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My preferred mode of travel

By far, traveling by car is my preferred mode of travel. Road trips nowadays are a totally different experience than road trips growing up. Back then, wearing a seat belt was not the law, and I remember being packed in a car, even sitting on someone’s lap or on the floor. There weren’t a ridiculous amount of McDonald’s or other restaurants to choose for food or if you had to use the restroom. We packed sandwiches and peed on the side of the road if we couldn’t wait to get to a proper place.

By the time we were traveling with our kids, I took advantage quite a bit and traveling became more fun. On one trip to Chicago with our kids when they were little, all restroom breaks were at hotels because I knew all hotels had restrooms in the lobby, and they were always clean. We stopped a lot along the ride. It was brilliant!

In 2021 and 2022, we were fortunate enough to drive to Chicago to see our families. It’s approximately 16 hours from Austin to Chicago. I enjoyed not having to deal with the airport and all it entails. And our comfortable vehicle made all the difference. We (mostly Bryan) paced ourselves and drove 8 hours during the day, stayed overnight at a hotel, and left out from the hotel early to complete the drive. We did that going and returning home. The road trips forced me to slow down and enjoy the ride….BLISSFUL indeed.

The cover photo is a picture I took with my phone in our car in Chicago. We miss our families, but don’t miss that cold.

Bloganuary: Day 14 prompt

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If I had a billion dollars…

Oh man! I was just talking to a colleague the other day about what I’d do if I won a MIILLION dollars through the lottery. Keep in mind I never play, but it’s a fun fantasy to think about.

So this prompt says I’m a BILLIONAIRE! SWEET! First things first…I would ensure all taxes are paid, gift my church and other causes, and put some away (savings & investments) to ensure my husband, children, and I are covered for life. Then:

  • Retire to never be an employee again
  • Learn several languages and travel the world a few times a year
  • Give, give, give
  • Open and operate a nonprofit
  • Buy reasonably sized HOUSES for summer and winter
  • Buy some toys but not much so I can stay under the radar.

Day 13 Bloganuary prompt

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What chores do I find the most challenging to do?

This is an interesting question because in deciding on a response, I got to thinking about what makes the chore challenging – hard to do or I don’t like to do it. Perhaps, it’s a bit of both?

Hands down, I don’t like to throw away the trash, so I simply don’t do it. It’s a task for my husband, Bryan. But me not liking to throw away trash goes way back to my upbringing and socialization. When I was growing up, my mummy, a single, for a period, Haitian mom, assigned us all tasks to complete while she was at work.

It was typical for her daughters to be assigned to the dishes, cooking, and the bathroom, and her only son was assigned to the floors and trash. Haitian culture is patriarchal, and chores were assigned based on gender roles. Mummy’s generation instilled this into us from a young age.

I’ve internalized much of this into my adulthood. It is convenient that Bryan, who is seven years older than me, doesn’t mind taking out the trash. It’s likely possible that he was reared with the notion that men do the grunge work. I will ask him.

Even if I decided to let go of gender-based (the ones I’m aware of) ideals and norms, I still would prefer not to take out the trash because I don’t like to do it. There are other chores I do that can be considered grunge work and challenging, like cleaning the stove and cleaning my walk-in shower, but I will do them, unlike taking out the trash.

Bloganuary Day 12

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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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The most memorable gift

This is Day 9 of Bloganuary, and I’m enjoying this experience. Today’s prompt is to write about the most memorable gift you’ve received. A few weeks after I completed my last radiation treatment for breast cancer in early 2017, a dear friend of mine surprised me with a spa weekend. She drove from where she lives in Houston (about 2 hours from me) to pick me up, and we were off for a weekend of pampering.

I felt the care of that place from the beautiful surroundings, the delicious, responsibly sourced food, the pampering facial, manicure and pedicure, the dance activity, and our therapeutic time with the horses. It was the absolute best weekend (2 night stay) and just what I needed after a jarring 5 months of cancer diagnosis, many doctor’s appointments, 2 surgeries, and radiation treatment.

The time we spent catching up was special. We were both very busy, so I immensely enjoyed the time we shared. This post reminds me that I’m missing my friend. What are the odds that we both were born and raised in Chicago, Illinois, and we both now live in Texas. We’ve known each other since elementary school and became friends in freshman year of high school. Life ebbs and flows and some friendships do the same. Hopefully, we’ll get to see each other this year.

Here are some photos I took to memorialize the amazing experience.

Me falling in love with Pete at the Equine Encounter
After a movement exercise with a small group, we each picked cards, and the facilitator provided insight on each card. The back has information on what the card represents. I don’t know where my card is.
A beautiful view from the pool. Though it was warm here in Texas right before spring, it was not warm enough to get into the pool.
This is the note the staff had waiting for us upon our arrival to the room. Life certainly is a beautiful mess.

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Bloganuary Day 7: Write a short story or poem about rain

She stood by the large windows, mesmerized by the rain showering her potted hydrangeas and bushes. Droplets raced down the glass. The swish of a car passing by caught her attention, so she looked up. The clouds were heavy. It was so dreary. Captivated by the rain, she was transported to a time when her young son and daughter insisted on stomping in every darn puddle in the parking lot on the way to the car from the grocery store. They were so giddy with hearts full of joy over a simple thing…the rain. This made her smile and long for that time again.

The swish of another car passing by caught her attention again. She didn’t remember rain being in the forecast, but rain is always welcome because rain is magical.

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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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Lost treasure

Hydrocephalus was a mystery to us. We never heard of it until May 2016 in an emergency room of all places. We had been going about our lives, and then this condition came along. And it came with a vengeance – confusion, unsteady gate, and memory loss. The most insidious of the symptoms was the memory loss. How did he get it? Why did he get it? What caused it?

The worst didn’t come until December 2017 when he had to be hospitalized for 3 weeks, followed by 3 months of 3 different therapies (speech, occupational, physical). Could you imagine not knowing things you used to know with all certainty, like what city you live in, the year, how to walk, what you did 5 minutes ago, or how to read or do basic math?

I couldn’t imagine, but I lived it with my husband, Bryan, when we learned he had this strange (to us at the time) condition called hydrocephalus – water on the brain. It’s a condition where the spinal fluid floods the brain. It stole a treasure trove of his precious memories. Some have come back. Some come and go. And some are lost forever.

I naturally forget some things as I get older. We all do that. Our brains hold our precious memories, which to me is like treasure. When I’m feeling down, I can recall moments like when I watched how much fun my son had playing with his little cousins in Chicago last September, which boosts my mood. When I’m missing someone I love dearly like my mom, I can pull from my treasure of memories and end up feeling close to her again. When I’m stressed, I can recall our time at the beach last summer when the waves and sand were tickling my butt….utter peace and joy.

My husband is doing so much better, but it’s a condition we are living with. He often impresses me with what he can remember. He sometimes remember things I’ve forgotten.

The brain is a fascinating masterpiece. It holds a treasure trove of precious memories, and losing memory is devastating. I write my thoughts so I don’t forget.