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.

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Life Coach

What’s Your Therapy?

I spent four hours the other evening revamping my church’s bulletin board. It was on the shabby side and my discerning eye was truly aggravated by it each time I saw it. Just the thought of redesigning it got me excited. I would get to do something I love and make me feel good in the bargain. 

The casual observer would have gone nuts with the number of times I had to get on a chair, get off a chair, walk away and return only to move something on the board for the hundredth time. “You look happy doing that,” someone said. Mind you I wasn’t humming or grinning from ear to ear but the person realized I was in my personal zen just cutting away and stapling away on this board. “It’s my therapy,” I responded. 

Baking is my therapy. Reading is my therapy. Turning chaos into order is my therapy. What’s yours?

There’s something in us that finds peace when we do it. Something that others find perplexing and frustrating to do, but you find it as your outlet and it brings a sense of calm to your soul. 

Some people run. Frankly pounding my knees on the pavement one in front of the other is more of an obligation, but I know folks who lace up and run to escape. 

Some people bake and have a kitchen dusted over with flour. They find the measuring and watching this mélange of ingredients turn into something others drool over is rewarding. 

Some people enjoy a good swim or anything dealing with the water. For them, subconscious reminders of their first nine months in the womb brings a sense of escape. 

Some people clean their house from top to bottom and erase the old and bring in the new. Their idea of peace is trashing huge bags of stuff they no longer need, decluttering their lives one piece of junk at a time. 

Some people enjoy all things music. Some play around with makeup. Some love quiet moments in reading. Some journal. Some blog. Some climb mountains in search of new adventures. Some like long rides. Some binge watch old episodes. Some do triathalons. Some travel. Whatever brings you a sense of relaxation or reward should be considered your therapy. 

March is social workers month and half of my work in therapy is guiding others in the discovery of their inner peace. We go stretches and stretches in our lifetime running towards illusions without settling down and finding contentment. We go miles and miles being unhappy in our skin without finding that “thing” that makes us smile on the inside and look forward to doing it. 

On this night, working on a bulletin board is what I needed. I also needed an Ibuprofen when I was done! Getting on and off a chair, stapling, unstapling, moving, removing. When it was all done, my sense of accomplishment of this task eased the long day I had endured. 

Find your therapy. Commit to taking care of yourself. 

Life Coach

2016: New Year Musings 

I quit my job on 12/31/15 and I’ve been on a journey of learning and experiencing ever since. I’m not making the same type of “change” (but I have never gone without for either my needs or wants). I don’t get to dress up in skirts and heels all the time and I don’t work alongside a whole heap of people. Wait. This is sounding more appealing as I write it. Lol! But if quitting a job yields the year I had, I kinda wish I had done this sooner rather than later. My year in review reads like a cross between a travel/self-help/spiritual/relationships book. I had fun. I really did. 
I traveled. To Martha’s Vineyard, The Poconos, NYC, Hawaii, mountains, beaches and all the other places in between. I ate garlic shrimp from the side of the road. I had pasta in a cozy New York restaurant. I stayed in a cabin one week and a multimillion dollar golf property the next. I enjoyed mountain living sitting on a porch in a rocking chair. Walking alongside a lake enjoying the late summer breezes. I enjoyed it all. 
I stretched myself professionally. Working in spaces with people I would not have otherwise been exposed to. Learning new systems, processes, approaches to the body of work in mental health. My brain appreciates the growth. My mind is excited to know learning is still my first love. 
I made new connections. Joined a mentorship fellowship and a leadership fellowship AT THE SAME TIME. While I wouldn’t recommend doing this simultaneously, I’m kinda glad I did. I experienced mentorship from different perspectives in leadership and personal growth. I’m blessed to have been mentored by women who look like me and by others who didn’t, but were willing to extend themselves all for the greater good. 
Tons of other things happened along the way in 2016. Some stupendous and some just downright stupid. I learned that when you exit certain circles, there will be those who write you off and out. There others who reel you in and make the experience so much more bearable. I started the year feel irrelevant and realized my relevance was based on the wrong things for the wrong reasons. Lesson learned. 
I was Indiana Jones looking at the chasm between where I was and where I needed to go. I took that first step and threw the dirt. I then saw the invisible path really wasn’t invisible. Many along the way served as the visibility I needed to keep walking one step at a time. The referrals. The calls. The references. The heads up. The emails. The opportunities. And when their voices dimmed, there stood God reminding He had never left me and never would. Even in the silent times. 
You may not have plans to quit your job. But I’m sure you’ve got some deep seated dreams you need to step out on. Scared money don’t make money. Closed mouths don’t get fed. You get the point. I had to crucify my personality and my fears on the cross of change to BEGIN to change to SEE change coming. It won’t be easy. Trust when I say. I went from buying a pair of shoes every week to buying a pair of shoes on a quarterly basis! Joking. But you get my point. 
It’s okay be scared. Goodness knows I was. Let your fear be a driving force. Not a hindrance. Here’s to 2017 and all that it holds. 

Career, Life Coach, Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: How To Avoid Career Suicide 

I’ve been on somebody’s job since I was a senior in high school. I never knew what it was to ever be without one. It would literally be me resigning from one, using up some left over vacation time and being on the next job a week later. No intermissions. No breaks. No hiatus. No explanations to hem and haw about during a future interview. 

The talking heads now say millennials will find themselves in and out of jobs more than they are in and out of underwear. It’s the natural trend now to avoid putting down too strong of roots. They say your stakes should be loosely drilled into the ground. One day you will need to snatch them up and leave in the dead of the night. I guess it’s true. And I guess this trend is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Yet I’d like to believe whether we remain on a job for one day or ten years there are some valuable lessons to be learned about ensuring one’s career doesn’t suffer great losses. 
Keep Your Nose Clean

I can’t fathom life in my younger years with social media as part of my everyday living. That everything I ever wanted to think, do, say or feel could be shared with the world in one fell swoop. Drunken rages, profanity laced rants, racial slurs said in the heat of the moment, compromising photos–all laid bare for the world to see. All have caused irreparable damage. One day you’re rubbing elbows with your colleagues. Next day you’re on snap chat and the rest is history. There will also be circumstances we face that will never make Facebook live but will certainly make the rumor mill, which my dear is still wildfire fast and merciless in its recounting. 

People have long memories. People have even longer reasons why they wouldn’t attach their names to anyone else’s for fear of being guilty by association. Who wants to ever get a call that starts with “Girl, that girl you sent me…child…a mess!” No one. Who wants to have to spend an iota of their breathing time explaining away some random decision made by someone they vetted or vouched for? No one. It makes for awkward conversations nobody wants to have. Whatever it is. Cut it. Whoever it is. Cut it. Stay on the front page for all things positive. Don’t be about that “hindsight is 20/20” life. Don’t live on the island of regrets.   Don’t be the one whose reference letters dry up like Death Valley. 

Remain Relevant
There is some Gen-Exer in a fetal position somewhere regretting she didn’t follow through with taking those Quickbook courses when she had the chance. The tears soaking her pillow speaks of many other missed opportunities. Don’t be like her. I was a payroll clerk, at the bottom of the office totem pole taking all the Microsoft training classes I could take. I was in undergrad, clocking in 16 hour days of work, internship and class. I missed a whole heap of random stuff. Or at least at the time I thought I did. I doubly paid my dues and expect you, my dear, to pay yours. 

When your boss sends out that upcoming workshops memo, you better be the first to sign up. Don’t spend your time deliberating with your colleagues on the merits of taking a refresher course or joining a mentirship peofram. Sometimes we lose out when we try and hash out with others our intentions. One glib comment can deflate you and cause you to miss out on your next win. If “Susie D. Hater” has no aspirations to move up and move out, that’s her business. You on the other hand came to survey the land and to conquer it. Keep learning, keep improving, keep being your personal best. 

I plan to build on this post in future blogs. Stay tuned. In the mean time, stay out of trouble and stay being your better self. 


Faith, Grief And Loss, Life Coach, Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Waiting Season 

I got caged in to teach at a local church last evening. I mean what else do you call preparing to speak about a subject that you’re still yourself wading deep in the water about? That God would deign the stars and moon to align in this season of my life to speak about grief and loss is beyond my peanut brain’s capacity to understand. But He’s that Father. You know the one who allows you to flay your arm in the water while he’s under you. And then out of no where goes missing just to see if you can float by yourself. He’s that Father who wakes up one day and says “training wheels off!” 

Well that’s what happened the other night and I suspect that’s going to happen more and more in this coming season of my life. I’ve been meditating on the Holy Spirit’s nudging of being in what I call the “waiting season.” For me it’s the season where I’m literally in a spiritual room where the doors are shut and I’m waiting to hear the prognosis from the doctor at any moment. I’m waiting to hear some news, any news about next steps, next goals, next dreams, next directions. I’ve ticked off some things off my list but I suspect God has some other things in store that had nothing to do with my five year plans.

 As I wait, God reminds me to remain faithful in my actions. That waiting isn’t an immobile activity. Rather it’s an activity where preparation is taking place for when those doors do open and the results are in. 

I once took my laptop to the ER with me. I had an ankle sprain that had been bothering me. I saw people just sitting there bored out of their minds, counting cracks in the wall. Me? Well I was pecking away at my laptop, trying to meet some deadline or other. Before I knew it I was in my flow; didn’t even realize time had passed and even got annoyed the few times they kept calling me up to verify information. You see in my waiting I found something to do. Something to keep me occupied. Something to keep my mind and body going. Something to keep me on top of my game for such a time as when that door of opportunity opened and voila! I would be ready. 

Last night was that kind of night. I didn’t get invited to speak because my mother had died and that by some random designation I had become some expert at grief. I don’t do random and I don’t do happenstance. That’s for people who just “let” life happen to them

 God’s people don’t let life happen. They make life happen. There was more to it than losing my mother to cancer. Words would only simplify the journey that led to that one hour of speaking to one of the toughest audience groups I know. Haitian adults. In a church. Both men and women. Most whom have me by at least 15-20 years of age. Most who have had some inexplicable losses that my mind can’t even fathom. Words would only serve to minimize how at peace I felt in that moment. In that space in time speaking to those I have prayed to God that I could share my heart with. There are no words for that. 

Your waiting season may be here now. It may be laden with impatience and frustration. Remain faithful in your doing. Those doors will fling wide open. Just you wait and see. 

Your waiting season may be just around the corner. Don’t get blindsided by it. Own it. Accept it. Prepare for it. 

Your waiting season may be a thing of yesterday and you are right now hollering your praise to the Most High. Just don’t forget there are others who were exactly where you were. They can benefit from your wise counsel. 

Off will come those training wheels. Off will come those flotation devices. And off you will go forward once your waiting season is done. 

Life Coach, Random Thoughts

Sistah Take A Seat: When You’re Not Being  “Present”

Gabby Douglas has been on my heart something serious this Olympic season. I know she’s all the way in Rio and I’m nothing but a mere observer–but her spirit speaks to me like it would if she was my girlfriend two miles away, a church member in my congregation–like she was even me. I watched her four years ago shine and sparkle and give us all that #blackgirlmagic we so craved. Sprinkle. Sprinkle.  I watched the media and Black women at large try to dissect every strand of her course hair. White folks could care less about our hair as much as we care about our own hair. Gabby fought back and brought home the golds. 

This time around, Gabby stepped onto the stage and her shine and sparkle, well, her #blackgirlmajic, hmmm…something ain’t right. Minimal eye contact. Detached. Performance for the cameras and back to “normal”. Apathetic. Flat affect. Smiles that don’t reach the eyes. Mood incongruent with the setting. That fake smile. Simply put, this girl is not happy. Why? I don’t know. I can’t begin to know why this beautiful young trailblazer has missed a step. That she simply is not present.  By present I mean not being in the moment. Not connecting with others. Not being your true self and relating to the experiences about you. 

But I feel Gabby. How many times have I checked out when I couldn’t deal with the emotional threats made against me (real or perceived)? How many times have I withdrawn to that quiet space in my head and just mentally floated away? How many times have I taken off my glasses and allowed the blurry world to just be that–blurry? 

Gabby is one among millions of women who may find it hard to cope with life’s challenges in one form or another.  It’s not the challenges I’m concerned about yet rather how we cope that separates the wheat from the chaff. I spent half my lifetime trying to pretend that I liked everyone I met. I pretended that people excited me when in reality they drained me. I pretended that I was happy with my body when I really was not. I pretended I wanted to be “cool” and relatable when in reality I wanted to be in my nerd space with the do not disturb sign on the door. To me there was something wrong with being smart, organized, opinionated and introverted. After all, “everyone else” was wearing the long weaves, the high heels, and the big purses. That being in roles of wife/pastor wife, daughter, sibling, friend meant I had to kill my true self to become someone else. The pressure. Oh the pressure of living a lie. 

Today, I still carry all those roles and then some. But it’s how I cope that has made me more spiritually and emotionally centered. My faith in Christ keeps me grounded. No, I’m not in seminary school reading the Bible cover to cover for the 100th time, but I’m connected to Him. 

Do people still drain me? Yep. I just know how to better manage my responses and time spent with others and make time to be alone. Balance. Do I still find it hard to manage my hips and thighs? Yep. Fitbit helps. Wearing clothes that flatter me helps too. Acceptance. Am I still a nerd? Yep. Til the day I die! Truth
Gabby is young. I pray it doesn’t take half her life time to strengthen her village, acknowledge who she is at the core, forgive herself and others and use this test to be her testimony. I want her to hurry up and feel better, do better, be better! But as with everything, I know it’s going to be more hard hills to climb before the road smooths itself out. Being present is no small feat. Come through Gabby. Come through. 

Life Coach

Forward To Fall

I know it’s like 99.99% summer time here in South Florida. Sometimes there are deficits to living in a city that’s always in “South Beach” mode. Folks down here tend to find it hard to transition with the seasons. Up north, there’s a brisk, crisp wind and chill in the air that ushers in football season, hay rides and warm soups. Well down here, we break out knee high boots in 75 degree weather. Such is life. 
Regardless of the change in weather temps, Fall is right around a corner. I recently came around the aisle at the local Walmart and nearly got slapped by a scarecrow. It looked like a corn field had cropped up on the shelves. Forget back to school! They had Thanksgiving on deck already. I wasn’t ready. Ready or not, change is our only constant. 
These lazy dog days of summer are drawing to a close. It’s nearly time to buckle down and get back to the business of “living.” So for those of us who had the luxury of being on chill mode during the past two months, it’s time to reconnect. For those of us whose pace hadn’t changed, it’s time to take stock. Fall is the time to reap the harvest. To count what’s in your storehouse. To take inventory. So be you a ten month working educator or a year round entrepreneuer, we all can stand to take some time to run through our 2016 “at a glance” book. 
Take a look at your 2016 goals and gauge where you are. Don’t beat yourself up too much for getting off track. Maybe snack yourself a couple of times. Just don’t hit too hard. Life happens. Yet it merits some looking into if you can honestly say you weren’t doing your part. It’s okay. Just admit it. Then take steps to remedy the solution. 
There are four months left in the year. Yep. FOUR MONTHS. Whatever it is you’d like to wrap up before year’s end, let’s have a go at it. Enrolling in college? Saving for a car? Closing on a house? Working on that business plan? You still have four months to shape something out of it all. 
Don’t go into Fall like a recalcitrant teenager. It’s here whether you like it or not. Welcome it with thankful arms. Thankful for yet another season to make the best of your life now.