; you the animate, is decidedly more important than things.
The charge is to take care of your peace. Erase drama from your life and do not welcome it. Shut the door in its face.
As someone said; probably for different reasons…”who’s house!?” Understand clearly that your life is your house and you and you alone have the responsibility to keep it free from crap!
Some of the decisions you have to make to “clean your house” are sometimes not easy but it has to be done and only the strong ones can make this call and follow through.
On the outside these things may look selfish to others but again…it must be done.
So while this posting is somewhat of a reflective one; it is also one bearing hard on the future, on happiness and peace and in the pursuit of such.
This state of being does not rest in our families, lovers or God forbid! Our careers!
It lies in the naked evaluation of ourselves (which we have no obligation to share with anyone), and admitting things to ourselves that we may never admit to another living soul. Our Sh**ty ways most definitely included! The things that are usually so hard to face about ourselves.
The man/woman in the mirror!?
Do not make a resolution; that Auld Lang Syne cliché on New Year’s Eve is not a resolution; it’s an eighty percent drunken promise you won’t remember in the morning!

With a clear head, DECIDE to protect your peace, (recapture it, for those who have given it away or sent it off with the rest of the garbage to a Michigan landfill) Protect your dream and pursue it.
Decide to be happy.
Now, before you go all ape sh*t on me; this is not a promise of some kind of Nirvana, Utopia where there are no sad days and that some moron isn’t going to come out of the woodwork; open the door to their car and ding the hell out of your ride and drive away!
Life is beautiful, and yes it is a rose garden! But for those who don’t know, there are quite a few thorns on rose bushes, but they are amazing beautiful and smells divine.
💜 Andrea.