Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Black Does Crack

I’m a month shy of another birthday and I still get the “well you don’t look it” comments followed by a quick side eye. Not sure if it’s my stature, face or choice in clothes that lead people to say what they say, but I take it with a grain of salt. Flattery gets you nowhere with me. A young client said she looked me up on Psychology Today and her friend asked “Well how old is she?” My client’s response was “You know Black women. Their black don’t crack. She can be anywhere between twenty and eighty years old for all I know!” That made me laugh. Close enough. I’ll be forty-three and proud of it.

But it got me to thinking. For the most part, they’re right. Black does not crack. Women of other cultures (albeit reluctantly) agree that there’s something about our skin that belies our age. Our energy speaks to that of younger years. We’ve got that “go getter” aura about us. No wilting flowers here! What we project to others lead many to think we will one day be just like Elijah, where God will simply pluck us up from the earth in a blaze and carry us to glory.

But our black does crack. There are cracks in our collective spirits as women of color that go unseen. Our husbands and children are oblivious to it. Our parents have no clue. Our closest friends would be shocked to see the leakage taking place in our lives.

Yes our black does crack. Each time you have to over advocate at the doctor’s office for a mammogram a few years earlier than your insurance requires, a crack is created. You fill each cancer question with a yes and they still want to deny you the biopsy because “you’re not old enough”. You come in with twenty questions about your health and damned if only two get answered! The minute you start “WebMD-ing” your health care provider, their eyes glaze over and you stop because your mama raised you to be polite and not cuss.

Yes our black does crack. Each time we have to overcompensate in leadership positions. There’s that impatience from others when we speak. We are too intense, too serious, too angry. What do we know? We’ve only been educated and qualified to do our jobs. The suppressed looks of surprise when we talk through doors for the first time and our voices don’t match the locs/hair weaves/or mountains of curls on our head. Bill collectors voice meets Black skin and the world screeches to a sudden halt.

Yes our black does crack. Each time we have to teach our children how to protect themselves from the evils of this world; to know the difference between overt and subliminal attempts to demean them. Each time our Black husbands come home with yet another story of how he was passed over for something or other and you can’t help but wonder why. Where you have to be his number one cheerleader each and every day because the media and society (as the slave masters before them believed) say he should be good for nothing but breeding and breaking his back in the fields.

Yes our black does crack. When we’ve committed to living in our communities but the health food store is way out yonder. You drive and see everything that can be fried is just a few dollars within reach and everything that’s broiled or baked is not. Knowing that just one generation before, your ancestors plucked what they needed from the earth and needed no modern medicine to heal them. Fast forward to now and everything’s suddenly become “holistic” and suddenly out of reach. Them same leaves grandma used to mash up in the bowl before she boiled and gave to you now cost a pretty penny sitting in pretty bottles–in the store.

As our faces continue to age backwards, our body, mind and soul continues to come under attack. There is nothing easy about being a Sistah in a world that loves you via appropriation of your natural beauty. Your hair looked like Medusa when you were growing out your baby locs; it now looks like something cute and fashionable on someone else. Nostrils and lips that were once parodies in cartoons are now the number one requests at the plastic surgeon’s office. The derrières of our mothers which were (honestly) earned from heavy lifting and hard work are now what sends many in droves to the gym! All poor and lackluster attempts at seeking the eternal youth they believe we possess.

Where are the cracks in your life? Is your soul barren? Is your health compromised? Is your spirit suffering from the silence that’s threatening to snuff it out? Don’t spend your lifetime perpetuating a lie.

Advertisements
Every Day Living, Life Coach, Sistah Take A Seat

The Best Version of Me

Those who know me the longest know that even when I was a “skinty” chick, I never welcomed the attention of others from compliments about my body. I was never athletic so I was what I called “skinny for no reason”. I grew up in a time where black girls didn’t focus much on their body images. Lipstick and makeup was something you invested in during prom season and brought out only for special occasions. Lots have changed since then. Including my weight.

I was 118 pounds exactly twenty years ago this month. I remember getting a check up and hearing the doctor mention it. It was the first time that I made note of my weight and I have been tracking it ever since. Marriage brought on another twenty pounds. My Bongo jean wearing thighs made room for bootleg jeans that were a bit more roomier. Back then jeans didn’t have as much stretch as they do now. I suspect if jeans were made the same way, many of us would not be where we are today with our weight. But I digress.

It wasn’t until I was in my early 30s did I realize I really couldn’t just sit there and let life happen. Photos of my mom in her younger years revealed a small waist, skinny armed, thick thighs, hip-rich Haitian young woman. I always knew I would be built like her. There’s one caveat though. I didn’t have her height. Let’s be real. Any woman under 5’4” runs the risk of looking like a little people extra from the Wizard of Oz if she so much as gains ten pounds. I kept wearing heels to off set the issue. And then I made a lifestyle change.

Workout became my norm and routine. Healthy eating did too. I chucked a dairy rich diet and amped up my vegetable intake. When I walked in for a myomectomy one month and a hysteroscopy (look it up) a few months later, the come back from that was superb! My body thanked me for putting it on a regimen and my healing process was a smooth one. I kept this up for about two or three years thereafter and when my trainer left for another state I kinda fell off the wheel.

Long and short of it, I tried the gym. I tried other trainers and I tried different boot camps. Working out is one area in my life where I need someone telling me what to do, when to do it and how to do it. I don’t ask why. I moan and complain but I never ask why. I tried some plans and they would work but the discipline wasn’t there. I got complacent and was facing 3 pounds short of 150 at my worst.

In comes my old trainer and I give him a lot of credit for getting me back on the righteous path of healthy living. I’m not where I want to be but I suspect that I’m headed in the right direction. Five days a week workouts. Weighing your food. Watching your water intake. No sugar. No cream in my coffee. Well not most days anyway! No soda. More veggies. Confession, those protein drinks are the nastiest ever! But I do what I gotta do. Drink fast don’t breathe. More time spent at night meal prepping on Sundays. There’s a group of us. We struggle together. Crab about this experience together. Celebrate the wins. Console during setbacks and kick each other back in the game.

This year will be exactly ten years since I started down this journey towards a healthier lifestyle. It’s been a gradual shedding of bad habits. There was a time you couldn’t pay me to eat egg whites. Now I make the meanest egg white omelets with some good turkey bacon on the side. My palate is changed and even on the “cheat days” my taste buds and stomach usually rebel when I introduce something I had not had in a while. I’m traveling in a few days to a city where food is king! I’m thinking already of healthy options to choose from, activity level and the like. When you have sacrificed time, energy and sanity to something, you want to preserve the work.

I joke to my coach that I’m convinced we are his Miami Experiments. That the unimaginable things he’s asking us to eat and do isn’t reasonable or sane. That only a mad scientist would expect me to eat five times a day, work out five days a week and weigh my food! Ugghhh!!!!!! Have I been a saint? Nope. There were days I did not post because frankly I was somewhere doing what I had no business doing. I paid for it in spades though.

We end our 12 week run and start back in a another week. Unlike the last time, I am looking forward to the challenge of reaching a second set of goals. I am turning 43 next month. This body is responding differently than it did 10 years ago. I ache a little more after an intense workout. My breathing is a bit erratic at times. But there is this pudge I need to eliminate and these thighs to tone.

Let’s be clear. I’m doing what I feel like I need to do for me. When the doctor comes back and says you’re borderline diabetic or anemic, and when you have a history of cancer in your family–life hits you like a ton of bricks and the day of reckoning is REAL. So I do what works for me.

Tradition holds that the new year brings out all the wanna be workout junkies. And those who have been in the game tend to wait them out. Will you be a flash in the pan health nut or will you be that person who says I got some things I need to do to live a little bit more healthier. You got kids to chase around. You got a business to run. You got a gazillion community involvement type things you are planning and your health needs to be at optimum to do it. I heard someone say she lost 150 pounds in a year. She started by walking ten minutes a day.

I still hate being on the receiving end of attention. That’s not changing but I own my accomplishment in this. My clothes fit different. My confidence level (yes 40+ women have confidence issues too) has improved. God created a masterpiece when he created me. I gotta remember it’s my responsibility to keep up the good work he has so graciously begun in me.

Uncategorized

Sistah Take A Seat: Surviving Christmas

Yes, I was the one up at 3am, in line by 4am waiting for the Black Friday madness to consume me. Only to realize there were only five of those items I wanted in the store and they actually wanted me to walk around and buy up stuff that I really didn’t need. I’ve since given up those antics and haven’t seen a Black Friday event in some time.  No judgment to those who still enjoy the high of that type of stuff. I can certainly understand.  This year I got myself hyped for Cyber Monday and didn’t buy a damned thing. I didn’t need anything. Besides, when you shop year round and gift year round, the holidays become less about the giving and more about the being. 

And that’s been it for me these past few years. Finding ways to create moments with people. Losing a mother kinda does that to you. All I can think about are the times I spent with her on those doctors visits. The silence that usually enveloped us when I sat in her room just being there with her. It all came down to the time I spent with her. Not the stuff I bought for her. 

So I survive Christmas by decorating my home, inviting folks over to enjoy the whole “Currier and Ives” experience of eating from real plates and not having to worry about dishes. We put on some music. We play games. We eat good food. And we enjoy the “being” of our existence in each other’s lives. 

My extrovert husband starts looking at me real strange again this time of year. He knows it gets kinda rough for me missing my mom. But then I’m turning around to let him know I’m hosting something or other at our home. The male brain can sometimes get confused by the female brain’s intensions. But that’s for another blog. He’s just happy he doesn’t have to scrape me off the bedroom floor, because as long as I’m planning something, he knows I’m in my zone and I am going to be okay. 

You may not have lost someone but you may have lost something and the holidays simply suck. You’d rather the first of January be tomorrow so you can skip all of this fete mentality. Try finding those few things that bring meaning to your life. Do those few things that have depth and leave you feeling at peace. Whether it is service to others, traveling and creating new traditions, whatever it is . . . make it intentional and a point to carry them out. 

How do you survive Christmas? What’s that one thing you do each year to overcome the holiday blues? Share in the comment section. I’d like to hear from you! 

Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: When Friendships Don’t Grow 

Your friends in grade school are the ones you swear you will have for life. After all, they were there for many of the “firsts”.  They fought the fights, cried the tears and kept your secrets. Then you graduated and the simplicity of life soon gave way to college, work, distance and other interests. Some effort is made to glue it all back together but only a few from those years in school manage to stay on as friends. 

Then workplace friends, colleagues and network building begins. Common interests cause a natural gravitational tug towards others. After all, you see these people more than you see your family sometimes. Out of those relationships come real gems of friendships that manage to carry on well past the time you told that job to kick rocks and die. I like those kind of relationships because if workplace gossip is no longer the common denominator, you really know then that this connection is built on more than that. 

Then there is that friendship that’s been there for a minute but now it’s taken on the semblance of some crusty old bread.  You know the bread that managed to fall to the bottom of the toaster and you leave it there out of guilt. You’ve known this person for quite a while. You have similar interests. Your circle of friends are pretty much the same. People always expect to see the two of you in a crowd not too far apart. But the truth of the matter is, the distance you feel has less to do with actual miles and more to do with loss of connection. 

Nothing like closing out a year to cause one to do a friendship inventory. I know I do it every year. And every year I earn new friendships while I let some go. Some I take full responsibility for. Some I don’t. Some I meant to prune and others . . . well . . . life happened and it just wasn’t working out. 

I’m reminded that friendships don’t just grow on their own and they certainly aren’t sustained by pieces of tape and cheap glue. There’s a lot that goes into maintaining healthy female friendships. Accountability, transparency, humor, common values, similar drive in attaining goals—the recipe involves more than a girls night out and matching bracelets. It’s going through the muck of our respective lives. The joys of seeing each other succeed. The grief when our lives take a turn for the worse. The brutal honesty that’s needed to unscramble the chaos we find ourselves in. The in ya  face, cuss you out cause you my friend and friends don’t let friends fail at life. The  tenderness to sit in silence when all else fails. 

These all serve as nutrients to our friendship tree over the years. Frankly, not everyone is cut out to do it. Not everyone is cut out to be that friend to you.  Heck! Are you cut out to be that friend? Maybe your expectations were set too high for the wrong people in your life. Maybe God didn’t send them to fill those shoes for you. Maybe you need to think about the type of friend you’ve been and see if this is a reflection of how others see and treat you. 

There is no hard and fast rule to how you make and keep friends. I truly believe divine intervention created all of mine. There’s no logical reason why a shy and quiet girl turned introvert adult should have cultivated as many friendships over the years all on her own. I never had the wherewithal to make that happen on my own. My social awkwardness has ultimately made way for Him lead the way on how I treat others. Once God placed these people in my lives, I knew it was my responsibility to breathe life into these relationships. The texts. The random cards. The funny memes. The group chats. The “at the house” dinners. The early morning calls (and yes I do call people and speak on the phone). The conversations that should never make the cover of the newspaper. All make for beautiful memories. All make for great reasons to fight for your friendships. All make for great reasons why friendships grow. 

Distance, kids, marriage, jobs—-don’t use those as an excuse for letting your friendship tree grow brittle. Make the time. Make the effort. Make it why your friendships stay growing. 

Uncategorized

Give Thanks: A Time Well Spent

Someone wondered if people were pillaging the malls for Black Friday like usual. Well if social media is a truth teller, 🤨, I ‘d like to think most were out and about doing other things. I saw a lot of “we at the house” activities. Lots of games were played. Lots of food was consumed. And the drinks. Well you already know …

Are folks slowly disrobing from the materialism that tends to take hold this time of year? Are the pockets thinner so that our choices become emaciated too? Are we just savvier shoppers these days, where we can spot a fake sale like a bad case of fake news? Or are we lazy and would rather just let our fingers do the walking? I’d like to say it’s a combination of all of the above. 

I can’t tell you how many white platters I dug through to pack for our family’s dinner. That was clue number ten that I needed to call a truce between myself and the lure of all things that looked like it was white dish related. My coins are more carefully counted these days for other things I’ve got lined up in life. IRA’s, business ventures and vacations don’t just pay for themselves. Priorities. I get so called “sales” stuff in my Gmail promotions inbox on a regular enough to know that those pair of boots will be on sale come January. South Florida doesn’t  see cold but two days a year so I pack patience and wait for the discount color codes to go into effect. And if it’s not there come that time…🤷🏾‍♀️. 

Online shopping has become my fave pastime. Amazon got me clicking speed checkout on a regular. So when you ask me to drive through five communities, circle around to find parking, lose my sanity and religion fighting the traffic to return home, I’m like who? Not me!  I’m a better human being in front of the laptop.  I now choose to scroll rather than stroll for my purchases as much as possible. I can compare prices, I can ask a friend a quick question, they can send me a link and I’m done. 

I didn’t “Black Friday” this year. Hadn’t done it in earnest for some time now truth be told. I love to shop. It is no secret. I’m just better at it than I used to be. I did some Small Business shopping and popped into some boutiques and bookstores instead. I spent time walking near the marshes, in the sunshine and viewing nature from the eyes of the enslaved ancestors. I spent time holding hands with children tugging me into the “snow bubbles” and basking in the carefree moment.  I spent it rekindling my love of jig saw puzzles and realizing the eyes ain’t what they used to be. I spent it tripping over puppies and toddlers. 

If I never stand in another 4am line haggling for a TV, I’m gonna be just fine. 

Current Events, Every Day Living, Grief And Loss, Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Irma Don’t Own Me

Disclaimer: I have legit hurricane-related PTSD stemming back to Hurricane David while living in St Maarten. I was four. But I distinctly remember my dad taking me to school and him picking me up in knee deep water. We walked home. Due to roof leakage, we lost half of our family photos at that time. I lost trust in aluminum roofs. Irma came and decimated St. Maarten and there went my plans to return for our 20th anniversary trip. It would have been my first time back. Pray for the people of St. Martin/St. Maarten. 

Andrew. Enough said. The people of those communities still recall the smells and sounds. I know colleagues who just couldn’t deal with it this time around. They just left. To preserve life and peace of mind. 

Wilma swung by and found me as a fairly new homeowner trying to keep grips on my one earthly major investment. We lost a patio, replaced a roof, and watched our pockets bleed dry from an insurance company’s piracy for many years to come. 

So when Irma came around, I was as ready as could be (or so I thought). The hurricane that never was (Matthew in 2016) had me in stores buying up all the canned goods I could get. What threw me for a loop was the water thing this time around. Water was gone by Monday, Labor Day. Like even the one you were supposed to get via Walmart Grocery Pick Up or Instacart. I got nervous. But God knew best and sent an angel our way to bless us as we had just days before blessed Houston. 

Hurricanes are a part of life in these parts. And as much as we would like to prefer it not be, it just is. But there are things to mitigate the level of impact physically and emotionally. Here’s a glimpse into some things I learned along the way. 

Don’t be cheap. Invest in the canned foods, rice and beans. They last two to three years and annual review of your supplies can mean blessing a shelter or homeless program with items that may expire soon. 

Invest in some big ticket items. Invest in a generator. Homeowners, you can’t go wrong with this investment. Your perishable items will last in the fridge and you can power up your electronics with ease. Invest in a deep freezer and keep it stocked with ice and frozen water year round.  This kept our stuff cold through five days of no power. Invest in a grill and/or table top hot plates. Hot food. Every. Day. Enough said. 

Invest in a portable TV. We kept updated with relevant news during that time. The not knowing can sometimes be at a detriment to self and loved ones. We were able to pass along info to others because of this. Invest in a stand alone or window AC. Our handy man gave us this idea one day before our electricity came back on. Twenty twenty being hindsight, I still would have gotten it. Thirty minutes of set up, a line to the generator and we had a guest room where my husband and I and his mom slept in comfort. Too bad we got the idea one day before power returned. We placed the AC back in the box. No we are not returning it. Hurricanes aren’t an IF but a WHEN type of occurrence. 

I used the word INVEST several times. Something that some may find to be a foreign idea. Simply put. One pair of shoes bought at Ross is a portable TV. One Dooney and Burke purse on sale at TJ Maxx is a portable AC. A Louis Vuitton purse from Nordstrom (2016 Damier) can get you a generator, grill, deep freezer, solar powered lamps, and fully stocked food and supplies. 

So when I told people I didn’t have power, it meant I took cold showers and didn’t have AC (until my most recent investment). It meant I read a book in one day. It meant my clothes were washed from the week before. It meant I ate hot meals and planned the day’s menu with my husband and his mom. It meant my brother and dad coming over for a hot meal. It meant catching the breeze with extended family and eating more avocados than the law allows. 

Don’t let your trying times overwhelm you into inertia. Not having power does not mean you don’t have POWER. I am no expert. Just a student of life who takes copious notes and learn from my experiences and that of others. 

Manage what’s within your realm and see what God does with the rest. 

Current Events, Every Day Living

Irma and Harvey: Rude Awakenings

I got the chance to scroll through my timeline after the fact, marveling at the tenacity and wicked sense of humor that humanity has in the face of disaster. I saw coping skills that ranged from drinking to prayer to eating and back to drinking while praying (for some of you). I realized that I wasn’t a stress eater but rather a restless eater. If I’m out of things to occupy my time and mind, I will snack. Plantain chips. Lots of plantain chips. 

Irma slowed us down real good. Sent friends all over the country and kept others hunkered down for the onslaught of wind and rains. I think about those who didn’t have the option of catching a flight or preparing their own homes. Those who are half a pay check away from being without. Those whose support systems are on life support. Those who work and worship and live alongside us; grinning and bearing it as best they can. 

Irma reminded me that disasters don’t check for pay scales when they come through. They don’t check for bank account balances, overlooking those with less than others. They don’t check for status (real or imagined) and wherever the category 4 wind blows is where the wind blows. Just the other week I was sending off cases of water to Harvey survivors and planning on some hurricane service projects for local Houston schools. And literally within days, I’m the one pitching a fit because my Walgreens grocery pick up came without water. I had the means but the supplies were denied me. 

An awakening from my slumber. It isn’t my first hurricane rodeo and I gather it may not be my last. But having the means and being denied is a humbling experience. Outright scary to be honest.  But to have zero means to buy a flight, buy enough gas or buy the extra food needed, that’s an entirely different matter. Businesses are wiped out. Clients are scattered about. Schools are closed. Money isn’t being made. All dominoe effects that will cause fear to grip like a steel vise around one’s heart and mind. 

Rude awakenings aren’t meant to be shoved back in the drawer in hopes that this isn’t something one has to deal with ever again. It’s a pause to take self inventory of where priorities lie. Simply stated, my love of shoes couldn’t feed me or keep me hydrated. It couldn’t pay my bills before or after the storm. It couldn’t turn the lights on. All those clear boxes neatly stacked in my garage sat pretty while my Florida room gathered water from the incessant pounding of rains in that one direction. 

Rude awakenings are meant to bring  a great spiritual and mental pause. To relinquish control to God whose omniscience saw this day and knew I was built for it. To ask questions of oneself. To lay bare one’s failures. To admit to one’s short sightedness. The last major hurricane I went through, I was a school board employee who got paid regardless of whether kids were in school or not. This time around I am a private contractor enjoying the flexibility of a new type of lifestyle. The kind where pay isn’t tied to a union contract. The kind where if I’m not there, I don’t get paid.  Real talk. 

So after I call my insurance agent about that leak, after I run to Walmart for that table top grill (cause inclement weather and outdoor grilling doesn’t go hand in hand), after I exale enough conditioned air in my recently powered home and after I share one last hurricane meal with my brother before he goes back to his overnight shift, I will be calling my CPA, an attorney and a business colleague to shore up some loose ends that Irma gave me time to think about. 

Rude awakenings should be aha moments. Don’t let them be uh-oh moments. Nothing to fear but certainly something to act upon. The world is still spinning on its axis. Question is will you be off kilter barely trying to hang on, or are you as ready as you should be next time a storm (real or otherwise) comes your way. We will never be in full control of our future. But managing what is within our power is key in addressing the rude awakenings that life throws our way. 

PS- My shoes survived the storm.