Take Me Higher

Take Me Higher

Do you identify as a stoner?

Do you like to eat delicious food?

Are you into yoga?

Do you enjoy spending time with strong women from all walks of life?

 

If you answered yes to any of these questions, Higher Yoga may be just for you.

Created and run by sisters Shanelly & Roshelly, Higher Yoga is exactly what it sounds like, and then some. A giant cipher among the 15 participants, yummy snacks and food (some of which has been cannabis-infused), an hour of yoga led by a wonderful instructor and goodies to take home.

I smoked before leaving home because I was afraid that a cipher of this magnitude would certainly leave me feeling sober. I was wrong. There was an abundance of weed, food and great vibes for the entire 3-hour event.

The afternoon started by laying out our mats while munching on fruit bowls, bagels,  and enjoying homemade juices. We then began the cipher with a sativa strand. Sativas tend to provide more invigorating, uplifting cerebral effects that pair well with physical activity, social gatherings, and creative projects. (Source) We went around the room, introducing ourselves and setting intentions for the week. After checking in with ourselves and each other, the yoga instructional portion began. This was led by Muriel, who eased us into gentle yoga over hip hop beats. After yoga, a hearty brunch, and of course  the next round of marijuana was served. This time Indica, which is a strain believed to be physically sedating and perfect for relaxing. (Source) We ended the afternoon with deep breathing and meditation.

I will definitely be participating in more Higher events and I invite all my New York readers/stoners to check them out and see for your self what all the hype is about.

Their next event is on July 1st, as the sisters celebrate 1 year of their business and it’s sure to be a memorable event of the summer. Use this link to get your tickets.

Higher Yoga and all of the Higher events are nice reminders that if you have an idea for a business venture of your own, there is no better time than now to see your dream to fruition. If you would benefit from the service/class/product, there are countless other like-minded people who would think your idea is dope as well, so go for it!


Check these ladies out on IG//

Shanelly                  Roshelly                  Yogi Muri                    Higher Dining

 

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New Face, Who Dis?

New Face, Who Dis?

I have struggled with acne since elementary school. When I was younger, I hid my huge pimple riddled forehead under baseball caps. As an adult, I rely on makeup and bangs. I visited with dermatologists when the problem first arose but all I remember from that was getting injections in each pimple and leaving the doctor’s office with a bleeding face… And returning to do it all again… but without any benefits.

As a teenager, I was a regular at my local drug store. I purchased all kinds of washes, toners, masks, serums, moisturizers, and strips. Nothing worked! Plus- As a pathological picker, I only made matters worse.

As I’ve grown older and begun to revisit the natural lifestyle that I grew up with, I started to rely on oils to cure my acne woes.

Tea tree oil

Lavender oil

Coconut oil

I was dedicated and convinced that one day one of these oils would get rid of my problem skin. In reality, they just made my face super oily.

Go figure… I’m not sure why that lesson took so long to learn but I gave oils at least a year to do their thing before giving up.

Most recently, I had some leftover money on a benefit card from my employer which could only be used for medical purposes. The idea didn’t come to me on my own, but my fiance suggested that I use the money to give a dermatologist another try. So I did. I was prescribed a medicated wash, a day cream, a night cream, a fading cream for scars and an herbal supplement.

For once in my life I am pleased with the results enough to >gasp< share my before pictures!

Dr. Lodha at Pura Dermatology really delivered! I am now so excited to wash my face and go, only bothering with a bit of mascara if I’m feeling fancy. No more concealer or foundation or any other feeble attempts at covering up.

This change has come just in time for my upcoming wedding and all my other pursuits which require people to look at my face a lot more than ever before. I know that I still have a bit of scarring to resolve but I’m really happy with the results.

When I began my journey into creating a life I love, I didn’t know it would involve my face. The way I perceive myself is a huge determining factor of how I move in the world. It dictates the amount of eye contact I give, which dictates conversation, intimacy, and connections with other people. For me, a clear face is more than looking good in my reflection. It’s about feeling good and confident and being more open in relationships both old and new.

 

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January 2018

 

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March 2018

 

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May 2018

New face, who dis?

Her & Hers

Her & Hers

Dear Jayda,

Having you at 21 meant more time to share, more growing done together and more memories to hold forever! Thank you for making me a mother and for making this ride so sweet! You are a shining example of how pure and untainted love is and I couldn’t be happier to have been chosen to be your mommy!

Love,

Mommy

Manifesting Mindfulness With Children

Manifesting Mindfulness With Children

My niece and nephew came to visit my daughter and me for the weekend. When I have the three kids together, I can sometimes feel overwhelmed by the sudden increase in energy, demands, and complaints. I love them to pieces but their visits are a complete divergence from our usually quiet and low key lives. It feels good to see Jayda growing up so closely with her cousins especially because I didn’t have that same experience with my own cousins, due to our age differences.

I know from experience that the more bored the kids are the more they engage in negative behavior and the last thing I want to do on the weekend is play the mean mommy/auntie role as I hand out lectures and punishments.

Day 1 of the weekend was a disaster. I was mentally unprepared and still exhausted from my week of employment, passions, and responsibilities. The kids couldn’t quite figure out sharing, they had bottomless stomachs for snacks and they were restless.

Day 2 took a different turn, and here is how…

1. I was well rested– Usually, after the kids go to sleep I like to take advantage of a quiet house, so I stay awake for hours occupying myself with snacks, rated R movies and other vices. This time, I slept and the next day I was ready to tackle and engage! I also woke up before them which does not usually happen. It gave me time to get breakfast ready and prepare the room for our activities.

2. I made a plan– If you want to keep kids engaged all day, you will need a plan! I brainstormed the theme of the day and planned accordingly. Our theme was “Mindfulness and Gratitude” and our activities were guided meditation, yoga, vision boards and reading. We were flexible in our approaches but steadfast in our curriculum of the day.

3. I gave the kids expectations– The script went a little something like this “Good morning children! Today we will talk about and practice mindfulness and gratitude! We are going to have a great day with each other and we are going to be fair, considerate and kind!”

4. I considered their senses

Sound- Our ears were blessed by the peaceful sounds of October’s Child, who just released a new project entitled As You Go. The calming vocals and light instrumental elements brought exactly the feels I was longing for. Check them out with this link.

Sight- In my attempt to avoid overstimulation, I kept the blinds mostly drawn letting in just enough sunlight.

Smell- Throughout the duration of the morning and afternoon, I boiled dried lavender buds which filled the air with sweet and subtle scents. 

 

(I purchased mine from Amazon, link above)

Taste/Nutrition- Kids have energy and these kids have ENERGY! There was no added sugar in our diets today. Breakfast was eggs, toast, and hash browns. Knowing that they tend to skimp on meals so they can indulge in snacks later, today they were warned that there would be no snacks and they were advised to eat all of their breakfasts. To drink, they had tea with honey.  Lunch was pasta in a sauce made from pureed kidney bean, coconut milk and tomatoes. 


It was nice seeing the children explore their spiritualities and sense of gratitude. It was warm and refreshing to hear them talk about all of the parts of their lives that bring them joy. The best part was seeing the spirit of my mother live on through her grandchildren whom she never got to meet.

The day was a great success and just as I stopped running out of ideas for engagement, my brother arrived to pick my niece and nephew up. I would love to do this every time they come to visit, but to be honest it took time and energy that I don’t always have and sometimes, I like doing absolutely nothing, but I am grateful that I had the capacity to facilitate this today and hopefully there are long-lasting results that remain after the day is over.

 

Om Namah Shivaya

Namaste

Amen

Our Story

Our Story

My love and I met in in 2002. I was already attending The Beacon School since freshman year and Richardo transferred in 11th grade. Beacon is a school with a rigorous admissions process and Richardo was hoping to attend Beacon since freshman year. His application was finally accepted as a transfer student. While in high school, our circle of friends intertwined a bit we didn’t spend that much time together. We were friendly acquaintances. We graduated high school and continued our separate lives at different colleges.

After completing just one semester of college at Temple University in Philadelphia, I transferred to Hunter College in NYC to be back home and closer to my then boyfriend, and future father of my daughter, Jayda. Unbeknownst to me, Richardo was also attending Hunter College. We ran into each other in the library from time to time, however, most of our interactions were through social media. We remained friendly, wishing each other happy holidays and other pleasantries.

One day in July 2014, I received a DM from Richardo through Instagram, asking to take me out. It totally caught me off guard. Over the years I never thought he looked at me as anything other than a friend. The timing could not have been more perfect. I had finally gotten over a terrible break up the month prior and after beginning some steps of healing I decided to approach life from a place of “Yes!”. The old me would have rationalized not taking him up on his offer. “It’s too soon.”, “I’m not ready”, “We know too many of the same people”, but the new me was ready to see what life and Richardo had to offer. We agreed to spend an afternoon together in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

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The night prior, I slept at a girlfriend’s house. I was rushing to leave her house, get to my own, shower,  change and get ready for this date. Needless to say, I was running late and kept him waiting a little while. I was already filled with anxiety and being late only added to my nerves. I was relieved that when I finally arrived at our meeting point, he was just as gracious and warm as a complete gentleman would be.

He planned a very nice first date. We started off with lunch at Sweet Chick. He had the Chicken and Waffles, I had the Kale Salad and he fed me from across the table! That is something that up until that point I had only ever seen in movies… how romantic! From there we went to his favorite coffee shop. I don’t typically drink coffee so instead, I tried their coffee soda. It didn’t taste anything like the name would suggest, thank goodness; it was surprisingly very good! With our beverages in hand, he then took me to this bizarre little hole in the wall bookshop, which was nothing like your ordinary bookshop. Here, people had drawn and written in notebooks and left them behind in this weird library of original pieces by New Yorkers. It was one of the most unique attractions I had ever visited and I couldn’t believe I was seeing so much of the city that I hadn’t seen before. All these magical things had been right under my nose, including Richardo.

After spending some time looking through the notebooks, we continued to walk around until we found a park overlooking the river just in time for the sunset; just in time for me to be getting cold and needing to borrow his jacket. Romance on top of romance. All the while, we were catching up, cracking jokes and enjoying each other.

His car was in the shop at the time so we had to rely on the old iron horse. At the end of the date, we boarded the train together and I was pleased to learn that he was going to take me all the way to my building. When we arrived in my lobby, he began to say goodnight and I made the bold move of inviting him upstairs, which he did not turn down. This was just our first date but I figured I’ve known him for years, so why not? We went upstairs where we continued to get to know each other and had a great night.

From then we began dating. Richardo took me to different museums and events around the city. We talked and laughed endlessly. The best part about our budding relationship was that it was based on mutual understandings and impeccable communication. Neither of us was forcing the other to change their mind about the expectations of where we were headed and we both just wanted to have a good time. This was especially helpful because as a single mother, I felt no urge to introduce him to my daughter and he wasn’t ready to meet her either.

On a whim, Rick invited me to LA where he was going to visit one of his closest friends who happened to be roommates with my cousin, who Rick also knew because we all attended the same high school. It was short notice, but being one to now say yes, I said yes! We had different travel dates but met in LA where we had a fantastic experience bonding under the California sun.

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Everything was going well as we continued dating for the next 6 months.

Then I turned 29.

Then I realized 30 was next.

Did I want to be married? Did I want more children? Was society a constant reminder of my ever-ticking biological clock?

Well, yes.

Yes, yes, yes! I wanted all of those things. I hadn’t wanted them before and I knew for sure that Richardo did not want them. So I broke things off with him. It wasn’t an easy thing to do but it was the right thing to do. I learned from prior experiences that you cannot make people do what they’ve specifically said they do not want to do. Even if they oblige for the moment, people eventually do what they want, or they lash out in other usually painful ways. I respected him and his wishes, so I said goodbye.

For the next 4 months, I went hard in the dating world. I was determined to find my future husband, and it got really old, really quick. After going out on about 10 dates with about 5 guys, I decided it was more my speed to go back to the way things were when I was dating Richardo. Fun, free, easy and zero expectations. I put goals of continuing a family to the side in exchange for appreciating the life I already had.

I reached out to Rick one evening while I was out celebrating a friend’s birthday. He picked me up from the Queens strip club where I was and that’s when we picked up like we never left off. We began dating again, non-monogamously just as before. As only the universe would have it, we both had unprotected sex with other partners.

I was late.

She was late.

We were terrified.

The thought of either of us being pregnant with someone else’s child was frightening. Up until that point, things we pretty carefree between us but these pregnancy scares put a lot into perspective about where we saw our futures going. My period came, as did hers, but the scare was not in vain.

Rick went on a trip to Finland for work which is when we confessed our love for one another in a long distance phone call- even though the energy between us felt as though we were right next to each other. Our relationship progressed from that moment. We introduced each other to our families and what I thought I had planned for the future had been altered, yet again.

We began talking about getting married. He started becoming more present and intentional in my daughter’s life. He asked my father for permission to marry me and he told me to pick out my ring. Later, we went to the jewelry store where I had found the perfect ring and he purchased it. Good luck surprising me with this, I thought.

A month and some change later, I went back to LA to visit our friend and my cousin. I left Rick back home because due to the timing of the trip and his new schedule as a middle-school teacher, he was unable to join me. Our friends had a jam-packed schedule planned for me during my stay, complete with an itinerary. On February 10th, 2017, after a trip to The Broad Museum, a massage and dinner at The Cheesecake Factory, I was taken to Urban Lights, an installment of 202 restored cast iron antique street lamps, being told it would be a great photo op destination. When we arrived, my cousin asked me to record him singing. He’s in the music industry but he’s no singer. I held my phone as I awkwardly recorded him sing his rendition of “Here’s your Queen” from Coming to America, (he changed the lyrics to “Here’s Your King” a detail I didn’t put together until later). At the end of the song, he moves to the side and I see Richardo walking down the row of lights.

That was the ultimate mind fuck. All I could think was…

What’s happening?

Where am I?

What is he doing here?

He’s saying things to me but I can’t hear him.

Oh my God, he’s getting down on one knee.

Is this really happening?

Oh my God, this is really happening! He flew across the country to surprise me!

While trying to catching my breath and looking over his shoulder, I saw that one of my best friends, Patria, also from New York had flown in to witness this moment. Another friend of ours, GG had also flown in from Colorado to photograph and document it all.

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Click Here For The Proposal Video

This was an incredible proposal that only the most incredible man could have pulled off. I am so excited to see what is in store for us. Richardo is my number 1 fan and is just as much as gentleman today as he was on our first date.

We’re getting married on October 6th and we couldn’t be more excited to share our lives and our love, together, forever.

Gems

Gems

I’m sitting here at my dining table, looking out the window. It’s snowing. It’s 10:00 am. I have a cup of tea, with almond milk and I’ve just finished eating a piece of artisan bread with butter and a bit of honey. The heat is on and I’m toasty even though my arms are bare in this nude colored maxi dress turned housecoat. I feel good. I’m surrounded by an atmosphere that I’ve created to specifically please myself. Let’s take a look around….

The Flowers

The Fruit Basket

The Tree

The Easel

The Books

The Couch

The Chairs

The Tables

And the Art

All hand picked for me, by me. Life is grand and I’m able to see the great in things much better these days; much quicker. This, of course, didn’t come to me for free. Many struggles, frustrations and difficult times were pushed through to get here and I have a much more intentional and happy life because of those hurdles.

I haven’t always been sure what about what I have to share with the world, but today I am confident beyond measure that what I have to say could save a life, change a life or turn a life around because these gems are exactly what did all those things for me.

I, by no means, claim to be an expert in mental health but I am a living testament to the practices I subscribe to and have been blessed with the gift of word to spread a message of hope, love, and healing.

How did I find these gems? I googled them, of course! I set out looking to find the keys to happiness, so that is exactly what I found.

Here are some of the gems that have helped me along my path….

Make a list of all the small things that make you happy
Do more of what you love, love more of what you do 
Fall in love with as many things as possible
Even mixed signals are clear signals
Accept the apology you never received
Apologize, often
Leave the world better than you found it
Breath deeply and with intention
Appreciate the space between “Not Anymore” and “Not Yet”
Enjoy the process

Struggles with mental health are real, and not readily understood by all. There are as many paths to healing as there are paths that brought you into seeking healing in the first place.

I also found it helpful to read and reread books that focus on reshaping the mind and reprogramming old habits into transformative new ones. The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz and A Return To Love by Marianne Williamson are among my favorites and can be purchased by using the links below.

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Do you have any gems that have influenced your personal journey? Please share them below. Let’s keep the dialogue going because depression works best when hidden. Uncover and heal!

Blessings.

 

Feeling Like a Freak on a Leash

Feeling Like a Freak on a Leash

My baby feels like a freak.

My 10-year-old, little peanut, sweetest girl in the world, feels like a freak.

And for now, all I can do is listen to her cries, and assure her that one day all of her peers will be bleeding from their vaginas too. But for now, she’s the first in her class, and she feels like a freak.

Some change feels natural. Like from being held in a womb, to in arms, to sitting up, to crawling, to walking, to running. And some change feels abusive and unnecessary, like bleeding for days from your private area, every month,  in order to be able to have babies in 20 years…. Like really?

She and I had different experiences. I was 13 and one of the last of my friends to get their periods. I was eager for puberty. I had a book called “What’s Happening To My Body: A Book For Girls”. I studied the pictures to make sure my boobs and pubes were developing on schedule, and they were not. My best friend had C cups, and I was still in training. I longed for my period, and for the rest of puberty, and my baby girl just wants to slow down.

“Mommy went through it, every auntie and grandma you got went through this too.” As her tears run down her little face, it seems as though my attempts at normalizing this phenomenon are futile.

But she wants to talk about it. And watch youtube videos. And she wants to hear stories. For that, I am grateful. I didn’t want to talk about things when I was her age and I built bad habits of keeping thoughts and fears to myself from early on. She’s not like me in that way. Her ability to talk things through and ask questions that are on her mind will help her manage this and all other changes she experiences.

When she was 3 years old and in a very strict, Catholic preschool, her biggest challenge was talking too much. One day a teacher from the school, pulled her aside and told her that speaking is her gift. Just like the old saying goes, I don’t remember that teachers name but I remember how she made us feel: anointed and special. So my daughter is using her gift to get through this time, and I hope she will remain whole and better for it.

This Saturday, we’ve invited some of our tribe members to come to our home for the purpose of welcoming my little one into womanhood; a “period party” if you will. This will be a time for love, support, and sharing. We’ve all felt freakish for one thing or another. Let’s talk about it, laugh about it, cry about it and normalize the fuck out of feeling like a freak.

I’m confident that she will be ok. We’re all ok with bleeding after a while. And she’ll get better about remembering to wrap things up and throw things away with practice. As time goes on, it will feel less and less “weird” and weird will turn into normal before we know it.

But for now, my baby feels like a freak.