Today I am excited to kick off my National Poetry Month Instagram Contest! Write a poem and share it with us. Writing poetry can serve as an act of self-care and self-discovery. The contest winner will be chosen at random, and will receive my book The Little Book of BIG LIES: and TRUTHS That Set You Free!, and Rumi’s Little Book of Life (The Garden of the Soul, the Heart, and the Spirit). Participants must write a poem and share it in the comments section, or you can upload a photo of your poem to your Instagram page and in your caption add the hashtags #TinaLifford #InnerFitness #NationalPoetryMonth. To be eligible to win you must also tag at least two friends in your post. Entries must be submitted by Sunday, April 15th at midnight. The poetry contest winner will be announced Monday, April 16th. Happy writing.
I can’t wait to read your poems for National Poetry Month.
Here is a poem I wrote that I hope inspires you. You can read it below or listen to this audio recording.
A good thing!
Twinkling eyes, strong heart
The child thought damaged...sings
No shadow...no doubt
The part that is eternal
Like a Phoenix you rise
To higher heights
Let no one question
Possibilities are stepping stones
For the wise
Yours is the voice added
For truth that heals
Added to the illusion
Which is now!
Beneath your wings an endless sky
Earth falls away
Taking Caesar with
Bump, bump, bump
Magic needs no map
You are the truth
Worth remembering always.
I’m happy to say that my friends vary in age, ethnicity, and cultural backgrounds. I talk about anything and everything with my friends. For instance, not long ago my friend Doris and I had a very frank conversation about sex. Doris – whose nickname is D.C. - is 92. She shared something about sex with me that every woman should know. I don’t want to tell you what she said. It might ruin the impact of her message. But you can hear her hilarious comment shared by me on this clip from the Queen Sugar Finale special.
One of my dearest friends is Queen Sugar actor Nic Ashe. He is 22 years old. That’s almost a third of my age. Yet we talk on the phone sometimes like high school buddies. I enjoy spending time with young people who have dreams and are committed to living their best life. We learn from one another and for me, these friendships never feel forced, awkward or lopsided.
Which brings me to the effortless, relaxed fun time I spent with 21Ninety’s Marissa Wilson and the fabulous production team at Blavity’s downtown L.A. high rise office space. Blavity is a website created by and for forward-thinking black millennials. Overlooking the city we enjoyed a relaxed chat and I learned how to make my very own intention chalkboard! Marissa called her masterpiece a memo board. Someone else might label the creation a “To Do” board, dream board or inspiration board. It’s been years since I’ve sat at a table surrounded by scissors and brushes – painting with chalk paint, cutting elastic strips to create sections and adorning my creation with pops of color and chalk hearts, we had a great time.
If you’re looking for a way to relax and unwind – which counts as a worthy inner fitness practice - these DIY segments that Marissa and the rest of the 21Ninety team post regularly is a great opportunity to begin. (Since my time with these ladies I went to Papyrus.com and ordered a bunch of arts and crafts supplies. )
Before I bid the ladies adieu, Marissa placed me in the “hot seat” and fired off 21 fun questions. If you watch this hot seat clip you’ll definitely know more about the beauty side of me.
So the inner fitness lesson for today: Diverse relationships and experiences are a way to discover, explore and constantly grow your self.
I’m Tina Lifford - always talking about Inner Fitness.
How To Set Your Intentions for Success with your Diverse Friendships
Dreams come in all forms. You can dream of becoming financially able to afford something; of becoming more confident; or even letting go of anger and resentment. No matter which term you prefer – dreams, goals or desires – here is a simple recipe for moving towards what you want:
Passionately want it. Write it down in your journal. Then, prepare yourself for its manifestation.
Research says you’e more likely to stick with dreams or goals that are important to you. So, be passionate about your goals! Passion keeps you engaged beyond setbacks and frustrations, and, most importantly, acts as a reminder to keep looking forward.
Writing down your goals and desires sends the message to your life that they are important. Many people claim to be committed to their dreams, yet never invest the added effort of writing them down. This added effort creates the first place where your dream becomes concrete. Let that piece of paper act as a placeholder and magnet for what you want to see, realize or become. . (By the way, if you don’t know what you’re passionate about, make identifying your passion your first goal, and start by writing that in your journal.)
Preparing yourself to be ready when your dreams manifest is where inner fitness work is most essential. Ask yourself, often: How must I grow? Who must I become? What must I learn, and what must I let go of to experience the life of my dreams?
Asking these questions and putting in the work they suggest prepares you for that inevitable day when your dreams, goals or desires depart from your journal and enter your life.
Over time, failing to listen to the inner YOU is like jumping into a waterless swimming pool. Ouch! That’s going to hurt.
The deepest part of you houses wisdom, and wants to be there for you, in support of your dreams. Developing a good relationship with yourself allows you to access the gifts and support that live deep within you.
When we don’t listen to ourselves, we create a barrier between our conscious and subconscious mind, leaving each alone on an island by itself. We rob ourselves of the comfort and security we get from knowing that we can rely on ourselves. This leaves room for other voices and ideas to decide what is good for us. Before you know it, you’ve traveled a path for your life that was designed and dictated by someone else, or other outside forces.
There are hundreds of ways to redirect attention to your inner self: Meditate. Journal. Ask yourself what matters to you. Listen to your answers. Write letters to yourself as though you are writing to a trusted friend; in the letter share your deepest thoughts and concerns.
Read personal development books and articles from magazines like Psychology Today, O – The Oprah Magazine and Mindful. Visit this blog often, and discover other ways in which The Inner Fitness Project might support your life. Using your free moments in these ways is time well spent. Developing yourself is the path to a more fulfilling future and inner freedom. Try it -- you might even find it fun.
Next time you find yourself rushing past your feelings, thinking that you or your dreams don’t matter, or doubting your right to have joy, stop. Ask yourself: If I were to behave like a best friend to myself right now, what might I do?
Behind the scenes on the set of the OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network television show Queen Sugar, where I play the character Aunt Vi, we actors have a lot of fun.
But...this day things went too far.
Dondre Whitfield - the actor who plays Remy on Queen Sugar - and I often start the day playing. Our play can be described as a loving version of playing the dozens - we sprinkle our conversations with fast paced sarcastic zingers, and look for the perfect opening to slip in a playful insult. As crazy as this may sound, our play is all in good fun. It ignites in us, and often the people around us, hunched-over belly laughter.
However, the other day, our play took a left turn. There was nothing mean-spirited that took place. The playing just went too far. It came close to being obnoxious. Sort of like being on a roller coaster ride with one too many big loops, followed by a steep drop; your stomach becomes queasy and you just want to throw-up. That’s where we landed.
We didn’t mean to veer off our lighthearted path, but in life, sometimes even with the best of intentions, you wind up somewhere you don’t want to be.
This blog is about how we got back on track. That achievement belongs to both of us. It rises from the kind of inner fitness work we both are committed to doing.
I can’t speak to Dondre’s internal process. But, I can certainly share my own: When I found myself “turned-off” because the playing had gone too far, I knew I could not blame or point my finger in Dondre’s direction. I had to fully acknowledge my action-by-action participation in building our shared situation. This is a tricky step because when things go wrong, the ego wants to point a finger and slyly avoid taking full ownership of its behavior. But I had learned that being honest with myself - acknowledging my good, my bad and my ugly - is a crucial step in fostering internal strength and wellbeing. Telling myself the truth always gives me the opportunity to address or change what I don’t like.
I have also learned to be willing to make the first move, if necessary. I knew I had to, and wanted to, reach out to Dondre. Friendships can easily break if we forget how fragile they can be. I didn’t want more than a day to pass before reaching out to him. So, I sincerely internally processed the turn of events, slept on my thoughts and reached out the next morning.
I shared with Dondre my experience of the day. I took responsibility for the parts that clearly belonged to me. I affirmed my love and respect for him and made a comment about how I would do things differently in the future. Never once did I use the word “you” in an effort to blame, nor did I mention his behavior in any way.
Dondre Whitfield is an extraordinary man. He definitely does his inner work. He, of course, expressed his own heartfelt accountability.
There is nothing better than traveling the sensitive nature of relationships with people who work on their inner fitness.
As always, I encourage you to get fit now, so that you can rely on your inner fitness to help you when you need it most.
The best part of belonging to a healthy community is having a place where you feel safe, seen and heard. Hanging out with people who “get you” and value you is better than ice cream…and at times, even better than sex.
There is one thing better than having a great community or best friend. It’s feeling safe, seen, heard and valued by yourself.
Cultivating a deep relationship with yourself means developing a ride or die friendship with yourself. This means enjoying your own company, acknowledging your value, and agreeing to be there for yourself even when you feel doubt or encounter failure. It means listening to your inner self. This includes, if need be, spending time with a counselor or therapist in order to truly understand and better honor the needs of your inner self.
Spending time with yourself as your own best friend takes effort. It takes being honest with yourself and believing you are worth your own attention. It takes accepting the parts of yourself that you tend to reject or minimize, and practicing healthy self-forgiveness – where you lovingly hold yourself accountable for your actions in the areas that need work.
We Westerners are consumers. We buy things, mostly thinking that those things will make us happy. However, the sparkle dulls and new things become old fast. Building a sound relationship with the self is a renewable journey that never gets old.
There is endless personal power, resilience and joy to be found in a relationship with yourself where you feel safe, seen and heard. This takes effort, time and intention. Get started today, because life is easier when you know who you are!
The Little Book of BIG LIES is a great guide for developing a ride or die, best friend relationship with yourself.
We each have a physical self that physical fitness addresses. We also each have an inner self that only inner fitness work addresses.
Imagine arriving at your favorite yoga class ready to exert yourself in all the ways that the class requires. You unroll your mat, ready to go. But instead of the teacher moving you through salutation-to-the-sun movements she has you recite the capital city of each state. WTF!
Reciting state capitals is not the kind of work that will lengthen and stretch your body, and leave you with the physical results you desire.
When it comes to strengthening your inner fitness look for practices and teachers that will help you achieve the results you are after. The three foundational pillars of inner fitness are acknowledgment of your inner self, becoming aware of your internal habits and patterns and disrupting and rewiring the unproductive patterns.
Achieving sound inner fitness results requires applying sound inner fitness practices and strategies. If you are reciting capitals - or doing anything else that does not strengthen your skill for working with the three foundational pillars - you are in the wrong place.
What you’re looking at you’re looking with is one of my favorite sayings, and an uncompromising adage. It means the behavior YOU SEE, YOU DO - or at the very least, you’ve behaved that way at some point in your past - and most likely still do. In short, you can’t see what you do not already KNOW!
This means that when you’re upset at “so and so” for doing “such and such,” at some point you did such and such YOURSELF. What you’re looking at you’re looking with turns us all into hypocrites of a sort.
Mothers chastising – or even shaming – daughters for their behavior regarding some boy, at some point, probably once behaved just as their daughters are behaving; spiritual types who judge others for being judgmental, duh; and even those who harshly judge bullies of all kinds have bullied others at some point.
We human beings have a quirky flaw: We are disgusted by what we can’t admit to ourselves about ourselves.
The point here is to show one another compassion. When you see your old behavior in someone else, own it. Understand it. Turn your arrogance and judgments into opportunities for self-love, and forgive yourself for any ways in which you have violated the humanity of others.
Who knew that KC and The Sunshine Band was so committed to inner health and well-being?
Before Positive Psychology or Inner Fitness became practices, artists like KC and The Sunshine Band, Michael Jackson and others were intuitively singing the truths that now form the core of these movements. Throughout time, through their songs, artists have told us how to use our minds to focus on transformative thoughts and feelings. In effect, they used their lyrics and rhythms to move us into a higher vibration.
All mankind harbors deeper truths. These truths live at the core of every human being. But the hustle of trying to survive another day often blocks the heart and clouds the mind. This is why exercising one’s connection to the inner Self is essential.
Strengthening your Higher-Self gives you the ability to trust that you were born with innate value and wisdom, believe with confidence that you have innate inner resilience that makes you unstoppable, and have faith that tapping into and surrendering to the brilliance of the inner Self is the most efficient way to move beyond petty behavior and concerns.
Fly high! Do a little dance. Make a little love. Ignore the distractions. Dare to discover the amazing world and power inside you!
I’m a girl. I believe in girl power – not the kind of girl power that excludes or vilifies others, nor the kind that revels in the ability to sexually control men. Rather I love the girl power that nurtures souls, builds communities and soothes hurts of all kinds.
While the world has tried to minimize women, our girl power proves over and over how impossible a task this is. We are too awesome, resilient and fierce to be kept down. We birth babies, take care of households, careers, families and communities, and keep going despite monthly headaches, backaches, mood swings and bleeding.
Face it. We are forged with Wonder Woman-like abilities.
Not every woman knows her innate, undeniable strength and resilience. Some women have had the memory of their true self beaten into submission, or chased into hiding.
That’s okay, because there are growing numbers of those who dare to be seen, dare to lead, and dare to speak up and tell themselves – and others – the truth. We who dare hold a place in our wonder women circle for all those who shall join us, be it sooner or later, female or male.
We are a wonder that will not be denied.
Inspired by the 75-year-old Wonder Woman (movie).