Rollercoaster

These last couple of months have challenged me to define what being on a rollercoaster means to me. Since I last wrote, I was invited to be a writing juror for the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards, went through the absolute worst psoriasis flare I have had in years which caused me not to be able to travel to see my family over Christmas, chopped off a great deal of hair, as a wellness experiment for a new doctor was advised to eat meat again, banish soy and remove grains temporarily after 4 1/2 years of a plant-based diet, delivered a keynote speech for the awards and asked to teach for a couple of organizations.

While some of those things I absolutely love (hello haircut, writing awards keynote and teaching), dealing with a flare after months of progress and medication was tough for my psyche and eating meat again felt like an abandonment of my lifestyle and and created a small disconnect with my husband as we no longer eat the exact same meals. While none of that seems earth shattering, I have to be careful not to minimize my feelings, constantly seeking to compare my woes to others whom I perceive to be in much worse situations.

If I fall for the trap of comparison, I fail to do the one thing that is a catalyst for healing: Acknowledge the pain. It’s beneficial and it is healthy for me to acknowledge how painful it is trying not to scratch my skin, bloody sheets and clothing, reinstituting the daily sweeping of my dead skin from all over my home and being robbed of the joy of seeing my family on Christmas day. It is beneficial and healthy for me to acknowledge how awkward and uncomfortable it is to cook separately from my husband and eat animal products again as have always been united in how we choose to nourish ourselves.

I also need to acknowledge it is beneficial and healthy to look for the highs and not to dismiss all the good news even in the midst of the pain. I read and viewed writing and art that inspired me to work on my next project, I attended the grand opening of the first Black-woman owned bookstore and wine bar in my city and I never have to worry about the people in my life trying to dismiss me or drown me in the turbulent waters of toxic positivity when I need to speak my truth.

I acknowledge the pain, the pleasure, the heartbreak, the hope, the disappointment, the glee, the inspiration, the frustration, the light and the darkness.

I believe if I accept that the rollercoaster is inevitable but not insurmountable, I’ve accepted a truth that will guide me the rest of my days.

The Kind of Writer I Want to Be

The rest of my year is shaping up to be full of writing activities, time with family, work and moving regularly. I am actively exploring Kemetic Yoga and dancing around in my own house for these options. I also decided to spend more time reading. One of my current reads, “Rockaway: Surfing Headlong Into a New Life” is about a 40-something journalist and divorcee who challenges herself to become a surfer. It reminds me of my goal to continue competing as a Strongwoman. This is no surprise as reading has always made me want to dip my toes into worlds I have yet to explore be that with travel, athletics or activism.

I have a tendency to pile on but letting reading take me somewhere else never leaves me feeling like that. It inspires me to write better, look for the detail and cultivate understanding. I attended James River Writers Conference over the weekend and served as a ShopTalk expert with the topic “How to Own Your Story: Getting Your Truth on the Page.” It was invigorating to listen and dispense advice to other writers and part of me wished I could jet off to the future to hold their finished works in my hands.

Right before my first ShopTalk session on Saturday morning

We were told at the conference that being a literary citizen is writing, reading is writing and good conversation can be writing. I believe this to be true because when I am engaged in any of these things, I find spirit lifted and I feel nudged to get to a pen and jot these experiences down.

I am hosting the second session of the virtual open mic poetry series “From the Page to the Mic” with Henrico County Public Library this Saturday and the last on November 13th. I am attending a showcase at my sister’s pole studio next weekend and an author’s signing in December. I will be bending, stretching, dancing, writing, reading, listening, supporting and watching others’ art. I can’t think of a better way to grow into the kind of writer I want to be.

Cleansed

This week’s word is “cleansed.” Even though I am very busy during the week, I made the decision to move myself a bit more and incorporate more fruits and veggies via smoothies and juices. I ended up with a 8.4lb loss but that wasn’t the best thing about this week. It was how clean I felt. I was more clear, energetic and focused. I started to think about setting fitness goals like a race and it seemed more real than ever. I don’t want to get too excited. I am guilty of signing up for a couple things I wasn’t prepared to complete in the past so the next time I do it, I want to feel confident.

Knowing rather than guessing is best so I will keep putting in the work and accepting the results peacefully.

It’s the only way to I know to truly love and honor myself during this process.

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?

Meatless Mondays: Creamy Raw Tomato Soup and Avocado Pesto Butternut Squash Noodles

Today is Day 2 of my raw vegan challenge for the month of January. It was surprisingly easy. I enjoyed mangoes, Go Raw bars, raw slaw and a satisfying green smoothie Hubby brought me home on a break.

For dinner tonight, I decided to make a creamy raw tomato soup and avocado pesto butternut squash noodles. I have made pesto before (vegan but never raw) so I won’t post the recipe but the soup is new.

IMG_20180702_192631

I am glad I started off this challenge with something besides a salad. Raw food can be so much more interesting.

Here’s the recipe:

  • Six small tomatoes
  • 1 Red Bell Pepper
  • 1 Avocado
  • Sea salt (to taste)
  • Black pepper (to taste)
  • Garlic or Herbs ( I used garlic powder)
  • Cherry tomatoes

Chop tomatoes, peel avocado and blend all ingredients together. I garnished the soup with sliced cherry tomatoes.

We both loved the soup! I can’t wait to try another raw soup this month. Thanks to lovingitvegan.com for the recipe!

One-Year Vegan Anniversary!

Today, my article sharing 3 tips to going vegan was published on 30seconds.com.

It was fitting because today is my one-year vegan anniversary. Hubby and I started for health reasons and eventually grew to care more about the environmental reasons, too.

During the course of a year, I have learned many things. I learned about my dependence on processed food, that cheese was the hardest food to kick, the importance of reading labels and that there is a plethora of delicious and diverse plant-based options in the world.

I also learned eating this way has been healing. I no longer deal with acid reflux or heavy periods. I also sleep better than I used to.

I have found a community that supports this lifestyle, too. I go to vegan potlucks, pop-ups and community festivals and lectures. Food justice in underserved areas is a real issue I care more about than ever thanks to the David Carter lecture I attended in Baltimore.

I feel more aware, healthier and it helps that I walk this road with a partner who reaps the benefits, too.

I am looking forward to what comes in year two. Year one opened my eyes to a world I don’t ever want to be closed off from again.

 

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.

Static

The last few weeks I have been absent from my workouts. It started off because of intense pain in my ankles and I slowed down because I knew continuing to push would only make things worse down the road. I was limping around the house and that’s never good.

But I have been feeling better and there has been no visits to the gym, dance class, videos or walks outside.

I am not sure why after being active for so many months that it has come to a stop. I feel static. I can almost hear myself make an excuse as to why I won’t workout tomorrow.

e00e02a72bb8aa53aa67927d93778b3a.jpg

Tonight I was at writing group. We discussed if we fear what would happen if we make it in the literary world. I have to ask myself the same question in regards to my wellness journey.

Is there anything I fear about being on the other side of this struggle? Will writing about it now help me cross back over to where I was only 3 weeks ago?

I’m betting it will. If things are really going to be different this time, then I have to call myself out and pull myself out of the hole I sunk myself into that makes me feel stuck and scared.

I am hoping to look back on these past few weeks as a minor setback a year from now.

I can’t let it determine who I will be a year fron now.

Meatless Mondays: Garlic Pepper Mashed Potatoes and Chili

Keeping it short and sweet today: I had a late lunch today and didn’t know I would be up for dinner tonight but then I smelled garlic from the kitchen. Hubby cooked mashed potatoes with unsweetened almond milk, vegan butter and a liberal helping of garlic pepper seasoning. We used Amy’s organic chili medium with vegetables.

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.”