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How do I show love?

I love to ‘love on’ the people I love and who ‘love on’ me. For my husband, Bryan, and our kids, they get the full extension of my love. I love cooking them delicious meals. To me, feeding someone with a delicious and nutritious meal is the ultimate way to show love because I’m using my time to create nourishment and enjoyment. It’s a personal gift.

While on a grocery run, I’ll pick up my family’s favorite foods to eat, including treats and drinks. I generally like to do things that make their life a little easier, like picking up after them. I will initiate a big hug with Bryan even though he isn’t the ‘huggie’ type, and neither are our kids, but I’ll make them hug me on occasion.🤗

I also spend time with the person I love ❤️. I spend lots of time with Bryan, especially since the pandemic. My kids are at the stage where they spend a lot of time with their friends, but we still have family time and it usually involves eating.

Although living in different states, my siblings and I check in with each other often…even more often since our mom passed away. We group text all the time. I also make time to check in on my nephew, nieces, and cousins.

The pandemic has changed lots of things so we haven’t had too many visits to our house since then, but I generally show friends and family I love them by inviting them to our home, making them comfortable, and cooking for them. Even while on visits to Chicago in 2021 and 2022, I cooked several times.

I also enjoy capturing memories in photos and love sending them as gifts to the people I love.

Life is short, and as I get older, it’s more important to me than ever to make sure I’m showing love to the people who love me.❤️

Bloganuary Day 24 prompt!

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Bloganuary Day 23: What’s a lie I tell myself?

There are actually two lies I tell myself: 1) I have no control and 2) I can’t do something. These two lies cause lots of unhealthy anxiety in my life. Undergoing therapy helps me to dispell these lies, but the mind is tricky, and it’s an ongoing process.

Intellectually and spiritually, I know I’m equipped to handle many things. God has equipped me. I’m resilient as a result of the trauma I’ve experienced and the things I’ve achieved despite the trauma. However, my amygdala (primitive part of the brain) doesn’t always want me to forget the trauma. I get triggered, anxious, and fearful over things sometimes. Sometimes I know the triggers and sometimes I don’t.

I recommend the book ‘Rewire Your Anxious Brain’ by Catherine M. Patterson and Elizabeth M. Karle. My therapist mentioned it one session, and I bought and read the book.

The best investment I’ve made is participating in therapy, and it’s been almost 2 years. My therapist loves giving me homework, aka self-work, and much of that self-work helps me to tackle these lies.

I’m kidding when I say she loves to give it, but the fact is she can’t do the work for me. I can talk to her for years because she validates me and is pleasant to talk to, but if I don’t do the hard work of changing my patterns and thoughts that don’t serve me and practicing and incorporating what I’ve learned into my life, then what’s the point?

If you read the book I mentioned, then you’ll understand this self-work is helping me retrain the thoughts in my amygdala and cortex. In reality, the amygdala can’t really be retrained because it holds our oldest, deepest memories/thoughts, but we can introduce new patterns that change how the amygdala reacts.

I know it’s not rational to think these two lies, so one way I combat them is to state my personal POWER STATEMENTS from time to time as often as needed. Here are a few:

  1. I can do this!
  2. This too shall pass!
  3. I do have control!
  4. I’m fearfully and wonderfully made!

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My favorite author

I don’t know how I missed blogging about Maya Angelou on Day 10’s prompt: Bloganuary Day 10: Has a book changed your life? Maya Angelou is the honorary grandmother I needed in my life. Her words have stuck with me through my adulthood.

Being a black woman in America is hard. We’ve been demonized, sexualized, and envied. Maya Angelou has managed to uplift many women across races, and I presume some men also. She’s inspired a nation. She was a prolific writer, poet, and orator. She had the best quotes EVER.

I love today’s prompt because it made me go to my home library and reread 2 of my favorite poems,’Phenomenal Woman’ and ‘Still I Rise’. When I was much younger, I read her autobiography, “I know Why the Caged Bird Sings.” I don’t know what happened to that book and I’m not happy about that.

Race, social justice, poverty, discrimination, family, joy, hope, beauty, self-love…she had a way of writing that illuminated the pages and my mind.

Excerpt from ‘Phenomenal Woman’ by Maya Angelou
Excerpt from ‘Still I Rise’ by Maya Angelou

Bloganuary Day 21: Who is your favorite author and why?

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What fear have I conquered?

I’ve proudly conquered many fears in my life. One fear that comes to mind is the fear of talking to people. When I was younger, I was so crippled with anxiety and fear of what other people thought of me. It mostly had to do with my upbringing and people not understanding my introversion. I was so frustrated with life that there was a period in my preteen years where I became withdrawn.

While dating Bryan in my early twenties, he took me out dancing one night and commented that I was afraid of people. He was so right. I didn’t think I was worthy and cared too much of what other people thought of me. But I vowed to conquer this fear because I wanted more for myself, and I didn’t want that to dampen our relationship.

From that point, my daily life became an experiment where I would practice not being afraid. I spoke up more openly and expressed my opinions. If I recognized someone in a store or wherever, I would approach them first. In Chicago, I commuted mostly by walking and public transportation. I decided to walk with my head up and give eye contact (but not too much). None of this was comfortable at first, but I carried through with my decision.

With time, I became less afraid to talk to people, and I didn’t let any fears of what they might think of me affect what I did with my life or what I thought about myself.

Now, at my age, it’s true you don’t care too much about what other people think. I do care about what the people who mean the most to me think, but that’s only for certain things. I’m not afraid of people anymore and have learned we all have our own stuff we’re working through. It’s best not to take things personally. Most people are not thinking that hard about you.

I’ve blossomed into a self-assured, confident woman whom I am proud of.

Bloganuary: Day 15 prompt

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Bloganuary Day 10: Has a book changed your life?

When I was young, books saved me from boredom and my mind withering away. There were so many I can’t recall them all. Getting lost in stories and reimagining myself as the characters protected me from deep depression. Books like “Pippi Longstocking” by Astrid Lindgren helped me escape into a fantasy world of possibilities.

As I got a little older and was exposed to black writers, there was “The Bluest Eye” and “Sula” by Toni Morrison, which I still have in my home library. These books gave me insight into complex black characters, black girls/women, in hauntingly sad and hopeless situations. These women became a part of me.

I got into Zora Neal Hurston’s, “Their Eyes Were Watching God”, which for a long time, was my favorite book. Learning about the African American experience in the south in the early 20th century through fiction was mesmerizing. The words that come to mind for this book as a Haitian American girl are inspiration, love, beauty, innocence, hopelessness, and tragedy. Through it all, God carries us.

Then, “Breath, Eyes, and Memory” by Haitian author Edwidge Danticat became my favorite book and took over my life. I loved it so much because she spoke to my Haitian American roots. This book was written for me and about me. I loved it so much I gave it to my mom as a gift. I was not happy when I saw my stepfather with it as he proudly told me he wanted to read it too. That’s a different post.

In college and into adulthood, I was exposed to many other authors and genres of books such as “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Viktor Frankl, which I still have in my home library. Then, there was greek mythology and other literary prose. There’s “The Odyssey” by Homer that I purchased for my college English class still in my home library. What about the somber writer/poet Edgar Allen Poe?

Inumerable books by Toni Morrison, Zora Neal Hurston, Edwidge Danticat and countless other black writers, and poets like Nikki Giovanni, women and men writers, but mostly women as you can see, immeasurably changed my life.

These books allowed me to see myself, exposed me to the possibilities, provided an escape to another place and time, made me proud of the sheer gift of writing and poetry, fueled my imagination, educated me, developed my compassion, gave me insight into the injustices of the world, and instilled in me unshakable hope.

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Why do I write?

Day 6 of Bloganuary and it’s a great question. Writing for me is self-care because it allows me to express, reflect, and evaluate my thoughts. I enjoy it and I’m good at it. Growing up, I loved reading fiction books and losing myself in the stories. I’ve also been journaling since I was a preteen. I have always dreamed of being a writer because I wanted a way to connect with people the way the authors of those books connected with me. 

The act of writing allows me to operate in something I’m good at, which boosts my self-esteem and makes me feel good. Writing is another one of my SUPER POWERS.

With this blog, I’m bridging my love for helping people with my love of writing. I go through periods where I don’t write, and I end up feeling lost and like something is missing. I always return to it because I just can’t stay away. It’s an old habit I can’t quit. I don’t want to quit. Writing helps me evolve into a better me.

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What brings me joy?

This is Day 5 of BLOGANUARY and I’m really enjoying this CHA-LUNGE of blogging every day in January. I’ve completed many CHA-LUNGES in the past, mostly related to cooking, but this one is fast becoming a favorite. Today’s question is what brings me joy?

One activity that brings me absolute silly and giddy joy is DANCE. I love to dance for exercise, particularly Zumba Fitness. I also love African dance and just dance in general. I’m no trained dancer, yet during a Zumba Fitness session, I feel like I’m on stage. Through all the sweat and heart pumping, a huge smile is planted on my face. I love it so much I became a Zumba Fitness instructor at 40 years old and have participated in many, many classes and events over the years.

Me with the crowd after I led a Zumba Fitness session at a mental health & substance use conference in Austin, Texas, circa 2016ish. It was a self-care session.💃🏾

I brought self-care to work through teaching Zumba Fitness classes for years and most recently renewed my Zumba Fitness license after about 4 years of inactivity. I’ve missed teaching and believe it’s a great way to keep myself physically fit. I’m thinking about teaching virtual classes at some point.

Even though I haven’t been teaching, I do Zumba Fitness and general dance at home as part of my exercise routine using my own choreography. I can’t wait to attend one of my favorite Zumba instructor’s classes again when the gym renovation repairs are complete. It’s been a few months. I also follow various youtube sites of fitness people doing all kinds of dance.

Dancing makes me appreciate my body and what it can do. At almost 50 years old, I need to keep these joints lubricated and moving.

Dance is EXHILARATING and brings me so much JOY!

Me leading a class at a Zumbathon a few years ago.

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How am I brave?

I love this topic because bravery is one of my SUPERPOWERs. So how am I brave? Let me count the ways:

    1. I moved to a completely different state 25 years ago with my husband, Bryan, and we created a decent life. Moving from Chicago, IL to Austin, TX was by far the most brave thing I’ve done in my life. It is no small feat to move away from everything and everyone you know. To this day, most of our immediate family live in the Chicago area. It is very challenging to live away from your family, especially when raising your own children. It was especially difficult for me as the baby of the family. Every person and every connection I’ve fostered in Texas has been of my own doing (or Bryan’s). Moving to Texas strengthened so many muscles, including my social muscles because many relationships I had growing up in Chicago occurred through connections with my 3 siblings, mom, extended family, and friends. Every job I’ve had was based off my own merit, not from referrals from the people I knew back at home. It’s been an amazing experience and one I will never regret.
    2. I’m brave every day I show up to work as an introverted leader in state government which is heavily influenced by corporate culture. The corporate world is set up for extraverts. Sometimes, I do want to disappear and work in the background because that’s where I’m most comfortable. However, my role requires that I be in the forefront. My favorite reminders and personal POWER statements are: “Don’t Shrink!” and “I can do this!”
    3. Creating and maintaining this blog is an act of bravery. I remember when I had the inclination to start a blog, it was about a year before I actually took action. Some questions I had were, “What would I write about?”… “Who would want to read about what I have to say?”…”What if no one reads it?” It’s been about 6 years now and though I have a very small following, I still blog because writing is my self-care outlet. It makes me a better me and if some people want to join me on my journey, I’m all for it.
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    What I want to achieve this year?

    Happy New Year, world! This blog prompt is right up my alley because I’ve stopped making “resolutions” several years ago. I prefer to focus on goals I want to achieve because I’m more likely to follow through. I proudly did something last week that I hadn’t done in a few years – created my VISION BOARD, and it includes my goals for 2023.

    LPC’s 2023 Vision Board. I plan to add more, but this is a great start.

    Truth be told, this Vision Board is two years in the making because I cut out most of the pictures from various magazines in 2021 & even mentioned it briefly (with pictures) in my blog post Is this Texas Part Deux. I’ve learned recently that people can now create virtual vision boards, but that didn’t stop me from buying poster board from the Dollar Tree and pulling out the bottle of glue. Besides, I find I’m more connected to my goals as I engage in the process of curating my vision board with objects I select, cut out, and arrange with my own hands. What I want to achieve can be summed as the following & is also seen in my vision board:

    • Amplify my wellness game.
    • Enhance my knowledge in my career through continuing education.
    • Continue on the path of establishing better balance at work.
    • Improve my finances.
    • Connect and reconnect with the people who mean the most to me.
    • Embody joy, peace, confidence, and resilience.
    Wellness to me includes cooking & eating healthy foods, exercise, rest, stress relief, gardening, attending my doctor appointments, taking my medications & supplements, & writing. My blog is about self-care & all of these activities support my self-care journey, including blogging. I also love to learn & I particularly want to advance in my career by sharpening my skills. I’m grateful for how far I’ve come & I would like to transition to a different challenge. I think this is natural when you’ve been in a position as long as I have. All of this will enable me to further exude my personal strength & power.
    Since 2020, like many people, I’ve been re-evaluating my career goals & thinking about my work environment and how it affects me. In 2023, I will embrace “work smarter not harder” & take care of me first.

    2023 is the year for me to build a robust savings account so I can be more financially secure. We had much success in 2020 & I want to go back to that. There are several milestones coming up this year, such as me turning 50 & our daughter, Elise, graduating from high school. She plans to attend college, which can be a huge expense. As in years past, I also want to contribute to causes that are important to me.

    I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. After 25 years of marriage to Bryan, I’m looking forward to seeing what this 26th year brings in our relationship. I’m open to the evolving relationship with my kids as they’re getting older. We’ll soon be empty nesters, which is scary. Connecting with friends and coworkers fills my heart with joy, so I naturally want more of it.

    Additionally, I want to have a healthy mindset about getting older and aging gracefully. I plan to blog about it in future posts.

    With that, here’s to 2023! May we all embrace the journey and become more of ourselves in the process!