Stacy Towles is an incredibly talented woman and entrepreneur. She has worked in non-profits, the tech industry and most recently has dived into the wide world of veganism. Have a listen as she talks about her journey from the corporate life to following her dreams and becoming a chef.
That’s a phrase I picked up from living in the tech bubble for 11 years. Say it with me “work life balance.” The concept is self explanatory and quite frankly is a no-brainer but for some reason we more often than not find it hard to do. Think about it; How many times have you found yourself picking up an extra shift at work, clocking in that OT, then find yourself surprisingly fatigued, unmotivated or overwhelmed by activities that typically bring you joy?
I just spent the last 2 1/2 months doing just that. I was working 6 days a week, sometimes up to 55 hours, without any respite in sight. I pushed through as I usually do, but found myself getting progressively tired all the time, not realizing I didn’t make time to check in with myself, let alone rest and recuperate. We find ourselves thinking “I can’t spend time with you because I want to sit in my couch and be a vegetable, to–say it with me–balance out the energy I just spent working too much.” We convince ourselves we’re being productive but in reality we’re depleting ourselves of creativity, secluding ourselves from our community and ultimately limiting our potential for personal growth.
In order to break that cycle there are a few things I like to do:
1. Get organized. I schedule everything in my iCal. The trick is to block out the time frame for each activity, that way you visually see how many free hours you have in a day or week, to do more of what you love. Or just breathe.
2. Play hooky. Take an unexpected day off. Changing your routine can open the doors for spontaneity and get those creative juices flowing. Pro tip: Make sure you incorporate a self care practice. That could be anything from reading a book in the park to baking your favorite cookies. My personal favorite is setting intentions for the coming lunar cycle, burning some incense and doing a card reading.
3. Quality time. Time is money but it’s also priceless when you spend it with those you hold near and dear. Go have coffee with an old friend, make dinner with your parents or participate in the hobby of your significant other. Taking time to be present with those who hold you up can refill your reserves when you feel like your cup is empty. My partner’s newest obsession is plant parenthood so we bought a bunch of new plants and repotted old ones.
Most importantly take a deep breath. All the things are manageable if you take the time to check in with yourself, listen and fulfill your needs accordingly. That’s it for me folks! I’m playing hooky today and have to go pack for an impromptu picnic with friends!
Until next time ✌🏽
This interview needs no introduction. Enjoy this candid convo between the two of us as we touch on a little bit of everything with nothing but laughs in between.
Since the last full moon I’ve been sleeping so deep, I wake up with migraines. Completely agonizing physical pain represented by undesirable places while my eyes are closed tight and my mind is lost in the same maze every time I dream. Giving literal meaning of the phrase ‘hard-headed’.
I tend to move fast through life; chasing ideas my heart wants to transform into reality. The problem with moving at that pace is, of not careful – you are more likely to fall down if you aren’t paying attention. Paying attention to your tired and weary self that is in desperate need of some rest and reflection.
Which sometimes leads to over committing, not saying no when it’s in our absolute best interest, FOMO; seems to be a generational plague that has fallen over us because we are all too afraid of falling behind in the race. Riddling us with anxiety and chasing us away from accepting present moments.
While moving fast I have fallen out of some good habits:
I’ve stopped journaling because I don’t have time.
I don’t exercise anymore because I really need that extra 30 minutes of sleep in the morning(which turns into 60).
Our home is less tidy at the end of the night even though it drives me crazy.
It’s these things that have me working harder at taking back ownership of my life and standing in my truth.
This is literally one of the most powerful stages of growth I’ve experienced. I’m challenging myself to observe things through a different set of lenses. For instance; I find that I am a person who would reject interactions with those people who just weren’t on the same frequency as me. You probably won’t think there is anything wrong with that. In most times I would agree, there’s not much the matter with it. But I’m trying to switch my method a little and face that fear of the unknown; the possibility of conflict or rejection. I have to say, it is far less stressful to face it than to keep thinking about it and let it grow to a sizeable problem that you have no control over and ultimately turns into something you had no intention to create.
In these dreams I’ve mentioned, is where I’ve been confronting some of the biggest obstacles that have been eating away at my not only my psyche but my daily life and my relationships. I was planning on keeping the dreams to myself but if you know me… well then, there’s no point in me pretending to not have skeletons sitting right on my living room couch.
It is a conflicting space when being happy to pursue a legacy you chose out of the pocket of your heart, yet worry about not spending enough time with family and taking an interest outside of your own. I don’t take care of my health – mind and body – the way I should. I miss books, really good bendable, smelly, wordy books. I lose really important things that create more bills and unnecessary time spent. I’ve stopped telling people about it because they laugh, and for me it’s a serious fucking problem. I spoke out loud weeks ago that I desire to be more mindful, my dreams have been forcing me on to that path.
You are going to want things so badly that you will do anything to obtain them. As you manifest and create the life you want, it is an absolute must that you seek balance through that process. Seek balance to help you stay rooted. Feet firmly pressed to the bare ground and soul light in weight so you have the greatest vantage point of where your journey leads. Without that type of awareness, one would go nowhere very fast.
Breathe deep. Dream often.
Josiah Gonzales, Featured Dreamer and avid renaissance man. If anyone knows how to chase dreams and tackle them down, it’s this guy. Blessed are we to be the ones he embeds his big brother wisdom on. Glad are we that he is our first male dreamer. As a designer of all things in his life – Josiah gives us a personal look into his cool demeanor and how he’s taken charge of the things he loves.
Last week, I was in one of my favorite happy places communing with a group of beautiful women and a conversation I wasn’t even aware I needed to have arrived in our space. A conversation around showing up for yourself, growing out of self-love in a new present feminine kind of way. We were all wanderlusters of some measure who had looked for the place that felt like we were connected, like that place wanted us back as much as we wanted it.
I finally realized through our profoundly generous exchange of stories, through everyone’s eyes and hearts; that home is what you make it. These feelings extend to sentiments around community and career; places where you pour your self into others. It’s how you choose to mold your surroundings and I think for such a long time, I was so unhappy because I felt like things happened to me and I wasn’t in control of those events or the people I felt were causing them. So in certain ways, I kind of shut off or cut off relationships just because I knew they weren’t serving me. Some of what I did, spot on wouldn’t change a thing. Others, I wish I would have explored healthier ways of disconnecting because the emotions connected to those instances left me angry or disappointed. Making it a little harder to heal or regain the confidence it took to hold my head high. I finally find myself in a place where I am elated with the work I’ve done and can start knocking on those doors that hold possibilities for me.
Possibilities foster hope. This statement alone brings a sparkle to my heart and butterflies in my tummy. I am looking at myself and my surroundings with new lenses. Falling in love with being able to recognize goodness and purpose. I wasn’t taking the time to acknowledge my growth. I hear about it, I see it but I didn’t take the time to be thankful for this favor I’ve been blessed with.
I understand fully and accept that home is what you make it and it starts from with in. I have so much gratitude for new friendships and mentorships from an unlikely people that want to see me win. It’s reciprocity for me showing up with good intentions and surrounding myself with genuine connections. I am seeing that no matter what, your happiness comes from within. I’m able to move with a little bit of peace and a sound mind. Being rooted from within feels good.
Home was and always is, within every single one of us.
Simply put, I want to tell you all how transitioning my hair to it’s most natural state helped me remove and break barriers that I had been trying to get a hold of for years but I just couldn’t make any headway.
Let me start by explaining what transitioning really means in case this is a new term. A lot of women with curly, kinky hair go through a process of relaxation to get soft straight manageable hair. This is called a relaxer, or most comedically known as ‘Creamy Crack’. Less time doing your hair, no one makes fun of you in school, and now you fit the beauty standard set by society. But, what does this do to some people? Or more pointedly, what did it do to me?
I got to a point where if I didn’t have hair extensions or relaxers – I didn’t know what to do with myself. It became my costume. I even had ridiculous thoughts like if I didn’t look on point, everyone was going to talk about me and I was gonna be miserable as a result. You know why? As a kid some really close friends did exactly this. So at 14, I established a learned behavior about how I presented myself to the world.
I took these behaviors with me in my professional carrier. Always hiding this big secret. One time I was told I looked like Beyoncé. I laughed so hard out loud because I thought it was the most ridiculous thing. Inside, I said “hells yes”. The world was sending confirmation that I looked like a package. Why did I need that validation from people that don’t know my heart? Or my story? I had no idea. I just knew for a long time that I wanted to be pretty. And pretty looked like everyone else, to me.
Fast forward to a new job. Where now my look was bringing me attention but not how I wanted it. You know, look beautiful but still be a wallflower. You don’t want anyone to say anything to you about it but just to see it is enough. That’s not how it was going. I had a male coworker who liked men so he didn’t give a damn about me in that sense, but he always made comments about my look. He gave his approval and disapproval whenever his mouth felt the urge. Next to him, was an older white woman who also felt the need to take this route.
By now, maybe even a little before them – I was starting to reject chemically processing my hair because I became a mother and didn’t want those chemicals in my body, let alone my child’s during an already high risk preganancy. I danced with the idea of what would happen if I stopped paying $$$$$$ (yes, a lot) for these things I’ve begun to associate with as improving my look?
I blew people’s minds when I walked in one morning with my natural hair. Some didn’t care, some thought it was awesome and the two from above couldn’t not say anything:
“ I have a black friend, she has a hairstylist. Would you like their number?”
“Why’d you do that to your hair?”
Almost crushed at this point. But still standing.
I went home and made a video saying I will not conform to someone else’s standards.
Being on this journey, has built me up from the inside. I feel good about me. Finally, it’s not because I was trying to look like or be someone else. I started paying attention to myself. Discovering that my hair should be cared for with love, natural products and it will flourish. All of that has transitioned into the way I live life, the way I raise my child, how I support my husband and my family.
I am thankful for being grounded in the best way that I know how and it being from a place of complete submission and authenticity to my truest self. This abundance I’ve been searching for could only have come from me finding my own way and not trying to blaze someone else’s trail. Going on a loc journey was everything I imagined and more. Even on my worst hair days, I still feel beautiful because there is so much more to me than I ever could have imagined.
Be inspired to be your whole self.
In an effort to do some spring cleaning, I went to a sweat lodge last weekend. A friend invited me unexpectedly and I went into the experience not knowing what to expect. The journey left me feeling at peace but also motivated by the spring energy or renewal and rebirth. I channeled my inner spiritual goddess, faced the physical challenges of visual depravation and pushing my physical body to its limits. I shed all the negativity that I had been carrying. I don’t know about you, but this was a hard winter for me, emotionally speaking so this experience was the most rewarding.
As someone who prefers to communicate visually, I leave these photos here for you to enjoy. I hope they peak your curiosity and you find your own way to clean out the proverbial closet because spring is here and it’s time to start anew!
Peace and love,
Maker and Creative – heart, mind, and soul. Akilah Interviews her Co-Founding Bestie of Blooming Dreamers on her dreams and passions. Owner of Lebasi Photography, Isabel Gonzales shares her love for capturing photos through Environmental Portraiture and what she wants people to know about her relationship to her craft. Click the link below and follow us on SoundCloud.
The last few months have been a bit of a whirlwind personally and professionally. No matter what I did – I was obsessing over my decisions and experiencing all types of physical symptoms. My stress was growing and my body was paying the price. The two worlds decided to intertwine and it was less like two ribbons dancing in the wind, and more like two big rigs crashing into each other while speeding down a slippery mountain pass. Dramatic? I know.
I made an executive decision to sit in silence for a minute and think about the things that were truly bothering me. I journaled, made list, read books and came to a solution. I figured it’s not acceptable to let my stress and anxiety run loose on the people I love. It was time to reign it in but I really had no clear direction on where to start breaking cycles. I called a therapist that my girlfriend recommended and it was the best decision I could have made.
The very first meeting with her, I showed up and had no idea what to expect. The lobby was a 10 ft hallway that seemed to lengthen itself the longer I stood in the doorway trying to figure out if I was in the right place. She finally came out to greet me; tall, sweet and warm. The LMFT quickly gave me her speech about confidentiality and asked me why I came to see her. I smiled through my troubles the first five minutes and then cried the next ninety-five.
I left her office with my next appointment already scheduled. Even though I took her all over the map of my thirty-two-year life journey and explained my dozens of speculations as to how I ended up right there in her chair, she gave me a short list of ideas and concepts to think about. I thought, “wow, what a relief”. I was finally able to share with someone ALL of my feelings. Someone who was able to help me untangle knots and create some sort of line of reasoning and helped me find the words to build crucial language. The language I needed to communicate at work and at home.
I started to feel different. I was looking at situations with new lenses. The things that were driving me crazy about scenarios at work, became puzzles that I was happy to sort out. The conversations I didn’t want to have at home seemed less intimidating. I was building my tool kit. Communication was one of the main fundamentals that were becoming sharpened. Somewhere between the end of week one and the beginning of my second week, emotions started to resurface and I felt ill prepared to face anything seemingly negative.
My second therapy appointment was here and I didn’t want to go. I was ashamed that I was feeling sad and not proud of myself that day. Silly feelings when I look back on it, but the primary characteristic of my work ethic is being accountable. For way too many reasons to list in this edition, I’ve always worried about what people think. It translates in different ways but it manifests itself as a bitch fit or some other inappropriate form of expression when conflict arises. I was growing tired of that and knew it wasn’t an acceptable approach at working through things with my family or professionally.
This time I noticed my appointment was more focused. Less homework and more acute in helping me get through some of those challenges that were coming up more frequently. Here I am a week later, and it’s honestly the best week I have had in such a long time. Despite more disappointing news in a couple areas, I’m dealing with unfavorable surprises better. The dynamics in my household are settling into some sort of normalcy and it feels really good to stop blaming outside forces for my unhappiness.
Needing to speak to a professional about how to sort out the issues you are facing in whatever areas of your life, is not something to be ashamed of. I am speaking very loudly to proud women and minorities at this moment because for some reason we do not go. We do not go and some of our life stressors are flashing right in our face as and screaming, “you need a little bit of help and it’s okay!” We do not have to do things alone. We weren’t designed to take on so many problems and not have an outlet to release.
Therapy comes in so many forms. Everything from peer counseling, life coaching to psychiatrists. We all have different needs and the fact that we have all these diverse methods available, something is bound to fit. I hope this piece finds you all well.
Here at Blooming Dreamers once a month we like to showcase people in our community who are sharing their love and their light through their work. For the month of February, Black History Month, it is our privilege to introduce you to a longtime friend, a woman for the people, Eryn Reeder. Have a listen as we discuss her journey becoming a therapist, her unique perspectives on mental health maintenance and self-care.
Each being will walk a different life path created with a special footprint to help guide our marches through the steps it will take us to achieve our dreams. Every design is custom made for the individual and who needs to experience their own specific journey.
Isabel and I have been making so many connections and hearing from all walks of life on how long it’s taken them to get where they finally feel like they’ve found their niche or how long has it taken them to match their hearts with the others their creativity has been longing to connect with. Each person sharing that the time it took, varied anywhere from a month to 6 years. When you think about it, it’s actually really motivating because so much time is spent in judgment of what others are doing. Then one could say, you’re really not looking out for others with love or you’re not trying to be your most authentic self. The other day we talked about how no one has really subscribed to our blog, yet. Which is okay, because while we are growing, it’s slow and steady. That is exactly what the universe set out for us to experience.
We started quite a few months before December 1st of 2018, but that was the day we introduced ourselves as Blooming Dreamers. It was so exciting, adrenaline was pumping because, dammit we did it! We took this blog off the ground and we were diligent about it. All the other times we tried to work on projects, talked about working with one another, this project is actually happening. I’ve been looking around and seeing these ads through our Instagram feed on “how to become an influencer ” and not gonna lie, my first thought was sweet another masterclass let me see how much money this will cost. Immediately thought to myself, wtf. If I keep getting sidetracked by everything that is put in front of me instead of focusing on things that align with Blooming Dreamers, it will be very hard to get things accomplished. I’m enjoying this part of the process. When we are ready, the stars will align like stepping stones into the next chapter of our growth. I want to do it as our most authentic selves. We found our stride, have proven that people can work together and do it graciously – for a vision that they believe in.
It’s been an extremely rough week for me but through all of this, one thing that I have learned about ‘labors of love’ is, they produce light. When you’re having a hard week, remember that there are just things that you specifically will have to go through. They most likely won’t be your favorite experiences but because you are always moving with love, you’ll be able to embrace and appreciate the process. You will find methods to cope. You will find the team that you need to support you. You are going to find the tools and resources that you will deem most valuable. Whatever level you are on, whether it’s a personal project or the creative career of your dreams, make it happen. Your journey depends on it.
While we have been stumbling around trying to build a brand. These broads had it all figured out. So figured out, that they had the perfectly designed outlet for our first big project as Blooming Dreamers. Welcoming us with open arms and providing a space for our creativity was generous, we really couldn’t ask for much more! But it just so happened that the Universe saw fit that we all connect on an even greater level.
Amateurs could never do this well interviewing without such a duo to highlight. Claire and Shevaun are your next girl crushes. From humble beginnings to shared success; we cover it all. Snag the earphones so you don’t miss a beat.
I strive to have such an intense and profound relationship with my entire being, just so that I can anticipate my every need. Being able to quickly decipher what is missing from your balance physically and emotionally is a skill that takes practice, and absolutely essential to your survival and wellness. There is a lot of listening and feeling going on when honing this skill. I’m not all the way there yet but I amaze myself on the fact of; when I come through, I come all the way through.
A few weeks ago I came down with a cold and I just knew a sinus infection was in my future, it was just a matter of time. My husband and I had plans to go away for a weekend to an office holiday party/romantic weekend. However, just a day before my toddler fell ill. We packed him up and brought him along for the ride. Resting in a hotel room is only bound to create a prime environment for a giant Petri Dish. While I could feel the effects before we made our way back home, I was doing everything in my power to slow it down. Zinc, Sudafed, herbal tea and lots of water.
The work week came and by Tuesday, at 10 am – the alarms in my head were going off. “Get out!” Within 5 minutes I was closing down shop, off to The drug store for the essentials; vitamin C, tissues, ibuprofin and saline rinse. Within the hour, I had a fresh pot of veggies going and chicken baking in the oven. I was getting ready to eat the best chicken noodle soup I have ever made in my life. Celery, carrots, onions, garlic, two types of broth, olive oil, seasonings, noodles…. and chicken.
It wasn’t until just a couple years ago I discovered turmeric was the secret ingredient in making this soup go round. Add some cracked black pepper and garlic; you just made yourself a superfood. A home made meal full of warmth and nutrients – is filled with love, care and healing.
So many issues we face today surrounding our health involve what we eat, or even what we leave out of our diets. I personally am coming to realize how much we can really help our bodies and our minds with a little peace and some food laced with rich vitamins and minerals. Do yourself a favor and start with your gut. Your whole system will thank you for being so mindful.
We started this blog a year ago to share our journeys of personal growth, and to build a creative community. Through creating weekly content, highlighting people who are achieving their dreams, and hosting retreats that focused on self care, we built something even bigger: a Community that quickly evolved into Dream Broad Magazine – Sacramento’s very own independent print publication that has featured work from a vastly diverse group of individuals.
Through the magazine, we are able to share our experiences and capture the perspective of those that have valuable input to share. From the blog to the magazine, our core values of growth, creativity, community and self-care remain the same and we will continue to do this work because we love it.
We thank you all for your love and support, and hope that you will continue on this journey with us through Dream Broad.
Akilah & Isabel