Let’s Check In

Written while streaming the Black History Salute playlist on Spotify.

I parked at the coffee shop, got out of my car, and saw my dear friend, Addy, and his mom  walking to the same place. Now, that’s how you start a week off right. Impromptu coffee with best buddies.

That reflection, tho.

Here are a few unrelated things on my mind, today:

This weekend my friend Darcie and I went to see a play at McPherson College. It was powerful. It was one of those things where it feels very abrupt to just turn the lights on and get released back into your real life. For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide/ When The Rainbow is Enuf “consists of a series of poetic monologues to be accompanied by dance movements and music, a form Shange coined as the choreopoem. for colored girls… tells the stories of seven women who have suffered oppression in a racist and sexist society.” I just decided to copy from the Wikipedia entry on it because I couldn’t find the right words to describe it, myself.
This play was written back in 1975 and still felt so utterly relevant. There wasn’t a solid plot line to the play as it was a series of monologues and between monologues, music was played. Some of it was older music–like Strange Fruit by Nina Simone but most of the music was current. The majority of it was taken from Beyonce’s Lemonade. I think that was a brilliant choice to help point out the fact that these situations discussed in the piece are not old. I mean–they are. But they’re not over. They also had Lemonade playing in the lobby with an explanation of the relevance of it. There was so much thematic overlap between the play and the album.

I don’t actually know if I was allowed to take a photo but I couldn’t help myself.

I also loved the way they put the stage in the middle of the room and the audience all around. To me, it was a powerful statement that said, “we are here, living among you and for at least an hour, you can’t turn away”. Also, these women were incredible actors. During the last scene, I could hear so many people in the audience sobbing. They laid it all out there and didn’t hold back. I can’t imagine the vulnerability needed to be a great actor.

I’ve been listening to a podcast called Don’t Keep Your Day Job. As someone who didn’t keep her day-job and is trying to figure out how to make that a smart move, this hit me at the right time. It’s hosted by Cathy Heller who has made a happy living by writing music. One of the pieces of advice that she’s constantly dishing out is the concept of the Three Things Approach. That is when you think about your big, ultimate goal, what are three things that you can do, today, to move in that direction. I think it’s a brilliant and practical approach to tackling big projects because doing a big thing is really just what happens when you’ve done lots of little things.
I’ve been applying this to my home life, too. Like, I have a big goal of downsizing… everything. That’s a big task. But today I wrote down three things I can do today to work towards that goal: 1. Make a list of every area that needs to be addressed. 2. Collect boxes. 3. Get all the laundry cleaned (because I’m going to start with cleaning the closets).

The #xoxoselfiechallenge is in full effect on Instagram! For the month of February we’re focusing on different areas of self-care. The hope is that we’ll try out all these different areas and find a way that clicks with us and feeds our soul. It’s different for everyone! It’s not always bubble baths and chocolate. Also, we just announced our first giveaway, today!

Speaking of self-care, have you read this blog post yet?  A Gentle Warrior’s Guide to Navigating the New World: I feel like it has been instrumental in keeping me happy and healthy the past few weeks.


What kinds of things are singing to your soul these days?


Announcing the 2017 #xoxoselfiechallenge!

I have heard the cries of my people and I’m here to give you what you asked for! This time last year we were gearing up for a Selfie Challenge. I’d conceived of it a night or two before the launch and it was very thrown together. But it was a lot of fun! I think most of the joy came from injecting fun and community into, arguably, one of the coldest and most desolate months of winter. Also it’s so exciting to see your face on the regular!

Last February, our selfie challenge focused on self acceptance and love. On our hashtag, #xoxoselfiechallenge we got over 700 tagged photos and dozens and dozens of participants. I heard back from many of you who said that you had learned so much about yourself along the way. That kind of feedback makes my heart swell! I love you all so much. You know that, right?


This time the challenge is different. It’s bigger and better than ever. For starters—we have a few sponsors! That means that at the end of each week, we have stuff to giveaway! This excites me because I’ve wanted to lavish you with gifts for so long.

Another way that this challenge is different is our focus. Self Care is the name of the game this go-round. Now, I know what you’re thinking but there’s so much more to self-care than taking bubble baths and letting yourself eat more chocolate than you normally would. Through the course of February, we’re going to explore 28 different methods of self-care. Some of them are of the treat-yo-self variety, sure. Other prompts focus on stretching your creativity, caring for others, or setting Future You up for success! I had so much fun doing research and selecting prompts that gave you room to use your imagination.

So because this isn’t necessarily about “selfies”, you certainly don’t have to find creative ways to get your face into every single one of these photos (although I do want to see your face because that ish just lights me up). Think of it more as a Caring For Your Self(ie) Challenge. At the end of the month, we’ll re-group and talk about the different self-care techniques that you felt like really fed you and some others that were more difficult to get through. This is all about self-exploration, getting to know what works for you, and what it looks like when things are really clicking.

What do you think? Are you in? Cool. Do you want to invite a friend along on the journey? That’s awesome. The more, the merrier!

How to participate:

The entire challenge and all giveaways will take place on Instagram. Make sure that you’re following @realxoxolib to ensure that you won’t miss anything. I’ll give you updates as time draws closer and that’s where you’ll find out about how to participate in giveaways as well.

Every day (or as often as is reasonable), you’ll take a photo that correlates with that day’s prompt and hashtag it with #xoxoselfiechallenge. Then make sure you surf through the hashtag, meet everyone else, and see what they’re up to!

My hope is that this shared experience helps to foster an even deeper sense of community among XOXO readers. You’re all so loyal and wonderful and I’m lucky to have you—I just want you all to know one another, too!


So if you’re seeing this now, post ^^this graphic^^ to your Instagram account, tag it with #xoxoselfie challenge and let your friends know that you’ll be participating! Invite them along with us! I think we’ll have a blast.

If you have questions, leave them in the comments and I promise to get back with you!

Thank you for being awesome!

It Sounds Terrifying and Awesome. Let’s Do It

Ever since the incredible Kalene of Blue Muse Photography asked me to be a part of this project, I knew I wanted to write about it.

Ever since I got the results back on the reader survey that I sent out into the internet, and I read about how many of you are challenged by your own sense of body image, I knew I wanted to write about it.

Ever since Saturday afternoon when Kat and I were driving home from this exciting, mind-shifting experience, I knew I wanted to write about it.

Ever since Kalene showed me these final (not-photoshopped) photos and I squealed over them, I knew I wanted to write about it.

Man, but what is there to say when I don’t have any words? Or, rather, I have so many words that I can’t form them into anything coherent? But I know I need to write about it so here we go, I’m going to just do it and allow the magic that happens when you trust the process take shape.


Continue reading “It Sounds Terrifying and Awesome. Let’s Do It”

Announcing the #XOXOSummerSelfie challenge!

“Now maybe there’s a lesson I’ve been given
Or some wisdom from the stories that I need to tell.
And everybody’s hoping and scraping and wishing
They could be something outside themselves.
If I can be me, then you can be yourself.”
Tunde Olaniran

We’re only half way through 2016 and I feel like we’re due for a pick-me-up. I feel like we’re beyond due. World—what are you doing to yourself?

So I think to myself, what’s one thing that almost always perks up my mood? And you know what it is? It’s when I’m feeling bored or feeling sad and I’m scrolling through my Instagram feed and I see a photo of one of my dear friends. Endorphins just start shooting all over the place. It’s magnificent! Don’t you love it? Image(31)


Anyway, so how’s about another Selfie Challenge?
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I believe in selfies as a form of radical self-love. I think it’s crucial to proper self-development to get used to seeing yourself and sharing yourself. It can sometimes be really brave and it can sometimes be fishing for compliments and sometimes you’re just feeling yourself. And all of those reasons and so many more are very, very okay!



We did a Selfie Challenge back in February and we had 725 participating photographs on Instagram! My goal is to go for over a thousand this time. Do you think we can make it happen? I mean, the fact that July is longer than February will help. And readership has grown since then (hi new people!!). And you love to share posts on social media and get your friends involved—I see you! So I think a thousand is a perfectly attainable goal. The more the merrier is not only a cliché—it’s also a solid truth. In this instance.

Rules: Starting Friday, July 1st, anyone who wants to contribute can! You don’t have to do it every day—though that IS the challenge of it. You don’t even have to follow the list of themes. You make this into whatever works for you. But in the end, I want our community to come together over celebration of ourselves and each other because that’s the way that we make this weird world a better place to exist.
The only real rule is that you take a photo that contains at least a little bit of yourself in it and then upload that photo to Instagram with the hashtag:
#xoxosummerselfie .

Here’s a calendar that I made with some suggested themes for each day—for those of us who like a little direction.

Save this to your phone and refer back to it every day.

Last time we did this, I left you with a song to get you pumped up for the month ahead of us. Don’t think that I left you song-less this time.

I hope you already know about Tunde Olaniran but just in case you don’t, I give you his mind blowing song, “Namesake” which has become my fight song lately.

“Now maybe there’s a lesson I’ve been given
Or some wisdom from the stories that I need to tell
And everybody’s hoping and scraping and wishing
They could be something outside themselves
If I can be me, then you can be yourself
Might not be easy, it’s like we’re never satisfied

See you on Friday!

Page 73: Fake it ‘Till You Make It

The topic for today’s #xoxoselfie challenge is Fake It Till You Make It. And at first I couldn’t think of anything to post. I had whatever the Instagram version of writer’s block is. My main thought was, “I can’t afford to fake anything right now.”


Truth is that I’m feeling a little bit low. A few weeks ago, I was talking to a friend about how when we go through something exciting, once we’re on the other end of it we can tend to get kind of inexplicably sad feeling despite how happy we really are in the long run. I don’t think that happens to everyone but it definitely happens to me. There’s been a ton of prep and now that it’s over—woosh… feelings come in. It happened after our wedding. For a few weeks after we came back to real life, I felt very low. Very sad. And that’s when I think I really learned that feelings aren’t very trustworthy. They’re valid—don’t get me wrong. But they wax and wane. And they roll in and out like the tide. So I want to tell you why I can’t afford to fake it till I make it, today. Not today.

Continue reading “Page 73: Fake it ‘Till You Make It”