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How it started vs how it’s going: 2 weeks post surgery

Exactly two weeks ago, I was in the hospital in South Austin, recovering from the hysterectomy my gynecologist performed. To be exact, I was in the recovery room with my husband, Bryan, trying to wake up from the anesthesia. I stayed in the hospital overnight because, in fact, I couldn’t wake up and my bladder wasn’t cooperating.

This two weeks has flown by so fast. In a word, I feel GREAT compared to back then. I’ve been focused on recovery so I intentionally chose to use food and rest as the medicine my body needs to heal. This is a disclaimer that I may go into some detail providing updates on my anatomy so please continue to read if you’d like. As I’ve navigated information over the year on the hysterectomy, all it entails, and menopause, it was this kind of information I’m sharing that I longed to read about, but there’s not much of it. I hope this will be helpful for some of you.

Some signs of progress are I no longer have the giant, scary, black bruise on the left side of my waist, my four incisions are healing, I have lots of energy, I’m able to prep meals for myself, I can get in and out of bed effortlessly, and the previous sharp pain in my abdomen is now a dull afterthought. My bladder and bowels are operating smoothly. I can cough, sneeze, and laugh without holding my abdomen in pain. I can bend over and put on my shoes. Bryan was doing this for me. I’m able to do light exercises, including using free weights which I started on Sunday. I’ve gotten four days of exercise in already. Byran and I took a 20 minute walk in our neighborhood today. It’s gloriously sunny with temperatures in the high 60s.

My resting heart rate is back to presurgery levels which is a relief because it’s lower than it was in the days after I had the surgery. My last blood pressure (BP) reading at home was about 116/62. My BP has always been low and doctors have told me over the years it’s excellent, but it’s been lower than my normal. My Fitbit recorded 9 hours and 13 minutes of sleep last night, which is a far cry from my averages in December and early January.

I have not had a single menopausal symptom I can think of aside from no longer having a menstrual cycle. I point this out because I had a complete hysterectomy with my uterus, both ovaries, the fallopian tubes, and cervix removed. As Bryan said, “I guess the body needs time to heal when you literally have organs removed”. The little blood I shedded in the days after surgery has disappeared. At this point, my use of panty liners is just a habit.

I mentioned in my blog post Fight I was on a hormone medication for four months in 2021, which was aimed at shrinking my fibroids prior to the surgery. That medication also causes menopausal symptoms and I displayed most of them from July through December 2021, specifically hot flashes, night sweats, irritability, memory problems, weight gain, and mood changes. I haven’t experienced any of the symptoms since the surgery and I hope it stays that way. Even if not, I’ve done some research on menopause and what lifestyle changes I need to prioritize to manage it because hormone replacement therapy is not an option for me due to my breast cancer history. I learned women who no longer produce estrogen are at higher risks for heart and bone problems, and even dementia, so I wrote down a plan for myself.

One of the best things I’ve done for myself was practice a mostly vegan/plant-based diet for over 7 months prior to the surgery. It’s second nature to me now and I’ve gotten into the habit of viewing how food can heal me. I’ve also increased my water consumption. Though I still eat foods like salmon and chicken on occassion, I’m reaping the benefits of eating a variety of foods of all colors, which fuels my body with the nutrients it needs. I’ve learned women in menopause need foods mostly composed of antioxidants and flavinoids. We also need nutrients like Vitamins C, D, E, K, and magnesium. We need iron and calcium. We need supplements like probiotics, evening primrose oil, and collagen. This is not a comprehensive list, but what I prioritize for my particular body.

Exercise has also been very important to me for over twenty years. It’s more than a habit…it’s a lifestyle choice I decided to maintain. My fitness level prior to surgery may be a factor in why I’m healing so well. Plus, I just can’t got for long periods without exercising. I enjoy it and it keeps anxiety in check.

I do need to reduce stress in my life. Although it took me having a major life altering surgery to do it, I’m so grateful to have four weeks off work to recover and destress. If my doctor says I need longer, I’ve earned the accumulated time at work to recovery for as long as I need to. Work is at the top of the list of the most stressful areas in my life and I’ve been taking notes on how to better manage when I return.

I felt so great yesterday after a workout and a shower that I took a couple of photos of myself sans makeup. I don’t think I look like I had this major surgery merely two weeks ago. As I told Bryan, I’m not at 100% of myself yet, but I’m getting there. I’m also pacing myself. I’ve experimented by not taking pain medications for a few days, but I needed them yesterday, so I took them. I’m still not able to lie down flat, but I’m working towards it. I got a little winded on our walk this afternoon, but I sat down when I got home. I’ll get back to me soon enough, day by day.

Whatever you’re facing, I hope I’m empowering you to face your fears and take the steps you need to make your life better….whatever that is. In an exercise program I do occassionally on YouTube called BodyGroove, the instructor jokingly says to the effect of , “No one can shake your booty for you…only you can do that”. So do what you’ve got to do cause only you can do it. Speaking of which, I hope to be shaking my booty with some Zumba fitness in a couple of weeks.

Until next time…

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Day 8: Post Surgery

It’s hard to believe I’m this far along into my recovery. The days are running together. Today felt especially like a long day with the frigid and icey conditions causing surrounding areas in Texas to shut down. We don’t need to brace ourselves for the fiasco that occurred last February, but it will get very cold tonight. I know our friends and family in Illinois and other states are feeling the cold also.

Our iced tree in Buda, Texas 2/3/2022

My new normal is to lay in bed most of the day, take frequent walks to the rest room, and doze off in between binge watching something on the laptop. I did prep my own meals a few times which is definitely a sign I’m feeling better. In fact, in my 48 years of living, I’ve experienced several medical procedures that required some time for me to heal so I know when I’m on the mend. With this hysterectomy, there are several signs I’m doing better. Keep in mind I’m still in pain overall. Some items on the list maybe TMI (too much information) so read at your own risk.

  • I can laugh without my stomach hurting as much. I do brace myself for the laugh by holding my stomach which helps. Last weekend, my husband, Bryan, said things to make me laugh, but I couldn’t take it at all because I was hurting so badly. I turned off a video of a comedian providing commentary because it hurt too much to laugh.
  • I’m awake for longer periods. Since I’m up, I do more things like prepare a meal or smoothie and take walks around the house, but once I do those things, I get back in bed to rest. I do get tired and will take a couple of naps throughout the day.
  • I can get out of the bed completely without help. I discussed this in my previous post and it keeps getting better. I’m able to prop myself up and slide my legs around to get out of bed. It’s not without some strain and pain, but I can do it.
  • My bladder and bowels are fully functioning. My bladder started off as an issue so I was discharged from the hospital with a catheter. It’s been smooth sailing since it was removed the second day post surgery. My bowels became active by the fourth day post surgery and since I eat mostly a plant-based diet, I have a couple of bowels throughout the day like I did prior to surgery.

In the next week, I’m hoping to be able to lay down flat. I think this will help me sleep more deeply throughout the night. For now, I have lots of pillows propping me up. I want to give my core a little more time to get stronger. Also, some time next week, I will start incorporating more structured exercise into my day. I will start off slow, of course, with maybe 10-15 minutes.

It can only get better from here and I’m looking forward to how much better I’ll be in a few weeks. In the mean time, I’m taking it day by day and am grateful for the time I have off work to rest and heal.

Until next time…

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Day 3 & 4: Post Surgery

MAMA BEAR has been down, but I’m slowly getting better. The recovery process is in full effect. For two days straight I’ve layed in the bed for most of the day, dozing off periodically as I attempt to binge watch shows on Netflix. With each day, I’m more alert. Though it hurts (pain is concentrated in my abdomen), I’ve gotten quite good at getting myself up out of the bed to go to the restroom with no help. I use my strong arms to prop me forward then I turn my legs around and push them down. Our bed sits way higher than the hospital bed so it’s a challenge. It also hurts to get back in the bed and to walk, but I know the pain will ease with time. My husband, Bryan, has been caring for me nonstop. If he’s busy, I’m able to get my kids to help with things like pouring some water into my water bottle on my nightstand or pouring a glass of prune juice for me. I’m so thankful I have the help and feel very loved.

I know I’m living a privileged life because I have everything I need at my disposal. I’m a planner so I made sure some things were in place so all I would have to do is rest and heal. Some things I did in the days leading up to the surgery which put my mind at ease were:

  1. Cleaned my spa-like bathroom – Bryan is capable, but no one cleans our bathroom like me.
  2. Watered/pruned my 60+ plants – This is one of my favorite mindful activities because it puts me in a zen mental space.
  3. Prepped a few more nutritious smoothies – It’s a priority for me to feed my body with healthy options. The cover photo shows a mug of my warm almond milk drink with turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, cayenne pepper, and maple syrup. This drink is soothing and healing.
  4. Took inventory of my vegan/plant-based options in the freezer – Same reason as previous…months ago I began freezing nutritious soups/meals.
  5. Laundry- I wanted to make sure my comfortable items were freshly laundered. Bryan bought me several, comfortable loungewear outfits.
  6. Packed my hospital bag- The only thing I used from the bag was my waist trainer.
  7. Took off work the day prior to surgery – I could have used at least 2 full days to decompress from work, but I at least had one. January has already been a stressful month so the one day was better than nothing.
  8. Met with my therapist the day prior to surgery – This session helped me talk through some things and get my mind focused on surgery and recovery.
  9. Exercising – This was important because I knew exercising would be off limits for several weeks post surgery. I wanted to release some of the anxiety with dancing and strength training.

In the coming days and weeks, I’ll provide more information on the steps I took to plan for this major surgery….a hysterectomy. One of the best light lessons I can give in the midst of fear of the unknown is to arm yourself with information. Knowledge is power and I used that to quell my fears.

Until next time…

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Day 2: Post Surgery

With these posts, I’m chronicling my experience of undergoing major surgery to remove my uterus and other female productive organs due to fibroids. The purpose of this procedure is to improve my quality of life. My gynecologist, who performed the hysterectomy on Wednesday, said I did great. I can tell you I don’ feel great just yet. In fact, I’m mostly in pain despite taking pain medications. BUT a milestone happened today that I’d like to share.

I spent one night in the hospital mostly because I had a very difficult time waking up from the anesthesia. My surgery started at 8:00 am & it was a 3 hour procedure. Hours after the surgery, I still kept falling asleep and my bladder was very sleepy also. The doctor didn’t want to release me until I peed on my own which was something I couldn’t do after trying several times. My husband, Bryan, told me there were 30 surgical procedures performed that morning but, only 2 patients were ordered to stay overnight….I was one of them.

To my dismay, the nurse inserted a catheter for a second time and discharged me with an appointment to see my gynecologist Friday morning. One good thing about the catheter is I didn’t have to get up to use the restroom in the middle of the night. I was already in pain and it takes a lot of effort to get me out of the bed. My appointment was early. It was an ordeal to get me in the car. Thankfully I planned ahead and ordered a waist belt to wear under my clothes to keep my tummy steady. I also ordered a pillow that attaches to the seat belt in the car which helps shield the impact against potentially bumpy car rides. Bryan passed a couple of speed bumps that made me holler due to the pain but, we got to the doctor’s office safely.

While walking to the office once we parked, I got really dizzy and disoriented a few times. The nurse checked my catheter and inserted fluids to see if I could pee on my own and GUESS WHAT??? I did it! No more catheter. All day today I’ve been getting out of the bed alone to go to the restroom. I’m so looking forward to getting passed this initial pain.

I will be on bed rest for the next couple of weeks. Bryan has been taking great care of me. If you’re interested in my progress I plan to post a few lines everyday as long as I feel up to it. You can review my previous posts to learn about what led me here.

Overall, I’m proud of myself for undergoing this major move to improve my quality of life. So many people live in suboptimal conditions because they’re afraid. And I was afraid of the needles, cuts, blood, pain, but, I did it anyway. See you next time.

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Day 1: Post Surgery

My gynecologist told me the hysterectomy went well. The anesthesia kicked in on the way to the operating room so I don’t remember anything about the surgery. When I had my breast reconstruction surgery, I actually got to see the operating room before I was out. I don’t think I dreamed about my beautiful dancing uterus either for this surgery…oh well. When I woke up, I was in the recovery room and laid eyes on my husband, Bryan, and a couple of nurses.

Yesterday was rough because I was so drowsy from the anesthesia, in a lot pain, and my bladder wasn’t cooperating. I tried to walk to the restroom with the walker several times but I wasn’t steady. The nurses got me to the toilet, but I would sit down, forget what I was doing, and fall asleep. So my doctor said I needed to stay the night in the hospital. I slept well with the pain medication.

Today, I was more alert and walked the floors of the unit with and without the walker. My main tasks were to drink more liquids and go the restroom. I drank a lot (for me), but I could only pee a little bit each time which was not enough. Unfortunately, my doctor ordered that I leave with a catheter. I see her in the morning to see how long I need to wear this thing.

In the mean time, I’m at home in my comfortable bed. I ate, took a very nice shower, and drank a green smoothie. These last few months I prepared and froze several soups and smoothies to ensure I have healthy, nutritious food while I’m recovering.

I’m looking forward to sleeping in my bed although I wish my bed was adjustable like the hospital bed. I’m going to make due with several pillows that will prop me up.

I’m so grateful for the medical team because they were so kind and patient with me. I’m so grateful for my husband, Bryan, because he is my caretaker throughout my recovery.

I’ll provide another update tomorrow.

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Fight

In a few hours, I will be checking into the hospital for surgery. I didn’t think I’d be here again because a little over 5 years ago, I wrote a similar post about my breast reconstruction surgery and I vowed no more surgeries. Well, sometimes despite your best efforts things don’t go as planned. So my life is on a temporary pause as I do what needs to be done to take care of me.

I now understand why cancer patients are referred to as warriors. I do think this applies to other patients too. I didn’t embrace this concept for a long time after my breast cancer diagnosis because I thought I didn’t have a choice but to fight. And it is most definitely a fight and a choice. For me, at times it’s a reluctant fight…a fight to stay postive, a fight to face fears, a fight to face the needles, a fight to heal, a fight to rest, a fight to get up, a fight to advocate for myself, etc. I’ve had to fight to live the life I want.

Do you remember the kid in elementary school who got so mad right before a fight with another kid that he started crying? Maybe you were that kid? Were you thinking this is the time for fighting NOT crying? Well, I think crying doesn’t necessarily mean you’re weak or you’re going to fail. I prefer to look at is as summoning up the courage for what’s about to happen. It’s the realization that you know what you’re facing. You know you have to gather up all of your weapons so you can be armored up to fight for your very life. And my therapist told me that crying is actually good for you. It helps cleanse you.

A few years ago when I began having problems with heavy bleeding during my menstrual cycle, my gynecologist presented me with options, one of which was a hysterectomy. At the time, she let me know it was my choice based on my tolerance for the symptoms. I decided I was not interested in undergoing another surgery ever again, especially after my lumpectomy and breast reconstruction surgeries in November 2016. I could live with this considering it occurred sporadically. I did have a couple of fibroids but they were not overly large or troublesome. My primary care physician also agreed surgery wasn’t necessary.

In about June 2019 (approximately 6 months after the visit with my gynecologist) my oncologist, with a very concerned look on his face, said my blood work indicated I had become anemic and asked me if I experienced heavy bleeding. I said yes and explained the situation. He prescribed iron pills that I’ve been taking every since.

Over time, the periods of heavy bleeding became worse in terms of being more heavy and occurring for longer periods. This was affecting my quality of life tremendously. At my gynecologist visit in December 2020, she told me a hysterectomy was my best option because the fibroids had multiplied and had gotten very large. One was pressing against my bladder. She said my uterus needed to go. She acknowledged I had tried other methods including an endometrial ablation two years after giving birth to my daughter. At that time, my periods were long, not necessarily heavy and I had a few fibroids then. However, the outpatient laser procedure was effective and I had normal periods again for several years after.

Fast forward to March 2021…I received a second opinion from my primary care physician and she confirmed the fibroids were very large and said the situation was only going to get worse not better. So I made the brave decision to go through the surgery hoping for a better quality of life.

I’ve been doing so much research on hysterectomies and menopause because I will be in a medically induced menopause at 48 years old after this surgery. In fact, I’ve been experiencing menopausal symptoms for months now due to a medication my gynecologist recommended I take by injection for 4 months to shrink the fibroids to increase my odds of the doctor performing the least invasive surgical approach. This would allow for less bleeding and less recovery time. My last injection was in November 2021. I’ve had no menstrual cycle since July 2021.

I’ve also made some lifestyle changes such as changing my diet to mostly vegan and plant based. I look forward to documenting my recovery and what I’ve been learning.

Starting 2022 off with major surgery means there is no where else to go from here but up.

Five years ago, I blogged about dreaming of dancing, flawless boobs while under anesthesia. That didn’t happen. This time I might dream about my dancing beautiful uterus. I’ll keep you posted.

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Vegan truths I can’t ignore

Hey friends! I’ve officially been on a Vegan journey for 6 WHOLE weeks now. Over the years on my blog, I’ve posted about my Vegan adventures I partake in a couple of times year. The last time was in November 2020. I did a series named Sometimes Vegan Chronicles where I posted for the full 7 days of a Vegan cleanse. This time is different though. In the past, I’ve done Vegan cleanses from as few as 3 days to as long as 21 days. As noted, those were cleanses. This time, I intentionally chose a Vegan diet for all meals as normal eating…sans cleanse. This has been the longest I’ve eaten Vegan and I plan to keep going.

Peppers, okra, and tomatoes washed for the grill

I chose to do this primarily for health reasons. My big issue is fibroids, which I won’t get into too much detail about. Fibroids are non-cancerous growths found in a woman’s uterus. African American women most commonly get fibroids but many women tend to get them at some point. Usually, they don’t require any drastic treatment, but sometimes surgery is needed to remove them. Treatment can range from birth control pills to a hysterectomy. There are other less invasive surgical procedures such as an endometrial ablation which I had around 2007. This was a same day surgery where the doctor thinned the lining of my uterus with a device. Guess what? The fibroids returned and have been wreaking havoc on my body. I won’t go into detail about how, but trust me. I’ve gotten 3 doctor’s opinions that a hysterectomy is my best option.

Grilled Zucchini, tomatoes and peppers with a mustard green garnish over rice

This act of changing my diet (not using the term as a temporary restriction) is my way of gaining some control. My hopes are that this diet infuses my body with ample nutrients, causes me to lose a little weight, shrinks the fibroids some, and prepares my body for surgery (in the late fall) and the resulting menopause. Yes, MENOPAUSE….at 48 years old. I’ve been working with my therapist on processing and navigating all of this. Due to the type of breast cancer I had ( read any of my previous breast cancer posts such as What breast cancer has taught me), I won’t be able to do any type of hormone therapy during menopause (not that I would anyway, but it won’t be an option at all). I’ve read several articles on how the proper diet can help relieve menopausal symptoms. So I’m going full force.

Sesame bagel, cashew cream, and Everything Bagel Seasoning
Quinoa corn muffins

If you’re considering becoming Vegan for whatever your reason is, I do want to share a few truths I’ve learned thus far:

  1. Plan ahead – Eating Vegan didn’t come naturally to me 6 weeks ago like it does now, so I had to plan and prep my meals to ensure success. But truth be told, I still plan and prep every weekend because I don’t want to be caught hungry without a plan. This entails literally writing down a few ideas for meals for the week and reviewing my trusty Vegan cookbooks. I spend my weekends washing/prepping produce, making at least one batch of soup, and making sure I know my options. It’s just better to be prepared, especially if you’re serious about not eating meat or dairy.
  2. Your bowels will change – I’ve read this previously and have heard people talk about it, but it’s always been vague….accompanied by a joke about “beans”. Good thing I’m here to tell you EXACTLY what will change about your bowel movements or poop. It took about a month to kick in, but my bowel movements have gone from a trusty one poop a day to 3, 4 and sometimes A WHOPPING 5 times a day! You may not experience as often as me, but I think if you embark on a Vegan diet, you will notice a change. Will this last for the duration of my Vegan journey??? I don’t know. I’ve read that this change occurs when you first become Vegan but will eventually level off.
  3. People will think you’re crazy – I’m proud of myself for all the research I’ve done. It’s become my new normal, so sometimes I forget this may be considered extreme for many people. I find it to be a nice challenge. I mentioned my journey to some staff on my team and there were lots of GASPS and questions like: “How do you get protein?” “Aren’t you always hungry?” There are also comments like: “I can’t live without my burgers!” “I like meat too much.” Regardless of the feedback, I’m going to continue along this path because I believe it’s right for me plus I’m enjoying it.
  4. Be open to new foods – When I’ve done cleanses in the past, they’ve been whole and plant based with no processed ingredients. Because I’m not on a cleanse, I’ve been open to try some of the Vegan options in the grocery stores which I’m very happy about such as “Beyond Meat”, prepared Vegan frozen items, and alternative options such as Vegan cheese, butter, and eggs. I’ve even been experimenting with tofu. (Yes, I know there is controversy about its potential impact on hormones). Some restaurants offer more Vegan options besides just salads. I don’t partake every day, but I find these other options help make the experience more enjoyable. Some people may feel strongly against this, but it works for me and keeps me satisfied.

Even if you don’t embark on a Vegan diet, I hope the photos I’ve taken of my delicious dishes inspire you to eat healthier and try new meals.

Fried teriyaki tofu my son made with sauce, green onions, & peanuts with jasmine rice
Light breakfast of protein packed edamame, heirloom tomatoes, and a hash brown.
Avocado toast with Everything Bagel Seasoning on sourdough bread
Cajun grilled vegetable pasta with Okra, mushrooms, and peppers.
Roasted vegetables over grits
15 bean soup
Air Fried Oyster mushrooms with watercress salad
Grilled asparagus, rice, tomatoes, and watercress salad
Hummus and tomato sammich on sourdough bread
Fresh raspberries with cashew cream, roasted almonds, and maple syrup
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It’s going to be a long night

It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. The main reasons are I haven’t been feeling inspired to write and I’ve been busy with homework from my therapy sessions. As much as I want to inspire others, it does no good if I’m pulling from an empty well. 2021 has been a DOOZY of a year. I’ve come to realize how much the pandemic has affected my family and I. We’ve been together everyday for over a year, I’ve juggled telework and managing my family’s needs, the political environment has been tense, and we’ve experienced collective trauma as a state (Texas – Is this Texas?), country, and world. To add insult to injury, I’ve come down with an insidious virus that has me burning up from the inside. Literally, I have a fever of 103.9 in each ear! The soles of my feet are burning, my body is aching, and I feel overall TERRIBLE. In consideration of all of this, I’m extending myself some self-compassion and grace. I developed a plan to be more self-compassionate as a homework assignment from my therapist. It does me some good to practice self-compassion. I recommend the same for everyone.

I’ve mustered up a little energy to let you know that I’m still here – determined to inspire and share light lessons in the midst of an illness. We’ll see how much I’ll share. I’m so tired, but I suddenly have so much time on my hands and typing does not seem to hurt that much.

I’ve slept most of the day. Though I haven’t exercised since Friday, my FITBIT sports watch has been logging Zone minutes. I got 83 Zone minutes today, 65 yesterday, and a whopping 170 on Friday. Those are pretty significant numbers. Interestingly, FITBIT interprets labored breathing and physical exertion as being in the Zone. When in fact, my body has been working extra hard to just breathe and fight this virus. The corona virus test I took at the Urgent Care Clinic yesterday was negative. I think I’ve had 3 corona virus tests since 2020. In my posts COVID-19 Chronicles: I took the test and COVID-19 Chronicles: Test results are in, I write about an acute case of bronchitis I had last year. In February 2021, I also had a corona virus test as part of the protocol prior to my first colonoscopy. It was also negative.

I’m so thankful, Bryan, my husband, has been taking care of me. I’ve been staying hydrated with coconut water, regular water, tea, and fruit. What are some of your favorite ways to take care of yourself when you’re sick?

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Hindsight is 2020

What a year…though 2020 has not been a miserable year for my household. We received closure on some very important financial matters that had been looming for years. My small family of four spent more countless hours together in 9 months than we ever have. It’s been mostly enjoyable and comforting. In an unprecedented move, the state agency I work for sent thousands of employees home with laptops in March. I love the experience of teleworking. In April I took the COVID-19 test and the results came back negative. It turns out I came down with a very bad case of bronchitis. You can read about experience in my most read posts of 2020: COVID-19 Chronicles: I took the test and COVID-19 Chronicles: Test results are in. In August, we signed papers sealing the deal to build our new home which is an experience we’re having for the 2nd time in our lives. The plan is for this house to be our retirement home. I’ve written about these experiences all year. Thank you for being there with me as I navigated 2020. If you haven’t been there, WELL, you’ve got some catching up to do on my posts.

2020 has revealed some very ugly and unfathomable views and actions of people in America. From my perspective in my 47 years of life, this is the most politically divisive I’ve seen the country. People have gone so far as to ascribe God to a political party as if God is American and takes sides. I generally tend to avoid politics on my blog, but 2020 has shown me anything goes. I still won’t dwell on it in this post. The deaths of people who are black at the hands of law enforcement caused thousands of people (around the world) in sheer FED-UP-NESS to protest, mostly peacefully, during a PANDEMIC. Thankfully, normal, every day people are able to capture the atrocities on their cell phones; otherwise, how would we know and how would we know people are being held accountable? I’m too young to have grown up in the Jim Crow and Civil Rights eras. While attending my all black high school in Chicago, we learned about civil rights and the works of many notable people who are black during the movement such has Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X, and many others. I’ve seen countless video footage of speeches and protests. 2020 was eerily similar, which begs the question: how far has this country really gotten?

I feel a great deal of sorrow for all the lives lost and for those suffering. Heroes also emerged in 2020, particularly in the healthcare industry. The grocery, restaurant, and delivery workers also came through for all of us. I know people are ready to put 2020 behind them and move forward. I think it’s healthy in times of uncertainty and global unrest to shrink into your corner of the world…to the things you have more control over. For 2021, I think instead of “goals” and definitely not “resolutions”, I want to use the term “manifest” to describe what I envision for my life. I might change it but it sounds good to me for right now. I’ve been looking ahead to 2021 for a few months now and thinking about what I want to manifest. Some of it is already in process. I find that when I’m thoughtful about what I want to manifest and go as far as to capture it on a Vision Board, it’s more likely to happen. There maybe some research to support this, but I’ll save for another time.

If you have never put a Vision Board together, I think you will find that it will help divert your attention from the sorrow in the world to something that will actually be beneficial to you. Creative activities tend to have that effect. It’s also a great tool to keep you accountable and focused. It takes some planning to create a Vision Board though, so if you’re considering it, I hope you’re up for it.

You’ll need to ask yourself some practical questions and make several decisions on the following such as:

  1. What are your goals or what do you hope to manifest?
  2. What will you use for the board (poster board, cardboard, etc.)?
  3. Where will you get the pictures (old magazines, newspapers, online pictures, etc.)?
  4. Do I have enough supplies (scissors, glue, tape, poster board, glitter, etc.) and where will I get them?
  5. When will I work on my Vision Board and when do I want to complete it?
LPC 2020 Vision Board

I created 2020’s Vision Board in January 2020. I purchased most of the supplies from the Dollar Tree, Hobby Lobby, and I used old magazines for the pictures. Of course at the time, I had no clue how 2020 would materialize. Several times throughout the year, I did review my Vision Board and contemplated progress. I even wrote blog posts about my financial progress which you can read about here: 2020 Personal Finance: You can dig yourself out of a hole and Financial Goals 2020 UPDATE. In 2020, I was most successful in accomplishing financial goals. I also kept up with my exercise goals and cooked/ate healthy most of the time. There are a couple of pictures of women who signified that I would put more thought into my wardrobe selections for a more polished appearance…not that I struggled with that previously. I accomplished this goal also.

There were some things I didn’t accomplish, one of which was travel. You probably can’t tell because of the lighting, but there are two pictures of tropical beaches. My plan was for my family to vacation on a Caribbean Island somewhere. The pandemic threw that dream out the window…at least for 2020. Also, there is a phrase “care more, stress less”. I did demonstrate caring more in 2020 by donating finances to different causes I don’t normally contribute to. This was not planned or reflected in my Vision Board but 2020 inspired me to help more people when I could. However, I still need to seriously develop a plan for managing stress. In my last post, Tops things I’m letting go of in 2021, I shared some of the areas where I struggle regarding stress.

I asked my husband, Bryan, to buy a poster board for me while he was at Walmart, so I have that. I’ll probably start on my 2021 Vision Board in the next week. I’m still asking myself what I want to manifest.

I’d love to know if you plan on creating a Vision Board if you haven’t already. I know some people start early. What do you most appreciate about the experience? What goals did you accomplish in 2020?

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Top things I’m letting go of in 2021

Be proud of yourselves folks. We made it to 2021! Making it through 2020 means you can overcome anything. Well, in Texas, we still have a few minutes, but I’m counting it early. I was trying to explain to someone this morning that 2020 felt like it flew by rather quickly, yet was excruciatingly long at the same time. How could that be?

How could a year that was traumatic for so many people worldwide, be one of the best years of my life? Only God knows. There is not much I control in this world. What I can control are goals I set for myself and my attitude. Every year, I strive to be better and grow, which entails taking inventory of my life. I came up with a short list of things I’m letting go of in 2021 and I’m sharing with you. I hope my list inspires you to let go of some things no longer serving you too.

  1. Offense
    • I was introduced to the book the “Bait of Satan” through my Life Group in the fall of 2020. A Life Group is comprised of a small group of couples from our church who gather for several weeks to study a lesson together. The book really opened my eyes to offense, how it manifests, and destroys relationships. The concepts are totally counterintuitive to how most people (i.e., Christians), including myself, think. This is a must read, especially if you are a Christian.
    • I will forgive people immediately, whether they are aware or not, and move on.
  2. Stressing
    • On my 2020 Vision Board, I glued the phrase “Care more, stress less”.  I’ve been practicing not caring too much about what people think of me for years now. I need to work on the stress less.
    • I need to stop stressing over my work “to do” list. I put in ample hours. It’s a never-ending list. I will put in my daily hours and then cut it off.
    • I need to stop caring so much about my family having a homecooked meal every day or leftovers of a homecooked meal. I live with two teenagers and a husband who loves fast food. They don’t care.
    • I will instead cook smaller portions of mostly healthy meals I want to eat.
  3. Bad sleep habits
    • I will not slouch around until 10:30 pm to get ready for bed.
    • I need to be ready for bed by 9:30 pm during the work week. Period. “Being ready” means I will have taken a shower, my pajamas are on, and I’ll have a book in hand and am in the bed by 9:30 pm…no phone or laptop.
    • Getting enough sleep is a cure for just about everything.
  4. Underestimating myself
    • It doesn’t happen often as I’m usually very confident, EXCEPT in situations where I’m with people who I PERCEIVE are very knowledgeable. I’m surrounded by smart people on a daily basis, but it’s certain people. Time to unpack that and let it go.
    • Also, no more second guessing or doubting myself.
  5. Weight
    • The physical weight that causes me to be overweight and puts me at higher risk for certain diseases.
    • The mental weight of perfectionism.
    • The mental weight of anxiety.
    • The mental weight of things I can’t control.
    • I’m developing a plan to be much lighter.
  6. Guilt
    • For not being the parent I think I should.
    • For not being the wife I think I should.
    • For not being the sister, aunt, friend, cousin, etc….I think I should.
    • For not doing everything everybody else thinks I should.
    • For taking time for myself.
    • I will work on more positive affirmations and self-talk and acceptance.
LPC’s 2020 Vision Board. I’ll start working on 2021’s next week.
This book and study guide continue to blow me away. I have a lot of growing to do. LPC

I’ll follow up with a post on my vision for 2021. What are you letting go of in 2021?

Cheers to another year full of opportunities, the unknown, joy, peace, blessings, and light lessons!