New Year, New Day, NEW YOU!
There was a time in my life when the beginning of the year was deemed by far as one of my most favorite times of the year. And why not? After all the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, here’s our moment to reset. The first phrase heard to start the year off a very lively, boisterous “Happy New Year!”. Everywhere one goes for days after this becomes the greeting or farewell; it’s shared, received, and heard. It’s here and 2020 the start of a whole new decade has begun to lend a slew of emotions experienced by many all over the world. For a moment I challenge you to sit with yourself and ask how has this time felt for you?
Request for goal setting, vision board parties, and sparks of conversation to start this better version of you. Get fit, go exercise. eat healthy and work harder. Stop smoking, stop drinking, abusing drugs, eating junk, and judging. No pressure, right? Here’s the beautiful truth of it all…YOU ARE PERFECT and perfectly capable of shifting any challenging circumstance. Each day including the New Year gives us another moment to reset. When you open your eyes and discover that you are still among the living beings on this planet (smile) it’s another day to choose to be you. The version of you that feels so good about where you are now. You are doing this thing called life. It’s a journey and you, yes you are still on the path. One breath, one choice, one moment at a time.
Don’t like the last choice you made? There’s no undoing, but there lies possibly another opportunity to do it better the next time. Are you feeling out of alignment with a habit that no longer serves the better version of you? Has your habit negatively impacted your health, appearance, relationships, and/or your loved ones? We have within us to see life as a practice. We can take moments to visualize the kind of person we desire to be. The kind of relationships we wish to have with our loved ones and yes even the kind of year you would like to experience. It starts with first leaning all the way in to get to know you. The real you. The you without focusing on anything outside of you. So many things vying for your attention and distraction from fully experiencing this life. Diving into self-awareness requires your daily commitment to spending time with just yourself. Yes, we all get busy and we can all create an excuse for not having the time, but here lies yet another chance to tap into your power and carve out the space for this magic to happen. Not for anything or anyone else, but for YOU. All of this is so that the next moment lends a chance from that space to make a better choice.
There are so many ways to spark this practice. Over the last few years, I have enjoyed rather than considering a list of resolutions the focus of vibrating on one word or a phrase. I recently read someone state that her word for the year would be “Kangaroo”. Just hearing that makes me think of so many wonderful ways one can express the characteristics of a kangaroo. For me, rather than go with one word, I chose the phrase "Being Me". Just sharing this short phrase brings a smile to my face. I look forward to sharing more about this in photos, videos, and blogs to come. Is there a word or phrase that you’ve considered for this year? Whatever that word or phrase is, let it be one that brings you joy, peace, growth, and above all more love. Let it be something that ignites you into feeling more of you. Let today be the day that YOU decide that no matter what time, day or holiday it is knowing more of who you are is already greatness!
Be well, Be YOU, BE LOVE.
“A little bit goes a long way.” When you hear that phrase what does it make you think of? For one person, they may hear that phrase and think of the amount of food to eat. Another person may hear that phrase and consider the amount of gasoline they need for the journey they are about to embark. And yet another, may hear that phrase and consider the amount of activity they may need to do in order to feel like they have made progress in their fitness routine. However this phrase sticks out to you is all that really matters, but when I hear this it makes me feel encouraged. Encouraged with the reminder that while one may create a list of lofty goals they desire to achieve, it all cannot be done today. Several months into the the year of 2019 and if you are feeling some type of way about what you set out to accomplish I wanted to hit the pause button for just a minute and remind you that a little bit really does go a long way.
Take it one step at a time and do not overwhelm yourself. Have you been in the habit of writing down five major goals in one day and find yourself getting discouraged because you are constantly only getting to two? Perhaps it’s time to go back to your list. Is there a pattern there? Are you constantly looking over an item on your list that you really do not want to do or feel unable to do that particular task? Is it perhaps a task that can be delegated to someone else or possibly hire someone to do the work for you? Are you allowing enough time to work on a lofty project? Is there anything that is distracting you from focusing your attention on your list? Release any blame and get back to the creative drawing board. Sit with yourself for a moment and have a real heart to heart to figure out how to get back on track. Be your own cheerleader or like an encouraging Mother/Father figure and champion for yourself. “I believe in you! You got this! That’s amazing!” Are just a few phrases you can begin to use.. Release believing that criticizing yourself is the best route to motivate you; it is not.
If you’ve heard me before mention journaling and you have began taking a moment to journal, maybe today is a good day to look back over the last couple of months and note your progress. No journal, maybe a calendar. No calendar, maybe your Instagram, Facebook. Twitter, Snapchat or whatever social media you regularly post; perhaps you have documented your progress there. Either way, oftentimes when we take a moment to reflect on where we have been, what we have been through; we will find that a moment to celebrate your victories are long overdue. If you are not in the habit of planning, documenting, your day via journal; my sister or my brother I highly recommend you start today.
Lastly, have faith. I recently heard Dolores Cannon say “Believe achieve. Doubt your out.” Another one of my favorite quotes “Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right.” by Henry Ford. Both phrases speak to us about our mindset in what we choose to endeavor. Believe in yourself and do the necessary steps forward. Even small steps toward your goal is great progress. I constantly remind myself “You can not do it all in one day.” Take baby steps if you have to, but believe and keep heading in the right direction. Just keep going and never give up. There is a beautiful divine force God, Universe, Source or The Divine; whichever loving name resonates with you- is there for you.We’re all cheering for you!
The imagination of a child can be so beautifully innocent, wonderous and amazing. While playing, the imagination allowed to run free creating fantasy and awe-inspiring visions with such magnificent detail. The time shared in this make-believe world could last for hours; losing all sense of time with no thoughts of when one last ate or drank anything. When time or a beckoning parent separates this shared creativity, all agree to return as it was. Should you have participated in this kind of play or have been privy to overhearing such magic; you may have encountered set up prompts such as “What if…” and then the others would build and weave more deliciously fun tidbits.
Then one day someone says “Grow up! That’s child’s play.”. Although there is struggle at first, the pressure of so-called “real life” begins looming. Friends with main parts begin to move. Relationships shift and change as conditioning inputs take shape. Separate lives; separate your life. Loved ones past on, school, responsibilities, marriage, home loans, bills, politics, and religion. Allowing other influences from tapping into Divine creativity. Trading outside in nature time, to long hours in front of the television time. Sync and sunk into the latest greatest devices. They say, “This is Real Life”.
But, what if….
What if there was a remembrance of how powerful the imagination REALLY is? That instead of listening or allowing worst-case scenarios to replay that there is a tuning in to creating all the best-case scenarios. This life holds many possibilities and from this space of going within we can observe and listen to the stories that may be looping on auto replay. Asking from our heart space the questions that need to be asked. Is this true? What if I used my gifts to the maximum of my greatest potential? What if today I decided to give my best? What if every action came from LOVE? What if there was a declaration of greatness for your life? What if you trusted your God-given powers to heal? To shift from worries, doubt and shame; to wisdom, trust and claim. Claiming the wisdom that we are all a part of this beautiful, creative process. Each with a role and purpose beautifully significant as the other. Yes, this is life. Let’s play!
“The trouble is you think you have time.” It’s a quote that is shared by Buddha that I have found all over the internet. Many of us are discovering through our loved ones ascension; how precious time really is. One day they are here and the next day their physical presence is gone. We’re left with their material possessions to sort out and the fogginess of contemplating a world that you no longer will see them in. Some of us even begin to look at how our own existence has been use thus far. Recently listening to Dr. Joe Dispenza a scientist, teacher, lecturer, author, and thought provoker; I listened to him share that one of his Spiritual daily practices start with the question “What is the greatest ideal of myself that I can be today? Such an amazing question to ask. When we can rise and consider each day how to shift programmed thoughts into becoming our greatest self. To release having the same automatic reaction, the same conversation, and even thinking that we need to remain looking the same. How awesome to know that with focused thought, intention, and emotion we all have the power to shift our subconscious mind and change into the person we desire. You’re only stuck if you choose to be. You choose to be where you are, doing what you are doing from your thoughts and your choices. Reprogram the mind and choose to be a whole new greater version of you.
One day, I received a call from a loved one after viewing a slideshow that I prepared from pictures of my fathers' birthday party. She commented how the video had her in tears. Just one week from burying one of her best friends' who had suddenly past from a tragic auto accident. "I want to learn how to make my own slideshow for my someday celebration of life. I don’t plan on going tomorrow and if the good Lord is giving out time I’m going to ask for over 30 plus more years, but in the meantime I’m going to start putting the slideshow together because can’t nobody tell my life story better than me!” We laughed and talked about all the possible moments she/we’d create as a family in the meantime.
What will your life story be? Will you work to create so much goodness? Will you choose to be more here now? What will you do with the gift that you have? Remember enjoy the present, because it is truly a gift.
Throughout my life, I have tried many forms of exercise to help me be fit. Outside of track in high school, I found it difficult to stay active. Friends who enjoyed taking classes at the gym would recommend a class or two to tryout. The class I went to seemed to only have been for those with a history of dance. Fancy step platforms and energetic Barbie, motioning her hands to the right as she did a step, clap and kick to the other side. Wait. What? I’d go left as the others went right and punch when I should have kicked. I felt like Frankenstein. Encouraging words of you just have to keep coming and you’ll get the hang of it. Unfortunately, it wasn’t just that; I longed for something much different. One day while rummaging through the clearance bin at the department store a workout video caught my attention. The woman pictured looked strong, long and fit. The benefits of yoga listed seemed good enough to at least give it a try. For days I would just watch the two of them (the woman on front as well her fit male partner) demonstrate different poses. I finally joined them on our floor and gave a half attempt thinking “I’m no where near that flexible.”; but that didn’t stop me from trying again and again. I begin yoga with just the desire to have a lean, sculpted, strong body frame not fully knowing of all of the powerful benefits of healing. Not too long after I joined a gym where they offered yoga classes. I enjoyed it. There was something about just sitting there for moments, the lights were lower, and the only noise I could hear in the distance was the whirling of a few treadmills and cycles. We were guided to the breath and while at first it seemed odd I noticed that as I remained committed to this process I became more relaxed. I found myself able to do what the instructor had guided; tune out and really tune in. Instead of the stress I usually felt of everything going on around me, I released and allowed it all to dissipate in that moment. At the end of class I wanted to hug the instructor, but settled for a more traditional “Class was great! Thank you.” This was the first time I ever left a gym feeling so relax; yet the perfect amount of movement and breath work to signify a solid good workout had just taken place. So here are just a few of the reasons why after all these years I really still love yoga.
Keep moving. Stay healthy!
Liability Disclaimer: Prior to beginning any level of physical activity such as yoga; it is advise that you see and/or consult your healthcare provider especially if you have a history of significant illnesses, health concern or previous injury. Always listen to your body. .
It seems like a whole other life, yet the memory, and the reason why I turned my back years ago on this addiction still holds true. At the time I was angry, frustrated, and I didn’t know anyone who had ever visited a professional counselor or shrink as I had heard them called. A rebellious being longing to surface because as luck would have it I was raised in a culture that perceived a cry for help as weak. So many shifts, changes, and don’t you even dare stop to complain. The women I grew up with didn’t pop pills, they didn’t drink heavy, but a quiet moment of contemplation and maybe conversation while holding a cigarette was the norm to calm nerves. Yes, many of the ones I knew and loved did just that. I vividly recall thinking as a young girl, resisting the strong second-hand dose I’d hold my breath to get through the smoke filled section that I would never smoke. Just out of high school, I looked on as close friends seemed to look completely different with a cigarette between parted fingers. Curiosity led to chokes, laughs, and coughs or a complaint that I was just blowing smoke. Years later when the going got tough, I resolved to what the tough women did. A tiny, cutely packaged, and harmless looking Capri should do the trick. It wasn’t long before I could double barrel those cute little things. I needed more. The habit began to form and I began to notice that sensation you get when you think you need one. I needed a break. I needed a moment. It wasn’t until I had began to take smoke breaks did I allow myself to have one. A break, a pause, a moment to breathe, to think things through. A crave for that first pull in as a slow exhale billowed out a cloud of anxiety, worry, and then relief. Oh yes. THIS was MY time. I was starting to give myself more and more of these moments. In the morning on the patio while sipping coffee, on the way to work in the car. A brief break during mid-morning after calls, meetings, and emails. After lunch before returning to work, if the work day was long maybe mid-afternoon and then another on the way home. After dinner, children bathe and put to bed, another “me moment” was due.
All the years of looking at the advertisements for smoking; beautiful women and strong, tough handsome men. Where were they now and what did their lives look like? After all those years of disgust for smoking and now I had joined them. I felt far from glamorous and beautiful. My habit had began to catch up with me. Despite my physical picture of health—I felt winded to walk up stairs. My clothes, car, hair and no matter how often I washed my hands maybe it was my nose hairs—but I smelled smoke. One day I watched as one of our daughters’ reached for my drink and took one sip from my straw and immediately sat it back down, ”Eew, it taste like smoke!”. “Mom why do you do that.” I didn’t have a good reason to offer. Every time I held a pack, I read the Surgeon General’s warning: Smoking Causes Lung Cancer, Heart Disease, Emphysema and May Complicate Pregnancy. I knew they were required to put this on their cigarettes not because they wanted to scare me, but because it was the truth. I had witnessed too many declines in those I loved health to ignore my own. I was ready to release the habit. I had to quit.
It Required A Vision.
The idea of being smoke-free just filled my heart and I started seeing myself do things that I enjoyed that did not involve smoking or being around smokers. I got active. It’s hard to smoke and be active. The two just don’t go together. Someone may even set out to prove me wrong, so I’ll just say it did not work for me. When I had a moment and thought just this one, the Divine would send people to just come up and randomly share how they quit. Nothing in life is random, my decision was supported, and I was sent angels to encourage me.
What Could I Gain?
I started tracking the cost of how much my unhealthy habit had really cost me. Time that I couldn’t get back. Over the course of a full day, I calculated that I had used over two hours, multiply that by a week and then a month. Sitting, standing, and worrying about things that couldn’t be solved by holding my cigarette. Financially hundreds of dollars had literally gone up in smoke. Considering how much I love the thought of shopping, travel, or massages over smoking. The decision became more and more clearer.
When You Know Better.
I used the World Wide Web and searched for testimonials of people out there who had quit and how they had improved their state of health. I begin to find sites that showed images of what the lungs looked like in 24 hours smoke-free, 72 hours, a week, and then a month. I learned how sophisticated the body is and how it’s always working toward creating a healthy environment. Given a chance with the absence of cigarette smoke, activity, and good food; my body wants to be healthy and stronger.
Take A Breath Break.
I learned the power of connecting to my breath. I discovered that picking up that pack of cigarettes and putting that cigarette between my lips was more about needing to take a moment to connect with my breath. I didn’t need a habit like cigarettes to take me outside for fresh air. If I couldn’t get outside, I simply closed my eyes, released my fingers, and I inhaled a deep breath through my nose and slowly exhaled. I quieted my thoughts and I listened. I listened to guidance that I could get past this—that I was strong. I constantly reminded myself that I just had to endure one moment, one hour, one day at a time and that someday this will be a distant memory.
As a child, I once thought that smokers were tough. I don’t think that anymore. I also no longer believe that sharing or seeing someone for counseling makes you weak. I believe we are all doing our best with what we know and that every moment there stands a possibility to rise to greater. I now show myself and others loving compassion. I learned not to judge anyone for their habits and that you never know what people will choose to cope or why when they are challenged. As I stated before, I can’t remember exactly how or why I started. Part of me think it was to shift my heart to this understanding or maybe it was preparing me to share this journey to victory with you. My desire is to encourage someone to consider all the beautiful amazing reasons you have to choose a healthier version of you.
My journey back to discovering, learning, and loving my natural hair began just eight years ago. I remember the day I decided that I would cut my straight dead ends. Sheers resting between my thumb and index finger, I looked at the reflection staring back at me, took a deep inhale through my nose and as I exhaled released the first cut. There was no going back now and although this would be my 2nd time during my adult years to “go natural” this time was much different. It wasn’t some revolutionary cause of wanting to be apart of some trend, or fashion statement; simply an awareness. This chop was for the sake of fully discovering me and understanding the risk that was involved every time I chose to chemically alter my hair.
During cosmetology training, I received much more than hands on guidance to achieving trendy cuts, facials, and nail care. The molecular structure of hair was studied including the processes of what occurs when chemical relaxers and perms are used to change one’s natural texture. I read the passage over and over to allow the words to sink in, fully knowing that this was not new information. This however, was the first time it was presented in this way. An intention and a prayer answered to see areas that needed healing in all areas of my life. I witnessed as the words touched exactly where they needed to touch. The Milady’s Cosmetology book read “Relaxers are characterized by extremely high alkalinity and can literally melt or dissolve hair if used incorrectly. Most relaxers have the same ingredients used in depilatories (products used to for temporary hair removal.)”. My mouth dropped and I reflected on all those years of smoothing this mystery cream and leaving it on just a little longer parting and sliding my fingers down to assure all the new growth had been properly “relaxed”. No kink in sight was the goal and often looking at how straight it was that it could literally slide right off. Witnessing the thinning crowns of beautiful women I knew who suffered hair loss due to the use of relaxers with prescriptions; not yet willing or ready to give up either one. I read it once more that evening to my husband. For years, he too had assisted me with relaxing my hair at home. His reaction similar to mine, but he followed with a deep probing question “What will you do now that you know?”. All the years of altering, relaxing, chemicals in my hair and the use of petroleum base that so called “protected” me. Protected me from what? It could offer no such thing and now the only protection that I knew to give was love. To get to know all of me. My fingers had not touched, nor my eyes had seen my naturally textured hair since childhood. Remembering the mock of being told by a few cousins that my hair was bad. Bad or not, it was mine and I was about to work it out! Relax and release the programmed frame of mind and trust. I was no stranger to the care of natural hair. Braiding, twisting, cleansing, and finger detangling the curly coils of many throughout the years gave me the spark of confidence that surely I could care for mine as well.
Moving the sheers throughout my entire head, my smile became wider and brighter with every snip. The biggest hair cut I had ever done on myself and now a new one in the books for proudest hair moments. I stroked all ten fingers through my hair again and again. Done for now; yet in my heart I knew this journey had just begun. Eight years later and I am still grateful for stepping out of my comfort zone to rediscover the true gift that I was blessed with when I was created. Naturally textured and loving all of me! While I’d love to say that it’s been a wonderfully, amazingly beautiful path; that would only be half truth.For now I’ll just say thank goodness for achieving head wrap success for days I could not manage another twists out session. Extension styles that kept me from momentary head shaves and support that always talked me off another big chop or mohawk ledge. This journey with my natural hair has taught me many exciting new things, but mostly like with life to just be patient and enjoy the ride!
I can recall the first time I ever heard the word doula. It was during TLC's A Baby Story, the narrator was explaining how the mother had a postpartum doula there to care for her and assist with questions in caring for the baby. I was obsessed with that show during my first two pregnancies. Although, I thought it was nice that this mother was able to have this type of support; I also remembered thinking that if I needed one my doctor would have mentioned this as an option and that this was probably a luxury not to be considered by students. Years later, I would learn that I was wrong about both assumptions.
Nonetheless, I caught glimpses of the word doula "woman caregiver" in action through the roles of other mothers, daughters, and sisters that I knew and loved. As a young new expectant mother, I knew that childbirth education class and a few books had only scratched the surface of what we would need to know in the days to come. I held in my heart ever so closely the wisdom that many mothers had journeyed this path before me and I trusted God to deliver me. It was in the middle of the night and we had been walking for hours throughout the hospital in the small town of Hannibal, Missouri. Unknown to us at the time, Kevin had broke his ankle during the seasons first basketball game and he didn't moan once as we slow danced in the hallways with each contraction. We were tired, but labor was steadily making progress and becoming more intense. Sherri Thomas (The coaches wife) looked like an angel walking into that room. A mother of two had come to do what others have done for centuries; simply hold space. She held my hand, she quietly observed and we talked. When the moment came for her to get her little ones off to school and herself to work; she left with a promise to return later. In the days to follow, Sherri coordinated home cooked meals to be brought to us. Coach Thomas and Sherri showed us so much loving guidance and support while we were away from our family.
Years later when we were preparing to give birth to our middle daughter we were surprisingly shocked with all the procedural differences between hospitals. I assumed that most hospitals allowed you to walk the halls to labor naturally. I assumed only monitoring would be necessary if something was wrong. We were home in the big city of Dallas, Tx and our expectations of how we would be able to move was totally thwarted. "You MUST remain on the bed." the labor and delivery nurse ordered. Our mother June and Kevin's sister Alicia were both there for support, but we felt completely blindsided by rejection of each request. What I would discover later, was that we were like most unsuspecting parents who had become entangled in maneuvering an unfamiliar system. Days later still confused, but grateful for holding a healthy baby; I made a promise to share how important it is to know your provider and the policies where they attend.
As family and friends began to plan their pregnancies, give birth and have questions about breastfeeding; I would listen and share for hours. It felt like I was gifting back all the motherhood basics that had been sweetly poured into me over the years. A few years after our third daughters birth, a training showed up on my feed. It was divine timing. I wanted more women to know that every family deserved a doula. Regardless of social economic status, student, age, race, religion, or sexual orientation; every family, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicines' joint statement says this about the effects of labor support “Increasing women’s access to nonmedical interventions during labor, such as continuous labor and delivery support, also has been shown to reduce cesarean birth rates.” As a trained labor doula, I have learned so much in assisting mothers and their families. Each birth so uniquely intertwined with a new lesson and wisdom gained. Our mission is to continue to educate, support, and encourage families to advocate for their choices confidently. This walk feels like an extraordinary life full of witnessing miracles, holding sacred space and reminding mothers of how powerfully amazing they truly are. May we all feel a sense of honor, joy and pride with the path we choose.
Love Talita Akana is a wife, mother, sister, and a friend. Over the years, she has shared guidance from the lessons she has learned. Grateful to be a vessel to assist others as a source of inspiration to touch another with what they learned to grow on their journey. This is Love.