“It’s Just Too Much”; Why Teens are Mean pt. 2

Yeah, yeah, it’s been a while. Are you still there?

 

As promised, I’m here to continue the conversation about communication, emotions, and our ability to express them in a healthy way. Today I want to focus on emotional numbing and how it affects the psyche.

In my last post I highlighted the ways in which all humans have a tendency to ignore or discount their own feelings and emotions. For maturing teens, this is especially difficult. Bottling up emotions can lead to violent outbursts and feelings of confusion and pain. When we express our emotions in a healthy way, we are able to let go of the need to bottle them up. Letting go of this natural tendency will allow more energy to flow through your heart, body and mind.

During transitional phases in our lives, bottling up emotions can seem like the only way to get through it. It’s not always possible to express our emotions constructively and many people don’t know how to start. Some people suppress their emotions, while others ignore them entirely. When an individual becomes overwhelmed with stimuli, a natural response is to shut down. Like a computer running multiple programs that hasn’t been restarted in weeks, the human brain becomes slow and bogged down.

You may wonder what the difference is between bottling up emotions and becoming numb to them.

When you bottle up an emotion, there is an air of secrecy. Maybe you think your feelings are unjustified, unimportant or that no one will care how you feel. In these situations, you keep your feelings and thoughts to yourself and ignore the emotions connected to them.

Emotional numbing is when we become closed off and unable to feel deep emotion altogether. Sometimes this is in defense against pain or injustice from our past, but there are innumerable reasons. When we feel overwhelmed by our constant flood of emotions and thoughts, we can become overstimulated and unsure of where to start when it comes to figuring out “what’s wrong.” Instead, we might just close ourselves off to emotion entirely.

Common phrases to hear from someone who is emotionally numb are “It’s too much to handle” or “I don’t know how I feel.”

Emotional numbing is a natural way of protecting oneself. When we have suffered a wrong, it can feel easier to just block everyone and everything out rather than facing the pain head-on. Compared to bottling our feelings which leads to outbursts, emotional numbing can seem like the “healthier” way to deal with problems. But in reality, it is even harder to recover from emotional numbing than emotional outbursts.

Emotional numbing can be incredibly damaging on the brain and heart. It’s not the freezing of the heart that hurts. It’s the thawing out that shocks our system. You might ask why not just stay frozen? After all, it’s comfortable there. You feel protected there. It’s easy to stay safe and avoid all the bad feelings if you look at life from far away. I’ll tell you why…

When you close yourself off from emotion, you not only block out the bad feelings, but you simultaneously eliminate the chance for good feelings as well. I’m not just talking about happy and sad though. I’m talking about a general sense of feeling alive, moving your body and exercising your muscles, feeling loved and excited and getting worked up about something that moves you. These are the feelings you eliminate by closing yourself off to emotion.

And the biggest part of it is that no matter how hard you try to block out those negative feelings  (anger, sadness, loneliness, insecurity) it won’t really matter because you’ll probably still feel them anyway. Instead, you’ll feel them inside. You’ll have conversations in your head with yourself reminding you of how you didn’t do well enough or that someone else could do better than you. This is called self-doubt. Self-doubt is a truly crippling type of hell. Plagued by ideas in your own head of what others must think of you, you avoid contact with people. Those who are most closed-off are often the most self conscious and insecure.

But let me ask you a question.

What’s the worst that could happen if someone says something rude to you or judges your character?


Teenagers are so driven by community and a sense of fitting in that they would do just about anything not to be made fun of for being different. Being the “weird” kid isn’t a title many kids sign up for willingly. The craving for community is what leads many teens to drug abuse, gangs, and dangerous behavior. It also leads them to bullying and an overall rejection of kids who are different from themselves.

This fear of rejection leaves a kid with few social options. Sometimes the choice is limited to only two options: be made fun of or make fun of others.

If you ask a teenager the question I posed above, the answer is likely to be radically different from that of an adult and also quite different from the answer of a child. During transitional phases in life, we experience a heavily opinionated inner critic who contributes to our self-doubt and self limiting beliefs. Much like a childhood bully, this critic picks apart the aspects of ourselves that we see as “flawed.”

The best way of preparing a child for the onslaught of confusing emotions, conflicting beliefs and uncontrollable desires that come with puberty is acceptance. Teaching children to respect, accept, and honor their feelings, even if they don’t know what these feelings mean, will give the child a greater sense of calm when faced with bigger issues.

Reminding kids to BE KIND to everyone they meet is the most important lesson of all- for every person is going through his or her own battle that we know nothing about. Every outward reaction is a mere reflection of one’s own relationship with the self. When someone is hurtful, they are usually hurting even more on the inside. Teach compassion, empathy, and an overall sense of care for others’ wellbeing.

This reminder to be kind no matter the situation reiterates the importance of honoring our emotions instead of ignoring them. It’s okay to feel. It’s okay to not be okay. It’s okay to be honest with others about what you’re going through. It’s okay because we’ve all been there. The collective human experience is filled with pain and hardship, but at the turn of every corner, you will find a reward worth every ounce of pain. Just keep going. Just be kind. First to yourself, and the rest will follow ❤

Always with love
xoxo
Dee

“I Hate You”; Why Teens are Mean pt. 1

Dear Reader,

Think back to a time when your emotions were so strong that you had to act on them- maybe you got frustrated and yelled out in anger, maybe you were feeling afraid and began to cry. Re-read that sentence and really think about it for a moment.

For some of you, this memory may be from when you were very young, still a child. For others, this memory of intense emotion may be from your teenage and young-adult years. For ALL of you reading this, it’s also possible that you experienced this just recently! We are human, after all. Emotion is what enriches our lives and also complicates it.


Teens and Emotions

Teenagers experience a wide range of emotions multiple times a day. Flooded with neurotransmitters, the teenage mind is in a constant state of rapid change. You may remember what that felt like or you may have witnessed it first-hand as it happened to your own child. The fact of the matter is that teenagers have a lot going on in their heads and it affects their behavior and understanding of the world more than they may realize.

There’s been a heavy weight on my mind and my heart recently. I know a couple of teenagers right now who are going through rough transitions into young-adulthood. One in particular is my little brother. I feel the pain he’s in when he acts out. I recognize the patterns of anger, sadness, insecurity, self judgment, and emotional numbing that I went through when I was his age (and still go through when my mind is not balanced). My brother and I share a tendency to bottle up our feelings and have subsequent outbursts of intense emotion. Sometimes we say things we don’t mean, whether intentionally hurtful or not, as an emotional reaction to how we feel on the inside. It’s not a fun place to be. It’s actually pretty fucking scary.

As a third party in the lives of both of the teenagers I know, I realize there is truly only one way in which I can help them through this tough time: understanding them. Trying to tell them what I’ve learned and how I learned it will do them no good. In order to grow, you must learn things in your own way and on your own timeline.

There are many ways in which a person copes with intense emotion. Two natural ways of dealing with emotion are through emotional outbursts and emotional numbing. Outbursts are caused when emotions aren’t fully expressed and bottle up over time. Numbing happens when a person becomes so overwhelmed by their thoughts and feelings that they become desensitized and experience a disconnection with all feelings.


Cause: Bottling Up Emotions

Even though we may not enjoy these emotions -anger, sadness, insecurity, etc- they are all natural emotions that we feel as humans. If we don’t express them, they can bottle up. Sometimes it happens in such a subtle way that we don’t even realize it.

Example: Adults Bottling Emotions Example: Teens Bottling Emotions
  • Your roommate stayed up all night and kept you awake, but instead of knocking on the door and asking her to keep it down, you laid awake in bed thinking about how rude she’s being and reconsidering living with her.
  • A kid at school made fun of you and everyone laughed. Instead of telling the kid to leave you alone and that you don’t care what they say about you, you avoid the kid and all of their friends.
  • You get jealous when your partner spends time with other people. You trust your partner, but you are unable to shake the feeling of jealousy, so instead you hide it. Instead of expressing the feeling, you pretend you aren’t jealous and think negatively about yourself for feeling that way.
  • Your parents are divorced and speak negatively about one another around you. Next time one parent does or says something unfair to you, you remember what the other parent said. Instead of expressing how you feel about the unfairness, you talk to the other parent about it. Your attitude becomes negative around the “unfair” parent and you naturally spend less time with them.
  • Your coworker tells you the boss is writing employees up unfairly and you feel compelled to stand on your coworkers’ side. After all, camaraderie is important. But instead of getting the facts straight, you hold a grudge against your boss and over time you develop a sour taste for your job entirely.
  • You hear from one friend that another friend is mad at you. You feel betrayed and question all of your mutual friends to see if anyone knows why. Overwhelmed with all of the opinions, you decide it’s easiest to be mad at your friend too. Besides, you didn’t do anything wrong. Why should they be mad at you?

Effect: Emotional Outbursts

Over time, we bottle up so many little things that are seemingly harmless, but actually take up a big majority of our energy. Once we reach our max, we have to release all the pressure in the bottle. Some people learn to release the pressure gradually, but many of us have a tendency to explode.

We’ve all seen this happen. Your partner blows up at you for something small and seemingly insignificant. Later on, you realize they have been hiding their feelings out of fear, embarrassment, insecurity, or a number of other reasons. Your boss had a bad weekend and takes it out on you and your coworkers.

The teenage brain, already overloaded with thoughts and feelings, explodes more often and sometimes more violently than an adult. Teenagers can be especially hurtful to others during these intense explosions. Sometimes they cuss, yell, slam doors and say things like “I hate you.” It’s important to understand that these intense outbursts are a reflection of their inner feelings.

How To Help

  • Don’t mirror their behavior! If someone is acting out, the worst thing you can do for them is reinforce their destructive behavior by responding in the same way. Take a deep breath and put yourself in their shoes before you start yelling back.
  • Don’t take what they say personally. Remember how toxic those bottled up emotions can make you feel. Remember the desperation you felt to express those toxic emotions in an attempt to get them out. Every outward reaction we have to one another is just a reflection of how we react inwardly within ourselves. Think of the skin as a window, not a wall.
  • Give them time to cool off. After any intense emotional reaction or interaction, it’s best to back up a few steps and recenter yourself. Emotions can be complex and take time to work through. If you are able to communicate calmly, you’ll get much further in resolving the issue.
  • Be open and calm when you talk again. Try to express how they made you feel without blaming or attacking. Ask questions! Most of us have questions, but for fear of judgment or of “sounding stupid” we keep them in. It might be uncomfortable at first, but if you can ask just one question that requires depth and starts a productive conversation, you’ll be glad you did.

 

In my next blog, I’ll talk more about emotional numbing and why it happens. Emotion can be powerfully overwhelming if you don’t know how to effectively express it. Instead of bottling it up and exploding or letting emotion flow through you naturally, some people cope by cutting off emotion entirely.

Until then, I’m off to do some yoga and ground myself after the momentous rain storm that just hit the entire West Coast at one time. I spy a few cracks of sunlight through the redwood trees.

Always with love,
xoxo
Dee

Homage to an Old Friend

Alright ya’ll, it’s story time. Anyone who has spent any time with me has learned that I’m a dog person, through and through. I’m a dog groomer of 5 years now, and 95% of my virtual conversations with people include dog memes or talking about dogs in one way or another, just to give you an idea. Currently, I’m in the process of starting my own mobile dog grooming business. Whoop whoop, here’s to 2018!

I share a connection with animals, but especially dogs, that grounds me. I have a very dear friend who connects deeply to music through the lyrics. She’s moved by the emotion behind every word and it gives her the freedom to feel her emotions fully. Another special person in my life connects deeply to metal. He listens loud and low, flooding not only his ears, but his senses with vibrational energy. This energy, however you experience it, is the vibration of the universe. It is the greater “thing” that people try desperately to put into words.

If I try to put into words the personal connection I have with the universe, it may diminish or dampen the magic. Because the beauty of finding what grounds you, the special connections you have that bring you peace, is simply unexplainable.

Religion, government, war, cults, secrecy, deceit- these are all products of attempts to explain this vibration to other people by trying to possess and control it. Sheep are cool and all, just watch out for the wolves. That’s all I’m saying.

Getting back on track now.. dogs. They ground me. They remind me of the nature within us all. They remind me that language isn’t important. They remind me that nothing is important, nothing at all!

Being present. That’s all there is…


When I was a little girl, I was fascinated with dogs. I remember watching them from the time I was just a toddler. I would pet my first dog Sassy through the gap in our metal fence from the driveway in the morning and again in the afternoon. She was happy- the kind of happy that most adults chase after their whole lives.

Sassy was an outside dog. I was born in Mobile, Alabama and lived there until I moved to California with my mom when I was nine. Most dogs in Mobile were outside dogs at the time. It’s pretty common there, even now, to build your dog a run or a house and keep them outside. It’s neither bad nor good, it’s just different from how things are in California.

My grandmother had an unspayed dog and sometimes she would have litters. Before the puppies found new homes, I would be fascinated by watching them interact in the backyard. I remember a time when I was only a few years old standing on a retaining wall, hands and face up against the back fence watching the dogs. I was glued and before I knew it, the tights under my dress were full of fire ants because I was standing on a big anthill. (If you haven’t experienced fire ants in the deep South, consider yourself lucky!)

Eventually a little black scruffy terrier named Sydney was added to our little family. When my parents divorced, Sassy stayed at the house with my dad and Sydney came to live in the apartment with my mom and I. Unfortunately, Sydney fell sick and wasn’t around for very long. By the time we moved to California, we had adopted my first cat, a tortie whom I named Precious.


Over the years, we adopted other dogs. My mom remarried a man who always wanted a dog, but never followed through with taking care of it. So we ended up with untrained dogs who didn’t have their needs met- they didn’t receive enough training, one-on-one time, walks, socialization and other important bonding activities that keep a domesticated dog from losing it’s mind.

To my mom, who grew up in Alabama where dogs were always kept outside and some were big, scary, fence-barkers, every dog we adopted was a risk. We had an American Staffie who who would never hurt a fly that tested my mom once and scared her. We had a senior Rottweiler with dominance issues who was unpredictable. We had a maltese that barked too much, a terrier that was snippy, and a couple puppies that pooped too much in the kitchen. It seemed like each dog left as quickly as it came.

Until one dog.
Austin2010

Austin came to me in 2008, when I was 17 years old. I was doing my volunteer hours to graduate from high school with a rescue that adopted out dogs on the weekends in front of local pet stores. Austin was about 4 years old at the time. He was separated from the other dogs, sick with kennel cough and overall pretty grouchy. Despite his unfriendliness, I felt something inside telling me he could use my attention. For two weekends I sat inside a metal doggie fence on the concrete outside of Petsmart with Austin in my lap. When he was sitting in my lap, we were both still. Our heartbeats seemed to match and the same energy flowed through both of us. Remember how I said before that it might ruin it if I try to put it into words? Well, that’s Austin.

I asked my mom if we could just foster him since the rescue had their hands full and he was already a few years old and I would take care of him… yadda yadda yadda. She agreed and he never went back. From then on, I gained a friend whom I would never forget.

Two years ago, Austin’s physical form left me. For seven years he was by my side. He moved all around Los Angeles with me. We lived with roommates, hung out with art school students, had lots of parties, moved to Beverly Hills and went on countless adventures.

In January of 2016 I was on a plane headed to Hawaii for the first time. I was going to visit my uncle whom I’d neither seen nor talked to in 15 years and to surprise his mom, my Mimi, who visits him every winter. I got off the airplane, greeted my family, and loaded up in the car to head to my uncle’s house. As soon as I was situated in my room, I got a call. “Are you sitting down?” were the first words I heard.

Austin had lived the last three years of his life with congestive heart disease. He was on blood pressure medications, diuretics, and vasodilators. He was a tough little dog, but he was dealt a bad hand. Gingivitis spread through his body and infected his heart. For years he had a murmur and I never even knew. His heart grew weaker, and on that fateful day in January, he suffered a painful bodily death.

For months I had nightmares. I felt so guilty that I wasn’t there for him when he passed. Some days I wish I had been there to hold him while he screamed. Other days, I’m thankful I didn’t watch him pee and poop himself, frozen in pain.

Even though I’d had dogs in my family for most of my life, Austin was the first one I lost. He was the only dog I’d had in my life for that long. He was my ground.

I learned a lot about myself that year. Mania took possession of me and I threw myself into any creative outlet I could find. I painted and quilted and gardened. I got my first sewing machine. I wrote, I cooked, I volunteered. I did anything and everything I could that year to keep the nightmares at bay. I eventually quit my job and vowed never to return to dog grooming. Every single dog reminded me of him and the flood of emotion numbed me. I was overwhelmed, so I shut down.

But like I said, I learned a lot about myself. I grew stronger and eventually my heart healed. As I go into the new year and get ready to visit my uncle and Mimi for the third year in a row, I remember Austin. I didn’t understand before what people meant when they said that your loved ones never really leave you, but now I do. He is with me always. He is a part of me, literally. We share the same energy and a connection with the universe that is unbreakable.
dogtattoo

Last April, a very talented and close friend of mine designed this tattoo for me in remembrance of Austin and to symbolize my love for, and connection with, dogs. I love and miss my Aussie boy every day, but I carry his heart with me. I remember the way I felt when he was near, the calm he brought to my nerves, the way he understood me and listened when I needed a friend through tough times. I’ve learned how to ground myself through his memory, and grow into a kinder, gentler human through his love. ❤

Always with love
xoxo
Dee

Do You Believe in Soulmates?

A soulmate is defined as: “a person with whom one has a feeling of deep or natural affinity.”

The term “affinity” refers to “kinship of spirit”, characterized by high levels of intimacy and sharing.

Soulmates are thought to commonly share similarities, love, romance, comfort, intimacy, sexuality, spirituality, compatibility and trust.

Realistically, soulmates can be anyone you share a personal connection to; these people can be best friends, siblings, family members, spouses, classmates, coworkers– you get the idea.

 

soulmates


The word “Soulmate” itself suggests the meeting of two souls, two halves meant for one another. Although a romantic sentiment, it’s not one I immediately agree with. If we look at the word differently, it can be interpreted as souls who meet and share a relationship (mate; friend).

I believe that the person with whom I decide to spend my life romantically and create new life with will absolutely be my soulmate. But I also believe that a soulmate is not limited to one person. I don’t see people as incomplete halves to a whole. Every life and every heart is completely different.

I have friends who never want to marry and friends who adamantly insist they will never bear children. That’s okay. I don’t judge and therefore I can’t possible believe that we are all lost souls searching for our mates. I can’t possibly entertain that in a world of 7.5 billion people, there is only one person who is the right “match” for me. How lonely a world would it be if you never met that one friend who you “felt like you knew your whole life?” What about that one relative that was always there for you when the rest of your family was making life difficult?

I believe instead in something a little more magical. I believe that a soulmate can be anyone with whom your soul travels alongside for any period of your own personal journeys.

In less words, a soulmate is anyone you have or had a strong connection with.

Notice how I included past and present soulmates in that last statement? Good, because that’s my next point.

I have soulmates with whom my soul traveled a while, but who are no longer in my life. These mates, these friends- were all drawn into my life for a purpose. Our energies were pulled together to teach one or both of us a lesson. And when our vibrations began to change and we began to follow our hearts, our communication naturally dissolved. These people are still soulmates of mine. They may not be in my everyday life anymore, but they are always in my heart. They either made an impact in my life or triggered a big change in my life that taught me about myself.

I also have soulmates who come in and out of my life at different periods and help me traverse difficulties I might be facing. These people are my “chosen family” and I know I can always count on them. Sometimes I go days, weeks, even months without talking to these mates. Sometimes it will even be years before our vibrations realign and draw us together again.

I’ll use a friend of mine as an example: We met 11 years ago, started hanging out 10 years ago, realized we had a strong connection, became best friends 7 years ago, spent almost every day together and then one day my energy changed. We learned a lot from one another, but the universe was pulling me off in another direction toward more self-growth so I had to follow my gut. I moved away, we tried to stay close, but life led us in two different directions. I struggled with not having her in my life and it was a difficult period for our friendship. But then one day, when the timing was right, our souls realigned. We fell back into our vibrations that brought us to one another to begin with. Having gone off and followed my heart, I had learned about myself and I was better equipped with coping mechanisms to help me through new challenges I may face. But over time, her energy changed as well. It was her turn to leave, to grow, to bloom. And since I knew through our experience what would happen if I tried to hold on too tightly, I held her friendship with an open hand.

Low-key gonna get me crying on here now. You know who you are girl. I love you so much my Moose friend.

I have a good handful or two of special people like this in my life. Some are family members, many are friends, few are romantic partners. Some of these people are from my past, others are still in my life- but they are all soulmates to me.

I hold open hands with my friendships. I don’t over-rely or suffocate. I try not to ever judge or make assumptions. Part of being an empath is having high-quality and deep connections, but not a ton of them. That’s okay though. When I was younger, I felt like people didn’t like me and that’s why I didn’t have many friends. But looking back, I’m happy with the friends I did make. The ones with whom my soul traveled are the ones I was meant to befriend all along.

souls             soulmatevslifepartner


As far as I can see, soulmates are drawn into your life for a couple different reasons.

  • A soulmate can come into your life for a reason. Maybe you needed support through a tough time, maybe you needed a wake up call, or maybe you just needed a friend you can count on. This person can come into your life for any number of reasons, but often it will feel like they came at exactly the right time.
  • A soulmate may come into your life to share a gift with you. This can come as a lesson or as guidance. Sometimes just their presence is enough to cause a shift in your thoughts and beliefs. This can guide you to a higher understanding of yourself and an increased level of awareness and growth.
  • A soulmate may come into your life because they are simply drawn there! This usually encompasses romantic partners, friends whom you spend a lot of your free time with, “soul sisters” and the like. These soulmates often come into your life for an eternity. These are your soul bonds. These are the soulmates who you always cherish as family, no matter what happens or how long it’s been since you’ve talked or seen each other. These are the ones you can go years without seeing and then upon seeing one another, it feels as if no time has passed. You pick up right where you left off and life goes on as it should.

 

I’m grateful for all of the connections I’ve had in my life. Even the times that seem dark would not be so without the comparison of light. And to know that there is light is a strength we are given to withstand the dark, even when we are frightened. Without one, we cannot appreciate the other.

Always with love
xoxo Dee

 

Curly Hair Care

As a curly girl, I get comments on my hair a lot. People ask me what I use, how I get it to be so curly, has it always been this way? So I decided to document one week worth of hair care to share with y’all. On average, I only wash my hair once a week. This has not always been the trend. In the past, I’ve washed my hair multiple times a week, sometimes even every day. When I’m pushing hard at the gym every day, it’s hard not to want to wash my hair. I get sweaty and my scalp feels gross. Here lately, I haven’t been working out at the gym, plus it’s been so freakin’ cold so I haven’t had issues with my hair feeling dirty. In the summer, my hair lives in a messy bun more frequently to keep it clean and off my shoulders and neck. When I do workouts that I know I’ll get sweaty from, I put my hair up and wear a cotton headband to catch the sweat before it gets all up in my do.

IMG_1698
Wash day! On day one my hair is super soft and tangle-free. I take the time to comb through it with a wide-tooth comb in the shower while the conditioner does it’s magic. I usually get a FAT wad of hair in the comb at the end. I shed more than some of the dogs I groom- seriously. As much as I love having fresh and soft locks, I typically don’t wash my hair the day of a special event. The top is pretty flat, plus it takes all dang day to fully dry!

 

 

 

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I’ve changed my products a couple times lately. Being a house guest sometimes makes establishing a routine difficult. I don’t use anything with sulfates or dimethicone. Shampoos usually have sulfates that strip the natural oils from your hair and skin. Think of “de-greasing” dish soap. Many conditioners contain dimethicone or other “cone” ingredients- this stuff coats your hair to keep it from drying out after stripping away the oils. The problem with dimethicone is that it can only be washed away with sulfates. So if you’re using sulfate free shampoo, but your conditioner still has dimethicone, you will over time get a filmy, greasy build up that can only be removed by using sulfate shampoo again. It took my hair a while to adjust to sulfate and dimethicone free cleansers. At first, my hair would overproduce oil, having been used to the harsh stripping from sulfates. After a few months, my hair was regulating oil production on it’s own. This is how I get away with only washing it once a week. My hair stays soft, shiny, healthy and smells good all week- no hippie head over here. Lately I’ve been using Avalon Organics Nourishing Lavender shampoo and conditioner. I like it because the first ingredient is aloe (that’s what the Rastas use for their gorgeous, full locks). This brand does have coco-sulfate in it  (just the shampoo) which isn’t as harsh and doesn’t strip as much as laurel and sodium sulfates. My favorite shampoo is Tea Tree Tingle by Trader Joe’s. It’s $2.99 here in California and the ingredient list is beautiful: Water, Tea Tree, Peppermint, Eucalyptus, Rosemary, Nettle, Thyme, Birch Bark, Chamomile…. the list goes on. Very good stuff!! The conditioner is pretty good too, but I find myself wanting more softness from it. This is where oils come into play.

IMG_1699 IMG_1700 IMG_1701

Days 2, 3, and 4 are my favorite. I consider these my “good hair days.” On day two, my roots soften up and give my hair a little more volume. Here comes the lion’s mane! Day three is when my hair starts to tangle. I usually finger comb it at this point to save my full curls for another day. Around day four I brush, oil and braid it.

IMG_1693
Argan oil is my favorite, but I’ve used coconut and jojoba as well. I drizzle some oil on my brush and start from the bottom, working my way up to the roots as I tackle the tangles. When I was a kid, we used biosilk (anyone remember that stuff?) and I cried when it was time to brush my hair. It’s much less traumatic now (also I’ve gotten quite hard-headed over the years lol). Argan oil smells amazing and gives my hair a nice shine and smell for the rest of the week, not to mention the buttery softness ❤

 

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Sometimes I sleep in my braid, sometimes I don’t. Just depends on what I’m doing. After I oil and brush it, I like to put it in a braid for the day or at least a few hours. When I take it out, the result is usually beautiful beachy waves.

That’s about it! Day six and seven I either brush it out again and keep it slick, or throw it up in a bun. I know it’s time to wash again when my scalp starts to get sore. Sounds weird, but as my hair weighs down throughout the week it starts to part funny and if I run my hands through to break up the part, it’ll feel a little bit sore. I’ve been tracking these photos for a week to write this post, which means today was a wash day! Feeling so soft and clean and fresh and like I can tackle the damn world. 🙂

Always with love
xoxo Dee

How It All Began

At the beginning of 2017 I set some goals for myself. Pushing toward these goals has really shaped the way my year has gone. I’m finding that it’s really important to always have something to strive for. Even the smallest things can make a huge impact and keep me focused on positive change instead of negative behaviors.

In previous goal-less years, I fell into the same old patterns:

-I worked at jobs that sapped my energy and drained my passion
-I made friends with people who were not good influences on me
-I was less active, eating worse, and having health issues
-I was smoking cigarettes, drinking excessively and having thoughts of suicide
-I was reckless and promiscuous

Basically, my point is that while all ya’ll been bitching about 2017, I’ve been growing exponentially. Setting goals was only the first step in a year-long journey of self-love and acceptance.

On October 27, 2016 I went for a 1 mile run. It took me over twelve minutes and I was so incredibly sore afterwards. Of those twelve minutes, I ran four and walked eight. Despite this performance that would normally discourage me, I got up the next morning and ran again.

Here’s the key to how I did it: I didn’t get up to run so that I would get fit or lose weight. I didn’t get up to run with a hidden agenda or any real reason. I went for 1 run, 1 morning in the dark of October and during that four minutes of increased heart rate, I was present. Instead of focusing on the pain in my lungs, I focused on the euphoric rush of blood to my brain. I focused on the clarity of my mind and the rush of my senses. I breathed deeply into the icy cold chill in my chest instead of letting it consume and discourage me.

Don’t get me wrong- it wasn’t all beautiful. My muscles ached, I choked for air when I slowed to a walk. My lungs, heart, and muscles were completely out of sync. My lungs were weak so I wasn’t delivering enough oxygen to my bloodstream which caused my brain to briefly starve of air. Desperate for oxygen, my circulatory systems powered down a little to give my brain more power. My muscles were unnecessary at that point. My legs grew so cold it was painful to touch them and I just couldn’t run anymore. I literally COULDN’T.

But I was so curious. During that four minutes of blissful synchronization, I felt as if I could run forever.

A little backstory may help: I was fresh (I mean, DAYS) out of an abusive relationship with a toxic alcoholic. This first run must have been aligned to happen exactly when it did, because those four minutes I felt like I was truly running away. Everything behind me and a blank slate before me, going on a run that cold morning in October was the best thing that happened to me all year. It started a journey towards my Personal Legend (Any fans of The Alchemist out there?) that has led me all the way up to today and the creation of this blog. Crazy.

Over a year later, I’m sitting here analyzing what that run really means to me. It was the moment of greatest transformation for me. When I decided to get up and go for another run, I was really starting to get better from all those “illnesses” I’d been “medicated” for in my late teens and early twenties. I just didn’t know it yet.

I know that seems like a big jump to say that going for a lousy 1 mile run around a well-paved, well-lit upper middle class suburban neighborhood at a leisurely pace of 12 minutes and 13 seconds had has any dramatic effect in my life.

But if you need proof that the universe provides signs, that intuition is real and powerful, and there is a greater force in everything, take a look at where I went running…

California Wildfires
This is after it burned down this year, of course
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Here’s the map of my run from my iPhone

 

coffeybefore3
Here’s what it looked like before the fire

I did a lot this year. I set lots of goals. Let me stress how important it is that: I DIDN’T ACCOMPLISH THEM ALL. And that’s okay, because if I shoot for the moon, I’ll land among the stars. First I had to break down my own self-limited beliefs.

In the beginning of the year, I started carrying around a notebook.

Every time I think of something I want to do, an idea I have, a positive affirmation or just a place to brainstorm I turn to this journal. I’m uploading some of my favorite pages for you in hopes that it may help you learn to love your progress as it taught me.


 

2017 has been like no other year and I am just so emotional about the amount of growth I’ve done, but I’m not done yet. I have some plans for 2018. As it grows nearer, I’ll fill you all in.

I’d like to take some time to recognize those of you who have reached out to me during my journey. I’ve received numerous messages on many different platforms, but especially on Instagram. Some of you I’ve met, others I haven’t. Some of you I see every week, while others I haven’t seen in years. Thank you all for your support, your kind words, your encouragement. I am so touched by your bravery to step forward and support another human in a world where we are taught to compete. Your messages inspire me to continue my journey and share what I learn.

“Your perception of me is a reflection of you”

So for all of you out there sending kind words and love my way, you are sending kind words and love to yourself as well. I am but a mirror. The good you see in me is the good you will learn to see in yourself.

Always with love
xoxo Dee

In Defense of Small Talk

How are you?
What’s up?
What do you do?
How’s life?
Where do you live?

I hear these all the damn time. “What do you do?” is my least favorite of them all. That quote all over Instagram rings so true to me:

grocerylisthappy
Today I was reflecting on this and how small talk works, and I thought of something. Small talk makes me uncomfortable. It’s not that it is under-engaging per se, but without follow up questions to gain depth it makes me feel vulnerable. The simpler the question, the more depth is required of my answer in order to have a genuine and engaging conversation with someone. That’s a lot of pressure for me sometimes. It requires me to be confident in myself, comfortable in my views, and transparent with my emotions. That can be so exhausting when you’ve been hurt a lot.

By avoiding small talk, I’ve actually realized that meaningful conversations are much harder to come by.

My generation was taught to hide behind a mask when we express ourselves or to just ignore it and bottle it up. For whatever reason,  I tend to do the latter. I have dreams, goals and ideas in my head and heart that bubble up from time to time, but sometimes I just keep them in. I have a hard time sharing my passions and interests with just anyone because I’m a bit sensitive to criticism. I worry others won’t understand the passion behind my beliefs, and because I’m an empath I am easily influenced by others’ beliefs and tend to change myself and my own energy to match that of other people.

Are you an empath?

planetaryhealer

The Planetary Healer Empath

Your Total Score: 80 out of 80
Your Out of Control Healer Score: 10 out of 10
Your Protection Tools Score: 25 out of 25
How Much You Mirror Others Unconsciously Score: 15 out of 15
Your Appreciation for Nature Score: 10 out of 10

“You scored extremely high on the overall results. You are definitely an empath.

You are highly intuitive and can almost always tell when people are lying. You may want to look into getting energy work and healing done on your second chakra. Usually people that need to be around water all the time have blocks in their second chakras. You love nature and unconsciously understand its healing effects — which is a general, but strong indicator that you are an empath. You have a deep love and appreciation for nature. You recognize the sacred expression of all beings. You are truly wise. But you have a wonderful ability to sway and change the moods, energies, atmospheres, and environments around you.

You need to learn how to recognize and differentiate other people’s energy from yours. Learning psychic/empathic meditation tools will help. You scored the worst on the “Mirroring Others Unconsciously” portion of the quiz. It looks like you have a tendency to mirror other people and their energy. This means that you give up your energetic seniority at the whim of the world’s changing winds (in other words: other people are able to control or influence you too much on an energy level). You would benefit from learning to control your crown chakra and probably cord removal or healing work.

You are a wonderful and loving person. You are also what is known as an “out of control healer!” You would benefit immensely from energy work and empathic tools for releasing guilt and responsibility.”



 

Luckily, these are patterns I am altering. I realized that small talk can truly be a valuable tool, especially when getting to know someone but that it must be felt and not just said. I’m learning to dig deeper for depth and authenticity in my conversations. For instance, instead of asking what someone does I may ask “What are your passions?” and instead of asking where someone lives, I might ask them instead “Where are you from? Did/do you like it there?”

Sometimes I worry I come across as nosy, but I’ve learned that people respond really well when you ask them questions they don’t answer all the time. It requires them to actually look inside themselves and come up with a new answer. It requires them to be vulnerable and allowing someone to be vulnerable around you in a safe, judgment-free environment is one of the best things you can do for them (in my opinion).

Safety is really important in making new connections and relations. Sometimes when a heart breaks, it freezes in order to stop the pain. It shuts down to avoid feeling unsafe again. The heart begins to fear the next break.

But in freezing, the heart loses the richness of strong emotion. An empath is capable of loving in a way that allows others to love themselves more. Or at the very least it brings to light the barriers standing between the person and true love.

Okay, I wandered away from small talk. Do you ever get carried away with your passion? It’s a beautiful experience.

All I’m saying is don’t hate on small talk because the true culprit of surface connection is the inability to let down your guard, to dig deep for meaningful connections, and to listen more than you speak. If you can step back and see things from another perspective, your world will fill with love. Your heart will defrost, and it’ll hurt at first, but that’s okay. Feel it deeply, let it hurt, then let it go.

Tell your heart not to be afraid. Remind your heart of what lies ahead if it can hang on a little longer. Remind your heart what true childlike bliss feels like. There is love on this Earth that will cradle you and heal your heart, if only you let it in.

Always with love- xoxo Dee