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Self-Care

Reclaiming My Time

Bryan Patterson

On July 27th, U.S. Representative Maxine Waters made headlines as a result of her exchange with Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin. The timed conversation between Waters and Mnuchin consisted of her asking him about the possibility of Donald Trump’s having financial ties to Russian banks. In an attempt to have a productive dialogue, Waters soon realized that her time was not being valued She took ownership of the conversation with the phrase, ‘reclaiming my time’ and reminded Mnuchin of her intention of the conversation.   

Congresswoman Waters set an example for all of us to follow. Time is our most valuable commodity, and it’s something that we can never get back. Effective time management is a critical component of self-care. Our intentions have to be well outlined and we must not lose sight of our goals. If we do, we either hit roadblocks that leave us trapped in stagnation or we deviate from our predestined path. Here are five simple adjustments that I’m making to reclaim my time and reaffirm my intentions.

1. Get 6-8 hours of sleep

I never noticed how important getting my rest was. At my last physical, my doctor asked me about how much sleep I was getting per night. I had recently subscribed to a ‘No Days Off’ mentality that convinced me to believe that I could properly function off of 3-4 hours of sleep per weeknight and 9 or 10 hours on the weekend. He then let me know about the negative mental and physical effects that the previously stated schedule would soon cause if I kept it up. 6 hours of sleep should be the bare minimum and 8 hours per night would be ideal. I got 7 hours of sleep last night and I was surprised by how productive I am currently without needing a large cup of coffee.

2. Social Media Fast

The other day, I caught myself scrolling on Twitter and Instagram for a total of one hour. Constantly paying attention to what other people were doing was distracting me from my own responsibilities. I was also posting every day, which dampened the novelty of my experiences. I removed all of my social media apps from my phone today and it feels good to fully focus on the things that pertain to me. I don’t know how long this fast will last, but I’ve made a plan to go without it for a week to start out with.

3. Daily Devotional/Morning Meditation

I’ve come to find out that the way my morning starts sets the tone for how I approach my day. When I wake up earlier in the morning to meditate, journal, and read the bible, I find myself to be more peaceful throughout the day. When I don’t, I find myself to be far more irritable and introverted. Making the time to center myself spiritually results in me having better days as a whole.  

4. Exercise/Read

Our physical and mental upkeep is vital for our own trajectory. I’ve recently realized that walking is a valuable stress reliever. Since most of my obligatory activities are within walking distance, putting a playlist together and achieving 10-12,000 steps a day has now turned into a routine. Imagine a week without road rage or paying for gas! Even if you aren’t able to walk everywhere, the gym is a great way to work off any anger from your work day.

It’s also a novel idea to take your mind off your own situation by immersing yourself into a good book. Dwelling too much on your job, school, or personal desires can easily result in a burnout effect. My literary interests are in the realm of biographies, self-help books, and realistic fiction novels. I currently finishing a book called ‘Unthink’ by Erik Wahl. I’ve found out that exposing myself to the imagination of different authors benefits my own creativity in everyday life.

5. Socialize with People That You Actually Like

This suggestion might seem to be ridiculously simple, but a lot of us work, study, or live in environments where we’re placed with the mental task of being around people that we don’t like. Nowadays I find myself cherishing the close knit collective of friends a lot more these days. Corporate kindness during the work week needs to be balanced out by securing time to spend with the people that know you best. Even though the movie ‘Girls Trip’ was primarily intended to entertain, the film proves that spending time with friends has therapeutic value.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

In closing, We all need to work on realigning ourselves on a frequent basis. The most productive versions of ourselves are exposed when our core is fully intact. Self-care and time management go hand in hand.

Banner Photography of Congresswoman Waters

Love Your Chapter: Embrace Self-Care

Heather J

Unfortunately, I catch flights AND I can't feelings. I have a hard time saying no to things I should and I often tend to bite off more than I can chew. Why? Because I can. 

But, I also realize that catching more flights than negative feelings contribute to my self-care, saying no to projects and saying yes to myself is a form of self-care. Although my wise decision making comes in waves at times I'm grateful for every opportunity I have to start over & reset.

My cup. What does my self-care cup look like? Is it full, is it empty? Is it plastic, is it glass? What's in my cup is what's in my cup. We all have a cup and at times we allow our cups to overflow due to the expectations of others or you may be like me and be to hard on yourself. I often write about my cup being chipped, half-empty, spilled, rattled & re-filled; I meditate and reflect on what self-care looks for me and how important it is for me to constantly replenish and to be mindful of whom I let drink from my cup and the things that cause my cup to overflow. 

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Self-Care for me on this Friday morning is enjoyable as I sip Blueberry Hibiscus tea and reflect on the recent changes in my life. I take pride in the fact that I'm bold, courageous, I travel solo and I can't seem to sit still. When we ignore our self-care regimens, our self worth and internal feelings it can cause burn out, stress, anxiety, irritability, depression and even high blood pressure. I know because within a years' time I've experienced all those things, alone. I recently quit my job, relocated, spent long days in silence, cried, laughed and gave myself a few pats on the back; all over the span of 4 weeks.

Being highly extroverted and confident doesn't make up for the fact that I too have times where I need to reset and check in with myself.

I am in my mid-twenties and I've found that as the days pass it's important for me to live out my truth and be happy. I recently left a job that was no longer serving me in ways I found desirable. I was constantly saying yes to people and things that didn't make me happy or fulfill me in joyful ways. The job didn't align with my personal mission and values in life, which I find important.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

Self-Care for me is getting in tune with my intuition, my wants & needs and deciphering what just isn't working anymore. How can I be a self-care advocate but not be fulfilled mentally, spiritually, personally and professionally? That's when I made a conscious decision and a choice to feel free, to give myself a second chance, and to tap into my own self-worth.

Self care for me is unplugging for awhile, being with "self" for a nice period of time. It's detaching from people and things that consume a lot of my time and energy. Protecting my peace, space, mind, body & soul is a form of self-care for me. Too often we overlook that we in fact have needs, those needs don't necessarily come from others, it starts with self. So protect what you allow in your precious space.

Self care for me is releasing one-sided relationships. As a natural healer and giver, I find myself trying to create harmony amongst everyone, being there for everyone and trying to be everything to everyone. In case you're wondering, being depicted as the "strong" friend serves its purpose, but even I don't have it all together.

I often ask myself when balancing relationships: Who are the fruit pickers and fertilizers within my life? Who holds me accountable? Who supports me when it's needed most or pushes me to be my best self? Ask yourself those questions and evaluate the relationships in your life, self-care. Maintaining healthy relationships is important but it shouldn't be a chore, you shouldn't feel like you over extend yourself. 

Remember to give to yourself as much as you give of yourself. 

Self care for me is touching every inch of my body, recognizing that it is accepted fully by me. When I wrote "Lines of Accepted Flaws" I wrote that with every woman in mind who may struggle with self-acceptance, the appearance of their scars and stretch marks. 

Listening to Common's "One Day It'll All Make Sense" with no skips is "self-care" for me. Listening to the lyrics and being able to vibe to melodic tunes and words that contribute to my identity makes me feel at ease. When Solange sings about "Cranes in the Sky" I begin to reflect on a past lover and how letting go allowed me to recover; self-care was putting me first. We all heal, grow and process differently; but be mindful that letting go is a form of self-care.

Photo by GIPHY  

Photo by GIPHY  

Self-Care for me is connecting with black artists and studying the inspiration behind their expression. As a poet and writer, I tend to write about the things I find inspiring, things I find troubling to talk about aloud and I use it as a space to feel full and whole.

That's what self-care for me looks like. Nobody can define what it looks like for you.

I’m at a chapter in my life where Peace IS a priority, I now understand that I am responsible for my OWN happiness, and I realize that moving forward is the only option. 

Loving this chapter. 

 

My Soundtrack To Self-Love (Part 2)

Bryan Patterson

Self-love starts with an irreversible decision to be better. It's a self-kept promise to put in the necessary work to transcend your current situation. Here's part two of my soundtrack to self-love.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

6. Through The Wire - Kanye West

"I'm a champion, so I turn tragedy to triumph"

After I was finished with my shift, I bought a notebook and went home to plan my exit strategy. I could pay off the bill by Christmas Eve and still have money left over for myself. I committed to December 30th being the last day at my job. I would spend New Year's Eve at church with my family and be back in school on January 11 for the Spring semester. I challenged myself. I saved my money. I acted on bettering my situation. My consistency resulted in victory. I walked through a negative space to arrive at a new positive. I was secure. I valued life in a different way. My appreciation was on another level. I was a lot more serious than before. I grew. 

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

7. That's How I Knew - Nipsey Hussle

"Now I got a different goal, 'cause I reached all my old ones"

That semester introduced me to a lot of experiences that changed my view on my own abilities. I was selected to be in music ensembles that I hadn't been in before. I was in a theater giving a concert for four nights. I was traveling just to play music for people I had never met. My reality was my fantasy. Anything was possible. I started doing weddings and getting paid for my public performances. I was now living the life that I spent so many nights dreaming about.

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

8. Biking - Frank Ocean ft. Jay-Z & Tyler, The Creator

"Life goes in cycles, what goes around comes around"

As I was elevating, so was my ego. I became engulfed in my own abilities. I believed that each accomplishment derived from my own doing. I was like a helium balloon, lost in the atmosphere. On May 26th,  2016, I fell ill with a serious case of pneumonia. My fever was 104 degrees with high potential of brain damage if my temperature been just two degrees higher. To make matters worse, I was just offered a job as an administrative assistant for an artist management company the day before. The pneumonia was so bad that I couldn't work or even play my saxophone for a month. I used that time to reflect on all the things I was doing wrong up to that point. I realized that my relationship with God wasn't where it needed to be, nor was I as grounded as I needed to be. I viewed my pneumonia as God's way of humbling me. On June 25th, I was well enough to play my horn. I had a gig where I performed Mahalia Jackson's rendition of 'The Lord's Prayer'. From that day on, I decided to put God first. I let go of trying to control everything and believed in Him. If something bad happened, I would rest assured knowing that I was in His safety. 

Photo by Tumblr

Photo by Tumblr

9. Love Yourz - J. Cole

"For what's money without happiness? Or hard times without the people you love?"

Lately, I've noticed that the beauty in life is found in the balance of ambition and appreciation. I still have professional goals, but I also make time to FaceTime my little sister. A direct deposit doesn't mean as much as a two hour and fourteen-minute conversation with my mother about life and God's plan. I still feel like a helium balloon, but my loved ones keep me from drifting too far away. Their love is what pushes me to go further. I practice self-care by being loyal to them.

Photo by Tumblr

Photo by Tumblr

10. Rolls Royce ***** - 2 Chainz

"Believe in yourself, who else gon' believe in you?"

I've been through quite a bit in these past two years. The main lesson that I've learned is that life has its ups and downs. Not everything is my fault, but everything in my life is to help me grow from where I was. Self-Care is a practice that never stops. It's a journey of checkpoints. I practice self-care by meditating every morning. I have a journal that I write in every day. I practice self-love by believing in myself. I purchased a domain name and published my own website. I released my first album. I have my own radio show. I'm a writing contributor for this website. All of these things were deferred dreams until now. I acted and started moving toward the lifestyle that I wanted for myself. There's a lot more to do, but I'm growing. I can feel it. 


I wrote this article to help anyone who was like me and was unsure about the concept of self-love. What songs would serve as your soundtrack to self-love? Let me know in the comments below. Peace and Love. 

My Soundtrack To Self-Love (Part 1)

Bryan Patterson

Self-love is a concept that I never understood until two years ago. I always thought it was a conversation held between women who listened to Mary J. Blige or memorized the script for Waiting To Exhale. With that being said, experience is the greatest teacher and I've been a student of self-love since 2015. Here is part one of my story of self-care, told using ten songs that serve as a soundtrack. 

1. All Falls Down - Kanye West ft. Syleena Johnson

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

"Tell me that ain't insecure. The concept of school seems so secure"

 I was a 20-year-old transfer student, ecstatic to embark on my first fall semester of a University that held a population of 27,000 people. I was offered a much-needed marching band scholarship after a fiasco that caused me to quit my summer job two weeks into June.  

A week before band camp began, I got an email from the Band director, saying that he received notice of a hold on my student account. Thinking it was an overdue library fee, I went to the Student Accounts office with a wrinkled twenty dollar bill, ready to resolve the issue. I gave the cashier my information and reached for the twenty when she told me that the total for the bill was three thousand, three hundred, thirty-eight dollars and forty-seven cents. She also said that my classes for the fall semester would be dropped if I couldn't clear the bill before school started. I also would be denied housing for band camp. At this moment, I lost my balance and the security of being in school had been stripped away.

2. FEAR. - Kendrick Lamar

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

"My biggest fear was being judged: how they look at me reflect on myself, my family, my city. What they said 'bout me revealed if my reputation had missed me"

The fear that took over my body was numbing. I had nothing. My comfort was cradled in the fact that I was in school. That was now gone. I already told my parents about how excited I was to experience my new environment and I broadcasted my academic accomplishments to my church family prior to leaving. Now I had to carry that shame back home and wear it like a uniform. My greatest fear became my own reflection.

3. Mad - Solange ft. Lil Wayne

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

"You've got the right to be mad, but when you carry it alone you find it only gettin' it in the way...gotta let it go"

So, there I was: back home with my parents, working a job that had nothing to with music, and going to church every Sunday just to play for the choir and leave before anyone asked me how school was going. I was angry. The flame of my fury only grew stronger when I found out that the bill on my student account stemmed from a miscalculation on the University's behalf. I went from living my dream as an emerging saxophonist to scrubbing toilets for nine dollars an hour. I would sleep for 12 hours per day and only woke up to go to work. I eventually stopped going to church just to take more shifts. I was running from my own reality. I was hiding from honesty. 

4. 20 Something - SZA

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

"How could it be -- 20 something, all alone, still not a thing to my name?"

After living in fear, then in anger, the next stage that I embraced was remorse. My untamed ambition as a twenty-year-old had been stunted by reality. I was now subscribed to the religion of 'playing it safe' because of the fear that I had of being caught off guard again. Being exposed caused me to hide behind the same wings that I was born with so that I could fly. My imagination that once gave me the courage to be an eagle was now damaged by a reality that persuaded me to be an ostrich. 

5. FIND YOUR WINGS - Tyler, The Creator ft. Roy Ayers, Syd, and Kali Uchis

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

"Hey you, whatcha doin' and why you runnin'? [You're] supposed to fly and take control 'cause you're the pilot."

On December 12th, 2015, my older sister graduated from college. It hadn't been an easy road for her, but she never gave up. She did it. I was ready to be the family member that you didn't want to sit next to at a graduation. I was proud. When I got up that morning to iron my clothes, I got called into work. They didn't care about my sister or her graduation and even threatened to fire me if I didn't come in. My greatest regret is missing her graduation for a shift that paid me sixty dollars. I decided that day that I had to take control of my situation. I had enough.

4:44 - Time To Love Yourself

Bryan Patterson

Photo by Tumblr

Photo by Tumblr

Self-Love comes in many forms. It can be as disciplined as scheduling weekly meetings with a therapist, or it could be as innocent as getting a shape up and milly rocking at a red light to Playboy Carti's 'Magnolia'.

One of the most poignant displays of self-love in 2016 was the release of Solange's sophomore LP, 'A Seat at the Table'. The album served as a 52-minute therapy session that allowed the songstress to shed a layer of skin that was once worn as a costume.

Through an honest conversation with her reflection, in addition to those who contributed to the makeup of her DNA, she understood her roots as well as the fruits she produced up to this point. The album was celebrated as the soundtrack for the Black Woman's journey to self-love.

Such impact sparks the question of where is the guide to the internal evolution for (Black) Men?

Photo by Tumblr

Photo by Tumblr

The delayed response to this question might lead one to believe that there is no such guide for men. The recipe for testosterone doesn't call any introspection. Money and status are the only components we need to generate in order be deemed as 'complete'. Anything else, whether positive or negative, is considered as sprinkles on top of a blandly vanilla ice cream cone.

Photo by Tumblr

Photo by Tumblr

While rappers such as Drake, J. Cole, and Kendrick Lamar have used their music to turn the mirror on themselves, Jay-Z's '4:44' is one of Rap's first attempts in the 21st century to face their own image and take action to improve it. Here are 4 keys that we as men can take away from Jay's album and apply to our daily lives.

1. Kill [Your Ego]

Practicing self-love is not feminine behavior. It's not masculine behavior. Loving yourself is human behavior that is essential for survival. Drink more water. Be proactive in the way you address your emotions before you erupt. Place your value on your relationships before your bank account. 

2. Smile

No part of life is all bad. No part of life is all good, either. The beauty of life is found in the balance of it all. Count your blessings. Appreciate the people that never switched up. Don't chase an infatuation when you have love at home. Be grateful.

3. Nobody Wins When The Family Feuds

Self-love is also shown in the way you interact with others. Take the time to build your relationships. Just because we have a woman doesn't mean that she'll be there forever (especially if she doesn't have a ring on her finger). Although absence does make the heart grow fonder, negligence makes the heart grow cold. Love your loved ones. 

4. Be In It For The Legacy

The journey to self-love takes more than a day. Learning to effectively communicate or be intimate won't happen on the first try. Practice self-love by making minimal adjustments each day. Call your mother every Sunday, Spend a Saturday with your kids or younger siblings. Cook with your significant other sometimes. It may not seem like much, but the long-term effects of these actions will surprise you. The same rapper that made 'Big Pimpin'' made '4:44'. Give it time. Be a better man for yourself so you can be a better partner. Then you'll both become better parents. Then your kids will know what Love looks like and they'll know where to place their aspirations. Love yourself so you can Love others. 

Photo by Tumblr

Photo by Tumblr