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Why it’s important to SPEAK UP

When I was in elementary school, I had many encounters with bullies. I was bullied because I was smart, I was quiet, I looked a certain way, and other reasons I will never understand. I remember the dreaded fear I felt on the school bus (one location of the bullying), praying to disappear in thin air. I think most people, more than who would probably admit, have been bullied at least once in their lives. I’ll save the research for another time though. Those experiences have made me a more compassionate, kind, and considerate person. I’ve invested time over the years in working through insecurities stemming from those experiences and I’m in a much better place…or am I?

I’m here to tell you friends there are real live bullies in the workplace. Some of you know this already and cope the best way you can. I’ve encountered bullies at several agencies I’ve worked for. One bully at a work place is too many yet I’ve seen several over the years. I do believe it speaks to a toxic or an emerging toxic work culture if these people are not stopped and allowed to perpetrate their bad behavior.

You might have heard the best way to deal with a bully is to stand up to them head on. Although this can be very difficult emotionally and mentally, I agree to a point. It also takes courage.. We all knew in school if you told the teacher or other adult in the school you may suffer worse consequences, plus that never stopped the bully anyway. I finally dug up the encourage a time or two to stand up to a few bullies in my preteens. I’ve had to do it in my adulthood too.

The stakes are high in the workplace in that there are risks detrimental to staff morale, staff retention, and whatever the agency’s bottom line is. I think any agency should take bullying seriously because the behaviors are toxic. But what if they don’t know it’s happening in their organization? Then, it’s your job to SPEAK UP and tell them.

Last week was rough and tested my emotional boundaries at work. On top of it, I had a strange interaction with a colleague that made me realize she is a bully. After several email exchanges, she sent a very inappropriate email and there was no mistaking the meaning. I decided not to respond because I will not feed into toxicity. Not only that, I forwarded the email to my direct boss who forwarded it to her boss.

Thankfully, I had a therapy session that afternoon and was able to talk it through with my therapist who validated me. That experience was triggering and I needed to separate myself from the emotion which was difficult at the time. She encouraged me to have peace knowing someone else will handle it.

The next day I was able to speak to my boss and my boss’s boss about it. I felt so much better afterward, especially learning this person has displayed a pattern. My boss’s boss plans to address with this person directly. I emphasized the behavior was manipulative and toxic and because of my choice of words, that got their attention. My boss’s boss stated she had never heard me talk like this so she was definitely taking what I said seriously. She took it a step further and apologized to me which I wasn’t expecting. I’ve reported toxic behaviors to leadership at several agencies and maybe one other person apologized. I was very appreciative, relieved, and felt supported.

This person is not going away anytime soon so I’ll be dealing with her again. What she won’t get from me is a response to her email. She will learn I have boundaries and I will not tolerate the toxicity. I truly care about the people I work with, those I supervise, and most importantly myself too much to not SPEAK UP when I know this isn’t right. I hope if in a similar situation this post encourages you to be brave, stand up for yourself, speak up, and seek support.

There will be a Part II on what happens if nothing changes after you SPEAK UP. In the mean time, I hope you have a productive, exciting, love-filled week with pops of fun and joy.

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How my pets adjusted to the move & pictures of the house

This post is a mini tribute to our cats, Beignet and Cannoli, as they transitioned to our new home. SPOILER ALERT…they’ve adjusted just fine. We spent 7 months planning for our new construction home and the move. We made sure our cats needs were considered in the planning. Bryan, my husband, also made sure our cats would be comfortable. If you love cats, or any pets, then you’ll love these pictures. By the way, since becoming a mom to two cats almost 5 years ago, my appreciation for other pets have increased a whole lot too. Pets are great for your mental health.❤🐈🐈

The cats couldn’t wait for us to open the door to our main bedroom to let them in that morning. We don’t allow the cats to sleep in our rooms at night so they scour  the house in the night sans humans. As morning approaches, like an alarm clock, Beignet starts scratching on all doors until someone let’s him in. It’s usually Bryan or myself. Peep the view of the kitchen/ dining area in the background.
The OFFICE: After one year of my office being the couch at the old place, I finally have a space where I can close the door and work. My goal here was light, airy, and comfortable.
Beignet and Cannoli love to visit me in the office throughout the work day. Cats love to look out of windows. These two especially love it when I open the window to let the air in.

Where do they eat?

Cannoli eating a snack. Initially we had the litter box in this corner by the back door and their food/water by the trash can in the kitchen. Bryan kept tripping over their bowls, spilling their water. Since Bryan bought them a much larger litter box that can’t fit in this corner, moving their bowls here worked out great.

Where do they pee and poop? The answer might be controversial.

Bryan bought this sturdy, multipurpose piece of furniture from Amazon. Don’t mind two of my plants which are growing back from some winter damage a couple months ago. The furniture also happens to be the litter box….AND IT’S IN THE LIVING ROOM next to the window, BUT hear me out. We really had no place else for it to go in our open floor plan. And let’s be honest, you probably wouldn’t know it was a litter box if I didn’t tell you. If you’re a cat owner, you probably noticed the floor pad. I’ve added products to keep it smelling fresh on top of and inside the box. I LOVE that you CAN’T see the smaller litter box that fits inside. I clean this area daily.
Settling in for the night. The cats love this rug which I realized after we layed it down, is too SMALL for this space. One day I’ll get a larger rug. In the mean time it stays. We plan to keep this area open and not add a coffee table.
Beignet perched on his tree. We bought some new furniture pieces for our new home and had to buy the cats their own furniture too. They love this cat tree. Two of those soft pieces at the top go to a different piece of cat furniture that goes on a wall.
We kept the shorter, worn one from the old place so they’d have something familiar plus they love it too as you can tell. Cats love to scratch their nails on posts.

Did I mention cats love windows??? 😉

The cats spend a lot time looking out the windows. I can’t blame them…it’s a beautiful view with lots of activity. Peep the new construction in the background.
After 4 weeks, Beignet figured out how to get in that top window. He had a hard time getting down though. Can you tell where the cat litter box is?
Cannoli watching me as I got dressed in my bathroom one morning. Let’s be real, he was just trying to get close to the window.
This is one of Beignet’s favorite spots.
These cats love to lay around and approve of the new navy blue leather recliners.
This was a quiet Sunday morning yesterday with just me and the cats. I was making breakfast while watching church online. Can you spot the cats? They’re both in the space.

I hope you enjoyed the photos. More to come.

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Where have I been???

Y’all!!! It’s been a pretty interesting season in my life, and yet again, I’ve fallen off the blogging wagon. What amazes me is I’ve still gotten new followers to my blog site despite my erratic posting schedule the last couple of months. I appreciate everyone who takes the time to read any of my posts. Today, I declare I’m BACK!

I can hardly believe I’ve maintained this blog for almost 5 years! I don’t know where the time has gone! Blogging is one of my most critical self-care outlets and I will always return to it. I’ve blogged on many topics so if you have time, feel free to peruse my site. You may notice my writing style has shifted over the years. I may unpack that in another post.

While I have a few minutes before work, I will briefly share some of what I’ve been up to.

  1. Home: This Saturday will be 4 weeks living in our brand new home. We’ve settled in nicely. I still want to pinch myself for disbelief we get to live in this beautiful place. The cover photo is of me with the gift from our real estate agent and his team. I was still recovering from #2 below. The honeymoon is over though (slight exaggeration😁) and I’ll tell you why in a different post. Last month, I promised more posts on our home building process and that’s still coming.
  2. COVID-19 Vaccine: My husband, Bryan and I, received both Moderna vaccines. The first and second doses were one month apart. We’re relieved we took care of this. I was down for almost 5 days with side effects from the second dose. We’re both much better now.
  3. Therapy: I started this blog because of my desire to help others focus on self-care, and in the process, blogging has become critical to my self-care. I believe therapy is a self-care tool. It’s also an investment in myself. I realized now is the best time for someone to help me sort through some things I’ve been struggling with in my professional and personal life. And I’ve honestly been struggling for years. It’s been 2 weeks thus far and one of the best decisions I’ve made. There will be more posts on this in the future.
Fresh from receiving the 2nd vaccine dose at a very organized, drive through operation. We were oblivious to the ‘soon to come’ side effects. I experienced pain, fatigue, nausea, and light headedness for days. We’re both better now.

There will be more to come from me. I may be shaking things up with my blog format and name. In the mean time, thank you for being on this jouney with me.

Peace out✌🏾
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Home stretch of our new construction build

Preparing for our new home has sucked up most of my mental space and time these last few months. I’ve not been able to blog as much which I’m bummed about. Interwoven with work, I’ve spent most days packing, visiting the house, and planning with a little shopping in between. I’ve been on YouTube incessantly watching “Empty House Tours”, interior design videos, and the like.

We started packing in January so we would be ahead of the game. Since I despise moving, I definitely didn’t want to torture myself further by waiting until the last minute. Our two children have boxes piled in their rooms too. The downside of packing so early is our cats have been terrorizing some of the boxes – peeling off the labels and digging holes. Now, they both just seem overwhelmed with all the boxes and new packages. They know something is up.

Beignet having a serious talk with himself and my new purchases.
Beignet atop of Bryan’s new side table in the midst of the garage mess. Cannoli walking towards me.
Kitchen metamorphosis. LPC

If you’ve never had a home built, it is an exciting and fun process. It might not be for everyone because it’s a long process requiring attention to detail and planning. Our process has taken about 6 months. An added bonus is in that time, our credit scores have increased substantially which puts us in a better position at closing than when we started.

Some people may want/need to move in more quickly. If you have time, a new construction build may be the option for you. It was the best option for us although it wasn’t in our initial plans.

Once you’ve determined affordability for your budget and the best location, the main things you need are patience and imagination.

You need patience for the process – anywhere from 4 months to years depending on the type of home.  There are also many decisions you need to make (depending on your builder) which will challenge your patience,  especially considerating your budget. We signed our new construction home contract in August 2020.

Me on our freshly cemented foundation….maybe not so fresh😉. LPC

Your healthy imagination is needed to help you envision your home. There are usually model homes built with all the bells and whistles (i.e., upgrades). Those upgrades come with individual prices and they can add up quickly. It’s up to you to know and stick to your budget.

Freshly laid ceramic tile. LPC

We’ve been fortunate to have experienced this process with our first home circa 2000. With life’s twists and turns, we sold our home during the housing recession of 2007/2008. My husband, Bryan, was laid off work from the job that brought us to Texas. Things were tight for a couple of years before deciding to sell. Although it was painful, it was the best decision we made for our family. For almost 14 years, we’ve been renting a duplex.

Renting isn’t bad when it fits your needs. I’ve heard the perspective that renting is like throwing money away. It’s only been recently I’ve been hearing more advice to the contrary. I was tired of being house poor. I was tired of worrying about how we were going to pay the full mortgage each month. Although we downsized, renting a duplex was the best option because it was what we could afford and eventually allowed us to live below our means. Looking back, it was some semblance of the lifestyle we had been living in the house in that the rental had a huge back yard for our children to play, the same amount of bedrooms, and a garage for storage.

Master bath under construction. LPC

Our lives have evolved so much in 14 years and now it’s time to move on. In a few years, we’ll be empty nesters which was a very important factor in planning for our house. Our children are 15 and 20 years old. This will be our retirement home. I’m hesitant to call it our “forever” home as I often hear on home improvement shows.

My favorite space. LPC

What side of town do we want to live? How much space will we need? Do we want to walk up and down stairs? How much yard do we need? What rooms/features are essential for our lifestyle? Which builder will maximize our needs/wants within our budget?

With so much to decide in the planning, we are so pleased our structural and design selections have come together beautifully. You’re just not sure because you pick your selections at one time (or more depending on your builder) from pictures, swats, and samples. Also, the budget is the main factor in making the selections.

Once we ruled out other builders and selected “the one”, we selected a floor plan which was not the model home. We made extra efforts to view this particular floor plan to ensure it “SPOKE” to us and was OUR home. We found the floor plan at different communities outside of ours and made arrangements with that communities’ sales office to view.

We chose a single story, open floor plan with 3 bedrooms, a study, a large kitchen open to the dining and living rooms with a laundry room, pantry, and 2 car garage.

The boxes are multiplying

In less than a week, we’ll be closing. We encountered a plumbing problem at the walk through which delayed our closing by a few days. I’ll share what happened in a future blog post. I plan to post more detail about this new construction process in the coming months. I’ll even share video footage I recorded. I’m determined to learn how to record great videos!

The day after the walk through, 3/17/2021 🤯😱

Stay tuned…

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Top things February 2021 had me doing for the first time in my LIFE

The 3rd month of 2021 feels more like the 6th month considering everything that’s happened in the world thus far. I do welcome March with open arms and hope for subdued weather, productive packing, a smooth move to our new home, a healthy family, and reconnecting with friends. If you don’t know about the winter storm in Texas the week before last, you can catch up in my blog posts Is this Texas? and Is this Texas Part Deux? It took about a week for me to process what happened. Just when I thought I experienced mostly everything in life, I was wrong. Here are the top things February 2021 had me doing for the first time in my FREAKING LIFE!!!

  1. Dress for freezing weather inside the house – We went without electricity for over 50 hours. For us, no electricity means no stove and other electrical appliances, no heat, and no hot water. Everything in the duplex operates on electricity which translates to we were sorely at a disadvantage. Some homes have gas and electricity which will be the case in our new house. The weather was in the single digits outside. What I know about the cold having grown up in Chicago (where winters are long and miserable) is to LAYER UP. I put on so many clothes at one point it was uncomfortable to lay in bed under the blankets so I had to take some off.
  2. Collect snow to fill buckets and the bath tub – Well, it was my husband, Bryan, who filled the buckets. We picked up on that tip from Facebook and talking to our neighbors who were in the same situation. One thing about a natural disaster or any stressful situation, is that your creative juices start flowing at some point. Mine kicked in early. On the 3rd day of no electricity the water shut off. This means we could not flush toilets, wash the dirty dishes in the sink, do laundry, wash hands, take a shower….YOU GET IT. The purpose of collecting the snow was to help with flushing toilets. Within an hour of no water, my son said he had to do a NUMBER 2. Of all the weeks, he decided to consume protein shakes daily so he could bulk up his physique. It wasn’t pretty and the snow didn’t help. My husband cleaned up the mess.
  3. Poop in a plastic bag – I probably should have included a disclaimer that this post might be a little TMI (too much information), but since I already typed #2, I might as well continue along in the same vein. I was really worried about not having water to flush the toilets, especially after my son’s experience. The snow wasn’t working out. My bowel movements are very regular since I eat lots of produce and fiber. Bryan had been searching for gallons of water for a couple of days now. All the stores were sold out. I slowed down my water intake hoping that would cause my bodily functions to slow down. It worked for a little while but then the inevitable happened. It was right before that moment the idea came to me to poop in double plastic bags. I thought it would be less messy and it was. I was a little grossed out but I did what I had to do. I shared my experience with my family and made sure they had access to plastic bags, disposable gloves, cleansing wipes, and disinfecting wipes.
  4. Melt snow and ice – One things for sure…we were trying to make the best use of the snow. The electricity came on at 11:54 pm late Wednesday (electricity went out Monday afternoon). A few hours earlier, the water was shut off. We had plenty of individual bottles of water; however, none of the stores had gallons of water or water PERIOD. In order to wash the dishes that were in the sink, I gathered all the ice cubes from the freezer compartment and boiled them. I successfully washed the dishes. We boiled the snow for the toilets. It was a smooth operation: collect snow in one bucket, pour the snow in the large pot on the stove, once the snow starts boiling, pour the boiling water into the toilets, fill bucket with snow and start all over. We did that for a few hours.
  5. Not taking a bath or shower for a week – When the electricity went out, so did the hot water. When the electricity came back on, we didn’t have water. Thankfully, we were able to buy a box body cleansing wipes from Costco mid week. We were all so relieved to be able to take showers by the weekend.

It’s amazing what we experienced in February. Never in a million years would I have imagined this. During the ordeal, I was keenly aware that we were experiencing a collective trauma here in Texas. My husband and I banded together to keep our children as comfortable as possible during the circumstances. By the weekend the weather was in the seventies which reminded me why I love living in Texas.

I’m grateful I didn’t have to go through this alone as some people likely did. I also know we had more resources than others and I was grateful for that too. People were helping each other all over the state. A couple of friends even offered their homes to us. However, with COVID, we didn’t want to take any chances. We knew the power would be back on eventually. We just had to withstand the discomfort and we preferred to do that with each other. It was definitely a bonding week for us.

I’m looking forward to March with a little hesitation though. We’ll see what it’s store. I’ll keep you posted.

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Is this Texas Part Deux?

What a week! It’s so surreal it’s difficult for me to describe. If you haven’t read my post from Tuesday, you can get the background here at Is this Texas? As I spend the next few days gathering my thoughts, I want to share my posts from my Facebook feed so you can get a picture of what it’s been like with no electricity for 48 plus hours and no running water since yesterday. These posts are as I posted them on my page including the pictures, though I’ve added more description here for some of the pictures. This is something like “a week in my life” during a national weather disaster.

Where ever you are in the world, I hope you are warm, safe, and have enough food to eat.

Monday, 2/15/2021: View from our backyard! ❄❄❄ What’s up with this weather??? The hubby & I moved from Chicago to Austin to get away from this record breaking ish!!! The lil girl has already been outside playing in the snow. We can take it for about a week, but no more please & thank you. 🌬

Picture taken from my backyard

Monday, 2/15/2021 after 6pm. Y’all!!! We’ve been living our BEST lives over here during this weather. I managed to get a workout in & my dinner cooked before our POWER went out after 5:30pm. Got some delicious chicken & rice casserole with roasted bacon wrapped asparagus on deck. I hope everybody is staying warm & cozy. I guess we’re going to bed early tonight.🤷🏾‍♀️✌🏾

Dinner before power outage
Chicken & rice casserole
Bacon wrapped asparagus per my husband’s request.

Tuesday, 2/16/2021 morning. We are so cold!!! Power has been out since yesterday at around 5:30 pm, which means no electricity, no heat, no hot water, but we’re MAKING DO. It’s 50 degrees in house and maybe 20 degrees outside. I’m eating a healthy bowl of cereal – brown rice crisps, homemade muesli, chia seeds, fresh organic blueberries, banana, a little maple syrup, & almond milk. If you have no power, please hang in there!✌🏾

Cereal with all the fixings

Tuesday, 2/15/2021 afternoon.We’re headed for another night of no power…translation: no heat, no electricity, and no hot water. It’s been over a straight 24 hours…others on my team have gone over 40 hours. Even the cats know something’s up so they cuddled with us when they weren’t chasing each other everywhere. Shout out to hubby for waiting for hours to get us some hot subs, to the manchild for shoveling snow, & to the lil girl for sitting in the warm car to charge my phone. We have plenty of blankets, warm clothes, food, toilet paper, water, etc. BUT prayer works especially for those who have to work during this stuff and those who don’t have shelter. 🙏🏾 I’m not looking forward to tonight but I’m truly with the loves of my life who have each other’s backs…we’ll be OK. Oh & 2021, JUST STOP IT in my cat momma voice.💕

Beignet all cozy on our bed.

Wednesday, 2/17/2021 late morning. Y’ALL we still don’t have power since Monday!!! BUT we’re making the best of it. I’ve already exercised for the day 💪🏾🏋🏾‍♀️and am working on completing my 2021 vision board. When times are hard, tap into that creativity! That’s what I do! Hubby actually got my phone charged to 99% in the car. Caleb found out Walmart is open but he’s going to pass on going into work. Elise already had a tuna sammich & Caleb & I had protein shakes. Hubby is a big baby & prefers to have a standoff with himself when he doesn’t have his preferred options (aka hot food). I bet he’ll eat a PBJ sammich soon. Don’t tell him I said that ok. 😉😉😉You know we’re moving next month to our new house & have been packing. WELLLLL, last month I found an old Essence magazine from May 2014 (my bday month)!!! Lots of beautiful brown women in here who’ve been inspiring me. This is only a peak at my vision board…it will be organized a certain way. We’ll see if we get power today. Laters!✌🏾

Dressed for the outside in the house but having some fun
I still haven’t finished my vision board! Boxes in the background…🐈🐈on the bed.
Love these images. I’ll continue to work on them. I need MORE.

Wednesday, 2/17/2021 early afternoon. Anybody ever tried smoked oysters? This seems like an opportune time to try with no power in the house & all.🙃 NOT BAD! I doctored them with hot sauce & chives…added a few slices of pepper jack cheese & crackers for a snack. I ordered these from Thrive Market (online health food store). I also have plenty of canned sardines and pouches of tuna and chicken. If you find this disgusting, keep scrolling.🍱✌🏾

Doctored canned smoked oysters, pepper jack cheese, and crackers
Purchased from Thrive Market. I thought they were alright for my first time. I’d eat them again.
Nutrition information

Wednesday, 2/17/2021 in the late afternoon. So not only was there a boil water notice for SW Austin, we now have no water. PERIOD. I have nothing else to do & thought I’d feel better if we had a few extra gallons of water to flush toilets & maybe a couple extra flashlights/candles. We have plenty of everything else including ind bottles of water. So hubby took me on a trek to get gallons of water. We got out here in these streets! And guess what??? Stores are closing early. Sprouts – closed early despite a line earlier. Got in line at the “big” Randalls on Mopac/William Cannon & they turned us away cause they were at their limit.We got to Costco at 2:43 & they were closing early at 3pm. We were in line by 2:55 pm. Bought flashlights, cleaning wipes, body wipes, & case of ind bottles of water (limit one per person). Now, I’m in the car waiting for hubby who is in Target. It’s a mess out here but I’m looking at this as an adventure. Do you know it feels warmer outside than in our house? I think I’m building a tolerance for the cold. Elise said “I like the snow but it’s not worth it if we can’t have electricity.” Y’all stay safe & warm!P.S. Hubby walked out of Target with no water. Oh well, snow in the tub will have to do.

Thursday, 2/18/2021 in the morning. Update: Our electricity was finally turned back on at 11:54 pm last night after over 48 straight hours without. Thank God for that. Still no water in the pipes though.

Thursday, 2/18/2021 in the early evening. It’s really no joke not having running water but thankful we have electricity again. It’s been a busy day of using our creativity to figure out how to wash the dishes and other crazy things but we did it. This is probably my 1st food post presented on paper plates & on my bed but LISTEN, we not using real dishes & cutlery til we get running water & it’s my business to eat on my bed after this freakin week. Shout out to hubby AGAIN for spending hours in them streets & coming back with the paper plates, plastic cups, & plastic cutlery. I enjoyed cooking again: beef pasta, with broccoli/ cauliflower au gratin, garlic toast, & cucumber slices. I’ll worry about carbs after this catastrophe is over. Yum! 🥘🍲🥣

It really is like reliving these moments as I gather them in one place for this blog post. Each day was getting worse mentally and physically but I’m so thankful the weather will be better in a few days. As my sister and I discussed yesterday, this is a piece of history that will be talked about for years to come, just like 2020 and the pandemic. We are ‘living’ history and I want to capture it the best way I can.

Let me know what you think about my experience. I’d love to hear how you are doing.

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Is this Texas?

2021 isn’t going to disappoint us is it? On this Tuesday, February 16, 2021, my household has been without power since 5:30 pm on Monday. This means no electricity, no heat and no hot water….no hot food, no hot tea or coffee, and no warm showers. It was cute when we were scrounging for candles amidst the sea of boxes because we’ve been packing for our move to the new house next month. We found a flashlight for which we have no batteries. We have plenty of matches. When I woke up this morning after an uncomfortable night of sleep, to say the least, it was 5 degrees. The 5 or so inches of snow that had fallen on Sunday was still frozen on the ground. This is no longer cute. We’re FREAKING COLD!

Let’s face it…Texas isn’t used to this kind of weather and we’re in for it at least until the weekend. Almost half of Austin is without power. This weather has broken 30-year old records. Growing up in Chicago, the only way the city would shut down was due to a blizzard which was rare. Here, most everything is shut down, at least on my side of town. People are furious! I’m not going to bash the electric companies and the like. My heart goes out to those who are aging, young babies/children, and those who are ill. I’m not angry…just trying to survive until power is restored.

I warmed up this morning by getting dressed in warm clothes including my winter hat and fuzzy socks. I was so pleased to catch the last bit of warm water in the pipes to wash my face. I put one of my exercise DVDs in my laptop, put on my gloves, and racked up some steps and zone minutes (Fitbit). I cleaned up the kitchen area a little after my husband, Bryan, and son, Caleb, warmed up in their vehicles. Caleb has heated seats in his car. Nice!

I’ve decided to have a positive outlook. My agency closed our offices across Texas. I generally appreciate being forced to slow down. Also, it’s almost like we’re camping indoors. Keep in mind, I’ve never been camping. We have plenty of non-perishable foods, toilet paper, water, and general necessities. I’m not worried about the fridge and deep freezer defrosting in the garage because it’s very cold out there. It’s about 50 degrees in the house. The fridge in the house is losing cool air but it’s fine for now. I can always move items to the garage.

So as I lay in bed under 3 blankets, I’m making lemonade out of 🍋s. The good news is that this will all go away by the weekend! I may have a different perspective if we have to spend another night without power. I’ll let you know how it goes.

How are you faring in your neck of the woods?

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Happy Self-Care Weekend

It’s been a busy couple of weeks with packing for our move to the new house next month. I had a rough week and was determined to do some serious self-care this weekend. I did all of the things in this post except go to a farmer’s market. I also managed to get some great deals on items for the house. I’ll share all things “new house” soon.

Normally, on Sunday night, I spend a couple of hours prepping for work, but not this Sunday. I made a promise to myself to start work earlier on Monday morning. This Sunday was for self-care.

enlightenedsocialworker

Just what I needed…a 3-DAY WEEKEND to rest and recharge. I’m taking advantage of every minute. The intensity has been high at work for a couple of months as we implement programs across the state. How fitting it is to AMP UP my self-care routine during Labor Day weekend! I’ve been working hard at work and home. I strive to be a shining example to my team, colleagues, and family of managing IT ALL while simultaneously taking care of myself. My constant reminder to my team is to “take care of yourself”.

Self-care entails so many different things, but in my blog site, I share what works for me. I like to keep it simple. I do things within my budget, if money is involved. I hope you pick up some of my ideas to create a self-care plan that works for you.

Bubble bath

I kicked my Friday night…

View original post 1,097 more words

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Do hard things

On this last Monday of January 2021, the first day of my work week, these three words have been ringing in my ears for weeks: “DO HARD THINGS”. I know it’s easy to do “familiar things” and “comfortable things” but what about “hard things”? Well, silly rabbit (nod to the Twix cereal commercial from back in the day), there’s a reason why doing hard things is hard, but there are also benefits.

A couple of months ago, I received notice I was asked to present on one of the programs I oversee at a stakeholder meeting in the last week of January…this week. Nothing unusual here. This was a task I could delegate because despite the fact that public speaking on occasion is part of my job, I do not enjoy it. I’m mostly an introvert who likes to be behind the scenes. However, I’m strong in representing my programs so when duty calls, I often perform.

There are people on my team who don’t like public speaking more than me. I decided I would do the presentation with backup. As I was reviewing the presentation content with my backup, in our discussion, I literally said ” it’s because I do hard things”. I don’t remember the exact thought that led me to say that, but she agreed, with relief. Otherwise, she would be the speaker for the presentation.

Some may look at me and think it’s not difficult for me to do public speaking because I do it well, but OH CONTRARE. I’ve learned long ago if I wanted success (as I saw it because success is subjective), then I couldn’t stay stagnate, where I was, without trying. Doing hard things doesn’t mean it gets easier over time either. Sometimes it does, but sometimes it’s hard every single time.

Every time I’ve done the exercise DVD in the cover photo, it was hard. In all realness, I haven’t done that DVD in a few months, but when I was doing it a couple times a week, I did it because I wanted the benefits of a stronger body. About a month ago, in my blog post “Shaking Things Up in 2020”, I wrote about my experiment with changing my exercise routine because I felt my routine was stagnate. For a while, I’ve gravitated towards “familiar” and “comfortable” exercises, but I was getting bored and no longer seeing results like I had previously.

As you embark on this new week whether it be the start of your work week, school week, or whatever, think about what hard things you will tackle. The hard things may lead you to what you’re looking for or need.

I “do hard things”…things outside my comfort zone (such as public speaking) because I want to increase my strength mentally, physically, and spiritually. My return on investment is much greater than if I decide to stay mediocre or stagnate.

If you want to excel in any area, “do hard things”. Your hard things may not be hard for someone else but that’s not the point. They have to be hard things for you and no one can tell you what that is but you.

What hard things will you be tackling this week or year for that matter?

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Why I’m fasting social media

January is the month for setting the stage for the new year. It’s the month to decide on new habits and habits to let go. I selected the word “decide” because it is a simple decision when the emotion is taken out of it. I’ve identified some things I’m going to be intentional about in 2021 (you can read about here: Tops things I’m letting go of in 2021). I’ve listed my goals in one of my phone apps and am still working on my vision board (completion by the end of January). I’ve identified some pictures and decorations for my vision board. I just need to put everything together.

Every January, Pastor Randy Phillips from my church LifeAustin (https://life.family/) challenges us to set the tone for the new year by fasting for 21 days.  I’m not going to go in depth on the principles, but fasting, (i.e., giving up something you love for a set period of time) allows you to focus what God has done in your life and what you want God to do in your life. Abstaining from a thing, especially when you want it or are used to having it, causes you to reflect on why you’re sacrificing the thing. This is the simplest way I can explain it.

Truth be told, I’ve had a love/dislike relationship with social media for years. I love I am in contact with family and friends from all over the world. I likely would not know what some of them were up to if it weren’t for Facebook. I love seeing their updates. I love being creative with my page and posting what I want. I love sharing inspiring messages and pictures of myself and family. I love seeing inspiring messages, pictures, and comments. I love accessing all of my favorite magazines and following sites that interest and inspire me.

I dislike being exposed to hateful and thoughtless comments. I dislike not being able to control what comes across my newsfeed until I “unfriend” or “unfollow” the offender. I dislike the constant advertisements. I dislike the strong potential for comparing your life to someone else’s newsfeeds. I dislike certain posts which are triggering for me. I dislike messages of wanting more, being more, and doing more. If you’re like me…attempting to be content in this life, then social media can be a difficult place to be.

A few months ago, after about 11 years on Facebook, I decided to join Instagram which I still haven’t fully learned how to use. I’ve said numerous times I could only handle one social media account at a time because it can be all consuming. However, once I learned my teenage daughter had an Instagram account, I had a nagging need to join so I could keep tabs on her. It turns out that she doesn’t post that often, but still.

What I discovered, to my surprise, is that just about everybody I know on Facebook also has an Instagram account. Go figure! There are only a couple of friends/family I know on Instagram who are not on Facebook, so I’m glad I can keep up with them. Overall, Instagram is not that triggering for me like Facebook. But then again, I gravitate to Facebook more since I’m used to it.

While Pastor Randy was stating possible ideas of what to fast, a light bulb hit me when he mentioned social media. I had been annoyed by some posts lately, anyway. So, I decided to fast social media for one day a week through January. I’m also fasting meat consumption for one day a week. This is my second week.

The fast evolved to abstaining from social media five days last week instead of just one. I was encouraged after the first day to see how long I could go. I started on Monday thinking I would set a positive tone for my week. Another parameter I set for my fast was social media specifically refers to my Facebook and Instagram accounts. I’m not sure if my blogging site is considered social media, but I didn’t include WordPress or YouTube.

Some initial observations on the first day are: *Scrolling on social media is a habit. *Scrolling is a mindless activity for my hands. *Scrolling is a mind numbing activity that can suck hours from my day.

It was on the second day I abstained from opening the app at all. I thought I would have to uninstall the app from my phone for lack of self-control, but no need when I became conscious of my actions. Another observation was fasting from more than one thing at the same time/on the same day was too much for me. On day one, I prepared my lunch as usual and included meat out of habit. I decided to change my meat fast to Wednesday. I just realized I forgot to meat fast this past Wednesday so I’ll change it to Friday. Oh well. I’ll give myself some grace. In life, you’ve got to be flexible.

Update: My fasting also includes daily prayer and bible reading.

I’m believing God for a lot of positive things in my life this year. This makes me look forward to 2021 and all the possibilities.

What are your thoughts about social media? How does social media impact your life?