inspirational

Rededication

My posts here lately have been erratic at best despite the fact that writing, especially on this blog, is my passion. I have found over the years, and especially over the past few months, that the world does not make it easy to follow your passions. Now, it’s not that I believe I’ve stumbled upon some revelatory idea, brand new to human kind… it’s just that I think we don’t really acknowledge this aspect of our culture or how shitty of an aspect it actually is. Worse, we don’t try to actively change this aspect of American culture because it’s too hard, and we’re too tired from living to work. What happened to working to live?

I’m tired of the former and dedicating my energy to the latter from now on. I can’t make a life by continually chasing the work horse I have never been able to catch, even after years of experience. I can, however, make a life out of my passions by making them a priority.

That means a lot of dedication and shifting of priorities is in order, and hope, hope, hopefully you’ll see those behind-the-scene changes reflected on the front pages of this blog.

unnamed

However, it also means I have to ask a lot out of you: patience as I find my stride. Understanding as I slip away from my personal life to focus on my dreams. Forgiveness if I make mistakes in a post, can’t immediately return a favor, and/or any other blunder as I stumble along a new path. Dependability, maybe even when I don’t deserve it. Support as I try to build an online community (including all of you!).

I may not get what I desire out of this new shift in behavior, but if I don’t try, if I don’t ask, if I don’t work at giving it a shot, then how can I ever know if I ever had something worth sharing?

unnamed-1

I know this won’t grow into what I continually dream of overnight, and I know I’ve rededicated myself to this blog a million times. But that’s because it means something. If it didn’t, I would have chucked it in the garbage by now and walked away without hesitation. But I know that, even though a lot of great things pop up in an instant, many more of them take years to cultivate, to hone, to perfect, to make them greater than they would have been if success had come immediately.

There’s still time, and I’m seizing it.

unnamed-2

Advertisements

Reyonce’s Life Hacks, Pt. I

IMG_0125

  • Stop using the top sheet. You’ll be able to make your bed EVERY DAY in 30 seconds flat. What is that sheet even for? All it does is trap you in its seemingly inescapable cocoon. Ditch it!
  • Do not use a coupon for something you don’t need. That means you’re actually spending money you weren’t intending to. Thanks White House | Black Market, but I’m not in the market for any new clothes, especially not $100 worth.
  • Take your time curating your own aesthetic, and you’ll never have to buy anything ever again. #cheapaintbetter
  • Listen to the men (or women!) in your life when they teach you how to do something you’re resistant about knowing how to do (change a tire, organize the toolbox, etc.). They’re not trying to disempower you or imply you don’t know what you’re doing; in fact, they are trying to help you do whatever you desire independently from them.
  • Write everything down. You may never read it again, but I still remember the pain of losing what I am 100% sure was a #1 hit song I dreamt one night…
  • Apple cider vinegar, natural oils, and teas for everything. Weight loss, detox, hair, etc. Whatever you want, try these first. It works for everything. EVERYTHING!
  • Create an inspiration collection, and you’ll never feel stumped again. (I’ll write an entire entry about this later this week when I unpack from my move!)
  • Lists. Lists. Oh, and lists! #getitdone
  • Wash your plastic ziplock bags. There is no reason on earth you shouldn’t use those things at LEAST twice. Unless that reason is spilt honey.
  • That being said, don’t buy plastic. It breaks, and it’s bad. Glass, metal, and wood are where it’s at.
  • Measure before the matter, not after. This applies to whatever you need it to.
  • Get halfway there the night before, and your morning will be so much better. This applies to whatever you need it to, too.

xo, Reyonce

Perfect Alignment

Not too long ago, I wrote about my struggle with success in my passions, pinpointing this blog as a major piece in Strugglecity, USA. I’m not suddenly signed to an agency or unexpectedly inundated with advertising deals, but things lately seem to be simply falling in the holes that once riddled my career plans. Though there are many still to fill in, the change has been healing, noticeable.

First, there was the job search gone bad. As Maria said, when God closes a door, somewhere he opens a window. I took the rejections as a chance to jump through that newly opened window to focus on the job I’m trying to cultivate.

During a trip to the beach for a cleansing mini-vacay, I read six variations of my horoscope*, all of them telling me that my chance at career happiness was near. Like within the next month near. *(Whether or not astrology is actually a thing is yet to be determined.)

Though plenty has gone wrong – losing Robin, phone loss, housing ups and downs, one very sick pup, and all the minutiae in between – there has always been someone or something around the corner to pick me up.

An “it’ll come through, babe.”

A beautiful day filled with sunshine and creativity.

A “you’re going to find what you want, I know it!”

An article that says no plan B means no failure.

A sign.

So many signs.

As I walked into my Saka class last night, I was feeling the strain of the little shit, the things that shouldn’t get me down but do. Patrice looked around and lingered on me for a moment before speaking.

“I just want to… I just want to say something tonight. If you’re like me, if you’ve got a passion for something and it’s just not working out, whether that be a business, a friendship, or a marriage, I’d like you to put all your faith in that. I’d like you to put your whole heart into what you’re passionate about. I’m doing the same thing with this, and I want you to do it with me and see what putting your whole faith in gets out for you, for all of us.”

I held back the tears while smiling. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

When I got home, I caught up on my usual blogs, and found this quote on TSC:

4

The Skinny Confidential

Fate.

For once, things seem to be perfectly aligning on their own. And for once, I’m just going to follow the alignment instead of trying to take control. For once, I’m going to put my full faith in.

Get ready, readers.

I know I am.

Williams Wednesday

This www. Wednesday is a special tribute to the warm man we all loved who finally escaped a pained life. I’m glad he’s found peace, and truly hope this changes the stigma against suicide, depression, and mental health in general. However, I wish this tragedy isn’t what it took for this country to do so…

What Robin Taught Us All:

1. Live life to the fullest, no matter how short.

IMG_0285.JPG

Jack

2. Fulfill your dreams, but don’t forget your heart.

IMG_0290.JPG

Good Will Hunting

3. Stay close to your family, no matter what it takes.

IMG_0293.JPG

Mrs. Doubtfire

4. Fight for true love; it’s worth it.

IMG_0287.JPG

What Dreams May Come

5. Laugh, even when it hurts, because it’ll always make life a little better.

IMG_0289.JPG

Patch Adams

6. Put your friends’ needs before you when you know they need what you have.

IMG_0291.JPG

Aladdin

7. Be environmentally conscious.

IMG_0292.JPG

Ferngully

8. Always feed your inner child… aka grow older, but never grow up.

IMG_0294.JPG

Hook

9. Keep learning forever, not just about sciences, but about the arts and the written word.

IMG_0286.JPG

10. Life will go on, even with horrendous curveballs like losing our beloved Robin.

IMG_0288.JPG

Life According to Garp

…And so much more. We’ll never forget you, Robin!

Weight Loss Journey

Two years ago, J and I decided that we needed to make a move on our physical appearance, lest we continue to fall off the wagon, no longer noticing the figures in front of us in the mirror. We had both put on holiday weight, so we got a joint gym membership and planned to eat better every night.

It didn’t take long for me to really get into it and drop 20 pounds, putting me back down in the 120s. I was happy there, so I wrote about my journey at that point and expected that would be the end of that.

I didn’t realize then that weight loss and overall healthy living is a continuous journey. You should never stop. And no, I don’t meant that in an unhealthy, exercise-addicted way. I mean that you should always be living a life where you feel strong and damn good about yourself.

After I wrote that initial entry, I was pretty good for at least 6 more months. I didn’t exercise as frequently, but I still ate well and did get my gym on at least once a week. I maintained.

Shortly after a little break-up (which always curbs my appetite), I also found myself smack dab in the middle of a hospital room for FIVE days after I incurred a CRAZY infection post-wisdom tooth surgery. I had to undergo another surgery to drain it out, and just like that, I lost 5 more pounds because I could barely eat or drink.

This put me right at or a little below 120, which is as far as I’m comfortable going according to my BMI. If I go lower, it’s too dangerous. With that thought in mind, I got out of the hospital and immediately started eating ALL THE THINGS! I ate all of the sweets I had been missing for months because I needed to gain some cushion weight. In other words, I like having a window between me and that way-too-low BMI. I like my body to work, not suffer.

It took me about 6 months to gain the 5 pounds back. But oh, when I hit that 5 pound mark, MAN, DID MY METABOLISM SLOW DOWN! I stopped being able to eat whatever the hell I wanted without seeing it. And guess what? I wasn’t working out or eating well because I was finishing my first semester in grad school, moving into a new place, applying for jobs, trying to balance fam + bf + friends, and trying to, you know… SLEEP. That left no time for anything I wanted to do for myself, so I sacrificed taking the time to work on my body.

Right after the semester ended, I finally found a job for a nutrition program. I learned so much about the data of our food. It truly freaked me out, and I started being conscious about what I was eating again. I learned all the sneaky names of the shit ingredients they put in our food AND what the long terms I could never pronounce actually meant. I also picked up a new gym membership to put to use once they opened in September.

By the time October rolled around, I had gotten a handle on my ingesting of crap and my exercise regimen. But by October, I also finally, finally landed a teaching gig. Whew, boy.

For the first couple months, I kept going to the gym when I could and ate well. But any good teacher will tell you that you start sacrificing things for your students as you get to know them, and the easiest thing for me to sacrifice was my health plan. I started letting them come in during lunch to vent to me. I would stay up too late grading/planning and forget to pack lunch, then sleep in too long and not have time to eat breakfast. I would walk around the classroom all day, rarely sitting down. For about two months, I subsisted solely on what my students brought with them to the classroom and items from the vending machine. My body started giving me signs that nothing well was happening inside; my old health issues were returning with each pound I put back on. (Yeah, not giving your body supplement makes you gain weight, which is why I hiss at my girlfriends when they say they’re going to stop eating. It’s not healthy AND it doesn’t work.)

It probably won’t surprise you that in the middle of all this malnourishment and stress, my depression returned. It made it hard for me to do anything, especially go to the gym when I felt so anxious and sad. My SSRI kicked in about the same time my own common sense did: as much as I love what I do, I love me more.

This all culminated in February 2014. I was able to function again thanks to my medication, and I started going to the gym again. I decided to stop focusing on what I was eating until I, you know, FOUND TIME TO EAT! A month later, one of the other teachers made life 1000% easier by bringing Saka Dance into the workplace. This meant I could have more time to myself, and I would fill that time with eating instead of more grading. The papers could wait.

With my favorite combination of healthy eating and consistent, fun exercise, I finally made it back to the spot where I feel most healthy. I’d tell you the number, but frankly, it’s none of your business because you know what any person’s health journey should be about? Being the healthiest you, and not giving one damn what people think!

weight loss

So, here I am. It’s two years + some change later, and I feel great. That’s not to say there weren’t ups and downs, but it was all worth it. You know why? What I notice most about the last photo doesn’t really have to do with appearance, in a vain way at least. I notice that I am happy, laughing about J and I both trying (and failing) to push each other in the freezing water. I notice that I am running, something I wasn’t able to do for years. And while I’ll never be able to do much more than sprint, at least I finally can.

I will never stop making myself healthier than I was the day before, but I am happy to say that I’m happy where I am. I feel better now than I did 10 years ago, mentally and physically. Most of the change you see is an internal one shining through to the outside, one that I will strive to maintain for the rest of my life.

My best advice to those struggling is not to give up; life’s gonna throw you weird curve balls, but you’ll eventually catch one. Read the labels on your food and steer clear of anything you can’t pronounce that isn’t a vitamin. MAKE TIME FOR YOU AND YOUR HEALTH! Most of all, make sure what you’re doing is healthy, feels good, and is for you and ONLY you.

xo

Gonnas: Loose Ends of 26 for 26

photo

Alright, folks. As of Saturday, I officially transitioned from 26 to 27. I had a great year even during the rocky moments of depression and all the complications that come with it, but 27 feels awesome. I feel healthy, happy, and ready to grow.

That being said, it’s time to reveal how I ended up faring in my 26 Gonnas for 26 that I posed as goals for myself last year before my birthday. Anything crossed through was not accomplished.

1. Wake up with the sun at least 180 days over the next year.
2. Fly to visit my sister in Japan. Money did NOT allow! 😦
3. Finish my screenplay.
4. Don’t let items I have gathered to create a project sit on my shelf for more than 2 weeks…ever.
5. Diagnose and solve my voice problems, then sing publicly when I have the all clear.
6. Get my teaching license.
7. Write one blog every week!
8. Learn to drive a manual car.
9. Make 50 YouTube videos.
10. Get over my fear of heights by climbing a lighthouse, ziplining, both, or more!
11. Teach someone something life-changing.
12. Make a Southern road trip to Texas and back. My bff S moved back, so I didn’t have to!
13. Finish writing a book with C.
14. Learn how to sew.
15. Go legit camping for a weekend with J and the pups.
16. Spend more time with my family.
17. Do some photoshoots (at least one!) with a professional photographer.
18. Get something published.
19. Raise $500 for my business, Southern Sheek. I am in the process of deciding how I want to move forward with SS, so I put this on hold.
20. Do a Goodwill-level cleanout every 3 months until I only have what I (for the most part) need.
21. Let go of toxic people in my life.
22. Make a weekend trip to a new place, any place.
23. Write and send fanmail to all those people who have inspired me along the way.

24. Meet a sloth!
25. Really make 10 people’s day – five of whom I know and five strangers.
26. Be thankful and say so at the end of every day.

I did less than I had hoped. A lot of it was user error because I was too afraid or too broke (by my own budgeting failures), but there were a couple instances a bit beyond my control. Nonetheless, I did some cool stuff. I sang publicly, even though I still really need to get to an ENT to do so properly. I did a massive overhaul of my belongings and pared down a LOT. I got two licenses for teaching. I made days of people I knew, and even started to do it for strangers as I slowly recovered from my depression. Best of all, I remembered what it was like to feel and give gratitude and how to be more positive overall. I might have failed in some eyes, but to me, this whole project has been a victory.

That being said, I think after I tweak the loose ends of this project that I really and truly, 100% positive, will not need the gonnas anymore. So here they are: the final list of gonnas to cover over the next 6 months before I part ways with the project that made me a productive woman and a better person.

1. Diagnose and solve my voice problems NOW!
2. Learn how to drive a manual car without getting mad at J while he’s teaching me.
3. Make it a habit to make videos for the blog and YouTube, but focus on quality, not quantity.
4. Learn how to sew.
5. Take a weekend road trip to camp or visit an unknown place.
6. Get something published and/or finish my screenplay so as not to overwhelm my anxieties.
7. Write letters to all the people who have inspired me in some way or another.
8. Of course, MEET A SLOTH!
9. Remember to be positive every day, to strive for greatness and gratitude, to become the person you know you can be.
10. Set the Gonnas go.

Alright, folks. Six more months of gonnas and ONLY six more months. I can’t wait to see how it all ends up!

Why I Love My Foil

foil [ˈfi(-ə)l]: noun; a person or thing that contrasts with and so emphasizes and enhances the qualities of another

adam6

Photo Credit: Adam Dixon

Because he is logic, and I am emotion.

Because he is rigid, and I am free.

Because he is old-fashioned, and I am new-aged.

Because he is science, and I am faith.

Because he is nature, and I am nurture.

He reminds me to be logical, and I remind him to feel. I mention we should relax, but he reminds me not for too long. He tells me the facts, and I tell him there might be more to the story. I tell everyone to dream big, but he mentions everyone should prepare for reality. He grounds us in the past, while I bring us into the future because two foils, when brought together, make each other stronger, whole.

Because he helps me overcome my fears.

Because I help him remember sometimes it’s okay to jump in without a plan.

Because he teaches me something new every day.

Because I remind him to do something new every day.

Because he keeps us held together with strength and rationale.

Because I keep us together with optimism and hope.

And together, we love each other first. We laugh. We travel. We push each other to be better, the best. We make our own home wherever we want, wherever we are. We do, we see. We challenge each other. We are both selfish and selfless. We surprise each other. We comfort one another. We send each other love letters in a million different ways a million times a day, always signed off with the unspoken promise of staying loyal, staying youthful, staying close, staying friends, staying in love.

Happy three years, J. Thank you for all the little things you do for me every. single. day. You’re my sweetheaaaarrrt…

Gonnas: Can I Make the 26?!

With only 15 days standing between me and my 27th, I thought now would be a good time to remind y’all of how the progress for the 26 Gonnas for 26 has progressed so far, and if I can get some more of these knocked off my list in time. CAN I DO IT?! We’ll see!

1. Wake up with the sun at least 180 days over the next year.
2. Fly to visit my sister in Japan. Money did NOT allow! 😦
3. Finish my screenplay.
4. Don’t let items I have gathered to create a project sit on my shelf for more than 2 weeks…ever.
5. Diagnose and solve my voice problems, then sing publicly when I have the all clear.
6. Get my teaching license.
7. Write one blog every week!
8. Learn to drive a manual car.
9. Make 50 YouTube videos.
10. Get over my fear of heights by climbing a lighthouse, ziplining, both, or more!
11. Teach someone something life-changing.
12. Make a Southern road trip to Texas and back. My bff S moved back, so I didn’t have to!
13. Finish writing a book with C.
14. Learn how to sew.
15. Go legit camping for a weekend with J and the pups.
16. Spend more time with my family.
17. Do some photoshoots (at least one!) with a professional photographer.
18. Get something published.
19. Raise $500 for my business, Southern Sheek. I am in the process of deciding how I want to move forward with SS, so I put this on hold.
20. Do a Goodwill-level cleanout every 3 months until I only have what I (for the most part) need.
21. Let go of toxic people in my life.
22. Make a weekend trip to a new place, any place.
23. Write and send fanmail to all those people who have inspired me along the way.
24. Meet a sloth!
25. Really make 10 people’s day – five of whom I know and five strangers.
26. Be thankful and say so at the end of every day.

If there’s isn’t a hyperlink to an accomplished gonna, check in soon for the entry! Let’s see if I can cram some of these in to the next 2 weeks.

Be Fearless, Live Fearless

When my long-time friend Liz at FitnessBlondie posted that she would be doing a #BeFearless link-up today, I couldn’t wait to participate. It’s a beautiful thing she’s doing, compiling so many people’s stories about overcoming unimaginable obstacles and surviving at the end of the day. I thought about how many of these trying moments I have had in my life, and I have spent every. single. moment. since the announcement of this link-up trying to pinpoint my most fearless moment.

The thing is, I couldn’t. I still can’t. I cannot hone in on one moment I feel is particularly more fearless than the others because I have had so many of them. I started to stress last night and figured I would come to terms with whatever decision I made in the light of the early morning.

I finally realized upon waking that this lack of a single moment of fearlessness might actually be the best angle to approach the topic of fear (or a lack of it) for me anyway. About how it is so present in my life and so hard every day; about how even the smallest victories of fearlessness deserve a mention.

It’s important to me that this be a part of the #BeFearless movement, because sometimes, other people belittle our accomplishments, and that kind of negativity has to stop. It might be a really big deal for someone to just… wake up, and that should be commended properly.

So here it is: a list of my fearless moments — some big, some small — but all equally important. The most crucial aspect of publishing this list of mine, however, is that I want anyone who reads this to feel just how much your fearless moments matter, even if someone has tried to tell you otherwise. All of the moments you overcome fear are victories, and damn the cynics who belittle ALL of our accomplishments!

– – –

1. I had to choose to live again after losing the first man I loved to a horrible addiction, the man who had already asked my mother if I could one day be his wife. I had my struggles along the way, but I did finish college and started grad school. I did find another love. I did find my happiness and my faith again.

2. I overcame crippling PTSS and the accompanying violent panic attacks. It was hard. I had to fight for my life through therapy, through HELPFUL medicine, through many nights of anxiety and non-sleep. I had to fight against people who told me I was crazy, against people who don’t believe in mental illness, against my own brain’s disruptive and destructive behavior.

3. I had to learn to let go of two mentally abusive relationships in college. I loved the men in them with me so much that I was blind to the fact they were putting me down constantly, making me feel like I was not worthy, and trying to make me feel trapped by pushing away then pulling me right back. I finally realized I wasn’t a fish on a line, and it took a lot of work to let go of people I still had feelings for. The most fearless thing, I think, was letting them back in my life as friends, and I now cherish them both in that role.

4. One of the above scenarios involved me having to make the choice of whether or not I would go through with a pregnancy or not. This is something I have never publicly mentioned, and there are even some people in my family or friends of mine who may or may not know about this event, but in the spirit of this project, I need people to hear it. Since I obviously do not have a child, we all know the path I chose to take. I know it is a divisive topic, but it is a topic others may need support with right now, and that trumps everything else. I am being fearless in this moment of confession alone because what I have to say could save someone else’s life.

I need people to know that it was a horrific thing to go through, especially because I went through it without my partner at the time (another instance of mental abuse on his part). I need people to know that some of my friends were so judgmental that I had to lie to them about what really happened, further deepening my self-loathing. I need people to know that I had postpartum depression, a time my mother says she has NEVER feared more for me, despite all the deep places I’d already struggled through. I need people to know how important support was for me and could be for you. I need people to know I came out the other end realizing I had done the right thing for both of us. I need people to know it is something I will never regret. I need people to know that if you don’t agree with this or me or others who go through the same struggle that we can all still love each other; we can all still live in harmony even if our beliefs don’t align.

5. After ALL of that hurt and pain, I found the courage to love again. It’s cliche as hell, but now I’m in love with my best friend of three years, and I have never felt more appreciated, loved, or healthy.

6. I went, by myself, to a HUGE city I longed to live in and work in for the long haul. It was scary, but I had to do it. I also then made the decision to come back because I needed more time to find myself, to say goodbye, to find love, to spend time with my loved ones. I don’t know which is more fearless, but I know it took a lot of bravery to do both.

7. I finally admitted to myself that many of my health issues probably stemmed from being overweight. Now, if you know me, you probably are thinking “YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN OVERWEIGHT!”, and I would agree 100%. But my genetic frame is much smaller than what I had allowed myself to carry for so many years, so I worked my ass off to lose the weight I needed to to feel healthy. This has brought along a LOT of comments from others such as “Eat a cookie,” “You must be on Adderall,” “You’re too skinny,” each more creative and hurtful than the last. What they don’t understand is that now my heart, digestive, back, and mental health issues are ALL almost completely under control because my frame genetically needs less weight in order to function at its best. I am still learning to be fearless in the face of these comments, but it gets easier every day.

20140619-141247-51167535.jpg

8. I left a job I loved to start a career I was unsure I could handle. It was horrifying, and I woke up crying many days, but I have found so much happiness and reward in being a high school educator. I have had to be courageous in the face of students, other faculty, administration, parents, and even outsiders who have commented about my style of teaching or my salary. Still, I fought through to find a home in a career I may not have forever, but a career I will always love.

9. I overcame the tremendous mental block I had to go talk to my psychiatrist about my depression returning. I had to suck it up and say “I cannot do this without your help, or I will die.” It took so much effort and the process is still occurring, but without the fearlessness it took to overcome my pride and my illness, I would not be half the person I am writing this today.

– – –

I feel like there are so many other fearless things I could write about, like standing up at the karaoke bar and singing in public for the first time or finally choosing to sleep with someone again for the first time in two years after my heart was broken. I could mention the times I worked through my POTS attacks alone or underwent two horrifying surgeries in one week. I could talk about so much, because so much of what I do… of what we ALL do, every day, is from a place of fearlessness.

Never let someone tell you you aren’t brave enough. You are. You are.

#BeFearless

www. Wednesday

+ Oh, Buzzfeed. What would we do without you to diagnose ourselves with so many different personality traits? The newest one to make me shake my head wildly in agreement: 25 Signs You’re Not Really a Baby Person.

+ You probably shouldn’t marry someone you can’t trust to not blab about your personal life on social media, but I do understand that people get a little cray during break-ups, so I’m not too shocked that couples are now signing social media pre-nups. It’s definitely digital food for thought.

+ Adding this to my “New Things to Try Next Week” list: Bulletproof Coffee. I like my coffee strong and crack-like, so this seems right up my alley. Apologies to my boyfriend in advance who already can’t drink my “mud water.”

+ It should horrify all of us that in NO STATE IN AMERICA can a minimum wage worker afford a two-bedroom apartment without working at LEAST 25 hours over the standard 40 hour work week.

+ Inspiring quotes from the funny ladies everyone loves… and if you don’t love ’em, that’s okay. We have you on a list and will be around to “see you” shortly.

+ Some amazing sorceress came up with THE BEST cupcake idea ever: coffee and donut. Get the recipe (and drool over the pictures) here.

+ As you gear up to finish A Song of Ice and Fire series this summer (no? just me?), you might want to check out the Spritz app that actually helps improve your reading speed.

Have an amazing Wednesday and rest of the week!

Photo by Ron Schmidt