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 and I believe in at home spa rituals. I admit the at home has become less and less lately, purely because of laziness and putting self care on back burner.

But, as the summer transforms to fall, I am renewing my commitment to at home spa rituals and a spa day once per season. My other spa commitments are New Years Eve, birthdays and travel.

Travel is a life changing commitment. A part of my travel experiences is to indulge in a spa day or treatment. Over the years, I’ve relaxed in some pretty fancy spaces and along the way learned more about myself and my body.

Stay tuned for more conversation about my spa experiences.

But for now, I want you to log off, run a bath and soak for at least 30 minutes.

Add Epsom Salt and let the healing powers of the salt melt away any tension or mental issues you may be experiencing.

I’m off to do the same.

With you on your journey,

–tb

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

New Year, New You!

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My favorite holiday is New Years Eve. There is something about NYE that makes me happy; I believe it’s the energy and excitement of  a new start as well as celebrating the past.

Since I was a teenager, I have always wanted to be out doing something fun on New Years Eve. I’ve spent NYE at church, clubs, home, parties, movies and with lovers, friends family. And for the last few years, I created a tradition –SPA DAY. I’m a spa girl. I love to be pampered, and love to relax, so I spend part of my NYE at a spa, reflecting about my past year and plotting new resolutions.  This year my girls joined me.

This year’s spa of choice is one of my favorites in Chicago Allyu . Located in the old Montgomery Ward Building in Chicago’s near North Side, Allyu is for the spa lover who is looking for pampering and healing. The spa was sustainably  built and is  consciously operated using only natural products with healing ingredients.

I love the treatments, but the absolute best part of the spa is the meditation room. Situated in the middle of the spa, the meditation room is the place to unwind, sip tea, write in a journal or close your eyes and meditate.

My favorite treatment is the Sugar Scrub with a massage. There’s something about the oils, sugar and the rub down that leaves my skin feeling like butter and glistening.

If you’re looking for a wonderful spa experience head to Allyuspa.

After our spa day we headed to Chicago’s Magnificent Mile for lunch at Bandera on Michigan Avenue, where we had our first toast to 2011.

By the evening, I was on a NYE high. Part of my high was  the weather, it was a lovely 50 degrees in Chicago and I was feeling GREAT.

At the stroke of Midnight, I was surrounded by folks who love me and whom I love toasting to a New Year. In addition, I was on the phone with loved ones on the East Coast. The best words of the evening “2011 is our new start to something beautiful, can’t wait to see you.”

This NYE was a big deal for me for 40 reasons. I turn the big 4-0 in August.

Most folks celebrate milestone birthdays, but 40 seems to be the biggest. I’ve spent the last year wondering why is 40 such a big deal?

I’ve concluded that it’s because after living for 40 years, I’ve realized I’m okay with me.  I am as folks say a “grown ass woman.” With that comes responsibility and a  commitment to living a fulfilled life. I understand now why folks say life begins at 40.

I’m not changing who I am, I’m just refining the woman I am.

I have a list of 40 things to do before turning 40. Some of the items on my list are personal and some fun and exciting-such as learn to swim, bake cookies from scratch,  take a roller derby class, and get a tattoo.  Follow along with me over the next few months as I chart my 40th year journey.

I’m off to a good start, I’ve just booked two trips: Paris and Amsterdam for March and Egypt in August.

I will ring in my 40th b-day in a village in Nubia . I’m so excited that every night, I’m up late researching things to do while on the trip and I have to keep reminding myself to soak up every moment of every day of every month during this year and to enjoy the journey.

I also vowed more face time with friends and family. So in between international travel I’ll be reaching out, hanging out with friends and calling more rather than texting and Facebooking.

I’m looking forward to a trip home to NYC to see my darling little cousin before she gives birth to TWINS.

As 2010 left and 2011 entered I thought about my past year. I experienced some pain and hard truths about myself and others. I took a long look at my career and dreams  and I’m working now towards fulfilling my purpose. I reconnected with old friends and made new ones.

I learned that goodbye is necessary and that respect is more important than ego.

I also realized once again that truth, no matter how painful is the best remedy to soothe my heart.

For me truth & justice runs through my veins.

Last semester a student asked me what quote do I live by and why? I thought for a second, and realized I have many quotes, but one that is never far from my lips is:

“Forward Ever, Backward Never” — Marcus Garvey.

Ironically, a past lover taught me this quote….

Wishing you all a wonderful 2011! What are your resolutions or goals for 2011? Please share in the comments section and let’s keep each other motivated!

With you on your journey,

Tarshel

When Your Heart Smiles

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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 ~

I heart India Arie’s Music

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I love India Arie’s  music! Lately I’ve been listening to her last CD “Testimony: Vol.1, Love & Relationship,” which has a great remake of “Heart of the Matter”  . India dropped this CD shortly before I was diagnosed with Graves’ Disease, a thyroid disorder where one of my symptoms was thinning hair.  “I am not my Hair” became my anthem that year.

I am so excited because  today India’s new CD Testimony: VOl 2 Love and  Politics was released and after work  I am heading to Target to pick up the CD……yes I am still one of the few folks who buy CD’s.

A few weeks ago I heard the first single “Chocolate High” on the radio and rushed to the Internet to find the video and more information.  The song, a duet with Musiq is an upbeat tempo love song that just tugged at my heart.

I adore all of India’s songs. In fact her CD’s are always in rotation in my car! and I listen to the whole CD one song after another. I DO NOT have that same love affair with other artists!

India thanks for bringing positive, loving and good music to the world!

Everyone go out and buy or download India’s new CD!

Here is another one of my favorites “Words” a duet with Anthony David.