ADULTING CHECKLIST: 5 THINGS YOU SHOULD BE DOING

Let’s be honest, being an adult can suck sometimes. The bills, the responsibilities, the assumed maturity (that you don’t necessarily have nailed down yet), the expectations, and, oh, did I forget to mention the bills?! What happened to the days of only having to worry about a homework assignment, or who kissed who behind the bleachers, or “when is homecoming again?” There are times when all I want to do is forget my name and play Nintendo all day (I know, I totally just dated myself).

But there are times when it’s completely amazing as well! Like being in your own space, with your own things, and having whatever you want in the refrigerator! If I want to live on Cheetos for the rest of my life, I can! You can’t beat watching a friend marry the love of their life, but it’s not something you get to see much when you’re 16.

Good, bad or frustrating, growing up is unavoidable. Some still pretend to be teenagers – I won’t name names to protect the guilty – but we all change with the seasons and move forward (even if only chronologically). We all have our own toolkit to help us navigate these changes, but there are a few things that every adult should be doing:

1. LEARNING TO BE QUIET

Our entire day is filled with talking, explaining, sharing, interacting and presenting. The act of being quiet not only helps us reset our minds but also allows us to be introspective. Emotional intelligence is highly underrated, and being in a quiet space develops and cultivates your inner voice.

2. BEING FINANCIALLY RESPONSIBLE

Granted, we’re all poor when we graduate, but learning to be responsible with the little you have now will help you build habits when you get that first fat paycheck! Financial health follows you your entire career and retirement thereafter, so it’s important to pay attention early.

3. PURSUING YOUR PASSIONS

Do you remember what you wanted to be at age 5? A veterinarian? A doctor? A lawyer? I wanted to be an Egyptologist! Super random, I know, but somewhere along the way life took over and that dream faded. I’m still curious about the way ancients lived, but working in finance, the two worlds don’t really collide. So instead, I’m following that passion by traveling as much as I possibly can.

Don’t let adult responsibilities be your excuse for losing sight of that joy. Find an alternative way to tap into the kid that used to jump out of trees (maybe that was just me) or treat all your sick stuffed animals with Band-Aids and wraps.

4. PRIORITIZING YOUR HEALTH

Healthy is the new sexy. We’re not all supermodels, and what’s healthy for me isn’t necessarily healthy for you, but we all know what healthy FEELS like. I don’t care if you think you’re “slim-thick,” “rail-thin,” somewhere in between, or no definition applies (I actually prefer to avoid categorical self-identifiers. We’re all beautiful!), being healthy is mandatory. As women, we often take care of others before taking care of ourselves. Ladies, put yourself first and take care of you. We can’t be there for our families and friends if we’re in the hospital or worse. Me Time is REAL!!

And last, but certainly not least:

5. KNOW YOUR WORTH

This is across the board! Not just at work, in friendships or in relationships. We are beautiful, strong women and deserve to be treated as such. Knowing who you are and what you contribute is an invaluable feeling that holds so much weight. When you know your worth, you won’t tolerate being treated as anything less. Self-esteem is a huge issue for many teenaged and adult women who don’t know their worth. Remember who you are and how wonderful you are. Never let anyone smother that fire that you have.

It can be rough being an adult, and there are days when we’d all like to be back on the playground. But to be honest, there’s a reason I blocked out high school, and no amount of money could EVER make me go back there. So for now, I’ll take being able to travel whenever I want to (in accordance with my work calendar that is), come home to a quiet house with my Cheetos and enjoy staying out past curfew! Something tells me that you feel the same.

If you’re looking for some new vinas to conquer adulting (and brunching) with, start swiping on Hey! VINA today!

BRAZEN BOOKS FOR EMPOWERED VINAS

One of my favorite books when I was growing up was “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret” by Judy Blume. I remember reading it and feeling like I wasn’t alone. Someone else somewhere felt the same way I did about the awkwardness of getting older. As an adult, my reading material has of course changed, but not my search for great books that teach me something, take me on a journey and make me see something in a different light. There are so many great books that do all of these things, but here are some of my favorites:

UNF*CK YOURSELF: GET OUT OF YOUR HEAD AND INTO YOUR LIFE

Courtesy of delia_timis_ Instagram.

by Gary John Bishop

Besides loving the title, “Unf*k Yourselfreminds you of how awesome you are. It’s a straight-forward, brutally honest approach about why you continue to hit roadblocks in your life. What do you need to thrive? What do you need to get out of your head? Gary John Bishop isn’t shy with his answer.

THE WAIT: A POWERFUL PRACTICE FOR FINDING THE LOVE OF YOUR LIFE AND THE LIFE YOU LOVE

The Wait book cover
Courtesy of etnahsa Instagram.

by DeVon Franklin, Meagan Good & Tim Vandehey

Ok, so maybe not for everyone, but “The Wait” was an awesome read for me. We’ve all made mistakes in past relationships that we wish we’d stop repeating. Devon and Meagan are super candid about why they chose this path and how it made a difference in their courtship. If what you’ve done in the past hasn’t worked, maybe it’s time to try something new.

BECOMING

Courtesy of kinokuniya_singapore Instagram.

by Michelle Obama

Do I even need to explain this one?! Hello! It’s basically been sold out since it went to the printers and is so the book every woman needs in her life. Just stop everything right now and go get it! You’ll thank me later.

CAN WE ALL BE FEMINISTS?

"Can We All be Feminists" book cover
Courtesy of booksandpolkadots Instagram.

Edited by June Eric-Udorie

A great question with insightful essays hoping to answer it. This anthology featuring voices of women from varying backgrounds and points of view is a must-read. It questions feminism from the standpoint of race, religion, gender identity and more. I originally thought this book may have been too political for me, but I was pleasantly surprised and came away with my own answer to the question.

WELL-READ BLACK GIRL: FINDING OUR STORIES, DISCOVERING OURSELVES

"Well-Read Black Girl" cover
Courtesy of tbretc Instagram.

Edited by Glory Edim

If you’re reading this post, this book is right up your alley. What made you fall in love with writing, books, discovering new voices? “Well Read” asked the same question. Was it a character in a book you still remember? Was it a gift from a loved-one you cherish? Glory Edim curated this collection of females voices sharing their moments of literary love and appreciation.

Start your own girl-power book club with Hey! VINA today! 

BLACK HISTORY MONTH: 5 TRAILBLAZING WOMEN

When February rolled around and with it, Black History Month, historic names absolutely came to mind—Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Angela Davis, among many. But instead of this being another history lesson, I wanted to focus on the present-day actions of amazing women making a difference in today’s world. By no means am I diminishing the countless contributions of phenomenal women in the past, but it’s easy to feel that greatness is out of reach when only concentrating on past actions. Having a more tangible, recent example shows the next generation that courage in the face of adversity is not only for the history books.

In starting to make a list of the women I wanted to feature, I soon realized that I’d need to write a dissertation just to chronicle them all (hello strong women!!) So instead of writing you a novel, I’ve listed a few that I think exemplify the indomitable strength, courage and resilience that every little African-American girl should know.

Tarana Burke – Founder, #MeToo Movement

“Me Too was just two words; it’s two magic words that galvanized the world.” – Tarana Burke.

Prior to 2017, Tarana Burke was quietly, but effectively organizing resources and aid for survivors of sexual abuse. She had dedicated her time and efforts to being a support system for women who might have never shared their stories. However, all of this quickly changed when a well-known actress started the hashtag #MeToo in response to the large number of women coming forward about their sexually abusive experiences. Thrust into the spotlight, Tarana poignantly stated, “People have these pervasive misconceptions that this movement is about taking down powerful men.” In clarifying what #MeToo actually stands for, she emphasized that it’s about being heard, creating a community of support and reminding survivors they are not alone.

Laverne Cox 

screen-shot-2019-02-04-at-8.34.08-am.png

Courtesy of Laverne Cox Instagram.

In her role in Orange is the New Black, Laverne Cox has both made a name for herself in Hollywood, as well as in the LGBTQ Community. A two-time Emmy-nominated actress and documentary film producer, Laverne is a staunch supporter of equal rights for all people and, in 2014, was named one of the Top 50 Trans Icons by the Huffington Post, as well as being honored with the Courage Award from the Anti-Violence Project. She is one of The Grio’s 100 Most Influential African Americans and received the Reader’s Choice Award from “Out” Magazine for her dedication in lending her platform to those that have none. She was once quoted as saying, “We are born as who we are, the gender thing is something that is imposed on you.”

Antoinette Harris – Football Trailblazer

Super Bowl LIII just got some Black Girl Magic! Antoinette (Toni) Harris, the first female to play a non-kicker position on any college football team, has been tapped by Toyota to tell her story. Hailing from Detroit, Michigan, Toni has had to struggle to play the game she loves so much. However, at age 22, she received a full athletic scholarship to East Los Angeles College to do just that! Her story resonated with the RAV4 Hybrid Team so much they decided to feature her struggle turned triumph alongside the release of the new vehicle. By comparing its size and how many underestimate its’ strength, Toni’s story shines even more brightly. Her dreams of one day being the first woman to play in the NFL just got a whole lot more real.

Now you know I couldn’t write this feature without looking at the groundbreaking triumphs of our political sisters, right?! Beginning in January 2019, the largest class of African American Women will take their place in Halls of Congress.

Ayanna Pressley – Congresswoman, Massachusetts

It’s not often that you see a politician, from either party, go straight from City Council to Congress. Ayanna Pressley did just that when she beat the 10-term incumbent congressman in 2018. Wait, take that in….. 10-term incumbent. Whew! Running on the premise of “challenging conventional narratives about who should have a seat at the table,” Pressley isn’t afraid to put her past and family difficulties on the front street (girl we all have them). She doesn’t shy away from tough conversations and recognizes that the face of representation needs to change in order for the outcome to change. Preach!

Stacey Abrams – 2019 Candidate for Governor of Georgia

By no means am I a politico, but you have to have been on a desert island over the past few months not to have heard of Stacy Abrams. A former Democratic House leader, who became the first woman of color to hold that distinction, challenged Republican Brian Kemp for the open governor’s seat. Doubted from the second she announced her candidacy, Stacey surprised them all when she won the Democratic primary by 56 points and went on to rally the state to receive more votes than any previously campaigning Democratic. Although she didn’t secure the governor’s seat, Stacey continues to make her mark in politics—and daytime TV (Oprah anyone?)—and is adamant you will see her name on a ballot very soon. To further prove how far her message has reached, she has recently been tapped to deliver the Democratic response to the President’s State of the Union address.

There are so many more great voices, narratives, trailblazers and all around remarkable women that I couldn’t possibly list them all. However, all of these women continue to inspire us, lead us and open our eyes to different points of view that reach far beyond the month of February. I am proud to have written a snippet of their story and am super-duper excited (yes I said it) to see how they change the world!!

Want to connect with amazing trailblazers of your own? Get the Hey! VINA app and start meeting some kickass vinas! 

6 WOMEN FILMMAKERS TO WATCH

When you think of filmmakers, who comes to mind? Martin Scorsese, Steven Spielberg, Francis Ford Coppola (I’m a Godfather so…)? True, they are all amazingly talented directors, but where are the ladies at?! There are so many female directors that fly under the radar, creating beautifully made, originally scripted, insightful, approachable work that many have never heard of. That ends now! Get your popcorn ready and check out this list for who you should be keeping an eye on:

AVA DUVERNAY

With production credits such as “Queen Sugar” and “Selma” under her belt, Duvernay is on the road to becoming one of the most prolific female director/producers of our time. She is the founder of AFFRM, the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement. She was also named one of “The 100 Most Influential People” by TIME Magazine in 2017 and became a member of the “Official Competition” jury at the 71st Cannes International Film Festival in 2018.

DEBRA MARTIN CHASE

This two-time Emmy nominee recently signed a multi-year first-look deal with Universal Television in 2017. As producer of “The Princess Diaries” and “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants,” Chase will be developing original content for network, cable and streaming services, along with pilots and historical projects. She has multiple productions already in progress with ABC and Bravo, and she is focused on bringing new voices to the table.

ELIZABETH KARLSEN

As a featured filmmaker at the BFO London Film Festive, Karlsen has no qualms about her right as a filmmaker. Known mostly for her 2015 film “Carol” and 1992 film “Crying Game,” she works to bring marginalized groups to the forefront by illustrating the need for girls/women to have role models in the industry. Her most recent project, “Colette,” is based on a French woman of the same name who was not given the ability to claim her own work, because she was a woman in the late 19th and early 20th century.

DEDE GARDNER

As the first female producer to win two Oscars for Best Picture – “12 Years a Slave” (2013) and “Moonlight” (2016) – Gardner has already made her mark. However, she continues to search for “inclusive stories” to tell and continuously improving on telling the stories that need to be told. Garner currently serves as executive producer for an FX anthology series, as well as President of Plan B Entertainment, a production company founded by Brad Pitt in 2001.

WANURI KAHIU

Having premiered her work in 2009, presented a short film at the Sundance film festival in 2010, and garnered Best Narrative Feature at the Pan African Film Festival and five awards at the African Movie Academy Awards, Kahiu is blazing her own trail. She has created her own genre of filmmaking, Afrobubblegum, that is unapologetically vibrant and hopeful. Her latest offering, “Rafiki,” tells the story of forbidden love between two women on opposing sides of society.

TINGE KRISHNAN

Named “One to Watch” by Moviescope Magazine in 2008, Krishnan is steadfast in making sure diversity on set is balanced and appreciated. She has steadily impressed with her films – “Groove on a Stanley Knife” (1997), “Shadowscan” (2001) and “Junkhearts” (2011) – and continues to hone her independent point of view. Paying close attention to themes of love and joy, her recent film “Been So Long” brings almost a child-like view to the streets of London.

Interested in discussing other women filmmakers with empowered vinas? Download Hey! VINA to get a movie club gang going!

HOW TO HANDLE BEING THE STRONG FRIEND WHEN YOU NEED SOMEONE TO LEAN ON

On December 23, 2003—five days after my 24th birthday, two days shy of Christmas and six days before my older brothers’ 26th birthday—my mother passed away quietly in our home after a long bought with cancer.  She was my best friend, confidant and a real-life version of Martha Stewart. I was devasted, broken and silent. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t even move. 2004 is still a blur to me.

What I didn’t realize then was that, in time, my wounds would heal. I would learn to smile again and maybe even look on this day and be at peace with it. Better still, my pain might help someone else get through theirs—and in the years following, it certainly proved to do so.

But what happens when it’s you that needs a shoulder to cry on? Sure, history has proven that you can weather the storm and recover, but being strong all the time is exhausting. At least I know it’s been for me. My girlfriends are great people with huge hearts, but sometimes I feel like life has been much kinder to them and they can’t really understand what I’m going through. I’ve always been the “big sister” with weighty advice and reflective suggestions, but now I needed someone to be that for me. What was I to do?

I decided to take a walk. I walked near a park, around my block and to my favorite coffee house close by. I didn’t go in, though. I sat on a bench outside and soon smelled the comforting aromas of freshly brewed coffee and warm baked goods. I started watching the people come and go around me and wondered where they were going. Who were they going home to? What kind of life did they live? Then it hit me—everyone has gone through something and has a story. Mine was no different and no more important. Sure, maybe I had more loss in my life, but my friends loved and cared about me enough to support me when I was having a rough time. Not everyone has that blessing.

Maybe instead of assuming the worst, take a chance and reach out to your friends and loved ones. Explain to them what you’re going through—they are your friends and family for a reason, after all. Call it a leap of faith, but I’ve found people can surprise you in the most incredible ways. If you’re still concerned, take your trusty dusty pen and write it down.

Next time you’re concerned that your friends may not understand, try one of these actions first:

  1. Take a walk to reflect on the many blessings in your life.
  2. Sit still and breathe deeply—sometimes slowing down is what you really need.
  3. Write it down—seeing the words on the page can be truly healing.

My father always tells us that there is wisdom in all things, and for everything under the sun, there is a time and a season. Everyone goes through hard times and needs a caring shoulder to cry on. Trust the people in your life. It makes all the difference!

Need other strong vinas in your life to be there for you? Start swiping on the Hey! VINA app today. 

GETTING INTO YOGA FOR THE ABSOLUTE ROOKIE

As a former athlete (gymnast to be exact), I’m used to putting my body into precarious positions. After being injured in a competition many moons ago, I’ve struggled to find an activity that not only challenges my body but doesn’t exacerbate my injury while doing so.

Being sympathetic to my dilemma, a girlfriend of mine suggested I try “hot yoga” (hot what now?!) I had never heard of it, let alone knew where to sign up for it. After my initial confusion passed, she invited me to her local studio. 90 minutes and 800 buckets of sweat later, I emerged from the studio declaring I’d never try that again! However, my interest was peaked by the stretching and fluid movements of the practice. I decided to dig a little more and research the different types of yoga so I could find the best class for me.

The first thing I did was make a list of the different types of yoga and, based on their description, would decide which one would be best for my super basic level of proficiency. Also, one that wouldn’t cause me to sweat out my body weight before the end of class. Although I found quite a few different types, there seemed to be five that were the most popular with classes being easily found.

fezbot2000-94147-unsplash

HATHA

You’ll find this term used very loosely in the yoga world, as every style is technically Hatha in practice. It refers mostly to being introduced to the very basic postures of yoga. This would be perfect for a beginner or someone looking to get a little more limber before jumping into a full-blown style.

ASHTANGA

Popularized in the 1970s by K. Pattabhi Jois, this style focuses on sequencing each posture with your breath. Although super fluid, this is a demanding style that will definitely work up a sweat.

VINYASA 

Translated from Sanskrit as “to place in a special way,” this style also follows a specific sequence of movements as with Ashtanga but allows for an infinite combination of those sequences. Think of this as the pick-your-own poison type of yoga – no two classes will be the same. Promise!

BIKRAM 

A.k.a, hot yoga—sort of. Introduced by Bikram Choudhury, Bikram yoga is all about the sequence of its 26 poses. Taught in heated rooms, this class is very specific in how each pose flows into the next, which is why not all Bikram classes are hot yoga classes. Any class that deviates from the exact 26 pose sequence Choudhury established cannot call itself “Bikram.” However, all Bikram classes are technically hot yoga classes. Confused yet? See “80 buckets of sweat” above for clarification.

IYENGAR

This style is hyper-focused on proper alignment and breath in each pose. Yoga props are often used to assist in the ultimate stretch and, being such a meticulous style, the instructors must go through rigorous training to gain certification. This style is also touted to be the best style if you have an injury or chronic condition because of the steady, focused hold and stretch challenges. Bingo!

form-523775-unsplash.jpg

It may look way over your head at first, but yoga is one of the best forms of exercise you can do for your health. Not only does it involve your core and many of your muscle groups, but it also brings mental clarity and relaxation. So don’t be afraid to try it—start slow and easy, doing only the exercises you feel comfortable for the amount of time you can hold it. The beautiful thing about this practice is that it is very much an individual experience (in a group setting), which allows you to focus on incremental growth and personal improvement.

Still a bit scared to try it on your own? Head over to the Hey! VINA app and find a yogi vina to join you in your flow! 

HOW TO HANDLE BEING THE STRONG FRIEND WHEN YOU NEED SOMEONE TO LEAN ON

On December 23, 2003 – five days after my 24th birthday, two days shy of Christmas and six days before my older brother’s 26th birthday – my mother passed away quietly in our home after a long bought with cancer.  She was my best friend, confidant and a real-life version of Martha Stewart. I was devasted, broken and silent. I couldn’t cry, I couldn’t even move. 2004 is still a blur to me.

What I didn’t realize then was that, in time, my wounds would heal. I would learn to smile again and maybe even look on this day and be at peace with it. Better still, my pain might help someone else get through theirs – and in the years following, it certainly proved to do so.

But what happens when it’s you that needs a shoulder to cry on? Sure, history has proven that you can weather the storm and recover, but being strong all the time is exhausting. At least I know it’s been for me. My vinas are great people with huge hearts, but sometimes I feel like life has been much kinder to them, and they can’t really understand what I’m going through. I’ve always been the “big sister” with weighty advice and reflective suggestions, but now I needed someone to be that for me. What was I to do?

hian-oliveira-614747-unsplashI decided to take a walk. I walked near a park, around my block and to my favorite coffee house close by. I didn’t go in, though. I sat on a bench outside and soon smelled the comforting aromas of freshly brewed coffee and warm baked goods. I started watching the people come and go around me and wondered where they were going. Who were they going home to? What kind of life did they live? Then it hit me—everyone has gone through something and has a story. Mine was no different and no more important. Sure, maybe I had more loss in my life, but my friends loved and cared about me enough to support me when I was having a rough time. Not everyone has that blessing.

Next time you’re concerned that your friends may not understand, try one of these actions first:

  1. Take a walk to reflect on the many blessings in your life.
  2. Sit still and breathe deeply – sometimes slowing down is what you really need.
  3. Write it down – seeing the words on the page can be truly healing.

My father always told us there is wisdom in all things, and for everything under the sun, there is a time and a season. Everyone goes through hard times and needs a caring shoulder to cry on. Instead of assuming the worst, take a chance and reach out to your friends and family. Explain to them what you’re going through – they are in your life for a reason, after all. Call it a leap of faith, but I’ve found people can surprise you in the most incredible ways.

Need some trusty vinas to count on? Start swiping on the Hey! VINA app to surround yourself with a good support group. 

 

5 SIGNS YOU’RE SPENDING TOO MUCH TIME ON NETFLIX AND NEED TO GET OUTSIDE

I find it strangely ironic that as an adult, we rush to do the things that were considered punishment when we were children. “Lights out by 8 p.m.” – DONE, “change out of your school clothes (read: work clothes) as soon as you hit the door” – EASY. But of all those things, the best is calling your own movie night. Netflix anyone?! Binge watching has become the new national pastime and the only way to stay ahead of those potential water-cooler spoilers. However, too much binge watching can rot your brain – or so my mother would say. I’m joking of course, but I have found at least five signs that it may be time to get off your couch and do something involving sun, fresh air and dare I say it, people. Drum-roll, please……

#5: You’ve memorized the trending movies section. Not only do you have your own lineup in mind, but you’ve scrolled through the options so many times, you’ve committed completely worthless information to memory.

#4: The couch has now formed a perfect bucket seat indentation around your rump. This is only achieved by pro binge watchers, ladies and gents.

#3: No calls, please. Your friends have grown so used to your Netflix nights, they know not to call between certain times because your phone is always on silent. That’s some serious “Do Not Disturb” action!

#2: Your refrigerator consists only of wine and condiments. I totally support the wine, but condiments? I thought we left that life behind us in college?

#1 – You have no idea what the weather is outside. You’ve been in your movie-watching mode, shades drawn, curled up on the couch spot for so long, the outside world has become a figment of your imagination. Is that rain? Snow? Sleet? Hurricane? No idea.

All in all, Netflix can be an amazing experience where you can go into your own world letting everything else around you fade away. But it can also be a black hole keeping you from enjoying life’s greater adventures. Go outside and enjoy it!!!! Netflix will still be there when you get back. I promise 😊

Here is the perfect first step to your grand Get-Out-of-Bed mission: Check out the Hey! VINA app and start swiping now!!