Archives for the month of: September, 2014

Your attitude is a choice.  Life comes at you fast and so many of those things are completely out of your control.  When things are at their worst I look for humor. It is that laughter that allows me to relief, if only through sarcasm and obnoxious observation that helps me get through the day and the courage to do it again the next day. Here is why I choose to Laugh My Ass Off.

L –  Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, yeah this book is like my life.  I don’t talk publicly about everything that goes on because quite honestly it is so grandiose it seems unbelievable.  The most bizarre things happen to me, I would have to be a Class-A Sociopath to bother an lie about all of it.  My life is really full of highest of highs and the lowest of lows, I look at it as God’s way of keeping me humble.

M- Mercury is in Retrograde. Again. Well as of October 4th. This period has me super nervous, I know a season of trouble awaits for me.  If you are ever worried about when Mercury is in Retrograde check it here.  And sense I know the bullshit is headed my way it is joke I play with myself to see how ugly things get. I have a very dark sense of humor.

A- Acknowledging depression. Depression is a real thing.  I suffered from bouts of it at least twice, once after I gave birth to my son and again after separating from my husband. Both times were just terrible and the root of it was about me denying my feelings. I don’t do that anymore. I have safe places and share what is bothering me.  We talk, we cry and by the end we laugh.

O- Optimism. I am, in my own life, a pessimist who has convinced herself she is a realist.  The truth is I am always planning for the worst in every situation. But in the midst of those plans I am learning to to keep a positive attitude even if it is filled with snark. Expect the best. Prepare for the worst. I have absolutely no guarantees in life, but I do know that the tough times don’t last forever so I just have to hold on for the sunshine on a rainy day.

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I won the sibling lottery being born into a family with two older brothers. I was the baby girl: cute,  bossy,  opinionated, and I had my two minions err brothers supporting me. My brothers had a permanent shadow for a baby sister. I had to do everything they did. I would make them let me take a turn reading books when I couldn’t even read. 

Better than anything when I got in trouble whether it was starting a fight I couldn’t finish or getting suspended from school I called on my brother Lam. He is the oldest and incredibly pragmatic. He was ultimately responsible for his two younger siblings bearing the brunt of our bad decisions as to assist our overworked divorced mom.

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There are so many times he has come to my aid. While my brother was born to be a Leatherneck and fits the bill well he has a softer side for his sisters that many rarely see. Last night I was talking to my mom about a situation I have been stressing over and she told me to wait it out but call my brother if it didn’t work. As a grown adult I have asked him for help only a few times and it was over things like car repair or buying a new washing machine. I didn’t think Lam would even help in this instance but she reminded me of the following story and his softer side.

When I was in college we had this huge formal night called Black Ball. I looked forward to this event all semester; shopping for the right dress,  picking out my color scheme,  surfing through magazines for hair style ideas; it was all my friends and I talked about.

Everything was set until one week before the ball when I broke up with my shady ass boyfriend. In truth I should have dumped him long before but I thought we could make it at least through the end of the semester. Anyway it was a week before the ball and everyone I knew had a date. My homegirls were calling their cousins or brothers to see who was available because there was no way I was going alone,  but we came up with no one.

My brother then was living in the Bay area a good two-hour drive from me but I called him and told him what happened. I’m pretty sure he chastised me for keeping that jerk boyfriend around so long and then asked me the color of my dress. The next Saturday he showed up sharp in a tux our chariot his ink blue Camaro with chrome wheels shining in the moonlight. We were clean.

He escorted me to the ball where we laughed,  drank,  danced and had a a good time. The night went really well until my brother hit on one of my friends at the bar. She came to me mortified that my “date” would hit on her. I let the truth fly and told my friends that my “date” was really my older brother.  We laughed and partied away.

Just a reminder that my brother will always be there for me whether it’s fixing your bike chain,  forging your parent’s signature on a permission slip,  paying for a new washing machine,  or standing in the gap when plans fall through. Thanks Lam for being there for me to run to when my problems seem too big,  you are a great brother.

Today I participated in a guest blogger event over at Tramuel.com celebrating the birthday of my e-boo Brian.  In honor of his birth month we wrote on the prompt Forever Young.  Each blogger submitted post was based on our youth: stories of love, childhood memories, music and culture, lessons we learned, etc.

My life has changed pretty rapidly since entering my 30’s and while I am not exactly sure where it is going I thought back as to what 30 meant to me when I was younger and how sure I was of what I would become.  My younger self was so amazing.

She is braver than I. She is smarter than I. She loves herself more than I do. I want to get her back.

I decided to have a conversation with my younger self and ask her what exactly made her so amazing. Why was she so fearless? Why was she able to look in the face of uncertainty and walk boldly into the unknown?  We both smile all the time, but her genuine toothy grin shines much brighter than my plastered reflex.

And so I did some reflection. She wasn’t simply young and naive. I wasn’t just older, colder and wiser. She was still in me. Combining what I have learned with age and the spirit of my youth and I will move mountains.

Young Haley

Imagine this scenario:
A young mother of two suddenly goes missing.  There are media reports,  yellow ribbons,  organized volunteers and her picture is shared across social media. People are fearing that she was injured,  kidnapped or worse. Our common response is to pray in these situations. Pray through the uncertainty of what may have happened to this woman.

A few weeks go by and the mother is found.  Life had simply become overwhelming and she just walked away leaving her home and children behind. The concern turns to outrage. The ribbons are taken down. The prayers cease.

Why is it that we are willing to go to God in prayer and trust him with the uncertain, but when we know the battle being fought we accept defeat?  1 Thes 5:16-18 says “Rejoice always,  pray without ceasing,  give thanks in all circumstances for this is the will of God in Christ for you.” If we can believe God for all things then we should continue to believe through the known and unknown circumstances.

Pray before that job interview and continue to pray after you receive the rejection letter. Pray for your children at school and continue to pray when they receive a bad report card. Pray for that family member you don’t hear from and continue to pray when you discover he’s on drugs.  Pray when life seems impossible. Pray when the outcome seems improbable. Pray when you think the battle is already lost.  Continue to pray; asking and believing that miracles can happen.

Feisty. Small but mighty. I’m only 5’2″ but by my attitude you would swear I was at least 5’8″. I have always been quick to speak up,  jump in and handle a situation. But what about those situations my words cannot fix,  my lawyer cannot litigate,  my network cannot bridge and my badassery is of no threat?

I am a Christian so I pray. I tell God about my problems. And then I worry. Worry over whether the mountain can be moved or if I’m supposed to walk around. Worry over how long this process could take and am I even in the right place. Worry over if what I am praying for is God’s will for my life. And sitting around like Lot’s wife just salty waiting for a sign that a change is coming.

What am I doing? If you ask me I will tell you that I believe God is able. That there is no problem too big or too small. That I read it in His word and I believe that it is true so why worry?  Because I’m not in control. Because sometimes I don’t believe that I deserve nice things. Because my problem seems impossible. Because there is a a whole bushel of doubt to go with this single mustard seed of faith.

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I’ve recently been faced with a big problem. A problem much bigger than me. One that is impossible for me to fix or influence. In the past when faced with such a monstrous problem I would have cut ties and run. I have seen unwinnable battles and I have no desire to be stuck in that cycle. Only this one is different. This one I believe is winnable,  not by me but through God. And so I pray. And I wait. And I worry.

Worry myself sick. And I know that the worry is not healthy nor productive. That the worry is contrary to my belief and brings me nothing but heartache. I have tried to distract myself from worrying by playing Jedi mind tricks on myself. This has done nothing but add to the confusion.  So just today I have made a decision to stop worrying. Not out of sight and out of mind,  but present in thought and prayerful. That every anxious feeling that comes up I will stop and pray.

I am standing on belief in Phil 4:6 “Do not worry about anything instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank Him for all He has done” and 1 Peter 5:7 “Cast your anxiety upon Him because He cares for you”.  I have been given a God size problem,  one I cannot fix. I know my own story of how far He has brought me and I believe He intends to keep me.  I will pray on it daily and meditate on His word. I will transform myself from a praying worrier to a prayer warrior.  I will say thank you in advance for the blessing that is coming my way. I cast out all doubt, anxiety and worry from my own heart and stand firm on His word. In Jesus name. Amen.

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I wasn’t sure I could come up with 10 specific things that make me happy. I wanted to name things unique and special to me not obvious like a baby’s laughter or a rainbow after a storm. But I did a little thinking on the long drive home and this is what I came up with.

1. Physical touch. I long for it. I need it. I don’t do well in isolation. Deep hugs. Cheek kisses. Cuddles. Nuzzles. All of that.  Not just in sexual or sensual ways. My close friends know I need physical connection. I sleep in their bed when I visit. I sit close to on top of them while we are hanging out.

2. Conversation, specifically in person or on the phone. I hate texting. But call me or come over we can talk. Sports,  politics, movies,  music,  social justice,  bananas… the topic isn’t important. I love learning interacting and challenging each other through open communication.

3. Follow-up on the previous, a good voicemail message. There is an art to leaving a good message,  most people do not know it. If you are simply going to say ‘hey call me back’ then don’t bother. A good message is like you are having a conversation with me only I’m not there. I also have friends who leave improve messages in other characters, or who sing to me,  or tell me funny stories. one of my followers I believe accounts for half of the 50 messages in my phone.

4. Fancy cheeses. Simply delicious. Infused with fruit or herbs,  aged and smelly. Nom.

5. Citrus scents. Lemon. Orange. Grapefruit. These make me feel clean refresh and relaxed.

6. Men with deep timbre. My father is a retired pastor his voice is booming and full of bass. He sings in a smooth baritone and it feels like home. Men with bass are a yes.

7. Dark skin. I love deep rich skin smooth like Onyx.  I always wanted to be darker skinned. And I suffer from delusions of browness,  believing I am darker than I actually am.  While I appreciate all shades of brown,  including the barely cardboard colored,  I LOVE deep dark skin. Black is beautiful.

8. Rum my libation of choice. Rum makes everything better. Rum tastes like love,  warm beaches,  blue waters and sunshine. Dark n Stormy is the perfect beverage.

9. Beards. Yes men you look better with a beard. Chinstrap,  goatee,  thick and bushy. I love beards. I like to nuzzle them. I like to run my fingers through them. I like to stroke them. Seeing a man with a beard makes me feel tingly on the inside.

10. Attention. I’m an extrovert I feed off of the energy of others. It restores and motivates me.  All attention is not equal,  a vidchat from my love > chat at the bar with a stranger. But I take what I can get and I appreciate it as it comes.

Crybaby. Wuss. Whiner. Sissy-Lala. Names we attribute to those who physically and audibly complain about life’s circumstances that we feel do not require such outburst of emotion.

When my daughter was young and upset I would say to her, “Did they hurt you or did they hurt your feelings? People are going to hurt your feelings and while it may feel like a physical pain you can’t cry every time it happens.” These were my attempts to toughen her up since she grew up a mostly only child.

I had two older brothers. I was a very stereotypical tag-a-long baby sister. I wanted to do any and everything my brothers did. Their one rule: if you cry,  you can’t play. I always wanted to play so I withheld my tears.

Over years I learned to stifle my weaker emotions and to be tough so I could be included and accepted. The problem is I learned to associate my acceptance by others with the mitigation of my feelings. I set up “safe spaces”,  places where it was okay to breakdown and show these unwanted emotions.   There are very few people whom have ever seen me cry,  I simply did not allow it.

As an adult person who practices continuous improvement I am trying to correct the damaging directives of my youth. When I am upset there are only a handful of people I feel comfortable expressing my emotions to and if they are unavailable I feel sad/hurt/upset that they don’t value me. It is unfair to place such a burden on them.

I also need to do a better job of addressing my hurt feelings directly with the person who hurt me instead of pretending to be so unbothered and unaffected by the encounter.  But admitting that I am hurt means acknowledging my own vulnerability, which is a much greater feat. What happens when I tell them how I feel and it falls on deaf ears? Or worse they hear me and they just don’t care?

I tell Alex that she hurt me when she did not show up to help me wash the dog as she promised. Alex says she’s sorry,  she was busy elsewhere and promises to help me wash the dog tomorrow.  The next day Alex flakes on me again.  I am pissed for even giving Alex a chance to hurt my feelings again. I cut off communication with Alex. I never again ask anyone for help washing the dog. I pout in silence.

I’m known for my upbeat personality always smiling with a kind word or a funny quip. But some days I am just not feeling it. Some days I don’t feel well. Today is one of those days.

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The reactions I get for my less than excited mood reminds me why I keep my real feelings to myself.  People seem personally offended that I’m not in a good mood. They respond with “well you’re always in a good mood”,  “you’re not your real self” and “at least you could still smile”.  Update in case you didn’t notice: I am a human being with actual human emotions. While my default demeanor may be set to sunshine today I have rain clouds.

But if you ask me how I’m doing I will say I’m fine. Fine because I don’t think you really care about my feelings. Fine because even if you do care I doubt you will take action to help me feel better. Fine because I don’t feel comfortable sharing my feelings with you.  Let me just be fine.

Domestic violence is never okay. Not in any circumstance. It doesn’t matter who is doing the hitting. It doesn’t matter how they were provoked.  What is also wrong is victim shaming. Saying things like “she should have just left” is akin to saying an addict should just put the drugs down, a poor person should just get a better job or a rape victim shouldn’t have drank so much alcohol.

There are underlying psychological issues involved and for someone who does not have that struggle it is hard to imagine or understand. Luckily I have not been a victim of Domestic Violence, however my good friend Tabasha suffered and died because of it.  If you would like some additional insight into domestic violence check out the Twitter hashtag #WhyIStayed so many brave women have shared their stories on dealing with domestic violence.

If you or anyone you know is in a troubled relationship and need help, please call the National Domestic Violence Hotline @ 1−800−799−SAFE(7233)

National Domestic Violence Hotline

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Fitness for most people is truly a weighty issue. We all have our own issues for some its food,  for others it is health related or even physical ailments. Although diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and strokes run in my family I show no signs of any of them.

Still I want to be healthier. I want to be able to run without my lungs feeling as if the are going to combust despite my asthma. I want my arms not to maintain a rhythmic wiggle when I throw my hands in the air and wave them like I just don’t care. I want my thighs to politely brush instead of making out with every stride. I want to see my vag without having to look in a mirror. Also I would like my ass to sit up and my boobs not to shrink. These are my realistic ass goals. Whatever dress size,  weight,  or BMI associated with this is okay with me.

I am a fat adult,  but I wasn’t a fat kid. I have always had thick thighs which I loved,   an ample bosom and I used to have a really nice ass. I was athletic growing up I played baseball and softball,  basketball,  football,  I also danced professionally and was a cheerleader in high school.

I had my daughter as a teen and my body had amazing bounce back,  I remember stepping on the scale the day after delivering and being back to my pre-pregnancy weight. But things weren’t quite the same when I had my son a decade later. I struggled for months to ditch my pregnancy weight and things were going well until I stopped breastfeeding. I worked with a personal trainer and a nutritionist and still I was fat. After a year I quit trying at all because I didn’t need professional help to be fat I could do that on my own.

And so for years I alternated putting effort behind working out and losing weight,  sometimes seeing success but often just maintaining. I was okay with that as long as I wasn’t getting fatter. I never hated my body but there were improvements I wanted to see.

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Here is where the change happened for me. My good friend LaManda joined Louisville FitCamp and started working out three times a week. FitCamp is free and encourages the use of Herbalife products. LaManda would post pictures from time to time of her workouts and I was happy for her,  but not interested in committing myself. And then one day we hung out and I realized I was her “fat friend”.  LaManda wasn’t fat before,  chubby would probably be a fair description, but all of the sudden she was slimming down and I felt fat as hell next to her this wasn’t cool. So I asked her what she was doing and I decided to try it myself.

That was over 12 weeks ago. I started with a 4-week commitment which includes waking up at 5:30 am three times a week and getting my butt kicked by the nicest, perkiest trainer you will ever meet. Since beginning FitCamp I have lost just over a pound a week,  I have more energy and I no longer struggle with sleeping through the night. I have actually became a morning person and my stress levels have decreased.

I have finally found a program that I like,  that works with my schedule and best of all I am seeing results. I have made new FitFriends and we support each other throughout our fitness journeys. I encourage any one out there who is looking to make a change to just get started.  There are so many resources available from traditional gyms,  Herbalife FitCamp, instructional DVDs,  YouTube workouts and running trails in local parks. As my girl Mandy said “You can be sore, or you can be sorry.” Don’t be sorry.