10 years ago I was 21

Hello April, wow I feel like I went to sleep and I woke up and it was April 1st. Ok maybe it just has been a really long time since I have written anything new. I blame…procrastination.

Well a little over two weeks ago I turned 31. Not as exciting as turning 30, but I come back to you a year older.

31 is somewhat of a weird age for me. I am not sure if I should start crying now, or if I should be excited that I am growing in wisdom. What happens at 31? In the last two weeks since my 31st birthday, well I can honestly say that I feel no different from when I was 29 or 30. I just know that on my 31st birthday my mother so nicely told me that I was falling behind and needed to get on the ball because when she was 31 she was already married with two kids. My brother was 6 and I was 3. Is that where my life should be at this point? Could I see myself married with two kids at this time in my life? Well a part of me wants to laugh loudly at that thought. I have a feeling that a husband and a set of kids would cramp my entire style of free spiritness.

Well that’s not totally true, there are those days when I do wish I had a husband to do everything for me (that is what husband’s do right?). I would like to have kids who bear my resemblance so I could look at how cute they are, and have them follow me around because I am so awesome. Ok, maybe it is not that simple, but a family sometimes is a nice thought, that will come with time.

It feels slightly strange at 31 to be 10 years removed from 21. When I was 21 I felt like time stood still, I never really thought of what life would be like at 31. At 21 I knew that age 31 was ancient, and it was a far off age that would not find a place in my reality.

Where was I at 21? Well I was a senior in college, I knew I would go to graduate school, so I guess I had envisioned a future    up to age 25. My birthday was during spring break, so I celebrated it as a college spring breaker in South Beach, Miami. Oh memories. The days of reckless behaviors and irresponsible drinking, oh wait I still do the irresponsible drinking at times, but I will admit that the frequency has significantly decreased.

At 21 I felt like a child. At 31 I am a full-fledged adult. I wish there was a manual on how to be an adult, because I frequently wonder if I am doing it right. I am human, I make mistakes, I wish there was a way to avoid those mistakes.

As an adult I have responsibilities. Responsibilities not only to myself, but to my employer, to my clients, and to my family. Sometimes I miss the days of being a care free college student, although some college students have responsibilities to others, I sure wasn’t one of them. At 21 I felt life was hard, it wasn’t. I thought I knew all the answers, well I didn’t. I thought I had a perfectly thought out plan of what my life would be like, it didn’t work out that way. Life happens, plans change, daily.

At 31 I am not the same person that I was when I was 21. I consider that a very good thing. I have grown, learned more about myself, and can’t wait to grow some more. However, some days at 31 I still feel uncertain about life. At times I am unsure about plans, I question myself more than ever, I am on overdrive most days, and I feel like my life map has been thrown out the window. Direction would be nice at 31. At 21 I hated direction, at 31 I am begging for a clear planned out map. I guess I will start working on that now.

Life moves fast at 31. At 21, years moved at a snail’s pace, and  time took forever to jump forward. At 31, well I blink my eyes and suddenly its April. Time moves fast, I need to make the most out of being 31 before it’s over, and suddenly I will be crying for real at 32.

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Evolution: The dating edition

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

 

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

I am afraid to sleep at night because I am scared of my dreams

dramatic dream
dramatic dream (Photo credit: unNickrMe)

I am afraid to sleep at night because I am scared of my dreams.

I never thought that anyone besides me would ever get what that means, but I recently told a friend that, and she understood it completely. Now I’m wondering to other people experience the same thing?

Again, I am afraid to sleep at night because I am scared of my dreams.

Honestly, I love sleep. I think sleep is a great thing, one of my favorite pastimes, however I’m not really good at it. I am not a good night-time sleeper. Now you would sleep would be something that is easy to do. You don’t have to learn how to do it. Babies are born with the innate ability to sleep. It is a natural body response. Sleep. You can’t go too long without sleeping, and if you try to stay awake past a certain amount of time, your eyes get heavy, you mind gets delusional, and your body begin to take your whole self into a forced shutdown.

So why is it so hard for me to sleep?

My dreams. My dreams make it difficult for my body to rest. At night my body and mind are ready to sleep. It wants to sleep, and my mind is begging for a shut down period after running in overdrive to an over extensive amount of time. However once 11:00 pm to midnight come along, my body starts to despise sleep. It fights with sleep, goes into panic mode. Not an anxiety driven panic mode, but an avoidance  panic mode, ready to do anything else besides sleep.

My dreams are intense, they trigger intense emotion that have caused me to wake up in the heart of the middle of the night crying, anxious, worried, scared, and angry. My body responds to the dreams. My heart starts beating fast, if I am having an argument with someone I wake up angry with the biggest migraine because I am upset. Even though the emotion comes from the dream world, in the real world the effects are very much real.

I have intrusive, somewhat annoying dreams about ex-boyfriends. I am working on keeping the past in the past, but when the past pops up as a reoccurring item in my dreams it sends my mental state into a zone of chaos and confusion. This then takes a number of waking hours to recover from. I feel like I went from past to present real quick.  I wake up with the thought of wanting to make a phone call or send a text, but I often find myself fighting to stay grounded, it is not a good idea. It was just a dream.

My dreams have caused to me worry about my family. The realness of when someone dies, or when someone gets hurt in the dream world makes it hard to separate that from reality. I wake up with real tears, with real shivers, with a real feeling of emptiness. I become afraid in real life.  Once I know that everyone is ok, then and only then can I return to a state of calmness.

Am I crazy?

Probably just a little bit. Every once in a while, I have a very dark and frightening dream about being involved in a shooting massacre.  I know this is going to sound very strange. But this dream is reoccurring, and I am not sure why. I am always at a public place, the place my be different each time. It may be a school, a mall, or just outdoors. There is a mass shooting, one shooter is involved, I watch other people get shot, then the gun is pointed towards me, I am afraid, I feel the fright through the dream. I never get shot. As many times as I have had this dream, the shooter never shoots me. My life is spared. Then I wake up. I wake up in shock. It feels so real but, I have never been in an experience like the dream, but the dram is vivid.  The tears and rapid heart beat return, I can feel that intensely. That is real. I am alive. That is real. The dream was just that, a dream.

I am afraid to sleep at night because I am scared of my dreams. Does anyone else feel this way?

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences

No more first dates please!

So I have a confession: For the first time ever in my life I ran out on a date. I didn’t even say goodbye. I just left. I had enough. I wanted to scream. To avoid screaming, I made the most non under dramatic exit possible. Like a superhero I bolted out the door with lightning flash speed (we were at the movies, I ran out on the movie. Who does that?) The first,  hopefully the last and only time that I will ever have to engage in such a act. But to be honest, I couldn’t take it anymore, I just had to go.

The details of my bad date aren’t really that important. Since I left, trust me it was bad. I am 30 years old! In my own right, I have a higher standard of dating. To engage in a date with a drunk guy at the movies is not on my to-do-list. Yet it happened. So long story short: he was drunk and obnoxious, I was mortified and sick to the pit of my stomach, and I bolted towards the end of the longest two hour movie date of my life. I was tempted to walk home at nearly 11:00 at night, yeah it was that bad. Lucky for me, I have awesome friends who are willing to rescue me from the horror of my dating life (thank God, maybe the heavens do like me!). I was saved from walking, the night ended with great laughs, and another story to add to the book.

I never fail to get that all too common reminder as to why I hate dating.  When I seem to have a memory lapse, suddenly it comes back to me, the reasons why I can do without a first, second, or third date. In fact I have come to this conclusion: I never want to go on a first date again! I feel the need to be saved from the pain of having to endure the torment of horrible conversation, or sitting across the table from someone who should probably be at the nearest AA meeting than out in public with me.

Yup, its official, I am throwing in the dating towel. In a perfect world I would just be able to bypass all the mundane initial date “stuff” and move to the actual relationship. The relationship, the stage where we are exclusive. The stage where we are comfortable with one another.  He tells me how much he loves my smile, he knows what to say to make me laugh, I do sweet girlfriend things and  he enjoys listening to my useless tidbits that should probably land me a spot on Jeopardy. That stage where I don’t have to shave my legs every single time we go out because he is fully aware that hair grows on them, and if I want to sit around that house in sweatpants, then fine! Sweatpants are perfectly acceptable attire, he doesn’t care.  I would much rather prefer that stage, than the stage of the awkward first, second, third, fouth…..date.

Who said dating was fun? They lied. The truth, it sucks. No wonder speed dating is so popular, the commitment only lasts for 8 minutes. Short, sweet, and to the point, to me that equals perfection. If I can’t stand you at minute 8, we can part ways and never have to speak to each other again. So much better than waiting for minute 120 or 180, those minutes seem to last forever.

If only life had a fast forward button. If I could close my eyes today, and be in a completely monogamous relationship tomorrow, well I’ll take it. We know we will work, we have what each other are looking for, and we want the same things in life. Sounds good to me. Oh wait, life doesn’t really happen that way. I must endure the pain of a first date to get to that point.

Did anyone watch “What Chilli Wants” on Vh1? I see now why Chilli’s list was long enough to circle the entire earth…twice. To go out on a date and have an utter sense of disappointment is a pure waste of time and energy. At least if you know what you want to can see, attack, then conquer. Well maybe not so harshly, but you get the point.

To move to the relationship stage, dating must come first. If anyone knows a way around it, trust me I am open for ideas. As I eagerly hope for that amazing date that happens with ease involving  great conversation,  encompassing moments that I hope can last just a little bit longer, and a feeling of utter calmness, I will do what I can to stay positive. I will still go out, after a through screening process 🙂 Believe me the screening is not that bad.

At 30 I have a new take on dating. No wonder it is far more difficult than when I was 20. I am in a new realm. I have evolved. I have higher standards, I have expectations. Yup, dating is more complex now than ever. But, as with everything else in life, the more I try, the closer I am to getting it right.

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences.

Comfortable in my own skin (and it only took me 30 years to do it)

A few years ago I used to co-facilitate a  workshop for pre adolescent girls. The themes of  the workshop  focused on body image, and increasing self-esteem. Bi weekly my co-facilitator and I would have sessions with these girls to assist them with  becoming comfortable with themselves, and learning how to see themselves as beautiful both inside and out. During one of our sessions we began the group by handing each of the girls a mirror and, asked them to look into the mirror while telling themselves that they were beautiful.  None of the girls were able to do this task. They were not able to say “I am beautiful”. The girls told me if they said that then they would sound conceited, and they didn’t want to come off as conceited. I gave them permission to be as conceited  as they wanted. They continued to struggle. We were in a room with nine girls aged 11-13, not one of them were able to stand up, look in a mirror, and tell themselves that they were beautiful.

When is it acceptable for us to be comfortable in our own skin?

Now that I am 30, I can safely say to myself that I Am Beautiful. I wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and think to myself, hey I look pretty cute. Am I being conceited? Some people might think so. But honestly, I don’t even care. As long as I am happy with me, my whole self, inside and out, what other people think is a secondary notion that spends little time in my mind.

Now that I am 30, I am at peace with myself. To be comfortable with myself goes far beyond the way I look in the mirror. I am a girl, so some days I will have my “fat days”, or my “I look like a hot mess” days, but even on those days I will be comfortable with who I am. This is only possible because I have found a sense of inner peace. I have calmed down from over thinking what everyone else expects of me, and what everyone else wants me to be. What is the sense of working so hard to please everyone else, when I am not putting any energy into pleasing myself? I have chosen to please myself first. If others do not agree, then its a great thing that this is my life. I can only be affected by those things that I allow to affect me. If it is positive then bring it on! If it is negative, well then it can stay far far away from me.

Now that I am 30, I choose to be in control.  I am in control of what happens in my life. At 30 I am at the most mentally, physically, and spiritually stable point in my life. I know how to control my moods, I am aware of my body’s emotional regulation so I do  not feel like a crazy person. I can run faster and longer than ever before, exercise has become a daily fixture in my life, and my body has the strength to overcome many physical challenges because of its constant conditioning. I am doing things that I have never done before, like actually sign up for races (who knew I would be doing that at 30?). I look forward to physical challenges, sweat is great, and exercise pain is my new best friend.  I am spiritually ready for what God has in store for me. Years ago I was far from ready for what God had planned for me. God knows exactly what he is doing, walking by faith, I will let him take the lead. With God and balance I will continue to be just fine.

Now that I am 30, I just like being me. I will always say it, I am a little bit different. I am slightly to the left, I am clumsy, I hesitate to wear white because I know something will spill on it. I hate getting my hair and nails done because I think it takes too long to finish, and I dislike shopping because I hate waiting in lines. Some days I never know if I’m coming or going, and I work best when I can just wing it. That is me. I laugh at my own jokes, and I can easily laugh at myself for doing something silly. I have a ton of faults, and I love them all. I am a consistent marcher to the beat of my own drum, and my beat sure does sound damn good (well in my head). I can only be me. And finally, I have fallen so deep in love with me!

So hopefully now it is acceptable for me to be comfortable in my own skin. Because if not, I don’t have another 30 years to waste on being someone else.

 

Positive thoughts, positive energy, positive experiences.