My 2013 Theme: “Keeping It Simple” (KIS)

Happy New Year, Day 5

So let’s check in…How are those New Year Resolutions going? Do you still remember what your’s are? If you do, great, If not don’t feel so bad, everyone else will fall off soon.

I didn’t set a resolution for this year (only because I am still working on those from last year), but I have decided to have a theme for this year. My theme for 2013 is “Keep it Simple”(KIS).  I will remember the motto “Keep it Simple”, everything in life will be simple. Personally 2012 was a year full of complications. Pure complications. I take responsibility, I was doing too much. My relationships; extremely complicated. I was dating, then not dating, then dating again, then got tired of dating, then started semi dating but not really, and so on, and so on, until eventually I wanted to scream. I wanted to change my phone number because my life felt like one big complication. From phone calls to random texts, I was overly ready for the phone to just die.

In reality life works so much easier when it is simple. When I can say “no”, and mean it, when I don’t feel guilty for turning down dates, when I don’t feel in a rush to return a text, or when I don’t go out with guys just because I can’t come up with a good enough excuse as to why I don’t really want to go on that date. I found myself overworking my brain, and I was the only one overworking. I went away from me. I went away from what I loved. I stopped writing. I stopped sleeping. I just stopped. In a web a complication a lot was going on around me, along the way I lost control of where I wanted to be. I had a vision, a goal, I forgot what that was.

So in 2013 I need to, I choose to, and I have to, say goodbye to complication. I need simplicity in order to get back on track as to who I am, what I love, and what I am trying to do in life. I have a book to finish writing, I have a story to tell, I want to get a Ph.D. Where were those goals in 2012. I lost them and I didn’t even realize it.

In 2013 I will continue to go on dates, of course I will,But they will be simple. You may not find me at any more awkward match.com events, but I just may attend simple happy hours.  No more developing the quasi what may be one day relationship, I need a real this is what it is going to be relationship. No more will I sit around questioning myself, after countless dates, asking “what is this”? I need to know what exactly “This”is. If we are just dating, cool, lets keep it simple, if it is going to a more exclusive relationship then I need that to be said to. A state of confusion and complication is not a relationship. A state of a definitive knowing that is communicated appropriately is a relationship. I am divorcing complication. Actually I am just tired of complication. Sick and tired of complication. I am forming an eternal marriage with simplicity, a love for simplicity.

My love life, my work life, my personal life, let’s keep it simple. Areas of life become complicated when we start to do too much. I am no longer doing too much. I will still do, but not over do.

Things to remember:

  • I must stay in control, when I lose control in walks complication without me even knowing it.
  • I need to keep tasks to a minimum, that includes dating. Work tasks, just do a few instead of trying to do everything. Dating, well just date one person at a time instead of multiple people at the same time, love, I only want to fall in love once, and my friendships, well I need to stop feeling guilty when I need to say no.
  • Take time for myself. Self care is of the utmost importance. Sleep when needed and remember that there is nothing wrong with alone time.
  • When I feel overwhelmed…STOP! Take a moment to stop and think. Breathe  get it together! By recognizing the complications before they had a chance to enter in, I will be able to maintain an aura of simplicity.

Life is best worked under the mask of simplicity, hopefully I can keep it that way!

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

Cadena De Amor , Coral vine, Mexican Creeper, ...
Cadena De Amor , Coral vine, Mexican Creeper, Antigonon leptopus…..Hoa Ti- gôn …#6 (Photo credit: Vietnam Plants & America plants)
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I have a confession: I am a black woman, and I work out

 

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

Self Reflection: A letter to my 7th grade self

I hated Junior High School. It sucked. Even in times where the drama of current life appears to look like  Junior High extended drama, I am so happy that I will never have to return to Junior High.

I am very appreciative that I was able to endure the Intermediate school experience long before the days  Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and You Tube.  What happened in school, had to stay in school, and the past was stuck in the past.  Far before the days of cell phones and text messages, if you didn’t have my home phone number, then there was  no reaching me.  In essence, maybe I did go to Junior High School at the right time. Because,  if I went today I know for sure it would really suck.

I say all that to focus on my present day self-reflection. I reflect on my Intermediate school days because it was a period that encompassed the height of childhood confusion. Particularly 7th Grade.  Why 7th grade? As with most kids who are in Intermediate school you are stuck in between two worlds. In 7th grade I was 11 turning 12. Too old to be considered a true kid, like in elementary school, and too young to be a real teenager. I had responsibility, but not the responsibility I wanted. In my current job I have clients who are 12. At 12 life is rough. Adults don’t understand why it is so hard, and kids wonder if it will ever get easier.  At 12, developmentally you go through a stage where you want to fit in, you want to be liked,  your body is starting to change, life is starting to change, and then you realize you have no idea how to just be 12.

In exactly 3 months from today I will be 30. So as I reflect back on what I have learned from life thus far, I have some very profound advice that I would tell my 12-year-old self. Here is my opportunity in a letter to my 7th grade self:

Dear Jennifer,

Right now seventh grade seems like it is one of the toughest school years of your life. Yeah, up to this point it is. It’s different from the other school years, everyone is growing up and you find yourself struggling to keep up. It was easy when you could just play with dolls and your mom would drive you to school. But now you have to take the city bus, and hanging out watching with friends while watching music videos has become the cool thing to do. It may seem hard now however,  life gets harder after the seventh grade. But, don’t worry you will be just fine you will be prepared for it.

You know that shyness that you have, that makes it difficult for you to speak up in class or talk to new people. Though you will always secretly be shy, you will enjoy talking to new people. Along the way you will discover that you just have an introverted personality, and sometimes shyness is not so bad.  You will be able to express yourself just fine, and you will learn to love that you have an introverted personality with extroverted tendencies.

Although you hate the way you way you look right now, and think you look like a child compared to the other girls in your class, you actually look just fine. You look like a normal 12-year-old. It is not so bad that your parents keep you sheltered and they won’t spend money for you to keep up with clothes that are in fashion. Well, your parents want to protect you from the city streets, and everything else dangerous. Don’t be angry with her mom because she won’t let you take the bus to Jamaica Avenue with your friends, or ride the subway into the city. When you are able to do that you will realize that it is not that fun. Your days of wanting to wear baggy jeans, and stealing your brother’s clothes will be short lived once the style changes. Though it seems impossible now, you will eventually love to wear tight jeans (even if they do stop you from breathing).

Eventually your mother will allow you to relax your hair, you actually may want to keep your hair natural for a while. You don’t realize it now, but your hair is perfect the way it is. It is strong and healthy without chemicals, no need to rush on getting a relaxer. You will also be able to eventually do your own hair without your mother’s help, you will learn it’s not that hard to blow dry and curl.

You hate wearing glasses, and hate being refered to as “the girl with the glasses”. You don’t understand why your mother won’t let you just wear contacts. Well eventually she will let you wear contacts, and despite what she says you wont get an infection in your eyes and you wont go blind just from wearing contacts. However, soon enough you will also appreciate wearing your glasses more too. Glasses will become a fashion statement.  So no matter if you are wearing glasses or contacts it won’t matter,  you will still look like you.

I know some days you can’t stand your own body type, and wish you looked different. You wish your skin was lighter, your hair was straighter, and that you could be a few pounds thinner. Well you look the way you do for a good reason. You look just fine the way you are. You are beautiful, and in a few years you will actually believe that. You feel overdeveloped thinking your breast are too big, and you wish your hips would shrink down over night. In a few years these will be your favorite assets. You will love your body because to have curves is to  be beautiful. Your body will adjust itself, and you will love the result. One day you will feel sexy, so just be you for today.  You walk with your head down now, but you will learn to hold it high.

Currently you have an English teacher who you consider to be a major bitch. You assume that she hates you. You don’t understand why she is always so evil, and why every assignment you turn in you get a C. You constantly wonder what you have to do for this lady to get just one A!  Well let me tell you, she gives you a C because that is the grade you deserve. Your won’t understand her purpose in your life for another 8-10 years but she is teaching you to do better. You need her in your life. This teacher sees the potential in your writing that you can no way possibly see in yourself. She doesn’t let you get by easy because she knows your true ability.  The result of all those C papers you earned; well, you are able to excel at AP English during your senior year of highschool because she secretly taught you how to write with a voice. You breeze through college English with no problem and, you finally earn that A that you didn’t deserve in 7th grade.  When you publish your first novel you should probably send her a personalized thank you note, because she saw ability in you that you were years away from seeing for yourself.  Just think, if she gives you that A, she will set you up to struggle with writing  for the rest of your life.

You’re a smart girl kiddo. Even though some kids may consider you a nerd right now, in adulthood it is actually cool to be a nerd. See when the country goes into a recession, the nerds will be the people who have jobs contacting them to work, while many other people are out looking for work.  Keep studying, you have plenty of time to do everything else. One day you will be able to laugh at your own quirks, and your flaws are what make you different from everyone else. Your sarcastic and witty, keep that. A good sense of humor comes in handy when life gets rough.

Your friendships come and go. Lucky for you, you meet one of your best friends in seventh grade. You have other  friends, but you are not always sure if you should trust them.  The friends that you have now will not be your friends for the rest of your life. However, you will gain some pretty awesome friends along the way. Through high school and college you will meet friends who will change your life. Don’t be afraid to trust them, they are good people, I promise. You will gain friends who care about you more than you sometimes care about yourself. They will be there to catch you when you fall and, when you cry they know exactly how to make you smile. Though some experiences will be crazy to  say the least, it will be well worth it.

Although it seems that boys don’t like you now, and you wonder if you will ever have a boyfriend, don’t worry about that. You are 12! The boys who make fun of you now, will be the same boys who want to date you in 10 years. You have plenty of time to have boyfriends and date. You will even get to date the cute boys! You will go out on more dates than you ever really wanted to in your entire life. Then suddenly you will realize dating is not that fun. There will be plenty of  boys who like you, so you  can be picky about who you date. Never settle, you’re better than that. You will fall in love, fall out of love, and do it all over again. And even though the relationships don’t end in happily ever after, you will be Ok.  There is a reason for that. You will learn that you love being in love. You are emotional, so naturally you love hard. That can be a gift and a curse.  When you do love, you will fall in love with a man who will also be your best friend for the time that he is in your life. You will teach him how to love, he will teach you what it is really like to be in love. When that relationship dies, you will learn to grow into the woman you were meant to be. With maturity and time, you learn more about yourself,   more about life, and so much more about love, than you can ever imagine. When your close to 30, you will suddenly realize that your story is really just beginning.

Finally, Listen to your mother when she talks. Listen hard even when her conversations are long and drawn out. Her fears are only there to protect you. Don’t let her fears become your fears. During the times when you think she is not supportive of you, she is still proud of you. She realizes more than anyone that you march to the beat of your own drum.  When you grow up she will be a friend to you, you will have fun with her, and amazingly be able to laugh and talk with her. She is smart, she has lived,  she only wants to help you avoid making mistakes. You dream of being a doctor, but then you realize you hate college math classes, and those science classes do nothing more than put you to sleep. You will find a career path where you feel you are a true natural . Once you find it, you can’t see yourself doing anything else. You will eventually love your job, and realize that you are an important vessel in changing the lives of others.

You will make mistakes, actually you will make a lot of mistakes. Do not have regrets about anything you do, every mistake comes with a valuable lesson learned, and a new opportunity to grow. Live your best life, leave the past in the past, the future will take care of itself, just  focus on the present.

By the way, you may want to tell your parents to start saving for college, because you are going to go to college. My best advice: Avoid student loans!

At the age of 12 life seems boring, and it is. You can’t do much. One day it will get a whole lot better. You have an imagination that extends far beyond living in Queens for the rest of your life. You have a desire to see more, to do more, and eventually you will find a way. You will walk a path that is personalized just for you. Keep that imagination, use it wisely, it will take you to paces you currently only dream about. One day you will truly be a free spirit, you can go anywhere, anytime you want. The world is your sandbox, go play.

Love,

Jennifer (age 29 going on 30)
What advice would you give to the 7th grade version of you?

29 and counting…part 3 Getting over the defeat

5 months, 3 days away from turning 30

A few weeks ago I was feeling really defeated. I just wanted to quit. I wanted to quit everything. I was done. I felt tired of trying and not getting any results. What was I trying to do? Well now that I’m over my feeling of defeat, I am re-examining exactly what it is that I want to do. I start to ask myself, What am I really looking for?

At the end of my twenties, I feel like I followed the path of life that I supposed to go on. At least the plan that my parents may have had for me. I graduated from high school, went to college, graduated from college, even graduated from grad school at NYU! I started working for employers in my field, made a career for myself, moved to the other side of the world, survived in Hawaii, and now I wonder: What’s supposed to come next!

Cover of
Cover via Amazon

What is my next move, and how do I start to make it. I feel like the person in the Robert Frost poem, The Road not taken. I am at a crossroads of two diverging roads, so obviously I should take the road less traveled by. The problem is I don’t even have a sense of which road has been less traveled.

In actuality I always have taken the road less traveled. My life is a representation of taking that chance to make the difference. However, today as I move closer to 30 it appears that life has hit me with uncertainty. Uncertainty about if  that road that few go down is really the right road. I wonder about my career. I love my job, but do I want to do this forever. Should I get a Ph.D. to excel in my career, or do I just want a Ph. D. so people can call me Doctor. I can’t let my ego make life decisions for me, in the end I will just end up in a never-ending battle with my own self.  When I have accomplished everything that was on my “to do” list, what am I really supposed to do next.  Make a new list possibly? Okay, what do I put on it.  The plan that I had at 19 once seemed that it would last  for the rest of my life. At 29 I wonder how long my next plan will last. I really don’t want this feeling again at 39.

There are days when I want to hide, I want to disappear, so I don’t have to make decisions for my own life. I tell myself “WAKE UP!” this is adulthood, accept responsibility for your own life. I wonder if I should try a new career, but what would I do? Would I even like it? I guess I won’t know until I make an attempt. I wonder if I should move to a new city, but will I be happy there?  I need to stop wondering and just do something, anything.  So here it goes, I will set out again on that road less traveled by. I’m going to enter 30 with at new plan, a new outlook, complete bigger and better accomplishments. To fight the feeling of uncertainty I will remember: My best days are ahead of me, and I just have to live for today.

 Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

Why Not Be The Best Version Of Yourself!

S0 here it is: In a few weeks I will be turning 29! Yup 29. (I am silently wondering if I should be having a brief panic attack) Since I am entering my last year in my twenties, I have decided to do a little bit of self-reflection.

While in my twenties I would say that I almost met all of the societal expectations of girls in their twenties. I graduated from college, entered the professional world, learned how to balance a check book, and dated a variety of men. Where did I go wrong? Well I didn’t get married, and I have no children. In my thirties, if I stay on this track  I will be considered a social leper by the standards of some.  Apparently marriage and babies is the icing on the cake for women in their twenties. Therefore, when women reach their thirties they will be complete with a family, or divorced, take your pick. As a woman, if you are still or newly single in your thirties, you continue to go on what may seem like endless dates, continue to look for Mr. Right, or maybe just Mr. Right now, oh and  you even get the wonderful added pity of people who feel so sorry for you life of singledom that they go out of their way to offer to find you Mr. Right now. Do women ever get the chance to just be happy with themselves, by themselves, and love it?

I spent the majority of my early to mid twenties involved in serious relationships. When I was around the age of 24, I was dating a man who I just knew I wanted to marry. For some strange reason I wanted a husband right then. My boyfriend at the time was cute, and he had a job, he took care of me, so he was perfect to marry right? Well no it was not that simple. I wanted to get married yes, but not because I actually wanted to be a wife or understood what it actually meant to be a wife, at the time I just thought the idea of having a husband would be nice. I would have someone to take care of me, and we would just automatically become one. I must give the credit to God on that one, he knew exactly what he was doing with that didn’t work.

At 24 I would have made a horrible wife. I’ll admit it, just horrible. I was selfish, egocentric, bratty, spoiled, and had no idea of what it meant to be a wife, or how to treat a husband. Marriage was just a word in my vocabulary. I truly wanted the wedding and not the marriage. Looking back life worked out exactly the way life was supposed to work.  However, if I did get married the advantage was then I would not have to face life alone. I could go from living with my parents, to living with my husband. When I was younger I remember my mother telling me that I needed to find a husband so he can take me away. To my mom, she could just marry me off so she wouldn’t have to support me anymore. What a silly idea that was. When the marriage plan didn’t work out, I created a new plan, my own plan. My plan actually turned out to be the right plan. I would live life for me, and figure out how to be the best version of me first before I tried to share my life with someone else.

Around the age of 25, I once heard Oprah and Mya Angelou say that life gets better at 50. So being the me that I am, I figured that I only have to wait 25 more years, then life will start to get good. I will feel free, and living my best days…but at 50, which seems like an eternity away. Did I really want to wait that long? No. I have a huge problem with impatience. So my next thought was how do I make today my best day. I can make life start right now, today, and really live. The advantage had been that I could figure that out all by myself. I had no one to answer to. It was my life, and I could do whatever I wanted to with it. Suddenly I realized the bright side of not getting married, and being a horrible wife at the age of 24. I was given the opportunity to grow, to learn, to love me for who I am, to learn to love other people exactly for who they are, and to learn how to be a good wife. With growth, I learned compromise, I learned the joys of giving, and to be happy seeing other people happy.  I found my own personal happiness, and no one could take that away from me.

During my twenties I feel my biggest accomplishment has been becoming the a better version of myself. With time spent alone, I have learned to love myself first as an individual. Doing small things on my own, has helped me to learn to appreciate my own company.  I am content in knowing what I love and what I don’t love. What I want and what I don’t want.  I used to have fears of going to eat alone, going to the movies alone, or vacationing alone. In the past few years I have overcome all of those fears, and many more. So as I turn 29 do I feel like I have life figured out? Oh no, far from it. But I do know that I am now living life at my best, I appreciate everything that I have to offer to the world. Most importantly, I know that I do not have to wait another 20 years for life to start, because I am ready to start living  life at my best everyday.

Running With Aloha!

Just so you know I am not a runner. In fact I really hate running. When I was a child I despised running, in high school I wanted to play basketball so I was forced to run.  Finally, in my adult life I love to workout, but running has never been my workout of choice. With that said, I must tell you that I decided to get up take on the challenge and run. Not only run, but actually complete a full running event consisting of 8.15 miles.  A run that I thought I would never do, turned out to be a run that I can not wait to do again.  I did it, I completed the Great Aloha Run.

Kaiser Permanente Great Aloha Run

Every Year on President’s Day, what seems to be like all of Honolulu and then some, come out to run The Great Aloha Run. Thousands of people gather together to run from Aloha Tower, to Aloha Stadium (the site of the NFL Probowl). This year I was fortunate enough to be one of those people. I must say I decided to run with some hesitation. Up until today I never ran more than 3 full miles, so how did I think that I would be able to do 8? To make matters worse my friend who had signed up to run with me came down with the flu a few days before race day. Up until the last hour I did not think that she would be able to make it. However, this girl was a pure trooper, she came out to run still feeling under the weather. Although I could not find her until the end of the race due to the massive crowd, I was impressed that she actually ran and finished in an impressive time with flu like symptoms.

Today the whole state of  Hawaii came together just to run. From babies in strollers, to the elderly, military and civilians, all were out running. Overall the experience was great, and I am ready to keep on running. I will continue to practice my running so I can stay in shape, and hopefully acquire a love for running. Would I do a full marathon? Well probably not, I get bored easily. But I would go a longer distance. Next challenge, preparing for a half marathon. Yeah now lets see how that goes.