Sweet Girl –

You are one of a kind. Unique. A miracle, simply because you’re here. Don’t work so hard to fit in when you aren’t supposed to.

Her thighs. Her hair. Her eyes. Those are not meant to be yours.

You have your own. And, although they might not be the size or shape society likes, they are spectacular. YES. Spectacular!

Do not let the world hand you a measuring stick for comparing yourself with people you aren’t supposed to be.

Create your own system of measurement for the person you WANT to be.

Do you desire fitness? Start a healthy exercise plan.

Do you want to feel beautiful? Then, dress your God-given body in a way that makes you feel sassy, joyful, sexy, sporty and so forth.

Do you want to radically change your hair color? Find someone who can help you find a complimentary shade for your skin tone.

I love that you want to be the best possible version of you. Just make sure you’re making changes for the right reasons.

Live your life for you, by you. Period.

As you get older, you’ll realize that you’re all you’ve got. And, if you can lean in and begin to trust your strength, self-awareness and inner wisdom now, you’ll be so much better off when you’re older.

Trust me –
Me

 

 

5 “Things” About Going Back to the Gym

Three weeks ago, I decided to start using the gym I’ve made monthly donations to for the last year.

Yes, monthly donations. I figured that my charitable contribution might as well help others support their health and fitness goals. Except that my accountant didn’t see it that way at tax time. Whoopsie! Time to get off dead center and use what I’ve been paying for.

I’ll admit – it wasn’t an easy. I’ve worked out in different gyms on and (mostly) off since my 20’s, but the first trip in ALWAYS intimidates me. BUT, once I get inside and begin cardio, I simmer down.  Mostly because I look around and realize that it’s just a bunch of people of varying shapes and sizes sweating their way to some version of improved health. That’s not so scary, is it?

Here’s what’s happened so far:

  1. I feel proud! When I walk in, scan my card and actually complete a workout, I leave with a sense of accomplishment and give myself an inner high five – woooooo wheeeeeee – I did it. Yay, me! I do not, however, get a “yay” if I walk in, scan my card and walk back out. This day hasn’t happened yet, but I can see it . . . especially on days when I’m all full up on “Oh, hell naw.”
  2. I wake up earlier without an alarm and feel more alert. I’m not sure what this is about and it’s certainly not what I expected when I started “using what I pay for.” But, I’ll take it.
  3. I actually like moving my body! I don’t dread going to the gym – mostly b/c I’m not obsessing and acting like a crazy person. I’ve been that chick in the past and LCE this time around. As I get older, I appreciate the hell out of moderation.
  4. I’m getting stronger. Each time I go, I can do a little more. Am I the fittest chick in the gym? No. Am I on my way? Also, no. But I’m on my way to being a better me and THAT is what counts.
  5. I continue to make deplorable choices about what I eat and drink. Look, going back to the gym is a big enough step for me right now. And, as a result, I’m drinking more water. That’s enough healthy box checking for this day. Maybe I’ll tackle “better choices” in the weeks to come. For now, I’m just happy to be eating cheese in stretch pants covered in sweat.

What about you? What healthy things are you trying? Are you reviving some healthy habits you let go of? Have you decided to shake up your routine and received positive results? Share your good news in the comments section below.

Stop Talking Sh*t

We’re grown. We all know the frustration of not living up to our own expectations. Of falling short. But, why do we have to be so damn mean about it?

When I miss the mark, I am the first one to talk down to myself, “Oh for fuck’s sake . . . seriously [insert offense here]?!?!?” Do I do this because I want to beat everyone else to the punch? Because, if I berate myself, others won’t have to? Or, do I do this because I hold myself to an impossible standard?

A man I know does this to himself on the court. When he misses a shot he says, audibly, “Dammit Stephen.” (Sometimes with a whack of the fence or ground.) Afterwards, he goes home and ruminates about the error(s) until it costs him sleep.

Do you do something similar? Whether you feel like you’re failing in sports or you didn’t make it to Bible study or you ate the ice cream . . . again – how do you speak to yourself when you let yourself down?

What I know from personal experience is that we are so much uglier speaking to ourselves than we would be to a friend or colleague.

When I talked to Stephen about his challenges, I asked a question that might help you reframe your situation.

Is your frustration performance or perception based? Meaning, are you frustrated with a skill that you’re not executing as you’d like or are you hung up on generalities like, “I suck”?

He said he was “frustrated by a lack of consistency in his performance.”

So, I asked him to pretend he was coaching one of his employees. What would you have them do if they weren’t executing satisfactorily in this area?

He said, “Practice and lessons.”

These are actionable items that are easy to break down into schedule-able parts. And, moving forward with them should help him stop berating himself for inconsistencies.

But, what about when the offense is a generality? Then what?

Then we must learn a softer approach.

It begins with noticing when you’re being nasty. Honestly, we often speak so harshly to ourselves that we don’t even notice. “Get it together, girl.” “Good Lord, there’s no helping you.” “And just who the hell is it that you think you are?!?!?” “You don’t deserve that.” And worse . . . and worse . . . and worse still.

It begins with a willingness to notice and stop in the moment.

Here’s a hint though – you can’t talk down to yourself for talking down to yourself.

When I catch myself starting with the “Oh hells bells . . . “ I just stop and say, “Okay – I screwed up. What now?” Or, “This didn’t go as planned, how can I fix it?” Or, “Fuck it. I’m going to sit down and try this again tomorrow.”

The point is that words have power. Especially when they’re spoken by you, to you. Words form our beliefs and our beliefs influence our actions. And, our actions are what we carry out into the world to share with others.

And if this is the case, why not talk yourself up instead of talking yourself down? And if you can’t talk yourself up, just stop talking at all – because silence is an improvement over slams.

Then, one day, you might go out on a limb and try talking to yourself like you would a dear friend . . .

“Hey – it’s okay. You’ll get it next time.”

“One mistake doesn’t have to ruin the whole plan, let’s redirect and brainstorm.”

“You’re beautiful, no matter what magazines tell you about the numbers on your tags.”

“You deserve happiness and love.”

“You are worthy of respect and have the right to form strong boundaries and back them up.”

Just reading those things feels so much better, doesn’t it?

Now, try saying it and meaning it.

Challenge yourself!

Starting today, stop talking shit . . . about yourself, to yourself. Then, see how life improves. And, maybe – just maybe – that love will carry over and you’ll practice that kind of kindness on someone else. And they will start loving themselves and others a little more.

Do you see how important you are?  You are the center of a concentric circle of love, kindness, compassion and happiness!

Life is better when you stop talking shit.

 

Surgery Sans Social

I am, by and large, an open book. If you ask a question, you’ll get an answer – and, sometimes, you might not like what you hear. (There’s your warning.) But, when I found out I needed minor surgery, I faced our modern quandary . . . to post or not to post.

On the one hand, sharing en masse simplifies the notification process – there are no individual texts and phone calls to go out. There’s an outpouring of support, prayers and love. There’s no shortage of commiseration. And, because I’m southern, there’s a smattering of “out-suffering.”

On the other hand, it felt a little gratuitous and dirty. I mean, does everyone really want to be that much in my business? Am I going to post pictures of the mass? Go live during the surgery? Post updates on stitches and bandage changes? Ewwwww!

bandages

How much is too much to share?

Who hasn’t chortled at the 16th relationship status change this month? Who doesn’t roll their eyes over the call, “I’ve had too much coffee this morning – need prayer warriors!”

Why do we feel so compelled to put everything out there?

Is social media posting the new “If a bear shits in the woods . . .”?

If I don’t post about my date last night, did I really have a good time?

If I don’t share my spa day, did I really relax?

If I don’t insta my breakfast, lunch and dinner, did I really eat?

Yes, it’s fun to share and I share a lot! If you’re on my feed, you know this. But, I’m asking the question of myself and the rest of you – where do we draw the line?

For me, I decided that my surgery didn’t serve a significant platform and that I would tend to myself with the support of family and close friends. To have surgery sans social.

This isn’t to diminish or belittle the work some people are doing by sharing their struggles and fights publicly. They are quite brave to share their daunting journeys, but they’re serving a cause and awareness greater than their situation. The only value I could add to the world by sharing my situation was . . . *crickets*

I want to hear from you on this topic. Leave a comment below about how you decide what to share on social and what you choose to keep to yourself.

PS: Yes, I’m 100% fine.
PPS: No, I didn’t get boobs.

Bandage Barbie

Lessons in VRBOing

During my time as a digital content producer for Lowe’s Home Improvement, I traveled to some really cool cities and had an amazing “local” experience – thanks to sites like VRBO and HomeAway. Here’s what I learned.

 

  1. Research the neighborhood BEFORE you book.

People are fantastic house flippers – which means you must look at more than the property itself. In some neighborhoods, one street made a WORLD of difference. Take Google Earth for a spin around the hood; ask friends; poll your social channels. It’s better to do the legwork on the front end instead of trying to get out of a bad situation at the last minute.

  1. Arrive early, if possible.

Many owners allow for early check-in if they can manage it. This gives you plenty of time to set up, buy groceries and get oriented.

  1. Most importantly . . . run the hot water.

If you don’t, your first shower – which is the one you’re most desperate for after a day of travel – could be lukewarm. And that’s a real buzzkill. Just turn on the hot water while you’re looking around. (Believe. I learned this lesson the hard way – more than once.)

  1. Inventory the property on arrival.

Typically, you wouldn’t think to check for an extra blanket until you wake up cold in the middle of the night. Do it when you arrive and save yourself the shock that there isn’t one. When you know early, you can contact the homeowner or property manager for additional supplies.

  1. Unpack right away.

If you’re staying more than a few days, settle in and make yourself at home. That’s why you chose a rental over a hotel, anyway, right?

  1. Mind your senses.

Sensitive to light and sound? An eye mask and good earplugs will save your sanity. Sensitive to smell? Carry some dryer sheets or room spray along with you to give the place your scent. You know how you like to live. Make accommodations for your preferences.

  1. Be willing to live a little differently.

Settle into the experience and know that it’s not going to be “just like home.” Simply set your mind to savor the unique aspects of each new property and make the most of it. You can do almost anything for two weeks – even if it means washing your own dishes in the sink. (Surprise!)

All told, I absolutely loved my rental experiences because I could live like a local. Plus, I could enjoy bonuses like having more space than a hotel room and buying my own groceries so I didn’t have to eat out every meal.

Just be sure to practice patience when you travel this way. Unlike hotels, every property, every owner and every management team differs. And they may not have any idea that their extra blankets walked away! So, when/if this happens, communicate openly and honestly about your accommodations, but mind your manners. Most people are more than happy to help you have a comfortable stay.

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Jesus Take the Wheel

My brain misfires sometimes . . . often, in the form of old song lyrics, loud and off-key, while performing mundane tasks. Read: cleaning, taxes, trips to the grocery store. (Much to the chagrin of other shoppers.) During my latest outburst, I channeled some good ol’ Carrie Underwood, “Jesus take the wheeeeeeeel, take it from my hands, I can’t do this on my own.”

And it hit me – it doesn’t matter if Jesus takes the wheel if I don’t get my foot off the brake.

Sit with that for a minute, because I’ve been sitting with it for a couple of weeks now.

Now, I know that my friends don’t procrastinate. I mean, my friends are ON IT. But, me? Well, I’m a bit of a dawdler. Especially when it comes to my “real” work. (Which, I’ll admit, I’ve yet to absolutely define, but know it has nothing to do with a 9 to 5. That’s why I’m asking for guidance from above.)

I believe we all have the capacity to hear what the Bible calls the small, still voice. In I Kings, it says God isn’t in the fire or the earthquake, but in a gentle whisper. But, in my life, sometimes it’s a hurricane of whispers. Mostly because I have trouble listening the first time. (What child actually listens the first time?!?!? “If I have to tell you one more time, I’mma come over there and . . . )

So, what’s a girl to do when the whisper is with me?

Yogi Bhajan’s second Sutra for the Aquarian Age says, “When the time is on you, start, and the pressure will be off.

So, I start. I lace up my sneakers, I sit down at the keyboard, I go to the grocery store to buy veggies. I start. And, I start. And, I start again . . . because, I stop.

That’s why the hurricane of whispers and inklings and desires – because they’re all pushing me in the right direction. They’re all serving to steer me to the right path if I’ll stop, process and act on the divine guidance I receive.

You see, Jesus always HAD the wheel. He always steered me towards the right people, the right places and the right circumstances to get me where I need to go.

The trouble is that in the times I made the least progress, I’ve had my foot on the brake!!!

Today, I’m beginning again, and again, and again. I listen for the small, still voice and inch forward with tiny acts because I believe there are far better things before me than behind me.

If you want to go on this journey, hop in. Jesus has the wheel . . . and I promise I’ll try not to clothesline you with my arm if (when) I slam on the brakes again!

 

K.I.S.S.

In grade school, we used to seal our notes with acronyms . . . LYLAS (love you like a sister), K.I.S.S. (keep it simple, stupid) and so forth.  We were 8 – side eyes – I don’t know how much simpler we could’ve made it. Get up, go to school and let someone else make your decisions, do your laundry and put dinner on the table. (Now that I think of it . . . can I go back?)

Anyway, this idea of keeping it simple haunts me. Yes, we have bills and jobs and kids and responsibilities – but shouldn’t it be . . . simple? Maybe effortless is a better word for the synchronistic flow I’m attempting to describe.

Haven’t you had those moments when everything just seemed to go effortlessly along a path?

I find that when I’m in those moments I’m most connected to God/Spirit/Source. When I’m tapped into that Supreme Power, things seem to go a little smoother. However . . .

In conversation with one of my best girlfriends from college about maintaining a spiritual mindset, she said that she just doesn’t have time to devote to a spiritual practice.

So, I started wondering – can our everyday lives BE a spiritual practice? Can’t we walk and talk and breathe and BE the light? And if that’s a possibility, what would that life look like?

During a completely different and unrelated conversation with a different friend I had an Oprah “a-ha moment.”

She was lamenting some relationship troubles and I asked her what she thought about ending things with this particular man and she said, “That doesn’t feel good.”

That doesn’t feel good.

The words rang through my soul and vibrated every nerve ending in my body.

What if I were to apply this concept to everything in my life? How revolutionary would that be!

The scratchy sweater? Get rid of it.

That relationship that leaves me drained? Part ways.

The job that doesn’t fill my soul or my bank account? Upgrade.

Simple.

And, yes, there are certainly things that we simply must do even if they don’t feel good – like a pap smear. But, if we can tip the scale to a 51/49 way of being, that would be nice, right?

Now, I’m practicing this super simple philosophy and smiling that, sometimes, our most insightful moments come at unexpected times from unexpected people.

That doesn’t feel good.

That does feel good.

And if God is good, doesn’t it make sense that living in a state of “feeling good” means I am in connection with the Greater within? Perhaps it’s an oversimplification. But maybe . . . just maybe . . . it’s a gentle reminder of something I think we all already knew in our souls, long ago, and chose to forget.

K.I.S.S.