Notes to self: 36 things I learned at 36

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1) Don't be afraid to let stuff go that doesn't feel good.

2) Self care is vital. Part of your everyday essentials. That might mean watching an episode of Ru Paul's Drag Race is an essential tool to remind you of the beauty in the world. Self care is a revolutionary act. Make it a part of your LIFE. It is vital for you to be at your best in every situation and having positive mental health is part of that. You are important and you are worth the time you take for yourself.

3) Sleep is your friend. Try not to fight it or subscribe to stories you tell yourself about being a night owl. Getting to bed by midnight will help you feel like a champ. (…that means getting into bed without a screen)

4) Meditation helps. Big time. Try to practice every day to feel clearer, more connected and to receive guidance.

5) Eat whatever the hell you like. Keep listening to your body. It knows.

6) Everyone you come into contact with is just doing the best they can at the time. Same as you. Be compassionate – but take no shit.

7) Really, stop taking shit. Just because you hold space for others doesn’t mean you can't call out those who take advantage of you. Keep those who value you as a human being close. Distance yourself from the rest.

8) Embrace your complicated mixed roots. Create your own identity. Chat with your ancestors. Honour them.

9) Try not to fight with your hair. Be grateful for it and when you stop trying to tame it according to the dominant ideology of other people's western beauty standards, it will respond accordingly.

10) You have nothing to prove hurting yourself working all hours. The work will still be there tomorrow. Take a break. You'll probably get a new perspective by doing so.

11) Don't pluck your eyebrows. I don't think… (still seeking on this one but photographs tell me the late 90s wasn't the best brow look)

12) If you don't follow your hunches or urges, you will be disappointed. Try to tune into your intuition. Your guts. You have the answers. You know the next steps. TRUST.

13) Worrying about what other people think is a massive waste of valuable time and energy.

14) Ask for help and for what you need.

15) Appreciate the small things.

16) Your sensitivity is a gift, but try to work on harnessing it in ways that doesn’t deplete you, but still serves others. Boundaries babes.

17) Always look out for signs.

18) It's never too late. Never. So start! Begin now!

19) You can have too much coffee/green tea. Be aware of the consequences.

20) Tell your stories. Although you seek to read it from others, your experiences might have some meaning or value or lesson for someone else. Tell your stories. They may only resonate with one person – if that – but they should be told.

21) Nobody knows what they're doing. Really. We're all just walking each other home, albeit at different paces and on different routes. Trust your path.

22) Get a dental hygienist. Whatever age you are. Pay them happily even though it's rent money. You won't regret it.

22b) Whilst we're on dental stuff, don't use the university dentist unless you've checked out reports on their work. You might end up paying the price.

23) Don't give up on therapy, but find the form that helps you best. Same as with any kind of teacher, be it yoga, chef, author or other.

24) Stop blaming yourself for your childhood. And stop being a victim of it. But DO own it. Use your pain as a tool for growth. And get some support whilst you're managing your way through it – you don't have to take it on alone.

25) Create your own rituals.

26) Nobody knows what they're doing (again)

27) Give up refined sugar if you can. Coffee too. And minimise your alcohol consumption. This isn't for everybody, but your body functions better without them.

28) Embrace your weirdness.

29) Embrace others' weirdness.

30) Seek beauty everywhere.

31) Music is so nourishing for you. Never lose that special relationship.

32) Animals are your people. Spend time with them when you can.

33) Never stop learning.

34) Give yourself permission to change and grow. You are not the same person you were a year ago, nor 5 minutes ago.

35) Sometimes it's good to get the goolies before doing something. The good goolies. The stuff that makes you fizz and excited but a tinge scared. Be it publishing a book, or going to sing in a karaoke bar or dance in a shopping centre. Follow the (good) tingles!

36) Don't waste your energy on wastemen (and women). Some discussions aren't worth your time (e.g. the comments section on any article written by a black person, or wading into #alllivesmatter territory). For your own mental health, AVOID THE TRAPS + CLICKBAIT!

Dionne x

dionne elizabeth