Posted in Desperately Seeking Clean, Lifestyle

Desperately Seeking Clean–The Beginning #1

How long would it take you to realize that your home had been burglarized.  Sometime in  2006 I was living with my then husband and two children in 3 bedroom bungalow  in a not-so-great neighborhood. When I arrived home from work that day, the house looked pretty much like we had left it. Dishes from the night before were still in the sink. The kitchen table was still top-heavy with mail.

I entered my bedroom next. The bed was unmade.  My pajamas were laid on top of the rumpled covers while my husband clothes and shoes were strewn in various places on the floor. The top of the dresser had it usual stuff on it–earrings, mail,  watches, receipts.

It was finally the mattress that caught me eye. Something was off with them. They had been clearly disturbed. My husband and I had a decent sex life  but we’d never knocked the mattresses of the frame. Our mattresses had been lifted up, in obvious search for money, and dropped  haphazardly onto the frame so that the top mattress hung over the box spring.

That was the only clue we had our home had been burglarized. They were obviously   petty thieves, only stealing my wedding ring, that I’d only taken off because I was mad at my husband, and all of my popular DVD’s movie.

My husband had complained about my housekeeping habits in the past,  but it was at this point that I realized I had a problem. I was so embarrassed when the police came into our home to take the report. Surely they were thinking that the house had been ransacked  when that was how it looked on any given day. I knew in my heart that I wanted to be a better housekeeper, keep a more tidy house. Not for my husband, but for myself.

That incident marked the beginning of my journey for desperately seeking clean! And, oh, what a journey it is! I’ll be posting about the journey because pursuing it is a big part of who I am.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

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 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 Christianity, Death&Dying, Family, Husbands, Marriage, People, Relationships, Uncategorized, widow, Wives, Women

My Grief Journey—45 Days In

What does 45 days of being a widow look like? At the same time that everything has changed, so much is the same. The very next day after my husband passed, I had to get up to take my son to school. Crazy, right? Well, it made perfect sense to me at the time. It was semester finals, only 2 hours over 3 days, and then he’d be out for the two week Christmas break. The first day and week was spent with phone calls from family, friends, expressing condolences and investigators from the fire department and insurance company asking me the same questions over and over again. That was annoying but obviously necessary. I was glad when it came to an end.

Thanks to all those phone calls and the pressing need to shop for all of the necessities we’d lost, the days were busy but not long enough. It was the early morning hours and late nights when my grief wouldn’t let me avoid her. It was then I had no choice but to acknowledge that Kevin was gone. Now that I’m in my temporary rental home, away from the full home of my sister and her family, thus having more time to myself, those moments are more frequent yet sporadic. I’ll been browsing the cable guide and become sad, my eyes are filling with tears as I see the programs that he enjoyed—namely MSNBC and Supernatural, and Young & the Restless. He was a All My Children guy until I decided started back watching Y&R a couple years ago. Then in true Kevin fashion, it took over. I’d just get the highlights from him. Now I watch hearing his commentary in my head.

My news junkie is gone. Now I have to force myself to watch more news since I don’t fall asleep and awake to MSNBC.

The first couple of trips to the grocery store were tear jerkers. Whether at his favorite spot, Meijer, or mine, Kroger, all I can think about is stuff I don’t have to buy or think about cooking because based on his needs and wants. Will I ever buy tuna again or Crystal Light packets?

It hasn’t been all sadness over these first 30 days. The journey of mourning the loss of a loved has also included joyful laughs and some guilt along the way. The week he passed I went bowling with my daughter, her boyfriend, and my son. I felt ashamed and guilty for having fun, though I could hear Kevin saying, “You better live Char! You know I’m just chilling up here with the Lord and my boy Job.” That same day, we ate dinner at me and Kevin’s anniversary spot, Cheesecake Factory, ironically, seared at the same table as Kevin and I did on our last visit. Rather than request to be moved, I recalled fondly our time there on our 5th anniversary last March. On the flip side, the kids and I have shared genuine laughs recalling our favorite “Kevin” moments and sayings. One of mine is, “You don’t think fat meat is greasy.” My son’s should be, “Going to see a man about a dog,” Kevin’s reply whenever Nate asked where he was going.

As I prepare for the rebuilding of our home I feel guilty for looking forward to having virtually a new home. When the word “widow” fills my mind, I feel stuck in quicksand, unable to move. Kevin thought telling me frequently about his imminent death that he could prepare me for this time.

Nope, epic fail.

It’s just one day at a time kind of thing. But each of those is filled with missing various aspects of him….us.

This is my grief journey.

Naturally Yours,

L.A.

(C)2018 LaCharmine (L.A.) Jefferson

Posted in Christianity, Faith, Inspiration

Spiritually Speaking–No Title Necessary

I almost didn’t make it to church today. It was my plan to attend service and assist the Trustees, the ministry I serve on, with our first dinner sale of the year. I was up early enough to bake the last pan of chicken that I was making for the dinners. Then I decided to do some Yoga. Before I started the video on demand I decided to take an anti-anxiety medication recently prescribed by my doctor. I’d noticed the last couple of days my mind was all over the place preventing me from going to sleep. However, before I made it to the second Yoga position in the video, I could hardly hold myself while on my hands and knees. I didn’t get it. One minute I was fine, the next I felt like I was going to throw up or fall out. When I went back into my bedroom, I realized I’d made a terrible mistake. I’d taken a strong sleep-aid medication!

Barely able to sit up straight on my Yoga mat, there was no way I could drive to church or stay awake long enough watch the chicken in the oven. I called my daughter, explained everything and she, of course, agreed to step in and take the chicken to the church. I was disappointed but safety first. After setting the timer on the stove and my phone for extra coverage, I laid down on the couch, falling in and out of sleep until the both the timers sounded.

By the time my daughter arrived home, I was up and drinking a cup of coffee. She was more than relieved when I told her that I was good to go. She didn’t need to make the church run for me. Win-win.

I made it to church in time to assist my ministry team with setting everything up and participate in communion, our first Sunday of the month tradition. On the way to the sanctuary, a young man walked through the doors of the fellowship hall. He was grumbling, clearly upset. With earphones around his ears I figured he was talking on the phone but his conversation was disturbing.

“I can’t stand these church people. They’re so fake. They always have something to say.”  He was fighting back tears. The other trustee and myself couldn’t help but stop and try to determine if he was talking to us or someone else, or if he needed help. When the other trustee probed, the young man pretty much repeated himself. She told him to come on back in the church. As the three of us got closer to the door he said something like every time he tries to get closer to God that these people always talking stuff to him, being hypocrites.

Considering this church has been my church home since I was a teenager. I wanted to know who had said something to offend this young man, and what, but this was not a time for nosey inquiries.  Instead of asking questions, I found my voice to speak the truth that was swirling around in my head as he was complaining.

“Honey,” I said like he was my son. “Every time you move closer to God, trying to live the way God wants you to, this is exactly what satan does. He uses, most times those closest to you or those who you’d least expect, to push all of your buttons and run you in the opposite direction of God. When that happens, just ask God to help and bless the offending person and go on about your day.” The young man appeared to feel some relief. He thanked me, then opened the door for myself and the other trustee–like a perfect gentleman–and the three of us made our way into the sanctuary.

Over the years there have been plenty of situations when I’ve been in the company of people expressing challenging life situations. But unlike today I remained silent not feeling it was my place to say anything. However, as a Christian, speaking up, is exactly what we are called to do. Notice I didn’t say as a Minister, Evangelist, or Deacon. Titles have nothing to do with spreading the word of God.

Believe me, I understand the fear and apprehension of speaking up in those situations. You’re likely to think that you don’t know enough, that your understanding is not deep enough, you don’t know the book, chapter, or verse of scripture of any verse to reference what you want to say. That’s how I was and still am more often that I care to admit.

What’s changed, though, is my desire for God to use me in the way He desires to. In recent years, I’ve been praying for understanding of His word and asking Him to use me to be a blessing to others as He sees fit. That’s a good place to start.

I didn’t wake up this morning planning to encourage anyone in the Lord. In hindsight, though, I have to wonder if my mistakenly taking that sleeping-aid medication was a plan of satan to keep me home, thus preventing me from encountering that young man today. Well…not today devil.

Let the church say Amen!

Naturally Your,

L.A.

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 Fitness, Health, Lifestyle, Women

Wellness Wednesday–Loving the Skin You’re In

There’s a fine line between working to change your body and loving the skin you’re currently in. I’ve often wondered if these two ideas can coexist. I want to workout the most when I feel dissatisfied with the physical shape of my body. And the days when I engage in some good self-love talk…”Girl, you look hot in these jeans!” or “Girl, your legs are as toned as when you were 25!” I don’t press myself about going to the gym. In a world that perpetuates the myth that a woman body is supposed to not only carry and birth children into this world and go through the aging process without looking like it, more often than not is has been less of the latter.

However, thanks to my 41 years of living, I’m finally learning to merge the two together into a marriage that works for me. First, I know that the body is not meant to be sedentary. We are supposed to move every day. And not for the 30-60 minutes that fitness experts say because in actuality that is nothing in a 24 hr day! You know it’s true, too. There are times in my work day that I am comfortably planted in my chair doing my work or chatting through our IM system with a coworker when I should be standing up and moving my body while I work. After all, that is why I fought tooth and nail to get this standing workstation so I could do just that. But when everything you need is at your fingertips it takes great strength and resolve to get off of my butt and walk over to talk with a coworker in person or walk around for the sake of walking.

Second, I know that the shape of my body has more to do with what I put in my mouth and genetics than it does exercise. If I had better eating habits (less pastries, no late night eating of buttery popcorn while watching Scandal, and drinking 8-10 glasses of water), I’d easily be down 20lbs. Can I get a “Amen!” You know I’m right.

This is not a spiritually speaking post, but no where in the word of God does He describe beauty by the size of a woman’s waist and the numbers displaying on a scale. Our beauty is defined the purity of our hearts, being kind to others, loving and honoring our husbands,  taking care of our children, using the gifts that He gave us. All that 36-24-36 standard of beauty is from fallen man and we keep falling for it.

Excuse me, I digressed.

I’m not that different from most women. I get green with envy when I see women in my age with slamming bodies. But I remind myself that they are likely blessed with great genetics which neither of us can do anything about. And they probably don’t exercise any more than I do. Well…some do. Some also have surgery to create those fabulous bodies and keep that to themselves. Believe that!

When I’m finished with that I remind myself of how beautiful I am. I look down at my belly,  and instead of frowning, I smile. This is the same belly that housed two beautiful children for 9 months, both born by C-section  surgeries. And guess what, I survived those, surgeries. We take for granted that some women don’t so how dare I be mad about a scar or some loose skin??? Sure,my breast aren’t as firm or perky as they once were but they’re cancer free (hallelujah!) and look awesome in the right bra.

I don’t waste time browsing through clothes that won’t compliment my current figure. Talk about depressing. Instead I look for clothes that are flattering to my extra pounds, accentuating my toned legs and small frame. You can’t help but feel good in clothes that are cute and fit you right.

In the meantime, I will still exercise. Always will. Regular exercise is good for overall health.  It doesn’t have to happen in the gym either. Some of my favorite places to exercise include the staircase in my office building, in a Zumba or with a hula hoop in my living room. For you it might be in a pool, a ballroom or hustle class, or in a park. Whatever you choose, make sure you enjoy it. Your body and mind will thank you for it.