One word that describes me is resilient. If you know me, then you know. My 16 year old self couldn’t have imagined my life today and what I’ve been through. I always manage to get to the other side and not without some bruising at times. I seek the light in every situation, no matter how painful.
I personify the saying, “I don’t look like what I’ve been through.” But there have also been plenty of joyful times mostly because I choose to be grateful and focus on the blessings.
Last week, I finally had a medical procedure that was scheduled over a month ago. I’ve never had a lumbar puncture before, but it was necessary in order to gather more evidence on a possible diagnosis. I won’t go into what the diagnosis may be in this post. I will say that the procedure went smoothly and I was impressed with how well the staff took care of me.
My husband, Bryan, accompanied me because I couldn’t drive home. I was put under mild sedation and local anesthesia. I was aware of what was going on. The radiologist inserted a needle in my spine, in the lower back area, to extract a small sample of spinal fluid. I was very surprised by how clear the spinal fluid was – it was as clear as water.
I made peace with this health condition last month. I had an MRI done at the end of January, and a week later, the doctor called me to tell me the findings. I was initially stunned, but I had been having some long-standing health symptoms that I put on the back burner of my mind for years except for the stuttering I acquired after the hysterectomy last January. I’ve researched the condition to the NTH degree all of February and some of March. It was the stuttering that reopened this door, although I’ve never stuttered prior to the hysterectomy.
I stayed in bed the rest of the day following the procedure….Bryan made sure of it. He lay in the rocking chair watching me nap and, at times, napping himself. I even called in from work the next day also to take in more rest, so I had nice a long weekend. My back has been sore but manageable.
On Saturday morning, I wanted to participate in the neighborhood garage sale, so I prepped my little spider plant babies I had been nursing for 6+ months. I was also selling some of my cute clothes and shoes.
On Sunday, I took some of my homemade chicken noodle soup, garlic bread, and chocolate chip cookies to a sick coworker who lives near me. I also gave her a spider baby.
It is true that giving to others is a gift to yourself because it allows you to take the focus off of you and your problems. It fills you up with joy. Whatever happens, I’ll be ok for many reasons, including a supportive husband and family and quality healthcare.
Intention for the week ahead: May I not take things personally. May I not act defensively. May I be present in the moment more often than not. May I be patient and kind. May I remember who I am in the heat of moments that try to test me. May I indulge in a bubble bath or two.
Something happened at the end of last week where I wasn’t as stressed as in previous weeks, but it was just as hectic. I believe I settled into something. I saw things objectively. I finally detached and let it go. It was like I was a fly on a wall. I was even able to laugh at the lunacy of my day.
We’ve had some organizational shifts at work and I was anxious about the changes. However, Tuesday of last week, I honestly expressed my concerns during a meeting, and at that moment, I realized I might be able to leverage the changes for my benefit. A sigh of release washed over me. I got my mind right!
I know I’m being vague about the situation but I hope you can sift out the nuggets – let go of things you can’t control, be honest, and be yourself. In the big scheme of things, few things matter in life. Who knows??? In two days, I might feel differently, but I embrace the freedom I feel today.
Intention for the week: May I detach from things that are not my concern. May I not make decisions on emotion. May I tap into my well of knowledge, experience, and wisdom as often as possible. May I give praise where praise is due. May I rest when rest is due. And may I express love freely.
The busy season at my work involves the state’s legislative session and I’ve been a busy bee 🐝 lately. The busy season at home is near as we get closer to our daughter’s (senior in high school) graduation and making college selections. While corralling the people at work and home to be on the same page, in their respective worlds, it’s easy to get caught up in the busyness of it all, at least for me.
I managed to accomplish a whole lot last week. I’ve noticed it’s easy to focus on how much more you can do when you’re on that achievement “HIGH”. It’s not necessarily a healthy place to be because I’m not taking time to appreciate what I’ve accomplished and simply be in the moment. I’m just pushing myself to do more.
Over the weekend as I tended to my many plants (read my post Flourish Part I), I noticed it was a brilliant idea for me to invest time, money, and energy into these beautiful living things because caring for them allows me to slow down, notice, and appreciate.
This past weekend, I returned a call to a dear friend and enjoyed catching up with her. We had such a great conversation that turned into us pulling out our yearbooks and discussing old classmates. I shared some news that I’m having a medical exam soon to determine a diagnosis (I may blog about it later) and she reminded me that I’m resilient. I so needed that reminder.
My intention for this week: May I insert minibreaks into my day to slow down, breathe, and appreciate the beauty in my surroundings. May I celebrate the small wins. May I allow myself compassion for when things really suck (because sometimes they do). May I celebrate others who I appreciate. May I dig into my deep well of resilience in moments of weariness. May I dance for the sheer enjoyment.
Last April, my favorite people at Simple Green Smoothies had the audacity to come up with a 10-Day Salad Challenge and it was absolutely FREE. It’s a great time to start thinking about lighter eating. I received the recipes, including the shopping lists in an email. Initially, I had planned to just use what ingredients I had and modify the recipes as needed. Experienced home cooks like me know that recipes serve as guides. I was mostly ready, but then something happened….My niece visited from Chicago on Day 1 of the challenge. She blessed us for 6 days straight and we blessed her every day with the Austin, Texas food faves.
That didn’t stop me though because I made 6 of the salads while she was in town. It took me longer than 10 days. Of course, I captured every salad in my personal photos. I also attached the actual recipes/pictures from the challenge. And the salads are out of sequence according to my taste. I hope this post gets your mouth watering. LET’S GO!
As I reflect on my intentions from last week, I can see I did accomplish a lot. I even wrote two journal entries on what I was able to accomplish on those days. I exercised for 6 days, meditated 5, ate mostly healthy plant-based meals, prayed daily, fasted as planned one day, and crossed many tasks off my to-do lists. Because we had a short work week due to President’s day, the remainder of the week was hectic.
Thankfully, Friday ended with a celebration for my daughter, Elise, at the African-American Heritage ceremony. Bryan and I attended her event as proud parents and we went to dinner afterward for some family time. Her brother, Caleb, had to work.
What I struggled with was not taking things so seriously. I had a couple of tense meetings which impacted my stress levels and mood. I did remain confident and calm in the moment. I was so glad when my therapist called to check-in and schedule our next meeting. Her call was at the right time. Her soothing and reassuring voice is what I needed at that moment.
I spent the weekend taking care of me and my home (to a lesser degree than normal). I also had more bonding time with my family at church on Sunday and afterward for some breakfast and shopping.
This is the last week in February already. I strive to be my best self every day so my intentions for this week will build off the last and target some of where I perceived I fell short. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not aiming for perfection.
Intention for the week ahead (building from last week): May I spend more time in the moment rather than in the past or future. May I find a reason to laugh every single day. May I slow down and take deep nourishing breaths often. May I remember to smile more than frown. May I spoil my body with the gift of rest and sleep every night. And lastly from my therapist, may I focus and hold closely to the most important things/people in my life.
Technically the week has already begun though yesterday was a work holiday for me. I’m up early for several reasons, including the urge to go to the restroom, my body feeling a little warm, and Bryan’s restlessness. He naturally went back to sleep, but alas, here I am. I decided to brew a cup of citrus chamomile tea and start my bible reading and meditation earlier than usual. I want to share an exercise I’m using to be more intentional and set the tone for my week. Even when you feel you have no control, you have some control.
Intention for the week ahead: I will be the 3 C's: cool, calm, and confident in the face of any obstacles that come my way. I will breathe deeply and not take life so seriously. I will love fiercely and pray fervently. I will effortlessly cross things off my list even if it needs to be carried onto the next day and even the next. I will be kind. I will be self-compassionate.
Growing up on the south side of Chicago, we didn’t have much. The sandwich was an inexpensive and quick meal, usually made for lunch or a snack. Oscar Meyer had several options: salami, ham, and bologna….in order of my preference. A few slices fried made it special. White bread was cheap and readily available. Melted American or “government” cheese made it complete. And mayonnaise and mustard were the icing.
For variety, there was the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I always enjoyed more peanut butter than jelly. Some people think there is a science to the ratio. It’s really about your preference. I recall when I was younger, an older cousin pitted my same-age cousin and me in a battle of who could make the best PB&J. She took a bite out of each of our sandwiches. My cousin won. It hurt my feelings that I didn’t win.
I had so many sandwiches growing up, cold and hot, that I could NOT stand them anymore in adulthood. At some point, well after we moved to Texas, someone from work recommended a submarine sandwich shop, native to Austin and I quickly became hooked.
Although we lived in South Austin, I worked on the Northwest side for several years. I would go there on my lunch breaks a couple of times a week, trying different sandwiches, but I had my favorites.
As I had my own kids, I experimented with different meals and made sandwiches on occasion. By this time, I had expanded my repertoire of sandwich combinations and learned it was all in the type of bread and accoutrements (condiments and toppings).
The sandwich thing didn’t take off with my kids. Their taste buds were constantly changing. Also, my son, Caleb, was allergic to many foods including peanuts, so PB&J’s were not for him. There was that one Christmas when preteen Caleb asked for a panini press and a panini press is what he got. He was obsessed for a while, but then the obsession faded. I still have the panini press in a cabinet. I’ll give it to him when he moves out.
The next few photos I took are of decadent sandwiches I’ve made and enjoyed over the last few months. I share my food to inspire healthy and nutritious meals, not necessarily to share recipes (although sometimes I do).
I’ve become quite a plant enthusiast. I’ve loved tending to plants and flowers for years and since we’ve been in our new home, my love has amplified as evidenced by my more than 70+ plants inside and outside the home. I’ve lost count of how many, especially after I started propagating (starting new plants from existing plants).
I enjoy surrounding myself with beauty. My birth sign is a Taurus after all, which is an earth sign and we tend to love beautiful, grounded, and natural surroundings and luxuries. I call myself a Plant Mom (also the Plant Lady) because truly caring for plants entails regularly watering, feeding, pruning, potting and repotting, learning their temperaments, and adjusting based on their preferences. I don’t mind moving my plants around to ensure they’re getting what they need: bright light, low light, humidity, outdoor air, less draft, etc.
Tending to my plants and witnessing their growth is so rewarding. It’s also a meditative practice that calms me down during my day. It is a practice of patience, nurture, and care.
Every room in our home has plants except for my kids’ rooms. They don’t care much about plants, surprise surprise! Plants not only improve air quality, but they also bring a sense of peace and calmness to our home.
I’ve brought plants back to life from the brink of death.
Despite whatever is going on in the world, I want to flourish in 2023 just like my beautiful plants. Tending to them is tending to myself- nurturing, pruning, and loving. 🪴
Here’s to doing and being surrounded by more of what I love in 2023! I hope the same for you.
Just like that, January is over, and here we are in February. I want to recount the positive things in real time as much as possible because time is flying. As I reflect on my vision board, I indicated that I would “write away” and I did just that by participating in January’s Bloganuary challenge….31 days of blog posts, each day a different topic.
It was my first year participating, and I learned I enjoy blogging first thing in the morning after my spiritual meditation practice. I’ve wanted to post daily, but I haven’t been able to keep up with it. Well, I’ve read it takes 21 days to develop a habit and it worked for me. I missed about 3 or 4 days, but this is by far the most I’ve blogged in a month. I probably haven’t blogged 30 times in some years, so I’m off to a great start.
What I enjoyed about the Bloganuary experience were the different blogging prompts, which seemed random, at least to me. It challenged me to blog about topics I previously would not have. I even wrote a short (very short) story. It allowed me to reminisce about pleasant experiences. It reminded me of books and authors that have inspired me to read and write. Finally, I enjoyed the comradery with fellow bloggers.
Other notable January milestones are that I’ve been in remission from breast cancer for 6 WHOLE YEARS. It’s also been one year since my full hysterectomy. I truly believe health is wealth. I strive to keep my physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, and financial health in check every day, although sometimes it’s difficult.
I love starting my year off with a challenge because it boosts my sense of accomplishment. February reminds me of love, so I plan to focus on the people I love this month, including myself. My son turns 22 this year, so we will be celebrating. I’m also considering participating in a vegan challenge. I’ll keep you posted.