Willing

Willing

Yesterday, I had my second session of belly dance. There was slight progress from last week. I was more open to slowing down and I felt a bit more in sync with my body as I practiced more movement. Last week, I wrote I wasn’t sure if I would ever perform. While this remains to be seen, I actually imagined it for a moment during class last night.

There is still a part of me that winces at the thought of baring arms, psoriasis plaques and all for complete strangers to see. I think the real fear lies in not just strangers seeing, it’s strangers gawking. I don’t have that problem at the pool or beach but no one is there to see me perform. We are all there to be guided by a teacher.

So what this class could provide (besides fun and connection with other women) is the opportunity to take an axe to those specific fears. I don’t know when I will be ready but I am sure I am willing.

One Thing

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!

You Can Stay?

You Can Stay?

I was listening to a podcast in which the woman, a fellow psoriasis sufferer, said after years of using biologics (injectable medicinal treatment), she took a break.  After a while, she said she spoke to her scales. She told her scales that it was ok for them to be there. She invited her scales to stay if they wanted to. I suppose she wanted to take away the stress that comes with their arrival.

After the invite, her scales began to disappear. Her story made me question the power I give to the scales when they come to visit. I have gotten used to the coming and going, the scars, the blood, the itchy sensations and the constant leaving behind of my skin everywhere especially during drier seasons.

I am trying to imagine a world where I see a new plaque and find a peaceful way to say it’s ok for it to be here. A way to not give power to the stress.

Maybe releasing the stress will be the most important effective tactic for the scales not to feel at home in this body, especially since stress is a trigger. Maybe after inviting them to stay, they will no longer feel the need to overstay their welcome.

I don’t know how I will do this but the part that attracted me the most was the stress release. I am open to the results that may come but I am more excited about what I am going to do just for me that will enable its release.

Transformation

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.

Raw Food Detox

Raw Food Detox

Today is the fifth day of my July Raw Food Challenge. I have eaten a raw food diet before for a short period of time. The biggest difference I see this time around are the detox symptoms. I did lose weight this week (4.6 lbs) but parts of my body are covered in red rashes. Apparently, it’s a common symptom  that I never experienced before. I had fatigue and headaches in the past but watching myself breakout like this has been jarring. I think because of my psoriasis the thought of my body being covered in something I can’t control unnerves me.

It doesn’t mean I will stop. I am telling myself that it will go away in a matter of days. I just have to wait it out. I am holding onto the benefits and staying excited about my results at the end of the month.

Your turn:

Have you ever experienced any detox symptoms? If so, how did you cope with it?

FACE

FACE

Who are you without your “face?”

I never thought about it until psoriasis came for a visit and never left.

I barely ever wore any kind of powder or foundation and rarely got pimples.

I basically had the luxury of rarely thinking about it.

But then psoriasis came to visit and never left.

Even though it came slowly and didn’t seem threatening at all, it did eventually ravage my body. And no steroid could fix it and I am not fond of exposing my body to biologics. In fact, I have spent most of my life scared of all medications outside of OTC and antibiotics.

So after fielding multiple questions such as “What happened to your face?” I started to delve back into plant-based healing and learning about the devastation inflammation brings (for me, psoriasis and PCOS). So even while I waited for the flares to become less frequent, I had to figure out how to cover the pink and red flaky patches on my face. Of course, it was makeup and if for some reason, I didn’t have my makeup brush and Dermablend with me, my spirits would sink. I remember on one particular day not wanting to get out of the car when I parked at church. I drove away and found somewhere to cry.

I felt like a monster without my “face.”

The pain of an itchy scalp, raw thighs and a scarred face sometimes felt like too much of a strain on my mind, let alone my body. I often smiled through a lot of it but I felt like I was wilting on the inside.

As we all know, we can’t escape our own mind or body.

It took a long time to start to see some improvement and I don’t have flares as often as I used to but damage was done.

People who meet me now will never know what I used to look like and it seems like a small thing but it was a real adjustment. I believe my smiles are more genuine now. It’s funny that I am actively pursuing a profession that puts me front and center when I can remember feeling like that’s the last place I really want to be or should be.

I think it took blogging and writing classes and prayer and fruits and vegetables and talking it out over and over again with my husband, family and friends for healing to start taking place. I know I have a long road ahead of me but I think I found a formula that works.

I think I know who I am without my “face.”

 

 

 

 

 

Healing

Healing

I have been thinking about what should be next in plant-based journey. I have thought about cutting out wheat, oil and finally going ahead and removing all soy-based products from my diet. It would be hard for me to stop myself from feasting on the chicken-fried tofu from Whole Foods but of course, I would survive. I can’t help but feel like there is something I am missing and something I am moving towards. In terms of what I am missing, I am missing consistent discipline with everything to be truthful. I have been able to maintain my blogging schedule, met my E-Book publication goal and will start working back on my novel and another project soon. However, when it comes to my self-care I am definitely slipping. I have not focused on doing both. I have thought about it but I would be a liar if I said I have taken consistent action. I’ve been missing dance class which I love and have been snacking late for no reason whatsoever. I wrote a piece about being scared to be empty in one of my writing classes. I could mull over the reasons why or try to develop an origin story for this fear but I would rather funnel that energy into moving, getting to bed early and forming new habits. I am moving towards a new me that is healthy and for the first time, is starting to see animals. I mean, really  value them. I even told hubby I wanted to visit an animal sanctuary. For those who don’t know me, this has NEVER been me. I have never owned a pet or particularly cared to pet an animal. It was not for me or to ever be for me but eating this way has changed me. I find myself more curious than I have ever been. I don’t know where this newfound curiosity will take me but I am willing to follow along.

A important part of this blog is to focus on my wellness journey. My healing from it all-the weight, the PCOS, the psoriasis, etc..I know I don’t write enough or almost at all about it. I post what I cook on Mondays but not much else. I think I want Thursdays to be a wellness update.

I am not sure if I will include pounds lost or skin cleared but it will be real and it will be here.

 

Birthday Resolutions?

Birthday Resolutions?

Yesterday, my post was a quick note about my birthday. I know some of us treat our birthdays like New Years Day and make resolutions. I think I have been silently doing that most of my life. Sometimes, not so silently.

Even though there are things I declare I want to be free from or actively pursue in my 37th year, I am going to pray for, declare it out loud, write it down, type, quietly ponder about, daydream, meditate, send a message in a bottle Police style the request for patience.

All of the things I want to be free from: extra weight, psoriasis, old psoriasis scars, self-doubt, uncertainty, fibroids, laziness.

All of the things I want to pursue more actively: writing and speaking opportunities, consistent workouts, getting settled in with a church home  I can learn to trust, volunteerism and time with my friends.

All of these things can be accomplished but none of them will happen with any semblance of peace of mind without patience. My spirit, body and mind need to work in one accord to agree that all can be done but nothing will feel right or organic without recognizing it will take time. Not just saying something trite like “Rome wasn’t built in a day or I know I can’t just blink my eyes and it will be all done or God is not a genie.”

I have long needed to divorce myself from the lies, the side deals I strike with myself that sever me from the reality of the hard work, the rejection, the tears, the shrugging off of the “I don’t feel like it right nows.” I have always been able to daydream the results, almost making me feel like I am there without fully embracing the process. I skip over it in my mind except to conjure up a hackneyed 80’s montage of my sweat, hours planted in front of the computer screen and praying in a sea of fictitious people who I will one day call my church family.

I want 37 to be about falling in love with the process even in the moments when I am suspicious it hates me or just taking too long “to get ready.”

I am toasting to all of the hard work that went into 36 and what I will bring to 37 even if patience requires I don’t see the fruit until 38.

The List

The List

When I was single, I heard many women talk about writing a list of the things they wanted in a husband. Two or three times on New Years Day, I wrote my own list. I  saw it as writing down a prayer for what I wanted and clearly defining who I thought I needed him to be.

I did not spend much time on physical characteristics. I was attracted to many kinds of men in the past so I just wanted to feel an attraction to him. Even though the physical part of his description wasn’t outlandish, other characteristics probably could have used an injection of reality.

For example, I knew my ultimate partner would be Haitian-American like me, well-traveled and well-read with a love for books that I would strive to match. He would also care about lifting up the community and volunteer as often as he could, probably with his church. He would also be an amazing dancer and get along famously with both his and my family. He would love multiple genres of music and be able to express his feelings without me having to prod too much.  He didn’t have to command attention as soon as he walked in the room but he should be able to if the situation called for it. He also had to have an appreciation for the arts.

So what kind of person did I end up marrying? In many ways, I could easily check off the wishes from my list like healthy familial relationships, kindness, faith, varied taste in music and when I asked for patience, the cup overflows. I am in awe of his patience. It showed me where I needed to grow.  However, he has a quiet nature, his family is American and from Virginia, he can’t dance,  and doesn’t love to read as much as I do. He also hasn’t traveled the world yet. If my memory serves me correctly, I forgot to write down one of the best qualities a partner can have: willingness.

One of the things that continually surprises me and keeps me happy is his willingness to try new foods, go to more cultural events, travel and support me while I was determining I wanted to commit to writing for the rest of my life.

I didn’t anticipate the joy that came with exploring it all together, at the same time. Sometimes, we are meant to learn and experience an event, trip or restaurant for the first time with our partners. In my single days, I had an expectation of my partner taking on the role of teacher. It isn’t that I didn’t expect us to teach one another but I subconsciously set up an expectation for a potential partner he did not ask to live up to.

But then there are times he stepped up to the plate that I never saw coming. At the height of my psoriasis which came over 2 years into our marriage, it had covered almost every part of my body and it was torture to wear clothes. I often wanted to tear them off and scratch. Many nights before settling into bed, he would lovingly paint my body with steroid cream and tell me he wished he could take the pain and scars from me.

I often think back to those nights and say to myself: I may not have gotten every little thing I wanted on the list but I got everything I didn’t even know I needed.

 

 

Full Circle

Full Circle

I had a full circle moment this morning.

I sat in my car after Afro-Caribbean dance class and recorded a quick video about how I felt. I was tired, flushed and revealing a bit too much nostril but that was alright. More than alright. It was real. I was grateful to be engaged in an activity that was just for me. It has nothing to do with furthering my career, no one was making me do it and I hadn’t enlisted any of my friends to come with me.

It’s not that I wouldn’t welcome company because I would. Sometimes, I think we all need to give ourselves permission to try new things without any expectations or opinions from others.

Go it alone.

And that’s what I’ve been doing. This is a need I’ve had for some time. I wrote a piece about it a few months ago. If you would like to read more about it, here is the link: Epiphany

When I had this epiphany a few months ago, I started crying. That’s how much I missed taking dance classes, moving this brown mass of a body rhythmically around a room, in a line, smiling, sweaty, even shy and nervous with others. Collapsing in the car this morning, I recognized I had made it happen. I made the choice to put away my silly fears about being too big, fretting about the psoriasis scars up and down my arms and moved from stillness into action.

Like I said, I had come full circle.

And I’m not going back.