Reflections From a New Mom: Prayers For My African American Son

I. Am. Exhausted.

During the past few weeks I have spent a lot of time in my head processing my thoughts. Sometimes I am silent because my mind is racing, there are so many thoughts that I often don’t know where to start when I want to express them. I try to make sense of them all, but that just leads to me feeling tired. So overall, I am exhausted.

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I am angry, sad, fearful, devastated, frustrated, hurt, heart broken, numb, and void of emotion all in one. I remember one day last week I was sitting with my thoughts and I just wanted to cry. Suddenly, I just felt like crying. I did not know why, no tears fell, but a sweeping feeling of all the emotions overcame me, and I just knew that it was time to cry. Black Americans are hurting, so I am hurting.

Black Americans are hurting for justice and equality in our nation. In 2020, we are still fighting the same fights of our ancestors. In 2020 we are fighting for the right to live in peace, to not die at the hands of racist on the streets, for and end to police brutality, and to have equality in our justice system. IT. IS. 2020. As I watched the many protests around the country and the world, I was delighted to see that all people, not just Black people joined in the fight. Finally our voices are being heard, there is diversity in our cause. We are starting to matter. But again, it is the year 2020, why should we have to march and sing “We Shall Overcome” like our ancestors did in the 1960’s. Has America not made significant progress since the death of Martin Luther King Jr.? Why are we still fighting to live his dream? When will America finally stand for the words “Liberty and Justice for all”?

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The overwhelm of emotions hits me every time I hear about the death of every unarmed Black American. Sadness, anger, and overwhelm were in full force when I watched the video of the murder of Amahd Aubery and, how there was not even an arrest made over two months later! Then we heard about Breonna Taylor, again no arrest, then we watched the death of George Floyd. After a 5 days and filling the streets with protesters demanding justice, finally there was an arrest. Who is next? This is too much for the year 2020. When does it end?

We have been watching videos of the murder of Black kids and adults for years. Before the videos they were killing us, there was just no one filming it. So the concept of murder and injustice toward Black Americans did not start in 2020.

However, today my life is different, therefore, my emotions are different. The hurt feels different, it is real. Today I am a wife to Black man, and a mother to a little Black boy, this feeling is hitting a little bit differently. That is the feeling I am constantly processing.

Today my life is no longer just me taking care of me in the world. I have a husband and a son who I don’t want to be added to the names of unarmed black men who were killed, while their murderer just walks away and eats a sandwich. It is an unexplainable worry that I try not to spend too much time on because life’s moments are precious and I want to enjoy every moment. Life is meant to be lived with joy. Yet, sometimes the feeling of worry overshadows that joy and there is a moment of wanting to cry because you feel the pain of every wife, and mother who has unjustly lost her husband or son and you want to go around and give them all a big hug. So I just pray. I ask God to protect my boys, because that is all that is left to do.

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This evening Nico and I went on a walk. He just sits in his stroller quietly looking around, listening to the birds, staring at the trees, the cars, and the people, and taking it all in. He feels safe, he is not worried about anything. He does not know about racism, or that one day some people will fear him because of the color of his skin. He knows he is with mommy, and with mommy he is protected. The world is safe with mommy, no danger allowed. I thought, now if only I could keep him this small forever. At 8 months I can protect him from harm, but what about when he is 13 or 18, will the world be kind to him? Will he still feel safe?

Again, I am left with saying a special prayer for his safety.

Yet, during moments like this my mind always goes back to the death of Tamir Rice. I didn’t have kids at the time of his death, but for some reason his death hits me especially hard. I was in pure shock and disbelief when I heard of the cops who pulled up and shooting at a 12 year old boy in a matter of seconds. For a very long time I refused to watch that video, I refused to watch the murder of a baby at the hands of the police. He was a baby! Eventually I watched the video, it was worse than I ever imagined. They said they thought he was an adult. He was a 12 year old black boy. He should have had the chance to grow into an adult. The men who killed him are now free. Where is justice?

I know I have only been a mother for a few months, but I feel like my number one goal is to keep my baby safe. I feel like God has given us our biggest life challenge yet. God said now I give you the job of being parents, and now is the time to raise a strong Black man in America. Keep him safe, let him grow, and know he will be a force that changes the world. Since God never gives us more than we can bear, we have accepted the challenge with full gratitude. But, for real it is scary sometimes. When Nico is 5 he will be my baby. When he is 12 he will still be my baby. When he is 18 he will still be my baby. Heck, when he is 45 he will be my baby. I just pray that the world will see him for the boy, and man that he will be and give him an opportunity to grow and change the world.

My heart hurts for Tamir Rice, Jordan Davis, Trayvon Martin, Amahad Aubery, George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Sandra Bland, Eric Garner, Philando Castile, Sean Bell and every other black life that was lost due to police violence or racist violence because they felt that these lives did not matter. BLACK LIVES MATTER

This list was posted on BabyNames.com on June 10, 2020.

This black box sits on the top of the BabyNames.com homepage.

One day I will sleep again…hopefully

And finally it’s Friday! The first full week of the year complete. It also felt like the longest week ever. Nico completed his first full week of day care, and I have probably consumed the most coffee that I have ever drank since finals week in college. Over the past 5 days my body has become tolerant to coffee, I no longer think it is effective. I will return to drinking my triple shot of espresso at least once a day. I really need a Nespresso machine. But hey, at least now I am remembering to drink my coffee right?

My sleepy baby. I think he missed me all day, or he just hates me

Tonight my husband, Nico, and I sat on the couch looking at each other. We were all exhausted. Nico is lucky he can sleep wherever he wants, whenever he wants, he just doesn’t take advantage of those endless sleep opportunities. He will regret that one day, just like I am regretting my missed opportunities to sleep when I was a baby today.

This week was defiantly an adjustment for the whole family. We will get it together soon. The hubs and I just have to get used to waking up a little bit earlier, getting a little person ready, and grabbing ALL of his stuff before we leave the house. Why do little people have so much stuff?

Life is different. Our morning routine is different, dinner time is different, vacation planning will be different, and heck, our sex life is even different. There is a whole new person who has changed our lives from here on out. Even though it is a happy, enjoyable, priceless change, it is still a change.

This is us before we became eternally sleepy

As new parents, we learn to appreciate the small pleasures in life. I have learned to appreciate moments of quiet, breathing, and meditation. Everyday Nico appears to be a little bit older, he is always doing something different, he is learning so much. Sometimes I just want to hit the pause button on time, and replay those moments again and again. Time is racing. I am appreciating each moment.

In Maryland it’s cold. I’ll be honest, I really don’t like living in Maryland that much and I figure one day we will eventually move to a new state. Maybe one that is warm. I think back on my January days in Hawaii, those moments when I spent Christmas and New Year’s day on the beach. I wish I could be there today. Those were moments of calm, of peace.

I miss the beach

Since once again my whole life is different, I have to remember to always find time to take in and enjoy those moments of peace. I have to find places that will bring me that sense of calm. Daily meditation is what will continue to make me a great wife and an amazing mamma. The coffee will keep me hyped, and possibly push me through the day, but keeping my mind at peace is the what is will keep my family together. In the midst of change, I will continue to find my own peace.

You Have Permission to Just Be You

I have a long list of goals that I will attempt to accomplish. I will let you in on another one, To be kind to myself.

Today I experienced working mom guilt because Nico is at day care while his parents work. The hubby told me that he cried for an hour after he dropped him off. I wondered, is he happy? Is he going to hate me for sending him to day care? In reality I know he will be fine, he won’t hate me and he loves social interactions. I just could not shake that feeling of guilt.

I am my own worst critic. I hesitate to be create and live my passion because I fear that the end product is never good enough. The purpose of my 366 day blog challenge is to prove to myself that I can create content to build my business, and that the content is good enough.

I am giving myself permission to be kind to myself


We are our own worst enemy, we judge ourselves harshly, we beat ourselves up over mistakes, and far too often we may feel that we are not good enough. We ask ourselves, “Am I good enough to date this person?”, “Am I good enough to switch jobs?”, or “Am I good enough to raise a family?” The hardest phrase to say is “Yes I Am Good Enough”. ” I have always been and will always be enough!”

We don’t give ourselves permission to live life in a way that life should be lived. We often feel guilt when we have a sense of confidence, and even start to fear that people will question your own sense of self. We don’t live, we look and wait. We are unfair to ourselves.

At some point the consistent pattern of negative thoughts that consume our daily emotional state needs to stop. As humans we need to allow ourselves to feel strong, powerful, and successful, and we need to feel that way without guilt. We should not find ourselves apologizing for our accomplishments, we should be giving ourselves permission to celebrate each joyous moment of life. Most importantly we need to celebrate ourselves. So let’s start by giving ourselves permission to say “I Am Good Enough”, but not only say it, but mean it.

Give yourself permission to:

Live Without Fear

I love the phrase “life begins outside of your comfort zone”. Everyday we often wake up and find ourselves going through the motions of life but not actually living life. Take a chance on life, try a new activity, eat new foods, travel to destinations that you only see in magazines but never thought you would actually go to. Fear is an overpowering force that stops many of us from taking a risk, and possibly being happy. When the thought; “I want to, but what if…” comes to your mind. Stop, redirect, and say “I will”. Tell fear NO, and take the leap to live.

To Love

Love is a funny thing, because love will come into our lives, and sometimes love will leave our lives. Love is scary and unpredictable at times. It’s strange because; Do we choose to love, or does love chose us? That lack of knowing, may make us want to run in the opposite direction when we are faced by love. But if we never allow ourselves to keep giving love a chance, then we will not allow ourselves to experience all the great pleasures of joy that come with being loved and with loving another person. Life is not meant to be lived alone. Love does not just have to come from romantic relationships it can also come from friends and family. But we have to open ourselves up, let down our guard, and just allow life to be filled with love.

To Fail

Failure is how you know that you are dong something. Success is rarely accomplished without failure. Failure means that you are trying. We need to fail. We need to learn. We need to challenge ourselves. We need to overcome the fear of failure and not be defined by our failures. We are able to shape our lives with both our wins and losses. Failure is not always a negative; it is a stepping stone for success. Give yourself permission to try and fail, you will be one step closer to knowing how sweet if feels when you win.

To Be Confident

Confidence. One word that is easier said than done. To look in the mirror and say “hey I look really good today” is one of the most challenging tasks that I often give to my clients. We are afraid to be confident. Often times if we feel good about ourselves, or feel that we have just done a kick ass job, we are the last ones to give ourselves credit. We shut ourselves down before others have a chance to. It’s easier to hear a negative comment when we have already told it to ourselves first. Here’s a secret, self deprecation is not cute. So be confident. Be impressed with just being you. Say to yourself “I Am Amazing” and believe it. With confidence you will be taken seriously by friends, family, and co workers, and you will feel proud of yourself because you know that you are truly a badass and you mean it.

To Be Honest With Yourself

Honesty with yourself. The most important trait of knowing who you are. We hate to admit it, but yes there are times when we lie to ourselves. The trouble with lying to ourselves is that we can’t get away from it. There may be times when you say yes to something and you really want to say no, we trick ourselves into thinking that a relationship or friendship is good for us, but yet it is causing an immense amount of pain inside. We may feel that we need to work longer hours, and put in more time at work because we want to be recognized as a good employee, yet we hate our job. We tell ourselves a narrative that fits a certain time, place, or situation, yet deep down inside, we don’t really believe that narrative at all. With honesty in yourself, will come a sense of relief. The stress is gone, and it will give you room to do what you really want to do, and actually be in that place that fulfills your purpose in life. Be honest. Be You.

With my various new roles in life I am giving myself permission to take care of myself first, and to make sure I am consistently do my own mental check-ins. Self care is an absolute need. As they say during the safety briefing on the airplane, put your own mask on first, then put on the mask of your child. As a wife and mom I will have to make sure I am okay, so my family can be okay. I will give myself permission not to have working mom guilt, but to enjoy every moment with my family, and give lots of love and hugs everyday.

On Sundays We Meal Prep

And once again it’s Sunday. Tomorrow starts my first full week back to work, and I need my life organized ASAP. Another goal that I have for 2020 is to increase organization and efficiency. Do you know how many mornings I have made a cup of coffee and completely forget to drink it? More than should ever be possible. I feel crazy. Am I losing my mind?

I remember a time when I only had to plan for me. Wow, I didn’t realize how simple that was until now. I only had to worry about my own schedule, feeding only myself, and deciding what I wanted to do whenever I wanted to do it. The best part, I could nap whenever I wanted! I feel like I did not take full advantage of those opportunities. Silly me.

Then I got married, I had to plan for the hubby and myself. Ok, yes it was little bit more challenging but I made it work. I was working to get us in sync, decrease chaos, and organize our home. Then I get pregnant. Everything went out the window. I feel like I am starting from scratch and really need a road map to stability.

I question, how do we take care of a newborn, take care of ourselves, take care of our marriage, go to work, increase self care, date each other, organize our home, and keep a level of sanity in the process? Good question, I have no idea. In true Jennifer form, as with everything else in my life, dive in head first and just make sure you learn how to swim. I am treading water at the moment.

Prior to my year long pregnancy we were on a healthy living kick. Clean living, and training hard so we both could live healthy lives. I was weight lifting and training for races, the hubs was kayaking and doing century rides on his bike.

100 mile bike ride, go baby go!
Train hard, Love harder

We were going pretty strong. However, pregnancy hit and through us both threw a loop. My pregnancy cravings were grilled cheese, and pizza, or basically anything with cheese and bread. Lots of bread, and lots of cheese. Oh, and don’t forget the strawberry milkshakes. I have a slight lactose intolerance, so PP (pre pregnancy) I was never a big dairy fan, and would only indulge when I felt like giving myself a stomach ache. Yet, baby loved dairy. I could have all the dairy I wanted and it was no problem. So bring on all the strawberry milkshakes and all the cheese! I remember one time googling where I can find the best strawberry milkshake in Maryland. Then I drove around looking for it. Yeah, I was pregnant.

Now that baby is here, the holiday baking season is over, and I am back I work, I can once again find a sense of balance. So we are starting with clean eating again. If you remember a few years ago we did a plant based diet. When I pregnant we went back to eating meat because I just could never seem to get enough food, and my iron levels were off. So for now we will continue to eat meat, but probably not too much of it.

Today is meal prep Sunday. If I can pull this off, my week will be awesome. The plan is to prep breakfast, lunch, and dinner for us. If we can have food ready, then we can really get on a schedule and not be two hangry people!

I have started ordering my groceries and having them delivered, full disclosure…I was doing this way before the thought of a baby because I hate going to the grocery store. Groceries were delivered this morning, and now I get to cook for the week. I made a menu before hand so I know what groceries to buy, and limit waste. I am tired of throwing away food. As an effort to save money and time in 2020 I will attempt to stay dedicated to meal prepping.

If all goes well with having my weekly meals prepared, maybe I will actually remember to drink my coffee in the morning.

Time to start training for our next race!

What’s on deck this week:

Egg muffin cups and Greek yogurt for breakfast

Turkey and quinoa stuffed peppers, and chicken fried cauliflower rice with a sweet potato side for lunch.

Salmon and sauteed veggies for dinner.

Wish me the best of luck!

No expectations, no regrets, A life worth living

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.

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

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.