In the past month or so, I have been doing my best to honor what’s within me. I needed to engage in what was in front of me and quiet the urge that often comes to immediately write about it afterwards.
One of the best things that happened was spending time with my nephew. He spent the week with us and I got a chance to take him to his first poetry reading (and hear me read for the first time, too), cook us a meal and watch him help my husband build a bookcase. He also was in a camp to make art out of stained glass! After sixteen years of being his Auntie, I was witnessing how he was growing into a young man, an individual: his creativity, his interests, his potential and the magnitude of his focus. There is so much joy and beauty in recognizing this.
I also had my first in-person reading at a bookstore. Chop Suey Books made the experience delightful and their staff was so engaged and friendly. I couldn’t have asked for a better setting for a signing and a reading. I felt moved to read several pieces that I have never read publicly with a few who had never heard them. There is a sense of freedom in giving voice to the hard things. When I read those pieces out loud, shame couldn’t rise over the sound of my voice, over the sound of the truth.
I am eager to present my book outside of the state for the first time. I was accepted to the Gaithersburg Book Festival in May but I got sick right before and could not participate. I said there will be another opportunity and it came! I was accepted into the Louisville Book Festival in Kentucky. This fall I will have the chance to share She Lives Here at a conference founded by a Black woman and explore a city I never have before.
There was a time, especially years earlier, that I would feel guilty for resting. I have since learned that guilt equates to wasted energy. Working, writing, posting, keeping up with everyday life will always be more than enough. The energy is precious. I want to spend that precious commodity being in my life, showing up for my life and letting the awareness in when I am not doing those things. I have lost a member of family recently and a couple others were hospitalized. This is a reminder (though unfortunate) to allow the people, the activities and the work I value to occupy this energy. And to honor one of my highest values—my peace.
I took a couple of days to rest so today was my first day back to Miracle Mornings. There was a lot of talk about boundaries. Who we let in our inner circle. Who pours into us? Who drains us? Is there a balance?
I have had this conversation with myself several times over the years. I knew when it was time to slip away or when I simply didn’t have the energy anymore. Sometimes it happened rather quickly or it took years because of my refusal to see what was in front of me. Because I refused to acknowledge the dread or panic I felt when I saw a particular name on the phone. It was easier to be there to listen or lean on than admit it was mostly one-sided and I was tired.
In those situations, I can only point the finger at myself. Asking for what I need in any relationship is my job. It is also my job to discern where people fit in and how my energy is invested. Please understand I know people are doing the same with me. People have disappeared, grown distant and drawn closer over the years and sometimes one person has done all three. That is OK. I may never know why relationships develop or weaken in my life and to be honest, I don’t always want to know. If I hurt someone, I want the opportunity to talk it through. If that person just has outgrown me or we feel each other drifting with no animosity, no words need to be spoken.
This has been the hardest for me to go through as an adult. It challenged my courage, my honesty, my ability to communicate, how I viewed myself as a source of support and my value as a friend, daughter, sister, cousin and wife.
Establishing boundaries, how we choose to protect ourselves and energy is ever evolving. I believe I will be working through it whether or not I am open to growth, open to trust or open to the love people are trying to give.
Last week, I completed my second week of #75hard challenge created by Andy Frisella. As I was in the throes of a cycle all week and took it easy on a couple of my evening workouts to heal my ankle, I wouldn’t have been surprised to see a slight gain. I actually stayed the same and felt like I had more energy. I even realized I wanted to push myself a bit harder on my workouts. During my second walk this evening, I cut it short, marched in the house and threw on one of my favorite Caribbean dance workouts for the remainder of my time.
As I mentioned last week, I am starting to see my mindset shift in other ways, too. I promised myself I would get my E-book professionally printed and guess what….
I did it! I also now have a couple of leads on print on demand distributors and even though it will be an investment, what’s wrong with betting on myself?
I spent so much time afraid of risk even when I didn’t admit it to myself. This challenge is forcing me to confront my excuses. It is teaching me I am more resourceful and hard-working than I gave myself credit for.
This past Saturday, I went to work, did both workouts, drank my gallon of water and then some, read and enjoyed a comedy show. I know, without a doubt I would have made every excuse not to experience everything the day had to offer just a month ago. I was always too tired.
This past Saturday, I had the pleasure of meeting #1 New York Times best-selling author Angie Thomas. In addition to her book signing, she gave an in-depth look into how and why she wrote her first novel “The Hate U Give.”
She shone a light on why hip-hop had such a profound impact on her growing up. It appealed to the rebel in her and idolized what she heard and saw on TV. She spoke about it giving a voice to the voiceless and even rapped a few bars from classics such as “The Message” and recited poetry from the late great Tupac Shakur.
What I loved most besides actually getting to meet her was her passion: lifting hip-hop up without completely letting it off the hook, giving us a personal roadmap to writing and publishing her book, and most touching for me was watching how she lit up answering the teens’ questions during the Q &A. I could feel how much she wanted them to hear her and how much she believes in them.
You can’t fake that kind of passion–not that well. I related to her when she spoke about being a Black girl in predominantly White spaces and the anger that is felt when microaggressions are hurled your way. I was all too familiar with her story of not standing up for herself when she should have. One of the best pieces of advice she gave was not everyone deserves your energy. You try to show them the way. If they learn the lesson, great. If not, move on.
It was a reminder I needed. I shed a couple of tears during her presentation. I could feel her bravery and how much she actually cares about the equality of ALL people. There was so much solidarity in the room as she spoke about justice.
Listening to her made me feel like my Black life matters. She was a voice I could hear. And one I hope to be reading and listening to for a long time to come.
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.
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.
Thursday has become my day for posting wellness updates. The morning routine of going to bed and waking up earlier, taking time to journal, pray and listen to something inspirational (mostly sermons and podcasts) and now working out has helped immensely. Even though I have always acknowledged that wellness is more than just weight, ignoring that part while I write here is not really what I want to do either.
I am a firm believer that my writing and my health are inextricably linked. I know when I am burning the candle at both ends, not eating well or moving myself consistently, my writing suffers. I am not as energized to do it and it feels more rushed. I believe I have always been able to convey my message but who doesn’t want to feel good while doing it?
I believe I have been having a series of God moments these last few weeks in regards to my health. Let me explain. I am part of Heather Parady’s Facebook group and in it, she issues weekly challenges to build new habits each week to add to our morning routine. Being a part of this group gives me accountability and it came at the exact right time. I was literally trying to bring order and slow down after the anxiety came and had no plan laid out as to how I was going to do it. I could have either sat back and not gotten the message or take the challenge that was laid out before me. I am not a huge believer in coincidence. I know if I had not started down this road, I am not sure where or how I would be right now.
I weigh-in at home each week to track myself and steer towards a gluten-free lifestyle. I still am plant-based and I love it. What I am learning to fall in love with is being more whole-foods plant-based. It’s been about 9 months since Jeff and I said good-bye to all meat and dairy but it’s taken awhile to find our footing when it comes to staying away from so much processed food. Since I struggle with PCOS, it is especially difficult for me to lose weight but definitely not impossible. I am not claiming that for myself. I choose to believe that with the right habits I will reach my goal. This week I actually lost 4 pounds!
Like many of us on this path, I get excited in the beginning. I start getting results quickly and I feel like I can stay stick to my new habits forever. I’m a “whole new person.”
I am still the same me. The one who has fallen down and gotten up again. The one who said she was stopping eating _______ and picked it back up weeks, months or even a couple of years later. The one who promised to work out X amount of times each week and every time I have failed. Every time there is an excuse and every time I let myself off the hook.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t need to beat myself up. But I do need to be honest.
I am the me who does so many other awesome things and won’t give up no matter how many times I try. I am also the me who keeps getting knocked upside the head with the truth of how my habits have affected my present but hopefully not my future.
I can’t tell anyone (not even myself) how any of this will work out. I just know I can’t stop trying because I know there’s no end in sight. This is my life. I will always have to work a bit harder than others but it’s worth it.
Happy World Vegan Day and Happy 1st Day of #Bloglikecrazy!
Today, I am celebrating both. Four and 1/2 months ago, my husband and I recommitted to eating a plant-based diet again. I know how beneficial it has been to my skin and my emotional well-being. I love the energy that has been injected back into our relationship and how I hardly get acid reflux anymore. I can only imagine what years of eating this way, especially as we move towards being more whole foods plant-based will do for us.
And if you don’t already know, I am participating in the #bloglikecrazy challenge as a part of See Jane Write. I will write a blog post every day in the month of November.
30 days. 30 blog posts.
I have already proven I can do 21 days with my 21-Day Water-Workout-Write Challenge that ended in September but I have hopes of new revelations as I write consistently for 30 Days. I thought about having theme days and the only one that feels right for me at this time is profiling a different plant-based meal each week aka a Meatless Monday post. Outside of that, I make no promises but to keep coming back each day and hit Publish 30 times!