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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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Giving Thanks

My Thanksgiving plate: smoked turkey, green beans, macaroni and cheese, mashed sweet potatoes, dressing, mixed greens (collard, mustard, turnip), potato salad, and cranberry sauce. I made all the sides, except for the greens beans (made by our friends). My husband smoked the turkey and a pork butt. Everything was delicious!

Last week we celebrated Thanksgiving in the U.S. and I’m carrying the gratitude with me into this week. It’s true there is something to be thankful for every single day, even every moment, no matter how small. The Thanksgiving holiday reminds me to slow down and count my blessings. Thanksgiving kicks off my favorite holiday season.

Last year we drove to Chicago and spent the time with our family. That was so special because our time together is precious especially after my mom passed away. I think we all sense our time on this earth is limited and so we’re more intentional about making the time for each other. I like to say that I’ve been fueled up (with love) after those visits.

My nieces, siblings, and kids. Thanksgiving 2021

My daughter, Elise, and I Thanksgiving Day 2022

This year, we celebrated the holiday with friends. So many people have moved to Texas from other places so it’s not uncommon to not have family near. I was excited about cooking for friends. And it dawned on me this would actually be the first Thanksgiving in our new home. Being in a new home is and of itself something to be thankful for. We moved into our freshly built home about a year and 8 months ago so I’m not sure how long I can call it new. Whatever the case, since the pandemic we haven’t really had people over.

I made things easier on myself by keeping the menu simple. My husband, Bryan, decided to smoke the meats (turkey breast, turkey legs, and pork butt), which means I was responsible for cooking the sides.

The PREP

We began prepping the weekend before Thanksgiving by taking the meats out of the freezer to defrost in the fridge. On Tuesday, Bryan seasoned the pork and brined the turkey parts. I chopped up all my vegetables for each dish and put them in baggies that I labeled. I also made a big pot of liquid gold aka turkey broth. I also roasted about 10 sweet potatoes for my mashed sweet potatoes and sweet potato pies. In my grocery shopping, I purchased some time saving items like preboiled eggs, herb croutons for the dressing, and cornbread mix. And something I’ve never done for previous Thanksgivings most likely because I didn’t have the space was use my CROCK POT. I had her set up on the island.

This Ninja cooked up my greens and smoked turkey like a charm.

It was certainly a blessing to serve a bounty of food and be surrounded with loved ones and friends. Growing up in poverty, I’m reminded of how far my family has come to make a better life for ourselves and our children. What we didn’t have in financial means, we were rich in faith, hope, and love. The part of Thanksgiving that I will take with me everyday is to often show appreciation to the people who love and show up for me, to extend extra care and grace to others, to be encouraging, to demonstrate compassion to myself (first) and others, to help where I can, and to reflect more on what I do have rather than what I don’t.

What are you thankful for?

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Soups On: Fall Favorites

It’s been a while since my last post, but rest assured, I’ve been busy doing the things that feed my soul (pun intended) and giving myself some extra grace. These last few months have been rough on my family. My beautiful mother in law passed away in September and my brother in law has been ill most of 2022.

Like many of you, I wear multiple hats as a working mom, wife, caregiver, sister, friend, boss, etc. Information on self-care is so prevalent nowadays and it’s no wonder because self-care is essential to mental well being. I believe this so much that my whole blog is about self-care. You may hear about common self-care activities: take a bubble bath, journal, go shopping, exercise, get a massage, get a manicure/pedicure, read a book, take yourself out to dinner, sleep, etc.

Self-care can actually be anything that fills you up rather than depletes you. You don’t have to do a bunch of things all the time. You don’t have to spend money you don’t have. Self-care is also not just about doing things which can be exhausting, especially when you’re under stress. Self-care can be about being: self-compassionate, authentic, aware, quiet, at peace, etc. Self-care can be about choosing one thing in a moment.

I personally have my “go to” self-care activities that fill me up (pun intended). One thing I love to do for self-care is cook. And I just don’t cook anything..I’m intentional about cooking healthy and nutritious food. It fills me up (pun intended) because I’m being creative, concentrating on the food rather than the problem, giving my taste buds and my family something to look forward to, and will be filling my body with a bountiful medley of deliciousness which will bring about a host of other benefits.

When we returned from Chicago in early October, I started a 10-Day Soup Challenge brought about by my favorite people at www.simplegreensmoothies.com.And this challenge couldn’t have come at a better time because I ate many of the calorie dense Chicago delicacies (pizza, Italian beef, Chinese food, gyros) and was in need of a reset.

Something different about this challenge is that I didn’t make it to all 10 soups. I was getting back to my home and work routine, so I was a little busy. In fact, I didn’t even do the challenge for the 10 days. I completed 8 recipes so that means there are still 2 recipes I didn’t get to. I started the challenge a day late and it probably took me 3 weeks to complete 8 recipes, BUT I DID IT. Now you get to enjoy my photos which I took myself. You can find the recipes on the http://www.simplegreensmoothies.com website. I blogged about my first soup challenge here: Bring on the soups

Keep in mind, I’ve modified the recipes in different ways and it’s been too long ago for me to remember what I modified for each one. My general approach to recipes is to use them as guides. You can do that when you know what you’re doing.

I hope these soups inspire you to cook more of your meals at home, try new recipes, and eat well.

  1. Potato Comfort Soup
  2. Spiced Lentil Soup
  3. Bieler’s Blended Vegetable Soup
  4. 1-Pot Vegetable Soup
  5. Vegan Tomato Soup
  6. Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup
  7. Thai Coconut Soup
  8. Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

1. Potato Comfort soup with kale croutons- This is a favorite I’ve made many times and served with homemade garlic bread. The added cauliflower was pleasantly sneaky.
2.Spiced Lentil Soup – I first tried red lentils in last fall’s soup challenge and I’ve been hooked every since. Delicious.
3. Bieler’s Blended Vegetable Soup – This was a new recipe and it surprised me. Never have I ever blended zucchini, green beans, and celery with a few spices before. I served with a scrumptious salad on the side. This one was a favorite, along with the other 3 blended soups, particularly because I could sip from a mug and consume all the nutritious goodness rather quickly.
4 1-Pot Vegetable soup -This reminded me of the “vegan” chicken noodle from last November, no tofu in this recipe. It was very good.
5. Vegan tomato soup – This was a repeat recipe from last fall’s challenge and it was just as good this time. Pictured are the vegetables simmering before I blended them. I get excited thinking about all the nutrition in this pot: zucchini, carrots, onions, celery, garlic, tomatoes, and spices. This blended soup was another favorite.
6. Slow cooker minestrone – This was a new version of minesteone that pleasantly surprised me. The butternut squash added an irresistible sweetness.
7. Thai Coconut soup – This is an old favorite that I’ve made a few times over the years. However, this was my first time using frozen zucchini spirals. They made my life so much easier in that moment. Sometimes, you need a break. It was also very comforting.
8. Vegetarian tortilla soup – This was a new version of tortilla soup that surprised me. I’ve never cooked a soup with actual tortilla chips (used store bought) in the broth. This was the 4th blended soup that was one of my favorites. I topped it off with my homemade oven baked tortilla chips & a side of one bean taco.
Of course, I used my homemade liquid gold aka vegetable broth in each recipe, which added even more robust flavor and nutrition.
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Soup’s up

You know I love a good food challenge and it’s the perfect time to bring in the fall season with soups filled with bountiful ingredients. Last month, my friends at Simple Green Smoothies sent me an email with an invitation to participate in a free 10-day soup challenge.

I had so much fun last fall, I decided to do it again. Plus, it will be a great reset after a long weekend of visiting with family out of state. Since I’m on the road traveling back from Chicago to Austin, I might be a day behind, but I’ll be posting my luscious soups once I get set up.

In the mean time, you can read about all 10 delicious soups I prepared from the previous soup challenge Here.

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Legacy

Last week my family got on the road from Texas to Illnois to say our final goodbyes to my beautiful mother in law (MIL)…my husband, Bryan’s, mom. Though it was a sad occassion, we were excited about seeing our families.

When I think about my 25+ year relationship with Carol as my MIL, the word that first comes to mind is easy. I know people who have had, or cuurently have, strained and contentious relationships with their MILs or in laws. I’ve never had that with Carol. It’s been an easy relationship.

What I’ve loved about Carol since I met her is she enjoyed sharing family stories of how Bryan grew up. In fact, she was always sharing information. I appreciated that very much because it helped me with perspective on why Byran was the way he was, especially earlier on in our marriage.

Carol was also very warm and nurturing. She was the epitome of the family matriarch. Like my mom, Solange, who passed away in 2017, Carol was a worrier and it seemed to get worse the older she got. I wished both of them could be free of all that worrying.

Carol loved her family and I know she loved me. Though it was sad we all gathered for her homegoing, this weekend was one of the most enriching experiences I’ve had with Bryan’s side of the family in a long time. We gathered at an aunt’s house after the funeral on Friday for the repass and again on Saturday at an uncle’s house.

I thoroughly enjoyed watching my children playing with their cousins, especially my son, Caleb. It was too many cousins to keep count, especially the little ones. They were all over Caleb. They were fighting over who was next to ride on his back. They also enjoyed toppling over him.

On Saturday evening, we spent time over my second oldest sister, Gina’s house with my other sinblings and our children, helping celebrate niece’s birthday (Gina’s youngest daughter). Since my mom passed away, my siblings and I have been intentional about seeing each other more and staying connected.

My other niece (my oldest sister, Mylene’s daughter) had her first baby, Serenity, a month ago. I fell in love with that little tiny angel. Serenity would be my mom’s first great grand baby.

I’m still processing the beauty and genuine positive vibes of spending time with both sides of our family on this short trip. Bryan and I have experienced both of our parent’s passing away. We were talking about being orphans in a way. Our parents’ loss reminds us of how crucial it is for us to remain connected to our families because life is so short.

Like my mom, Solange, Carol’s grand children and great grand children are the legacy she left here on earth. She passed on her love for family, taking care of people, and actually being loving. She didn’t judge. She just loved and sometimes that may have been to a fault because she never put herself first. And all of her family benefited from her selflessness.

As Carol’s daughter in law, I was a recipient of her love and of the love she poured into raising Bryan. I want the love to keep flowing and growing so my children can have that love fill them up, especially on days where they may feel alone, sad, or whatever.

I will work on being an even better nurturer because of Carol’s example. I will do my part to ensure her legacy makes her proud.

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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.