Self-care is something that I’ve been very interested in over the past few years.  The idea of treating and nourishing your outer and inner self was just too attractive not to pass up.

I fell in love with the idea of enjoying facials, massages, and various other beauty rituals as a means of taking care of myself.  All of these things are really great. But they fall into the category of what I call “self-care 101.” These are the easy activities that we enjoy doing but they only scratch the surface of the layers that make up one’s self-care journey. 

Let’s talk about some of the not-so-easy self-care activities that are just as important as getting a mani-pedi. 
But first, I’ll tell you a quick story. 

Back when I worked in corporate America, one of my responsibilities was to address employee complaints.  Often times, employees would request a transfer from one location to another because of disputes with their supervisor.  They’d complain that their manager was too strict or had too many rules.  Sometimes they’d ask to go to a location where they knew that manager was much more lax about following every rule.  The person assumed that they’d be happier working in an environment with less accountability.

More often than not, once the transfer was granted, the employee would soon realize that they made a mistake. Because they already know the value of working in a well-run environment, the difference at their new location is like night and day. They assumed that having fewer rules would make them happier but they were mistaken.

The truth is, many of us thrive in an environment that consists of daily rituals, clear expectations, and various routines that support optimal outcomes.  A well-run organization is one where a solid foundational structure is in place.  In our personal lives, however, we often live unregimented lives.  Don’t get me wrong, we do follow some routines.  But most of them are in place because if we don’t do them, we will suffer a consequence (example, we go to work every day otherwise, we will lose our job).

On the flip side, there are rituals and routines we should incorporate and follow because they support our overall well being.  Those are the first ones to suffer whenever laziness creeps in.  Why? Because the consequences aren’t immediate. Since the consequences seem far away (or non-existent) these self-care activities take a back seat.

Some examples of self-care rituals that tend to fall by the wayside are:

A portion of the items on the list are enjoyable, but many of them aren’t.  It’s kinda like working for a boss who’s making you do things you don’t feel like doing.  But, there’s a reason why she has such high standards.  It’s because she knows that a great running operation will generate greater rewards.  Many of the employees didn’t realize it, but transferring to another location where the manager didn’t run a tight operation meant that they’d probably receive a smaller performance bonus (because the other location was underperforming in sales results).  In the end, they were only hurting themselves.  
We have to get really serious about our self-care.  It’s more than just splurging on skin products or treating yourself to your heart’s desire.  What we truly desire is to feel fulfilled.  And most everything I listed above will contribute to your fulfillment.  
Do you have to do everything on that list at once? 
Nope. 
Just pick the one or two habits missing from your life that could really make a huge impact on your overall wellbeing.  Once you get rolling, you’ll continue to build on your self-care routine as time goes on.  But, let’s not forget that sometimes, the harder actions can contribute to you the most.  

This is the second post in a series where I gush over the effortless glow of a summer muse.  Last time, we analyzed the root cause of Gabrielle Union’s summer glow.  Today, we’ll rehash what we know of Kelly Rowland’s beauty rituals.

On the surface, Kelly looks like she’s a low maintenance type of gal.   But she’s far from that.  Although she keeps her look pretty natural, there’s a lot of work that goes into her effortless results.  I mean, just look at her.  She looks like a beautiful young lady enjoying a day at the beach.  She doesn’t look like a woman nearing 40 years old.  Her body is perfect, her skin is perfect, her hair is perfect.   Everything worked together to create this amazing moment.

One of Kelly’s best features is her skin.  We can all attribute her healthy glow to genetics but, in actuality, she puts a lot of attention and invests heavily in her skin.  Kelly has been known to brag about her love for Nutra Bisse products.  Specifically their peel off mask.  If memory serves me, Kelly is the one who introduced Beyonce to the brand.  Like every other celebrity with flawless skin, exfoliation is a staple in Kelly’ regimen.  Right now, she’s loving Dr. Denis Gross’ peel pads.  Apparently, they helped clear an unexpected breakout overnight and she’s been loyal ever since. We’ve already discussed how the key to flawless summer skin involves adding exfoliating acids to your regimen.  If you’re serious about glowing skin, don’t skip out on exfoliating acids.

Kelly’s wearing cut off denim shorts and a simple crop top.  I honestly thought the crop top trend would be over by now but it doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.  Kelly proudly displays her midsection because she’s worked hard for her results.  If you recall, Kelly has been known to knock out a couple of hundred sit-ups a night to maintain a toned core.  She’s also faithfully worked out with her favorite trainer, Jeanette Jenkins.  I remember when Destiny’s Child first came on the scene.  You could tell that Kelly always had a small frame.  It’s easy to think that a body like hers comes naturally, but not so.  The toned legs and midsection come from focused exercise.  Stop thinking that you can live a completely sedentary life and enjoy a toned-fit body.  It doesn’t work that way.  The reason why Kelly puts in the work is because she “loves the way her clothes fit.”  I’m sure we all want that.  Kelly also loves munching on healthy greens like kale and spinach.  Not only does eating clean contribute to keeping her frame slim, it helps keep her skin pretty as well.

Another attribute I love about Kelly is that she enjoys the art of self-care. She loves treating herself to various beauty routines & rituals.  I think her entire lifestyle is centered around pouring into herself and feeling good.  She eats a lot of greens because of how they make her feel. She works out first thing in the morning to create energy to last throughout the day.  She invests in herself so that she can be the best version of herself for her family.   It’ a wonderful philosophy to have and it’s served her very well.

The other day I captured a screenshot from an Instagrammer who shared a glimpse of how much revenue her online store is doing. After taking the screenshot, I sent it to a couple of friends who are aspiring entrepreneurs.  Soon afterward, we exchanged a series of messages proclaiming #goals while celebrating the success of another girl boss.

Looking back at my images, I realized that I’ve been capturing inspiring screenshots for a while now. Each one of them is more inspiring than the last. Yesterday, I came to the realization that no matter how amazing these screenshots are, they haven’t impacted my life one single bit.
This has to change.
I asked myself, what’s the point of getting all excited if I wasn’t going to do anything about it?  Was I truly being inspired?

in·spi·ra·tion
ˌinspəˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun
  1. 1. 
    the process of being mentally stimulated to do or feel something, especially to do something creative.

Can we talk a little bit about the true meaning of inspiration? Being inspired means that we’re mentally stimulated to do or feel something.  The inspiration I experienced caused me to feel something.  I completely forgot the second part which actually causes us to do something.  More specifically, something creative.
Creating, in my opinion, requires bringing something into existence.

If I was truly inspired by her exceptional results, I should have taken creative action.  This is the true meaning of being inspired.  I’ve come to realize that every time I come across something inspiring, it’s a sign to take a new action.  Since capturing those screenshots, I have taken action towards my business, but none of it is “creative” in nature.  My action is essentially the same before and after I received the inspiration.

As a result, I haven’t moved any closer to bringing my inspiration into reality.  There’s nothing wrong with just being happy for someone’s success.  But if I’m inspired to experience something similar, I have to work to create new results.  I’ve invested hundreds of dollars to attend countless live seminars. The sessions were loaded with inspiring content but I often missed the opportunity to take immediate creative action.

The one time I do remember applying this advice back when I conducted my pretty experiment.  Every time I saw an image of a woman that inspired me, I’d take a simple action to improve my appearance.  I didn’t do anything drastic, but all of those small actions compounded to create impressive results.

From now on, when you receive a spark of inspiration, think of it as a signal. A trigger to move into action.  Take it as a sign and an opportunity to get into creative mode.  Moments of inspiration are reminders that we need to get moving.

Let’s take full advantage.  

While I was in corporate America, I dreamt of becoming a full-time entrepreneur.  At the time, everyone I knew was also a part of the system.  Thank goodness for the internet.  There I found countless examples of successful people who launched their own company.  Back then, the silicon boom was still in effect. So all of the stories featured 20 something males who lived in San Fransisco.

Times have changed. Now pretty much anyone can launch and scale their own brand. This is good news for us because there’s tons of inspiration available.  Even though I’ve been on my own for 3 years, I still look for women who are out there doing their thing!  Today, I’d like like to share a few of my entrepreneurial inspirations and why they’re each so amazing!
@oloriswank
Olori Swank

I’ve followed Olori since before Instagram was a thing.  Back then she was a full-time celebrity stylist who’s worked with the likes Teyana Taylor, Keyshia Cole, and many more.  She ran a blog that featured some behind the scenes activities required to be a top stylist. I loved how transparent she was…..and still is.  

Olori has embraced social media and uploads countless stories each and every single day.  Her content ranges from mindset advice, business strategy, to behind the scenes looks at her Olori Swank photo shoots.  Olori Swank is the clothing brand she launched years ago.  I’ve received so much inspiration from watching her stories. Not only that, Olori is a great cook and will often share step by step recipes for her delicious meals.  When she’s working on her health & fitness, she takes us along on that journey as well.  This woman doesn’t stop giving out advice. I feel like I’m always learning or being reminded of something whenever I consume her content. 
@necholelynel
Nichole Lynel
I’m a relatively new follower of Nichole and, let me tell you, this woman has an exciting future ahead.  Nichole is the owner of a clothing boutique and she is the face of the brand.  This woman has an insane work ethic and dreams big.  You can often find her hosting extended Instagram Live sessions where she answers endless questions from followers who too want to experience the success she’s had.  Not long ago, Nichole was waiting tables and, after an altercation with a disgruntled customer, she realized that she wanted to do something greater than “getting someone’s water.”  
The rest is history, now she runs a six-figure a month business and is creating the life of her dreams. Here she is doing a little bit of dream building by visitng the type of home that she’d like to manifest one day.

Cleaning & organizing my space was good, but I also felt the need to also elevate it.  For me, this meant purchasing high-quality candles and decor that stimulated my soul and made me feel good. I couldn’t explain it, but when my house was on point, something was also happening to me internally.

I can recall a few times when someone has stepped into my home, paused, and proclaimed, “wow, you have a nice house.”  What they’re commenting on is probably my decor.  It’s nothing special, just a few notable pieces that add to the feel of the home.  That’s what I strive to achieve…an environment that stimulates at deeper level.  There’s a reason why wealthy people invest so much into their dwelling.  They utilize their living space to nurture their abundance mindset and lifestyle.

This morning, I discovered that by enriching my home environment, I could have been stimulating the growth of additional neurons in my brain.

There’s evidence that “enriching the environments” of rats increases neurogenesis.  Neurogenesis is simply the generation (growth) of neurons in the brain. When they enriched the environment of the mice (by adding running wheels, colored tunnels, other mice) neurons grew and had a greater survival rate!  Growing neurons is healthy for our brain but they don’t always have longevity. Especially if we don’t actively use certain parts of our brain.

Keep in mind that once we’ve something new, the subconscious kicks it to turn it into a mindless behavior.  That’s how we carry out most of our day.  We drive to/from work and complete our required tasks based on old information stored in the brain.  Operating on autopilot necessary, to some extent, but it inhibits the growth of new neurons.

If we can leverage the power of our environment to help promote a healthier mind, we must do it!

Those of you working to create new outcomes for your life, consider leveraging the power of being in an “enriched environment.”  Maybe that means that you dedicate time to improve your home decor. Or perhaps, you work from places that make you feel good. Just like the mice experiment, enriching your environment also includes the people you surround yourself with.

I remember working out of specific coffee shops because I would be surrounded by real entrepreneurs as they discussed business strategies. Often times, I pretended to be working but was really listening to their brainstorming conversation as inspiration.  That was enough to stimulate my brain into action!

There a bunch of other ways to stimulate the growth our brains and we should experiment with all variations.  But, if we must begin somewhere, start with where you spend most of your time.  Enrich it in the way you see fit.  Never stop elevating your environment.