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Seeds

It happened again.  I was at my local body shop store the other day with my husband (rare treat for him to accompany me there, so it was like a date…not really) and asked the cashier for the location of the products that I couldn’t find. She responded with hesitation then asked me what my name was.  I told her and she smiled while she led me to the shelf that I had already examined. Her suggestive expression piqued my interest, which led me to study her face more intently. I did not recognize her initially, but upon close examination, I thought I might have a hunch.  Several competing thoughts were running through my mind: 1) I guess the memory really does start to go after 40 because she caught me completely off guard; 2) I have no idea who she is; and 3) who is she?

It took me a minute, but I eventually blurted out the first name of the individual that we both have in common.  She said “yes” and I felt my lips and cheeks expand with a huge smile because I was proud of myself for remembering.  I was also happy that she remembered me.  She was his girlfriend. He was my client.

Moments like this fill my heart with joy.  And it was literally just a moment…long enough for me to find my products, catch up, and check out.  It turns out they are doing well.  Their family has expanded and she even noted that he finally “got his stuff together”.  I’ve written in an older post located here about running into a previous client and how one of my goals when I entered direct practice in mental health was to plant seeds of hope.

I can’t take credit for whatever progress my clients make.  They are the ones who put in the work, but I firmly believe that when people feel supported, loved, cared for, and important, that they can do things that they never thought possible.  Believing in these things yourself may not come naturally in the beginning, but eventually you learn. For example, children’s sense of themselves (self-esteem) come from what they see about themselves through their parent’s eyes. I am a mirror to my own children.

I also plant seeds all the time, all over the place and they flourish when they’re ready.  Sometimes on an unassuming day, I’m fortunate enough to see the fruit.

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I love green SMOOTHIES

It all started two years ago, when I completed my first green smoothie 10-day detox.  I have since fallen in love with green smoothies. I’ve graduated to different smoothie recipe books such as Simple Green Smoothies and Breast Cancer Smoothies.  I think it’s ingenious to get several servings of fruits and vegetables including all of the wonderful nutrition in a drinkable smoothie. Depending on the greens, you don’t even taste them in the smoothie.  My favorite smoothies include mostly tropical flavors such as mangoes, pineapples, peaches, bananas, but I’m also willing to experiment with produce such as beets, pumpkin, and different lettuces besides spinach and kale. I made a pumpkin smoothie the other day with pumpkin, bananas, pineapple, spinach and arugula along with a nut milk and spices and the arugula added a spicy kick to it that made it special.

My go-to liquids are either plain filtered water, coconut water, almond milk, coconut milk or a combination of either.  My favorite spices to add are ginger, cinnamon, and/or turmeric. I add hemp seeds, chia seeds, and/or flax seeds for omega 3’s, omega 6’s, fiber and protein.  Per the physician’s assistant, I do have to avoid flax seeds during the week prior and after my next surgery because it can cause excess bleeding (Bummer…I had no idea…learn something new every day).

I enjoy at least one smoothie daily, but sometimes have more. I’ve been known to make them for work potlucks and even had a special request for our last party (Halloween).

I’ve purchased my mason jars very inexpensively from places like World Market.  I’ve ordered accessories such as reusable straws and straw brushes from Amazon.com.  I’ve purchased lids from Target.

Here are pictures of some of my favorites. Cheers!

 

 

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Inaction is a decision

I’m not going to lie (to myself).  My life has been turned upside down to a degree with this breast cancer diagnosis. I haven’t wanted to read my favorite random sites/blogs. I haven’t wanted to write. Exercise is literally out of the question in this phase of my treatment.  I’ve intentionally filled my brain with all things breast cancer related because I believe that knowledge is power. However, I’ve told myself from the beginning that I am not breast cancer.  Breast cancer does not have me…I am a person living with breast cancer. Although it feels like a lifetime since I’ve been living with this, this is just the beginning.  The thing about me is that I’ve been here before, so with time and reflection, and I eventually come back to me.  I like to redirect the energy from often awkward, uncomfortable, painful, and enlightening experiences into lessons that I share with others. So here I am.

One of the best feelings in the world is looking back on a decision you struggled to make and realizing that you made the right decision. Because I am a practical, smart, and insightful person, I don’t usually have difficulty with making decisions. My work requires me to be a problem solver and I’m a problem solver at home. Making decisions is a part of solving problems. Decisions need to be made on what the problem is, how to go about solving it, who needs to be involved, and what the outcome will be.  I am comfortable with making decisions.  However, there is the rare situation that stumps me and I’m not quite sure how to move forward.  Usually, this pertains to making personal decisions.

As I’ve gotten older and wiser, I realize that I do have my own methodical, decision-making process.  I weigh the pros and cons, I think about the impact on myself and my family, I think about how interested I am in it, I assess how passionate I am about it, and I visualize myself in the outcome (not in any particular order).  When I’m down to the wire and still can’t decide, meaning that I also haven’t heard God’s voice on the matter, my strategy has been to simply do nothing.  I simply don’t act.  I love how I get these epiphanies, but I admit that while I’m in the experience, I usually don’t realize that inaction is THE decision. And I’m not referring to the period where you hold off on making a decision because you want to weigh all the points noted above. This is well beyond that point.  I can now see that inaction can be a decision because it indicates that I really am not “that interested”, “that passionate”, “that willing” to make room for whatever “this is” in my life, at this time. Inaction has served me well in certain circumstances. The times that it didn’t serve me well was when I did not listen to my inaction.  I can be hard-headed (more accurately, doubt myself).

In recent years, there was a situation where I didn’t listen to my inaction and it caused me a lot of pain in my professional career. However, the pain was necessary because it verified two things: 1) my inaction was my initial decision and 2) that I let other people pressure me to make a decision that was not only NOT right for me, but one that I did NOT want.  The funny thing about life is that lessons that you don’t learn present themselves to you again and again.  I was fortunate enough to have an opportunity to play my cards again and I did right this time.

Even deeper, the most important lesson from this is that I get into a bit of trouble (with myself) when I doubt myself.  And in all fairness, there is real pressure in certain environments. However, I cause myself undue anguish when I doubt myself and I truly despise that. As someone who aspires to be more kind in general, especially to myself, it doesn’t serve me well, so I will continue to work on it and have already made great gains.

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A new normal

It’s not normal to wear a suit jacket and heels on a Friday, but that’s what I had to do because I was scheduled to host and facilitate a meeting to a group of directors, policy experts, and other executives from across the state. That was, let’s just say, a big deal in my work world.  That was Friday, 10/14, and I performed as expected.  With all that’s been on my mind, it was akin to an outer body experience, but I got the job done.  It’s now been a little over 3 weeks since my breast cancer diagnosis and it feels like so much and very little has happened at the same time.  I don’t even know how to explain this, but here we go.

The best analogy I can think of is when I knew I was pregnant with my firstborn, my son, Caleb.  I spent the whole pregnancy learning everything that I could related to pregnancy, giving birth (except I intentionally skipped anything related to cesarean births and ended up having a c-section with each of my children), and the baby’s first years of life.  I was consumed with educating myself.  I watched countless cable network shows related to babies.  Despite all of the real life stories I read about or saw on t.v., I didn’t actually know what it would be like for myself until my baby arrived.  I knew he would impact my life in a major way and that I would never be the same, but I had no clue to what degree.

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My babies-Elise and Caleb

Except for the love and joy that I’ve experienced with my children, I’m having a similar “process” experience with breast cancer.  I’ve been learning as much as I can from my doctors and medical team, through talking with friends with breast cancer and other cancers, and through my own research.  I’ve had to make room for this diagnosis that I know will change me forever although I don’t exactly know how and to what degree.  I know I won’t love breast cancer.  I know I won’t get joy from it.  However, I’m expecting to learn some new things about myself as I take on this fight. I’m expecting to birth something beautiful from this experience.  This is not the end of the world for me. As I’ve written before, no one wants cancer, but I do look at this as an opportunity (as one would say in my work world).

I’ve never really fit into the normal category, but the normal that I’ve established for myself and with my husband, has been temporarily thrown out the window. I’m just now settling down somewhat…I think.  It initially started off with back to back doctor appointments. I now have a team of doctors and staff working with me: a surgeon, oncologist, plastic surgeon, physician assistant, nurses, financial counselors and a social worker.  There may be more. When I worked as a mental health professional, I was a key member of a treatment team.  Although we attempted to convey and foster a partnering relationship with clients, my assessment had great influence on my clients’ lives. Here I am now, the patient, with a team of professionals working on my behalf.  It’s a good thing that I’m a social worker too because I am skilled at coordination.  I’ve made several calls and correspondences through email last week to obtain information on my genetic testing results and surgery appointments. It got to the point where I didn’t know next steps and it’s not as simple as calling one person.  I eventually received the information I needed, however, I admit that this is on another level, even for me.  As I go through the treatment (I haven’t started yet), there may be points where I’m unable to keep up.  A friend with breast cancer recently advised me that she lets the team handle whatever she can’t because that’s their purpose.

Since my diagnosis, I’ve been maintaining some of my self-care “activities” although not to the same degree.  They are healthy habits embedded into my daily routine so I haven’t veered off too much.  I did slow down on the frequency of exercise, I haven’t tracked my food, and I haven’t felt like writing.  It’s partly because of making room for the appointments and information gathering. Another factor is that I have been increasingly more fatigued.  I’m not sure if it’s from the cancer or from the adjustments I’ve had to make to take this all in.  The other part is that nothing puts things in perspective like a serious, chronic, and potentially life threatening illness.  Losing that last 10 pounds doesn’t seem to matter as much anymore.  Work deadlines are amusing and baffling. I was under so much stress the week before last as I was working on deliverables that I realized that I need to restructure stress management while in that environment.

I spent the day with my daughter on Friday because she was out of school and it brought me so much joy.  Later that evening, as I was watching her watch t.v., my eyes watered thinking about how beautiful and innocent she is and how blessed I am to have her. It would be unimaginable for her to grow up without her mommy.  When we had lunch earlier that day, I used that time to see what she knew and how she felt about the cancer. She was unphased. To my children, everything still seems normal. I don’t look sick. I go to work as usual. I still fuss about chores. But I haven’t started treatment yet, so they don’t know what’s coming, not that what’s coming will be so unbearable. But, I’ve been prepping them. More than anything, I don’t want them to be afraid that I will die. I explained to my daughter that the type of cancer I have is treatable. We talked for a while, she said ok and asked to go to the mall. I pushed myself because, at that point, I was exhausted after a few hours at work with her and lunch.  I asked if we could go home first so that I could take a nap. She reluctantly gave her approval. I didn’t take a nap. We went to the mall.

Whatever the reasons for slowing down (self-care), I’m going to respect my limits.  Taking a break (with the exception of going to the mall exhausted) means that I’m doing what I need to do (self-care) and I’m not going to beat myself up (also self-care).  And sometimes, my thoughts do try to beat me up, but I don’t let them win.  I use my tools like prayer and sometimes I have to just tell the thoughts to leave me alone and assure myself that things will be alright.  Last week, I did resume exercising close to my usual alotted weekly time, I’ve been spending time with friends, and I committed myself to writing today. I even agreed to be one of the instructors at a Zumbathon this weekend.

Thus far, by far, the thing that I’m most grateful for is the outpouring of love, support and prayers in all of my networks (family, friends, church, work, fitness, etc.).  I knew that I was loved and cared for, but the support has been amazing.

I am a planner.  At work, we constantly plan for 1-2 years in advance and even longer. As a mom, I’m constantly thinking ahead. Bottom line…my new normal is to take things day by day. This is where my flexibility comes in handy. If I have more of whatever…BONUS.  If not, it will be o.k.

 

 

 

 

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Our family is expanding 

A lot has happened this week and I’m too tired to write about it all right now. I do want to share one of the highlights. Our neighbor moved out of town this week and my husband came home to a note (see picture) on our door from our neighbor asking us to take care of his outdoor cat, Baby, because he couldn’t take him (correction..Baby is actually a “her”, but with the male kittens, I’ve been getting confused. Now, I know how my mom feels when she calls her 4 children by each other’s names. Also, English is her second language and as she’s gotten older, she’s been getting the male and female pronouns confused, so I can relate). There is a back story regarding the cat as my family and Baby have been living in this neighborhood well before the neighbor. In fact, I’ve maintained all along that Baby is my cat because I’ve been feeding and allowing her to stay in the garage when the weather has been rainy and/ or cold and when the neighbor has been out of town during the holidays. Baby had been abandoned by a previous neighbor a few houses down, who has since moved away, and she never left the area. It is true that we both had been taking care of her simultaneously for a while, but Baby is really mine. 🙂

I was so happy when I saw the text from my daughter on Thursday. She was very happy too and asked right away if we could bring Baby in the house. I explained that it was more complicated than that because we already have 2, nearly 5-month old kittens and we’re not sure how they, or Baby, would react to each other in the house. We’ve attempted to stand at the door with the kittens, but once they saw Baby, they would claw themselves out of my arms. Plus, Baby, who is about 5 or 6 years old (or maybe even older), is used to living outdoors. It came in handy spending Saturday afternoon watching about 4-5 back to back episodes of Jackson Galaxy ‘s (I don’t remember the name) show on the Animal Planet network. My coworker had been telling me about this so called “cat daddy”, and from what we’ve seen, he is knowledgeable. We learned a lot. As a result, I have some ideas on how to slowly introduce the cat and kittens to each other.

I fed Baby this morning before church and that was the last time I’d seen her until about 9 o’clock this evening, as my son and I were returning from the grocery store. I was worried and hoping she was okay for most of the day. We had been working in the garage and yard for hours with no trace of Baby. When our garage door has been opened in the past, Baby wouldn’t hesitate to sit down and relax while we were doing whatever we were doing. For example, I exercise in the garage, and if the garage is open, Baby freely lays down near me while I take care of business. She even likes to participate (more accurately, “interrupt”) while I’m doing stretching exercises such as yoga. My husband and I were wondering if someone took her because she’s such a friendly cat. Don’t they know she is mine? My son had been reassuring me that she would return. He thought she might have gone with some other stray cats from her litter. Well, I don’t know if she did, but she was definitely someplace else because I called her name many times to no avail.

I fed her again, rubbed her a bunch of times, laid down a pillow near the rocking chair on the porch, and said “good night”. Our little family is growing: 2 children, 2 kittens (Cannoli and Beignet), and 1 cat (Baby). It’s become painfully clear to me, especially since my breast cancer diagnosis (you can can read about it here), how fragile life is, so I welcome love in all shapes and sizes.



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Breast Cancer: The Journey Continues

I studied her every move and expression as she walked into the office where my husband and I had been waiting. The nurse who took my vitals indicated that the doctor had been running behind every since the first patient showed up late. I wondered if that were really true or if that was a ploy to prolong telling us the inevitable. I’d been consumed in research and investigation for about a week now. With every appointment and test since 9/8, I had been studying the body language of the technicians, nurses, and doctors for clues. I had also been in utter anguish since I had gotten the voice message from the nurse that the doctor requested that I come in to see her the next day. I already knew the inevitable, but still hoping, I watched her face – her eyes and her mouth. I watched her hands as she slowly pulled out the papers from the pocket of her white jacket. She said they were the pathology results. I could sense the hesitancy. I braced myself. Finally, she said the words as her eyes welled up. It was on Wednesday, 9/28/16, that my doctor told my husband and I that the test results came back positive for breast cancer – invasive ductal carcinoma. Tears poured out of my eyes. My husband held his head down.

Her final words before we would venture off into the unknown was to not google everything in the pathology report and to follow the “science” not the homemade “other” stuff you find on the internet. Too late…I had already become familiar with most everything on the pathology report. I had been following the science. My husband laughed and said, “You must know my wife.” Our laughter lifted the dread for about 2 seconds, then we left the office with instructions to see the surgeon that same afternoon. I cried as my husband held me as we walked to the car. I wanted to vomit.

Three days later and I’m at a much better place. That day was so surreal. I didn’t expect to cry that much because I had made peace with it already, or so I thought. The words were just hard to hear and made it oh so very real. I’m not a doctor, but I had a very strong suspicion based on my own research on the 4 or 5 charactertics of the mass that was found on my left breast as seen on the mammogram and ultrasound. When I suspected malignancy, I didn’t want to pray to God that it not be cancer because I thought if this was His will, then so be it. I honestly didn’t know what to pray for initially except that I be healed. I remember at one point saying out loud that I was already healed, even though I didn’t actually believe it like I do now. Up until the diagnosis, I had been talking to my two older sisters, who have each gone through the call back process and ended up with benign cysts. They kept reassuring me that it was likely benign and to refrain from the internet. My husband wouldn’t entertain me either and said the same thing. I didn’t listen.

Over the summer, I noticed a dimple of sorts on my left breast. I didn’t know how long it had been there and it turned out to be the only noticeable symptom of my breast cancer. I would share a picture to educate other women, but that area is still slightly swollen from last Friday’s biopsy. You can do a google search to get more information. I thought to myself, and told my husband, “this is weird looking…I wonder if this change in shape has to do with getting older? I should make an appointment with my primary care physician.” I didn’t think that it had anything to do with cancer, but it caught my attention. I saw my pcp on 9/2, but forgot to mention it. I’ve been getting mammograms since I was 35 due to a family history of breast cancer, and most recently had one last year, so I knew she would request another. I had the initial on 9/8. I had the diagnostic mammogram and ultrasound on my 19th wedding anniversary, 9/20, since I had scheduled the day off. I had a biopsy on 9/23 and was diagnosed on 9/28. September 2016 will be forever remembered.

After meeting with the surgeon and oncologist, they’ve assured us that the prognosis is very good and this type of cancer is treatable. No one wants to hear that they have cancer, and despite having a family history, I never thought that I would get it. However, there has been much progress in treatment and huge efforts in early detection. There’s a lot of information on breast cancer on the internet. I’m so glad that I was aware of changes in my body and I acted on them. I believe in prevention, so I’ve made it a priority to follow up with my doctors. I’m actually relieved to know what has been going on with my body. I’m thankful that I have good insurance and that my doctors have acted quickly to get me seen so that I can have a plan for treatment. Truth be told that I am not looking forward to treatment, which requires surgery in the next month, and possibly radiation and/or chemotherapy, depending on the genetic testing results and what’s found in the lymph nodes after surgery. It’s also possible that I may be placed on hormone therapy. There are still many unknowns.

Once the breast cancer diagnosis was confirmed, I contacted the people who I can rely on for support (except my mom although she is also my support…a different post) because I recognize that I will need it. Ten to fifteen years ago, I probably would have gone on pretending that I was superwoman and would care about the appearance of being weak. I’m at a different place now. I sent texts to my supporters asking them to pray for me. I was too emotional to talk to anyone except my husband and my siblings. I notified my boss and some of my coworkers. They have been amazing. My boss told me that she and another manager will offer their sick time if I need it. One of her texts indicated that God is making provisions for me at home and they will make provisions at the office. When I spoke to her the next day, she said I will get to add “breast cancer survivor” to my list of many accomplishments. In 3 days, I learned of 3 other women that I’m connected to who have some form of cancer. I would not have known this had I not reached out to let others know what I was going through. The support has been phenomenal and I couldn’t ask for more.

On Thursday morning, I awakened rested and at peace. Even though I have a rough road ahead (considering that I am squeamish and don’t like needles), I can see that I have support and a good prognosis. Although my boss told me not to come in the rest of the week, I was scheduled to provide a presentation to a group of directors from across the state. The meeting was scheduled for Friday, but as it turns out, that was an error. It was taking place on Thursday, as in that day. My boss sent me a text indicating that they were looking for someone else to fill in for me, but I offered to do it as planned since I was only waiting to hear back from the oncologist. I’m so glad I made the presentation because for that hour and a half, I was in my element, and it took my mind off of breast cancer. I was told that nobody would have been able to present the information like me. In all humility, I knew that, which is why I went. Afterwards, my director told me that she couldn’t believe I was there, but she was glad I did it and directed me (as directors do) to “go home and take care of yourself”. The picture below is of me at home after the presentation.

There are many unknowns in my breast cancer journey. I’m not going to lie, it’s scary, but not as scary as when it was initially confirmed (3 days ago). Plus, I’ve had my supporters praying over me and offering encouraging words. My friend’s mom practically breathed life into me with her soul stirring words. She pointed it all back to God and reminded me to PRAISE Him for everything. I am strong and look at this as another temporary life challenge and opportunity for growth.

The main points here are to pay attention to changes in your body no matter how small. Regularly see a doctor for preventative care. If you don’t like your doctor or clinic for whatever reason, choose another one (I’ve done this in the past). Let a few people that you trust know what’s going on with you. It’s beneficial to educate yourself by exploring reputable resources, but recognize that if it’s not your area of expertise, that you likely won’t have the full picture. Maintain healthy lifestyle habits such as exercising regularly, eating more whole foods, and getting plenty of sleep (I’m still working on this). Avoid smoking and minimize alcohol consumption because research shows that these lifestyle factors are huge cancer risks (google it) although these were not my risk factors. My plan is to incorporate more strength training in the next couple of weeks to have an even better surgery outcome. And finally, pray and praise. I left this out in the initial version of this post, but the spiritual really does supercede everything else. I posted a message on my Facebook page on Thursday indicating that I was floating on other’s prayers for me.

My pcp said to stick with the “science” and avoid the other questionable stuff. For the most part, I plan to do that. I’ve already been to Barnes & Nobles and picked up a breast cancer “smoothie” recipe book. It was written by a nutritionist and there is some science in it. Update: the book indicates that it has researched based science to support the recipes. I’m not sure if this what my doctor had in mind, but I couldn’t help myself because I love green smoothies so much and consume at least one daily. I can’t wait to try the new smoothie recipes. In the coming weeks, I plan to research foods that help relieve symptoms and/or prevent cancer. More blog posts to come.

Access road

In my last post, “On the road again…”, I wrote about some ingredients that help me to deal with judgmental people such as courage, confidence, persistence, perseverance, and downright stubbornness. I thought of another essential ingredient that pulls it all together.  

I have a small window before I take my shower, wash and comb my daughter’s hair, and get us ready for work and school tomorrow, so of course, I will write (there really is not a window…ha!).  Let’s just hope that 3 hours doesn’t slip by which tends to happen when I’m on my blog.  I had an inkling that I was missing a key ingredient, but I couldn’t quite get it until I was at the grocery store.

It goes without saying that I love my mom with all of my heart. She loves me and has instilled in all of her children a work ethic that I think is rare nowadays.  She is beyond humble….humble times 22.  As much as I try to reason with her, challenge her, impart my stance on issues based on my life, mental health and social work experiences, she is going to hold onto to her deeply held beliefs. Those beliefs are based on her experiences as a woman who has learned English as a second language, was born on an island, grew up devastatingly poor, raised 4 children in the U.S. as a single parent, and retired as a janitorial staff member at a hospital. That is not all that she is, but my point here is that on some things, we will not see eye to eye. She may even find me as amusing as I find her. Seriously, it’s not always amusing. It has become apparent that I have my judgments as well. I do think it’s vital to seek understanding on opposing points of view, especially pertaining to the people that mean the most to you.

The other ingredient that I will add to my list is acceptance. I accept myself including my imperfections, which is difficult for a recovering perfectionist like me. I accept failure even though it’s painful. I accept love, joy, and abundance. I accept people for who they are, but I acknowledge that I’ve tried to change family members’ mindset to a degree. Ultimately, I’ve learned to accept that I will not win everyone over on my hot button issues,  even the most important people in my life. I am ok with that because my goal is to live in my truth, not any one else’s. 

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On the road again…which road?

My mother does not approve of my work travel. She doesn’t understand how a wife and mother of 2 children can be away from her family for even 1 night.  One of my routine trips which I’ve made many times in 3 years is from Austin to Huntsville.  I recently returned from that trip the day before she arrived from Chicago last weekend. What my mom does not know is that traveling is my favorite part of work because it changes the work pace, allows me to meet new people or get re-acquainted with other colleagues, make new discoveries, visit new cities or revisit familiar ones, and provides me with some alone time that is definitely beneficial to my self-care.  I especially enjoy the drive to Huntsville, leaving before dawn, because I have the space to think about family, my personal life and work.  As mostly an introvert, I relish in the time alone with my thoughts.  I also use that time to seek clarity and guidance from God.

Speaking of roads, I’m thinking about the long, hard road of judgement I’ve endured throughout my whole life, particularly growing up.  Yes, I’m even surprising myself with how bleak this sounds as I type, but it’s the truth.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel…I promise.  I’ve mentioned before that I come from a very judgmental family and the judgement continues depending on the topic.  With my mom’s recent visit, I’m having some empathy for myself right now. What is it that has allowed me to live in my truth despite all of the judgement and disapproval over the years?

Some ingredients that I think are necessary for living in your own truth despite the naysayers (i.e., haters…although I don’t particularly prefer that term), including your family, are courage, confidence, persistence, perseverance, and downright stubbornness.  It takes great courage to stand up for yourself. Fear usually accompanies courage, so you’ll often have to act in spite of your fears.  When you realize that no one else will stand up for you like you, it becomes easier.  It might even make you angry, which is useful fuel in this case because it will push you to use your voice and make any necessary changes.

I believe that confidence comes from learning about, practicing, and believing in whatever your truth is. I’m also confident and have comfort in knowing that God is leading me to be the best that I can be and no one else can compete with God. I’m persistent and have great faith that things will work out as long as I stay the course.  I’ve seen some fruits of my persistence and faith, which simply encourages me to keep going.  If I ever feel like giving up, I think about how far I’ve come and what has come to fruition thus far.

Patience is important with perseverance because it can be a long road depending on who the naysayers are in your life and what power they have, or think they have, over you. You may be your own naysayer. There may be time-sucking roadblocks that you have to maneuver to get back on course. However, I like the challenge of sticking it out until the end, whatever/whenever the end is, and proving them wrong (you see my slightly competitive edge here). And true to my zodiac sign, I can be downright stubborn.  If I know something is true, especially as it pertains to my truth, then I’m going to hold my ground.  You don’t have to be a Taurus like me to be stubborn.  Just hold your ground on things pertaining to your own personal truth and things that you really believe and can back up.  At the end of the day, people will respect you for it.

There is the saying that “it’s about the journey not the destination”. One day, I hope to fully enjoy this road of self-discovery that I am on while I’m on it.  It’s taken me a great deal to get here, more than I’ve indicated in this post.  It doesn’t always feel like a smooth ride, but the signs I’ve seen indicate that it’s not meant to be smooth and easy.  I’ve at least gotten to a place where I’m appreciating the lessons and revelations along the way.

 

 

 

 

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Pantry shopping

The picture is a snippet my pantry. It’s really not much bigger than that. I spent my Friday night reorganizing it and taking inventory since my mummy (my mom) is arriving from Chicago tomorrow. This might be boring to some, but it’s these seemingly mundane activities that make up life…at least my life. Social media may have you thinking that you need to be out taking selfies at some event or restaurant, but not me on this Friday night. I’m tired from my work travel and organizing helps me to relax.

My purpose was to make sure that I have food on hand that my mummy will eat and staples available so that I can easily prepare meals. I’m not one to let my pantry get low because I tend to collect items, especially when they are on sale.  In a previous blog post called “closet shopping” (I’ll come back and link later…I’m not sure how to do it on the mobile app), I mention my past excessive shopping because of an underlying fear of scarcity as a result of growing up poor. It isn’t just confined to clothes. This is a constant work in progress. It helps that we live in a small space because it controls how much stuff I can bring in. However, the baskets were spilling over (notice the Ramen noodles don’t have a home).

My mummy has certain dietary restrictions, so unlike other out-of-town guests, she’s not going to be interested in eating out. There is something for everybody in the pantry including the kittens. There is a range of items too like organic broths, specialized oils (sesame), quinoi, rice, beans, tuna, taco shells, sauces, oreo cookies, a variety of nuts, and Ramen noodles. My son likes these, but he sautés onions and peppers and adds red pepper flakes to make them tastier. Of course, he learned that from me. I like to think that I’m a pretty savvy cook. I tried to get him to use half of the salty MSG seasoning packet that comes with them, but to my chagrin, he uses the whole thing. I eat the healthiest, but I don’t force my prefences on my family. I used to get upset when they wouldn’t eat my healthy meals, and for the most part they usually do, but I also like to experiment, which they don’t always like.  I’ve tried to develop a thicker skin in this area when they reject a meal or don’t eat leftovers. I’m the one that’s over 40, hormonal, and need to watch what I eat, but I believe in balance so I’m not that strict. I eat healthy about 85-90% of the time. It also shows in my bloodwork because I got my lab results back recently. Now, my husband is 50 and I think he should be eating healthier, but let’s just say that I’m modeling the behavior that I would like for him to adopt. I do have limits on junk foods that I purchase though. For example, they know that I will not buy sodas.

My son and I tend to have similar tastes because we have broader palates whereas my husband and daughter have similar tastes in that they prefer foods without a lot of fuss. I’m attempting to avoid writing that they have more “simple” tastes, but essentially they do. They don’t like that much variety. With all the preferences, it’s difficult at times to determine what they might want to eat, even if I ask. I know its partially my fault because I used to be a short order cook (that is, in my house and not literally). Part of that had to do with my son’s food allergies, some of which he has outgrown.  Whatever the case, I’ve gone back to a hybrid of old school. I will cook a meal, and if they don’t like it, they can make a sandwich or something else. In old school, all we had was that meal, so we had no choice but to eat it if we didn’t want to starve. My husband and I are able to afford more than our parents, so I make sure we have well stocked groceries.

As I admired my pantry, I acknowledged that I am the only one who cares about it being organized. I do it because it makes me feel better, and in theory, helps us avoid wasting food. That doesn’t always work because sometimes my husband will just buy items when he doesn’t see them instead of asking me if we already have it. That really frustrates me. It would probably help if I labeled the baskets because you can’t see the items at the very bottom of the basket. Go figure that I haven’t gotten around to that in 3 or 4 years.

I’m short on time, and although I could easily spend hours writing a single post, I don’t have that type of time today.  There were other angles that I could have taken with this blog.  I will have to explore in future posts. I really just wanted to write and share my story, which is what I accomplished.