Changes. For the better.



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Change is a process. It involves layer upon layer of mental, emotional and physical stamina. In fact, said terms are probably misnomers. Change is such a holistic experience that even trying to break it down into categories is probably pointless.

To change is a beautiful experience though, because you don't always notice you've changed until you realize you aren't doing this thing or behaving that way any more. You've evolved and in some cases, you've experienced a revolution: a 360-degree cipher. Before you know it, you've made that "turn, turn, turn," like Ecclesiastes says to do. For, "to everything there is a season" and so, change just boldly manifests one way or another regardless of your intentions.

Below are a few changes I've implemented in varying stages, most during the last 12 years. Some things I've been doing so long I forgot that I didn't always do them. Other things are new to me and yet, I can't imagine doing things any other way. I hope these are helpful to you and yours.

Small changes for your kitchen 

Quinoa - From the first moment I encountered quinoa, I knew we would be inseparable. Quinoa is my whole grain of choice and I eat rice sparingly now that I've incorporated quinoa into my diet. Simply put, quinoa is a whole grain and a complete protein. It packs plenty of nutrients and is often referred to as a superfood. You can buy the grain as is or buy quinoa pasta as well as other items made from quinoa flour.

Coconut - Coconut Oil is an amazing all-purpose ingredient. You can use it on your skin, in your hair and you can cook with it. Trader Joe's sells organic virgin coconut oil for $5.99. All other things coconut are just as amazing (coconut milk, coconut flour, coconut ice cream, coconut butter and coconut vinegar). In fact, when the revolution was televised, it literally involved coconuts. Much respect to the revolutionaries of Papua, New Guinea. I am forever in awe of their tenacity.

Homemade Salad Dressing - Part of the struggle with eating more green vegetables is figuring out how to season them in ways that are healthy but still tasty. Many store-bought salad dressings are either healthy and kind of expensive or cheap and full of ingredients that cancel out your intentions to begin with. With that said, make dressing. Get creative and live boundlessly. My favorite salad dressings are made with tahini or avocado (and sometimes involve them both). Fresh herbs, like oregano or parsley, add that extra flavor boost that you need to set things off. When in doubt, google a recipe. Meanwhile, get greener with Baby Kale or Power Greens.

Coupons - Wholefoods has them. If you don't see them around ask for them. Also, you can download your own via the internet from places like mambosprouts.com or even from the manufacturers themselves. Whatever you do, be empowered: you don't have to be penalized for eating healthier. You just have to work smarter.

Cleaners without Toxins - I thought it would be difficult to transition from traditional cleaners to less hazardous ones but it was much easier than I thought. Some brands can be a little pricey but I've learned to work with coupons or even to make my own when necessary. I've used everything from tea tree, peppermint and eucalyptus oil to lemon and baking soda. I'll admit I've been conditioned to look for bubbles. When I don't see suds I panic. However, I'm learning that to clean and disinfect doesn't always require suds depending on the product. In the meantime, I still buy cleaners with the suds for the sake of sanity.

Small changes for Sisters, especially

Goodbye Underwire - I remember reading about the dangers of wearing underwire bras and yet, I couldn't imagine my life without one. However, I am proud to say I haven't worn one since December 2011. Of course, I won't pretend to know what such a change would be like for Sisters with larger bust sizes however, I encourage every woman to try it. Besides, if you aren't running a race or doing something athletic it really shouldn't be a problem in theory. Many sources deny any link between underwire bras and breast cancer but even still, enough conversation exists for me to be leery.

Natural Pads and Tampons - They exist and guess what? The prices are comparable. Of course some things are trial and error but thankfully Wholefoods allows you to return any product with the receipt if you dislike it. So yes give your vajayjay a break and keep your feminine products chlorine-free. You can find thins, wings, and the natural version of almost any of your favorite products. I recommend Seventh Generation to get started but definitely do your own research.

Speaking of Menstrual Cramps - For more in-depth conversation on how the foods we eat and our habits affect menstruation, see Queen Afua or Dr. Llaila Afrika. In the meantime, natural remedies range from raspberry leaf and dandelion tea to potent tinctures combined in fancy names like Cramp Relief or Aunt Flo. A great read: Overcoming An Angry Vagina.

Small changes for your bathroom

Toilet Paper - Chlorine-free toilet paper is apparently better for the environment. Made from recycled paper and using fewer chemicals in the production process, chlorine-free toilet paper also helps to work towards the overwhelming chlorine contamination problem that is apparently happening all over with or without our consent. More on that here.

Natural Soap, Lotion, Shampoo and Conditioner - Basically, you want to stay away from parabens, sulphates, and all the other harmful chemicals found in so many of your favorite soaps, lotions, shampoo and conditioners. In fact, there isn't any real reason why you can't use your body soap for your hair. Of course we know that compartmentalization is what makes the marketing world go 'round, so it makes sense that we would buy two separate products for two very similar aspects of our single body. However, it is important that when we know better we do better. With that said, some of my favorite brands are Nubian Heritage and Shea Moisture.

Natural Deodorant - Admittedly, I have not mastered the natural deodorant journey. During the winter I was madly in love with Natural for Her Blossom deodorant. I thought I had found the answer and committed myself to my newest favorite brand. Unfortunately the summer proved otherwise and I have reverted (gasp) to my tried-and-true deodorant brand (full of aluminum and whatnot). Sad, but true. Nonetheless I am completely determined to conquer the deodorant journey and to win it the natural way. I've come across lots of useful information from wearing baking soda and lemon juice, to drinking chlorophyll every day in conjunction with wearing Thai Crystal. Either way, my suggestion is to be open minded and experiment.

Natural Toothpaste - As with other body products, natural toothpaste can also be a trial and error experience. Even still, you can never go wrong with using actual baking soda (since some of your favorite brands boast of the benefits). I began working around what was on sale and what brands matched the coupons available at the time. However, I've now begun to be more discerning about the brands I buy. These days, I'm rocking out with Jason's Vanilla Powermint.

Small changes for your Be-ing

Nature Walks - Ironically, some of the biggest cities have some of the most beautiful parks. Cities'll kill you, its imperative that you "get up, get out and get something," namely oxygen. Bathe in the sun, dip your feet in a creek or stream, hug a tree and meditate. The future of the world depends on it.

Holy Music- Some of the oldest things continue to reveal themselves as the most relevant to our present existence. Some call it Jazz, but whatever you term it, get into it. Sink your teeth in it and don't leave the table until you've sopped up all of its stewy goodness. Get familiar with Alice, Sun Ra, Dorothy, John, Eric, Charles, Pharoah, Max, Abbey, June, Lee, Gil, Ahmad, Dizzy, Art and Nina. Miles. Hugh. Louis. You will grow exponentially.

Reading - Rumor has it that African people have an "oral" tradition and writing is new to Africa. Oh yes, our tradition involves the high science of memory and orality however, we also initiated the supreme concept of writing. Fact is, the first writing systems developed in Africa and Africans have been writing longer than any one else in the world. With that said, we, descendants of Africa, have every right to read. We are obligated to go back and fetch [Sankofa] the lessons of our Ancestors. Therefore, it is imperative that we go back to the very beginning and read the words from as far back as we can find them. There is beauty there and life at once makes much more sense. Everything that works for us becomes more evident in the same way that all things working against us become crystal clear. No need for confusion when we have  thousands of years of clarity to access.

Speaking of Public Libraries - In almost every residential area there is a university or a college. Most of these institutions literally hoard books on any and every thing you can imagine. The Free Library in your city is more than likely a joke in comparison to the university library in your area (no promo). Check and see what is required to enter your library. Some only require a state i.d. and with that you can enter the golden gates of what they don't want you to know (unless you pay for it, of course). Why should you have to be enrolled as a student to access the library? You shouldn't and many of these higher learning institutions offer some sort of access to people regardless of their student status. Some institutions even offer community computer passes. Some of these computers have scanners and...well...you get my drift.

Please share some of the changes you've made below.

Change is good. Real good.

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