I Underrated Anonymity

By now, most of you know that I moved from up north to down south.   For the first time in my 52-year life, I surged from familiar to unfamiliar.  From safe to vulnerable. Wase and mapquest are my new besties!

The constant noise of nearly everyone knowing me (and my family) and visa Versa has stopped. Before, I could walk out of the house with a bag on my head, and someone would inevitably recognize my heavy voice, my quick stride, my child or my car. As outgoing as I am, at times it was bothersome.

The constant and sporadic early morning, late night and occasional holiday phone calls for hubby’s excellent handyman skills have stopped. He is the kind guy who is often taken advantage of.

Then there were the desperate calls for emergency financial relief, sometimes for thousands of dollars. We didn’t know that we were Bank of America!

Our home, nicknamed “The Resort” by friends was also viewed by a few folks as a hotel. We had ongoing requests for live-ins. We needed a “No Vacancy” sign on the mailbox.

We started out as teenagers with nothing. We worked hard and have accomplished much more than we envisioned for ourselves at age 17 and 19.  Some people felt entitled to our prosperity. I cannot imagine what celebs have to contend with. We are caring and generous people but at some point, have to say no and people must find solutions to their problems from within and not from others.

The pleasure and relief I’m experiencing from the shenanigans may come across as selfish, but it is refreshing. I completely underrated anonymity.

The distance between what was home and what is home confirms the integrity or the lack of in many of my relationships.

Unreturned calls and messages, unresponsive and shorter text messages also bring further clarity, and it’s okay.

I am not referring to the frequency in which I talk to friends and family but more about the quality of our conversations. My best friend of 39 years has lived all over the world. The infrequency of our discussions never negated the quality of our relationship. We did then and still, today can pick up right where we left off and, regardless of distance, we’re always there for one another. Another bestie and I chat nearly every day.

With any big move from one space to another, we go through the process of decluttering and purging. In packing, we sift and sort through furniture, clothing, books, cookware, etc.., and chose to rid of select items. With relationships, the process occurs autonomously over time–some sooner others later, but the course is a natural occurrence in human behavior.

Greater solitude has emerged in my new environment. Every morning, nearby church bells ring precisely at 9. Some mornings, I awaken to familiar church hymns from childhood. It’s pleasant. I smile. When I sit on my front porch neighbors who drive by and whom I don’t know smile and wave.

The noise has stopped and I think better.

I can focus more on what really matters.

New goals. Yearly. Monthly. Weekly. Daily.

Quality over quantity.

In a good way, I am experiencing a great deal of discomfort in many new settings. Everything about my environment is unique. Pumping gas. Finding my favorite produce in new grocery stores. Locating the best physicians. Exploring the plethora of malls in Georgia.  Navigating traffic from hell and–rediscovering shortcuts.  Stepping onto high school grounds that are more like SJ college campuses with populations exceeding 3,000 students per school.  These experiences are forcing me to live more consciously. My visual and auditory senses are heightened daily like never before.

In no way am I suggesting that you move to a new state, but I am encouraging you to break free from your comfy circle.  Leap into a new and uncomfortable sphere and do that one thing that you’ve been afraid to act on.

Maybe it’s a career change you desire.  Perhaps it’s going back to school.  It might be making a big move. Don’t be afraid.  Lean into the “it.”

If moving happens to be that thing, don’t be afraid.  If you have a particular state in mind, visit and explore the area. If you’re uncertain about where you want to move, visit the cities or states that interest you. Do your research. Look at the economics, the climate, the job market, the schools (if applicable), housing, crime rate, and any activities that encompass your interests. Develop a strategic and well thought out plan to make it happen. I wish we had done it sooner, but I think the move occurred when it was supposed to.

In SJ, I was busy all of the time. Running here. Racing there. Over-committing. Just doing way too much. We sometimes confuse busyness with productivity. They are not the same.

When I slowed down, I realized I needed to make changes in my life. The clarity I’ve gained from our move inspired and helped me to adopt the vegan lifestyle. A few years ago, I tried Veganism but was unsuccessful. Now in five months, I’ve pulled myself away from chicken, turkey, seafood, and dairy.

I haven’t perfected the lifestyle and have caved into seafood on two or three occasions, but I am moving steadfastly forward. I felt great before, but I feel even better now. Vegetables have always been a part of my lifestyle, but I’m eating even more plants now, and it agrees with my body.

So what does all of this have to do with wellness?

Everything!

I’m reading, believe Bigger by Marshawn Evans Daniels. One of her quotes particularly resonated with me.

“Entering your purpose will first require an exit.”

I believe in the notion that everyone has a purpose for living. Furthermore, I see a connection between living with a purpose and experiencing wellness as a way of life. On our journey, both are present; one cannot exist without the other. We travel similar processes to uncovering purpose and to seek wellness.

In her book, Daniels talks a lot about God purposefully disrupting our lives. When you think of the word disrupt, you probably think of a force stopping or interrupting you while in the process of doing something.

Daniels suggests that the disruptions are “divine intervention” which can ultimately force us to leave a phase or place in our lives and enter another.

She writes, that disruptions:

  • Interrupt belief patterns
  • Recalibrate our faith
  • Detach us from the part of ourselves that is incapable of entering a bigger future
  • Create split-rock moments are catalyst to awaken us (Read the book!)
  • Help us to do away with an out dated self image, to retire an antiquated outlook
  • Realign us, elevate us and propel us to become a strong version of ourselves.

Y’all, her book is loaded with gems! Get a copy.

Since moving–and even with having an organized plan–I have experienced disruptions, but I did not recognize them or label them as such.

Rather than resist and react to the disruptions, I am learning to accept them (even previous ones) for what they are and to receive God’s wisdom to enter my purpose. You see, I had this plan regarding my next career move all mapped out, but I left God out of the equation, so Devine intervention is triggering changes.

My heart is open, and I am even more excited about the future. I no longer expect certain things and have embraced expectancy. Thanks to one of my favorite Podcasts, How Does She Do It, I know the difference. If you want to understand this, listen to the brilliant episode!

My purpose here is to encourage you to be fearless and to embrace change in your life.

The worse won’t happen, something better will. 

Change is part of your wellness journey. Wellness is not a destination and there is no finish line.

Stay encouraged.


To Hear, To Heed, and To Act

It was one week ago Saturday that I moved about 650 miles from the Jersey Shore to North East Georgia. The Jersey Shore is located in Atlantic County, New Jersey.  I lived in Atlantic County my entire life!  This move is huge!!  Bona-fide big! Bigger than any move in my lifetime.

Some family, a few friends, and many colleagues are asking, what the????  Lol!!  For many, the move was unexpected.

Last year this time, we did not think that in 2017, we would be living in Georgia.

I am spiritual. I believe that God, the Universe, or whomever you may believe in, speaks to us, but we must exist in a state of being, to hear, to heed, and to act on the messages.

For about a year, hubby and I talked about the possibility of selling our beautiful home of 14 years.  Our lovely home hosted dozens of holiday dinners, super bowl parties, New Years Eve parties, and other special events. Nicknamed, The Resort, by my friends because of the fantastic “get-away” feel, no one ever expected us to sell.

Due to the slow real estate market, we assumed our home would take close to a year to sell.  We listened to a nagging impulse (God’s message) to put the house on the market.

We did.  

And it sold.

Quickly!

Our home was placed on the market later in afternoon on a Tuesday.  We weren’t in a hurry to put a For Sale sign out front but the house was listed online.  The following day a buyer looked at our home at around 11 a.m.

They loved our home!

Placed a full offer.

The rest is history!

Nine months later and after a rewarding 29-year career in public safety, hubby reluctantly and abruptly retired. Long story short, the state gave him and others little choice.  Another unplanned change. Lol!

About a year and a half prior, we looked at post retirement homes in different states but honestly, we didn’t make or foresee any changes in the near future.

One state, in particular, felt like home. Georgia. Although hundreds of miles away, it had the feel of the Garden State.  An abundance of blooming trees and flowers; just like home.

On one visit, we fell in love with a home and decided to place an offer.  Our offer was accepted and we were stunned…but elated!!   Lol!

We believed and understood that a higher power was at work and acceptance of the offer (by the builder) meant that the house was designated for us by God.

Although hubby retired, my intentions were to continue working for the school district. But then something happened.

Somewhere and somehow a conversation started about me retiring and us just packing up and getting the he** out of NJ.  It was divine intervention. While I had 15 years in with the board of education, I thought I’d be there longer.

Oh well.  Our son was finishing eighth grade.  Ideally, this was the perfect time to move. The best time to move a teenager is before they start high school.  

Tomorrow isn’t promised.  Last year several family members died.  Four years from now could look different and the opportunity to make the move may not exist. Life is too short to delay distinct opportunities. 

All of the energy, God’s voice, the whispers, and the signs said to move.  So we did.  🙂
Now here’s where you really need to pay attention.

“They” fall into the category of naysayers, haters, frienemies, jealous types, etc…  they started throwing questions and negative comments at me.  “Can you afford to retire?”  “How old are you?”  “Are you old enough to retire and collect?”  “Where will you find a job?”  “Do you know what you’re doing?” “You’re leaving a good paying job.”  “They don’t pay well down south!”

OMG!!  The dumb shit that people say to you when you’re doing what they wish they had the courage to do is amazing!!!

Only YOU know what is best for YOU.  Don’t allow people who don’t have your best interest at heart to dissuade you from making important life decisions. 

All the cliche sounding quotes about change and fear are true.  And there are many….

For me, this move was about shifting to a slower gear and to simplify my life.  

Have less.

Do more.

Live purposefully.

Live authentically.

Live happily.

This process of moving to a new state has taught me to continue to trust in myself, trust my husband, and more importantly, trust in God, for he has the master plan and he knows best.

If you do not believe in God, it’s okay, I don’t judge.  🙂  There is energy in our universe.  If you listen to the whispers in your ear or the voices in your head they will guide you to precisely where you are supposed to be.

The ancient proverb that things happen for a reason is true.  At 52 years-old, I have dozens of personal stories to prove this doctrine.  

Move forward with flexibility and be open to change. A future post will provide helpful moving tips… stay tuned.

“Hear counsel, receive instruction, and accept correction, that you may be wise in the time to come.” (AMP)    –Proverbs 19:20

My move hasn’t gone 100% as planned but it has come pretty darn close to it as possible. The other day I was asked, how am I adjusting.

Well.  

I feel at home. I’m living in a new home with a new zeal, which was intentional.

I didn’t want to try and recreate my Jersey Shore vibe in the Peach state.  Instead, I’m starting with a clean slate and with amenity.  None knows me and I love it!  

The Cherry Blossom and Crape Myrtle trees are plentiful.

The southern hospitality is a refreshing change.  

Many of the same stores are here but I do miss Wawa.  

I no longer have a rigid schedule and wake up without an alarm clock.

It’s hot as hell and I love it! I despise the cold and had to tolerate it for nearly 52 years.  

My 14-year-old is wearing the biggest damn smile that I’ve seen in a long time.

Life is good.  I am overflowing with gratitude because I am fabulously blessed.  

Most days, I say, “pinch me!”  I’m loving life!! 

What’s next?  To enjoy each day, to give back to the community, and to allow God’s wisdom to guide me in this next chapter.

Smooches and thanks for stopping by!

Have a fabulous day!  🙂

 


Stop Being Afraid: Just Do It!

It is likely that at some point in your life, fear will prevent you from doing something. That “something” could be returning to school, making a career change, relocating to a new city or state, ending a toxic relationship, starting a fitness program, public speaking, starting your own business, or something else.

“Empowered fear is the mighty immobilizer.  tfc

The thing is, you give fear power by “living in your mind,” and the fear then becomes the biggest roadblock you create for yourself.  Instead of just taking the risk and see where your actions lead, in your mind you concoct absurd conclusions based on what ifs, and make  excuses as to why you cannot move forward,

In my early 30’s, occasionally I would see a sista with locs. At that time, locs weren’t as common and they were not viewed as socially acceptable or professional by employers and close-minded and uneducated people. Even today in a more liberal society, some people remain ignorant and believe the style is dirty, unkempt, and ugly.

Regardless, I have always loved their unique and free-flowing ability. Their lack of uniformity and rebel like style is appealing to me. When I see men, women and children sporting their locs, to me, they symbolize freedom and confidence. I especially love seeing Caucasian men and women workin’ the heck out of their locs and can’t stand when black folk of color take issue with them and act like the style belongs to black folk, but that’s a whole other post.

Why freedom and confidence?  Because of the mass confusion and general lack of knowledge about locs, people are often judged, snubbed, and ridiculed for taking a liking to the style.  Some level of confidence is inherent to comfortably and confidently wear the style.  Ask anyone wearing locs. They can tell you about the ill-mannered questions, statements, and odd looks they receive.

Nearly three years ago, when my son began his Loc journey, a woman thought she needed to correct me about decision to wash–that’s right–wash my son’s hair.  Smh! This black woman was convinced that my son’s’ hair would not loc if I continued to wash it.

Depending on the hair, the process can take months… many months. That notion is foolish and makes no sense because the water, I learned from my son’s professional Loctician, help the hair hair  loc),  Included in my son’s’ loc maintenance is always a good shampoo. His hair Loced with no problem.

As I sit and write this, my heart started beating fast again! Lol!! I am one hour and six minutes aways from a new chapter in my life.

While I am writing about the start of my loc journey,

this post is more about overcoming and conquering fears. 

After months of  serious deliberation and weighing the pros and cons of locing  my hair, I committed to begin my loc journey.  “I am expressing my creativity…” Lauren Hill, I Am Not My Hair.What took me so long?

I was afraid. Yep, there goes that immobilizing word again. FEAR!!!!!!

Afraid that I would not like the style.

Afraid of the early frizzy stage.

Afraid that if I changed careers, the style would beome a barrier.

Afraid that my locs would not be as pretty as my sons, my cousins or others.

Afraid that my busy schedule would not allow me to keep up the appointments.

Afraid of what I would look like with tiny coils in the early stage.

Afraid of not looking attractive.

Afraid of looking my age.

When I read over the list, I think to myself, “girl that is stupid!” Stupid but real.  You feel what you feel.

So how did I get over the hump?

Three weeks before my loc appointment, I decided to do something that I have not done before. Install small two-strand twists and wear them to work.

Th twist were a huge contrast to the big puff I wore all summer. Lol! After twisting my hair, my head looked so flat and small. While I was not convinced the style complimented my facial features, I pushed the thought to the back of mind, added more mascara, puckered for my favorite lip color, and kept it moving.. Lol!! The style definitely changed my appearance and this took some getting use to.

Now for the positive. For two weeks, I did not have to style my hair. With my active lifestyle, this was a bonus. As each day passed, I became more comfy and cared less about what anyone thought. I felt free from the daily grind of styling my natural hair.

During the two weeks before my hair appointment, I continued to gain inspiration and knowledge from bloggers and photos on Instagram and Pinterest. People don’t always realize how much they help others by posting pictures and by sharing their personal journeys.

The bottom line is, I simply made a choice to stay with my theme of living an authentic life and to do exactly what I have been wanting to do without looking back.

Fast Froward…

On Saturday, October 17, 2015, my loc journey officially began.   🙂 
The night before my appointment, I decided to flat twist my hair…  Lol!  Bye-Bye products!!


Drum roll……



My coils are so tiny, but eventually they will expand… I am eager.


The first week has been an emotional roller coaster!!   My locs were installed on Saturday. Sunday I worked out and sweated like a dog.  Monday’s hair wasn’t so bad, but after Wednesday’s spin class, I was feeling uncomfortable with all the frizz.  I felt like my hair was going in every different direction.

On Thursday, I wore a loc sock, but I think it was a big fail.  Lol!! 
All week the natural chica’s in the office were so supportive and encouraging. By Friday, I felt raggedy and needed to do something.

My long time bestie was burrying her mother on Saturday and there was no way I could have showed up with my hair all frizzed up.  I looked a hot mess so Friday after work I found a solution!!

Ta-da!!    

I bought this funky wig!!  Now my locs are happily nesting under my temporary hair. During my loc journey and until my locs begin budding, I think I will bounce back and forth, in and out of my wig; it’s so much fun!!

Whatever it is that you’re thinking about doing, just go ahead an do it!  The outcome will mostly likely be better than you ever expected.

Keep it movin!!  🙂


7 Takeaways From My First Figure Competition

 

Image credit:  Brian Zorn via Pinterest

Image credit: Brian Zorn via Pinterest

1. If you want something bad enough, you won’t make excuses. Instead you will   make the sacrifices & commit to go after it.”

It is one thing to set a goal and to say that you are going to do something. But it’s a totally different ball game to take action and to follow through day after day after day.

Standing in the kitchen cooking for five or more hours prepping food for myself and for my family, when I desperately wanted to blanket my tired behind over the sofa is commitment. For seven months, I did it.

Chugging down whey protein like a 560-horse power racecar sucks up gallons of gas and spending over $50 often on a 5 gallon jug for the sake of building muscle is commitment.  I’d much rather have spent the dollars on clothes or home décor, but my priorities shifted.

I have racked my brain to recall past experiences that required this level of commitment.

Only one period in my life compares. And that was my junior and senior year of college as an adult commuter student. I commuted 45 minutes to an hour to and from school. Some days I attended class twice a day; a morning class at 8 O’clock. Left school an hour and fifteen minutes later to attend work and then after work, at 5 p.m., I returned to school for a 3 hour class that ended at 9 p.m.

After class, I’d drive home, unpack, repack, and either read, write, or study until my 1 a.m. bedtime and repeat the cycle the next day.

When I look back on that time period, I wonder in amazement how I did it. Determination, faith, prayer and encouragement from family and close friends got me through it.

2. Proper weight training can reshape and sculpt the body.

Long distance running and eating healthy has kept me lean well into my 40’s. Before I started training for the competition, I was pretty much satisfied with my figure. Were there “hot spots” that I wanted to tweak? Of course! What woman is 100% satisfied with her body.

It took a good three to four months to develop strength. Gaining strength enabled me to lift heavier weight.

The heavier weight, weekly variation of exercise, and eating clean consistently, was the shock that my body needed to carve and develop muscle mass.

Not until colleagues, associates and friends being questioning and commenting about my body, that I realized changes were occurring.

What are you doing?  Your body looks different!  You look amazing!”

My clothes closet has turned into a huge stationary rack filled with jeans, dresses, jackets and more that no longer fit.

In seven months, we literally carved a new body. Weight, fat, and muscles are totally redistributed. My weight has slightly decreased, but I’ve dropped two clothing sizes.

3. You will do things in the future that you never imagined.

Lying bottomless on my side, holding a butt cheek while a technician methodically waxes the crack of my ass was NEVER on my to-do list. Seriously!  What public eye, let alone intimate partner care about what is back there?

I’ll tell you who?  The world of bodybuilding!  When you are on stage in that little thing called a swimsuit flexing and twisting, NOBODY wants to see pubic hairs peeking out!

Did I really have to go there with the wax?  Probably not, but… she was already down there and up close and personal in my Va-Jay-Jay (as Oprah calls it), so why get embarrassed now.  Besides, I thought she was finished, when she said, “turn over hon-ee.”  What?  Lawed!!  Did she want me to go on all fours?

She must have seen the terror in my eyes and said, “On yah side hon-ee!  Yah side!”  Obediently I turn, not realizing what was next.  She grabs my hand, slaps it on my butt cheek, “Hol tight right here!”  Umm… like a meek child… Okay.  Whoa there!!  Warm wax on the crack of the behind!  WTH!!  Surely I didn’t sign up for this.  LOL!!

The result?  Amazing!!

Do I recommend it?  Yes.

Why?  Swimsuit season is here and waxing last longer than shaving. The results are smoother and better. Gone are the worries of stuff slipping out from under the swimsuit.

4. Spray tanning is for ALL people.

I’m of medium/dark complexion and love my natural color.  Walking into a spray tan salon felt weird.  A guy and a girl, both white, were seated on the sofa.  I walk in.  They look at each other, and then look at me.  Could that have been imagination?  Maybe. I don’t know.

I’m eager to explain why I’m there.

“Hi, I have an appointment.  I’m competing in a bodybuilding competition…. blah…blah…blah.”

Okay.   Once I got that out, I felt better.   Why should I have cared? I shouldn’t have, but it just felt weird. You know; one of those awkward moments.

Do you want a guy or a girl?  Ha!!  Is she serious?  I’m comfy with my body and all, but I don’t need some young kid, my daughter’s age, all up in my stuff and critiquing my aging ta-ta’s.

Honestly, if they sat up like they use to, then I wouldn’t care, but that ain’t the case, so… give me a gal.  Besides she’ll know what her boobs will look after kids and 20 or so years.  She’d better enjoy them while they’re standing, because you cannot defy the laws of physics.  Ha-ha!  My mom says “aging is a bi***!” Lol!!

Anyways, once again I find myself naked in front of yet another stranger.  This time, I’m standing, legs and arms spread out. To achieve a complete and even tone, every nook and cranny has to get sprayed.  Who the heck knew? Never in my life did I think “I” would be doing this.

The spraying was kind of cool. The licensed technician used high-tech airbrush equipment to apply the tanning solution. She methodically sprayed my body from feet to face. The cool air that touched my body felt good, but did not stop sweat from rolling down my armpits and inner thighs.

After the spray, I was led up and into an enclosed booth where I’d “baked” under ultra violet lights for four minutes. The booth is not for the claustrophobic. I’m not claustrophobic but closed my eyes and told myself to breath and relax.  Only about a foot stood between me and lights. Tight quarters.

The result was gorgeous!! I was beautifully and evenly bronzed from head to toe.  And I didn’t even have to buy a plane ticket. Pretty cool. Will this become a habit? No, but I would do it again, if I were going to a nice affair during the winter, and wanted to wear my back out. It was ignorance on my part to not realize that people of color spray tan. Smh!

5. To achieve maximum fitness, you have to constantly “mix it up!”

All of the running in the world will not duplicate the muscle, definition, and tone that I have now.

Throughout the seven months of training, my body was in a constant state of shock.  No two workouts were identical but every workout was a test of my will.

I grew accustom to waking every morning with stiff and sore muscles. It’s par for the course.

Creativity and variety is essential to weight training. For each muscle to develop, every aspect of the muscle has to be worked.

My hour and half running sessions were reduced to 20-30 minutes of cardio, limited to a few days a week.

The change in my workout routine took some getting used to, but slowly I saw changes in my body and began to understand the process.

My thoughts of working out are forever changed. My new regimen will include weight training, crossFit, some jogging and yoga! I know better so I will do better.

6. Even the most confident person can become insecure.

Family, friends, and colleagues who know me, would never say that I lack in confidence. Though confident I am never over-confident, arrogant, or cocky about anything.

Weight Training definitely highlighted my insecurities. Walking on to a gym floor and seeing, what appears to be, fit and knowledgeable members can be overwhelming and intimidating.

As a result of my friend and trainer’s pre-planned vacation, I had to work out for one week alone. I was scared.   Afraid of what? I was fearful of people looking at me thinking I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. Normally I don’t care what people think, but the new experience launched a bunch of new unexplored emotions. Would I lift the weights properly? Would someone be off in the corner laughing at me?

The answer to those questions and others are irrelevant because it really doesn’t matter! Unfortunately our society dictates the daily judging of others. Sadly, the current craze of trash reality TV is a good indicator.

For a week, I went to the gym alone, listening to music, glancing at my notes and doing my thing. No one paid me any attention, if they did, I didn’t notice because my focus was on my workout.

Walking on stage in five-inch stilettos and a tiny two piece in front of a couple of hundred people can rattle the most confident person.

As the Training Employee & Development Manager of a gaming hall, years ago, I instructed new hires to “fake it til you make it!” The “it” being the friendly and outgoing personality that all employers were expected to display while on “stage” meaning in front of customers.

I’d like to think that when prompted by my song, “Talk Dirty” by Two Chains started playing; I walked across the stage like I’d done it before. I think I did okay because I placed 2nd, 3rd, and 4th in three different categories.

7. Goals may change quicker than expected.

You know just as well as I that, goals change. However, I was very confident that I would compete in just one competition.

“One and done!” I said.

Even hubby wasn’t feeling a second show.   It took less than a week for me to resolve that I needed to compete again. I kept the thought to myself and didn’t say anything until a text exchange with my friend (trainer).

One day out of the clear, hubby says,

“If you compete again I’ll buy your next suit!”

Whiplash! That’s how fast I turned to look at him. Wow!! He’s been bit by the same darn bug!

The astonishment of what we accomplished in 7 months, has piqued my curiosity. Even my friend pondered, “Imagine what you’d look like with a year of training!”   Hmm…

So yes, I will compete again, but have not decided on which show. For now, I’ll continue to weight train, catch up on some CrossFit, get some spin in, and squeeze in a weekly yoga class.   Remember, all things are possible.

Thanks so much for stopping by. :0)

Y’all keep it movin’!