HERstory in Black, news, self-care/self-aware

A taste of HERstory: Reflections on an unforgettable evening

In December, all I knew of HERstory in Black is that it was an idea. Emily Mills, CEO of How She Hustles had decided to step out on faith and share her vision: she wanted to create a digital photo series featuring 150 Canadian Black Women.

Along the way, Emily asked the women of How She Hustles for help. I wasn’t sure of how I could be of service, but I knew one thing: I could write. Currently I live outside of the GTA, and my mobility is somewhat limited. But that little voice inside told me to volunteer anyways. Surely I could do something in spite of my location.

A couple of weeks ago, Emily got in touch with me. Oh, how her project had grown. HERstory in Black now had a home in the form of a microsite on CBC Toronto’s web page. There would be an event in its honour on the 27th of February. Thanks to this new development, she didn’t need me to write about the women included in HERstory. But would I be able to showcase the photographers who made the magic happen?

I nearly fell over.

The Saturday after Emily and I chatted, I spent the afternoon with my girlfriends, Krista and Celeste. I told them all about HERstory in Black, including its celebration.

“You have to go!” Celeste and Krista insisted.

I looked at them as though they were made of cheese. I was already stunned by the thought of writing something about such an important project. I couldn’t imagine showing up at an event in its honour.

In the days after I published my post, Ms. Mills and I messaged each other. She asked if I was sure I couldn’t make it out to the CBC for HERstory in Black. Again, I was taken aback. My brain had been in such a blur since writing about Leilah Dhoré and Ebti Nabag, the idea of actually appearing on Monday seemed like too much of a good thing. Plus, there were logistics. Currently I need a car of my own and a new job. I’m used to not making it out to see people.

How would I get there? The next thing I knew, I was thinking of my friend Celeste. Since I didn’t have wheels, she’d offered to take me. I wondered if she could she be my plus one. Apparently God had the same idea because she won tickets to attend.

She was able to bless her friend Janice with her extra ticket. We got together and along with Marla Brown (one of HERstory’s 150 women) we hit the road.

We arrived at the CBC building around 5:30. The celebration of HERstory in Black was set to begin at 6.

In her latest edition of Facebook Live, Emily Mils mentioned something that I had noticed. On Monday evening, I saw some male musicians and production staff. Yet both behind and in front of the cameras, HERstory in Black was clearly women-driven. How many organizations make a point of hiring us to support an event at every level where we are set to be featured as speakers or performers? Kudos to Emily Mills and the CBC for their vision.

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Our beloved host, Amanda Parris.

Among other special appearances, D’bi Young Anitafrika  performed a poem called “Black Woman”.

🙏🏾 #shesaboss #poetry #howshehustles #herstoryinblack #cbc

A post shared by Nikkita Holder (@brownnstone) on

 

Is it any wonder that in two Instagram posts, I said that she “spoke to my soul”? This clip offers viewers a taste of an incredible piece of art. D’bi is a powerful writer. Her words meant so much to me—to all of us. I can’t even begin to explain their impact.

Jully Black performed various songs, including “Glass Ceiling”. I’d never seen her live before. On Monday, she brought her mother on stage with her.

 

That night, I met people that—until then—I had only seen online. I’m talking about women like Tanya Hayles,  Léonicka Valcius  Nam Kiwanuka  and Jam Gamble  . I reconnected with Bee Quammie  Tashauna Reid, and Chivon John . I even met Eugenia Duodo , the scientist in this segment that appeared on The National:

Now that it’s over, I don’t know if I can capture how deeply HERstory in Black touched me. But I’ll try.

I’ve already written about being one of very few people of colour in my town. I’m currently toying with the idea of moving to a more diverse city. I can only begin to express what HERstory in Black means to me—both the project, and its celebration.

I think of the ladies who came out with me on Monday: Celeste, Janice, and Marla. And I think of Celeste’s 3 daughters. When I was younger, I don’t remember having many home-grown role models to look up to—if any at all. Certainly, the media didn’t seem to want to highlight us.

Emily Mills, centre, along with some of the women who put HERstory together.

When you’re the only one of your background who’s around, or even one of a few, it can be very easy to doubt your own beauty. You may question your power and intelligence. I know Black people who would argue that we need to look for all of those things inside of ourselves. To them, I say yes. I believe in harnessing the spark of self-love, and nurturing it from within. But mirrors matter. The stories and images from HERstory point to possibilities that we otherwise might not have considered.

HERstory in Black has left me determined. I want the feeling that I have from my attending Monday night’s celebration, and writing about its photographers, to never end. I need to find a way to celebrate and share Black Girl Magic, not just during Black History Month, but all year long.

Black women are accomplished. People talk about adding one or two of us to their groups in an attempt to display diversity. Yet I wonder if they understand how truly diverse we are as a whole.

HERstory in Black offers people a glimpse of the wonder of us. And for that I will be forever thankful.

For more information on some of the women involved in this incredible night, check the links below.

Emily Mills – CEO of How She Hustles, Founder of HERstory in Black, Senior Communications Officer at the CBC

Tanya Hayles – Chief Creative Officer, Hayles Creative Elements 

Michelle Berry – Founder, Shelly’s Catering

Amanda Parris – Educator and CBC Personality

Tashauna Reid – CBC News Reporter

Jully Black – Recording Artist & Speaker, Canada’s Queen of R&B  

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self-care/self-aware

Stop running.

like-yourself

I remember the day when those words, directed at me, hung in the air. They had been said randomly. If anyone else had uttered them, I think I would have been angry. But the speaker knew me. Not as well as I think they should, but somehow, well enough.

“You don’t like yourself.”

After hearing that sentence, another person might have been mad. But I was curious.

How could this person be so sure? What were they seeing?

Sometime last year when I was thinking about authentic self care, I realized something. There are a ton of things that I can do in order to feel whole. But do I invest in them? How do I feel about honouring my most sacred gift: myself?

While wondering this, something else hit me. I’ve been meaning to delve into this topic for ages, but have only scratched the surface.

Why have I avoided talking about self-care?

Am I afraid to be still in my own skin? It’s hard for me not to think so. It’s even harder for me to admit that. But the first step in solving a problem is recognizing that you have one. So here I am.

I’ve been running away from myself for a long time. That needs to change. And slowly but surely, it will.

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I'm just sayin'., self-care/self-aware, wisdom

Solid Saturday: Speak UP!!

Here’s a little something from way back when.

There’s nothing like hearing your old sense of ambition falling from your lips to remind you of who you are.

For the time being I’ve put my podcast aside. (NOTE: No matter what anyone else says, there’s no such thing as FREE podcast hosting. I mean…sure. Some sites offer “free” plans. But they don’t come without limits.) Meanwhile, somehow I still feel compelled to craft content. This notion really got to me this week. That’s when I got curious…

But, Claire,” I said to myself,”where can I get my stuff hosted for free?”

And almost immediately, the answer came:

Looks like I’ll have to start making videos!!”

Oy vey. Cue the anxiety and excuses.

I took a few test shots yesterday. The lighting was almost as hideous as it was in the video above. I kept struggling with where to put my eyes.

Then, earlier this afternoon I took a look at Jam Gamble’s Facebook page. Jam and I know each other a bit through social media, and she’s an amazing woman. Her pinned post on public speaking really struck a chord with me.

If you feel inspired to do something for your own growth or good, pursue it! Fear exists only to get in the way of your greatness.

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self-care/self-aware

You’ve earned it.

WaterWomanNot too long ago, I applied for a position as a blogger on another web site. In the application, I had the opportunity to select a subject to write on. Which option did I choose? Self care.

Interestingly enough, soon after I submitted my application, I panicked. How could I write with authority on self-care? I mean, sure, I know it’s important to exercise, but when was the last time I worked out regularly? And my sleep schedule? HA!

I could go on, but in short, I felt like a fraud. How could I possibly proffer myself as a self-care pundit when my own practice was in the toilet?

This question made me take a closer look at my general attitude towards taking care of myself. There’s no denying that I know everything that I should be doing in order to be at my best. So why haven’t I given myself the treatment I deserve? After all, like the slogan says, I’m worth it.

That’s when it hit me. My relationship with self-care came down to one simple thing.

Belief.

Specifically, the belief that I, Claire, can and should be kind to myself. Proper self-care is more than a way that I can show myself a little love. It’s is something I deserve.

In fact, I think that that last point is the one that too many of us struggle with. Not too long ago I saw a sign that said

GOD FIRST

OTHERS SECOND

ME LAST

(emphasis added)

Mind you, this was supposed to be an inspirational sign. Yet its words left me cold. When it comes to the grand hierarchy of priorities, there are times when others have be taken care of first. Yet constantly giving to everyone else without attempting to secure your own stability can be dangerous.

Self-neglect can lead to imbalance and burnout. And once those demons take hold, how can we be expected to find the strength to serve others?

We have the right to care for ourselves. Doing so isn’t selfish. It’s a matter of survival. And it doesn’t have to be hard. A day at the spa is lovely, but how often do we stop to take an extra breath when we’re in a rush?

In order to put our best selves forward every day, I’m convinced of one thing. Proper self-care needs to be a priority. But it can only be valued once we understand it’s not a luxury, but our birthright.

Photo Credit

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self-care/self-aware

Prepared.

Lately I’ve felt a push to get myself ready for something.

It’s come on naturally. It’s as though my soul knows I need to fill a space that’s always existed…Yet it’s somewhere that I’ve never been.

These days, in spite of all the times I’ve tried and failed, my talk about self-care has begun to take hold. I’ve been making a greater effort to treat myself well. (Who knew that it was work?)

I need to be ready.

But for what?

My first instinct is to say that I haven’t got a clue what I’m getting ready for, but under my skin, I know.

I’m still a dreamer. Deep down I’m thinking about the days when my heart’s desires turn into reality.

As you think about your future, ask yourself:

Do you know what’s coming your way?

Are you prepared?

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let's get physical, self-care/self-aware

Thank God for yoga.

Before I begin, watch this video. I chose it because it presents the main argument(s) I’ve heard against yoga in one concise package.

Now then. Let’s consider reality. I’ve been doing meditation and yoga for a little while. I’m not a pro. Still…A demon has yet to visit me.

Among Christians I notice that objections to yoga are due to ignorance. And fear.

Lately there’s been a lot of buzz about why people who are around my age are leaving the church. I don’t believe that they’re leaving merely because they think that it lacks relevance as an institution. Among other reasons, I think that people are fed up with organized religion because certain leaders insist on promoting ideas that are based on lies.

I long for the day when religious folks stop wasting time on imaginary boogeymen.

Hence, for the sake of this conversation, I’ll share a bit with you about why I meditate. (When I say “meditate” at this point, I’m also thinking of “yoga”. I once read that yoga is a form of meditation. I also know that some classes begin or end with it.)

Do you know what it’s like to have something on your mind all the time? I do. I find myself constantly thinking–usually about more than one subject. The sad thing is that this often happens when I’m supposed to be focused on something else. And in all honesty, it’s overwhelming.

In order to counteract all of this noise, I need a break. That’s what meditating offers me. It provides me with a mental detox. Practicing it does not ensure that I will be visited by evil spirits. Rather, it’s a great way to de-stress. When I pray, I’m still expending energy, outputting information. Meditation offers me the opportunity to take time out of my day and simply be still.

Also, contrary to what others would have you believe, there is nothing wrong with focusing inward. Not if doing so allows a person to obtain a bit of balance. The act of practicing meditation does not mean that one is turning his or her back on God. In fact, as far as I’m concerned, the opposite takes place.

Have any of you done yoga or meditation?

What’s your favorite pose?

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self-care/self-aware

No room for selfies?

Remember Afrobella’s words of wisdom? You know. From a few posts ago

These days–for reasons that I don’t care to get into–I know that on some level I’m supposed to be preoccupied with my “brand”. I’ve tried picking a photo of myself and sticking it on every social media site that I own. However, lately something’s come over me.

I don’t want the life that I live to be all about me.

…This feeling has come at an interesting time. In spite of this sudden desire for modesty, lately I feel as though I’ve been learning to truly appreciate myself.

Yet not too long ago I was looking at one of my pics. And I couldn’t stand seeing it.

I know what I look like. My friends have seen me before.

Maybe it was the shot.

Who knows?

But there’s a fine line between subtle self-promotion and being self-serving. And I intend to figure it out.

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self-care/self-aware, Uncategorized

Wisdom Teeth – Take 2

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Those aren’t my teeth, by the way. 😉

Remember when I wrote about my wisdom teeth? I said I wanted them out during exam time or over the holidays.

Well, that didn’t happen.

I’m getting them out later this week.

I have scared myself out of my wits reading everything from general stories of misery to specific tales involving lingual nerve damage. I have read time and again about all of the soft foods that I have to look forward to.

A little while ago I cancelled my appointment. I won’t get into specifics about why, other than to say I was afraid. However after a lot of thought, and investigation, and prayer…I wound up rescheduling my rendez-vous. Luckily, I was able to get a booking for a few hours later on the same day as my original surgery.

I don’t know if there’ll be a blog post up that day. But if there is, know that it was pre-scheduled.

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self-care/self-aware

Your mind matters.

bell_lavie
Source

Today is “Let’s Talk” day. Bell Canada is giving 5 cents to mental health initiatives nationwide for–among other things–every tweet using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk. Check out their campaign’s web site for further details.

Their tweets have appeared more than once in my timeline, and I’ve retweeted messages as I see fit. I’ve even tweeted a couple of my own.

Yet I’ll admit something. Even though I support the cause, I cringe over the phrase “mental illness”. (It’s a bias of mine, but it’s there.) I believe I resist mainly because of the misconceptions attached to the phrase. Furthermore, in my head there’s still a difference between a person needing help with their mental health, and them having a (serious) mental illness. Both issues obviously relate to each other. Yet I’m concerned that generally speaking, the idea of preserving a person’s mental health is overlooked.

Instead, I tend to talk about “mental health” and place it on the same plane as our physical well-being–underestimated, yet essential.

The fact is, though, that some people reject the idea of seeking therapy for the very same thing that I’m guilty of–the assumptions surrounding the word. They may believe that time in a counselor’s office belongs to folks with big-name illnesses such as schizophrenia. They might think that taking care of one’s mental health is tantamount to admitting that they’re “crazy”. However, those who subscribe to these beliefs often fail to consider people who struggle in quiet ways. Some of us may have anxiety-based issues, or may still bear scars from a tragedy that we experienced ages ago.

The expectation of invincibility needs to end. We are all vulnerable in different ways. Some more than others.

And there is nothing wrong with admitting that you might need a little help.

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