Oh How I Love Me, Let Me Count the Ways: Love your body and your body will love you back

Love-Your-Body

Your spirit, mind, and body are all connected. Do you have a routine that takes care of your whole self? Do you wake up with gratefulness, recite your favorite mantra to keep you going for the day, and end with a great workout to get your body going? No? Maybe you should. We all know that one way to take care of your body is by exercising, but there is more to body maintenance than running around the block and lifting weights. There are a plethora of ways to maintain your body– which can be as simple as lying in the grass and taking in the earth we live in.

Take time to de-stress. Stress can cause a myriad of physical problems, such as acne breakouts, weight gain, loss of appetite, and loss of hair. It can even make you sick. Here are some ways you can reduce the stress in your life:

  1. One of the best ways to de-stress is to do yoga. I know I always mention yoga, but it is a great way to accomplish every form of taking care of you. Through yoga you can spiritually connect, relax your mind and tone your body all in one.
  2. Take a moment to lay in the grass on a warm day. Try not to think of anything. Allow your body to relax every muscle. Concentrate on your breathing to help push out your thoughts. Take as much time as you need. Once you are done you will feel very relaxed.
  3. Take a walk. It will work your whole body and ease your mind.
  4. Did you know that reading is a form of exercise for your brain? Take some time to read a book from your favorite genre.

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Clean up your skincare regimen. You can start by incorporating more water into your diet. The amount of water you may need will vary but experts say to drink approximately 64 oz of water a day. That’s eight 8oz glasses or a little over three 30 oz water bottles.    Substitute that fruit juice for fruit infused water. Fruit infused water not only adds flavor to the bland water taste, it also helps cleanse the body from the inside out. You will immediately notice a difference in your energy level, hair, and skin just by increasing the amount of water you drink on a daily basis, so drink up!

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Eat well. You really are what you eat. Have you ever noticed how sluggish you get after eating a burger and fries, yet when you eat a banana you have a burst of energy. I am not going to tell you not to eat that burger, however; I will strongly suggest that you incorporate more fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet. It does not hurt to indulge every now and again in food that is not so good for you, but moderation is key. Diet and exercise go hand in hand. So if you are concerned about packing on the pounds, how about you walk to the hamburger stand and burn off some of those calories. Or instead of the hamburger, grab a salad and fruit for dessert.

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Sleep well. Beauty rest is a real thing. Getting some sleep is essential for proper body functions. You will feel more energized, happier and look more refreshed. I have issues with sleeping. Either I fall asleep, wake up in the middle of the night and take forever to go back to sleep or it just takes me forever to fall asleep, period. Well, I stumbled upon these awesome pills that Shea Moisture makes called, Shea Moisture Evening Sleep Supplement. Initially I purchased these pills to help with my skin. After using them for about a week or two, I realized that they actually help me sleep. I feel much more rested like I actually went to sleep and slept. The combo of herbs and daily essentials really work! Here is why: I have a bit of insomnia so the theanine as well as melatonin relaxes me before I officially call it a night. I am not getting paid to endorse this product, however; I strongly recommend them to anyone who has issues with sleeping. These pills take care of your beauty and your rest. BOOM!

Shea moisture pills

Have a spa day. Going to the spa is a total body experience. Let someone take care of your body while you get a little R&R, rest and relaxation. Spa outings are not just for the ladies. Men need to take care of their bodies too. Make it a couple’s thing. Here are some black-owned great spas that cater to both men and women in a few major cities that will help you get your body at its best:

Atlanta:

Celestial Spa
2930 Cascade Rd
Atlanta, GA 30311
404-691-2448 http://www.celestialspa.com

D’Lor Salon and Spa, Inc
Cascade Professional Park
1180 Fairburn Road. SW, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30331
(404) 344-1622 http://www.dloratlanta.com

Nubiance Salon & Spa
2325 Cheshire Bridge Road Northeast #100
Atlanta, GA 30324
404-492-8046 http://www.atlantagabeautysalon.com

Los Angeles:

Le Skintique Day Spa and Beauty Salon
1620 Centinela Avenue, Suite 302
Inglewood, CA 90302
310-337-9555 http://www.leskintique.com

Nefertiti Day Spa and Hair Salon
5253 West Slauson Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90056
(310) 568-8780 http://nefertitidayspa.com

Skin Essence – 3 locations http://www.skinessence.net
2622 West Manchester Boulevard
Inglewood, CA 90305
Phone: (323) 750-8446
Fax: (323) 750-7325

940 East Dominguez Street, Suite K
Carson, CA 90746
Phone: (310) 354-7935
Fax: (310) 354-3933

4914 1/2 Slauson Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90056
Phone: (323) 296-6261
Fax: (323) 296-6253

Spa 313 Salon & Spa
313 N. LaBrea Avenue
Inglewood, CA 90302
(310) 590-1234 http://www.spa313.com

New YorK City area:

Bed of Nails
2272 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Blvd
New York, NY 10030
(212) 694-2200 http://www.bedofnailsnyc.com

 Cynergy Spa
87 Fort Greene Place
Brooklyn, NY 11217
Phone: 718.403.9242
Fax: 718.403.9274 http://www.cynergyspa.com

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Self-love is an essential part of life. It helps you to grow, love others, and teaches others how to love you. Self-love is about living in your truth and accepting who you are, flaws and all. So go ahead and love yourself. Be #flawsome and get prepared for the #glowup.

 What are ways that you love your body?

Mindfulness: Are you living in the present moment?

Do you ever feel like you are drifting from moment to moment without a real attachment to each experience? This can happen as we are so busy with work, school, and/or family that each passing event seems like a mundane task versus a unique instance in our lives. As John Dixit further explains, “When we’re at work, we fantasize about being on vacation; on vacation, we worry about the work piling up on our desks. We dwell on intrusive memories of the past or fret about what may or may not happen in the future. We don’t appreciate the living present because our mind likes to vault from thought to thought like monkeys swinging from tree to tree.” If this rings true for you in some form or fashion, it’s time to reevaluate how your mental health is impacted by the “busyness” of life and make changes that will help you have a more enriched existence.

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I really noticed this distraction phenomenon in my life once I was promoted to an administrator. My entire work day seemed to float by without me even knowing what really happened. I was busy from the time I stepped into my office until I ended my work day, which was usually 10-12 hours. I rarely left the office to eat lunch and during my worse days, I lost focus because I would try to complete every task or solve every issue all at the same time. I eventually developed what I like to call work induced ADD which admittedly trickled into my personal life. It created a sense of disconnect and monotony. It almost felt like I was a robot simply charging along. Ultimately, I was in need of reprogramming.

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Photo credit: Cauldrons & Cupcakes

Earlier, we presented tips to mentally help as you continue your journey toward really loving yourself. These are all very useful activities that will allow you to keep a pulse on your mental health status. Mindfulness is also another profound practice that has positive mental, spiritual and physical benefits. Mindfulness is the art of truly being present, moment-by-moment, to your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and your immediate surroundings. Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of Mindful Based Stress Reduction Program in University of Massachusetts Medical Center explains that “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way–On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.” It essentially involves doing activities that encourage the practice of being present without distractions.

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Mindfulness activities can include formal mediation, but it can also be incorporated into activities like taking a shower, eating, brushing your teeth, exercising, or any other routine daily tasks.   For example, being mindful while showering would include noticing how the water hits your body, being aware of your physical actions like how you use the bar soap or wash your hair, and your breathing patterns. If your mind wanders off to what you plan to do after the shower or the many tasks you have to accomplish at work, you bring your mind back to the present moment and focus only on taking a shower.   It sounds simple, but you will be surprised how many times you will have to redirect your mind to focus only on the present. There are several other examples that will help you live a mindful-based life. Aetna has a month long challenge, #Mindful30, which serves as a great resource with tips on how to add mindfulness to your daily routines.

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Photo credit: Gainesville Scene

We are living in a society with an increasing number of distractions, so you can find yourself aimlessly on life’s journey without true direction or focus. None of us have the luxury of wasting time. Your greatest possession is the 24 hours you have in a day, so manage it accordingly and be present for every second of it. Incorporating mindfulness activities can have long lasting positive mental, spiritual, and physical effects. It’s been noted to boost immune system, increase positive emotions, improve memory and focus, and enhance relationships. Therefore, it is an excellent way to broaden your perspective, be present, and experience a more fulfilled life.

Oh How I Love Me, Let Me Count the Ways: Mental Health

Now that we have made some progress on improving our spiritual connection, we can work on our mental health. Mental health is extremely important because it shows how resilient we all are. We, at Iyami Naturals, believe that one should take care of their mental state to keep going and keep pushing. I spoke with several friends and asked them what they do to help maintain mental health. Here a few ways to help you keep your sanity:

Talk about it: Sometimes it feels really good to get it out. If something is weighing heavy on your heart, let it out and let it go. The black community has a long standing stigma about seeking a professional for mental health because we tend to think that someone will look down upon us or judge us. Listen….. I’d rather you judge me for talking to a psychologist as opposed to you judging me because I never talked about it and became bitter from it. Depression is real y’all and in all seriousness depression is not pretty. I cannot stress enough the importance of  communication.

Photo credit: Cope.Heal.Love
Photo credit: Cope.Heal.Love

Happiness is a state of mind: If you think that happiness comes from another person, then you have another think coming. Honey, happiness starts with you and the joy within. You can have everything and be miserable or have the bare necessities and be extremely happy.

Happiness

Photo credit: Alicia G. Tyler

Laugh: “Joking and being funny is definitely a good coping mechanism and mental health practice.”, says Nikki Blak, poet and author of Uppity Negress and upcoming book All My Exes Want Me Back. Laughter is good for the soul and laughter is contagious. Find your funniest friend and call them up for a good laugh. Go to a comedy show. Write a mad lib. The added bonus: laughter helps you lose weight…. I’m just saying.

Nikki Blak Uppity Negress
Photo credit: Blak is Beautiful

The 3 A’s: Johna Taylor of Queens of Cuisine Catering Service says she follows the 3 A’s, “When there is an issue you’re dealing with that’s causing you stress or etc… you must practice the 3 A’s: you can choose to AVOID the issue, person, or thing and go on with your life. ACCEPT it for what it is and that it won’t change so you may have to. Or ALTER it by compromising in order to preserve your sanity.” Sometimes you just have to walk away from the situation to keep your cool.

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Do some dining: If you are a foodie like me then you will find food to be great for maintaining your sanity, especially dining with friends. I am not talking emotional eating here. That is the opposite direction we want to go. I am talking eating, laughing and having a good old time with your friends. You don’t even have to eat. It could be as simple as going to a local café, getting your favorite drink and actually sitting down to laugh and chat with a friend or pulling out a good book. You will find that the dining experience is very calming…. Or maybe that’s the effects of the wine.

dining with friends

Do a puzzle: Doing puzzles help increase patience, concentration and help ease your mind from whatever is stressing you. When I was younger, my parents had this huge puzzle that sat on the dining room table. Every time people came over to visit they would have them sit at the table to talk. Without realizing it, whoever would sit at the table would start connecting puzzle pieces. Eventually the puzzle was finished, but it helped people to get their frustrations out without even knowing it. They would leave the house happier than they arrived.

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Paint and sip parties: These parties are so fun. You can have them at your house, go to an art studio, or visit various restaurants that may be hosting them. Typically there is an instructor that supplies the tools needed and the patrons supply the libations. If you have not gone to one, you are missing out. This is a very relaxing social event that you will want to keep going again and again. No two paintings are alike. You get to express your creativity while having a good time. The best thing is that you do not have to know how to draw to do it.

paint and sip

Take a vacation: We work so hard in our day to day lives, not thinking about taking a moment to sit down and relax. A vacation is how ever long you need to just recuperate from the hustle and bustle. You do not have to leave your house to take a vacation, unless your house is just as hectic as the rest of your life. Go to the park. Go on a girlfriends get-a-way. Leave the city for the country. Take a walk. Go to the spa. Go get your hair and nails done. Just take some time to think about you and maintaining your happiness.

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Most things are easier said than done, but sometimes things are easier done than said. Everything always starts with you. So please take care of your mental state. Do not be afraid to speak up and seek help.

Self

 

What are ways that you maintain your mental health?

Self-love and Spirituality: Practice Makes Perfect

Having a spiritual basis is a fundamental component in the journey toward loving yourself. It defines your morals and values as well as your sense of purpose and meaning. Your spiritual connection also shapes how you perceive and interact with the world around you. Given that spirituality is the foundation to loving yourself, it becomes extremely important to cultivate it during your voyage toward a better you. How might you continuously nourish your spirit?

As the old adage goes, Practice Makes Perfect!

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You must intentionally, purposefully, and consistently practice in order to spiritually grow. Spirituality is not a concept that once you proclaim it—then voila! That’s all you have to do for the remainder of days. Just like anything else in life, if you want to be good at something, you must continuously work at it. Therefore, Iyami Naturals wants to provide a few tips to help you grow spiritually no matter what faith you profess.

  • Be real with yourself: Take inventory of your strengths and areas of opportunity. Write a list of your values and other aspects of life that are important to you. Where do you want to be in the next 3 months, 6 months, or a year? Periodically completing this assessment helps you focus your practice and also tracks your progression. Many people will do this exercise at least once around the New Year; however, I encourage you to do this at least 2-3 times within a 12 month period. Block off time on your schedule, grab your journey (or ipad), and visit a park, beach, or other scenic location to spend some uninterrupted time reflecting on your spiritual growth.

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  • Make time for your spiritual practice on a daily basis: Carving out time in the day is an important step to cultivating your spirit. Whether you say a prayer, recite your favorite mantra, practice mindfulness exercises, or mediate, you must take time out of your day to center your thoughts and be thankful. We make time for many things in our life, growing spiritually should be the #1 task on your daily check list. I carve time out in the morning by reading, The Word for you Today from Angel on My Shoulder usually after I get dressed but before I dive into any other task and my daughter wakes up. It only takes a couple minutes, but the results are long lasting.   I’ve been more focused and changed how I perceive work and life stresses just by incorporating these daily readings.

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  • Practice with others: Have 1 or more accountability partners that will help you along your spiritual journey. Exploring this journey with others fosters belonging and keeps you on track with your spiritual development. Yes, this journey can be very personal but sharing it with others can help you expand your perspective along the way. My team includes my mom, Sheree, and sister, Avianca (fellow Iyami Naturals cofounder). We talk to each other for a few minutes every morning on our way to work to discuss the meaning behind the word of the day. It’s great to share each other’s perspective of the word and how it applies to our lives. It also provides another opportunity to focus on our values and how we want to center our actions throughout the day.

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Part of my spiritual team: Avi and I enjoying the St. Thomas Carnival in May 2015

  • Find a spiritual coach: It is also equally important to check in with someone that is further along in their journey. He or she can be a great mentor when you are struggling or need an expert opinion. As Shane Raynor from Ministry Matters  stated, “While it’s important to have peers to help you practice, there’s no substitute for spiritual mentors. Getting guidance from people who have ‘been there before’ helps you make sure that your entire spiritual growth strategy doesn’t turn into a case of ‘the blind leading the blind.’ A mentor will help you see possibilities for improvement that you didn’t even know existed.”

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Developing your spirituality can be a huge task, but the beauty of it is that you don’t have to figure it out in a day. However, you must make daily deliberate efforts if you want to spiritually flourish. Whether you choose to use more religious based practices through a church, mosque, synagogue, or Buddhist temple; more philosophical approaches; or a combination of the two, you will only grow by consistently practicing to be a better you.

Self-Love and Spirituality

This week’s SELF-LOVE theme is spirituality. What is spirituality? One might ask. Obviously there is no single definition. However, it generally includes a sense of connection to something bigger than us, and it typically involves a search for meaning in life. After all, we are spiritual beings living a human experience.

For most of us, spirituality is the most important part of our being. It is our soul. It is our core essence. It is what keeps us going each day. Iyami Naturals wants to help guide you with ways to being more spiritual.

  • Be thankful: There is nothing more rewarding than being thankful. Have you given thanks for waking up this morning? Have you given thanks to being in a far better situation than you could be in? Sometimes we take the little things for granted not realizing that those little things keep us going forward. Start each day by proclaiming what you are thankful for.

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  • Forgiveness: Forgive someone you have been holding a grudge against since forever ago. Did you know that being angry can make you sick and hold you back from moving forward in life? You do not have to forget what the person did to you, but you can accept that they did it and move on. Do not carry that negative weight with you. It only makes you grow old faster and we don’t want that.

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  • Proclaim it: Lay claim to how your life is going to go. As they say: “Put it out in the universe and it shall happen.” When you have faith then the possibilities are endless. Once you claim what you want, have faith that it will happen. Meanwhile, continue to work towards your claim. Faith without works is dead. You can’t expect things to just fall out of the sky and voila! It’s there. Most successful people have worked very hard to be successful. If you believe it, you can achieve it.

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  • Connect to the world through nature: Take a hike, do yoga, go to the zoo, go on a boat ride. Do something outside that does not require you being on your electronic devices. Sometimes you have to disconnect to connect. Pay attention to how the leaves fall from the tree. How they sway in the wind before hitting the ground. Watch how the squirrel scavenges for nuts and takes them to its favorite hiding spot. Pay attention to the world around you. You may realizes how disconnected you are from it and from yourself.

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  • Choose a mantra that will empower and inspire you when repeating it: Wake yourself up with some positive words.

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Practicing these techniques will help you stay spiritually centered.  You will feel connected to yourself and the world around you.  Staying in tuned spiritually will not prevent you from ever experiencing adverse events, but it will give you the strength to transverse across those tribulations to happier times. Therefore make building your spiritual practice a top priority as its the most fundamental step in the journey to loving yourself.

 

Self-love: How I came to love wearing my hair in its natural state

Reading the Buzzfeed article, 17 Reasons Why Natural Hair is Not a Good Look, reminded me of all the reasons why I didn’t initially choose to wear my hair in its natural state. I work in health care operations management and as a fairly new administrator at the time, I always wanted to maintain what I thought was a professional image. I just didn’t see how wearing my hair naturally would fit into that image and as a result would alternate my hairstyles between hair extensions, chemically relaxed hair, and other protective hair styles.

My hair journey didn’t start with me making a declarative statement of going natural with long healthy hair or that I wanted to stay away from chemically treated processes for health reasons.  It took time and significant hair loss for me to realize that I needed to make very different choices about how I managed my hair.

My journey manifested around 2013 a few months after having my daughter, Ella.   As I review old pictures, I noticed that my hair slowly lost its volume during that year. I essentially ignored it and continued with my usual methods to style and maintain my hair.   It wasn’t until January 2014 that it was more obvious to me that my crown was in trouble.

By February 2014, it was evident from my birthday pictures that I was holding onto a bad relationship that clearly should be over. But just as bad relationships go, I was the last one to realize it.

I waited until April 2014 to finally cut my hair. I don’t have a picture to show my tresses at its absolute worse (as it my birthday pictures weren’t bad enough), but by this time, I probably had about as many long strands of hair as the onions do in this picture.

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Yes, it was that bad. I visited my stylist,TaLauna Beverly, to undergo the BIG CHOP and her response was “ Girl, what happened to your hair?!” What did happen to my hair? The combination of hormonal changes; the stress of trying to balance being a first-time mom and working full-time in a demanding job; continuing to expose my strands to tension and chemical relaxers; and then not using proper techniques to care for my hair left me with very little to take care of.

I was initially angry that I had to cut my hair. I had never worn it naturally short on purpose in my life. I worried about what the surgeons, staff, and senior leadership would think about me now that I had very little hair. I felt insecure, less attractive… Would my husband like it? How would I manage this? How soon could I perm my hair so I could go back to my usual routine? Those were the many questions that circled through my mind as I learned to deal with this new short hair scenario. I was so out of my comfort zone.

I had reached the crossroad in my hair journey and had to make a decision which path to follow. I could perm my hair again and eventually return to the same way I was managing my hair or I could explore the unfamiliar path of wearing my hair in its natural state. I decided to try a more natural approach especially since my current predicament was a result of my “status quo hair care practices”. I quickly realized that I had to let all of that initial self-doubt and insecurity go! Internalizing those types of negative thoughts would only make me appear insecure, self-conscious, and unhappy. Moreover, they had the potential to totally ruin my life if I were to let them.  I decided that I would OWN my current hair state and focus on finding a regime for healthy hair, no matter the length.

July 2014
July 2014

And so I made a conscious decision to only wear my hair in its natural state. I washed my hair at least once a week using Shea Moisture Raw Shea Butter shampoo and conditioner and style it with various curl custards or crèmes from Shea Moisture, Miss Jessie , Kinky Curly, and Jane Carter Solution to name a few. I would also deep condition my hair at least once a month with Kinky Curly Stellar Strands thanks to my sands, Monique (shout out to Monique for giving me those samples!). My current regime includes Shea Moisture shampoo/conditioner/gel soufflé, Coco Girls Moisturizing Style Cream, and the Kinky Curly deep conditioner.

As to be expected, my hair grew but it’s now healthier, fuller, and longer than my hair has ever been. I won’t say that I will never wear hair extensions or protective styles again, but I will always place more emphasis on the health of my hair and not jeopardize that just to meet a certain standard of beauty. My advice to those considering the natural transition or if you are like I was, holding on to unhealthy hair and maintenance practices, let go and make the transition! There are so many resources and hair products available to make the transition less awkward. If you have doubts that it will look good, it will—you will do all that you can to make sure you’re fly rocking your hair in its natural state. If you think your hair won’t curl a certain way, it will— you will find the right products to enhance your curl pattern. Ultimately, I’m here to tell you that all the self doubt and insecurities you may feel about wearing your natural hair will eventually be unfounded once you decide to travel down that road. So Just do it!

Jamila Dainty

Oh How I love Me, Let Me Count the Ways

February is the month of love and what better way to show some love, than to treat you? Three major ways that you can treat yourself are:

Spiritually

Being spiritually sound helps you to accept and believe in yourself, have a clear direction, and gain worldly appreciation.

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Mentally

Sometimes you just need girl time to vent, laugh and mentally unwind. Surround yourself with love and people who give positive energy to help you relax and be yourself.

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Physically

Now that you have connected with your spiritual self, laughed and cried with you girlfriends, you can take the time to get your body together. Why not go get your hair done and show off your crown.

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Take the time out for self-love. The best way to show someone how to love you is for them to see you love you.

What are some ways you practice self love and appreciation?