Written by: Victoria
Your lives are overcrowded. Let’s face it. It’s often crowded with people—people we’d rather not take our time. It’s crowded with tasks you’ve “got to” complete otherwise you might not remain sane. Yours is a life crowded with abrasive sounds and sights, your senses assaulted by little screens in your pocket and big screens everywhere else. It’s crowded with gossiping friends, neighbors and family members and desires to be something you’re not. It’s crowded with fake friends or loneliness. Or great friends who are off living their great lives, at least according to Facebook! Your life is crowded with fears and hopes—but mostly fears. Does anyone even give a damn about me, you have asked yourself. It’s crowded with many experiences you’d rather not have and desires to have a better time with life though what you have today are things you once hoped for. Your life is so packed to immensity that it’s difficult to focus on the things you love because, somehow, life is devoid of all the things you wish you had. Stop.
Here’s what’s really going on: Your life, my dear, is overcrowded with the future and the past. And it is devoid of today.
Fear not! Somewhere along my search for meaning in my own life, I stumbled across a nugget of wisdom that I carry with me. I implore you to do the same.
Over one-hundred years ago, a man by the same of Sir William Osler, the most celebrated physician of his generation and the organizer of the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, came up with a simple philosophy on how to live his life in the simplest, most efficient way possible. He delivered a commencement address to the 1913 graduating class of Yale University. In the address, he told them of how he ‘d been on the Titanic (not the fateful voyage) and “stood on the bridge of one of the great liners, sailing the ocean at 25 knots.” He stood on the bridge with the captain and the captain, satisfying Osler’s curiosity, pressed a button. A signal had sounded and all of the water-tight compartments were closed as measure of safety in spite of the Titanic. Each compartment was able to remain safe by shutting out the threat of water on either side and the concept fascinated Osler, altering the course of his life, one must argue, for the better.
In his address to the Yale Students he urged:
“Now each one of you is a much more marvelous organization than the great liner, and bound on a longer voyage. What I urge is that you so learn to control the machinery as to live with day-tight compartments as the most certain way to ensure safety on the voyage. Get on the bridge and see that at least the great bulkheads are in working order. Touch a button, and hear at every level of your life the iron doors shutting out the past, the dread yesterdays. Touch another and shut off with a metal curtain the future, the unborn tomorrows. Then you are safe—safe for today. Shut off the past. Let the dead past bury its dead. Shut out the yesterdays which have lighted fools the way to dusty death. The load of tomorrow, added to that of yesterday carried today makes the strongest falter. Shut off the future as tightly as the past. The future is today—there is no tomorrow. The day of man’s salvation is now. Waste of energy, mental distress, nervous worries dog the steps of a man who is anxious about the future. Shut close then the great fore and aft bulkheads and prepare to cultivate the habit of a life of day-tight compartments.”
You can’t fix the future’s problems while you live in today. You can’t change the past in today. You can’t go back and do things you wish you had done. And the fears you replay like a movie in your mind have not been ushered to you by time—because your time is now. Today.
My advice to you, as I try to master Osler’s advice myself, is to do the task at hand. Go for something, rather than run from something so that you may do your best work toward a desirable end, whatever that is for you. But make it good! Life is supposed to be good. Start by making today good, too. Again, do you best work, every hour of today whether that means being a friend rather than looking for one. Or pushing yourself to go farther in this day than you have in any other.
And whatever you decide to do as your work, remember that this is a day that you will give to the ages upon your bedtime. You will never see it again, but rest aiming to make the next day your new masterpiece.
Learn from the past, yes. Plan for the future, of course. But shut them out, and the worries they bring, while you live wholly in today.
Written by: Victoria
Click on your television set. Tap on your smart phone. Flip open your computer. And it’s right there waiting on you. Today, it seems like negative messages bombard you from nearly every conceivable angle and you just can’t seem to evade it. No wonder then, that though information is at an all-time high, personal confidence seems to be at an all-time low. At least, that they way it seems—and especially among women.
In a competitive and shrinking world like ours confidence in oneself is paramount if we’re to gain the lives we once vividly envisioned for ourselves. And without confidence, living life enthusiastically—the way life is meant to be lived!—becomes a chore and, girl, it should never be that way.
Take note of these 5 simple, yet meaningful ways you can begin to cultivate confidence in yourself and your abilities as a person.
1. Really, Just Be Yourself
Try to remember that there is, nor will there ever be, another you on the face of the Earth. You get a grand total of one life, so what sense does it make to live as, and thereby in the shadow, of someone else? We are all born equipped with endless power and potential to do or become anything we first envision, but it’s only those of us who recognize our power as individuals that can use it. If you don’t realize the power is in you, you’ll never think use it. Well, I’m telling you it’s there. Remember that each of us is a giant who has the ability to cast her own great shadow across the Earth. Don’t leave this place without first daring to be yourself.
2. Learn people
Yes. Learn people. You can learn from them, of course, but each person will teach you a lesson, some of them worth learning, and others you’ve learned before. But when we say learn people, we mean learning about their thoughts, habits and actions. When you do this, you take away the guess work that comes with figuring out how they relate to you. When you know how men relate to you, and how they may differ from you, you can approach every encounter with confidence. Did you know that a full 95% of men conform to paradigms given to them from birth? Which means that they’ve conformed to life around them, instead of taking the initiative to design the lives they want, the lives they envisioned as children. Go confidently in the direction of your dreams, as Emerson said. Naysayers will come, but pay them no mind. Writer, Stephen King, is quoted as saying in his early days, when people would ask him, “When are you going to get a real job?” he would invariably answer: “My job is not reaching my deathbed with regrets about dreams I was too scared to pursue. You should look into it.”
He said that usually shut them the hell up.
3. Set yourself a purpose
When you have a purpose, you have literally given yourself something to live for, a reason to be alive. It’s not enough to think, “I’m alive because I’m supposed to be here.” But WHY? An even better question is this: In your view, what’s the highest possible use of your life? We don’t give thought to such a meaningful obligation as defining our own purposes, and most of us roam around life with no aim and no direction. But a purpose gives you that sense of direction. You’re bound to act confidently when you know where you’re going.
4. Set Yourself Some Goals
Now, we all know that setting goals are important. However, it’s when your goals align with your purpose that your purpose is solidified. Every day you inch closer to achieving one of your key goals, the clearer you see that every area of your life begins to coalesce brilliantly around you in ways you would have never imagined. You begin to see that achieving your goals and aspiring to your higher self helps others around you do the same, without much effort on your part. The cycle then feeds itself, and your growth is exponential and to me, this is one of life’s miracles.
5. Make Life React to You
Too often, we go through like in a prolonged reactionary state. That’s wrong. And that makes for a life ill-lived. Men are not the creatures of circumstance, as we often hear it. Circumstances are the creatures of men! What you see, what you perceive will be true for you. When I’m having a low-confidence moment, I immediately ask myself: “What can I do right now to show myself that I still have control of this day?” And immediately, I’m made aware of the present—and where I fit in it. If I see a stranger approach, I not only smile, but I make a deliberate choice to try and make myself the most cheerful fool this ‘stranger’ has seen all day. Sometimes the reactions are priceless, but the interactions are always memorable. It’s a good way to remember that life is to be confidently lived, not reacted to.
In our world, it’s not so easy to feel like you’re on the summit of Everest every minute of the day. But you can easily climb to the summit of good ol’ glorious you. Just remember any one of these pointers, and make the decision to use it. You’ll get to the top of the world in due time.
A true fighter! Serena Williams: 2012 U.S. Open Champion.
HOW TO BE A SERENA WILLIAMS HATER
(In no particular order:)
1. Accuse Ms. Williams of using steroids after she wins a title.
2. Pretend to be a tennis fan, just so you can root for Serena’s opponents. Doesn’t matter if you can’t pronounce the woman’s name–as long as she beats Serena. You’s a hater.
3. Call her fat, though clearly you can see that she is not.
4. Call her a man, though clearly you can see that she is not. CLEARLY.
5. Compare her to an animal, any animal…just because you’re full of shit.
6. Live your life like it’s still 2009 by bringing up the US Open “foot fault-gate” every chance you get, especially after Serena Williams has won a title. (Or any other time, really.)
7. Feign outrage when your bland ass finally find out what the “c” in C-Walk stands for. Then pretend that Serena Williams…
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If you’re reading this article, chances are you’re considering–if you haven’t already–leaving behind the “creamy crack” of the relaxer and going natural. If you’re still in the “maybe” phase, below are 10 tips that should help you get closer to a clear “yes” or “no.” So without further delay…
1. Decide if it’s something you REALLY want to do.
You’re beginning to notice a lot more afros around town and on television than you did just a few years ago. You think, “Hmph…maybe I ought to go natural, too.” Uh…no. That is NOT ideal, girl, because going natural is not a venture for the faint of heart. You must first DECIDE that it’s something that you MUST do, don’t “try it out” without knowing what you’re getting yourself into. By definition, to decide is to cut off all other options, leaving yourself with only one. Many naturals who fail, do so because at the time they go natural, the don’t know if they really want to be natural, i.e. they haven’t decided. And what they end up doing is wasting their time, trying to treat their hair the way they’ve always done. In the end, they’re left with way less hair than they started with and a mirror full of regrets. Don’t be that person. Consider the following questions: Am I prepared to style my hair with different methods that support my new texture? Am I ready to love my hair, regardless of the texture? Am I ready for possible negativity from my family and friends? Will I be self-conscious of my new look? Those are just a few! Regardless, decide if it’s something you want to do and if you should find yourself unsure, do yourself a favor and WAIT.
2. Research, Research, Research.
There are few good reasons in the world for you to go natural without prior research. You literally have the world at your fingertips and if you’re reading this, chances are you have the internet. Now, I’d consider this article a part of your research, but please don’t stop here. You have access to countless videos on the web, numerous articles (like this one) as well as forums filled with naturals–veterans, “transitioners” and the curious looking to have their questions answered before making their decision. Before I went natural, I watched women document their transition journeys on YouTube as well as weighing the pros and cons of transitioning. I found women who were unhappy with their journey, as well as those who would never return to relaxed. Research is your greatest tool for coming to a sound decision.
3. Decide how long you want to transition.
Some ladies, once they decide, know they don’t want to transition for a long period of time. One months, three months tops. And then there are the others who don’t want the drastic change in length and would like enough time to say “goodbye” to their old hair–their old images in large part. You know yourself better than anyone else. Do your research and determine whether a long or short transition suits you best. I personally planned to transition for 8 months, but I became restless and impatient. I thought I was one of those “I don’t want to lose my length” girls, but once I realized I had ‘divorced’ perms forever, I found no reason to keep the straight ends. I came home from work one day, found the nearest pair of scissors and I got to “big-chopping” a mere 2 months after first deciding to go natural. It was liberating to shed society’s views of what my hair should look like and I’ve never looked back. But that’s MY experience. You’ll know when the time is right. Trust your instincts.
4. When transitioning, keep your “fresh” roots and processed ends healthy and moisturized.
As you’re transitioning and your natural hair texture begins to emerge, it’s vital to keep both textures moisturized and healthy. When the strands of the hair are well-conditioned, they are by default less fragile. Less fragile strands means more hair on your head! (At least, while you are transitioning.) Please understand this. When your hair contains two vastly different textures, something’s gonna have to give. There is something called the “line of demarcation” where the fragility of the hair strand is the most pronounced. If that entire strand is not healthy and flexible, that strand will break–without fail. Each and every strand of your transitioning hair is like this. Unless you want half-fuzzy, half-hot mess hair, your goal is to keep it juicy. Now, here’s the bad news: Keeping you hair moisturized is great, but it only delays the inevitable. At some point, healthy or not, your permed hair is going to break off eventually, if you transition for long enough to find out. The good news is that the hair you end up with will have had a very healthy debut.
5. Transition style may help (braids, twists, quick weaves)
When you’re transitioning, you may opt for what I think is the MUCH easier route: using a “transition style” to help lower any possible stress or inconvenience. Some women opt for braids or kinky twists, with or without extensions. Others go for simple wigs or weaves. Still, the idea behind a transition style is to keep your fragile hair free from being ‘over-handled.’ If you plan to transition for any length of time longer than a few months, I’d consider using a transition style during much of the process. Not to mention it helps to pass the time of the transition period while your hair is coming in. While transition styles are convenient, many women make the mistake of thinking they don’t have to do anything else to keep their hair healthy–WRONG! Please see tip #4 for further information.
6. Chop it off, Girl. You gotta do it eventually.
This is the inevitable step that most soon-to-be naturals fear, and for understandable reasons. They worry about how they’ll look all natural, what people will say and of course…shrinkage. Fear not. Your hair will grow. You may not want to rock a teeny weeny afro like I did, but rest assured: Your. Hair. Will. Grow. When I decided to go natural, my permed hair was a good 4 inches below my shoulders. When I was permed, I had never cut my hair–only the ends–and that was the length I had fought for my entire adulthood. I went natural and my hair strands were longer than the relaxed length. That took 2.5 years and I’ve been natural for a little over 3 years. Your hair will grow, and fast, if it’s healthy. You’ll need the courage to chop, the will to care for your hair and the patience to wait. If going natural is a deliberate choice, this shouldn’t be a problem.
7. Keep your natural hair happy.
Okay. You big chopped. CONGRATULATIONS! Even though you are officially natural, you may still experience a few kinks along the way (pun so intended), though they should be few and far between. The best thing about being natural is that, despite what you may have heard from those who know jack shit about natural hair, it is unbelievably easy to manage. This is where all the time you invested in research begins to pay off, and quite handsomely. Having natural, healthy hair is a simple kind of happiness. Think about it: When else have you been able to wash your hair in the show before work–daily if you desired–and head straight out the door? Also, keep your ends snipped. I clip my ends roughly every 2 months. No need to get crazy, here.
8. Leave your hair alone!
I’m assuming you want your hair to grow. You’ve seen all the YouTube videos with the naturals who took the plunge some time ago, and now they have hair to their navels! You can’t wait for that to be you so you can make your own video and you begin to envision your own locs of natural glory!! (Hey, why not?) But peep this: You will never get there if you are trying out every single style you ever thought was cute every other day. Your hair needs a rest. In short–leave it alone for a while. Give it some space. Stop touching it every 2 minutes. (You know you do.) The simple fact is that the more you bother it, the more likely it is to break off. You hair is constantly growing, but overdoing it prevents you from retaining length. Just be mindful. Style it, yes. Punish it? No. (By the way, protective styles work wonders!)
Keep your natural hair happy by keeping your hair detangled. For this, a Denman brush is your best friend. No joke. And if you don’t have one, get one. Happy hair loves the Denman. They are relatively inexpensive, durable worth every penny you’ll spend on it. For detangling, I find the method that works best for me is to detangle my hair as much as possible before washing. Then while in the shower, use the Denman to gently brush through sections of my hair in the conditioning phase. Please do not–like never–try to detangle your hair from the roots. Break-off city. Take your time. Do it right. You’ll thank yourself when it’s time to style your hair the way you want it.
10. Stay Positive and don’t compare your hair to others
Lots of naturals go natural just hoping and praying that they get 3C or 3B hair texture because someone told them (or they told themselves?) that that’s the ‘good’ kind, as opposed to that nappy ass 4A and 4B hell. Newsflash, negrises: texture doesn’t make your hair ‘bad’ or ‘good.’ Your treatment of it does, though. Embrace your tight coils (if that phrasing makes you feel better.) I have 4B hair, the nappy negro kind, and I could not be more satisfied, because can’t too many broads rock a chunky fro like me. If I hit my head against something hard, I literally have a cushion on my head to dampen the would-be boo-boo. Pros and cons, y’all. The detangling process is a little more involved, but it’s a small price to pay for all the admiration a natural receives. And though you don’t necessarily need the admiration, it’s nice to have your authenticity appreciated by others.
Bonus: Enjoy your hair’s growth and health and your freedom from all those damned chemical burns. Need I say more?