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Happy Birthday to Me!

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Birthday 17

If you’ve been following my blog or if you follow me on social media, you know I love a great celebration and I LOVE celebrating my birthday. This year is no different, although special in its own right. In many ways, I feel like I have come out of an incubation period. Attending school full time for the last five years has brought both challenges and rewards. I’ve grown a lot professionally and personally, made some tough decisions, re-aligned my vision, and feel ready for this next phase of my life. If you read my last post, you know it’s been almost 5 weeks since I relocated. In just a week and a half, I’ll begin to explore my new campus as a full-time faculty member. There are lots of exciting happenings so I am pausing this morning to reflect on where I am today and what I’ve learned along the way. Here you go:

  • Each year I am reminded of how much people will put themselves first. And day by day I am learning to do the same – put me first, establish and maintain boundaries, and not apologize for protecting my peace.
  • This journey has reminded me that life is definitely about grace, but also about intentions. We have the power to reshape our paths – to say yes, this is not how my story is going to end. But this requires work. It requires that we are clear about what we want and willing to stay the course until we have it.
  • Life is beautiful! More than anything else, this new journey has reminded me of how beautiful life is, how kind people are, and how much love there is out in the world. The media tries to convince us of otherwise, but my faith in humanity is restored time and time again.
  • And to that end I will close by saying I love my life. I’ve had seasons when I wasn’t able to say this and mean it wholeheartedly, but it feels damn good to say from my core that I have created a life that I love. I recognize both the blessings and responsibility that comes with that so I fully commit myself to serving and sharing my gifts with others.

Happy birthday to me <3!

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It’s My Birthday … and What Happened at the Party!!!

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BIRTHDAY

I met a few friends out this weekend to celebrate my birthday. When I arrived at the venue I noticed that the event was being held in two separate rooms, which I assumed were adjoining. As I walked the corridor following a slew of people, I heard one of the hosts tell a guest in front of me that a particular entrance was only for VIP guests. I kept walking until I approached another open door. Once I walked in, I saw several people dancing, could spot the DJ, and found a place to stand where I could easily move between the dance floor and a resting spot. Once my friends arrived, we began texting back and forth about where to meet. After several failed attempts to locate each other inside the room where I was, I suggested that we meet in the hallway. Once I walked into the hall, I spotted one of my friends coming from a completely different area. I asked her where she was coming from and she asked me the same! Without even taking a look in the room I’d just exited she instructed me to follow her. We walked to a completely different section – near one of the doors I’d passed before – and she opened the door! This room was about 4 times the size of the room I just left with just as many occupants. Oh. My. Gosh. What had I been doing all this time? I danced in the other room and had a good time, but it was no comparison to the room where my friends were! Clearly I was missing out. Here were all my friends in the REAL party room and I was merely experiencing the overflow … at best.

How many times do we do this in life? How many times do we pass a door that is not open to us in the immediate future, only to never return again and see what is on the other side? How often do we settle for overflow or what is good and never made it to the real deal or what is GREAT? This was a lesson for me as I celebrate the blessings of this past year and look forward to another wonderful year of life. In honor of my birthday, I am sharing my affirmations for this year.

  1. I will not be held hostage by myself or anyone else by who I used to be and what I used to do! I reserve the freedom to change gears at any time, acknowledge when my actions don’t match the highest version of myself and change course without any explanations.
  2. I will be selective of who I spend my time with and what I spend my time on, including family, friends and everyone/everything in between.
  3. I will put my health FIRST!
  4. I will live my life as my authentic self ~ no apologies.
  5. I will honor seasons in all things: places, relationships and practices.
  6. I will dance. I will laugh. I will love. I will celebrate. I will teach. I will learn. I will write. I WILL LIVE!
  7. I will practice ongoing acts of kindness and gratitude through service, prayer, giving, meditation and periods of solitude.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME 🙂

Part II: My Experience with dHerbs’s 20 Day Full Body Cleanse – 1 Week Post Detox

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It’s been exactly one week since my dHerbs 20 day detox ended. As mentioned in my previous post, I postponed my long awaited cheat meal to figure out how I’d like to proceed in re my eating habits and overall diet. But before I get to that, let me update you on how I am feeling. One week after I stopped taking my supplements I still feel wonderful. I still feel extremely full on much less food than I imagined. I still feel light and refreshed after my meals. And I am still experimenting with new recipes. I am not sweating as much which affirms that a part of the elimination process was increased perspiration. I miss that … I miss knowing that my body is eliminating in multiple ways on a regular basis. The photo below is me after a moderately intense workout.

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But otherwise, I have no regrets about the detox and highly recommend it for anyone who is serious about pressing “restart”.

I stuck with raw food through the week and up until last night when I finally had a cooked, vegan meal. After deciding that I was finally ready for a cooked meal, I visited Green Sprouts Vegetarian Restaurant. I read the reviews in hopes of making the best choices related to my meal. My spring rolls were delicious and so was the Mongolian “beef”. I didn’t care for the acclaimed “chicken” drumsticks or my Empire “chicken”. In spite of this, I still enjoyed my meal. The sauces were amazing and having steamed brown rice after weeks of no refined carbs created smiley faces in my mouth 🙂 (meals pictured below).

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Nonetheless, I am back to my raw meals today and this week. So … what’s next?

I began experimenting with following a vegan diet in 2000 – 16 years ago. Up until that time I’d never even heard of anyone following a vegan diet or thinking of not eating meat. There aren’t many vegans in rural South Carolina 🙂. I enjoyed my phases of transitioning from vegetarian to being vegan. I was surprised at how many alternatives there were and how satisfying my meals could be even without meat. Enter Peace Corps and living in a remote village in West Africa and there went me following a vegan diet. But I didn’t feel bad about my choice. I knew exactly where my food was coming from; eating the same food as my host family allowed me to eat with them on a regular basis; and meat was considered a side dish – not the main staple of a meal. I returned to the U.S. in 2003 and maintained a vegetarian diet until I relocated once again in 2005. Since that time my diet has fluctuated from being completing vegan to eating almost everything under the sun. And unfortunately, my weight has followed these same fluctuations – not exclusively because of me being vegan or not, but because of how I tend to approach food overall when I’ve not followed a vegan diet.

After giving some serious thought to my experience with this detox, my overall health and what I have learned over the course of 15 years as a health educator, I am returning to a vegan diet. I’d like to emphasize that I am not returning to a vegan diet because I think it is the only way to maintain a healthy lifestyle, nor am I returning to a vegan diet because I think it is the best decision for everyone else. I wish I could say that I am joining the ranks for people who protest on behalf of animal rights or only buy vegan leather goods, but that is not a part of my present journey. I believe in compassion towards all beings, including animals, but that is not the main focus of my journey. I believe in a holistic lifestyle and perhaps that is the foundation of how I live much of my life – this overflows to how I spend my money, how I wear my hair, the products I purchase and use on  my skin and even in my home so it only seems right to complete the circle and allow this same care to overflow to what I eat.

With the aforementioned in mind, I am doing this because time and experience have proven that being vegan is the best decision for me. I tend to eat better, take better care of myself, practice healthy doses of indulgence and eat more intentionally when my options are focused on whole foods. I fundamentally believe that there are some serious issues with the way food – meat and dairy especially – is produced here in the U.S. This belief has never wavered regardless of what I ate.  And I also know that in my years of educating others about healthy choices, managing chronic diseases, decreasing risks of cancer and other related matters diets focused on whole grains, fruit and vegetables in abundance and limited animal products have always been consistent recommendations.

I am doing a few things differently this time. Unlike before, my diet will not consist of an overabundance of meat substitutes. You can read more about some of my new favorite recipes at Crazy, Sexy Wellness, LLC on Facebook or DrCherryBound on Instagram. As I prepare for another wonderful birthday here is to me taking better care of myself :-). Thanks for reading and stay tuned for additional updates throughout the summer!

 

Embracing Womanhood

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Delta

In just six months, I will celebrate my 30-somethingth birthday :-). 10 years ago, this would have made me cringe … I would’ve thought about how old I’d be and how many things I couldn’t do anymore. Today the thought excites me! I am excited and celebrate because my life truly has gotten better with time and for that I am thankful. My dreams has slowly unfolded, been recreated and come true in ways that could never imagine. I am surer of myself – who I am, what I love, what I cannot and will not tolerate – more than ever before. I love me more and am more forgiving of my not-so-great choices. I choose wisely and am not afraid to change courses. And this year for once and for all, I embrace ALL of the person that I am!

This is significant for me because at various times in my life I have worked hard to still one part of myself or another … my inner wild child or flower goddess 🙂 or inquisitive seeker of knowledge or overzealous academic achiever or loyal girlfriend or intimate lover or peace seeker and the list goes on. Today more than ever I love my complex, complicated, goal- setting and dream achieving self. Today, more than ever I distance myself from those who do not support me in being my best version of me.

While listening to a podcast last week I heard the quote “the way you do one thing is the way you do all things”. This has quickly become my favorite quote of the month – this defines me. I am a dream big or go home type of woman! I love hard and give my all … in every way in everything I do. I am all in and if/when things shift I am done. I am me and I love it all!

Last thought: this past weekend I bought a new tube of lipstick. This may be a small deal to women who have dozens of tubes of lipstick or endless mountains of make-up that they can’t seem to keep organized (or maybe they do :-)). But for me it was a practice in self-care – to put just as much time in my physical health and appearance as I do in academics or soul-searching. It was another small drop in the bucket of being my best self and embracing the process. To me, this is womanhood: growing, learning, loving and finding new ways of expressing the aforementioned – all the while remembering who I am and why I was created!

Birthday Countdown: Day 1 – Where is My Fashion Sense???

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It’s my birthday week so I’ve decided to post a few random reflections on the last year, as well as thoughts about the year ahead.

Every few years I think about my fashion sense … not in terms of keeping up with the latest trends, but how much time and effort I put into coordinating my wardrobe. I am surrounded by those who I consider to be some of the savviest fashionistas known – my friends know how to put together flawless assembles ranging in cost from $10 to hundreds of dollars and make it all seem effortless – so I am often left thinking that I need to “step my game up.” Sometimes I do well, other times not so much ;-).

What I know for sure: I love classic, clean looks with a little bit of quirk or hidden detail – think Banana Republic meets Ann Taylor with a splash of Anthropologie. That doesn’t leave a whole lot of room for bohemian dresses or skateboard sneakers, but I have learned to honor my personal style and maximize it. More often than not, I am conditioned myself dress along the conservative side. I took leadership positions very early in my professional career, often being the youngest in the room or the only one of something – woman, African-American etc. Much of this lead me altar much of my external presentation to adapt to my environment and in hopes of increasing the likelihood of being “taken seriously.” I am a minimalist. I believe in buying what I am going to wear and getting rid of what I won’t or haven’t. I rarely buy more than one of essentials, like eye glasses, basic belts, etc. My budget matters … always. My financial fitness comes first so when I am preparing for an event, my very last instinct is to purchase something new – I am more likely to piece together things from my wardrobe and buy something new last. I value my time and that of others. If I am running late, my priority is to get out of the door. Period. Point blank.

My shortcomings: I will always choose comfort over style. When going out the first questions I ask are where am I going; will I have to walk or stand for a long time; and what will I be doing once I arrive. I think about how much I am going to sweat, how many people will be around and even what sort of seating arrangements I will have. All of these factors come before I ask how cute my outfit is L. I can be a little lazy about putting things together. For some, coordinating comes easy – for me it takes great time and effort. Which earrings? What scarf? Which shoes? Sometimes it’s easier to throw on the first thing I see and go. My weight fluctuates … a lot. Not being my ideal weight is NO excuse for lacking style, but it is a barrier for me. Weight gain means buying new clothes or more often, a false hope that I will soon fit into my old clothes so I delay buying new clothes. For me, it also makes shopping harder and I am less inclined to buy things I love versus opting for more lose fitting clothes that conceal more than accentuate.

What I like: dresses, skirts, blazers, fitted jackets, scarves, boots, strappy sandals, heels, wedges, jewelry that does NOT jingle 😉 and prints. I do not fancy: sneakers (or any kind, other than for exercise), suits, baggy clothes, skirts/dresses with too much fabric, or oversized anything.

One of my goals for the year ahead is to do better ;-). Plan ahead to incorporate a few new pieces into my budget and wardrobe. Wear the things I have; choose a new accessory to try each day. While I admire the fashion sense and style of many around me, I’ve realized that my style is a little different … that’s okay so my job is to honor my own style and work it. Wish me luck .. and please feel free to offer suggestions!!!

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