Our days consisting of taking turns making sure that things were taken care of, taking care of each other and taking care of ourselves. The days started to run together.
The hours were easier to keep track of because there was a huge clock outside of Caldwell's room and he looked at it often. He kept track of where we were and if we left, when we would return by that clock. If we were gone from the house too long, he would always exaggerate and say we had been gone for several more hours than we actually had. The hours I noticed the clock the most was in the early hours of the morning when I would either be woken by his stirring or the ringing of his bell.
The infamous bell....I gave it to him if he needed anything when we were in other parts of the house or in the middle of the night. We purchased a baby monitor so that my mother could hear him in her room however because he couldn't hear her on his side of the monitor, he was sure it didn't work. That bell became his form of communication. Even if he had a room full of people, he would ring that bell. Then when we came he would say "I just wanted to make sure you were still here" and everyone would laugh.
Perhaps that was one of his fears. That we would leave him alone and he would slip away. I promised him several times that one of us would be there for him. He seemed reassured. He was very particular about how he wanted things arranged on his bedside tray and in his mind, only I could get it quite right. He once told my mother that. Sometimes at bedtime he would quiz me to make sure everything he wanted was there, it always way. He would shrug and say, "ok".
There was a lot of laughter in the weeks that he was at home. At first, we had so many visitors. We wanted to make sure he got to see everyone that he mentioned. If people called, we would invite them over. In the evenings he would say how tired he was but how happy he was that people came to see him. My mother would ask him if there were others he would like to see and anytime he mentioned a new name, she would set out to make sure she contacted them so that they could come.
We learned so much in the interim. How to get him in and out of bed into his wheelchair. How to turn him so he wouldn't get bedsores. How to care for the bedsore that he got anyway. How to change his sheets while he was in the bed. My mother was in charge of bathing him and shaving him, cleaning his catheter and emptying it. At first, I would leave to give him privacy and allow him to hold on to his dignity but there came a time when it didn't matter anymore. She needed my help. One lesson that I learned was how sexualized we are as a society. We view body parts in that matter but the truth is, all of that goes away when you are caring for someone. I saw every part of his body and how it was withering away. I rubbed his feet almost daily because he had developed neuropathy and they were often in pain. It would calm him and most of the time he would fall right asleep. And this became our routine.
I don't really know what direction I want this blog to go in any longer. But one thing I am sure of is that I need to write. I need to get out whatever feelings I am experiencing and this is the way I know how to do that.
I have previously been a little strategic (when I was consistent) about what I wrote about and when. I also was very concerned with spelling and punctuation. To me, that isn't a concern any longer. I will just share with you where I am in hopes that what I am going through can help someone else in their journey.
A couple of months ago, I volunteered to help my mom take care of my stepdad as he was in his final days of suffering from cancer. Multi myeloma to be exact. I don't consider myself a caregiver in the sense that this was something that was likely of me however my zodiac sign is Cancer so by nature we are caretakers. We like to make sure everyone is good. So, when I found out my bonus dad was going home under hospice care and I saw the stress that it was causing my mother, I volunteered to help.
The bed was delivered and my mama turned her rarely used office space into his bedroom. There was a long list of common items that hospice provided and delivered to us as well including a shower seat, a bedside toilet and a wheelchair. We more than prepared for what was in store for us, or so we thought.
I find myself in a space where I am longing for something more. In an epiphany, I realized this is the exact space I must make peace with. This is the space that drives me. If it wasn't for the gap, complacency would set in. Instead of allowing anxiousness and anxiety to creep in, I am intentionally creating what I want the future to look like. My entrepreneurial spirit has returned, I suppose it never left and was just lying dormant. New offerings coming soon. There is a part of me that is afraid to say that however I know I have to let it come to fruition. Stay tuned.
Let me start this post by clarifying that although I talk about weight loss, this post is NOT about weight loss. Neither is it about health per say. It's about making better decisions for me and my body so that I feel good on a consistent basis.
Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time, I weighed close to 400 lbs. And honey, I was HAPPY with my chunky body. I had a load of confidence (someone cue Lizzo's new album) and I was completely healthy. No diabetes, no high blood pressure, no high cholesterol, nada, nilch....nothing. Every time I got a physical I was in the best of health however they would always talk about the risks associated with my weight and that BMI stuff. I paid them no mind.
I have challenged myself in so many ways over the years and I decided to challenge myself to lose weight. I gave up sugar, ate mostly fruits, veggies and fish and I lost a lot of weight. Then I started becoming self conscious about my body (go figure). I mentally prepared for the challenge and did it in stages. It took time and wasn't always fun but I was determined. But is this kind of lifestyle sustainable? Would you want to go forever without the things you love so much? I still don't know. It's a catch 22.
What I do know is that I got a partial hysterectomy where they took everything but one ovary. Then I developed a cyst on that remaining ovary so they took that as well and I was thrown into menopause. The ease of which I accomplished the challenges I previously placed on myself was no longer there. The willpower had disappeared. Things I hadn't eaten in years like candy bars, once again started to appeal to me. And before I knew it, I was hooked on sugar.
My hormones were out of wack. My body started aching, knees started hurting and continuous excuses were made. I just couldn't get it together. That sugar crack had a hold on me. So, I decided I wanted to go on a sugar fast. Usually I make a decision and just do it. My love always says "You go 0 to a hundred real quick". Not this time. It took me 30 days just to mentally prepare.
After all that mental preparation on the day I decided to start, I looked in the mirror into my eyes and said to myself: "Girl, you know I love you right? You know I love you no matter how big or small you are? You know I love you no matter how many belly rolls you have, right? You know that I love every jiggly part of your body, don't you? And as much as I love everything that you are right now, there are some changes that have to be made. Girl, we gotta do something different. Your knees are cracking and you get winded when you even try to think about climbing up some stairs. Boo, we have some decisions to make. What do you want? You want to feel good? OK, we can do that. What do you suggest? Where can we start? What sacrifices are you willing to make to feel good? You willing to let that sugar go? You know I love you, right? You know I got you, right? We can do this but we have to work together. You ready? You know you cute, right? OK, let's do this." And then I blasted Drake's O to 100.
I am on day 2. I am motivated and I feel good.
My mother's birthday is April 1st and her birthday became extra special to me starting with her 50th birthday. I was able to pull off a surprise birthday luncheon for her and the joy it brought made me want to continue doing something special every year.
We have done things that cost a lot of money and things that cost hardly any money. We have flown to DC to get a surprise personal tour of the White House and have dessert prepared by Obama's chef while eating at the Presidential table and we have had a sleepover where all of her sister's attended. Every year, I get excited about the planning process and each year I try to outdo myself.
This year, I decided to do a mother/daughter stay cation in Charlotte and a trip to Frankie's for a family fun day. One thing you should know about me is that I am a hotel SNOB. It is an ongoing joke in my family. I am from the hood AND I love nice things. I dreamed about luxurious things growing up. I love luxury hotel stays BUT I ball on a budget. I only stay at nice hotels at discounted rates.
For this stay, I landed a great deal at Ivey's Hotel in uptown/downtown Charlotte. (Depending on whether or not you are a Charlotte native). The hotel is tucked inside the historic Ivey's building on N. Tryon and it is gorgeous. From check in to check out, we were completely blown away by the beauty of the hotel and the hospitality of the staff. We were both unfortunately disappointed with the bed. It wasn't comfy at all and the sheet thread count was sub par. (I told you I was a hotel snob). If they would update the bed, I would definitely recommend staying at this hotel. Otherwise, I would pass on another stay.
Here is the icing on the birthday cake. There were three things that stood out to me that made me feel like I won the birthday game again. The first thing happened when we walked inside the Ivey's Hotel. My mother's eye lit up and she proceeded to tell me a story how when she was a little girl, her aunt dressed her up and brought her to Charlotte for a trip to Ivey's. She remembered how she felt going into the store and the feelings associated with that day. I had NO clue about how this hotel choice would have such a huge impact. That made me feel so good.
The second thing happened when we went to dinner at Eddie V's. I had invited two of her friends and their daughter's and they arrived before us and surprised her. The look of joy on her face....I won again.
Lastly, after spending her actual birthday at Frankie's in Huntersville bowling and playing miniature golf with my brother and nephew, my mother looked at me and said "Every year I say this is the best birthday ever, but THIS was definitely the best birthday EVER."
Pass me my crown! In the words of Nipsey Hussle, "the marathon continues". I am committed to creating lasting memories with my family. It's all we got in the end.
I was a natural stylist and salon owner for 16+ years. I enjoyed the freedom of making my own schedule and being creative on a daily basis. I did not enjoy the fact that being a business owner, if not done correctly, can take a financial toll on you.
I decided I wanted to have a new life by the time I was 50. I wasn't quite sure what that "new life" looked like and initially thought it involved going back to corporate and the security of a paycheck. I also wanted to move abroad (because corporate abroad looks way different than corporate in the U S of A. Can a sister get a siesta??) So I went back to school and got an Associate's Degree in International Business.
However, even with degree in hand, I had no idea what entering back into Corporate America looked like for me. I was intimidated by corporate jargon and had other insecurities about my abilities. My partner, forever one of my biggest cheerleaders, assured me I had nothing to worry about. He told me "The majority of people in corporate have way less skills than you." It still wasn't enough. That's why it's called "self esteem", because in the words of Katt Williams, "it's the esteem of your mother%$#^# self."
He encouraged me to take several career assessment tests, which I did, and they all came back saying I would do well in finance. FINANCE??? What the hell? I had no desire to deal with numbers. "Finance isn't just about numbers" he explained. "You are well organized and like procedures so dig deeper." Uggghhhh, you know the moment when they are right and you know it but you don't want to admit it? I listened though.
I decided to make a list of the things that I enjoyed in all my different careers (because I have had A LOT) and I also watched one of my favorite movies for the twelve millioneth time....The Devil Wears Prada. That's when I decided I wanted to be either a personal assistant (even though Miranda Priestly was hella mean) or an executive admin. Mainly because I like the intricacies of these types of positions. You are learning so much while being organized but you don't have to be in the forefront.
Long story, short.....In a world of "it's not what you know, but who you know", I landed a position as an executive admin to one of my accountant friends. In FINANCE? Isn't that ironic?? Hmmmmmm. The universe shole works in mysterious ways.
I just survived my first tax season. I learned so much. I worked so many hours and I was also reminded of just how good I am at support. Being an executive admin is an important position. I don't think people realize that. You are managing, juggling and prioritizing all at the same time. It's not for the faint at heart. And I love it. That's all I have to say about that.
As for my move abroad? That's for another blog post.
“Thereʼs a time for everything. A time to laugh, a time to cry. A time to live, a time to die.”
Those words kept repeating themselves in my head as I tossed and turned knowing I had to get up soon. I couldnʼt recall where they came from. Instead I remembered the origin of something Wayne Dyer said. It was a quote from the poet Rumi,
“The breezes of dawn have secrets to tell you. Do not go back to sleep.”
I often wake up in the wee hours of the morning fighting to go back to sleep, however, according to Wayne Dyer and Rumi, Iʼve been doing it all wrong. Thatʼs when Iʼm supposed to be awake listening to my inner self, awaiting answers from God.
There have been times in the past that Iʼve woken up, had a great idea or a poem in my head and I was sill so sleepy that I didnʼt want to even lift my phone to put the idea or poem in my notes. I thought I would remember it the next day. That rarely happened. So this morning, I listened to Rumi and didnʼt try to force myself back to sleep. Instead I listened to the raindrops outside my window and waited for the inspiration to write these words.
The past six months have been an interesting journey for me. The first time in my life that Iʼve done absolutely nothing. Iʼve been an overachiever for as long as I can remember so this feels very foreign to me. Doing “nothing”, being “lazy” as most people would say. On the contrary Iʼve done more work in the past six months than I have in my entire life. Self work. Iʼve listened to Wayne Dyer and Louise Hay and Abraham Hicks and Mooji. Iʼve listened to Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle, Sadhguru, Earl Nightingale and read Nopoleon Hill, Florence Scovel- Shinn, Oprah Winfrey and Michelle Obama.
And Iʼve meditated for 85 days consecutively. All in search of answers to a question that wonʼt go away. “Whatʼs the meaning of life?” “Why am I here?”
With no obvious source of income since I decided to retire from natural hair 6 months ago, I havenʼt faced any major financial challenges. Iʼve traveled, financed a major car repair, ate breakfast, lunches and dinners with people I love and have been having a good time. Money has come from unexpected places. This lead to an epiphany that Iʼve had many times before. One directly related to a bible verse about birds that I had to Google. (Sidebar: Are you judging me right now?) Matthew 6:26.
“See the birds of the sky, that they donʼt sow, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns. Your heavenly Father feeds them. Arenʼt you of much more value than they?”
The birds know that the universe will provide. They are still required to do the work of finding the food, however they never question whether it will be there. When necessary, they know to fly south in the winter because they will find food there. They trust. They follow intuition. They survive. They thrive. And thatʼs what Iʼve been doing. Trusting, knowing, thriving.
Shout out to my friend Google once again. Because of them, I discovered where the quote came from that repeated in my head. “Thereʼs a time for everything. A time to laugh. A time to cry. A time to live, a time to die.” At first I thought it came from the movie A Time To Kill. (Sidebar: Are you judging me again right now?) Imagine my surprise to find out it was actually a bible verse. Ecclesiastes 3. If you knew that because you read the Bible and are STILL judging me right now for not knowing, Iʼm sending you love and asking you to read Matthew 7: 1-5. LOL
Being authentic and transparent for me means that I donʼt know everything, I admit to my shortcomings and Iʼm always willing to learn. Iʼm learning to be more open minded. Iʼm open to endless possibilities. Iʼm open to the fact that thereʼs more to life than paying bills and dying and Iʼm on a quest to find out what that means for me.
Of all the sources that Iʼve used on this quest, they have all pointed to the same solution: Live in gratitude. Get still. Let go of outside distractions. Go within. Thatʼs the main reason Iʼve become dedicated to my meditation practice. I know the answers come in silence. God speaks to us when we are silent enough to hear from source energy. So Iʼm being intentional about making time for my meditation practice using the Insight Timer app and Iʼm listening. Whether itʼs 5-15 minutes of complete silence or 15 to 30 minutes of guided meditation, Iʼm simply taking the time to sit in gratitude and listen.
I would like to add my own twist to the Ecclesiastes Bible verse. Thereʼs a time to overachieve and a time to chill. Iʼm chilling until I'm quiet enough to find out what this next chapter looks like. Happy 2019. God is love. Love is light. Spread love.
When my mama first invited me to go to her senior chair aerobics class, I was opposed to the idea. I thought to myself "chair aerobics is for old people." I know that I am in my version of early retirement but chair aerobics with a room full of retired ladies did not seem appealing at all. I am not by any means age discriminating, however, as a young 40 something , albeit overweight, able bodied woman I just thought that I needed to be doing something more intense than chair aerobics so I declined her offers.
She persisted, politely, because she thought I would enjoy the class, especially the teacher. He was a former children's aerobics teacher in the 90's under the moniker, Robocop. I remembered him immediately as he had a TV show on the Charlotte, NC public access channel and taught the class wearing a Robocop uniform.
One Monday morning, I decided to join her and all of my preconceived notions were destroyed. Here are 5 things I learned from taking chair aerobics.
Monday classes: 11 am (30 minute class) St. Paul Baptist Church 1401 Allen St. Charlotte NC 28205
Tuesday and Thursday classes: 11 am (45 minute classes) Rockwell AME Zion Church 6101 Rockwell Church Rd. Charlotte NC 28269
I have spent the last two months of my life doing something I don't think I have ever done before. I ALLOWED myself the freedom to just be. To discover what truly makes me happy, live in the moment and not worry about what happened in my past or what my future holds. To be lazy and not feel guilty about it.
It's been a very busy two months, in the midst of my "retirement", and I have enjoyed the moments both good and bad. I had to witness my love mourn the loss of his father, spent a lot of time with my immediate family learning new things about them, deepened my meditation practice and asked myself a lot of hard questions. Why do you think so much? What do you want to do moving forward? What makes you happy? What do you feel guilty about? Who do you need to forgive? Why do you feel responsible for other people's happiness? What makes you happy? Do you have any regrets? How can you take better care of yourself? Why is taking care of yourself first considered selfish? Have you made a difference in anyone's life? Are you proud of your accomplishments? What makes you happy? If you died today would you be satisfied with your life? What is satisfaction to you? Are you connected? How do you show love? Do you use your words to uplift or point out flaws? How can you be a better person? What makes you happy?
What makes you happy is the question I asked myself the most. Before I made any decisions, I paused and asked myself, "Will this make you happy?" If the answer was no, I said no, even if I knew it would disappoint or cause displeasure to someone else. This was VERY hard and sometimes I still gave in. It's a work in progress. If the answer was yes, I did it. I have been conditioned to do things for others because it's beneficial or helpful to them and I have been taught that "everything isn't about you", however, that has not served me well in my life. It has developed in me the need to be an overachiever, a people pleaser and left me with a lot of guilt. I don't want to live like that anymore. I want to live in satisfaction. I want to do things that make me happy because when I am truly happy, I am able to share my happy with others and give to them from a place of happiness, not a place of obligation.
Here is a list of 10 things that make me happy in no particular order:
What makes you happy? Share your thoughts with me. If you enjoy reading the blog, sign up for my email list. Thank you for taking time out of your day to spend this time with me. I am filled with gratitude.
I am on the next part of my adventure as I bring my 30 days of self discovery to a close. I am on Amtrak headed to Durham, NC where I will spend a few days until I head back to Charlotte. I am sitting in the cafe car and this post was inspired by an adorable little boy wearing a Spiderman shirt around 5 or 6 years old. He is caramel, with big brown eyes and a short haircut. He is traveling with what appears to be his mother and two sisters. He is soft spoken and attempts to lay on his sister. His "mother" tells him that he can lean on her if she grants him permission. Positive parenting. He curiously asks her what it means to lean. She laughs and moves from her seat to show him. She gently takes his head in her hands and leans it towards his sister's shoulder. The "mother" smiles and then returns to her seat and captures the moment on her camera phone. His sister appears to be around 11 or 12 and has thick sandy colored natural hair that is in a ponytail and braided down the middle of her back. She doesn't seem to mind him leaning on her but ignores him at the same time.
I later discover from listening to their conversation, that the woman is actually their aunt. She gets up to take the little boy to the bathroom and he asks her curiously, "Is the train going to derail?" She responds gently, "no" and laughs again. I thought to myself that this was a very interesting question. Why would he ask this question? Did it come from a place of fear? A place of curiosity? What did he know about derailment? Had he heard about it on the news? Had someone in his family told him about it? And then in a flash, I thought about how this was such a metaphor for where I am in my life right now.
past tense: derailed; past participle: derailed
cause (a train or trolley car) to leave its tracks accidentally.
"a train was derailed after it collided with a herd of cattle"
* (of a train or trolley car) accidentally leave the tracks.
"the trolley cars had a tendency to derail on sharp corners"
* obstruct (a process) by diverting it from its intended course.
"the plot is seen by some as an attempt to derail the negotiations"
This is how google defines derail. I am derailing my life in so many different ways at this moment in time. Obstructing my life by diverting it from the course of complacency. I'm dissecting everything I know to be true and questioning everything in relation to what I have been told over the years. I am digging deep, questioning my relationships, my beliefs and attempting to get to the core of who I really am. It's not pretty, it's painful and it's life changing.
We are all vibrational. When we are vibrating at certain frequencies, we attract similar vibrations. For example, when we are operating on the vibration of being victimized, things will show up in our lives that cause us to be a victim. We will continue to question why we are being victimized but rarely do we take time to examine this, take responsibility and figure out why we are operating from a victim mentality. This is not self blame, this is taking a hard core look to see how we developed this mentality and what we can do to change it.
It is said that whatever we are experiencing during our birth is what we attract in our lives. From the time we are in the womb. I want to heal myself so I am doing all the work I can to do so. I sent my mother a message and asked her to describe in detail the situation surrounding my birth. How she felt during the pregnancy, the delivery itself and anything she could remember about me in her womb. I haven't read the response because I am on a train with people and don't want to cry hysterically in front of strangers. I don't know what her response entails but I know she was 18 and pregnant. That, in itself, is enough to make me cry.
When I am ready and am in a safe space I will read it, I will take note of everything that transpired for me to take my first breath. I will see how the universe conspired to make sure the sperm from my father married the egg from my mother and created a whole human being.
I am in awe of all of God's creations as I pass by trees, bodies of water, flowers, animals and buildings on this ride. I think about the individuals that God gave the idea to build houses, trains and cars and create businesses. I think about all the individuals on this train whose lives are connected as we ride together to our destinations. We are all just a speck in the universe however we all have an important role to play. Do you know how amazing you are?
Thank you for taking this time to spend with me.
Depression survivor that discovered the power of positive thinking.