Winter Wellness: Books to Ease Your Mind

January is in effect and our new year’s resolutions are in full swing, or are they? Winter is always a time for a reflection on what we learned in the past and how we will change in the present/future. With all the commotion that does happen at the rise of the new year, it can also be a time to feel burdened and stressed. Often the woes of the past year is carried with us into the new, and as a result our mood is shifted. We may feel less motivated, less attractive, lethargic, etc. The lack of sunlight in winter and the amount of time spent indoors is also a determining factor of our emotions and behaviors. The good news is that it’s never too late to get motivated and be encouraged. Tomorrow is a brand new day with new possibilities. Finding happiness and discovering inner peace is not an overnight process and takes time, but it’s well worth it for your overall mental stability.  If you haven’t already, practice self love: read, write, go outside, take a trip. Those things really do help when learning to live your best life.

I too, sometimes suffer from being in a winter slump. It happens. The important thing to remember is that you are not your worst day or mistakes. Take time to breathe and meditate. Release, relax, revive. Of course, I’m going to hit you with some of my favorite books to help aid you in the process of getting out of the winter gloom. Happy reading :).

  1. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life-Mark Manson

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2. The Alchemist-Paulo Coelho

3. The Sun and Her Flowers-Rupi Kaur

4. Happiness Project-Gretchen Rubin

5. Crystal Muse: Everyday Rituals to Tune In to the Real You-Heather Askinosie, Timmi Jandro

6. Mindfulness Living in the Moment – Living in the Breath-Amit Ray

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New Year New Books?

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Happy New Year!

The start of the year is always exciting for many reasons. One of them being a great time to refresh your reading and decide what kind of books you want to read for the remainder of the year. I always like to start my January off with a massive text, mainly because January is always so cold and long which is a perfect time to snuggle up with a large tome in lap. As I reflect back on my reading of 2017, I have to be honest with myself and say that I did not read as much as I wanted to. My reading was at a much slower pace and I didn’t get to read all of the books I had planned. If you’re anything like me and    kicking yourself for not have a productive reading year, don’t. You have a brand new year to jump start on the reading you had planned and 2018 will be a great year in books, I can already tell.  As you know, there are many reading challenges out there including the famous Book Riot’s Read Harder Challenge and Popsugar’s Reading Challenge  and plethora of more on the internet, while those are very helpful and a great tool to guide you if you don’t know where to start, don’t forget about the books you had planned last year to read. Keep the momentum up and finish what you started in 2017, you never know, you may be able to cross off the items on the challenges’ list. Here are my tips for incorporating those books you wanted read in 2017 and for the new books that you can’t seem to stop eying.

  1. Make a list

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Create list of the books you want to read for the MONTH. Yes, month not year. This way it can be more achievable instead of having a large list of books and you not knowing where to start. Keep the list realistic to your work/school/personal life.

 

2.  Revaluate the books from 2017

Go through the books you had picked out from last year and decide if you still feel the same desire and urge to read them. If you don’t have the same energy toward the book as you did last year, place it aside to read at a later time.

 

3.  Challenge yourself

It’s important as a reader, to constantly push yourself to learn more through reading and exploring various texts. Incorporate your learning into your reading. For every book that you were supposed to read in 2017, pick a new book that is out of your comfort zone.  Whether that book be a western classic,  memoir, or graphic novel, challenge yourself to expand your reading horizon.

 

4. Get organized

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Often times when I buy books, I realize my to-read list is steadily growing and I end up with a lump of books on the floor. Organize your books physically so you have a nice clean space for your books. Starting with freshly organized shelves really helps you find the books you’re looking for, and it also creates an inviting environment for reading, one that is stress free and relaxing.

 

5. Track your progress

Keep a reading log of what you are currently reading, to see how many books from 2017 you completed, as well as how many new books you incorporated into your new regime. I myself keep a digital log of all my reading, so I know exactly where I am at all times. It’s fun to see all of the books that you have read for the year.

Feminism, Friendship, and the Importance of Bonding.

Think back to a time when you discovered your first friend. I remember mine like it was yesterday. We spent everyday together playing outside, riding bikes, and coming up with puerile story lines for our dolls. Everything was easy back then and we didn’t have to worry about politics, sexism, racial sensitivity, or fighting for a cause. Simply playing and having fun was the core of our friendship. Now as an adult, I realize of course how much goes into an friendship and how similar values matter within that friendship. Even as a child, we look for friends that have similar interests. Do you like being outside? How many Barbie dolls do you have? What do you watch on Saturday mornings? Can you recite the opening song of Clarissa Explains It All ? When we become older, the questions become more complex and imperative. We weed out those that don’t align with our same values, and keep those that do. It’s important to us adults that we surround ourselves with those that are like-minded, right?

As women, there is a distinctive line that draws us apart. Feminists vs. Non Feminists. Even within those two divides, women are continually split into subgroups.  We battle with intersectional feminism and the importance of inclusion. The very people we call “sisters” seem to turn their back when we need them the most. We go back to those presiding questions about friendship and weigh them heavily:  How can I be friends with someone when we don’t have the same views? You don’t have to. You are allowed to be picky with whom you allow in your circle. Not everyone is meant to be your cheerleader and not everyone is your worst enemy either. The tired rhetoric of kumbaya or “let’s all get along” is just not realistic. Respect those with varying and different opinions, but know when to surround yourself with people with similar values. Friendship is much stronger when it’s authentic and true. Don’t let anyone make you feel bad for deleting a person or “friend” that doesn’t fit your standards. I’m not going to play sisterhood with everyone, and neither should you. I’m okay with having different opinions than you, and I respect you, but I don’t have to be your BFF.

I encourage all of you to cherish those adult friendships you have now, and to keep fighting for what you believe in. I’m so proud of the women out there fighting for our rights, and those that participated in the Women’s March all across the U.S., let’s keep up the good work. womens-march

As for books, I compiled a list of reading books that are all about friendship and feminism. Keep the love circulating and let’s continue supporting one another.

  1. This Bridge Called My Back: Writings by Radical Women of Color- Cherríe L. Moraga Gloria E. Anzaldúa, Toni Cade Bambara

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  2. Colonize This!: Young Women of Color on Today’s Feminism- Daisy Hernandez Bushra Rehman , Cherríe L. Moraga

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  3. The Color Purple-Alice Walker

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4. The Help-Kathryn Stockett

5.Arab & Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, & Belonging- Rabab Abdulhadi , Evelyn Alsultany , Nadine Naber

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6. Fangirl-Rainbow Rowell

8.Separate Roads to Feminism: Black, Chicana, and White Feminist Movements in America’s Second Wave-Benita Roth

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Let’s Get Political: Books on Government and the Bloody World of U.S. Politics

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Let’s all take a deep breath for a moment as we let the current election sink in and realize that our future is looking like #Trump/Pence for the next four years. I’m not going to go on a political rant about the election or my dislike for Trump. We can’t change the  outcome, but we can change the future and  get educated on how our political parties run. I was surprised to find how many people really don’t know how U.S. politics work, which is understandable because it’s a difficult puddle to wade through. Now is the time to roll up our sleeves and get to work; let’s fix what we don’t like. Although I’m all for a good meaty discussion about politics with the opposing sides, I do know better than to argue not knowledgeable on a subject. It’s better to fight educated and informed than to enter the ring blind. For your reading pleasure, I’ve made a list of great books to read about U.S. politics. I encourage all of you to read up on the facts and learn more about American politics and the judicial system. Some of the material is daunting, but it’s well worth the read if you’re curious about what goes on in Capital Hill.

The Conscience of a Conservative-Barry Goldwater

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What’s the Matter with Kansas?-Thomas Frank

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The New Jim Crow-Michelle Alexander

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Our Revolution-Bernie Sanders

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Between Barack and a Hard Place: Racism and White Denial in the Age of Obama-Tim Wise

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The Heart of Whiteness: Confronting Race, Racism, and White Privilege-Robert  Jensen

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The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America-George Packer

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While this list is small, the contents are magnanimous and will surely aid you in finding answers to how America is governed. I refuse to sit and be complacent with our impending future. It’s past the time to question, to reason, to evaluate. Our country can’t propel forward unless we do. I’ve been a little confounded in how accepting the media and news has been about Donald Trump’s presidency.  It’s like we are expected to just move past this terrible loss of humanity. There are many ways in which we can take an active participation in this new future; let’s work together to get educated. As an African American women I can already see blatant racism bubbling and bursting forth. Trump’s presidency will not stop me from driving forward and  creating ripples everywhere. If I have to live in this America where racism and sexism has the face of a president, then the entire four years you will hear my voice right along side of it, pushing against the force.

America, let’s do better.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What to Read When the World Crashes Down and You Need Some Love

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Flashing screens displaying brown bodies piled up. Tears running down tired and blood stained faces. Screams and fists pumping in the air with anger. What do you do when your bones ache from being torn apart day in and day out? What do you do when  people tell you your skin color makes you in invaluable, when they say your life is invaluable. I too am sick of being reduced to a #hashtag or temporary Facebook post; I want more, I want to be valued. In the mist of such turmoil and police brutality, it’s vital we take care of our mental health. We need to string together any last bits of hope and love ourselves. To bask in the essence, the presence, and spirituality of us. It’s okay to be strong but it’s okay to also be human and let those emotions be felt. It’s okay to take time for yourself. It’s okay to step back from social media or the world, and invest in your mental clarity. Many expect black people (especially black women) to hold it all together, because essentially that is what we have done for centuries. But when we do that, we don’t allow ourselves to heal and grow, instead we become desensitized to horror, to pain. I encourage anyone who is left feeling stripped, crippled, voiceless, or tired to just take a breath. When I say breath, I mean a life breath, one that puts things in pause long enough to stabilize yourself. I’m angry and sad just like you, but I fear for the health of my self being if I don’t stop to pause and invest in my self care. Self care comes in many shapes and forms, and it ultimately what makes you feel the best and most whole. One of my self care practices is reading; reading books that fill me to the brim. When I read books that confirm how validated I am, it allows me to then take that knowledge and apply it to my everyday life. I have curated a list of books that inspire me and might be of some help to you. Let’s get rooted in ourselves again. I hope you feel better, wherever you are in the world or in life. Happy reading!

  1. Freedom: The Courage to Be Yourself-Osho

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2. The Diamond in Your Pocket: Discovering Your True Radiance-Gangaji

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3. Communion: The Female Search for Love-bell hooks

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4. One Day My Soul Opened Up-Iyanla Vanzant

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5. Eat, Pray, Love-Elizabeth Gilbert

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6.The Alchemist-Paulo Coelho

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7. Afro Vegan:Farm-Fresh African, Caribbean, and Southern Flavors Remixed-Bryant Terry

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Book Review: Ain’t I a Women:Black Women and Feminism-bell hooks

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Racism is the barrier that prevents positive communication and it is not eliminated or challenged by separation.

Labeling oneself as a feminist has its demands and repercussions. People constantly challenge your ideas, your stance on feminism, picking and preening you until you become “their” idea of what a feminist is and should do. But part of being  a feminist is being able to open your dialogue to be inclusive, to challenge yourself, and the world’s ideology. While taking on the term feminist, I’ve known that many a times there is a clear distinction between white feminist ideology and black feminist ideology. Although there has been significant changes to the “feminist doctrine,” white feminism still is clinging to much of its sexist and racist paradigms. It raises the question if  you can still be a feminist if you strive to acquire white patriarchal privilege, or if you mold your feminist dogma to fit just one race, while leaving out the other voices and races. Ain’t I a Woman: Black Women and Feminism breaks down the underlying problems in the feminist movement and discusses the brief history of the African American woman’s role in society. We get to see the eye opening view of how America and the rest of the world truly view black women, and we get to stand in awe of the progress they have made on behalf of the black community and for feminism itself.

Sexist-racist attitudes are not merely present in the consciousness of men in American society; they surface in all our ways of thinking and being.

bell hooks is a genius for creating this piece of work. Ain’t I a Woman is everything you need to know about how black women have evolved in American society and how the feminist movement purposely excluded them from the changes made in society. The book is broken into five parts: 1. Sexism and the black female slave experience, 2. Continued devaluation of black womanhood, 3. The imperialism of patriarchy 4. Racism and feminism 5.Black women and feminism. Each section hooks compiles all of her research and writes about the plight of the black woman. She addresses sexism, racism, appropriation, stereotypes, social injustice, and economic welfare. It’s interesting to see how the “feminist movement” didn’t really include everyone. Instead it focused on how white women should progress in America. “Unfortunately , despite all the rhetoric about sisterhood and bonding, white women were not sincerely committed to bonding with black women and other groups of women to fight sexism,” hooks writes. She puts into perspective every feminist theory that surfaced and really calls on women, specifically white women to look at their feminism, to examine their goals of their cause. The book is not a light read , and will have you questioning and researching more into what being a true feminist means.

Change occurs only when there is action, movement, revolution.

This book definitely shook me, and even though I consider myself abreast on black feminist theory, it dove deeper into things I myself was unaware. This was not an easy read, as it is extremely academic and very analytical. I literally held a highlighter in one hand and took in each and every word bell hooks wrote. It’s educational and such an important book not only for black women but for all women everywhere. It will make your head swim with answers to your unanswered questions. I challenge everyone to give it a try; your outlook will definitely change as did mine. This particular body of work really allows me to see that I’m not the only one that thinks many feminist arguments leave out the black and other minority groups’ voice. hooks wrote this while she was just an undergraduate, and to see how “woke” she was at such an early age, gives me hope for the kind of work I intend to do. She pushes black women to continue being pioneers for womanhood. If you’re interested in feminist critique and theory, I urge you to read this book. It’s for everyone and every voice.

… I choose to re-appropriate the term “feminism,” to focus on the fact that to be “feminist” in any authentic sense of the term is to want for all people, female, and male, liberation from sexist role patterns, domination, and oppression.

 

 

 

A Cold Glass of Lemonade-Preparing for a Summer Full of Reading

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It seems just about everywhere, the word “lemonade” is constantly escaping people’s lips. Whether in reference to Beyoncé’s album, Lemonade, or drawing a glass of the chilled drink to a parched mouth; lemonade is in everyone’s life. In more ways than one, Beyoncé has contributed to an ongoing discussion on blackness in the world and in society. She’s using her platform to talk about hard issues that women, especially black women have faced and are continuing to face today. While I know she’s not the only one heralding about black womanhood, I do like that she is making everyone come to attention with black womanhood. Scholars and academics have been discussing this topic for ages, however not everyone is in the position to access this erudite outlet. Beyoncé on the other hand is very accessible as she is in the forefront of media and entertainment.  By her stepping out and announcing that black femininity and the disparity within that complex is important and valid, it allows all to have access to the conversation. Everyone has a seat for them at the table.  More and more girls and women are becoming unapologetically black, embracing their flaws and fortitude.

No, this isn’t another think piece into the inner workings of Lemonade. Rather it’s how I will use the momentum of Lemonade to create a space for my summer reading. This summer is all about the lemonade, drawing inspiration from Beyoncé’s album and reading books that are just as innovative and self (black) loving. Does this mean that I go pick out a whole bunch of books that are written by black people? No, it means carefully crafting my reading conspectus to include works that deal with all of the many subjects Lemonade discusses. Sisterhood, black femininity, black masculinity, motherhood, fatherhood, popular black tropes, depression, infidelity, and so much more. It’s being able to read the novels, poems, etc., and then having a participation at the table. It’s about pushing representation on all platforms. Lemonade created a much needed dialogue men and women need to have among each other and with themselves.

This summer I’m taking a big swig of lemonade and pressing the art the album created and placing it in my reading agendum. I’m filling my shelves with books that not only bare the pain and despondency of black people, but the history, the backbone to it all. There are texts upon texts that touch on black literary theories and feminists critiques. While I can’t read every book this summer, I will read plenty that evoke all the Lemonade-esque vibes. The literary world is one place where the information is plentiful and doesn’t require a prerequisite in order to turn a page. Beyoncé is pouring artistic and literary tangy goodness, and I’m here to take a sip.

Here are just some of the books I added to my summer roster.

  1. Ain’t I a Woman-bell hooks

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2. Summer of the Cicadas-Cole Lavalais

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3. Between the World and Me-Ta-Nehisi Coates

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4. Shapeshifters: Black Girls and the Choreography of Citizenship-Aimee Meredith Cox

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5. What is Not Yours is Not Yours-Helen Oyeyemi

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6. We Love You, Charlie Freeman-Kaitlyn Greenidge

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7. Blackass-A. Igoni Barret

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While the list may seem small, the content inside is momentous. I encourage all of you to get in formation and join in on reading texts that are Lemonade worthy.

What are you reading this summer?

Happy Reading!