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Forever shopping in my closet

I’ve finally done what I committed to do back in July 2016.  If it weren’t for me rereading my blog post on Closet Shopping, which you can read here, I probably would’ve thought I just recently came up with the idea to take pictures of outfits I assemble with my existing wardrobe. Genius! Yesterday, I spent most of Saturday (7 to 8 hours) getting reacquainted with the clothes in my closet. As I prepare for 2020, I want to let go of feeling like I don’t have enough.  I have plenty!

For clarification purposes, on this recent endeavor, I was focused on my winter wardrobe, which mostly occupies the closet space in my bedroom. My summer clothes reside in my daughter’s closet. With changing seasons, I switch out the clothes.  I grew up in the midwest (Chicago, IL) so changing clothes with the seasons is a habit. 

I didn’t think it would take me 7-8 hours, but time flies when you’re having fun. I had my music playing in the background as I diligently went through my clothes, focusing on the pieces where I tend to have more difficulty assembling outfits.  As the QUEEN of “separates”, I sometimes forget which pieces work well together.  This exercise will help me remember. 

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I enjoyed this outfit at the office earlier in December. I felt extra chic with my black tights and black suede boots. LPC

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At home after church 12-29-19 LPC

Clearly, I’m not a photographer.  After I tried on combinations I liked, I just layed out the pieces on my bed and took pictures with my phone camera.  The lighting in my bedroom is HORRIBLE.  You can see it didn’t capture the vibrant hue of this sparkly blue top. The impetus for assembling my outfits is that I had an epiphany recently.  I spend very little time getting myself dressed because I’m often multitasking, trying to get things done that I think are more important.   

This became apparent to me when I ended up not liking the outfit I put together for Christmas Eve service at church.  My husband and I took a picture together at a display at the church sanctuary, and let’s just say, I didn’t post the picture to my social media.  A complete ensemble consists of not just the clothes, but jewelry, shoes, and a hairstyle.  I have a bad habit of neglecting to spend time on the whole ensemble.  This will change. 

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Golden. LPC

Another epiphany I had is that when I was in my shopping frenzy heyday, I didn’t have a systematic way to shopping.  Unless, there was a special occasion, which was rare, I shopped sales.  This could be another reason why it feels like I don’t have complete outfits, but just a bunch of pieces.  My mom would ask me why I had so many tops, which is still true to this day. I think it’s easier to pick up another pretty shirt.  I didn’t have to put much thought in it.  Over the years, I’ve gotten more strategic about pieces I need (i.e., black dress pants, white shirt, etc.) 

The good thing is as long as my clothes are good quality, I hold onto them for years.  I still  wear some clothes as old as my daughter (she’s 14).  The brown skirt pictured above with the gold shirt is about 13 or 14 years old. I bought the gold shirt and necklace (separate purchases and stores) about 2 years ago.  

My weight has fluctuated over the years, but I’ve lost roughly 25 pounds two years post having my daughter.  I’ve already given away clothes that were too big (except for a few favorite pieces), which is why I probably don’t have any clothes from the time I had my son.  I was heavier then.  Three years ago, I lost more weight and have been maintaining all except 5 pounds. 

In 2020, my goal is to lose 20 pounds.  Although I’m putting shopping on pause now, I will likely need to shop in the future to accommodate my smaller frame.  I need to find a talented tailor for a few pieces I have now and in the future. 

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Pop of color LPC

 

There was a time I had very little black pieces in my wardrobe. I loved bright colors and I still do to this day. Then about 15 years ago, I had a manager who mostly wore black. She used to live in New York City for a period and I noticed she wore black often. She said everyone wears black in New York because it’s chic.  She had me thinking about black, so I added a few black pieces to my wardrobe.

I hope this post encourages someone to stop the madness of constantly buying clothes only to constantly feel like you have nothing to wear.  Why buy things if you don’t take the time to enjoy them.  Spending a whole day in my closet, assembling outfits is a rare treat, but it gave me an appreciation for what I have.  

And what I do have is a whole lot of dresses, especially summer dresses.  I didn’t bother taking pictures of them all.  That will be a future post in the spring.  I’ll have fun pairing them with blazers and dress sandals.  What I’ve learned since living in Texas for 22 years is that you can turn a summer dress into a winter ensemble by simply adding a sweater and some boots. Just like that, I’m able to extend the life of my dresses. 

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Dress is best.  LPC

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Muted hues LPC

I have a small closet filled with clothes and I haven’t even touched the surface.  In my earlier post on Closet Shopping, which you can read here I give insight into how growing up poor contributed to my obsession with clothes. 

Although assembling outfits from my existing wardrobe was a useful and fun experience for me, I want to acknowledge I also felt overwhelmed.  I only touched about 40-50% of the clothes in my closet.  I assembled approximately 25 outfits (not all pictured). 

Earlier in the year, I purged a decent amount of clothes after I watched Marie Kondo on Netflix.  I did the exercise of purging the clothes that no longer served me and I kept the ones which brought me joy.  I think purging should be reevaluated periodically.  It’s not a “one and done” activity.  What brought me joy 9 months ago, may not be bringing me any joy today.  You can apply this to other aspects of your life. 

One light lesson as we close 2019 is I need to purge some “things” from my closet. 

Namely, I want to let go of these false truths:

  1. I don’t have enough
  2. I have to be constantly acquiring stuff to satisfy me
  3. External things define me

The truths I plan to embody are:

  1. I am enough
  2. I have enough
  3. External and materials things don’t define me

How much time do you spend coordinating your outfits? What’s in your closet that you might need to purge? What are you looking forward to in 2020? 

 

 

 

 

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Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to my WP friends from all over the world! I was up super early after a night of repeatedly getting up to use the restroom. Serves me right for drinking a glass of water close to bed time. You’d think it was a gallon.

Of course, my cats heard my movements, so I could hear the purring from out in the hallway. My husband, Bryan, and I were on our cell phones. Then, my son, Caleb, walked into our room. Soon after, I heard my daughter, Elise, come out of her room. They were ready to open gifts. I’m tickled that my kids still feel the excitement even though they’re getting older.

Beignet and Cannoli Carr with their gifts – LPC

Everyone was back in bed by 8:00 a.m. I’d been exchanging texts with family and friends most of the morning. I spoke to a dear friend for a while. I exercised on my step board my husband got me. I was so excited I had saved one of my old step aerobics DVDs.

I burned some serious calories on Christmas Day! LPC

I plan to have a quiet day at home. My real purpose in this post is to send a special message to those of you who may be struggling this time of year. Whether the struggle is financial, grieving a lost loved one, loneliness, isolation, weariness, homelessness, illness, etc., the reason for this season is to celebrate Jesus’s birth. It’s not about the consumerism and materialiam that we’re bombarded with daily.

There’s peace, joy, generosity, good will, gratitude, and love in the air that I hope permeates your soul today and every day.

Merry Christmas!

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To all the badass women leaders

Oh dear! This is the last Christmas Eve of the decade! Listen, 2019 has tried to WHOOP my behind and I mean TRIED, but I have a second wind. I’m percolating with ideas and enthusiasm. I’ve been laying low and recharging my battery, particularly my spiritual battery. For anyone in a similar situation as me, we can end 2019 with a BANG, or at least with the acknowledgment that we did the best we could and we’re still standing to tell our story.

My lovely boss gave me an early Christmas gift and I’ve already begun diving into this book. I know I’m a badass and I don’t doubt myself like I used to. In fact, the older I get, and the more experience I gain, the less I doubt myself. However, sometimes the obstacles of life can make you doubt your path, BUT I’m here to tell you to keep going. Obstacles, challenges, disappointments, disasters, and defeats come with the human experience. Don’t bother asking, “Why me?”.

If you’re not in a struggle now, you’re coming out of one or are headed that way in the future. But don’t fret! It strengthens your muscle, and which muscle being strengthened (character, spiritual, resilience, emotional, mental, financial, intellectual, integrity, professional, parenting, friendship, etc.) depends on what lesson you’re meant to learn.

Intermingled with the obstacles in 2019, are some definite wins. This is why it’s so important to take time every so often to reflect on your life. The end of the year, or decade for that matter, is a great time to reflect. It’s important to review your goals, assess your progress with achieving them, and determine what other work you need to invest to reach them. It’s also important to acknowledge and express gratitude for the things working well in your life because there’s something to acknowledge, no matter how small.

I want to spend a little time doting on the badass women leaders I know. I’m fortunate to work in a environment with a diverse group of exceptional women leaders. I’ve known this already, but it really stood out to me last week. The strongest traits I see in them that I admire are articulating thoughts precisely, saying the hard things, encouraging others, providing constructive feedback, taking the time to learn, adjusting, and bravely making hard decisions on a daily basis. These are just my current colleagues. I’ve had examples of strong, badass women leaders my whole life.

My mom, Solange, was a package of strength and vulnerability. I was perplexed by this combination for a long time. She raised 4 children on a meager salary on her own for years (before she married my stepfather when I was 16). I don’t know how she did it when I learned how much her salary was. I think I made more money than her in my first full time job and that job wasn’t much.

Solange was strict and had high standards. She passed her work ethic down to all of her children. I believe the work ethic she instilled in me is responsible for why I’m in a leadership position. My work ethic is responsible for why I push myself so hard….I’m an overachiever. Overachieving comes with some drawbacks as you’ve seen me blog about previously. I’m in a constant battle of doing and being okay with not doing. I have to tell myself to “chill out” sometimes.

The other badass woman leader example I grew up with in my own home is my older sister, Gina. Growing up, she was the one everybody called “bossy”. Naturally, most people have a problem with the “bossy” ones because they don’t want to be told what to do. However, she was practical and had an organized sense about her.

As it turns out, people who are bossy make great managers and she’s been in leadership roles at various jobs starting at an early age. I’ve always admired Gina’s ability to speak with confidence and articulate what she meant. Gina was frank and honest. I’m grateful she’s one of my resources for feedback in managing certain personnel matters at work.

Then there was my older cousin who is so smart. I’m purposely not typing her name. There’s a lot of pressure in Haitian culture to do as your parents have set out for you. Our parents’ generation had some relational tactics that I found were controlling and manipulative. As the middle child, my cousin, from my perspective, learned to be a great neutralizer and negotiator in the family. In fact, I think Gina, also has these traits as she is the middle child.

My cousin maintains relationships with everyone even if those individuals don’t get along with each other and some don’t. She’s the common denominator. They all get along with her. I’ve also watched her achieve her goals and meet high standards she set for herself and standards her parents set for her.

I could go on, but these are just some of my examples. If you’re a striving to be, or are a current badass woman leader, surround yourself with other badass women leaders.

The traits I admire in women leaders such as articulating thoughts precisely, saying the hard things despite the audience, constantly learning and adjusting, negotiating, managing personalities successfully, offering constructive feedback, bravely making and standing by hard decisions, managing work and family life simultaneously, don’t come easily to many of us. Women are raised, or at least used to be raised, counterintuitively to what makes a great leader (please everyone, don’t say what you think, be nice, etc.)

2020 is right around the corner and I plan on being even more BADASS than I already am. And BADASS for me does include taking the time out for myself doing the things I most enjoy. I’ll share some of my goals in the coming weeks.

As a jump start, I started my Christmas break doing something I love…dancing. I was one of the instructors at a Zumbathon benefiting a shelter for women and children.

LPC leading a song at the Zumbathon 12-21-2019
Zumbathon 12-21-19…badass instructors and students who remained to the end. LPC

We normally attend Austin’s Trails of Lights spectacular, but we opted to go more low key and small town this year. Therefore, my husband, and I, went to the small town of Buda’s Trail of Lights. It was seasonably cold.

Peace..more of this in 2020 – Buda Trail of Lights 2019 LPC

Then, yesterday after I spent the day preparing a feast for my husband’s birthday, we went to our church to hear the amazing Annie Moses Band play Christmas music. Their performance was so beautiful, it left us speechless.

Annie Moses Band LifeAustin 12-23-19 LPC

I hope you all have an AMAZING Christmas and holiday season! I know this time of year is difficult for many due to financial stress, missing a loved one who is deceased, and loneliness, to name a few. The biggest misconception is that you’re alone. The reason for the season is Jesus’s birth and He is with you. Please take comfort in Jesus’ sacrifice for you.

Now it has just occurred to me, I’ve repeatedly used the same curse word throughout this post, and yet ended the post writing about Jesus. I’m not perfect, but I know the reason for the season. I plan to curse less in 2020, but in all fairness the book started it!

What wins have you had in 2019? Who are the positive examples in your life? How do you plan to spend the last few days of the decade?

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Faith and Vision

Say it aint so…about 23 days left in 2019. Really??? December is upon us. It’s a great month to reflect on the year and to think about goals for the upcoming year. Although these last 3 months have been the most difficult for me, I’m fairly optimistic about 2020. I know I am because I went to the Dollar Tree and bought my daughter, Elise, and I a couple of poster boards for our 2020 vision boards. It was Elise’s idea. We’ll embark on this activity during the Christmas break. I’m looking forward to the time off and spending it with my family.

Why is it that the time flies by the fastest from September to December? To be honest, the first 5 months of the year were a blur. I can best summarize it as: work was gruesomely rewarding, my son graduated high school, my daughter completed 8th grade, my son and I traveled to the Dominican Republic for a life changing trip, and some family members came to visit us in Austin in between. It was a roller coaster ride, for sure. I was doing alright with 2019 until my husband started getting sick again.

What I’ve learned in these last few months, the hardest months of my 2019, is that God’s hand is on me and my family. He’s been trying to tell me something for a while. I’m listening. He’s got my attention. God has me where He wants me. I know this because my intellect, education, and experience can’t get me out of this. I have no where else to turn except to God.

I no longer believe in happenstance, coincidence, or the like. I’ve known since my twenties my God given purpose is to help people. However, I’m coming to terms that God has a plan for my destiny. I don’t know what it is yet, and that’s hard to live with.

I’ve been spending time daily reading and listening to teachings about Detours. My faith is being tested. I feel like this is the final exam. I’m recalling a time in college, where I was waiting on the results of a final exam. It was a difficult exam. Sometimes, you just know when you do well on a test or not, but in this case, it could have gone either way. This is where I am now.

The more I delve into the spiritual side of me, the more closed off I want to be. This means I want to spend less time on social media. I want to spend less time trying to impress people on purpose. I want to spend less time writing on my blog. I just want to get to understand God better. Can anyone relate?

With all of my life’s experiences thus far, I will say that God has molded me to be a STRONG and COURAGEOUS person. I can’t imagine what else He is preparing me for. Only God knows. I’m learning how to wait patiently and to wait well.

My words should have painted the picture that I’ve been struggling. The struggle is the underlying tug in my words. However, I know there are better days ahead. In fact, TODAY is a GOOD day and it really was(time for bed). It’s called FAITH. This blog site is about self-care and I would be remiss to not acknowledge the most important tool in my self-care box is FAITH. Faith in God and then faith that he’s equipping me to withstand anything. Admittedly, it’s a little scary to think about what other challenges I may face in this life, but whatever it is, I will withstand it.

In 2020, I’m looking forward to a fresh new year to start over. I want to make more meaningful connections with people, especially the people I love and those who love me. Life is too short to worry about people who don’t matter when the people who do matter are right under your nose. They deserve most of our attention and love. I also see more travel on the horizon.

I’ve been saving old magazines so Elise and I can work on our vision boards. I’ll be thinking about some other goals for 2020. I hope I find the pictures to capture it. Do you know that visualization in your mind increases the likeliness of achieving goals. I visualize in my mind often. However, the last time we did a vision board was in 2016. It’s been long overdo.

How about you? What lessons surfaced for you in 2019? What are you looking forward to in 2020?

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Gratitude

Be grateful my friends!

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This is the time of year for giving thanks, so it’s no surprise that I’m about to lay out exactly what I’m thankful for in this post. Before I do, I will point out that practicing gratitude on a daily basis is something I’ve aspired to do over the years.  At one time, I arranged for each of my kids and my husband to have their own gratitude journal. I personalized each journal with their name followed by a heart ♡ that I drew myself. The plan was for us to write or draw what we were grateful for when the urge hit.

Looking back, that was my attempt to instill the love of journaling into my kids. To my chagrin (I may be exaggerating), I don’t know what happened to those journals. I was just kidding myself thinking my husband would do it, but for a time I think…

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Food chronicles: November comfort

Yes, it is. This is the Sunday before Thanksgiving! If like me, home cooks from all over are thinking about, planning, and even prepping their Thanksgiving menu extravaganza. In my household, we’ve been talking about the Thanksgiving dinner since the beginning of November.

I made turkey broth with smoked turkey wings three weeks ago. I froze the delicious product. It occurred to me I may need another batch of broth since I make soups weekly and have been using up my stash. Therefore, I’ll be making another batch this Tuesday or Wednesday with the leftover roasted chicken we’ll have for dinner tomorrow. That’ll be the third batch of homemade broth I’ve made in November. My main motivation is the health benefit In case you don’t know, collagen (bone broth is a source) is amazing for hair, skin, and nails.

I wrote my Thanksgiving menu three weeks ago and reviewed it with my husband, Bryan. Since then, I’ve been strategically ensuring I have all of my ingredients. I’m not one to wait until the last minute for something this important.

Yesterday, I was so excited to pick up bags of sweet potatoes from my local grocery store at $0.14 cents per pound. Can you believe that? I bought 12 sweet potatoes for $2.10. The sweet potatoes were the only major ingredient where I waited to purchase because about a week ago a grocer told me that this deep discount was coming. We’re all looking forward to my sweet potato pies. I might do something different with the sweet potatoe side dish instead of making my usual scrumptious mashed sweet potatoes.

This year, possibly today if I’m up to it, I will do something different and make pumpkin bread. I have no idea if I have the right pumpkins considering we picked these up from our churches’ front lawn last month. No, we didn’t steal them. Our pastor told us to take them home.

Beautiful Sunday morning at church. LPC

I don’t want to waste the pumpkins, so I will make pumpkin puree for smoothies, bread, and whatever other ideas I conjure up.

Naturally, because this is turkey month, I’ve gotten caught up in sharing my ideas on the Thanksgiving meal when this blog post is REALLY supposed to be about the other comfort foods I’ve conjured up this month. You know I’ve been cooking up a storm.

I love fried plaintains, which is a Haitian staple. I don’t make them often and I’ve been thinking about why that is. It partly has to do with it being a fried food, which I tend to not consume often. And they are not just fried once, they are double fried. You fry them once, remove them from the oil, then smash them in the plaintain peel, and return them to the oil to fry again.

Plaintains are also in the carbohydrate family. I actually “googled” their health benefits recently, which caused me to gain more of an appreciation for them. They would probably be a regular part of my diet if I liked them boiled like my mom did, but I don’t. No bueno. Fried is best.

A few weeks ago, I decided to indulge and picked up two from the grocery store. I’m so glad I did.

Fried plantains or banan. LPC

Soup is the ultimate comfort food in my book. Last month, my daughter and I took a trip to an Asian Market. I stocked up on noodles and rice. The noodle prices were a bargain for the amount I purchased, but I didn’t think so much so on the rice. Regardless, I also purchased a large bag of brown jasmine rice.

Thai shrimp and noodles soup. LPC

My son and daughter loved this soup. I loved this soup. I woke up one Saturday morning with a taste and believed I could carry out a thai soup. I’m using the word “thai” loosely here, but it worked. I got to use my thai red chilli curry paste, which I’ve had for a while. It was also my first time cooking an egg in liquid. My homemade broth made this recipe SHINE.

I’ve learned the preferred method is to soak rice noodles in warm water instead of boiling them prior to adding to a dish. This epiphany has been “GAME CHANGING”!

My daughter could eat tacos everyday. She loves them. I’ve loved tacos since I was a little girl growing up in Chicago. We all love them and the combinations are limitless. In one week, I made sauteed chicken tacos with black beans, taco soup, and breakfast tacos with scrambled eggs and leftover chilli. All I can say is YUM, YUM, and YUM!!!

Sauteed chicken breasts for tacos. LPC

Sauteed chicken, black beans and pico de gallo. LPC

Finally, I don’t stray too far away from my Haitian roots and the dishes I grew up with. I pulled out my mortar and pestle or “pilon” to make rice and peas with oven fried chicken.

I used my brown jasmine rice, which entailed a longer cooking time and produced a softer texture than I’m used to, but the flavor profile was on point.

Oven fried chicken wings, rice & peas with salad. LPC

Light lesson: It just occurred to me that cooking is an expression of my creativity. I love to cook and being creative connects me to my divine source, which is probably why I enjoy being creative in this way so much. I can’t take credit for linking creativity to God because I’ve read about this before. To make this connection in my own life is reaffirming.

So what sides are you conjuring up this week for Thanksgiving. If not through cooking, how else do you express your creativity?

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So I was thinking…

I’ve been thinking about revamping my blog site. My blog journey began in 2016 although it took me a year before I had the courage to just do it. Aside from my long love affair with journaling, I don’t recall who or what inspired me to start my own blog, but when I made up my mind, I had to do it. The blog experience has been rewarding, deflating, exhilarating, deflating, fun, deflating, and ENLIGHTENING.

Coincidentally, I started my blog site a few months before being diagnosed with breast cancer. Writing in the form of blogging is therapeutic for me. I needed to blog during that pivotal time in my life. I don’t think I would be able to function for very long without processing my thoughts via writing or blogging. Writing is my SUPER POWER. Writing is my ULTIMATE expression of self-care.

I blog for my own personal satisfaction, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge I’d love more “likes” and “comments” to my posts. I follow other blogs and realize that some bloggers invest a great deal of time on their blog sites. Some actually blog for a living, which is neat, but not my life. My career as a public servant is my living. Blogging is my hobby. And it’s not that I’m investing only an hour here and there. When I blog, I easily lose several hours because I get so engrossed. Additionally, when able, I spend time reading other blog sites.

So how do I want to revamp my blog? The short answer is I’m not sure yet. I’ve thought about retiring my “enlightenedsocialworker.blog” site to start something new, but as you can imagine, it is very sentimental to me. Over the years, I’ve noticed my writing improve in that my thoughts are more clear and succinct. I attribute this to my day job where I spend lots of time editing my staff’s work. We produce many deliverables and work on short time frames, so I need to produce and edit quickly.

I’ve written on numerous topics pertaining to self-care and my life. In the past year, I’ve expanded topics to include more of what I’m passionate about such as cooking. I’ve written about grief, leadership, social issues, breast cancer, relationships, healthy aging, ethnicity, identity, and more. At times, I’ve thought about narrowing my site’s focus. Other times, I’ve thought about expanding the topics. I’ve also thought about changing my blog design to incorporate more photos because photos inspire my blog entries.

There are rules “out there” on what makes a successful blog site and posts. I’ve been getting some traction, which I appreciate immensely, but I’m not at the top of the blog game yet.

I’m grateful for “stats”, which allow me to see the numbers and locations of people viewing my site and reading my posts. I’ve noticed trends of which posts get the most likes and views. My cooking posts tend to get the most views. Hint, hint…

I’ll continue to think about how I will revamp my blog site. I may introduce something new in 2020. I’m just not sure yet. One thing is for sure: I will continue to blog because I receive positive feedback from the people who are impacted by my posts.

Whatever I decide, you’ll be the first to know.

I’d love to know what you think…what would you like me to keep writing about?