Raving My Faves: April

Raving My Faves: April

Hello friends!

It is time once again for me to rave my faves! Like I previously mentioned, I love April for the spring vibes. The rainy weather coupled with the blooming flowers, chirping birds and inches closer to summer makes me so happy. There have also been some exciting changes in my life that has made this month one that is eventful and overwhelming in all aspects — happy, worried, excited and with fervent planning. Throughout this exciting month though, I have had some really good things or moments that you’ll see in a bit. Before I go any further though, you need to be reminded that…

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Yes, I had to.

Leafberri Teas

I found Leafberri at a farmer’s market across from the Dallas Art Museum about a month ago. Francois and I were on a date and decided to check it out on our way back from the museum. It was beautiful! There were stalls set up, food trucks lined up at the curb and people of all walks of life gathered together to just enjoy the beautiful day. The sun was out, the air was crisp, and I could imagine the wide smiles behind the masks. Everyone was either browsing the stalls, sitting on the grass enjoying the live music, or lined up to grab a bite from one of the many trucks. Leafberri was the first stall we visited because I am a sucker for a good tea. In fact, besides enjoying a classic Magnum ice cream bar on the Boardwalk at sunset, my mom and I also enjoy sitting on the verandah sipping on tea in the late afternoon together as a bonding moment. Tea is something we both truly love. Thus, you can imagine my excitement to try it out.

Leafberri provides the unique purple tea from Kenya, a leaf variety that is rich in antioxidants. It is not as robust as black tea, but still provides the benefits of black tea and more. We tried the spiced vanilla purple tea, and the turmeric ginger tea. Both were so good! The spiced vanilla was light and velvety to taste, and could be served hot or cold. We tried it cold and it was delicious! The turmeric ginger was spicy (in a good way!), had a well-rounded flavour and you could definitely distinguish the taste of the ginger and the turmeric. It felt like drinking a sweetened youth elixir — tasty but healthy. The owner informed us that we could make it as bold or as mild as we’d like. You can steep the tea or in the case of the turmeric ginger, you can also boil it down to create a stronger, bolder cup. Out of the four we tasted, we decided to purchase the sample packs for those two flavours. These two are so easy to prepare, and you can make the most of your tea by reusing a serving. I did so and the tea was still flavourful the second time around. I prepared the turmeric ginger both ways (steeping vs. boiling down) and you definitely get a bolder cup boiling it. Don’t worry though because it can withstand high heat. Honestly, the packet tells you everything you need to know for preparation, but if you have any questions, the owner is so sweet and helpful. She recommended I try the elderberry purple tea, and I can’t wait to put in my next order and try it out! If you love tea as much as I do, you should definitely try Leafberri by clicking here. Along with purple tea, she has ginger tea, black tea, among other wonderful loose leaf options. Support a small business that is woman-owned and black owned! You won’t be disappointed.

Previous Blog Post

Photo by Suzy Hazelwood on Pexels.com

I know this is a bit unorthodox, but one of my favourite moments was publishing my previous blog post on my thoughts on the current racial climate. While the content is much heavier and more serious than the Raving My Faves series, it was a moment of vulnerability that I got to share with you guys. I wrote straight from my heart and posted the first draft as the final one — I never do that with any of my serious writing, but I felt like it needed to be read as raw as it was. Sometimes life is unstructured, and so can be my writing. It was one of those moments where I abandoned my fear or worry of not being perceived as a good writer, and put it out there because what was written needed to be said. It reminded me that there are moments in our lives that are similar to that blog post, right? Sometimes, what needs to be said or done doesn’t have the luxury of time to be packaged as neatly as you’d like but the importance of it overrides that. Sometimes the truth seems pretty rough around the edges, and it cuts the palette like a sour fruit or a bitter bite. Yet, it is what is necessary. I deemed what was said necessary to be said as honestly as I thought it. And I am proud of myself for being honest without the fear of being misunderstood or rejected. It inspired me to attempt living out that principle daily, and not just in my writing. To be unapologetically myself and to speak the truth boldly is something that I am working on, and I see my previous post as a wide step in that direction. Do you struggle with having things packaged neatly before sharing? Do you feel like you can only be one version of yourself? If this is you, I implore you to first extend grace to yourself, and then live boldly. It is by being unapologetically yourself that you truly love yourself and appreciate God’s handiwork. This is no excuse to be mean and inconsiderate of others. It is an invitation, rather, to appreciate your uniqueness and extend it to making your community and environment a better place. Check out my previous blog post, Musings: Race in reality and the media, to get a glimpse of what I mean, and let me know what you think about living boldly. Remember, you’re never alone in this journey. ❤

Healthy Snack – Berry Bowl Crunch

Those of you who know me personally already know that I am in the cut phase of my fitness journey — which is a fancy way of saying that my aim is to lose weight/fat. Lifting weights is a great way to build muscle and lose fat, but the sure fire way to drop pounds is through your diet. I recently made a snack I like to call the berry bowl crunch, and it was simple, sweet, and satisfying. All you need are your favourite berries and your favourite type of granola. I use blackberries, raspberries and strawberries, and my granola of choice is maple-flavoured. You add about 1/3 cup of each berry (cut your strawberries), and you sprinkle about 3-4 tablespoons of granola. Mix it up and boom a simple snack! You can add some greek yogurt for a protein boost with a drizzle of honey, but I don’t really like yogurt so I don’t add it to mine. You can add dark chocolate chunks if you’d like, or swap the granola with some of your favourite nuts, or combine them! Just adjust the serving sizes to accommodate those additions. It isn’t a new dessert, but it is what I have recently started snacking on and I figured you’ll enjoy it too. So try it out the next time you have a sweet craving, or if you’re like me and you need to eat something sweet after you’ve had something salty. I swear, it’s science!

Berry Bowl Crunch is basically this without all the yogurt, but with all the pizazz 😉

These three are my April Faves — The tea and the dessert is newly incorporated and have become a staple, and my musings post was definitely a highlight for the important lesson it taught me. I hope you enjoyed this month’s faves and that you are inspired to try one or all! Let me know if you do. Comment below any thoughts and don’t forget to share with your friends.

Until next time, have a beautiful day and stay safe.

Love, Delz

Musings: Race in reality and the media

Musings: Race in reality and the media

Hello all!

A lot has been happening, and I am sure that just like me, you have thoughts on the issues that surround us, whether you are in the Caribbean, the States, or wherever you are. This post is just what it is titled: just a Dely thinking of a few things. What you read below is an unstructured write out of what I’ve been thinking. If you’re interested, keep reading!

If you have been following the news, Derek Chauvin, the officer guilty of killing George Floyd, has been officially found guilty on all counts. While I am grateful that finally someone is being held accountable for their actions, there is this level of sadness I still feel — George Floyd is still gone. A black man is dead. Yes, his killer will now serve time for this egregious act, but this victory in accountability does not bring his life back. What has happened is what the justice system is expected to do, yet hasn’t done from since its inception. It’s like rejoicing when a father is involved in his kids’ life. These are things we expect because that is their role. Yet, we’ve seen that the justice system has failed black and brown people for centuries. I hope that this turn to what is actually expected from the system will set a new precedence in the justice system, in the police department, and also in our society in general. This is what should always happen when someone breaks the law, especially those who are trained to uphold and safekeep it. Yet, even in the midst of the Chauvin Trial, there have still been incidents of police brutality against unarmed and innocent black people. While we are awaiting the justice of one, we mourn the injustice of others. It is the most sorrowful and frustrating limbo to maneuver. It is exhausting. It is traumatizing. Yet, the revolution must go on. We still fight. We still educate. We still stand up. We still collaborate and organize. We do what we need to to not only survive, but thrive, and help each other.

This leads me to my second thought: the portrayal of the traumas of racism and other black stories in the media. Art is a therapeutic and effective way of expressing life as one knows it. It is a way to educate and entertain through varying genres and mediums. And black people deserve to tell their stories in the way they feel best portrays them. We see films such as Judas and the Black Messiah, or shows like Snowfall, and Lovecraft Country, that capture what was before or the culture we live in today, in fiction and non-fiction. There are also more films recently that portray the issue of police brutality and the miscarriage of justice. Films like When They See Us portray the true stories that have haunted our past, while movies like Two Distant Strangers and Get Out follow a fictional depiction of real-life traumas.

There is magnanimous significance in allowing artists the creative freedom to express themselves. These stories matter and need to be seen by wider audiences, especially those outside the black community to have a worldwide understanding of what is happening. Artists should not be silenced, however disturbing the material may come across, because unfortunately, this is the reality of a lot of people in America. However, last week I watched Two Distant Strangers, a short film of a black man experiencing a Groundhog day of being killed by a cop. While the film deserved all its accolades for masterfully telling a story, it was very hard for me to watch. It spoke to what we all feel: a staggering hopelessness that continuously repeats itself, seemingly to no end. It portrayed the feeling of helplessness: no matter how the situation is addressed, black lives are still being taken, or placed in jeopardy.

I wish that there could be some balance to the stories Hollywood allows to be aired. It seems that the only black stories that are allowed are those that follow the traumatic experiences of our people, or those that are heavily stereotypical. When will we have stories that are fantastic, magical and explore different avenues other than the ones we’ve seen time and time again? I loved the movie Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey for this very reason. For the first time in a long time (if not ever), we see the jolliest of movies with an unambiguously black and brown cast save for one or two people, and it was such a fun, family movie. I wish there were more black shows with similar premises to Bridgerton or Game of Thrones, or the same vibe like the old black sitcoms with a modern twist. Are there shows like this already? Yes, sure. There’s Insecure, Black-ish, Grown-ish, etc. Do I believe there are enough? Nope. I think that we need more black stories glorifying the beautiful and joyful, and even mundane aspects of our lives, just as much as we have the chance to tell our sad stories. I think we need more black fantasy and whimsical stories, more black animation, more black movies and series with the storyline that is totally out of this world and make believe, like sci-fi films or fantasy. I’m not saying they have to follow the same rubric of storytelling or share similar story points. What I am saying is that our stories cannot be confined and boxed into highly specific categories when that is not all we experience, or even want to see. After being grateful that you arrived home safely and alive, enduring microaggressions and racism all day, the last thing you want to do is watch a show that reminds you of that. Sometimes, you want to watch something that brings you joy, intrigue, or excitement, with people who look and speak like you.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

These have been two of the many thoughts I have been having amidst all that has been going on, and felt impressed to randomly share. I promise you, the other thoughts aren’t as somber! Nevertheless, these are important topics that need to be talked about. What do you think? Whether you agree, disagree or feel ambivalent about it, feel free to express that down in the comments below! I’d love to hear what you guys think. As always, this is a safe space, so absolutely no disrespect will be tolerated. Like, comment and subscribe to be alerted for future posts.

I hope you have a wonderful day, and I’ll see you on my next post, Raving My Faves: April!

Love, Delz

Raving my Faves: March

Raving my Faves: March

Happy Spring guys! March has been an interesting one, marking a full year since the pandemic lockdown. It has also been a very busy month, hence the tardy upload. However, a deal is a deal and we can’t truly move on from March without raved faves, right? While we are still hanging in there, places are opening up and things are slowly morphing into a new normal. With this new normal comes new opportunities but also some risks as well. Let us all continue to do our part in keeping each other and ourselves healthy and safe.

I have three faves this month! Each one speaks to personal development, whether that is in the category of health, finance, or emotional well being. So, without further ado let’s dive in.

The Brown Ambition Podcast

I discovered this podcast in late February while scrolling through the available podcasts on Spotify. I wanted to listen to something that was edifying, practical yet fun to tune in to, and when I saw that one of the hosts was Tiffany “The Budgetnista” Aliche, I immediately tapped to listen. If you don’t know who The Budgetnista is, let me tell you, she is amazing! The world of finance can be daunting, not to mention condemning if you feel off track. She has a great way of teaching money while simultaneously empowering you where you are. She is relatable, knowledgeable, and comes across as someone who gets it. Her co-host, Mandi Woodruff, isn’t a public figure that I was familiar with, however, after listening to her and learning about her background, she is the best complement to Tiffany. Did I mention they are both black women?! I have always wanted to know more about money, budgeting, making the right fiscal decisions, and just having a healthy relationship with money — but I didn’t know where to start. I also wanted to ingest relatable content from relatable people. Sometimes the “aid” out there isn’t truly helpful if it cannot be adapted to your personal circumstances. Having women of colour discuss money and other things related to me, another woman of colour just hits different, in my opinion. That’s not to say that someone of a different ethnicity/race cannot offer you good tips. However, like I’ve mentioned, it is nice when you can hear from someone that looks and talks like you. If you’re like me, give the Brown Ambition podcast a try! It is an easy listen and I guarantee that you will learn something new every time.

The Hack Squat

What the heck is a hack squat? A hack squat is a squat performed on a machine at a 45-degree angle. With the weight resting on your shoulders, all the work is primarily done by pushing up with the legs after a squat. While it targets the glutes, quadriceps, and hamstrings, with proper foot placement and a squat of 90 degrees, you may primarily feel it in your quads. The hack squat is a great way to strengthen your legs without compromising on your squat, because it stabilizes the movement, which can help eliminate compensating and any weaknesses you may experience. With this machine, you can also practice one leg movements to eliminate imbalances.

This particular exercise made it to my faves because I am already beginning to see some great results incorporating it into my lower body routines. I remember seeing the machine and thinking, “I don’t think I’ll ever use that.” Not because I didn’t think it was helpful, but honestly, because I didn’t know how to use it! After a bit of a learning curve on how to properly position my long legs, I finally got the hang of it, and I love it! Firstly, it allows me to focus on isolating my legs, hitting my legs solely, which is a good add-on exercise. It also helps me focus on my form since my body is stabilized; the form that I can now attempt repeating with a barbell. Don’t get me wrong, this can never replace a free-weight squat. Because it is stabilized for me, I lose the benefit of working on using my core and other stabilizer muscles that I would have had to use squatting with a bar or dumbbell. But, it is a great way to focus on working the leg muscles in tandem with other exercises that require more total body strength. Hacking away fat with the hack squat? Make sure you consult your doctor before trying any new exercise or routine!

The Idea of Setting Intentions

The idea of setting intentions when planning isn’t a new concept. However, it has recently been a game changer in the way I set myself up to crush goals I have written down. You may wonder what the difference is, and at first it could seem as a gimmicky way of saying the same thing, right? However, setting goals and setting intentions are two very different activities, though they build off of one another. In fact, setting intentions with your goals I believe will help you achieve them more sustainably and valiantly.

Photo by Zen Chung on Pexels.com

The difference of the two is centered on the time and scope of accomplishment/action. Simply put, goals are future-based, while intentions are present-based. A goal is something you wish to attain, and your intent however is your energy or attitude. Setting an intention conditions you to operate in a particular space now so you can achieve your goal then. Think of setting intentions as the primer or base for your paint job [goal]. An example of a goal could be “Run a 5K”, your intention could be showing up for yourself or getting stronger/healthier. This intention pushes you everyday. This brings us to the difference in scope. An intention is more vague and emotional/mental, while a goal is much more specific and narrower in scope, and more tangible. This difference in scope aids one another. However, the gem of setting intentions is that it allows you to live by your values and focus on who you are and how you feel moment by moment. This gives you an opportunity to enjoy the journey and remain in the present. This truly helps because it focuses less on winning and losing, and more on the actual motive or essence of what it is you want. Therefore, even if you don’t run the full 5K or you complete it with a busted ankle, it doesn’t take away from the little choices everyday leading up to the event, where you showed up for yourself and you grew stronger everyday.

Setting intentions cannot replace setting goals. Setting and achieving goals are measurable and tangible results that can propel you forward and display the same values upon which you set intentions. Nor can setting goals trump intentions because we have all had those moments where we are so goal-oriented that the loss of achievement plunges us in disappointment and even self-doubt. Using both is a sure-fire way to not only achieve your dreams, but be constantly working upon the core values and reasons you’re doing it in the first place. What intentions have you set for this year? One of mine is being more gracious to myself and others.

Photo by RODNAE Productions on Pexels.com

This concludes the raved faves of March! April has already begun and with Spring becoming very comfortable with Mother Nature, I know that this month will be one of revived opportunities and new beginnings. I hope it will be a great month for you! Until next time…

Love, Delz

Raving my Faves: February

Raving my Faves: February

Photo by Simon Berger on Pexels.com

As we welcome March, I can’t help but feel excited! Spring is just around the corner, officially March 20 to be exact. Spring always signifies rejuvenation and revival for me. The snow begins melting, the flowers begin to pop up everywhere, the birds chirp louder, and the atmosphere just seems so much brighter. Is it just me? Well, we’ve said goodbye to February where I got to celebrate a lot of wonderful people: my paternal grandmother, my little brother, my wedding anniversary, and we cannot forget celebrating the legacy of black people in this country. This month however proved to be a bit difficult, especially in Texas because of Winter Storm Uri. Many were left without electricity, heat, water, or even a proper place to stay. There were tragic deaths all in the hopes of generating heat. While I am grateful to have had power and water throughout the storm, it was indeed still difficult getting around on the icy grounds and cold. Thankfully the temperature is rising and the snow has melted. Yes to the heat! Let’s keep the Texans still recuperating from the storm in prayer.

While February proved to be a bit of a doozy, there are two things that made it to my faves list.

Movie: Judas and the Black Messiah

Directed and produced by Shaka King, along with production by Ryan Coogler and Charles King, comes a riveting biographical drama piece about the betrayal of Fred Hampton, chairman of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panther Party in the late ’60s. This movie made my February Faves because it captured the humanity of the movement, the man, and the mission. We got to see the vulnerability of not only Fred (played by Daniel Kaluuya), but of William O’Neal (played by Lakeith Stanfield), the man who betrayed him. The movie’s storyline flowed well and the actors in their various roles were superb in taking us into their experiences to share in the pride, agony, rage, skepticism, sorrow, hope, joy, and betrayal. I could not believe that I never really knew the story of this 21-year-old revolutionary. The state was scared of a 21-year-old black man whose words stirred up pride, dignity, and a hunger for justice and change. This young man didn’t just stir the hearts of black people — no, he got many people of different races and ethnicities on board to fight for equality and justice. You would think that this is a common story, but while some may know of the legacy of Fred Hampton, or his contribution to the civil rights movement, that’s where it stops. I just love how the story gives us a glimpse of how he could have been in real time. After the movie, my husband and I could not stop talking about what it means to be a revolutionary, especially in this day and age. We pondered over whether we were revolutionaries in our sphere of influence, could one raise their children to be revolutionary, leadership in the black community, among other related topics. We were sure of one thing though: Fred Hampton’s story is truly inspirational. He was so young, yet his powerful way of speech and his work transcended time. I encourage you to watch this film if you haven’t, and do supplemental reading of the great work the Black Panther Party did. Furthermore, do you consider yourself a revolutionary? What do you think it means to be revolutionary? Drop a comment below.

Day: 15th

The day after Valentine’s Day is my wedding anniversary date! Because of the winter storm, many places were closed and we were forced to adapt a bit, but I truly enjoyed celebrating our love and one year in marriage! It made my February Faves for the obvious reason that it is the day we said “I do” to each other. However, even more so, it was another reminder that I am married to my best friend. Something I’d like to share from that day is a conversation we were having over some wine and dinner. We touched on whether we thought the reality of marriage matches the dream of marriage — does marriage look like what you thought it would as a kid. We both gave our answers, but what stood out to me is that we both mentioned how no one really tells you how much work goes into marriage growing up. Yes, you marry someone you love and care about, but this is still an individual with their personal quirks, strengths, challenges, hopes and dreams, failures and disappointments. There will be times when a strength of yours clashes with a challenge of theirs; or a preference of yours clashes with a preference of theirs. What you choose to do during those times shapes your marriage time by time. And there are many ways you could choose to handle a situation, and everyone’s marriage is different. What stands true across the board is that you have to make the choice daily to cherish the love you have. As time goes on, we learn more and more of who we are. I learn more and more about Francois, and even more and more about myself — and vice versa. I made the choice a year ago that day to fully commit my love and devotion to this relationship, regardless of what life throws at us. A year later, I can say that while marriage takes active dedication, I am happy I chose to actively dedicate my time and love to this man.

Photo by Meru Bi on Pexels.com

A movie and an anniversary date made it this time to my Raving my Faves list! I wish I could have added more but life happens — specifically a whole winter storm in the south happened. BUT! We are grateful nonetheless. There is always something to be grateful for. On that note, do you have any highlights from February? What are you looking forward to in March? Drop your comments down below! And may you March forth in joy this month.

Love, Delz

Raving My Faves: January

Raving My Faves: January

Hello Friends! Is it too late to say happy new year? It has been a minute but here we are — refreshed and ready to really dive into our purpose this year. Though there were many setbacks in 2020, I truly believe that we have all gained some perspective with which we can approach this year.

Photo by Karolina Grabowska on Pexels.com

This year at the end of each month, I will be posting a Raving My Faves article. This article will highlight things that I liked/used a lot in the month. It could be anything: an app, hair product, book… ANYTHING. This is my way of sharing what I like with you guys while also providing consistent light-hearted content you can look forward to.

This month was one that I took very slowly. On January 1, 2020 I had been ready to take on the world with so many goals and resolutions, and it didn’t take long for things to go the opposite of what I planned or expected. 2020 has taught me the biggest lesson on perspective: though I lost some things, I also gained so much beautiful additions to my life (both unexpected). Therefore, this year I approached things differently. I made sure that more than just writing down goals, I am setting very purposeful intentions for the year. And I did this with the help of my first fave thing: my Legend Planner!

1. PLANNER/AGENDA

I received this planner last year as a gift from my sister-friend, and I immediately fell in love with it. It features a comprehensive yet easy-to-use layout. It breaks up your goals into yearly goals, 3-month goals, monthly goals and daily agendas. Pictured below are examples of what that looks like.

Moreover, there are cool features such as stickers of encouragements and reminders, a section to look back, and it creates a very practical way of laying out your small and big goals, and helps you track habits you are trying to instill. I found it very helpful this month to set intentions for the year, and also to get me out of a funk I was in. By following my habit tracker, it was easy to keep myself accountable and it’s also nice to see how I crush my goals. If you love to write out your goals/thoughts and you are looking for a good planner, this one is the one for you! Bonus: you can get it anytime because you write in the months, years and dates. That way even if you get it in March, you can begin from the first page of the book. How cool is that!

2. Avocado Toast

Photo by Daniela Constantini on Pexels.com

One of my favourite things in life is avocado (no seriously), which we often call ‘pear’ back home. And though avocadoes back home are much bigger, more flavourful and delicious, the small ones here will do. I am pretty mindful of my health, especially recently. Though I have been working out regularly, I decided to switch things up this year in my fitness routine. I won’t go into it too much right now, but one thing that I knew had to change was my diet. Your girl loves food, okay?! And I don’t want to sacrifice my taste or hunger satisfaction in the name of health. Cue avocado toast! I like mine on toasted whole grain bread with egg whites, seasoned with salt, black pepper, paprika and cayenne pepper. What can I say, I like things spicy. Think of avocado toast like your favourite pair of jeans — you can dress it up or dress it down. Don’t like pepper? Just sprinkle some salt and call it a day. Need more zest? Mix with some tomatoes and/or cilantro and squeeze a bit of lime juice. It is a delicious breakfast option that you can put your own twist on. More importantly, it provides healthy fats, carbs and protein. Health is wealth, guys. Let’s take care of our bodies, one bite at a time.

3. She Reads Truth Bible, CSB

She Reads Truth; color: Poppy Linen

Lastly, but certainly not least, one of my favourite purchases in 2020 and now my January fave is my She Reads Truth Bible. I had been on the lookout for a good study bible that encouraged me to read and study consistently, and didn’t look like a random bible you would find in the church’s pews. You know which one I’m talking about — black, leather, the pages with the red edge, with a faded name on the front. Exhibit A:

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Pexels.com

This Bible comes in different, pretty colours and finishes. It is quite large, but the features are so good, it is definitely worth the buy! It features close to 200 devotionals, artistic doodles, key verses, 20 full colour maps, timelines, reading plans for each book, wide margins for journaling, detailed introductions for each book, and a great concordance and index. This month it has been useful in keeping me grounded and creating an engaged relationship between reading the Word and applying it practically. It is written in the Christian Standard Bible version, which sticks to being as literal as possible to the original meaning while still being easy to read and clear to understand. If you (or someone you know) want to read the Bible more, but it feels daunting, boring, or even difficult, try this Bible out. You won’t be disappointed.

There you have it: my January faves. I’m looking forward to February and what it brings — the chocolates, hearts, flowers and the celebration of Black History. I’m also looking forward to seeing what pops up as my February faves to share with you. What are you looking forward to in February? Comment down below!

I hope next month brings you all the love and joy. Have a great day!

Love, Delz

3 Tips in Combatting Writer’s Block (or artistic block)

3 Tips in Combatting Writer’s Block (or artistic block)

Photo by Olya Kobruseva on Pexels.com

Ughhhh… There is nothing more dreadful to a writer than writer’s block. Especially for new writers or content creators, the ideas seem to be in abundance at first. No idea is too far-fetched; no subject is off limits. Not only do the ideas flow, but the practice flows as well. Your poems flow like Dominican rivers, your essays are composed with depth, and your stories take on a life of its own, much to your delight and excitement. You put a few of your writings out there, whether publicly or within your circle of friends/colleagues, and you receive high praise. You feel great. You are great.

Then you’re asked, or at the least you feel expected, to reproduce what you’ve done. What next? Oh I’ll show you what’s next! you exclaim from the depths of your heart, but when you sit down to write, you instead feel the damning artistic paralysis: Writer’s Block. Time is running out — whether it is an official deadline or one you imposed on yourself — yet your creative juices are slowly drying up. And this can be applied to any other artist, whether your craft is videography/photography, creating content, painting, personal training, etc. With any craft, I’ve noticed that eventually you may reach a plateau. While it may be alarming, it is not necessarily a bad thing. Plateaus, in my opinion, signify two things:

a) You have accomplished a goal

b) It is time to accomplish something new, in a new way.

Photo by Thirdman on Pexels.com

I think where a lot of artists fall off is honestly where a lot of other things seem to fall off: at the point where adaptation becomes essential. For some time now, I have been struggling with Writer’s Block myself. I desperately want to put my thoughts on paper (or computer, ha), yet when I do, it doesn’t flow the way I desire. It doesn’t communicate the essence of me — my thoughts, my emotions, my connection with the subject matter. Have you been there? Are you there now?

Lucky for you and me, we’re in this together! If you want to get out of that slump, here are three (3) things you can try to change/adapt to open up opportunities to create. (I talk about writing but I think you can apply this contextually to any craft).

I think where a lot of artists fall off is honestly where a lot of things seem to fall off: at the point where adaptation becomes essential.

Perspective

The biggest thing that governs your craft is your perspective associated with it. How do you approach your writing? What does writing mean to you? What feelings and states does it bring about? Why do you write? Have your feelings changed? Why? Answering these questions can give you an idea of where you once were and how you got to this block. Being aware of your relationship to your writing can allow you the opportunity to realign or shift your perspective to fit your expectations of your craft. If you love writing poetry, but recently have been viewing publishing your work as a chore or a way to win approval, then you may experience a block because there was a shift. Either try to realign your relationship to your root perspective (because you love writing), or adopt a new one, like in the example of writing to cope with painful thoughts vs writing to express your thoughts, both good and bad.

Medium

Another component that tremendously contributes to the style and output of your writing is the medium. Do you love the feel of a pen gliding across the paper, or the sound of keys crunching beneath your fingertips? Or maybe you like the ease of jotting down thoughts in your phone’s Notes app, or transcribing the audible renderings of your story. Whatever your medium is, sometimes it may begin to hinder your progress. For instance, I personally love writing in a notebook because there is a deep sense of connectivity I feel pressing down on the paper, and seeing my words physically spelled out as I am thinking them. Call me old school. However, I have had to remind myself that sometimes I may be struck with inspiration in a moment when I don’t have access to a pen and paper, and I am fortunate to have a Notes app. I can always transcribe later if I want to. Also, practically, I get more out efficiently when typing on a computer. Changing up your medium may help your block because it provides a new way of expressing your art. Try handwriting your thoughts before you sleep, or typing into your phone while on the train/bus. I have never transcribed audio of my thoughts, but I am exploring doing so. Don’t restrict yourself to a particular mode or medium — explore different ways of expression.

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Mood

Lastly, but certainly not least, the mood or your environment could play a part in your writer’s block. I usually would plop on my bed and write to my heart’s content when I first started writing for this blog. However, I recently started using my computer at a desk because it just increases my focus, and it has a nice official feel to it. Sometimes, I light a candle. Other times, I snack while I write. What do you do to set the mood for your writing? Do you have to get rid of clutter before you can hone in? Must you complete all essential tasks first before delving into the recreational? Or do you need a good ol’ cup of joe to keep the gears grinding? Whatever it is, maybe it isn’t working for you anymore. Or, maybe it isn’t practical in all situations. I won’t always have a candle near me to light (I wish!) or be able to sit at a table. Being flexible with your mood means experimenting with different environments, or at least keeping yourself open to changes in those environments. It is okay to want to stick to that game plan that hasn’t failed you yet. I’m not telling you to give it up. Consider this a nudge to do that AND try using or discarding other things in your environment that could bring your writing to a new level.

One Last Thing…

Beautiful people, I must say this before I close. While these three things could help revamp your writing, there is one very important thing that trumps all of these and could benefit you, not only in your writing, but in any area of your life:

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Rest.

Yes, it is okay to take a break from writing. It doesn’t make you any less of a writer. In fact, taking a break and basking in what you’ve already written is a great way of reminding you of the beauty of your craft. It can serve as a boost of confidence: If I can write these things that made people smile/cry/think etc., I can surely do it again. A break could be a couple of hours, days, months, heck even a year! You know what’s best for you and your writing process. We all deserve some rest.

There you have it: Three tips you can use alone or altogether that may help your writer’s block/artistic block. How do you deal with your writer’s block? Which of these tips do you see yourself trying out? Comment down below — I wanna know!

Fun fact: I tried one of these to break my block and write this post. Yay me! If I can, you can too!

Love, Delz

Representation Matters: What it means to have Kamala Harris in the White House

Representation Matters: What it means to have Kamala Harris in the White House

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2020 has been a year full of twists, turns and monumental events which always seem to leave us a bit dazed and slightly anxious for what’s next. One of the biggest events to cause much anxiety was the 2020 elections in the USA. While this blog is not affiliated with any political party, nor is the premise of this blog to discuss political affairs, I think it would be remiss of me to avoid the opportunity to write about something that is on my heart. After a very stressful week of constantly refreshing the browser and eyes peeled to news stations, Joe Biden was named President elect of the U.S with Vice President elect Kamala Harris.

[Disclaimer: this blog post is about a specific topic and has nothing to do with the party’s policies and their personal lives. I’m speaking on one thing and one thing only. I’d appreciate that if you leave comments, that they’d adhere to kindness and open-mindedness. No bashing or unsolicited political banter will be tolerated. Thank you ♥️]

However we feel about it, we can all agree that we’ve witnessed history seeing the first woman/first black/first South Asian/ first HBCU grad as the Vice President. Wow. I personally was struck in a way I’ve never been with the news of their victory. Finally, there was someone like me — a woman, a black woman, a multiracial woman — in a position of high authority, paving not only her legacy, but soon the legacy of a nation. Just her presence, her image, her input will influence many women of colour. Little South Asian girls and little black girls can look to her as a beacon of hope that one day, they too can hold such an office. They too can have thunderous impact while still poised with class. They’ll grow up to be women who aren’t afraid to politely but firmly command attention and respect: for their input deserves it. They’ll grow up to be women who work hard and still strive for their goals, amidst naysayers and skeptics.

It is a beautiful, unspoken lesson of equality and coming together.

There’s an idea floating around that with the propping up of black women such as Kamala Harris and Stacey Abrams, along with The Squad (Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley & Rashida Tlaib), we are fueling an agenda that dumbs down black boys and men, negating their influence and contribution to the victories that we’ve seen politically, and generally. However, I’d like to suggest that if you think that way, to maybe consider another perspective.

For many years, the little we did know about our history was filled with men of great minds and accomplishments. Martin Luther King, Marcus Garvey, Malcolm X, W.E.B. Du bois all the way down to John Lewis, Barack Obama, etc. We’ve had these leaders to look up to. For a long while, all people knew were Angela Davis, Harriet Tubman and Rosa Parks. More and more, we are learning that many other women played an integral role in many civil rights victories across the globe, but because of patriarchy, were simply not recorded, and even overlooked.

It is not only little girls of colour that will benefit from seeing Kamala Harris in office. Little boys of colour can also look up to her as well and recognize how power, influence, justice and grace isn’t only afforded to men but women too. It is a beautiful, unspoken lesson of equality and coming together.

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We didn’t reduce to this narrative when Barack Obama took office. Obama was the vision of change and opportunity for BOTH boys and girls. Why can’t Kamala Harris or other phenomenal women be the same? She is the same. Boys everywhere can look at her and say, she looks like my mom, sister, cousin, friend. If she can, I can. Moreover, they can look at their peers and encourage them instead of putting down their talents and gifts because “this is a man’s job”.

Kamala Harris has given us a tangible grasp at opportunity the same way Obama has, but even more so, because apart from women of colour, women in general can see her as an example to strive for. Think of Kamala Harris as bearing an image of equality, opportunity, and freedom. Whatever you think of her, she is giving boys and girls, men and women everywhere a renewed hope.

What do you think about having more representatives of different races, beliefs and backgrounds in positions of authority?

Does it matter to you to see people who look like you or people who don’t look like you in those positions?

Comment down below!

Love, Delz

Transparency vs Vulnerability

Transparency vs Vulnerability

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“I can be transparent without being vulnerable.”

I was scrolling through some comments on an Instagram post when I saw the quote above. I read it, scrolled past it, then scrolled all the way back up to it because I felt like I missed something. I read it again, and bing! Light Bulb came on. Oprah calls it the Aha! Moment. Many thoughts came flooding in as I looked at it, speechless. I figured I’d share these thoughts with you, so let’s dive in shall we? 

A lot of us millennials pride ourselves in being much more advanced introspectively than our parents and grandparents. We vocalize our opinions and beliefs, and we stand confidently in them too. We share details of our lives that our parents would rather keep to themselves, such as our relationship with our mental health, our personal hiccups and failures, our political affiliations, our stance on certain societal issues, etc. We view ourselves as the champions of truth; the valiant bearers of transparency. 

However, have you ever known so much about a person yet you still felt like you didn’t know them? Your feelings may be correct. More and more I am realizing that many of us know a lot about each other, without truly knowing each other. We know facts. We know details. We may even know feelings attached to these facts. Yet none of these things truly hit the surface of being vulnerable. This describes transparency — open to see all the details, good or bad, and that’s where it ends.

Vulnerability on the other hand requires more involvement from both parties. Transparency gives you the agency to start and stop how much you share. Vulnerability allows someone to not only know about you, but to actually know you. Vulnerability opens you up to another party engaging in your truth. 

Well, what does engaging look like? Vulnerability creates the space for the party to experience those emotions with you, experience the time with you, and navigate the space with you. Being transparent is letting your friend know that you were hurt by something they said and why. Being vulnerable is allowing your friend to know how and why you were hurt, giving them the space to express their feelings and thoughts, and creating an area to navigate that together. Transparency begins and ends with you. Vulnerability begins and ends with us.

Transparency is like going to a museum — the most interaction you get is by seeing all the artifacts and admiring or disliking what you see. Vulnerability is like the Olympic sport Curling (click the link — you’ll be amazed and amused 😀 ). The team members are engaging in the synchronized objective of moving their stones to the target area. Likewise, in vulnerability, both parties are equally engaged in the objective of moving the relationship to the relational target of being seen, heard, and understood.

Transparency begins and ends with you. Vulnerability begins and ends with us.

So what, Delz?

I think this is so key to the building of healthy relationships because a lot of us are being transparent without being vulnerable. And it makes sense. While we are a super transparent generation, we also are a highly skeptical one. We don’t easily trust the world. Even our close friends we may not fully trust. Some people don’t even trust their spouses. And with that lack of trust, it makes sense why we aren’t willing to be vulnerable. Vulnerability is sacred and requires a safe space, which cannot exist without trust. Vulnerability requires you to not only share the truth, but to also share yourself. Moreover, vulnerability requires you to not only share yourself, but to allow the other person to share themselves too.

This is communication. This is relationship. But jeez, this is also scary.

Just the other day, Francois and I were discussing relationships when he told me that when he first met me, he was surprised at how transparent I was. I had always considered myself an open book. However, we both agreed that while I was comfortable sharing facts, happy to even, I was not vulnerable. AT ALL. And transparency will only go so far in relationships. It takes vulnerability to truly address the issues that arise, because again, it’s not just you or me — it’s us. In fact, I am currently learning to practice vulnerability in the relationships I hold dear to me, and to exercise vulnerability in my writing. 

So, here are three things to consider if you want to dive deeper into your relationships and exercise vulnerability.

Transparency vs Vulnerability isn’t a question of wrong or right, but a question of how and when.

Both transparency and vulnerability is a necessity in communication, but it’s all about time and place. Transparency is important because the facts are important. Your thoughts about your manager’s upcoming project proposal is valid. Your feelings about a mistake your partner made are valid and should be heard. It moves into vulnerability where you express and you invite feedback — empathy, emotions, issues and solutions. Both are necessary, but only one takes you to sustainable solutions.

The prerequisites of vulnerability is respect, trust, and reverence. 

Does the person/friend/partner respect you and your core values? Do you respect them? Can you trust them? Do you think that whatever you tell them, they will treat it carefully? Vulnerability is scary because it is so risky. What if I’m taken advantage of? I’m sure some of you are asking that. And that has always been a fear of mine. However, ask yourself these questions to truly assess whether it is the right time to invite someone into that space. Vulnerability isn’t something you just jump into. It takes time to build on the trust. If you’re in a relationship, maybe your first activity on vulnerability could be to explore these questions with your partner. And to my fellow jaded friends, remember, not everyone is a scumbag who won’t treat your heart delicately. Trust me, there are good people out there; people willing to hold your hand through it all.

Transparency is the capsule while vulnerability is the liquid form.

Did your mom have you drink a spoonful of tonic and a spoonful of cod liver oil daily too? My face is grimaced and I’m silently gagging as I type this. I hated it! However, it does the body good. With the introduction of capsules, the fishy taste is no more and we get our needed daily dose! Or do we? Research shows that absorption is quicker, dosage is more accurate and oil is fresher and more potent when taken as a liquid. Capsules run the risk of holding rancid oil, it takes half an hour to absorb, and since no two bodies are the same, dosage is harder to be generalized to one capsule per day. Moral: transparency is easier on taste but you gotta work twice as hard to really know who the person is. Vulnerability may be hard to swallow, but it does the heart good and opens you up to the essence of that person.

Both are necessary, but only one takes you to sustainable solutions.

What next?

So we all know the difference between transparency and vulnerability. We also know the fun facts of cod liver oil and Curling. What do I do with this information? Well, firstly, you’re welcome on that fish oil tip! But on a more serious note, this is just some thoughts on the matter to help you and I both navigate our various relationships. If you keep hitting the same block, it could be because there is a lack of vulnerability. Even in your relationship with God, or with yourself, if you are not vulnerable, you can’t be held accountable, and you won’t see sustainable change and breakthroughs. Ask those prerequisite questions, explore your issues with vulnerability, and seek out people, places and experiences that facilitate that. I want to see us all be the best we can be — it all starts with becoming okay with being vulnerable.

Do you have a hard time with vulnerability or transparency? What do you think of this topic? Let me know your thoughts below!

Love, Delz

To Those Who Find Themselves Lost

To Those Who Find Themselves Lost

A book review and interview with the Author

Hi Guys! It’s been a while, but I’m back and ready to hold hands with you and be vulnerable 😀 This post will be a feature of a book I’ve read that I think you would appreciate, and a short, exclusive interview with the author herself! Can I hear “Girl Power!” on three please? I was very excited to read this book. Aschel and I are from the same island, Dominica, and we went to high school together (Big up our senior class 4A/5A real quick). While we knew each other, we weren’t close so the experiences penned in this book were all new to me, like they would be new to you. Even so, below you will find my 100% honest review and rating of the book. So, without further ado, let’s dive in.

To those who find themselves lost is a book of poems written by Aschel St Ville, who is a poet, activist and pharmacy technician. The book is sectioned into three — The Bending, The Breaking, and The Healing — where you can explore Aschel’s journey of lows and highs; moments of sadness, realization, and coming of strength and womanhood. This book highlights themes such as women empowerment and vulnerability, and grants us a raw, unadulterated perspective of concepts such as depression/anxiety, shame, relationships, dreams, and self-love. 

“Some of us are silent because we lost so much the last time we spoke.”

-To those who find themselves lost by Aschel St Ville

In my excitement to read this book, I don’t think I was fully prepared for how raw and honest these poems were. I found myself at the end of The Bending sobbing. I sobbed for Aschel’s trauma, and I sobbed for my own, along with the other girls I grew up around who possibly shared similar stories that I wouldn’t have known because we’re taught to tuck these things away and never let them see daylight. This segment brought an awareness of the depth of brokenness trauma ensues, especially the one she spoke about. However, it also piqued my interest: I wonder how she navigated through this? And I kept on reading.

The Breaking is where you see Aschel’s pen truly come alive and the journey begins to arch. In this segment she bends the universe so that you and her are walking together through this period in her journey. She poses certain thoughts and questions that allow you to think of your own journey. Moreover, even in her writing of truly deep and low times, you can sense the glimmer of hope as we move along. Through her writing, and the lessening of pages, we are reminded that there is still one more segment to appreciate.

“Yes I am broken, but I am worth fixing.”

-TO THOSE WHO FIND THEMSELVES LOST BY ASCHEL ST VILLE

I think I appreciated The Healing segment out of all, not because it was lighter or “happier”, but because we didn’t see an abrupt change from one point of her journey to the next. There is a gradual shift, where there may still be pain, but we have new awareness now. There may still be sadness, but there are also things to celebrate. The Healing is a powerful reminder that life is filled with both sadness and joy, and it is perfectly okay. Throughout this segment, Aschel shares encouragement, her thoughts on self-love and other-centered love, and empowerment.

Something that I did not know would be included, but was so excited for it that I squealed (I really did), were extra blank pages. For those of you who are writers as well, whether it may be poetry like Aschel, essay or prose like me, or even if you just want to doodle, these pages offer you a chance to add your own story, your interpretation of how this book made you feel, or something else completely. Thank you for this unexpected gift Aschel! 

For Aschel’s first book, which is self-published, I give it 5 stars. It was wonderfully written and super transparent. I embarked on a voyage into Aschel’s experiences penned and was invited to feel what she possibly felt. Altogether, I finished the book feeling proud of her for her overcoming, proud of myself for my overcoming, and I think after reading, you too would be proud of your growth. ❤

INTERVIEW WITH AUTHOR AND POET, ASCHEL ST VILLE

SIMPLY DELZ: Describe yourself in four (4) words

ASCHEL: Four words I feel that give a very comprehensive description of who I am are: ambivert, empathetic, eccentric, introspective

SD: What is your writing process?

A: Extensive periods of intense inspiration and writing and also long periods of writer’s block.. I have bursts of inspiration throughout the day and whenever they come I write them down. When writing this book I actually dedicated several hours a day just to write and perfect some of the poems I had written before.

SD: What do you want people to take away from your writing?

A: Definitely, I feel like I want people to understand the value and beauty of vulnerability. My writing is very honest and raw. I want people to see first hand what it is like to put yourself out there unapologetically in all of your flaws.

SD: Who or what inspires you?

A: I am inspired by many female writers particularly Ijeoma Umebinyuo. She is a womanist and such a powerful woman who does not apologize for what she feels and writes. I see her as a woman who stands in her truth and exudes so much confidence. To be confident in who I am as a person has always been my life goal.

SD: Name one thing you can’t live without

A: Poetry for sure.

SD: What advice would you give aspiring poets/writers/creatives?

A: Continue to create. Do not compare your work to anyone else’s. Know that there is space and value in your voice and in your writing. And also I would love to see your work out there some day.

SD: Thanks! Can we expect a new project from you soon? (we hope so!)

A: Yes I am actively working on a new book. However, it won’t be released at least for another year. I am learning a lot from my first book release and still fighting Imposter Syndrome. But I always release new work on my IG page @sabrinajpoetry.

Aschel proudly holding a stack of her first, self-published book of poems

Hi! If you made it to the end, thanks for reading and supporting! Follow our IG pages for more content, and be sure to pick up Aschel St Ville’s book by tapping the link here. Have you read this book or another book of poems? Do you love poetry? Drop your thoughts below, and like & share this post!

Love, Delz

When Will It End?

When Will It End?

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There’s a throbbing ache in my heart today.

It is documented that victims of trauma and/or grief express their reactions differently. There are some who become numb to avoid the overwhelming tide of emotions, while others react with anger, despair, sadness, disappointment, shock, even a mental breakdown. The trauma that is endured by the black community spans across centuries, the only difference being that with social media, we have quicker and unfiltered public access to it.

Recently, there has been a surge of filmed instances of police brutality, malicious and threatening contact of the authorities, and accusing innocent black men and women of crimes they did not commit. With every new case, my heart grew heavier and more weary. The injustice is suffocating, not far at all from the methods used to mercilessly kill these victims, and victims of the past. It was just something about the case of George Floyd that sent me into a state of mourning I have never been through. It could have just been the straw on the camel’s back, but it brought me to my knees inquiring to God, “when will they stop killing us?” My heart is heavy, my eyes are hazy with tears, my chest feels constricted, and my mind is racing. I grieve for the families and loved ones of the men and women who were taken too soon at the hands of white supremacy. I grieve for the collective community who is forced to suck it up and move on as if one of their brothers/sisters weren’t just killed horrendously. I mourn for the progress of our people and for the strength that is admired, but comes from the will to survive against odds that come from a system whose basis is prejudiced and evil.

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I not only grieve but I worry. I worry for my black loved ones in the US, especially the black men in my life such as my husband and friends. The men who are not just black, but unapologetically so; the ones who are keen to their rights. The ones whose joy and success is a threat to this unjust system. I think of my future children, and the conversation of their blackness that I was not ever prepared to give. It is different growing up black in a country that is predominantly black, such as in the Caribbean. There is this freedom that the black community here has never felt since the first black slave stepped foot on this land. You don’t have to teach them survival tactics for encounters between white and black. The conversation of race and colour is one of knowledge, of pride, and of the past; that even the subject of slavery is one that would engender rage, but the assurance still lies that it is a thing of the past, or at least something that is over there and not here. Even within my own family, the topic of race hardly came up, and when it did, it was always one of equality and love. Here, there is an ongoing conversation of racism: warped over the years, but its prevalence and potency remain the same.

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I am writing this to not only give myself the space to express how I feel, but also to give those who feel the same the affirmation that you are not alone. It is completely natural to mourn someone you do not personally know. It is completely okay to be enraged by what is going on — being angry is not a sin. [In my opinion, I’d think it strange if you weren’t the least bit upset.] It is also okay if because of this, you take a break from social media, from work, from chores, etc. This is a sorrowful time for ALL OF US, inside and outside the black community. These men and women were human beings. I can’t believe I have to even say that. No one is deserving of such a death, REGARDLESS of the absence or presence of an offense.

Point. Blank. Period.

Black men, you are loved. Black women, you are loved. Black men, you are missed. Black women, you are missed. Rest in Peace to all the victims and condolences to their families. Prayers for all the people, who in one way or another, suffer from racism here and abroad.

Love, Delz