I Am Ready For Change...Are You?

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It has been over a month since I last posted. Ugh! Where has the time gone?

I have been meaning to get back to you all, but your girl Toya T has been busy. The past month I have been traveling (Charlotte, NC, Washington, D.C., New York City, and now Southern California with a short stay in Las Vegas ), searching for and applying to jobs, connecting with friends, partying, crying and being fully in my feelings, taking long walks, and trying to figure out my life (of course!).

During this time, I realized one major thing: I am ready to move. Specifically, I am ready for things in my professional and romantic lives to move in new, better, and more fulfilling directions. I love my job as a college professor. Working with, mentoring, and teaching students is my passion. It energizes me and has helped me grow and learn more about myself and the world.

However, what I do not love is the lack of upward mobility I have experienced in my career. I currently teach two courses a semester at a state university part-time, which means I am working without benefits or job security. For the past two years, I have been applying for positions in academic advising and student support, and I have gotten very few calls for interviews and no job offers. It has been hard to deal with because of the amount of time and effort and money I spent on my education. Excuse me as I toot my own horn here. I am a black woman with a PhD. I am part of the less than 1% of people in the world to hold this degree. Yet, despite my educational pedigree, I do not have a JOBB---extra 'b' for benefits, that is to say, retirement, health, dental, paid leave/vacation, and job satisfaction.

It is hard pill to swallow because I have degrees and not much to show for it besides the degrees. I am like the character on Kanye West's first album College Dropout who was homeless with only his multiple degrees to keep him warm. Okay...I may be exaggerating a bit. I am not homeless. I am fortunate to have two loving parents who have been able to help me financially by feeding me and letting me live in their home rent free, among other things, that allow me to pay my bills (including my 100k student loans), build good credit, travel, look cute, and apply to jobs that I want (and not those that just pay the bills). I am far from sleeping on the streets covered in my diplomas. But, I feel...stuck, blocked, unsatisfied, frustrated, unfulfilled.

Okay, so now what? How do I change this and get things in my life moving in new, fulfilling, and purposeful directions?

By changing my mindset to focus daily on what I want and how I want these changes to happen, and not on what I do not have or have not done.

I may feel that my life is stagnant now, but I can change that. I can live the life I want.

To manifest these changes in my life, I am going to set monthly intentions, and I am going to keep a log of my experiences and feelings here on Figure Out Your Life Blog for a year, so you all can follow my progression of change. The beginning of the month, or the start of a new moon cycle, is a great time to set new intentions or desires, since it takes 30 to 40 days to create a new habit or change a behavior.

If you want to join me on this journey, and you are also ready to make changes in your life, here are few things you need to know about setting monthly intentions:

First, when making intentions, you must make definitive statements. Not wishes, asks, or wants because you want the universe to know you intend, and not wish or want, for these things to happen in your life.

Second, you must state you intentions in the present tense. For example, "I am worthy of love" or "I attract a romantic relationship that fulfills me" (I used both of these statements in my romantic intentions for the month).

Third, you must TRUST these things WILL happen.

Fourth, if you feel blocked or deterred, you must take note of what is blocking you and confront it. Spend a little bit of time and energy dealing with this issue. What are the blocks in your life? How do they make you feel? What would removing these blocks do for you? Then, you must spend the majority of your time and energy on visualizing what is going to keep you aligned, attuned, and inspired.

I am ready to live my best life. Are you?


"We must remind ourselves that we are seeing only a small piece of the puzzle--that there is a whole picture, and we all fit in." -- SQuire Rushnell, When God Winks: How The Power of Coincidence Guides Your Life


#BuyBlack Spotlight: Iman Cosmetics

I love Iman Cosmetics!!! (

*Oprah voice*

)

I started following the beauty brand on Instagram two months ago after seeing a beautifully rich wine-colored lipstick while exploring the app. I immediately liked the picture and then left a comment under the picture asking about the name of the lipstick and where I could purchase it. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that they sold the lipstick and other Iman Cosmetics products at Walgreens.

I have known about Iman Cosmetics for years. I remember when it started over a decade ago as beauty brand that made makeup for women of color. But for a long time, I thought it was a high-end makeup brand like MAC or Dior that was only sold at department stores and that cost between $30 to $50 per item. This past year I have seen Iman Cosmetics featured on various best beauty brand lists in Essence and Ebony magazines. 

After finding the lip color (which is Iman Luxury Moisturizing Lipstick in Opal) in one of my local Walgreens stores in Boston (and seeing the affordable price of $10), I decided to finally try out the brand. I went to the beauty brand's website imancosmetics.com and downloaded their suggested Iman Cosmetics Beauty app, which provided customized Iman product recommendations to match my unique Color Signature, based on facial recognition technology that analyzed my skin tone. The app helped me identify my concealer and foundation matches and also suggested lipsticks and eye shadows that would work well with my skin tone. 

For my first purchase, I bought the Iman Luxury Moisturizing Lipstick in Rebel, Iman Second-to-None 

Stick Foundation

 in Clay 4, Iman

Corrective Concealer

 in Earth, and Iman Luxury 

Luxury Lip Shimmer

 in Honey from walgreens.com (also available at amazon.com). The products arrived at my house within 5 days. I tried each product out immediately and I fell in LOVE with them. 

The concealer and stick foundation matched my skin color so well and provided such great coverage. When I wore it, my friends and my family immediately noticed the difference and complimented me on my makeup. Iman Cosmetics makeup products gave me such a beautiful, healthy glow. Within a month, I got my mom and my best friend to purchase and try out Iman Cosmetics products. I also purchased two more lipsticks, another lip shimmer, and the new Iman 

Luxury Concealing Foundation

 in Earth 3. 

As a black woman, I really appreciate the quality, price, availability, and color options of Iman Cosmetics. I am tired giving my money to beauty brands that do not care enough to create products that match my skin color. Creating one or two "dark" or "brown" foundation or concealer for women with brown pigmented skin is ridiculous, exclusionary, and outdated. Black, latina, and other non-white women come in a variations of colors and make up significant portion of the female population. We need more than one or two shades to cover our beautifully diverse skin colors (I am looking at your Maybelline. Your

FIT ME Matte & Poreless Foundation

has only one color for brown skin).   Iman Cosmetics is made for us by us (F.U.B.U). Model and creator Iman is a beauty icon with a passion for creating products that match ALL women, from the very fair-skinned to the very dark- skinned. 

I have been searching for new makeup products for women of color, after my local Target stopped carrying Covergirl Queen Collection products (which I started using in 2010). Iman Cosmetics came into my life at the right time. As an advocate for supporting black-owned businesses, I have committed to making my personal cosmetics and beauty collection at least 90% black-owned beauty products by the end of 2017.

Ladies, I highly suggest you check out Iman Cosmetics. You won't regret it!! 

Here are my three favorite Iman Cosmetics products thus far: 

Iman Luxury Moisturizing Lipstick, Opal

I Refuse to Accept Less Than What I Bring to the Table

Dating in your 30s is frustrating as fuck!?! Why, as a straight, educated, black woman in my 30s, am I expected to accept less from a man than what I bring to the table?

Storytime!

I met a guy on OkCupid. Let's call him Jean. Jean is dark, tall(er than me), attractive, 30-something black man. On the dating site, he seemed nice, thoughtful, and truly interested in getting to know me and dating (with the intention of developing a romantic relationship). Jean didn’t seem crazy and most importantly did not display any fuck boy tendencies. He was attentive and communicative without being thirsty or overbearing. So, when h

e asked for my number, I gave it to him and we began to get to know each other offsite, in the "real world". 

However, as we talked more, I noticed a few things that irked me about 

Jean

Number One! He didn’t go to college. 

I understand that a college education is not the only measure of success and drive, but I did not get a feeling that he was on a career path. An electrician is on a career path because that type of work requires training, skill building, and certification (and they get paid well for the time and effort they put into their craft). Jean seemed more on a job path. And, again I know that not everyone has the freedom, drive, or resources to forgo a paying job to pursue their dream career. I myself am not working in dream career, but I am on the path. I am building networks and developing applicable skills for my dream career. But, again I know everyone's journey is different, some people's paths are short, some people's path are long, and some people's paths are crooked.  Thus, in an effort to keep an open mind, I pushed aside my feelings about his lack of a college degree. The important thing was he was employed and was able to support himself.

Number Two! He is Catholic and it is important to him. 

Religion is a touchy subject (along with politics). Somehow, we got on the subject of him being Catholic. I informed him that I was also Catholic. Jean thought this was great because he assumed that we would have no religion or faith-based issues. I immediately disagreed.  Being born and raised Catholic does not play an important role in my life. I am more spiritual than religious. I believe in God and in living a life that is as moral and caring as possible.  I disagree with the Catholic Church on several major issues, such as abortion, homosexuality, priests being men only,  to name a few. Because I am not religious, I am weary of men who place religion high on their relationship priority list-- you know, the type of men who state that they are looking for a "Godly woman". I don't know what that means and I really don't want to know. But, in the case of Jean, he seemed to be okay with my views on religion, and he even shared a few of my views on the Catholic Church. 

Then, it happened. The deal breaker! He asked me what I was looking for in a man. 

I told him. I am looking for a man who is educated, career driven, and open-minded, loves traveling, eating good food, drinking strong drinks, and trying new things. Most importantly, I am looking for a man who is interested in building a relationship based on friendship, love, laughs, communication, and respect. 

His response: Do you think that you are expecting too much??? 

What in the entire FUCK!!! I told him: No, I know what I need to be happy in a relationship. I am not expecting less from a man than what I bring to the table. 

After I said this, Jean continued to press me about my relationship needs. He said that he is looking for a woman who is nice, respectful, family-oriented, and educated. Jean told me that I am expecting too much that may put stress on a relationship. I was flabbergasted and a bit annoyed. 

My list is not long. This is not a

"What Chilli Wants"

list. (Remember that show where Rozanda "Chilli" Thomas from TLC fame was looking for a husband but he had to fulfill a long checklist of requirements, including not smoking, not drinking, not eating pork, not having more than two baby mamas, and being fine with a six pack and a big penis.) 

I am not looking for a man that fits 50 things on a must-have list. I am looking for love and happiness in a relationship, not contentment. I would rather be single than be in a relationship in which I am expected to lower my standards and push aside my wants, my desires, and my needs all in the name of having a man. 

I do not need a man. I want a life partner who is also my best friend, lover, protector, co-parent, cheerleader, and ride-or-die. I am willing to comprise on my preferences on height, race, age, body type, income, musical taste, and family background. 

But, I am not willing to accept less than what I need, want, and deserve.

With all that said, I end with this message to the all the "Jean's" out there:

Boy Bye!

How To Stay Focused During a Long Weight-Loss Journey

First things first, I am proud to announce that I lost .9 lbs this past week. Although it is not a big number, it is still a victory because it is a weight loss and not a weight gain.

Week 4 Progress:

In 4 weeks, I have lost 8 lbs with the Super Shred diet and Nike Training Club Lean Fit workout challenge.  **pelvic thrusts** Now I have 42 lbs to go...42 LBS TO GO!!!! Ugh.

Losing that much weight is not going to be easy or quick (unless I max out my credit cards and get liposuction). It is going to take months upon months of working out, dieting, and focus.

To help me keep focused during my weight-loss journey, I am doing the following 3 things:

1. Join Fitness Challenges 

This is very simple. Find a fitness challenge and do it.

  • It helps you develop a regular fitness schedule that is easy to follow and increases with intensity as it progresses.

  • It prevents you from feeling overwhelmed by making you focus on a short-term, achievable fitness goal.

  • If you get your friends or family to join the challenge, it helps you create a fitness support system to keep you motivated to finish.

  • Plus, when you finish, you are fitter and have the sweet satisfaction of completing a fitness goal.

Here's a challenge for you: 

2. Try New Healthy Recipes 

The internet is wonderful place to find tons and tons of healthy recipes (note: Pinterest is the best site ever to find yummy, healthy recipes).

  • It helps you transition from bad eating habits to good eating habits, by allowing you to eat less calories without feeling deprived.

  • It helps you discover new foods and dishes that you can share with your family and friends and impress them with your culinary skills.

  • If you cook your meals ahead of time, preferably at the beginning of the week, it will help you stay on your diet and give you less excuses for grabbing for "fast fatty foods" (the dreaded 3 F's).

Here's a healthy recipe for you: 

3. Buy Cute Workout Clothes

Just because you are working out and sweating doesn't mean you can't look good while doing it.

  • Having cute workout clothes takes the UGH out of working out by giving you the same feeling as getting dressed up for a night out.

  • They tend to be form-fitting, which is a GOOD thing. Wearing oversized and baggy workout clothes make you look frumpy and larger than you really are, skewing your body image. Wearing cute, form-fitting workout clothes provides much-needed support for your jiggly parts and allows you to check your form and make sure you are correctly performing exercises, decreasing injuries and maximizing workout benefits.

  • Plus, it helps show off your new developing fit body.

Here's some cute workout clothes options for you: 

Low-end Activewear Brand: Everlast (sold at

Sears

)

High-end Activewear: Ivy Park (sold at

Nordstrom

)

Highlights from the #BlackGirlMovement Conference 2016

I had such an amazing experience at the first national Black Girl Movement Conference in New York City. It was an indescribable feeling to be in a room filled with black women, black girls, and black female scholars, activists, and game-changers talking about the greatness of black girls and black girlhood. Looking around it felt like I stepped into a different world. 

There were black girls of all ages, shapes, shades and hair textures, proudly proclaiming their love for themselves and each other. The three days of the Black Girl Movement Conference was a celebration of black girlhood and all the things that make us unique, from the games we play to the way we wear our hair. Even though I am in my 30s, I sometimes need a reminder of how great it is to be a black girl because there are so many times that we are not shown how beautiful, smart, unique, strong, powerful, talented, and amazing we are, always have been, and always will be. 

The mainstream media largely ignores us. When we are assaulted, kidnapped, or killed, we do not get the same attention and urgency as our white counterparts receive. We are often told that we are not beautiful. Our bodies are scrutinized, fetishized, and degraded. Our hair and hairstyles are considered  unkempt, dirty, and unprofessional. But, when a white girl displays any of our characteristics, features, or cultural stylings, there are considered attractive, fashionable, exotically beautiful, and innovative. 

This conference truly is a movement. It is a reminder, declaration, battle cry: BLACK GIRLS MATTER AND THEY ARE ALL THE MAGIC THEY WILL EVER NEED.

I really hope they continue this conference for years to come. Here are some of the highlights: 

Panel Session: Writing and Researching Black Girls

Only at a Black Girl Movement Conference will you find a sing-along 

Little bit of black girls moving, led by Camille A. Brown. 

Check out those moves (and smiles). 

#BlackGirlArt:::Picturing Black Girlhood exhibit (at Raw Space in NYC)

My black girlhood, all you needed was chalk and a pebble. 

Join the movement:

http://iraas.columbia.edu/Event/black-girl-movement-conference

#blackgirlmovement #bgm2016