Not Waiting Until…

Today, we came back from visiting family. After breakfast and gift opening yesterday morning, my parents set off for Texas. Neither of them have ever spent any real time there so they decided to try something new. Hubby and I are the same way. I realize I get that quality from them. Since they have been empty-nesters, I’ve observed them enjoying their life together by taking trips, running races and going to festivals and conferences.

Partly because of their example, it will always sadden me when I hear someone say.. “I’m too old for this.. or I should have done (fill in the blank) when I was younger and now it’s too late.” As long as you have breath in your body, it’s not over. I’m not saying anyone I know lives up to this perfectly but I have been inspired to live this way, even when I have moments when I am full of doubt and fear.

And when those moments come, these questions must be considered: What if the experience presented to you was just for you right at this time? What if you never have the opportunity again?

As we are all aware, tomorrow is promised to no one. So why not now? Book that trip, start that business or blog, write that book or try that new restaurant. Sometimes (and I have been guilty of this as well), it feels like we are just waiting until the next time we choose to put it off. It’s as if we are waiting just to kick the can down the road again so to speak.

I am excited for 2018. Not because I can’t wait to see what happens but I want to see how I make it happen. And that starts now–no waiting for an arbitrary date, no cans to kick down the road.

Meatless Monday Christmas: Chickpea Flour Omelette

This morning our family gathered for breakfast and opening of presents. I decided to look up vegan breakfast options that aren’t smoothies/oatmeals. We found the Chickpea Flour Omelette recipe from strengthandsunshine.com.

INGREDIENTS

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INSTRUCTIONS
  1. In a small bowl, mix together all ingredients except the greens and optional veggies.
  2. Let stand for 5 minutes. Add more water if too thick. It should be pancake batter consistency (but not too runny).
  3. Meanwhile, heat a lightly oiled non-stick pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot, pour the batter in the pan like you’re making a pancake. Cover the pan with a lid and cook on low heat for 3 minutes until the edges dry and bubbles form on the surface.
  4. Now add the greens and/or veggies to one half of the omelette and take a spatula to fold the omelette over in half and cook uncovered for 2 more minutes.
  5. Remove and transfer to a plate before topping with ketchup, salsa, hot sauce, etc.!

We used the Follow Your Heart brand for the egg replacer and used salsa on top. Next time, a little more salt and green peppers will be added. The consistency reminded me more of a Southwestern chickpea flour cake than an omelette. I was happy to have this option and will cook again soon.

Sisterly Advice

Yesterday, I received two kinds of news. We’ll start with the “negative.” I submitted two pieces to a literary magazine. Both were rejected. However, my reaction was a sigh and guess what? I’ll have something else to add to my collection.

Let me explain. Last year, I got my first official rejection from an agent I sent requested pages to after the James River Writers’ Conference 2016. The email was kind and encouraging but she just didn’t connect with the work.  I called my sister (younger but so wise and confident–I believe she was secretly reading HR Manuals and Personal Development books while the rest of us were struggling with our ABCs).

After telling her what happened, she practically congratulated me! “You got your first rejection. You should print it out and hang it on your wall!” I was a little puzzled but it quickly became clear: It means I tried! It means I put myself out there! It means I actually had pages to send the agent! It means that this is the first of many so I better keep going!

I never forgot that conversation. I have saved every rejection and kept every pitch I sent out no matter the result. They are my treasures, too. I look forward to perusing them when I’ve “made it.”

On to the second kind of news. I have been asked to be a guest on a podcast! I will follow-up soon with more details. Also, the post I wrote about the 2017 Pop-Up Conference with Sharvette Mitchell was featured on her website: http://www.mitchell-productions.com.  For me, the point I want to drive home is to keep going. Look forward to the failures. It means you put yourself in the arena and choose not to sit on the sidelines.

This is all I can ask of myself.

Your turn: How do you deal with rejection? Has your perspective changed as you have gotten older?

 

Revisiting The Hollywood Commandments

I have been rereading passages from “The Hollywood Commandments: A Spiritual Guide to Secular Success.” Even though the book is largely directed towards those seeking advice for success in their careers, there are definitely gems that can apply to other areas of your life.

Following DeVon online, I’ve heard him read The Frustration Prayer several times. I know I read it while preparing to help promote his book as part of his online launch team. Since I’ve been at the hospital watching my husband recover (such a blessing!), I’ve had time to revisit passages and appreciate how circumstances change the meaning or the depth of impact of his words.

Here is the part of the prayer that brought tears to my eyes:

“Please, my God, help me. I’m crying out to You from the depths of my soul! I need peace to sustain me during the times when my frustration is so intense I start to lose my faith. I come against the frustration that seeks to derail my very existence! No weapon formed against me will prosper! I claim every good and perfect gift You’ve already planned for my life and I submit my career to You!”

As I was reading, my mind was swapping out “career” for “his/our health” and those words belonged to me. During any trial, it comes as no surprise how quickly frustration can gain a foothold in your spirit. I have often begged for peace of mind. Seeking support from my family, even though they are hours away and knowing there are a couple of friends close by that would be here if I asked them to be, have been vital. However, in the quiet moments, lying on this cot, watching my husband rest and gaining strength back, I have found solace in The Frustration Prayer.

Long Weekends

We are heading into a long weekend and there are certain things I look forward to:

How quiet my neighborhood seems during the day.

Binge watching TV with my husband

If weather permits, going to the park for a casual stroll.

Sleeping in

Last minute weekend getaways!

Reading for long stretches at a time.

Not thinking the following sentence: “I should really get to bed now.”

Conversation. Conversation where you don’t watch the clock or the phone.

Did I mention sleeping in?

Allowing myself to be still for longer periods of time.

Feeling rejuvenated.

Writing.

Eating at restaurants I haven’t tried yet.

Board games and cards..there have been many many many hours during a long weekend spent at my sister’s and parents’ house in a Monopoly, Uno, Scrabble or Phase 10 battle over the years.

Feeling grateful as I head off to see my family tomorrow to enjoy lots of the things on this list.

 

 

 

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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Grateful

I woke up today.

I have a husband I wake up next to everyday who is my partner and the love of my life. When a couple of people told me not to get married, tried to get me to doubt if I could feel alive and married at the same time, I ignored it and know now they were dead wrong. Not that marriage is always easy but we work hard to grow together. We invest in each other’s interests, hobbies and dreams.

I am grateful for my family. We don’t always see eye to eye but we love each other. We hug, kiss and say I love you. My parents raised me to have a world view, to read, to have an appreciation for classic movies, museums, to value travel, education and to have pride in my racial and cultural identities (Black, Haitian-American) without being plagued with insecurities because of my brown skin. My mother gifted me with the introduction to my Christian faith. We laugh and tease, check in on one another and speak our minds, in anger, joy, frustration or love. There is no perfection but it is genuine. They never made me feel like I couldn’t make it out in the world on my own and when I think of all the grown men and women I have known in the past that were terrified or not motivated to forge a future outside of their parents’ home, I say a thousand silent thank yous.

I love my friends, past and present. I am grateful for the people who were in my life. They provided me with life lessons. They taught me what it is to outgrow people and that no matter how much time and effort you may invest in them, they may never do the same for you (and that it doesn’t matter anymore). I also learned you teach people how to treat you through these friendships and my past romantic relationships. They also gave me refuge, laughter, hugs, silly adventures, conversations I never wanted to end and a sense of brother and sisterhood I needed in some of my most uncertain moments. I don’t take those moments for granted and they hold a special place in my memory.  I experienced a growth with the past that has allowed me to treasure the people I hold dear to me now.

I am also grateful for the ability to pen and type words. It is my source of creativity and this past year has taught me it is a well I can draw from that has always been here, even when I chose not to acknowledge it or cultivate it.

I am grateful for self-awareness. It helps me to see who I really am and how I can grow to be better as a wife, friend, sister, daughter, granddaughter, cousin, Auntie, group member and a servant to God and others. There is room for improvement in all of these roles and I am glad not to be living this life blissfully unaware that there is work to be done.

There is much more but I will close with I am grateful for this challenge. It’s Day 5 and it’s forcing me to write even when I didn’t feel like it today, even when I am saddened and fatigued the news of the loss of life yet again.

What are you feeling grateful for today?

 

Sowing Into Our Future

I forgot it was Halloween when I woke up today. It’s not a holiday I celebrate so it slips by except for the cute kids costumes I see online. My husband and I were cutting up pineapple and bananas last night, preparing to make green smoothies this morning for a sale going on at his job. I was grateful to be up and busy early in the morning with the loud, whirring noises of the blenders.

And busy is a good thing especially when it is not empty. Lately, when I have started to feel some anxiety about where things are going, I remind myself of the reason. It’s because I am actively pointing myself on a path and walking it. I am sowing into my future and as a wife, I am sowing into our future.

I visited an awesome church this weekend and had one of those moments where the pastor says something and you could almost swear it was directed at you. He was talking about sowing into people, places and products with roots and they would bear fruit. And it occurred to me that everything I was investing in had roots–my husband, my faith, my writing, my writing tribe, my friends, my family and my health.

As we were blending, pouring and scurrying around the kitchen this morning, I knew there would be fruit.

I am writing this after hearing the news of the attack in Manhattan today. It was another  tragic reminder to treasure your time, sow into the people and the gifts that you have been blessed with and to stay grateful.

Celebration

Are we wired to stay the same?

I met up with an old friend yesterday afternoon that had me pondering the question today. We had not seen each other in at least 10 years but had known each since we were 12, both of us a little young for the 8th grade. It was nothing but love and laughter. When I saw her face, I kissed her cheeks and left lipstick stains like an old Haitian grandmother. I felt a sense of sadness that we had not worked harder to keep in better touch.

It probably didn’t help that I shunned the idea of social media up until last September when I joined the School of Greatness Academy which forced me to join their private Facebook group. It opened  a new world to me I thought I wanted no part of but ended up with no real regrets about entering.

But back to my question. Are we wired to stay the same? And if we are, is it always such a bad thing? In some obvious instances, change is life-affirming like having a child, getting married, opening your own business or taking control of your health.

As my friend and I stood outside after getting our nails done, laughing, sharing pictures and the details of our realities we had carved out for ourselves as grown women, I felt our 12-year old selves not far behind..giggling in Reading class..taking long walks in the summer heat not having a single idea in the world how our lives would turn out. The core of ourselves remained unchanged. We are two women who love our families fiercely, value our independence and are on the precipice of establishing new fulfilling careers who just happened to be connected for life.

I feel blessed to be wired this way. I am ok with being unchanged if I can still yearn for and foster connection. I am ok with being unchanged if I am not too “cool” to remember what it was like to be silly and young and reminisce about old goofy pictures we took posed at a Wal-Mart.

Although a lot of what I write here is about the journey to change in regards to my wellness and writing, it is also about bringing forth and committing to what is already inside of me. As I write this, I am thinking I have to learn to celebrate that woman, too.

I didn’t think I was going to mention this here but my day did not go so well..minor setbacks that I believe is just God’s way of telling me to work harder on my writing. A message telling me not to slow down because I will be writing full-time soon. I listened and I actually submitted two pieces to a literary magazine this afternoon. I have fears around putting myself out there when it comes to aggressively pursuing my business of helping others with their vows and speeches. But how is that celebrating the woman that I am? Even though I won’t fulfill all the fantasies I had as a young girl (I won’t be soon dancing back-up for Janet Jackson), writing has always felt real, tangible and within reach.

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The young girl in me and the woman I am can celebrate that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Execution

I knocked one goal out since last week. I submitted a piece to another publication this past week! I haven’t worked out consistently, hit my water goal or completed two essays. I definitely need to find the balance of working, going to thrilling events like the dance production “Claves Unidos” I attended on Sunday, visiting family and keeping up with my exercise and writing goals.

I wrote half of one essay that I actually really loved starting to write. All I can say right now is that while I wrote it, a lot of specific memories came up that shocked me. My goal is to finish it tomorrow. I can’t wait to publish it as part of my book.

In addition to all of these goals which I did not quite hit this past week, I realized during my See Jane Write Collective virtual coaching meeting this evening that I was not doing everything I can (or anything) to promote how much I love helping people write vows and speeches. Why bother hiding all that I love to do? I answered a message from somebody recently telling them how much I love writing words that were meant to be spoken whether it is a speech, vows, creative non-fiction pieces or poetry.

Even though I did not hit all of my goals, it is already a new week. I can work out for the rest of this week, drink my water, finish my essay, write a new one and publish a new post on Thursday. These are all clearly outlined actionable goals.

It’s just up to me to execute.