Who is she?
Nia Ita is an Afro-Dominicana writer and creative. "A queen from Queens, NY – she often has to readjust her crown and believes in the healing power of sharing her vulnerabilities." When she's not writing, creating, or sharing tips on how to love your partner via Youtube, you can probably find her reading a great book or reviewing that same book on her website. As if she needed anymore superpowers, Nia is also a Bilingual Speech Language Pathologist, and creates tons of resources for professionals to use.
Nia is my Instagram bestie! I get all my book recommendations from her and love to watch her alongside her husband as they discuss, as candidly as they can, their marriage. Nia inspires me through her mantra "Push Through" and most importantly, she leads by example. I knew she had to be a #MeFirstMonday Powerhouse! Read her interview to find out why!
Please help us understand your self-love journey. What have you learned along the way?
Nia: For most of my life I walked around shouldering a lot of shame and guilt. Learning the difference between shame and guilt was a big first step. Guilt is “I made a mistake.” Shame is “I am a mistake.” Once I learned to push shame out of my life, I had to work on stripping the guilt from my self-care practice. I struggled to invest in myself financially and spiritually because I felt that my money and time was better spent helping and serving others. Growing up, I watched the women in my life sacrifice everything for their families. "Self-care" was considered a frivolous expense. This distorted perspective caused me a lot of anxiety and even led to self-harm ideation. I’ve been able to face these difficult realities through therapy, writing, reading and my spiritual practice.
In the midst of all your responsibilities, how do you manage to prioritize yourself? What do you do?
Nia: Sundays are sacred for me and my partner. We take that day to recharge, reflect and reconnect - with God, with ourselves and with each other. Setting aside time in my calendar, literally blocking it out like I do appointments, work, and meetings, is a game-changer. (Steven and I have what we like to call “CEO meetings” every Sunday and it’s written out in our shared calendar.) It gets easier to tell people “no” or “I can’t” when I see that there is regularly scheduled self-care practice I need to prioritize.
What would you say to the person having trouble putting themselves first?
Nia: Find mantras, quotes, scripture, songs - anything that encourages you to continue pushing through the challenges of learning to love well. Commit some to memory and surround yourself with reminders. The inside of my medicine cabinet is covered in self-affirming poetry and sayings. Every morning when I brush my teeth, I'm reminded of M. Scott Peck's definition of love and Maya Angelou's "Still I Rise." And even when I'm not home, the bits I have memorized help me produce positive-self talk that keeps me uplifted and encouraged. Also, I am a huge proponent of therapy. Marriage therapy, family therapy, individual therapy - figure out what you need at this point in your life and stop making excuses. Sometimes we all need a little outside perspective to help us reflect and change the way we view and choose to move in the world around us.
You've mentioned therapy a couple times and I want to dig a little deeper, especially because I would agree that it is a huge part of healing in general. I'm wondering how you were able to get past the cultural stereotypes regarding therapy, and when did it ring for you that therapy was a good idea?
Nia: I got to a point where I didn't care what anyone else thought anymore. I hit a dangerous low in my life and I knew I wanted to heal more than anything else. I had weekly therapy sessions for a year before I sat down and had an honest conversation about it with my family. My therapist helped me prepare for the conversation. For anyone struggling with the very real cultural stereotypes, I would say start for yourself, don't share it with anyone until you feel ready to and consider it a integral part of your self-care. I also encourage people to be proactive about therapy and mental wellness instead of waiting for a breakdown.
Describe your self-love journey in one word:
What can we learn from Nia?
Nia always keeps it 100% real. It is that authenticity which makes her down-to-earth, relatable, and the perfect candidate for a sister-in-your-head kind of relationship (#guilty). Through this interview, we learn that loving ourselves isn't just loving the outside, but taking the time to truly consider what is going on inside. Nia reminds us that the introspective process can bring out the parts of us that we are unwilling or afraid to face. What I am taking away is that we are 100% responsible for our inner and outer self-care, and we should honor that responsibility as often as we can.
Where can I find this powerhouse?
Loved her interview? Read more of Nia's work on her blog www.niaita.net, and catch her book reviews sprinkled with a little inspiration for your off days on Instagram and Twitter @_niaita. Looking for bilingual speech resources? Check out her amazing website to help you on your professional journey at www.bilingualspeechresources.com, or on Instagram @bilingualspeechresources and Pinterest at Bilingual Speech Resources.