Self Care — Spa Day!

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When was the last time your luxuriated all day in a bathrobe sipping tea or cucumber infused water?

When was the last time you stopped, filled your tub with water and essential oils, got out the candles collecting dust, and soaked for hours?

Spa-days and spa rituals are an important part of self-care and healing.

I am a big spa girl! I commit to spa days at least once per season, and have spa rituals: my birthday, New Year’s Eve and when I travel, especially to tropical destinations.

From Jamaica to Paris, I have relaxed in some pretty fancy spaces and along the way learned more about myself and experience healing lessons.

Miami: Elle Spa at the Eden Roc Hotel.

After two days lounging in the sun, I booked The Ultimate Glow Facial. Prior to my treatment, I lounged in the relaxation room, and took a dip in the hot whirlpools.

My facial consisted of the typical cleansing, exfoliation, mask and massage.  The products used were from the French company Decleor.

At the end of the facial my esthetician handed me a mirror to take a look at my skin.

“OMG I’m beautiful” I replied and gave her a big hug.

I was glowing and in a way that I had not seen myself in a long time.  Hindsight is always very clear, my glow was part the facial and spa experience and also the trip to Miami, which I booked after a bad break up. I was releasing negativity and despite the pain  was in a happy zone.

This was a life changing experience. It was a time when I looked in a mirror sans makeup, hair all messy and saw my true God given beauty.

This was not the first time that I declared I was beautiful. I loved my beauty prior to this moment; however I was somehow always critical of it. I’d look in mirrors and see blemishes or imperfections like the tiny moles growing around my eyes and instead of focusing on my beauty, I focused on my flaws. This time I saw my raw beauty!

I snapped this picture shortly after leaving the spa. It’s one of my all-time favorite pictures. No makeup, just me happy, relaxed and glowing.

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Negril Jamaica: Jackie’s on the Reef

My words can’t do the beauty and serenity of this holistic spa justice. It’s a must see bucket list for women who love the islands and healing retreats.

Check out these photos:

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I was in Jamaica to celebrate a friend’s 40th birthday.  After a few days of partying a spa day was needed, so I booked Jackie’s Signature Treatment Body Scrub and a Massage.

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Upon arrival I met Jackie.  A striking beauty, she asked me a few questions about my life, goals and travel to Jamaica. She advised me to chill out at the resort after my treatments and to read the book “The Power of Now“. Her parting advice was to return home and keep focused on the NOW!

I only spent a day at Jackie’s on the Reef, but the healing I received was forever.

I discuss my experience at Jackie’s on the Reef and the healing Signature Body Scrub treatment that pushed me out of my comfort zones and helped me embrace being naked in from of others.

And also another spa experience while in one of my favorite cities:

Paris, France: Mosquee de Paris, a traditional Hammam (Turkish bath)

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On

 Full Body Frequency a one-hour, weekly radio show talking fashion, art and culture, health and wellness, beauty, love, and travel in celebration of the lives of fabulous, full-figured women everywhere with host Laura Rice.

Like what you hear? Support this independent radio show!

Have you had any healing experiences during spa treatments? Please share in the comments. If you haven’t been to a spa lately, save some money and book a day to release, and enjoy the healing benefits of loving up on yourself!

With you on your journey,

Tarshel

Messages from the Universe

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About 2 months ago my wonderful home girl and writer Joshunda gifted to me her registration for Blogher conference in Chicago.  The gift blew me away. I’m still trying to put together a thank you gift to express how grateful I am. At the time I confessed to J that I was searching for a new job. She wrote in an email “Maybe this is the universe conspiring to make a new job happen.” When I signed up for the conference, I registered with my current title and job. “I blog for work, “ I thought to myself as I typed my title and work URL into the website database…….

I created ONYX while in graduate school as I was transforming my life –mentally, spiritually and physically.  I was on a path to what I call a whole me.

I graduated with my MS degree and set out to change careers and enter a new journalism landscape. Over 30 and with real bills, I was not able to take the internship route to landing a great job in a major city or with a national news or media agency.  After a few stints at a community newspaper and freelancing, I reached back and started working in a libraries—my first career began at a reference desk. I also started blogging….but stopped.

I stop working on ONYX for various reasons. Reasons I convinced myself were legitimate: I’m not really a writer (I’ll explain this later), I don’t have a readership, can’t find contributors, I have real bills need to work no time to blog, no one is interested in this content…..

Truth is I gave up on my journalism career goals and ONYX, because I gave up on my dreams.

The last year of my life has been the most painful. No I didn’t lose a parent, or experience a sexual trauma or tragedy.

I finally confronted traumas from my past. Wounds so deep that the memories are buried deep in my psyche yet affected my everyday living. Wounds that kept me living in fear. Living in fear is a walking death. Wounds that made me give up on ONYX.

Although I had been to therapy many times throughout my life, last year after a breakup with a man I loved, the pain sent me  back to the chair.  At that time, I thought I’d have a few sessions, get over him and move on. It turned into so much more.

As I released emotions, I began to change. Subtle changes that many folks would not witness, but are profound. Some days it was hard to get out of bed other days I felt like a zombie– I was up and sleepwalking through the day. Healing is a process, and more importantly a process that requires an eagerness to heal. The more I prayed and went to therapy the more I began to live!

Last week I met up with a friend at a bar.

A warm Friday evening, traffic was bad and so was parking. After searching for a space for  20 minutes only to find a spot I thought was too far from the bar, especially after a few cocktails, I hopped out and  saw what I call street art.

I snapped a picture.

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Got to the bar and needed to use the ladies room.

Walked inside and in huge letters on the wall was this!

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I took a picture!

And as I washed my hands to leave on the door is this.

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I took a picture.

Messages from the Universe.

Welcome back to ONYX.

God speaks to us in various ways we must be open to listen. Joshunda’s gift, street art, and graffiti—all messages that it’s time to revitalize ONYX.

And now is the perfect time.

In high school  I was a 17 year old know-it-all activist running around NYC attending rallies and then writing about my opinions in English class. My frustrated teacher (because I never followed the rules) told me “you will become a better writer after you’ve lived and experienced some pain” Huh? My 17 year all self brushed him off with the typical “whatever”

He was right. Pain made me grow up and seek true healing. I can say it’s a true journey. In 2001 when I conceived ONYX was the start of healing, but I stopped. Maybe because it “just go to hard” but life pushed me back to heal and to ONYX

The goal of ONYX is to provide a forum a for black women to learn how to balance their lives –mentally, physically, spiritually. As Queen Afua said once in a lecture, black women must heal with each other!

ONYX is your digital companion. I’m still learning how to figure it–meaning life…. The first step–Forgive whatever hurts, anger, pain etc.

I don’t have all the answers, but I promise, like the graffiti on that bathroom wall and the street art, and girlfriends who show up for you just when you need them, the universe is conspiring to help you heal!  Stay awake and listen.

I’m heading to Las Vegas in a few hours to Love Life. I’m planning to enjoy 3 days of eating good food, drinking cocktails and laughing with friends. When I return I will attend Blogher. I’m so excited to learn and meet other women with big dreams! Thank you again J.

With you on your journey,

Tarshel

When Your Heart Smiles

Ever have something happen so suddenly that you almost did not realize it was happening, but you’re happy it did?

I call those my Heart Smile moments. Unexpected but they light up your world.

Times When My Heart Smiles:

Human Touch:

The last time I received a hug that was so genuine, tight and long was from my cousin who I had not seen in years. I received that hug over 6 months ago, but I can still remember the energy from it. There’s something about the human touch that when it’s pure and righteous will last in your memory forever.

Standing on the train in the early morning and a young baby nestled in her mom’s arms reached over and touched my arm. It was so sweet, gentle, and innocent. Her mom apologized and I smile and said “No apology needed, I so needed to feel that little hand”

A Kiss:

Nothing like a first Kiss…… I’m thinking about one as I type and missing him…..

Nothing like the Kiss from a baby. It’s  sloppy and gooey, but so sweet. Love, Love, Love my God Children and their Kisses!

Words:

I’m a lover of words. I will read a quote, hear the words of a song, or listen to someone and remember those words.

Most recently, this toast: “To the start of something beautiful”

This email message: “It’s such a blessing to be in your class, I’m going to take you for English 102”

These words from a song “ I am running. I don’t wanna come down.  Hope my wings don’t fail me now. And if I can touch the sky. I’d risk the fall. Just to know how it feels to fly”

This status on FB: “Go Team ONYX

Scents:

I love perfume and scents can make me smile; feel warm and cozy or sexy. There’s nothing like smelling a newborn baby right? Or the smell of fresh linen from the dryer? Or bread baking. Or your lover’s scent. There’s something about when my smell sense is activated that just makes me crazy. Well most recently, a friend gave me a sample of PRADA INFUSION DE TUBEREUSE. I spritzed  it on my wrist and my day instantly got better.  I love Tuberose and this fragrance isn’t heavy with it, provides just the right mixture with other flowers to make me wanna go roll around in a garden…Well not really the city girl in me would admire it from afar. But seriously, this is my new summer fragrance.

Speaking of Gardens, last Saturday I was in a funky mood because I had to work. As I walked towards the building, I smelled the most wonderful scent. I realized it was the new-planted bushes right outside the building. I got closer took a whiff and was so mesmerized, that I snapped on the lovely flowers off it’s vine. Gardenia is the flower and smelling it that day made me feel better about working on a weekend.

Taste:

Good Coffee….Only a coffee drinker can understand…but the first sip of a good cup….

A good piece of fruit…Nature got SWEET right! No cake, cookie or candy can compare to a ripe pineapple, cherries, strawberries or nectarines. I had some GREAT cherries this AM…A wonderful way to start the day!

I’m curious, what makes your heart smile?

Let me know,

With you on your journey,

–tb

Books & Life

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1.  Sisters of the Yam, bell hooks.

This is my number 1 favorite book!!!! A self-help book written to help black women on their road to self-recovery, I credit this book with helping me grow and embrace my womanhood. I discovered this book at Brooklyn Public Library on a warm sunny day in NYC. While the sun was shinning outside it seam dark and gloomy to me.  A recent college graduate, and newly single, I was in a state of confusion about my life, love and future. I checked the book out and I am sad to say (cause I am a librarian),  I never returned the book. I sat outside the library and read the first three chapters.  It is as if bell hooks was speaking directly to me. With chapters on learning how to love being dark, successful unions, how to live in a community and how to find work that I love, hooks tome saved my life! This book helped me embrace being a black woman and to love my hair, dark skin, big hips and shapely figure, but to love the most important part of me: my exquisite mind. I have since purchased and had hooks sign a new copy for me, but I keep the copy I checked out of the library on my bookshelf. I re-read the book a few times a year re-reading sections I highlighted in 1993. It reminds me of how far I have come as a black woman and reminds me that self-help is so important!

2.  It is no wonder that I became a Librarian. I also found my second all time favorite book at the Crown Heights branch of BPL and yep I still have the copy. Black Boy by Richard Wright is my second choice of a book that changed my life. I discovered Wright’s tome at 13, far too young to have read this book, but I did. It enlightened me at an impressionable age about race relations in America, life for black boys and men and solidified Wright as one of my favorite authors. I have since re-read the book many times as an adult just to feel Wrights words, thoughts and feelings.

3.  What will make you happy? Is it love, money, family, or peace of mind? In Search of Satisfaction, J California Cooper, fictional story and characters will make you think about what is happiness. I am not sure how I found Cooper’s book, but after reading the first chapter, I was mesmerized by her metaphors, choice of words and life lessons that she delivers via her characters and their lives. I re-read this book every year to help me focus on what I really want and desire from my journey in life. She is my favorite fiction writer.

4.  Brooklynites who love independent bookstores, will remember Nkiru Books and ABC bookstore. I grew up going to book signings and readings at these small bookstores where I learned the value of small businesses and reading books by and for African Americans.  My fourth book is by an author who I saw at ABC Bookstore. She came in draped in traditional African Garb and with her head covered. Her chocolate skin was gleaming and she flashed her bright smile at all the attendees. I am talking about the lovely Iylana Vanzant and the fourth book that helped change my life is Tapping the Power Within. Vanzant’s first book is a self-help book to help women tap into their internal feminine power and to  grow into black womanhood. This book taught me the importance of covering my crown and learning to look at life with my third eye. A must read for any woman struggling to find her feminine power and style.

5.  When it was time for me to change my dietary habits and embrace a holistic lifestyle, I turned to the bible of the health books, Heal Thyself by Queen Afua.  After my first read, I slowly stopped eating meat and began to do fire breaths and yoga. After the second read, I embarked on the 21-day juice fast. Since first reading this book over 10 years ago, I have fasted, embraced colonics, and embraced ad natural foods lifestyle. At 38 people mistake me for sometimes 10 years younger—I credit learning about a natural lifestyle from Queen Afua for the youthful appearance.

What are your top five books that has helped you change. respond in the comments section, and let me know!  I’ll post the next five next week.

With you on your journey,

Tarshel

Give Thanks

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Give thanks

Give thanks

Today’s post comes via a post from my girl Julia, who writes allaboutthepretty. Today on Facebook  her status update was a link  to The Way of a Happy Woman by Sara Avant Stover  whose post discussed no matter how hard life gets, give thanks.  I decided to keep the gratitude going here is my list of what I’m thankful for today. The challenge is to write this list everyday and never forget to say thanks.

Five things I’m Grateful for today Friday May 22, 2009

  1. For 6 months I sat in my office and ate lunch by myself. Recently I’ve ventured out to have lunch with colleagues. I’m thankful that we can take 3 hour lunches and still keep our jobs.
  2. I’m an accidental teacher. Yep I tripped and fell into a job that I absolutely love. I’m thankful for the opportunity to teach this summer. Every opportunity helps me grow and learn from the students.
  3. I left NYC when I was 17 to go to college. I’ve never been back. I’ve lived in major cities, crossed continents and states and no matter where I am in this big ole world, I’m thankful that I can always go home.
  4. I love animals. I always think to myself when I see a dog playing or cat sleeping that “they make life sweeter” I’m thankful that the rabbits the live around my building come around most nights for the dinner that my neighbor puts out for them. Seeing them when I arrive home always makes me smile.
  5. I love traveling and I’m so thankful that I have the funds to go to Italy this year with my sista friends.

What are you thankful for today?

With you on your journey,

Tarshel

“You simply will not be the same person two months from now after consciously giving thanks each day for the abundance that exists in your life. And you will have set in motion an ancient spiritual law: the more you have and are grateful for, the more will be given you.”
~ Sarah Ban Breathnach ~

Inspiration

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“That I was able to cast a vote for a presidential candidate whose candidacy would have been unthinkable
votethe year of my birth makes today my birthday”

I received this quote from my girl Tracie today November 4, 2008—Election Day in the United States and the day that many African Americans thought we would never see in our lifetimes. Last night, I felt like I did when I was a child and it was Christmas Eve and I couldn’t wait for Xmas. If I could choose just one word to describe how I have been feeling about this election and my candidate of choice Barack Obama, I choose INSPIRED.

I have loved politics since I was in Jr. High School when I learned the ins and outs of the process that the U.S. uses to elect a president. At that time, Walter Mondale was the democratic nominee and as class project I became his campaign manager. I put together a sure-fire campaign that would catapult Mondale to victory. I loved Social Studies class back then, I loved learning about the government, how it works etc, court systems, etc. After learning about the about the political process from my fabulous Social Studies teacher, I was so hopeful about Mondale’s success.

Subsequent campaigns and politicians stifled all my young energy and excitement about politics until
David Dinkins ran for Mayor of NYC. Although, I was unable to vote for him, I was a supporter and his campaign reignited my interest and energy about politics. In 1993, after graduating from College I returned to Brooklyn to work on his second campaign for reelection. Sadly, he lost, but I was happy I finally worked officially for a candidate I adored. Again, after this election, I lost my faith in politics….until now.

I must admit, in the beginning of this election I was a Hillary Clinton supporter for two reasons: I wanted a woman, and I supported her husband. As a transplant Chicagoan, I knew Obama’s record well. I’ve met Michelle and seen Barack speak on many occasions, but like many black folks in the beginning, I felt a little apprehensive about a black man running for president. Even my sweetie was an Edwards’s supporter in the beginning, but like many other black folks after the Iowa Caucus we began to really take notice of Obama’s chance. I  became an Obama supporter when I saw his interview with Jeff Johnson.

It was also the time when once again, my interest and fire for politics was reignited. This time, though, I am also INSPIRED!

I am Inspired to be a better Tarshel, to make my relationship stronger, get my physical health in order, work harder on my goals, support more charities, and travel more and to get back to volunteering in community.

Many people have inspired me at different times in my life, but right now, the inspiration I feel is so collegial. Everyone around me, strangers, friends and family have been more engaged in politics and thus more aware. I believe folks have stopped sleepwalking through life and are awake. I believe that people now have the same energy that I had in Jr. High School about the political process.

Obama’s candidacy has made my man smile more than I’ve seen in the year and half we’ve been together. He is so happy and I suspect other black men are smiling more as well. Political conversations has made for some enlightening conversations with students in my Friday night class and some of those students better researchers and writers. This election has my mostly all white community flooded with Obama signs and bumper stickers, something I never thought I would ever see.

All around me, I have noticed the change that Obama says happens from the bottom up! and I want to add happens with a personal decision to change!

Folks are Happy!

I’m Happy

I’m Inspired.

I give thanks to the Obama Family because Barack could not do this by himself! So many many thanks to his wife and children for their sacrifice for sharing their father and husband with us so that we can help him change this country!

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However you may celebrate tonight, give thanks to the Creator for this day! Give thanks that you Voted. Give thanks for your Ancestors who paved the way for us!

How has this election inspired you? Have you changed? What are you thoughts?

With you on this wonderful journey and day,

–Tarshel

the new ONYX

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Beauty is life when life unveils its holy face. But you are the life and you are the veil. Beauty is eternity gazing at itself in a mirror. But you are eternity and you are the mirror,” –Khalil Gibran

I conceived ONYX to be a print magazine in 2002 while in graduate school working on an MS in journalism. My conception was guided by a desire that true health was a holistic pursuit: a combination of mental, physical and spiritual balance. I realized that there was a lack of publications that catered to black women and their unique health concerns. That need still exists.


Last year I decided to join the world of bloggers and start ONYX as a blog. When I wrote my first post, I had lofty goals. I set out to offer a blog that could be a dialogue about how to create a life filled with balance and happiness and where women could turn to and find a partner (me) on their journeys. Months later a health challenge strangled my inspiration and work. All of my energy went to healing and understanding my body.


Despite my lack of work on ONYX, my mind was not far from my blog. As I healed, I met other women who were also healing from various physical, emotional, spiritual and mental aliments. Once again, I knew that my vision for ONYX was real and that I needed to find the motivation to get back to my vision.


In June 2006 during a business trip, I met Julia who is the author of allaboutthepretty. I began reading allaboutthepretty to get my daily fix of beauty product suggestions and as Julia says “all things pretty.”

Julia and I bonded over beauty products. But after an initial discussion about beauty products, I realized that we also share a love of yoga, books and travel. Julia fell in love with yoga after the experiencing the death of her beloved brother. What was a prescription from a traditional doctor to help her grieve became a passion. She is now a certified yoga teacher and spreading her love to women who are also in need of healing.

Julia embodies the spirit of ONYX! health and healing is not always popping a pill to take away the pain, but the pursuit to understand why pain exists and learn how to live with passion and happiness even when hurt exists.


Queen Afua, a natural healing expert believes that women must heal together. Essentially, it is our nature to have a sista-friend on our journey toward wellness.


What started as a daily dose of reading about one of my passions, became a friendship. Sometimes in life small events really impact the whole. Julia encouraged me to revisit ONYX and get it up and running and so a many thanks, hugs and kisses Julia!


After months of thinking, consulting I am back to be that sista-friend to help you achieve optimal health and wellness.

So welcome back to ONYX!

As always I will be there with you on your journey!

Tarshel

Remember Healthy is Beautiful

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