…Moving Mom To Georgia

Man I have to tell you guys, today is the mother of all days!!  It’s monumental!  For real!  

As I write this post, I’m ridding in the front seat of a rental with two very special passengers in the back seat.

My mother.  

My aunt Miriam.  

What makes this day super duper special is that we’re headed to the Ronald Regan International Airport in DC with these two loves.  

And… drum roll…. Ba bam!!   We’re flying to our new home in Grayson, GA!   Yes child!!  My mother is leaving South Jersey to become a Georgia Peach. This is another one of those pinch me moments.  My aunt and God-Mother decided to accompany my mother with the big move and also to hang out with us for a bit.  Auntie will also have the opportunity to see another sister, who moved to Georgia two months ago. 🙂 We’ve got a little reunion going on. Heeey!  They’re all in their 80’s!  Lord knows, our family has been blessed. 

I’m going to do my best to show auntie the best time ever. For selfish reasons, I also want her to make the move permanently.  She’s retired, is gracefully aging, so living closer to family and a warmer climate will be an added perk. She can spend more time having fun and less time managing the demands of a home.  

When hubby and I decided to move, we gave my mother the option to move with us now or to move later.  She pondered for a brief time and opted to move sooner. NEVER in a million years did I think she would leave the garden state, especially with two of her sisters still living there.  

I think the deciding factor was losing her sister and partner and crime, Annie last year.  My mother, aunts Annie, Miriam and Barbara did everything together and I mean everything. Last July Annie suddenly died.  The family was heart-broken.  The spunkiest of the crew, often thought of as the Golden Girls, left us and we didn’t get to say good-bye.  

Thankfully we have a plethora and a lifetime of fond memories to keep our hearts full of joy and laughter.

Anyways, I think Annie’s passing made mother’s decision easier. 

If you follow my blog, you know that last month hubby and I, along with our son made the big move to Georgia. We waited to move mom because we wanted to get her bedroom and the guest room in order.

Later tonight we arrive home. They are in for a nice surprise!  :). I can’t wait for them to see their rooms. Mom’s room, which is more like a suite, has a small walk-in closet and her own bathroom, is located on the first floor. No more steps for her!! Her bed, which we moved from Jersey, is croweded with all of her favorite stuffed animals and dolls.  Yay!  She no longer has to wait for her teenaged grandson to finish primping in the bathroom. Heeey!!  I’m snappin’ my fingers on this one!  

Auntie’s room also has a private bathroom and a small walk-in closet.  We bought a beautiful new bed and decorated the room with soft-gray’s and cream colors. Hanging word art reads, You are loved, and a lucky succulent plant gives her private bathroom a spa-like feeling.  My heart.  We hope that she loves it so much, that she will want to move permanently.   Cross your fingers for us. Pretty please!!  

I don’t make light of this move for my mother because changing environments is difficult for most people. However, moving in your 80’s to an unfamiliar place has to be more difficult and that is why we let her make the choice.  

She is not a people person nor does she like traveling or eating in restaurants, all of which makes this move significant. But– she’s going willinging, so we’re trying to make the move as pleasaureable as possible.  Although her tough exterior and stern disposition won’t permit her to admit that she is nervous, we know that flying with her sister makes the transition less taxing.  

The last time the sisters boarded an airplane was about five years ago for a siblings going home service.  I’m delighted that this trip is for more plesaureable reasons.  

We are a little over two hours from the airport and the chatter front the backseat is all good.  :).  I want to join in on the conversation, so I’ll end this post now and focus on this rare occasion.  :). 

Smooches!!

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!  🙂

 

Another Case of Why You Need to Read Food Labels

While I was steaming a half dozen apples that had gone soft, I noticed an apple pie on the kitchen counter.  Mother bought the pie.  Now you know I had to examine the label.

All I can say is damn! Even this label surprised me.  I counted the number of ingredients in this supermarket (who shall remain nameless) freshly baked apple pie and I am floored!!

While the first ingredient is apples, what follows ought to be a crime. Also, notice that sugar isn’t far from the top.  Come on now!  A good apple is naturally sweet and requires NO sugar.   Other UN-NATURAL ingredients include:

While the pie does have “milk,” Eggs,” and “apples,” the bad far outweighs the good. Preservatives digested in the body converts to dangerous carcinogens that studies have shown can cause certain cancers, tumors, and other major illnesses.

I know.  Realistically, to 100% avoid harmful chemicals, one would have to live in a bubble.  However, if you care about your body and your overall wellness, try to minimize the number of toxic chemicals you put in your body or on your skin and hair, as much as possible.  I am not perfect but I continue to educate myself and make smarter choices about the products I consume.


Instead of consuming a preservative filled store bought pie with over two dozen ingredients opt for a cleaner and a healthier version by cooking your own at home.  I cooked my organic Fuji apples on low and I added only TWO ingredients; cinnamon and nutmeg.  My “chunky applesauce” was naturally sweet with NO preservatives and delightfully appealing. 🙂

 

It Was Good While It Lasted

The decision to give up coffee was kind of spontaneous.  Nearly two months have passed since I gave up my freshly brewed java.    Fresh coffee was a nice early morning treat and part of my morning ritual.

The decision to give up coffee was sudden and random.  One day I just noticed that I didn’t  feel like myself.  The feeling was more than the typical jitters from too much caffeine.  Aside from the increase in hot flashes,  I felt sick from it.  The taste changed too.  It was nasty.   That’s not supposed to happen. What the heck is going on?  Hormones I suppose.  Or maybe it’s my body’s way of telling me it’s time to give it up.

Anyways my current morning ritual now includes organic loose leaf green tea. And guess what?   It’s working well.  I actually feel better, more energized and I don’t get the dragging feeling after the caffeine boost. Yay!

So imagine my delight when I stumbled on a Green Tea Latte at Starbucks.


 🙂 Aaaaaaaah!  The heavenly gates opened up.   I tried the latte and loooooooved it!  Although I like the vibe of Starbucks, they’re too pricey for me.  This day was an exception because I was on the road and ran in to get some oatmeal.  I ended up with the oats and the green tea latte.  I substituted regular milk for coconut milk.

Fast forward to my third one.   😦

You know I had to know the nutritional content, so I went to the company’s website.

“Smooth and Creamy.” Yes.

“Lightly sweetened.” NOT!!

Check out the sugar content!!  Oh my gosh!  I was devastated then I realized the whopping 27 grams of sugar was for a Grande.  Uh oh. I’ve been drinking the Venti, which is even larger. Ugh!

The Venti is loaded with even more sugar!  36 grams!!  This is ridiculous.  Starbucks has to do better. They got that one off on me.  This is yet another example of why we have to stay diligent in researching all that we eat and drink.  250 Calories. 9 grams of saturated fat. 90 calories from fat.  When I read the label, I became sad and angry. Who would think green tea would have so much sugar?  Yup. They tricked me.  

Whelp.  It was good while it lasted.  I just can’t and don’t consume sugar like that. Speaking of sugar, if you’re trying to lose weight or maybe trying to reduce your sugar intake, check out the video, The Truth About Sugar that I recently watched. It may change the way you think about your favorite sugary snack.

I’ve got a lot going on these days.  When things settle down, I have tons of good stuff to share.  So hang in there with me.  If you like this post, please like, share and follow me.

Smooches!  🙂


Small Change Net Big Results

While browsing the frozen section of the grocery store for my son for real ice cream as opposed to my liking for natural homemade natural ice cream, I stumbled on, a blast from my past.  🙂

At age 23 Chunky Monkey was my prescribed best friend! Who doesn’t know about Ben & Jerry’s delicious, unorthodox, and addictive flavored ice cream!  I was pregnant with my daughter and was under doctor’s orders to gain weight, which was an enormous challenge for me.  My Obstetrician, Dr. Chong, told me that I was too skinny.  Dr. Chong wrapped his child-sized hand completely around my upper arm and pointed to my branch like boney limbs,

“You need to eat.!  You too skinny!”

Since supersized servings of collard greens weren’t doing the trick, I resorted to fudge sundaes during the daytime at work and Chunky Monkey ice cream at night.  :).  I still didn’t gain weight but continued on with my love for the fatty delectable dessert.

Until recently, when I saw my old treat in the freezer, I had forgotten all about it.  I was curious about the nutritional label and had to sneak a peek at the label.  Back then, I don’t think I noticed food labels. My girl Oprah says it best.  “When you know better, you do better.”  She’s right.

Twenty-nine years later, I finally read the jaw-dropping label. Hoooooly Moly!!

28 grams of sugar X  4  servings is 112 grams of sugar!!!!

300 calories per servings X  4 servings = 1,200 calories!!

300 grams of fat per servings X 4 servings – 112 grams of fat!!!

I’m dying thinking about this… mouth wide open…. thinking about how many times I ate a full pint and what the contents were doing to my body.  It makes me wanna barf.  Ugh!

Looking at me then, I appeared to be the epitome of health, and for the most part, I was healthy, or so I think.  However, my metabolism was high, my body processed the food quickly and at almost 5’9, I weighed 125-130 pounds.   Surely had I continued to eat Chunky Money at this pace with a few other bad food habits, I was on my way to being overweight and dealing with health issues such as high blood pressure, heart disease and more.

Back then, even though I overindulged in sugary treats like this, I also balanced out my diet with daily servings of fruits and vegetables.   A high metabolism and good genetics kept me slim and trim, and I did not have any health issues. But the fact is, my diet exceeded the daily recommendation for… well. Everything.

Today I thank God for putting me on a path to a better place where I learned to make smarter choices about my health and well-being.

Too frequently though many people wait until a medical condition dictates a lifestyle change.  Particularly women.  Women of color.

In 2014, the CDC (Center For Disease Control and Prevention) reported the leading causes of death in ALL black females ALL ages were:

Heart disease – 23.2%

Cancer – 22.5%

Stroke – 6.2%

Diabetes – 4.6%

Chronic lower respiratory disease – 3.2%

Alzheimer’s disease – 3.1%

Unintentional injuries – 3.0%

Kidney disease – 2.0%

Septicemia – 2.3%

Hypertension – 1.9%

Heart disease (22.3%) and cancer (21.6%) remained at the top of the list for ALL females, ALL ages.

When you consider the fact that lifestyle behaviors can significantly reduce women’s risk factors for these illnesses it is disturbing.

If you have prediabetes, research shows that losing 5%-7% of your body weight and getting at least 150 minutes each week of physical activity like brisk walking can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes.

(CDC)

Why do women wait until a doctor tells them that a lifestyle change is in order?  If we learn to listen to our body, it usually sends signals by responding to the food we eat, the beverages we drink, and other behaviors. If you walk up a flight of stairs and you are out of breath, that means something.  When was the last time you had an annual check up?

Take a pledge to live a healthier lifestyle.  Even better, commit to a better lifestyle with a family member, a friend, or a colleague. Try a new recipe, join or start a walking club, take a yoga class, take a strength training class, or something else, just get busy moving.   Please!

Oh and… if you’re gonna get down with Ben & Jerry’s, remember portion control or better yet, try making your own healthy chocolate ice creamAvocado Ice Cream or a quick frozen strawberry yogurt. Making your own is healthier and more fun.

Making small changes in your life can net significant health benefits. Instead of attacking your health with major changes, start with minor changes like drinking more water and less juice or soda, reducing the amount of sugar you put in your coffee or substituting one high-fat food item with a lower fat food item. Take the stairs instead of escalators and elevators or do jumping jacks or pushups during commercials of your favorite TV show.  Over time, you will experience big gains. Whatever you do, don’t give up on yourself because I won’t give up on you.

Grad school is slowing my posts, but I’m still here.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Smooches!  🙂

When Procrastination Is Good

If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you,
and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living.
When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in
the field ofyour bliss, and they open the doors to you.  I say,
follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open
where you didn’t know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn’t
have opened for anyone else.

-Joseph Campbell

I assessed the pros and cons of my decision.  Before making the critical determination, I carefully scrutinized the advantages, the disadvantages, the expected and unexpected, and everything in between.  I made a choice, but emotionally my heart uttered that I was mistaken.

The tug of war between logic and emotion is a compelling and dynamic relationship.  Logic has its validity but so does emotion.  Sometimes I think feelings are underrated. Some research suggests that “individuals who experienced more intense feelings achieved higher decision-making performance.”  Hmm..

You’re probably wondering what I’m rambling about and where am I going with this.

Whelp, I’ll tell you exactly what this post is all about…  My chatter is about grad school.  To take the next class or not.

The last semester was no doubt the most challenging ever. Working full-time, caring for the home, partaking in our son’s activities, and being present in our marriage was laborious.

During the eight-week course, I second-guessed myself daily.  Self-sabotage!!   Did I belong in the class? Did I have what it took to pass the class?  Was I smart enough? Suffocating in doubt and uncertainty, I agonized but pushed through it.  The final exam was the breaking point.  I thought… no, I knew for certain that I’d bomb the course, but I did not. I received a 90 on my final and passed the course with a B-.  Whew!!

In the fall, I registered for the Spring 2017 semester but later realized that due to unexpected events, I should probably drop the course(s) until summer ’17.  I was trying to think realistically about handling a heavy workload.

I prolonged dropping the course until the final day of drop/add. Who’d believe that procrastination can be good?

On the final day to drop without a financial obligation, I logged in to my school’s site, pulled up the classes, placed an “X” in the boxes, and reached to set my pinky on the enter button and froze.

I couldn’t bring myself to finish the withdrawl and press the enter button.

Questioning myself again, I pondered, will this class be as challenging and time-consuming?  With new undertakings, will I have too much on my plate? I still could not bring myself to drop any of the classes.  I texted four people who are close to me.  Three of the four, including my husband responded.  Their feedback helped.

I have momentum and drive; it is not the time to ease off the gas and delay progress.

My hunger and thirst for this program make my heart flutter. Simply talking about the program sends goose bumps along my arms.

The work is demanding and challenging, but that’s where the growth emerges.  Finally, I’ve become quite comfortable with the sentiment of feeling uncomfortable.  In strength training, you lift to failure; then you lift again.  It is only through the discomfort of breaking down (tearing) the muscles and feeling sore, along with proper nutrition that we become stronger and develop muscle growth.

On the other side of this struggle awaits unexplored ventures and unknown opportunities.

Because I procrastinated, I did NOT drop my spring classes!!  Hallelujah!!

This post is a friendly reminder for me and for you to stay encouraged in whatever it is we set out to do.  Self-doubt is normal but pushing through the doubt is the exception.  Many people succumb to fear and to doubt and give up on their dreams.  They spend their life wondering, what if?  Please don’t give up. Keep pushing and keep it moving. Failure means success and beats the what if’s any day.  I’m delighted that I procrastinate!  I know that I made the best decision as I continue to follow my bliss. 🙂

Here’s to a new semester, to new challenges,  and to new opportunities in 2017! By the way, if you like what you’ve read here, please subscribe to Lexa’s Journal. Thank you!

Happy New Year!

Smooches!