Daily Cornbread; 365 Secrets for a Healthy Mind, Body, and Soul


Heart & Soul founding editor Stephanie Stokes Oliver shows African American women how to soothe the soul, satisfy the mind, and revive the body 365 days a year.

Written in an affirming style that is prescriptive but never preachy, fun but not frivolous, Daily Cornbread is a day-by-day compendium of Oliver's creative ideas for leading an enjoyable and fulfilling life. On January 2, for example, Oliver suggests taking time out to "get happy"...
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Heart & Soul founding editor Stephanie Stokes Oliver shows African American women how to soothe the soul, satisfy the mind, and revive the body 365 days a year.

Written in an affirming style that is prescriptive but never preachy, fun but not frivolous, Daily Cornbread is a day-by-day compendium of Oliver's creative ideas for leading an enjoyable and fulfilling life. On January 2, for example, Oliver suggests taking time out to "get happy" (do something that makes you happy an hour a day); to schedule a personal retreat; and to develop a strategic plan for the upcoming year.

Reminiscent of Sarah Ban Breathnach's Simple Abundance and Iyanla Vanzant's Acts of Faith: Daily Meditations for People of Color, but with a special emphasis on nurturing the body as well as the mind, Daily Cornbread shows African American women how to make each day better.
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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Oliver is a former editor of Essence magazine and founding editor-in-chief of Heart and Soul, a bimonthly fitness magazine for African American women. Here, she draws on her background to provide suggestions to black women for soothing their souls, satisfying their minds, and reviving their bodies every day of the year. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
...Oliver shows that a healthier, happier life is in your grasp.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780385487696
  • Publisher: Doubleday Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/5/1999
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 9.63 (h) x 1.32 (d)

Read an Excerpt


Put God first.

"Put God first, then you won't be looking for love in all the wrong places," said Salt of the rap group Salt N Pepa on BET's Teen Summit. Salt was talking about sex and relationships, but for all the reasons we individually might need to put God first, this first day of the year would be a good time to make this our first resolution of the new year.

Often we take it for granted that we do put God first, but sometimes we need to check ourselves. Recently, I had to stop and reflect. I was packing my suitcase for a much-needed vacation during which I planned to lounge on a beach and read to my heart's content. The hardest part of packing was deciding what book to take. Should I take the hot-off-the-press book by one of my favorite authors or the novel about the life of Christ that I had picked up to help me understand the Bible better?

After entirely too much deliberation, the thought came to me: Put God first. That was it. That was the decision, as clear as could be. And that simple phrase made me evaluate a lot of other things in my life, helping me to make decisions about both complex and simple matters.

Choosing between two books to read may seem like a simple matter. Making the more complex decision that Salt referred to of not choosing a compromising relationship may make you feel lonely at first. But when grappling with which way to go, which road to take, which direction to follow, if you go with the one that puts God first, you can't go wrong.

Here are some everyday ways to put God first:

--Make prayer your first activity of the day.

--Put the word "God" in your computer code, ATM pin number,or voice mail passcode (on the phone the keypad numbers are 463).

--Do something God-like today. (Treat someone lovingly.)

Secret Ingredient: Today is the last day of Kwanzaa, traditionally the Day of Meditation. Reflect on the Kwanzaa principle of imani (faith) and the highest values, ethics, and ideals of the past and future of yourself and our people.


Get happy.

"There's nothing wrong with stopping to ask yourself whether you're happy and trying to change your life if you're not," writes Mark Mathabane, in his memoir Love in Black and White. Growing up under apartheid in South Africa, Mark Mathabane had many reasons not to be happy. He took stock of them and tried to change his life by coming to America. Fortunately, he was successful.

I think it's interesting that he says, "There's nothing wrong with stopping to ask yourself . . ." because too often we don't stop to assess our situations, and we feel guilty for pursuing happiness. In other words, we do think there's something wrong with trying to make ourselves happy. Doing so may mean leaving others behind. Doing so may mean taking a risk, or seeming selfish. Sometimes it's important to stop. Stop living your life in fast forward, stop running in circles--just plain stop and ask yourself: "Am I happy?"

When I was at Heart & Soul, we had a lot of strategic planning meetings, quarterly business meetings, three-year planning meetings, and other periods of assessment to see how well our magazine was doing. How many of us take that much time to take stock of how well our own personal lives are going?

This year, I resolve to do it at the beginning of the year, and to do it quarterly, to do "Stephanie's Three-Year Plan" (with a yearly revision); to have weekly family business meetings with my husband and daughters; to ask myself often if I'm happy, and to try to change my life if I'm not.

How about you?

--Plan a day for your own personal "Assessment" retreat.

--Take a pad and pencil and sit in your favorite spot, or take notes at a computer if printing out a plan will help make it all seem more "official."

--Jot down what makes you happy and what keeps you unhappy. Then think of strategies to eliminate the items in the "unhappy" column. Vow to yourself to focus on the things that make you happy. Follow your plan!

Secret Ingredient: Have your own Happy Hour every day--and I don't mean get drunk! Do something that makes you happy for an hour each day.


Resolve to tap the power of the positive.

The new year signals new beginnings; a time to assess what worked last year and what didn't; a time to change. As editor-in-chief of Heart & Soul, the health and fitness magazine for African American women, I researched and wrote an editorial that was published one January that covered seven principles of developing a strong body, mind, and spirit. Many of these healthy habits that start on this page and are presented over the next six days, may seem like common sense to you--and they are. But what is common sense is not always common practice. So let these suggestions serve as friendly reminders of inspiration to say, "I can do it!" You can begin to use these ideas right now to help you remain true to your New Year's resolutions.

Resolution Number One: Pursue the positive. Maintaining an attitude of hopefulness, optimism, and positivity is the primary legacy of our ancestors. If they hadn't believed that things would get better, or that there would be a better day ahead for their children and grandchildren, how could those who were enslaved and those who faced bigotry, oppression, and segregation have gone any further?

With the psychological energy of positive living, even the toughest challenge is easier to meet. Living positively includes having a strong sense of spirituality, of tranquillity, or purpose in life, self-esteem, and most important, love and happiness (Al Green was right! Or as the hip-hop group Lost Boyz named a CD: Love, Peace & Nappiness--which I can personally relate to).

Are you the type of person who sees the glass as half empty or half full? Do people consider you a positive person, or a "rough customer"? Maybe things haven't worked out for you--but you didn't think they would anyway. Remember the old adage: You've got to believe to achieve.

Jewel Diamond Taylor is a motivational speaker, author, and mistress of ceremonies for the African American Women on Tour Conference. As she says at the conference, "When people give you a hard time about your optimism and try to bring you down, just tell them, 'Kiss my positive attitude!' "

Secret Ingredient: Create a personal affirmation that will help you develop a more positive attitude. Upon waking each day, write down your affirmation ten times (or more) and then practice repeating it in front of the mirror. Let your affirmation become your own sacred mantra and a protection against negative thoughts. Use it whenever you need it.


Resolution Number Two: Commit to healthy habits.

To keep your body strong, resolve this year to abstain from smoking and abusing alcohol or other substances. Commit to safe sex every time. Think about the little things that can make a big difference--like, getting up early enough to be on time for work (that's a continuing challenge for me!). Work on those simple health and safety precautions, such as using seat belts, putting Baby in the backseat (never, ever on your lap in the front), and installing and maintaining smoke detectors in your home.

When President Clinton said during his campaign that he had tried marijuana but didn't inhale, I didn't laugh, because I could relate. When I was in college, I thought it would look cool if I smoked cigarettes, especially when I was out at a club or at one of those jumpin' Howard U parties. Since I didn't drink alcohol, I thought I needed some kind of prop! But I found inhaling the smoke to be unnatural and actually pretty hard to do. I thought, Well, if it's this hard, then it must not be for me. (Plus I figured I could use the money I spent on cigarettes for clothes!)

According to my childhood diary, one day my father announced to my two older siblings and me, "I'll give you twenty-one dollars if you don't start smoking cigarettes before you turn twenty-one." That was big money to a little kid back in those days, and my brother, Andre, and I took him up on the challenge. Unfortunately, Vicki paid more attention to the prevailing glamorous media images and peer messages of how "Kool" it was, and she started smoking at age fourteen.

Thankfully, for Vicki, getting older made her wiser and she began to realize the dangers of smoking. And when her friend Emily told her she would help her quit, Vicki knew she could do it. "Whenever I would tell Emily I felt like having a cigarette, she would say, 'No you don't, Vicki. You're a nonsmoker.' After you make a decision, someone's help can carry you through." Whatever your unhealthy habit, take the first step: Make the decision to stop.

Secret Ingredient: For more information on how to stop smoking cigarettes, call the American Lung Association at 1-800-LUNG-USA, or visit their Web site: http://www.lungusa.org. Or, if there's another habit you need to abandon, develop a plan to stop it, and follow it.
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