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Be still

Sometimes, it’s the small things that go unnoticed, yet make the biggest impact. As I think about this upcoming week, I’ll share a quick story. This mug was a gift and sits on my work desk. I use it for tea…I’m not a coffee drinker. It actually took me a few months before I started using it because I have several “favorite” mugs on my desk. It quickly became my favorite because of the soothing color and the size holds just the right amount of liquid. I also love the bible scripture although I honestly hadn’t paid much attention.

One particular day, the feeling of stress was beginning to smother me. My self-care coping skills kicked in and I felt the urge to drink a soothing cup of tea. I leaned over my desk and grabbed the mug. I felt compelled to read it. The message was so clear. I didn’t know at the time I needed the verse. I opened my bible app, in that moment, while at work, and read the whole chapter (wasn’t very long) for context.

“Be still and know that I am God.” I, Lucrece, am not God. I’m not in control. I’m not the architect of my own life. But I have comfort, peace, joy, and strength in knowing God is God and God is in control. The stress subsided after I read the scriptures.

I’m not a deeply religious person, but I strive daily to be more spiritual, to listen, to be more obedient to what God calls me to do. Our lives are so busy today. It’s almost like a badge of honor to boast about how busy we are. However, I believe we need to make room to be still everyday. Be still to hear own thoughts. Be still to examine our hearts and desires. Be still to unplug from the clutter. Be still to solve a problem. Be still to read the bible. Be still to be grateful. Be still to hear God. I often have to remind myself I’m not in this alone. In all aspects of my life, I’m expected to solve problems…have the answers, but I don’t do it alone. God is on my side. I can lean on Him.

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DR Chronicles 2019: Sosua Beach

A little over a month ago, I was in heaven on earth. The sand was hot and the crystal, blue water…luxurious. I now have the travel bug. I want to be on another beautiful beach for Christmas. Next summer might be a more realistic goal. My husband and I have been discussing some options. We’ll see. Hopefully, I will learn how to swim by then, although I doubt I’d swim in any ocean even if I could.

The best part of Sosua Beach was being in the water. Unfortunately, we didn’t spend much time in the water because we wasted some time touring the shops and attempting to get lunch at an overcrowded popular taco restaurant. Listen, I could get tacos in Texas. What I can’t get in Texas is this beach. We eventually ate a late lunch at a different spot where I had a whole fried red snapper. I wrote a blog post about some of the food from the DR here. It was good, although if I had to do it again, I would’ve eaten another darn peanut butter and jelly sandwich that was packed for us just so I could stay close to, or in, the water.

Sosua Beach, Dominican Republic 6-7-19. LPC

My screensaver on my work laptop consists of pictures from this trip. My home screen is a picture of the beach. I’m usually very busy while at work, so I’ve been enjoying the occassional glimpse of a picture that takes me back to the Dominican Republic.

The lovely thing about travel is that the people and places stick to you. I see why it’s advised to spend money towards experiences like travel rather than on material things. The experiences enrich your life and the memories stay with you for a lifetime. I’m so thankful for the memories. I miss it.

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Solange taught me how to cook

This isn’t the first time I’ve boasted about my good cooking. I attribute my cooking skills to my mom. She started teaching me as early as 11 or 12 years old. She taught me when I didn’t want to learn. She made me do it. She would call me into the kitchen when she was making a dish like one of our Haitian staples: rice and beans. You can make rice and beans two ways: separately (pot of rice, pot of beans-sauce pois) or together (rice and beans cooked in the same pot with herbs and spices). These two methods could produce probably hundreds of meals depending on the combination of beans and rice you choose. She’d have all the ingredients out and would walk me through every step from washing the ingredients, to chopping, to putting them in the pan, to tasting, and to admiring the completed dish.

As it’s been two years since my mom passed away, she’s been on my mind a lot lately, so I decided to use my pilon (Haitian Creole) that I purchased from a garage sale a while ago. My mom always used a wooden pilon, but what you usually find nowadays in stores are marble ones. I didn’t know it was called a mortar and pestle until sometime after I moved to Texas. I’m very big on meal prep and I had a taste for rice and beans made in the same pot. The types of beans and rice are endless, but I particularly selected peas because I learned a month ago that I’m iron deficient and peas are a good source of iron. I’ve been diligent about increasing my iron intake.

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I haven’t actually used a pilon in years. One time a friend was over for dinner and she saw me using the pilon. She asked me why I just didn’t use a mini food chopper/processor. I thought to myself at the time, “Good idea!” because it was easier, so I stopped using the pilon. Looking back, what I should have told her is that by smashing the herbs in the pilon, it releases the juices allowing for more flavor. For years, I used the food processor, but today I tested my theory. I was right…the herbs were more fragrant. I might be a little biased. This reminded me there is wisdom in tradition. My grandmother likely showed my mother how to cook the same way. I also remembered using a pilon is a workout in itself as a result of pounding the herbs.

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Herbs sauteing in olive oil before I add the peas. I ommitted the salt pork. LPC

The rice and peas were delicious. I ate a bowl with nothing else. So did my daughter. For my work lunches, I will have them with chicken breasts. I blogged about Haitian food when I was in the Dominican Republic last month which you can read about here. I’m not putting any pressure on my daughter to learn the techniques my mom taught me. I want her to come to me when she’s ready. We’ll see. In the meantime, I’ll continue to bless my family with these creations.

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The largest “Pilon” or mortar and pestle I’ve ever seen-Dominican Republic 6-7-19. LPC

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Missing you today

Two years ago today, my mom, Solange, passed away. She was mummy and Grandma SoSo. The void of her physical presence is like an aching, gaping hole that will never be filled. The pain isn’t as intense as when she first passed, but I feel it. You can read about my experience here. My solace is that she is no longer in pain. I’m grateful for her love, sacrifice, and everything she taught me.

I’ve been toiling with the notion that I am, in fact, an orphan. One of Merriam-Webster’s definition of orphan is “a child deprived by death of one or usually both parents”. Both of my parents and my stepfather are deceased. I’m hesitant to put too much thought into the term orphan, but I heard someone refer to another adult as an orphan the other day and it got me thinking. I imagine that orphans who grow up without their parents from an early age feel alone in the world. I had my mom for 44 years of my life and I’m grateful. However, as the youngest of four children, I am not alone. As a child of God, I am not alone.
Our mom’s passing has brought my siblings closer. My brother, Patrick, visits her grave every Sunday and sends us (my sisters and I) a picture via group text.

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Patrick at the cemetery – Chicago, Il. LPC

I love these texts. Visiting my mom’s grave at the cemetery is how my brother and sisters honor her and manage their grief. I live in a different state and manage my grief (and everything else) through writing.

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Mylene and Patrick visiting mummy’s grave – Chicago, IL. LPC

In the past few months, my mom missed four of her grandchildren graduate: two from college (Nicholas and Saiye), one from high school (my son, Caleb), and one from middle school (my daughter, Elise). At Caleb’s graduation in May, my sister, Gina, reminded me that our children are SoSo’s legacy. My mom missed the news that my niece, Gabriella will be going to graduate school at UCLA in the fall. She missed her nephew, Emmanuel having another baby. Our lives are going on without her and it doesn’t seem fair. Life isn’t meant to be fair. But we have each other, her DNA, memories, and love. We miss you and will see you again one day in paradise.

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The flame that burns from within

Some of favorite things about summer are that school is out for most, the reduced morning traffic (although normal, dreadful traffic ensues by evening rush hour), the long, hot days and breezy nights (not always guaranteed in Austin, Texas), and the opportunities to sit out on my porch in the dark. Tonight, I’m sitting on my porch next to my tabletop fire pit contemplating the commitment I made to maintaining my blog. I’ve been determined to experience this very moment all day.

It seems to me as though some bloggers are able to consistently produce an impressive amount of content…but not me. Don’t get me wrong, I have plenty of content swirling in my head, but it’s sitting down and actually doing the work of blogging that can be difficult. I have a full life of which I’m grateful, but there’s a flame burning within me that loves to write in any form. It’s how I express myself. I know I can help even just one person by sharing my stories through blogging.

The spark started when I was a little girl. I was in many situations I didn’t want to be in growing up, so as an escape, I developed a healthy imagination. I daydreamed constantly and I also loved to read. I really don’t remember when writing came into play, but I started journaling somewhere in my preteens. It stuck. In many ways, my blog posts are just me journaling my thoughts.

By actively participating in this particular activity which gives me peace and confidence, I’m attending to my self-care. When I go long periods without writing, I feel off kilter. I do write for work on a daily basis, but my personal writing is different. I get so much joy from blogging, despite few likes at times. You’d think I’d post more, but as I alluded to in a previous paragraph, it really is a matter of my time and energy. The best way, I can manage is to not overcommit, which I tend to do when I’m overzealous.

My initial plan was to post weekly on Saturday mornings, but my consistency with that schedule has waned periodically over the years. In the last month, I’ve been writing more, which, in turn, has fueled my desire to write more. However, I might have made another overzealous commitment about two weeks ago. I said to myself that I would post a blog post on Tuesdays and Saturdays. I did this last week. Tuesday of this week came and I completely forgot to blog. When I realized, I said I would write on Wednesday (my Friday before the holiday this week) and I didn’t feel up to it.

What I may do is commit to twice a week, giving myself some flexibility on the days within the work week. For my readers who prefer a routine schedule, this may not be helpful, but I’m trying to take baby steps to writing at least twice a week. I may increase the days, but I’m not sure yet. I’m attempting to have some self-compassion because I have other commitments.

Now, that I’ve pondered the frequency of my writing, what’s left is what I blog about. This blog is about self-care so I tend to focus my posts on implementing self-care strategies into my daily life. I also blog about my bout with breast cancer, my family, my work, travel, mental health, random thoughts, etc. I’m curious about what my readers want to read from me, so please feel free to let me know.

Writing in any form such as blogging is the flame that burns inside of me, so I’m always going to return to it. It ties me back to my younger self. It brings me peace. It gives me confidence. It makes me happy that I’m living a life congruent with my values and goals. My light lesson for this post is you have to nurture the flames that burn inside of you. You don’t want it to consume you…to engulf you in flames, but you want to embrace it, spend time with it, shape it, and honor it. I’m assuming that you will use the flames for depositing good in the world. If you’re like me, you may find it holds the key to who you truly are.