Give. Yourself. Time.

IMG_1392

Freedman’s Mill Park, Gwinnett County Georgia. An old Gristmill along the Alcovy River.

After two shocking celebrity suicides within one week and several not-so-famous deaths about a month or so later, I began thinking more about mental health.

Mental health is a taboo that many would rather dance around than approach it head-on.  Naturally, pointing the finger at others is easier than examining one’s own mental health.

This post sat in my “draft” box for weeks over a month.  Ongoing edits, determining if the piece is worth publishing, and sprinkled with a little fear of what you will think (of me).  While pondering and editing, I learned of yet another suicide from a close friend, so I decided to go with it.

For anyone who has never experienced depression, it is probably easy to misunderstand the complexities of a mental health disorder. I have overheard comments from others who emphatically purport that suicide is a selfish act. However, I think the statement is selfish, troublesome, and demonstrates a lack of empathy and a lack of knowledge with respect to mental health and suicide. It’s proof that that people really don’t understand the scope of the problem.

People who suffer from depression or die from suicide are worthy of empathy, compassion, and love.

My thoughts about the people who took their lives are that,

They must have been emotionally and mentally broken. They must have experienced an insurmountable amount of agony. They must have been badly hurting. They must have felt helpless. Did the person have second thoughts? They must have believed their world would be better on the other side. They must have taken a considerable amount of time to make the decision. I cannot imagine their pain.

Like you, I have many questions. An extension of empathy for anyone dealing with depression led me to think long and hard. To consider if I had ever been in such a dark place. Did I ever experience depression? My immediate response was no.  No, because the face of depression did not look like me.

However, I did recall a hectic time in my life.  I worked full-time in midlevel management, I was a college student commuting an hour away from home and from work, sometimes twice a day (before and after work).

My multiple roles as wife to a supportive husband and mother to a pre-teen daughter were relationships that I cherished.

At times, my commitment to my family, career, and education was suffocating because I never came up for air.

Unfortunately, I could not see myself drowning with self-inflicted obligations. Perhaps I overcompensated for being away from home.

No one was aware of how overwhelmed I felt because I appeared to be just another resilient and strong black woman who was present to support, help, and encourage everyone else…but myself.  I know one when I see one.  My mother was one and her mother who nurtured 13 children was one.  My grandmother raised nine strong women.

Several of my friends are that black woman too.  I am not being dismissive of white women, I just can’t speak for one that I am not but I’m certain this post will resonate with my white and brown friends too.  Anyways I wholeheartedly bought into the stereotype of the Strong Black Women.

Some of us (black women) talk and jive amongst ourselves. We bond over personal war stories like we earned medals of honor. We toot-our-horns about how we persevered through the toughest of times without the likes of Prozac and other pills.

Looking back at that time, I did not want my family to sacrifice or suffer because of my personal and professional goals.  Today I know this way of thinking is severely flawed, and harmful to my mental health and well-being. I was teaching my daughter bad habitude.  Our home would have survived just fine with dusty floors, a pile or two of dirty laundry, and dust coated coffee tables. What was I thinking? Sigh!

Although it’s been over 25 years, I recall on one occasion while driving to a workshop in Trenton. I was cruising on the Garden State Parkway passing a large body of water in Raritan, NJ. Although I don’t recall being stressed, sad, depressed or angered by any particular event, for a moment, I impulsively thought to pull the car over and jump. Yessss, I said it!  Me. The happy one. At that moment, the word suicide never came to mind. I remember feeling tired. Not sleep deprived tired but simply tired from doing it all. Tired of guiltily doing too much.

During my drives to/from the university, on at least three occasions, similar and random thoughts flashed in mind.

While driving at a high rate of speed, simply turn the wheel in the right direction and I could rest. Sigh. 😦 

I have never shared this with anyone. If you know me, you are probably surprised. I was happy. I wasn’t using drugs or drinking. My marriage was intact. My child was healthy and doing okay. Life was good, or so I thought. I was employed and liked my job. I wasn’t dealing with financial problems.  I know know,

I was just doing too damned much.

Perhaps I was unaware of the fact that I was experiencing bouts of depression. Maybe I was ignorant to the face of depression.  Maybe it wasn’t depression.  Perhaps I was just overwhelmed.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports, depression is different from usual mood fluctuations and short-lived emotional responses to challenges in everyday life.  So what did I experience?  More importantly, what if I had acted on my sudden impulse to do the unthinkable?  What about those who did and died?  I pose a few questions but have more. What I know is this.

I didn’t talk about my torrent feelings.

As a child, I learned from adults that you don’t talk about feeling overwhelmed.

I was raised to handle my business.

Don’t complain.

Don’t Wine.

Don’t Cry.

Put your big girl panties on and handle your shit.

Why didn’t I speak up about my feelings?  Probably from fear of looking weak. What’s bad about being weak?  Nothing!  It is a state of needing help.  Weak is fatigue, exhaustion, powerless, fragile, unsteady, and unstable.  None of which one should be ashamed of.

I never saw anyone in my family and tight-knit community ask for help.  You endure.  End of discussion. We must unlearn and unteach this behavior for ourselves and for everyone around us.  It is detrimental to our health.

Ages ago, I don’t know what I thought about depression. Because of the stigma associated with mental illness, I think it was treated privately with medication and whispered about.  Depression facts, according to (WHO) :

  • Worldwide more than 300 million people of all ages suffer from depression 
  • Suicide is the second leading cause of death in 15-29-year-olds.
  • Depressive episodes can be classified as mild, moderate, or severe.
  • As of March 2017, the number of people suffering from depression increased 18% from 2005-2015.
  • Depression is a common mental illness characterized by persistent sadness and a loss of interest in activities that people normally enjoy, accompanied by an inability to carry out daily activities, for 14 days or longer.
  • More women are affected by depression than men.

Although I did not suffer from a classic case of depression, I now realize that I still needed and should have sought professional help. I should have taken a break from my responsibilities.  I am thankful for my network of family and friends, who supported and encouraged me to follow my dream.  Without them, I would have never earned my degree.  In retrospect, I learned much from my experience.  The number one lesson I learned–Don’t ever stretch myself that thin again. Period.  The purpose of sharing my story is to help others.

I was in a hurry.  The rush compromised my quality of life and caused me to miss out on important time with my family.  In life, we are supposed to enjoy our journey.  Recently I saw an image that illustrated a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly.  The caption read, Give. Yourself. Time.

Now, I do just that.  I take my time and understand that, as long as I pace myself while working toward my goals, I will accomplish them when it’s meant to be. Romans 12:12 reminds us, Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 

Hurdles and hiccups serve a purpose and growth evolve through all struggles.  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing (James 1:2-4 ).

To prevent feeling overwhelmed, I carefully pick and choose my activities.  I think long and hard before taking on commitments, and when I do, it’s because I choose to NOT because I feel obligated to do so.  I don’t let anyone guilt me into doing anything I don’t want to do. Saying no becomes easier with frequency.  🙂  Saying yes to what you love is more fun.

The videos in this post are from a family excursion to a nearby park. The stroll through the park didn’t cost a dime but the hours spent with my husband and children were worth a million bucks.

Now I live a simpler and more purposeful life. My life isn’t perfect but it is a lot less complicated. Having large windows of downtime is wonderful.  I still have goals but the difference is, I take my time. I have quiet time.  I listen to the birds sing in the morning and the noise of the bugs at night.  My teen son participates in sports, but don’t look for me at the concession stand before, during, or after a game. I read more and stress less. Lastly, I shifted gears and have made a major career change.  I haven’t found my new career niche yet but in due time, I will.  Until that time, I am enjoying my journey and hope that you are enjoying yours.

Peace and love and remember to Give. Yourself. Time.

Smooches! 🙂

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Getting Help

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline1-800-273-8255

Youth

LGBTQ+

WHO Mental Health Management

Mental Health

National Institute of Mental Health

Mental Health Quiz

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

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Adjust Or Go A Bust

“Remain flexible and teachable so that you can make necessary
adjustments in life.”
Mz Liz

Adjust 

[uhjuhst]

  1. to change (something) so that it fits, corresponds, or conforms; adapt; accommodate
  2. to put in good working order; regulate; bring to a proper state or position

 

Today marks the end of my third week of grad school. Whew!!  Adding reading assignments, papers, and projects to my already busy schedule is a challenge– challenging but not impossible.

This weekend is about adjusting.  I am making the new addition to my routine fit.  I am adapting my weekly routine.  I am accommodating new tasks.  I am deleting some things from routine (less social networking time) and putting others (my son’s tutoring, basketball, etc..) in order.

Accomplishing anything good in life required adjustment.

If you can’t adjust, you will certainly a bust!    -tfc

Sunday is my meal prep but last week did not work too well, so I had to adjust my routine.

I moved the majority of my shopping day on Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning to Friday evening. The change frees me up for Sunday.

The second major adjustment is my cooking day. To free up more time to read and to write, I moved cooking from Sunday to Saturday afternoon… umm… I just looked at the clock.  The “afternoon?”  I started cooking at around 5:30 p.m…. the current time is 8:33 p.m., but it is done.  In between cleaning up the kitchen, letting the food cool down, and putting items away, I’m snapping pictures.  🙂

What’s cooking?  A hodgepodge of quick dishes for me and my peeps. The only menu items left to cook are veggies and I’m working on those.   I don’t have enough time to write recipes and all, but I wanted to give you an idea of what’s happening in my kitchen.

 

spaghetti squash

Spaghetti squash… it is quick and easy to prepare.


mexican quinoa

Mexican Quinoa is a hit with hubby, is loaded with protein, so it works.


black rice

This black rice will pair nicely with the black-eyed peas.


black eyed peas

My first attempt ever at meatless black-eyed peas.  I add extra goodies like garlic, jalapenos, and substituted water with vegetable broth, so the peas should have a nice 


sweet potatoes

I can’t go wrong with sweet potatoes.


sausage dish

Mom will love this!  Sweet hot sausage and turkey kielbasa cooked in a fire roasted tomato sauce.  Whoever want to indulge can enjoy it over whatever style of pasta they choose, just don’t touch my black rice.  🙂


crock pot

I would be lost without my crockpots!  The third crockpot is full of steel cut oats in the fridge. 

 

The point of this post is to remind you that when trying something new, you have to be flexible.  What works for me may not work for you.  Also, what worked for me yesterday isn’t working for me today.  So no worries.  Take in a deep breath–slowly release the air and keep it moving.  I have a ton of work to do and must go. See Yah!

Happy day to you!! Smooches!

 

 

 

 


Watch Yourself On Complaining

“There were people who went to sleep last night,
poor and rich and white and black,
but they will never wake again.

And those dead folks would give anything at all
for just five minutes of this weather
or ten minutes of plowing.

So you watch yourself about complaining.

What you’re supposed to do
when you don’t like a thing is change it.
If you can’t change it,
change the way you think about it.”
― Maya Angelou

I was surprised to received a group email. I was even more caught off guard by the sender. The sender pretty much reflected on his past practices and concluded that changes were in order. The reason for and the specifics of the email are not important.

What is important is the theme of the message:

CHANGE: to make the form, nature, content, future course, etc., of (something) different from what it is or from what it would be if left alone.

Without a desire and effort, change is impossible.  We can look outward and point to everything around us that we think needs changing but it is not until we look at our own reflection that a transformation can occur.

Sustaining a healthy lifestyle is an ongoing journey.

My definition of a “Healthy Lifestyle” is

maintaining a balance of all that is good (spirituality, giving to those less fortunate); all that is positive (energy); all that makes me smile (fitness, family, finance & fun); and endless adventures and opportunities to learn, grow, and develop as a person. 🙂

Lol!  I know… that’s a mouthful, but “healthy living” encompasses many factors (for me).

I stumbled on this particular work of Maya Angelo and had to share it with you! If you find yourself complaining about something, remember Maya Angelo’s words, “What you’re supposed to do when you don’t like a thing, is change it. If you can’t change it, change the way you think about it.”

Oh do; please reflect on her wisodm and have a marvelous day!  🙂



Why Did I Wait So Long?

It’s Thursday and I am dogged tired but happier than a pig in, well you know…  Lol!

Though I’m tired, I am feeling mighty fine now. 🙂

After much procrastination, dust balls spinning on the wood floors, cobwebs getting caught in my curls, and dusty windows obstructing sunrise, I finally broke down and hired a company to clean my filthy house.

There just ain’t enough time to blog, work, train, attend football practice, cook, do laundry and thoroughly clean over 4,000 square feet in one damn week. I know y’all feel me on this.

The delay was because I don’t think anyone is going to clean it the way “I” clean.  I’m icky picky about stuff.  Don’t wear shoes in the house.  Use a fresh cloth in each area. Stay out of my kitchen; I’ll disinfect it myself (even after the cleaners leave).  Yeah, you read it right.

Am I OCD?  Possibly and I don’t care; there’s no shame in my game.

Anyways, lately I have just let ish go and I spot clean. Hubby tries but the help is not consistent.   My 25 year-old daughter swears the floors are clean enough to eat off but obviously we have different standards.  If the floors are so damned clean, why don’t you try eating off of them?

I am in the basement writing this post, while a team of five are upstairs whipping my house into shape. Lord, I am thankful!

Making my day even more special, I’m sitting in my official writing space.  A writer friend (Thanks Shawn!) encouraged me to create a writing space, which I did.  During football season though, I blog from the sidelines, inside my car, my lunch break at work, or any space where I can compose my thoughts and write a few words.

writingMy writing space is filled with inspirational images and objects that make me smile. The small pic with the girl in the cap and gown is me.  After nearly 12 years of working and going to school, in 2002, I received my Bachelor’s Degree in English.

This dog is cool. The message is encouraging.

adventure

Obama

My writing space was created to inspire me.  On Wednesday, November 5, 2008, Barack Obama made history and was elected President of the United States.  I never thought I would live to see the day when an African-American male would be elected president. Those were the happiest tears ever!

The following day, I took the day off from work and bought all the magazines and newspapers I could find. The images remind me that no dream of mine is too big or unattainable. #100HappyDaysChallenge  #100HappyDays4Lexa #Day45

The truth is this (cleaning) company is doing a better job than me!  They’re fluffing bed linen, polishing the kitchen trash can, dusting pictures on the walls and cleaning stuff that hasn’t been touched in God knows how long.

They clean.  I write.

Dummy!   Instead of being cute, I should have done this a long time ago.  I can walk bare foot again!!  Haahaahhaa!  Silly me!  It’s the little things that make me happy.

Speaking of happy, yes, I am still plugging away at the 100HappyDaysChallenge.  The challenge, pun intended, is that I capture most of my “happy” images with my iPhone. When I attempt a picture, I get this lovely message….

full

How am I suppose to capture my happy images when my storage is full?  Sometimes I use my iPad, but I don’t always have that. Hubby and I share Apple accounts.  It seemed like a good idea (before I started blogging), but it’s not working anymore.  After we get our iPhone 6 and or 6 Plus, we will separate the accounts.

The best fix is to buy a new camera!  I am working on it.

Oh wow!!  Lol!!  They (the cleaning crew) just carried Alex down to me. They are trying to clean and he wanted to play.

AlexI can’t help but grin when he chills out on the steps. 🙂   #100HappyDaysChallenge #100HappyDays4Lexa #Day46

Holy cow, Arnold (the owner) wasn’t kidding about the first cleaning being detailed! They’re in the microwave!  I’m doing the happy dance now!! They started at 3:15 p.m. It is 7:29 p.m. and the vacuum is in full effect.  Yay!!  Tonight before heading to bed, I’m going dance barefoot on the hardwood floors.

So back to my #100HappyDaysChallenge.

LUNCHEnjoying a quiet and delicious lunch with hubby at a quaint bistro in Northern Jersey. #100HappyDaysChallenge #100HappyDays4Lexa #Day47

Well folks, 8 O’Clock is creeping up on me and it’s Thursday.  Do you know what that means? You have to!!  Lol!

Greys Anatomy!

Scandal!

How To Get Away With Murder!

Which also means that I will wake up tired as heck tomorrow morning, but since tomorrow is Friday, rising at 4ish will be a little less painful.

Ya’ll have a fabulous night and thanks so much for stopping by and for following Lexa’s Journal.

Smooches! 🙂


A Second Chance

Going to the gym and forgetting my purse is becoming a habit.  A bad habit. This morning I was so focused on getting to the gym that I did it again.

Five minutes away from the gym, I realized I did not have my purse, but I wasn’t about to return home.  That would have cut into my workout.  I would rather take my chances and get stop by the local police.  Slow your roll girl!  I made sure to follow the speed limit, especially in the 25 mph zones.

My day blew by!

Nearly two hours working mostly on my back and a little shoulder.  I have no idea why, but today a couple of folks wanted to stop and chat.  Me… Mrs. Chit Chat was trying to get through my workout.  Ear buds neatly tucked in, head boppin and all… it did not stop them from getting my attention.

One was a couple.  The guy age 65 (he told me), who looked every bit 10 years plus younger.  Nice body!  I could tell he knew what he was doing in the gym.  The girl… well… nice. Huge 80’s style hair, very thin, and bright eyes and pretty smile.   The gentleman complimented me on my physique.

Moving from the cable equipment to the back machines, a 50ish looking male with a solid body stops me… his white hair gave his age away.

“I’ve been watching you!  Your form is excellent! You are doing everything right!  Keep doing what you are doing kiddo!”

“Kiddo!”  Lol!  He has not idea I’m well over 40.  Love it! I thank him and go to put my ear buds back in.  He leans over to tell me that he is or was (I forget) a personal trainer for years.  It took me like 4 or 5 attempts before he finally stopped talking.   Although I did respond, I needed to get back to my workout.

Yes, I finally got through it.  I got home by noon, just in time to meet “Arnold” who runs a home cleaning service.  I need someone to clean my home.  I can’t do it anymore.. truthfully, I don’t want to do anymore, so I’m not. We were suppose to me to discuss my needs, prices, and availability.

I race in the door, quickly fix my post workout meal (oats & eggs) and wolf it down.  15 minutes later.  Where’s Arnold?

I can’t wait, I’ve got things to do. In 2 1/2 hours, I did Shoprite, Bed Bath & Beyond, BJ’s, Macy’s, and the dreaded Walmart.  Hold up…  I don’t hate Walmart, but there are certain times that you do not shop at Walmart in my area and I was in the heart of it. But since I have a busy week, I put my music in my ear and braved the madness.  Lol!

Once home, I cooked a big pot of chilly and prepped a pot of kale.  I called the nail salon. It was 3:45 p.m., the salon’s last appointment was 4:30.  I turned the chili on low and tell hubby to watch it.  It’s Sunday afternoon football; that was a dangerous move.  I was smart enough not to turn the kale on. I called him on my way home from the salon to turn the pot on.

I raced out the door 10 minutes later and got to the nail place at 4:16.  The best thing about driving on a Sunday afternoon is that, at least here in South Jersey, everybody is somewhere watching football.  The roads were clear.  Thank God!

nails

Yay I got my nails done!  Those sparkles on the black polish are still growing on me, but guess what.  This chica is #happy about getting my nails done today.

#100 Happy Days Challenge #Day 26

Question.  How do you not engage in conversation at they gym?  The social butterfly that I am, loves to chat; however, on most days, I need to skip the chatter.  Should I buy BIGGER headphones?  Any  tips?  Oh please do share.

Geez… do you know what time it is?  Oh gosh… it’s past my bed time.  I really must go.

I hope you had a great weekend.  I did.  B’Dazzle’s JV football team beat another team 36-0!  Sweet!  He did his job as nose guard very well.

Okay.. I’m going this time.  For real!  Lol!

Oh  wait… at 6:54 p.m. Arnold (the owner of the cleaning service) texts me the following:

Wow, I just remember(ed) now, supposed to be there noon time today, completely forgot.  It’s Arnold.  Apology, do you want me to go (come) another time?  Really sorry.

OMG!!  LOL!!  Arnold came highly recommended by a neighbor. Everyone makes mistakes.  I believe in second chances, so I did reschedule. If he forgets this time, it’s a wrap and I will move down my list of recommended cleaning companies.

Serious… Sweet dreams!  🙂