Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Eating WhiteĀ 

I will never forget the time I was working at a local high school as a school social worker. Sometimes the students would come up to my office and chill during lunch time. I’d usually take a break and eat with them. I don’t even recall what I was eating this particular day, but there was a lot of greens/veggies-no rice or French fries in this particular lunch meal. One of my students took it upon herself to ask “Ms., why you keep eating white people food?” My brain stalled on that one and years later I’m not even quite sure what to say to the countless curious Black folks who ask the very same question in different ways when they see me eating kale, quinoa, bulgur wheat, chicken that isn’t fried or whatever they just can’t readily identify on my plate. 

This whole notion that eating healthy is a white people thing or a “bourghie behavior” actually leaves some people *insert health conscious Black folks* feeling some type of way. That if salmon trumps ribs as your choice on a menu you’re just being extra. That eating healthy is other people’s habits and people of African descent only acquire this taste in food once they earn a couple of degrees and take flight to other parts of town. 

I’m Haitian. So I’m quick to remind folks, our ancestors ate and Haitians are today still do find their sustenance from the land. Our juices are made fresh. Our vegetables are a melange of eggplant, chayote (that’s militon for my Zoes), carrots, scallions, onions, garlic, parsley, bell peppers–all to create the legume meal that I love so much. I don’t need meat in mine. Some crab maybe. Some lambi (conch) maybe. With some white rice. And “sauce poi blanc”. Mezami, my tastebuds just took a detour! 

I remember being raised in a home where neither pork nor any shellfish was permitted in my diet. Part of that was my mom’s personal Levitical biases and part of that was that she knew better so she did better with our meals. Olive oil was a staple. Except for the time we lived with another family and overdosed on hotdogs and bologna, she preferred sliced meats from the deli that didn’t have all that salt added. Oh! Did I mention my mom wasn’t white and that we didn’t live in some uppity neighborhood? So it irks me to no end when people make broad stroke comments about diets being white or black. Granted I do maintain that Haitian food is THE best food in the world-and since this is my blog I’m only stating facts. Lol! Digressing again. 

So I got me and the hubster back on a juicing plan. I dragged out my Breville juicer and it is holding court right next to my smoothie machine on the kitchen counter. One bottle per day. Nothing major. He’s 45. I’m 42. Our bodies demand extra attention and what better way to do so than to make a concerted effort to get some extra veggies in our system the raw way. So we got celery, carrots, ginger, apples, lime, strawberries, kale all up in this latest batch. The celery gives it this refreshing taste. The ginger spikes it up a notch. The carrots and apple balances it off with some sweetness. And the lime, believe it or not, brings it all home flavor wise. 

There are some of us who didn’t grow up with the best cooks or best diets in our lives. And if you’re like me, living on my own in college caused all types of rules to be broken. I went from eating no pork to eating the Friday night griot. Every Friday. Of every week. These days I probably eat it once per quarter (yes I mind my junk food intake in terms of quarters) cause it takes about that long to leave your system anyway! 

Circumstances may not have allowed for healthy balanced meals. We all joke about the red juice that causes ADHD to go undiagnosed in many households. Food deserts is a reality. For me to get a juice on the go, I would now have to leave my predominately urban community and head either east towards the beach or west towards the Everglades. It takes effort to do right by your temple. It takes money and time. The first time I got back juicing I promise you I burned 1500 calories between the setting up, breaking down, washing and then mopping my sticky kitchen floor. Then you think of the time and energy you take to do some random activity and you realize the return on the investment really does beat out the annoyance. 

I have had non-Black colleagues quickly hide their amazement when I ask about the nearest vegan option or plant based option eateries. Once they get over the shock that I’m not asking for the nearest bbq joint (and no offense to them cause I can gets down with some ribs too), they are more than happy to share in the love of healthy foods. 

So next time someone makes some off color comment about your coconut black rice, adashah, kale, toasted coconuts and avocado lunch (and it’s usually some poor, misguided brotha or sistah) don’t give them the side eye. Take the time to let them know what’s on your plate and point out the health benefits of your meal. They may roll their eyes and go about their high cholesterol, diabetic living or they may dwell on your comments and who knows? You may have gained a convert to eating healthy–not White. 

Our ancestors would be honored to know that you too are eating off the land and honoring the food traditions that transcend race and yes even color lines. I’m Black. Been eating Black since 1975. Whatever that is. šŸ™„šŸ˜‚


Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Declutter Your LifeĀ 

I spent an entire day doing laundry, trashing old CDs and just getting into all sorts of fits each time I saw a corner of my house that had clutter piling up. Piles of books. Piles of junk mail. Piles of shoes. Ugh…

We usually assign Spring as the time to place back all the winter gear, go through our checklist of what to update around the house and tidy up our living spaces. We take inventory of what we have and promise we the retail gods they will never see us in a mall or on Amazon ever again! Yeah right. 

How many of us actually take the time to do the same with our lives? I mean if I’m going to try and get my house in order, may as well take some time to inventory my life and see what’s worth keeping or getting rid of. Right?

 *inserts sense of discomfort*

Take An Emotional Inventory                            

I’m entering a personally emotional season in my life. And I know every Spring my feelings are a bit raw this time of year.  Two weeks from Mothers Day means a loss of my mother. Since I know it’s coming up, I get myself mentally prepared for it. It’s usually a time when I will be around a lot of folks (weddings, graduations, etc.) so I know that I have to spend some time beforehand taking care of me. Journaling. Lunch with friends who have been down this road. Whatever it will take to make me be okay. That’s what you have to do. Take an emotional temperature of where you are with things. Marriage. Dating. Grief and loss. Children. Life. It happens. What should also happen is you making sure you’re okay. If that means therapy-go. If that means calling a mentor on one of your long commutes to work-call. If it means visiting a house of worship where nobody knows your name-visit. If it means praying without ceasing-pray. If it means camping with some friends-do it. Go. Do. Be. Take care of yourself. 

Take A Physical Inventory                       

That darn right ankle of mine really set me back some with my working out. But I had to reflect on how much of it was my ankle and how much of it was me just not making the time to workout. Yeah, work had exponentially picked up but I’m sure if I dug through all the hours I found to binge on some random TV series, I would certainly find the time to make it to the 24 hour gym that was five minutes away from my house. Guilty.  I read somewhere that physical beauty is a given in youth but not in the aging. It takes work to keep some thangs wrapped up tighter in your 40s! And I’m not talking about buying one of those body armor things that leave you breathless and about to faint either. Werk! If you can take the time to slay your face, your hair, your nails. Take the time to slay the very thing that houses it all. 

Take A Soul Inventory                                

French philosopher, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin surmised it best, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience; we are spiritual beings having a human experience.” I believe my soul is eternal and that what happens here is just the beginning of my eternal existence. I believe God’s plan for my life didn’t start on the day I was born but well before the two human beings who procreated me even had a clue. I believe that my actions on earth have a ripple effect for eternity. So in that belief I’m ever humbled by the sacrifice made by Christ on my behalf. He died so that I may live. Live eternally with Him that is. It makes me take stock of my life not in the way of checking to see how much money is in the bank or how many likes I get on an Instagram post. But rather what kind of impact is going to earn me the “Well done, good and faithful servant.” When I get frustrated with humanity, I have to believe I MUST believe there is more to life than this. 

As much as I want to grab huge garbage bags and just dump everything in there and haul it out my house and start fresh, even I know that won’t solve the issue of clutter and disorganization.  It’s not the stuff that’s the issue, it’s the whys and the hows behind the stuff that I need to sit and deliberate over.  Just like our lives. It’s the sitting with it, the embracing it, the digging deeper that will yield a “spring cleaned” mind, body and soul. 

Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Don’t Do It For The LikesĀ 

I don’t know when I decided that when people shared information with me that I just couldn’t keep it to myself. Maybe it was while growing up and seeing an entire immigrant community of people being deprived of basic rights while their immigrant peers from other countries got the first pickings. Maybe it was when I sat in my college counselor’s office and received all the college applications for free; while my classmates walked around clueless. Maybe it was having a college roommate whose parents bought everything she needed while I had to run to the dollar store for a frying pan that peeled metal after one week’s use. 

You get to a place where you say “When I … I will … for people who…” So when you get there. You do your part. You pay it forward. You do right by humanity. 

I have been guilty of overcommunicating. I have been accused of over-emailing and secretly maligned for over-posting. “If she sends out one more thing today,” they say. I’m sure they wonder what’s in it for me. I’m sure they are convinced that I get some type of commission. I laugh, mutter some not so nice thing under my breath (keeping it real) and continue being me. 

What’s in it for me?

My commission is seeing a fellow entrepreneur get her small business training certificate. Making room for others to come behind them. My bonus is hearing that a colleague jumped on that job opportunity and nailed it. Being a contributing member of society. My raise comes when parents taking advantage of free community activities with their kiddos. Making memories for years to come. I can’t tell you how much considering others before self tends to keep you humble. I mean, who doesn’t like to pass along info? I guess there are some grinches out there. Phooey to them! And they wonder why they can’t get off the ground with their goals. Smirk. God don’t like ugly and He ain’t too fond of pretty either. 

I think of the God-sent angels who guided me in my youth when my parents didn’t have a clue on how to navigate the education system. To the counselors who placed me in the coolest after school extra-curricular activities. My parents didn’t work for government offices, didn’t come from legacy, didn’t have access to the resources never mind could they afford to pay for it. To mentors who have groomed me over the years to simply walk through doors that Haitian girls weren’t expected to enter. So when people start bad mouthing public education, I’m ready to flatten tires and key cars! And give ZERO cares! Oh … wrong blog. Never mind! 

*Red Haze Lifting*

I don’t do it for the likes. If it were the case, my train of goodwill would have screeched to a loud halt years ago. People can be ungrateful. They can be mean. Darn right mean. And the most hard core person can be affected every now and then. The sheer waves of mean spiritedness can bog a person down. Yet God reminds us His eternal rewards surpasses what man will ever do or say on your behalf. That He will confound the wise and leave others continually perplexed about the favor on your life. Christ reminds his believers that if they could place him on a donkey and herald him as the next King then turn around and malign him on the cross-well heck don’t expect any less from the world we live in. But you carry on. You press forward. You do what is right before His eyes. 

When you do it for the passion, the purpose or simply because your rent on earth is a bill that will always come due, you will find plenty of opportunities to be a blessing to others. Where your right hand will never know what the left hand is doing. 

“Let us not become weary in doing good.” Galatians 6:9

Don’t do for the likes. Do it for the love. 

Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Traveling While Noire

I’ve been traveling since I was in my mamman’s belly. Once she found out she was preggers with me, she made sure to hop from St. Maarten back to Haiti to be with her mom and aunts as they fawned over her and prepared her for mommyhood. We then went to Haiti as children and spent beautiful weeks near the capital on Rue Delma with the Palace looming over us as a huge white edifice. 

My first memory of being on a plane was as a young child vomitting and my parents having to pull down the suitcase to clean me up. Motion sickness remains the bane of my existence ever since. We traveled to Miami for what I thought was a two week vacation in 1984 and never returned. There were the silent years of traveling. After all, hard working parents could scarcely pay the mortgage and finance a vacation now could they? Thankfully school trips kept me on a bus to some school competition or other and Disney World didn’t have to worry about not getting my money. 

Thankfully, I married a wanderlusting husband who trekked the world as a missionary as his gap years experience. Our modest honeymoon spent in Bahamas was just a foretaste of things to come. His being in Romania right after the hanging  of a communist dictator (Nicolae Ceaușescu) faced a firing squad had to be interesting. Being one of two blacks on the team was too. During our second year, we traveled as missionaries (again just us two melanin popping souls) to Zacatecas, Mexico. Dead center in the country’s landscape, it was rich in culture and rich in poverty. We ate good. While our white peers searched high and low for KFC and Burger King, we ate whatever they placed in front of us. There was this green spicy pepper with cheese in the core that they grilled. Good home cooked meals. My AUTHENTIC Mexican food palate has never been the same. Nothing compares stateside. Nothing. 

Most of our traveling then became heavy on the domestic side. With trips up and down the east coast, heading as far north as Canada one winter. Saw the Niagra Falls. Experienced the brutal upstate New York winter. We’ve driven up the Smokies, straddled North Carolina and Tennessee. To this day neither of us can’t listen to Norah Jones without thinking of the winding roads in Sevierville, TN. Hiking up random hills, passing by random head stones as the crunch of leaves beneath our feet echoed in the trees. 
I’ve driven to Oklahoma for a friend’s graduation and had the pleasure of of being stopped by one of their “finest.” Definitely not one of their finest moments. We’ve flown into Chicago, driven to Indiana to collect our first new car together.  Seen why The Jacksons got the heck up outta Gary and saddened by it all. Saw snow for the first time, ran out and twirled around in it and ran right back in. The introvert in me opted to watch the Shaka Zulu marathon instead of venturing too long outside. My older me kicks my younger self for not carpeing the darn diem on that one. Drove our Honda CRV from Indiana to Florida. That was fun. We’ve heeded the call of friends moving from Minnesota and helped them make the trek back down with their newborn baby. That’s what friends did for each other. Fly up to drive back down! Lol! I’ve honored my beautiful state of Florida with the trips to the Keys, Sanibel, St. Augustine. Saw Henry Flagler’s beautiful home and dreamt of the time when men bought grand homes for their new brides. The romantic in me stays on high volume. D.C., MD, NYC, NJ, NC, CA, NV, OK, GA . . . whether it was for work or pleasure I have made the best of my travels.  From riding the rails in San Fran to dashing in DC’s museums, I have no regrets. Nearly lost my life water rafting in TN! Still no regrets. 

Island hopping trying to recreate some of childhood memories has also been a thing for me. Mexico saw me for my 33rd year. The year that Jesus died. That’s what you do right?! Go to Cozumel! Lol! Oh the irony in that one will be left at just that. Smirk. 

You have never been to Jamaica or the Cayman Islands unless you have taken a walk on their very “un-beaten paths”. Ever had curry crab from a big pot on the side of the road?  You gotta do it once. Just once. I have yet to return to my homeland of St Maarten. My mother’s passing is creating some level of urgency behind going back, for I fear it’s going to be one huge experience in exposure therapy. My mental health folks can certainly sympathize. 

Remember my wanderlusting hubster? Well he’s definitely not the jealous type and has no problem dropping me off at the airport and wishing me well. He’s always encouraged my adventurous side and it helps that he is secure in himself as my life’s partner. Really. How many husbands would send their wives off to Vegas for her 40th and say “have fun, don’t spend all our money we got bills when you get back.” How many would have their wives experience Hawaii not once but twice in five months? And text you to remind you to celebrate hard. Even helped me countdown this last time. I simply love him. Hawaii saw me once for a family wedding and once for a girlfriend’s birthday which bookends as my birthday by the way. 

As I listen to the roaring waves outside my two story rented home, I’m amazed and humbled to experience life through these eyes of mine. Being one of six Sistahs on Hawaii Air was an eye ‘popping’ opener. I had gotten up to mention something to the stewardess and before I could mention my seat number she said “Oh, I can find you when I need to.” Me-puzzled. Oh yeah… that’s right.  It’s like SIX of us Blacks, all women on this flying coffin. She could point us out blindfolded in a line up if she had to. Yeah her with the waist length Sisterlocks that kept getting caught in her face under the sleep mask. Yeah that one. 

 I think of my mom, the traveling merchant who herself island hopped the Caribbean and Latin America searching for goods and wares to return and sell in St. Maarten. She saw a need and met it. Buying beautiful things that could only be bought if only you traveled the world to search. As I wrap up this recent trip, I question my hesitancy to share where I’m going in my travels with people. Particularly other black folks. It’s less about the “they just being nosy” but more about “oh gosh, what must they be thinking of me now.” And granted I could give ZERO cares (ya’ll know I don’t cuss–but you get the gist) I’ve been known to say “I’m going out of town” before I say I’m going to Hawaii and will be celebrating my birthday in all my cuteness in four time zones before making it back to South Florida. I hesitate to say I’ll be on a cruise celebrating another 40th in a couple of months. I’ve been mum about taking a quick jaunt to ATL not once but twice this Spring to celebrate some of my babies graduating. Or that Jamaica will see my husband and I again and this time I want to try something else that can possibly cause my death. Heck. My demise may as well be in Jamaica as anywhere else. 

My next blog is going to touch on being a black traveler in foreign places but through the lense of other black traveling friends. Stay tuned for the questionnaires and phone calls wanderlusters! The perceptions of black folks on black folks who travel will also be explored. We can be some of the most savage hating meanies when it comes to celebrating each other’s ability to collect passport stamps rather than things. White man travels to Dubai. No one blinks. But let Sistah girl snap photos of her trip to the Louvre and her posts gets screen shot and shared around the world in less than sixty seconds. With words like “doing the most” and “girl bye”‘laced in the convos. 

Haters. 

Stay tuned. 

Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Piece of A Man

She’s rushing to and fro. She’s searching high and low. She’s looking here and there. No, it’s not for that favorite pair of shoes. Or that purse she hardly used. Sistah girl is trying to piece together half of a man cause waiting on a whole one is like watching paint dry. On one of them tall buildings in Dubai. During humid season. 

She creeps out back windows. She pretends ignorance of his presence in public places. She scrolls through Facebooks posts. Patching up flash in the pan experiences to make something, anything of low key time spent with him. Piece of a man. 

She accepts the randomized efforts at affection. Random pecks on the cheek, even when they’re alone. He’d rather kiss the other creases on her body to even care to stare into her eyes. He’d rather pierce her body and ignore her soul. Piece of a man. 

Meals shared on a couch. Of a two star hotel. In silence. Gifts come in umarked boxes with no lyrical cards to tickle her fancy. The UPS man’s earnest smile is really the only reward that awaits at the door. As he passes along yet another gift she can’t brag on. Piece of a man. 

Her friends say “Girl, keep that man! At least you got half a man!” Yet they snicker behind  chat room texts on the foolery that had become her existence. Texting shade at her pitiful circumstances. Piece of a man. 

Her life a reality show without the check. A Shakespeare comedy without the laughter. Of one human being resigned to being resigned. Of a soul whose heart is spent piecing together a piece of a man. 

Like sitting at a table with a 5000 jig saw puzzle set. With one piece missing. Be it 500 pieces missing or just that damn-ed one. He’s still just that. A PIECE of a man. 

Career, Life Coach, Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: How To Avoid Career SuicideĀ 

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 SeasonĀ 

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.