We can all agree that even
the best laid plans can go awry at any moment. This past month, we’ve both had
our share of cringe-worthy moments, and times that gave us pause. Through it
all, we were constantly reminded how important it is to show up as our
authentic selves and stay true to our values. Real life is certainly not a
fairytale, nor is it full of clickable moments that can be summed up through a cliché caption on Instagram. Sometimes it’s difficult,
messy, and full of challenges. However, if we are unapologetically ourselves
and seek support from the people and spaces that energize us, we’re better
prepared for any adventures—good or bad— that life throws our way. Regularly practicing
those behaviors leaves room for us to embrace moments of fulfillment, happiness
and joy with open arms.
Over the last few weeks, the
two of us have been able to connect more than once in person, which is a
considerable feat as life continues to pull us in a million directions! We were
thankful to spend time together and catch up over great food and wine, and we will
carry those times with us until we are able to see one another again. These outings
served as timely reminders that when less-than ideal situations arise, we have
to make the most of them, and then go laugh about them with our friends and at
least two bottles of wine…
Sip happens! It’s how we recover that counts. Here are some important reminders in times of chaos:
Keep your friends close, and keep your wine closer!
Your current issue/situation will definitely make for a good happy hour story at some point.
It doesn’t feel like it now, but life finds a way of balancing out.
Take it one day at a time.
It’s okay not to be okay. Seriously.
Listen to yourself, you always know what’s best for you.
Seek gratitude even in the most trying of situations.
featured wine of the month is Elmo Pio Sweet
Red. The growing popularity of sweet red wine has prompted many wine companies
to create sweet reds that are a blend of many different grapes with added sugar
and sometimes other flavors. This isn’t the case with Elmo Pio! Their Sweet Red
isn’t a blend, and is 100% Italian Brachetto D’Acqui grapes. This grape, grown
in the Piemonte region of Italy, is known for its’s fruity flavor and unmistakable
aromas of rose petals. Full tasting notes below:
“Sweet Red has a touch of frizzante. Because of the lighter alcohol content, this wine is bright and has a deliciously fresh fruity taste with aromas of black raspberry and black cherry. Enjoy with friends on a warm summer evening or served with fresh fruit desserts or chocolates!”
In our March blog“Resist with Rose” we provided some mental health resources to our readers, understanding that many individuals navigate their mental health in isolation, especially in communities of color. While brainstorming our next topic, we thought it fitting to provide mental health awareness its own article, to underscore the the importance of removing the stigma associated with mental health. In 2005, NPR did a broadcast titled the The Stigma of Mental Illness in Communities of Color. During this broadcast they shared :
“The National Institutes of Health says almost half of all Americans will develop some form of mental illness during their lifetime and that many of those diagnosed first experience symptoms during their adolescent years. But in communities of color, the numbers may be more devastating because of the stigma involved.”
If individuals do not take time to tend their mental health they can develop or exacerbate other health conditions. Furthermore, it can lead to unhealthy habits such substance abuse and addiction to things such as drugs or alcohol, which are temporary fixes.
I first began therapy my freshman spring of college. I had finished my first semester at Bryn Mawr, and I felt a ton of emotions. During this time, I was navigating my course load, my multiple campus jobs, extracurricular activities, familial dynamics/responsibilities, while also being on the receiving end of someone else’s nervous breakdown and untreated mental health. Moreover, I was adjusting and accepting what being in a predominantly white space, that was formed on the precepts of white supremacy, could do to the mental psyche of a student of color. At that moment I remembered the College offered 6 free counseling sessions to students, and I signed up for my first appointment. In the back of my head I knew my family would be supportive of the idea, but at the same time I did not want to share this at first because I did not know how me enrolling would be perceived, did it mean I was weak, or wasn’t strong enough to navigate and persevere through. After attending a few sessions, I began to feel a weight lift as I was able to talk to an objective individual in a confidential space; it gave me the freedom that I needed at the time to determine my stressors and what I could control. As I continued at Bryn Mawr, every spring I found myself in the counseling center, because that time of year I always found myself the most stressed. After a while I comfortable sharing this with other people beside my mom, because I saw how much it helped me and I thought it could help others.
After graduation, I did not continue therapy, and often made plans to find a new therapist, but I just with life demands , I never get around to it. In the last year, I have dealt with a variety of emotions, and life events in a condensed time frame, and I felt I needed that outlet again because it provided me the outlet to find balance. I spoke with my primary doctor who is a woman of color about my experiences and she underscored the importance of managing stress, and being intuned with my mental health, which was an important reminder. During my search for a therapist, I determined a black female therapist, because I did not want to have to always provide context when explaining a certain situations. Through my research I found black female therapist who approaches counseling, from a social justice advocate lens, which was like music to my ears. Through this process I have been able to find the language and the verbage to articulate how I was feeling, but also validated my experiences. Through this process I am continuing to learn more about myself and the importance of making sure I’m whole.
From a very young age, I learned to cast emotions aside and mask my negative thoughts and feelings with a false appearance of happiness. To be clear, there were many times that I was genuinely happy, but the periods that I wasn’t were incredibly difficult to push through. I can’t count the number of times I was told to smile, “think positive thoughts,” and sweep things under the proverbial rug. I embraced books as my escape from reality when everything seemed too overwhelming to process, and journals were welcome friends with whom I shared my deepest thoughts and secrets. To this day, I have at least 3 journals lying around my apartment at all times, for those moments I need to write out what I don’t wish to share with the world.
In high school, I started meeting with a counselor without even realizing I was engaging in therapy. It was a completely new world for me, and I greeted it with open arms. Mental health was not a welcome topic in my family, stemming from both a strong cultural stigma and individuals’ negative past experiences with therapy themselves. In college, when I decided to pursue a different career path than one I had set for myself at the age of 5, and was just beginning to deal with past trauma and anxiety triggers, I knew it was time to make my mental health a priority. My senior year, I regularly attended therapy sessions, which I am forever grateful for. The summer after my graduation from Bryn Mawr, I desperately needed to talk with someone. Fortunately, after a few months of hiding, I reached out for help.
In July 2015, I was sexually assaulted by someone I had been seeing throughout my senior year of college. I reverted to (horrible) coping mechanisms I had honed carefully over time, and pushed my feelings so deep down that it’s taken 3 full years to pull them back out. My therapist not only helps me continue to heal, but also helps me better understand myself each week. It doesn’t matter if I’m working through my past experiences, my professional life, or my relationships, I know that my time in therapy is a safe place to open up and really engage with my emotions, and work through healthy solutions. It’s perfectly fine to not feel okay 100% of the time, and it’s been a blessing to learn and accept that. This process is empowering for me, and I look forward to continued growth on this journey.
As we go into May which is Mental Health Awareness Month, let’s work to de-stigmatize mental health. Dealing with mental health can be a very uncomfortable topic, however it’s important to navigate our health in ways that makes sense for us. For some it may be therapy, others may find other outlets such as religion, or meditation. No matter the strategy, just remember to take the time to recharge and focus on you.
We have 99 problems and sexism is one of them. In honor Women’s History Month, we want to celebrate women trailblazers, who have been unbought and unbossedin their pursuits. Moreover, we want to acknowledge the barriers women still face in social, and professional spaces, and discuss how race, age, and socioeconomic status impact women’s daily interactions, and even their health.
Being a young African American female, in a predominately white male industry, offers great learning opportunities for everyone involved, including me, however it also creates room for marginalization of all of my identities simultaneously. Working in HR and having to deliver tough messages, adds another level of complexity because now I am a young African American female, telling privileged individuals “no”, or not be able to appease their desires, which is not what they are used to, especially from someone that looks like me.
In the last couple of months, I’ve experienced the most pervasive marginalization that I can remember, being silenced in meetings, and being held accountable for my white colleagues work product, and constantly being given “feedback” for incidents that I had no control over, while doing my job and someone else’s job . Once I realized what was occurring, I debated on saying something, because sometimes I get tired of having to always fight, but then I thought about the fact that I am positioned to actually say something. Moreover, I thought about the young women, and people of color who will come after me who should not have to work twice as hard, to be disrespected, and not compensated for their efforts.
I have learned, lived and worked in predominantly women run spaces for the majority of my life, something that I deeply appreciate for many reasons. However, it would be a lie to say that those spaces are perfect. And whether I am surrounded by men or women, it remains a sad reality that women of color are not positioned to thrive like their white counterparts.
I have had supervisors acknowledge me with “Hola!” at work, while they wave and say “Greetings!” or “Good morning!” to everyone else in the office. Strangers assume I don’t speak English and complain about Mexicans while I’m standing in the elevator with them. Men think it’s okay to call me stupid and shout at me over the phone, while also asking inappropriate and invasive questions about me in the same breath. People comfortably commit microaggressions on a daily basis, because they can do so while still smiling at me. Lately, I’ve been taking steps to position myself for future success, in ways that I feel truly respected and valued. In doing so, I was reminded (by empowering friends) of how much agency I actually possess, and my ability to tackle these issues head on.
As a White Latina, I also think about intersectionality, and how to own both my privileged and marginalized identities. I am often confronted with the fact that I appear racially ambiguous, which is frustrating, but also affords me an advantage that I cannot deny. I am a Latina that society more readily embraces because of my whiteness. Acknowledging this means that I have a responsibility to create pipelines for other women of color, and to support them in any way possible. We cannot collectively move forward unless we lift one another up along the way.
Trailblazers to Know:
Gloria E. Anzaldúa
Where Do We Go from Here?
Speaking from experience, we know that it can be hard to advocate for yourself when you have financial and other responsibilities to consider. Here are some tips for folks dealing with issues of discrimination and marginalization:
Don’t blame yourself
Attempt to talk to those causing the discomfort to share what you are experiencing, and what your ideal situation is moving forward (we understand this is not always an option)
Speak with your supervisor or someone position in a place of authority and share your concerns
Loop in Human Resources, Diversity Inclusion Leader, internal Ethics or Bias Department
Talk with affinity or Business Resource Groups if your organization has them
Identify healthy outlets for yourself
Exercise, Therapy, Religion
Inform your primary care physician as discrimination can lead to stress that can spark and or exacerbate existing medical conditions
Document your Interactions
File complaints with
U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
Your local or State Human Relations Commission
Seek legal representation
Often times marginalization occurs due to lack of awareness, and accountability, however with the rise of of social movements like Me Tooand Times Up, individuals and businesses are taking notice, and are attempting holding employees more accountable. There is still room for improvement, and there has to be a continuous, intersectional approach to these movements, being sure to take into account the role race, class, religion, and sexual identity and orientation has in this conversation. To allies: when you see your friends, or colleagues are being silenced and treated unfairly, you should speak up. This time it might be happening to someone else, but next time it could be your identity being marginalized.
This month’s wine pairing is Penns Woods Winery’s Moscato Rose 2017. It was the Silver Medal Winner in the 2017 International Woman’s Wine Competition, and Penns Woods holds a special place in our hearts as the first winery we visited together. Tasting notes below!
This refreshingly sweet and slightly effervescent Moscato and Merlot blend possesses flavors of strawberry, peach, and grapefruit. This wine is smooth, sweet, and easy to drink.
Love is scary. It means being vulnerable with someone else, and giving them the opportunity to hurt you. Like most, we both have had our share of interesting experiences when it comes to dating, and had the moments where we say “I’m never doing this again.” However, as time passes you realize that not only do those encounters make you stronger, they also occasionally provide you with moments of laughter– to be shared with good friends over equally great wine! Before we jump into those moments (and the wine), here are some of our lessons learned while dating:
At the top of our list, we realized the importance of remaining open to love, even when previous experiences have left us feeling pessimistic. Lesson two is that there is no formula for the perfect relationship, and each relationship will be vastly different than the last. Lesson three is to feel empowered and supported, in all relationships, both romantic and platonic. And of course, above all, we must remember to have FUN! Otherwise, what are we doing?
Below are some of our crazy, laughable, and real dating experiences. Feel free to guess which moment belongs to whom, and don’t forget to check out our wine pairing of the month! It might be your new Valentine’s Day favorite.
“I don’t think we will work, since you’re not open to visiting a nudist beach”
“Let’s be long-distance friends with benefits.”
“I could be the guy that you think about twenty years from now when you’re married with kids. I’ll be on a beach somewhere, doing whatever.”
“Will you have a threesome with me and my babymom?”
“I really thought when Obama was elected, racism was over.”
“Can I eat cereal out of your dimples in your cheeks?”
“I know it’s our second date, but it’s not too soon to say I love you. Can I put a baby in you?”
This month’s wine pairing is Duckhorn Vineyards’ Napa Valley Merlot. This Merlot is described as “a rich and cohesive expression of the entire Napa Valley, reflecting the varied microclimates and soils of this unique appellation”, with hints of cherry, plum and black fig. Full tasting notes below!
“Combining lovely structure and alluring appeal, this is a classic expression of Duckhorn Vineyards Merlot. Intense aromas of ripe cherry, plum and black fig rise from the glass, underscored by hints of leather and cedar. On the palate, it is lush and supple, with bright acidity and velvety tannins supporting layers of raspberry and black cherry, as well as hints of coffee and chocolate that carry through on the long finish.” Ideal food pairings include meatloaf, BBQ, brisket sliders, and grilled marinated quail.
Now that we are are just over a month into 2018, we decided to think about the past year, and how we can better care for ourselves. Below we outlined the processes we followed to plan for a productive 2018, and our purpose for doing so. We also compiled a list of tips we learned along the way in our “Reclaiming Our Time Checklist.”
Each December I find myself analyzing the outgoing year, I assess my wins and losses, and most importantly identify how I can make the upcoming year more successful than the prior.
One goal that I set in preparation for this year, was to find balance and ensure my personal well-being in the midst of life’s demand–in other words, I am reclaiming my time in 2018. I made the decision that I would not give situations and individuals that do not uplift me, my time or energy. Moreover, I committed to set boundaries particularly in my professional life.
I’m not typically one for creating resolutions or setting new goals with each new year, but recently I stopped to reflect on why exactly this is the case.
I tend to joke with my friends about how every year will be my year, and how unstoppable I will be once the calendar resets to January 1. When reality hits, and all is said and done, each December I’m left feeling like there is more I could have done– personally, professionally, etc. Honestly, I place so much value in doing my very best to support other people that I lose myself in the process; I invest my energy, time, and resources into everyone else’s success and forget to do the same for me.
To that end, this year I am ready. Ready to invest in me, and my ambitions. Because no one can advocate for me better than myself. I’m ready to be intentional and thoughtful about where I expend effort, and to whom I give my full attention.
Reclaiming our Time Checklist:
•Find comfort in saying No
•Recognize & accept that we are all a work in progress
•Be aware of our mental, spiritual, & physical well-being
•Implement boundaries wherever necessary (and stick to them)
•Participate in uplifting & reciprocal spaces
Most importantly, finding new wine to taste, and enjoy with friends! The wine we’ve chosen to pair with this post is Julia James Pinot Noir. Described as a “tribute to the future,” this medium-bodied red has a hint of spice. Full tasting notes below!
“Julia James Pinot Noir stands apart in balance, structure, and elegance. Fresh, lively, and easy to enjoy with delightful aromas of raspberry, flora and baking spices. Medium-bodied with bright acidity that showcases notes of cherry, vanilla, and well-integrated oak. The lingering finish incorporates harmonious berry and earth flavors. Ideal food pairings include savory pork dishes, hearty salmon preparations, and grilled vegetables.”