Posted in People, Relationships, writing

Father’s Day Reflections

I began Father’s Day 2020 with a bike ride through my neighborhood on the bike I bought that I’d taken to the wheel repaired the day before. Considering my father introduced me to bike riding as a child, as well as all of my lifetime fitness endeavors, it seemed the ideal thing to on the annual day to celebrate dads.

Along the bike ride through cul-de-sac neighborhood, I listened to my favorite Pandora station, singing along to my favorite old school R&B jams. Again, I thought of my dad. I remember riding in the backseat of our red car. He always had, what sounded to me as an eight or nine year old girl, like old school music, and he usually sang along.

Wow! I’m so much like him, I thought.

I pushed my bike ride for thirty minutes when I was actually ready to head home after 11 minutes, according to the time on my watch. Since I’m no slacker, I kept riding until I reached a suitable time to be able to claim that I’d exercised. When I returned home, I went inside and then put my 2 dogs on their leashes. The weather was so pleasant that I decided to continue my workout in the backyard while the dogs were doing their thing.

I retrieved my hula hoop and 2 sets of hand weights and kept the music playing in my ears. I balanced the hula hoop around my waist while lifting 5lb dumbbells above my head, working my shoulders. Then I took the hula hoop and swung it from hand to hand, working the sides of my waistline. Exercising in the backyard made me think of my dad too. Remembering him jumping rope on the paved basketball quart in our backyard after he’d completed his jog around the neighborhood.

Wow! I’m so much like him, I thought again.

It was then that just a twinge of sadness. Because me and this man who is so much apart of who I am are not in the relationship that I wish we were. I don’t allow the sadness to linger because it is not mine to hold. I am not at fault for the lack of relationship with my dad. It was his decision to cut off communication with me. It was my decision to stop trying to make him change his mind.

Today, my dad and I have a distant relationship in which I don’t question his love for me and I try not to give too much thought to the “why” of our relationship. Instead, I love him from afar, sending him text messages on his birthday, Father’s Day, and Veteran’s Day. I chose those days because they don’t really require a reply, which he may not be inclined to do. But if he does respond with “thank you”, it’s all good. If he doesn’t, it’s still all good…for me, at least. I figure I can’t be wrong being on the giving end of love.

While this is not the daddy/daughter relationship that I envisioned with my dad at this point in my life, this is what it is. He raised me with the belief that family relationships were all the mattered, but in my adult life, his actions have displayed quite the opposite. Therefore, I’ve had to see him for the person he is today and deal with him accordingly.

I’ve had people question me about the efforts I have made with trying to maintain a relationship with my dad. Some think I do too much to even text him on the few occasions a year that I do. Some have said I could do more to improve our relationship.

If this topic of daddy/daughter relationships is of interest to you or someone you know, I invite you to join me and three other contributing authors to the book, in a virtual event on June 27, 2020, from 2-4 PM. We’ll be reading excerpts of our stories and having a conversion about this silent pandemic.

Hope to see you online.

Event link

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Grief, Lifestyle, Women

My Heart Is Broken

The country is in an uproar. We were already dealing with the world’s first pandemic. Then our United States had to remind black America that CVOID-19 is the least of our worries. Because once there is a vaccine–and it’s coming–CVOID-19 will cease to be the problem that it is today. However, black men in America, thus black women, will never be safe in this country.

I have not spoken about the issue on social media but, of course, I’m having those conversations with family, friends, coworkers. I choose to protect my peace by avoiding the combative nature of social media.

Make no mistakes about it–my heart is broken that on the same day a white woman threatened a black man about calling the police to say that she was being threatened by a black man when all he did was ask her to put her dog on a leash per the park rules, that another black man was killed on the street at the hands of a police officer…all captured on social media.

My heart is broken because that white woman knew the implication of the call to the police on that innocent black man. She wanted the black man to run away in fear when he wasn’t doing anything wrong. Simply challenged her privilege.

My heart is broken that those police officers in Minneapolis didn’t even flinch at the fact that they were being recorded when they killed that black man. Why? Because our in-justice systems continues to vindicate these officers regardless of what the video shows, regardless of what hundreds of witnesses can testify to.

My heart is broken because I am a mother to a young black man (16) who will soon have to go out in the world without me at his side. I am an aunt to four more young black men (ages 17, 13, 11, 10) who will do they same. I have a black brother. I have black uncles. I have black cousins. I have a black son-in-law. I have black men friends. Good men. Not criminals. But, guess what, even if they did do something against the law, they are entitled to the same due process of their white counterparts.

My heart is broken that within our black community some our people want to talk about black on black crime. While it’s definitely a conversation to have, let’s have it when black on black when that happen. Right now, the conversation is WE are not okay with police officers, whose jobs are to PROTECT & SERVE kill black men when they are already under arrest, when their backs are turned, when they are unarmed, when they simply fit the description of suspect.

My heart is broken that I couldn’t fully enjoy the beautiful weekend because of the civil unrest, protest, black CNN reporters being arrested doing the same job of a white CNN reporter, a random shooting into a crowd of protesters, looting across the country. And let me not forget the violence inciting words spewed by the man who is the head of our country that remain on Twitter for the world to see today.

So you may not see me comment on videos and posts on Facebook, but know I am infuriated, sad, feeling hopeless. Something has to change.

My heart is broken…

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 Health, Lifestyle, Quarantine

Personal Days–No Better Time To Use Them!

Was it the driving past signs instructing me to “Stay Home, Stay Safe” when my employer declared that my department has to work in the office? Was it the taxing, 30 minute commute to work to sit at a desk for an 8 hour workday, with maybe 4 consecutive hours of work to do? Or was it the early morning Beachbody workouts that I’d been doing the previous three days wearing my body down?

Whatever the cause, the thought, “I need a break” sprang into my consciousness on Wednesday evening. I was tired of making my coffee to-go, nuking my oatmeal in the office microwave, sitting in my cubicle with no one around, and mumbling “good morning” to my co-workers through the required face coverings we have to wear whenever we leave our cubicles. It’s kind of defeats the purpose of being at work with people but not being able to interact with them like we’re used to. I missed being at home–even with a shelter in place– with my family. People I can greet openly with a smile, see their entire faces, and knowing we’re all in this together.

I called in for the first personal day of Thursday, fully anticipating going back on Friday. Until Friday came. My body said, “No, not yet.”

I listened and, today, being back at work, I’m in a good head space. Over the days that I was off, I got my workout in, albeit, not as early in the morning. I rested, watched t.v., did some writing on my novel, enjoyed my family.

Time off work is essential. And, not just for those of us reluctantly going into the office. My daughter’s company is so insistent that their employees, BTW, who are all working from home, take time off work that they have implemented mandatory “disconnect” day. Like, they have put on their calendar a totally fictitious holiday called, “Kind Day”!

Unfortunately, my billion dollar employer is not about to do that. And, yours probably isn’t either. However, like me, you probably have personal paid time, and maybe even, some non-paid time at your disposable. Use it!

I know it feels strange using vacation time to NOT go on a vacation. Or a personal day NOT for a doctor’s appt or personal pamper day at the spa. But, please know, that your peace of mind is so worth it! You’ll thank you for it later.

Happy Monday!

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 Fitness, Health, Lifestyle

Wellness Wednesday: Coronavirus Edition

Sooooo…as soon as a I get a good consistent workout routine going, Coronavirus protection goes into full effect: closing schools, bars & restaurants, libraries, movie theaters, and the GYM! Of course I understand the serious nature of what we’re dealing with as a nation. I also understand the importance of maintaining some semblance of normalcy when nothing normal is going on around us.

When I learned on Monday, March 16th that I could not go to my Zumba class as planned, I immediately jumped onto YouTube in Search of Zumba video while still at work. I settled on an African Dance inspired video by an Black fitness instructor, Kearia Leshae, I subscribed on there. She has a wide range of videos to fit whatever your fitness needs are at any given time–traditional aerobics, hip-hop dance aerobics, targeted strength training, all anywhere from 10 to 30 minutes.

After I queued that video in my exercise playlist, I figured I might as well get my yoga video ready for my Tuesday night class. Watching Kearia’s video, I decided stay in that space, narrowing my search for Black yoga teachers. It’s more out there than you know on YouTube and beyond. Heck, if I keep this up I might be one too. I’ve really fallen in love with how I feel doing Yoga over the past 2 months. I’m not letting Corona stop my flow–literally. Here’s the video I chose.

These videos cover my Monday and Tuesdays routines. The other days of the week I’ll be varying my workouts between hula hoop workouts, jumping ropes, and a variety of strength training workouts. God-willing we will make it through this Coronavirus pandemic with our health, our family’s and friend’s health, and our spiritual and mental state of minds stronger.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Family, Grief, Husbands, Uncategorized, widow, Wives

Remembering #myKevin: Day 1 Friday, December 15, 2017

The anniversary of my husband Kevin’s death, 12/18/17, feels more like a weekend event rather than one day. Because we had such an eventful weekend leading up to his death, my memory of his passing begins on the Friday before that fateful day…

In December 2017 the 15th fell on a Friday. Kevin and I are had plans to celebrate his sister’s surprise 50th birthday which was the day. I remember being at work that day and talking to my friend about possibly not going to the party. The terminal illnesses Kevin was dealing with, interstitial lung disease, caused him to be increasingly angry, resentful, and quite frankly, not pleasant to be around. For me, as his caregiver, at least. I was beginning to tire of the Kevin that Kevin became in the presence of his family. Positive, glass half-full, God is good all the time Kevin. Because with me, in the privacy of our home, I witnessed the total opposite. Full disclosure, he was often a jerk. But the expectation was for me to be with him. Not because he enjoying my company but because I was his wife, his support.

However, this day I was considering letting him go on his own and use the time with him away to enjoy some peace at home. I had a conversation with my coworker about it and she understood but she encourage me to go. And by the end of my workday I decided to do just that. Putting Kevin’s needs before my own.

I didn’t tell Kevin that I had thought about not going to the party. That would have just soured whatever mood he was in when I got home. Plus I had decided that we were going to have a good night. I was not going to press him about us being on time to the party to be apart of the surprise. He hated when I rushed him for anything. I told myself, “This is his sister’s party, and we will get there when he wants us to.” Once I relieved myself of that pressure, I was able to relax to tend to his his needs.

While Kevin prepared himself for the party, I prepared Kevin for the party. I put 8 full sized metal oxygen tanks & all five of the liquid oxygen tanks in the back seat of Kevin’s truck. We would need enough oxygen for the 35 minute ride to and from party and for the time we were at the party and anything that came up along the way. The time we had been dealing with life with supplemental oxygen we tried our best to prepared for anything.

Thankfully we made big to the party in time to yell “surprise” along with everyone else. Though kevin was physically struggling breath, I could tell he was happy. Kevin loved being around his family and his family loved to be around him. There was a lot of love between them.

If there was a prayer to be a given during a family gathering, Kevin was always the one to do it. But at this event, after taking family pictures, Kevin’s mom or sister requested prayer for Kevin. We formed a circle around him as the minister present prayed for him. When the prayer was finished Kevin had his own words to share.

“I don’t want y’all to worry about me. My God’s got me and I’m gonna be alright!”

He’d moved everyone in the room, in kid me, to tears. In that moment I couldn’t have been happy that I decided to attend the party with him. To witness the heart of a dying man who thought so much of his family to have comforting for them when he was one in greater need of comforting.

When we got home, I was in such a good mood. Kevin was too. The night had been a good one.

Posted in Husbands, Inspiration, Life After, Lifestyle, Wives

Life After Vlog Series-When a Widow Meets a Man with Her Late Husband’s Name

This is definitely one for the books. I know that there a lot of men in the world named Kevin. I went to school the. I work with them. They’re at my church. Interestingly, I’d always wanted to date one. And in 2007, I met #myKevin. He captured my heart and wifed (is that even a word) me up. LOL!

In the video I talk about a recent experience meeting another Kevin for the first time since losing mine. I also talk about the happy couple I was out with when this happened.

Go ahead and check it out and let me know could you just imagine that? Be sure to subscribe to the my blog and YouTube channel for regular updates.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

Posted in Entertainment, People

Interesting Fact about L.A.

If you ever enter a women’s—unisex, family, or whatever it’s called—you won’t see me pick up one of those seat covers. Why? Because I can’t stand them. When I try to use them the damn things always fall in the toilet before I can sit on it. And while I fidgeting around with that I’m about to damn near pee on myself!

It’s usually in the workplace that I feel the most judgments. It’s usually where I’ve tried the most to use them. Just for their perceived sanitation. But what works best for me is old fashioned method of covering the seat with tissue, squatting over the seat and wiping any droppings. The way my mom taught me as a young girl.

I accomplish the same goal without the frustration . Now if anyone wants to give me a tutorial…never mind. I don’t want one . I’ll keep doing what works for me.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

P.S. Before you call me a trifling, might I say the trifling ones are those who flush the seat covers without checking to make sure it’s gone down. And the next one coming in the stall has to deal with that! That is all!

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.

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