The road to self-love and healthy relationships in my life intersected with the biggest test when I reached a milestone: moving in with my partner.  

It was one of the most challenging things I’ve ever experienced. And for the first few months, I had a hard time bouncing back from these arguments we’d get into over the dumbest shit. And while every relationship is different – whether you’re queer, straight, committed, or just starting out with your boo – experiencing new “firsts” together can cycle from romantic and magical to downright real and ugly. But if you commit to growing and learning together in a healthy way, you can come out stronger on the other end... renewed and reinvigorated! One of my homegirls is in the beginning stages of the move in process with her sig-o. And while I’m not a relationship guru or self-love expert -- like y’all, I am just trying to figure it all out. Here’s part of our latest convo:

HER: We’ve been fighting over the stupidest shit. What is it about moving in together that does this to couples?! We had a fight yesterday about PAINT COLORS on our wall. Seriously?!

ME: GIRL. It’s that you’ve been interacting with the world your way for twenty-something years, and he’s been interacting with his world his way for twenty-something years, too. And all of a sudden you’re both forced to interact with each other interacting with the world – all in this very small space in this very stressful city. Most of the fighting is projection on each other, not actually being mad at the other person or upset with the other person – but that the other person is on the receiving end of alllllll you’re going through.

HER: So what – we’re just supposed to keep fighting it out? That doesn’t seem healthy.

ME: Noooo. You gotta keep communicating and being transparent. Figure out what is making you fight/argue/yell at each other (the triggers). What are the patterns that you notice trigger each fight, and then identify what type of behavior both of you do that escalates that trigger into a civil war. We’re gonna call this a “behavior tick.” Then, do your best to improve individually and make promises to each other that you're going to work on that specific behavior tick.

For example, my boo’s behavior tick that escalates our fights is projection. Projecting is his #1 coping tactic when it comes to how he deals with problems in life. My behavior tick is impatience. The thing is, these behavior ticks are ways we have always interacted with the world when shit goes down -- so they are at the core of our own character flaws/qualities.  And because I want to always improve my character, and he always wants to improve his character, it makes sense that we, each, want to improve those behavior ticks - not just for each other but for ourselves.  So I made a promise to work on my patience and he made a promise to work on his projection. We are both individually working on these, and our relationship has gotten SO much better because of this.

It’s a process, and it’s not easy, but the point of it all is that you have to claim for yourself: Ok, this is the person I want to spend my life with, so how can I be a good partner and be myself? If this behavior tick is a flaw in my character that I, myself, am not OK with -- how can I expect my partner to be magically OK with it?

HER: Oh damn. Well, I think my bae’s is impatience (which we've both discussed) and mine is tone, but we both somehow still let it escalate, even after we've talked about it so much. That makes me nervous.

ME: Of course it’s worrisome! But just talking about your behavior ticks, versus actually individually working on your own ticks are different things. Like, are you actually watching your tone? Not just with him -- but with everyone and everything else in your life (job, friendships, family, hustles, projects, etc)?

Because when you work on your tone in every aspect of your life, it will naturally work itself into your relationship, too. You can’ just isolate working on your tone in just your relationship. This behavior tick won’t magically heal itself in just this one aspect of your life. You have to treat it as something that you’re working on in all of the roles in your life – commit to healing it as one of the the roots of you.

HER: Wow. What's funny is I watch my tone with everyone else BUT him.

ME: Exactly. See? It’s a process, I promise. Just keep looking at the bigger picture AND working on the smaller details within YOU. We all immediately think when we’re working on our relationship, that we have to work on our relationship as this separate on-its-own thing. But the reality is, all of our personality -isms (good and bad, amazing and flawed) are things we live with daily and how we interact with the world on a constant level. Our interpersonal relationships are a manifestation of that, so if we work on healing our roots, the branches and flowers will come.

“If you’re gonna heal, let it be glorious” – Warsan Shire.

Like I said, I am no relationship expert – but I do fiercely commit to reading and expanding my toolkit of knowledge. We do better with ourselves and with each other when we balance our minds, bodies, hearts, and souls. Below are some of my favorite readables – from poetry to anthologies – from ancient natural healing methods to indulgent food cravings -- that are all about discovering, exploring, and healing the roots of loving yourself. You go, girl. You got this.


Way of the Ancient Healer: Sacred Teachings from the Philippine Ancestral Traditions

by Virgil Mayor Apostol


Foreword: Way of the Ancient Healer provides an overview of the rich tradition of Filipino healing practices, discussing their origins, world influences, and role in daily life. Giving readers a rare look at modern-day Filipino healing rituals, the book also includes personal examples from author Virgil Mayor Apostol's own experiences with shamanic healing and dream interpretation. The book begins with an explanation of Apostol's Filipino lineage and legacy as a healer. After a brief history of the Philippine archipelago, he describes the roots of traditional Filipino healing and spirituality, and discusses the Indian, Islamic, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, and American influences that have impacted the Filipino culture. The book's final chapter thoughtfully explores the spiritual tools used in Filipino healing-talismans, amulets, stones, and other natural symbols of power.


Be Unapologetically You: A Self Love Guide for Women of Color

by Adeline Bird 


Foreword: Everybody looks at themselves and finds all sorts of reasons not to love what they see or they wait for someone else to give them permission to love themselves. You have to stop waiting and start doing and that takes some work. Self-love is not something that just happens – it’s a creative process where you dig deep to find your own soul. You have to let go of comparisons which make you feel less than and you have to see your supposed flaws as your gifts.


Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat

by Chrissy Teigen


Enough said :)

Sistah Vegan: Black Female Vegans Speak on Food, Identity, Health, and Society

by A. Breeze Harper  


Foreword: Sistah Vegan is a series of narratives, critical essays, poems, and reflections from a diverse community of North American black-identified vegans. Collectively, these activists are de-colonizing their bodies and minds via whole-foods veganism. By kicking junk-food habits, the more than thirty contributors all show the way toward longer, stronger, and healthier lives. Suffering from type-2 diabetes, hypertension, high blood pressure, and overweight need not be the way women of color are doomed to be victimized and live out their mature lives. There are healthy alternatives

Chakra Healing: A Beginner's Guide to Self-Healing Techniques that Balance the Chakras

by Margarita Alcantara


Foreword: Discover the ancient knowledge of chakra healing and restore balance to your mind, body, and spirit. Within all living beings are powerful centers of energy called chakras. Each chakra holds the potential for immense healing and restoration. However, learning how to harness the chakra system’s amazing power can be challenging when so much of the information available is dense and academic or subjective and hard to trust. In her successful New York practice, energy healer, acupuncturist, and Reiki master Margarita Alcantara addresses the most common ailments people experience today.


The Herbal Apothecary: 100 Medicinal Herbs and How to Use Them

by JJ Pursell


More and more people are exploring the healing possibilities of plant-based medicines, and health shops across the country now stock their shelves with natural remedies, but treatments can easily be made at home. The Herbal Apothecary profiles 100 of the most important medicinal plants with striking photographs and step-by-step instructions for making herbal teas, tinctures, compresses, and salves to treat everything from muscle strain to the common cold or anxiety. This holistic guide also includes advice for the home gardener on growing and foraging for medicinal plants


A Seat At The Table

by Solange


The singer/songwriter/multimedia artist presents her iconic album as concrete poetry.

Stay LIT!

by Flerine Atienza


post image credit: pinterest