“Be yourself wholeheartedly. Speak the truth always.”

I’ve found myself going back to a book I picked up for myself early this summer. Words from a Wanderer: Notes & Love Poems is a collection of short musings written by the very wise beyond her years Alexandra Elle, known across social media by several monikers.(I’m partial to her tumblr because of the level of interaction and real dialogue it allows, but I’ll link everything I’m aware of down below)

The title of this blog post is just a portion of one of the several writings she put together for this short, but sweet, publication. Today, I was lucky enough to be part of a small group of young women and men to speak with Alex, hear live readings of some of the works within the pages of  the book, and hear a little more of her own personal backstory and history. The talk was entertaining, revealing, and all too short, but I was able to gain so much from it and her presence, despite its brevity. I’m most excited to report that the second book is coming later this year and look forward to it, especially since it will be triple the length of this one!

Below is an excerpt of the book that  touched me when I was going through a difficult time that felt all too daunting. I specifically asked her to sign on this page so every time I read the page, I’d be reminded that behind these words is a strong, inspiring, and incredible Queen full of love and light.

20140115-224906.jpg

“Love isn’t supposed to hurt us; it’s meant to heal.You are worthy of the real thing. Find that mutual respect and adoration will follow suit.”

I can only aspire to be as sure in myself and of my words as she seems to be. She is one of the many women I’ve found through the troughs of the internet that’s brought me motivation and inspiration to be a better me.

Alex has truly added value to my life and for that, I will be eternally grateful.

Keep adding value to yourself and others,

Val

Find Alex here:

Words from a Wanderer  - on sale here!

Tumblr.

Twitter.

Instagram.

Shop.

To 2014 and whatever it holds.

This past year has been an adventure of sorts. I learned, watched, and tried so many things for the first time and each one had their own “aha” moment in my life. Allowing myself to be more honest about what I want and go after exactly what it was for the bulk of the year allowed for several moments of clarity and excitement that I hadn’t experienced beforehand.2013 was all about doing something new, the prompt for today, and when I saw it, I immediately felt inspired.

I took several classes simply because they interested me. I involved myself with new people I hadn’t known from the back of my hand through networking and the like. I graduated from college and embarked on the new path of semi adulthood. I went to all types of concerts that let me really enjoy the music I loved in a way I hadn’t in the past. I took my time and really found a job that fulfills, challenges, and excites me. I gave myself the room to grow personally and spiritually.

It was a year of building and bringing all types of exciting challenges to the table. I kept saying it was the best year of my life, and up to this point, I can truthfully say it was. However, my goal is to make this just the first step in really making the best out of my life. I want every new year to feel like the start of something wonderful.

So here’s to 2014 and what it will bring!

A new year is always a nice way to remind yourself that there’s a fresh start right around the corner. I hope you’ll all take the time to start anew and rejuvenate yourself in whatever you see fit.

Keep adding value to yourself and others.

-Val

“You must be my soul sista… soul sista… soul.”

Whenever I look at this picture, I hear Beyoncé singing “I’m a grown woman. I can do whatever I want.”

On the first day of this year, I went on a journey to the East Village with my sister soul, Roberta, to get my eyebrow pierced.

2014 Shenanigans with Roberta

Roberta and I share a very unique friendship. She understands my music obsessions and indulges just as deeply with her own, many of which we share. She gets my desire to keep my emotions to myself at times while needing to divulge excruciating details at others. She  keeps my Spanish skills all the way on point. She’s one of my friends who I can truly say is so similar to me it’s eerie.

And I wouldn’t have it any other way ^.^

Embarking into 2014 with her and this slightly rebellious action was exactly how I needed to start my year. It was another action done simply because I knew it would make me happy. And what bad can that do? I see it as another move along this path of becoming the best me I can be.

Looking a little deeper..

In an attempt to get myself back into the habit of writing again, I’ve found myself drawn to the challenges offered by WordPress on “The Daily Post.”

Upon reading the prompt for this week’s writing challenge, I was immediately intrigued and intimidated all at once.

This week, let’s get a little introspective: who do you see in your face? In your personality?

Of course, we want more than simply a list of where each of your features come from — we’re people, not Mr. (or Mrs.) Potato Head, and are more than the sums of our parts. So take the dissection a little further, and tell us how these inheritances come alive in your life.

Your challenge is to take something intensely personal — the bits and pieces that make you YOU — and use them as a springboard for a post that makes a larger point and resonates with lots of other readers.

As I’ve grown older and become more aware of the pieces that make me me, I’ve realized there are pieces of my parents interwoven into almost every aspect of my life, whether I like it or not.

My most favorite? The two organs protruding from each side of my face.

My ears are a less exaggerated version of those associated with my father and his family (picture a combination of Martin Lawrence and Jennifer Garner’s ears). Though they are not as prominent on my head as they are on my father’s balding one, the recent haircut I’ve chosen has made them more prominent than ever. What used to be a point of embarrassment and hidden with straight hair has been revealed in all its sticking-out glory as my tightly coiled hair grows from its current tapered style. They’re starting to become my favorite part of my face for the same reason they used to mortify me. A pair of earrings  stands out more than it would on someone else not as lucky. Little thrills like this have made me accept my ears, just as they are.

Though physically similar to my father, my ears have lent me a trait I attribute to my mother: my listening skills. I can remember several instances from my childhood (and not too long ago) when I would go on and on about whatever suited my fancy to my mother. Regardless of the topic or the length, she would always remember every detail and it was a trait of hers I always saw as especially wonderful. Typed an ISFP by the Myers-Briggs test, I am the type to take in others thoughts over voicing my own. This is a practice I’m trying to balance better (as evidenced by this blog in itself), but it’s one that has definitely made me into a good listener. I often find myself acting as a soundboard for others in their time of need and its a trait I pride myself on. It’s also helpful when trying to weigh several different perspectives, a practice I will be executing daily in my new job. Listening skills are something I’ve noticed are important, especially when I’ve dealt with people without them. It’s made me all the more appreciative of the practice I’ve adapted from my mother and continue to build on.

In addition, my  ears give me the ability to experience what has grown to be my favorite creative outlet to enjoy but not practice: music. My choice has always been on the listening aspect because of how telling it can be of another person in such a beautiful way. I could spend hours with the melodies and compositions that make up music or arguing why it’s great (or not so great) with those around me. However, my favorite thing is always recommending choices to my friends and family. Anyone who knows me knows how happy I am when I’m able to find their new favorite song or artist through my own experiences with a wide array of genres and composers. It’s something I love and continue to enjoy in every aspect of my life. (There’s even a whole section of this blog dedicated to sharing music with whoever peruses through my blog!)

In that way, my ears combine aspects of my father (in feature), my mother (in function), and me (in flair) and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

“Where have you been? Cause I never see you out…”

Rihanna lyrics in a blog title.
Please don’t judge me.
I’m oddly enamored with her music…

I have been the absolute worst at staying regular with posts. I blame it on the hectic nature of the last few weeks above all else. My dad, who I’m currently living with, left the country to take care of family related things. This has meant a lot of doing the things I’ve been putting off in his absence.

That includes getting a J-O-B. Yup. That’s right. The free spirit in me has been stifled a bit by my slow entrance into real adulthood.

Happily, the job is a combination of things I’m actually interested in, making me very, very happy that I waited it out for so long. Adding to that is the incredible first impressions I got of the people I’ll be working with. This is all based on my thoughts from the interview process. I won’t actually be starting until later this month.

Nonetheless, I am excited.

However, maybe now you can understand why I’ve been so bad about posting regularly.
Hopefully this post means I’m actually back and I’ll stop being a lazy legume and get my life together.

*fingers crossed*

In an effort to actually do as the blog says I will (insert monotone zombie voice “…do as the blog says” *cough*), today I’m going to make the first attempts at getting my booty off the couch (or rather my beautiful yellow bed, but I digress) and outside of my home for some exercise.

GASP.

Now what now?

Yes. Exercise.

Anyone who knows me knows this is way out of my regular routine, but I’m starting to realize that I’d be psyched to be that 50 year old with the rocking bod and the healthy heart and extended life expectancy. I’m only 21 (less than a month to 22!) but I feel like there’s no time like the present to execute the whole healthy living lifestyle.

So what does that mean?

I.

Must.

Start.

Now.

So today’s quest will be day 1 of the C25K app (because it’s free and it seems to be catered to people like me who literally want to go from nothing to something).

Wish me luck!

 

Music Monday, Part II.

In the spirit of consistency, I bring part two of my attempt at improving my Monday (and perhaps yours too?).

Today’s artist differs in almost every way from last week’s. First things first, she’s a beautiful woman of color. Second, she hails from the state of New Jersey (much like myself ^.^). Third, her music is what many would consider “underground”. However, her recent addition to the Top Dawg Entertainment roster means this likely won’t be the case for much longer.

The artist in question is none other than the incredible…

Continue reading