Live

Live

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….

IMG_20190930_154307.jpg

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?

Absolutely nothing.

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.

Too tired for what?

Too tired to live?

Authenticity

Authenticity

I went to lunch with two friends earlier last week. We discussed our goals, stepping out on faith and what to do when we don’t believe. A suggestion was made that I take the time to write what I am not believing God for. For example: God, I don’t believe I will be able to financially support our family in a real way with my writing. Show me what to do with these feelings. Show me how to increase my faith. Help me to align myself, my habits and my words so that I can believe this for myself.

Even though what I just wrote was clearly an example, a conflict arose for me. There is a school of thought that a lot of self-help people and people of faith (and both) subscribe to that says you are to claim your dreams and your victories as if they are already here.

As if you’ve already won.

While that school of thought feels empowering and I am sure has produced mind-blowing results, something inside says that it ignores the very real struggle of getting to that place. The place of full-on, no questioning, all-mighty certainty.

Is there a place for me? Someone who’s in the middle? Someone who believes winning is completely possible but also sometimes feels like they’ve already lost?

I am going to take my friend’s suggestion and journal and pray from a very honest, sometimes lost in the wilderness place and also from a hopeful, medals already swinging from my neck place.

Even though there are no guarantees as to where these honest prayers will take me, I find solace in its authenticity.

The Next 30 Days

The Next 30 Days

I recently decided that I will spend from September 3rd-October 3rd eating raw foods and journaling everyday. On the 4th of October, I leave for the Digital Storytelling Workshop in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. By that time, I want to feel mentally, spiritually and physically prepared as possible for the experience ahead of me.

Today, I was listening to a man who has been water fasting for over 40 days now speak about how he feels that we take on the characteristics of the things we eat. His statement was reminiscent of the age old saying “You are what you eat.” What struck me was the calmness in his tone as he recounted how he was reacting (or not reacting) to others in typically stressful situations. He feels like water–going with the flow without rising to anger or panic.

Even though I was raw throughout the month of July, I didn’t document how I was feeling each day. I want the next 30 days to stand out in my memory and the best way for me has always been to write it down.

I also want it as a record for all I have to be grateful for…the physical and the mental results.

 

3 Tips to Help You Write Your Vows

3 Tips to Help You Write Your Vows

Wedding season is officially here! As many of you know, I released my E-book journal “What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows” to help people express themselves on the day they decide to propose, get married or even on an anniversary!

IMG_20180516_134322_627

I had so much fun pondering over the prompts, finding inspiring quotes, writing poetry and recalling my own fond memories of the proposal and writing my vows that I wanted to share 3 prompts from my E-book you may enjoy:

1. What did he/she introduce to you? (A new hobby, special vacation spot, favorite book or movie, spiritual practice or sport etc.)

I included this prompt (and accompanying questions) because what your partner introduced you to may have changed not only who you are but may have changed the course of your relationship. It may have brought you closer together and that can definitely be worth including in your vows.

2. What is the most impactful thing they have ever done for you?

I encourage the reader to go deeper, beyond the physical with this one. Your partner wants to know the effect you have had on their life. Never underestimate the power of acknowledgement.

3. What are you looking forward to experiencing as a married couple?

This can be as simple as trips you plan to take, as challenging as the fears you plan to conquer or as life-affirming as the family you plan to expand.

I hope you enjoyed reading these tips. There are more accompanying questions and 12 other prompts you can use in “What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows” available right here or at https://www.etsy.com/shop/WhatILoveAboutYou?ref=pr_shop_more

 

Meatless Mondays: Easy Vegan Taco Bake

Meatless  Mondays: Easy Vegan Taco Bake

In our effort to do more gluten-free vegan dishes, I chose a vegan taco bake dish from buildyourbite.com. It was a relatively easy recipe that also did not use oil which I am also trying to get away from cooking with so often. Outside of the flavor of the dish, squeezing half a lime over it provided just the right amount of acid. I am so glad the recipe called for it. I would definitely bring this to our next vegan potluck. We also ate some broccoli to make sure we got our greens in tonight. Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 large bag of tortilla chips (13 oz)
  • 1 can of black beans, drained
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika (see notes)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 of a lime, juiced
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 cups of salsa
  • sliced lime, for serving

IMG_20180430_201605 (1).jpg

Directions

  1. In a bowl, add drained black beans, salt, pepper, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cumin, chili powder, and the juice of ½ of a lime
  2. Stir ingredients until well combined
  3. Get out a 9 X 13 casserole dish and lay down an even layer of tortilla chips
  4. Spoon evenly half of the bean mixture over the tortilla chips
  5. Cover with ¼ cup of nutritional yeast
  6. Add 1 cup of salsa, spreading out evenly
  7. Repeat steps of chips, beans, nutritional yeast, and salsa
  8. Top with remaining tortilla chips, crushed into small pieces
  9. Bake at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes, or until browned
  10. Serve hot with fresh lime juice squeezed on top
  11. Be sure to reheat any leftovers in the oven for best results

This was such a life-saver tonight as allergies are currently sapping my energy. I am going to have to look into more recipes from buildyourbite.com.

Belief

Belief

One of my writing goals for 2018 was to pitch an idea once a week to a publication. This week, I decided to really look at how often I was really pitching. I think I have only pitched once or twice. Instead of hanging my head low, I’ve decided to evaluate that goal. Does once a week work for me? Have I organized myself to meet this goal?

When I even take a cursory glance at it, the answer is No.

When I go deeper, I had to ask myself why I have not met the goal. I have been able to keep up with my blogging schedule, publish my first E-book journal, “What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows” and take writing classes. In addition to the rigor of everyday life, I am aggressively attacking my health goals.

But none of those realities are excuses. I now have more time in my schedule to see how I can start making the time to pursue freelancing opportunities. It’s been a wonderful side effect of writing in my journal every morning. In addition to writing my prayers and gratitude, I’ve also included a to-do list. Writing it down has gifted me with tremendous clarity on the parts of my life I neglect.

Part of this clarity can be attributed to belief. Before establishing a morning routine, I didn’t believe I had time to write and pray just for me. I didn’t “believe” I was a morning person or and I believed I was a night owl. My transition is not miraculous but it is a result of sticking to the habit which created my new beliefs.

  1. I believe I am the type of person who goes to bed early and wakes up early, too.
  2. I believe I am the type of person who makes time for exercise.
  3. I believe I am the type of person who schedules time to pitch editors and other blogs.
  4. I believe I am the type of person who more often than not, finishes what she starts.
  5. I believe I am a child of God who loves and works hard who intentionally makes the time to achieve her goals, has fun and gives herself a break when she needs it.

I believe all of these things.

I believe it is enough.

Habits

Habits

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.”

Lies.

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.

I’m worth it.

 

Signals

Signals

Before I took a couple of weeks off, my body told me it was time before I did. I was feeling anxious and tired but didn’t realize the extent of it. I thought this is how it’s supposed to be while you’re juggling a day job and trying to build a career from scratch on the side. I seemed to always be in a rush. Rushing to go to work, rushing to complete a blog post even if I knew in advance what it was going to be about and my mind constantly thinking about what I should be doing to take better care of myself: Lose that weight, try that skin product, watch that video on natural healing, finish reading those books, document more, promote my E-book more frequently, submit to other publications on a regular basis and be a better daughter, sister, friend, cousin, Christian, traveler, volunteer, wife, writer, student…

So when I thought I was just going about my business, the signals my mind was sending to my body shut me down. I was not going to share this but I thought maybe someone somewhere is or was going through the same thing and if I want to be anything on this blog, it is real. I am not writing about this because it’s anybody’s business except for mine but to pretend like I took a short break “just because” didn’t feel authentic. My doctor told me to slow down and that I was having anxiety attacks. It’s a strange thing to be told if you believe that everything is generally “ok” and you’re just “busy.” I am one of those people who tell myself, even in the thick of it, that I have blessings to be grateful for but I was telling myself those things while running.

In the last couple of weeks, I have taken time to go to bed and wake up earlier, journal and pray as soon as I get up and to listen to something inspirational. I lean towards a T.D. Jakes sermon or a little of John Gray. I even joined a morning routine challenge on Facebook which has helped to keep me accountable. I also have gotten back to working out and weighing myself weekly. I decided to go gluten-free (I don’t have an allergy) for 90 days. I wanted to see if it made a difference with brain fog and I don’t know if it’s because of that or a combination of all of these habits, but it has worked.

I can’t tie this up in a nice, neat bow nor do I want to. These past few weeks have made me see things with a new clarity. I still want all of the same things but slowing down to write, pray and move myself  has strengthened my resolve to be more patient about getting them and strangely a confidence has blossomed from it, too.

All I can control is my effort, consistency and the time to take care of myself which will eventually take care of the reaching my goals aspect of my life, too.

Even if my body had to tell me before I was willing to do something about it, I am glad I did. I don’t feel like I’m running breathlessly today and all I can do is be grateful for that and set myself up to feel the same way tomorrow.

Your turn: Has your body ever told you something before you realized it? If so, what did you decide to do about it? I would love to hear your thoughts!

See you on Thursday’s post with a wellness journey update!

 

Keep Calm and Write On

Keep Calm and Write On

I wanted to say a few words about support. Last week, I was under the weather at my writing group meeting at one of our member’s homes. She was such a gracious host, providing us with snacks and each one of us was gifted a journal. She said she thought of me because of my travel coffee mug my sister gave to me for Christmas that says “Keep Calm and Blog On.”

20180220_193506
My new writing journal given to me by my friend and writing group member, inspired by my sister’s Christmas gift!

This past weekend, I went to Charlotte to visit family and was greeted with two gift bags on the bed. One was for me with a gift and card from my mother and father, congratulating me on the publication of my E-book, “What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows.” The other was a cute mug and a card for my husband for being an amazingly supportive husband.

It’s so easy to get caught up in the smaller things when you are trying to live up to your full potential. Who is really supporting me? Am I promoting it the right way or enough? Has my book helped people with writing their love letters, proposal and vows? There are about a hundred other things I could worry  or stress about.

But when I read her card, I knew all of those other things really don’t matter.

Like my new journal says, all I have to do is Keep Calm and Write On.

************************************************************************************

My new E-book “What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows” is now available for purchase on the home page of my website. Thanks for your support!

Still Excited!

Still Excited!

It’s been a couple of days since the release of my new (and first) E-Book: What I Love About You: A Guided Journal to Writing Your Proposal and Vows. I am having a range of emotions. The excitement of it being in the world is here, the wondering of what to do next besides talk about it and keep writing and hope–that people buy it, use it and love it. I am processing the entire range of emotions.

I know I am proud of myself and hope that those who use it, whether it be for themselves or for those whom they wish to gift it to, find it helpful and become inspired while answering the questions and reading the prompts and quotes.

Cover4_HR

It’s interesting what you picture while writing something. I was imagining men and women of all ages reading and writing at desks, on kitchen tables, in break rooms or during quick stolen moments at work or lying in bed, recapturing memories of the relationship thus far. While I was writing, I even started thinking about my own “origin story” with hubby. I believe allowing myself to remember the details of how we met, the qualities about him that still make me swoon and how it was to meet his family for the first time strengthened my resolve to continue writing this journal and better yet, captured our “why.” By “why”, I mean why we fell in love and chose to stay there.

Because loving is action. Loving is an active decision.

Your turn: What have you done lately that has stretched or excited you? If you haven’t, why do you think that is?

Please leave a comment below!