“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Maya Angelou
Bloganuary Day 11 prompt
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you do, and liking how you do it.” Maya Angelou
Bloganuary Day 11 prompt
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.
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.
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.
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!
I love this topic because bravery is one of my SUPERPOWERs. So how am I brave? Let me count the ways:
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.
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:
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.
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!
This, my friends, is the end of an era. The year 2022 marks the last full year of me being in my forties. In 2023, I will officially turn fifty and I’ve been preparing for it.
I’m optimistic about living my best life in my fifties. Sometimes, you need to evaluate the past to put yourself on the path to a better future. For work, at the close of some projects, we facilitate a “lessons learned” debriefing to discuss the activities of the project such as what worked and what didn’t work.
Similarly, I’ve been reflecting on my forties, and based on light lessons I’ve learned, there were thoughts, actions, beliefs, etc., that served me well during that time and some that did not. I’ve been facilitating a personal debriefing in order to set myself up for a healthy and prosperous decade in my fifties.
My current forty nine year old self has thought about some nuggets of wisdom I’d tell my forty year old self if I could go back in time. They are in no particular order, though I think the first one set the tone for my thirties and early forties. See if you can relate to any of these.
For the milestone years like forty and fifty, I notice many women on social media want to show they are their sexiest and most beautiful selves. I may have subscribed to that a bit when I approached forty, but I have different plans for my fifties, not to throw shade on anyone.
In my fifties, I plan to continue evolving into the best version of myself spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally, and financially. I want to be an all-around better human. It’s true – the older and wiser you get, the less you care about what others think, and you get more comfortable in your own skin. I want more of this too.
The week before last, I was basking in a Thanksgiving stupor of love and good cheer with family and friends. A few days later, on Monday, I woke up with a faint, dull headache. I was scheduled off work, but decided to catch up from the holiday. I work from home anyway, so no big deal.
About 7 hours later, I felt something building up in my respiratory system and decided to call it a day. My husband, Bryan, had been feeling sick since Sunday. I went to bed early and actually got 9+ hours of sleep. I worked again on Tuesday, but only about 6 hours. Good thing I stocked up on over the counter medications because I decided to take a dose of a generic Nyquil. A COVID-19 test reported a negative result. But things got really interesting early Wednesday morning.
Rewind to the Monday before Thanksgiving. It was my first time attending an in-person, all day conference in almost 3 years. It was a leadership conference at a hotel, targeted for women in Texas state government. I was so excited to be around so many other influential women and practice some of what I learned with my team. On Tuesday, I worked and at some point at the start of my day, my son, Caleb, asked me to help him find the thermometer because he was feeling sick. He said he had been coughing all night and didn’t feel well. I told him to mask up until his symptoms subsided. He had a slight fever and against my advise, decided to go to work. He said he had to go because other people were calling in sick.
A few hours later, I heard Caleb’s voice and learned from Bryan that Caleb’s boss sent him home. We reminded him to wear masks around us and he went on to stay in his room the rest of that day. It was the next day, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, while I was in the grocery store stocking up on medications I thought to call Caleb to tell him to take a COVID-19 test. Admittedly, it didn’t occur to me to ask him to test until I was talking to a friend. When I got home, he said he took it and the result was negative.
On the following Wednesday after Thanksgiving, I was awakened to uncontrollable chills, weakness in my joints, and a pounding headache. I could barely lift myself off the toilet when I went to the restroom. I decided not to work though I signed into my laptop for a few minutes to notify my boss and team I would be out sick. I stayed in bed the whole day, napping mostly in the morning. The chills only occurred one time in the early morning. The headache refused to subside until hours later, even despite medications. The weakness steadily improved.
I woke up groggy Thursday morning, but felt much better than Wednesday. My nose was stuffy and generally felt like I had a cold. After texting with my siblings and learning two of my nieces, my great niece, and my brother in law in Chicago tested positive, I decided to do the COVID-19 test again and WHOILA! The result was positive. Since my symptoms felt more like a cold, I proceeded to work in my office for most of the day. I went to bed early and did it again on Friday.
Both Bryan and Caleb took the test (Caleb twice) and their results were negative. I’m doubtful I’m the only one in the house who has/had COVID-19 and am convinced Caleb brought it in the house. However, I had been out in public a few days before Thanksgiving too. I let our friends know so they could be aware. And actually, the Friday after Thanksgiving my friend let me know her husband was sick, but with none of the symptoms we ended up having. Our symptoms didn’t start until days later. I’ve been quarantining since the positive result last Thursday and have since taken two more tests, both were positive.
My natural instinct is to try to figure out how I got it, but it really doesn’t matter. My main concern now is recovering and making sure I don’t pass this on so we are not playing a game of hot potato with this virus. Bryan has been sleeping on the couch which has been the hardest because we are each other’s cuddle buddy. It feels weird being separate in the same house. Elise doesn’t come near me. She’s been masking up in the house and walks around with disinfectant wipes. Caleb has a lingering cough and is the most reckless among us. We told him he needs to go to a drive through clinic tomorrow.
For the past almost 3 years, I’ve wondered if the fate of most would be to eventually catch the virus. Now that I got it, I do think it’s a bummer especially not knowing the long term effects considering my medical history. However, I’m thankful my symptoms are mild, which I attribute to the vaccines. My doctor also gave me a pneumonia and flu shot in September. It all helps.
In the mean time, I will retire to bed early tonight. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.
Let me know if you or someone you know had the virus and what the symptoms were like.
The holiday season is upon us and before the year ends in a blur, I’m doing some self-reflection. There’s something to be said for memorializing one’s life. I gained a new appreciation for maintaining my blog while watching a youtuber passionately explain how important it is for everyone to document their lives in some way so as not to forget and to get the lessons. I wholeheartedly believe this. Not long ago, I was rereading my previous posts and in Take a leap, which I wrote as a mid-year reflection, I reminded myself of my “whys” and to keep going. My past me reminded the present (at the time) me of what the future me needed to do. A couple of months ago while in Chicago, my niece and I got on the topic of my blog and that conversation encouraged me to keep it going. So here I am again.
At the beginning of 2022, I was optimistic about my hysterectomy recovery. It feels like so long ago with all that’s happened this year. In my post Feeding my soul: 6 months post surgery, I shared some updates on my progress. I will keep the same format in this post by focusing on my surgical recovery, menopause symptoms, and general health.
Surgical recovery – In January, my gynecologist completed a laparoscopic hysterectomy with oophorectomy (ovary removal) on my body. My uterus, cervix, fallopian tubes, and ovaries were removed. Translation: I no longer have these organs in my body. In the months leading up to the surgery, I thoroughly (so I thought) researched the procedure, but after the fact, I’m still learning about the implications of the surgery. The main takeaways are that I’ve healed well internally and the scaring from the 4 incisions are fading. However, I didn’t fully conceptualize how my body would adjust to the missing organs. Let that sink in. I do have more lower back pain than anticipated, especially within a few months post surgery. I didn’t realize my uterus and ovaries were supporting my frame and lower back. I’m more mindful about not overdoing it with exercise and other activities. That’s not to say I don’t overdo it sometimes, because I definitely do. However, I make it a point to soak in the tub and allow myself some extra rest whenever my lower back does hurt.
Menopause symptoms – Not much has changed here. I do get hot flashes throughout the day, but I still think they are manageable. I’ve learned to dress in layers and I keep a fan near me or on as much as possible. My husband, Bryan, says the ceiling fan irritates his sinuses so he’ll turn them all off. I have to gently remind him my body NEEDS the fan. But I do have a general sensitivity to being too hot or too cold, so sometimes a fan is too much. I’ve experienced cloudy thinking for years and what’s helped this last year is drinking an expresso or cappuccino a few times a week. In my research on the best foods for women during menopause, I learned that expressos are beneficial to women in menopause due to the antioxidants. I find that drinking one during the work day keeps me alert and more focused. Who knew that it wouldn’t be until I reached my late forties I would gain an appreciation for a form of coffee? I’ve spent practically my whole adult life not liking or drinking coffee at all. But there is a difference between coffee and expresso and my taste buds and body prefers the later. I enjoy them a few days a week because I’ve also noticed too much caffeine can ignite the dreaded hot flashes. I would probably drink more if I didn’t forget to make them by 2pm. My rule is if I don’t drink it by 2pm, then I’ll forego because I don’t want the caffeine to interfere with my sleep.
General Health – In the summer and fall, I’ve met with my oncologist, primary care physician (PCP), pulmonologist, and neurologist. That’s a lot of specialists for this little ole body. Overall, from an oncology and general medicine standpoint, I’m healthy. My blood work is impressive – all “between the lines”, as my oncologist would say. However, I’ve gained a new diagnosis – asthma and there is an outstanding issue that seems to be a residual consequence of the surgery (occasional stuttering) that needs to be addressed….hence the neurologist. I will have an MRI in a couple of weeks. Also, I’ve gained 10 pounds since the surgery. I’m not happy about it, but I know it’s a consequence of the hysterectomy. My PCP thinks my metabolism is low and she’s probably right. I’ve been working on extending myself some extra grace and have been intentional about focusing on other markers of health. I still continue to eat healthy, watch my portions, exercise 5-6 days a week (dance, yoga, HIIT, weights, stretch), and educate myself on what the right formula is for me. I refuse to give up, and though I could, I don’t want to engage in any extreme tactics. One thing I do not have under control and what I’ve been struggling with for years is the sleep. Perhaps that is the secret sauce that may help my hormones. I have developed a lovely nightly bed time routine, which includes filling my scented oil diffusers, lighting a candle, listening to music (Neo-Soul or meditation mostly), pampering my face, showering or bathing, and putting on one of my favorite lotions. Also, a big change is once I sleep, I tend to stay asleep (except for going to the restroom to pee); whereas in the past, I used to awaken in the middle of the night ruminating about things like work.
Overall – My body is adjusting and I’m still learning what will work best to keep me functioning at optimal levels. The surgery was the right choice for me. And as a 49-year old woman with no period, I have to say it’s quite empowering. I didn’t realize how much planning for, being on, and caring for my period occupied so much of my life. Now, I have other things to occupy my time. Additionally, I’ve been undergoing a metamorphosis of sorts. I suppose this is common in mid-life. Despite no longer having a uterus which is the epicenter of creativity, my creative juices have been flowing. More to come on that.
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.