Sunday, October 25, 2015

Another Year-A little wiser

My friend Barbara, a fellow breast cancer survivor, and I at my birthday party. She's been one of the strongest women I've known this year.
Every year around my birthday, I sit down to blog about the past year. 43 to 44 was ROUGH! There were more highs than lows but the disappointments came from putting my trust, time and energy into the wrong relationships.

I failed at my first attempt of re-entering the workforce after 10 years as an entrepreneur. And that's okay. To admit failure is to admit you tried. If you fail and take the experience as a learning opportunity, you walk away a winner. If you walk away angry or resentful, then they win.

I made the mistake of assuming that coworkers are your friends. Granted, I met my very best friend at work but she is a rare jewel. Lesson learned: Be professional. Be polite. You can even be friendly but leave those colleagues out of your personal life and set your expectations low that they truly care about your well being. Better to be surprised than let down.

I've also learned that no matter how bad things may seem, if you stay focused and positive, eventually they will turn around and you will embrace the endless possibilities of a fresh start. Going several months between jobs was challenging but I never gave up. Just told myself that the right opportunity would come along. In the meantime, I did things that would help me get to the end goal rather than things that were counterproductive.

I developed a zero tolerance policy for toxic people and got the courage to cut them out of my life. Toxic people prohibit your growth and development. Nothing good will come from association with those who thrive in seeing you struggle or who hold you back from being your best. They condone your bad behavior rather than telling you when you are wrong or making a fool of yourself. You will be at your worst and they applaud. Learn to change your audience!

I learned not to apologize for being myself and for taking time off to be good to me. One shouldn't feel guilty for putting their own needs and wants first every now and then. You can't be good for anyone else if you aren't good to yourself.

This past year has kept me in good health and I've maintained my health and fitness goals by being more aware of the impact that diet and exercise has on my well being. I set goals that are best for me and my physical challenges and don't minimize my progress based on what others are accomplishing. I am fully confident that I can complete my first 5k run within the next few months.

Social media. Argh. It's been a thorn in my side. People put too much energy being passive aggressive on social media and I'm committing to ignoring the people who use it to thinly hide their anger or envy at others. There is something to be said when you consciously type a post aimed at being hateful or hurtful at others. Why even exude energy like that when you can take the higher road or turn the other cheek? Why are you letting people know they have power over your thoughts?

Most importantly, I have experienced first hand how the love, support and encouragement from the right people in your life can elevate you to new heights. Sometimes you simply outgrow people and you must part ways. I've never been one to be superficial so trying to revive a dead relationship isn't my strong suit.

I'm looking forward to reaching 45! I hope to continue to grow stronger and wiser and always have gratitude for the people who are a positive and unconditional source of love and support in my life.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

WWA-Writer With Attitude

I remember the first time I put on the Boyz in the Hood album on my record player. I couldn't wait to get my hands on this new sound! It played so loudly from my room that my dad walked down the hallway to turn me to "turn that mess down or off!" Since my parents didn't like it, I think I played it more. Hey, I was a rebellious teen who thought she was a bad ass.

Rap music has always resonated with me. From my wayward teens through my turbulent twenties and now in my fabulous forties, the lyrics were and still are a reflection of what I see and what those around me may be going through. I loved the genre so much that I completed a senior honors thesis at The University of Houston on gangsta rap and the feminist movement. The Dean of the program tried to talk me out of researching this topic citing it "lacked academic merit" but I "stood my ground" and got it approved.

My husband and I were so excited to finally see the biopic "Straight Outta Compton over the weekend and it didn't disappoint. Each police brutality scene resonated with me based on current events and it reminded me that there are still those who want to silence our voice, minimize our pain and make light of the systematic ills that plague our segmented communities.

I don't think any rational person would disagree that Rodney King took an unjust beating. I recall being shocked and outraged at the beating video. When the verdict came out, I was angry and appalled but it didn't have an emotional impact on my life like recent jury verdicts. Perhaps it is because I am a parent now or because I am older and wiser and can truly identify injustice and oppression patterns.

What concerns me most is the insensitivity displayed by people I thought held compassion and good moral standards close at hand and their social media backlash at recent similar events. When Blacks decide to stand up and raise awareness, they are countered with inclusiveness rhetoric like "all lives matter". Victims have been mocked in memes and comments have followed posts basically stating that these people lives didn't matter because they were criminals. Why do we even have a judicial system in place if the approach is shoot to kill? Why are there law schools and jails?

What makes a criminal? Is it one bad decision, an act of desperation, a response to an emotional trigger, mental illness or are these people just evil? No one takes the time to examine the person behind the criminal act anymore. They are just walking targets for police brutality. They don't matter. They should have "shut up." They should have "not run away." They "shouldn't have been there in the first place." "They had a smart mouth."

Choosing to remain silent about racism, injustice, discrimination and other unlawful behaviors puts you in bed with the aggressor. Silencing your own voice is a huge disservice to yourself. Those who can respect your plight, your life journey and your advocacy for change are the people you need to have in your circle. Everyone else needs to be pushed into the corner. Seems to be the best place for a spectator anyway.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Are you angry?

Anybody can become angry-that is easy but to be angry with the right person and to the right degree at the right time for the right purpose, and in the right way-that is not within everybody's power and is not easy. {Aristotle}

There seems to be so much anger in the world right now. Driving to work and people are angry. Take too long to order your coffee and the person behind you is angry. New laws go into effect and people are angry. Dangle a flag and people are angry. Anger, anger, anger......

We all get angry. No one is above that. But why are we so angry these days and why are we taking to the computer to vent our frustrations? Do we realize that we can actually insult or turn people away with a current state of emotion which may not even reflect who we fundamentally are?

There are few wastes of time greater than arguing on social media with a complete stranger. You aren't going to type anything that immediately changes their views and why are you investing time and energy into it? I've seen people going back and forth for DAYS on social media arguing over a topic which at the end of the day will NOT directly impact their livelihood, personal agendas or anything that they hold dear to their heart.

The last time I was truly angry was when I was at the receiving end of mistreatment in the workplace. I feel I had the right to be angry. I had to be consciously aware not to take that anger out on my family, my friends and those who were not experiencing the same setbacks that I was facing.

I had to constructively channel that energy into something that was productive and would not cause further harm to my cherished relationships. I had to make sure my anger didn't cloud my objectivity.

If you're angry, I would suggest staying off of social media especially during hot topic days (verdicts, election results, etc.), writing down your emotions, talking to a professional counselor, prayer or mediation, exercise or a simple get away where you can think and have some personal time.

I spent my entire childhood acting out and being angry. Angry at what was done to me and creating anger that never resolved any of my problems; just made them worse and turned people away. Don't regret being angry. Regret setting off a wave of anger that rolls over anyone in your path.

"For every minute you remain angry, you give up sixty seconds of peace of mind." {Ralph Waldo Emerson}

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Thinking Inside the Box with Influenster

I recently signed up on Influenster to flex my social media muscle and test some really cool products for free at the same time! To my pleasant surprise, I received a box of products that I could actually use and products that I will actually run out and buy.

Let me start off by saying that these opinions are my own and even though I received the items below to test, I would be honest if I did not like anything sent. Okay, now that is out the way, let's talk about the box!

The food items included Bear Naked granola, Nasoya Pasta Zero and Beanitos. Of the three, the beanitos chips were my favorite. Who would have ever thought that a black bean could be made into a tasty high fiber and gluten free snack chip available in several flavors and even cheese puffs? Say what now? I paired the chipotle BBQ with mango blueberry mint infused water and it was great!

The beauty products were fun and again, I was surprised that I could actually use them. The colors and products were perfectly suited for my skin complexion. I'm not one who ordinarily goes out of her way to sample the newest products so this was fun and outside of my norm. The Sally Hanson airbrush perfect legs cream comes right on time for summer! Let's face 43, my legs need a little help! The cream provides natural coverage for veins, bruises or imperfections that warrant our insecurities.

The Clairol Hair Food did an amazing job at removing the sweaty gym build up and product accumulation on my scalp and it smelled wonderful too. If you like a sudsy shampoo, you will definitely want to try it! It gave my hair a lot of bounce too. I'm also wearing the NYC 24 hour waterproof eye color pencil that came in the box in Brooklyn Mocha. It stayed on from 6 am to midnight without creasing!

And last but not least, the Australian Gold SPF 30 was much needed after getting sunburned at the Texas Rangers game. I used to be one of those naive people who thought brown skin doesn't burn. Ha! Epic fail.

So thanks Influenster for the awesome (hey that ryhmes) Blossom VoxBox! I didn't wake up like this so I appreciate the beauty and goodies in a box.

 "I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes."

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Down in the Dumps

No one ever likes to admit when they're under the weather....down....or the taboo word "depressed." For the last month, there have been more rainy days than sunshine and it has made me down. It sucks to feel down when you are usually an upbeat and happy person.

Life isn't always cheerful. In fact, I wholeheartedly believe that in order to appreciate joy, one has to get acquainted with sorrow.

I just spent the last 30 minutes belly ache laughing at a facebook post and it inspired me to write this blog post. Yes, good old fashioned laughter is really the best anecdote for the blues. Communicating with people who make you laugh, reading a funny book or watching a comedy is a sure way to make you feel better; if even for a short period.

Some other ways that I have found help lift my spirit when I am down include:

1) Wearing bright colors or fun prints. Walking into a room with bright colors on or a whimsical print is an instant mood lifter and may even invite welcome comments on your attire. People tend to dress in dark colors when they are depressed or when it's cold so why not dress colorfully and reflect the mood that you want to attract?

2) Surround yourself with light. Sometimes literally. Sitting in a dark room is depressing in itself. Light some candles or turn on some bright lights. You will notice that the room ambiance changes when you let some light in. Open the blinds if the sun light is out for natural light.

3) Buy something that makes you happy. It doesn't have to be extravagant or fancy. Simple things like gummy bears, fresh cut flowers or lemons for homemade lemonade make me happy.

4) Create your happy space in your home. Find a place in your home and make it your happy space by adding a comfy blanket, framed photos of your favorite memories, a few good books, mug warmer, etc. Only utilize this space when you truly want to relax and be happy. Don't use this space t sulk or cry because now you won't associate it with happiness. I retreat to my daughter's room (she's away at college) and read in her bed which is by a window.

5) Write your thoughts down. Keep a journal when you are feeling depressed. It will help to get the feelings OUT of your thoughts. One day when you are stronger, revisit your journal and measure how far you've come.

Rainy days are no fun. There's always a calm after any storm. And if you look hard enough, you may even find a beautiful rainbow.

Monday, May 11, 2015

A Mom In Action

Yesterday on Mother's Day, I witnessed a heartbreaking incident while picking up my dogs from a boarding facility.  There was a young woman who appeared upset and unnerved standing at the counter recounting the night before.

Even though I was out of state, I was well aware that my area had undergone severe weather. The young woman forgot to let her 14 year old dog back into the house and the dog remained outside overnight in the storm. She had brought him into the 24 hour clinic because he had gone into shock. My heart sank when the conversation changed to the possibility of putting the dog down.

The boarding facility attendant was a bit unsympathetic (perhaps passing judgment) so when she walked away to ask the vet a question I turned to the woman and said that I was sorry that happened and that I hoped her dog would make it. She started crying and said that after working 14 hours, she simply forgot to let him back in and added "I know. I am a horrible human being."

I felt terrible for her. I tried to reassure her that she was human and that mistakes happen in life. The attendant came and took her back. On my way out, a woman ran in and frantically asked where her daughter was. "The one who left her terrier outside?" It was evident that the mother rushed up to the clinic to be with her daughter.

As I walked to my car, I smiled and said "THIS is motherhood. This is what GOOD mother's do." We rush to our children's aid; no matter their age and we want to be by their side in the dark times.

I sure hope her dog made it. As someone who has lost a dog unexpectedly, I know how devastating and hurtful that can be. I've thought about her off and on since it happened. I was able to sleep a little better knowing that regardless of the outcome, she had her mother there to comfort and console her through her own personal storm.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

2007-2015 Still learning and surviving

I spent this weekend celebrating my 8th year in remission from stage IIIA triple-negative breast cancer. In normal fashion, I got together with my closest friends and had a grand time. Several of my friends who shared my special days are also cancer survivors and I draw from their strength, humor and zest for life.

Since my diagnosis, I have learned that being in the company of people who not only support you but make you laugh and bring out the best in you is VITAL to my well being and happiness. I no longer stay in relationships that have toxic dynamics no matter the affiliation (family, employer, neighbor, etc.) Once you literally fight for your life, it's easy to walk away from circumstances. You didn't stare death in the face to stare at the enemy daily.

Every year that I reach another milestone, I sit back and honestly reflect on my progress emotionally, spiritually and physically. It's always hard for me to address my flaws and shortcomings but if I truly want to grow and continue to be well, it is a task that must be done.

So, with that said, over the past year, I have succeeded and I have failed. And I'm okay with that. I branched out and made new acquaintances-some were fun company in the moment and others will be around a lifetime. I'm trusting my discernment more. I've learned to set boundaries of how I will be treated and what I will reasonably tolerate. I've embraced a healthier lifestyle through diet and exercise and I have my husband to thank for that. I've accepted the fact that my four legged friends are an important part of my daily life. And most importantly, I've learned that anyone who takes the time and energy to belittle you, mistreat you or make you feel inferior is already aware of your greatness. After all, why would they try to constantly put you down if you weren't already uplifted and soaring?

Eight years post cancer feels like my old self at times-my hair is long, my weight is stable, my asthma is under control, I'm hustling as an entrepreneur and at times, I long for something more. I don't like getting comfortable in any situation and I live for the challenge to exceed my own expectations.

Cancer revealed a meaningful purpose in my life and I will work harder to fulfill that purpose and be a better person for the 9th year milestone. I'll let trivial matters go and focus more on what truly matters. It's very cliche but yes, I had breast cancer but breast cancer NEVER had me.