How You Can Help The Bahamas After Hurricane Dorian

Hello Lovely,

On Sunday we began to feel the effects of Category 5 Hurricane Dorian. I had friends in America reaching out to me to check on and I had to tell them that the hurricane was impacting The Abaco Islands and Grand Bahama not New Providence. While we experienced a lot of rain and flooding, the devastation was felt far beyond that. On Monday I woke up to someone stealing the entire front end of my car. Even my brand new battery was stolen. My brother scared the person before he could take anything else and at least he left behind my bumper. I was angry, I was sad, but I was mostly numb. I was even more angry to see people telling Nassuvians to stop flooding the timelines with their problems when so many people on the islands had it worst. It angered me because no one has a right to tell anyone their pain is insignificant; everyone’s pain is relevant to their own struggles. I had friends who hadn’t heard from their parents in hours and had no idea where other family members were. Some friends home flooded, and some people were still expected to return to work despite everything going on. At this point, I am still waiting to hear when I am expected to return to work. But I know once I do, my entire Guidance department is going to hit the ground running in relief efforts.

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While some people have already offered assistance like the U.S. Coast Guard and Dominica offering $100,000, there are still many way you can assist. For those who are home, please make productive use of this 'down time' to prepare care boxes and bags from our own possessions. We need to go through our wardrobes and sort clothing. Label them according to size and gender as you pack them, for ease of distribution. Put together a few bars of soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, deodorant, ladies' sanitary items etc. (many of us shop in bulk and have more than we need). Share a few face cloths and towels, a sheet or two. You may even have an air mattress that you can give! Give tins of tuna, sardines, corned beef, Vienna sausages, crackers, cookies, snacks, water and any non perishable items that require minimal/no preparation. Remember those items you stocked up on in preparation for the storm? They are needed!
Water, disposable items such as plates and napkins as well as hand sanitizer are useful. In fact, anything that you use or want, can be helpful. While this list is not exhaustive, it's simply suggestions for response in this crisis. And we cannot forget how important sanitary pads for women are as well as any pain medication, baby food, diapers, toilet paper, bed sheets - all of the things people often overlook when donating. Think about it, these people are rebuilding - they’re going to need more than just food items.

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If you are in Florida this is how you can help:

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Why give?

Because we already have 5 confirmed dead in Abaco and the death toll is expected to rise. Because people have lost EVERYTHING. Because this is a major financial setback for many people. Because the PTSD is real with these people. There are people who had to hide in their ceiling while they awaited rescue because of the flooding, some waited on the roof, some in their car. We are grateful for all of the help we’ve already received but there is so much more to be done. So please do what you can. Every donation helps.

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CURRENTLY: SHE DID NOT DESERVE TO DIE

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Hello Lovely,

This is not a post I ever wanted to write. I wouldn’t wish this on my worst enemy. For the past two weeks I have been very silent on my blog and various social media channels because I’ve been in total shock. I went from depressed, to anxious, to angry. And the worst part is the pain is only truly beginning. For those who don’t know, on May 15, my cousin, Kameela Russell went missing. An official missing person’s report was filed on May 17, which is when I was notified. I immediately had a bad feeling about it; I knew something bad happened. The circumstances surrounding her disappearance were beyond suspicious and nothing made any sense. She’s not the type to run away or commit suicide so I knew it wasn’t that. By Saturday morning, when there was no update or anything of value to go on, I knew she wouldn’t be found alive. People thought I was being cynical and needed to be more positive, but there was no denying the reality of the situation and I wanted to be prepared for it.

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So two weeks later, when a body was discovered, I cannot describe the relief I felt. Here’s the thing, not knowing where someone is, is the worst feeling. There is always some level of hope that they’re okay and can possibly come back. It’s impossible to fully move on. I was glued to my phone, waiting for updates, constantly watching the news. I was on edge because every time my mum or dad called, I thought that would be the call, but it wasn’t. Finding her body provided a level of closure, because it helped me to accept that she was truly never coming back. But that doesn’t mean I’m okay with any part of this.

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Co-workers are shocked at how strong I am right now, and to be honest so am I. There were moments when I sobbed, and I do mean heavily, dramatically sobbed in my best friend’s arms, and coworkers arms. What I learned is although there are some people I can grieve with, for the most part, I prefer to grieve alone. I also learned that I’ve become the person that spends so much time enjoying the moment, that I don’t always remember to photograph the moment (which is weird as a photographer and blogger). I realised this when I could only find a handful of pictures of Kameela and I. I can’t begin to count the moments we spent together.

Halloween 2010.in Aunt Donna’s house: I was a cyber-punk and Kameela was a gangster

Halloween 2010.in Aunt Donna’s house: I was a cyber-punk and Kameela was a gangster

This woman formed so much of who I am today. She taught me how to dance and a lot of truth. She helped me to move out of my college dorm, picked me up from the airport countless times, trusted me of all people with her kids, picked me up after my first tattoo and taught me how to care for it. She taught me so much but I will never be able to repay her for. She was the life of the party, a source of wisdom and the big sister I never had. We somehow both ended up in education and always bonded over it. We traded stories and watched the TV Land show, Teachers. We laughed over memes and she educated me on who’s who, on Love and Hip Hop. I laughed at you trying to act gangster when you needed your glasses just to see. Your honesty was always appreciated and I will never forget when she took over my cousin’s Christmas party and actually made it fun. You even got my grandmother to twerk! I will always miss you. Thank you for teaching me so much.

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On June 22, I will say my final good bye, but I cannot accept that this is how your story ends. No one deserves this. I’m still going back and forth between acceptance and “did this really happen?” I want answers. I want more time. I want to comfort my aunt who just lost her only child. There is nothing anyone can do to prepare for this kind of pain. But every day, I will try a little harder to get by. When I was little, all I wanted was to be just like you, now all I want is justice for you.

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What I'm Doing For Cinco De Mayo

Hello Lovely,

I’m so excited for this weekend because there’s so much happening. Not only is it Carnival Weekend, it’s also Cinco De Mayo on Sunday! I’m kicking off this weekend with Insomnia tonight. The artists lined up for tonight is Bunji Garlin, Kes the Band, Patrice Roberts, Dexta Daps, Voice, Sketch Carey, Rik Carey and Benji. It’s going to be sheer madness so I’m taking a nap immediately after work to rest up since I know Bunji Garlin won’t hit the stage until about 2 am. I’m not going to the saturday night event: Amnesia because I don’t feel like standing through a bunch of artists I don’t really care for just to listen to Machel for the 3rd year in a row. Don’t get me wrong, I love Machel, but I really think it’s time we get a new Carnival headliner just to mix things up a bit, you know. I’m also not doing the road march because I could not fathom spending a minimum of $300 on a costume that I can only wear once. (I barely wanted to spend $50 on my Wonder Woman costume for my school’s Christmas play). But that’s not all I’m doing this weekend! 

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Sunday is Cinco do Mayo and my friends are of course celebrating as usual. For Cinco De Mayo, we’re having a gathering by my best friend Telia (our resident Mexican in the group. She’s not actually Mexican but we just love calling her tha0)t. We’re having tacos, quesadillas, chips and dips, nachos and LOTS of alcohol. I’m experimenting with a new margarita from Vintage Kitty, called the Orange Turmeric Margarita. Turmeric can be very potent but I’m excited to see how I can turn this into everyone’s new favourite drink.

I’m also boozing it up with these irresistible Margarita Cupcakes! Dessert is always the afterthought of Cinco de Mayo. Tacos and guac are of utmost importance, I get it. As are the margaritas. But after all the salty snacks (and drinks), sweets are definitely in order. I’m hoping these boozy cupcakes keep the fiesta going.

Of course there will be games. I love playing What do You Meme because my friends can be pretty savage so the responses are hilarious! You have to check out this game and play this at your next function. CAUTION: This game is not for the uptight, overly religious, humourless people who are out of touch with pop culture. If they blush at a caption card, they probably shouldn’t play the game.

How are you spending Cinco de Mayo? Do you have any dish recommendations for the fiesta? Do you have any plans of attending Carnival? Share your weekend plans in the comment section below!

I'm Trying Gardening Again

Hello lovely,

There’s something about Spring that makes me feel like anything is possible. I mean, after I get over my allergies and adjust to the new weather and pollen, I feel like tackling new projects. There’s so many things to do. Between spring cleaning the house and my diet, working a full time job and gearing up for the Elevation Awards, I really needed to find a way to just mellow out. So I decided to give gardening another shot.

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Last year I planted a spinach plant, but the gardener mistook it for a weed and threw it out. I was so distraught because it survived for months! The only thing I ever planted that lasted a long time was a hibiscus tree. So when I went to North Carolina last month, I picked up two pairs of gloves, a shovel, trowel, and a few packs of seeds. I couldn’t wait to get started, but of course, a busy schedule and lack of soil prevented me from starting until last week. I think what really pushed me was receiving the tomato plants that you see above from my best friend’s dad who was saving them for me for weeks.

The sunflower and daisy plants came with their own pellet soil that expanded with water. It was really cool watching it grow. Unfortunately I lost the photos of the packages before I opened them, but they are sold at the Dollar Tree if you want to look for them. I never expected the sunflower to sprout so quickly and grow so tall in only one week. I have no idea when to transfer it and quite frankly I’m afraid that’s where it’ll die, so please keep the faith for me.

Once I picked up some gardening soil, I planted the parsley, basil and pumpkin seeds. The pumpkin seeds I took from a wedge of pumpkin in the fridge because I got really excited after planting the parsley and basil. I’ve never tried to grow any of these plants before so I’m nervous but really excited about how they’ll turn out. I’m even regrowing some lettuce and scallions in water in the kitchen. I check on them all day when I’m home, and I actually talk to them in the evening after work almost every day. My mum already told me “Watched pot never boils” so if I keep staring at the plants, it’s not going to make them grow any faster; but I just can’t help it.

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I’ll keep you all updated on how it’s going. Which hobbies are you taking up this month or this year? Share your favourite hobbies and gardening tips in the comment section below.




The Smart New Guide To Online Dating

Hello Lovely,

January is usually known for a hug surge in two places: the gym and online dating. But why? During this time most people write out plans for the year that normally include creating a regimen to reach a specific fitness goal. Also, during this time you're usually guaranteed a discounted price, the sign-up fee waived, or a few free gym accessories as a sign-on perk. According to Match.com, online dating sites are at their busiest between Dec. 26 and Feb. 14. Match reports 50 million messages sent and 1 million dates occurring during this time, which is referred to as peak dating season. It’s probably because the weather makes us crave a cuddle buddy, but there’s nothing like the holidays to make us feel lonely. So what do we do? The millennial approach to dating is definitely online dating; bars are intimidating and no one has time to wait three days to two weeks for processing time to get a call/text back.

It seems like every day we’re hearing about a new dating app. From Bumble to Coffee Meets Bagel and from Hinge to Happn, there are a lot of options out there and it can be a little overwhelming! Don’t worry, as an online dating veteran, I’ve got some expert tips for you so can avoid making some of the same mistakes I did and meet your forever person!

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  1. Choose the right app

Once you know exactly what you want, you have to choose the right dating platform. There are 10 major sites and apps to choose from, so let’s quickly break them down. Tinder might be the best known of all the dating apps out there, but just remember it does have a reputation for being a hookup site, so if you’re looking for a serious connection, this may not be it. I’ve never heard of Hinge before but it’s an interesting concept: Hinge uses mutual Facebook friends to curate matches. The app also uses a scrolling feature, which allows you to interact with multiple parts of a profile, rather than swiping left and right, so no more missed connections! The League is super exclusive and ever I couldn’t get in. After you submit your LinkedIn profile, the apps takes about a week to approve you as a new member, giving you access to 1-6 carefully curated and verified matches a day (height included!) Be careful though, if you aren’t active, the app will kick you out.

Raya bills itself as an app for creative types, from DJs to restaurateurs to NBA players.  To apply, be ready to show a large Instagram following—the rest is up to a “secret committee.” For those looking for a more specific type of connection, JSwipe offers a range of options, from “orthodox” to “just Jewish.”  Bumble asks women to send the first text. Don’t worry if you accidentally swipe past your soul mate—the app offers three free “backtracks” every three hours. I tried coffee meets bagel and I honestly uninstalled it the same day so trust me, skip this one. you to match with people you’ve passed in real life. If they have an account, you can send a like…which they’ll only see if they like you back! Foolproof and a little stalkerish…

Then there’s my personal favourite: OkCupid. I met my ex on it, and since then I’ve had A LOT of interesting conversations. Some I’ve written off the person immediately because there’s no way they could’ve thought we were compatible. Like match.com, after answering a TON of question (and I do mean a TON - but seriously don’t skip them they’re important) you’ll know just how compatible you and a potential match would be based on the percentage of personality traits you share. The app just released an update that shows which specific interests you overlap on, so if certain qualities are more important to you than others, you’ll be able to sort through matches much more easily. OkCupid’s software is literally a free version of Match.com. Sure there are some limits that you’ll have to pay to unlock, but there’s still a lot you can do with it.

2. Perfect Your Profile

Trust me, people actually read your profile! This is where you tell someone why they should get to know you; why they should swipe right. You want to make sure that you get across what’s important to you, and show some personality, too. Include a joke or a cheeky pun, if that’s up your alley. I struck up a conversation with a guy who said he wants a girl who can cook him grits and that was one of the best things I could’ve done! (We still talk)! You also want to give the viewer something to start a conversation about, so make sure that your profile says something that they can engage with. The most important thing is to make it personal, so whatever you feel good about is the right way to go.

As important as what you write is the profile picture. When you pick a profile picture, PLEASE DO NOT INCLUDE OTHER PEOPLE! I have looked at pictures and wondered which one is the guy, and the worst ones are them with other girls. Is it your sister? Best friend? Ex-girlfriend? Current girlfriend? Either way it tells me that you’re unavailable so I swipe left quickly.

3. Be Patient & Open Minded

It’s hard to really tell what someone is like based on a few photos. Get to know people, chat it up, and be open-minded. If you’re only into tall, dark and handsome but you end up having great conversation with a blondie who’s on the shorter side, give it a chance. Also, age is just a number (to an extent). We’re not telling you to run out and date someone 30 years older than you, but remember that older usually means wiser (and more dating and life experience), so don’t be afraid to date outside of your own age range.

Also you may be on a site or app for weeks or months without making a genuine connection. Don’t quit! OkCupid found new guys for me every day! A lot of them never messaged me back, but that could be for a number of reasons. Remember, some people may no longer use the site because they lost interest or met someone and just didn’t deactivate their account. So don’t take it personal if the responses are a little slow.

Above all else, remember to always be yourself. Don’t be someone you think will attract the “perfect person” and you can’t maintain the facade. Don’t be afraid to set your standards and don’t settle. Whether you’re looking to casually date or find your lifelong partner, remember to put your best foot forward.

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What are your favourite dating apps? Do you have any online dating tips that you didn’t see on this list?

Share your recommendations in the comments!

Last Week I Reached My Breaking Point + What I Plan To Do About It

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Hello Lovely,

It’s not easy to say this, especially when I haven’t even spoken to my family about this. Before I can get into that, first I have to give you guys a little back story into what’s been happening lately. As with many families, there’s going to come a time when you don’t agree or even argue about things. No family is perfect, and over time family dynamics are bound to change. For years my family has consisted of my mum dad and brother, but I never got along with my brother; NEVER. It’s the most antagonising tit-for-tat relationship that is simply not healthy. Then my parents got divorced and I got a step dad. I wasn’t thrilled about this change (I’m not thrilled about any change) but it did bring something new: I now had pets. My step dad paid for me to adopt two cats. I still remember the day I picked them out at The Bahamas Humane Society. Their names are Ichigo and Rukia and they would go on to become very important members of my family.

For 11 years, I took care of them. Even when their fur began to irritate my eyes, I took Zyrtec and pushed through. They weren’t always the best behaved, but most house pets cause some level of trouble. But my mother desperately wanted to get rid of them. So when they thought my niece was allergic to the cats, I had no say in the fact that they had to go. The only thing I controlled was which home they went to. I was lucky enough to place them in a loving home. The week I spent searching for a home was rough. I cried at my desk on Monday and moped around the whole week. Luckily by Thursday, I found someone who wanted them. But after giving them up, I honestly broke down in the snottiest bought of crying. She had to console me, and I almost considered putting them back in my car and going back home.

This experience made me realise one very important thing: I need to move out. There have been many reasons I stayed in my mother’s house for so many years, but now my reasons to leave are beginning to outnumber the reasons to stay. Outside of the dynamics surrounding why I had to give up my cats, I knew this wouldn’t happen if I had my own place. I also genuinely need the space to create without having my materials and tools tossed around the house, constantly in someone’s way. I don’t plan on moving out before March because I plan on travelling next month, but I am hoping that by the summer or shortly afterwards, I can be in a place of my own. I have no idea how to live on my own or how to pay rent but I definitely need to learn wouldn’t you agree?

I Had An Anxiety Attack in A Beauty Supply Store

Hello Lovely,

I want to start this post by acknowledging that admitting this could be misinterpreted and may even be damaging to my career. But I honestly found so much therapeutic power in documenting this breakdown. You should know that for over ten years I have struggled with generalized anxiety disorder. But this past Tuesday was just embarrassing. For the past month, I haven't been able to decide what to do with my hair and it's been starting to stress me out. You may have seen various photos of me in different wigs. While wigs can be so fun, what they really are sometimes is a sign that I have no idea what to do with my hair. But a part of my hair care regimen dictates regular hair treatments and I was overdue.

Feeling pressured I told my hair stylist to pick a style and went with the first thing she suggested, crochet. I've never had crochet braids before but I figured it shouldn't be too bad. Problem is, I couldn't decide what type of crochet hair I wanted, and I honestly don’t know much about weave. Eventually I decided I wanted a "Afro twist out" look. So I drove around for two days, going to five different stores. In the last store I picked up 5 packs. At the thought that it would cost me $50 I started to second guess if it was worth it. I held the hair up to my face, but I just couldn’t picture it. All I saw were faux locs, box braids or Havana or Sengalese twist (none of which I wanted). Without much options, I began to feel trapped, which led to, you guessed it, an anxiety attack.

I immediately called one of my best friends, crying in a beauty supply store wanting to just curl in a ball on the floor and hope no one saw me. My chest hurt and I became angry with myself for being so indecisive. I dropped my first choice and considered leaving the store and returning with someone else to help me make up my mind. I called my hairstylist to ask her a million questions about the cheaper Havana twists before deciding, it would work. I waited to cash out, breathing deeply as I hoped no one would notice that I had been crying. But when I got home and told my mum what happened, I started crying all over again. My chest got tight all over again and I just wanted the floor to swallow me. I couldn't make a simple decision and I felt stupid for it. It took me talking to two different people, crying, eating a cupcake, sipping red wine hot chocolate and writing an entire thread just to calm down. Worst I feel like I failed myself for not being more in control.

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I SHARE THESE STORIES + PERSONAL BITS BECAUSE I KNOW HOW HELPFUL IT CAN BE.

If I were a reader and were going through something like this, I know it would help to read that someone else had gone through it too and reading their words would help me to feel a little bit better and to know that I wasn’t going through it alone. I share the less shiny, unfiltered moments of my life with you here because I think it’s important to be real with you and talk about the lows just as much as the highs.

Anxiety is not easy because I never know when something will trigger it. Someways it's big things, some days it's little things like me thinking a little too long about what someone said to me. Yet I'm super calm in most crisis situations and never overreact at work.

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SO WHAT NOW?

I got my hair done last night. My hairstylist was super encouraging during the process and I felt the weight lifted off me as she worked. Anxiety is something I deal with everyday. Luckily I know most of my triggers and I’m able to stay away from there, but it’s really hard when things you couldn’t plan for happen. I continue to reach out to various support groups and write in my self-care journal, which is so much fun to use!

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If this post helped you or spoke to you in anyway, please feel free to drop a word of encouragement in the comment section below. If you need advice for dealing with your own anxiety, feel free to fill out the form above and I’ll be touch.

I Spent a Week Indulging in Self Care—Here’s What I Did

Hello lovely,

I love being busy. I usually tell people I thrive on busyness. I do my best work when there’s a little pressure on me to get everything done, and I’ve always been the person who puts a lot on her plate.

But lately, my balance has been off and I probably bit off more than I could chew. I knew something was wrong two weeks ago, when I found myself getting annoyed at every little thing. I even exploded on my boyfriend (more than once).

Don’t get me wrong, I love my job. I love my blog and I love having a full agenda. But… I’m exhausted and could use some much needed time away from the stress. So, I embarked on a week full of stress relief, self-reflection, and serious me-time.

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SUNDAY - FRIENDSGIVING

I began my week with a friendsgiving dinner by my best friend Richard’s house. It’s our second year doing this, and even with the usual delays we had a blast. It was great catching up with friends I hadn’t seen in over a month. Our group of friends love and fight like family, but the best part about this family is that I chose these people, so I’m happiest when I’m around them!

MONDAY - THE SIMS 4 AND QUALITY TIME

I’m really loving the new Sims 4 expansion pack: Get Famous. It’s probably the best expansion pack we’ve had since University Life in Sims 2. So I feel really relaxed and happy, when I can zone out for an hour or two and just enjoy it. I also got to spend some much needed quality time with my boyfriend. I finally got to watch the Patriot Act by Hasan Minhaj and everyone needs to watch that show!

TUESDAY - TIANA AND A NAP

On Tuesday Tiana surprised me at work. It’s always great to see my bestie, and Tuesday was a really slow day for me mentally so it was a much needed break. We walked around the campus, talking to students and teachers as we passed them. It was a much needed distraction. When I went home, I took a nap without setting an alarm. I felt really refreshed after that nap and was still able to get much needed work done.

WEDNESDAY - HALF=EARLY WORKOUT

Working in a school comes with it’s perks, like half days. We had an early dismissal on Wednesday because the high school’s Carol Service was that evening. So with this extra time, I was really excited to squeeze in an early workout. No one was on the park (not even my trainer who got there when I finished my last set of squats). It was so peaceful and exactly what I needed.

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THURSDAY - NAILS AND A PARTY

I normally get my nails done every two weeks, but my last nail design lasted three weeks. This time I was super excited to get a winter design because I’m counting down the days to Christmas! I ended the day at the Elevation Awards Nominee Announcement Party where I was nominated for Blog of The Year for a 2nd consecutive year. I’m really feeling confident this year as a contender!

FRIDAY - A NAP AND GAME NIGHT

Friday was particularly stressful. The day before, the principal of another school on the island died of a heart attack and was found slumped over his desk. This was probably the biggest eyeopener because today everything continued as normal. I’ve always read memes about not killing yourself for a job that will replace you when you die, but this was real. All of the guidance counsellors at my school vowed to never take our job home with us and enjoy time with family this weekend. At work, I’m one of the people responsible for our school’s Christmas play and child actors are probably the worst. If that wasn’t enough, before leaving there was drama that had to be investigated only to find out none of it was true. After work I was pretty exhausted. I wanted to get sushi but that didn’t work out because I totally fell asleep. While I was sad about the sushi, I have to admit, that nap left me feeling really rejuvenated. I ended the night playing the Sims again and all was right with the world.

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SATURDAY - VOLUNTEER WORK, CHRISTMAS SHOPPING AND CHRISTMAS MOVIES

This was probably the best day out of the week, although the way it started, it didn’t look like it would end well. I stopped for gas on my way to a community service event and ended up in a fender bender at the pump. Luckily it wasn’t severe. After the community service event, my mum and I ran some errands. We went looking for ornaments and found six that we really liked, but the options here really aren’t diverse enough. After checking out two lots we settled on THE tree for $125. My beau lifted the tree like it weighed nothing and got it in the stand for us like a pro. We watched a Lifetime Christmas movie together (A Very Nutty Christmas) and then I watched a A Twist of Christmas by myself. It was such a relaxing end to what could’ve been a stressful day and the perfect end to a week of self-care.

My week of self-care is officially over as I write this, and I’ve never felt so at ease and ready for the next week to begin. I feel an overall sense of calm, through mind and body. I also feel more confident in myself. I have a deeper sense of self-awareness, and my beau and I are communicating better than ever now that I’m coping better with stress as it arises.

If there’s anything this week taught me, it’s that self-care is the most critical thing anyone can do for themselves. Each act will look different for everyone but it has to be done intentionally. Now it’s your turn. I challenge you to take a week of self-care. You don’t have to start on Sunday, just indulge in self-care activities for 7 days. Pay attention to what makes you happy and what stress you out. Adjust and make time for yourself.