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Black/Indigenous Reflections on White Supremacy (During a Pandemic)

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“You never completely have your rights, one person, until you all have your rights.” — Marsha P. Johnson

I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve fallen apart and put myself back together over the past few months. People have asked me how I’m doing and my answer is almost always, “Up and down.” I’m trying to keep the faith, but real talk, it’s been hard.

Like a lot of Black people, I’ve spent the past few days, weeks, (months, years…) processing deep rooted trauma as a result of witnessing how little Black lives matter in all corners of the world. It honestly feels like I’m drowning in white supremacy/colonialism/capitalism. Couple that with being single at a time when I couldn’t possibly need love and tenderness more and you’ll see why it’s a miracle if I make it through each day at all, let alone in one piece.

Last week, I was doing some journaling and wrote down any and every thought that came to mind. I burst out in tears when I wrote the words, “I can’t breathe.” I wasn’t intending to be poetic (or trite). It’s honestly the only way I can describe a lifetime of feeling crushed by oppressive systems (racism, homophobia, sexism, capitalism, ableism, fat phobia, and white supremacy, which all work together seamlessly to make life nearly impossible for a BIPOC* person like myself) not to mention the ancestral trauma that lives within me.

Recent events have brought up so many feelings I’ve suppressed my entire life just to keep moving forward. But, during a pandemic there’s no escaping them. Quarantine is like a pressure cooker that threatens to explode at any moment (and has). My hope was we’d come out of isolation a kinder and more loving world, having realized we’re all in this together. Recent events make it clear that that dream is far from reality. What gives me some hope, though, is witnessing non-Black people having tough conversations and acknowledging their privilege and responsibility in dismantling the systems that not only put various communities at a disadvantage, but explicitly target them.

As challenging as this all is, I truly believe the only way out is through. So, I’m looking inward and focusing on what’s within my control so I can hopefully, one day soon, breathe.

#blacklivesmatter ✊🏽

*BIPOC=Black Indigenous People (Person) of Color

Amy Stretten Chief of Style, All Black Lives Matter

Photos by @lyvellg

Self-love in the time of COVID-19

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“If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.” —  Maya Angelou

These wise words couldn’t be more true at a time like this. I’m reading that this quarantine could last as long as 18 months. Yes, 18…months! Even though the thought of staying indoors (just my dog and me) sounds daunting, I’m so very ready to take on this challenge. I’m kind of looking forward to it, actually.

Like a lot of people, 2019 was incredibly difficult for me. Still, I’m grateful to have gone through it because it’s taught me so much about myself. I’ve come to realize I’m resilient beyond belief and stronger than I could have ever imagined. Without my struggles last year, I’d never know how brave and capable I am. 2019 showed me that while I love people, I don’t need anyone. We’re born alone and we’ll die alone, so it’s important to know we can thrive without help, too.

I will always figure out a way to make the most of my situation and right now is no exception. And I truly believe that you can too! There is absolutely nothing we can do about this quarantine except getting our hearts and minds right about what this will mean for the next unknown number of months.

My plan, for the foreseeable future, is to really dig deep and work on my stuff. Like most people, I’ve got unresolved issues with people in my life and trauma I have yet to work through. While I’m quarantined, my plan is to make my home a safe space even more than it already is. Here are some of the things I have already started moving on:

  • I’ve already invested in a foldable stationary bike because I’m ready to start moving again and I plan to dust off my resistance bands and workout DVDs because I want to get in tip top shape and physical health.
  • I’m planning to reach into my massive library and pull out some cookbooks, too.
  • Now is the finally the time to learn how to grocery shop strategically and cook delicious meals at home.
  • I want to finally clean out my closets and purge what I don’t need. (The extra money from selling unwanted clothes will be a big help, too.)
  • I’m also committing to continuing with my meditation practice and get in touch with spirit. I’ve enjoyed becoming more spiritual over the past year and really want to keep it up.
  • I also plan to get back to writing more — like here on this blog, but also getting started on writing my first book, something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. 

This quarantine doesn’t have to be a bad thing. We just have to make some adjustments and roll with the punches as they inevitable come. There really are so many blessings to be grateful for, even during chaotic and frightening times like these. Please believe me when I say you are stronger than you think.

I’m really excited to use this period (however long it lasts) to continue my evolution and transformation and to continue practicing self-love and self-care. If ever there was a time to do it, it’s now. I honestly feel like this is my season to be a caterpillar in a cocoon. 🐛

Let’s all lean on our inner resources and focus on doing the work we need to do in order to become the butterflies we’re destined to become. 🦋✨

💖 We truly are in this together.

How are you staying positive during this strange moment in time? What are you going to work on? 

Love and health to you and yours.

xo,

Amy

Plus size fashion blogger and journalist, Amy Stretten, aka The Chief of Style, wearing a teddybear coat, rhinestone embellished distressed skinny jeans from Lane Bryant, and clear heels while carrying a rhinestone encrusted rainbow purse in Sherman Oaks, California

Plus size fashion blogger and journalist, Amy Stretten, aka The Chief of Style, wearing a teddybear coat, rhinestone embellished distressed skinny jeans from Lane Bryant, and clear heels while carrying a rhinestone encrusted rainbow purse in Sherman Oaks, California

Please note: These photos are from my archives. I have been safe and quarantined indoors for quite a while.

Coat: Amazon | Jeans: Lane Bryant | Bag: Ross | Shoes: Gift