Year 4 of Bloglikecrazy

Year 4 of Bloglikecrazy

Today is Day 30. The last day of bloglikecrazy challenge. As predicted, there would be times where I didn’t feel like it or I was grasping at straws to find just the right thing to write. As I promised myself at the beginning, there was no beating myself up if I couldn’t finish this or anything else.

At the beginning of the month, I started Miracle Mornings, rising just before 5am to learn more about morning routine, entrepreneurship and exercise. I realized I was left a mess on most of those mornings and gave it up halfway through the month. I have no regrets. I acknowledge my limits and abide by them.

I also had a rough draft to turn in. I did and although I have plenty of work and writing left to do, that first part is over. I also led a self-care workshop for co-workers and am in the midst of planning my first community workshop for this weekend.

Some of my greatest joys from this month came this last week from an invigorating walk, seeing my family over Zoom and a couples Zoom game night with my sister and her husband. I remembered how much I loved our game nights in their kitchen. My sister can attest to me being a little loud (especially when I win) and competitive but all in good fun.

I rejoined the See Jane Write Collective. The virtual write-ins were integral to me getting work done on pieces I hadn’t fully developed yet. I also had a post inspired by a podcast interview with Lewis Howes and Pulitzer Prize winning poet Jericho Brown, “Make a Plan”, retweeted by the poet himself!

December will bring lots more work, classes and aching to see my family. I am not even mentally prepared to be without them on Christmas Day. My husband and I will have to start our own special traditions.

Each year, I ask myself if I will participate in bloglikecrazy again. I always end up saying yes. November becomes my month to pay closer attention to the wisdom I hear, the beauty I see and the love inside and around me.

I get to walk through this process with See Jane Write sisters. I learn about their traditions, families, businesses, art, healing and passions over 30 days. It doesn’t leave me with much of anything to say “No” to. I am proud to say year 4 is done and year 5, I look forward to you.

Time in the Kitchen

Time in the Kitchen

I am waiting for my husband to come home with bunches of greens from his mother’s house. We are going to rinse the earth from the leaves, smash and peel garlic cloves, dice red onions, sprinkle spices and boil and simmer.

Our fingers will be coated with spice and juice. We will stand in the kitchen, keeping an eye over the heat, noses tickled by the aroma.

The chit chat will be idle. I will tell him how delicious it will be, our feast.

Occasionally, I will inch closer to him, crane my neck, pout my lips and his head will bend down to receive

Me.

We

Cook

With

Love

Boundaries

Boundaries

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.

24 to 40

24 to 40

When I was 24, I graduated from college. Two years later, after a failed stint in a grad program that didn’t fit me, I moved back home and bought my first condo. Five years after that, I got married. A year later, I left my job which started me down a path to figure out what I was supposed to do. Two years after that, I enrolled in a different grad program and left after a successful semester of classes. By this time, every family member I had left the state, I developed fibroid tumors and psoriasis on most parts of my body.

A few months after leaving grad school, I knew if I was going to make anything creative work, I would have to do more writing than talking. I started writing a novel and had one article published. I joined a group of people trying to structure their lives and focus on goal setting. A couple of months later, I pitched said novel to an agent. The pitch went well and she requested pages. I sent her pages she did not love.

I kept writing this novel that seemed to go nowhere. I started a blog upon the suggestion of an agent at the writer’s conference where I pitched my idea. I took creative non-fiction and fiction writing classes, went to book signings and workshops and met other writers. I worked a few more jobs that had nothing to do with what I love most but you know, money.

When I was 37, I had a series of panic attacks I didn’t see coming. I thought working a soul numbing job, blogging three times a week, stressing about my husband’s health, writing a wedding vows journal and trying to keep up with life in general was a lot of things that were no big deal until I couldn’t breathe in the bed and then in front of my computer.

About a month later, I was let go for the first time from this job. I got back out there again and found one that was close by. At this time, I was still writing but not sure where any of it is going. I applied for a storytelling project for women of color. I actually get it. I fly to the University of Alabama. I feel myself coming to life again. My voice seems to be audible where it felt so quiet before. I had spoken a couple of places and published more but this was different.

I could be Black, insecure, awkward but vocal me. It didn’t matter I hadn’t found my footing professionally. In Alabama, I was surrounded by Black women who were excelling in every field from education, activism, music to law and social work. I could have felt less worthy but it didn’t matter. We all had stories to tell.

I flew back home and kept writing. I start working at a non-profit whose values more closely align with mine and eventually start facilitating creative non-fiction writing sessions there. I keep going to counseling and start weight training. I see myself as an athlete for the first time as a Strongman competitor. I keep writing because now it’s 2020 and I can’t hold back anymore of my rage, anxiety and frustration at the state of the world. I need to be free.

My writing becomes more honest.

I become more honest with myself.

I start thinking about turning this honesty into a book.

I receive a phone call. I am offered the opportunity to compile my work into a book by a publisher.

In a few days, I will be 40. I am just starting.

Because my life will always be a series of beginnings and endings.

Team

Team

I have been on a minimizing tear this year. I got rid of a couch, sold almost one hundred books, donated several bags of clothes and kitchenware, threw away kitchen items and today, we cleaned and went through every inch of the bathroom, literally from floor to ceiling, cabinets and all.

I am actually writing this from the car after a quick run to the store for new bathroom accessories and groceries with a jumbo bag of recycling in the trunk. Something hit me earlier while scrubbing the floor and Hubby was dust busting our steps. He said something about teamwork making the dream work which always makes us feel a little lighter when doing tedious work.

He was right but I couldn’t help but think it’s only true when it’s the right team.

My husband and I switched off with scrubbing, dusting, bleaching when the other’s back was aching and when we played the “should this stay or go game”, our habits and needs were considered. We watch out for each other when it comes to being mindful of what we want to eat and who could stand to take a night off cooking or do it together.

I envision many things for my marriage and other relationships, most of it coming down to respect and who’s really there for me.

When I look back on all of it, I believe I will know I picked the right team, those who chose to love, listen and grow with me.

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….

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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?

On the Other Side

On the Other Side

As I drove to work this morning, I listened to the first part of a sermon about patience.

And it made me wonder, after all of these years, why it is something I still struggle with.

I am in a hurry, in my current situation, for a loved one to heal.

I am in a hurry for my body to fully recover and recognize that it is going to be alright. Instead, it rebelled and robbed me of breath and sleep this past weekend.

I am in a hurry to figure out how our lives are “supposed to look” next.

I realized that being in a hurry, fraught with fear, can mean many things:

I am human.

I don’t know what is next and that is no different from other parts of my life. Sometimes failing, falling, crawling, careening into ambiguity is the only way to move forward.

It also can mean I am not completely trusting God to carry me through every moment. I believe He is not surprised by it either. God knew what He was getting when I was created. It doesn’t mean I don’t work on strengthening my trust.

It means I give myself grace.

I give myself space for the trust to develop, to heal, to write, to read, to pray, to forgo blame and the weight of trying to understand “why.”

I give myself space to rest, breathe, listen to wise counsel and pour my love into others.

On the other side of this, I hope patience finds me a bit sooner and not in a hurry.

Process

Process

Over the past few weeks, I have thought a lot about what I need to do to feel better, to be a better writer, wife and self-care practitioner. I have gotten massages, journaled, spent less time on the phone, gone to church, a yoga class, went to an awesome lecture about laughter yoga, prayed, walked many miles, spoke to a counselor, stepped back on the scale without fear, showed up to doctor’s appointments and lunch with a friend, reached out to friends, listened to inspiring podcasts and powerhouse sermons  and even started to accept the reality that it may take all of that to feel completely like myself or who I am growing to be.

Something else was brought to my attention. While I am doing all of these things to reclaim Kristina, I might also need to let up on pressuring myself to do everything right now, as if I am trying to hurry up and solve “anxiety.”

I speak and write and try with varying success to think positively but I also have to do all of that with more patience. There is no snap of the fingers when it comes to “process.” There is forwards and backwards, trial and error and an understanding that it never really ends.

So here I am. Embracing process, trying not to be in a hurry and forgiving myself for the times I have and inevitably will, not treat myself with Grace and Love.

 

 

No Greener Grass

No Greener Grass

I charged up my old phone last night, an LG Razor Edge. It was the phone I used when Hubby and I were dating and when we were first married. I retrieved the text messages and looked at the photos. I still have the first text and photo we took together. Like many new couples, we often said we loved and missed each other. We were mushy and flirtatious.

When I first got engaged, a few women (married women) told me not to get married. They seemed sure I would be miserable and unfulfilled a few years later. It’s true–things did get harder. We have faced medical issues that have scared me and adjusting to living together, merging our lives and finances has not always been what I dreamed it would be.

But there are times when I look at him and know I couldn’t be anywhere else and there is really no grass that is greener.

What’s better is we still flirt, hold hands and say I love you. Six years of marriage and we look forward to seeing each other at the end of the day.

I have told some friends I (almost) wish more couples could go through trials where they fear they could lose the other person.  Even for a moment. More people wouldn’t be so quick to throw it all away. Happy doesn’t always look and feel the way you think it will and no version of perfection actually exists.

I certainly don’t have all the answers to anyone’s relationship problems but I would ask anyone to not take the love they have at home for granted.

It may turn out to be the love you were supposed to fight for and the love you may never have again.

 

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!

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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