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True stories about what happens when a girl from the big city moves to a rock in the pacific without a life raft

Archive for the ‘Black women’ Category

No expectations, no regrets, A life worth living

Posted by Jenni C. on November 18, 2013

The best things in life are often the most unexpected.

I love moments of self-reflection. Looking back on life’s moments always offers me greater insight into what I am fully capable of accomplishing in life. Life always has a way of working out if we choose to let it work. For that I am eternally grateful. Moments of self-reflection help me to realize how far I have come in my own personal growth, and remind constantly that life is a journey. At times that journey is slow, at times it moves faster than I can ever imagine, but I am always evolving on this journey.

The exciting part; you never know where the journey will take you. The scary part; you never know where the journey will take you. But you feel the need to go. I like to go fast.  In February of 2009 I packed up everything I had, left everything I knew, left everyone I knew, and moved to an island in the middle of the pacific. Having no idea where I was going, and vague plans that I could only hope would work out I began a new journey.  I had no idea of what I would find, no idea who I would meet, and had no expectations. It felt right, so I ran with it. Scary? Well, yes maybe a little. Was it needed? Yes most definitely.

In September of 2013  it was time to close my Hawaiian chapter, a bitter-sweet ending to an unbelievable journey. I arrived on the island emotionally empty. To be honest, I had hit life’s emotional rock bottom. Nothing mattered. To be in a state of going through the motions just because you have to, felt like a state of not living. My life needed more, my challenge was to find it.

I spent the last 4 and a half years of my life on the island of Oahu.  Wow writing this from a Washington DC coffee shop, it’s still hard to believe that it was not all a dream. I arrived with nothing, I left with more than I could have ever imaged. I was happy.  How did that happen? My emotionally empty glass was suddenly full.   I gained a new family or Ohana as they say in Hawaiian. I never thought I would meet people who would overwhelm me with a sense of Aloha. I was embraced by an amazing level of kindness from day one.  Friendships were formed. People cared about me. Strangers grew to love me, and will always have a place in my heart for them. I always thought the only people who would ever care about me lived on the east coast. I was never alone on the island in the middle of the pacific. I had people who loved me. Why is that so hard for me to believe? Even as I sit here and write, it seems like a dream. A false reality that never existed. A made up adventure of my life. But it really happened. I lived it. A  time in my life when I was able to let go and live. To prove to myself that I could live. Living was OK, I gave myself permission to just live.

When I was packing up all my belongings to leave Hawaii, I wondered to myself how did I get here. Seriously, I felt like I was in a fog when I left New York on that cold February morning in 2009. I cried all the way to my first layover in LAX. It was a day I will never forget. That force of knowing that my life needed change, gave me the strength to leave. When I was packing up my apartment in Honolulu, many times I wanted to cry. I had that part of me that wanted to stay. I had built a new life. Fearful that I would have to start over again. Fearing what the east coast would now hold for me. I was leaving different. I wasn’t the same girl who arrived on the rock in 2009. In essence I had changed. That’s what life is about, changing. I could never have lasted as long so far away from familiarity if I had remained the same. Somewhere along the line I grew up. I found hobbies. I fell in love. I fell in love with the island, with adventure, with mountains, with the ocean, with the culture. In my mind, shoot I was local. Even though I could never master the art of speaking pigeon, and still would never attempt to pronounce many of the Hawaiian street names, I still felt a sense of local flavor.

I went with no expectations, and gained more than I could ever imagine. I made new friends. My newfound extended ohana took care of me.  Those friends  pulled me through the bad days, and made good days all the more exciting. It worked. Life worked the way it was supposed to. I learned lessons. Even though I wanted to figure out if I could really cut my own safety net of my family and friends in New York while managing alone, that was impossible. I learned that no matter where I am in the world life can never be done alone. Life is not meant to be lived in isolation. I found friends. Friends that helped me adapt. Friends that cared, friends that loved me, and made me feel at home. Friends that would miss me when I’m gone.

As each day passes here in the east, it all continues to feel like a dream. Was that time a brief intermission in life a time solely for me to recollect myself? Or maybe it serves a greater purpose that I am yet to find out. Not sure what is up next. All I know now is that as I begin to settle in again on the east coast, and embrace winter, God is always at work, and He always has a plan. I just can’t wait to see what happens next, but until then I will continue to live.

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Posted in Black women, Finding meaning, Goals, Hawaii, New York, random, Relocation, Self Discovery, self help, single girl, Turning 30, Twenties | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Self torture continued, my road to running in a half marathon

Posted by Jenni C. on May 1, 2013

inspration

I despise running so I signed up to run a half marathon. I know what your thinking, yes I am a walking oxymoron. Me and running have a hate-hate relationship. There is no room for love in that equation, and I seriously doubt that running has any love for me, so the mutual hate between myself and running is the perfect complement to this relationship.

So why run 13.1 miles for no good reason if you hate running so much?

Ahhh, good question. Why run 13.1 miles. To be honest some days 13. 1 miles seems like an incredibly far distance to drive, let alone run. Why run then? I wish I had one of those overly inspirational stories for you, like an example of how my life will forever be changed, or that I am running to raise money for a good cause, or I almost died and this is my chance to prove that I am alive and better than ever. Well, lucky for me I have not had a near death experience, my life will most likely be exactly the same the first minute after I reach the finish line, and I probably could be raising money for a really good cause, but I’m not. Maybe I should look into that one.

In reality, I am running just to say that I can complete a 13 mile run, and to win this competition that I am having solely with myself to prove that I can finish a half marathon in 2 hours or, at least 2 hours and 5 minutes.

I have never run 13 miles before. I don’t know if I will ever run it again. All I know is that in 25 days, I will be running. And I will finish. Whenever I run I constantly repeat to myself the saying: “finish stronger than you started”. I hope that kicks in around mile 11, because by that time I will just want to finish.

I have no intention of ever running a full marathon. 26.2 miles, now that is wayyyyy too many miles. For all who have completed one or multiple full marathons, much congrats! Today I drove 26 miles. I felt like that was too long. To run that distance, well not in my foreseeable future.

13.1. The magic number. I will take all wishes of luck starting now.

My life is full of surprises. Who knew that at 31 I would be running my first half marathon. At age 15, I hated to run 1 mile. At 15 if someone had told me that I would be running a half marathon in 16 years I would have laughed. At 15 I was the fat kid. I hated exercise because it hurt. I was 15 and nearly 200 pounds, wearing a size 16-18. Yeah I hated shopping, and health was at the bottom of my priority list.  At 15 I thought that I would never be attractive, I thought I would never have a boyfriend, and I had never imagined what life would be like at less than 200 pounds. Plus size was my life.

At age 31, well lets just say that I have lost about 40 pounds along the way, no more plus size clothing, and without running, or yoga, or crossfit,  my day feels incomplete.

Wait! I think I found it. The inspiration!

For that sad 15-year-old girl who is living inside of me, I am going to kick the ass of these 13.1 miles. To prove to her that she can do anything. To prove to her that she has always been pretty no matter what size she is, that she can have any life she so chooses, and  just because she can’t do something now, well it doesn’t mean she won’t be able to demolish it 16 years from now.

I hate running, but I love life’s accomplishments. My 13.1 is about so much more than running. That good cause that I was looking for earlier, well call me selfish but the cause is all about me. It’s about everything that defines living, and taking back my life. To prove that I can do what I thought was severely impossible just a few years ago is truly an accomplishment. Although I will probably never (actually maybe I shouldn’t  say never), but probably never run a 26.2, that 13.1 will still make all the difference. Life is worth living, live it!

Also, as I run, I will remember closely the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing. Those individuals who set out to accomplish a goal, and the family members who came out to watch. Sadly tragedy has overtaken their personal accomplishments. Lets always remember Boston, and spread a message of peace on a daily basis.

 

 

positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences. 

 

 

Posted in Black women, Dreams, Finding meaning, Goals, Life, Marathon, random, Relocation, Running, Self Discovery | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

My mother: Over 50, Fabulous, Fearless, and ready to take on the world!

Posted by Jenni C. on April 30, 2013

When I was child I thought my mother was superwoman, she always knew everything and had all the answers. When I was a teenager I couldn’t wait to move out and get far away from mom because obviously, I knew everything and parents were no longer needed after the age of 14 (except for money). Between the ages of 14 and 21,  I just knew that I had all the answers. Now as a 31-year-old woman, I know with absolute certainty that mom is a mix of superwoman, combined with a woman who does not always have all the answers. The best part; she is not to afraid to admit that she does not have as many answers as I once thought. Therefore, my 31-year-old self can just say that my mother is truly amazing.

A few days ago mom celebrated her 59th birthday. As she reaches her final year in her 50’s, and prepares for her 60th birthday week bash next year, I must say that mom is truly an inspiration, the epitome of the woman who I desire to become. She is over 50, Fabulous, Fearless, and more ready than ever to take on the world.

While I was growing up I strived to make mom proud. Looking back as an adult I appreciate her approach to parenting. She allowed me to make my own mistakes and develop my own life path. If and when I messed up, she allowed me to learn how to fix it, always offering help when she saw that help was needed. It’s funny how life happens and how times change. As an adult, I am watching mom grow into the woman who she was always meant to be. She is meeting the strong, confident, driven woman who has been living inside of her, yet she had always feared letting her out. Day by day as I watch mom grow, and learn I smile. For all those years of her being proud of me, now I am the one who is proud of her.

On the refrigerator at our house in Queens there is a quote by Joel Osteen, it says “your best days are yet to come”. When I go home I always look at that quote and think to myself, wow, mom is actually living that way. I once heard Oprah and Mya Angelou say that life begins after 50. I don’t know what happens after 50 because I’m still tying to figure out my 30’s however, when I think about what mom has accomplished over the past decade, then life must be great after 50. My mom has started to live. Sure she had a life before 50, she is married with 3 kids. She had a life that consisted of taking care of other people, hardly taking care of herself. I grew up watching her give all of her to everyone around her, leaving little to noting left for her as an individual. She frequently put her needs aside to be the best mother for our family. However, today at 59 she can put her needs first to be the best person to herself. She has finally started to show herself that she matters, and with that comes a sense of peace and happiness.

A few years ago mom started going back to school. Taking one to two classes a semester, she has the determination and the heart to earn a college degree. That makes me proud. She pushed me to earn a college degree, I actually did not believe I had a choice to do anything else. Now I can push her to earn her very own college degree, leading her to believe that she has no other option. I tell her not to stop at an associate degree, or a bachelor’s degree, to keep going for that master’s or Ph.D. I know she can do it, so why give up.

Being a woman over 50, mom has conquered many fears. She used to be afraid of the classroom, now she has the passion to learn. With the desire to know more information, she is no longer intimated by not being smart enough. She knows she can push through it, and succeed.

Mom was raised as a country girl in the south. She tells the story of when she first arrived in New York City at the age of 18, she was afraid to get on the escalator and ride it to the top of the bus station to meet her uncle who was picking her up that day. For a small town girl, the city was a huge scary place. However through fears, and doubts,  she ended up staying in New York, and made the big city her new home. She never trusted that she could conquer the city life, go to a museum, a restaurant, or a broadway play alone. Yet today, she is able to go anywhere in the city alone, and actually love it!

Mommy at Pearl Harbor

When I moved to Hawaii, mom supported my decision to move to an island in the middle of the pacific, where I have never been before, and knew absolutely no one but myself. She didn’t try to talk me out of it, or ask why. To my amazement she thought it was a good idea. Previously to my move, she had never travelled away from the east coast. Within a year of my move, she had made her first plane trip out to Hawaii. I quickly realized that my crazy, overly impulsive life decision, not only changed my life, but also affected a major change in mom’s life, and that change is very good.

The first time mom made her journey to Honolulu, she was overly fearful. Her first experience of taking a plane for over 10 hours, and having to fly for a full five and a half hours directly over the pacific ocean. Mom has a passionate fear of large bodies of water. Yet through it all, she made it and managed to return to Honolulu the following year. Currently she is preparing for her third trip out to the middle of the pacific, obviously she is filled with excitement.

For the small town girl from the south, mom has grown to appreciate life and what the world has to offer. On her last visit, we traveled to Maui. Many people spend their whole lives dreaming about what it would be like to actually be on the island of Maui, many die never knowing. At the age of 58 mom got her first experience at taking Maui by storm, and that experience was far better than what she had ever imagined.

Now if anyone ever travels with me, trust me, we will do any and everything possible in the least amount of time, probably getting the least amount of sleep. With mom it was no different. We were on Maui, and we were going to explore all of Maui. Mom is afraid of the water, yet she got on a boat to travel to the island of Lanai. Mom is afraid of heights, however without hesitation she went with my idea of taking a tour to the top of Haleakala to watch the sunrise. That is a volcanic crater over 10,000 feet high, and it was about 30 degrees up there. To see God’s work as the sun rises over the clouds is definitely worth facing all fears, and taking in the freezing cold air. Such sights in life should never be missed, that is truly one of them.

Maui maui 2

On Oahu, I took mom to climb Diamond Head crater. Mom was still afraid of heights, and had never hiked up a volcano before in life. I was taking her on a hike that was 762 feet up a crater. Once we entered the park area, I pointed to where our end point was at the top of the mountain. She laughed, called me crazy, and adamantly said that she was not going up there. Her mind was set and she knew that she was not going to the top of that very large volcanic crater. I nicely convinced her to start walking, we started on the trail, one step at a time, and just kept going. Mom complained, cursed me, and I think she even yelled at me a few times while walking on the trail, then suddenly she could see the top. She could see the motivation to keep going. When she wanted to turn around, I reminded her that she could keep going, one step at a time, she was almost there. In my mind it was too late to turn around, she was so close to the end, why stop now. As she came upon on the final stairway to the top, she was more motivated than ever, other tourist gave her encouragement, and she was able to make it all the way to the top of the mountain. While we were at the top I pointed out to her where she started, and where she was when she finished. She finally saw how far had come just because she kept moving forward, she didn’t turn around, and despite all the odds due to being tired, and hot, she did not give up on herself.  A true metaphor for life. She was literally looking down on Waikiki. The fearful southern girl, who moved to New York at age 18,  now was over 50 experiencing life while looking down on the beaches of Waikiki. It may have seemed like a dream, but no that was mom’s reality.

Mom thought that she would never make it to the top, but she preserved and broke though her own self-doubt. On her journey she proved to herself  that she could do things that she would  have never thought were possible 10 or 20 years ago. It’s funny because now she can’t wait to climb Diamond Head again, and even wants to time herself to see how fast she can climb to the top. Yes, I have created a monster. But all I can do is sit back and smile, like the proud daughter that I have become.

Life is for living your dreams, and making those dreams come true. To talk to mom, puts my own life in perspective. Life is short, we have to live it today, life happens quick then its gone. Mom has found love in treating herself, finally. She takes herself on spa dates. Last month while I was in New York we went to the spa at the Trump hotel in lower Manhattan, she was reading a travel magazine which had an article on the Big Island. Now imagine the irony in that since we will be traveling to the Big Island in a few weeks. Just a few years ago, mom would have picked up that magazine and only have dreams of what it would be like to visit Kona, well that day she was able to plan what she would do, what she will see, and what she will eat, WHEN she arrives on Kona.

At 31, mom still is able to teach me so many lessons about life, and growing into a woman. I have realized that you can start living life at any age. Whenever you are ready, life is ready to have you live it. When I look at the 59-year-old woman my mom has become, I am so happy to see that she is more excited than ever as she ages. Her youthful spirit gives her the energy to keep going, he desire to learn gives her the will to grow, and her renewed sense of confidence gives her the ability the face the things she has feared all her life. Through my mom, I have learned how to live. Mom truly sets the example because, like mom, in 29 years as I am approaching the age of 60, I also want to be fabulous, fearless, and ready to take on the world!

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Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

Posted in Black women, Dreams, Family, Fears, Hawaii, Life, Mother's day, Mothers, Over 50, Relocation, Self Discovery, Travel | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Evolution: The dating edition

Posted by Jenni C. on July 4, 2012

One of the greatest things about life is that it is always changing. Change is constant, and because of this we always know its coming.  We evolve. As a species we are always evolving. Evolution signifies growth, without change there can be no growth.  The mind cannot stay stagnant, it grows, and by growing we know we are living.

In the midst of changing (or growing older I guess), I have come to realize that my whole entire dating life has made its very own evolution. I must admit that it is an evolution that is a long time coming, and one that was much needed. As I look back on my dating past, I do so with the hope that I have taken in the lessons learned, and my dating future will be better and wiser. The past is a reflection of a point where we once were, I quickly realized that I want to be somewhere else, not there.

Recently I have noticed a common theme when I go out on dates, I am bored out of my mind! I find myself waiting for that moment of climax that will add meaning to any date, but it never comes. Let me explain more: My mind travels a million miles a minute, I have tried to slow down my thoughts…it doesn’t work.  I have an endless array of thoughts that are constantly occupying my brain space. The thoughts are never ending and always changing (hence why I suck so bad at yoga, and why I struggle with sleeping through the night). Therefore, due to this  fact it is pretty difficult to hold my attention. When one thought enters I am already about 10 more thoughts ahead.  I end up purposely looking for an attention grabbing something, just so I can focus. The focus is much needed, and when I am focused, I am finally at peace.  When a person is able to hold my attention I am in delight. I am yet to find a man who can hold my attention so I can enjoy a date with him.

With my evolution in dating I have discovered what I am genuinely interested in…A good conversation! With excessive dating,  I commonly get asked the question, “what are you looking for?” Finally I have discovered the heart of what I am looking for. Intellectual stimulation! A mental orgasm that will lead me yearning for a second and third date as soon as possible. In my world of thinking, if a man can easily bring my mind to a state of climax with his words, the sexual climax must be a million times better. Right?

But seriously, I usually would not think that it would be this difficult to find a date with conversation that is motivating and inspiring, a conversation that you want to never end. Am I asking for too much? Probably. But I don’t care. I like a man who can make me think. A man who is not afraid to challenge me. I know I may seem brilliant, but I do have my moments when I am wrong.  Does anyone read books anymore? I will even enjoy a great conversation about why our whole political system is so messed up. Wow am I boring or just old? Not sure.  A few years ago I would have thought these were boring topics, now they are topics that I chase after.

A friend told me that I have evolved myself out of the dating pool, that doesn’t sound so good to me. I don’t ask for too much. I just ask to date a grown man. I’m not a total prude, I love talking about sports, music, movies, but I want more. I want depth. I guess I want to finally be an adult, in an adult relationship. Can we say scary?

Now that I have embraced my evolution, I just have to find my male counterpart who has embraced his.  In my 20’s I was only attracted to the physical appearance of a guy, that was enough for me and all that I needed to make him my boyfriend. Now don’t get me wrong, I still am a sucker for a physically attractive man, I actually need that too, but maybe not as much. In hindsight, it’s never going to be all I need, and I truly need more to make a lasting relationship.  So where do I start? My new place to pick up men who read books…the bookstore! Wait, do any bookstores still exist?

 

Positive thought, positive energy, positive experiences

 

Posted in Black women, dating, Finding meaning, Life, Love, men, relationships, Relocation, Self Discovery, single girl | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I have a confession: I am a black woman, and I work out

Posted by Jenni C. on May 21, 2012

 

I’m a black woman and I work out.

Actually I work out a lot, and I am damn proud of it. So yes, black women do work out. I almost killed myself in the midst of my kick ass cross fit workout  this morning, so again, yes black women do work out.

Recently, there was a large stir surrounding a NY Times opinion piece insinuating that black women want to be fat. Black Women and Fat, was written by Alice Randall, a writer who has embraced her own weight loss journey. Randall states “many black women are fat because we want to be.” With that point I would have to disagree. I know many black women who are overweight, but  they do not WANT to be that way. Not to make excuses, but to lose weight and keep the weight off requires a true lifestyle change, many black women are not yet ready for that lifestyle change.

As the article proceeds, I can completely understand what Randall is saying. Though the title may have turned off a few readers, she actually makes good points. As a black woman I embrace my curves and thick figure, black men love that. Black men love that my hips are thick and that my butt is big. It is what makes me sexually attractive as a black woman. I accept that. I have never had a man tell me that I need to lose weight, or I should eat less. In fact since I work out 5 days a week, and 6 days on a really good week,  I am often asked why I work out so much, or I get the “you’re trying to lose weight?”, in a sideways crazy sounding voice.

Obesity truly has been a generational problem in many African-American families. The problem stems from years of unhealthy eating and lack of exercise. My grandmother used to make fried pork chops, butter grits with cheese, and biscuits  when we would visit her at her home in Georgia. When we would go to the south I would drink the sweetest iced tea, and lemonade I have ever tasted in my life. Full of flavor and loaded with sugar, it was delicious.  Subsequently my mom would cook the same way. Food wasn’t good if it wasn’t friend, or soaked in butter. I remember my mother used to put a slab of pork fat into collard greens to add flavor, and yummy it was.

But it also kills you.

My grandmother died from heart disease, both my parents have type  2 diabetes, my father has high blood pressure. I don’t want to die before I have ever had the chance to live.

So yes, I work out a lot.

Eventually my mother did start to change the way that she cooks, no more fried everything (awww I miss those days). No more full sticks of butter used on food, for now on it is baked or steamed, which I have grown to enjoy. With healthy eating, I also feel a hundred times more healthy.

Not only do I work out, I eat healthy. The combination increases overall health and happiness.

No matter how much I work out, I will never be a size 2 or model thin. Actually I don’t ever want to be. Curves are what make me a woman. I have had a personal struggle with weight all my life. Yeah I was the “fat kid” in school. It sucked. When I was in college I lost a lot of weight, nearly 40 pounds, everyone thought I was sick, how ironic. Well I actually did start to look sick, so I gained some weight back. Since then I have felt great.

I truly enjoy working out. It is a lifestyle requirement for me. To kick start my day, I start with a work out. It gets me going. To fight my periods of depression, I turn to working out. I am a true believer that a great consistent workout it better than any anti-depressant.  I get bored easily, so my workouts always change. I recently added cross fit to my regiment. While doing cross fit, I have periods of feeling like I either want to die or vomit. I am still alive, and no, no vomit yet. I get out of breath, winded, my muscles are screaming, but it is great! In a few short weeks I have started to feel stronger, I am eager to go back, ready to do it again. Despite the unbearable soreness, and my screaming quads I always go back for more.

My goal: to go longer, stronger, harder, faster.  I also do spin classes, yoga, running, and when I need a quick filler workout I’ll even hit the gym and run on a treadmill. However when you live in Hawaii, running on a treadmill at the gym can get very old, very quick.

The key to sticking with a workout out routine is to do whatever works for you. Find something you like and grab on tight. It may not be the same as what everyone else likes, or what everyone else is doing. Once you find it, continue with it. Watch yourself improve, the improvement will keep you going.

I suck at cross fit. I have absolutely no upper body strength and can not do 1 pull up. My personal goal is just to do one pull up. Just because it is hard at first doesn’t mean that I won’t get better at it. Each day I return, is one more day of improvement.

Have a vision of what you want to accomplish. Maybe you want to get stronger, maybe you just want to fit into old clothes that you have in your closet. See your vision in real life. Become that vision. Make it a realistic vision. If you dream of looking like a model…well that may not happen. Work with your mind and body on what you want to become. If you see that mental picture, believe it, stick to it, your body will follow.

At 30 I am now in the best physical shape of my life. Who would have thought. I never thought that I would be signing up to run races, and continuously look forward to running the next race. By the way, I still hate running, but I love competing against my own personal best time. Each time I race, I want to beat my time from the previous race. That keeps me motivated. I am excited I have realized what I could really do. I am doing activities that would have been an easy, “no, never, get the hell out of here” a few years ago. So far this year I have ran an 8 mile race, and two 6 mile races, with more to come. Slowly working my way to that half marathon.

I love being able to walk, to move my limbs, to run fast, to hike, to struggle while trying to do pull ups. I am working now to prevent years of having to be on medication for diabetes, or heart disease. I am working now to do my part in staying alive.

So yes, I am a black woman and I work out! And I love it. 🙂

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

Posted in Aging, Black women, fitness, Goals, Life, men, Running, Self Discovery, self help | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »