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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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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.

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Earliest Memories

The earliest memories I have are laying in a crib watching my surroundings and wondering where I was. I remember hearing the song Ben by Michael Jackson played occasionally. When the music wasn’t playing, the house was quiet. This song, which I’ve heard endlessly and loved, was released in 1972. I was born in 1973. These memories used to pop up often, but not so much as my life became filled with my own responsibilities like working and raising my own children with my husband.

It wasn’t until years later, when I was an adult that my mummy told me something that shocked me. I was absolutely SHOOK (in todays vernacular)! Mummy feared a whole lot and was very strict with me. I don’t recall what prompted the conversation, but she revealed to me that one day while she was on the bus with me as a baby in Chicago, this lady, who mummy didn’t know (a stranger), commented on how beautiful I was. The lady offered to care for me during the week while my mummy worked. Mummy accepted the offer, so I spent my days at this lady’s house. Mummy would meet the lady somewhere at the beginning of the week and hand me to her. I don’t recall if it was for weeks or months.

This definitely speaks to the different time we live in now (or even 20 years ago) because no matter how nice a person appears, I would never let a stranger who is not a child care provider and I’m paying, or who just offers because she is kind, babysit my children. If I did that when my kids were growing up, I would never hear the end of it, especially from mummy. I was shocked she would allow this.

I have empathy for her and the choices she had to make as an immigrant woman who came to this country to make a better life for herself and her children. She didn’t know she would face this life without her abusive husband, my father. She had limited education and was the single parent to 4 children living in the big city of Chicago. She did what she had to do.

In those early memories, I don’t recall being unhappy. I just lay there, watched, and listened. I was fine. Later on in the eighties, I was one of those latchkey kids who knew how to take care of myself.

God’s grace and covering were on us.

I’m so thankful for mummy’s sacrifices and her putting me on the path to do better for my children.

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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!