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Be Unapologetic

I went to a movie earlier this afternoon. Two elderly ladies in the mostly empty theater decided to sit right next to me. Normally, I would be a bit annoyed because I love my personal space. However, they seemed sweet so I quickly got over myself and settled in for the show.

And I was glad I did. The woman who sat next to me practically catcalled when an actor she found attractive graced the screen. About halfway through, she belted out a few lines from  “You Sexy Thing” by Hot Chocolate as it played in the film.

I had to pull myself together to keep from laughing. After I got home, she stayed on my mind. She reminded me of the little girl I watched throw her whole body and spirit in the middle of the studio floor at the end of Afro-Caribbean dance class a few months ago.

A girl of no more than 5 years old and a woman at least 60 years young with something to learn from and something in common. Their ability to let go and unapologetically be themselves.

I can’t say I am able to do that enough. I think too much. I pour over decisions and ask too many questions to too many people at times. Sometimes, I feel like I am “too much” or ” not enough”–whatever that means.

When I revisit my novel, my brain generally goes through all of those thoughts, those insecurities that seem to want to make a home in my mind. I want to invite those feelings to leave and embody more of what I felt today sitting next to that spirited woman.

I want to invite myself to let it go. Be unapologetic when I sit down to develop my characters and finish telling the story I believe I was always meant to write.

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One-Year Vegan Anniversary!

Today, my article sharing 3 tips to going vegan was published on 30seconds.com.

It was fitting because today is my one-year vegan anniversary. Hubby and I started for health reasons and eventually grew to care more about the environmental reasons, too.

During the course of a year, I have learned many things. I learned about my dependence on processed food, that cheese was the hardest food to kick, the importance of reading labels and that there is a plethora of delicious and diverse plant-based options in the world.

I also learned eating this way has been healing. I no longer deal with acid reflux or heavy periods. I also sleep better than I used to.

I have found a community that supports this lifestyle, too. I go to vegan potlucks, pop-ups and community festivals and lectures. Food justice in underserved areas is a real issue I care more about than ever thanks to the David Carter lecture I attended in Baltimore.

I feel more aware, healthier and it helps that I walk this road with a partner who reaps the benefits, too.

I am looking forward to what comes in year two. Year one opened my eyes to a world I don’t ever want to be closed off from again.

 

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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 and I needed a break.

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 12.6 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: 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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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.

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Haitian Heritage Month Highlight: Michele Voltaire Marcelin

The final spotlight for Haitian Heritage Month is on Michele Voltaire Marcelin.  She is a poet, painter and writer. Her work has been published in French, English, Spanish and Kreyol. She also writes in three languages. Her artwork has been exhibited at the Art Museum of the Americas of the Organization of American States in D.C., the Cork Gallery at Lincoln Center and at the National Museum in Haiti. I saved her for last because Hubby and I chose her poetry to be featured at our wedding reception in 2012.

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Here is one of our favorites:

Dreamscape 

 what magic names of places
shall i whisper in the dark
while you hold me
so we travel at least through the night

what sweet syllables of cities
ancient or new
what bird-laden trees
in what gardens
shall i offer you
so that at last i see the world with you

walk with me
through streets i have loved
in buenos aires, aix, lisbon, jacmel
keep your steps aligned with mine

walk with me
in venice
there is an alleyway called paradiso
i want you to kiss me there
in istanbul
a church of holy wisdom
where we will on the altar light candles

there is somewhere in port-au-prince
a crumbling wall fired with hibiscus
where blossoms wait to be chosen by you
to flower my hair
or shall we go off on a barge
floating on the seine
when the city darkens and the bridges spread
across the silent river
will we be drunk with each other
or will it be the boat dancing on the water

there is a stretch of sand i remember
in valparaiso
crusted with salt from the waves
we will leave our footprints there
drink pisco in a secluded bar in santiago
sit in pelhourino square in salvador
later i will giggle as you carry me
on the stairs to the capri grotto
somewhere there is a bed unmade
in a new york hotel
where we’ll return at dawn to make love
as sleepwalkers do
after seeing the ghosts of jazz musicians
at the blue note

somewhere someday we’ll go away
but tonight let’s recite as we would poems
names of places
that await our pleasure
hold my hands my beloved
look in my eyes
tonight let’s travel in our dreams
while we remain immobile in the dark

 

I hope featuring Haitian poets this month has opened you up to writers that you may have never had the pleasure of discovering on your own. I know choosing to celebrate my heritage this way has been a wonderful and educational experience for me.

Happy reading!

 

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Meatless Mondays: Mango-Banana-Pineapple Smoothie

Hubby and I did a lot of running around today so we started off our day with one of his signature smoothies. He loves making green smoothies for us and provides smoothies for his co-workers. When we got married, we both started making smoothies and juices. We also have done a couple of juice cleanses over the years. I wanted to feature a smoothie because we decided to get back to drinking them more often for breakfast.

 

Here’s the ingredients:

  • 1 banana
  • 1 cup of spinach leaves
  • 1/2 cup of frozen mango
  • 1 1/2 cups of fresh pineapples
  • 12 oz. of coconut water

Blend and enjoy!

 

 

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A Gentle Reminder

As I was leaving the gym last night, I passed by a sign I assume that’s been for quite some time but I was just seeing for the first time: “Eat Food, Not Too Much. Mostly Plants.” Even though I subscribe to “Eat Food, Not too Much. All Plants”, it was a great reminder especially the “Not too Much” part. I had a one pound loss this week and although I am always happy to be going in the right direction, I know I have to be more aware of eating too much. I have big health goals for 2018 but I need to focus on balanced eating AND balanced thinking. There is an extreme part of my personality that is attracted to those plans that promise 30lbs in 30 days but there is nothing balanced about those plans. That is also “too much.” So while I will pause now and again at the lovely reminder at the gym, it will also remain a gentle reminder to aspire to achieve a balanced mindset, too.

Your turn:

Any reminders lately that got you back on the right track?