She’s Here!

She’s Here!

I asked God to make me like water. It’s a sentence I have written down several times over the past few weeks as I have been preparing for the release of my new book of prose and poetry “She Lives Here” with L10 Press (Issue 2 of Unzipped, their new literary magazine subscription service).

I am proud of this book and am in love with the cover art created by Alexandra Antoine.

I have been writing about God making me like water because while I know overall this process is a joyful one, there will be moments of overwhelm and frustration. Since perfection doesn’t live here (or anywhere else), I will make a mistake while being interviewed, find a typo or someone I expect to support me decides not to. Even though my nature is to try to control these outcomes, the truth is that these things are inevitable. I want to ride this wave of gratitude for everything that has gone right.

When I was 11, I wrote about what kind of writer I wanted to be. I dreamed of being a novelist and writing for TV. Although the description doesn’t quite match the reality at this time, there is a part of me that wants to reach back 29 years and tell that little girl, “We did it!” A friend of mine asked me how it feels to know you wrote it down as a child and didn’t let the dream go. I didn’t have the words. It means I didn’t forget about her. I didn’t let alternate career choices, other people’s expectations, my own fear, anxiety, perceived ideas of “what should happen” stop me from trying.

I also want to let things flow like water, be water, is because I cannot control any reaction to my work either. As I wrote, I tried to embody the Nikki Giovanni quote: “You must be unintimidated by your own thoughts because if you write with someone looking over your shoulder, you’ll never write.” It took a couple drafts to get there but I trusted in the value of not holding back. I am thinking back to how I placed some of my more raw pieces in the middle of an earlier draft as if my publisher and editor wouldn’t be able to find it. I had to trust in the healing my relationships went through so I could open up about traumas and disappointments experienced in a real way. I know what has been worked through so I could write without deep fear of being disrespectful.

I ultimately wrote with freedom and love.

While writing, I gained clarity on why I made certain rules for myself, how, what and who I love, my capacity for forgiveness and the value of accountability. Writing “She Lives Here” has created space for me to be more of who I am—a Black woman who chooses to dream, live, and write with joy.

With joy, I would like to invite you to the virtual launch party of “She Lives Here” on Life in 10 Minutes’ Facebook page on March 19th at 5pm EST!

If you would like to pre-order before the official release on March 15th:

https://www.lifein10minutes.com/unzipped-issues/unzipped-issue-2-she-lives-here

I hope you all enjoy “She Lives Here” and find pieces that inspire or speak to you.

75Hard Recap

75Hard Recap

It’s Day 76. 75hard is over which means I accomplished the following:

150 workouts (mostly walks but many strength training workouts)

Drank 75 gallons of water

IMG_20191130_125908.jpg

Stuck to my diet (calorie counting for me) using the Lose It app.

Lost over 20 pounds.

Read over 750 pages of personal development books.

IMG_20191130_125018.jpg

No alcohol (I already didn’t drink)

I recapped more of the emotional side yesterday and I have said it before but it bears repeating:

I am less afraid.

The thing I thought I would be more fearful of was what to do next but it’s clear I had nothing to fear. Today, I went to a small group workout, took a walk and along with Hubby and a friend, climbed for the first time at an indoor gym.

IMG_20191130_142807

 

IMG_20191130_143742_1.jpg

Even though the mental transformation far outweighs the physical, here are a couple of pictures to showcase that aspect:

IMG_20191130_175546
Today and August 2019

IMG_20191130_171604
Day 75 vs Day 1

I feel more confident about the next steps I am taking. If anyone is wondering if I would do it again, the answer is a resounding Yes. If anyone is doubting if they can do it, please don’t. The old saying is true: You will find the time for the things that matter to you.

One last note.

I loved that unintentionally the bloglikecrazy challenge came at the same time I was winding down with 75hard. I have a record of these last 30 days which included teacher training, strength classes, a fulfilling writing intensive and the introduction of the idea that I will one day be a Spartan and a Strongwoman.

 

All Done

All Done

There will be more reflection tomorrow but I have to acknowledge I made it to Day 75!

I both completely believe it and have a sense of disbelief that it’s almost done. I just have a few more ounces of water, dinner to track and I will close my eyes to wake up to Day 76.

I keep thinking about Friday, September 13th. I was at lunch with my friend explaining the challenge to her, asking if she’d like to join me. We agreed to start on Monday the 16th. That could have given me pause right there–starting on a Monday. How many times had I said that?

But this time was different. I didn’t have a special restrictive diet or fast to stick to and this was more about developing mental toughness which I lacked.

The morning of Monday, September 16th came. I was in bed, contemplating an excuse to not start and then my friend sent a text. I saw her name but didn’t read it. Seeing her name was the impetus for me to roll out of bed, get dressed and take my first walk in the neighborhood. It wasn’t until I was out there that I opened the text. It was a picture of her and a message saying her first workout was done. My response: “Yes! Doing first workout now!”

I know she’ll read this and see I might have sabotaged myself on yet another Monday if she hadn’t been stronger than me that day.

So I thank her for being my partner. I thank my husband for filling up gallon water bottles, packing lunches, taking pictures and pushing me on the days when the second workout ended up beginning later than anticipated.

I owe gratitude to all the people who supported me and to God, whom I prayed to repeatedly asking for strength to finish and for a host of other things during this time.

No more words tonight.

Tomorrow may be day 76 and the challenge is over but I have a walk I want to take and a small group workout I will choose to participate in.

Because this is only the beginning.

 

 

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?

75Hard

75Hard

This past weekend, I went to Vegfest with hubby. It was a cornucopia of vegan soul food, burgers, sweets, Thai and Caribbean food. A friend of mine performed with her belly dancing group. It was a lot of fun and our burgers with slaw and vegan Mac lived up to its delicious promise.

However, I knew this weekend was going to be a last hurrah of sorts. A good friend of mine and I decided to start the #75 hard challenge created by Andy Frisella.

Here are the basic rules:

1. 2 45-minute workouts: at least one of them has to be outdoors.

2. Stick to whatever diet you’ve chosen: no junk food, no alcohol and no cheating!

3. Drink a gallon of water a day.

4. Read 10 pages of a non-fiction/personal development book each day.

5. Take a progress picture everyday.

And if you mess up on even one, you have to start again at Day 1! Intense!

Our lunch was on Friday and we vowed to begin on Monday. So with that in mind, I blew it out this past weekend. But there was one thing I watched that reminded me how important it was to keep this upcoming commitment: Brittany Runs a Marathon.

MV5BNDRlNTJmNGEtNWM0YS00OWI3LWFkNjUtMzg5MTJjODcyZGU3XkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyODk4OTc3MTY@._V1_.jpg

I may not drink or pop pills but the cholesterol is a bit high and I am not trying to add anything else to the list. I  felt convicted to change after my last doctor visit. I am motivated more than ever to complete this and get a clean bill of health at my next appointment in February. By the time the movie was over, I was in tears. I knew I didn’t want to let it be a fleeting moment of inspiration. I wanted the results and the mental toughness cultivated to get there.

So here I am on Day 2. Tired but ready to tackle my second workout of the day. Tired but ready to guzzle the last of this gallon and read those 10 pages.

Wish me luck on the next 73!

Your turn:

When was the last time you set a challenge and saw it all the way through?

Engaged

Engaged

Last week Hubby and I went to Charleston, SC for vacation. We walked around the French Quarter including the City Market and talked to vendors. We lounged lazily in our beach chairs and splashed in the warm waves at Isle of Palms beach, visited a delightful farmer’s market in Mt. Pleasant and ate at a couple of delicious plant-based restaurants.

IMG_20190814_222054_457.jpg

When we came back to our room in the evenings, we made no apologies for simply wanting to power all the way down, connect with each other and fall asleep guessing who won Chopped. We slept late, let our skin drink in the sun and didn’t think of work.

On the way back, I knew I was going to miss being away on vacation but there was something else I was going to miss: how engaged I felt. 

While I was walking along the beach, I listened to nothing but the water, the conversation and laughter of passerbys. At one point, Hubby and I were standing in the ocean and it started to thunder. I waded out as far and as fast as I could to have one last moment before having to leave. That moment almost seems nondescript but there was a desperate quality to my run. Even as I sit here now, I can feel the weight of the water on my legs.

We talked and sang (badly) the entire way home. As much as I enjoyed Charleston, it was clear to me it could have been almost anywhere because I allowed myself to get lost in my time there. I allowed myself not to seek constant distraction.

I now know that anything less is cheating myself.

I won’t be doing that again.

Cleansing

Cleansing

Over the last couple of weeks, I have been daydreaming about waterfalls. Standing under one. Standing by one and staring, completely transfixed. I was watching a show about a painter who was on a retreat. She took a long bike ride, hitch hiked and eventually ended up at Menemsha Beach on Martha’s Vineyard admiring the beauty of the sunset, the tangerine and coral swallowed by the blanket of night. I almost cried as the scene faded.

I shared my waterfall fantasies with a co-worker today. Yes, I am aware that summer is upon us and that’s probably why the urge is as strong as it is now. But she suggested something I hadn’t thought of before.

Maybe I am craving a cleansing.

I know how it sounds but when she said it, something connected. The last year has been full of ups and downs and a health mystery not quite solved. Our last piece of news was as good as it could get. I know as soon as I get the chance, take the chance to genuinely breathe, hopefully underneath a life giving force such as water, there will be a cleansing.

Maybe I am elevating a vacation, some fun in the sun, splashes in the water to mythic proportions but it’s fine by me.

I am willing to believe in the story.

I am willing to believe in a cleansing.

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.

Execution

Execution

I knocked one goal out since last week. I submitted a piece to another publication this past week! I haven’t worked out consistently, hit my water goal or completed two essays. I definitely need to find the balance of working, going to thrilling events like the dance production “Claves Unidos” I attended on Sunday, visiting family and keeping up with my exercise and writing goals.

I wrote half of one essay that I actually really loved starting to write. All I can say right now is that while I wrote it, a lot of specific memories came up that shocked me. My goal is to finish it tomorrow. I can’t wait to publish it as part of my book.

In addition to all of these goals which I did not quite hit this past week, I realized during my See Jane Write Collective virtual coaching meeting this evening that I was not doing everything I can (or anything) to promote how much I love helping people write vows and speeches. Why bother hiding all that I love to do? I answered a message from somebody recently telling them how much I love writing words that were meant to be spoken whether it is a speech, vows, creative non-fiction pieces or poetry.

Even though I did not hit all of my goals, it is already a new week. I can work out for the rest of this week, drink my water, finish my essay, write a new one and publish a new post on Thursday. These are all clearly outlined actionable goals.

It’s just up to me to execute.

Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon or fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a concept describing individuals who are marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.

For the past couple of days, I have definitely been fighting this feeling. After my Water-Workout-Write 21-Day Challenge, I felt like I was the person that could accomplish all of my goals but not writing about it every day took me away from my accountability tool. I haven’t reached my water intake goal in days! I am going to set an alarm every couple of hours to remind me starting tomorrow and report back how that works out for me. I have been very physical at my job yesterday and today and I am feeling sore. My body is tired but I will take on a real workout tomorrow.

Going back to the imposter syndrome, I sent in an application online to be in a group of local creatives. I had reservations around doing it because I assumed everyone in the group was already more established and making a financially healthy living with their craft. Because I am not able to say that yet, I felt doubt and fear creep up. I actually used Mel Robbins’ 5-Second Rule…5,4,3,2,1…GO! I quickly filled out the application and pressed SEND. If it doesn’t work out, what have I actually lost?

Then I asked myself why was I allowing myself to feel any negativity? My guest post with foreverbemoved.com was published on Tuesday. I am so proud that I shared my story about being resilient in the face of health challenges. Here is the link if you’d like to read it: http://www.foreverbemoved.com/skin-deep-resilience-face-health-challenges/

Today, I bookmarked sites to submit to by Sunday. I have set a goal to start writing my essays tomorrow afternoon and finish them by Sunday as well. I can’t lie. I do want it all and I am going to use every tool I can to make sure I follow through with all of these goals so I may be counting down a lot over the next few days.

My Water-Workout-Write 21-Day Challenge may be over.

But I am not.