I think truth is the type of word that is easy to misconstrue. To me, truth is not just honesty from a person; its also the state of existence that something is in. You can lie to yourself and avoid the state of something in your mind, but that doesn’t mean its not true. That just means that your acceptance is an avoidance; it changes nothing.
That sounds really easy to identify but that’s the type of sleepwalking that I referred to in my last post. I think alot of us walk around dazed because we are afraid to face the truth of our existence. We’d rather pretend its not there or that whatever we’re avoiding is at its current level. Just because we don’t see it doesn’t mean its not true.
Everyone needs truth
The hardest part of facing the truth is accepting what it is. Once you acecpt that something is the way it is, you can either work to improve what you don’t like or learn to live with the status quo. But its more painful, in my opinion, to mask the truth and deny it than to cope with your disappointment.
For example, I’ve noticed that alot of big women will say things like “I’m phat in all the right places”, “no one wants a bone” and Mo’nique even had that whole “skinny b*tches are evil” thing going on a few years back. Notice a few things though: a segment of the population attempted to find ways to validate themselves and the negative criticism they faced, but ended up criticizing another group of women in order to make themselves feel better.
So the truth of their situation was that they wanted to feel better – facing the truth that they either didn’t like where they were, or they didn’t like the negative judgement of others for where they were. Either way, their truth was dissatisfaction. If they had faced that truth then addressed the real reason for the dissatisfaction this group would probably experience the relief that they truly desire. Instead, by masking their truth, they caused conflict with another group, all while their weight problems or their self-esteem suffered from not disconnecting the negative criticism. (Also notice that Mo’nique went on a weight loss journey herself and discovered that she desires to live a healthy lifestyle; the adherents of “skinny b*tches are evil” had to find another cloak for the truth, since that one had been abruptly removed from them. After all it wasn’t their truth but one someone else gave to them).
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So who’s with me?
We all come to different realizations at different times. What usually happens is: you have an intellectually stimulating conversation, you stumble upon an illuminating blog post, or a friend lends you a must-read book. Suddenly your concept of the world, of yourself, of how life works shifts into something new. Lately I’ve been frustrated to look around and see that alot of people are still unaware and unconscious of the way life works and how people and things around them work.
When I got on the train on Friday, I sat behind these two girls. By girls, they could be anywhere from 15 to 22. They were admiring each other’s nails and hair, and another girl asked one of them who her stylist was and for the stylist’s phone number. When they got up to leave though, one thing I noticed was all 3 girls were significantly overweight.
Don’t get me wrong – I’m not pointing fingers. I can stand to lose a few pounds myself. And who knows if these girls aren’t gym buddies or encourage each other to make healthy food choices. I pondered, not for the first time, how black women spend so much time and effort being concerned with periphery matters – our hair, nails, clothes and accessories, tv shows, celebrity trivia – but we neglect the two things in our lives that have the most value and we have the most control over — our minds and bodies.
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- Dorothy Irene Height was born on March 24, 1912 in Richmond, Virginia and was raised in Rankin, Pennsylvania. Height was admitted to Barnard College in 1929, but was denied entrance because the school had an unwritten policy of admitting only two black students. Instead, she attended at New York University. Height earned a bachelor’s degree in 1932 and a master’s degree in educational psychology in 1933.
- Height started working as a caseworker with the New York City Welfare Department and, and in 1944 she joined the national staff of the YWCA.
- When she was 25 she began a career as a civil rights activist when she joined the National Council of Negro Women. She fought for equal rights for both African Americans and women. In 1957, when she was 45, Height was named president of the National Council of Negro Women, a position she held until 1997. During the height of the civil rights movement of the 1960s, Height organized “Wednesdays in Mississippi”, which brought together black and white women from the North and South to create a dialogue of understanding.
- She also served as National President of Delta Sigma Theta, Sorority Incorporated from 1946-1957. While there she developed leadership training programs and interracial and ecumenical education programs. Height remained active with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority thoughtout her life.
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On Your Mark, Get Set…
If you’re a recovering perfectionist like me, then you may tend to overthink starting new goals. What should you do first? Where should you start? How should you start?
The most important thing is just to START. Not when the time is right (it’ll never be right – you’ll always have something else going on and a few things to juggle at one time), not when you have more time (seriously, when will that be??). Just put one foot in front of the other and start down your new path.
This is one of those things are ARE as easy as I’m making it sound. Here are 3 things you can to, TODAY, to get you started on whatever goal you’re striving for.
Make A PlanOne of the best ways to go somewhere new is to make a plan of how you’ll get there. Also, putting your goal on paper is wonderful for banishing some of your doubts and fears about *how* it will happen. Being concrete shows you that, hey, it might not take as much effort as you have in your mind. Or if it does, once its all down, you may decide that the effort is worth it and nothing to fret over.
Now if you sit down to plan your new goal, and there are gaps in your plan, thats ok. The important thing is to develop a big picture view of your goal. You’ll get a better idea of how long it will take, the resources and effort you need to contribute, and your plan will serve you well as a tool to help you visualize your goal and stay focused on the end result.
Learn Something NewWell you probably won’t be able to learn an entire new thing in one day, but you may be able to begin learning. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, why not start by doing an activity that you’ve never done before? Like taking a different class at the gym, learn how to hike, or take a swimming lesson? There’s nothing like adding a new and fun activity to your repertoire to build confidence and interest in a new goal.
There is so much possibility in this step. Want to find a new job? There could be a great new skill you can add to your resume, if only you’ll take the time to seek it out. How about learning a 2nd language? You could research language courses in your area or online options that work for you, like French In Action or Destinos. This way, you could accomplish two goals in once – especially if you have those goals that you’ve been meaning to get to yet have put off indefinitely.
Clear Out ClutterClearing out old, unused items and creating new space is a wonderful way to get your new goal started on the right foot. Letting go of things that are no longer useful to you creates space in your mind for something new. Could it be that throwing away an old lover’s items will allow for that new man to come into your life? How about the plans you made for goals that you are no longer pursuing? What about throwing out all the fatty, sugary foods that you are no longer consuming as you work to improve your eating habits? Letting these things go is also a sign of acceptance and forgiveness, and a way to allow yourself to pursue them again without beating yourself up about it.
Clearing out clutter is the first step in getting organized to get more tasks done, so its almost a 2-for-1 step. Then when you’re done clearing out clutter and getting organized, you can hit the ground running with strength and focus on the end result.
Do you have a new goal that you need to start? How will these suggestions help you get closer to reaching your goal?
But that reluctance also means that I’m not falling in love with new things either. Playing it safe is definitely something I don’t advocate, and I’ve been telling you guys to choose your dreams over security. I don’t think good health should be a dream – it should be a natural state of existence for all of us. Yet we’re one of the fattest nations in the world, and since we’re a ‘developed’ country we should know better.
One Foot In Front Of The OtherI am in no way saying that I’ve fully transformed my habits of eating after just one week. What I am saying is that, after putting forth effort, I am pleasantly surprised that making healthy choices not only feels good, but tastes much better than I expected.
The catalyst for this blog post was today’s mini-epiphany. I’ve been following a meal plan I got from Oxygen Magazine, and honestly I wasn’t thrilled by some of the suggestions. I’m a mac & cheese, cheeseburgers and fast food kinda gal, so you can understand why couscous, frozen berry smoothies, pita bread and mixed greens didn’t appeal to me. This extra weight doesn’t appeal to me either, so I was willing to give their way a shot.
I told myself that I’d just try each new suggestion and if I didn’t like it, I wouldn’t eat it again. Let me tell you how surprised I was that I’d like peanut butter, banana and honey on whole grain bread; melted cheese and tomato in a pita; key lime and strawberry cheesecake yogurt; and friggin’ couscous… yes I’m still surprised but I had a very yummy day today. When I had couscous with my dinner I just knew I had to blog about it. Yes its that serious (lol).
But that’s how change happens. You accept one change, then another, and once it sinks in that change is not always bad, then making big changes isn’t so daunting. It also helps to be open to new suggestions and to stick to your resolve when you know that old ways of doing things are no longer working for you.
Another important aspect of saying yes to change is recognizing that change takes time. You’re making a conscious effort to allow changes into your life, but your mind is not with the program. Your mind likes routine, craves familiarity even at the detriment of your body, career and even self-esteem. So also allow for the time it takes your changes to become habitual to your mind. Your mind will probably fight you at every turn, reminding you how comfortable your old routines are. Just stick with it and before you know it, your changes will be an integral part of your life.
Speaking for myself, my mind flashed on alot of my old habits – taking the elevator when the stairs are available, skipping workouts, and flashbacks of the cookies n’ cream ice cream in the freezer keep popping up. During those times, I just think about how good a new discovery tastes, or that my mind is out to get me and the ice cream (or whatever inappropriate suggestion) will not be as good to me as my memory is leading me to believe.
Have you implemented some new changes lately? What were some of the ways you said yes and accepted them into your life? What changes are you anticipating in the future?
My personal progressI had several intentions at the beginning of the year – namely to lose weight and incorporate healthy eating habits into my life, take my business and blog to the next level – become my own boss, write an ebook for Motivated Sista, start a committed relationship, and improve my cooking skills. I was supposed to focus on weight loss first, but that was the goal that fell by the wayside. I feel that I’m in a good place with growing my blog audience and learning effective ways to generate enough income from other online ventures to become my own boss. I made several Sunday dinners to improve my cooking skills. And I’ve been slowly and surely working on my ebook.
But I didn’t make much headway with regard to changing my eating habits, working out more or dating. It was easy to make excuses for not going to the gym, blaming my lack of progress on having issues with my car, or not knowing what to eat to be healthy, on and on. The excuses don’t really matter, its how I react to the realization that I’ve been making them that’s important.
One huge setback I had was during the snow storm we had back in February. I indulged myself in vacation-mode thinking during that time, to my detriment. The difference between a vacation and those days we had off is that when you’re planning a vacation, you plan for your absence and know the precise duration that you’ll be away from your tasks. What I did, however, was immerse myself with unproductive habits for an indefinite period of time. As a result, I derailed my fitness and healthy eating habits, my sleep pattern and even my writing flow for Motivated Sista. Even though it was only a week and a half, that mindset definitely wreaked havoc on my goals. Now it’s time to get back on track.
Faith, Focus, Persistence and Determination.
Since I felt uninspired to change my eating habits, I relied on meal plans from Oxygen Magazine. There is a 3-month series that promises to change your body and the way you eat. This is the end of my first week on the plan, and so far I’ve been doing great. This shows me the importance of not only relying on the expertise of others, being open to ideas that don’t sound appealing, but also to make things easier for myself – in essence, ‘work smarter not harder’.
Multi-tasking doesn’t work for me. I need to fully focus on one goal at a time. Because what ends up happening is distraction – the goals that are not currently in front of me get forgotten as I’m fully absorbed in the tasks that are before me. And I don’t feel there’s anything wrong with that, I just need to work with my unique personality and habits to get to where I’m trying to go.
As far as dating, that’s a goal that has a few layers for me. I’m not timid about going out by myself, but I feel anxiety when among a group of people. It doesn’t matter if I know the people around me or not, group settings rattle my nerves. But I have to get over it if I’m going to succeed in meeting new people. The advice I constantly hear is “do what you love and you’ll meet people that way”, so I’m planning to attend new events to not only participate in activities that I’ve been dying to participate in, but also to meet new people outside of the circles I’m already in.
So how is 2010 shaping up for you? Take an opportunity to review your progress on your goals, improve the areas that need improvement, and pat yourself on the back for the progress you’ve made so far. How will you revise your approach to reach your goals, based on your self-reflection?
The same messages are swirling round and round the mental merry-go-round you have upstairs. I honestly think that most people aren’t aware that they can slow down the momentum of their thoughts, or stop the ride altogether.
The thing is, most of the thoughts you think didn’t even come from your own mind – they passed to you from the opinions and actions of others. How many times have you heard the following:
- money doesn’t grow on trees
- you have to work smarter, not harder
- no pain, no gain
- the only way I’ll date (insert ethnic group that’s not your own) men is if they look like (insert ridiculously fine actor).
- I’m just gonna wait on the Lord
- black people don’t do that
- those (insert ethnic group that’s not your own) will put up with more than black women will
- I’ll only do it if it fulfills God’s purpose for my life
- only rich or lucky people live that way
- I have to prepare for a husband
Were any of these familiar thoughts ones you originated? Or did your mom, friends, teachers, significant other and coworkers repeat them until they stuck with you?
Think about it for a second.
Why are we defining our lives using someone else’s thoughts? Or using criteria that helped people survive in the past, but are not relevant today? Or, even more important, are a part of a guerilla marketing plan to keep people where the marketers want them to be (following the latest diet fad, contributing to their cause, or following their system instead of someone else’s)?
How To Wipe Your SlateSimply put, question the generalizations and preconceived notions that come to your mind. How is money the root of all evil? Why do some people get ahead and others don’t – is it really luck or are there other factors at play? Where are some of these sayings located in the Bible? Ultimately, who determines how things are supposed to be, and do they always correspond to that person’s idea? If they don’t, why don’t they? Could it be that you’re the exception to the rule – or that the pre-conceived rule doesn’t actually exist?
Alot of the tenets behind improving your mindset involve getting a grip on what’s floating through your mind. And one way to control those thoughts is recognize when they’re not even your thoughts. Once you do that, endeavor to define those thoughts as uniquely your own. The case may be that you believe the thought and want it to remain. There’s nothing wrong with that at all, as long as you consciously choose the thought and not just accept what’s been forced upon you by society.