One thing this mama looks forward to is spending one night a week away from it all. What is the “all” I’m referring to? I’ll highlight a few: the million times I’m expected to stop in my tracks when the word “mom” is echoed through the house to fix a problem, the no privacy clause I unknowingly signed in the delivery room, and the mere chaos of getting to and from after school activities—times two kids). By Friday, I am B-E-A-T– physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially. So, I kindly force myself to get away (in close proximity) and spend time alone with my thoughts. No tiny humans around to crank me up. Just good vibes: a chill sassy ambiance, light snacks or a heavier meal, a refreshing adult beverage, my bestie (always a special treat), a smooth tennis-like conversation (broken up with feel good laugher) that has a 99.9% focus on adult (non-parental) topics, so I can crank back down and feel balanced…like me; back whole again.
I always keep my ears and eyes peeled for fresh new spots while I remain loyal to my day 1’s. I enjoy being a tourist in my own city and exploring uncharted territory. If you are planning a visit and would appreciate the ease of having the research done for you (or if you’re a local and would still appreciate the ease of having the research done for you), here are my go-to gems for an evening of kid-free bliss in the Los Angeles area (in no particular order).
*FYI–This post was written B.C. (before Covid19). Let this serve as a reminder and tribute to all the businesses that were/are negatively impacted along with hope for a stronger future.
1. DELILAH. An oldie but a forever goodie. A present-day supper club with vintage ’20s vibes and American entrees. No photography allowed.
7969 Santa Monica Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90046
2. MEROIS. Wolfgang Puck’s curation of Asian + French cuisines. On a rooftop with brilliant views of Los Angeles. The menu is pricey, but this is self-care for the soul.
8430 Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069
3.ACE HOTEL. Indoor restaurant + rooftop bar (my preference). Small bites. DJ spinning the god stuff on the weekends. All-day menu.
929 S. Broadway, Los Angeles, CA 90015
4. HARRIET’S. Panoramic sights. Chill above LA’s noise for an evening. The food is good, but the ambiance is even better.
1 Hotel West Hollywood, 88490 Sunset Boulevard
5. MAMA SHELTER. Homemade local food + live music + fun decor. Sign me up!
6500 Selma Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90028
6.E.P. & L.P. Another rooftop or restaurant, take your pick. Again, it’s the rooftop for me with the snack menu and cocktail by the glass or pitcher. “Where love lives.”
603 N. La Cienega Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069
7. THE BUTCHER, THE BAKER, THE CAPPUCCINO MAKER (a.k.a. BBCM). Seasonal and farm-fresh delights. European flare with a Hollywood crowd. The portions are generous and the specialty coffee beverages are memorable.
8653 West Sunset Blvd. West Hollywood, CA 90069
8. TOCA MADERA. A Modern Mexican menu. Beautifully designed space. Tuneful upbeat music to greet you at the door. Be sure to get dressed for the experience.
8450 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, CA 900048
9. CECCIONI’S. Italian eats. When you are feeling fancy + free to drop those dollars. This gem is tucked away from the street and intimate for a night out with the girls or your love.
8764 Melrose Ave., West Hollywood, CA 90069
10. CARA HOTEL. Another seasonal, farm-to table dinning experience with a sparkling pool view, 100 year old olive trees, and California palms.
1730 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90027
*POPPY & ROSE. #blackowned. Food that comforts. Wholesome, southern roots, picnic-like brunch spot. Conveniently located across the street from the Flower Mart (making this an easy two-in- one outing).
PERSONAL SKIN CONCERNS: Sooo long story short short, winter hit and every ounce of moisture in my skin’s water well was sucked completely dry. Every attempt to replenish it was an absolute fail…which lead me on the search for a savior product that could provide a swift resurrection. I don’t usually buy an overabundance of products from the same brand, but the price-point brought my guard down (alllll the way down); I just kept adding to my cart. And here we are, six products later, sharing what happened next.
SKIN IN A NUTSHELL: #sothirsty
FRESH ON THE SCENE: A new class of luxurious + affordable + clean skincare has finally arrived to save my thirsty winter skin. To be expected, I am not spellbound with every product. Here are my loves, so so’s, and wouldn’t-buy-again. Also note that I waited 2-3 weeks before formulating my final opinions.
Versed: “Photos, Please” mask
Versed: “Rich Moisture” moisturizer cream
Versed: “Zero-G” eye cream
Cocokind: “Oil to Milk” cleanser (MVP)
Versed: “Day Maker” exfoliator
Versed: clarifying serum
Versed: “Baby Cheeks” hydrating milk
*Drop your MVP winter skincare products in the comments. My skin thanks you in advance!
Taking off into the new year with lite baggage; a carry-on of all the good stuff from 2020. Within this bag a metallic silver lining of recovery, discovery, nourishment, readiness, and partnership. All the stitches necessary to catapult me into the next redesign of me. My inner self is flying into this new year feeling lighter, purposeful in every step I take, beaming with steadfast joy at the abundance of blessings I have been given this year, the lioness strength to tackle anything that sits in the way of my personal growth and fulfillment, and the realization that a global pandemic can’t stop the inevitable from forming; the greatest love I have ever known.
Self-Taught Lessons from #2020
I. We all must forge a timeless subscription to choiceful solitude. To both my single and coupled ladies, never stop spending quality time with yourself and never lose the talent of being alone; those vital moments of introspection. It is so easy to get lost in the 𝘄𝗲 that you so easily forget to focus on 𝘆𝗼𝘂…and your individual path. There is something freeing about considering yourself and what makes you fulfilled. Wholeness. “Me time,” you are essential!
II. Luxurious and effective skincare does not have to cost your liver and the price of a Gucci bag. There are a new class of options, Versed and Cocokind, that will get the job done and bypass shoppers guilt.
III. Just because you are changing doesn’t mean everything and everyone around you is experiencing the same metamorphic and/or in the same way. Cut off the joy-stealers, but be patient with those you love. Specifically, blending a family is a unique process for every individual involved. If the adults don’t work together for the kids, nobody wins.
IV. Don’t take for granted connection, family, your village. Showing up for others comes in many different facets, but we all rely on our personal sphere of influence as medicine to the soul. The laughter, in-depth convos, and stress-free interactions keep us grounded and focused on living our truth with those who see us when we may be blind to our own growth.
Remember all the things we’ve done this year when the world froze. We stopped waiting for the weekend, that day off, that vacation, that opportunity, that relationship, and just made the best out of being present. We learned a new way of being. We kept growing (even when we didn’t realize it). We kept loving ourselves and others (even when we didn’t realize it). All done from home plate.
Let’s board this new trip around the sun with last year’s takeaways and the space to create more vim and vigor. #goodbaggage
1 global pandemic + 1 narcissist (disguised as a co-parent) + remote learning with 2 kids = my 2020 leading line up of legit hardcore joy-stealers. However, there is one that takes the cake and still has the nerve to demand more; pure gluttony (fitting). Wait. Before I continue, perhaps you too have a joy-stealer in your life, lurking behind and waiting for the moment to crush all of your micro, small, and big joys. They are made of “gossip, criticism, complaining, faultfinding, a negative judgmental attitude,” and nothing nice. They may also throw epithets better than the old Tyson. Enter said person; who thrives on deflating any ion of happiness that may exist in your space, but will never admit it. Nope, not a chance. Right? Sound familiar? But, how does the attempt to destroy another make you saintly? Insecurity and jealousy are two bone-deep, ugly, and hateful mother f***ers. Never invite them into your home and keep your ears peeled for the ones who are unwilling to claim the title that is rightfully theirs to own. Beware!
I could go on and on about the inner psyche of a narcissist, but that’s not really my jam. BUT, I am extremely proud to scream from the tip top of a mountain, “I survived a toxic marriage with a narcissist and still see the world in color.” Keep reading for tips on combatting your own joy stealer(s).
Kill joys remain incapable of celebrating another’s happiness, because they are fueled by putting people down, which requires participation from their prey. Remove yourself from this relationship as it takes two for the dysfunction to exist and thrive. If needed, please read that one more time.
If you can’t shake this person for 18 years, limit your time and set boundaries that work for YOU. They will still attempt to cross those lines, so be prepared for those fun-filled moments.
Remember, everything is about them and not you. Their anger and negativity comes from a place of unresolved pain; not your issue. I repeat, not.your.issue. Wish them well even though they may be undeserving of you. Hanging on to negativity will only pull you down.
Don’t let the apologies, gifts, and calculated kindness fool you…narcissist are repeat offenders and masters at manipulation. The cycle of toxicity always repeats itself.
Seek help from a professional who may provide you with additional tips and methods to protect your private sphere aka proxemics.
Have you ever blocked someone and just breathed easier? Remember, your peace is always a non-negotiable.
Infuriated. Devastated. Disgusted. Deeply Disturbed. Tired. Still Tired. Again. Some of the many words that encapsulate the feelings and narrative that has resurfaced for me as I experience yet another episode of, “PTSD from being Black in America.” After hesitantly watching the murder of George Floyd, chills engulfed my body, tears fell to my lap, and my heart knew nothing but pain. 8 minutes and 46 seconds is a long a** time! I kept shouting inside my head, get off of him, help him, he’s going to die, but no one could hear me, but even more unsettling, they refused to hear him. George Floyd + the many other known/unknown black men and women who have died for: Penal Code § 16192020 Caught being Black in America.
This tragedy took place in broad daylight as multiple people witnessed this heinous crime. It appeared to me there were bystanders who wanted to do more to step in but were conflicted. Conflicted because they shared the same color skin as the one pleading for his life. As my mind has taken many trips on the, “what if” train, I wonder what I would have done if I too witnessed this evil. We are taught to obey and respect authority; it makes society a more civilized one. However, was it the role of white bystanders to use their white privilege (the reality that a person’s whiteness comes with societal benefits and advantages that are not shared by all people of color) and physically insert themselves? Yes, the officers involved are the only ones at fault. However, watching this play out placed a bright spotlight on civilian fear of doing what is just when law enforcement are the ones committing the crime. Video recording is vital and our white allies can do more…right? I never want to put anyone’s life at risk, but these types of questions keep me awake at night.
One thing I do know is how pathetic it is to discriminate against people with a certain skin color and certain chromosomes. Yes, this is a deep-rooted problem Black America navigates underneath our daily smiles and surface-level presentations of ourselves; similar to the Iceberg Illusion–what people see vs what people don’t see. Underneath our brave faces, we are processing a daily dose of implicit bias + discrimination + limited resources + racial profiling + intersectionality, and the list grows on.
There are far too many men and women who take an oath to serve and protect their communities, while also hiding behind the racist values that they consciously carry into the workplace. Matter of fact, I fear that many take on this job of power and control with the sole intent to exterminate us. Black Americans account for less than 13% of the U.S. population, but are killed by police at more than twice the rate of white Americans” —washingtonpost.com . The ugly truth is that this has been happening since the inception of our country. American history continues to repeat itself at the expense of innocent Black lives. However, FYI–we are tired of dying.
I can not breathe because being a black woman in America does not grant me the same unalienable rights as nonblack women who roam the same neighborhoods as me.
I can not breathe because I am the mother of a black son; fearful for the moment when he will be seen as a threat to those who refuse to see him as a human being.
I can not breathe because every time I try to recover from the next execution and soon-to-be-hashtag, I relive the same nightmare all over again—except I never wake up because it is my reality.
I can not breathe because no matter how much education I have, success I attain, and all the hoops I have to jump through, I am still considered less than and disposable.
I can not breathe knowing that no one in my family is safe both inside or outside of our homes.
I can not breathe until the chains of systemic racism are forever broken.
Let me guess. If you are still reading, you want to D O something, but are not sure where to start. I scrolled across a quote while digesting IG and it really resonated with me.
“Resistance is NOT a one lane highway. Maybe your lane is protesting, maybe your lane is organizing, maybe your lane is counseling, maybe your lane is art activism, maybe your lane is surviving the day.Do NOT feel guilty for not occupying every lane. We need all of them.” @lindss_tastic
Being an educator for the past 13 years, I also feel that our collective willingness to remain constant in the our individual cycles of learning and growing, is one of our biggest weapons against hate and racism. This work is constant. Educate yourself, your family, your friends. Speak up when you hear that racially fueled comment land on the dinner table. Correct your friends when they use the N-word, visit museums that highlight African and Black history, buy from Black-owned businesses, volunteer and/or donate to organizations that are actively working towards racial equity, share content created by POC creators, show up to protests, donate to bail funds, VOTE for the leaders our country so desperately needs to make positive change for generations to come, and be a white ally today, tomorrow, and always. For those of you who are already doing these things, I see you; please keep your foot on the gas.
Here is a list of educational resources so you can commit to this work, and (for self-care) songs to refuel your soul for the work that must be done. “The association of race and disease is a deep reservoir from which those thirsty for direction, answers, and meaning drink deeply.”
A Black Dad Wrote A Kids Book About Racism Because “They Can Handle More Than You Think”: A Kid’s Book About Racism by Jelani Memory
“Not My Idea: A Book About Whiteness,” written and illustrated by Anastasia Higginbotham—“An honest explanation about how power and privilege factor into the lives of white children, at the expense of other groups, and how they can help seek justice.”— Meena Harris
“Just Mercy, based on the life work of civil rights attorney Bryan Stevenson, is one resource we can humbly offer to those who are interested in learning more about the systemic racism that plagues our society. For the month of June, Just Mercy will be available to rent for free across digital platforms in the US.” —@wbpictures
Who Me? Biased? A series of short films that explore the brain science behind implicit bias and what you can do about it.
P.S. WHITE ALLYSHIP–After a text conversation with my dear friend who lives in DC, she had some plausible tips that our white allies could use to help move the pendulum forward: acknowledge racism is real and well alive and disproportionately affects people of color, check your privilege daily, hold your law enforcement and elected officials accountable, listen, create spaces and opportunities that uplift equity, stop being naive, extend compassion because many Black Americans are not okay, and use personal platforms to spread awareness. –@amhenry
Inaction + neutrality + silence feeds bigotry. Mistakes will be made, but it’s better to “show up imperfectly than to not show up at all (Rachel Zoe).”
See us, hear us, and stand with us to right the wrongs of this unjust system.
Remember that giant overwhelming mound of impossible daily tasks? An endless list of ta-dah’s you were put on Earth to conquer. A mental or physical checklist that always seemed to grow and only temporarily managed to shrink. We all know that list. Well…believe it or not, I’m missing every bit of it. My brain keeps searching, but the file is currently unavailable. Similarly to my Instacart order when I proceed to checkout, but I won’t venture off on that tangent. Maybe it’s the sense of purpose it gave me or the freedom it provided me to run errands and rush to appointments, but without it, I’m feeling a little lost. Furthermore, I am longing for the adrenaline of getting out the house by a certain time every morning, interactions with familiar and unfamiliar humans, sitting in traffic, evening soccer practices, fiddling with my navigation to get from point A to point B, exploring LA nightlife, planning trips that I wasn’t forced to cancel, entering the grocery store without suiting up for battle, knowing that the people closest to me were generally safe, face-to-face conversations, hugs, connection— the list goes on and on. Living a life I took for granted by finding reasons to complain now seems so beautifully flawed. What I wouldn’t give to freely leave my house without questioning if a quick trip outside could put me in the hospital or even worse. Where are we!? I don’t know the day, date, or time, heck, I don’t even know if this is even Earth. I don’t recognize this new normal.
With the overabundance of information I’ve consumed from the news, social media tidbits, friends and family experts, and a heightened number of emails and Zooms to manage; my mind, body, and soul has been forced to forge on and process the now, while I simultaneously mourn the days I failed to compliment. This is all exhausting! At first, it sounded like a temporary pause, but the uncertainty communicates an unknown timeline. One that creates anxiety and major disruption which are both hard to shake. I find myself wearing many faces and emotions. Some days I do less. Some nights I can’t fall asleep. Some days I can’t stay awake. One minute I’m bonding with my family, and the next I’m feeling claustrophobic by their presence. But, I’m trying to remind myself, there are no rules to this. No one was prepared for a pandemic. We thought the closest we might get would be the movie version. But, here we are.
More than ever our interconnectedness is evident as we rely on each other for more than we took the time to acknowledge. Not only did I overlook the parts of my life that made it feel more whole, but the people who helped make those parts possible. Work; my home away from home, and the students and colleagues I rushed to be with every morning. Family; the little humans that I would hurriedly leave at 7:30 a.m. and speed to at 3:00 p.m. Our heroic essential workers; the glue holding us together through this living nightmare. We need each other in this game of life.
Life Lesson #13,140: As we slowly regain a sense of normalcy, let these moments be a reminder that life is meant to be lived. There will be a constant parade of feelings; some will be absolutely amazing and others won’t. But, we need both to appreciate the uniqueness that each day brings. So, acknowledge all of your feelings. I’m privileged to stay home, but I’m also feeling stretched thinner than ever by being everything to everyone. Besides assuming the roles of the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker all at once, there IS a silvery sparkly lining. While many have lost their jobs and/or loved ones and health care workers continue showing up to dangerous and grueling job sites, I remain in the comfort of my abode safe and sound. Using gratitude to cope, may be the strongest medicine we have as we await for the power switch to turn back on.
Sooooooo, set your purse down, grab some soup of the day (champagne), and join me over here on my e-couch. It’s been waaay too long and we desperately need to catch UP!
As you know, my IG niche is lifestyle with a big emphasis on female empowerment, self-care, and motherhood. Why? Because I am THE person who easily neglects s e l f to care for others, i.e. family. IG is essentially a platform that functions as a stage to share, but also as my own self-reflective mini therapy sessions. Go figure…its free and fun…why not!?
Recently, I stumbled upon an article, What To Do About Toxic Positivity—The Worst Type Of Advice We Give & Get by Jenn Selby. I must say the guilt immediately flooded my thoughts after reading the final sentence. So, let’s get real with each other. Let me fill you in with the nuts and bolts instead of a Bryant Gumbel play-by-play of Selby’s article. Bascially, Instagram is saturated with positivity: quotes, inspiring messages, motivational memes, cute cat videos, etc. While it’s lovely to know the sun will come out tomorrow, being so stinkin’ positive isn’t necessarily the most beneficial way to be of service to others. Sweeping negative emotions under life’s rug to focus on the good, stops people from expressing their truth. Selby calls it “toxic positivity.” I call it, my adult life. Probably, one of the main reasons I should see an actual therapist…but I digress.
The typical canned responses: “It could be worse,” “There’s something better on the way,” “But, what’s the silver lining here?” can make those cheerleaders sound unrealistic, disingenuous, and (insert any word that physically equates to an eye-roll). Hold on. I know what you’re over there thinking. Yes, these responses are all apart of my repertoire of friend language! (But, excuse me…let’s revisit our friendly reminder—this is a no judgment zone). Back to the recap. According to the experts, this type of harmless cheerleading makes people dread sharing their newest hiccups with you. Instead, they’d rather keep it to themselves, bottled up inside, which simply breeds all things bad for the mental health of human beings.
Nobody can rid anybody of their problems with happy talk. Instead, offer folks a space to validate their feelings, normalize their problems, and just listen (zip.it.com). People are seeking help and support, they usually aren’t waiting for you to sprinkle positivity dust to rid them of their problems. We have to honor both our good and bad feelings and just sit with it. The bad ones give us vital information such as how to assess our safety, if we should challenge ourselves to accomplish something new, or if we should pause and focus on the now. Use those negative emotions to grow coping skills and resiliency for those future imminent low points that are an unavoidable part of daily life.
What did I learn from Selby’s article? I will be adding more to my IG to acknowledge all feelings, be a resource, and communicate with more empathy. I can’t solve your problems, but I can offer similar experiences or feelings by highlighting my own and providing validation that your negative thoughts are OK.
When you know better, you do better. Stay tuned, IG tribe! #alwaysgrowing
*P.S. Check out this animated video by Brené Brown. Empathy goes a long way when someone is feeling “stuck in a hole.”
Fun +Fashion. It’s your life, so e-n-j-o-y it…first and foremost. I guess that’s why I’ve never stopped playing dress up. When it comes to fashion, we don’t need a license to express ourselves freely. Yes, judgement wiggles its way into most things, but it doesn’t stop my fellow nefelibatas (those who refuse to obey the conventions of society). With so many trends and styles to play with every season, it’s easy to form a fresh, cohesive, one-of-a-kind look.
What about monochromatic outfits? Or mixing textures? Listen. I’m always here for surprising details. Monochromatic looks mixed with texture can be more interesting; tell a richer story. Fall is coming and so is this fashionable post…so catwalk over to your kitchen, pour a glass of _____ (insert your adult beverage of choice), and let’s get into it.
Firstly, what the heck is monochromatic fashion? Let’s use our etymology skills and break this baby apart. Mono meaning single and chromatic meaning color. So, monochromatic = pieces of one color. Challenge accepted! Now, wearing the same color outfit (with no pop of color) may sound like an outfit for Boring Betty. However, trust me when I say, you can rock single-hue styles + different textures, and execute a show-stopping look! Annnd, I personally believe black is the simplest color to get started with.
Now what? Keep reading. If black is not your color, choose one that looks beautiful against your skin tone and makes you feel like you own every room you enter. A quick visit to fashion failure is wearing a color that discourages instead of uplifts your mood. So, take a mini trip to your closet and find items in the same color that you would love to wear. Start experimenting by mixing and matching pieces into outfits. Some will work beautifully and others may make you cringe. That’s ok…keep at it! Rome wasn’t built in a day.
If you’re feeling ready to level up, mix textures within your monochromatic outfit! This will grab the attention of others, create a show-and-tell visual, a sense of depth, and add dimension to your look…so it’s not bland and lifeless. With my black monochromatic outfit, the textured princess style skirt was my focal point. The hardware on the leather jacket brought in elements of surprise and risk. And my shoes covered in Swarovski crystals were the magical cherry on top.
Some texture unions that pair well are: leather + knit, velvet + silk , faux fur + sequins, metallics + cotton.
Let your liberations and creativity run wild. The world is your runway and I’m your supportive girlfriend sitting in the front row smizing at all your fashion glory. “Real queens fix each other’s crowns without telling the world it was crooked.”