Posted in Goals, Life After, Lifestyle, Uncategorized, widow

It is Finished…Summer Class, that is #lifeafter

Thursday, August 1, 2019 marked the culmination of my first year as a graduate student of the Masters of Library Science program at Wayne State University!  Only a special kind of person–or maybe a glutton for punishment–undertakes a graduate program while displaced from their permanent residence due to a house fire, adjusting to life after the passing of their spouse, taking responsibility over a rental home that deceased husband managed, and a host of other things that you’ve probably already read about on my blog. But, I did it! And quite successfully, too, I might add. 4.0 GPA first semester, 3.5 the second, and a 3.0 this current semester.

Although I did well, I put myself through a lot stress at a time in my life when I should have been relaxing as much as possible. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean that you should do something, I advised myself.

Now, I don’t regret, at all, the decision to begin this program. I’d been contemplating it for a few years before finally applying. However, it might have been a good idea to start with one class instead of two. It took those first two semesters of talking myself out of quitting a time or two before I came to my senses and only registered for one class this last semester.

Forty-three year old LaCharmine cannot do graduate school the way twenty-five year LaCharmine did it.

Prior to the end of this semester, I told myself it was time for a break.

“Not even one class, LaCharmine,” I said to myself sternly. (I need that kind of talking to sometimes).

I need my evenings and weekends as free as they can be (given my church & sorority commitments).

I need time for writing.

I need time for reading.

I need time for getting my house how I want it.

I need time for dating. (Yes, I said it. Dating!!!)

Hmm…will I listen to myself and take a break from school? How will my first date go after 10 years out of the game? Will I accomplish the goal of completing novel #3 by end of 2019? Follow my blog for more #lifeafter posts.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

selfie

 

 

Posted in Inspiration, Lifestyle, Uncategorized, writing

L.A. The Future Librarian

As you read in my previous post (I hope you’re a subscriber!), part of the reason for my hiatus from blogging is that I started a graduate program in library science in the fall of last year. Since I published my first book in 2007, I have considered many career opportunities/fields. Accounting, education, communication, and librarianship. Over this time, I would get so frustrated with the internal debate of what course I should take. My biggest fear was that in considering these other career options that I was somehow doubting my ability to gain success with my writing.

The truth is that doubt is a creative persons silent partner.

However, the reality of being a writer, even an eventual successful one, is that the bills have to be paid in the meantime. And there’s life to live and enjoy until I write the book or meet the person who catapults me to the success I long for. Timing is everything.

I have no doubt that I will enjoy working in a library. I love libraries, specifically public libraries. I don’t frequent them nearly enough–well, I didn’t until I started school. But, for me, walking through the doors of my local library is like a kid walking into a candy store.  Pure delightful.

librarypic

I imagine drawing inspiration for my own writing being surrounded by the writing of our literary greats. I am anxiously anticipating planning readings and book signing events for local and national authors. I look forward to planning activities that the community will benefit from. I look forward to servicing patrons who recognize the continued relevance of library services.

To date, I have completed one full semester of classes toward my degree with one or two more to go. I made the mistake of taking two classes the first two semesters, under estimating how demanding these courses were going to be. Like most people probably think, It’s library school. How hard can it be?

Let me tell you. It’s not so much hard but time consuming and demanding like any other graduate program. Also, although the program states that a prospective student does not have to prior library experience to enroll in the program, it’s kind of taught as though you do. Or you’re going to spend a considerable amount of time in one during the program.

After having to talk myself off the ledge of quitting a few times when things got tough, I finally got smart and told myself, “Uhh, who told you that you have to take two classes at a time? This program is not a race.” And I must say this spring/summer semester has been much more manageable with one class. It’s a keeper going forward. I actually have a little wiggle room to fit in some committed time to work on my current novel, which ranks above the. I still have my December 2019 goal to have that work completed.

Needless to say I’m excited about what the future holds. My future as a librarian and my life as a national bestselling author!

What are you excited about for your future? I’d love to hear.librarypic

Posted in Family, Lifestyle, Uncategorized, writing

Naturally L.A. is Back

I hope you all are enjoying your summer as much as I have been. I knew it had been a while since I posted on this site but I hadn’t realize it had been that long. Over a year!

So much happened during that time.

My daughter got engaged!

My best friend and I joined the newly engaged couple on a 3-day cruise to the Bahamas.

I took my son on my 25th high school reunion cruise, his first cruise, the next month. Both of these trips were equally desired, deserved and needed after everything we endured at the end of 2017. Plus I figured we might as well enjoy some time away as we awaited the repair of our home. All in all we had a blast. It was surely the highlight of our summer.

If the stress of grieving the loss of my husband and dealing with contractors with the repair of my home, I decided to apply to a graduate program in Library in Information Science so that I could–obviously–work as a librarian. Classes started in August. And I wouldn’t be my over achieving self if I didn’t jump feet first and take two classes the first semester.

Needless to say I was swamped with fitting lectures, research papers, and group projects into my already full schedule. So blogging found its way at the bottom of my to-do list. But I missed it. So as of this post…I’m back!

I have so much to tell you fill you in on. From grieving through year two, surviving the contractor from hell, adventures with my new dog, dating (if you can call it that)! Be on the lookout for my next post!

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

P.S. Forgot to mention, I also had surgery on my left-hand in the middle of the semester, putting me in a cast for 5 weeks! SMH!

Posted in Encouragement, Lifestyle, writing

Wellness Wednesday (Mind)-Living Unashamed

In a random moment on the last day of the Fortify Writer’s Retreat that I attended this past weekend I confessed something funny and unexpected to two women I’d only met two days before. We were discussing how spent we were from our full weekend of reflection, creative energy, and giving so openly of ourselves. We were pooped. All of us. One woman, who I’ll call “V” was saying how she couldn’t wait to take a nap. That was the first thing she was doing when she got home. Me, on the other hand, I needed to do laundry, so much so that I was wearing my only pair of swimsuit bottoms in place of underwear! And I shared as much.

Her eyes popped in surprise before she bent over with laughter. I did too. Another lady, who I’ll call, “S” had joined our circle of laughter. When I explained why we were laughing, she laughed too.

Normally I’d have only shared such information with my best friend via text message. In fact, that was my intent moments before this opportunity to share appeared. Rather than do my norm of keeping my thoughts to myself or only sharing with someone who’s known me practically my entire life, I took a chance on opening up to others. Unashamed.

freedom

Sharing of myself with these two women—the little detail that it was—is just the beginning of being less inhibited, more revealing of myself. The makings of some great writing.

Posted in Death&Dying, Grief, Inspiration

Anytime, Any Place: Journeying Through Grief

I drove a familiar route to my eyebrow touch up appointment this afternoon, passing two special places. IHOP and Bucharest Grill.

Neither are my favorite places to dine–well, IHOP used to be–but after November 2017 they will forever be in my heart. That was the weekend Kevin and I attended our first Weekend to Remember hosted by Family Life Today Ministry. I can hardly put into words how excited I was to be there, how perfectly God aligned everything so that we could attend. That’s a story for another post.

Nevertheless, the event was in the Renaissance Center, downtown Detroit, which is full of dining options. There was no reason for us to have to leave the venue to get something to eat. But that was #myKevin. He always did things “his” way.

Having a limited supply of portable oxygen with us for the weekend was of no concern to him. He wanted to get out of the hotel, into his truck, and into the streets so that’s what he did. Here’s what was involved: filling up 4-5 portable tanks, me pushing him in a wheelchair through the hotel down to the valet to retrieve the car, then driving to wherever, getting back into the car, back to valet, wheelchair ride for him (drive for me) back to our room. The words on the page don’t do it justice how tiring this was. It was totally against what I had in mind for our weekend. I expected the most walking we would do would be from our hotel room to the workshop sessions, just a floor below. I figured whatever food we wanted we could grab in between sessions or have delivered to our room via room service. I was willing to pay that cost for us to have relaxing weekend.

Relaxing? Hmph. Kevin wasn’t having it! But I was always the one accused of not being able to sit still. Anyway, we left the hotel 3-4 times over that weekend. It was ridiculous! I was furious in the pit of my belly but I said nothing. We were going to have a good weekend. I was determined.

Back to the restaurants.

IHOP was our first stop on day one. Bucharest Grill is where we went for lunch on the second day after the morning sessions. Regardless of how irritated I was–and boy was I–there was peaceable joy in my heart being in any time and space with him. As life does, I had no idea that would be the last time I’d go to those particular places with him. Now that time is forever etched in my mind. Not the irritation of it but the memory of sitting across from him enjoying a meal. The memory of him connecting with our IHOP waiter over a mutual interest they shared. The memory of watching him walk out of Bucharest Grill with our food in hand as I waited outside in the truck, probably praying that we weren’t late getting back for the afternoon session. Lol.

I know there are memories all over this city awaiting their time to fall upon me. Anytime, any place. I’m ready for them, my box of tissue just a reach away.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Caregiving, Fitness, Goals, Health, Lifestyle

Wellness Wednesday—Little Victories Count or Do They

Meal planning or prepping is all the rave these days. My daughter became a champ during her last year in college. Now she’s home helping me out. This past week she prepped two meals per day for the five day work week and we did our own breakfast meals. I bagged up 5 one serving of grits and scrambled one egg for my breakfast and a 4oz bags of mixed fruit. If you ask me I did great for someone who’s never tried to follow a meal prep plan. I only veered away from my meal twice–for pizza and salad at our family grief support meeting and Friday night dinner with friends. Considering those two events were planned, that’s actually not too bad. However, the graham crackers I ate 3 or 4 days of the week after 5 p.m. (okay, 8 p.m.) and the one piece of birthday cake offered to me at work for a coworkers birthday definitely were bad.

At least according to my daughter and her trainer.

Mr. J.C. Jones, the trainer, says no eating any processed foods, no salt, no dairy, no artificial sweeteners, etc. Blah, blah, blah.

First of all, I get it. Sure, processed foods are terrible for us BUT they’re pretty darn convenient. Isn’t it much easier to throw some pre-cut French fries from a bag in the oven after work as opposed to coming home, peeling the potatoes, and then cutting them up, and then cooking them??? Of course, it is!

Second, if a person has developed all of these bad eating habits over 20+ years, I think it’s a disservice for someone to expect that person to make drastic changes overnight. So the fact that that particular week, I didn’t stop at any fast food restaurants–not even for coffee– I consider that a success. Even with eating the crackers–I could have eaten crackers every single day but I only slipped up 3 times. And that was partially because I didn’t have enough meals (or healthy snacks) prepped for the week. Shoot! I was hungry!

 

Now because my daughter stuck to her meal prep 100% and I did more like 85%, she lost more weight than I did. But I was still proud of myself. You see, as I stated above, this was not her first ride on the meal prep/planning rodeo show. She’s had time to practice doing this. And like I have to always remind her, “You didn’t start out a pro with this stuff.”

It takes time to get things right. Until I get it “right”, which for me is disciplined eating and consistent exercise, I’m going to congratulate myself on the small victories and encourage myself to keep going when I mess up. My girl Josie of YumYucky.com is more my speed. Check out this video.

What’s your method for changing certain habits? Do you celebrate the little victories or beat yourself up when you experience a hiccup? Share in the comments below.

Posted in Uncategorized

My Journey Through Grief: The Ring

One night I took my wedding ring off along with the other jewelry I wear everyday. The next morning it was the only thing I didn’t put back on.

Why?

I can’t really say why I didn’t put it on. I can say it has nothing to do with symbolizing being ready to move on. Three short months since Kevin’s passing, I’m far from that.

For me, though, wearing my wedding ring kept me in a place of confusion. I was always wondering;

“How long do I wear this?”

“What does it symbolize now that my husband is gone? My marriage or the loss of my husband?”

“Do family and friends expect to see it for a certain period of time, as a symbol of my grief?”

“How do I know when to take it off?”

It was too much to consider on top of everything else that weighs on my mind .

While I’m not wearing my wedding ring, I do wear these

everyday in remembrance of my husband.

The Pandora bracelet is the one he bought me for our anniversary last year. It was our 5th anniversary, hence the #5 charm. I added the deep purple charm in place of a keepsake for his ashes. Purple was his favorite color, representing his beloved fraternity, Omega Psi Phi. Unlike my other Pandora bracelets, the charms on this bracelet were chosen by my husband or for him. I consider it complete.

The Superman ring was a ring he purchased on our first and only cruise together. He wore it everyday since. Superman was one of his favorite childhood superheroes and he was my Superman. Wearing this ring and bracelet everyday, there are no questions or confusing thoughts. Just comfort.