Grateful

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?

 

Celebration

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kindness

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!

 

Reflections on SOG 2017

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 4

Day 4

The first day in this challenge with a schedule change. It was really Sleep-In Saturday for me. I didn’t want to leave the bed. Getting out of it was a struggle and as beautiful as it was outside today, I chose to let my body rest. I eventually got up and did another Afrifitness video. My husband and I had a signing we planned to go to for Arvat McClaine’s new book, When Black Women Speak the Universe Listens. I decided to wait until after the signing to get another workout in. In the meantime, I was able to fit in about half of my water intake for the day. As I am writing this, I still have the other half to go.

We thoroughly enjoyed the signing. It is always inspiring to watch a new author stand up and talk about his/her work, observe their nervous energy and then watch it fall away as they answer questions about their baby they’ve just birthed and are finally sharing with the world. I know my turn is coming. This challenge is teaching me I can build the discipline muscle to finish the works I have been writing and outlining for some time now. The fears I harbor about rejection don’t seem as daunting anymore.

After the signing, we walked downtown. I have been walking alone lately which I love but I always appreciate my husband’s company. Today taught me that I have to be ready for any schedule changes in completing this challenge. Adapt.

Stay tuned for Day 5!

 

I am not a walking color.

I am not a walking color. I am not a walking color. I am not a walking color. I am not a Black robot that walks and talks. I am a Haitian-American woman, born in Queens, New York. Hearing two languages spoken around me was my norm. Rice and beans are my norm.

I became a Southerner by moving to Virginia Beach at age five. I never became a Southern belle. That is not me. I cry when I pray. I laugh so hard I snort. I dance by myself. I played pretend. I built forts with my brother and took pictures on the beach with my sister. I crushed on boys who didn’t like me and avoided some who did. I have gained and lost hundreds of pounds.

I am married. I am madly in love with my best friend, my husband. I fear for his health sometimes. I joke and tell him we are going out of this world together, hands clasped together on the same bed, Notebook style. I will be 100. You will be 110. Them’s the rules! I joke in an awful country accent.

I wear an afro. Reading was my first love. I have swallowed more rage than I can recount since I was a little girl because to some people, I am a walking color. I am a walking color.

I just want to be seen as whole, flawed and love.

I want you to see the God in me.

I see Him in you.