Fighting for Gratitude

Fighting for Gratitude

I came back to the gym today.

I had been gone almost a month. It started off as I had been over exercising to the point I was limping everywhere and I needed a break.

But then I found I was giving myself a “break” from eating well, too. There are a myriad of reasons for it but mostly it’s self-sabotage and retreating back to old habits. And a couple weeks passed and I realized I was avoiding the scale, too.

Then another week and a few days later (today), I climbed out of bed and on to the scale. In last week’s post, I wrote that I was betting on myself to see my way out of the static, out of the fog.

But the truth is that it starts in one place for me: Facing the truth of how I’ve treated myself. No avoiding.

Even when it got dark during these past few weeks, I did hold onto gratitude. I thanked God for waking me up. I thanked Him for my husband, my mother who is always there for me without fail and the security I felt knowing if I reached out to a number of people, they would reach back.

And it wasn’t easy. I tend to isolate. Being alone comes quite natural to me but it can also disguise itself as hiding from others or hiding from the truth of the path I started to go back down.

While working out today, I was listening to Patrice Washington’s podcast. She spoke about fighting for gratitude. Being grateful doesn’t come so easy for everyone. Sometimes we have to get in there and fight just to feel it.

And that’s what I am doing. Looking down at the scale today, I saw a 12.6 lb weight gain. But I also saw I was going to fight to take it off, fight not to give in to the shame that it brings and fight to keep going. I found myself grateful that I didn’t gain all the weight back and I recognized some of the poor habits I had with binge exercise beforehand.

I keep writing here that I don’t know how all of this ends but the truth is I do.

I will win.

I just have to take it one “thank you” at a time.

Your turn:

Do you ever feel you have to fight to feel gratitude?

Please comment below. I would love to read your thoughts.

So much more…

So much more…

While I was at Whole Foods today, I ran into an old co-worker. There were the regular pleasantries but then the inevitable question came: “Where are you now?”

And I had to think about it. I knew what he meant and I mumbled something about trying to freelance and we soon parted ways. Not that I had to pour the whole and complete truth out with all the details but after I left, I realize I am probably not sharing enough with my closest friends and family about the doubt I do feel along this journey.

I don’t doubt whether I want to write or that if I continue to write, at some point in time successes will come. I have moments where I let the frustration take over or the uncertainty of the “when” consume me. I know better but in those moments when I am asked what I am up to now, I want to be able to say so much more.

After I think that, I realize it’s up to me to make “so much more” happen. It’s up to me to approach vendors for partnerships with my E-book, pitch more publications and devote more time consistently to the completion of my novel. None of this is news. Just because more effort doesn’t guarantee more success immediately doesn’t mean I should stop being as aggressive with my other goals outside of blogging.

I believe our psyches crave instant gratification especially in our social media age. Patience is a discipline I struggle with the most. I have to remember to revel in the journey and look forward to the time when I can look back and ask “Remember when?…”

Maybe I should take comfort that I am in the same boat with millions of other creatives.

We are all working and waiting for our moment in the sun.

Sometimes we are impatient, insecure petulant children and at others, we are hardworking, giving people who are humbly anticipating the chance to let our art be seen, for the message we are communicating to the world to be heard.

Until then, I will write and wait.

Write and Wait.

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.

 

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.

 

Priority

Priority

It’s our third day in Carlsbad, CA. A part of me would rather just sun myself at the pool or the beach but another part of me is glad to be sitting here writing. I know it’s because I am proving that no matter where I am, I am making posting here a priority. When you are on vacation, staring lazily at water and palm trees, the last thing you may feel like doing is whipping out a computer. But I know how committed I am to this process. I want to write through anything anywhere. I want to live up to my own expectations.

I am not sure if there is any other time in my life that I would have been able to truthfully write this but the time is now. Maybe this is what it is like to fall in love with what you’re pursuing. In my marriage, we would do anything to keep growing together. That’s part of the allure of travel. There’s a shared experience, a treasure of memory that no one can take from us.

With writing, there is a similarity. I am invested in my growth. I want to keep my schedule. Keep my word. I look forward to witnessing the fruits of my labor. There is a willingness to keep trying new things like adding Meatless Mondays or taking classes.

I don’t want to get out. I want to work through it all. Fail forward. Leave excuses behind.

So no matter how gracefully the fronds of the tree sway or the heat threatens to wilt my will to keep my commitment going this week. I won’t give in.

It is my priority.

Transitions

Transitions

During the spring semester of my senior year in college, I took a class that explored the relationship between literature and psychology. I don’t remember much about the class except that the size was small, the name of my professor and I found the content compelling. At the end of class, she conducted individual meetings. It was to discuss what she observed about each one of us during the course of the semester. The observations were purely based on what we shared during class.

During our meeting, she said I spoke frequently about fear. I remember being taken aback but it wasn’t a criticism. I seemed to identify it in the stories/pieces we read or clearly articulate it as part of a struggle the protagonist was going through and brought it up as part of class discussion.

When I went back to my dorm that afternoon, I took time to reflect on why I would have brought it up so often. Looking back, I wonder if it had to do with the transition I was getting ready to make.

At the time, graduation was near and I had been accepted to two different graduate programs in two states. I was proud of my accomplishments but a bundle of nerves at the same time. Since then, like most adults I’ve gone through several transitions: career, marriage and home ownership just to name a few.

I am grateful that even when fear threatened to paralyze me in some situations, I walked through it and made decisions anyway. I have also learned from the times, especially when it comes to my health, where I let fear stop me or have me return to my old habits. The truth is, if we’re really willing to admit it, aren’t we always at a crossroads? It doesn’t have to be at college graduation or deciding whether or not to take a job or marry someone you love. We are always standing in the middle somewhere, deciding to freeze in the moment, stretching it out and waiting for life to happen or moving forward with a bold new idea, health plan, way to raise our children, faith commitment, community activism or travel adventure?

Writing makes me feel like that girl again, straightening her cap and gown, leaving that version of the classroom behind and walking into her future. My love for the in-between, the murky, the gray only grows as I get older. I love knowing that each active decision I make drives me down a path I cannot completely see but undoubtedly holds experiences and knowledge I could not fill my life with otherwise.

In this moment, I am thanking God for transitions.

Social Media Machine

Social Media Machine

As some of you may know, I only joined Facebook last September to engage in the private Facebook group for the School of Greatness Academy 8.0 class.  I also had no Instagram or Twitter at the time. I only had a long abandoned LinkedIn page.

I prided myself on not being part of a social media machine. I was satisfied to read, write, watch TV, go outside to experience the world without documenting it and catch up with friends and family via phone calls, text messages and emails.

I heard dramatic stories of social media drama and addiction. It seemed as if people were moving through the world with their heads cast downwards or upwards in a flattering angle.

I was never one for constantly wanting to be included in pictures. I took my fair share in the days before smartphones but it felt different–somehow more natural. Years ago, I was at a dinner with some friends and it seemed like we could barely enjoy the meal without constant picture taking. I respected everyone’s right to live and document their lives as they pleased so I was never overtly vocal about my discomfort. It was evident that I didn’t love it but I never wanted to ruin anyone’s fun. As I was driving home while they continued their impromptu photo shoot after dinner, I felt a sense of disconnect. Why was I so different?  Why did I even care?

The feelings passed as did the years. When I came to a crossroads last fall trying to decide if I was going to continue my graduate school education or get serious about my dedication to writing, I joined School of Greatness to learn more about goal-setting and pulled myself into a new world. It was apparent that I had been doing a little hiding, weirdly harboring a fear of judgment. I found, like with a lot of other things, you can strike a healthy balance. I slipped into the habit of  catching up with family and friends via scrolling, liking and commenting. It brought both a new sense of connection and disconnection. I experienced great joy seeing how members of both sides of my family and old friends had grown but it gave me a false sense of belief that I’ve really caught up. Unless I’ve had a conversation or seen you in the flesh, you may still seem two-dimensional to me. I have to take responsibility for my part in moving from the two into the three.

Although the realization of false connection rings true sometimes, I welcomed the wealth of opportunity and education that came with sharing my work, travel and the awe-inspiring events I’ve been able to attend. Before I started sharing myself and my work online, one of my greatest concerns was privacy. It still is because I have drawn a line about how much I want to share with the public, particularly with my marriage. I am a firm believer that some aspects of my life should be just for me (and my husband).

I have always been sensitive to the types of people I allow in my life. If someone is known for things like flirting with other people’s partners, lying, speaking to others in a patronizing manner or constantly talking about others for silly things like the kind of clothes they wear, I shut down immediately. Call it instinct, survival of the fittest, The Holy Spirit, intuition. It has served me well. I know they are people (just like me) who are carrying pain and insecurity within them and this is how they choose to relate to the world to avoid the healing work they have to do (Yes, I have watched more than my fair share of Iyanla: Fix My Life). I wish them well but from afar. I do not need to possibly sacrifice my mental health, my relationship and time to keep someone in my life for “their good moments.” I have learned that lesson.

On a positive note, opening myself up to all of those mediums of social media confirmed we are not alone more than ever for me. I see the struggle, the beauty, the triumph, the failures, the uplifting, the laughter, the teaching, the open gushing wounds of the hearts of millions of people. There is hiding and deception but the option not to do so is clear. There are connections and movements.  Even though I have wasted some time in the last year or so, there have been so many gains.. Maybe it’s because I knew the world before it, knew the world with it while I chose not to jump in or maybe it’s because I brought the wisdom of a grown woman to it.

There are no regrets. I have moved past fear to build this site and apply for a fellowship, share my work on these platforms and cheerlead for others on this journey along with me–the writers, the bloggers, the vegans, the wellness seekers, the psoriasis and PCOS warriors, small business owners, my fellow Greats who stepped out on faith to go after scary goals and other Black women who are often misrepresented as a monolith.

I will continue to embrace the mess of the world and carve out my own corner in it with all that is available to me. I will close with a haiku I wrote and posted a few months ago:

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Vote!

Vote!

It’s cloudy and raining and cold. I ate a big, beautiful bowl of three-bean vegan chili and corn bread for lunch and all I feel like doing is alternating between napping, reading and watching old episodes of The Office. And I don’t feel bad doing it right now.

Because I voted.

I left work and went straight to vote. There is always more that can be done to uplift and change our communities: write letters, protest, preach, pray, volunteer, march, form organizations, create art, mentor and donate money but the least we can do is exercise our right to vote.

I am aware that there are those who believe it doesn’t change anything, especially for the most oppressed of this society and to a certain extent, there is truth in that statement.

But if my vote can help to change even one thing…inch an issue forward in the right direction, especially for those with the shallowest of pockets and the least access to quality education and healthy food and air, then I will do it.

I may not change the world but the next time I complain or huff and sigh at the news, I will know I did more than sit on my comfy couch today. I exercised a right that others before me were beaten, humiliated, harassed, threatened and died for me to have.