traveling while noire, Uncategorized

Traveling While Noire: The Devil Is In The Details

For those who have read my blogs over the years, you already know I’m the bookish type.  I was reading my set of World Book Encyclopedia while some were probably outside playing street football or watching MTV back in the day.  Taking French also went against the grain because most of my peers opted to take Spanish as a foreign language course. I was a history buff and it only made sense for me to study the language my mother rarely spoke. French was/is a language taught in schools in Haiti.  But in more homes, than I care to admit to, the language will most likely die with our elders. For me taking French was yet another way I could connect with my introvertish mom. I’d go home and practice the fancy pronunciations with her and she’d repeat them (correctly) back to me.  I’d be too excited to double back to her about some new French culture thing I’d learn.  Education was a valued experience, but it was usually not a shared one in some Haitian homes.  When the opportunity came to travel to Paris recently, it literally took me about four weeks to get flights and hotels confirmed.

To me, the adventure in traveling always begins in the planning stages.  I’m an organizer by nature and I enjoy working out a plan from scratch. I nearly lost some locs in the planning, but I have to admit, I thoroughly enjoyed looking up hotels, train schedules, tour information and comparing the cost of everything; all for the sake of getting a good deal.  This blog will highlight what to keep in mind in the traveling planning phase, specifically for a trip abroad. Petty disclaimer: abroad at this point in life needs to translate to *any trip that takes you away from the North American continent*. I’m all for Cozumel but we have a whole entire country north of us and others well beyond our wall-less borders that we can visit within our lifetime.  So here goes!

Research Flights and Lodging

I know, I know.  Asking anyone to take the time to read through reviews, blogs and tour options may sometimes be a drag, but how else will you know where to go, what to do and what to avoid?  Websites that I used included the usual (Expedia, Travelocity, Kayak) and a new one shared by a friend,  Google up some other options and let your fingers do the haggling.  Keep in mind, the cheaper the tickets, the less wiggle room you have if you need to change and upgrade pass the 24 hours from purchase cut off time. Invest in business class if your pockets allow or in the row right before business class.  Pay attention to the plane’s layout and you’ll be able to see that somewhere up front is a row that faces the wall before the first class. When I tell you! That row saved my knees. I was even able to stand up and host an entire one person yoga stretch class and all!  Either way, count yourself among the number whatever seat you end up choosing.  Our pockets ain’t all the same and there’s no shame in that.  

Now if you have the plug with chain hotels, feel free to lean on those friendships now and butter them up for more opportunities to save.  People who work for chain hotels, don’t come for me.  I’m just trying to make you new “fake friends” in 2019! Lol!  If you’re into the “live like the natives” experience, feel free to review what’s shared about non-chain hotels. I knew that after 10-12 hour days out and about, I needed the comfort of a space that somewhat reminded me of home.  So chain hotels worked for me. In reading blogs, I even discovered opportunities to rent intimately sized homes where you sneezed and the window curtains moved. Nah… I’m good.  But do you boo!

While you’re doing this, read up on what the State Department has to say about where you’re going.  France is in a maelstrom right now. People are asking for the president’s resignation. Taxes are high and patience is running low.  Sorta like the French Revolution… I kept checking weekly and listening to NPR and others as the days went by. If you’re not listening to reliable international news source, (not to be confused with American media), you’re shortchanging yourself in life.  Period.

Research What You’re Going To Do

Think about who you’re traveling with and what you plan to do.  Face it, are you willing to travel with someone (paying all your hard earned dollars) who will eat Five Guys burgers every day because they won’t try anything new?  At the very least travel with people who are willing to explore beyond the norm.  Keep into account your fellow traveler(s). Introverts aren’t too keen on spending the entire time in location-packed spaces.  Extroverts could care less about walking down quiet streets with minimal interactions. Stretch your fellow trip travelers a bit without making it a taxing experience.  I’m a history buff but I didn’t count on my husband being sooo *eyes rolling* into the experience that I was just tired of looking at him go to and fro taking photos and daring me to dare him to sit on thousands of year old statues. Note to self: Don’t think you can conquer Louvre in one day.  We did three hours and only conquered Venice de Milo, Monna Lisa, and Egyptian antiquities. I was only to happy to slip into a quiet French cafe thereafter and decompress with a glass of mulled wine. Suffice to say, Louvre does owe me a couple more days of walking, among other places we visited.  We visited during winter, and I can only imagine what Paris looks like in the Spring. When you travel, don’t just do the usual. As much as I love to plan in advance, I’ve learned to land in the city, get a feel for the locale and chat it up with the hotel people, the street corner vendor, the random person on the train or the ever-reliable Uber drivers.  They usually give the best suggestions that will never make its way onto a sponsored website.  I got a couple of tours purchased on Trip Advisor but not before I went onto those tour websites directly and compared prices right down to the taxes.  Sometimes you save with the options and sometimes you don’t. And don’t sleep on Groupon!  

Flights are booked.  Lodging is handled. Tours are situated.  In the interim between anxiously waiting to “be out” and landing there, you can always read up on some blogs, look up the weather forecasts (the Farmer’s Almanac is also helpful), and if you’re extra like that, start putting your Pinterest travel outfits together.  Lemme tell you! French women don’t play about fashion. As cold as it was in Paris, the ladies were not afraid to rock the heeled boots, the short skirts with tights and their signature outerwear. You can always tell a woman’s taste by the type of coats and scarves she prefers to wear.  Derailed thought aside, read up on the culinary options. There are even websites that can direct you to private home parties. I had a friend who traveled to Lyon that was invited to a morning of fresh market shopping for his meal. Later that evening he wined and dined with total strangers in a beautiful kitchen, cooking up his personal favorites, that he personally shopped for earlier in the day.  

Your homework:

Each blog will end with homework.  I’m a social worker, so humor me.

  1. If you do not have a passport, get one. It’s been said 80% of African-Americans do not have passports.  That’s problematic, to say the least.  Your worldview is constricted to the square miles it takes you to go to work and back home with the usual activities in between.  There’s a whole world of folks out there who aren’t hung up on your skin color and your hair.  They’re more concerned about your mind and your heart.  There’s a whole world of folks out there who are curious about you and sometimes it comes across as outright fear.  How else are you going to experience either, if you don’t first extend yourself?  
  2. If you have a passport, double check and ensure it’s not going to expire in less than two years (which is typically about as much time as it will take to plan for a great abroad trip).  Make sure your fellow travelers are up on game.  There’s nothing worse than dealing with a “Johnny-come-Lately” who neglected to mention his passport has expired and he wants his half of the money back.  Or better yet, he didn’t bother to pay you back, to begin with.  Trust me when I say, you don’t want them kinda troubles in your life. 
  3. If you’re good with the above, invest in getting a Global Entry Pass.  That covers you for TSA PreCheck and International Re-entry for five years.  What is Global Entry Pass you say? Visit the U.S. Customs Border and Protection for more details.  I think of it as a carte blanche that blesses your very tired soul when you come down from an international flight via Miami International.  As you see other international travelers fly in from all over get cramped up in those lines, you will seamlessly and graciously bypass all of that.  Disclaimer: if you have some stuff on your dossier that you aren’t too proud of,  you may wanna save your coins and endure the long lines.  No need in having Customs Border Patrol revisit your past and thereby place you on some newly formed “Imma be fresh if the Feds watching” list.  

We’ll chat it up more about my first trip to Europe (Paris and Germany).  Bear with me while I still adjust to the six-hour time difference.

Every Day Living

Traveling While Noire: Know Your Role

It’s peak travel season for me and the level of brain space it takes to pack for five trips in five weeks… I promise you it all looked good on paper but.

Group trips can be a bit easier to manage. What helps in traveling with your squad is assigning everyone a responsibility in the planning. There are several people you want on your travel team. Not just for the cute T-shirt’s and shorts Instagram photos, but rather for making sure everyone enjoys themselves, remains safe and returns to their loved ones in one peace. With no bail money spent. So think about your crew and figure out if it’s worth traveling miles away just to incur massive migraines or in my case, memorable moments. Here’s who can make your trip go from bust to banging.

The Planner

This person is a type A personality who lacks trust in others. They are the control freak of the group and has strengths in the area of research, creating itineraries and actually reading the fine print. You want them on the front leg of the trip planning. If you opt out of having a planner, you’ll be staying at a roach infested Air BnB because no one took the time to read the reviews and ask a gazillion questions. They call the trip meetings, download the event apps, and sends texts every morning with reminders for what outfits need to be packed.

The Holder of the Purse

In the past, this person has scored your crew Lauryn Hill tickets at fraction of the price so you’ll only be disappointed at only a fraction of the cost. She’s always scouting for the tour deals and has multiple tabs active on her smartphone. No deal is final without her haggling. When you get there, she’s still on some app trying to get meals at a cheaper price depending on what position the sun is in, or however she seems to get those deals. Let her take the wheel when it comes to bargain shopping on your travels. And don’t ask any questions when she’s gotten the price down to a third of the cost.

The Free Spirit

Now this person is only let loose once you land at your destination. You keep her caged and muzzled because you can’t account for whatever rash decisions that can potentially ruin your trip before you get there. Tape her hands to keep her from posting on social media all your business to the house burglars. She’s spontaneous and not afraid of taking risks. Whether it’s convincing the group to sky dive or leading you to perdition in one fell swoop, she is the LITeral life of the party and she will make it her mission to have you step out of your comfort zone at least once during trip. Her motto: you only live once.

The Archivist

She’s the one with the fancy camera or the high end smartphone. With a smartphone in her hands, the Insta-Stories will be epic. With a camera, she will take the best photos for your Travel photo books. She is functioning as the keeper of these wondrous memories. She’s taking meal photos, outfit photos, weird people photos, room photos–you name it. She considers it her purpose in life to document your friendship so when you’re in the nursing home many moons from now, you will have the photo books to share with the nurses. After all, diaper changes will be something they look forward to with you. There is however one caveat to this role. Your group’s archivist must know what discretion means in spirit and in truth. No one wants to explain to the pastor of First Church of the Sanctified and Formerly Ratchet Saints why their twerking videos went live on Snapchat. The saints are always watching!

The UN Peacekeeper

Your travel buddies may dance on your nerves a few times while away. You forgot how long they took showers. You didn’t realize their hair weaves shed like a whole pet! When personalities collide for a moment in time, fireworks may pop off. Side note: traveling with problematic people should be seriously REconsidered. If you can’t deal with them on any other day, you may opt to forgo traveling with them any other time. The peacekeeper isn’t here for war time measures. She’s here for the mini flare ups because she knows her friends well enough to run interference. She’s usually the one taking you for a walk or texting you some silly meme to make you laugh. Her job is to make everyone holla and bring us back to the purpose of your time together–making memories.

Whether it’s a crew of two or twenty, try and be sure you’ve at least identified one person to fit these roles. The memories mean more when you’ve arrived at your destination safely, you had a fantabulous time and you can honestly say you would do it again in a heartbeat.

Lord knows I hate packing for trips, yet knowing the caliber of friends I travel with, I cannot wait to share this finite time with them. Here’s to catching flights this summer season with your friends!


Sistah Take A Seat: Where Are Your Receipts?

I shared the Mother’s Day message with my home church this year entitled “Who Is On Your Couch?” In a conversation with someone the other day, she shared how important it was to find a space in every city she moved to where she can be herself. That space is on both the couch of a therapist and then the couch of a friend. I’ll talk about the former comment in a later blog: how to choose a therapist.

Naturally, this led me to reflecting on who was on my couch, what role they played and how did they enrich, challenge, and benefit my wellbeing. Wisdom, Accountability and Friendship were the three values I felt were necessary to keep my couch balanced. So as I chop up this speaking series into written form, allow me the license that speakers don’t necessarily have; to delve a little deeper. That’s why writing is my primary go to. There’s no timer included.

Let’s unpack this whole wisdom thing. The word wisdom is losing it’s appeal as the years advance. We live in a time where people want quick fixes and they’re not interested in the process of marinating in information, testing it out and then applying it. Heck! Half the time they’re not even interested in hearing the information to begin with! I encounter people who only want to hear the first minute of what you have to say and tune out thereafter.

It’s happened to me on the receiving end. If it’s in person, they start fidgeting with their phone, their eyes glaze over and it’s a wrap. If it’s over the phone, they ask you a question to break up your conversation in the middle of what you’re saying. Subtle hints that you didn’t give them what they needed in 59 seconds or less. Warning, if you don’t like to read anything with potential for added value to your life and you don’t care to read this, stop right here and go back to living your life business as usual.

Job 12:12 reminded me that wisdom is found among our elders and that living a long life brings with it understanding. We’ve lost that concept along the way. We think our contemporaries have the answers and we neglect the counsel of the (aging) wise. We’ve ditched mentorship for tolerance and ill advised behavior. I remember when one of my mentors and I were talking about homeownership and the cost of everything going up. It wasn’t too long after the housing crash. As new homeowners, hubby and I were skating on some tough times financially so she mentioned the concept of amortization and making bi-weekly payments. She also mentioned NACA (do your research) I had never heard of it and if I was that person who let things go in one ear and have it ooze out the other, I would have missed out on some wise counsel. We refinanced for the sake of our interest rate and it was the best advice she could ever give me. She’s my go to person on all things financial. From her I learned about creating a trust. It’s something I need to get around to doing and I can never say she didn’t tell me and that she doesn’t have the proof that she knows what she’s talking about.

Which leads me to the title of this blog. Where are the receipts? When people tell me something, I do this mental chewing of sorts. Earlier in Job 12, it says and I paraphrase, “Aren’t you testing out first what you hear? Aren’t you taste testing first what you eat?” Or are you the one that gobbles down the food without a thought and wonder why you end up with heartburn? So yeah…I chew on what’s shared with me. I look for the wisdom in it, the practical application in it. This particular mentor owns multiple properties, isn’t afraid to continue investing even in her advancing years and isn’t afraid to take risks. See, she has receipts. Her receipts read to me like this: she’s been in this game of life for several minutes more than me, she has loved and lost and loved again, she’s made mistakes and learned from them and she’s mindful of her financial prowess.

So yeah… I need to see that when somebody opens their mouth to speak on anything, they are backed up with facts. When the college student does a literature review, the professor is not looking for opinions, they are looking for facts from journals not what some YouTube vlogger is trying to sell.

How do you check receipts? Line them up with the Word of God—The Bible. Yeah, I guess you expected me to get all progressive on you and keep it PG. Welp! Nope. I read and learn from a lot of books. But the one book that stands heads taller than them all continues to be the infallible Word of God. Enough said.

How do you check receipts? By actually sitting with people and get this—conversing with them. What a novel idea!!! This whole mentorship via YouTube and Instagram or Facebook is a farce! A farce I say! I follow people I admire on the Gram but I can’t call them when I’m in a bind. I’m lucky to get them to even notice when I tag them! Lol! It’s a sad state of existence when we think that just watching people live life is going to be enough to infer on how to live ours.

You can’t identify counterfeit receipts unless you’re up close and personal with others. You need to be able to take a pen to their 100 dollar bills of values and principles to see if it’s the real deal or if it’s fake. It takes a lot of work to identify the real versus the counterfeit. Yeah, you can start by looking at patterns and behaviors, but unless you have studied and work in the fields human behavior and psychology and call out a fake a mile away (fringe benefit of my profession and Godly discernment) you have to take the risk to get to know who can pour into your life and who can’t.

I get paid to mentor people in the mental health profession. I automatically bring my best to the experience. But the fact that they are a consumer reminds me I owe it to my interns to be more than my personal best. Mentorship is not a paid experience. For each person you check receipts from, they have to demonstrate that they have cleared the path you’re trying to get on.

You looking for marriage mentors? Check receipts for years of marriage, transparency in conversations and the fruits yielded from their relationship with each other. One of my mentors was married and divorced and remarried to her husband again! Now she’s got receipts of all sorts from which I have learned from. You looking for professional mentors? Check receipts that include their resume, their line of work, their endurance in the profession, their level of ambition. You looking for a mentor period? Check their receipts for values, principals, integrity, relationships with others in the community, testimonials from other mentees. Above all, pray and ask God to lead you to the right person. I did. And He did.

Checking receipts makes you realize what and who you can then accept counsel from. There’s a right fit for everyone. I realized a long time ago, can’t just anybody handle my sauce! Some find it too spicy. I can be direct. Some find it too bland. I can be methodical. Some find it too rich. I can be altruistic (or use big words like altruistic). Lol! The one with cleared receipts is not going to change who they are to accommodate the one checking receipts. Like relationships, there is someone for everyone out there. If you don’t like what they’re selling, move on to the next person. Just. One. Thing. Though. Don’t allow your pride, your insecurities or your fears to be the reason why you missed out on sitting at someone’s feet.

Your homework (should you be brave to accept it):

Identify three real life people that you know and admire (work, church, organization, etc.) Invite them out for a meal. Be intentional in speaking to them about this season in your life and if the Holy Spirit is leading, ask the one you feel led to ask to be your mentor. Be specific in what you are looking for in a mentor and what you feel they can offer in the way of counsel, advice and challenges.

Now I know some of us have some deep rooted issues with rejection. It may not be the right time for that person or they know it may not be a good fit. But you won’t know unless you ask. People are not mind readers. It’s not fair for anyone to know they were your “pretend” mentor when you never gave them the opportunity to apply for the job. There is a level of intimacy in the mentor/mentee relationship that isn’t all roses and tulips. It may not be the right timing for them, but don’t look at it as a form of rejection. Rather receive it as you doing something fearless on your way to personal growth.

So go out there! Be brave. Check receipts and take the next steps to becoming a transformed and evolved version of you.


Blogger’s Block

I’m a firm believer that if I don’t have anything to blog about, I won’t blog. New followers on the site won’t hype me up. Which got me wondering who are these new people and how did they find me? Introvert writer’s issues… A casual comment about my absence on WordPress won’t wake the sleeping dragon either. So yeah… there’s something percolating in my mind right now. It’s around the concept of mentorship, women in leadership roles, sisterhood. But I’m asking the Holy Spirit to show me some other things before I put fingers to typing.

In the mean time, do what I do. Read some of the old stuff, let it sit in your spirit for a few. Read a book. I’m like on five. One on spiritual awakening. One on how not to be a wife to a boyfriend. So yeah I’m married but there’s a summer book club that literally morphed into something unexpected. That’s usually God doing his thing. Who knows? I might get hyped after that! Lol!

Sometimes my own words come back to encourage (or haunt) me from a past season in my life. May is a tough month emotionally for me, so I go back and read the grief and loss blogs because I’d like to check my emotional pulse and see where I am with the whole missing my mom thing. There’s no getting around this month. So I might as well bulldoze through it.

Sooo much has gone on of late in my life. Some material for the blog and some for this book I really need to get back into writing. It’s true what they say. Summer bodies are made in the winter. Started on this quest for fitness again and I like the way I feel and look.

Oh yeah! I cut my sisterlocks. It’s this asymmetrical bob thingy. No I’m not going through a crisis. I just got up one day, didn’t tell anyone and just went to the barber. Now I have to get used to people staring at me when I first meet them after this hair cut. Introvert issues…sigh.

Enough about me. Do enjoy this spring, mom, grads and dad season. I know I plan to! Make new memories along the way.

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.

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.


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!