Enjoying the Little Things

Enjoying the Little Things

I knew today would be better than yesterday. Even though I was sore, my walk this morning was done and I could feel the muscles working in my legs. I had a training to attend in the afternoon and the information presented to me filled in holes I didn’t know needed to be filled. My day job will make a bit more sense from here on out.

At the training, there were crayons, markers, colored pencils and clay at the table. I arrived for the afternoon portion and people were engaged in the training but they were also coloring and rolling around brightly colored clay in their hands. Maybe this is already commonplace at many companies but it was my first time witnessing it.

I eventually asked for a box and picked up a paper with “Enjoy the Little Things” and colored a little bit. It was almost alarming how satisfying it was to be free to do so.

It really can be about enjoying the little things-coloring at work, a meditative walk in the neighborhood and for me right now, going to let my stylist work her magic fingers through my hair.

 

A Word

A Word

I listened to Patrice Washington’s podcast “Redefining Wealth” today. It was entitled “Give God Something to Bless.”

I knew right away her message would speak to me. Hubby and I frequently talk about God blessing our efforts whether it pertains to our careers, our health, our finances or finding a church community we can trust again.  She said something that had a strong impact on me. I had to hear it twice.

“Can God see what I’m waiting on based on what I’m working on?”

When I listen to podcasts, I often feel inspired, as if I am getting a free education and depending on the nature of it, I have found myself in tears (listen to the School of Greatness interview with John Gray).

But today, I got “a word.”

I was convicted. I know the things I need to consistently work on and when I don’t, I do kind of have an entitled idea that I should be blessed in that area anyway.

After all, I’m a good person. Right?

But what I know and what Patrice’s words seared into me, was that being “good” doesn’t mean you are doing your best. “Good” doesn’t mean you are rising to your challenges and it definitely doesn’t mean you have honored the talent that was gifted to you since you first drew breath.

So I am going to take this word and give Him something to bless. No need to talk about it.

I prefer to be about it.

Commit

Commit

This past weekend I went to a wedding. Outside of the beauty of watching them become husband and wife, it had me thinking about commitment. What happens when you go from flirting with it to have it living on the insides, this willingness to attach, gambling with your heart, betting you will gain more than you could ever lose?

Writing feels that way to me. When I left a career a few years back, I was betting that I would not only brush past my fears, but that I would take them by the lapel, throw them to the ground and proceed to kick them into submission. It needed to be that serious for me. I saw how easy it could be. I could have spent the next 23 years at a job that admittedly had more lows than highs but I could have scraped by. I could always look forward to being in my mid-50’s and starting over again from there.

But I didn’t want to wait until I was worn down by years of stress and lack of fulfillment. The need to commit to finding out if I had what it took to do this far outweighed staying in misery, even if there was a level of comfort in that misery. I realize I am blessed to put in the work, even if half the time I am scared I am doing this only half-right or not at all. Even when it feels like no one is reading.

I will (and have) made my fair share of mistakes but I don’t have to live with wondering what could’ve happened if I never took a chance on myself.

If I never decided to commit.

Your turn: What have you recently committed to? How has it changed you?

Grow

Grow

I have pretty much been in work mode all day and next level tired the whole time. Hubby is still sick but he has his moments when he is walking around so I remain grateful–a bit frustrated but grateful nonetheless. Part of me wishes I went to writing class tonight instead of giving into the weariness and the work.

So where does that leave me besides committed to the work? It leaves me proud that my weariness comes from work and challenges me to push through finalizing my project and keeping to my schedule posting here.

It also reminds me that if I could go back to even 2 years ago and ask if I would rather be living that life, the answer is an emphatic “No.” Being too scared or lazy or a combination of both to take classes, seek coaching, blog, attend conferences and write even when my lids and heart are heavy is nothing I want to run back to. Don’t misunderstand me. I harbor no ill will against who I used to be.

I just wanted her to grow.

 

 

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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Days Like These

Days Like These

I couldn’t sleep for awhile last night so I migrated back downstairs to see if I could lie down there, in the cold. I can’t sleep with heat while my husband can happily slumber with a heating pad, sweats on and burrowed underneath the comforter. I fell asleep for a few minutes here and there but woke up, rattled by noises I heard. I wasn’t sure if it was a dream but it sounded like I heard faint arguing or whimpering. And since I have neighbors coming from multiple directions, who knows what is was?

I raced up the steps in a stupor and when I settled next to my husband, my heart was racing. I woke him to tell him about what I heard. In the light of day, I am not sure why it mattered. In that moment, I needed to get the words out.

I was finally able to shut my eyes for a couple of hours but when I went to face the day, it felt like a weight was on me. I stayed in bed, read, scrolled the phone, talked to God a little bit, shut my eyes again and then gave up the fight and came downstairs.

The fatigue is physical and maybe a little emotional. I am doing #bloglikecrazy, working on finishing the first draft of my book, thinking about working on finishing the first draft of my book to be truthful, going through a work transition and taking care of regular life and wife stuff.

Even though the day has been pretty unspectacular, I am still grateful for days like these..a chance to recover after a sleepless night, close my eyes, pray and be grateful for tomorrows.

Day 2 of #bloglikecrazy is in the books!

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!

 

Hope

Hope

Tonight, during my writing group, my friend and talented poet Hope, brought a green pen. She explained that the legendary poet Pablo Neruda only wrote with green pens because green is the universal color for hope. She went on to talk about how he was deemed the people’s poet and how he wept when his fans recited his poetry back to him.

It could have been a combination of her delivery of the story and my excitement of being with my writing tribe, but my synapses were firing. What must that be like? To write so passionately that you inspire nations, millions? To value hope so much that you cling to its symbolic color?

I may never have the impact of a Neruda but I can have the passion and the love of the written word of a Kristina. I cannot control impact. I cannot control who chooses to support or love me in my quest to fully devote myself to a life as a writer.

But I can control what I choose to acknowledge. I acknowledge the moments I had tonight with a group of women listening intently, brewing up ideas of collaboration with one another, expressing support and validation of our ideas.

This is what I have to offer this evening. All of my other goals talk can wait for next Tuesday. I know I have workouts to do, water to drink, essays to write and a submission to send off.

 

Day 20

Day 20

Almost there!

It included a lot of walking, work and trying to stave off coughing fits. I even went shopping, trying on a few things that made me feel pretty. I am not one for shopping. Any one of my friends, family or husband can attest to that. I like fashion but I just like to buy what I need and hightail it out of there. It is completely different shopping for books. I enjoy settling in and burying my face in several books before deciding which ones get to take the trip home with me.

This evening it’s just been cooking. I am trying something new, a quinoa and sweet potato chili from Whole Foods along with vegan mac and cheese and green beans. Later, I am going to outline post-challenge goals. My birthday is November 16th and I return from the Summit of Greatness on September 16th. I am thinking my writing and wellness goals will have something to do with those 60 days. Off to eat dinner but excited to share more of my takeaways and the next leg of my journey tomorrow.

Stay tuned for Day 21!!!

Day 19

Day 19

There was a turn of events this morning. My husband didn’t feel well so I sent him back to bed instead of going to church. So, while he slept the day away, I drank my green smoothie and read more of The Hollywood Commandments by DeVon Franklin. You know that feeling when you are reading a book and you can’t grab the highlighter fast enough. That was me this morning. I am all about his “Pray and Prepare” motto. I spent so many years wishing and praying for things to change, not fully realizing God is not going to help me do the things I am perfectly capable of doing myself. I can lean on Him for inspiration, guidance and comfort but the work? That starts with me. I view every blog post, pitch email, query, sentence written in my book, fellowship application, poem, short story and published piece as preparation for what is to come.

I am learning how much it doesn’t matter whether or not each attempt ends in a positive result. The process is worth it.

I mentioned yesterday I had a guest post to write and submit. I wrote it and sent it off! It was one of those pieces that I felt some frustration with when I started but once I put earphones in with classical music, the words poured out of me. Regardless of the outcome, I am proud of the work.

I felt ready to take on one workout today. I did a walking video. There was some coughing, so I slowed down. Afterwards, I stood outside on my balcony. I needed to spend time in the sun, taking in fresh air. It was a good day.

Stay tuned for Day 20 tomorrow!