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Blog refresh

Several months ago, I changed the name of my WordPress blog site from “Enlightened Social Worker” to “My Enlightened Life”. The address is still the same, but the name is different. I selected the original name mainly because I wanted to establish myself with some credibility and be recognized as a licensed social worker. However, although I’m still the hard-working professional I’ve always been, I am no longer licensed as a social worker. I remember being so proud of the work I accomplished to get licensed back in 2012. I waited almost a year after my graduation and completed all the steps, including studying, taking multiple practice exams, taking a couple of other exams, and ending with the final step – a 4-hour comprehensive social work licensing exam. I didn’t care if I passed by the skin of my teeth….as long as I passed. As it turned out, I had a decent score.

In Texas to be considered a social worker, you must be licensed. Alas, I will always be a social worker at heart, plus I earned a graduate degree in social work. I just cannot legally say I am a social worker. I am no longer licensed because I couldn’t keep up with the required continuing education credits due to my demanding job, raising my children with my husband, and my families’ health issues, including my own. It was difficult to manage it all and something had to give.

I never thought I wouldn’t maintain my license, but life happens and I don’t need it for the work I currently do as an administrator with the state of Texas. I also don’t need it for my blog. I just thought readers would be more receptive to content from a credible source. Moving forward, I deem myself credible by virtue of my ample life experience filled with ups and downs and my professional life which is also filled with ups and downs.

I did most recently inquire to the board that oversees social work licensing on what I need to do to get my license back. I’m working on some activities to get my life in alignment with my goals. I may decide to pursue my license again so that I can keep my career options more open.

I’ve also been wanting to make a pivot on my blog for quite some time. It’s hard to believe that I started this blog 7 years ago, especially when it took me a year to commit myself to start. Most often the hardest thing to do is start. I exhibited some courage when I started this blog. Over the years, the frequency of my posts have ebbed and flowed depending on what’s been going on my life.

Though this blog continues to be about self-care, I’ve evolved over time to share more of my favorite self-care activities such as cooking, smoothie challenges, exercising, gardening, and maintaining my health. This evolution is why I changed the name of my blog to “My Enlightened Life” because my blog content extends beyond social work. It’s about navigating life in my authentic way and me striving to be mentally lighter, more self-compassionate, more present, more joyful, and more self-accepting.

I suspect other people are striving for the same things, so if that’s you, stick around. If you’ve been sticking around, I’m forever grateful.

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Daily Prompt V.9

How do you feel about cold weather?

I despise it. Growing up in a large city in the Midwest (Chicago, Il), I didn’t know where, but I knew I would not live the rest of my life in a cold city. I’ve been happily living in Texas for 26 years, and I’d take the heat over the cold any day.

I often say it’s in my blood to live in a warm climate because both my parents, siblings, and extended family were born on an island. ๐Ÿ My ideal temperature is 80 to 85 degrees, but I can tolerate warmer.

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Daily Prompt V.8 – Leader or follower

Are you a leader or a follower?

I get paid to lead and have been in a leadership position for years. However, prior to being in an official leadership position, I exhibited leadership qualities and led from whatever positions I’ve held.

In my personal life and as a Christian, I follow Jesus Christ’s example and live my life by his example, teachings, and principles. This carries into how I lead in a professional capacity and in my home.

My husband and I are in covenant partnership in our marriage, and there are certain aspects where I follow his lead and some aspects where I lead. Twenty-six years of marriage, and it works for us.

So am I a leader or a follower….I am both.

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Daily Prompt V.7 – Fruits?

List your top 5 favorite fruits.

My top 5:

  1. Mangos
  2. Strawberries
  3. Blueberries
  4. Oranges
  5. Bananas

Last night, I made a quick meal of smoked chicken enchiladas, black beans, and simple salad. My husband, Bryan, smoked a chicken a few days ago and after considering several options, I decided to make enchiladas. I used drained, canned black beans but amped up the flavor with onions, fresh garlic, and spices.

My smoked chicken enchiladas with butter flour tortillas. These were deliciously spicey.

I decided to treat my family to some fresh fruit parfaits. I cut half of a small angel food cake into cubes and toasted them in a pan on the stove with a little butter. Then, layered whipped cream, toasted angel food cake, two of my favorite fruits (sliced strawberries and blueberries) in small glasses. Mine had chia seeds and cashew cream. It was a lovely scrumptuous treat.

One for myself, daughter, and husband.
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Intention for the week V.10

I had an exciting, full weekend that included my daughter, Elise’s, graduation (1 of 2), and prom. After we sent her off for prom, the sad emotions started creeping in because I realize our days with her are numbered as she heads away to college in the fall.

Fortunately, she won’t be far. Of the 11 schools across the states she was accepted in, she will be attending the University of Texas in Austin, Texas. The university is less than 30 minutes away. She’ll be staying on campus.

Me with Elise and Bryan- March 2023 tour and preorientation. I love that she’ll be attending my alma mater.

There’s a lot going on in my life right now with our daughter’s last year in high school, my health issues (newly diagnosed multiple sclerosis), and my 50th birthday coming up in 6 days. This week, Elise is wrapping up senior week with more activities at school, I will be catching up on work from being off on Friday, and I have my second visit with my new neurologist to discuss the plan for multiple sclerosis treatment.

With this is my mind, I want to be extra gentle with myself.

Intention for the week ahead: May I pace myself and slow down. May I take breaks when I feel the need to take breaks. May I seek out the joy in even the smallest circumstances. May I show up as my genuine self in every situation, sharing my honest thoughts with dignity and respect. May I encourage others and listen without expressing judgment. May I not fight against circumstances I can't control and reserve my energy for the things I can control. May I articulate my preferences and concerns clearly. May I be my own advocate. May I smile A LOT.
Go Longhorns!
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Happy Mother’s Day 2023

Happy Mother’s Day to the beautiful women who mean so much to your loved ones. As you can see from my photo, I have my crown, jewelry, and flowers, and my daughter treated me and her dad to a movie, so it’s been a beautiful, relaxing day! The Sunday movie at the theatre was especially nice after the busy weekend we’ve had with one of two of her graduations and her prom. She completed her Associate’s degree in General Studies before her high school graduation.

This is Bryan’s first Mother’s Day without his mom, so I’ve been especially sensitive to that. My sister and I spoke last night about how it’s been 6 years without our mom. Even though nothing can replace the hole you feel left in your heart, life goes on. You might look normal, but you don’t feel normal.

Despite the sadness that those who’ve lost their moms like me feel, I’m so grateful for memories and for everything my mom taught me. I’m also grateful for the experience of being a mom. Being a mom has enriched my life in so many ways, like giving me strength I never knew I had, expanding my capacity for love in ways I never knew existed, and allowing me to practice restraint, hear my children and not impose my will on them…at least not to the degree it was done to me. I want them to be self-sufficient, loving, and kind people, and they are on their way.

My son Caleb gave me my 1st shot at being a mom 22 years ago. He’s a good kid.

I don’t want this post to be about how difficult it is to be a mom, yet it is. Mothering or nurturing can definitely go beyond your own children. There have been many women (sisters, aunts, mother in law, cousins, friends, etc.) in my life besides my own beautiful mom who have mothered me, and I acknowledge their love in my life as well.

I end this post sending love and gratefulness into the world and hope that you feel the love of those who love not just today but every day. Happy Mother’s Day!

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Daily Prompt V.5- Live Performance

What was the last live performance you saw?

It was “The Voices of Lee” at my church’s outdoor amphitheater right before Christmas. They’re an A Cappella group of college students who attend Lee University in Cleveland, TN. Their voices are impeccable, and they sing at different venues, particularly  churches, during the holiday season as part of their grade. They sound like professionals. My husband, Bryan, and I really enjoyed the mini concert. Our pastor at, LifeFamily, has arranged for them to perform every year. He has a special connection since his oldest daughter attended Lee University. I captured the photos below.

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Health update 2023: My multiple sclerosis journey

I’ve been hesitating to share this post because it’s been an emotional ride, but here it is. My neurologist called me on Friday, March 31, 2023, to confirm I have multiple sclerosis (MS) and that he was referring me to an MS specialist (neurologist who specializes in MS).

After a solid, almost two months of research on my part, he confirmed what I had suspected. The dots started connecting after 2/6/2023, when he unexpectedly called me (on my son’s birthday) to notify me of the results of the MRI I had on 1/30/2023. I hadn’t thought about MS in about 7 years, let alone contemplated it was the reason for the symptoms I had been experiencing.

In January 2022, I had an unrelated surgery. In about the second week of recovery, I noticed I was stuttering occasionally. It would be the first time in my whole life I’ve ever stuttered. You can read about my hysterectomy recovery blog series on my blog site, such as in the post: How it started vs how itโ€™s going: 2 weeks post surgery.

I thought the stuttering was a reaction from the anesthesia. I’ve undergone several surgeries and have been told that I have trouble waking up from anesthesia. I told my gynecologist the issue, and she referred me to the neurologist.

MS is a complex, chronic autoimmune disease of which there is no cure. I am not a doctor, but this is what I’ve learned. It’s a neurological condition where the body attacks itself, particularly the myelin in the nerves, and the symptoms can be disabling. For many people, it can take years before MS is diagnosed because the symptoms can mirror other conditions.

The diagnostic criteria is specific – there has to be evidence in dissemination of space and of time. Usually, there have to be clinical symptoms, though some people are asymptomatic. An MRI has to show evidence of brain lesions and/or lesions on the spine. In some cases, a lumbar puncture (spinal tap) has to indicate evidence of certain proteins linked to MS – oligloconol bands. I had a lumbar puncture on 3/16/2023.

In about 2008 or 2009, I was diagnosed with a condition called optic neuritis, which is one of the first symptoms of MS. I was almost at complete vision loss, accompanied by excruciating pain. At the time, I was treated for three days (outpatient) with an intravenous infusion of steroids at the recommendation of an MS specialist.

He didn’t diagnose me at that time because the optic neuritis was one event in time. I was also sorely deficient in Vitamin D as discovered by my primary care physician, so he indicated my treatment would be high doses of prescribed Vitamin D for 3 months and then continued over the counter Vitamin D.

After visiting with this MS specialist for several years and several MRIs later, he recommended I pursue alternative therapies and lifestyle changes because my symptoms didn’t warrant being on medication that would cause me to be sicker than my symptoms. I did just that, moved on with my life, not thinking about MS, and was diagnosed with breast cancer some months after our last visit (roughly 2015 or 2016).

In the last 9 months or so, I’ve had emerging symptoms that I now realize are MS symptoms. These symptoms come and go: muscle spasms mostly in my feet, back, and rib cages, stiffness in my lower body, cognitive issues related to attention, concentration and memory, stuutering, some numbness and trembling, sensitvity to heat and cold, and blurry vision. These symptoms don’t come all at one time, but sometimes, a few occur simultaneously. The painful muscle spasms have been increasing.

I made up my mind before the 3/31/2023 call that I would accept whatever outcome I faced and deal with it. I want to live to see my grandchildren and grow old with my husband. My new MS doctor assured me that if I could survive cancer, then I could survive living with MS. I’m holding onto this hope.

Some light lessons I will share in the face of a health crisis is this:

  • Learn everything you can about the condition. I find it empowering and makes me less fearful.
  • Engage a small circle of friends and family, asking them to pray for you. You don’t want to go through it alone.
  • Slow your life down and take inventory of what needs to change. Something is going to have to change in your life in order to take care of yourself.
  • Amp up your self-compassion because you’re going through a lot. Let go of blame, shame, and the high demands you may place on yourself.
  • Let people help you. I learned this through my breast cancer journey. I’m no superhero. I need help.

I hope this encourages someone. I know it made me feel better because I don’t want MS to take over my life, control me, or make me hide. I want to learn to live with it and still have a full life.

I plan to share more of my MS journey in future posts.

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Daily Prompt V.4-Favorite Brands

What are your favorite brands and why?

With regard to brands of products I use to take care of my hair and body, I prefer products with the most natural ingredients and with the least amount of chemicals. I also prefer brands that are conscious and respectful of the environment and the location where the product is sourced. I’ve tried many brands over the years, and I can’t say I’m only committed to particular ones. As I’ve honed in on what’s important to me in a product, I do have some preferences.

Generally, I love to support black owned (African American and across the Carribbean/African Diaspora) brands for all of my needs beyond personal grooming because I want to support my people. If I know a brand is black owned, I will likely try it.

For hair products, I prefer black owned brands because, as a black woman, I believe those products are created just for my hair texture and will help my hair thrive. I also want to support the brand.

For face and body care, I prefer any brand that has minimal chemicals and more natural and organic ingredients like essential oils and nutrients. I also prefer responsibly sourced products because many of those beneficial ingredients come from different parts of the world that may be impoverished, not well developed, and/or have limited resources and economic opportunities.

I’m open to trying different products that meet my preferences.

Me with freshly untwisted natural hair