“It doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it, as long as you take some time to do something that is 100% for YOU” – Rosa Barney
So far this year I have been splitting my time between California and New York. Caring for my aging parents in New York as my mother recovers from open heart surgery and a stroke, being present at my job in the LA area and trying to remain focused, writing and working on some personal projects, keeping up with my friends and family that relentlessly stay in my corner, all while trying not to let chicken tenders and broccoli florets be the only things I eat. Your girl is running on “E”!
During my most recent visit to New York, I really needed some downtime. I met one of my closet friends for a “grown folks” night out in Manhattan which consisted of dinner and a 20 block walk back to our hotel through the beautiful city. We’re real party animals. And what else do you do after a night out in Manhattan, you Brunch! We did that too. But after we devoured the chicken and waffles we attended the “Me Time” pop-up event with Rosa Barney, model, writer, self-love advocate and creator of Me First.
The Me First platform is bold and inviting and the message is clear. Me First was created to inspire individuals to put themselves first and care for themselves on a holistic level.
After spending only a few minutes with the Rosa, there is no doubt that this platform is her passion and her goal is to help us all understand the power of (self) love. I was fortunate to stay in touch with Rosa and learn more about Me First
Dee Ellerbe: What lead you to create the Me First platform?
Rosa Barney: I started Me First because I wanted to share my self-love journey with people. I struggled with low self-confidence and low self-esteem for a very long time. I let it permeate every part of my life without realizing it. It would often led to me putting the needs of others before my own because I didn’t understand my value and self-worth. I didn’t think I “deserved” to come first. I engaged in a lot of negative self-talk. I didn’t know how to accept a compliment – I didn’t appreciate the many gifts I have!
As time went on, I saw the body positive movement growing in the media. It helped me realize that just because I didn’t fit a specific mold didn’t mean I was “less than.” It was the spark that lead me on a self-love journey for the body and on through my mental and emotional health. When I started to see the power of positivity, mindfulness, gratitude, and self-love in my life, I knew I had to share it by creating the Me First movement.
DE: What have you learned about the power of putting yourself first?
RB: I learned that self-love isn’t selfish. It is a vital and necessary part of living. When we put our needs first, we become better partners, friends, colleagues, etc. By taking care of our needs (mental, physical and emotional), we become stronger and better able to show up for the others in our life. Self-love looks different for everybody – maybe you only have time for a 5-minute meditation in the morning, or maybe you can dedicate a whole day to self-care. It doesn’t matter what you do or how you do it as long as you take some time to do something that is 100% for you. I like to refer back to the oxygen mask theory: when you’re on an airplane, the flight attendants tell you to put your oxygen mask on first before helping others. Why? Well if you’re taking the time to help everyone before yourself eventually you won’t be able to breathe, it is not a sustainable way to take care of yourself and others. When you put your mask on first, you will have the strength to help the others around you. This can be applied to many things in our lives.
DE: On your blog, you write about taking the toxicity of social media. One of the four points you mentioned was knowing when to put the phone down. In this day and age the fear of missing out (FOMO) is real, how do you manage to put your phone down?
RB: I admit that putting the phone down isn’t always easy! It took a little getting used to, and I had to re-program myself off my dependency. Simple and practical changes to my daily routine helped me wean off. I stopped using my phone as my alarm clock (unless I’m traveling and it’s my only option). When I used my phone as my alarm clock it was so easy to click right over to Instagram and e-mails first thing in the morning. I also committed to keeping my phone in my purse when I’m out with friends and loved ones to help me stay present. If I want to take a photo — that’s great but that doesn’t mean I need to get online and post it right away. Snap the picture and then continue making memories in real time. I don’t need to live my life for the enjoyment of others. I also try not to use my phone when I’m doing things at home. I used to live my life on multiple screens – watch tv and use my phone or iPad. The reality is I don’t need to do that, I pick one or the other or neither!
DE: We are all handling more obligations than ever before. Self-care can slip to the bottom of the priority list. How do we make ourselves a priority?
RB: I encourage people to start small. Anytime we make sudden and drastic changes to our lives they can be difficult to maintain. Make yourself a priority by making mindful decisions about your life – if someone asks you to do something and it doesn’t fit within your plans or your needs it’s ok to take a pass. You don’t need to say YES to everyone and everything. Take a moment to think about how it makes you feel. Do it because you want to, not because you “should.” Alternatively, if there is something you want to do and none of your friends are interested then go and do it alone – take that dance class, see that movie or try that restaurant. The bottom line is to listen to yourself and do things that work for you – as you start to make decisions you are proud of and feel good about it becomes so much easier to love yourself.
The Me First Starter Kit includes an affirmation card. Why did you decide to include that in the starter kit?
The Affirmation Card was created to help people start having loving conversations with themselves. I used to speak to myself very negatively and I didn’t know how to treat myself with kindness, compassion, and self-respect. The Affirmation Card is designed to help people open that dialogue with themselves and hopefully release that pent-up negativity in their lives.
The Me First Instagram page is lovely. One of my favorite posts is “Ask for What You Need.” Why do you think it’s so hard for us to ask for what we really need?
Thank you! I think for many people asking for what we need can be really difficult. We are taught to present a picture of perfection and that vulnerability is not OK. I want to challenge that thinking – sometimes we need help or space for our feelings. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness – I believe it is a sign of strength! It takes strength and courage to put yourself out there and to be honest about what you need.
Taking care of a loved one is a blessing, but not without challenges and with all of our day to day responsibilities it’s easy to get overwhelmed. It was nice to take a little “Me Time” to rest and recover.
My friend and I had a wonderful time at the event and both received the Me First Starter Kit. It was a beautiful experience to be surrounded by so many people content to unapologetically share the power of (self).
Rosa’s enthusiasm and passion for self-care are contagious. I am proud to wear my Me First t-shirt in support of the platform of the Me First platform. You can follow Me First on Instagram @mefirsttt and www.mefirsttt.com