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Never too busy to go to the doctor

I’m back. Listen, this lady (ummm…me) has been busy! What else is new? You know that about me already. Despite my busy life, I really strive to be as grounded as I can by doing the things that bring me joy, make me relax, calm my nerves, and bring me peace. As an introvert, I need to recharge often. Yesterday, I got in the bed as soon as I got home and stayed there for the rest of the night. My husband was kind and warmed up my dinner (I’m on a 21 day vegan cleanse). I ate, scrolled through my email and social media, drank tea, and pretty much stayed in the bed until it was time for “bed”.

For the past month, I’ve had a couple of health issues that have been begging for my attention. The first had to do with my teeth. I’ve decided to schedule the appointment to get my 4 wisdom teeth removed. I had another flare up that I couldn’t ignore. As I was discussing my pain with my team members one day, one of my employees kind of jokingly said something to the affect of “You, of all people, should be attending to this as part of self-care”. The blogger who writes about self-care has been putting off dental work for a year. Touchet…touchet, mon frere!

The thing is I’ve always hated going to the dentist. I’ve never really needed anything major done to my teeth. It’s a miracle that I’ve kept up with teeth cleanings all these years. Last year, I started getting some specialized cleanings as a result of some wear and tear from low levels of calcium.. probably as a result of getting older (as “they” like to remind me). I had been able to get away with keeping my wisdom teeth because they rarely bothered me, but one got inflamed last year and I was told then, to get it removed. I did not.

Next week, I have an appointment to get all four wisdom teeth removed. I’m not excited about it, but I’m proud of myself for finally making it a priority. I’ve had another health issue creep up that resulted in me calling my gynecologist yesterday and leaving work a little earlier. I’ll spare the details, but let’s just say my menstrual cycle has gone “rogue”. I have to be careful because as part of my breast cancer treatment, I’m on cancer medication that may increase my risks for other cancers. It could be the medication. It could be perimenopause. It could be my uterine fibroids. It could be stress. Whatever the case, I’m not taking any chances. I have an appointment to see my gynecologist and to do some testing next Tuesday.

I admit I don’t necessarily like that my work takes up a huge space in my life, although my job is rewarding. I mostly work long days. I don’t have as much time to do simple things like check my personal emails and voice mail like I used to. I don’t talk to my family/friends as often as I want. I usually have to spend my whole Saturday recovering from the work week. However, I have limits, especially when it comes to my health.

I will continue to take care of myself by eating well, exercising daily, praying, and socializing with the people that mean the most to me. I’m on the vegan cleanse for the health benefits and I enjoy participating on the Facebook group. My health is very important to me and my family, so I’m not going to ignore it. I’m never too busy to go to the doctor when I need to.

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Live Your Life

Here’s an idea…it’s your life, so why not live it unapologetically…full throttle, without all the explaining? How about you check in with the people who depend on you to make sure you don’t leave them in the dust, but aside from that, it’s your life for the taking, so LIVE it.

My LIGHT lesson for this post is to do whatever you need and want to do to live your life to the fullest….your “best life” as often phrased today, in our American culture. However, also spend a good amount of time “being” rather than “doing”. “Be” for the sake of “being” and not to prove to friends, family, coworkers, haters, society, or who ever. Be the change, inspiration, advocate, enthusiast, peace, love, etc. Stop seeking other people’s approval and/or permission.

I remember years ago, my male boss at the time asked me what I was trying to prove. Granted, I believe he was threatened by me, but I did have an aura about me that took on the air of having to prove something to the world. I was in graduate school at almost 40 years old, worked full time, had a family, and was a first generation college graduate after having previously been a college “drop out”. My mother was a single parent from a different country who cleaned hospitals for a living. My father was abusive and did nothing to support us. The odds were stacked against me, for sure. I remember my aunt saying to my mom in creole when I was about a pre-teen, “what are you going to do with her?”. The “her” was me. So I thought I had a lot to prove to everyone. That pushed me to crush goals, but I could have possibly gone farther had I focused that energy to prove on myself. I don’t know. Nowadays, I have nothing to prove to anyone, but myself.

I type this like I have it all figured out and I don’t. However, I know what I’m striving for and I’m tired of setting limits on myself. The beauty of getting older and being a breast cancer thriver is I care less, but there is room for me to care to a lesser degree about what others think of me.

One step I’ve taken to get more clear on my goals is to reduce my time on social media. As much as I love catching up with family and friends and getting updates from my favorite pages, my struggle with social media is the many competing messages about most everything and everything seems to be taken out of context. You see the constant self-promotion and borderline narcissistic posts. There’s the danger of getting into the “comparison” trap. All of these factors, and more, are counterintuitive to how I see myself “being” in this life.

As I process this message, I’m sure I will find other areas I will want to work on to get me where I want to be. In the meantime, I will strive to live unapologetically and in full throttle.

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Reoccurring light lessons

How did that happen? January breezed by with me posting not one blog post. It was busy. Now February is in full swing. No, I didn’t make a list of resolutions. However, I have been fulfilling my commitment of ramping up my self-care. I completed a 30 day green smoothie challenge (simple green smoothies), got back to going to the gym and dancing with my Zumba fitness buddies on Saturdays, and reconnected with some special people. My husband and I got baptized. I hit a milestone with being in 2 years remission from breast cancer. You can read about how I first learned of my diagnosis here. I’m generally more optimistic this year than this time last year when we were dealing with my husband’s health.

I’m living, being, moving, doing, and am overall feeling good about 2019. However, as I’ve been minding my own business, trying to live my “best” life… BOOM!!! I’m hit with another familiar challenge. I blame it on the work culture where I’m employed because there is constant change and turnover. I’m faced again with the external pressure of moving up and deciding if job advancement is what I want. What bothers me about it is that I love what I do and I spend most of my work time out of my comfort zone, but I’ve gotten comfortable with the level of discomfort I’m in right now, if that makes sense.

Listen, no one is telling me I have to do anything. No one has assigned me to anything. However, as I observe people advance in positions, I have a moment, which could be a day(s), week(s) or month(s), of internal questioning. Why wasn’t I picked? What will others think of me because I wasn’t picked? At the same time, as a working mother that solely financially supports my family, I have to think of my family first and how my job impacts them. I can’t just pick up and go to another agency because three people depend on me. As the keeper of the insurance, I know we can’t have a lapse in medical coverage either given our combined health issues.

I’m not sure how many women can relate to my exact experience, but I think it’s a common experience to deal with multiple pressures. The tug and pull of being a working mom and the sole financial support for my family can feel overwhelming at times. I love my family, but have a demanding job. People have expectations of me at home and work, and I have expectations of myself. I work with very ambitious people, not that I’m not ambitious too. Thank God my husband, Bryan, is a constant presence for our kids during the week. I’m actually glad he isn’t working right now so he can be here for the kids and attend to his health issues.

I’ve been processing my thoughts on this topic in my head for a couple of weeks now. If you’ve been following me, you’ll know one of the most instrumental tools I use to process is writing. Putting “pin to paper”, so to speak, is a sign I’m ready to make some decisions and move past this. I’m also meeting with a mentor for tea this morning and I plan to talk it out.

The LIGHT lessons I need to re-eaxamine are evaluating my work goals and what I want, in my due time. I need to not let external pressure cause me to make moves that I don’t want to make because it looks good to someone else. A pivotal question is what do I want which can be blurred when raising a family that depend on me. Bottom line: I need to stop worrying about what other people think of me and do what’s best for me and my situation. I need to stop being so hard on myself.

What reoccurring issues present themselves in your life and how do you handle them?

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Pottery Fun

Let’s see. How shall I describe December? A few words that come to mind are crazy busy, borderline ridiculous, and exhausting. I’m happy to report my Christmas break started with a pleasant surprise from my boss. She arranged for her direct reports to partake in an intimate, creative activity: pottery painting at Cafe Monet. The evening included wine, hors d’oeuvres, pleasant conversation, and painting. What a fabulous idea!

This was my first time doing pottery painting and it was just what I needed. I enjoyed spending time with our small group of five. A few hours later, I was relaxed and the stress edge had subsided.

I’m very pleased with my product. Once we were done, we left our creations with the Cafe Monet staff so they could finish the masterpieces with what I call a “glaze”. It took them about a week. I must have had spring on my mind due to the colors I selected, but the “glaze” (picture to the left) made the colors a little darker. I love it!

I will definitely be doing more of this activity in 2019.

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Age is nothing but a number

I’ve heard the expression “age is nothing but a number” at least a thousand times. I have so much going in my life that I don’t usually have time to think about my age; however lately, I’ve been thinking about my age. It could be because I feel more aches and pains in my joints, which can lasts for hours, especially after a good workout. I’ve been more tired due to long work hours and managing my family. I can visibly see the changes in my face: the forehead wrinkles, drooping eyes, under eye dark circles, and smile lines. I also have one gray hair on my right side burn (I’ve had it for years). This is what my 45 looks like sans makeup.

Here’s the thing…I’m not going to lie, I wouldn’t mind having the smooth skin of my twenties. Does this mean I don’t like the way I look now or that I wish I could go back in time or that I don’t want to get older??? No, it doesn’t. In fact, I actually appreciate the way I look now more than I ever did when I had the glorious skin and body to match. I also love my confidence in my forties. In my twenties, I was very insecure and had a lot personal growth to do. In my forties, I know who I am and have learned to care less about what other people think about me.

I’m simply processing how I feel about the fact that there is no mistaking I’m a woman of a “certain age”. What does that mean anyway? For years, I’ve been told I looked younger than my age, which was an ego booster, for sure. I think when people tell you that often enough, you can trick yourself into thinking, “aging isn’t that bad because I don’t even look my age”. However, what about the day when you actually start to look your age or look older? How do you deal with that? I’m not a shallow person. I’m acknowledging my tension with aging is likely because I’ve internalized society’s rules to some degree: beauty equates to youth. The message is everywhere. I need a detox from that message and different definition of beauty.

I intend to age beautifully with a full appreciation for all of my experiences, capabilities, accomplishments, failures, idiosyncrasies, my body, mind, and spirit, and the people who mean the most to me. Some of what I do to take care of myself as I get older are habits I actually started in my twenties such as exercising most days of the week and having a solid skincare regimen. I learned a lot about skincare when I used to sell Mary Kay products. Other things I’ve incorporated over the years are drinking green smoothies daily, eating lots of fruits and vegetables, and drinking more water. What I’m working on now is reducing my sugar intake and losing a few extra pounds.

The truth is the voice inside my head doesn’t have an age, so for me, it’s true: age is nothing but a number. In fact, I have to remind myself to slow down; otherwise I’ll suffer the consequences later (i.e. exercising too hard). I strive daily to be the best version of myself I can be. Inevitably, we’re all getting older and sometimes it feels scary, but it’s okay. Here are a few light lessons I hope you embrace:

  • Acknowledge and process your feelings about aging
  • Talk about it with someone you trust
  • Things you can do to age beautifully are:
    • Guard your mind, body, and spirit from negativity
    • Eat healthily
    • Exercise regularly
    • Do activities in nature (ex. walking)
    • Take care of your body (ex. stretch, doctor’s appointments, massage)
    • Practice gratefulness
    • Apply makeup and clothing that accentuate your features
    • Do things you enjoy
    • Learn new things
    • Keep setting new goals
    • Keep in close contact with the people who mean the most to you
    • Laugh A LOT

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This is for you, my ❤

A whole lot can change in a year! On this day in 2017, I was trying to get through to Bryan’s (my husband), neurosurgeon’s office. After watching his decline for the past several months, but especially over the pre-Christmas weekend, I decided we were going to see his doctor that day, the day after Christmas, instead of waiting for the scheduled appointment in two weeks. He needed an adjustment to the shunt inserted in his brain in 2016. I had been telling the physician’s assistant and doctor about his symptoms for months, but his lab results kept coming back “normal”. They didn’t listen to me and suggested he see a neurologist for the memory loss.

On 12/26/17, no one answered the office phone and there was no answering service. Plan B was to take Bryan to the emergency room, but I didn’t know if I would be able to convince him to go. A slight panic was developing inside of me, but I am calm under pressure. He had been very lethargic the whole weekend and complained he was tired when I said something. I knew we were up against the clock after I had done some additional research on his symptoms on Christmas day. Thankfully, he agreed to go to the emergency room, but another problem ensued. He couldn’t get out of the bed. I noticed his eyes were glassy. He tried over and over again to get out of the bed, but I could see that his nerves wouldn’t allow his body to do the simple action. I called to our son, Caleb, to help and nothing. Thirty minutes later, I moved to Plan C which was a call the paramedics. He couldn’t walk. He wasn’t oriented to time. He thought it was July 2008.

Seventeen days later, Bryan returned from the hospital. He was released from the intensive care unit after the second day, received a shunt adjustment, and was eventually moved to the rehabilitation center within the hospital where he had cognitive, speech, and physical therapy. Following his hospital admission, he had another four months of cognitive, speech, and physical therapy.

Whew!!! Typing this post is stirring up all the emotions I experienced at the time. Our lives were totally disrupted again. You can read my previous blog posts to learn more about our journey. Somehow (update and more precisely…by God’s doing), I managed to get a promotion through this latest ordeal, which I needed because Bryan was not able to work. I managed to get my kids through it and keep our family’s day to day schedule going. However, this blog post is not about me, but of the sheer strength, will, and resilience of my husband.

We’ve been married for twenty one years so it goes without saying I love my husband, but I’ve gotten a whole new appreciation for this guy. His life was totally disrupted. He suffered a great deal. This is a college-educated man, who embodies being a provider for his family, and is faced with the prospect of never working in his profession again. For most of 2018, he’s been recovering while battling depression and coping with his disorder. Yet, what I’ve seen from him in these last few months has been amazing.

He started feeling better later in the summer while embarking on our long walks around Austin. I could tell he was better because he started planning and getting back involved with the kids’ schools. He’s always been the school and homework guy. If there’s a problem with the administration and/or treatment of my kids in their respective schools, then I’m the tough person they will answer to. I don’t play around. In November 2018, against my advice, Bryan applied for some seasonal work. It was all physical and what I witnessed was an improvement in his overall cognitive function and mood.

For us, Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’ birth and being grateful for our blessings and family. Due to Bryan’s efforts, we were able to have a Christmas with gifts. I get paid well, but enough to cover our living expenses. Living in Austin is not cheap. He even surprised me with my gifts. In fact, for the first time ever, Bryan did almost all of the Christmas shopping. Granted, I work long hours, but he said it was the least he could do since I was doing everything. I don’t see it that way. Working isn’t the only way to contribute in a marriage/family, but I’m married to a manly guy, so his esteem is rooted in providing for his family. I’m working on having him see it differently. Whatever the case, he came through in a big way and when you’ve been married as long as we have, you don’t keep score. There have been times where he’s carried me. Our job is to carry each other when needed. And for the record, I don’t really see myself as carrying him. I’m grateful I’m able to support my family.

At the beginning of 2018, I was hesitant about creating new goals because I wasn’t sure what life would throw at me. Heck, he didn’t get released from the hospital until 1/12/18. My main goal at the time was to get him out of the hospital. Between my health and his, we’ve been on a roller coaster ride since 2016. Upon witnessing Bryan’s healing, I’m inspired. I’ve prayed a lot for his healing and so have others. We still don’t know what’s in store for his future, but we’re in it together and can overcome anything.

All this to say, I had a FABULOUS Christmas and am looking forward to 2019 thanks to my ❤.

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The Slow Down

I love the holiday season for many obvious reasons: family time, delicious food, sleeping in, holiday decorations, nostalgic feelings, and connecting with family and friends. There is one more reason I’ve been craving since August: the overall slow down. I’m able to unravel my thoughts after a few days of rest. During the “non-holiday” part of the year, life can be fast-paced, busy, sometimes chaotic…especially my life. If you’ve followed my blog, you’ll know I’ve had a lot going on since 12/26/2017. My Thanksgiving 2018 was no fuss, no travel, no rush, and no stress. I was only surrounded by my husband and children. We made calls to family, but ours was a quiet Thanksgiving. A friend said she might stop by, but there was no pressure or expectation. She ended up not coming, which was worked out fine.

The holiday slow down is my time to refuel, realign, and re-engage with my family and myself. I planned an extra day off work today because I like to be off on Cyber Monday (although my holiday money hasn’t arrived yet 😑). I also prefer not return to work on a Monday after an extended weekend off. Ironically, my plans for today includes catching up on some office work, but it will be balanced with some pampering, organizing, and getting up to speed on my personal affairs.

Although I’m slowing down, I fully recognize that for many people, this is the time of year for what seems like endless shopping, holiday parties, and overall doing and buying stuff. Even the driving on the roads tends to being more frenetic and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more car accidents this time of year. I don’t want to fall into the trap this season. Yes, I will Christmas shop (mostly online) as I do have 2 children, but it will not be the mindless, overconsumption of stuff.

There’s something to be said for giving yourself what you need and creating a space for it to happen. I’m grateful I can create this space for myself.