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Fighting for Gratitude

I came back to the gym today.

I had been gone almost a month. It started off as I had been over exercising to the point I was limping everywhere.

But then I found I was giving myself a “break” from eating well, too. There are a myriad of reasons for it but mostly it’s self-sabotage and retreating back to old habits. And a couple weeks passed and I realized I was avoiding the scale, too.

Then another week and a few days later (today), I climbed out of bed and on to the scale. In last week’s post, I wrote that I was betting on myself to see my way out of the static, out of the fog.

But the truth is that it starts in one place for me: Facing the truth of how I’ve treated myself. No avoiding.

Even when it got dark during these past few weeks, I did hold onto gratitude. I thanked God for waking me up. I thanked Him for my husband, my mother who is always there for me without fail and the security I felt knowing if I reached out to a number of people, they would reach back.

And it wasn’t easy. I tend to isolate. Being alone comes quite natural to me but it can also disguise itself as hiding from others or hiding from the truth of the path I started to go back down.

While working out today, I was listening to Patrice Washington’s podcast. She spoke about fighting for gratitude. Being grateful doesn’t come so easy for everyone. Sometimes we have to get in there and fight just to feel it.

And that’s what I am doing. Looking down at the scale today, I saw a 12.8 lb weight gain. But I also saw I was going to fight to take it off, fight not to give in to the shame that it brings and fight to keep going. I found myself grateful that I didn’t gain all the weight back and I recognized some of the poor habits I had with binge exercise beforehand.

I keep writing here that I don’t know how all of this ends but the truth is I do.

I will win.

I just have to take it one “thank you” at a time.

Your turn:

Do you ever feel you have to fight to feel gratitude?

Please comment below. I would love to read your thoughts.

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So much more…

While I was at Whole Foods today, I ran into an old co-worker. There were the regular pleasantries but then the inevitable question came: “Where are you now?”

And I had to think about it. I knew what he meant and I mumbled something about trying to freelance and we soon parted ways. Not that I had to pour the whole and complete truth out with all the details but after I left, I realize I am probably not sharing enough with my closest friends and family about the doubt I do feel along this journey.

I don’t doubt whether I want to write or that if I continue to write, at some point in time successes will come. I have moments where I let the frustration take over or the uncertainty of the “when” consume me. I know better but in those moments when I am asked what I am up to now, I want to be able to say so much more.

After I think that, I realize it’s up to me to make “so much more” happen. It’s up to me to approach vendors for partnerships with my E-book, pitch more publications and devote more time consistently to the completion of my novel. None of this is news. Just because more effort doesn’t guarantee more success immediately doesn’t mean I should stop being as aggressive with my other goals outside of blogging.

I believe our psyches crave instant gratification especially in our social media age. Patience is a discipline I struggle with the most. I have to remember to revel in the journey and look forward to the time when I can look back and ask “Remember when?…”

Maybe I should take comfort that I am in the same boat with millions of other creatives.

We are all working and waiting for our moment in the sun.

Sometimes we are impatient, insecure petulant children and at others, we are hardworking, giving people who are humbly anticipating the chance to let our art be seen, for the message we are communicating to the world to be heard.

Until then, I will write and wait.

Write and Wait.

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Meatless Mondays: Veggie Sandwich

I am not sure if it’s the season but I have not been in the mood to come up with anything particularly elaborate these past few weeks. Since we have been plant-based for a year now, we have found all sorts of options.

Tonight, hubby grabbed sandwiches from Wawa. Yes, I said Wawa. I found you can order a filling and delicious veggie sandwich exactly the way you want. I chose sweet peppers, avocado, roasted veggies, lettuce and tomatoes and a sprinkle of salt and pepper.

I am considering incorporating a lot more raw foods back into my diet so we will see how Meatless Monday looks next week but for now I am satisfied with a simple, flavorful sandwich.

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Static

The last few weeks I have been absent from my workouts. It started off because of intense pain in my ankles and I slowed down because I knew continuing to push would only make things worse down the road. I was limping around the house and that’s never good.

But I have been feeling better and there has been no visits to the gym, dance class, videos or walks outside.

I am not sure why after being active for so many months that it has come to a stop. I feel static. I can almost hear myself make an excuse as to why I won’t workout tomorrow.

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Tonight I was at writing group. We discussed if we fear what would happen if we make it in the literary world. I have to ask myself the same question in regards to my wellness journey.

Is there anything I fear about being on the other side of this struggle? Will writing about it now help me cross back over to where I was only 3 weeks ago?

I’m betting it will. If things are really going to be different this time, then I have to call myself out and pull myself out of the hole I sunk myself into that makes me feel stuck and scared.

I am hoping to look back on these past few weeks as a minor setback a year from now.

I can’t let it determine who I will be a year fron now.

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3 Tips to Help You Write Your Vows

Wedding season is officially here! As many of you know, I released my E-book journal “What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows” to help people express themselves on the day they decide to propose, get married or even on an anniversary!

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I had so much fun pondering over the prompts, finding inspiring quotes, writing poetry and recalling my own fond memories of the proposal and writing my vows that I wanted to share 3 prompts from my E-book you may enjoy:

1. What did he/she introduce to you? (A new hobby, special vacation spot, favorite book or movie, spiritual practice or sport etc.)

I included this prompt (and accompanying questions) because what your partner introduced you to may have changed not only who you are but may have changed the course of your relationship. It may have brought you closer together and that can definitely be worth including in your vows.

2. What is the most impactful thing they have ever done for you?

I encourage the reader to go deeper, beyond the physical with this one. Your partner wants to know the effect you have had on their life. Never underestimate the power of acknowledgement.

3. What are you looking forward to experiencing as a married couple?

This can be as simple as trips you plan to take, as challenging as the fears you plan to conquer or as life-affirming as the family you plan to expand.

I hope you enjoyed reading these tips. There are more accompanying questions and 12 other prompts you can use in “What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows” available right here or at https://www.etsy.com/shop/WhatILoveAboutYou?ref=pr_shop_more

 

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Meatless Mondays: Garlic Pepper Mashed Potatoes and Chili

Keeping it short and sweet today: I had a late lunch today and didn’t know I would be up for dinner tonight but then I smelled garlic from the kitchen. Hubby cooked mashed potatoes with unsweetened almond milk, vegan butter and a liberal helping of garlic pepper seasoning. We used Amy’s organic chili medium with vegetables.

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FACE

Who are you without your “face?”

I never thought about it until psoriasis came for a visit and never left.

I barely ever wore any kind of powder or foundation and rarely got pimples.

I basically had the luxury of rarely thinking about it.

But then psoriasis came to visit and never left.

Even though it came slowly and didn’t seem threatening at all, it did eventually ravage my body. And no steroid could fix it and I am not fond of exposing my body to biologics. In fact, I have spent most of my life scared of all medications outside of OTC and antibiotics.

So after fielding multiple questions such as “What happened to your face?” I started to delve back into plant-based healing and learning about the devastation inflammation brings (for me, psoriasis and PCOS). So even while I waited for the flares to become less frequent, I had to figure out how to cover the pink and red flaky patches on my face. Of course, it was makeup and if for some reason, I didn’t have my makeup brush and Dermablend with me, my spirits would sink. I remember on one particular day not wanting to get out of the car when I parked at church. I drove away and found somewhere to cry.

I felt like a monster without my “face.”

The pain of an itchy scalp, raw thighs and a scarred face sometimes felt like too much of a strain on my mind, let alone my body. I often smiled through a lot of it but I felt like I was wilting on the inside.

As we all know, we can’t escape our own mind or body.

It took a long time to start to see some improvement and I don’t have flares as often as I used to but damage was done.

People who meet me now will never know what I used to look like and it seems like a small thing but it was a real adjustment. I believe my smiles are more genuine now. It’s funny that I am actively pursuing a profession that puts me front and center when I can remember feeling like that’s the last place I really want to be or should be.

I think it took blogging and writing classes and prayer and fruits and vegetables and talking it out over and over again with my husband, family and friends for healing to start taking place. I know I have a long road ahead of me but I think I found a formula that works.

I think I know who I am without my “face.”

 

 

 

 

 

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Riverside Young Writers

This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of spending time with the young women of Riverside Young Writers in Fredericksburg, VA. When I was approached at the James River Writers’ January Writing Show to speak, I was so excited. When I was these girls’ ages (13-19), I don’t remember having access to a group such as this. While we were getting the projector ready, I noticed one of their advisers reading announcements and observed the girls had pieces ready for critique. It wouldn’t even have occurred to me at 15 to seek out a group. I did take a Creative Writing class at school but I never thought about what was available to me outside of school. I thought I would just be content to write at home.

I spoke to them about my life as a blogger. I explained to them how I spend my time, my organizational process and emphasized the impact of reaching out for help and collaboration with other writers. I also stressed the importance of getting out into the world and recognizing that their lives are their content. I ended my speech by providing them with writing/blogging tips and encouraged them to remember to have fun.

Afterwards, the girls and advisers asked several questions. I was heartened by the interest. Even though I knew what I wanted to say and practiced a couple of times, there is still a chance that things can go sideways or the audience will find their phones more interesting. I was even gifted with an anthology from the adult group at Riverside Writers.

This experience gave me so much hope. Not just for my future as a speaker and a blogger but more so for the future of these young writers.

 

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Meatless Mondays: Legume Kitchen and Bar

After speaking to a group of young writers, hubby and I visited Legume Kitchen and Bar in Fredericksburg, VA. We had meant to visit on Valentine’s Day but I wasn’t feeling well. We always meant to make the trip and since the restaurant was only 15 minutes away from the library, it was a perfect time to visit!

Although Legume isn’t a vegan restaurant, they had plenty of plant-based options available. We started off our meal with vegan nachos. For my entree, I ordered the Meatless Ball Sandwich and a side salad. It was a hearty sandwich made with garbanzo bean fritters, marinara sauce and vegan mozzarella. My husband ordered the coconut-green curry rice noodles meal with shitake mushrooms, tofu and bok choy.  We ordered dessert, too: dark chocolate cake with rasberry torte and for him, a mango sorbet. Even though the chocolate cake wasn’t my favorite, I definitely indulged in a few bites. Everything was well-made and I am planning a trip back to Legume in the very near future.

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Keep Going

 

On Saturday, I went to a women’s health fair where the focus was on physical and mental health. There was a plethora of great advice on how often to keep active (150 minutes a week), the importance of an accountability partner, fitness activities such as Zumba, walking or kickboxing and the health benefits of incorporating more plant-based and unprocessed food into your diet. I loved that it was from the perspectives of a nurse, Destinee King and a holisitic wellness coach, Yvette Leverette. What better way to bring traditional and alternative methods together?

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Pictured from left to right: Tyrell Clayton, Jamia Mills, Yvette Leverette and Destinee King

What was particularly impactful for me was Tyrell Clayton and Jamia Mills’ (Heart to Heart Mental Health Services– www.heart2heartva.com) presentation about the importance of taking care of your mental health. I especially loved how they stressed treatment measures by asking us if we had cancer, would we wait to get help? Would we put it off, hoping it would go away? Then why do we do dare do that with depression and anxiety disorders? These conditions have the potential to spiral into something else entirely that could threaten not only the quality of our life but our very life. They also outlined the 8 dimensions of wellness and spoke about how mental health is the origin of everything (positive and negative).  I was moved that I was hearing about treatment being a fully integrative approach from a clinical social worker, a young Black man open to talking about his experiences on his mental health journey. Jamia’s perspective and story was valuable, too as women are 40% more likely to develop depression.

After leaving the fair, I had many thoughts come up (some influenced by the event and others were a reflection of what’s going on with me) and I want to share them here:

Keep going. Keep going. Keep going.

Keep going to the events (sometimes you can’t make it but you know what I mean).

Keep educating yourself.

Keep supporting others’ events.

Keep buying others’ books and products.

Keep writing.

Keep exercising–even if it’s marching in place or dancing around the living room like a maniac.

Keep praying.

Keep trusting that you will find your place.

Keep confiding in trustworthy people.

Keep working at your relationship, marriage, friendships..even if you have to put your pride aside to ask something as simple as…”What happened?”

Keep reading.

Keep taking classes.

Keep getting help whenever you need it and keep giving whenever you can.

Keep your ears open even if you have to close your mouth.

Keep shouting..there’s a place for silence and there is a place for a VOICE.

Be open to whatever this world has for you….it will let you down, lift you up and teach you over and over again until you become the lesson.