The Day After

The Day After

After #bloglikecrazy (30 days of blogging in November) was over, I still felt like there was something else I had to do. I kept feeling like there was something missing. It’s probably because I had built a habit. I love knowing I wrote every day and when I stopped, there was a longing there. That left no room to doubt that no matter what the outcome, I will always write.

I cannot pretend I will always want to because laziness and frustration are real. But I can’t let laziness and frustration become more of a reality than persistence and consistency. The only thing I can control about this process is my effort. Even through the fatigue I feel right now, it keeps ringing in my head.

The part of me that wants to control everything is driven crazy by the fact I can’t control what happens after a submission, a pitch idea, a fellowship application or a challenge like #bloglikecrazy. But I have learned to treasure the freedom that comes with it, too. I put myself out there, fight my fight  and then let go.

I DID IT!

I DID IT!

It’s here! It’s here! It’s here! Day 30 of #bloglikecrazy is here! November flew by. I can admit there were a couple of times during the challenge that I thought about quitting. However, I knew I wouldn’t get the lessons I was bound to learn if I didn’t complete it. And therefore, wouldn’t be able to share it with all of you.

So here it goes:

1. I’ve learned my 21-Day Water-Workout-Write Challenge was not a fluke.

2. If challenged (by myself or in this case, by See Jane Write founder Javacia Harris Bowser), I will rise to the occasion.

3. I love trying new recipes regularly. I have never been a woman who loves to whip out the cookbook and dive in. I was more of a go with what you know type of cook and try a new recipe once in a blue moon. Meatless Monday posts stretched me and now I want to incorporate recipes more regularly. What I eat is a significant part of my wellness journey and deserves a place here.

4. I am capable of surprising myself. This is something I suspected while taking Life in 10 Minutes with Valley Haggard and Pens Up, Fears Down with Sadeqa Johnson. Even when I thought the well dried up, the words would find a way to appear. However, this challenge asked me to do it every day and more days than not, I opened my computer and stared at a blinking cursor and typed nonsense until I found my way or my way found me.

5. Inspiration is everywhere. It is in the photos you take, nature, the TV or movies you watch, past travels, a conversation at work, books or even as I discovered this month, in a hospital room. Life is going on around you, inside you, and has a past, present and God willing, a future. It is always ready to be found.

If you’ve ever wondered if a challenge like this would be beneficial to you, wonder no more! Give it a try! I am already excited for #bloglikecrazy 2018!

Ask and Then Let Go

Ask and Then Let Go

In the last week I’ve thought more about letting go than I have in years. By letting go, I mean letting go of control. A few days ago, I had the courage to tell someone what I needed. I may have done it through tears, but I did it. I bring this up because although I asked for what I needed, I am keenly aware that I may never get it.

And I have no control over whether or not I will ever get it.

I believe you can never be at peace if there are needs in your life you have the awareness to ask for but let fear keep you silent. From there, even if you do work up the courage to ask, the peace you seek may not be attained if you don’t accept you cannot control the outcome.

I am learning through shaky voice and tears to walk through the fear of speaking up and letting go once the words are out. Once they are out there, I can’t take them back, reverse time and watch the words slip back down my throat.

If the words need to be said, why would I?

 

Telling a Better Story

Telling a Better Story

I  was listening to a podcast earlier today and they were discussing why people don’t try to change or at least don’t stay consistent in their efforts to change. The interviewee pointed out how easy it is to stay the same and do nothing. The interviewer agreed, acknowledging the comfort of being static. Forgive me for not remembering names, I listened to many today while working so I don’t want to attribute the interview to the wrong people.

It got me thinking that of course it’s easy (and convenient) to continue down a path you’ve always gone or to tell yourself the exact same story about your life. “I always do this…I never remember that or I never follow-through on….

It reminded me of a a quote I first heard from Jim Kwik: “Your mind is always eavesdropping on your self-talk.”  What if I’ve been telling myself a story about myself, convinced that I already know the ending? And is my mind being programmed by my negative self-talk?

When I engage in negative self-talk, I believe I am giving myself permission to give up. I’ve done it with some of my writing and wellness goals in the past. It makes the bad medicine go down, nice and smooth.

Except that it’s not so smooth, is it? While you’re swallowing, the taste gets a little sour–even rancid, doesn’t it?

When our self-awareness grows, the harder it is to feel the comfort, to convince ourselves we are at ease when we quit. Now that I am writing on a regular basis, I am not choking down anything.

I am too busy telling myself a better story.

 

 

It’s Everywhere.

It’s Everywhere.

Everyday during this challenge, I find myself looking for inspiration. Sometimes it comes from a picture, a message heard, a memory, a book, a meal, a quote or is birthed from just typing words until I see the words forming into a message. Today, I was watching an episode of the new Spike Lee Joint, the updated “She’s Gotta Have It” on Netflix. Nola Darling and her date walked into The River Cafe in Brooklyn. The entrance was lit beautifully and the greenery was incredibly lush.

My mind wandered to a restaurant in Aruba we went to on our honeymoon. I don’t remember the food but I remember the trees and the lights. The air. A lonely dog strolling back and forth in front of the entrance.

A connection was made. Watching Ms. Darling saunter confidently in her black dress into a cafe extracted memories of lovely trees lighting up our dinner in Aruba. There is beauty in finding inspiration everywhere, from leafing through an old notebook to standing on a balcony to sitting in a church pew to the cinematography on a TV show.  I hope I never lose sight of that–even after the daily challenge of looking for it is over.

Meatless Monday: Easy Vegan Fettuccine

Meatless Monday: Easy Vegan Fettuccine

I decided to do something simple this time around and try the Easy Fettuccine Alfredo with Broccoli from brandnewvegan.com. I was particularly excited about it because I had never tried to make an Alfredo sauce and my curiosity was piqued because the recipe called for potatoes, onion, spices and cashews to make the creamy sauce.

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Drained cashews that eventually became major part of a creamy Alfredo sauce!
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Here’s the “Alfredo” sauce. Loved the creamy consistency!

Here is the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 2 Potatoes, quartered. (I recommend Yukon Golds)
  • ¼ onion (or the white part of 1 Leek), chopped
  • ½ cup cashews
  • 1 cup potato water used to boil potatoes
  • 1 Tbls Italian Seasoning
  • 1 tsp Lemon Juice (I like 2 personaly)
  • 2-4 cloves Garlic (again, more is better for me)
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste
  • 1-2 Tbls Nutritional Yeast (optional if you don’t like Nooch)
  • Fettuccine Noodles
Instructions
  1. Soak cashews in 1 cup hot water while preparing sauce
  2. Peel potatoes if desired and quarter them
  3. Add potatoes and onion to a large pot and cover with cold water
  4. Once the water is boiling, cook for 10 minutes
  5. Remove veggies with a slotted spoon and add to blender
  6. Add 1 cup of the potato water
  7. Drain cashews and add to blender
  8. Add remaining ingredients and blend until smooth
  9. Add more water to get the consistency you desire
  10. Season with salt and pepper to taste
  11. Prepare Fettuccini according to package instructions
  12. Add 1 bag frozen Broccoli during last 5 minutes of boil
  13. Drain thoroughly and stir in Alfredo Sauce

I can’t wait to make this again! Jeff and I both loved it. Speaking as someone who used to be a cheese addict, I was thoroughly impressed with this recipe.

Embrace the Process

Embrace the Process

I went to dance class today. I did not want to go. My husband has been pretty sick these last couple of days and I have not been sleeping well. But because I was feeling a little under the weather last Saturday and missed class, I was determined not to miss two in a row.

While I was there, I felt out of step. It was evident that missing class last week put me behind in learning choreography for their upcoming performance.  Being worried about my husband drained me.  Not having control over when he is healed and having to cancel plans to celebrate my birthday this weekend threw me off kilter. But I wanted to be as present as I could be while I was there. I needed to move and sweat.

I am embracing the process. I literally wrote about this yesterday. When I imagine all of the intense workouts that are to come on this journey, I picture the endorphin release that generally comes and not still feeling sadness afterwards but this is what life is sometimes.

These are the moments when I want to crawl back under the covers and cry a little bit. But I choose not to right now. I am wrapping my whole arms, legs, torso around this moment.

It’s only the beginning.

 

 

 

Meatless Mondays: Vegan Tuna

Meatless Mondays: Vegan Tuna

Today, I decided to try vegan tuna. I saw a few videos online that made my mouth water and last week, I tried a version at Whole Foods that convinced me it was time to try it at home. A few of the recipes I saw included some kind of vegan mayonnaise which I like but I wanted to challenge myself to make the “mayo.”

The recipe I found was on www.brandnewvegan.com. I know hubby and I eat too much oil and this recipe was oil-free which made it an easy yes. As I was mashing the chickpeas with the potato smasher and fork, I loved watching the transformation of the consistency into something that definitely reminded me of tuna.  After I blended the cashew mixture, it really was a smooth, creamy dressing! I was probably a little too excited. It was definitely a recipe I would try again and I am looking forward to trying more recipes from this site.

Ingredients

  • ½ cup raw cashews
  • ½ cup water
  • 15ox can low sodium garbanzo beans (chickpeas)
  • ½ cup red onion, diced
  • 1 stalk of celery, diced
  • 1 small carrot, diced
  • 2 tbls dill pickle relish
  • 3 tbls lemon juice
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbls yellow mustard
  • 1 tsp nutritional yeast (optional)
  • 1 tsp low sodium soy sauce
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
Instructions
  1. Add the cashews and water to your blender to let them soak
  2. Mash garbanzo beans in a large bowl using a potato masher, or fork
  3. Add diced veggies and stir
  4. All the remaining liquid ingredients to the blender with the cashews and water and pulse until smooth.
  5. Stir dressing into ‘tuna’ .
My husband and I both enjoyed our vegan tuna salad sandwiches and I am already looking forward to trying a new vegan recipe next Monday!

Social Media Machine

Social Media Machine

As some of you may know, I only joined Facebook last September to engage in the private Facebook group for the School of Greatness Academy 8.0 class.  I also had no Instagram or Twitter at the time. I only had a long abandoned LinkedIn page.

I prided myself on not being part of a social media machine. I was satisfied to read, write, watch TV, go outside to experience the world without documenting it and catch up with friends and family via phone calls, text messages and emails.

I heard dramatic stories of social media drama and addiction. It seemed as if people were moving through the world with their heads cast downwards or upwards in a flattering angle.

I was never one for constantly wanting to be included in pictures. I took my fair share in the days before smartphones but it felt different–somehow more natural. Years ago, I was at a dinner with some friends and it seemed like we could barely enjoy the meal without constant picture taking. I respected everyone’s right to live and document their lives as they pleased so I was never overtly vocal about my discomfort. It was evident that I didn’t love it but I never wanted to ruin anyone’s fun. As I was driving home while they continued their impromptu photo shoot after dinner, I felt a sense of disconnect. Why was I so different?  Why did I even care?

The feelings passed as did the years. When I came to a crossroads last fall trying to decide if I was going to continue my graduate school education or get serious about my dedication to writing, I joined School of Greatness to learn more about goal-setting and pulled myself into a new world. It was apparent that I had been doing a little hiding, weirdly harboring a fear of judgment. I found, like with a lot of other things, you can strike a healthy balance. I slipped into the habit of  catching up with family and friends via scrolling, liking and commenting. It brought both a new sense of connection and disconnection. I experienced great joy seeing how members of both sides of my family and old friends had grown but it gave me a false sense of belief that I’ve really caught up. Unless I’ve had a conversation or seen you in the flesh, you may still seem two-dimensional to me. I have to take responsibility for my part in moving from the two into the three.

Although the realization of false connection rings true sometimes, I welcomed the wealth of opportunity and education that came with sharing my work, travel and the awe-inspiring events I’ve been able to attend. Before I started sharing myself and my work online, one of my greatest concerns was privacy. It still is because I have drawn a line about how much I want to share with the public, particularly with my marriage. I am a firm believer that some aspects of my life should be just for me (and my husband).

I have always been sensitive to the types of people I allow in my life. If someone is known for things like flirting with other people’s partners, lying, speaking to others in a patronizing manner or constantly talking about others for silly things like the kind of clothes they wear, I shut down immediately. Call it instinct, survival of the fittest, The Holy Spirit, intuition. It has served me well. I know they are people (just like me) who are carrying pain and insecurity within them and this is how they choose to relate to the world to avoid the healing work they have to do (Yes, I have watched more than my fair share of Iyanla: Fix My Life). I wish them well but from afar. I do not need to possibly sacrifice my mental health, my relationship and time to keep someone in my life for “their good moments.” I have learned that lesson.

On a positive note, opening myself up to all of those mediums of social media confirmed we are not alone more than ever for me. I see the struggle, the beauty, the triumph, the failures, the uplifting, the laughter, the teaching, the open gushing wounds of the hearts of millions of people. There is hiding and deception but the option not to do so is clear. There are connections and movements.  Even though I have wasted some time in the last year or so, there have been so many gains.. Maybe it’s because I knew the world before it, knew the world with it while I chose not to jump in or maybe it’s because I brought the wisdom of a grown woman to it.

There are no regrets. I have moved past fear to build this site and apply for a fellowship, share my work on these platforms and cheerlead for others on this journey along with me–the writers, the bloggers, the vegans, the wellness seekers, the psoriasis and PCOS warriors, small business owners, my fellow Greats who stepped out on faith to go after scary goals and other Black women who are often misrepresented as a monolith.

I will continue to embrace the mess of the world and carve out my own corner in it with all that is available to me. I will close with a haiku I wrote and posted a few months ago:

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A Handwritten Note

A Handwritten Note

When I was at the Summit of Greatness in September, psychotherapist Esther Perel gave advice to a man seeking to repair a romantic relationship: Send her a handwritten note.

Outside of the obvious things anyone should be doing to win someone back, maintain a friendship or romantic relationship, that was one of the best pieces of advice I had ever heard. I was sure I was not the only one because the whole theater was buzzing right after she said it.

It also caused me to think about two things: The last time I received a hand-written note and the last time I sent one. I write extra notes on greeting cards to my mother and father  (my husband and I do not exchange gifts/cards..we plan experiences with each other for our birthdays/holidays). Outside of those occasions, everything is typed or texted.

And since then, a co-worker and a good friend from my writing group have given me cards with handwritten notes on it. Even opening them immediately lit me up inside. It also conjured up memories of a small poem my husband wrote me when we were first married and my participation for a short time in moreloveletters.com which encourages people to leave anonymous uplifting letters tucked away in public spaces. The content almost never matters. For me, it is the time taken.

Because it’s the one thing we can’t get back.