5 Self Care Tips for Busy/Professional Women

One of the promises I made with myself as I began my career was that I would not wait to get burnt out before learning self care. Over the years I have seen myself and so many others begin their careers and other projects with a lot of passion and energy, and sadly I have also seen how stress over a long period of time can kill that passion and cause the eventual death of a project.

After reading books and learning from some amazing wellness experts, I have incorporated these no-fluff tips into my life and have helped me in my journey. I am confident that practicing even  one of these tips will be a game changer for you.

 

Here are my favorite 5 self care tips. As a professional and busy woman, I have found that these practical tips have helped me take care of myself so I can live, lead, and work from a place of fullness.

Why you need an alignment board more than a vision board

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Agh vision boards. We are all aware of them. Maybe you've even been to a vision board party where you had to think very hard about your goals, dream big, and put together a collage to represent your dreams. In the past I've hosted and been to several of these parties.

 

However lately I'm finding that the vision board has not served me well in a few ways.

 

One of the most notable being that I tend to be incredibly optimistic in my visioneering and dream about things that have no tangibility. Like making 6 figures in the first year of my career or devoting one year to finding the love of my life. My timelines tend to be incredibly instantaneous and my vision boards have ended up being a source of guilt when I don't accomplish all the things I set out to accomplish when I was in a dreamily optimistic state. 

 

A vision board tends to re-inforce the stereotype that we are not okay where we are right now and tie our happiness to achievement.

 

I get the importance of dreaming but what if we could reimagine the way that we dream which it is rooted in a satisfaction of the present.

 

Enter Alignment Boards

An alternative to the vision board that is part inspiration, part celebration.

 

Alignment boards are your opportunity to create a collage of things that currently inspire you. Focused on the joy of the moment while simultaneously including a few hopeful results of your present path.

 

Steps to creating your alignment board:

Prep work - some introspective questions:

  1. Take a few days to a week to make a list of loves - a list of things you love that bring you joy.
  2. Make a list of people that have shaped your theology, education, and lifestyle so far and how they have done that.
  3. What words define the season of life you are in right now.
  4. Based on your habits right now what is one clear future outcome.
  5. What do you want that you know you will get just not right now.
  6. What is one magical thing completely beyond your reach that fills you with joy when dreaming of it.

 

Making your alignment board:

  1. Find articles, paintings, magazine clippings, notes from your journal that represent answers to the questions above.
  2. Get a poster board or a canvas as your base.
  3. Get into a relaxed and comfortable space.
  4. Get crafty and creatively put your board together. There is no wrong or right way to do it!

 

I hope you find joy and alignment as you do this. The best part is that this will serve as a reminder of mindfulness for you rather than as a source of guilt when you don't meet your goals.

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P.s: if you are following me on instagram you get to see a completed picture of my most recent alignment board right HERE

Why Millennials Should Feel Entitled

A few weeks ago I did the math and realized I have been legal counsel to someone who was more than TRIPLE my age. Now that may not be a big deal to some, but to me, who has almost always been insecure about being the youngest person in the room - that was worthy of a self ice-cream date.

In my profession being young is not considered to be a virtue. 
Couple that with being black,
and being female.

Recipe for doubt, lack of confidence, stress, and perfectionism.

As of the day of posting this, I am 88 days away from my 23rd birthday and I am finally at a place of peace and confidence in the fact that I am the youngest person in the room. I am finally confident advising people that have more life experience than me. I am finally proud of my accomplishments and do not diminish them because they came 'easy' to me.

I am finally finding my groove and my people - which has made all the difference.

I hear a lot of rhetoric about millennials feeling entitled and as I have grown into my confidence I am also more comfortable with being entitled. The way I see it, millennials do have a right to feel entitled. In our generation we have had to grow up really fast, to care about issues that generations before us have never had to care about, we have made some really valuable contributions to the world is such a short time frame. And we are comfortable celebrating ourselves and asking for what we want.

Thats' all entitlement looks like.

And I don't think that is a bad thing. 

Does it sound entitled when I clear off one afternoon a month on my schedule to go get a massage?

Absolutely! My parents say so.

But the same parents will also agree that the other days that month have been spent dealing with issues and pressures they did not have to deal with early on in their professional careers, in addition to dealing with trolls on twitter, and navigating the confusing world of dating apps.

A large number of millennials I know are keeping up with their day jobs,
spending their evenings working on their passion projects,
keeping up with their friends from all over the world via social media.
paying attention to social issues and educating our parent's on the underbelly of said issues,
while managing to dismantle patriarchy and deconstruct destructive societal norms.

So maybe after all we do we deserve to be a little bit more choosy about attending a church that actually feels like home, or maybe our entitlement shows up in wanting to plan an elaborate YouTube worthy proposal for our darling, or maybe like me it shows up in clearing an entire afternoon to turn off the phone and go be at the spa.

Whatever way it shows up - if its in wanting to work a 4 hour work week, or wanting to take a year off from all the cultural expectations and go travel the world - it is okay.

Lets own the entitlement and stop trying to convince others of how worthy we are to take up space and live lives we are proud of.

Wholistic Womanhood & The NEED for Sabbaticals

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"The thing before the thing"

For the past 5 months mom & I have been gathering together at our local Church on Thursday evenings with some women all around the city to explore womanhood through the lens of care and nurture for our bodies, souls, and spirits.

It has been FANTASTIC. This Wholistic Womanhood Class as we called it!

I mean, I knew it would be great because my mom and I are both great teachers, but I was not expecting the level of trust, openness, vulnerability, and diversity that came from the women in our group. The ladies made the group! Getting to teach with my mom was just icing on an already loaded triple layered chocolate cake. (sorry got carried away there for a second).

In this class, one of my favorite lessons was the idea of "the thing before the thing."

A radical concept that maybe what we do is not the most important thing, but that the unseen, unquantifiable alignment that precedes our action is what actually matters most.

Whats the thing before the thing?

Eating well. 
Nourishing your Spirit.
Going for a walk.
Calling up a friend.
Pampering yourself.

Basically what you do before the action that gets you in a good mental space to TAKE action.

This radical idea became a mantra as questions like: "whats the thing before the thing" got asked around in our community as a way to encourage each other to stop, evaluate, and care before moving into action.

This summer I asked that question of myself (because I don't just teach this stuff, i've lived it and its changed my life). And I knew that the answer was a sabbatical of sorts.

So for the next 3 months I will be unplugging from social media, 
traveling as much as possible,
working minimally,
creating fun memories with the people I love,
writing my books,
and falling in love with the beautiful life I have.

WHY WE NEED SABBATICALS:

  1. To remember that we are more than our titles: In the past 2 years as I have transitioned from student/entrepreneur to Lawyer & Entrepreneur, there has been a shift in the way I have been perceived because of my title. While I appreciate being respected, I need to remind myself that I am not Salem - the lawyer, I am Salem - who spends her time practicing law.
  2. To Detox: Do you realize that well over 90% of our days come from our unconscious mind, so we don't consciously and intentionally do most of the things that we do. In the past few weeks as I have been taking inventory of my feelings and actions, I have noticed that quite a few things I do stem from faulty ways of thinking that I have outgrown. So this time away will serve as a controlled medium to only consume things I want and to go deep into my unconscious mind and remove somethings.
  3. To Nourish: Clean foods, long luxurious sleep, and some form of physical movement - all the studies have shown that we need these things to be our best selves. They are the magic pills of a healthy and happy life, yet how often do we choose them? I know I could do a better job! So this time will be time to create rhythms and routines that support me in nourishing my body, soul, and spirit as the different entities they are. 

 

Hey ladies, if you are in the montgomery, Alabama area and would like to be a part of this group in the Fall send an email to wholisticwomanhood@gmail.com

Hey ladies, if you are in the montgomery, Alabama area and would like to be a part of this group in the Fall send an email to wholisticwomanhood@gmail.com

Happenings: The Things that have kept me away from you for a few months

This picture although not of me represents the love and beauty that I have felt over the past few months. Thanks for loving me well, my people.

This picture although not of me represents the love and beauty that I have felt over the past few months. Thanks for loving me well, my people.

 

Hello friends, So while I have been missing from the blogging world the past few months a lot has happened and I would love to share some of them with you! 

Sometimes its easy to compare our seasons of visibility with seasons of productivity and those two are in different leagues of their own. While I have not been visible in the past few months, there has been a lot of great productive action items happening in my life and I am so grateful for them all.

As i mentioned in my previous post, this new administration requires us to put lots of good positive things into the world because there are a lot of people hurting right now.

I have seen that first hand through battling executive orders, and being with scared immigrants.
I have seen the tension in my yoga classes when I am surrounded by women of color who hold their exhaustion in their backs.
I have noticed it in the silence of my friends and the stinging words of people who are scared when I speak out against systems of oppression.
I have seen it in the Court room and in the Board room

And I've realized that small baby steps to put love back into the world never go unnoticed. So i just want to share with you some of the ways I have done that with my gifts, in hopes that you will be encouraged to do that with yours.

 

UYAI by Salem - So I wrote a poetry book and would love for you to check it out!


THE THRIVE Table Podcast

OUR Collaborative media project to tell authentic stories of the real lives of African women as we tackle difficult issues like relationships, mental health, sexuality.


Wholistic Womanhood : My mom and I developed curriculum to lead women in our city through a weekly small group tackling issues around womanhood and how we could lead from a place of fullness not depletion. If you would like to be a part of this group or get this curriculum send us an email - wholisticwomanhood@gmail.com

 

And finally THIS!

THE DISTINGUISHED DIVA COLLECTIVE!

Although not my baby, more like my niece - the baby of my best friend.

I remember when all of this was just an idea and she made it a reality. A space online to curate and welcome the stories of women of color in all forms of creative expression, and it is the most beautiful gift to the world. I wrote my best article for this collective and hope it encourages you,

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The Distinguished Diva Collective

Thoughts From A non-American Black In A Post-Obama World

I DID NOT want to add my voice to the mix of voices that will be heard today. Like my brother reminded me, I have nothing to gain. I am a non American black living in Alabama with a growing career in law and entrepreneurship.

Also, since the election which was so clearly a blow to my immigrant black woman heart, I have felt sorta silenced - like my voice and my opinion don't really matter. I made a lot of noise about what an unqualified candidate the new president would be and well, it appeared people did not care so why keep talking?

BUT last night I had a very vivid dream that woke me up in the middle of the night with a heart conviction that my voice needed to be heard and so I write.

I do have one huge request before you read - please only proceed if you are willing to enter into my world with empathy?
This is not a divisive post,
I am not looking for affirmation or protest.
This is just my truth as I see and feel about it right now.
I am inviting you into my world.
If you get into my world and feel like it is total crap then please move on to your next read.
Do not feel the need to attack or fix anything.

Its not that I am fragile and cannot handle criticism, I can. I practice law for a living. BUT that is not the purpose of this post. There are a lot more articles on the internet today that will welcome the dialogue. This is not it. Thank you!

Over the past year I have boycotted giving this new president of America my time and attention. Its almost comical the lengths I have taken to avoid the news, to avoid saying his name, and to avoid seeing his face, to avoid taking in the toxic hate that he has incited. I have avoided it like bad porn. I did all the research I needed to do to make my decision when he first declared his candidacy and once I did, it was off the table. I knew that he had a shot at winning because inciting fear, a hardworking team, and building a good brand are extremely powerful tools in the United States of America. My African history books showed me how Europeans and Americans used those same tools to deceive and colonize a huge part of my continent, steal away our best talent, turn them into slaves. And to 'whitewash' those who were left behind on the continent.  I won't go into all of that right now, go read the history for yourself.

And while I hoped that the Americans I know and love would be too smart to buy the koolaid, I was mistaken, and we all get to live in a new world where people like me don't feel completely safe.

I am an educated black woman. I practice law, work with Immigrants, build businesses, go to church, and have quite a few white friends and white collegues I love dearly who would never describe me as 'angry.' But I know that the majority response to this post by those who don't like what I have to say is that I am just another 'angry black woman.' Its funny how things like systematic racism do that to you. Its crazy how stereotyping - the platform that your new president has built his campaign on will make you see an entire group of people through the lens of a 'single story' (like my fellow baddie Nigerian woman, Chimamanda Ngozie Adiche would say.)

Understanding fully well the risk of being misunderstood, I would like to say 3 thoughts I've been having when rumbling internally with the idea of a Post-Obama world and what that means to me:

1. Black America, you have taught me that I will be okay. Thank you for that! As a non American black who spent most of my formative years in Nigeria, I would never understand the concept of loving a country who did not love you, without my experiences of being in an American black space. Black people in America, you fight for a country that has historically let you down over and over and over again. You get mad at it but you don't give up on it and that is so inspiring to me. Thank you for teaching me that there is so much strength in being black and that we as a people will be okay. We always have been. We always will be! Thank you for your rich history of endurance, lament, and overcoming. Thank you for all the ways you put love and beauty back into the world.

2. Obama, wow! Thank you so much for being an imperfect yet great president. As a minority I have often been held up to a standard of perfection so many times that I almost don't get to be human. I have often wondered how to be sustainably 'perfect' for the long haul but your presidency has shown me that I don't have to and that good character will always win out. You made mistakes but you changed the world. The Affordable Care Act website being down on signup day was the most incredible moment of your presidency to me because obviously that kind of technological glitch would happen to someone like me. Anyone that has built things knows that when you take a leap you risk uncertainty and things going wrong, but that did not stop you. You built things and made an impact in small ways and in big ways. Even if this new administration tears down all the policies you built up, they cannot take away from our hearts the things you taught us about love and leadership. And for that, we will go for it because #YESWECAN.

3. My dearest Africans, if you grew up like me there was quite a bit of 'whitewashing' involved in our history - some crap about the United States of America being 'the greatest nation in the world.' It clearly isn't. I know that I live there so you may roll your eyes at me as you read this - but hear me, the United States of America is not the greatest nation in the world. Every nation is as great as its people make it and while colonialism means we have to do more work to make our nations what we want it to be, we absolutely have the power and agency to do so.
My loves, WE have a continent to re-build so lets get on with it. There are people like me in Diaspora doing our best to represent our individual countries well so when people think of Africa they don't think huts and jungles, they think of the educated and intelligent people they do life with. And then there are others of you who are within the continent doing your building; Keep at it. Don't let the Western world rob you of the things that matter. Keep the laws and systems of governments that work for you, rock your tailor made ankara outfits, keep your rich tradition, grow your own food. Don't conform to the ideals of 'the greatest nation in the world' because what has worked for them won't work for you!

Peace and love over the next 4 years! 
More than ever lets be ambassadors of peaceful activism and love without expectation.


And finally like the great Nigerian Novelist, Ola Rotimi, would say: whatever happens, the gods are not to blame.