Press: 28 Black Tastemakers - I'm On The List!

What a lovely surprise it was to be asked to participate in this year's 28 Black Tastemakers series by Angela Belt (Stylist, Designer and Market Editor extraordinaire).  It's an honor to share the space with such a talented and innovative collective of designers and creatives - some I've followed for years, and others this project has introduced me to.

Head over to her site to check out the feature and to discover the black girl/boy magic highlighted over the 28 days of Black History Month.  


10 Scientifically Proven Ways to Make Your Home Happier


Create a Meditation Corner

  • The mental, physical, and emotional benefits of meditation are astounding - from lowering stress levels and reducing inflammation to slowing HIV progression and literally changing your brain.  It doesn't take much more than a soft pillow to create a space where you can mentally disconnect.  

Add Plants

Find an Area to Honor Your Family History

  • An Emory University study found the knowledge of family history correlated with higher self-esteem and a better ability to manage stress. 

Consider an Aquarium

  • Aquariums lower heart rates and blood pressure, and studies have found those numbers get even lower the more fish are added to the tank. 

Use Aromatherapy  

  • The benefits of essential oils extracted from plants include the relief of anxiety and depression as cited by the Mayo Clinic.  Between the crazy long list of aromatherapy's other benefits and the divine smells that are lavender, sage, and, peppermint (for starters), your happiness factor will skyrocket once you incorporate them into your daily routine.

Incorporate Affirmations

  • Similar to a mantra you might repeat to yourself, decor that visually reinforces the values you hold is a fabulous way to infuse your daily life with intention.  Think stylish typography, quotes, affirming words on walls, mugs, doormats - nearly anything in your space can become a reminder of the good life and keep your spirits lifted.

Add a Rug

  • Touch is one of the senses directly associated with productivity.  It's as simple as being drawn to "soft, cozy, warm" and repelled by "cold, hard".  Soft rugs are in line with the body's natural inclination to relax with the touch of a softer texture.  

  • Rugs and/or carpeting also create a barrier to sound.

Create a Reading Nook

  • Reading improves memory function, makes you more empathetic, fights Alzheimer's, reduces stress by 68%, and alleviates insomnia. 

  • Stephen King said it perfectly: "Books are a uniquely portable magic."  A space for enjoying them in your home, no matter the size, will bring magic into your life. 

Get a White Noise App - Better Yet, Raindrops

  • Focus supports productivity, and productivity (the feeling of making progress towards your goals) makes people 72% happier.  Sound is one of the keys to focus. 

  • Productivity dips up to 66% if you're involved in a task-related activity in a loud, conversational environment. So, the next time you're trying to conquer the world, download the white noise app and set it on the sounds of raindrops (sounds of ocean waves and rain increase cognitive function and lower heart rates, muscle tension and stress.)

Don't Forget The Art

  • Make Art: Dopamine is the ultimate "Feel Good" transmitter, and just for good measure it also wards off depression and protects the brain from aging.  Every time you engage in art, a high dosage of it comes your way. You get the dose whether you're "talented" or not and no matter what the creative activity. '

  • Decorate With Art: Art has the ability to take you out of yourself by pulling your attention away from rumination and self-focus and into a world of beauty and imagination.  Line your walls with it, and watch it light up your inner world.


Press: The Importance of Joy, Design, Mindfulness, Plants & Art in the Classroom

What a privilege it was to join Yong Pratt, owner of Elko Arts Academy, on her smART Kids 2.0 Podcast.  We discussed how the design of learning spaces can inspire smarter and more confident kids for the next generation.

Here's what we discussed (and the exact times so you can get right to the point):

  • [2:49] How Kid-Smart Spaces™ began

  • [5:42] Why is the design of classroom is so important for kids in learning?

  • [6:31] The role of joy in our classrooms

  • [9:35] Increasing learning capacity with plants

  • [11:36] A 3-minute mindfulness makeover at home

  • [13:48] Tips for parents when creating space for their kids

  • [19:36] How temperature affects learning

  • [29:59] And, the Kid-Smart Spaces book due out in 2017

How to Find Meaning and Joy in The Mundane

Why shouldn't a cup, a bowl, a drop dead gorgeous hamper bring you joy?  It's not about being hung up on material things either.  It's about intentional living.  A process that begins on the inside and extends to giving attention to the external - the things... situations... people, we bring into our space.  Are they making us feel heavy, depressed, annoyed, stagnant?  Or, are they enhancing our experience?

What we surround ourselves with reflects and affects the thoughts we have, how we feel, how we act, and ultimately the life we choose live.    

Beautiful, uplifting objects have the power to support your dreams and purpose.  Here's to creating the lives we want and feeling good in the place we call home.


Discipline, The Secret Sauce of Self Care

There was a time when the word "discipline" felt imposing and restrictive - like a shadow over me, pointing a stern, disappointed finger in my face saying "don't be yourself, don't be free," "do what you're told" and "tow the line".  

This week the word came to me as I meditated but this time it offered comfort. A calm clarity descended and in that moment I saw discipline instead as a substitute for self-care.  

I chose not to fight the thoughts as I sometimes do when I'm trying to "meditate right" (yes, I get the irony). Instead, I let the thoughts come and what crystalized was this: discipline is actually the supportive foundation upon which one's ambitious, go-getter, driven nature can create peace and sustainability - consistently. 

Because is it truly "responsible" to give from an empty cup? Or, is it responsible to nourish yourself in healthy ways in order to have more to give?  To give willingly, without resentment and without consequence.  

A consistent practice of self-care actually requires discipline because it's so easy to avoid. It's much easier to work through lunch, to skip the appointment, to skimp on sleep, to pick up the phone on the nightstand first thing in the morning rather than take a few minutes to meditate, pray, or journal.  

It takes a commitment to have a consistent practice of filling one's cup so that we may give to our children, our partners, our loved ones, and the world.  

For many of us, it's a level of responsibility that takes significant discipline.  For all of us, it's a level of love that's absolutely necessary.


8 Beautiful, Hard-Earned Lessons from 2016

"I love you, 2016.  And I'm excited to love you 2017.  I love you because I choose to love. The human perspective of good and bad is meaningless, and won't change things from unfolding as they will.  The enlightened say that everything is as it should be.  Let's do our best to endure that which is difficult, enjoy that which is pleasurable, and shine our light regardless."  - My Friend, David

Despite the election and the loss of icons and the seemingly endless challenges.  I choose to love 2016 because even the painful moments brought gems of wisdom.  

Here are a few to take with you into a kick @$$ New Year  - I certainly plan to!

  • Authenticity trumps perfection, any day.

  • You'd rather be loved and respected for your vision and inspiration than liked in your people-pleasing smallness, trust me.

  • Taking a risk requires trust in the unknown.  Surrender to whatever may come and big decisions will be a lot easier to make.

  • As on planes, so too in life: put on your oxygen mask first.  You can't fill anyone up from an empty cup.

  • Honor your boundaries. Because, when you say no to what you don't want you're really saying YES to what you do.

  • Say yes - especially to the things that make you uncomfortable because "The cave in which you fear to enter is where your treasure lies" (Joseph Campbell).

  • Let go of what it's "supposed to" look like, once you stop judging, the beauty of what it IS becomes clear.  

  • Overcome stress and overwhelm instantly with one simple question: Place your feet firmly on the ground, look down at them and ask yourself  "where are my feet?"  Your feet - and you - are right here, right now, in the present moment. That means you're fine.