by Carla Helené Ezell
Philadelphia. July 23rd, 2018. 4:40 pm.
They gathered in front of City Hall, dressed in red robes and white bonnets. There were almost 100 women... just standing there... silent... non-responsive to passerbys and evening commuters. And although no sound was heard from any of them, their united voice was as clear as a bell. Resist Fascism and stop the current presidental administration’s move away from “Humanity First” toward “America First”.
Vice President Mike Pence was in the building across the street, attending a fundraiser for the Republican Party and mid-term elections while discussing tax cuts over wine. A sea of blue surrounded the square, poised to suppress any unexpected outbursts. Yet, there was an heir of humor in their voices as the police force chilled under the pregnant skies, just a few steps away from the gathering. Whether they agreed with the protesters or not, duty called and they served in calm kindness.
The visual poetry was breathtaking. Silence speaking volumes about what will not be tolerated. Several organizations united as one behind the movement: Refuse Fascism and Philly NOW to name a couple. I had a front row seat to all the action and speeches (my first attendance of a protest of such magnitude) as the volunteer photographer for the organizers.
In a nation where Freedom of Speech is the first amendment, we are encouraged to make our voices heard. What we often forget is that while we have the right to speak our minds, the consequences of our vocalizations and actions are also ours to own. Nevertheless, silence is compliance.
The point is this: whatever you believe in, stand for it and accept the resulting consequences because at the end of the day, it will not be our words that are remembered but our neutrality when called upon to take a side. This is not Switzerland. This is America, the land of the free and home of the brave. So be brave. Stand.
By Carla Helené Ezell
Do we even say “lit” anymore? I don’t know, but what I do know is I had a great time!
On Saturday, July 21st, I got to hang with my friend, Lisa and her daughter, Alina (pictured above) for the day and it was just the exciting, yet relaxing day I needed. We arrived at the festival around 3 pm and were escorted to the Silver ticket line. The line was crazy, but we had a good time connecting with all the cool, curly chicks waiting with us to get in. I even got to meet Stoni, who was rocking an amazing head wrap (we are wrap queens, aren’t we?)
The place was packed, y’all! Every vendor had a line of excited patrons and curl friends snapping pics, smiling and having fun. The music was bumping and the food trucks lining the south wall had the park smelling like Auntie’s cook out all afternoon.
There was so much to see. People were laying on blankets, soaking up the cool vibes or dancing as the main attraction on stage energized the atmosphere.
All in all, my first Curlfest experience was amazing. I got to meet a couple of celebrity stylists, Curly models/bloggers, made some new friends and reconnected with other inspiring women I simply adore!
Thank you, CurlyGirl Collective, for creating such an amazing event where natural hair, melanin and black girl magic reigned supreme. I am confident that Curlfest will be an annual celebration for me! ❤️
By Carla Helené Ezell
Sometimes life gets difficult. Things don't go according to plan. Mistakes happen. People don't act right. Parking tickets appear on your windshield. Relationships fail. The list goes on. Whatever challenges you find yourself facing today, here are five things to remember:
1. Just Breathe. "Breathe. It's only a bad day, not a bad life." Johnny Depp
How right my friend (in my head), Johnny is! A girl friend of mine once told me, everything will work out in the end; if it hasn't worked out yet, it isn't the end. This is not the end. You are still here so you still have a chance to try again.
2. You are only a failure if you fail to try again. Success is not about winning without ever losing. It's about wining despite your pass losses. Failing to try is the only true failure so do NOT quit trying. Nothing worth doing or having comes easy. You will have to put in some work if you want to win big so keep going.
3. Take stock of where it all went wrong. If it was something out of your control, realize that there was nothing you could have done to stop it from happening. But if something you did brought undesired consequences, you have the power to never do it again. This is your power of choice. Which leads to the next thing to remember:
4. Choose to do differently. Albert Einstein said, "The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."
If you want different results, you have to take different actions. Think of ways to modify your way of thinking and behavior so you do not find yourself in a pattern of repeating the same failure over and over again. Learn from your mistakes and failures. Use them for fuel to grow and become better.
5. Do not rush the process. Realize where you are today in your progress and then continue to move forward every single day. This not always easy, but it is always necessary. We live in a microwave society where patience is low on the spectrum of character lists and fast results are measured as success. But here's the deal; progress, no matter how small, is still progress. Every thing you do that moves you closer to your goal is a step in the right direction. So do not rush through the steps to get to the end of the journey. Savor each moment. Let it wash over you and develop you as it will. You'll be a more centered and well rounded person if you let challenges develop your character.
Just because unexpected challenges come your way, you should not give up or quit working toward your end game. A mistake is just proof that you're willing to try and if you're still trying, you're still breathing. We can not control what others do, only ourselves. Life happens. And if it stops happening to you, around you, it means you are probably dead. Be grateful for the alternative!
So, cut yourself some slack. Whether it be in your natural hair journey, your employment situation, finances, relationship, small (or big, for that matter) business endeavors, or what have you... You are a work in progress. In those moments of stress, when it feels like everything is going wrong, or maybe just a small thing has given you reason to scream, scream. Then take a deep breath, get back in the game and move forward. You can't win if you stop playing.
Like what you read today? Check out the entire Living With Purpose series. Sign up for the RSS so you never miss a post and please consider sharing this post with someone who may need encouragement. Thank you for rocking with me. Carla Helené ?❤️
by Carla Helené Ezell
Toxic people - we all know them and are forced to deal with them at certain times in our lives. Identifying unhealthy people, their destructive systems and subsequently learning how to cope with these damaging behaviors can be difficult, especially if they are of the manipulative sort. Manipulative people are often excellent chameleons, disguising negative words as constructive critiques; hurtful, derogatory judgements they consider to be nothing more than harmless opinions. They are masters of turning the tables, causing healthy people to question their experiences and doubt their confidence or self-worth.
Below are 10 ways to identify toxic and/or abusive people.
Below are 4 ways to cope with abusive or toxic people.
Coping with them:
By Carla Helené Ezell
A friend of mine contacted me about an amazing opportunity I’ve longed for going on four years. His excitement got me excited. I mean, this was a really great chance for me to step out of the background and into a spotlight I’ve worked toward my entire life. And there it was, on my doorstep, ready to realized for real! I dreamed of that day. I prayed for it. I worked hard for it for longer than I could remember. It was in my blood. In my sights. My lifeline… And then, I got busy with other things that took my eyes off that particular prize. Over time, I let that dream become diminished in my sights and focused on things that were more immediate.
Life happens. We get busy and our goals change. There’s no shame in that at all. I mean, if you aren’t evolving, you’re dying so I don’t feel anything negative toward the development of my life path. Not one bit. But that doesn’t change the fact that this goal which had been put on the back burner for a few years, was still something I wanted to do.
So I packed my little bag up (figuratively, of course) and set off on the journey to my destination. I was stoked. I was as prepared as I could be given the short notice. I thought I was ready for the challenge… until I actually stepped up to the plate to swing the bat… and fell flat on my face.
I failed. Miserably.
Ok, so maybe it wasn’t the worst effort I’ve ever made. We are our own worst critics most of the time. But I knew in my heart that I had not earned the opportunity I was trying to win. My lack of consistent preparation throughout my season of waiting caused me to stumble when it was “go” time. And the last minute preparations I threw at the task simply did not garner the outcome I had hoped for.
Even before I received the official notice that the opportunity I was reaching for had slipped through my grasp, I knew instinctively that this was not going to be the win I hoped it would be.
Randy Pausch says, “Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted…”
Yup. I have yet another experience under my belt. But instead of getting upset about it or beating my head against a wall or even feeling like the failure I was in that moment, I decided that failure would not define me. Instead, I decided that it was time to make some changes. I knew I had not prepared like I should have for that opportunity, not in the long run. I tried my best with what I had at the moment but there was a clear deficit because I had not remained prepared all along. I let some things slip through my grasp because other things had taken center stage in my life.
It is all a matter of your outlook. You see, failure is not failure until you quit trying to succeed. Just because I failed at this one task, does not mean I am a failure all of the time. I own my mistakes. I take responsibility for not staying prepared over the years and allowing other things to pull me away from my original goal. And I forgive myself for letting my friend down. I mean, he put his name on the line for me and I came up short. I’ve apologized to him for it. It is what it is. I can’t change the past. But I can damn sure have a hand in shaping my future!
To finish the quote by Randy Pausch, “Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”
Sometimes you win. Sometimes you learn. But never, should you actually fail. ❤️
It’s the dog days of summer!
Ok, I’ve been dying to say that because our family adopted a new puppy this past weekend. Angel and I drove to Pittsburgh and back for our new little bundle of joy. We haven’t named him yet because we just don’t know what to call him and the family is having a hard time agreeing on what he should be called. I’ll post more pics of him once we figure it out.
I’ve also been fighting Ulcerative Colitis (the reason I went Pescatarian to begin with) this month. It started around July 1st and it’s been a struggle ever since. Then there were my birthday and the July 4th holiday cookouts. The point is, my workout schedule has been thrown completely off. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still getting to gym every few days and my eating habits have pretty much stayed healthy too so I consider this a win all around. But now that things are settling back down, I’m planning to get back to the nitty gritty.
I’ve apparently hit that dreaded plateau. UGH! I’m still weighing in at 190 (down 15 lbs from the day 1 challenge weight of 204.8 and down 38 lbs from where I was in November, 2017). This has been the same for about a week and a half or so. But I’m not discouraged. In fact, I’m still kind of encouraged because while the number on the scale hasn’t really moved, my other numbers are decreasing.
I took my daughter for a bra fitting because she needed an update (growing bodies need constant upkeep in the wardrobe department) and while we were there, they measured me too. I’m officially back in a size 36 bra band (down from a 38 and two months ago I was told I needed a size 40). And my cup size has decreased from a G to a DDD! This is a HUGE triumph! My goal is to be a D or DD sized cup so I am almost there! And hopefully, with continued success I’ll even get back to my coveted 34 band size. This is completely possible too because the sizing specialist said I was really measuring 33 on the bottom of my ribs so a 34 is a very attainable goal. Oh! And I am able to wear regular sports bras and sexy, lace backed bralettes now without looking or feeling like an old woman with saggy breasts draping down to my knees! Hey sexy summer tank tops!! 💁🏽♀️🙋🏽♀️
I am very comfortably wearing a size 12 in bottoms across the board now and the other day, I wore a size 10 jean shorts without my eyes (or tummy) bulging out in horror. Also, my tees are all fitting loosely and have some swing now too. I bought a tee at Lackland AFB when my son graduated from Basic Military Training in May. It was an XL. It’s now hanging on me and even the shoulders are too wide. And my leather biker vest has been cinched all the way in and it too was flapping around my breasts and tummy in the wind last night. The only down side to this is that I sold my size large leather riding jacket and replaced it with a W1X. By the fall, this jacket will be too big to wear anymore and I’ll probably have to spend the money on yet another size Large. I am grateful for this victory but man, the yoyo is really frustrating because quality riding gear ain’t cheap!
My double chin is gone. GONE. And my cheekbones are more prominent now, casting a shadow on the lower half of my face. Thank GOD for that amazing brand of skin care, Urban Skin Rx because the serums are keeping my loosening skin firm and plump. I was really concerned that losing weight would increase the lines on my face and neck but so far, that has not happened. I’ve started using a firming cream on my legs and tummy too. Hopefully it will work and help me to tighten the texture of my body skin. The last thing I want to do is look like a wrinkled old prune when I finally get an acceptable bikini sized body again.
Wednesday, I went shopping in my closet for a dress to wear to a brunch scheduled later this week and I now have several old/new options to choose from again. Dresses I hadn’t worn in almost two years are now back in daily rotation AND I’m not busting out of them OR getting that ‘lovely’ back bulge around my bra anymore. I also have not felt like putting on spanx because they create pressure around my tummy (a serious no no for UC flair up days) and thanks to the exercises I’ve been doing on my abs, I didn’t need them either! I mean, I actually have a shot at getting rid of my mommy belly. That 10.6 pound kid I had 20 years ago will finally be forgiven for ruining my body! lol
All in all, I feel better, even with the digestive issues I’m struggling with. My ankles aren’t swollen anymore and it doesn’t hurt to get up in the middle of the night to take this rascal of a puppy out for a twilight potty break. No more wincing when my feet hit the carpet and I can’t remember the last time my back was out of joint from heavy boobs pulling it in every which direction.
Yup, it’s been pretty amazing. I’m reminding myself every day not to worry about what the scale says because getting healthy is so much more than just dropping pounds. I feel great and energized too. Even the lack of sleep over the last week has not drained me to exhaustion because I have more energy in general.
Onward to week 6!
No matter how you feel about the Zodiac and all it’s many controversies and significances, there is one thing I found to be true. I am a typical cancer moon child. I was born on July 3rd so I'm smack in the middle of this wondrous zodiac sign.
The Cancer symbol is a crab and it is a water sign ruled by the moon. The ebb and flow of a lagoon has always drawn me in. The light of the moon has always fascinated me. The ocean of emotion has been my home as long as I can remember. The soft lullaby of waves lapping the sands is comforting to me in inexplicable ways.
I’ve always felt like a mermaid, and not because I don’t have a thigh gap (thick thighs save lives). I just always loved the sea. No, I don't want to drown in it or even be covered in salt water, but there is something magical about laying on the beach, soaking in the sun and the scent of salt water caressing my beach curls. And the moon’s majesty is romantic in ways I’ll never be able to explain. It’s soothing. It calls my soul from fathomless depths.
So I wanted to share three makeup inspiration pics I’ve found that reflect my thoughts about this sun sign. These looks range from natural to total glam. Enjoy!
This everyday look is perfect for running around town and running errands. It's also a great look for when you want to get out of the house quickly. Simply dab a bit of silver in the inner corners of your eyes and you're pretty much set. No special effects required!
Got a little more time to primp? Smokey eyes are always a win! Silver is the highlight again, but this time, glam it up with warm tones on the upper lids and contour with two shades darker than your natural skin. Don't forget that nude lippie to polish the look!
This third look is a bit more progressive. Contour with red, instead of tanned skin tones and add pearls in fun places. Plus, that red matte lip will always bring spice to the game. We Cancers LOVE to spice things up when you least expect it!
By Carla Helené Ezell
So technically, this is week 4 and I said I wanted to do my fitness check ins bi-weekly. But since I've actually done my check ins and updates for the last 4 weeks straight, I figured instead, I would just post some thoughts I had about the gym and all the time I've been spending there. So here goes!
I get it. Not everyone comes to the gym to work out. There are other reasons people frequent these spaces that have zero to do with getting in shape or body sculpting. Here are four things I have observed that had to be addressed because... well, you’ll see as you read.
Number 1: Shut the heck up!
Cell phone conversations are for the lobby. Period. Usually gyms have this posted everywhere and with good reason. People don’t want to hear your personal drama while they are working out. It’s rude. When you are exerting yourself on your treadmill run, your adrenaline heightens everything. This includes your volume. While you may sound normal to yourself, you are louder than you think to the people around you. Your loud talking can pull someone right out of their zone. Be courteous. Be kind. Be quiet.
Number 2: Keep it moving!
Aligned with number one, having a full out conversation with your gym buddy between sets is fine but just don’t do it on the machine you aren’t even using anymore. Maybe someone else is waiting for that machine and now, instead of wiping it down and moving along, you’re blocking their progress because you are standing there talking. Stop it. It’s not cute. It’s not okay. It’s really just frustrating AF because now everyone else on the circuit has to adjust to your conversation. Don’t be that person. Save your drama for after your work out or better yet, take it to the locker room. Mmkay? Thanks.
Number 3: Wipe yo isht down!
Wipe down your equipment after every use. I see people jump on a machine, then go to the free weights then jump back on the same machine again. What are they doing? I don’t know. And honestly, I don’t really care, as long as they aren’t bothering me or disrupting my workout flow. But I have a problem when I also see them do this and neglect to wipe their machines down after using them because they’ll be right back. What about the other people in line for that machine behind them? What if I get there before you find your way back over to that leg press? Listen, I do not want your sweaty handprints (or butt prints - ugh GROSS) on the machine when it’s my turn to use it. It’s disgusting. It’s disrespectful. I will report you, you inconsiderate sicko!
Number 4: Don’t be a meat head!
Sure, you’re there to work out. You’re there to get in shape, tone your muscles, get healthy, build bulk, slim down or whatever your personal motives may be for working out. We all have our own agendas at the gym. But I do not want to hear you grunting under the strain of extra weight you are trying to lift because you want to impress the people around you. News flash: no one cares. We aren’t even laughing at you. We are cringing because you are distracting us from our own workout. Shut the heck up, go about your day, sir, and leave us to our own. Thanks.
Bonus Round: This Ain’t Tinder!
I shouldn't even have to say this but here I am saying it anyway because apparently, it needs to be said. Don’t try to pick up the chick on the rowing machine next to you when she is trying to focus on working out. When I go to the gym, I go for a purpose. And that purpose is NOT to find some side piece to have a sweaty, body odor laden gym affair with. I am trying to better myself and improve my quality of living, not become a snack for a muscle brain. Leave. Me. Alone. Don’t stare at me as I work on the ab machine. Don’t watch my boobs bounce when I’m jogging on the treadmill. Don't stand so close behind me I can feel your breath on my neck while I'm refilling my water bottle. Don’t follow me out of the gym into the parking lot to get my number. I’m married. And you’re creeping me out. Most women would be totally creeped out if you followed them out of the gym. We’ve heard too many stories. We’ve had too many experiences with entitled men who think they are God’s gift to our gender and won’t take no for an answer. We get it. You’re the bomb. But please, go blow up someone else’s workout routine and leave us alone!
What are some things you’ve observed in your workout time that drives you nuts? Let’s discuss it in the comments.
My name is Carla Helené. I am a cheeky naturalista, serial entrepreneur, speaker, educator and self love advocate who encourages women to embrace their truth, love themselves and make margaritas out of life’s lemons. Is there a recipe for this? I’m not sure I but I know we can figure it out together.
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