Back to the Basics

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Welcome to 2020, another year and another day to be thankful for every person who has followed me this far. Because there are big things happening in the world and well, we’re only getting started.

And I’m starting it off doing something I’ve never done before (on my own, at least). 

I’m trying out my natural hair. It might not seem like a big deal, I mean, for a lot of people it isn’t. But for black women, for all of us who feel as if we cannot be our natural selves in a way that society supports, it takes a lot to grow into who we are and want to be. Hair has a whole lot to do with it.

Here, let me explain.

You see, I grew up looking at magazines and TV shows with women in it who all had silky smooth straight hair. I didn’t see people who looked like me; that says a lot about the world around us. At least, it said a lot to me as a child. 

It told me that I was outside the norm.

From what I can tell, the world around us has taken a turn towards a movement of acceptance, the celebration of differences. But growing up, I didn’t see that. What I saw was a whole lot of insecurity, the kind that you carry with you until it’s something you can’t ignore.

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Now, I’m choosing to face it. Because I want to see what I can do without anything altering who I am, from the way I live my life down to how I wear my hair. There is something to be said for authenticity, right?

I have nothing against relaxed or straight hair; the thing is, I’ve never worked with my own hair in its natural state. I am 21 years old and I have never taken the time to embrace myself as I am. As undergrad winds down and graduation looms five months away, I feel that now might be just the time to do exactly that.

Do you know why?

Because how we look, what we do, the way we own our lives, it defines us. There are so many things that have happened in the last few years of my life that have completely altered my perspective on the world around us. I wrote a book of poems on the way out of high school (check it out here if you haven’t yet) and reading it back through, I am nowhere near the girl who wrote it.

I’m okay with that. Every year of high school, I changed my hair in one way or another. I guess you could say I was trying to find something that felt like me. Each style was something different, something fun—as a black woman, I have a whole lot of options to change my hair up if I wanted to.

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Going back to the basics, going completely natural, is not one of the ways I’ve tried yet. It simply seemed too hard, too complicated. And a little far outside the boundaries of “normal” that I didn’t have the confidence to push. Maybe it’s time to challenge myself a little.

I’m not doing this because it’s a new year and I think I can completely change who I am simply because the calendar flipped another page. Not at all.

I’m doing this because I need to know who I am in order to change myself in the first place; I only aim for the first part of that process. Maybe you’ve noticed in the past couple months—years even—I’ve been doing what I can to get back to the basics. To rebuild the foundation of who I am, the one that’s been breaking and rearranging with every day that passes me by.

Weird that doing so starts with my hair, isn’t it?

In a way, that’s exactly where I need to start. How I look is one of the first things I have ever defined myself by, so I want to take control of that into my own hands this time. I wrote a poem a two years ago, A Black Woman’s Battle Cry, that spelled out how I define myself. From the stereotypes that follow me, the choices I make or the capabilities I hold, are things that can either hold me back or push me forward.

The first line of that poem was all about my nappy hair, how it makes me different. Instead of letting it hold me back the way it used to, I’m going to let it push me forward.

Forward, or right, or left, or diagonally… I’m rebuilding a foundation with whatever I’ve got. Whatever comes next.

So, it’s a new year with the same old me. But the year comes with a few new challenges; I think maybe I can be ready to handle them. Can you?

Here’s to whatever 2020 holds for all of us. Happy New Year.

7 Ways You Hold Yourself Back Without Knowing It


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Sometimes you get in the way of your own capabilities. We all do.

Self-doubt hold us back from succeeding, even living a good life, and sometimes our doubt can sabotage the journey. Whether it’s being afraid of heights and never flying at all or holding low expectations as to never be disappointed, we are all human and we have flaws. Holding ourselves back is oftentimes one of them.

But here is what you need to remember: you may be fully capable of getting to exactly where you want to be, even if it’s in a different way than you originally thought. Yet more often than not, you’re too busy standing in your own way to get there.

Let me tell you the seven ways this might be happening, and more importantly, seven ways to get yourself back on track.

1. Can’t or Won’t


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Have you ever had those people in your life who ask you whether you can’t do something or you just don’t want to? A lot of holding yourself back comes from doubting your own potential— it’s not that you are incapable of doing something, but it could be that there may be a chance of failure, of something not turning out the way you want it to. The question isn’t whether or not you can do it, it’s whether or not you are willing to try.

2. You vs. Them

Comparisons are where the insecurity begins. I know it sounds cheesy, but this is all you need to know here: live your life for you in the only way you can. Don’t let anyone else write your story.

3. To Be Enough

In the same vein as comparison, there is no real definition for being “good enough.” Find your own way to define what kind of person you want to be. Then make it happen.

4. Big Hopes, Little Action


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As with anything, you have to put in the energy to get the results you’re looking for. If I want to write a book, I have to put in the hours to both write it and edit the content until I believe it’s finished. Just like getting into college, finding a new job, or even making friends, they all start with you and how much you’re willing to put in. No matter how much you hope for something big, the dreams and ideas you hold, the effort has to match those hopes. Or you will never reach them.

5. Gotta Risk it to Get the Biscuit

If you’ve ever seen the movie Fired Up, you’ve heard that phrase. Nothing comes without a little risk; this could be money, time, sanity, security, or sometimes even friends. Gotta risk it to get the biscuit. Find out what’s worth it.

6. Trust Your Talent

It helps to have people back you up and I know that support can be everything. That includes supporting yourself. If you know you’ve got something to offer the world, do whatever it takes to put yourself out there and prove it.

7. Work Hard, Play Hard

Theres this phrase that goes “if you do something you love, you’ll never work a day in your life.” It’s not true. Your work is work, whether you love it or not. Your time, energy, and work goes into what you do. So work hard, give it everything you’ve got, and let the effort you pour into it be worth something. And while you do, to avoid burnout in the least, find a balance— don’t forget to play hard too.

Any other ways you tend to get in your own way? Feel free to add to the list in the comments below!

Have a fantastic weekend everyone, see you Tuesday for a new Poetry Place.

The Open Arms of Change

All great changes are preceded by chaos.
–Deepak Chopra

mira-bozhko-456983Do you want to know something about 2017? Well, if you take a recap from last year, I turned eighteen, graduated high school, committed from one great college to another, published my book, and started my freshman year.

But this year has been something I can only describe with this: Absolute chaos.

From class registrations to life celebrations, this year has held a lot of things that I couldn’t plan for. It’s funny, living in Folsom, I always had such a solid schedule— get up, go to school, go to practice, come home and do homework, sleep, start over.

My routine used to be a rinse and repeat. But this year I’ve started running after buses, changing schedules days before classes start, and truly hoping for the best when someone says 7ams or 8-10pms are likely… 

Clearly things aren’t as simple anymore.

Yet somehow, amongst the chaos and the stress, everything I could have never seen coming, I’ve learned a whole lot more than I would have with a regular routine.

I’m starting to see things change. And no, I don’t mean the fact that the world is so much more colorful here in NorCal than it is in San Luis Obispo— I mean this life and the people in it. Everything is growing up, little by little. And I think it’s because we are ready for something that everyone seems to be so scared of:chris-lawton-154388

It takes a new calendar year for someone to decide to take their health more seriously.

It takes loss for people to realize how much what they have really matters to them.

It takes the hate, the bad and the ugly, for people to see the love, the good and the beauty.

When in reality, all we really need to do is open our eyes a little bit more. To welcome the change.

We are only three days away from Christmas now and if that spirit isn’t hitting you, turn up the holiday music; sometimes it takes effort to get back into it, that doesn’t mean you can’t.

Because just as the world around us in this life keeps shifting, so do our mindsets. With plenty of things beyond our control, from the net neutrality voting to a possible drought on the way, the one thing we should always be able to count on is ourselves.

I know it’s been a long year, maybe you lost yourself and a couple other pieces along the way. But today has been another day, one that you have made it through, and you’ve worked hard enough to appreciate that. Hold on to the fact that if you’re looking for change, you can make it happen. Sure, maybe you’ll need a little help along the way.

There’s nothing wrong with asking for it.gareth-harper-175342.jpg

And speaking of help, there is never anything wrong with giving in to the mayhem a little bit too. Whether you still need to go Christmas shopping or simply need to slow down, sometimes a change in mindset and just a hint of positivity can go a long way when you need it.

You never know, maybe what you’re looking for is still hidden in the chaos that is yet to come. All you can do is open your arms and accept it.

Happy Holidays everyone 🙂