Naturally L.A.

An author sharing her life in the only way she knows how…

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.

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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.

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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

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!

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.

Comfort in the Midst of Grief

It’s Saturday night. Ten o’clock but my clock is set for eleven in preparation for daylight savings time. I’m laying on the right side of the bed–my side of the bed–with a cup of warm lemon ginger tea on the nightstand in the special cup given to me by a dear friend in my first days of settling into my family’s temporary home.

If Kevin were still with me, I’d probably still be in bed or laying on the couch, in for the night. Even before sickness invaded our lives, we weren’t a couple that engaged in too much night life. Though he was the life of any party he went to, he was really a homebody, where he could be himself. So sitting up in my bed, binge watching the Murder She Wrote marathon on the Hallmark Channel is not out of the ordinary for me on a Saturday night. However, tonight  the volume on the T.V. is turned down low as I sing along with some of my favorite R&B jams playing on the Whitney Houston station on Pandora radio.

Kevin loved to listen to me sing.

“Girl, I love to hear you sing,” he’d said since the first time I sang with him in my car. I was singing Tamia’s song, Last First Kiss. He said that was the day he knew I was a keeper.

It was no accident that I was listening to that song when Kevin got in the car. We’d been seeing each other for a couple of months by that time and I had fallen so hard for him. It’d been quite some time since I’d felt so strongly about a man.

No lyrics ever rang so true as those did for how I felt about him then and throughout our relationship:

“When it comes to you I wouldn’t change a thing…I wouldn’t even change the things I could change. ‘Cause babe you’re perfect, perfect to me, simply means that you’re perfect for me…”

I never mistook Kevin’s feelings about my singing. He said he loved to hear me sing, not  necessarily that I could sing particularly well. The love he had for me made my singing  music to his ears. He was the one with the real singing talent.

Now, alone in my bedroom, turning pages of photo album filled with pictures of us, I’m singing my heart out, comforted that Kevin is resting well. Comforted by the love that we shared, the love that will always be in my heart.

Wellness Wednesday–Pumping Iron

weight trainingI don’t know what took me so long. For years I’ve been doing pretty much the same routine at the gym–cardio. The treadmill has been my machine of choice. On occasion I switched it up and tried out the elliptical but I always fell back to the treadmill. However, something was missing from my program. Weight lifting.

I wasn’t avoiding weights for fear of bulking up as some women fear will happen. Knowing that the benefit of weight lifting is experienced from consistency and steadily increasing weight or repetitions, I figured it would be a waste of time, knowing my consistency in the gym was my biggest issue.

Now at 40, if I expect to fight slowing metabolism and maintain the trimmest body that I can, I can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results.  Earlier in the month I signed up for a Design Your Own Program class at Planet Fitness. I expected it to be a one-on-one type of thing in which I’d explain my goals and the trainer would suggest the exercise to me, test out my weight abilities, and demonstrate how to use certain machines. It didn’t quite work out that way. I won’t go into all of that but I did leave the session with a plan to do weight lifting 2-3 days per week.

I started the program the next week and have been steady ever since. I don’t always get the full 3 days in but when I get there, I make sure I’m hitting those weights. On my last visit I started tracking my exercises and the amount of weights used on MyFitnessPal.com.

In the short time that I’ve been at this, I’ve already realized some benefits.

  1. I feel more accomplished getting through those 2-3 sets of exercises than I do finishing the usual 30-45 minutes of cardio I’ve been used to doing on the treadmill. It’s a new challenge.
  2. I’m not getting on the scale as much. For one, I know that the numbers may not go down immediately because I’m gaining muscle and muscle weighs more than fat. Second, I don’t need to see a lower number on the scale to validate my efforts. I’m validated each time I walk away from the treadmill and go forward with my weight training plan.
  3. Since I’ve started back to doing abdominal work–don’t ask me why I stopped doing that in the first place but my belly already looks an inch or so smaller in the fitted top I put on the other day.
  4. Having this new challenge of maintaining the weight training, I am more motivated to go to the gym because I’m not doing the same ‘ole thing.

I know I’m only a month but this has been a long time coming. I’m finally on the road to the being the fit and tone woman I’ve always wanted to be. Fit, Fine, & Fifty…I’m on my way!

If you’ve been weight training for awhile, please share some tips and tricks for success. If you’re like me, just starting out, stay tuned for more encouragement as I stay the course of my journey.

Til Next Time,

L.A.

Wellness Wednesday–Habits of Successfully Fit People

While compiling interesting articles for a monthly health and wellness newsletter I manage at work, I came across these 10 habits of successfully fit people. I immediately nodded my head in agreement upon reading number one because I knew this to be true. Year ago a friend from work was married to a fitness buff and I remember her rehashing his boring weekday meals–baked chicken, brown rice, and green beans. He splurged on the weekends but was faithful to his weekday meal. Ironically, another friend dating a similarly fit guy spoke of the same thing. Led me to quickly wonder why do I make this thing so hard.

Anyway, I’m glad to say that out of this list of 10, I’m good for more than 1/2! Read through it and let me know where you stand in the comments.

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1. They Tend to Stick to the Same “Daily Menu”

The majority of fit people say they eat virtually the same meals every day, mostly the same breakfast, same lunch, same dinner, and when it comes to snacks and beverages . . . well, you guessed it, very predictable food. To clarify, they did not suggest that they eat exactly the same entree for every meal, but they often chose from three, maybe four things that they like for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

There are three possible reasons behind this shared habit among fitness professionals, individuals who have succeeded at taking off 100-plus pounds and keeping it off for years, and those who have been trim all their lives.

First, it allows “careful” eaters to predict their daily calorie allotment without much effort. Second, perhaps the most fit among us are entrenched in habit, including the habit of taste. Third, effortlessly fit folks are in tune with the energy and calorie needs of their bodies. When they find foods that deliver what they need and that they enjoy, why look further? Keep in mind, there’s a fine line between careful eating and disordered eating. The careful eater’s diet is a habit and not a matter of control or obsession.

2. They Eat Breakfast (My favorite meal of the day)

This one common characteristic is nearly universal in statistical studies of people who have achieved and maintained a large weight loss. Eighty percent of those who have been able to maintain a weight loss of at least 30 pounds for at least a year report that they always eat breakfast. Research has consistently shown that the people who successfully lose weight are the ones that wake up and eat! Furthermore, people who eat breakfast regularly have better vitamin and mineral status and eat fewer calories from fat. Experts agree that the majority of people who struggle with overeating are those who undereat during the first part of the day, specifically those who skip breakfast. So it seems that breakfast really is the most important meal of the day!

Why does eating breakfast help people lose and ultimately maintain a healthier weight? One theory suggests that eating a healthy breakfast reduces hunger throughout the rest of the day, therefore decreasing the likelihood of overeating and making poor food choices at lunch.

3. They Drink Water (All day at work, Needs improvement outside of that)

Not soda. Not iced tea. Just plain old water. This is the biggie. Drinking enough water is a vital part of any conditioning program because it keeps your body functioning in homeostasis and aids every aspect of bodily function. Highly successful fit people drink at least six to eight 12-ounce glasses of water a day, plus more as needed during exercise. Note: It’s possible to drink too much water, which dilutes the body’s electrolytes (potassium, sodium, chloride, magnesium). Don’t drink more than a gallon a day unless you’re also replenishing your electrolytes.

4. They Eat Small—And Often (Sort of, definitely not an over-eater, though)

Most people know that small, frequent meals are absolutely the only way to go. Why? Because when we go longer than 3 hours without eating, our levels of the stress hormone cortisol rise. And high cortisol levels signal the body to store fat in the abdominal region. Keep in mind too that people who skip meals have the highest cortisol levels of all!Eating small meals more often reduces cortisol levels, research suggests. In a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, people who ate six small meals a day for 2 weeks, as opposed to three large meals containing the same total number of calories, reduced their cortisol levels by more than 17 percent! They lost belly fat, too.

When you eat small, frequent meals long term, the body becomes efficient at keeping cortisol levels low, which helps both men and women reduce belly fat.

Eating throughout the day also makes you less tempted by the monster-size buckets ofpopcorn and supersize fries and drink containers that include triple and quadruple servings. Guided by their nutritional needs and deeply rooted habit to eat small meals throughout the day, the superfit stand steadfast, even in the face of a delicious, jumbo chocolate-chip muffin.

5. They Eat Whole Foods First

Successful fit people tend to eat mainly whole, unprocessed foods, including fruits, veggies, and whole grains (and products made from whole grains). Certainly they enjoy the occasional treat, but 80 percent of the time or more, their preference leads to whole foods.Whole, natural foods—apples, steel-cut oatmeal, broccoli, salads, brown rice—are what food researchers call low-density foods. That is, they take up a lot of room in your stomach because they contain lots of fiber, which satisfies hunger with few calories. High-density foods are the opposite; they are things like butter, oils, candy, or ice cream. Think about how much frosting you could pack into your stomach if you really tried. (Okay, don’t think about it—it’s too gross.) Eating mostly low-density foods is the easiest way to keep your weight in check without feeling hungry or like you’re depriving yourself.

6. They Know Their Foods (Maybe not exactly, but I am knowledgeable  of caloric content & serving size)

This characteristic is truly universal among fit people: They know, generally speaking, every food’s calories and approximate protein, carbohydrate, and fat content. It’s not a case of being idiot savants but rather of having an understanding, a knowledge of food that allows them to make an educated guess. Their assumptions are almost always spot-on. This gift affords them the skill of making better food choices on a moment’s notice.Just as important: They know what one serving of said food really looks like. You can show an effortlessly fit person a whole grain cracker, and even without looking at the label, he or she can accurately predict how many crackers count as one serving. It’s not a gift, actually. It’s a skill, and all habits are skills you can master.

This skill is easier to acquire than it sounds. A couple of weeks of label reading is all it takes. There are even apps for your phone and Web sites that provide this information quickly and for free.

7. They Eat Their Favorite Foods—Carefully (I eat my goodies infrequently)

Despite knowing everything about their foods and tending to stick to the same foods day in and day out, fit people rarely report eliminating foods. If it’s something they crave, they enjoy a little taste. They know that simply eliminating foods they absolutely love will only set them up to fail when the temptation is too great. Instead, successfully fit people know that it’s okay to indulge every once in a while. They savor those moments instead of sucking down the food as if they’re afraid it’s the only time they’ll ever see it again.

8. They Don’t Keep Red Zone Food in the House (The best change I made to my kitchen)

If you look in a successfully fit person’s fridge, pantry, or cupboards, you won’t typically find cookies, crackers, chips, chocolate, full-fat ice cream, or soda. Why? Because they don’t crave these things. They also know you can’t eat ’em if you don’t have ’em. Smart, right?

What’s interesting about these trim types is that they don’t have the same inner battle of healthy versus junkie foods that the average person who struggles with weight might have. They can walk past the aisle with chips and sodas and think nothing of it. Either they never developed the junk food habit or they kicked it.

9. They Close the Kitchen after Dinner

Unlike most Americans, successfully fit people eat their final meal at a reasonable hour, as opposed to eating dinner followed by a lavish 10:00 p.m. snack and another dessert. Most often they go to sleep, not hungry, but on an empty stomach. This allows them to wake up feeling thin, rested, and hungry for breakfast. It may take a little effort, but going to bed earlier and going to sleep without food awaiting digestion in your stomach keeps your body’s metabolism in a fat-burning state. Instead of digesting, which causes restless sleep, your body can focus on other things—like repairing cells!

10. They’re Resourceful and Politely Picky at Restaurants (Been doing this more often)

Successfully fit people find healthful alternatives to selections on any menu, from a five-star restaurant’s to Wendy’s. They know that it’s the food choices, not necessarily the restaurant choices, that help them to stay slim and healthy.They generally steer clear of fried meat, poultry, and fish. Instead, they order their protein broiled, steamed, stir-fried, or poached. They also speak up in restaurants, politely making special requests like asking that their dish be prepared with little or no butter or sauces and with dressings on the side.

 

Source: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/weight-loss/healthy-eating-habits

 

Wellness Wednesday–Men’s Health Month


June is Men’s Health Awareness Month. It’s a time where community health groups encourage men to tend to their health and for the women in their lives to help them. Clearly, men not making their health a priority is a problem if a month has to be set aside to increase awareness.

I can personally attest to this problem. In the five years that I was dating my husband, he never went to the doctor until he began experiencing symptoms he couldn’t ignore. My dad, though he was always a fitness enthusiast, bike riding, jogging, etc., he, too didn’t go to the doctor regularly until he developed a condition which required him to. And even with that, he still avoids going until an incident forces his hand.

It really makes life hard for a woman to have to put that on her plate along with everything else. But this post is not a griping session. Our men need our help. Whether it’s making appointments I do for my husband or dropping reminders about needed follow up to my dad, or letting them know about local health fairs which may be less intimidating for them, it could be just the bit of encouragement they need.

I urge you to find out what’s going on in your community to support this initiative and let the men in your life know. Make a date of it. 

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Spiritually Speaking–An Expected Gift

img_0810For the last few weeks, maybe more, I’ve been participating in this Victory Prayer Line conference call on Sunday mornings. One of my sorority sister’s is the event moderator and had been posting it on her FB page. Finally one day I told her that I wanted to join but kept forgetting when the morning came. She was kind and enterprising enough to schedule a reminder text and automatic phone call for me a few minutes before the calls. Talk about no more excuses.  The first call I joined I was in serious need of prayer. If memory serves me correctly, my husband and I had had an issue and I asked for prayer for him and our marriage. I’ve been joining since then with a missed call once or twice in between.

The calls are different than what I expected. I thought it was going to be an hour of prayer. That’s how the intercessory prayer line at my church operates. These calls, however, include 30 minutes of teaching followed by 30 minutes of intercessory prayer. The ministerial staff alternate teaching and any of them volunteer to pray for whatever was requested on the call.

Like I said, I’ve missed a call or two. I would have missed more but the Holy Spirit interceded. Each time that happened, the teaching that went forth was exactly what I needed. One time the teaching was on forgiveness and the day before I was hurt and disappointed with my sister and was struggling with wanting to hold on to anger. The next time it was about overcoming fear and walking in God’s purpose.

It happened again this morning. I was so tired from not getting enough sleep last night and tossing and turning worried about my hair which I’d just gotten done that morning. My phone was somewhere under the covers. I knew that phone call was coming in a minute and I debated if I wanted to join. At 7:58 the call came in.

I’m not feeling it this morning, I groaned in my head but reached for the phone anyway and answered.

The prophetess teaching this morning stating that the Lord put it on her heart to teach about the gift of speaking in tongues. And how the gift is for any of God’s children who want it because the Holy Spirit already belongs to His children.

I would have fell off the bed if I was close enough to the edge, my spirit was so moved. This was nothing but the Lord confirming my desire. I have been wanting the gift of tongues for quite some time but I haven’t been steadfast in pursuing that desire. Part of the reason is that I rationalize that I hadn’t received the gift because God didn’t intend for me to have it. I Cor 12: 7-11 goes through the gifts of the Spirit explaining that everyone doesn’t have the same gifts. I took that to mean that having the gift of speaking in the Spirit (tongues) wasn’t something that I needed. Nevertheless, I’ve always known that power exists in speaking in the Spirit and I want that power in my prayer life.

The teaching was awesome and just what I needed. For a minute I was scared because she said at the end of  the call she wanted everyone on the call to speak in tongues. And I was thinking, “Oh Lord. Did you hear what she said? Are you down with that?”

Nervous, tuned into the teaching, familiar with all the verses of scripture that she referenced. While she taught and as prayer went forth at the end of the teaching session, I prayed for God to remove the fear and any other inclination preventing the manifestation of this gift within my Spirit. I am guilty of wondering how others will view me, specifically my kids and my husband, even my church members. “Lord, help me”, I said throughout the call.

Before the end of the call, another prophetess solicited for anyone who wanted that gift to speak up so that prayer could be given over them and I did. Admittedly, I was scared to speak up. Scared to openly admit that I was lacking something that I wanted and they all had it. Plus, I feared them trying to force it but they didn’t. They prayed over my desire for it, declared that it would be in the name of Jesus, and shared their experiences for being where I am. I appreciated it.  My assignment for net week’s call is to positive report on my testimony of receiving the manifestation of the gift that already resides in me. So for the rest of the week, I’ll be praying, fasting, and opening my mouth for that gift to pour out.

What are you expecting from God in the immediate future? Share in the comments below.