75Hard

75Hard

This past weekend, I went to Vegfest with hubby. It was a cornucopia of vegan soul food, burgers, sweets, Thai and Caribbean food. A friend of mine performed with her belly dancing group. It was a lot of fun and our burgers with slaw and vegan Mac lived up to its delicious promise.

However, I knew this weekend was going to be a last hurrah of sorts. A good friend of mine and I decided to start the #75 hard challenge created by Andy Frisella.

Here are the basic rules:

1. 2 45-minute workouts: at least one of them has to be outdoors.

2. Stick to whatever diet you’ve chosen: no junk food, no alcohol and no cheating!

3. Drink a gallon of water a day.

4. Read 10 pages of a non-fiction/personal development book each day.

5. Take a progress picture everyday.

And if you mess up on even one, you have to start again at Day 1! Intense!

Our lunch was on Friday and we vowed to begin on Monday. So with that in mind, I blew it out this past weekend. But there was one thing I watched that reminded me how important it was to keep this upcoming commitment: Brittany Runs a Marathon.

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I may not drink or pop pills but the cholesterol is a bit high and I am not trying to add anything else to the list. I  felt convicted to change after my last doctor visit. I am motivated more than ever to complete this and get a clean bill of health at my next appointment in February. By the time the movie was over, I was in tears. I knew I didn’t want to let it be a fleeting moment of inspiration. I wanted the results and the mental toughness cultivated to get there.

So here I am on Day 2. Tired but ready to tackle my second workout of the day. Tired but ready to guzzle the last of this gallon and read those 10 pages.

Wish me luck on the next 73!

Your turn:

When was the last time you set a challenge and saw it all the way through?

Vulnerable

Vulnerable

Yesterday, I started a new writing class. To say there was anxiety would be a massive understatement. The focus of the course is primarily to strengthen fiction writing skills and I haven’t put forth consistent effort in this area in over a year.

In the two hours of class, I was reminded just how vulnerable I feel creating a story and not solely relying on details from my life. I felt the pain of stumbling and not trusting myself as I wrote. Even when I read aloud, I cringed. That normally doesn’t happen to me. I know it was just one class but it was rough.

But I can’t help but think “rough” is what I need. I am scared of my upcoming critique on the 2-3 pages I am sending but that’s ok. It will have to be. If it all felt easy or natural, how would I grow? How would I know if going forward with this novel even makes sense for me?

Another thought occurred to me: Ever since I started “The Artist’s Way”, I have pushed myself to do more like attending my first Mindful Mornings lecture, signing up for belly dance class, joined a fitness accountability group and of course, attend this writing class.

Wish me luck as I move forward with this class!

Halfway

Halfway

I am at the halfway point of my #bloglikecrazy challenge. Here are three ways it’s already different from last year:

1. It has not been as hard to come up with topics. I am not sure if it’s because I set the intention from Day 1 that I wanted to explore more topics besides writing and plant-based health but it works!

2. While I’m writing, the words flow more freely and I believe it’s because of the consistent practice of blogging in the last year.

3. Because it’s no longer a new challenge, I look forward to not only hitting my goal of completing it but seeing how my focus shifts afterwards.

I am grateful to be halfway and look forward to other takeaways as bloglikecrazy comes to a close.

Getting Free

Getting Free

When I began #bloglikecrazy challenge, one of the things I wanted to explore was paying off debt. Even though my blog mostly explores plant-based health and writing, financial health is something I am sure we can all agree is extremely important. I believe it’s all connected.

I have never considered myself extremely financially savvy but the one thing I did I absolutely do not regret is buy my first home on my own 11 years ago. Sure, there have been times when I wished I could just call a landlord to handle a problem. I can’t deny that but no matter the ups and downs I went through as a single or married woman, no one can take away the fact that I did it on my own.

I can truly take care of myself without a life partner or a parent making those monthly decisions for me or with me.

There is nothing wrong with doing it with anyone else–that is how I live now but I carry the knowledge that when it comes down to it, I don’t have to be afraid of that unknown.

As hubby and I move forward with our lives, we seek to become completely debt-free with the ability to travel and give as we wish. We are trying to be accountable and truthful with ourselves as possible.

I’ve noticed when it comes to money how easy it is to excuse spending outside of the budget, especially on going out to eat. I have been listening to Dave Ramsey on and off for years and used to watch Suze Orman but all of the information is useless if I am not vigilant about implementing it.

So for the remainder of this year (to start), I am challenging myself to stick to a budget. Like down to the penny. I’ve done it before but the intention is different because I am. I will be strictly back on the Total Money Makeover Plan and look forward to being the kind of person who not only shuns excuses about writing and health but about finances, too.

Your turn:

Are you on a specific plan? How have you prepared yourself (and your family) to be financially free?

 

 

31 Days Raw

31 Days Raw

In July, I am embracing a raw vegan diet which is fruits, veggies, nuts and seeds. I have tried it before but could never make it stick long-term. I am not interested in adopting it long-term but hoping this challenge will springboard me into incorporating more raw foods. Over the past year, I realized I depend on vegan processed food a bit too much. That has been harder to let go of than meat and dairy by far.

This past week, I lost 2.8 lbs. I still ate a mixture of raw, cooked and processed food. And it was all great–the vegetarian festival, the vegan potluck with friends and our regular meals at home.

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At the veg fest this past weekend

However, I know if I don’t cut back on processed foods I may never heal the conditions I sought to in the first place. I am excited to see what this month brings–one raw meal at a time.

Your turn:

Have you ever tried a raw vegan diet? If so, what did you think?

Keep Going

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.

Love Fest

Love Fest

This past Sunday I went to Love Fest in Hampton. It was a 4-hour festival of dance, specifically Mixxed Fit and Zumba. There were scores of teams performing and teaching routines from the stage and plenty of vendors. It was benefiting The Lupus Foundation and The Natasha House which I personally loved.  I had a wonderful time with my friends and danced so hard I was sore for a couple of days.

I have always loved dance and prefer it over many other types of exercise. When I go to the Afro-Caribbean dance class, I generally go alone (and enjoy it) but it was refreshing to go with a group of women and be among a crowd of people with such an electric energy.

It was an important reminder during this wellness journey to get out of my comfort zone and do more fitness activities that challenge me. I could have easily assumed the event was primarily for teachers and decided it wasn’t for me.

But how do I know if something is for me if I don’t bother to try.

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Smiling at Love Fest

I had an amazing time and will try another Zumba or Mixxed Fit class soon. When I weighed in today (I lost .8lbs), I actually thought about everything I did this week and was proud that part of this loss came from sweating at live dance fest in a city I do not call my home.

Already Learning

Already Learning

As part of a Facebook group I belong to (Weekly Parady), the next challenge for April is to not complain.

She issued this challenge yesterday.

I failed yesterday. Oh, and today.

The difference was the moment someone asked me not to, I noticed.

Not only in my speech but in my thoughts.

Pursuing writing and striving to make a difference with my wellness invites all sorts of doubts. Because there are no guarantees with either, my mind tends to wander toward a negative place when something doesn’t go my way or I run into a problem that I don’t understand.

I am looking forward to seeing how being more cognizant of the nature of my speech affects my thoughts and actions, if it leads to any major breakthroughs with my writing and my weight loss.

Hopefully, it’s not just for the remainder of this month. I want a lifetime of consciously deciding against complaining, no matter how many times I slip up and fall.

Grow

Grow

I have pretty much been in work mode all day and next level tired the whole time. Hubby is still sick but he has his moments when he is walking around so I remain grateful–a bit frustrated but grateful nonetheless. Part of me wishes I went to writing class tonight instead of giving into the weariness and the work.

So where does that leave me besides committed to the work? It leaves me proud that my weariness comes from work and challenges me to push through finalizing my project and keeping to my schedule posting here.

It also reminds me that if I could go back to even 2 years ago and ask if I would rather be living that life, the answer is an emphatic “No.” Being too scared or lazy or a combination of both to take classes, seek coaching, blog, attend conferences and write even when my lids and heart are heavy is nothing I want to run back to. Don’t misunderstand me. I harbor no ill will against who I used to be.

I just wanted her to grow.

 

 

What’s in Store for 2018.

What’s in Store for 2018.

After tonight, the next time I post here will be on January 1, 2018. So this is the perfect time to share my writing goals for 2018 (some of which are already in full swing).

Here we go:

-Submit work to publications at least once a week

-Complete my E-Book. I have an outline. It’s time to execute.

-Complete my novel. This was on my list last year. I know achieving this goal will be a result of my effort and consistency. No excuses.

-Go to more events as part of James River Writers, our local organization for writers. I went to a Writing Show, their annual conference, a book reading and a salon but I can make time for more.

-Connect with and be of service to other writers

-Strengthen my accountability resources (Be more active in my online groups and with my current writing partners)

-Embrace opportunities to speak about my journey (whether that be as part of a panel, as a speaker or as a podcast guest)

-Read more (2 books a month). Some months I read more, some less. I would like to be more consistent.

-Continue to go to book signings (especially for local authors!)

-Continue blogging 3 times a week.

-Do #bloglikecrazy challenge with See Jane Write again in November! (That challenge stretched me and gave me the idea to incorporate Meatless Monday posts).

-Seek more opportunities to guest post (at least once a month).

-Continue to take writing classes, even if it’s just a one-day workshop.

-Write down my goals daily in my journal!

-Remember to keep having fun! This level of commitment to writing is still technically in its infancy so there is no need to compare my walk with anyone else’s. I love that last year at this time I didn’t have a blog, had never taken a writing class, had only been published on one site, never thought to apply for a fellowship, and did not have a writing group. All of that has changed in the space of one year. I feel like my eyes have sprung open. I am already excited about what goals I will get to post in December 2018.

Happy New Year to all of my readers! I wish and pray for the absolute best for all of you!

Your turn: What are some of your goals for 2018?