Happy Friday Fabbies! A few weeks ago on November 21st I turned 38 years old.
Those are my eyes above. Truly. Ya’ll I cannot believe I’m 38! Like when tf did that happen??! It really trips me out that I’ve done life now for 38 years. Like, not only have I been on Earth for 38 years, but I’ve also been a mom for almost 9 of those years. I’m a whole mom out here, and as I get older, so do they! Like, whaaaaaattt is thisssssss?!
Crazy is what it is.
In all seriousness though, I am so damn grateful to be here. Here meaning, alive. Breathing. Sound mind. Surrounded by unconditional love. Just alive! 2020 has proven to be cruel and unusual to many, and each year that I get a chance to turn the calendar over for myself, I am grateful. So many people are not here anymore. A few weeks ago in my Facebook memories, a memory from 9 years ago popped up:
This was a post on my Facebook Wall from my college teammate Latrice Booker. I was 8 and half months pregnant with Zé at that time, and everyone-including Trice-was on baby watch. Latrice and I and were a part of a 6-crew freshman class entering the University of Memphis on basketball scholarships. Latrice and I were roommates for 3 years, and if you went to college and/or played a sport in college, you know how you form bonds and memories with people you spend the majority of your time with. You go through a lot together. You grow together. You are bonded by those experiences. Latrice passed away in 2015 from double pneumonia.
Her birthday is in June, and she would have turned 37 this past summer. I think about Latrice often and how her life ended so abruptly. She has a daughter Bailey who had just celebrated her 8th birthday a few weeks before Latrice passed away. My heart still aches almost 6 years later for her daughter and her family and friends. I think about all the the things Latrice did not get a chance to experience yet, or how she can’t watch her daughter’s basket
I am grateful to still be above ground trying to improve myself everyday. Whew. Life is short.
I embrace birthdays. I embrace getting older. I’d like to think that at 38, I’m so much better overall as a person than I was when I was 28. I’m smarter that’s for damn sure. I am more cultured, having lived in 3 countries (and counting). I am wayyyy more fearless. I embrace my femininity and sexuality way more today than I did in my twenties and early 30s. I know who I am today more than I ever did. I’m highly conscious and aware of my thoughts and actions. I’m genuinely happy. Please, Dear God, bring on more birthdays!
Since I have liveddddddd honey (sidenote: I remember when I was 27 years old and living in Memphis, TN at the time, and I was sitting in my bedroom talking to my friends Brittanii and Tarekia and I told them that then: “Ya’ll I have liveddddd!”) Meanwhile, at 27 I ain’t did shit yet! Bahahahahahahahaha! Fast forward to age 38, and I feel like I’m STILL just getting started. 😉
For this blog post, I decided to share 38 things that I have learned over the course of my lifetime. Each birthday in the past I have typically written a birthday post, and that’s because I am always so reflective on my birthdays. I think about my previous birthdays and where I was in life, and how much I have learned (and am continuing to learn) as I grow through life. It’s some things on this list that I wish I had learned earlier in life, but of course, life often happens exactly as its supposed to, so I am so happy the lessons came when they came, and I am happy to share some, well 38 to be exact, with my readers. Some of these lessons have little anecdotes to go with them because you guys know I love telling stories, and some lessons are just straight to the point no chaser.
(If you want to read previous birthday posts you can find them here, here, here, and here.)
Now, for 38 more lessons I’ve learned:
1. Read. Read some more. Get lost in books. Ohhhh the escapism that reading often provides. I got into reading books for pleasure back in fourth grade. My teacher at the time, Mrs. Rycyzyn, had a period of time in class that was called “Silent Sustained Reading”, where we had to pick a book from her little library in the classroom, and then read at our desks for period time. I distinctly remember being in 4th grade and thinking this period of silent reading was whack. I was like how boring is this gonna be?! I would thumb through books uninterested and be glad when the period of “Silent Sustained Reading” was over. This was until one day, I picked a random book called “Reluctantly Alice.” I had to look up the word “reluctantly” because I had no clue what it meant. I literally picked the book up out of sheer curiosity of this word that I had never seen before. After looking up the word “reluctantly” which means, in an unwilling and hesitant way, (Looking back, ‘reluctantly’ is a pretty big word for a fourth grader, no?) I dove into the book and could not put it down. I can vaguely even remember what the book is about, but all I remember is that for that a lotted time of 30 minutes of us reading our own books at our desks, I was able to get lost in another world, but this time it didn’t involve a television show. Little 4th grade Raven was fascinated with this. At from that point on, I began to read fiction books for pleasure up until present day:
2. Take your health serious. In our society, our culture values youth, beauty, and money. Value is rarely placed on the health of us individuals, when in reality, our health should be our #1 priority over any material or beautiful thing that we see. Unfortunately though, for alot of us, our health does not become a priority until we become ill. Then we sprint to get our prescriptions, sprint to our doctor’s appointments and surgeries, but we’re not actually learning how to avoid getting ill that had us sprinting to the doctor in the first place. Our health is our own responsibility, and our journey to opulent health starts with knowing what certain foods and drinks do to our body. The vast majority of diseases that we have are directly tied to our lifestyle choices and the foods that we are eating. Diseases don’t run in our families. Our families’ unhealthy recipes and lifestyle choices run in our families. We tend to do whatever we were taught, even if what were taught is harmful. Remember the slogan “Milk does a body good”? Yeah, well it doesn’t. Milk is a breeding ground for mucous buildup. There were so many milk mustache commercials and advertisements back in the day, where they would talk about how beneficial milk was to our bodies, and “they” used celebrities to help drive the point home:
Who was behind these advertisements encouraging all of America to drink more milk (and thus gradually get sick…) ?
Take care of yourself. Go Vegan. 🙂
2b. Detox your body every month. Your body will thank you.
3. Cook more food at home. Doing this just ensures you know exactly what you are putting in your body. We already know that when we eat out, there typically tends to be more calories in our food, more grease, and more sodium. When we cook at home, we typically save money this way, and we are in control of exactly what goes in our food. Don’t get me wrong I LOVE a good restauranting evening, (I mean who wants to eat at home all the damn time anyway), but I’m not gonna lie the food cooked in this house tastes better than most restaurant food on any given day. Not that I’m biased but I’m just saying.
4. It’s okay to question things. Just because someone tells you something, does not make it so. Just because you heard or read a headline about something, does not make it so. Just because you were raised to think a certain way, does not make it…so. So go search for the answers yourself. People can SAY anything. That does not make it fact.
6. Love with reckless abandon. Scared you’re gonna get hurt? Feel the fear and love anyway! Be brave darling.
7. Learn about financial literacy as early as you can. The older I get, the more I learn that there really is so much more to learn…about everything! But one of the more important things that we need to learn and full get a grasp on, is money. Growing up we’re told, “you should save your money! Open a savings account!”. Ya’ll. It’s so much more to money than just learning how to “save”. Money is not only currency, but it’s also energy. There are a myriad of ways to make money, to create cashflow, and there are a also myriad number of ways that you can invest your money, so that you can in turn make more money! The more you have an understanding and knowledge about money, the more equipped you will be to navigate this life that does indeed, require money to live. Supreme and I include “money” lessons in our kids’ homeschool curriculum. One day they may color monsters for an hour straight. The next day they’re learning the formula on how to calculate profit margins.
8. If there is something that you want to buy, and if you can’t buy 2 of said things, then you cannot afford it.
9. Don’t use gossip as a bonding tool with your friends. There are so many other things you can be talking to your people about other than…other people. Ew. Stop gossiping.
10. Write love letters or little notes to your partner. Leave them in surprise places. 🙂
11. Always want to continually improve yourself. We all have characteristics, habits, or traits that we could improve on. It is up to us to recognize what these unfavorable traits are and then to try to change them for the better. And improving yourself could also be something as simple as expanding your knowledge on a particular topic, or becoming a better listener. Maybe you want to become more spiritual. Whatever it is, be on a continual quest to upgrade yourself. When you improve yourself and become a better version of yourself, the people around you tend to improve themselves as well (and if they don’t, that’s on them. You can only fix you.)
12. Take accountability for your actions. You did something? Own up to it. Declare it. Apologize if you need to. Nothing stunts your growth like a victim mindset. Accountability will set you free.
13. Find a physical activity that you love. It doesn’t have to be running or the gym, but whatever it is that gets you moving on a regular basis. Walking, yoga, pilates, dancing, riding your bike, f*cking…get to it, and stick to it! History shows that those who lead thriving lives…don’t live sedentary lives.
14. Learn a new skill every year. This can be something as simple as learning how to finally bake a cake from scratch. Or learn how to drive a stick. Every time we learn something new, it sharpens us in every way. The more we learn, the more we can share with others. Stay curious.
15. Admit when you’re wrong. Even if this means admitting you are wrong to *gasp* your children. Admittance of mistakes, shortcomings, and acknowledgement of wrongdoings absolutely humanizes us. By doing this, you are not only proving to the person that you hold can yourself accountable, but it is also humbling, as it forces you to reflect on whatever it is that you did, and thus helps you to learn and move forward in your quest to continually improving yourself. This is called growth ladies and gentleman. (okay this also looks like lesson #12 but you see how important this is?!)
16. Always, always tip whenever you can. Your barber? Your hairstylist? Your server? Tip them. At some point in our lives, we have all maybe fallen on hard times, and tipping or adding anything extra to the already given price can be difficult. But whenever you do have the money to give extra to someone, ESPECIALLY if they had excellent service, please do. It’s just good karma and it’s the right thing to do. Also, when you tip well, that reputation follows you. Show extra love to the people that take care of you.
17. Weed. It can become a good ally if you treat it well. I remember when I first smoked weed and was actually high. It was the end of summer ’04 when I was at the University of Memphis. My cousin, Christen (shoutout to you Cuz!) came to visit me for two weeks, and at that time she was a seasoned weed smoker. You’ve never met a more chill, hilarious, laid back and cool person than my cousin Christen. We are one year apart, our birthdays are 2 days apart, and we just click you know?! Sidenote: Christen you remember when you used to drive me to work in downtown Memphis (I was a hostess at the Plush Club when “The Plush” used to have a restaurant side too. My Memphis people know about The Plush!) Anyway, Christen would take me to work everyday in her car, and we would listen to Screw Music (look it up, it’s a Houston, Texas thing) and we would vibe and laugh while she smoked on the way to taking me to work. At that time I wasn’t even smoking weed like that, but looking back, I SO should have smoked with Christen, because that would have made my shift at the Plush SO.MUCH.BETTER! Ha!
Okay, back to the story: So anyway, my favorite cousin is in my college city for a few weeks, and one night we decided that we were all going to drive down to Tunica, Mississippi to go to the casino. It was also my first time ever going to gamble at the casino, so I was hype! We all piled into 2 cars (the car we rode in might have been my sister’s Tamika car, but whew I can’t remember chile that was 17 years ago. But get this: I can remember what I had on that day bahahahaha: I wore a white tennis skirt and pink shirt. Definitely not the best thing to wear to the casino because casinos are COLD, so yeah I learned another lesson that day). So we’re heading down the highway to the casino, and those of us in the backseat passed a joint around, including me. This was really the first time I really participated ‘smoke session’ where people are sharing a joint in rotation. The trip to Tunica from Memphis is only about 35 minutes long, so when we pull up to the parking lot casino, I get out of the car and realize, ‘ohhhhhhhh. I’m highhhhh.’ I look over at Christen and she looks at me, and ya’ll we just burst out laughing. Looking back, I get Christen was a proud little cousin hahahahaha! While I was 21, the legal age you have to be to enter the casino, my cousin Christen was not. She was only 20 at the time, and of course we all knew that before we left to go to the casino. Our plan was just to sneak her in somehow. (Great plan right?!) So now we’re in the parking lot, trying not to giggle and trying to look “normal” as we walk toward the security door. I remember being so paranoid that people would just know that I was high, and I kept laughing and asking Christen if I looked high over and over again. I was like “my eyes are red aren’t they?! Look! Aren’t they?” That made us laugh even more! We ended up successfully sneaking my cousin in (it was a big group of us so she just walked on in without showing her ID), and we ended up having the best time! I did continue being paranoid though thinking somebody was gonna stop me and say “hey! you smoked weed before you came in here!”, but that never happened.
After that epic night in the casino, I would smoke here and there occasionally, but again, I was more of a drinker in my adult life, so I just did what I was more used to. You know what’s ironic? It wasn’t until I became a mom that I really picked up the herb more. I discovered that when I smoked the good Mary Jane, it unlocked a new layer of consciousness for me. I could see things from a more clear perspective, but it in a more detached way. Smoking also just heightens my awareness in general, and gives me energy believe it or not! I also found that my creativity soared during this time. When we lived moved to LA back in 2014, I then discovered that there is a whole weed world out there thanks to living in a city where was legal. There weed dispensaries throughout Cali selling weed edibles (food), candies, tinctures, wax, honey, you name it! Weed has historically gotten a bad rap because it is illegal still in many places, but honestly, it’s a plant yall. An herb. God created just for us. It is one of the most natural, medicinal wonders of the world. I’m so thankful! Plus, smoking weed doesn’t give you hangovers where you want to be in bed the whole next day or hugging the toilet like drinking too much alcohol does. Less alcohol (unless it’s Alexandria XIIXIIXI), more weed please.
18. Drink more water. I know ya’ll hear this ad nauseam, but it really is essential. Most of us at any given time are dehydrated, and this makes us fatigued, irritable, and can lead to sickness. So find you some mountain spring or alkaline water, and keep a bottle with you all day. Drink up!
19. Find out what self-care looks like for you. Then make it a habit. This could be a monthly massage, a bath with candles and music, finding a therapist who can focus solely on you and help you navigate life, reading your favorite book or listening to a podcast while you give yourself a face mask, uninterrupted time at Target.. (sidenote: it’s so fun to go to Target high at night! There’s not as many people (and kids!) out shopping at night, and going down every aisle is just ahhhh *chef’s kiss*.
20. A good playlist and a glass of wine or a joint qualifies as self-care.
20. Get out in nature. Whether that’s going for a walk, going to the nearest lake to sit outside, running outside, hiking, swimming, sitting in the grass in your backyard. Just Go. Outside. According to studies, being in nature for even just 15 minutes helps people feel psychologically restored. Being outside is also said to help improve your memory, reduce your stress, and it keeps you youthful. Also, being outside helps you absorb Vitamin D, which our bodies need to help us prevent cancer and other health problems. We come from the Earth and are of this Earth, so it makes sense that the feeling of wholeness and oneness with being outside makes us feel connected and grounded.
21. If you do not want to do something, don’t say “yes” to it. By saying yes, you are betraying yourself and appeasing the person that asked you to do that thing. You are neglecting your own needs. What do YOU want to do? Not that? Then politely decline. The feeling of betrayal sucks, so please don’t do this to yourself.
22. Watch less television. Okay hear me out: I used to be HUGE TV-watcher. HUGE. I had TiVo, DVR, allat. I recorded like upwards of 50 million shows at a time! (okay not that many but you get my drift.) I had so many recordings that after a while I couldn’t keep up with all of the shit I was taping! After awhile I had to ask myself: why do I want to watch all of this shit? So much of my time could be spent doing other things. Plus, while we used to have cable and satellite television where there were hundreds and hundreds of channels, I only actually watched like a handful of channels, and my kids only watched like 3 or 4 channels. So we eventually got rid of our cable tv, kept our Netflix, and what do you know? I became more productive. This may be pure coincidence, but since getting rid of our cable at the end of 2016, I have started several businesses, read more books that I had in the more recent years, and just have been a more productive person. I still love my Netflix though and watch series here and there, documentaries, and comedy specials with Supreme for our late Netflix and chill nights (hello Narcos Mexico!), but that doesn’t happen nightly. These days more of my entertainment comes from watching YouTube vlogs or listening to podcasts. However I very much still catch The Housewives of ___________ [insert whatever city is filming at the time] whenever I can. (Ya’ll know the Housewives series are our modern day stories bahahaha).
23. Invest in good quality shit. There are certain things in life we buy, and it’s okay if it’s
cheap okay quality. For example, you can buy cheap styrofoam cups. Or cheap sweatpants. But there are other things that you absolutely must spend the extra few dollars on and get better quality stuff. Here are a few examples:
- Sheets for your bed. Please do not try to cut corners when it comes to where you spend your dreamy nights. Your bedroom, whether you share with a partner or its yours alone, should absolutely be your sanctuary. Your bedroom could be the size of a cubicle but that bed should not only look inviting for you after a long, fab and ravenous day, but also should feel amazing when you plop down in it. And what helps with feeling of luxurious santuary-esque vibes are quality, high-thread count sheets and a good duvet. Spend the extra money and get yourself a nice comforter set. You deserve it.
- A Good watch. A good watch does not mean “expensive” either. A “good” watch means the watch is timeless, well made, and if the watch maker (the brand) has a long-standing history in the culture or a story behind the company, that is even better. Do a little research to find a watch that fits your personal style. Even if you don’t really wear watches, you need to have a statement watch on deck for the occasions that you decide to wear one. Apple Watches don’t count.
- Invest in good stemware (wine glasses, drinking glasses, champagne flutes). At some point in our adult lives we have to push the Dollar Tree wine and drinking glasses aside and buy some nice, elegant even, stemware for your kitchen. It’s just always nice to have a good set on hand, and it also screams “I’m very grown-up thank you very much.” You should definitely drink your favorite beverage out of your fancy adult-like stemware whenever you please because that’s your business (in my Tabitha Brown voice). Also when you have guests, they will appreciate your nice quality glasses too.
- Invest in a good handbag. A good quality handbag can last decades. Cheaper ones fall apart sooner. Also, designer handbags often have excellent resell value if you keep them in good condition, so getting a [good] designer handbag is a great investment.
- Invest in good weed. Don’t be out here smoking no reggie.
24. If someone you love (whether if be your kid, your bff, your partner, whomever) is doing something that you know is messed up, call them out. Don’t pooh pooh it, ignore it, or pretend like you didn’t see it. Tell them that whatever it is that they’re doing is wrong. If you love someone, you tell them the truth, and you hold them accountable. (Damn this word comes up again. As you can see, holding others and ourselves accountable really does help the collective whole. It literally makes us all better when we can accept accountability.) Of course they may not like being called out, but as a person who loves them and wants them to do better, it should just come with the territory. Now, I know these types of conversations are not always the easiest conversations to have, but you both will be better people because of it.
25. Develop a skincare routine. Ya’ll I wish I had of learned this earlier. For my entire 20s I did really have a skincare routine. I just would wash my face with water and go. Smh. It wasn’t until a few years ago that I started a skincare routine for real, and this came because when we moved to Arizona in 2016, that desert heat use to absolutely dry out my skin whenever I went on my runs outside. I was like ok ok I need to do something about this. Now, I love doing my skincare routine because it feels like I’m pampering myself every time I wash my face lmao! A person’s skincare routine looks different from person to person, because we all have different skin types and skin tendencies. Taking care of your skin is super important because our skin is the largest organ in our body! If you are not sure where to start when it comes to products, or even how to properly cleanse your face, there are tons of YouTube videos that review skincare products for different skin types and more. Here is a Beauty Expert that talks about all things skincare on her Youtube page: https://www.youtube.com/c/Mixedmakeup
26. If you have children, allow (and encourage!) them to safely and freely express themselves when they are feeling emotions other than happy. We love to ask kids when they’re having fun, “are you happy?!” But yall. Kids have a host of other emotions just like adults. If they are sad, angry, fearful, irritable, embarrassed, etc, allow them to express those feelings the best way they know how. Helping kids regulate and manage their emotions in my opinion is one of the our greatest responsibilities as parents. Kids are fragile and need love and care when handling their feelings, so it is up to us parents to help them safely navigate how to do this. When kids don’t learn how to properly express themselves or identify their feelings, they become grown adults who shut down when they’re angry, fearful, or sad, or they deal with their emotions in other unhealthy ways like rage and physical violence. You know anyone like this? Ummm, we all know people like this. Perhaps you are an adult who processes your emotions this way.
From very young, Supreme and I have always encouraged Zé and Vito to say when they are feeling sad or hurt, or if something is bothering them, and to always speak up when they don’t like something. As a matter of fact, we also encourage them tell us if there is something that WE did that they don’t like. Example: “Mom, I didn’t like how you talked to me in the kitchen.” Zé first said this to me when she was 5 years old with tears in her eyes and a shaky voice. Moments prior I had just raised my voice (okay I yelled) after who even knows why. But in that moment, I said Zé you know what, I did not have to speak to you so harshly. I should not have done that, and I’m sorry. I told her I was proud of her for telling me how she felt even though her feelings were hurt and gave her a hug. Hell it damn near made me cry. Could 5 year old or 8 year old you have said this to either one of your parents? What about adult you?
27. If you find that you are having a bad day, try to smile. Yep, try to put a big, wide smile on your face. Because the fact is, you do NOT in fact, want to smile. You probably much rather cry, scream, cuss, whatever, but if you plaster a big dumb smile on your face, if only for a moment, you will find yourself laughing, at YOURSELF for smiling at the ridiculousness of this exercise. Try it now. Smile. Smiling really does break up the negative energy that tends to brew inside sometimes. If you find that smiling randomly does not work, keep trying to smile even more and watch how comical you find yourself from just smiling at, well, nothing. hahahaha.
28. If you see someone that you think looks fly, has a nice coat on, has a cool hairstyle, etc, tell them. It’s one thing to see a stranger and think in your head “oh how cute are her shoes!”, but to actually say the words aloud shows that you appreciate her taste in fashion, and that acknowledgment is something that may very well make that person’s whole day or week. Doling out compliments also just shows that you are a real one and love to see other people flourish.
29. Love is a verb.
30. Ladies if your are pregnant and a first-time mom, and people are telling you not to buy certain items for your baby because: “they’re not going to need that.” “Just wait until your baby shower.” “Newborns only need XYZ”. These things all might very well be true, but again, if there is something that you want to buy your baby, do it. You’re going to get advice (some unsolicited) during your whole pregnancy, but ultimately, do what you want. It’s your baby. I remember being 7 months pregnant in Italy, and Supreme and I went to the designer shops to go shopping, and there were tons of overpriced, cute designer outfits for newborns. There was a Christian Dior sweatsuit for baby girls that I loved, but kept telling myself that Zé would only wear it a few times and then she would outgrow it, so the price was not really justified. Looking back I should have totally gotten the damn sweatsuit simply because I could afford it and I wanted it. Fuck the price. I wanted it. That buyer’s remorse still haunts me to this day. So buy what you want for your baby sis.
31. Whatever you do, don’t half-ass it. Nobody remembers half-ass effort.
32. Give your friends and family their flowers while they are still alive. COVID has shown us over and over again that life will get us up outta here in the drop of a hat, so for the special people in your life, tell them what they mean to you and how you’re happy to have them in your life. My friend Brittanii always does this and I am so damn grateful that she does this! It inspires me to do the same. I love you Brittanii!
33. Look in the mirror. The person looking back at you is YOU. Get to know that person. That person should be living a life that is making YOU happy. Not your grandpa. Not your cousin. Not anyone else. You have to live with YOU for the rest of your life, so it would be in your best interest to live a life that you genuinely like. The first step to falling in love with your life, is falling in love with yourself.
34. Experiment with your look. Change your hair. Cut it off. Grow it long. Dye it purple. Throw a wig on there. Pierce your nipples. Get a nose ring. Get a tattoo. Wear black for a year. Wear a dress for a week straight. Life is just too short to not be out here trying shit.
35. Wear a mask when you go around other people. It’s just common curtesy at this point.
36. Sometimes our children are our greatest teachers.
37. Believe in magic. It exists.
38. Always say your truth. Even if your voice shakes.
Have a wonderful weekend Fabbies! xoxo