Relax, Relate, Release! A Black Woman’s Need for Mindfulness

27 Jul

Mindfulness

Since graduating from college two years ago, I’ve been writing freelance articles, taking classes part-time at a community college, and holding down a full-time job at a PR agency. I’ve been grinding in order to accomplish my goals.

And I’m not the only one. A recent report shows that the number of Black-women owned businesses grew 322%. Black women are the fastest growing group of entrepreneurs in the nation.

Black women are making things happen—starting businesses, graduating from college at exponential rates, leading #BlackLivesMatter protests to make our nation a better place, and raising children to be even more successful.

Basically, we get shit done.

But sometimes, many of us are too productive for our own good.

Many of us live up to that Strong Black Woman image, which both empowers and harms our well-being. Sometimes, we are so busy making moves that we forget to take care of ourselves.

I can’t tell you how often I’ve chosen to write an article or work on items on my never-ending to-do list over cooking myself a decent meal. I’d gotten into a bad habit of choosing productivity over emotional and physical health—and, as a result, my diet was lacking vital nutrients, I was always worn out, red and glossy became the normal look of my eyes, and I’d began to pull out my hair.

When I recently took a few days off to relax, I noticed that I literally could not sit still. While I was eating a meal at the dinner table, I had impulses to check my phone for new emails. I couldn’t focus on doing one single thing because I’d become so accustomed to multitasking.

My desire to be hyper-productive all of the time had driven me half-crazy.

Originally, I thought taking a break every now and then would help me remain sane in my busy situation. But I’m not very good at taking breaks. I’m currently pursuing three careers at once, so I work seven days a week and usually only remember to take breaks when I’m on the verge of a mental breakdown.

Mindfulness has become my remedy.

Mindfulness is the practice of giving your full attention to whatever it is you’re doing. It means focusing on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting your feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. It can be extremely therapeutic, especially for busy-bees like myself.

Mindfulness counters crazy schedules by reminding you to chill out, take a breath, and smell the roses.

I practice mindfulness in three small ways:

I cut down on multi-tasking while eating

I used to be one of those people who eats lunch at her desk so I can get more done—which such a shame, considering I usually cook pretty delicious meals. Rather than mindlessly shoving food down my face, I started paying more attention to what I’m eating. This way, I can make sure I’m getting enough food and savoring every bite.

I watch my time-obsessiveness

Because of my hyper-productivity, I often plan things by the hour. I’ll schedule my whole day so that every hour is accounted for and so I can make sure I’m getting things done every hour. I was constantly checking the clock and setting alarms. This became tedious, turning everything into a chore and adding unnecessary stress to my day when things took more than the amount of time I allotted myself. Instead, I try to pick two or three important tasks to do and not worry about the exact hour I will complete them.

I take the time to breathe

Journaling and meditation help me take breaks throughout the day. Sometimes that means walking outside of the office to take deep breaths for a few minutes (this helps a ton when clients are asking me to move mountains, as they often do). Other times I’ll journal in between various weekend errands. Taking a few moments out of my day, or sometimes a good chunk of time to write and process my feelings helps me to reflect, solve problems, and just breathe.

Now, I’m not a pro at this. I only just started, and often mess up. But I’ve learned not to judge my ability to practice mindfulness. For people who live by their multiple to-do lists, mindfulness can be difficult. I’ll often catch myself reaching for my list when I’m supposed to be enjoying the delicious mango sorbet I treated myself to. Then, before I begin criticizing, I slide the phone away and promise myself not to get up from the chair until I’m done fully enjoying the sorbet, which also often fails. Sometimes I think I should tie myself to the chair with my phone and computer completely out of reach.

But over time, I think I’ll get better. Mindfulness is a beautiful practice of self-care. And it reminds me that self-care is just as important as hard work.

Photo courtesy of Mrs. Janet R. via Flickr.

How NOT to be an Ankh N*gga

30 Jun

Dear Black men,

If you find yourself often posting and believing things like this: 

Stipper

Or this: 

NICKI

If you spend a good chunk of you time hating on certain “types” of Black women.

Then you may be an Ankh N*igga. 

According to the Curvellas of Black Tumblr, an Ankh N*igga is:

WHAT

If you fit the description, chances are, most of the Black Women on the internet can’t stand you. And though you stand preach Black unity, you spread a Black hate like no other. You need to be stopped, immediately.

STOP

So here’s help

Use these 3 steps to cease your Ankh N*gga tendencies:

Step 1: Check Your Respectability Politics at the Door

You may rock your Tutankhamun shirt with the Eyes of Horus chain all you want, but if you’re flashing your Kemet gear while criticizing Black women who own their sexuality and do not perform in ways that you agree with, your self-righteous, fake consciousness ain’t worth shit.

As I mentioned in a previous post, respectability politics, the view that only certain Black people who fit a narrow mold are worthy of respect, works to further restrict and shame, rather than liberate. By praising one idealized type of Black woman while shaming another, you create a very small prison cell for us to function inside of, a prison that is often demanded from our white counterparts. So you can hashtag #StayWoke til the day you die, but unless you learn to respect all Black women and drop your respectability politics, your views will constantly spew white supremacist ideology. You’re a walking oxymoron.

Step 2: Remember that #BlackWomenMatter. All Black women matter… the Janelle Monae’s and Blac Chyna’s alike deserve your respect.

As I explained a while back when this meme was circulating:

back women COMPARISON

Black women are more complex than the Ratchet Hoe vs. Educated Sister dichotomy you seem to have engrained in your mind. Just like how you ask to be treated like a human being, we too want to be treated as people, not one-dimensional stereotypes. Just like you, we carry burdens from racism, white supremacy, sexism, and more. We have to show one another love. Remember, the rise of Black Americans requires the rise of all Black people, including women, children, the poor, and our LGBTQ fam. 

Step 3: Uplift Black people with compassion and an open mind, rather than criticism and hate. 

There’s not really much to explain for this step: If you really cared for your people like you say you do, then stop dividing us into categories based on who is worthy of respect and who isn’t. You don’t uplift people with shallow judgment. You uplift with conversations. If you really love Black people, then show it.

Black men, I love you and will ride for you. Please show the same sentiments.

PS- Now, I know name-calling is not polite. No matter how fitting the name is, I won’t really be using it. It gives such a powerful symbol (the ankh) a bad name by associating it with a negative concept. But I did want to bring to light a problem in the Black community.

PPS- I also heard “Shea Butter Bitches” is the female equivalent. 

Sources (I learned of the concept “Ankh N*gga” from Black Tumblr): 

http://rootsexposed.tumblr.com/post/90562112704/hi-sorry-to-bother-but-what-is-an-ankh-nigga

http://witchsistah.tumblr.com/post/31439396164/dear-fake-conscious-brothas

http://curvellas.tumblr.com/post/87724549986/what-is-a-ankh-nigga

https://www.tumblr.com/tagged/ankh-niggas

7 Twitter Chats Black Folks Should Check Out

11 Jun

TWITTER

There is never a dull moment on Black Twitter. Whether folks are going in on celebrities’ shenanigans, criticizing the latest installment of cultural appropriation in fashion or just being all-around awesome with tweets that will make you laugh so hard you spit out that tea you’ve been sipping – Black Twitter is always lit.

Twitter chats bring all of that and more with intriguing online conversations covering a number of different topics.

Catch up with these Twitter chats throughout your week… read more.

Hey Fam, I published this article on Blavity. You can check out the full article there. Hope you enjoy!

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