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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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To all the badass women leaders

My previous boss gave me this book as an early Christmas gift in 2019 and I devoured it. It’s filled with so many valuable nuggets in a light, digestable style of writing. I knew at one time I was a BADASS, but something happened months into COVID causing me to doubt myself. A large part of it had to do with burn out from chronic stress and life demands. BUT in the last 11 months or so, I’ve been finding myself again and I’m back to believing I’m a BADASS. Sometimes the obstacles of life can make you doubt yourself and your path. However, I’m here to tell you to keep going. Struggles, obstacles, challenges, disappointments, disasters, and defeats come with the human experience. Don’t be so hard on yourself. It will turn around.

If you’re not in a struggle now, you’re coming out of one or are headed that way in the future. But don’t fret! Struggles strengthen your muscles (i.e., character, spiritual, resilience, emotional, mental, financial, intellectual, integrity, professional, parenting, friendship, etc.), depending on what lessons you’re meant to learn. I can’t say I enjoy my life’s struggles yet, but I’ve learned so many lessons from them and from the strong women in my life.

In this post, I will share some of the BADASS women leaders who’ve impacted my life the most. I’m fortunate to work in an environment with a diverse group of exceptional women leaders. Several of them are African American. The strongest traits I see in them are articulating thoughts precisely, saying the hard things, encouraging others, providing constructive feedback, taking the time to learn, adjusting, and bravely making hard decisions on a daily basis. I’ve had examples of strong, badass women leaders my whole life.

My mom, Solange, immigrated to the United States from Haiti and she was a package of strength and vulnerability. I was perplexed by this combination for a long time. She raised 4 children on a meager salary as a single mother for years (before she married my stepfather when I was 16). I don’t know how she did it when I learned her salary amount. I made more money than her in my first full time job.

Solange was strict and had high standards. She instilled her work ethic into each of her children. My work ethic is why I’m in a leadership position. My work ethic is why I push myself so hard as an overachiever. Overachieving comes with some drawbacks as you’ve seen me blog about previously. I’m in a constant battle of doing and being okay with not doing. Therapy is helping me to unpack this.

The other BADASS woman leader I grew up with in my own home is my older sister, Gina. Growing up, she was the one everybody (or at least I did) called “bossy”. Naturally, most people have a problem with the “bossy” ones because they don’t want to be told what to do. However, she was practical and had an organized sense about her.

As it turns out, people who are bossy make great leaders and she’s been in leadership roles at various jobs starting at an early age. I’ve always admired Gina’s ability to speak with confidence and articulate what she meant. Gina is direct and honest. I’m grateful she’s one of my resources for feedback in managing certain matters at work.

Then, there was my older cousin who is so smart. I’m purposely not typing her name. There’s a lot of pressure in Haitian culture to do as your parents plan for you. From my perspective, as the middle child, my cousin learned to be a great neutralizer and negotiator in the family. Gina has these traits considering she is also the middle child. Middle children are known to be great negotiators.

My observation is my cousin maintains relationships with everyone, even if those individuals who don’t get along with each other. She’s the common denominator. They all get along with her. I’ve also watched her achieve her goals and meet high standards she set for herself and standards her parents set for her.

The traits I admire in women leaders don’t come easily – articulating thoughts precisely, saying the hard things despite the audience, constantly learning and adjusting, negotiating, managing personalities successfully, offering constructive feedback, bravely making and standing by hard decisions, and managing work and family life simultaneously. Women of color particularly have it hard when you factor living in a world where there is racism, in addition to sexism, ageism, and all the other isms. Being able to lead through the sociological muddiness impresses me even more.

The title of the book is fun, but I will add I personally tend to be humble despite the wisdom I’ve gained from my experiences. So basically, in real life, I don’t go around telling people I’m a BADASS. I got the humility trait from Solange and I can’t help myself. I do think it’s healthy to reflect on things you like about yourself and your accomplishments. This gives you CONFIDENCE and the courage to keep striving.

As a start to another week, I hope you remember you are a BADASS because you made it to see another day. Keep working on whatever it is your working towards. And why not let the other BADASSES in your life know how much they mean to you.

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5 things I never thought I’d do to save money

For most of 2022, there’s been a lot of media coverage on inflation and the rising costs of groceries, in particular. In 2020, when we were planning for our new construction home, we accomplished some major financial goals after living on one income for 3 years as a result of my husband, Bryan’s, disability. In the last year and a half, we’ve been living very comfortably in our new home and have not been as vigilant with preserving our finances as we had in 2020. And we need to because we have other goals (we have a child who’s in her last year of high school in the house) and the costs of most things have increased so much. Just because you think you an afford something doesn’t mean you should. It’s time to reign in on our spending.

I’ve read many articles and have seen loads of videos on what to do to save money and live frugally. I’ve engaged in various strategies to save money for years, but I thought it would be fun to focus on things I’d thought I’d NEVER DO to save money. We all do things that work for us and it’s taken me some time to buy into some other activities. I started at least 3 of these activities in 2022.

  1. Buy generic or store brand items – Over the years on my blog I’ve shared my love for preparing healthy meals for myself and my family. In many areas of the country (not just in Texas), it can be expensive in up front costs to eat healthy, especially if you purchase solely organic foods. I realize it’s all in how you see it (pay for healthy foods now, or don’t, and pay in medical bills later). However, you can save money on eating healthy and one way is to reduce, or not buy unless on sale, name brand items. I’ve since learned many name brand items are made in the same factories as generic items and even have the same ingredients. Some store brands even have organic store brand items. If you aren’t sure, you can compare the labels while you’re shopping like I often do.
  2. Grocery shop at multiple stores and stop shopping at some – On my quest to find the best deals, I’ve learned I need to branch out to other stores. I’ve even stopped buying at certain stores because I’ve learned I can find a better deal elsewhere. Sorry Target, but I haven’t thought about buying groceries from you in years. Target used to be a store a frequented several days a week when my children were younger, but I’ve since branched out to save some money. Currently, I shop at about 5 different stores during the month to ensure we’re getting the best grocery deals.
  3. Freeze vegetable scraps for broth – I’ve been sharing my food on this blog for years, so it’s no surprise I make my own broths (chicken, vegetable, beef) when I can. However, I have to admit, a few years ago, I used to make broth weekly; whereas, I’ve slowed down in the past couple of years. It’s convenient to buy store bought broths at the grocery store, but have you seen those prices lately? Broth is so easy to make so there is no excuse. One thing I’ve been doing this year to not only ensure I keep broth stocked, but to also avoid wasting food, is saving the vegetable scraps in my freezer rather than throwing them away in my normal meal prep activities. I’m talking about the ends of cut onions, the tips and skins of carrots after I clean them, celery ends, and herbs on the brink of death. Now, they all just go in the freezer bag and when full, I’ll cook some nutritious and tasty broth.
  4. Shop at thrift stores – This one has to be the most surprising activity I’ve done because I’ve never been a thrifter. If it weren’t for my daughter, Elise, asking me to take her to Goodwill on day, I would never do it. I won’t go into what some may perceive as my UPPITY attitude about thrift shopping….just know I’m converted… to a degree. I know how to find great bargains at non-thrift stores. I’ve purchased sweaters for $5 dollars at a mainstream store, so why do I need used clothes and other items from stores such as Goodwill? You catch up on my blog post Shopping deals during COVID-19 to read about the epic deals I got at the beginning of the pandemic. One thing I’ve learned to appreciate at thrift stores is the variety of brands you can find.
  5. Propagate my own plants – I love plants. My home is filled with beautiful plans. I’m probably at 70+ container plants in my home and another 20+ in containers on my back patio. One thing I’ve learned is that plants are expensive. By the time I buy the plants, the pots (I refuse to leave a plant in the nursery container I purchased them in), soil, and fertilizer, it’ll cost a pretty penny (it’s EXPENSIVE!!!). So I got to thinking how can I get more plants by spending very little to zero money? I began following some plants groups on social media and I learned it’s so easy to create more plants from existing plants. It’s a DREAM COME TRUE. Not only that, since I’m a generous person, I love that I can share my love for plants with my family and friends by gifting them my plant babies when they come visit.

See below for my photos and more ideas on how to save money.

Store brand items in my pantry from different stores. Store brands have become an essential part of my grocery supply. Some store brands also have their own organic line of products like O Organics sold at Randall’s.
I made this delicious cauliflower, chicken ALFREDO with the Sprout’s brand Cavatappi pasta from the previous photo. I boiled, then pureed in my blender a head of cauliflower. I added nutritional yeast, pasta water, vegetable broth (see below photo), and lots of spices to the cauliflower in the blender to make the base of the “alfredo” sauce.
Liquid gold aka vegetable broth. Over a month or so, I would add any vegetable scraps to a freezer bag I kept in the freezer. Once I had enough vegetables to fill the bags, I loaded them in a pot with water, garlic, and other aromatics for broth. I simmered for about 8-10 hours. Another way I save money is by saving empty jars of marinara, pickled foods, mayonnaise, etc. They come in handy for my smoothies and general food storage.
I froze some of the broth in 1 cup servings in this freezer tray I purchased from Amazon in the fall 2021 for my 10-day soup challenge which you can read about here: Bring on the soups. I use it to freeze so much more than soups like broths and pureed fruits. This allows me to keep my supply longer and avoid wastes. Once frozen, I remove the cubes from the tray, wrap the individual cubes in parchment paper, place all in one freezer bag, and store back in the freezer.
I bought this cute little orange dress from Goodwill and wore it on Easter Sunday 2022 with a denim jacket I’ve had for 5+ years. This is a quality dress from the brand Maeve. I researched the brand online while in the store before I bought it because I wanted to justify the cost….it was $20 which is typically more expensive than other dresses at Goodwill.
This is another top I bought from Goodwill sometime last year. I love this color. I wore this to my medical clinic on Friday (yesterday) and received several compliments. The brand is New York and Company and I probably paid $5.
July 2022 – Babies from my gigantic spider plant. It took the larger ones in the back about 1 month for them to get to this size. To my dismay, none of the smaller babies survived. I don’t think they liked the jars. All glasses purchased from Dollar Tree.
September 2022 – These babies are growing up. Same plants as the larger ones in the previous photo. They love it outside.
This is my second batch of Sunflowers from seeds. They grew really quickly…a few weeks. I’ve become obsessed with sunflowers and want them in my landscape throughout the fall season. I have more sunflowers and gladiolus in nursery pots on the back patio.

What do you do to save money? Feel free to comment to let me know.

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Hey September

Is it just me or are the days going by faster? It seems as though I blinked and August was over. Growing up in Chicago, I always got the “je ne sais quoi” feeling inside of my being when September rolled around. September marked the beginning of fall…one of my favorite seasons in Chicago because of the crispness in the air, vibrant colors of the trees as they change and leaves fall, the beginning of the school year, and the coziness factor. Here in Texas, it’s still HOT. The temperatures are expected to be in the mid nineties at least for this upcoming week. Believe me, I’m ready for the eighties and it doesn’t help that we got a small taste of a cool front last week with the rain. Now, it’s back to being what it usually is… HOT. We probably won’t get a break until October.

My body still craves everything that comes with fall in Chicago despite living in Texas for 25 years. September is a bittersweet month for me because not only is it my wedding anniversary month and the month I moved to Texas, but it’s also the month I was diagnosed with invasive ductal carcinoma – Breast cancer. I wrote a little about the “bitter” 5 years ago, in the post Oh September. I wrote it months after losing my mom and a year after my diagnosis.

Every September since my diagnosis, I navigate the joy of celebrating another anniversary with my husband, Bryan, the memories of living in Texas since the day after our wedding, along with the sheer fear of hearing those words from my doctor for the first time (you have breast cancer) and the anxiety of doing my annual mammogram at the end of the month. I can say that with each year that passes, the bitter is less bitter. It’s not necessarily that time heals all wounds because losing my mom is like a wound that will never be healed. However, it hurts less and acceptance settles in more with each year.

I need to give myself credit for making many strides over the years. January 2022 made 5 years of being cancer free. It’s been over a year since I started taking intravenous mediation to prepare my body for a hysterectomy. And it’s been 8 months since my hysterectomy surgery.

This September, I’m choosing to focus on new possibilities and opportunities, gratitude for my blessings, contentment, cooler temperatures on the horizon, and personal growth.

What are you looking forward to this September?

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My assignment

God has put an assignment on my life and it is time I let go of the guilt for choices I make to honor my assignment. My assignment is this: CARING FOR MY FAMILY. That’s it. Several years ago, I attended a church service where a pastor first introduced me to the idea of God giving us assignments. Assignments can be people or causes or whatever God has called you to do. You can also have more than one assignment though I’m not sure if it would be feasible to manage multiple assignments simultaneously. I’ve known since I had children, my family is my main assignment. I love this beautiful family of mine, who God entrusted me with, and I am going to do whatever I can to make them feel loved, nurtured, and cared and provided for.

The Carrs on a bike riding adventure at the Veloway, Austin, Texas

When my husband, Bryan, had brain surgery due to hydrocephalus in 2016, we thought we had passed the worst of it, not knowing he would decompensate the following year, which entailed even more hospitalizations and treatment. I knew with my background in mental health and working directly with clients and helping them navigate through life (including medical appointments), it prepared me to attend to Bryan. It is difficult for the average person to navigate the medical care system, let alone experienced professionals. Even with my training and experience, I would get frustrated with the process of it all. Bryan is doing so much better and I have been grateful to be his advocate, case manager, and caretaker. I feel sorry for those who do not have this level of support.

Lucrece and Bryan in Corpus Christi, Texas


My son, Caleb, started struggling in middle school due to difficulty focusing. I made sure I attended all the school meetings regarding his learning and attempted to implement protocols at home to keep him organized. I typed “attempted” because they didn’t always work, especially if Caleb didn’t keep up with them. Bryan was the homework parent, and I was the organizer, scheduler, and shopper. In addition to emotional support, it was also important to me that my children had healthy, homecooked meals because I wanted to provide them with this type of nurturing. Therefore, I made sure I purchased healthy food options and I spent my weekends cooking.

Steak tacos…YUM!


For years, I have mentally tortured myself for spending most of my weekends prepping meals, cooking, attending to my family and home, playing with my children (when they were little), and doing some self-care activities instead of catching up on my never-ending work to-do list. I cannot pinpoint when, but I came to the realization I was deliberately choosing to focus on caring for my family, my assignment, rather than doing work activities. And this realization occurred over a period of time. Why would I feel guilty about that? It would have made more sense for me to be give myself some grace for all I was doing. However, internal and external forces made me feel like I wasn’t doing enough.


Since teleworking for over 2 years now due to the pandemic, I continued to bear this guilt. The lines between work and home are even more blurred working from home. I would spend my weekends attending to my assignment, all the while with the anxiety of “work” looming in my head. It was like background noise I could not turn off. Then Sunday night would inevitably arrive, and I realized I did not have time for work. But interestingly, that is when I would let it go and proclaim, “tomorrow is a new day”. Why can’t I start my weekend consciously saying I am devoting my weekend to my family (aka my assignment) and myself and be satisfied with that?

I wrote this on the dry erase board outside of my office in March 2020. I thought I was going to be back in the office on Monday, but we’ve been teleworking every since.


Earlier in the summer, a pastor at my current church preached about people being so stressed today and how we need to go back to some basic principles such as recognizing Sunday as being a day of rest. I knew that message was for me. I felt convicted as I listened. He did say to work hard Monday through Saturday. I left church promising to adopt this in my life. In honesty, I have slipped a few Sundays by doing some work, but the same degree as in the past. And for clarification, the commitment I made was not to do work for my place of employment on Sunday and to do most of my weekend cleaning and tiding up on Friday and Saturday. I don’t necessarily view cooking as work.


Another aspect where I find myself feeling guilty is when it comes to maintaining friendships. My life is plenty full, even with my children growing up. I have prioritized caring for my assignment. There are some people I stay connected with, but I realize there are many people of whom I do not due to the extra effort it takes. Aside from attending to my assignment, I value my peace, so I set boundaries which usually means less people around me. Plus, I am an introvert at heart so I am energized in small groups such as the size of my household (4) and in solitude. I will also add that long term friendships ebb and flow because we all have our assignments and things going on in our lives.


If you struggle with any of this, I hope you take what you need from my post, but mainly allow yourself some grace. The main thing I am doing is changing my mindset. I have already been practicing this. Rather than focus on what I don’t accomplish, I focus on the conscious choices I’ve made to attend to my assignment, what I did accomplish as a result of my choices, and then I give myself a mental high five for following the commitment to my assignment. That’s it.


For example, I started Saturday morning with attending a Zumba fitness class which was super fun and checked the self-care box. Afterwards, I went to the grocery store to pick up a few items for the household and it was nice to get there early. Then at home, I prepared a delicious lunch of leftovers. I then cleaned my bathroom and was pleased that a new product I tried removed the soap scum and hard water marks. I changed my bed sheets, did some laundry, dusted two ceiling fans. swept the floor in the main areas, wrote two work ideas down on my dry erase board in my office, watered, pruned, sprayed my indoor and outdoor plants, washed my hair, and polished my nails. I started this post before midnight on Saturday, which is another score for me. It was a very productive day for sure. Great job, Lucrece!

What is there to feel guilty about? If anything, I need to process more deeply what about my work environment causes me to feel guilty when I’m unable to work on my off days. What is it about me that requires me to believe I SHOULD be able to do it all when in reality, it is not feasible. And I’m working on removing the word “should” from my vocabulary because it’s like setting limits on yourself. Prioritizing my family (and my self-care) when I’m not scheduled to work is what I need to be attending to on my off hands. For limited time work projects that require a little extra work on my off days, I’m willing to accommodate, but not like I used to. This is coming from a recovering workaholic.


The light lessons for this post are: 1) deliberately change how I view the situation by acknowledging the choices I am making; 2) committing myself to those choices; and 2) praising myself with positive self-talk. If I go even further, I could maintain a journal or phone log of choices/accomplishments I’ve made for the day. I did try this for a few weeks and didn’t keep up with it. I just might pick it up again.

If you struggle with work guilt, mom guilt, friend guilt or just general guilt, I’d love to hear how you handle this. Drop a comment if you feel so inclined. Until next time.

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Fitness Fun

Here’s some inspiration: dancing, weight lifting, walking and stretching, 6 days a week, 3-4 hours per week, and 10,000+ steps per day. Today, I clocked in 67 minutes of Zumba fitness and 11,458 steps (so far). It was just a few weeks after my surgery in January that I got back into exercise. I started earlier than recommended (for the average person) and took it slow for a couple weeks by just making sure I was walking around the house and getting steps in. Eventually, I graduated to Youtube videos and my personal arsenal of DVDs (circa early 2000s).

Exercise has been my anti-anxiety, anti-depression, and anti-stress medication for many years. I have a new reason to maintain my healthy habit: to ensure a healthy mid-life. I keep hearing the voice of a doctor who specializes in women’s health say “the greatest predictor of health in old age is health at middle age”. I’ve done my research on menopause and recovering from a hysterectomy. I’m determined to live a healthy, non-sedentary life.

Since the pandemic, I’ve broadened my horizon on exercise thanks to Youtube. I have my favorite exercise enthusiasts I follow such as the ladies with KuKuwa Fitness. I blogged about my introduction to these brown beauties and some other Youtubers in my post Shaking things up in 2020.

If you read my 6-month update post on my hysterectomy recovery (you can read about it here), then you’ll know I’ve gained some weight since my surgery. I know my body is adjusting to being in a post menopausal state. I’ve been focusing on amping up my nutrition and incorporating more weight training (at least 4 days a week). I tell myself to keep moving forward and use other measures to determine progress. For example, I’ve noticed the exercise is paying off because my resting heart rate has decreased which hasn’t happened in years. That has increased my cardio fitness score per my Fitbit app. About a month ago, I started attending Zumba Fitness classes in person again, at least 1 day a week, and it’s been so much fun! I’ve also been sleeping more soundly at night.

Since February, I’ve been addicted to routines created by Josephine Sophia and her platform called GROWWITHJO. She has so many videos on her channel to choose from. I love the variety and have found myself working muscles in ways I haven’t done before because of her routines.

In my fitness circle, I used to hear the phrase “never miss a Monday” in regards to working out, but I personally never a miss a Sunday because Sunday is the start to my week. Exercising on Sunday sets the tone for my week and I’m patting myself on the back for getting it in.

I hope this post has inspired you to start moving, shake up your routine, increase your efforts, or just keep moving forward. Do what will keep you coming back for more. Feel free to let me know what your favorite exercise is.

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A SoSo check in

I couldn’t end July without acknowledging how much I think about my mom (or mummy as I called her) during this month. Five years ago she passed away on July 8th and her homegoing was on July 14th. I had just made a visit to Chicago, IL in June 2017 (from Austin, Texas) and she looked happy that all of her children were together. Then, less than a month later, she passed away. I’ve been wanting to blog all month, but have not been motivated to do it. My basic internet search on the stages of grief outlines the stages as: 1) denial, numbness, and shock; 2) bargaining; 3) depression; 4) anger; and 5) acceptance. Every person grieves in his/her own way and I can say I haven’t experienced all of these phases. The place where I think I am is acceptance though acceptance doesn’t mean I don’t miss my mom or that on occasion, I’m overcome with emotion from missing her.

I wish she were here to experience all of the milestones in her legacy’s lives. Since she’s been gone, she missed my son’s graduation from high school, my nephew and nieces’ graduations from college, seeing my husband, Bryan, on the other side of his illness which was a struggle for many years, visiting us in our new home, and seeing us all get together for Thanksgiving 2021. Most recently she missed her grandson (my nephew) moving to another state (Colorado), her granddaughter (my niece directing a movie for her master’s thesis at UCLA), and she will miss the birth of her first great grandbaby in September.

Lately, I’ve been noticing that I look more and more like my mummy, Solange, affectionately named “SoSo” by my stepfather who passed away a few years before her. I’ve always looked like SoSo, but I really see it now in not just appearance, but mannerisms. I see her in certain facial expressions I make and in my body composition, especially after having a hysterectomy earlier this year. SoSo also had a hysterectomy when I was 16. In fact, her difficult recovery is why I chose the most least invasive approach with my doctor.

SoSo taught me so much good such as believing in God, having values, caring for my family and household, cooking, standing up for myself, keeping my word, having a good work ethic, and seeking medical care to stay on top of my health, to name a few. The drive to constantly be better and do better is what I got from her. In truth, the hypercritical aspects of how I view myself I also got from her. I’m slowly detaching from those things. The beauty of the mind is that you can choose what you focus on. My relationship with SoSo was not perfect as I noted in a previous blog post Reflections on Life Without My Best Friend on Mother’s Day.

Am I becoming SoSo? I don’t think so. We believed in different things and navigated life differently. However, we are the same on things that matter like love and family. I’m going to make sure all the beautiful things about her continue to live in me and through my children. I know the many bad experiences she lived through also made her the person who she was. I’m just grateful that through her pain, she instilled in me some good. That good will live on.

Here’s a light lesson if you’re grieving the loss of a loved one like a parent (or anyone): Think about how you can keep them close by holding onto all of the good they shared with you and how they would want you to live (assuming it’s positive). And think about how you can share that good with others and then do so. I feel obligated to be the best person I can be because I know SoSo would want that.

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Food chronicles: Summer obsessions

When I tell you my creative juices have been flowing (pun intended😁), I mean it. Two things I’ve been into this summer are 1) propagating my plants (I’ll take a deeper dive in another post) and 2) pickling. I was inspired to try my hand at pickling cucumbers while doing one of my favorite past times: watching YouTube videos. The set of videos I was watching was either on meal prepping, vegan recipe ideas, frugal shopping tips, high protein meals, or all of the above.

Pickled red onions and cucumbers

I’m not sure why I’ve never thought to pickle anything especially when I learned how easy and inexpensive it is. All you need are common household items like vinegar (your choice on what kind), basic spices like pepper, herbs (if you have on hand), and the produce. I collect jars to store foods in (homemade smoothies, juices, broth), so I had a few to spare. I researched some recipes online to determine what appealed to me the most. I generally use recipes as guides and to give me ideas. When I’m baking, I’ll follow the recipe precisely because it’s backed by science.

Prepped vegetables for Pikliz, a Haitian condiment you eat with most anything, especially rice. Vegetables: habanero peppers (a substitute for the traditional scotch bonnet), mini red, yellow, & orange peppers, shallot, and cabbage.

I used the same liquid for the pickled cucumbers and red onions. I combined a recipe that called for vinegar, water, sugar, garlic, and peppercorns. I didn’t use as much sugar as the recipe indicated. The only difference is I added dried dill to the cucumber jars.

The liquid requires heating in a sauce pan over the stove until the sugar dissolves. I placed the vegetables in the jars and poured enough liquid to cover them. I let them cool down on the counter before sealing with the lids and placing in the refrigerator. I began enjoying the pickled onions the next day on my veggie burgers. I let the cucumbers marinate for 2 weeks and WHOILA, I had delicious pickles.

The Pikliz liquid didn’t require heating and only comprised of vinegar. An addition I made was added garlic to the jars. I used black pepper and thyme. I made a whopping 5 jars of that good stuff. I placed 4 in the refrigerater and one in the cabinet as a test. Some recipes didn’t require refrigeration. It’s been a week and I haven’t tried it yet. I’m looking forward to tasting.

Pickled carrots

Two wonderful things about pickling vetables are: the options are endless, from the vegetables, herbs, and spices; and you’re preserving vegetables which reduces food waste. It also presents a new way to eat them with the added probiotic benefits. This pickled carrot recipe was in the cookbook my son bought me for Christmas called Thug Kitchen… This recipe was particularly recommened for burritos and tacos.

I hope you’re inspired to try some delicious pickling recipes this summer. They will add an undeniable elevated flavor profile to your dishes.

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Take a leap

We’ve made it to beyond the midpoint of 2022, believe it or not. If you think 2022 is going by SUPER FAST, you’re not alone. Someone I work with often jokes Christmas is around the corner. She’s been repeating that joke since January, and sure enough, Christmas will be here before you know it. So much has happened this year already. I don’t even remember what my goals were for 2022. Well, I take that back…here’s a big one: get through my surgery (January) and have a smooth recovery. Done! The gynecologist who performed my hysterectomy sent me off into the sunset with a “You’ve done great! I’ll see you next year.” And my oncologist is hopeful I won’t need to be on medications anymore, which I’ll find out about in a few weeks.

There is one huge goal I’m striving for, which I will not reveal what it is just yet. I know, I’m usually all for sharing, but at the same time, I’m a private person. The stakes are high on this goal and I don’t want to invite unknown energies into the mix. Not everyone is your cheerleader or will understand. But this post isn’t about what my goal actually is or what other people will think about my goal.

I was actively working on my goal a few months ago and then something happened that brought it to a halt. That “thing” was actually several things (i.e., family issues, work drama, beloved pet died, etc.). My goal started feeling like it was at the top of this mountain and my legs were getting heavier and heavier as I tried to walk to the top. I began doubting the timing of my goal and convinced myself to wait. The idea of this is not unreasonable, after all, timing is very important. These other things were important too, which is why they were popping up. Never mind I thought of this goal over a year ago.

So what do you do when you have a goal you really want, but your efforts begin to wane under the pressures of life? I was faced with this very scenario. Since this goal will have a significant impact to my quality of life, one thing I did was reevaluate my “why” for wanting to achieve the goal in the first place. Part of that re-evaluation included assessing whether my goal was reasonable. Yet, I knew my goal was more than reasonable because I made it a SMART goal.

Once I re-established my goal as a solid, non-negotiable goal, I began to question what about these distractions caused me to slow down. I was likely tired, mentally drained, and overwhelmed. The remedy has been amping up my self-nurturing (checking my internal dialogue, slowing down, resting more, increasing meditation, reducing stress, practicing gratitude, and more prayer). I needed to be vigilant about my “figurative” ADLs – Activities of Daily Living (eating nutritionally, exercise daily, deep breathing, meditation).

Some light lessons that popped up were: life is going to happen no matter what; there will always be distractions.; there will rarely be a time when nothing is going on; there will never be the “right” time; I have to make the time; and I have to continue to push forward until I achieve it. Although there are many uncertainties, I have to take the leap of faith it will work out in my favor.

If you find yourself wavering on an important goal that you can’t let go, try these tips to see if they help:

  1. Re-evaluate your “why”.. the reason wht you want to accomplish the goal.
  2. Make sure your goal is a SMART goal.
  3. Be kind and extra patient with yourself rather than beating yourself up for not achieving the goal.
  4. Develop some “Power Statements” to refer to often to keep you focused on your goal. (i.e., I can do this!)
  5. Restart or put more energy into activities that will help you achieve your goal.
  6. Take a leap of faith and JUST DO IT.

One of my favorite things about the cover photo I took with my smartphone is catching the little gecko as he contemplated his next move. He was so small compared to my wild foliage in the landscape at the old house. Yet, he was bold and fearless, eager to see where he might land, focused on getting to that next destination. He knew staying where he was, was not an option. I want to be that lizard (not FOR REAL, but in mindset…if that’s what he was thinking. You know what I mean!)

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Feeding my soul: 6 months post surgery

Where has the time gone? It feels like a distant memory I had a hysterectomy on January 26th. And I actually started typing this post for a 4-month update, but I’ve finally gotten around to completing it. It’s been a very long 2 months since my last post because I’ve been so busy with life. Without fail, I’ve been consistently exercising, meditating, and eating healthy. My therapist calls these my ADLs (activities of daily living). If you’ve spent any time working with, or know people of the older generation, then you might appreciate the comparison.

I’ve provided several post-surgery updates in previous posts such as Day 1: Post Surgery, How it started vs how it’s going: 2 weeks post surgery , and 4 Week Post Surgery Update, to mention a few. In this post, I’ll provide some updates on what I’ve been up to and my recovery progress. In my very last post in April, I shared we had to put down our beloved kittie, Beignet. It was sudden and traumatic. His death occurred within days of me having to navigate through a difficult work situation that together put be in a high anxiety and depressing head space.

One thing about me and what I hope my readers glean is I ALWAYS turn the situation around to a “light lesson” that will not only propel me forward, but will hopefully help others. It’s simply changing my attitude about the situation. I do have a pattern of retreating to myself and not blogging when I’m embroiled in life challenges. It’s difficult for me to share when I don’t see the way out just yet. However, I’ve ALWAYS returned to blogging because it’s an integral part of my self-care. It’s an outlet for me to express myself.

The grieving process was difficult as you can imagine. I’ve never grieved so hard with losing a pet. My husband, Bryan, and our kids had a difficult time. We’ve since become more at peace and are thankful Beignet is no longer in pain. Beignet loved us with his whole little heart and we loved him with all of ours.

I’m not going to share the work situation because I’ve been actively working on a resolution. I may choose to reveal what it is once it’s settled. I can tell you it didn’t help my recovery one bit. I spiraled into a pattern of poor sleeping habits and eventually getting sick AGAIN. I saw a doctor in early June and this time, the diagnosis is along the lines of asthma likely brought on by allergies. I do live in the ‘Allergy Capitol’ of the United States.

There were some BRIGHTER moments in May such as celebrating Mother’s Day with my family and my birthday. I was initially sad on my birthday because I always think of my mummy who’s passed away almost 5 years ago. I cheered up eventually, especially after thinking about how blessed I am to make it to 49 years old.

We had a beautiful Mother’s Day service at church. I chose to wear my big, barely cream colored hat with the black bow along with my striped maxi dress. Bryan took us out for breakfast afterwards.
Enjoying the sun at the Lazy River on my birthday.
Birthday dinner!

For my mental and emotional health, I journal occassionally, practice mindfulness, am being intentionally self-compassionate, and do all the homework my therapist assigns. Homework usually pertains to exploring a thought through journaling, practicing a technique, completing some research, or following through on something that’ll make me feel better…it just depends.

Spiritually, I’ve doubled down on reading and meditating on the scriptures daily. I pray a lot more too. This year is the first year I’ve been consistent with meditation. I thank my FITBIT app for the variety of options on my phone which make it easy. I do a guided meditation at least five days a week, usually before bed. Bryan has gotten used to it too and now asks me to start it when he’s ready for bed.

For nutrition, I’ve gone back to eating meat though I still mostly eat plant-based. Some meals, or days, I don’t eat meat. I enjoy eating meat and realized after over 6 months of solely eating vegan and plant-based, that my body does so well without dairy. I was even eating plant-based cheese, but since I do not like the taste of most of these alternative cheese products, I decided to stop eating cheese altogether.

I named this post “Feeding my soul” because I feel like I’ve been attempting to bring myself back to myself, and a major way I do this, is through nourishing foods. In the cover photo, I enjoyed a plate of pinto beans and rice, smoked chicken, and collard greens. It was so yummy. I believe the foods I choose to eat keep menopausal symptoms at bay.

One day I even made an old school, delicious version of pot roast. Old school because I used a box of Lipton Noodle Soup mix….a recipe I learned from my mummy years ago.

As I’ve noted earlier in terms of my mental, emotional, and spiritual health, I’ve been nourishing by mind, body, and spirit with activities that help me feel good, relaxed, calm, and hopeful. I’ve incorporated more stretching into my exercise routines (I’ve done more downward facing dogs this year, then I ever have.) Through life’s normal challenges, such as helping Bryan navigate his mom’s and brother’s declining health and family situations, I attend to ADLs because they keep me grounded and sane.

In terms of recovery post hysterectomy, I’m doing well. I’ve educated myself to the nth degree on all things hysterectomy and menopause. Education is another line of defense I use to demystify a topic that can feel overwhelming, especially when it’s personal. Below are some highlights of what I’ve experienced with the disclaimer some of the information may be TMI or for mature audiences.

Surgical Recovery. The four scars on my abdomen are healed although sometimes I can feel a tug on any one, or all of them, when I do too much activity like gardening. I had a follow up appointment with my gynecologist at 8 weeks, and after her exam, she said I was doing very well. She encouraged me to not delay having sex with my husband. I’ve been nervous about it. We tried shortly after and the first time was uncomfortable for both of us. For me because my body had gone through a traumatic experience and was out of practice in that regard. For him because I was jumpy, which made him jumpy. Initially, it was a bit painful. After a couple of times, we were back at it like riding a bike. I’m so delighted I can still orgasm with no problem. I’m relieved we get to continue to enjoy each other in this way.

Menopause Symptoms. There are many symptoms of menopause, but the hallmark symptoms mostly discussed are hot flashes, night sweats, cloudy thinking, weight gain, mood swings, and irritability. I’ve not had much of the symptoms noted except cloudy thinking, weight gain, and slight shifts in mood. The tricky thing about the cloudy thinking is that I’ve had that for years as I’m sure it’s a symptom of perimenopause too. What I’m not happy about, but am living with is weight gain. I know my body is a different body in postvmenopause because I’ve done nothing to put on weight. This is an act of my body not having any estrogen, which is a major hormone that regulates so much in the body. In the big scheme of things, it’s not a lot of weight, but it definitely landed in my already large stomach area and a little bit in my hips. Not only is the scale a bit higher, but some of my clothes fit tighter. I’m glad I still have many options of clothes to wear. I’ve been practicing more self-compassion while continuing to double down on nutrition, weight training, and reducing stress. Sleep is another area I’m working on.

General Health. I met with my oncologist earlier in June for my routine 6-month visit and he always makes me feel like I’m doing something right. It’s been 5 years since my breast cancer diagnosis and I’m still in treatment (oral medications). The doc said my bloodwork was on target (although I thought my glucose was slightly higher than my normal). He said I was doing great and looked great. We discussed a different medication regimen since I’m now post-menopausal. He’s going to run some tests on my old tumor to determine if I even need to continue with treatment since it’s been 5 years. I’ll return to his office in early August for the results. This is exciting news. And I mentioned earlier, a doctor told me I have asthma likely as a result of allergies. He did refer me to a pulmonologist (who I see this week) because of my history of experiencing pneumonia out of the blue last year and bronchitis the year before that.

What’s next. I have so many blog posts topics in my mind. In fact, that’s how they all start…in my mind. My plan is to share them. I will work on getting on a more regular schedule with my blogging. Bare with me because I don’t know what it will look like yet. In the meantime, I have so much existing content on my blog. I appreciate all the new viewers to my page. Feel free to peruse at your leisure and I hope you learn something new or get inspired along the way.

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He loved us with his whole ❤️

Today, on Easter Sunday, I’m finally able to gather my thoughts to blog about unexpectedly losing our beloved Beignet on Wednesday. What we thought was a simple trip to the vet to get some medicine because he was clearly not feeling well, turned into us saying our last goodbyes to our sweet, mischievous kitty.

Beignet cozied up on the couch.

It came on so quickly. While she was getting ready for school, my daughter noticed Beignet could only take a few steps and would sit down. I picked him up and noticed he was very light…he had lost a lot of weight. Every time I put him down, he would immediately lay down. My son expressed his concerns about Beignet’s lethargic behavior. My husband got an appointment scheduled for later in the morning.

Beignet and Cannoli wanting to get into the office, but I threw them out and closed the door cause they had been fighting.

We went from worrying about if we could afford whatever treatment he might need to learning not only he had a knot in his stomach, he had an advanced illness which we didn’t know about. The doctor wasn’t sure if he would survive the surgeries, let alone the recovery and treatment that would follow. We decided to put him down so he wouldn’t be in any more pain.

Beignet inspecting the windows in the new house

Beignet was the type of cat that was always into something. We were calling his name constantly. It’s so quiet now. Beignet was the dominant cat in relation to his brother, Cannoli. We got them both when they were about 4 weeks old and this year makes 6 years since they became a part of our family. They definitely had different personalities. Beignet desperately wanted your attention ALL THE TIME. Cannoli was more subtle in his approach.

Beignet enjoying the window on a rainy day.

I used to joke with my husband that I needed him to show me the type of love Beignet showed me. Beignet would sleep on my shoes, keep my office chair warm with his body, try to sip my bath water, usher me around the house, give me tail hugs, and gaze into my eyes. He was also a pain because he would chew on things he shouldn’t like some of my plants, any type of string, and plastic things.

He would never poop in the litter box. He would poop around it, but never in it. We tried every cat litter around. At one time, we had four litter boxes around the house. Then, I gave up eventually. We would be sure to keep bathroom doors closed because something about a hard surface floor made him want to poop on it. The kids have been greeted by a turd a time or two in their bathroom. That’ll teach them for keeping the door open.

Beignet asleep on my office chair again.

I cried so much and so hard while saying goodbye. In fact, we all did and the tears still come and go. My mourning was no different than losing a person I loved. He was our fur baby, a member of our family for almost six years. We raised him from four weeks old. We all loved him so much and thought we would have at least ten more years with him. We know Beignet loved us with his whole heart. Beignet knew we were his and I got to thank him for loving us the way he did.

Oh Beignet