Surviving adulthood: Shrink or Shine

Hi Guys!

I’ve seen the quote below in many different forms and permutations in the past few years and honestly if I had wanted a tattoo bad enough, this is probably the quote I would have tattooed.

Don’t shrink yourself for someone else’s comfort! It’s so simple but so profound right? Here’s the kicker though, as much as I have loved this quote, it has never stopped me from shrinking when I felt vulnerable. Since accepting this adulthood mantle, I have found that there are more situations where I feel like I need to protect myself and my default is to either shut down or divert all attention from myself. If they don’t see me, they can’t attack me right? See, I’m a logical romantic (yes that’s a thing) and I love to listen to my feelings until I have a clear and defined reason why I should not. That reason hit me tonight.

Graduation 2015: Look at this girl. Cute right? She looks full of hope and ready to take on the world with giddy naivety.

To this point, she’s done alright for herself! She’s smart, survived the education system in 2 countries, navigated multiple projects with nothing but intuition as her guide and had fun while doing it. Before she goes much further, I’ll tell her not to shrink for someone else’s comfort; she will thank me for that advice and I wouldn’t have helped her in any way :). Ah yes, because you see her reason for shrinking will not be to make others feel better about mediocrity, or because she doesn’t believe she is worth more. She will shrink in spaces because she can’t fathom a scenario where someone guiding her might not know MORE than she does.

Let me break this down; for most of my life, I have been the youngest in many of the rooms I have been in. In each of those scenarios, I simply took it as fact that others were older and inherently wiser and I had much to learn. Approaching life with this learner’s perspective, I excelled because I truly had a lot to learn from others and if I could outperform their expectations, even better! I felt no added pressure to “puff up” because I already felt like I was exceptional being the youngest one to sit in a room with these wise souls. This resulted in a very balanced view where I felt neither small nor arrogant. I challenged perspectives with ease and thrived because I saw no reason not to. While this was effective, it was incomplete and I’ll tell you why but we’re not there yet.

Why this approach doesn’t work as well in adulthood is I can no longer assume as a blanket rule that older=wiser. We all have a plethora of experiences once we cross that adult threshold that shape us in so many different ways. Wins and losses, highs and lows, delays and fast tracks are in every way chipping away and refining us into these bespoke units of human experience and there is no baseline. There is no objective way to say that a person who is appointed in any leadership position over me is perfectly equipped to respond to every question I could have about my lived experience because there is simply no rubric. Maybe there never was.

So what’s my point? Shrinking for me was never about making myself small for someone else’s comfort, their comfort is and always has been inconsequential. I don’t say this to be dismissive of feelings but rather in reference to my belief that constant comfort is not conducive to growth. Shrinking for me was instead about a change in power perception. For the first time in my life, being the youngest in the room wasn’t celebrated as a show of potential and capacity for more responsibility, it was framed as a disadvantage. I actually remember the first time someone told me not to reference that I had recently graduated lest the client loses confidence in the team. At the time, I accepted this perspective as pure fact, surely, this person who was older than me and had worked longer than me must know more about how one must conduct themselves in a professional setting right? WRONG!

It is not that their advice was ill-intentioned, it just wasn’t right for me. I have learned now to come into rooms not with the expectation that the person leading me knows more than me but instead that they know different things than me. This change in perspective has been a game changer. It leaves me open to learn from them without absorbing their bias as fact. They have a unique set of skills that they have gained through their personal experiences that I can learn from; however, and critical to my positioning, I also have a unique set of skills and life experience I bring that they can benefit from. It’s not about either one of us holding more power in a situation but instead celebrating what’s strong in both of us to build productive relationships.

Going forward this is my philosophy; shrink or shine, this is your daily choice. Winning at adulthood will be about showing up fully, ready to teach and ready to learn. One does not precede the other, the capacity for both exists and your harmonious delivery can change your world

What the quarantine taught me about waiting | DIY Two-piece set

Hello you lovely lot!

I truly hope you’re staying safe amidst all that’s going on in the world and finding pockets of joy in the madness. I made this two piece turtleneck and skirt outfit a while ago for #makeday on Lavendame’s IGTV. Shopping to final product took me two days which really isn’t much, plus I had several breaks in between so I could probably have whipped this up in a few hours. You can catch up on this and other makeday posts here. The world has changed dramatically since then and it’s mind boggling to see how reality has shifted beneath our feet.

I have seen several posts on our collective consciousness which seems to be a mix of wanting this to end right away, wanting to make the most of this time, not wanting to process next steps. People are trying to stay afloat because bills don’t stop, businesses are trying to stay relevant because cash flow is king and in the chaos of it all, there are our trusty distractions; food and Tik Tok challenges to make us feel like the world really isn’t so bad.

The uncertainty of an end date is probably the most maddening of all of it; all we can do is wait. And we hate to wait! We hate long lines, we hate waiting for people who are late, we hate delivery times that are longer than 24hrs, we hate waiting for the bus, I hate waiting for the bus, I hate waiting! I can’t speak for everyone but waiting just isn’t fun! Yea yea you can try to talk up the nervous anticipation and the excitement of finally getting what you want but let’s face it, the best part about waiting is when you don’t have to wait anymore…or is it?

You see, I’ve become somewhat of an expert at this waiting game and I’m here to share my wisdom with you all (Ha! JK). The quarantine has trained me well in this craft and it would be a disservice to you all if I didn’t share.

So while you wait…

  1. Stay present. It’s incredibly easy to miss all the gifts of now because you’re dwelling on what you could have done with the freedom of the past or what you want to do with the freedom of the future. Let’s face it, when you think it through, we’re never really free until we believe we’re free. Just stay here and now because today is the future you once dreamed about.
  2. Stay active. And while physical activity is important, that’s not all. How can you be active for your community? How can you maintain steady progress towards your goals? How can this time in your life be anything but a stand still? Not to freak you out but time will advance whether or not you do. This will always be true in waiting or not. The good thing is you always have the choice to move, they may be slow measured steps but those are your steps and you have agency in that. Don’t let anyone rush you into some half baked quest for productivity and don’t let anyone sedate you into living without intention; you have immeasurable value to offer and the world is ready to receive it once you’re ready to bring it forth.
  3. Stay in touch. With friends and family? Yes! But also with you. Not unlike staying present, staying in touch with yourself means being aware of when you need a break from the noise. It is being aware of when you need help. It is being aware of when you need to rest and when you need to push. Stay in touch with your mental space; are you feeling disconnected, how can you reengage with your world? Sometimes I take a moment to just do a full self scan; where am I tense, am I breathing, am I stressed, am I happy and extremely important for my overall functioning, am I spiritually connected? Bringing your mental, emotional, physical and spiritual states into focus from time to time could help you realign on what may be missing for you at any given time.
  4. Stay home. In your physical house if it is safe to do so because we are all in this together. However, home may be a plethora of things to you; it could be your creative space, it could be calls with those you love, it could be quiet time at 7am in the morning. Find home and stay home; waiting is hard but home is where you bunker the stormy days. I’ve realized that home is where its easiest to love and nourish yourself wholeheartedly.

In all seriousness, I’m still learning how to wait well. None of the tips above are in perfect alignment for me all the time but if I can master waiting for even just a little while longer, this quarantine will have made me better.

I truly pray for anyone reading this that you stay well in this time. I could say something cheesy about cocoons and butterflies but I’ll spare you the analogy and just wish you all my love as we weather the hard days together

The privilege of being female | DIY peacoat

I made this coat in January I think but I just never blogged it. As you can tell by the drippy nature of this, I clearly wronged you by not sharing sooner, but I am here now just in time for F/W2019.

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Bigger than the coat though, I am here to talk to myself and anyone else who cares to listen about embracing femininity. For so long, I feel like it’s almost become acceptable to despise being female. I know I have certainly had many mixed feelings about what is frankly just my fact of birth. The phrase “Why does the woman always have to [insert high standard that men aren’t held to here]”, has come up in so many conversations and in so many different permutations and honestly, it can be a little miserable.

It’s miserable realizing that your life is expected to be some collection of insurmountable injustices; especially as a black woman, where the intersection of your race and gender presents nothing but emotional labour and unreciprocated effort. This may be why I fought with the concept of womanhood for so long, because being a girl is just a little easier sometimes. You can delay some expectations, you can still choose how you want to interact with the world around you. You are hopeful.

Anyhow, now I’m here. Fully woman and I am choosing to love this. I am choosing to see this as a privilege and not a burden. I have the unique opportunity to wake up each day in this body and I think that is pretty amazing.

I look at my physical body today, and where I would once have complained about it being too much or not enough, I see it as perfectly suited to me.

Where I would have tried to soften my wit to make it more palatable for some, I now speak and expect to be heard.

img_1488I have no time for people who don’t value my time or talents because there is a very strong roster of people who do.

I cry if I need to cry because it’s a healthy expression of my emotions.

I ask for help if I need it because I wasn’t built to do life alone.

I set boundaries on my time, my relationships and my space because I love myself and I want to keep me safe.

I speak positively to myself because it enriches my soul.

I smile at my reflection because it is a privilege to do so.

Our time on this earth is as short as it is long. It is just enough time for us to give of ourselves in tremendous ways. When I find myself staring in the mirror too long because of a breakout, or bemoaning my edges or my nail beds or my cellulite, I will try to remember what a privilege it is to be female. To share this unique human experience of femininity with so many other amazing women. To be called one of them.

When I am in a space where I feel like I am being drowned out by the men in the room, I will remember that my voice is important and I have a responsibility to myself to speak even if they refuse to hear. I will also remember to be a support for another woman if I see her being drowned out.

 

 

 

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When I see another woman doing amazing things, I will celebrate her because I know the privilege that we have in carrying the bodies that we do and pushing boundaries where we do.

When I look at this beautiful life and see the men in my life achieving exceptional things, I will remember that uplifting them does not mean that I am any less privileged to be in this body that I am in. I will remember that their success does not have to mean my downfall. I will take inspiration from their uninhibited love of self and love myself just as fiercely

When it hurts to carry the full reality of this feminine form, I will remember that I have purpose that impacts a world so much bigger than me. Every day that I push past the physical, emotional or mental pressures that this body brings, I am pressing closer to the thing that I am here to do

And on the high highs and the low lows, I will always choose to rest in faith knowing that I am never alone

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On the path to you… | Launching Lavendame

Self discovery

Every year, I find myself a little bit more. I learn more about my fears and how to challenge them, I learn more about what I like and what I don’t like. When I feel most and least confident. Frankly, the answers to these questions change and I expect that will remain true as I carry on with life. However, as I approach my first quarter century, (yes I turn 25 this year) I can honestly say that some things that are core to who I am are becoming a little clearer.

This weekend I hosted 8 beautiful women at a sewing workshop as my pilot event for Lavendame. Now before I take you on the who, what, when, why journey of Lavendame, I remembered a little plan I had when I was about 14. I wrote all about it in a blue hard cover note book. It was going to be called “Purple touch” and while I don’t remember all the details but it was definitely about empowering women. I remember being fussy about the little details like what shade of purple would be my theme and what my logo would look like. I knew I wanted to make an impact with women in my community but that’s about all I remember.

This brings me back to the core things that make me tick. Empathy, Empowering women, Art, Family, Faith and Community. Everything I do draws from these pools. I suppose I’ve known this for a while but only subconsciously so. The idea for Lavendame started brewing years ago when I first started plotting my vision for my life, a vision of building economically sustainable communities. At the time it wasn’t called Lavendame; it wasn’t called anything. The idea of Purple touch was then a distant memory and I was feeling a little lost for purpose.

Fast forward to December last year and I had a yearning to create an arts based community of women in the city. Women like me, who spend the greater part of their day at a job, being a polished and professional version of themselves, spending too little time doing things that ignited their passions and investing all of their creative energy in developing decks and finding the best way to tell the client that they need to make a decision or kick rocks. I missed sewing, I missed blogging, I missed experimenting with other creative outlets like painting and knitting and baking and writing. I missed being well rounded and doing things for me! I was certain that there were other women in the city that felt the exact same way so I was determined to make that community happen.

I talked the idea over with my family and inner circle and slowly began to gain confidence that this idea was worth pushing for…Then the fear kicked in. What if there are other people doing the same thing or similar things (there are). What if I jump into this too soon and it’s half baked and everyone hates it? (Welp!). What if there’s no reasonable way to sustain this (still figuring this out). I wrote my ideas out in painstaking detail, mulled over them and wrote some more. I talked about it again with family  and with God and everyone’s feedback was Just Start Already!

The first time I reached out to a sewing studio for this, I literally had to psyche myself up; “pretend this is just like reaching out to book an event for your birthday” “Just ask if they even do private events” “Just try!” I am so thankful to the lovely people at The Make Den for answering the thousands of questions I had and making great recommendations. After I finally locked down the location, I psyched myself up once again to reach out to my friends to see if they would come. Fear and fulfillment are neighbors I guess because with shaky fingers I typed up the message and sent it out to a few friends, anxiously awaiting any kind of response. The yeses trickled in and I sat on my bed bawling and laughing because I was just so happy anyone would be willing to take that chance on me

The dust has settled now from my first event, feedback is coming in at a steady pace and it’s generally positive, constructive and very actionable. More events are coming up for Lavendame so stay tuned on our Instagram. There’s a peace that comes with doing something you were made to do and I definitely feel this is one of those things

Let me know in the comments if you have any stories of finding yourself, where are you in that journey?