July was a powerful self-care month in the lives of three of my favorite women athletes, Naomi Osaka, a 23-year old Japanese-Haitian American world tennis champion and entrepreneur; Simone Biles, a 24-year old African-American Olympic gymnast; and Simone Manuel, a 24 year-old African-American Olympic swimmer. Each of these women of color have chosen to make their mental health, well-being, and self-care a priority. Watching them put themselves first above their demanding careers and public scrutiny has been a master class in what it means to embrace, embody, and express the radical self-care wisdom of African-American writer, womanist, and civil rights activist Audre Lorde: “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” I think we can all learn something from these self-care sheroes!
After watching Naomi step away from the French Open and withdraw from Wimbledon to prioritize her mental health, I read her essay in TIME and watched her Netflix documentary. Her courage to be vulnerable with herself and willingness to share her vulnerability on the world stage filled my heart with deep gratitude. Gratitude because here is a woman who clearly has her own personal issues (like the rest of us) and is deeply engaged in her own wellness journey, stepping out and shining a light on a topic most of society is hesitant to acknowledge, discuss, and address. In her TIME essay, she writes, “I do hope that people can relate and understand it’s OK to not be OK; and it’s OK to talk about it.”
Naomi’s decision to speak openly, honestly, and from her heart inspired Simone Biles (“Simone B.”) when she decided to withdraw from the final individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Olympic Games. During one of her interviews, Simone encouraged other athletes to “put mental health first, because if you don’t, then you’re not going to enjoy your sport and you’re not going to succeed as much as you want to.” She also reassured them, “it’s OK sometimes to even sit out the big competitions to focus on yourself, because it shows how strong of a competitor that you really are, rather than just battle through it.” Her mental health activism stems directly from the deep commitment she has made to herself to get help when needs it. In her most recent interview with Health Magazine, she shares how she uses the support of a psychologist, her family, and her boyfriend to navigate her life and career.
It is worth noting that after Simone B. followed her own mind and took a week to rest and focus on her mental health, she decided to return to the Tokyo Olympics and compete in the balance beam final on August 3, 2021. Once again, she has shown women and girls of color and all people how to love, honor, and nurture oneself. Her decision and actions illustrate what it means to be an IN-POWERED HUMAN BEING. A person who is able to put being before doing to honor their own mental health, well-being, and self-care. In the end, she came back on her own terms and won a Bronze medal!
Like Naomi and Simone B., Simone Manuel (“Simone M.), represents a new wave of women of color who are using their global platform to champion mental health, well-being, and self-care as they express their own vulnerability and how they are nurturing themselves. Last year, Glamour Magazine interviewed Simone M. about the importance of mental health. Check out her candid response: “Mental health is so crucial because it contributes to how you navigate through this world and what you think of yourself. I’ve been seeing a sports psychologist since I was 15 and I use that to talk about my experiences as a Black swimmer and a Black woman in this world. I think that it genuinely has helped me be able to handle some of the hardships or the experiences that I’ve dealt with in my life. It’s such a powerful, powerful tool to be able to exercise your mind and strengthen your mind.”
Throughout the interview, she gives an inside look into her self-care which includes two of my favorite mindfulness practices, meditation and journaling. She urges us to resist numbing our feelings. She also reassures us that it’s okay to feel and talk about our emotions and listen to our bodies. I know she was following her own advice when she took a break from training after being diagnosed with overtraining syndrome earlier this year.
THE GEN Z + GEN X CONNECTION
When I look at these three 20-something women who represent my niece Jordan’s Gen Z generation and their self-care journey, I realize we share a similar path. As a 56 year-old African-American woman who sometimes self-identifies as a Gen X member, I remember what it felt like to be an overachieving stressed and time-pressed lawyer and investment banker in my late 20s and early 30s. My self-worth was tied to my career. When my career didn’t produce the success I expected, my mental health and well-being were nonexistent. With the support of my parents, family, Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority sisters, Howard University School of Law and Georgetown University Law Center classmates, friends, and a therapist, I started to recognize how important it was to ground myself in self-care. It became the foundation for how I currently live my life. It also inspired me to express my creativity as a writer and an artist-in-residence for Smith Center for Healing and the Arts at Howard University Hospital and Walter Reed National Military Hospital. In addition, it led me to study and become a certified yoga and meditation teacher, a reiki master and sound healing practitioner, and a digital wellness educator. Today, I am blessed to use my experience and expertise in my work with people of all ages who are struggling with self-care as the Chief Mindfulness Officer of my wellness company, Ananda Leeke Consulting, and the founder of the Thriving Mindfully Community and Academy.
As I closed out July, I decided to write a thank you to letter Naomi, Simone B., and Simone M. for showing up as their REAL selves. Check out what I had to say.
Dear Naomi, Simone B., and Simone M.,
Your courage to stand up, speak your truth from your heart, say HELL NO to society’s hustle culture, and say HELL YES to your mental health, well-being, and self-care has become a powerful gift to all of us Black and Brown women, women of color, all women and girls, and folks on Mother Earth.
You are showing many of us how to declare our self-care independence unapologetically.
Your choice to honor yourself on the global stage is helping some of us see what it means to be vulnerable, loving, kind, gentle, and compassionate with ourselves. When we see you, we are able to look in the mirror and see folks who look just like us claim and practice their birthright of mental health, well-being, and self-care.
Without even knowing it, you are helping us all recommit ourselves to a healthier life mission. One where we are humans being instead of humans doing. One that carves out a public pathway to self-care beyond survival, the very thing Dr. Maya Angelou spoke about in her ancestral wisdom statement: “My mission in life is not merely to survive, but to thrive.”
One last thing! I wrote a poem, “What’s Next: A Lifeline to Stop Doing, Start Being” that expresses what this thank you letter could not. Watch a video of me reading it below.
Check out the IG Live conversation I had with Xina Eiland, President of X+PR, co-founder of Unmute, and co-host of the Get Found Get Funded podcast on August 1, 2021, about the impact of Naomi, Simone B., and Simone M.’s decision to prioritize their mental health and self-care.
SELF-CARE SUPPORT FOR READERS
Just in case you need self-care support, I invite you to do three things.
- Go here to take my self-care survey (4 easy questions that take less than 5 minutes to answer).
- Click here to claim your complimentary membership in my Thriving Mindfully Community, a digital sacred space that inspires you to nurture, transform, and celebrate your life and career.
- If you wanna deepen your wellness commitment and expand your personal growth journey with my support, join me for the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s Master Class on August 4th at 8–9:15 PM ET or August 7th at 1–2:15 PM ET. Click on the links below.
-Buy your ticket here for the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s Master Class on August 4th at 8–9:15 PM ET
-Buy your ticket here for the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s Master Class on August 7th at 1–2:15 PM ET
Last year, I watched The Social Dilemma, a documentary film that paints an alarming picture of how technology and social media shape our lives, on Netflix. The film features interviews with tech professionals including former Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest employees who discuss the risks technology and social media bring to our emotional and physical well-being, mental health, human rights, freedom, and democracy. Watch the trailer below.
Given the fact the film was released in the midst of a global pandemic, mass mobilizations for racial justice, a major U.S. presidential election, and a new socially distant school year, I think it is a MUST SEE! Why?
1) Because our society’s dependence on technology for connection, education, health and social services, consumer shopping, news, and entertainment has expanded tremendously.
2) Because the tech companies and social media platforms have a lot power, are not heavily regulated, and if left unchecked, can hurt our emotional and physical well-being, mental health, freedom, human rights, and democracy. Medical News Today addressed the following negative physical, emotional, and mental health effects of technology in a February 2020 article:
-Physical Health: eyestrain, poor posture (neck and back pain), poor brain development in children and teens, lack of sleep, and a sedentary lifestyle that reduces physical activity and contributes to obesity, cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and a premature death; and
-Emotional and Mental Health: anxiety, depression, isolation, loss of focus, digital distraction, and tech overload
Read the Digital Detox’s blog post, The 19 Negative Effects of Technology in 2019. Also, check out the Pew Research Center 2020 Survey that reported 64% of Americans thought social media had a mostly negative effect on the way things in the U.S.
After watching the film, I took a hard look at my digital life and habits and decided to recommit to my own digital wellness. I recommend you watch the film on Netflix this weekend or later this month. May it inspire you to use digital wellness practices to transform how you use technology and social media this year.
Need more help with digital wellness?
Visit the Thriving Mindfully Academy here for digital wellness resources.
Need coaching or training support for yourself and/or company or organization? Head on over to Ananda Leeke Consulting to learn how we can work together this year.
According to a 2020 survey conducted by the Harris Poll on behalf of American Psychological Association (APA), more than two-thirds of U.S. adults (68%) say that the 2020 U.S. presidential election was a significant source of stress in their life. The APA survey also reported that regardless of political affiliation, majorities say the election is a significant source of stress (76% of Democrats, 67% of Republicans and 64% of Independents). Read more here.
Do these statistics describe how you felt last year?
Do they describe how you are currently feeling in the wake of what happened on January 6th when domestic terrorists stormed the U.S. Capitol?
Do they represent how you feel about local and national politics, the current White House administration, the electoral certification process, Georgia Senate races of newly elected U.S. Senators Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff, the inauguration of President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris on January 20th, and the coming days of getting a new Democratic-controlled government in place?
If you answered YES or MAYBE to any of these questions, I ‘ve got something you can use to manage your stress.. Watch the video below and learn how to use the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s De-Stress Tool.
Need more support? Visit the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s mindful self-care resources here.
Need coaching or training support for yourself and/or company or organization? Head on over to Ananda Leeke Consulting to learn how we can work together this year.
Before I really get started in a new year, I step back and go on a personal retreat to review and reflect on the year I completed. Looking back before I move forward helps me explore the lessons I learned. In my one-on-one coaching sessions and Come Home to Yourself Retreats, I’ve been having some great conversations with people about the valuable lessons they learned in 2020. Many of the lessons they learned helped them see they were more resilient than they thought.
Have you had an opportunity to reflect on your 2020 and the lessons you learned?
What did you learn last year?
In December (my favorite month because it is my birthday month), I carved out time to do my own personal retreat, I used my Come Home to Yourself Retreat exercises and discovered 20 key lessons I learned last year. They included:
1) CONTROLLING THE UNIVERSE DOESN’T WORK SO SURRENDER: I learned to have a better relationship with my archetypes who often want to control everything. They include inner critic Broomie a/k/a Broomhilda, Chief Executive Assistant woman Madelyn, warrior woman Sapphire, and girl child Puf. Instead of shutting them down, I listen to them and let them know they have been heard. I tell them that my wise woman Ancestor, spirit woman Ananda, creative woman Kiamsha, and peacemaker Cheryl appreciate their concerns. Paying them respect and treating them as a full member of my inner counsel of arcehtypes reduces their need to control. It also creates space for me to ask the Universe what I need to feel, think, say, and do with the information they provided. Most times, I am not called to do anything. This process allows me to slow down and joyfully surrender to Spirit’s will. I flow so much better now.
PS: If you’d like to learn more about my archetypes and how I have worked with them in my life, check out my mindful creativity memoir, That Which Awakens Me here. You can buy the book on Amazon here.
2) I HAVE A RIGHT TO BE VULNERABLE: I learned tt is healthy to be vulnerable and have conversations with my heart regularly.
3) I GET TO PRIORITIZE WHAT I NEED: I learned what I truly need and to make rest, joy, laughter, and self-hugs daily priorities.
4) MY HEALTHY LIFESTYLE IS MY CREATION: I learned to live as a relaxed vegan which means use a blend of vegan and alkaline lifestyle practices.
5) MY PHYSICAL FITNESS IS MY SALVATION: I learned how to release stress and stay grounded by moving my body with yoga, dancing, walking, Barre 3, and bike riding daily (which means use one, some or all of them each day depending on my energy level).
6) MASTERING MY ENERGY IS KEY TO MY ABILITY TO THRIVE: I learned how valuable it is to manage and align my energy, time, creativity, and business with meditation, chanting, reiki, tapping, astrology, chakra and crystal therapies, and the moon cycles.
7) ASKING FOR HELP AND BEING A PART OF COMMUNITY SAVED MY MENTAL HEALTH: I learned not to waste time with stress and mental health struggles by pretending I don’t need help. So I got support through daily self-care, monthly therapy sessions, spending time with family and friends (social distancing, Zoom calls, phone calls, and texting), and participating in online meditation, self-care, and spiritual communities and events (Thriving Mindfully Academy’s weekly meditation community, InsightLA POC Sangha, Noble Indigo women’s circle, Rickie Byars’ B-Hood programs, Agape International Spiritual Center, and others) regularly.
8) MY CREATIVE EXPRESSION WAS LONGING FOR FREEDOM TO JUST BE WITHOUT ANY EXPECATIONS: I learned how to allow myself to be creative in smaller, intentional ways that didn’t require writing a book or creating artwork for sale. I learned how to create and schedule weekly and monthly creative sessions to play and have fun.
9) SOUND HEALING KEEPS ME SANE AND BALANCED: I discovered a new healing medicine by playing my Soul Orchestra of sound healing bowls, gong, koshi chimes, thumb drum, and rainstick regularly.
10) MY TECH AND SOCIAL MEDIA USE WAS WAY WAY WAY OVERBOARD AND CAUSED TREMENDOUS STRESS: I learned to take a summer social media vacation and how to transform my relationship with technology and social media with digital wellness through a 10-week course organized by the Digital Wellness Institute. It was one of the best educational and personal growth experiences I had. I am really get how my tech overuse has stressed me out. Now I am certified as a Digital Wellness Educator and can use what I learned in my own life and Thriving Mindfully Academy work with clients.
11) I DON’T NEED ALL OF THE STUFF I THOUGHT I NEEDED: I learned to simplify where I can in my life, career, and home.
12) BRINGING MY YOGA FLEXIBILITY INTO ALL AREAS OF MY LIFE HELPS ME AGE WELL: I learned how important it is to stay open, curious, and flexible to prevent myself from getting stuck in my way of being and doing as I move through my 50s.
13) I FEEL MUCH BETTER WHEN I WEAR LIP GLOSS: Wearing lip gloss each day (even with my mask) is a positive energizing self-care practice. I purchased lip gloss by Black and Brown beauty companies such as AJ Crimson, Kami Cosmetics, and Mented, and from Black and Brown-owned stores like Brown Beauty Coop.
14) I COME FROM POWERFUL PEOPLE: I learned to be more aware of, connected to, and celebrate my ancestral resilient sheroes, heroes, and theyroes. They are a source of inspiration. They also remind I come from people who loved, lived with joy, and overcame struggle.
15) I AM STRONGER THAN I THINK AND I AM NOT SUPER WOMAN: I learned to take regularly inventory of my own legacy of resilience.
16) PLANTS ARE MY NEW BFFS: I learned to reconnect with nature by following in the footsteps of my niece Jordan a/ka/a “The Plant Momma” by keeping plants around me for inspiration and positive energy.
17) KOOL AND THE GANG’S SONG CELEBRATE NEEDS TO BE MY NATIONAL ANTHEM: I learned to find special ways to celebrate my small, medium, and big wins daily, weekly, monthly, and quarterly. It taught me how to inspire and encourage others to do the same .
18) MAKING PEOPLE SMILE WITH ACTS OF KINDNESS OPENS MY HEART: I learned how to expand my practice of loving kindness by increasing my appreciation for and gratitude for people who make my life special, juicy, and blessed.
19) MY VOICE NEEDS TO BE LOUDER: I learned how to speak up with more strength and grounding when I feel overwhelmed and need to set boundaries.
20) I DESERVE TO BE A CUTIE ON DUTY: Wearing crop tops from Zara is EVERYTHING. Pure Fire!
I’ve got several ways to help you and your family, friends, colleagues, company or organization in 2021. Read on….
Join me for the Come Home to Yourself Retreat on January 10th at 2-4:30 PM ET. The virtual retreat will help you wrap up 2020 and start 2021 with more intention, ease, and gratitude. REGISTER HERE.
Explore working with me in a one-on-one coaching relationship or as a virtual trainer and speaker for your virtual event. Check out the services I offer through Ananda Leeke Consulting and the Thriving Mindfully Academy. Contact me to set up a complimentary 20-minute consultation call to explore how we can work together this year via Google Meet, Zoom or the phone: email@example.com.
Are you really ready for 2021?
Have you set an intention, identified your personal and professional goals, mapped out action steps to achieve your goals, chosen accountability partners to help you stay on track or created a self-celebration plan to honor your small. medium, and big wins?
If you answered NO or MAYBE to one or more of these questions, you deserve self-care coach Ananda Leeke’s support.
Start 2021 right where you are with Ananda’s help during the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s Come Home to Yourself Retreat on Sunday, January 10th from 2-4:30 p.m. ET.
Go here to sign up today!
Invite your family members, friends or colleagues to join you. Go one step further and buy one of them a ticket to attend.
Welcome to 2021 Groovy People!
Are you ready for a new year? Have you set an intention?
Before I begin each new year, I take time to come home to myself with a personal retreat. During the retreat, I open myself up with mindful self-care practices including meditation, prayer, chanting, gentle yoga, reiki, and tapping. These practices ground me and prepare me for deep reflection. I use mindful journaling to review and reflect on the person I became, how I showed up in my life and career, the lessons I learned, the blessings I received, and the actions I took and people that need releasing and forgiving. Once I am able to pour my emotions and thoughts on paper, I am able to take in the growth and barriers that got in the way. From this place, I am able to set an intention, map out goals, identify accountability partners who will support my goals, and create a self-celebration plan that will help me honor my small, medium, and big wins.
For the past three weeks, I have led several Come Home to Yourself Retreats. During each retreat, I have supported a phenomenal group of people as they reflected on their 2020 lessons and blessings, released and forgiven themselves and others, set intentions, mapped out goals and action steps, identified accountability partners, and developed a self-celebration plan they can use to honor their small, medium, and big wins.
During one of the retreats, I chose the word SOAR as my 2021intention. SOAR is an acronym that outlines my intention to:
S: SHOW up and show out fully as the REAL ME in 2021
O: OWN all of ME in 2021 – the good, in-between, and not so good
A: I am ABUNDANT!
R: I REST daily!
Do you want to SOAR with me in 2021?
Take one step towards soaring with my Come Home to Yourself Retreat on January 10th at 2-4:30 PM ET. The virtual retreat will help you wrap up 2020 and start 2021 with more intention, ease, and gratitude. REGISTER HERE.
Need more help navigating 2021? Looking for one-on-one coaching support, a virtual trainer for your organization or a speaker for next virtual event?
Contact me to set up a complimentary 20-minute consultation call via Google Meet, Zoom or the phone: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looking for easy ways to practice mindful self-care in 2021?
Check out the resources below.
- Slow down and listen to the new Thriving Mindfully playlist on YouTube. Allow the music to inspire and energize you. Open your heart and get ready to move your body with the special music here.
2. Take the Thriving Mindfully Academy’s self-hug challenge. Go here to learn the benefits of a self-hug and how you can get started with the self-hug challenge.
3. Check out over 100 episodes of the Thriving Mindfully Podcast here.
4. Visit the Thriving Mindfully Academy for mindfulness, self-care, and wellness resources here.
5. Connect with like-minded folks who enjoy sharing information about mindfulness, self-care, and wellness in the A Mindful Cup of Tea Facebook page here.
6. Join me for the weekly Mindful Monday Meditation virtual class at 7-7:30 PM ET via Zoom. Register here.
7. Go here to learn about and purchase my three mindfulness books: Love’s Troubadours, a yoga-inspired novel; That Which Awakens Me, a mindful creativity memoir; and Digital Sisterhood, a mindful technology memoir.
Happy Wellness Wednesday!
Tonight, head over to Black Doctor’s Facebook Live at 6 p.m. ET for The Doctor Is In conversation on opting into self-care for 2021. I am talking with Dr. Monique Gary and Ricki Fairley of TOUCH The Black Breast Cancer Alliance. Go here to watch tonight’s Black Doctor’s Facebook Live.
–December 20th, 2-4:30 PM ET
–December 27th, 2-4:30 PM ET
During the Come Home to Yourself Retreat, you will:
-Practice mindful self-care with deep breathing, meditation, affirmations, and gentle chair yoga
-Reflect on and journal about who you have been and the lessons you learned in 2020
-Identify who or what’s been getting in your way in 2020Release and practice forgiveness
-Explore who you want to be and how you want to show up in 2021
-Set intentions and identify the resources, action steps, and accountability support you need to manifest the person you want to be in 2021
-Create a self-celebration plan to appreciate your small, medium, and big wins in 2021
A Zoom video link will be emailed to you once you register for the online retreat.
Birthdays are some of my favorite celebrations. I love mine so much that I celebrate it monthly. I use my monthly birthday to slow down, reflect on, and celebrate my small. medium, and big wins. This year, I used many of my monthly birthdays as a personal retreat due to my emotional struggles with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on my life, career, and business.
During my personal retreats, I looked at my full self in a mirror and came face-to-face with my vulnerabilities, challenges, wins, and losses. As a result, I gained new insights, brainstormed innovative solutions, participated in women’s healing circles, read inspirational books and magazines, and spent more time walking in nature. I also decided to change my pescatarian diet to a vegan diet, get more sleep, seek support from a therapist, join a virtual meditation community, deepen my study and practice of digital wellness, and move my body with more dance, Barre 3, yoga, walking, and bike riding. All of these efforts helped me set intentions and create shifts in how I choose to show up in my life, relationships, and career. They prepared me to walk into my fantabulous 56th year later this month and 2021 with a new mantra and intention: SOAR.
The best thing about a personal retreat is you get to choose how long it will last and what you will focus on. Over the past several years, I have used several formats for my personal retreats. Here are several examples.
- A week: one to three hours per day starting on a Sunday and ending on a Saturday)
- A three-day weekend: several hours per day beginning on Friday evening, Saturday, and Sunday
- A full-day: two hours in the morning, two hours in the afternoon, and one hour in the evening
- A half-day: two or three hours
What changes occurred in your life and career this year?
Have you embraced or resisted the changes?
Do you need a personal retreat before 2020 ends?
Do you need help getting started on your personal retreat?
The Come Home to Yourself Retreat will be offered twice. You can choose to attend the virtual retreat on December 20th or December 27th. Consider giving the Come Home to Yourself Retreat as a holiday gift to your loved ones, friends, and colleagues. Register here for the December 20th retreat. Go here for the December 27th retreat.
During the virtual retreat, you will:
- Practice mindful self-care with deep breathing, meditation, affirmations, and gentle chair yoga
- Reflect on and journal about who you have been and the lessons you learned in 2020
- Identify who or what’s been getting in your way in 2020
- Release and practice forgiveness
- Explore who you want to be and how you want to show up in 2021
- Set intentions and identify the resources, action steps, and accountability support you need to manifest the person you want to be in 2021
- Create a self-celebration plan to appreciate your small, medium, and big wins in 2021
A Zoom video link will be emailed to you once you register for the online retreat.
Register for the December 20th retreat here.
Register for the December 27th retreat here.