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Well, here we are going into nearly our FOURTH month of this pandemic.  Who would’ve ever thunk it?  Anyway…I don’t know about you, but I find that with all that’s going on (including everything besides the pandemic), I look for ways to be entertained or laugh or just be plain ole delighted.

With that being said, I have literally become stalkerish about Tabitha Brown.  Who is Tabitha Brown you ask?  She is truly a breath of fresh air, and if you don’t follow her on any of her social media, I suggest you do so.  Why?  Because of her calming voice, “I’m your best girlfriend” demeanor and to-die-for ‘fro (if you love ‘fros, that is)!  And let’s not forget that melodious Southern accent!  Most of her videos are about her vegan lifestyle and delicious things to cook that have nothing to do with meat.  She also includes her husband and children in her videos and they are just as engaging as she is.  Well, almost.   Just like many of us, her talent came to the forefront through, and in spite of, the challenges she’s faced in her life.  You just never know where you might end up!

If you’re familiar with Tabitha (or even if you’re not) – here’s a Youtube video on why she went vegan:

And honey (in my Tabitha voice), read her “herstory” in the NY Times by clicking on the link below:

The Joy of Vegan Cooking, 60 Seconds at a Time

Finally, follow her on social media!

Comical, refreshing, positive, entertaining, and giving you all the tea on a lot of things – that’s Tabitha.  My newest virtual BFF, my WCW – I’m telling you but, really…. it’s my business!

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This particular blog post is not written to politicize or go into any negative or opinionated rhetoric about the events over the past few weeks.  We already know the cause and underlying foundation of the protests, the looting and the civil unrest we’ve experienced.  No need to go into that.  But one event that sticks out in my mind is an event that occurred when I was a mere 7 years old.  But I remember it like it happened yesterday.  The assassination and funeral (going home ceremony) of  Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in April, 1968.

Thinking back to that time so long ago, I ran across a pictorial blog during a Google search.  It mentions that while riots and looting broke out in most cities in America as a result of his assassination, there was peace and quiet in Atlanta, Georgia.  You can view the pictorial here:  Keeping the Peace for Martin Luther King, Jr.

On the flip side, I remember that in New York City at that time, there were riots, fires and destruction.  My father was the Assistant Manager at a grocery store in Harlem (135th Street and Lenox Avenue across from Harlem Hospital) and the only reason the store that was his place of employment wasn’t burned to the ground was because my father was friendly with many of the Black Panthers and other activists in the neighborhood who shopped at the store.  Because of him, they made his place of employment safe.  That similarity of the memory of the store my father managed remaining virtually untouched  in New York and the peaceful, quiet reverent march of the many mourners who followed the horse-drawn wagon that carried the casket of Dr. King through the streets of Atlanta stands out in my mind all these years later.

I’m not really sure why I felt it important to write this post.  It is not written to condemn protests and looting; nor is it to give it the thumbs up.  But it is to acknowledge that while civil unrest broke loose all around, in the place where the man who believed peace was the answer, peace was demonstrated out of respect for him.  And how it stands out in my mind that both the unrest that has recently flowed through the streets of America and the peaceful protests (much like the peaceful Dr. King mourners) are each a way to show how we feel.  None of it is 100% right, yet none is wrong either.  While I truly wring my hands in anguish over the negative parts of this thing, I am also fully aware that on that ugly day when all said goodbye to Dr. King, it was quiet in one place – one place in Atlanta, and one place in New York.

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Have you ever watched a movie where the writers presented alternate endings?  You’d be surprised to know that most movies have alternate endings, whether the writer wrote a different scenario for the end that no one liked so it ended up on the cutting room floor.  Or one the writer decided never to write in and no one ever knew about it.  No matter the circumstance, alternate endings can change the trajectory of the entire story as we know it – for better or for worse.

At the end of every day, before you go to sleep, go back through the events of the day.  Any events or moments that were not what you wanted, replay them in your mind the way you wanted them to go. – from The Secret Daily Teachings, Day 364

Imagine that just by replaying the events of your day in your mind the way you wanted them to go could change the way it actually went.  Just like in the movies and TV shows, the hero doesn’t die, the cute couple gets married instead of breaking up, and someone gets away with the whole bag of money (like Jada Pinkett Smith’s character in the movie Set it Off).   Being still and thinking about those things that we are grateful for that happened that day can turn a “bad” day into a good one.  I believe by ending the day on a happy note as much as we can, sifting through negativity to manifest good and positive silver linings and being kind to ourselves, the ability to create a multitude of alternate endings for our lives is possible.  Action!

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Well, we’ve “stayed at home” for almost three months now… many of us are spending more time in our homes than ever before!  On one of my recent work conference calls, one of my coworkers said she always used the excuse that she didn’t have time for projects at home because she spent so much time at work.  Now that she’s staying home more, she’s discovered that’s not the problem at all! I guess many of her projects are still not getting done.

If you’d rather not pressure yourself by ticking off lists of boring to-do’s, get creative so it doesn’t seem like work!  How?  By tapping into all or a few of the five senses – see, smell, taste, hear and touch.  Think about it, the most pleasurable things are conjured up to stimulate our senses.  Here are 3 ways I recommend to spark your sense of smell, taste and hearing during this stay-at-home time:

HOME FRAGRANCE!

I have a very keen sense of smell and I so enjoy a great fragrance, especially for the home!  It is said that a clean house shouldn’t smell like anything, but if you like a pleasant scent for the home, try this tip offered by Melissa Maker, founder of the cleaning company Clean My Space from Real Simple magazine (November, 2019): In a bucket, mix a gallon of hot water, ¼ cup of rubbing alcohol, and a pure essential oil, like citrus or lavender (use 10 drops for tile and 2-3 drops for wood).  Dampen your pad mop with the solution and mop away! Not only will it give your floor a shine, it leaves a wonderful “zen-ful” scent in the room.  (Ahhhh!)  For more smell good tips for the home, visit realsimple.com/goodsmells.

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COOK SOMETHING GOOD!

I know, I know…since we are confined to our homes, it doesn’t give us carte blanche to eat whatever we want and not pay for it later….but let’s face it, we still have days when we need a little bit of comfort food.  That’s where Divas Can Cook comes in.  I’ve been following Ms. Monique for a while now, as she shares her Grandma Barb’s recipes on her website and social media.  Love her videos! Here are two of my faves that I’ve tried:

Creamy Baked Macaroni & Cheese – get ready now ‘cuz this is a very cheesy, creamy and delicious mac & cheese!  

And for breakfast, or with your shrimp or seafood of your choice, try this Southern Creamy Grits recipe:

 

I know, you’ll be working this food off in your home gym for a whole week, but it’ll be soooo worth it!

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SOUNDS OF NATURE!

My backyard has really been a place of refuge for me during this time.  I sit out there and revel at the beautiful clear sky (have you noticed how blue the blue of the sky has been since there aren’t a bajillion cars on the road polluting the air?)  The collective sound of the breeze blowing through the leaves on the trees, and the chirp-chirp of the birds are some of the best types of meditation there is.  Or, I just sit, plug in my earbuds and listen to my many playlists on Spotify or my two favorite stations on Sirius XM (The Groove and Studio 54).  I have always been a lover of music, but I find myself listening to so much more since I’ve been at home.  

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So what are some of your favorite things you’ve discovered (or rediscovered) during your stay-at-home time?  I’d love to hear about it!  Happy Quarantining!

 

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When I became a member of Classy Living Society (CLS) in 2015, I was at a point in my life when I was looking for a way to give back – because of a trying event that occurred the previous year and because I wanted to acknowledge the blessings I had enjoyed throughout my life.  I also learned a great deal about generosity and giving. I realized that I learned so much more as well – my experiences with giving back and working side by side with my CLS sisters encouraged me to celebrate and love myself and to validate and pay more attention to my talents and dreams.

Last week was National Volunteer Week, a week set aside for an annual celebration of the wonderful things that volunteers do across the nation.  This is a very important celebration for CLS as well, and normally we schedule a week filled with volunteer events in which we get together physically and give back.  Of course, we weren’t able to do that because of the current pandemic, so we embarked upon a week of virtual activities.  The final event – our “closing ceremony” – was Self Care Saturday, a day to take care of ourselves.  I chose to sit in my backyard and gaze at the clouds while enjoying a frozen margarita.  It was a perfect meditation: the sun, the birdsong, the gentle breeze.  And deep thought.

I thought about how we women are such nurturing spirits – oftentimes to a fault. We take care of and are mindful of everyone else around us – sometimes sacrificing and pushing aside our own needs and desires. And that’s okay…I believe that’s how God hard-wired us to be.  But taking the time to take care of you and reflect on your internal self means that all of the external (people, your home, job, your dreams, etc.) receives that good energy. Love on yourself first. Give yourself positive feedback & dialogue. Boundlessly focus on and celebrate your passion and desires. You AND the world around you will profit from it!  Giving back also means giving to yourself.

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A few days ago, as I prepared to make my grocery store run to pick up a few “essentials”, I stopped short at my reflection in the mirror.  One month into this pandemic quarantine stay at home shelter in place situation has done a number on my hair! I’m missing my periodic visit to my hairstylist or barber for a trim and/or to spruce up my ‘do!  These days certainly call for bad hair day alternatives – a baseball cap or sporty fedora…or…a head wrap!  Scarves, turbans and head wraps are extremely versatile and offer the opportunity of wrapping your head in variety of colorful fabrics to suit your mood and style.  Here are 5 links to fun and easy “how-to’s” that will have you on your way to becoming a head wrap expert!

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Essence Magazine recently shared “5 Easy Head Wrap Tutorials to Try Before Your Next Zoom Meeting“, which will provide a great start to variety of head wraps.  Click on the title link to be on your way!

I was drawn to YouTube as well because there are a number of tutorials offered there.  Here’s one that caught my eye because of the gorgeous fabrics!

I learned also that the structure and look of the head wrap depends on whether your hair is long or short.  I also learned you can create a tall turban even if you don’t have a bushel of hair! Like so:

Head wraps are also a great way to cover hair loss as a result of bouts with alopecia, or from chemotherapy treatments for our warrior sisters battling cancer.  Tune in to ZsjaZsja!

Finally, here’s one for my sisters with the big curlies or long braids!

There are many many awesome tutorials on Youtube that are easy to follow and just entertaining to watch!  Choose the one that speaks to your style and start wrapping!

For my grocery store journey, I went with one of the turban style head wraps featured in the Essence Magazine article, added earrings, lip gloss and was out the door!  Which of these did you like the most?  Do you wear head wraps, scarves or turbans as a regular style choice?  Tell me your head wrap story in the comments!

 

 

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COVID-19…Coronavirus…social distancing…quarantine…

Seemingly overnight, these phrases have become part of our daily vocabulary as the Coronavirus Crisis continues. 

Let’s think about a cup of coffee as a comparison to these times.  When purchasing a cup of gourmet coffee, the barista will ask, shall I leave room for cream?   Some people (and some people are me) drink their coffee black; no sugar, no cream or milk, no extras!  It’s a bitter pill to swallow for some people who don’t drink it this way. Black coffee is definitely stronger; small doses are the best way to go.  For other people, the answer is yes(!) leave room for cream…and they load their coffee up with cream or milk, sugar and other additives. Sometimes when I do decide to doctor my coffee up with these extras, I revel in how delightful its warm creaminess is, like the sweetest things in life.

These days, when the news and social media are filled with stories of sickness, death, politics, unemployment and a generally uncertain financial landscape, I liken this to the cup of black coffee.  We swallow this collective news because we have a desire to stay informed. Yet it is a bitter drink to swallow, in all of its murky darkness. Because of its bitterness and strength, small doses at a time should be the way to go.  

In these times, it may be a better option to leave room for cream.  Being quarantined at home means we spend more time with family and/or significant others.  It means we homeschool our children and work from home simultaneously – tasks we may not have ever had to conquer before.  It can be stressful. But we are strong and we will get through it.

Leave room for the cream.  Stay informed (black coffee), but add some cream to it.  Cherish time with family, bond with the teen(s) in ways you may not have been able to before.  Play games and act silly with the little kids. Schedule “date night” with your boo in your bedroom, locked door, candles and wine included.  Take a walk, smell the roses, enjoy the sunshine. Continue or find a new hobby, read a book. Or just spend some time with yourself, journaling, meditating and cultivating your spiritual life.

Once we are on the other side of this – and we will be on the other side of this…our to-do lists and external activities will once again fill our lives.  These are troubling times – to be sure. But if you’re able, focus on what you can do now to make life golden right there where you are.  Have you left room for the cream?

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It’s OK to not be OK.

I posted this phrase on my Instagram profile last week.  It wasn’t the first time I saw it and it wasn’t the first time I posted it on social media.  Or said it to someone who needed to hear it.  But I felt it was just right for the time – once again.

In the wake of the tragic death of Kobe Bryant and his beautiful daughter GiGi, many people wondered why they felt such grief and heartbreak over people they didn’t know.  And I’m here to tell you – despite what others may say or think, it’s OK to feel what you feel – period!

It’s OK…

If you feel sadness or grief over the loss of people you don’t know.  If you don’t react to situations the same way other people think you should.  If your show of strength doesn’t match that of the other “strong” people in your midst.  If your modus operandi is to whine and have a pity party before you get up and dust yourself off to march on.  If you choose to go inward for self-reflection after a broken relationship instead of starting the next new one.  If you constantly hear, “why can’t you be more like [fill in the blank of that person you’re compared to] and handle it their way?”  If you’re being told it is selfish to acknowledge how you feel first even though you know deep down inside that it’s okay to put yourself first.

There’s nothing in the book of life that says you always have to be strong.  Or that you can’t ask for help without judgment or pause or desire someone to be there and simply say “I got you!”  And they really do…  

So, for whomever needs to hear this…go ahead and cry, kick and scream or just sit in the silence of your deep thoughts.  It’s OK to not be OK.

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I read with interest this past week that Prince Harry and his beautiful bride Meghan will no longer be known as “royal highnesses.”  My first thought was that while it may be difficult to adjust to not being known as something you’re used to being called (especially in Prince Harry’s case), it’s a step in the right direction in their plan to step away from life with the royal family.  Seemingly never one to conform to societal norms since he was a youngster, this is probably right up Prince Harry’s alley.

I began to think about the many titles we gain and lose in our lives and how the change in status can affect our lifestyles.  For instance, when a woman gets a divorce, she is no longer a “Mrs.” – and losing the title may symbolize a desired freedom.  For other women, it may be the beginning of a long hard adjustment not being known as Mrs. “___” anymore.  Even if you want the divorce, it’s difficult to adjust to not being a Mrs. after a number of years.  In my case, I got married the first time at age 24, was married for about 10 years, divorced, got married again at age 39, and divorced 13 years later.  I’ve been a Mrs. half of my existence, and each time I lost my title, I was thrust into a situation where I had to renew myself.  No doubt a big adjustment; yet growth as well.

Whether or not the situation is planned, now is the time to forge a new life, and such is the case with Harry and Meghan.  No matter what title you hold, no matter how many degrees you’ve earned or how many movies you’ve starred in – you are still you.  A title doesn’t define who the Divine Creator formed you to be.  Nor does it define your character, integrity, level of self-esteem and so on – you are still you.  The growth in losing a title or status comes in because you don’t have it to hide behind anymore.  The ego is being challenged and you are forced to face the new you, in whatever capacity it comes. The same can be said for a title you gain or currently hold – it acknowledges recognition for your accomplishment – but it does not designate who you are at your core.

As Shakespeare said, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.”  You could call a rose a potato…but won’t it still be a fragrant little spud?  It matters not whether Harry and Meghan – or you or me – are known by certain titles.  What matters is the genuineness of our hearts and that we acknowledge and know who we are.

 

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And just like that…we have both feet into the New Year 2020!

What are some of the goals you’d like to accomplish or press the start button on this year?  Do you know what tools you’ll need to succeed? There are a ton of books, websites, videos, podcasts and all that can help you reach your goals, but no matter what information you choose to digest…the real success begins with you.  You are the one who will make yourself a winner!

The Best Possible Self Technique

I’ve been reading about a mental/emotional exercise called “Best Possible Self” – which is a technique to bring about positive thinking.  This is how it works: visualize yourself virtually problem-free and living your dream life at some point in the future, i.e. one year, five years and so on.  Take some time thinking about where you’d like to be in your life by that time and jot down the particulars in a journal. Your visualization needs to be realistic, something you know you can achieve, even if it requires a little work.

The next step is to write down all of the necessary things you need to do to get there — traits you need to adopt or knowledge you need to acquire.  What plans do you need to make to make your dream/goal a reality? At the bottom line, the Best Possible Self exercise allows you to visualize where you’d like to be, make plans to get there, but more importantly, it gives you something to look forward to today, increasing your present level of happiness, hope and well-being.  It also aids in eradicating “rearview mirror” thinking, which is the act of dwelling on past failures, situations and people.  Dwelling on the past will hold you back from forward movement.

The Art of Visualization

Following the Best Possible Self technique is similar to creating a vision board, a popular visualization tool for children and adults alike.  What better pass time at the first of the year to put your dreams and goals into clear focus than to create a collage of cut-out pictures, photos and words?  It’s even more exciting to look back on past vision boards to see what dreams have come to fruition for you. Have you ever created a vision board?

I rely heavily on visualization in my life – for instance, if I’m purchasing a home, I have to stand in the home and visualize myself living there, or else it’s not the home for me.  Visuals and instinct have rescued me from some serious situations, has helped me make decisions, and reassured me “it’s already alright” when my faith was diminishing.

Whether you use the Best Possible Self method of journaling, creating a vision board or relying day-to-day on the dreams and visions that swim around in your head – when you see things clearly in the future, much of what you visualize will materialize.  In these changing times, hope for your own future is just a daydream away.

“Visualize the most amazing life imaginable to you. Close your eyes and see it clearly. Then hold the vision for as long as you can. Now place the vision in God’s hands and consider it done.” Marianne Williamson

 

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Welcome to the NEW Classy Chronicles!

Formerly, the Classy Chronicles was the official online digital magazine of Classy Living Society. The newly revamped Classy Chronicles is now a platform housed on the Classy Living Society website! Through easy-to-navigate dropdown menus, the Classy Chronicles provides an outlet to many subjects of interest at the click of a mouse – articles and features that highlight people who are doing amazing things in the community, health and wellness, work-life balance, beauty and fashion and more!

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