Posted in Encouragement, Lifestyle

How You Can Support the Fight for Justice

Since the senseless of brutal murder of George Floyd, protests have erupted all of over the country. In fact, I recall a news clip stating that all of the 50 states have had them.

Everyone doesn’t have to show your solidarity for the cause the same way. I look at it like exercise. While the goal for fitness enthusiast is weight loss, weight loss maintenance, building muscle, feeling good, there are multiple ways of accomplishing it. Some like running. Some like spin class. Some like Zumba. Some like walking. Everyone chooses the activity that works best for them.

As the protest occur in your city, maybe your heart longs to join the crowd but you’re scared of violence that could occur from violent protestors or the onset of more police brutality. Or maybe you’re like me and just don’t like large crowds.

The good news that there is plenty that you can do. I actually suggested these to my pregnant daughter who has a burning desire to join the protests but knows that ain’t happening:

  1. Vote in every election. Invest times reviewing the sentencing history of judges up for re-election. Attend voter education forums to be a more informed voter.
  2. Make signs for your car window to make your position known wherever you go. You can blast #BlackLivesMatter on every road you drive in, whatever neighborhoods you cruise.
  3. Contact your local and state officials. Press them for the reform you want to see. If we all contacted their offices as much as they blow up our emails when it’s election time, they’ll know we expect them to work for the issues that are important to us.

Just my two cents…

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Encouragement, Goals, Inspiration, Quarantine

Wellness Wednesday—

I was trying to craft some words for this post to go along with this picture, but I concluded that the words say it all.

I have three of these notes taped around my cubicle at work. Whichever direction I look in, these words are in my line of vision. They remind me to use my down time, specifically at work, wisely. Instead of chatting it up with coworkers or watching a series on Netflix when work is low, I should be preparing what I’m going to write in the evening on my manuscript or planning my social media marketing plan to promote my blog and my books, working on my online graduate course, reading a book, or updating my resume.

If you’re laid off due to CVOID-19, or at home with nothing to do because everything is closed, I encourage you to take heed to this words.

When you see these words, what comes to mind that should you be doing with your time? Tell me in the comments below.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Encouragement, Inspiration, Lifestyle, People, Quarantine, writing

Weekends in Quarantine

Am I the only one who hesitates when asking friends old-fashioned questions as conversation starters?  What are plans today? Have you made it to the gym? What are you doing this weekend?

Answers used to include exciting things like, ballroom lesson on Monday, choir rehearsal on Tuesday, sorority committee meeting on Wednesday, Yoga class on Thursday, dinner and a movie on Friday, shopping on Saturday, church on Sunday.

Boy, have times changed. Now the responses to those questions are:

“Nothing.”

“Going Walmart.”

“Going to Sam’s Club/Costco.”

“Going to Kroger/Meijer.”

Not very much variety, huh.

Me…I have never been more tired of going to the store as I am in these days. That can not be the only thing that I look forward to on weekends. Therefore, I plan to do so much more in my free time:

  1. Read (and finish) the books I’ve started
  2. Spend 2-3 hours writing my 3rd novel
  3. Swap out winter wardrobe for spring/summer wardrobe
  4. Remove clothes from my closet that do not bring me joy (or I can’t fit anymore)
  5. Organize files on my computer (i.e. school work, personal essays, articles for publication, blog posts, book ideas)
  6. Bake (and share)
  7. Exercise
  8. Oh, and I should include something that involves my 16 year old son, but it’s like pulling teeth to get him out that room. He comes out for food and drink. He seems to fear I’m going to put him to work when he emerges so I try not to do that when I hear his footsteps,

I’m happy to add more things on this list. Got any ideas? Post in the comments below and enjoy your weekend.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Encouragement, Lifestyle, People, Women

Meltdowns Do Happen

Hey, it happens. Meltdowns, that is. They come at you like a bolt of a lightening of a clear, sunshine day. Recognize it for what it is. Give in to it. Let yourself feel the emotions of all that is within you, all that is overwhelming you. Cry, scream, ask the High Heavens, “Why Me? Why does it hurt so bad?”

Then, get over it.

You can’t allow to stay is that space for too long. You can’t focus on all that isn’t going right in your life for too long. Nothing is going to come of that. Instead, embrace this human moment and then focus on the good.  

I speak from experience. My moment came from frustration of looking for a telephone number written on a receipt that I know I had put right there. Instead, I was faced with a stack of mail, bills, and other paper work that I won’t deal with and/or don’t want to throw away! If I could have balled myself up in the corner and cried I would have. I did the next best thing…ordered a BBQ Chicken pizza and made myself a margarita. I didn’t quite cry, but tears welled up in my eyes and a feeling of complete helplessness came over me.

I had to make a couple of phone calls. Ironically, one of the people on the other end of the phone was a certified counselor and I reluctantly shared with her things I can’t say to others.

“I’m overwhelmed.”

“I’m feel so alone.”

“Everyone thinks I’m so strong, so I behave like a strong person would. It’s hard keeping up the façade.

When I got off the phone with her, I felt a weight lift. I spent the rest of the evening going through some of that mail, throwing some paperwork away. More weight lifted. Music pouring from Aliyah Radio on Pandora had positive affects on the atmosphere. I lit a scented candle. I danced. I sang with all the capacity that my lungs allowed.

The next morning, I felt better but the negativity tried to seep back in. When I got to my desk at work, I meditated and decided to write out some things that I had to be proud of:

1. Emotionally eating yesterday, I only ate 1 1/2 slices of pizza, and I burned off some of the calories with dancing. I still prepared a healthy breakfast and lunch for today, leaving the mistakes of yesterday where they were–in the past.

2. I resolved a billing discrepancy that was long overdo.

3. I spent the evening relaxing to good, soulful music.

4. I answered the call of a friend and was able to pause from own emotional hurt and empathize with hers.

5. I organized some mail and opened some envelopes that I’d been avoiding, threw some stuff in the trash. My room was cleaner this morning.

6. I did locate that phone number that ignited the meltdown in the first place. Finding it felt like a gift from God for overcoming the wrath of my buried emotions.

7. I admitted the truth to myself–I am human. I hurt. I feel alone. I’m angry. I’m sad. But I’m also surviving and thriving in the midst of it all.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Encouragement, Inspiration, Lifestyle

It IS National Reading Month

Let me tell you ..I am getting my “read” ON! And I’m loving it!

Books, books, and more books!

In recent years, I’d begun to feel like a fraud. Whenever I’d fill out some profile about myself, the first things I’d list about what I like to do are reading and writing.

Sure you do…when was the last time you read a book??? My inner critic would whisper in my ear.

As much I hated to admit it, I haven’t been the avid reader over recent years that I’ve continued to claim to be. But who would put that in a profile: former avid reader. So I decided to change that. Stop making excuses–working out, sorority meetings, graduate program, men, social events, etc– for not doing something that I vividly remember adding joy to my life. We make time for the things that are important to us. While I haven’t behaved like it, reading is very important to me, both as a form of entertainment and as a study of the craft of writing.

I began with the grandiose decision to fast television for the lent season. I’ve known for quite some time that this activity wastes a lot of precious, valuable time that could be spent much more productively. And then March 1st rolled around, kicking off National Reading Month.

With a little help from Audible.com and the endless time I spend alone in my bedroom during evening and weekends, I’ve been making great strides with reading for pleasure.

I picked this book up at Sam’s Club during the holiday season. I read a couple of chapters and then placed in on my book case. It was the first book I reached for to kick off this season of reading. I love how the themes in this books I select mature and grow as I do. This one is a books about two friends navigating dating as they adjust to empty-nesting.

Jasmine Guillory has become a new favorite author of mine after my girlfriend suggested one of her books, The Wedding Date, to me back in the summer. This month I listened to the other two books in the series.

A few days ago, I ordered another book that arrived yesterday. This book is multi-purposed to give me a similarly aged black woman’s experience with learning to live again after the death of her spouse and a learning tool for writing a memoir (yes, I’ve got my own story to tell).

I’m really enjoying getting back to my old self. It’s so important to make time for what you like. Spending so much time engaging meaningless activities is just so…meaningless. I’m so done with that!

With a little over two weeks left in the month and March, there’s still time to get some reading in. With so much going on with this Coronavirus, a good book might be just the thing to take your mind off of it for a few hours out of the day.

Excuse me as shamelessly plug my two books, Unfinished Business & Reconciliation to Hell as recommendations just in case you need somewhere to start. 🙂

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Encouragement, Lifestyle

4 Things I Left Behind in 2019

It might be too late in January to say Happy New Year but it’s early enough in the year for me to share with you some things in my life that I left behind in 2019. Check them out…

My response to the question”Do you drink?” The answer to this question will always be yes. I will no longer fumble my words for an answer that says, “I drink, but not that often”, as though I need to explain that.

Trying to fit into old clothes that I’ve outgrown. I have a grown woman body that I damn proud of. I’m done with the obsessing over the number on the scale or my dress or pants size. I will continue to be fitness focused, limiting my sweet treats, and engaging in exercise that I enjoy as often as possible. Whatever clothing doesn’t fit my current size will be replaced with new clothes. That’s the whole purpose of all the inventory at retail stores!

Telling Men that I’m not interested in a relationship. It was eight months after my husband passed before the reality of being single really hit me. He was my friend, my lover, my husband for 10 years. I’ve been out of the single game for quite a while. So when started having conversations with men I was trying to be clear that, at this stage of my life, being widowed after 10 yrs, having a teenage son to raise, I wasn’t trying to jump into a relationship. What I didn’t know was those words were communicating to them that I just wanted to have sex with them. 😩 Noooooo. I’m interested in engaging in interesting conversation, taking in a movie, going to breakfast or dinner with a nice guy. IF our chemistry leads to sex, then it does. BUT, that’s not my first intentions. Interestingly, a male friend brought this distinction to my attention. Now I say, “I’m interested in dating that could lead to a long term, serious relationship.”

Spending time with men that I don’t thoroughly enjoy. Ever heard of rebound sex or relationships. Well I’m my life, I’ve had both! Married the man and had two children, who are the joy of my world. However, I learned my lesson. And, now, I’m this time of singleness and being a real grown woman of 44 years old, I’m not hanging out with any man that I don’t thoroughly enjoy. Enough said!

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

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 Caregivers, Caregiving, Encouragement, Family, Health, Inspiration, Lifestyle, People, Relationships, Travel, Women

No Time Like the Present

My longtime girlfriend has been living in Dallas, TX for at least 7 years. She relocated there after accepting a promotion with the company she’d been working for in our hometown.  Once down there, she met her current husband and they’ve since started a family. Dallas is clearly her home now. As most of her family is here in Michigan, she comes to visit once or twice a year. However, her time is usually consumed with family so I never get to spend much time with her.

I don’t know why it never occurred to me to go visit her. Actually…I do.

Before I started visiting my husband on weekends he was out of town for work or attending a conference for my sorority, I was not really into traveling. The only trips that I took my children on was 5 hrs away to Chicago and across the bridge to Canada to enjoy an indoor waterpark. Traveling was not something I fit into my vacation or financial planning.

This past summer a friend invited my son to go on a trip to Disney World with her family. I didn’t want him to miss out on the opportunity but I was hesitant. First, he’d never been on a plane before. Second, he expressed fear about getting on a plane. So I decided that his first flight needed to be with me. Around this same time, I was on the brink of caregiver burnout and didn’t see a way to give myself a real break.

Lo and behold, the company I work for hosts an annual conference in Dallas that I always say that I’d like to attend. Why hadn’t? There was no good reason. So this year I took the opportunity to kill three birds with one stone: attend the conference, visit my friend, and take my son on his first flight.

Everything was awesome. That Dallas September heat was no joke but it was so good to be away from home. To be a guest in my friend’s home. To wake up on Saturday morning and not have to think about what I was going to cook for breakfast for myself or anyone else! My friend and her husband took good care of us.

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My son in the co-pilot seat

 

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A round of miniature golf in the hot Dallas son with my friend’s family

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Go-Kart racing

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Partial group family pic…my friend’s husband was MIA

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Taking a break from the conf. Enjoying a book in the pool

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My son getting his swim on

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Mom & Son chilling at the pool

The question that repeated through my head was, “Why’d it take you so long to do this?”

I have another girlfriend who’s been living in Atlanta for the last 7 yrs. Besides going down for her wedding five years ago, I haven’t been there for a real visit. After I visit family in Tennessee next year, Atlanta will be my next stop.

It’s funny how, in theory, we know that tomorrow is not promised. Still, we tend to live our lives like we have all the time in the world. My husband’s diagnosis with a life-threatening illness changed my perspective. Although  supporting him through this illness doesn’t allow me to a lot of time to do as much as I’d like, I still make a point to do as much as I can.

Is there anything you’re putting off for tomorrow that you need to be doing today? Share in the comments  below.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

 

Posted in Encouragement, Inspiration, Lifestyle, Women

My First Day of School

back to schoolAm I really doing this? I thought on the 5 minute drive from my job to the campus of Wayne State University. While I know students of all ages attend the multi- cultural institution located in the heart of Detroit, all I could see were the people who looked young enough to be my children.

Here I am, weeks away from my 42nd birthday, attending my first upper level undergraduate English course. But it’s been a long time in the making. Approximately 10 years.

For the last several years I’ve been bouncing back and forth between Wayne State University and Oakland University’s graduate English programs. And, if I’m honest, their Journalism and Communication programs, too. Indecisiveness played a big part as to why it’s taken me so long to make this move. But fear was the biggest obstacle.

Why do I want to do this? What benefit will I gain? Will my life improve? What am I going to do with it? Do I have time for this?

These questions and more had me like a mouse stuck on the spinning wheel. Like that piece of cheese the mouse is chasing, this desire has remained dangling in front of my eyes, within arms reach. It was just a matter of reaching for it and grabbing it.

At this stage of the game I’m not sure if I’m going to pursue another graduate degree. I already have one of those…an MBA. According to my aunt, Dr. Wilson, “In education, you keep moving forward.” I’d be lying if I said there isn’t a simmering desire to earn such a distinguished level of education.

Before I can seriously entertain a doctorate in English, I need to get some upper level English courses on my record and recommendations from recent academic sources, hence, my Intro to Rhetoric & Writing class this fall semester.

I can’t tell you how excited I am. An item crossed off my 2017 goals. We’re only on the second week of class and I’ve already plotted out classes for 2018.

When I was introduced to the character of Jalessa, the oldest student–a recently divorced, mother ( I think)–on campus from A Different World, it never crossed my mind that that could be me. In retrospect, that was clearly a major  purpose of her character, to show that although life circumstances can knock us of course, we can always make our way back.

Not a do over, I like to say, but a do now. There’s no time like today to pursue a dream.

What dream are you chasing? Share in the comments below. If you can read this post, there’s no time like now to take that first step.

Til Next Time,

L.A.

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Posted in Encouragement, Fitness, Health, Lifestyle, People, Relationships

Do You Without Apologies


Over the past year my daughter has lost nearly 40 lbs! For a long time she was beyond okay with her curvy figure. But when she decided that she wasn’t, her battle with the bulge that all of us go through began. Her first sincere attempt to lose weight was her senior  year of high school. My dad bought her a treadmill and, much to my dismay because of our downstairs neighbor, she would use it every morning at 5am. She increased her water intake, drank green tea, and carried healthy snacks with her to school. By the time prom came, she’d lost some significant pounds. Then came college. Yes, the freshmen 15 and then some. When she crossed a number on the scale she never thought she’d get to, she got serious. Enter weekly meal planning and prepping, 4-5 days at the gym, which included burning 1000 calories per workout. She still has a ways to go to reach her ultimate goal but there’s no stopping her now. It’s no longer about a special occasion but how she wants the live the rest of her life.

My sister, who is 7 years my junior is on her own fitness journey. According to her FB posts, she’s been regularly attending a cycling class and cutting back on guilty pleasure of a 16 oz of soda a day with her favorite potato chips, Ruffles. On the last day that I saw her for my son’s birthday, her weight loss was evident too.

While I’m genuinely happy for both of them, I can’t help but remember their reluctance to get on the fitness bandwagon with me about ten years ago. Though I’d been exercising since I had my daughter in 1995, that was the first time that I was committing time to the gym. Before then my fitness regimen included laps around the building at work, doing exercise videos over lunch in our building fitness center or at home.

At that time, however, my daughter was a cute, chunky teenager who liked the attention her thickness elicited from teenage boys. And my sister was a recent college graduate focused on preparing for her career. Neither of them had fitness on their minds.

Now, my daughter more than my sister, is always trying to get me on her bandwagon. She insists that I have time to go to the gym 4-5 days a week. She insists that I can discipline myself to prep my meals for the week like she does. She insists that I can burn 1000 calories in one workout. She insists that I can walk on 15 incline on the treadmill.

She may be right. However, if I don’t want to, it’s not going to happen. Just like when I wanted exercise to be a priority for her when it wasn’t. I’d share with her easy ways that she could exercise and be less sedentary, like walking the dog everyday, twice a day on weekends. But she wasn’t having any parts of that. Even now. Although she hits the gym 4-5 days a week, she still likes to lay around the house in her downtime when I’m the one who can’t sit still, always have to be doing something.

I’ve learned through our family fitness experience that everyone has different goals and priorities at different times in their lives. You can’t force yours on somebody else, nor can they force theirs on you. What my daughter can do with her time as a 22 yr old, single young woman and I can do with my time as a 41 year old, wife of an ill husband, mother of a 13 yr old boy, full-time employee, and a writer are two totally different things.

She and I have different priorities. As a young woman, her goal is to get her body tight and right to enjoy life as a 22 yr old. Mine is to lose the extra weight I’ve gained over the last 3 yrs since my husband took ill and still have time for things that are just as important to me like my writing and getting my house organized. While she doesn’t mind going to the gym 5 days a week, my desire is to be at home. Not driving from work, to my son’s school, to home, then back to the gym and back home. Just typing that exhausted me.

I crave any kind of simplicity in my life that I can get. Since the beginning of April, I have been exercising at home. Sometimes in the morning but over the last couple of days in the evening.  Lost about 4 lbs. It’s not a lot but I’m encouraged that the 3-4 times I got on the scale in the month of April, the numbers never increased! That’s a good thing.

Now I won’t be canceling my gym membership any time soon. It being only $10 a month is part of the reason. For now, I’m going to do what’s been working for me and I encourage you to do the same. Do what works for you and let others do what works for them.

P.S. One thing I did pick up from my daughter is tracking my progress on a visual board in my bedroom. I write down the days I exercise including what I did (i.e. circuit training, walking). The visual helps me to realize how much or how little I’ve done.  You can try or not…if you want to 🙂

Til next time,

Naturally Yours,

LA