Defined by a Number?

I’ve actively resisted using the word “weight” on this blog. I happily write about wellness in its totality. However, the world seems so invested in exact numbers. It’s as if people need to know exactly where to place you.

Sometimes “people” is me.

I don’t define beauty and worthiness by a number. For sure, I want to change the number but I don’t subscribe to any of those notions. I heard a podcast host (an extremely fit man) in response to his guest who is struggling with his weight loss goals say something like: Yeah, I love doughnuts! The guest said nothing about doughnuts and the host repeated it more than once.

Clearly, this is not wildly offensive. I am sure it was just an awkward attempt to relate to his guest but I was disappointed by it. For me, it fed into the notion some people have about overweight/obese people sitting around, glued to the couch and shoving _________ (insert whatever junk food you would like) down his/her gullet. I actually have heard some version of this on more than one podcast, radio station, TV show, magazine, book or film.

Since you can find overweight people sitting next to you at work, class or at a sporting event, traveling beside you on the plane or working out with you at the gym, why does this notion persist?

Maybe I feel compelled to write about it as my husband and I, who eat a plant-based diet  to heal from our conditions exacerbated by inflammation and love to be out and about, are about to undertake a serious weight loss journey. I don’t want who we already are  to be lost on those who read this or already know us. I start as someone who works, writes, dances, prays, reads, travels, nurtures and cooks and I will be that woman in a smaller body and my husband will be who he is in a smaller body, too.

Not people who are waiting to get off of the couch but people who are ready to move on to the next adventure.

Kindness

I still feel like I am coming down from an amazing and busy weekend. I had the pleasure of watching my sister and her pole sisters perform in their student showcase. Those women put on a spectacular show and I shed more than a couple of tears watching my sister confidently execute the routine she choreographed along with two other group performances. I had many videos of my sister in varying stages of preparation for her solo over the months so seeing it come together before my eyes was a thing of beauty. As we watched playback of the video I shot, both of us laughed because we could hear my running verbal reaction with every move she made. It was pride spilling from my lips.

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Me and my sister before her mind-blowing performance

The next day while she was with her personal trainer, I made good use of her visitor’s pass at her gym. It had been a couple of months since I had been on a machine so my body and my mind had to warm up to the idea of doing the repetitive motions again but I found I loved the groove that settled in after a few minutes of pushing the incline up on the treadmill. I am not sure why there is such discomfort for me around going back to the gym regularly but I do know I have to get over it. These goals can be met without it but that’s not what I want. I want to make use of all of the tools I have available to me whether I have deemed them as one of my “favorites” or not.

The next day, my mother, sister, adorable niece and I went on a little shopping trip to add a couple of pieces to my wardrobe. I had been meaning to update this site with new pictures so I thought it would be a good time to take them. Here are a couple and my About, Work with Me and Home pages have been updated with all new pictures:

After these were done, hubby and I were off back to Richmond when we had a small accident trying to avoid a much bigger one. It meant one more night at my sister’s until we could go to the garage the next morning but I was so happy to be able to spend more time with my family. While I was there, I managed to finish the essay I was working on last week and selected a couple of sites to submit new work to by Thursday.

When I got to work today, I got the sweetest note (with a green pen!)from a co-worker:

20171003_153133-1-1 It was in my mailbox and I pulled it out at the exact moment when I needed it. I was all smiles when I opened this blessing and I am not ashamed to admit I teared up driving home from work this afternoon thinking about my new treasure.

As we all know, the last few weeks in this country and all over the Caribbean have been harrowing to say the least.

It is the kindness that will remain. It is the kindness that will restore.

Have you been inspired lately? I would love to read your thoughts!

 

Hope

Tonight, during my writing group, my friend and talented poet Hope, brought a green pen. She explained that the legendary poet Pablo Neruda only wrote with green pens because green is the universal color for hope. She went on to talk about how he was deemed the people’s poet and how he wept when his fans recited his poetry back to him.

It could have been a combination of her delivery of the story and my excitement of being with my writing tribe, but my synapses were firing. What must that be like? To write so passionately that you inspire nations, millions? To value hope so much that you cling to its symbolic color?

I may never have the impact of a Neruda but I can have the passion and the love of the written word of a Kristina. I cannot control impact. I cannot control who chooses to support or love me in my quest to fully devote myself to a life as a writer.

But I can control what I choose to acknowledge. I acknowledge the moments I had tonight with a group of women listening intently, brewing up ideas of collaboration with one another, expressing support and validation of our ideas.

This is what I have to offer this evening. All of my other goals talk can wait for next Tuesday. I know I have workouts to do, water to drink, essays to write and a submission to send off.

 

Reflections on SOG 2017

It’s been one week since I completed the Water-Workout-Write 21-Day Challenge. I made new commitments, too: working out 5 days a week, drinking 100 oz. of water each day, writing two essays and sending one pitch to a publication weekly and blogging two days a week. For now, I picked Tuesdays and Thursdays. My intention was to start on Monday. I knew I would be back from attending The Summit of Greatness in Columbus, Ohio and well-rested. I did workout yesterday but my old habit of not drinking enough water reared its ugly head. I am back on it today and will most likely finish my intake in a couple of hours. I may work out later but if I don’t, I will complete my other four Wednesday-Saturday.

Today was unexpected. My brother called and asked me to lunch before he headed back out of town. Seeing as I didn’t know he arrived yesterday, it was a pleasant surprise. And not the first. I was so happy to see him. Not just because he’s my brother but because he is a friend and a good sounding board. After last week at Summit, there was much to reflect on and discuss.

One of which was the decision to go this year. I went last year and the experience was life-changing. There were hundreds of us, cheerleading each other, not knowing what was to come and having these instantaneous deep conversations with people who just happened to be standing next to you in line. The connections forged made me want to come back. I was excited but there were goals I knew I had set for myself that I did not reach, like finishing the book I was working on at the time. But of course, that is no reason not to recognize the strides I did make like taking Life in 10 Minutes with Valley Haggard, Pens Up Fears Down with Sadeqa Johnson, pitching my book at the James River Writer’s Conference, applying for my first fellowship, starting this site, expanding my social media presence, gaining a wonderful group of friends who also write (my tribe!) and finally getting around to printing up my business cards.

 

So, there was no real reason not to go. And I am so grateful that I did. This time my husband came with me. And that was one of the best gifts. Getting to see it through his eyes. Even though the magic of experiencing it for the first time was no longer there for me, watching him crane his neck around at the Southern Theater and hesitantly open up to a fellow attendee about his business goals made me realize how much time away from your “everyday” is needed. The Summit of Greatness is a jolt to the system, a soul-stirring reminder of what we could be if we are only willing to let go of what we thought we are or supposed to be.

We started off by registering last Wednesday the 13th and then attending a dinner which was mostly a casual reunion of last year’s attendees and enjoying the treat of meeting some new faces. And that is when I knew we were off to a good start. My heart was so warm and full at the sight of these people who I hadn’t even seen in nearly a year, except for online of course. It’s weird seeing people leap off of a screen and into your arms for a big old bear hug but it’s a good weird!

The next day was official Day 1. A highlight for me was poet Najwa Zebian and her loving embrace of her sensitivity and vulnerability. She exuded a quiet power. Tears were rolling down my cheeks during the Q&A portion of her time. Esther Perel was whip smart and funny! Her observations of the evolution of relationships like how we are looking to one person to fulfill all our needs compared to the past when it was a whole village was a major Aha moment for me.

Chris Lee’s emphasis on the power of giving moved me. When you’re depressed, give! When you’re happy, give! When you are lonely, give! His visualization exercise asking us what and where we want to be in 10 years was particularly memorable for me because he asked us to start it by saying that age out loud which was jarring for me. Then the tears came again.

Day 2 was quite a finale. My parents also came to Summit and the four of us sat on the first floor as compared to the balcony on Day 1 and the impact was powerful. The close proximity of the thumping drums and the cries of excitement made me want to jump to my feet immediately. As for speakers, Chris Guillebeau made another case about the power of the introvert. His energy was quieter but not boring in any way. He was promoting his new book “Side Hustle” and showed tangible evidence of people who started a side hustle, not a part-time job and grew it into a real business. He was practical and his approach made me want to listen deeply. I cannot wait to read his book! Mel Robbins came and brought the house down with her quick wit and insights and presented her 5-Second Rule. She delved into the science behind counting down…5, 4, 3, 2, 1..Go! When you wait too long to take action, we tend to stay still. She showed us how 5 seconds can change everything. Another read on my mile-high list from this weekend.

Tim Storey simply took us to church. There was a lot of call and response which made him entertaining but there was a message in his rhyme and swagger. He spoke about impartation, incubation and maturation phases in your life and shared about his work with people in addiction recovery. Brendon Burchard, the number one online marketer, was the closing keynote speaker. His emphasis was on the habits of high performers. I loved how he talked about bringing the joy every day. He took a moment to ask us all to think of three words that exemplify who we want to be, set and name an alarm with those three words for 10:00 am. We even had a dance break moment and I found myself admiring the interactive nature of his speech.

To cap off the conference, there was a dance party at Express Live with DJ Irie. The crowd was live and the music had us dancing for hours on end. Lewis, his Mom, Tim Storey, and even DJ Irie himself crowd surfed. The dancers that were teaching as a part of morning workouts last year came back and danced their collective faces off on stage.

As if this hasn’t been long enough, there is so much I am missing including the performers that danced and sang so beautifully for us, Lewis giving away his book as a surprise, Nick Onken’s art piece connecting all of us from all over this country and 20 others and hugs at every turn.

I am thankful. I am grateful.

Day 18

Only three days left of the 21-Day Water-Workout-Write challenge! The end is nearing fast and has me thinking more about the next phase of challenges for myself. I may not name it but I will set a schedule for exercise, giving back, writing, submitting and being active in the writing groups I belong to. Clearly defining my goals has made such a difference in my life. I have never written more regularly. I feel a bit embarrassed to admit it as it’s barely been three weeks but that was part of the reason I started this challenge anyway. I can choose to be the kind of writer that writes sporadically (tried and failed) or the kind that sets goals and knocks them down, one by one.

Today was low-key. Yesterday, I was out and about after my doctor’s visit and wore myself down as evidenced my needing to use an inhaler before bed last night. My intention was to maybe go for a short walk but that did not happen. But I have coughed a lot less today. Hubby keeps reminding me I have a very active week ahead. If he could pin me down, he would. So instead of frustrating the person trying to take care of me, I am staying put, watching and laughing at an awful Lifetime movie, sipping water and working on this article I committed to submit by the end of this weekend for my guest post.

Day 19 is coming up tomorrow!

Day 16

Day 16 of my 21-Day Water-Workout-Write 21-Day Challenge

I am still at rest, hoping my breathing goes back to normal so I can resume my life. There are many times I love lying around the house, reading, catching up on new shows and movies, talking on the phone and chilling with hubby. But I have had my fill. That is probably because it’s not my choice. I feel grounded.

However, I can be grateful for the time that I do have to rest up because next week I will be on the road to go to the Summit of Greatness in Columbus, OH hosted by Lewis Howes. It’s strange how fast a year goes by. I went to the 1st annual event last year. I am looking forward to being energized by the sheer amount of goal-driven people from all over the planet converging together in one theater to listen to titans of industry in motivational speaking, sports, psychology and coaching. I wonder what take-aways I will come home with this year. Last year, I learned how vital it is to move forward, even if it’s limping forward from Fabio Viviani and courtesy of Stacy London, the thing that you think that you are trying to hide is the thing people notice the most.

I am also writing a guest blog post. I pitched an idea that was accepted and I am sending off my piece this weekend! I love the idea of contributing to another blogger and building each other’s platforms up. Even though I feel sidelined, I am still attacking my goals.

And not a soul can take that away from me.

Stay tuned for Day 17!

Day 13

Labor Day was a good one for rest. I spent my time relaxing with my hubby, reading and gleaning wisdom from The Hollywood Commandments by DeVon Franklin, catching up on email and applying for a writer’s group that may take me in the direction that I need. I have been feeling this self-imposed pressure to narrow my focus and become more goal-oriented to grow my career. This is the kind of pressure that I welcome. Earlier this week, I sent a pitch email with some ideas for a guest blog and today, I got a positive response for one of my ideas. I will definitely share more about that in time.

As I was completing the application for the writing group, I became emotional. I do not like to dwell on the past but it occurred to me how stuck I used to be and how willing I was to step in and stay in my own way. I will be eternally grateful for the decision I made to take action over the last year and for leaving the stressful job I was in 4 years ago. I would have never had the mental space to even try to write. As I was walking with a friend at the park today, it occurred to me that although neither of our lives our perfect, our conversation was mostly centered on doing something about the situations we are in. Not just complaining and venting (though we all have our moments). This is the spirit of the Water-Workout-Write 21-Day Challenge. The spirit of Doing. Moving. Trying.

I am behind on my water intake but the night isn’t over and I will continue to sip and chug if I have to. And if I have to grab my 5lb weights again to do some semblance of a second workout, I will do that, too. I just won’t talk or write about it. I will do it.

Stay tuned for Day 14 tomorrow!

Water-Workout-Write 21-Day Challenge-Day 1

After completing the 5-day Instagram greatness challenge issued by Lewis Howes, I found myself asking what’s next?  I was asked to reflect on who I am, obstacles I encounter on the way to becoming my best self, a part of my morning routine, a significant quote and finally post about someone who inspires me. After so much reflection, I found that I did not want it to end. Not that reflection should ever cease whether you share yourself with the world or not. The obstacle I chose to share was not keeping to a writing schedule. Instead of just leaving it at acknowledging the problem, I am choosing to push myself to do something about it.

And then I thought, I have been actively working on my wellness goals the last couple of months. I am still plant-based and I quit coffee (haven’t been a soda drinker in over 15 years). I should make aspects of my wellness journey a part of this, too. My lack of consistent water drinking came to the surface.

I can’t tell you why I neglect to do this because as someone with psoriasis, I should practically be hooked to a faucet. I am already working out but again I know I can do more. And if I acknowledge I can do more, why not do it?

I did not want to replicate the previous challenge by doing it for five days. By now, we have all heard it takes 21 days to establish a habit. I decided to commit to moving myself twice a day, drinking at least 100 oz. of water and writing about it every day for 21 days.

Today was my Day 1. I had a magnificent walk in the sunshine, listening to DeVon Franklin speak and Solange sing. After work and grocery shopping, I came home and did an Afrifitness video on YouTube. I love dance workouts! Besides the fact that they are fun, moving myself in this way makes me forget that I am working out. I can lose myself in the rhythm and choreography.

I know it is only Day 1 but drinking enough water will be the goal I will have to be the most diligent about checking off each day.  It might be early for a takeaway but I already have one. I must set my intentions each day or I won’t do it! This is a lesson already learned for me but apparently it did not take. But I know it’s not too late.

Mindfulness and intention are the two words I feel will resonate with me for the duration of this challenge and for the rest of my life.

Stay tuned for Day 2 tomorrow!