New Year, New Me?: How Experiencing Love, Lost and Life All At Once Shaped The Start of My 2018

What better time to reflect than when you are lying in bed with too much time on your hands.  Time you rather spend doing other things like being active, or in my case working…but I like what I do so I can’t be the example for everyone because not everyone is as crazy as me.  So I have a few things to get off not only my chest but my heart and my spirit.  Since I’ve graduated college I reflect at the end of every year. Did I do what I said I would do? Did I better myself in even the smallest way? Did I take that trip? I ask myself these things now more than ever because at the end of 2017 I dealt with lost.  And if you are one of those people who think “new year, new me” is silly then here is why I think you should reconsider.

What did I lose? First, was who I thought was the person I would the rest of my life with. This man who I’ve come to be neutral about where; some days I still like him and some days I’m really petty and smirk at the fact that he’s not getting paid by the government shut down.  But why? Because this is part of the test of bettering myself. If I didn’t feel these very natural feelings then I wouldn’t be learning anything at all.  I’ve argued with this man now months after our breakup, we’ve called each other names, I’ve even judged the new girlfriend because at the time it made me feel better, but it didn’t make me better.   The fact is I loved that person and I was dealing with lost.  And honestly, I’m still dealing with that lost. That was the first time I loved, in my own way, whole-heartedly and it failed.  That doesn’t mean I stop loving all together but I definitely need a break.  I’m working on my bravery to tell you the full details of this love story but that’s for another day. What I’m taking into my 2018 year is learning that I will love again but we do lose it sometimes.

This man who I’ve come to be neutral about where; some days I still like him and some days I’m really petty and smirk at the fact that he’s not getting paid by the government shut down.”

The second and most devastating lost of my 2017 was the passing of my grandmother.  You really want to see your life take a hit, try being heartbroken then losing someone that was really meaningful. To say my Nana helped me and loved me like no other is an understatement. It was almost like when things were tough or I had questions about what I was doing and where I was going in life….she called.  Whether it was the answer to her cross word puzzle, her trying to fuss at my mom about something random or her sending a birthday card to my same address I’ve had the past four birthdays, it was like she just felt me needing her.  Yesterday I found the last birthday card she sent me with the quarter and two pennies in it and that made me realize my other lost wasn’t so big.  I cried and cried and am still currently crying thinking about it.  We get those few people in our lives that give that genuine, unconditional love where a card with a few coins in it turn our whole world right side up because it was from them. That was the love where I knew even if I never did anything right for the rest of my life I knew she would always be there to support me no matter what.  What I’m taking into my 2018 year is that that kind of love will stay with you a lifetime even when that person is gone.

“We get those few people in our lives that give that genuine, unconditional love where a card with a few coins in it turn our whole world right side up because it was from them.”

So now what? What do you do now when you’ve loved and lost and lost a loved one. Well, honestly, I don’t know.  I’ve had days when I didn’t want to get out of bed, and didn’t.  I’ve had days where I’ve smiled this huge genuine smile and meant it.  But since the close of 2017 where I dealt with my relationship ending and my Nana passing I couldn’t tell you how I what my emotions would be like in the next day or even the next hour.  I do know that it’s shaping my 2018 to go for what I want.  I want to love again when it’s right and I want to honor my Nana by living each day, good or bad, with a purpose.

You’re smiling different, you are loving different, you are working different.

YOU are different.”

When you lose anything, even small, you reflect on it.  How did I lose it? Was it important? How do I recover from that lost? I went through all those questions and many more to say that I am a different person.   How could I not change? Every small detail changes you so even when you think you are doing your same routine every year, you’re not.  You’re smiling different, you are loving different, you are working different. YOU are different. Love, lost and life go hand in hand.  Whether we love forever or not that’s life.  And experiencing lost is hard part of life but that too is still life.  The next time you go through any of these things, even if its a bad investment or losing a dollar, I challenge you to think of how that ultimately changed you and what you think now and moving forward.

 

Smoothie Style Weekend Cleanups

Some of the hardest times for me to eat healthy are the weekends. This is usually when I go to the movies and have a large drink with pretzel bites or have date night at one of the popular burger joints with lots of sugary alcoholic beverages (drink responsibly, and only if your 21 and older). Recently I decided that I wanted to try reducing my bad eating habits during the weekend and just flush out my system after a long work week. I have already been successful during the week but my weekends could use a little work.

One of the easiest switches I made was subbing most of my meals for smoothies. I usually

20160821_115943
Snack option- Boiled eggs with pepper and light salt

have a smoothie in place of breakfast or lunch during the week while at work so this wasn’t a completely traumatic experience. For the weekend I started subbing most of my meals for smoothies and snacking throughout the day. The first weekend I started this routine I made a smoothie for breakfast, lunch and dinner and snacked on fruits, dry cereal, and boiled eggs throughout the day. Every snack I have I finish one bottle of water, to help feel full and flush as much as possible. Now realistically I know that I will still have my dinner or movie nights but this is do-able as long as I am still keeping the majority of the day on track with my smoothies and healthy snacks.

My smoothies throughout the day:

Typically my breakfast smoothie is filled with fruit on top of fruit. After a shot of ACV mixed in water I make this smoothie to follow.

1/2 cup of frozen blueberries

20160820_081328
My morning smoothie with ACV shot and vitamin mix

1/2 cup of frozen mangoes

1/2 cup of frozen strawberries

1/2 cup of frozen pineapples

1/2 of  a banana

Fill half way with choice of:

Orange juice (lots of pulp), V8 juice or Soy milk

Fill other half with Coconut water

Drop in your multi-vitamins and others that you take daily

Blend for 30-45 seconds (really make sure those vitamins are blended in)

20160820_190538
Snack option-apple slices with peanut butter

For my lunch time smoothie, I try to make something heavy that will stick.

Peanut butter and jelly smoothie

1 1/2 cups of frozen strawberries

1 1/2 cups of peanut butter

2 tablespoons of chocolate (to cheat a little)

Fill with your choice of milk

Blend for 30-45 seconds (until smooth texture)

 

 

 

 

To see my dinner time smoothie watch the video below (Note that I only put the vitamins in once a day, I happened to make this smoothie in the morning that day):

 

The Destruction of Social Matters by One Dress

We are in an age of turmoil. We have reached the point where we are so lost that even our presidential candidates  have forgotten it was a political race and are more focused on bashing one another. But let’s not stray too far from what is important at hand. What this is about is the continuous social inequality based on race, sexual orientation, social economic status and more. When there is a mass shooting or a string of individual shootings done on a specific minority where is our outlet for speech. In a time of crisis we either look for a leader or an outlet.

Too many times I’ve seen an outlet being formed and successfully shared while leaders trying to lead peaceful demonstrations are being followed by too few. Now even our peaceful demonstrations are being disrupted by unexplainable tragedies. While these protests are shut down it makes way for apps and games and the newest mysterious picture to build it’s popularity off of.

But what can you take from all this?? Whether or not a dress is one color or another. How you can spot imaginary animals on your phone screen by checking into a location. As a black woman I am insulted by it all. As much as I want a positive distraction from the endless sadness I am seeing on the television, remaining ignorant to it all is not the answer. It is hard for me to fall into these fads when I have a father, 7 uncles, 3 brothers, a nephew and countless other family members who could easily have been the victim in the routine traffic stop or the one selling CDs on the side of a small convenient store.

The only “distraction” I have is to be prepared on the day I decide to have a child and what speech I will have to prep for. To my little boy I will have to inform him that he for whatever reason may be seen as intimidating if he walks around with his hood on for too long. To my little girl I will have to instill in her that education is the most amazing beauty she will ever possess. To either child that they are free to love whom ever they want to love while never having to answer to anyone for their choices or sexual orientation. That it is not important to go to school with the latest trends, rather go to school and focus on the material and gain knowledge that no one can ever take from you.

So I am sorry I am not sorry for calling out social media and applications on these distractions. My frustration stems from the fact that news time lines will share the details of the arrest of protesters in Baton Rouge while also sharing right below it a story of a non talented reality TV show family and their latest publicity stunts. Today I choose not to get into a debate on which lives matter because ALL life is precious. Today I am choosing not to use social media as a distraction but as a platform for those who are trying to make a difference. Ignorance is not bliss, it’s just ignorant. Choose to know.

The Laws of Detachment: Why Losing Friendships Along The Way Is Okay

Have you ever had those times where you just randomly think about people who you were friends with and wonder what they are up  and what was it that made you guys lose touch? There are a lot of different reasons and I think  the common denominator comes down to….Life happened.  Whether it was a good or bad ending these lost friendships remind you of the journey you are on in fixing yourself.

Growing up my family moved a lot and I went to different schools from the time I started to the time I graduated high school. I would get close to someone then we would move.  And this was before Myspace, so keeping in touch was basically non existent.What I do appreciate about this aspect of my life though is that I had to learn to value friendships. I wasn’t a good friend because I didn’t know how to be one. Since there was that constant uprooting and transferring schools I think I lacked that compassion for others because the only constant people around were family. I was involuntarily losing these friendships in a way and when they all ended, these were times for me to reflect on the friendships and how I needed to improve.

I remember one girl in particular who I fell out with in college and how that loss was for the better. She was one of my roommates and this friendship ended badly to where we had an all out brawl with one another (Yeah I know, not lady like at all), and of course it was over a boy. But the thing was the argument didn’t start over a boy but when everything was said and done she had finally said everything that have been bothering her about our friendship. She had been harboring ill feelings about me and I had kind of played into it not knowing was the real problem was. I came to terms with that friendship never working out because she had her internal struggles going on and so did I. I wasn’t at a point to be a good friend to her when I had issues to fix as well.

End the end, its okay to lose friendships along the way because you first have to learn to be a good friend. Everyone has things going on and plans and goals, and sometimes other people might not fit into that chaos. But then there are the ones that do. My closest friends now are the women I met while in college. These are the ladies who I didn’t necessarily have a lot in common with but we all brought something to the friendship that balanced us out. We have good conversations due to our different views, beliefs and backgrounds. We had to grow to appreciate one another and learn that we would always be different. As I am getting older I am realizing that quality over quantity applies to quite a bit if scenarios in life, friendships included.

Nappy Roots: The Journey Of A Black Girl and Her Hair

So where do I start. Hair is a pretty complicated subject, and my hair can get extremely complicated. It kinks, it curls, there are naps and twirls. It takes much more moisture and a lot of patience to keep it from drying out. But getting to the root of black hair would take a lot longer than I can write in one session. There are a few journeys that happen with a black girl and her hair, and these are things that can easily be overlooked by other women but may just hold a higher meaning to a black woman.

Black women go through a period in time when we are young where everything around tells us our hair is not right. Magazines, television, and even depending on where you go to school there are very few number of individuals you see that you can say “she looks like me”. Even within the black community, there are differences in hair textures. As that young black girl you question what is wrong with your hair. We see our full or thin, short or long, and curly hair then we see everything around us as straight and tamed. That early confusion causes us to treat, relax and manipulate our hair to the point where we destroy the beautiful curls we have to learn to appreciate.

Now picture today, those little black girls are now black women who are able to see more women that look like them on the covers of magazines and playing the lead roles on television and big screen movies. Although there has been a shift in the media there is still that internal struggle. That doubt black women hold when they decide to wear an afro to the office. That doubt when the young black girl decides to stop getting relaxers and goes through the transitioning process. This doubt is built off of the lack of support we see in our surroundings to say that our hair is just fine. In my own community the beauty supply stores biggest selling points is the long flowing hair to weave onto my head but products to care for my natural hair take up a small corner of the store.

As someone who has done it all to my hair I will say that there is that draw to these things because of the versatility of it. To be able to change the color of my hair, without actually changing the color of my hair (wig or weave), and being able to go from short to long hair overnight, from braids to twists, there’s just so much that can be done but ultimately I had to recognize at the end of it all my hair was still going to be my hair.

I remember growing up and my hair being a big deal. I admit my parents, both mom and dad, were particular in what was being done with my hair and how it was cared for. This is a part of my history instilled in me now as I am sure with so many black women today. We are taught you have to take care of your hair. This hair business for us is a part time job. And the more you work the better you get at it. As I got older and went through these different styles I also learned to not forget about my hair underneath it all.

Here today I can say I am not completely okay with my hair. This isn’t something that happens over night. I recently watched the Black Girls Rock program and I remember Rihanna saying “…the minute you learn to love yourself you would not want to be anybody else.” I believe that journey involves loving everything about ourselves…Our hair included.

XOXO

 

 

Elle’s Diary: Learning To Invest In Yourself

Since the new year always brings new goals and statements of improvement, I always like to look on my timeline and see what people want for themselves in the new year. Now going into the 3rd month of the 2016 year I wonder how far along are you with your goals?

I decided this time around to have a very broad statement for my resolution…To invest more into myself.  I had to keep it broad because that was the best way to sum up everything I have going on. When I say I wanted to invest in me, I meant I wanted to do more that would make me happy. And making me happy is anything from keeping my bills paid up, buying shoes, keeping money in my savings account and traveling. But its much more than that. It was about me actually having the courage to just do it all.

I always see a lot of people saying “I can’t do this because of that” or “I can’t do that because of this”. But how long are you willing to make those excuses at the risk of your own happiness? Why not slowly change those statements so that it leads to doing whatever it is you want to do.  Then after a few months, or however long it takes, just do it. If you’ve been thinking about going back to school then go. If you’ve been thinking of a business plan then present it. If you really want to buy a house then look into the steps and financial plan it takes to do that. Doubt is scary and may be the one thing that’s holding you back the most.

I wanted to travel outside the U.S. so I am. I wanted to be consistent in not only putting money into my saving account but keeping it there, so I do.  I wanted to open an additional checking account to put money in for any of my guilty pleasures whether it be shoes, or a concert or a night out with friends, so I did.

When I stopped saying “I can’t because” then I slowly started saying “I can’t right now because”. But this still wasn’t enough. There was nothing and nobody holding me back from all of this, except me. Now I understand that this is not the goals that everyone has in mind. My situation is that I am not married and don’t have any children and I work full time and part time. I do know that this situation allows me to have more freedom financially than a lot of other people. Some of you might have a family or a different financial situation but my point is, don’t let it be a deterrent from living life to the fullest.

Our dreams and goals are different but what we have in common is that we all have them. We all want to achieve and make it to a higher level in life than we were at yesterday. So what are you going to do about it? Like everything else in life this isn’t an easy journey, this might actually be the hardest journey because it does take being a little selfish to accomplish and will take a lot of time, dedication and even money. I always heard growing up that you can’t expect to love and take care of others if you don’t learn to love and care for yourself first.