Tuscany & All It's Glory

I had no idea how large the region of Tuscany was until we actually drove through so many beautiful cities ...and realized we were still in Tuscany.

It's a central region in Italy that is very popular for tourist to visit. With it's capital being Florence, the next stop on our trip. 

Florence

Although we were not staying in Florence overnight, we couldn't pass up the opportunity to stop through this city to witness its beauty for ourselves. After we left the Hot Springs we decided to stop for dinner in Florence. The drive was about an hour and some change from the hot springs location mentioned in the previous post. 

Driving into Florence was a beautiful experience. As soon as we got there we decided to use handy dandy Yelp to help us decided where we would dine for the evening. We settled upon Restaurante Pensavo Peggio. It had a 4.5 rating and almost 300 reviews, which made it qualified enough for us to try it out, and we made a great decision. The food, wine, and atmosphere was so delightful. As soon as we were seated, we all initially asked our server for....the wifi, and he politely told us, "Sorry, no Wifi, you guys have to talk to each other". Much appreciated because we actually had such a great time at dinner and met other people/families that were sitting at the tables surrounding us.  

 

Lamporecchio

After dinner in Florence, we REALLY needed to get a move on it and finally check into our Airbnb. We were super late but it was all good, our host was super cool and plus he was up packing because he was leaving at 4am to head to the states. This location was beyond beautiful. Located high up in the mountains, (it was actually kind of scary driving up that long winding road to get to the spot, but so worth it!).

We all unpacked the car and headed to choose which rooms we would be sleeping in. Each room was so gorgeous and the entire house was full of art. The host was an artist himself and actually had prices attached to certain pieces of artwork throughout the house...(smart hustle lol). We were all pretty tired from such a long eventful day and had a LONG day ahead of us in the morning so we basically crashed and prepared for the morning. 

Lucca

Morning came and we were all pretty excited about this leg of the trip. We were heading to Lucca, Italy to go horseback riding. Geneva planned such an amazing trip the logistics were just ON POINT. She loves horses and horseback riding so incorporating this activity into the trip was a must for her. Personally this was my first time ever horseback riding, and I was excited, as if I had been doing this my entire life. Not once was I nervous of scared, because it's actually something I have been wanting to do for some time but just never have. 

The drive from Lamporecchio to Lucca was about 45 mins away, so we sang some throwback Destiny's Child + Beyonce and before we knew it, we were there. We arrived at the location and was greeted by the woman who would be our leader for the day, we chose to ride for a total of 2 hours, and man, it was worth it. 

We all mounted our horses and filed into one single line in the order that the instructor (Jennifer) gave us. I witnessed some of the most beautiful landscapes I have ever seen in my life during this 2 hour ride. Not only were the landscapes beautiful, but the plants and fruit trees and houses surrounding us were just, so amazing. I have never seen so many wild pear trees, fig trees, olive trees, blueberry/raspberry bushes...the list goes on. Although I did wear long bottoms, they were not denim, and now i see why riding boots are needed, because while riding through all these bushes and shrubs, there were tons of prickly ones and I for sure was poked quite a few times but nothing too major. 

I was most fascinated with how well behaved the horses were. I mean I know they are trained to some extent but they just knew exactly what to do and when to do it, it was a great first experience. 

After riding for 2 hours we were all pretty darn hungry so we left and went into the city of Lucca for lunch + to explore/shop. I had THE BEST ravioli topped with bolognese sauce, and of course, more wine. Wine was just a thing throughout Tuscany, all the wines are local and ordering a bottle or 2 for the table was pretty inexpensive. 

From Lucca, we headed back to our spot in Lamporecchio, walked to the village shop and each grabbed a bottle of wine, (that's 5 bottles) and decided to drink ,smoke some shisha, and watch the sunset out in the beautiful lounge area. We made it through 4 bottles and so many conversations before we ended up calling it a night.

Beautiful ending to this leg of the trip. 

Tuscan Hot Springs

"So, you're telling me that we're about to be in a natural jacuzzi?!"

That was my initial thought when I found out that we would be taking a trip to The Fosso Bianco hot springs and natural pools in Bagni San Filippo. A little dramatic, I know, but hey...I was excited.

The thought of taking a hot bath in the wilderness totally sold me on the experience, and I was so so ready for this leg of the trip. It was our second day on our road trip through Italy and we all piled up in the car and drove from Rome to Tuscany Bagni San Filippo. That trip was about a 2 hour drive, not bad at all.

This year I have spent a lot of time in nature. We have become sort of best friends. Especially since moving to Los Angeles and discovering some of the most beautiful hiking trails I have ever seen...but I had never been to a hot spring.

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The location was not my typical secluded piece of nature that I love, (told you I love my solitude lol) but it was beautiful nonetheless. The area is obviously a popular spot for locals and tourist to visit, and the fact that the area is so easily accessible makes it great for families and kids! Just a short walk and you're there.

The waters there vary, some are as hot as a bath you would take, and some are just nice and warm. The water is high in sulfur and calcium (which explains the formation of the white rock and the name of the place). It was so amazing, we stayed there for a few hours, soaking and enjoying nature.

I was so surprised to see how many families brought their children there, and how many women who are expecting were out there climbing those rocks with their huge bellies. We experienced some beautiful encounters with so many people, all of whom did not speak the same language as us.

The language barriers that I had experienced on this trip opened my eyes to so many things. I feel as though I have been living my life in such a singular view, not really realizing that one day I may travel and have to communicate with other people besides those who speak English. It was in Rome when I had a breakdown and became very emotional after trying to communicate with my Uber driver who only spoke Italian. We spent about 20 minutes on the phone trying to find each other and with no success, he canceled on me and that's when it hit me. I was just so frustrated. Standing in the warm rain, trying to book another Uber. I made up in my mind that I would find the time to learn a new language. That is my goal.

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The universe must have felt how exhausted the language barrier was making me, because we were blessed to spend a peaceful day in nature where smiles and eye contact were the universal language.

One of the best parts of my day was a little girl taking my photo in one of the caves. Usually when a child takes photos, I'm expecting a not-so-great shot. You know, out of focus, off-centered, something of that nature. But this girl was so focused on getting a great shot, paying attention to her angles/perspective. It made me think about my time teaching girls photography back in LA last year.

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Geneva thought that it would be a beautiful idea for her to bring her roses and baby's breath bouquet of flowers with her to put in her hair and bask in the sun as the goddess she is, and she was right. We took the roses and its petals and surrounded ourselves with them. The current from the natural waterfalls allowed the rose petals to fall into other areas where people were bathing. Initially I thought people would be annoyed with us, but everyone was loving it, collecting the petals, placing them on their bodies. The kids were having a ball. Geneva gave her last rose to one of the little girls and it was one of the cutest things I had ever seen.  

After losing track of time, we decided that we should probably head out to our next destination, Florence, but not before stopping at the local Gelato Shop and grabbing a cone. I had some of the BEST Coffee Gelato, ever.

When In Rome.

So, I went to Rome, Italy. 

...and it was beyond amazing. I have been trying to figure out a way to put this experience into words and that has been a very difficult task for me. Since I am a visual story teller, that Is exactly what I did...I captured my entire trip. 

I considered this to be my "first international trip" although my family and I drove to Canada when I was around 11 or 12 and also I took a cruise with my church to Mexico when I was 17. Those trips didn't feel, as if I were really exploring (but I shouldn't disregard them the way I have been). 

Getting off of the plane in Turkey was beautiful. I remember what the sky looked like. The sun was just beginning to set and I saw that familiar cotton candy mural that comes about during those hours. That's when the time difference set in for me. It was morning in Los Angeles, but night over here. 

During my layover I sat at a café in the airport and was on a hunt for the almighty Wi-Fi. Airport wi-fi sucks by the way. Like, every airport I have ever been in. Thank God for Sprint and their "semi decent" international plan where I can still have low speed data. I was able to text my family and close friends to let them know all was well, then I was off to my official destination. Roma. 

Once I arrived in Rome I was immediately captured by the way the houses were set up. The long windows, and balcony's almost reminded me of New Orleans.

The first 4 days in Rome, I was alone. Which is usually VERY ok with me. I love being to myself, there is something beautiful about solitude and the fact that you are free to move around as you please. I have been this way since I was a child. Knowing that I would be meeting up with a few of my friends in a few days, I wanted to take full advantage of getting to know my surroundings. What better way to do that than to, walk. 

I woke up the first morning in Rome and went on a search for COFFEE. It wasn't hard to find at all, but what was difficult for me was ordering the coffee. I wasn't sure what to say to order my usual in Italian, which is just a latte. I soon figured that I would be ordering hella cappuccinos throughout my stay in Italy. I had coffee at this super cute Cafe called Gelida Voglia (Rome, Italy). The customer service at this place was just amazing. I am a sucker for great service and the fact that I only ordered one coffee, and sat there for a few hours to read, and was waited on as if I had spent a grip of money really made my heart smile. Since they are not driven by being "tipped" they go above and beyond. Although they usually aren't expecting a tip, I think it is appreciated when you insist on leaving one anyway. 

I tried to take full advantage of my alone time before things got hectic, so every quiet moment I could I find I was pulling out something to read. My boyfriend made a great point the other night when he explained to me that reading while you have free time gives you the ability to give what you are reading your undivided attention. Not only are you less distracted with the business of your everyday life, you also have time to think about what it is you just read.

 I didn't even bring my camera out with me on the first day because I just wanted to be. Be present, and existing in this new place. It was so peaceful. Seeing what I usually see through my lens, with my actual eyes and giving that my full and complete attention. That first day was beautiful. 

Vatican City

 

I knew that I wanted to be a tourist and visit the amazing Vatican City.

For those who don't know, Vatican City, is a city-state surrounded by Rome, Italy, it is the headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church. It's home to the Pope and has tons of iconic art and architecture. The museums in Vatican city house ancient Roman sculptures such as the famed “Laocoön and His Sons” as well as Renaissance frescoes (a technique of mural painting) in the Raphael Rooms and the Sistine Chapel, famous for Michelangelo’s ceiling (which is what I was most excited to see). 

My anxiety kicked in almost INSTANTLY when my Uber driver pulled up to the outside of the city and I noticed the horrendous/scary line that wrapped around for what looked like miles. My boyfriend and his best friend warned me the night before that I should get there early, and told me how crowed it would be but I don't think I understood the magnitude of how many people come to visit this place each year. It didn't make it any better that I was visiting during the Summer. BUT, as soon as I stepped foot out of my Uber, there was a guy (working for a tour group) who sold me immediately when he told me that I would be able to skip the line and be apart of an English speaking group of people with an English speaking tour guide. I was like "sign me UP, thank you!!!" For about €55 I was able to have access to the city and all of it's glory. Let me tell you now. It was worth it, unless you're not interested in any history of the city or you already know much about the city and the churches/museums. 

I honestly would have been lost without a guide, she was so informative. She was actually impressed of the few facts that I knew of the city and some of the hidden spots throughout it (I read hella blogs before going). My favorite moment of Vatican was walking through the museums and finally reaching the Sistine Chapel. Where I saw with my own eye's the beautiful work of Michelangelo's work. There was art done by other artist from the 15th century in the chapel but I (along with the majority of people around me) was more interested in seeing the large fresco "The Last Judgement" on the sanctuary wall. That moment for me was so inspirational. I wish that I could gather all of my thoughts to even begin to explain how it felt to see the work of such vigorous labor. Although photos inside of the chapel are "forbidden" I decided to rebel against all rules and take a photo of this amazing work of art. 

The Last Judgement

I would recommend anyone going to visit this city to take your time. Don't feel rushed and just embrace all of the beautiful art that there is to offer. Living in Los Angeles I am surrounded by so much contemporary art that I forget about all of the modern art that is out there.

I spent my entire day there. 

The Coliseum

Four days had gone by of me enjoying Rome alone, then my friends all arrived in Rome to join. The whole reason I was in Italy to begin with was to celebrate my good friend Geneva's birthday. Geneva is one of those spontaneous individuals who just believes in me and my crazy ideas. She's been such an inspiration to me in so many ways and I was honored that she invited me on this trip with her and her other close friends. The moment they arrived (5 of us in total) we headed straight to the Coliseum. 

Geneva's Private Birthday Dinner

Being in Rome for 4 days alone already, I had tried so much of the local food/wine there. Literally all I was eating was pasta + pizza + bread. No complaints, but it was so refreshing to have a private chef create us a meal that was beyond amazing and that was NOT tourist food. We enjoyed a delicious 5 course meal that was crafted from local ingredients and...you could tell how fresh everything was compared to all the restaurants I had been eating at prior to this. 

The chef, was beyond amazing. Very informative and I would suggest if you have time while in Rome to book him for a private dinner. I mean, it was just so  beautiful. You can book him here.


Rome is a place that I will for sure be visiting again (I actually will be back for 1 day in like 2 weeks). I know now that I probably will not visit during the summer time, I would love to visit this city when there are less tourist and the weather is more breezy. 

 

Easy DIY Honey + Coffee Scrub

Exfoliation is something that I actually never thought was really important until I got a little older. As a teenager, I would buy all the cool looking, acne fighting, black head busting, microbead infused face washes, but wasn't even sure what all that meant. Microbeads are, according to NPR, “tiny bits of plastic, [or] small scrubbing components used in hundreds of personal care products like skin exfoliants and soap.” Now that I am older and a little wiser, I know that I shouldn't be putting any product on my skin that contains actual....plastic. Like, seriously?

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Back to exfoliation.

Proper exfoliation removes the barrier of dead skin cells clogging the skin and uncovers fresh new cells below. This opens the way for moisturizing products to penetrate more deeply into the skin, which makes them more effective. In short, a regular exfoliating routine will leave your skin looking fresh and healthy.

For me, I realized that I needed to start exfoliating not only my face, but all over my body once I started getting really bad ingrown hairs from shaving down there..I also have experienced them on my face from removing some of my unwanted facial hair.

There are tons of brands that make products that aren't harmful to the environment like FIRST AID BEAUTY’s Facial Radiance Polish or LUSH Cosmetic’s Let The Good Times Roll exfoliator, but I'm all about that DIY life and that's what this post is about.

This simple scrub has 5 powerful all natural ingredients:

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Honey:

it's the perfect base to this face mask because of all its natural properties. It's nature’s antibiotic salve. It’s also a top notch moisturizer and antioxidant.

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Coffee:

Old or fresh coffee grounds can be used in this recipe. The benefits of coffee are endless; it will help to freshen and revitalize dull and dry skin. Caffeine wakes skin up, leaving it looking vibrant. It’s been known to reduce under eye swelling and temporarily reduce the appearance of cellulite, making it a wonderful addition to any skin care regimen.

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Sugar:

Is the perfect grainy texture for a less harsh exfoliation. It’s harsh enough to remove dead skin while still leaving healthy skin in great shape. It acts as a moisture magnet as it brings moisture to your skin from the environment around you. Sugar also contains an acid that helps speed up the production of new skin cells, making skin appear younger and fresher.

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Baking Soda:

In small amounts, its helps with exfoliation and removes heavy oils. With proper use, it’s proven to clear up severe cases of acne and aid in balancing very oily skin types.

Jojoba Oil:

Jojoba oil is unique in that, unlike most other vegetable oils, it closely resembles sebum, a waxy substance produced by our skin glands, so it can act as a natural skin conditioner. It has nearly replaced animal fats in the manufacture of skin lotions and creams. That's why I love to use it for my skin/hair.

Let's get to it.

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Holistic skincare is something that I am passionate about and I would love to share more recipes and tips with you guys, let me know if this post was helpful at all by leaving a comment or hitting me up on IG.

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A Conversation With Cristina Martinez

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Dope women inspire me. Period. Women who are chasing their dreams and who are defying the odds of the "status quo" life that people feel they are supposed to live. Cristina Martinez is one of these women.

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After being on set of a photoshoot with one of Cristina's best friend's, I fell in love with her energy and work ethic, and knew that I had to get to know her a little better.

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Cristina was born and raised in Tacoma, WA, & left home at 18 with the idea of attending a four year University and starting a career. Three years into that pursuit, she dropped everything to follow her true dream of creating her own brand. She is the artist and creator behind June & Mars, an art brand with a focus on fashion- based out of Los Angeles, CA.

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"It's ok to truly express the truest form of you" -Cristina Martinez

I was able to sit down and ask Cristina a few questions about how she chooses art as her form of expression, motherhood, and how she wants to inspire those around her. (I was so happy when she agreed to still do this video interview even though she was sick, so that explains the sound of her voice.)

Check out the video above!

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Follow Cristina on IG to stay updated with her!

Love Is...

Happy Valentine's Day guys! Thank you so much for showing this blog love and receiving the love that I give to you.  -Rikkí
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Love is Patience...

The world we live in today is so consumed with "fast results" we want everything in an instant and become obsessed with this unhealthy mentality. There's a quote that a good friend of mine always says, "Haste, makes waste!" Things done is a hasty manner can lead to mistakes being made, forcing you to redo or undo that mistake, wasting time. When things could have just been done the right way the first time, with patience.

There's a life lesson that I take away from that quote. I actually repeat it to myself whenever I am feeling anxious or pressured to complete something. Show yourself, and others around you more love by practicing patience.

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Love is Kind...

Being kind to people will get you further in life than being rude, simple. One small act of kindness can change someone else's day in ways you have no idea. People have made my day just by being kind to others and I was there to witness it. It lets me know that there is still hope for us as a human race. Love is kindness and to show love to yourself and other's throughout your daily journey is the ultimate act of being kind!

Love is Being Happy For Other's Success...

This world of comparison we live in can become a bit of a distraction. Especially for those who tend to measure their success around the success of their peers and loved ones.

Why does this person have this and I don't? Why did they get this opportunity and I didn't? ...that way of thinking will leave you in a great depression. Once you can search and see your own uniqueness and realize that your path is YOUR path you will feel a great sense of relief. You are enough and what is for you is for YOU, so be happy for others! Celebrate with your friends and show them you recognize their hard work and efforts.

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Love is being Humble...

Check your ego at the door! Regardless of your achievements, always remain humble. It's ok to be CONFIDENT in yourself, but once that confidence begins to become a passive aggressive way of boasting around your friends and loved ones, thats when it has gone wrong. Humility is key.

Love is Empathy...

I have experienced people in my life who seem to have no empathy whatsoever, this type of person see's the world with a singular view and has no intentions on another point of view.

When you are able to put yourself in someone else's shoes, you are showing them that you actually care. That you want to really understand what is going on and how they feel. Living life empathetically can give your life a new/positive perspective.

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Love is not something that you should take lightly. Putting love into all that you do can enrich your life in ways you never knew. If you are an artist, putting real love, feelings, emotions of yourself and others into your artwork can turn what would have been ordinary to you extraordinary to someone else.

Create more love within yourself to be able to shine that love within out to others around you.

Find somebody to LOVE on today!!! Ready ....set.....

I totally jacked that from a friend of mine's Facebook status but I felt it was the perfect way to end this post!

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A Conversation with Taylor the Chef & Anya Renise Design Group

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Women who pay it forward have always inspired me and gave me an example of what it means to help someone when you can. I believe that you succeed more in life when you are sharing the knowledge and resources you have gained to help someone else succeed.

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While in Miami, FL I meet an interior designer who was looking to have one of her showrooms that she had designed photographed and I instantly fell in love with her style and grace. Anya Cesar, owner of Anya Renise Design Group has over 11 years experience in the design field. She received a degree from Miami Dade College in Interior Design and a degree from Florida International University in Landscape Architecture. In 2014, she was selected and appeared on A&E’s FYI Network for a design renovation series.

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Anya has been featured at The Miami Home Show located at The Miami Beach Convention Center where she was one of four designers selected to design a vignette showcasing her work. She was also invited and participated in the 2016 TPIE (Tropical Plant Industry Exhibition) Show, where she was one of three featured designers asked to create a vignette illustrating the importance of the role plants play in interior spaces.

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At the Miami Home Show, in Miami Beach, I was able to sit down with Anya and another girl boss, Taylor the Chef. Anya created a room at the show JUST FOR TAYLOR. She was a inspired by Taylor's story and wanted to be apart of her journey.

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Taylor Moxey (Taylor the Chef) is an 11 year old Entrepreneur, Philanthropist, TEDx Youth 2015 Presenter and Founder of the Taylor Moxey Mobile Library.

For a young woman of color such as Taylor to have it in her heart to want to open a library and share knowledge with those who may be less fortunate let's me know that this upcoming generation has people who are willing to fight for change and see a better future.

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I was completely blown away by all of Taylor's accomplishments when I met her. Her energy was such a light and she was just such a positive being. I was able to sit down with Anya and Taylor for a short interview and Anya was able to give Taylor something that she never imagined, watch the interview to see what Anya does for Taylor!

Taylor is already in the works with her second mobile library! I can not wait to see the finished product. With the help of so many creatives behind her, including Anya's amazing interior design work, I'm sure "Taylor Moxey Mobile Library #2" will be beyond amazing. 

It's very inspiring to feature this #blackgirlmagic on the blog during Black History Month. Make sure you follow both Taylor and Anya on Instagram to stay up to date on the progress of the second mobile library!

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A Conversation With Tama Gucci

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Photos by Rikkí Wright Photography
Photos by Rikkí Wright Photography

Being creative at multiple things is something that used to be difficult to accomplish, but with the rise of technology and the drive behind this new age of millennials, it is something that can be done. Kymani Floyd is one of those creative artist out here doing what he loves unapologetically.

One of South Florida's artist on the rise, Kymani Floyd, who goes by "Tama Gucci" is helping fill the missing void of male R&B singers. With his vintage vibe and almost timeless style, it is safe to say that he is creating his own lane when it comes to his music.

Photos by Rikkí Wright Photography
Photos by Rikkí Wright Photography

Tama Gucci's alternative style when it comes to writing/singing feels so natural and offers a vibe that feels welcoming, like his song Really Into You. I almost feel like I can do a few yoga sequences to this track just because it makes me feel so calm.

Photos by Rikkí Wright Photography
Photos by Rikkí Wright Photography

Not only is his music something that I feel we have been missing in this new age of music, but his voice and what he stands for. Although Tama Gucci comes off as a quiet soft spoken person, the words that he writes/sings speak volumes. Touching on topics such as hypermasculinity in his track Boy's Cry Too. Breaking the status quo male stereotype image that's placed so heavily on today's generation of men.

Photos by Rikkí Wright Photography
Photos by Rikkí Wright Photography

I was able to sit down with Tama Gucci while in South Beach, Miami and captured some cool shots of him. He also shares with us what he hopes his whole movement as an artist does for the rest of us in the video above.

Make sure you keep up with Tama Gucci, he's always dropping teasers and updates of his music via his Instagram page.

How I Reduce Stress + Anxiety

This year for me has been filled with it's share of stress and anxiety. I personally never knew that I suffered from anxiety until a few months ago. I didn't know what this feeling was but I knew whenever I felt like I had a lot of things to do in one day, or I have something important to complete by a certain deadline, this feeling would come over me. I wasn't sure what the feeling was, until I realized that it was actually anxiety. Stress on top of anxiety is something that just does NOT FEEL GOOD. It's an uneasy feeling, and who wants to feel that way? Not me. So here are a few things that I do to combat/deal with stress and anxiety.

 


I paint/draw:

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I love to pull out my paint brushes and a canvas or some sketch paper and just create something. Sometimes I will have something specific I want to create in mind, and other times I will just freestyle something.

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I love Color Theory, so one of my favorite things to do is mix my own colors. The only colors of paint that I own are: Red, Blue, Yellow, White & Umber. I use the primary colors to create any color in the spectrum that I want and I will use the white and brown to change the tone/shade of each color.

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I connect with nature:

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Although I do not watch TV much, I spend so much time online and on social media. This can cause me to have some anxiety just due to the fact that I am consuming so much information that may be good or bad. I know that once this feeling comes over me, it is time for me to unplug from the matrix and connect with mother earth.

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I have been fortunate enough to live in some cities that have beautiful spots for me to connect with nature. Some of my favorite things to do when I was living in the South (Alabama & Georgia) were to go hiking. Taking a walk in the mountains and just sitting on a cliff looking out into the unknown. Or even finding a running spring of water and taking my shoes and socks off and just walking on the rocks. Living on the coast has taught me to connect with water more. I lived in Miami for 1 year and now I live in Los Angeles, so I am so close to some amazing bodies of water. So taking a long walk on the beach and just sitting in the sand brings me great joy.

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I am a Taurus, an earth sign, so it makes sense that I feel grounded when I physically connect with the earth.

I cook something that I have never made:

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Cooking has been a stress reliever for me since I was a little girl. I would go in the kitchen and try to recreate meals that my parents made for me. And most recently I have started cooking different cuisines that I think may be challenging, and I feel a great sense of relaxation when I share my food with others and they are in love with my meals.

That feeling is amazing.

I listen to healing music:

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There is a thing called "sound healing". Using healing sound frequencies to bring our bodies and our nervous system back to balance. It brings an overall sense of peace and relaxation.

When I was living in Miami on South Beach I would work at the Cafe called Plant Theory and they had a singing bowl. I had never actually used one until one of the workers at the cafe showed me how it worked. once I heard the sound and the vibrations from the bowl, I was so amazed at how peaceful I felt. I am looking to purchase one in the near future.

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For now I love listening to soothing music, revolutionary hip hop, and concentration music. Some artist I am listening to at the moment when I want to relax are: Erykah Badu, India Arie, Andre 3000, Translee, Kid Cudi, Frank Ocean, Solange & Kanye West.

I exercise & do yoga:

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Exercising regularly is amazing for reducing stress & anxiety. My grandmother would always tell me "When you look better, you feel better!"

I have been practicing yoga on and off since 2010, but regularly for the past 2 years. At first I honestly just wanted to become more flexible and I heard Yoga and Pilates can help with that. It wasn't until 2015 that I took my practice seriously. Really understanding the meditation portion of my practice.

Yoga is one of the best exercises you can do to help reduce stress and anxiety because it tones the body while calming and centering the mind. It allows us to meditate and focus on the breath. Deep breathing is so beneficial for us so take some time out of your day to focus on your breath at least once, you will feel a difference.

I eat healthy:

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This may be one of the most important factors. Our gut has been nicknamed as our "second brain" and it manufactures around 95% of our body's serotonin which is considered a natural mood stabilizer, our "happy hormone".

I had no idea that what you consume can actually alter your overall mood. As I get older, my body has actually been responding to me like "Sorry Rikkí, we actually can't eat that anymore". Not really talking to me but I can tell that my body is starting to reject certain foods, even if I like that taste, I won't feel so great after eating it.

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I have started trying to eat more natural WHOLE foods. My diet consists of mostly organic and Non-GMO fruits and veggies. I eat a lot of Soy meat alternative products when I want to cut meat out of my diet.

“Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.”

 

I show myself gratitude:

Love yourself. Do things that make you happy. Dancing, taking photos, pampering myself and just doing whatever I feel like doing at the moment are a few things that I can do to show myself gratitude.

Simple Ways to Practice Gratitude

This a wonderful day. I've never seen this one before. -Maya Angelou @foreverrikk

This time of year always reminds me of the importance of GIVING. Giving thanks, giving gifts of love, and giving gratitude are things that I have been trying to add to my daily practice. Simply just giving thanks. I grew up in the church and always heard the saying that, "Hallelujah, is the highest praise." It's a form of thanks, a form of praise, a form of gratitude to God.

So why not apply this high form of gratitude to my own life?

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I will admit that 2016 was a year that I was not able to truly take care of myself and love myself and recognize the small things that I have done and thank myself for just showing up and BEING present. I was very critical with myself this year. Pointing out the things that went wrong in a situation rather than taking a moment to be proud of my accomplishments no matter how great or small they were.

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I have recently realized that I can NOT take this mentality into the new year with me and I need to switch up this mindset, ASAP. I went soul searching, aka listening to a bunch of podcast, meditating, reading more, and most recently actually started attending church again. Which brought me back to the point of realization, that I simply just need to be thankful.

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The simple act of gratitude on a regular basis will change anyone’s life, positively and immediately. I'm a living witness. I would love to share with you guys some simple ways you can incorporate gratitude into your life. Not all of these will apply to everyone but pick and choose what works for you, these are just some examples that I have found to work for myself and people who I surround myself with.

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  • Start your morning with Gratitude. Have a morning gratitude session with yourself. Take at least one minute and think about something you are grateful for. Think about people who have been good to you in your life, and think about the good things that are actually happening in your life. Just thinking about these things will automatically make you feel better in the morning, even though its only 60 seconds. Try to make this a  morning ritual.
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  • Having a bad day? Make a list. Create a list of things you are grateful for when you are having one of those days. Your car broke down, you lost a friend, your boss yelled at you, whatever the case may be. Take these moments as an opportunity to give thanks. Sometimes when I pray/meditate I don't ask for anything, I just simply give thanks. For life, health, and strength.
  • @jadeymoment on IG
    @jadeymoment on IG
  • Don't get mad, get glad. Corny I know, but seriously. I learned this lesson a long time ago before I even knew that I was learning something that would help me out so much in my adulthood. As a child I would get yelled at by my parents all the time. I used to think arguing back, having a smart mouth or even getting upset and having an attitude with my parents was the key to getting even, but no. Actually taking a moment, embracing and trying to understand why my parents were upset with me in the first  place was the first step. Then being thankful for having someone that cares about me enough to put me in my place was another way for me to switch my attitude up. My aunt would always quote the scripture Proverbs 15:1 to me: "Agentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." 
  • When faced with a challenge in life, be grateful for it. Seriously, take on this challenge. Embrace it and be glad that whoever presented this to you, trusts and believes in your ability to get it done. Be grateful for that. Many people will see something difficult as a bad thing. If something goes wrong, they feel it’s a reason to complain, it’s a time of self-pity. That won’t get you anywhere. Trust me, I know. Take this challenge as an opportunity to grow, to learn.
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    "Be thankful for what you have; you'll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don't have, you will never, ever have enough." Oprah Winfrey