Here Comes the Sun

It’s so easy to a bitter, sour person when things don’t go your way. Maybe you didn’t get that promotion you wanted, or they left you out of the equation yet again. Maybe your archenemy just drove by in the car you wanted, or purchased the house you thought you’d be able to buy. Unfortunately, bitterness won’t improve your situation, or make you happier. Sometimes, you have to make a conscious effort to just let it go and be happy. As of late, I’ve been focusing on three ways I can ensure my daily happiness (daily, because you have to start somewhere), and just be great. Why do I keep focusing on these positive posts? Well duh, I’ve still got work to do!

1. Don’t let other people’s emotions and reactions to you determine your mood.

Argh

I have such an issue with this. I tend to be very empathetic, and sensitive, and if I care about someone, their mood seems to always somehow dictate mine. I could be floating on cloud nine all day, and one sideways comment or dirty look can make me feel some type of way. I can’t help but feed off of others emotions sometimes. It’s such a gift and a curse (ok, I’ll stop with the hip-hop song references). I’m figuring out slowly but surely that I have to do my best to kind of put up a wall, or just brush it off. Because, like I’ve said in previous posts, it’s really not that serious. That doesn’t mean you can’t care, but you kind of have to care about yourself first.

2. Stop raining on other people’s parades. 

Debbie Downer

Like, seriously. Just because you’re in a bad mood doesn’t mean you have to put everyone else in a bad mood too. Try being genuinely happy with someone else’s good news or good fortune. Or dammit, if you have to, fake it. There are always those scientific studies out there that say things like, “smile when you’re upset and it’ll make you happy”. That’s like, actually true. At least in my case. When I start faking the feeling, I actually start feeling it. Try it today. Smile!

3. Chill with the self-deprecation. 

The Breakfast Club

You’re actually not as horrible as you think you are, or as stupid, or as [insert unrealistic negativity here]. Everyone is entitled to make mistakes in life, but the key is to feel it, and move on. And while you’re at it, relax with the over-analyzing. I’m one of those people who, after a trying situation, goes back and tries to think of every single thing I could have done differently. And when I bring it up to whomever was involved, they had already stopped thinking about it eons ago. Besides, if you were sooo perfect, how would you ever learn, and grow? If you have to, stick some positive affirmations up around you. THEY ACTUALLY WORK.

No one is expecting you to be happy all day, all of the time. That’s actually pretty ridiculous and would make you some weirdo Stepford Wife or robot. However, you can actively change your outlook on life, so you can start being a more content. If you have some tips for improving your outlook on life, please please please feel free to share with the rest of us!

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Either Love Me, or Leave Me Alone

Have you ever found yourself spending so much time and energy focused on how other people feel, checking in on them, never realizing that you’ve forgotten to figure out how YOU feel, forgotten to check in with you? It’s so easy to get caught up in being who others want you to be, and you eventually find yourself confused about who you really are. It’s happened to me, and frequently happens to me. I’ve gone through so many changes in my life lately, and it has me feeling like some sort of drifter, hovering on the outskirts of life. I found myself losing sight of what makes me unique, what makes me special to those who love me. Inauthenticity, even if unintentional, can literally un-ground you and make you question everything. You’re spinning in no particular direction, with no buffer or barrier to stop you from doing so.

be-original

In the shower the other day (my best thoughts happen in the shower), I tried to think of the last time I sat and actually spent some time with myself, meditating or just figuring life out. Not surprisingly, I couldn’t come up with anything. When you take time for yourself, you give yourself the space to explore what it means to be you. Conversely, when you fail to do that, you fail to be creative, to be innovative, to exemplify what sets you apart from any other mindless drone. As a result, you start searching for meaning and purpose in things that shouldn’t be remotely important to you. You begin to be formless and spineless, living vicariously through someone else’s personality, their existence.

doyoubootote_large

So the purpose of today’s post? I suppose there’s no real, clear purpose, aside from me utilizing this medium to express myself (and do all the stuff I just said I don’t have time to do). And I guess, it’s also to give you a nudge and inspire you to do the same. Stop living other people’s dreams, skulking in their shadows, and stop stop stop emulating their lives. If they aren’t happy with you once you actually begin to be yourself, then you’ve succeeded in eliminating any barriers that will hold you back from being who you truly are. Because honestly (in the words of the great philosopher, Jayz), they can “…either love [you], or leave [you] alone. Be you. Be real. Be alive.

Purpose of Life

Why Buy When You Can DIY?

I am such a little researcher. Pinterest has become my new BFF, and because I loveeee trying new things, I wanted to give you guys a dose of what has piqued my interest these last few weeks, and what I actually took the time to (attempt) to recreate. First up: homemade hummus.

I am a hummus fanatic…my favorite is the whipped kind from Trader Joe’s…not sure how they get it so fluffy, but I’m going to keep trying. Hummus doesn’t come cheap though. If you’re like me, and get a couple of containers a week (it’s real serious over here), that’s about $10 a week, and $520 a year! That’s a lot of money for some hummus. Sooo, I decided to research how to make my own, and found this great recipe. It tasted great, I controlled everything that went into it, and potentially save about $300 a year. I feel like a winner. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of said hummus, because it’s all gone, but here’s what it looked like:

Homemade Hummus

To go along with my new-found desire to be more conscious about what I’m putting into my body, I decided to try my hand (literally) at making my own hand and body cream. When I told people what was in it, they kind of cringed, but why aren’t you cringing when you’re potentially using chemicals that release FORMALDEHYDE into your skin? Don’t believe me? Google it. Anyway, I had a ton of fun mixing up my concoction of distilled water, olive oil, beeswax, and essential oil, and it felt amazing on my skin. Here’s the recipe I used, and a picture of what it looked like when I was done. The blue bottles are some facial cleanser I made; I’ll save that for another time. Got me feeling liking Carol’s Daughter over here or something.

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My final DIY project was reconstructing an old t-shirt. If you’re like me, you probably have tons of old t-shirts lying around your house that you’re too lazy to give away to the Goodwill, and now they’re just taking up too much space. Again, Pinterest to the rescue! I came across this blogger’s pin, and got crazy excited. I work out a LOT, and I’m constantly running through workout clothes. However, because I think I’m too cute to wear anything but tanks, I’m stuck washing clothes throughout the week. This lifesaving DIY (I’m being VERY dramatic here, but you get the point) helped me remix all the old t-shirts around the house, and triple my workout wardrobe. This one was my first, and my favorite, ’cause it’s Jay-Z’s Blueprint 3 album artwork.

DIY Racerback Tank

The moral of this post is…well, there is no moral. I’m always trying something out, and sometimes, other people just need a little push from someone they know to try something out of the box. These are simple things, but who knows what sort of creativity these mini-projects will spark in you? If you have some great DIYs, definitely send them my way!

“When I Spit Them Lyrics…”

Today’s post was going to be serious. I swear. I read something earlier in the week that got me all pissed off, and I couldn’t wait to vent. I started the post, and planned on finishing it this weekend. But my weekend was so relaxing, and I couldn’t bear to get myself all worked up. Instead, I’m going to talk about something just as important, if not MORE important (kidding) than my original post.

I was having a discussion with someone, and Jay-Z’s “Renegade” came on. We started discussing how Eminem killed his verses, and that began an intense discourse about the best rap features of the last ten years. I came up with this top five list, and it’s my list, so you can agree, or not agree, I don’t care. These are the top five rap features according to ME, in descending order.

5. Andre 3000 on UGK’s “International Player’s Anthem” 2007

Andre 3000

3000

3000 is a hot rapper. We know this. He can pretty much be guaranteed to shine on any feature he’s put on. He’s the king of the double entendre, and he didn’t disappoint in this song either. Whether it was “cc’ing” or “see, seeing” all the girls, or “giving up the pussy cat that’s in his lap”, he delivered his verse smooth, and made sure it was the most memorable on the song. Actually, I’m ashamed to say, I’ve switched the song off after his verse. I know, UGK blasphemy. But it is what it is.

4. Ludacris on Young Buck’s “Stomp” 2004

Ludacris

Luda wants you to stay off…you know.

Everybody’s favorite underrated rapper. Luda will never get as much respect as he should have, in my opinion. He’s lyrically one of the best around, yet slepted (a made up word) on so often. But not on this song. I will never forget the first time I heard it. Or rather, the version that included Ludacris. I had a mix tape of the version T.I. was on, and it was ah-ight, had a nice little beat, nothing extra special though. But hearing that song with Luda’s verse at the end, in my 1994 Montero (you couldn’t tell me nothin’ in that car) made me actually scream. For you youngins that don’t know, Luda and T.I. had a little beef going on back then, so it was amazing that they were even featured on a song together. Oh, they were featured together alright. When Ludacris’ verse came on, ending the song, by dissing the hell out of T.I., on the SAME DAMN SONG, all you could do was scream. He ended the verse with, “So please stay off the T.I.P. of my…”, well, you can guess the rest.

3. Nicki Minaj on Kanye West’s “Monster” 2010

Nicki Minaj

“Monster” Nicki Minaj

I’m not a Nicki Minaj fan. I’m not with all the gimmicky clothes and wigs, the stupid metaphors, blah blah blah. However, I will give credit where it’s due. Her verse on this song made the entire song. You forget who’s even on the damn song, besides Jay-Z, which is a given on most Kanye West singles. The veterans on this song should be embarrassed by their lack of preparation. My thing is, you heard her spit her verse; why didn’t y’all get back in the booth and tighten your bars up? We’re supposed to believe all of you are monsters on this song? Really? Like the monsters from Monsters, Inc.? The only one who put a little a fear in my heart was the one screaming how she was gonna “eat your brain”. There was enough inflection and emotion in that verse to make me double check the locks on my doors at night.

2. Eminem on Jay-Z’s “Renegade” 2001

Eminem

Eminem is a Renegade

Ok, I cheated a little bit. I said the last ten years, and this one came out eleven years ago. But whatever, Idon’tcareIdon’tcareIdon’tcare. Eminem falls at the bottom of my list of dope MCs. I know I’m in the minority in this one, but I just can’t rock with him. I can count on one hand how many of his songs I actually like. But this song right here? Jay-Z who? When I was listening to this song today, rapping along, I recited every last one of Eminem’s lines. And I could only remember a handful of Jay-Z’s. Don’t get me wrong; Jay is one of my favorite rappers, and is definitely in my top three, but he couldn’t prove it to me on this song. Em murdered the hell out of this song, bottom line. I appreciate him so much more on other people’s ish (see 50 Cent’s “Patiently Waiting“).

1. Jay-Z on Kanye West’s “Never Let Me Down” 2004

Jay-Z

Jigga Man

So, to support my claim that Jay-Z is one of my favorite rappers, he’s my number one favorite feature. It was actually pretty close with he and Em, but I play favorites. This song, no lie, gave me chills when I first heard it (and sometimes still does). This was the height of Roc-A-Fella, and this song was so much an illustration of how powerful they were in the rap game. The entire song is a great song. I listen to it now, and hit repeat a couple of times. Jay-Z rapped about 65% of this song, and it was a flawless 65%. It was so much more than a song. I grew up listening to Jay, from his Reasonable Doubt days to now, being the most successful rapper from the PJs. Hearing how well his words flowed together just let you know that this wasn’t the height of his career. He was going to be even greater. His last couple of bars sums it all up: “Hov’s a living legend, and I’ll tell you why/everybody wanna be Hov, and Hov still alive”. You ain’t never lied Jay.

You Can Take the Girl Out of the Hood, But…

I’ll be the first to admit, I grew up pretty ‘hood. Never lived in the PJs, but I definitely wasn’t vacationing in the Hamptons either. Things like sugar-water, quarter waters, looseys, mattress trampolines, and food stamps were pretty standard phrases in my vocabulary. I always told myself that I would get out of the ‘hood the first chance I got, and I did, through hard work, perseverance, determination, all that good stuff. The thing is, even though you can escape the struggle, there will always be that part of you that holds parts of that struggle dear to your heart, and you can’t let it all go. I started thinking of the things I still do, and I realized that there are five key things that I experienced in my upbringing that I don’t think I’ll ever be able to shake.

1. I always save the plastic containers from my takeout.
I know, I know, I make enough money now to buy actual Tupperware products, but nothing beats getting something for free. It’s almost like I won a prize. You mean I only paid $5.99 for Thai, and I still got this free container?! And most “non-‘hood” people don’t really understand the value in these items. I brought in some soup I made for lunch at work, in one of those containers, and I spent the greater part of my lunch convincing people that I did make the soup, regardless of what I transported it in. The idea that I had the container just about boggled their minds. They still don’t believe me.

2. I still drive to my old neighborhood to pick up hard-to-find items from the corner bodega.
C’mon, where else are you going to find a bag of canapes for $1, 6 for $1 green plantain, sour puss candy, and Now and Laters? Not to mention those yummy sandwiches they make with just cheese and French bread. And in CT, the liquor store is closed on Sundays, but you can always count on the bodega to get you your six-pack fix.

3. I have to remind myself to turn down my music before I pull into my company’s campus.
Nothing gets me going in the morning like a hip-hop song with crazy bass. And in order to enjoy it, I have no choice but to turn it up as loud as I possibly can. I usually resort to my “Go Hard” playlist-a mix of my favs from ’96 to now. I mean, if you haven’t enjoyed the way Fab’s “Can’t Deny It” sounds in the whip, then you really just haven’t lived. I also have to remind myself to wipe the mean mug off my face that automatically occurs when I rap along with the songs. And trust and believe, I know Every.Single.Lyric. This always reminds me of when a few of us got our own cars and would parade around the neighborhood in them, bangin that new Jay-Z. Some things never change.

4. I secretly go ape-shit every time a new pair of Jays comes out.
I was a huge tomboy growing up, and a sneaker fanatic. This means my closet was full of boxes of Jays, ’95 Air Maxes, and white on whites (well, maybe not THAT full, since obviously, I couldn’t afford too many). I won’t buy any of them anymore, because I’d feel kind of silly, being a grown woman and all, rocking a pair of Jays, but the appeal is still there.

5. I just can’t let go of hip-hop music.
I love Adele and Ledisi as much as the next girl, but I just can’t let go of my hip-hop music. Growing up, we would joke around like, yeah, we’re gonna be hitting up MSG for Jay-z concerts when he’s like 40+, as if the sheer thought of it were outlandish. Well, guess what? He is, and we still are. Some days I try to abstain, telling myself, it’ll be a Mariah Carey day. But if I hit that shuffle button, and Cam’s “Violence” off that S.D.E. starts to play, all bets are off. Before you know it, it’s all hip-hop, all day. And at that point, there’s no reverting back.

Point is, you can try as hard as you can, but you’ll never be able to completely erase the experiences and habits that made you who you are today. And to be honest, I wouldn’t want to.

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