Reflections

Admit it, you’re worth it

Admit it, you’re worth it

Admit it, you’re worth it

If you’re anything like me, you have a very bad habit of allowing the everyday events of life to completely engulf you. The responsibilities of home, of the job and even your social and civic circles can be mind boggling. I mean, when you start adding, “Check off items on my ‘To Do’ list” to your actual ‘To Do’ list, it’s time for an intervention.

But where do you start? For me, spring represents a time for renewal and restoration. So why not start with your own perspective?

Now, I’ll be the first to admit that keeping stress at bay isn’t easy, but it’s not impossible. But, here’s the catch: You’ve got to be willing to admit to yourself that you’re worth it. Here are three simple ideas I have to help you get started:

  • Buy something you don’t need, but absolutely, positively want –At the risk of sounding selfish … sometimes, it is all about you and there’s nothing wrong with treating yourself on occasion. It doesn’t matter what it is. If you want it, go get it. For some, it may mean the difference between eating an ice cream cone and purchasing a new car. I fall in the middle of that range, having recently purchased these little beauties from Tiffany & Co just because I wanted them.

 

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  • Take a “daycation” –Everybody deserves a chance to unwind and you’re no exception. Even God rested on the seventh day, so cut yourself some slack. Letting go is tough, I know. Whatever you may be concerned or anxious about – bills, meetings, kids’ events, errands – will all be there tomorrow. So, for your peace of mind, take a moment and just exhale.
  • Walk it out – Maybe you’re overcommitted and taking that day for yourself doesn’t make sense right now. Perhaps your budget won’t allow you to buy that thing you really want. But, never fear, a nice long walk will do wonders for clearing the cobwebs. A while back, when I worked from home, I would routinely take little strolls around my house. I’m sure my neighbors thought I was off my rocker, but I didn’t care. That small change of scenery never failed and I always stepped back to my desk feeling refreshed and ready to take on whatever was waiting for me.

Do you have any secrets for de-stressing? Let me know in the comments.

Love U! It’s not just a declaration. It’s a call to action. XoXo -Quin

My phoenix is not just for fashion

My phoenix is not just for fashion

My phoenix is not just for fashion

I had a revelation the other day. It happened while I was trying to comfort a friend after the recent passing of her mother.

During our chat, I told her that there was a fine line between sadness and resentment. I was hopeful that she would eventually see that there’s a lesson in every trial and that maybe one day her testimony would be a blessing to someone who really needed it.

Afterward, I thought to myself: Where the heck had that comment come from? What had I meant when I used that word resentment?  Then suddenly it hit me.

For the first time in 14 years, I realized that I had finally let mine go.

When my friend described the struggle she was going through – balancing the sadness of losing both her parents within two years of each other with the envy she felt for close friends and family members whose parents were alive and well, I realized I had been harboring similar feelings after my youngest daughter had been born with Down Syndrome.

Both of my parents are still here, so I couldn’t pretend to understand exactly what my friend was feeling. But, I remembered with painful clarity getting the news about Sydney all those years ago. It felt like every dream a mother could possibly have for her daughter – recitals, school dances, first kisses and eventually, a wedding and kids of her own – just … died.

For years, I pretended in other ways, smiling through my sadness as I watched one girlfriend after the next give birth to big, healthy, beautiful babies. Of course, I would never openly begrudge them of their happiness. But in the darkest corners of my mind, I kept asking myself, Why me?  Why did this have to happen to my child? Was I being punished?

I just wanted to have a normal experience. Just like everybody else. But, the normalcy I had envisioned for me and my growing family came to a sudden halt on that day, along with all the other hopes and dreams I originally had. And, frankly, it pissed me off.

As I tried to both council and comfort my friend that day, I relayed my experiences and had a shocking realization. I wasn’t holding on to the anger anymore. On the contrary, I felt incredible joy.

Only after my talk did I realize that I had spoken of the things Sydney could do rather than the things she could not. I told my friend about all my daughter had gained, not what she’d lost. I told her that I was grateful to be her mom and I meant it.

The breakthrough that I’d wanted for my daughter all those years ago actually turned out to be one I needed more. That’s why I wear the Phoenix Charm Bracelet by Alex and Ani. It’s a reminder to me that no matter what, a new day is coming.

Now that I think about it, “normal” may not be the best route for me after all. And, you know what? I’m okay with that. And, this time, I’m not just pretending.

Love U! It’s not just a declaration. It’s a call to action. XoXo -Quin

 

 

To Jamaica with love

To Jamaica with love

To Jamaica with love

March is probably my favorite time of year. After a long, dull and dreary winter, it’s an opportunity for the universe to stretch its arms wide, take a deep, cleansing breath and get a fresh start. It’s literally a time of renewal.

Best of all, it’s the time of year when the hubby and I take our annual vacation to where else? Jamaica, of course!

For 51 weeks out of every year, we have responsibilities to our children, our church and our employers. For the last several years, though, we’ve been fortunate enough to take this one very special week and visit this beautiful land where we can focus exclusively on us and reconnect as a couple.

There’s so much beauty in Jamaica. I’m especially in awe of the majestic countryside and the strength of its people. When it comes to renewal, there’s no place I’d rather be.

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The place where beauty begins

The place where beauty begins

The place where beauty begins

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything new to the blog and there’s a very good reason why: I wanted to do better.

Since I launched SisterLadyGirl four months ago, the response has been nothing short of phenomenal! Who would have thought that my li’l ol’ blog, created in response to comments about my hair and personal style, would become a spot where women like me actually went for real, everyday fashion and beauty advice? But, it has and I’m grateful.

But, along with my new status as a bona-fide beauty blogger, came a heightened sense of personal responsibility. I mean, if I’m going to ask readers to take time out of their busy schedules to check out what I have to say, I at least owe them content that they’ll find meaningful, real and above all else, useful.

That’s why I decided to step back and give myself a moment to think through the things that were important to me and to those women most like me. SisterLadyGirl will always be a place where the grown, classy and sassy woman can go for sensible style inspiration and advice about how to remain chic and “on fleek” in almost any situation, and not have to break the bank doing it.

For me, though, nothing makes living this life more worthwhile (and frankly, more beautiful) than doing it with faith-filled family and friends by my side. While my primary focus will remain on addressing the style needs of the African American Gen X woman, you’ll also see the occasional “reflections” about love, relationships, parenting and just about any other random thing that might be running through my mind.

In addition to the content, I’ve also made changes to the structure of the site, which hopefully will make reading the blog a more enjoyable experience.

As the fashion icon Coco Chanel once said, “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself.” I’ve made my choice. What about you?

Thanks for hanging in there with me.

XoXo –Quin

 

I’ve resolved to evolve

I’ve resolved to evolve

I’ve resolved to evolve

In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll share with you that I absolutely, positively, without a doubt HATE New Year’s, Mid Year’s and Any Time of the Year’s resolutions. Why? I just stink at keeping them. Remember my 28-day squat challenge? Right … after Day 10, neither did I!

In 2015, I am determined not to torture myself with a bunch of meaningless, finite conditions for success, only to deal with crushing disappointment when things don’t turn out the way I had hoped they would.

To some, it might look like I’ve resolved to give up. On the contrary, I think it represents how much I’ve evolved. I’ve discovered so much about me during the past year. For example, I’ve learned that by nature, I’m more of an adventurer than I am a conqueror. I don’t need absolute closure to feel like I’ve accomplished my goals. As long as the direction I’m moving in is a positive one, then I’m happy.

This year, I’m making a commitment to never stop learning, exploring and growing. And the best thing about this life I’m living is that I’m free to do exactly that. So, for 2015, my resolution is simple: I’m going to be open to being open.

What about you? Let me know what you’re resolved to do in the new year by leaving a comment below.

Celebrating the beauty of Kwanzaa

Celebrating the beauty of Kwanzaa

Celebrating the beauty of Kwanzaa

My husband, daughters and I had the extreme honor of taking part in a celebration of Kwanzaa recently. You can read more about this celebration of family, community and culture among Africans and African American people, created by Dr. Maulana Karenga here, but essentially, Kwanzaa is an African-American and Pan-African cultural holiday that focuses on seven principles (called Nguzo Saba in Swahili). They are:

Umoja (Unity)

Umoja (OO-MO-JAH) Unity stresses the importance of togetherness for the family and the community, which is reflected in the African saying, “I am We,” or “I am because We are.”

Kujichagulia (Self-Determination)

Kujichagulia (KOO-GEE-CHA-GOO-LEE-YAH) Self-Determination requires that we define our common interests and make decisions that are in the best interest of our family and community.

Ujima (Collective Work and Responsibility)

Ujima (OO-GEE-MAH) Collective Work and Responsibility reminds us of our obligation to the past, present and future, and that we have a role to play in the community, society, and world. Seven Candles for Kwanzaa by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Ujamaa (Cooperative Economics)

Ujamaa (OO-JAH-MAH) Cooperative economics emphasizes our collective economic strength and encourages us to meet common needs through mutual support.

Nia (Purpose)

Nia (NEE-YAH) Purpose encourages us to look within ourselves and to set personal goals that are beneficial to the community.

Kuumba (Creativity)

Kuumba (KOO-OOM-BAH) Creativity makes use of our creative energies to build and maintain a strong and vibrant community.

Imani (Faith)

Imani (EE-MAH-NEE) Faith focuses on honoring the best of our traditions, draws upon the best in ourselves, and helps us strive for a higher level of life for humankind, by affirming our self-worth and confidence in our ability to succeed and triumph in righteous struggle.

Happy Kwanzaa and here’s hoping you and yours are bountifully blessed in 2015!

Marco Island: One of THE best quickies I’ve ever had

Marco Island: One of THE best quickies I’ve ever had

Marco Island: One of THE best quickies I’ve ever had

 

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IMG_1734The hubby and I had a fantastic time celebrating our 20 year wedding anniversary recently. We decided to have a “quickie” and spent an awesome weekend on Marco Island, which is about an hour north of Miami.  We stayed at the Marco Island Resort & Spa and got a chance to run around like kids again … eating whatever we wanted, staying up late and just kicking it by the pool. When it comes to rejuvenating my mind, body and spirit, there’s no place better! I’d love to go back soon.

 

3 tips for packing lightly and stylishly

3 tips for packing lightly and stylishly

3 tips for packing lightly and stylishly

I love to travel but I’m not crazy about packing. For me, getting ready for a trip is about much more than throwing a bunch of random items in a bag. There’s a certain finesse to it that requires planning and a little attention to detail.

When I factor in the number of events I plan to attend; if they’re formal, casual or something in between; if it’s a daytime or nighttime affair, and even what the weather report outside will be like, making the right wardrobe choices can be intimidating. But it doesn’t have to be.

Here are three great strategies I use to make my packing experience hassle-free.

Roll tight

Instead of laying my clothes out flat in my bag, I roll them up tightly and stack them into neat, compact piles. Not only does this technique save an incredible amount of space, it also creates conveniently lined pockets to protect smaller, more fragile items like perfume bottles, lotions and makeup.

Stick to the staples

There are a select few items in my wardrobe that I can always look to for comfort and class, no matter the situation. They’re what I call “dual action” pieces. Not only are they classics that never go out of style, they’re also versatile enough to give you multiple looks, which is also great for keeping my luggage light and clutter free.

Stay flat-footed

I wouldn’t consider my wardrobe complete without a comfortable pair of black flats. Ranging in styles from simple to super fancy, these shoes represent the Holy Grail when it comes to versatility, ease and elegance! There’s not an outfit in my closet that I couldn’t pair them with and not look great. The best part is they’re easily portable, too.

What tips do you have for minimizing stress and maximizing style when you pack? Feel free to share them in the comments. Safe (and stylish) travels!

The “perfect” fit for me

The “perfect” fit for me

The “perfect” fit for me

Until I get the body I want through diet and exercise, I have to come up with creative ways to keep things looking marginally okay. Recently, my hubby brought home The Body by Victoria Perfect Shape bra, and you know what? It really is perfect!

If you’re looking for a bra that gives you comfort, coverage and lift then this might be the solution for you. However, in the spirit of full disclosure, I have heard from a few of my more busty sisters that thy cup might runneth over if you happen to be more physically endowed than the average person. So, it’s always best to be properly fitted.

Overall, I give this bra an A+. It gave me the look I wanted without the pain and expense of surgery. Yay!

 

I’m about to show my behind!

I’m about to show my behind!

I’m about to show my behind!

There are 99 reasons that I absolutely, without a doubt, 100 percent HATE Halloween. Chief among them is all that gooey, chewy, crunchy, sugary candy that seems to be everywhere this time of year! No matter where I turn, there are cute little dishes filled to the brim with individually wrapped morsels of cellulite inducing, artery clogging, CONFECTIONERY GOODNESS!

*Blank stare*

OK, I’m back. But, you get the picture. I have NO self-control. And, I think that’s really what I hate, along with the extra pounds I seem to pick up around this time every year. But, instead of complaining about how my pants keep shrinking, I’ve decided to drop the candy wrapper and take personal responsibility for my own actions … starting today!

I’m a huge fan (no pun intended) of the MyFitnessPal iPhone app, which claims to be “the best calorie counter on the iPhone.” I haven’t compared it to any others, so I can’t confirm that claim. But, what I can do is say how much I  love this app. I get lots of great information like fitness tips, low calorie recipes and inspiring stories of individual weight loss. I can even connect with friends who use it. And, it’s all FREE!

This week, I received an email about a 28-day squat challenge and decided, yes – I WILL make the pledge to take my butt into my own hands, starting with Day 1 of the “Beginner Squat Challenge.”

The first movement is called the counterbalance box squat, which is demonstrated above.  I’ve also posted a short video on SisterLadyGirl’s Instagram page to show you how the movement is performed, along with instructions for the first week of the challenge.

I hope you’ll join me on the road to getting fit and healthy. Then, meet me back here in about 30 days to share your before and after photos. I promise, if you show me your behind, I’ll show you mine.

Happy squatting!