A new year

I’ve said a few times but it really is funny how quickly time goes by. I recently celebrated another year of life and I reflected on how much had changed since my last birthday. I brought in last year on a Caribbean cruise. I chilled on the beach in St. Maarten and took an excursion on St. John. This year was different. It was much more low key and consisted of great conversation, food and quality time with my boyfriend. I’m healthier than I was last year and overall I feel like I’m more balanced. My professional goals are still present but they are also better aligned with my personal goals and plan to improve my work life balance. This past year I traveled a little bit but most of my time was spent in the gym. I did a quick trip to Spain, continued doing some contract work and ultimately decided that I didn’t like the idea of a perpetual 40 hour work week. There’s been ups and downs but through it all I’m grateful for another year.

Loc’d Up

Like many, I was happy to see laws like the CROWN Act happening in various states across the country. Historically there are certain cultural norms about hair and what constitutes being a professional hairstyle and more often than not the rules do not include an understanding of the intricacies of Black hair. Today I took the step of getting Sisterlocks and embracing the hair I’ve been given. It took about 18 hours of patience and sitting in the same spot but it went by pretty fast. It was nice to be still for a moment and take a break from some of the daily demands and responsibilities I have. The flat iron, pressing comb, and curling iron is technically a thing of the past and while it feels daunting, it feels good to start something new. In the period of a year I’ve had several major hair changes that have included a drastic cut, color and making a choice to not use heat on my hair. I’m excited to start this journey and find out more about my natural hair texture and also explore some styling possibilities when my hair matures. It all begins today.

Making progress

Making a lifestyle change is hard and there can be so many barriers and challenges with remaining consistent. Last summer I was challenged to change my mindset and lose the weight I had been procrastinating on addressing. Everyone has different levels of comfort with their body image and their weight but I knew that it was time for things to change. While you can be happy, self accepting, have high self esteem and be overweight, I knew that it wasn’t working for me. I was tired of taking long airplane rides to other countries and being unable to comfortably fit into the seat while being ashamed to ask for a seat belt extender. It just wasn’t what I wanted. I was over my clothes not fitting right and only being able to wear certain select items in my closet because I had “outgrown” the majority of what I had available but didn’t want to spend more money to buy more clothes. I believe in radical self acceptance but I also believe in changing your lifestyle and being healthy if that’s a goal you have for yourself. It was a long, long road that still continues but I’ve made progress. I started with a personal trainer (aka my boyfriend), made the decision to no longer be vegetarian, I got off medication (after consulting with a doctor), started weight training, and changed my diet drastically. It wasn’t an overnight change and it didn’t happen as soon as I would have liked but I lost 45lbs and I’m still working towards my goal. Last week was the first time I could pick things from my closet to wear that I haven’t been able to fit in over 5 years. It was an amazing feeling and having a supportive partner has been great. I still have some progress to make but it’s nice to finally comfortably sit in an airplane seat without being black and blue from the armrest digging into my thigh. I’m determined to remain consistent and to continue to make progress. After all, it’s a marathon and not a sprint.

Cooking Chronicles

This pandemic has driven many to turn to food as a source of comfort. I would be lying to say that I haven’t indulged in the occasional “bad” carb after a particularly stressful day. People are cleaning out the junk food in supermarkets while leaving the produce and grocery aisle practically untouched. The emphasis on certain comfort foods reminds me of one of my favorite food experiences as a kid and teenager. Camping. There is absolutely nothing that tastes as good as food made by a campfire after a long day of hiking. I went camping with a group of people and while we were outdoors, no expense was spared as far as the food budget. S’mores, grilled cheese sandwiches, tomato soup, tacos, peach cobbler, vegetarian hotdogs and other delicious wonders were available in abundance. It was a great time to enjoy nature while also experiencing the community component of preparing food in large quantities and having good conversations as we huddled around the campfire for warmth. Nowadays, I find myself preparing more food than I ever have at any point in my life. I make dinner in the evenings and meal prep for most of my lunches at work. I’ve become more comfortable doing it and I find myself making more things from scratch and passing on some of the more processed foods. Nothing excessive but just a more intentional effort to eat a bit healthier than before.

Beaches

Typically I avoid traveling in the summer as it’s a time where most people are out and about and prices tend to be higher. However, I’m considering breaking my invisible rule to explore some National out of the way places that aren’t overrun with people. The first thing on my list is a beach. I’ve seen some great ones over the years and I’m looking forward to seeing some new ones this summer. We’ll see.

Portugal
St. Maarten
The Bahamas
Tortola
Jamaica
Aruba

The luxury of femininity

Women go through a lot. We are increasing in numbers within the workplace but we still are generally the ones held responsible for household duties and we also bear children. The scale seems just a bit crooked at times. Women in high profile positions are often asked how they manage being a mother and having children while no one would dare ask the corresponding question to a man. There’s a certain amount of hardness that comes along with being able to navigate a professional job. Sure, you can be a bleeding heart but you’ll burn out fast and have nothing to show for it. I’ve noticed this myself in my years of practice work. There’s a certain level of professionalism that is expected regardless of one’s emotional state. After being in the workforce and dealing with multiple challenges, many women don’t want to go home and do hobbies that engage and enhance their feminine traits. It’s a luxury that most black women aren’t provided as many are sexualized and expected to grow up early. It’s a luxury to be able to embrace more feminine traits of softness and emotional processing while simultaneously completing job duties. It’s a lose lose situation at times. There’s such a need for honest dialogue around femininity and what it means in the face of a world where women’s rights are constantly threatened. Does equality take precedence over chivalry or is it the other way

The (hopefully not) new normal

There’s been so many changes lately and the funny thing is that I started a new job right before everything shut down so it’s been a learning curve adjusting to a new process while navigating policy changes related to patient care as a result of the current client. Yes, that was a mouthful. Everyone is coping in their own way and some better than others. I’m glad to see that there is more attention around mental health and that people are reaching out but as it’s also equally imperative that therapists’ take the time to reset and recharge between providing emotional support to individuals while being (sometimes) in a similar personal situation. I’m finding myself saying “no” more often than I used to due to juggling several responsibilities and taking classes. One clothing brand has given a 50% discount to all healthcare workers and I was so glad to finally get a jacket that would be perfect when I go into work at the crack of dawn and it’s still chilly outside. While I think that a show of support is great, what would be even better would be compliance so that the rates of this virus can come down. But there’s nothing more American than protesting and people don’t like being told what to do regardless of the fact that it’s for the greater good.

Barcelona again

Last year I found a great round trip plane ticket to Barcelona for $270. I got the chance to go a few weeks ago. While the original ticket I bought was for a week, I wanted to get back into the States a little earlier so I just made it a weekend trip (Friday to Sunday). I was reminded of how much I love the food and the overall environment. I visited some of my favorite spots from my trip there 6 years ago. I plan to return and spend more time one day.

Vegetarian woes

I’ve always lived fairly health conscious. I’m familiar with many fruits and vegetables and I was raised as a vegetarian/vegan. However, recently due to a change in my workout regimen and weightlifting routine I’ve had to start eating meat as a means of increasing protein and helping me recover in between workouts. It’s been a challenge so far because I have no idea how to cook meat and the texture of it is way too chewy for my liking. One thing that I can appreciate is the fact that I’m cooking more and getting a chance to become more familiar with the layout of my kitchen because traditionally I’m not a fan of cooking for one. So far salmon and crab are my favorites and I like the challenge of experimenting and figuring out what recipes taste good. I’m seeing favorable results so I’ll continue to stick with the meat thing. I feel better overall and I have more energy. I have more endurance when working out and I’m seeing changes with the way my clothes fit. I just wish chicken tasted as good as tofu.