The Power of Vulnerability

The Power of Vulnerability

Pull up a chair, sis. (And fellas too) This is exactly what it sounds like.  Let’s get right into it.

Vulnerability. Man, look.

The simple mention of that word is enough to make me shift my weight and squirm in discomfort.  
Allow me to explain:  I consider myself to be, pretty much, an open book. Folks know that I share my experiences online—that I can be super transparent and often use my daily situations, accomplishments and failures to both express my humanity, and to encourage myself and others on this journey called life. Even with all the perceived negatives of social media, I’ve come to find that shared experiences make one feel less alone. To know that you’re not the only one going through life’s challenges in the way that you are, can be a huge relief. At any rate, even with all of my so called “openness”, I still have the tendency to distance myself from certain situations that call for just that.  What are they? You guessed it; matters of the heart.

First, let’s look at the definition of the V word. I can barely say it without flaring up my acid reflux.
Vulnerable: adjective
susceptible to physical or emotional attack or harm.
 

 

Bruh. Who the HELL wants to be that?

It is simply basic human instinct to strive, at all times, to protect ourselves. Even the homie Sigmund Freud said, that “the deepest essence of human nature consists of self-preservation.”


What a mind f**k.

How in the hell am I supposed to self-preserve and seek love at the same damn time?  And that, my friends, is the question I ask myself every day.

I have literally ruined great potential partnerships by my unwillingness to open up completely, in that regard. As caring of a person as I can be, when it comes to dealing with relationships with men, I have only allowed them to get but so far, until I feel myself falling. Then, I take a lap and trap myself behind this extensional, proverbial wall.

Now, this wall? It’s not like Cheeto Satan’s alleged wall, but it might be just as absurd. In my mind, it’s made of glass, so technically, I’m able to see bae on the other side, and he can see me. (hey boo!) We talk to each other, we send cute gifts and exchange texts and calls. Every now and again, I come out from behind it when it’s time to be intimate, but I always return to my side, and he’s simply not allowed to cross the line.
Not only can that make one look emotionally unstable and partially insane, it can also be truly exhausting for the other person to think for example, that he’s getting ready to play basketball, and then I show up with a hockey stick, some cleats and a relay baton, smiling.  Girl, get your life.

The truth of the matter is, in order for me to truly love and be loved, that wall must come down. This is also not just a woman thing. I recognize that male vulnerability is a unique nuanced experience, that can be beautiful and just as difficult.

So, what does it ultimately boil down to, friends?

Fear.

Jazmine Sullivan said it best:  *sings* ‘’I’m not scared, of lions and tigers, and bears, but I’m scared of loving you.”

I feel you, sis. It be’s like that. We all know that when you lend your heart to another person, you’re essentially giving them the ability to break it into a million bite sized pieces. One day, I’ll tell y’all the full story. but basically– many moons ago– a bright eyed and bushy tailed Grace entrusted her heart to someone. Needless to say, brotha man violated in the most horrific of ways, and I haven’t quite been the same since.

Therapy? Yes. I go. But a decade later, I realize that I am still subconsciously fearful of the possibility of being hurt to that degree ever again. That said, a more recent romantic situation has taught me how much I can lose if I don’t overcome this obstacle.

I’ve come to understand that you have to harness the power of the V. (no, not that V. Nasty… Although, that post may soon come) and let it work for you. Understand that:

1. Great things are on the other side.

You might get hurt, granted. That’s life. But you also might flourish and find the great love that you’ve been yearning for. Discernment is key to deciding who and what to expose yourself to, but completely guarded emotions, cannot and will not work.

2. Self-Sabotage ain’t cute.

It doesn’t look good on you. Why push yourself further away from the things and people who are beneficial for you?  As ambitious women especially, I have no doubt that we will go for the jobs, apply for the promotion– but with love, we hesitate. Emotionally blocking yourself for the sake of safety is natural, albeit. But it can also be unproductive.

3.  You’re worth it: Say it with me. Vul-ner-ability. You will literally get nowhere from behind a glass wall. In order to move forward in love and in life, you have to open yourself up. It might not always get you the answers you want, but you will have the ones you need.

Trust yourself.

If for the first time, or like me, again.  

After all, Freud also said, “out of your vulnerabilities, will come your strength.”

It’s about time for me to take his– and my own–advice.

 

By: GraceOnTheMic
Twitter & IG: @GraceOnTheMic
Previously posted on: http://www.thegraceperiod.com/
#AreYouVSOP #TheVSOPLife
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Eat Good Feel Good – Smoothie Guide

Happy  New Year!!!

Yes, it’s the time where everyone is trying to be healthy or just lose the pounds that they’ve gained during the holiday season. When making a shake or smoothie it can be extremely difficult to find the right way to make one. Issues include, not knowing what to put into the smoothie, or having a blender that will be reliable enough for you to mix your shakes daily.  In this guide I will break down what it takes to make a great smoothie every time.

The Blender

So this is something that many people skimp on and this can be an important component to how you make shakes daily or multiple shakes throughout your day. There are many different options when it comes to blenders but I definitely will recommend that you make an investment in a good blender. Here are my recommendations:

An expensive but worthy investment

Blendtec

Blendtec is a little bit noisy but the blade on it is amazing. It also has preset controls where you literally just press one button and it will make your smoothie based on a set time and pulse pattern. It has a great warranty( 3 years Motor 1 Year Jar). Also, you could save money looking at refurbished models instead of new but you will lose out on the warranty. Click the link below if you are looking to purchase this blender.

Vitamix

The Vitamix is also an expensive but very great choice. I’ve linked their certified refurbished model where you can save some money and still have a great blender. The difference with this one is that it’s a manual control blender so you will need to pulse when blending your shakes.  This still is a great reliable blender for daily use. It comes with a 5-year warranty.

Bang For you Buck

Ninja Professional

If you are looking for a decent and pretty reliable blender the Ninja is a great bet for you. It will service you pretty well but you definitely have to be careful what you throw at it and load it well. Overall it blends pretty well and I use this as my backup blender.

Making Your Shake

So you have your blender now its time to make your shake! Below you will see an awesome infographic I first found in Men’s Health Magazine and I’ve used this as a guideline in how to make a great shake.   Below you will find the infographic and I will go in- depth with each step and finally in a separate post I will give you my personal shake recipe.

The Graphic

The Base of Your Shake

As a base for your shake. This is pretty self-explanatory. You can either go for plain yogurt, or Greek Yogurt( I use Greek myself) aim for yogurts that have low amounts of sugar. Fat you can go 0% or 2% some fat can be good depending on your goals.

When it comes to milk or nut kinds of milk (like almond milk) you can also go for the same idea as yogurt Or you can add a twist and use 100% juice. I normally use Bolthouse juice as my base.

When it comes to choosing protein there are a lot of options out there. I tend to try to use protein powders that are just that. Protein powder. Won’t go too in- depth but there are varying levels of quality and type when it comes to protein. The most widely used protein will usually be Whey Isolate. Then there are two types of protein Casein and Whey Isolates which have different properties.

Here are my recommendations for protein powders:

All Natural but a Bit Expensive

Bluebonnet 100% Natural Whey Protein Isolate Powder, French Vanilla

 Dual Action(Whey Isolate/Casein) Protein Original – 2.1 lbs – Powder

Great Value Protein Powder

Optimum Nutrition Naturally Flavored Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein, Vanilla, 1.9 Pound

Fruit

Fruits are pretty self-explanatory. You definitely want a variety. When possible, use frozen fruit (unless the fruit is in season). Depending on the blender you may have to let the frozen fruit thaw. Try to stay away from very citrusy fruits other than oranges.

Vegetables

Self-explanatory here as well. Be careful when adding veggies they can drastically alter the taste of your shake. Experiment and try to find a good combo if you would like to add them.

Thickener

These can add more texture to your shake. These are optional due to the fact they can definitely alter how your shake comes out. Be careful when adding these as they could be a bit harder to blend.

Health Boost

These are some great tips just to add a health boost to your drink. I actually found a great post-workout powder that can provide a great health overall health boost. This is what I recommend it combines a ton of health boosters:  Vega Sport Recovery Accelerator, Tropical, Tub, 19oz

Additionally, I add flaxseed to my shakes. Some of the best I’ve found is the following:

Spectrum Essentials Ground Flaxseed with Mixed Berries, 12 Ounce

You can also find individual containers for some of the items listed.

Flavor Boost

Finally, when it comes to flavor boosts cinnamon, honey, and vanilla extract have been extremely great add to my shakes. I’m not sure how great maple syrup would be but experiment a bit and you may find your best taste to your shake.

Final Thoughts

For this post, I hope this has provided you with a great start to creating a great tasting and healthy shake. There are many combinations that you can create and this gives you a great guide in making an awesome shake. Check out this post with my personal shake recipe!

By: K. Ritch
Previously posted on:https://yngblkaffluent.wordpress.com/
#AreYouVSOP #TheVSOPLife
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V.S.OP Spotlight: “The BARMAIDE”

Joiah “The BarMaide” Ladson

Its a pleasure to have our first of many Opulent Spotlights to be a close friend to the VSOP fam, Ms. Joiah Ladson. You might remember her as one of the best mixologists in the tri-state area, but now she can be found mixing it up as she ascends the fitness circuit traveling with the BarStarrz and matching the most effective workout regimens for her clients as a personal trainer.

Joiah was born and raised in Queens, New York, and was an active child as her parents ensured that she was engaged in organized sports. She left New York to pursue a Bachelor’s Degree in Forensic Science with a concentration in Biology which she received in 2011 from the University of New Haven. While attending UNH, Joiah participated in many clubs and activities, but according to her own admission, her favorite activity was drinking. She shared that though she had amazing nights while under the influence, it took a toll on her well being.   In an interview with the VSOP Team, Joiah shares how she overcame her bout with alcohol and transformed from bar waitress to the “Barmaide.”

VSOP: “Tell us about your journey. How did you get into the industry that you are in?”
JL: “For years I struggled with alcoholism, it was taking a toll on my life and the people around me. I was spending too much money on alcohol and neglecting my bills. When I wasn’t drinking at my bartending job, I was drinking at home or at some other Happy Hour. In addition to drinking, I also had terrible eating habits. These habits included Doritos, fried chicken, Chinese food, daily trips to McDonald’s, bar food and non stop snacking. Within a few months I was at my heaviest weight, my stress levels had skyrocketed, bills piled up and I determined that it was time for a serious change. At this time I stopped making excuses for myself, signed up for a gym, cleaned up my eating habits and reached out to a few of my personal trainer friends that could help me get my life together.”

Alcoholism is a serious issue to face, and it controls many people’s lives. It is not uncommon for alcoholism to lead to bouts of depression and other life altering conditions. Joiah was able to replace the bottle with an outlet that not only improved her health, but also, her well being and her wealth.
JL: “I saved about $400 per month by eliminating alcohol purchases, and I gained an amazing body in return.  After about six months of working out on my own and with friends, I hired a personal trainer for some extra fitness advice. My personal trainer saw my drive and dedication which led us both to believe that I had a career in personal training. I decided to get into training because I realized the joys that fitness brought into my life. I knew I’d be able to connect with my clients on multiple levels because of what I had been through. I wanted to let people know that happiness and longevity are just a workout away. Exercise and healthy eating have the same addictive qualities as alcohol and drug use, except the results are much more rewarding.”

 

Many people would be satisfied with facing and conquering their demons, but this is only the beginning for “The Barmaide”.  Just as anyone who is seeking opulence in their lives, Joiah has goals and big goals at that.

VSOP: “Where do you see yourself at in the next 10 years?”
JL: “In ten years I see myself still involved in health and wellness, but more so as a brand.  I want to produce literature, digital apps, clothing and do motivational speaking that help promote my message.”

VSOP: “In regard to your message, what legacy do you seek to leave behind through your craft?”
JL:  “The legacy that I’d like to leave behind is that everyone struggles but that shouldn’t deter us from seeking better. You don’t have to be a product of a negative environment because life is so much easier when you’re happy. When you’re in a negative mind state, opportunity knocks but you’re too busy sulking that you won’t get up to answer. Once you change to a positive outlook on life, opportunity just walks right in.”

 

Opportunity is what many are waiting for, but just as Joiah stated, if you are not ready it will pass you by. As you continue to grind toward your goals and aspirations, remember that obstacles and barriers are meant to teach us lessons.  The road from bartender to “The Barmaide” has been riddled with obstacles, but Joiah has faced each challenge head on with intensity, and she has learned from what she has endured to get to where she is.

JL: “Throughout this journey I’ve faced some health and financial obstacles that slowed my process but never stopped me. Participating in Spartan Races taught me that obstacles are meant to be overcome. I’ve been in the hospital for severe dehydration and starvation, ruptured ovarian cysts and emergency wisdom tooth extraction. Unexpected car/medical issues that I didn’t budget for would take away from my grocery and gym membership funds but I always found a way to pull through. Besides the medical and financial issues I was still battling my addiction. For the first few months into the journey I had to really convince myself that I did not NEED alcohol. I embrace everything I’ve been through because it lets me know that I can overcome challenges. If I had to do one thing all over again I would alter my spending habits and budget more wisely.”

VSOP: “What advice would you give a young person looking to get into your industry?”
JL: “ To the young person looking to get into personal training and all around wellness I recommend that you do your research. When I started working out I wasn’t familiar with the science behind it. I currently hold three different certifications which allow me to better assist my clients in reaching their goals (Certified Personal Training, Performance Enhancement Specialist and Corrective Exercise Specialist). Use your resources and understand that even after studying the science portion you’re still not the smartest person in the world. There is a constant exchange of knowledge in this field that will allow you to excel. Practice what you preach. On a number of occasions I’ve seen trainers advise certain workout and meal regimens but they’re overweight with poor eating habits. Just like the airline oxygen mask principle, you have to take care of yourself before you can take care of anyone else. Let it be understood that your body is your business card and your lifestyle is your resume.”

VSOP: “In your opinion what is opulence?”
JL: “Opulence is health, because health is wealth. The greatest luxury I can ever obtain is a fit and healthy body that can perform the way a body should.”

 

Life is an ever changing path with many twists and turns. One that “The Barmaide” herself has traversed and is still progressing along with a far more positive outlook. With her drive, passion, perseverance and know-how, Joiah has defined her opulence and is certainly seizing it, truly living the VSOP Life. Salute to “The Barmaide” for who you were, who you are, and who you are becoming!

Now there’s only one question to ask, #AreYouVSOP?

Joiah “The BarMaide” Ladson

IG: @The_Barmaide
Twitter: @MamaJ_UrHiness
Email: jlads19@gmail.com