Precious Child

I am my own precious child.

I am my own precious child.

I am my own precious child.

This is my mantra for this new season in my life. The season where I put every aspect of my health first. It was pointed out that if I had a child, my own precious child would I feed him/her anything that would hurt them. I took it a step further and asked myself the same thing of how I speak to myself. The abuse of children has always been and will remain one of the most heinous acts to me—in any way. To make a child feel less valuable or to tarnish their innocence strikes a chord within me that makes me want to cry at the thought of it.

I was once a precious child.

I was once a precious child.

I was once a precious child.

I seek to honor and protect the woman this child has become.

So much has happened over the last couple of months. I celebrated a birthday where I spent many hours outdoors, letting saltwater and sun caress my skin.

I finished hosting my first poetry series with the library, had my first author signing and spent time at a school with children unexpectedly. During this time, I began experiencing an outbreak of psoriasis all over my body that could have caused incalculable grief but I chose, am continuing to choose to find answers to heal myself.

One thing that allowed me not to spiral was the experiences I was open to having even if nothing was perfection. During my last session of the poetry reading, my internet went out and it took a few minutes to log on and resume my hosting duties. I was on my way to a birthday lunch and stopped in to my mother’s school and was asked to speak to two classrooms. I had nothing prepared but something inside of me wanted to be present for these 6th and 8th graders. The answers to the questions they asked flowed freely and the teachers all made me feel welcome. A couple days later, I had the pleasure of meeting one-on-one with a student, a bright, inquisitive, creative girl who made me want to go home and write and bear 10 children just like her.

A couple of weeks later, I was at my first author signing with Chop Suey Books. It was a dream for me to speak with other authors about their work and meet curious readers who may have wandered into the event from the brewery.

With Author and Podcast host, Arvat McClaine
With Poet and Author Lindsay Young

I have a few new things coming for 2022 (including more Strongman training) but none of those things will matter if I don’t make and take the time to honor myself, to treat me like I am my own precious child.

The Kind of Writer I Want to Be

The rest of my year is shaping up to be full of writing activities, time with family, work and moving regularly. I am actively exploring Kemetic Yoga and dancing around in my own house for these options. I also decided to spend more time reading. One of my current reads, “Rockaway: Surfing Headlong Into a New Life” is about a 40-something journalist and divorcee who challenges herself to become a surfer. It reminds me of my goal to continue competing as a Strongwoman. This is no surprise as reading has always made me want to dip my toes into worlds I have yet to explore be that with travel, athletics or activism.

I have a tendency to pile on but letting reading take me somewhere else never leaves me feeling like that. It inspires me to write better, look for the detail and cultivate understanding. I attended James River Writers Conference over the weekend and served as a ShopTalk expert with the topic “How to Own Your Story: Getting Your Truth on the Page.” It was invigorating to listen and dispense advice to other writers and part of me wished I could jet off to the future to hold their finished works in my hands.

Right before my first ShopTalk session on Saturday morning

We were told at the conference that being a literary citizen is writing, reading is writing and good conversation can be writing. I believe this to be true because when I am engaged in any of these things, I find spirit lifted and I feel nudged to get to a pen and jot these experiences down.

I am hosting the second session of the virtual open mic poetry series “From the Page to the Mic” with Henrico County Public Library this Saturday and the last on November 13th. I am attending a showcase at my sister’s pole studio next weekend and an author’s signing in December. I will be bending, stretching, dancing, writing, reading, listening, supporting and watching others’ art. I can’t think of a better way to grow into the kind of writer I want to be.

Pine Needles

It’s been awhile.

I hope the next post I write here doesn’t start off the same way. The last 3 months—which I believe is the longest break I have ever taken from writing here—have been a whirlwind. Some of the biggest things that have happened are this newly redesigned website, I am partnering with my local library to host a fall poetry series, more interviews for my book of prose and poetry, She Lives Here, I was featured in Richmond Bride Magazine, (first magazine feature) for my E-book, What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal, traveled to see my family (vaccinated, double-masked with goggles on the plane—not playing with COVID) and I have taken some measures to address my physical and mental health.

At the beginning of June, I took a couple of days to visit my niece in PA which ended with me in the ER dehydrated and panicked. I was already on the road to addressing how to handle taking better care of myself but I did not realize how working, planning for more non-stop and still stressed about keeping me and my husband safe had taken a toll on me. I think when you are lying on an ER bed with your heart feeling like it is threatening to leap out of your chest, it’s time to make all the changes. It is time to slow down, abandon the shame that creeps up when you sleep too long, spend some time in the sun and stop pretending like you can push through everything on your own. My norm had become work, panic at any given time, planning for writing events, endless breathing exercises, and cleaning up after my psoriasis riddled body on every surface in the house.

In Florida with Hubby
My first magazine feature!

I was accepting all of THAT as my norm. It wasn’t until I read in the literature provided by my dermatologist that a study found that psoriasis can contribute to anxiety and depression by sending certain messages to your brain that I decided to stop the madness. If I thought I could make it as a raw foodist who does yoga and swims in saltwater pools everyday, maybe I wouldn’t have decided to make the changes I did. I am on new medication that has started clearing my skin, reducing inflammation and I can finally make it through the day without fearing I am approaching the edge.

I also went to a couple of Strongman training classes. I have hurt my back and my wrist but I will hopefully be back next week. It was a shock to the body to be back deadlifting such heavy weight but if I keep at it, I know it will feel like me again.

While I was at one of my lowest days a couple of months ago, I took a drive. I started to have thoughts I can’t bring myself to write here but they were not healthy. What I realize now is that I couldn’t see it for what it was at the time but I remember something that snapped me out of it—the smell of pine needles. My windows were down and I could smell something natural, strong and real after cooping myself up in the house for days. It reminded me how much I love being here, awareness and how much I wanted to fight to always feel that way. Outside of the ER visit, that was the turning point for me.

I spent so much time afraid of taking chances with doctors that I wasn’t giving myself a chance.

I was robbing myself of choice.

This past year and a half showed me that my world could be bigger. I could unapologetically share my truths. I am grateful that I realized I was limiting myself by not taking those chances.

I don’t think God made Kristina a limited being. A flawed one—yes but not a fearful, limited being.

That’s what I hope to express more here—an expansion, curiosity and exploring more of what’s to come.

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?

Cleansing

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been daydreaming about waterfalls. Standing under one. Standing by one and staring, completely transfixed. I was watching a show about a painter who was on a retreat. She took a long bike ride, hitch hiked and eventually ended up at Menemsha Beach on Martha’s Vineyard admiring the beauty of the sunset, the tangerine and coral swallowed by the blanket of night. I almost cried as the scene faded.

I shared my waterfall fantasies with a co-worker today. Yes, I am aware that summer is upon us and that’s probably why the urge is as strong as it is now. But she suggested something I hadn’t thought of before.

Maybe I am craving a cleansing.

I know how it sounds but when she said it, something connected. The last year has been full of ups and downs and a health mystery not quite solved. Our last piece of news was as good as it could get. I know as soon as I get the chance, take the chance to genuinely breathe, hopefully underneath a life giving force such as water, there will be a cleansing.

Maybe I am elevating a vacation, some fun in the sun, splashes in the water to mythic proportions but it’s fine by me.

I am willing to believe in the story.

I am willing to believe in a cleansing.

Put Up or Shut Up

I don’t think I want to write about anything health related these days. My posts seem to read on repeat when it comes to health. I am not the kind of blogger that wants to share everything so I find myself constantly editing my thoughts when I write here.

When I know I am taking consistent action on my health, I will post about it here again. Until then, I will post on Thursdays and the focus will be on writing. I will start sharing pieces I have written, too. I already miss using prompts to write fiction and non-fiction work in class. Why not continue it here?

Making this change is the most self-aware choice I have made in awhile (aside from therapy). I know when I am doing my best, when I am just talking about wanting to do my best and when I have nothing left to say at all concerning it.

This is my season to put up or shut up.

So I am putting the pen down and picking it back up again when there is something real to share.

 

 

One Thing

I have days where I have nothing new to say, either about my writing or my health. I struggle with not wanting to turn the health portion of this blog into a weight loss blog. I don’t know think there’s anything wrong with them. Actually, I love reading about other people’s weight loss journeys or watching the occasional weight loss transformation YouTube video. I wanted this to be a space where I could focus on overall health and writing updates but it was brought to my attention that perhaps I am not sharing anything new with my readers in regards to my weight loss.

You all know that I am plant-based, read about (or even tried) the recipes I’ve shared and that I’ve had successful and unsuccessful bouts with raw veganism. But I have purposely shied away from numbers here.

I know part of it is because I don’t want to be  perceived as yet another fat woman documenting her weight loss journey. There is an active perception a fat woman’s idea of ultimate success is a rail thin body and I do not want to perpetuate that notion. That is not all of who I am or any of these women in this fight seeking support and/or accountability from their readers. Please believe I know at the end of the day, my perception is the only one that truly matters.

I am at a crossroads right now where PCOS, anxiety, psoriasis and fibroids are demanding more action from me than ever before. I have said before I won’t feel settled or at peace until I know I’ve done everything I can as consistently as I can and used every tool at my disposal to address these issues.

Maybe part of that is laying it all bare here. I will figure it out.

I’ll take it one step at a time. Taking it one thing at a time.

I would love to know what your take is on this post. Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Sisterhood

Last week, I finally took a step I have been meaning to take for months. Well, maybe for years. I signed up for belly dance class. It’s been years since I was in class. Afro-Caribbean dance class is still something I intend to come back to now and again but I have been yearning to go back to be apart of something that speaks to my femininity.

For the last couple of years, I have watched my sister bloom and thrive with pole fitness. It always reminds me of the confidence I built when I was dancing to belly dance videos or with other women in class. It reminds me of how much I love sisterhood.

That kind of sisterhood is something I think will only enhance the quality of this quest for health. I am definitely ready to see if what I think may be true.

Reset

I think it’s fitting that today is the start of a new year because I devote Tuesdays to all aspects of health. Although I decided to ramp up my efforts at the end of November, like most people the holidays got to me and it is definitely time to recommit. I didn’t stop moving but the raw foods did take a backseat for a couple of weeks.

I began looking for a reset. A lot of people fast, diet and make all sorts of resolutions and promises on New Year’s Day. All I want to do is commit to more raw food. I can’t forget (nor do I want to forget) the way I felt throughout July when I was raw vegan for 30 days. It wasn’t just the increased energy. Anxiety and fatigue seemed like states of being that could never be attributed to me.

So my reset is to cling to what I know: walking, being a high raw vegan embracing juices and smoothies, yoga, dance classes, massages, prayer, therapy and letting go of fears and mindsets that no longer serve me.

Transformation

On June 3rd, I wrote FACE

It was about accepting how far I have come in my health journey with psoriasis. Even though I wasn’t thrilled about what happened to my face since being diagnosed, I had come to a point where I was happy with the progress I had already made.

And then I challenged myself to be a raw vegan for the month of July and with the exception of a few bites of hummus here and there, I succeeded.

Then something else happened. My skin started changing rapidly. The picture above is the transformation from June 3rd to August 3rd. The pink scales started to clear and my real skin appeared. My real brown started to emerge again. I walked out of the house several times without a stitch of makeup except for lip gloss. It has been years since I felt comfortable doing that.

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Out and about feeling like a real psoriasis warrior!

Even though I indulged in cooked food a few times over last weekend, I know how key this is to my healing and I know I’ve written it many times now, but I am not letting it go. When I first looked at those pictures side by side, I was bowled over by the change. There is an answer for me that doesn’t look or sound like injections or pills or steroids.

How blessed am I for having access to fresh fruits and vegetables? How blessed am I that I have access to information about how they heal and how my body wants to heal itself? I am grateful that I was open to it.

I was open to my healing.