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.
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.
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 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.
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
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.
I was having a conversation the other day with a woman who was at a crossroads in her life. She had focused on her career and had finally come to the realization that she wanted to have a husband and children. The challenge is that the made the decision in her 50s. Now, I know the whole cliche about how you get wiser as you age and the fact that age isn’t anything but a number. However, the rules are different when trying to find a significant other after a certain age. Chances are that a younger woman has a better chance of getting married and having a family than someone who is middle aged. It’s not necessarily fair but it’s reality. I remember the decision I made to focus on my career and while I didn’t regret it, I also realized that it wasn’t what I wanted to focus on long term. The relationship that I’m in right now is the result of a conscious decision to grow personally so that I could be my best self in a relationship. I’m glad that my focus has shifted because it’s been valuable in defining what’s important to me and how I want my life to be moving forward. A lot of changes have occurred and I’m looking forward to what is next.
Today is the extra day in the year that only happens once every four years. I remember being amazed as a kid that there were people who didn’t have birthdays every year because they were born on a leap year. I think back to the last February 29th in 2016 and I was totally in a different space. I had just started a cubicle job and was wondering how long I would be able to make it because I knew after only three weeks on the job that it wasn’t a good fit for me. But I was excited to finally have a stable job and the opportunity to see what corporate life was like. I was reminded today of how disconnected I’ve become from some of the aspects of my life that previously held such great importance. Since then I’ve finished school, held several jobs, relocated multiple times, and got into a relationship. It’s been quite an eventful four years and I’m hopeful to what the next Leap Year will bring.
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.
Grief is one of those things that can be complicated. While I’ve never sought formal training in being a grief coach or a grief therapist, it’s something that I’ve experienced in my years of practice. I’ve worked in hospice settings and in many hospitals where anticipatory grieving and grieving after a loved one has passed happened frequently. But there’s a significant level of less understanding for people who have lost a pet. Pet (especially dogs) are extensions of our families. My dog Sam was with me from high school all the way up until I finished my doctorate. He was a companion, pain in the butt, loyal friend, and a good listener. He didn’t have any safety awareness and tended to run up to cars instead of away. While he was brave in biting bigger dogs, his 13lb body shook from fear when there was a thunderstorm close by. He hated to have his paws touched but loved to find an empty lap to jump on and sleep. Overall, he was fairly mellow and didn’t have the explosive constant energy that was indicative of his breed. He usually slept through the night but on some occasions he wanted to go out every hour on the hour. Even after a year of him being gone I still miss him but I appreciate all the memories that I have of him. If there’s a doggie heaven I hope we’ll meet again.