Don’t Worry, Be Merry! Quick holiday decor & activity ideas

Feeling the holiday cheer vibes!

Hi Friends! It is December. A time of holidays, togetherness, hustle and bustle and general good cheer. Now let’s not kid ourselves, it’s not all love out here as people are rushing to get presents and all the like but overall, there is community energy. At the time of this post, the month is more than halfway over but rather than looking at all the things I haven’t quite done, I am choosing to focus on what has gone well this month such as signing up for those online learning classes or successfully continuing my acting classes (more on that on an upcoming post!) I’ll talk more about lessons learned and the like to wrap up the month but for now, let’s focus on the fun.

Today I finally created my first flat lay! If you’re wondering what that is, you’ve likely seen it many times but may not have known what it is. A flat lay, according to Teagan of TechTipsWithTea, is “a picture taken from a birds eye view of a collection of items laid out on a flat surface…” So basically, a flat lay is a birds eye view of items that create new imagery. The lead image in today’s post is all about December seasonal elements. While I could point out multiple things to do differently, I am just posting it because this is my part of the blogosphere and thus, a non-judgment zone! Creator’s prerogative, let’s say 🙂

Target recently posted a holiday bingo on Instagram of multiple seasonal activities. Some were clever (‘last-minute Target run’) and others were like DO. NOT. WANT (“catch a cold”). It got me in a good mood thinking about what I’ve done already and what else might be in store. Let’s play along.

Completed:

  • Wear a scarf
  • Lost a glove 😦
  • Watch a cheesy holiday movie (Lifetime. OWN. Hallmark–channels have been in heavy rotation)
  • Holiday baking (more to come including a blog post for ideas!)
  • Online shopping
  • Bought cozy socks
  • Wear matching pajamas (that’s really all the time TBH)
  • Go to Target

What’s in store:

  • Rock an ugly sweater (yes y’all…follow my Instagram for that look!)
  • Spend time with the fam
  • Eat a candy cane
  • Give a gift
  • Receive a gift (I take nothing for granted but feel the probability is favorable)
  • Drink a peppermint mocha (bonus points if it’s a vegan shake from HipCityVeg?)
  • Overplaying Christmas music (cue Mariah Carey & Donny Hathaway)

…and so much more! I had this whole calendar planned of events but now I’m just going with the flow and focusing on the joy, fun, and peace. How about you? Does this time of year bring you good cheer? What do you look forward to? Let me know in the comments! Whatever you do, wishing you a safe, healthy, and happy time. ‘Tis the season!

With joy, tenacity, and good tidings,

Nia

Autumn adventures

Join me as we revisit all of my fall favorites!

Hello friends! It’s been a long while since I’ve posted. How are y’all doing? Hopefully well. My fall season started with somewhat of a bang and not in the best way. Despite all of my protective measures, I caught an awful seasonal cold right away. How Sway?! I use hand sanitizer and soap like water! I got over it and please believe I got the flu shot because I can’t be having illness stop my grind. There’s too much fun to be had to be sitting down. Though if you are sick—please, please, PLEASE take care of yourself. Allow yourself to rest, recover, and just be. But back to the Fall adventures…

The Fall/Autumn season is by far one of my favorite seasons. I love everything about October and November where everything comes to life (yes, I know fall runs from mid-September to mid-December but October and November are where it’s at). The pumpkin and burnt orange aesthetic, nice warm bowls of oatmeal, the fashion, and of course, SWEATER WEATHER! We can’t forget the occasions–Halloween and Thanksgiving for my USA friends and the most important occasion of all, my BIRTHDAY (Scorpio season!!) So here are a few of my favorite moments:

Fall Harvest fun at the Farm

Admiring all the pumpkins at a local farm

Despite living in a metropolitan city, there are lots of rural areas where family farms abound. Some of these farms have been around since the 1800’s and are less than 45 minutes from me. Yet in all this time, I hadn’t been to one in over 10 years and when I did go, it was never for pumpkins. It was actually for donuts, LOL. So after being enticed by all the people doing it for the ‘gram, (Instagram) I ended up identifying not one but two farms that had fall festivals. I’m talking hay rides, viewing live farm animals just living, corn mazes, and pumpkins—all things pumpkins! And please believe, I did all of these things twice. It was truly so much fun! Both times I went with my dad and it was awesome to connect in this way. Equally important, I gained deeper appreciation and respect for farmers, their work and dedication. New meaning to pumpkin spice and everything nice!

The fall feels….that you can taste!

All about that Chai!

Imagine this. Mornings are cool enough to make you question the season (is it winter?!) and afternoons make you grab that nice fall jacket and sweater. While the variation may require a trip to the mall, the nice part about that is grabbing a seasonal beverage. Now I know Pumpkin Spice Latte is all the rage but honestly, I’ve never been about the PSL life. Give me Chai latte anytime. Whatever you choose, this season brings out all of the rich flavors. During this season, I enjoyed Chai, Turmeric Lattes (golden milk), and some apple cider, which crosses fall and winter seasons. Ahhh, I can taste it now.

Displays of fall enchantment

Amazing fall display at the MGM Hotel! Love their seasonal conservatory displays!

To recap, my favorite fall experiences included:

  • Fall festival activities
    • Hayrides
    • Pumpkins
    • Corn maze
  • Lattes (Chai)
  • Larger-than-life Fall displays (MGM and City Center)
  • Outdoor concert by local bands
  • Wearing all things orange and goldenrod!
  • Family time
  • Farm-baked goods and apple pie ice cream

What did you enjoy about the fall season? What is the weather like where you live? Jacket/sweater weather or something else? I am curious to know how you navigated temperatures particularly if an area that isn’t generally cool. How did you manage the prevalent fall aesthetic? Let me know in the comments!

Be sure to follow me on Instagram for even more stories and photo shares!

Until next time…..with joy and tenacity,

Nia

Recipe: Golden Milk Oats

It’s officially the fall season now. Depending on where you live, chances are that you haven’t quite gotten to sweater weather. Here in DC, summer is refusing to go quietly. If you are like me, you’ve already turned over your closet to autumn looks with only a few remaining summeresque outfits still available.

The same might also be true for your meals. While it is getting slightly cooler in the mornings, I am still not fully wanting to switch to hot breakfasts knowing that the temperatures are still quite warm out. Enter golden milk oatmeal. The color is yellow which reminds me of summer and is just light enough where I feel nourished but the oats are not sticking to my bones (to borrow an elder’s expression!) The recipe I used is from MindBodyGreen 5 Anti-Inflammatory Breakfast Ideas Easy Enough for Any Weekday Morning . In my adaptation (photo below), I used oat milk and added fruit garnishes.

Golden Milk Oatmeal (@joyfultenacity)

Ingredients:

1 cup oatmilk (I used Silk’s Oat Yeah plain)

1/2 cup Quaker rolled oats

1 tsp ground turmeric

1/2 tsp ginger

sprinkle of black pepper

Toppings: 1/2 banana, 1/3 c blueberries, 2 strawberries chopped, Inno Foods Organic Coconut Clusters (includes superseeds)

It’s World Gratitude Day!

Happy World Gratitude Day 2019!

Today is World Gratitude Day! While we often channel feelings of gratitude after a specific action or the holiday season, what about gratitude on a daily basis? Personally, I know the importance of gratitude yet it is easier to focus on all the things that I’m not grateful for. While I don’t consider myself a downer or negative, we often are bombarded with things that don’t evoke appreciation, whether it is a news story, social media bullies and trolls, or just interacting and moving through what seems to be more of a me-first society. This is not to mention all of the personal feelings and emotions that can also shift our mindset. When you add that in, it’s easy to fall for negative vibes instead of the positive.

So how do we shift our mindset to embrace gratitude and incorporate it into our daily lives? Why is there a day devoted to this? To answer the first question, we have to reflect on what gratitude is. According to Merriam-Webster, gratitude is defined as ” the state of being grateful THANKFULNESS “. Okay, so gratitude has a direct connection to being thankful. Why a day of recognition? According to this Huff Post article, World Gratitude Day was adopted by the United Nations Mediation Group in 1965 to show appreciation for aspects of our lives. Pretty cool, right?

When I reflect on being grateful and thankful, I think of appreciation, community, and connection. Let’s break this down:

  • Appreciation of self- This includes celebrating your strengths and honoring your flaws. I struggle with self-confidence and this often leads to a path of comparison and other destructive behaviors. Instead of doing that however, appreciating that life is a journey that will have bumps and moments of feeling low as well as smooth roads and joy. None of us is perfect and in fact, that is what makes us beautiful and unique. Can you self improve? Absolutely. Do you need to dwell on the flaws and what you would change daily? No. Is being grateful for health, a free spirit and other traits something to be thankful for daily? Yes!
  • Community- As much as there is power in being an individual contributor (believe me, this is me at work!), life doesn’t work that way. It is very easy to focus on the slights of others and their flaws. But what about those random moments where someone looks out for their fellow citizen? Amazing! Or what about times where someone behaved in a way that was downright awful and you rose above it? Our community is not one we can control yet we can control our response and be grateful for the lessons and kindness that others can show us.
  • Connection- For me, connection is all about creating real moments and appreciating the process. As a deep introvert and shy person, this is the hard part. But when I am able to truly connect, not only does it enhance my well-being, it also encourages me to feel gratitude for myself (overcoming the shy barrier) and for the community that has helped to make this possible.

When you combine these three things, it actually seems easier to frame gratitude as something we can possess and something we can be actionable about. Doesn’t that feel good? On this day and all days going forward, in the face of joy and challenge, I encourage you to reflect on appreciating yourself, your community, and how you can foster authentic connection. The road of

How do you express gratitude? Have you been successful at incorporating the practice in your daily life? What advice do you have? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to check me out on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter (@joyfultenacity).

With joy and tenacity,

Nia

Meatless Monday: Lentil & Mushroom Pasta

Happy Monday, folks! If you’re like me, Mondays are the ease into the week days. The weekend has ended and the countdown to Friday begins again! Okay, here at Joyful Tenacity, we are all about embracing each day…so the countdown to Friday resumes on Wednesday 😉

Anyway, along with getting underway with all things planning for the week, there is the matter of meals. If you were able, you did a lot of meal prep on Sunday. If you have not, all is not lost for healthy eating during the week! This is where the beauty of Pinterest and social media platforms come to the rescue.  You can find an easy, quick recipe right online including on this very blog.  That’s right, I’ve got my first recipe to share with you all.  As an added bonus, this recipe is vegan and vegetarian-friendly.  Regardless of your diet, you can easily adapt this recipe to be all that you need.  Here are the things you will need:

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Lentil & Mushroom Pasta

  • 1 cup cooked lentils
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms
  • Pasta (I used Barilla Chickpea Casarecce for added protein)
    • You will follow the pasta’s cooking directions
  • Sauce (I used Bertolli’s Marinara)
  • Fresh veggies (i.e. zucchini, spinach, carrots, tomatoes, etc.)

Now I know you are wondering if that is all. Nope, because I intend to make my content interactive, I’ve created a video for you (my first ever!)

 

I hope you enjoy the video and a nice, simple dinner for your plant-based pleasure! If you would like to see other types of recipes or videos in general, please let me know in the comments! Also, please subscribe to my YouTube channel or follow me on Instagram!

Happy Positive Thinking Day!

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It’s September 13th which means it’s Positive Thinking Day! It’s also the last day of the workweek and precursor to the weekend. Notice I didn’t mention which day of the week it is–if I did, it would take this post in a different direction. 😉  I heard there is a Defy a Superstition day, which would be relevant.  How about I get away from this tangent?  Sounds like a good idea!

So if you’ve been reading what has been some sporadic thoughts to date (I am getting better at blogging more consistently, PROMISE!)  you will see that my heart and spirit want to be positive but then….LIFE.  Whether it’s work, social (or lack of), hustle and bustle, the news, there are many sources to make us feel anything BUT positive.  In one of my previous posts about INTENTION, I wrote about the need to actually set and declare your state of being.  Now, I get it, I can declare all day that my day will be positive but then someone merges out of turn on the highway.  You can bet my thoughts aren’t exactly on the positive side. But in the grand scheme of things, I DO think that we can be more positive in how respond to life’s madness.  Have you heard the quote about how life isn’t so much what happens but how you react?  From my perspective, that is because the reaction is what has the lasting impact.  That rude person in a store, on the road, wherever is a moment but our response (anger, irritation, disappointment) can stay with us and bring us down.  So in challenging times, let’s strive to rise above.  Does that mean not react? Of course not.  Does it mean RESET your thinking and frame of mind? Absolutely. And with that, happy Positive Thinking Day!

Below are a couple of my favorite positivity quotes:

“You are the sum total of everything you’ve ever seen, heard, eaten, smelled, been told, forgot – it’s all there. Everything influences each of us, and because of that I try to make sure that my experiences are positive.” -Maya Angelou

“In order to carry a positive action we must develop here a positive vision.”- Dalai Lama

“I have tried to keep on with my striving because this is the only hope I have of ever achieving anything worthwhile and lasting.”- Arthur Ashe

And one of my favorite songs to get me in a positive mood:

Even if you woke up not in the best of moods, take a moment to think what about this moment or this day is lovely.  If it is a particularly hard day, can you envision what a positive moment or thought is? Take yourself to that place and hold on to that feeling as often and for as long as you need.

With joy and tenacity,

Nia

September resolutions?

September. New month, new me?

This by far has to be one of the most popular months of the year.  I know, I know–there’s stiff competition out there.  January and December represent beginning and closing of the year, there is whichever month is your birth month, and there are summer months. Speaking of summer, September is that cool transition month between summer winding down and fall peeking at the horizon–sweaters and cider aplenty! School is back in session and while I’m removed from academic life (insert PRAISE BREAK here), routine and flow also come with that.

Okay, so all of those are valid points! The reason I am enamored by September is that it represents that final push.  I love track and field, so how about an analogy?  In a long distance race, the goal is to have a great start, maintain pace, stay competitive, and bring it home.  When that final bell rings for the last lap, if you’re not already in a top 5 placement, you will have to really push to the limit. If you’re leading the pack, then you better keep focus lest you have the heartbreaking defeat at the end.  For me, September is that part of the race just before the last lap.  The time where recognizing your placement and pace is critical and charting out how you’re going to finish out that race.

As I look toward the end of the year (not rushing because I need every day of these next 4 months!), I view September as both my quick reset month as well as my “Nia, time to kick it into high gear” time. For example, I set some wellness and weight goals earlier this year and while I’ve made incremental progress, inconsistency has derailed me.  Additionally, I’ve suffered from a negative mindset.  One of defeat, fear, and general despair.  However, in the closing weeks of August, I realized the time is now. Like right now. It’s easy to look back on what could’ve been in the first 6 months but those months are gone.  What’s left is sweet September through December and the need to make those months count!

What goals are you looking to crush in these remaining months of 2019?  What habits or intentions can you set in September to help you achieve? Drop a note in the comments and cheers to finishing strong!

In joy and resilience,

Nia

 

Living through Intention

It has been a year since I began my blog, Joyful Tenacity. Admittedly, in 2018, I was only somewhat joyful and not as tenacious. While it’s not to be expected that one would be feeling happy and brave daily, when I reflect on my overall attitude, there was hesitation and many ups and downs. Ups included finishing graduate school 🙏🏾 while some of the lows included weight gain (gym time on deck for 2019, though!)

As a new year has arrived, I really thought about what I wanted to accomplish. While I am looking at specific goals and measures, I’m finding that approach, attitude, and intention are essential. This year, I plan to journal, plan (using an actual planner, yay!) and most importantly, to live mindfully, with appreciation, and grounded in intention.

So, follow me as I embrace individuality, rediscover my confidence, and life as I can manage it. Self-doubt, be gone (easier said than done)

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What are your resolutions for 2019? How will you live with intention and in happiness?

In joy and tenacity,

Nia

Rising into Fall

It’s officially the Fall season! Sweater weather, soup and stew season, and the foliage. Oh those beautiful colors…and the fashion, bring on the fashion! As I reflect on the summer, it has been such a hectic and intense ride. First, I finished grad school. Hallelujah 🙌🏾 and all the praise. Working full time and attending school for two years was no joke but I am glad for all I’ve learned. Much of which is coming in handy full force at work. Even though you shouldn’t say never, it’s pretty safe that I won’t be enrolling in another degree program for a while…

As I shared last week, I am in the midst of a 21-day vegan challenge. Overall, it’s been going well. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you’ve been seeing the meal posts. The hardest part in that sense is taking photos. When I’m in between meetings, girl just needs to eat not take pictures. Lol. 😉 On a real note, I’ve been completely unbalanced. While my eating has been consistent, my exercise has not. It is indeed true that diet, exercise, and lifestyle go together. Though my fitness routine has been anything but, I am grateful for the ability to reset…and reset again.

As the Fall season begins and progresses, I look forward to firming up eating and fitness habits, enjoying this new found time for leisure, and just enjoying life and love (and the style…I live for style). There’s no shame in starting again! What are you looking forward to?

In joy and resilience,

Nia

 

 

 

21-Day Vegan Challenge is on!

Hey everyone, I am on a mission! A culinary mission. If you view my Instagram feed, you will see that I am self-described as “primarily plant-based”. I’m mostly vegetarian but tend to follow vegan recipes. I avoid labels because I believe everyone is on a personal journey with personal reasons.

So back to the challenge. Recording artist/entrepreneur Mya is a committed vegan and has been for years. If you follow her Instagram (@myaplanet9), you’ll see that she hosts challenges every quarter for 21 days—the time it takes to form habits. The choices are between vegan, raw vegan, alkaline or juicing. I’ve attempted her challenges and where I go wrong is not where you might think. I’ll follow the food plan but forget to take photos let alone post. These days I’ve gotten much more diligent at posting, so that will not be an obstacle! Haha.

Join me…whether in participation or in support. I’ve declared the month of September as a reset month and even though it’s halfway over, I keep in mind the saying “progress not perfection.” A journey can only be shaped by the one who is on it.

Stay inspired and have a great week,

~Nia~