Figuring it out

I’ve set an intention (as I typically do) to write more frequently. While I see the upcoming new year as a start, I thought that it would be good to try to get a head start on creating the habit. Over the years, I’ve done a lot of reading and research on religious trauma which translated in to presenting at several conferences, writing an article, and creating a mini-course. Religion is one of those things that can bring value and meaning to life. It influences the way that people see themselves and see the world. However, it can also be used as a weapon and inflict emotional wounds that are difficult to move past from. I think that there’s a need for more conversations around how to successfully navigate and integrate the values from that you were taught with the knowledge gained through experiences. Oftentimes, those two things aren’t congruent and are perceived as clashing; but in reality, our past experiences shape who we become in one way or another.

Wrapping things up

It’s hard to believe that this year is almost over. There have been numerous ups and downs and I can truthfully say that it’s been one of the faster years I’ve experienced. I’ve become more comfortable with setting my own hours but also realized that there’s a lot of room for improvement when it comes to work life balance. This year my birthday came up so much quick than I anticipated and while I did reflect a bit on what I wanted to do and what I accomplished this year. I will say that fitness and health have played a major role in my daily life in a way that I never expected. Going to the gym every day, watching what I eat, going to the sauna and trying to better manage stress has made a difference. People talk about the importance of consistency but it’s different when you see the results in your own life after making a choice and then accompanying it with an effort. Being able to tolerate over 30 minutes of the Stairmaster when previously I was dying at the 10 minute mark has been a source of motivation and a reminder that I can do hard things. Finishing a doctoral program that took 6 years to complete is not the same as obtaining and maintaining a 60+ lb weight loss. They both require discipline but a different type. All that to say, this year has been tough, it’s been good, it’s been sad, it’s been soul-sucking but it’s been worth it. I’m looking forward to bigger and better things and also scheduling a few more days to sleep in.

Month 9

It’s been crazy how fast the year has gone and like many, I’ve realized that it hasn’t gone completely according to plan. My international trips have once again been curtailed but I’ve seen more of the countryside and traveled to some of the local spots near me. I’ve confirmed I officially like sushi and I now low key regret spending 28 years being a vegetarian. However, it gave me a great foundation for healthy eating and I’m glad for that. This year I’ve also developed more discipline in taking care of myself and taking both fitness and business seriously. It’s been eye opening to discover new ways of thinking and to hear the perspectives of others. There’s so much going on in the world today that seems incredibly polarizing and I’ve seen how fragile human relationships can be when there is seemingly a conflict of values. Time flies when you’re having fun, but also when you’re just working a lot.

The New Year

As always, my goal for the new year is to write more consistently than I have in the past. Thankfully I got an early start last year as I got the opportunity to write some articles on mental health. However, as I’ve continued to learn and work in the field I’m seeing the value of placing my thoughts on paper or rather typing it out on my phone. I’ve bought more books, focused on growing my private practice and taken a more intentional approach on learning more about relationships. Last year took everyone by surprise and like most, I found myself having to make some significant adjustments. However, one small mercy was that I was already working from home to a large extent so it wasn’t as difficult to transition. This year I want to invest in myself and in my relationships and take the time to enjoy the present. I want to be more consistent in self care and give myself the same grace that I give others.

Taking inventory

After years of waiting and hoping I finally got into a relationship with long term potential about a year ago and things are going well. The thing that has been surprising is how different my expectations were from reality. I work with black women who have educational and financial standards for their future boyfriend or spouse and honestly I used to be one of them. No one wants to be in a relationship and do worse financially then they were before. However, in the past year I’ve learned more about some of the intangibles that mean more than what a guy makes or his level of education. Women can easily get caught up in what a man does instead of evaluating who he is. One thing is significantly less obvious than the other. Dating a project isn’t about trying to rehabilitate a man but it’s not the same as supporting a man who has a clear path and plan for the future. Many times the past is a great indicator of the future. Instead of asking about a five year plan, it’s better to ask a man about a five year plan he’s has in the past and what year he’s in presently. It’s easy have aspirations but it’s much hard to put in the work to manifest them. If a man is serious his actions will show it. Giving you a girlfriend label doesn’t indicate he’s serious. Is he applying for jobs to move closer to you? Has he given you his timeline for moving in together? Is he introducing you to his circle of friends? These are all indications that there’s a good chance he’s sees a future with you. Women are quick to complain that a man has wasted their time but in reality they have wasted their own time because they weren’t being held hostage and they got committed too soon without verifying that the other person wanted the same thing. Taking inventory means that you understand where you are in your life and you intentionally choose to make decisions that align with your long term goals.

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.

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.

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.