Whole30 and Me: A Journey

Look at all of this compliance.

Look at all of this compliance. Sweet, sweet compliance.

Typically we start stories at the beginning, or at some point close to the beginning. For the sake of this story, though, I’d like to work backwards.

Last Friday, I posted a photo that showed my progress since I started to make some positive life changes. I’m over 40 pounds down from where I was this spring, and have been learning so much about my body and how so many of my choices factor into its performance. The photo, for reference, is here:

So, a couple of things: 1- I finished a second cycle of #whole30 yesterday. June was my first, and I'm amazed at the things a little bit of a reset can do for you. It's easier the second time around, but I still couldn't have done it without awesome support. Learned a lot, did a lot. 2- I'm down 40 pounds and some change from where I started. I feel like I've noticed the changes all along, but seeing them compared to this picture taken in March (on the left), I cussed at myself. Progress really IS a process, and my mind and spirit have been changing along with my body. I'm becoming a better me all around, and that can't be so bad, right? 3- I'm wearing unpants as actual pants today. Almost did it yesterday but had a long talk with myself. Still unlearning some previously held notions about body image and all that. Today, no effs given, and I have a jacket anyway. 4- toot. toot. #whole30approved #whole30taughtme #weightlossjourney #journeytoself #gawtdamb #thesnatchening #evenmyforearmsgotdefiniton #imworkingonpullupsnext #stayingcute #quietgrind #iaintbuynobodysproductsforthis #butifyouneedtothatscooltoo

A photo posted by Erica B. (@beezhunny) on

All along I noticed changes mostly in what the Instagram/fitness world calls NSV’s for non-scale victories. When pants fit a little looser, I’m able to fit into clothes I intentionally purchased too small (word to the wise, don’t do that), my face was clearer, nails growing out of control, I counted those all as wins rather than obsessively taking note of how much I weigh this day over that day. I explained in a fairly recent post about how I don’t want anybody’s body to become my goals, so for me, goals have been little surprises that pop up in the form of progress.

So, how did I get from point A to point B? For me, it started with this program called Whole30, created by Melissa and Dallas Hartwig. I saw a few people on my Twitter timeline talking about it, and got curious. I read the book It Starts with Food, and the big picture started to make sense. I decided 30 days was a worthwhile investment to learn more about my body and how it works, and this program was just the push I needed to get myself on the track of “better for me” decisions. Since posting my progress, a lot of people have been asking me what Whole30 is, and before I go into that, I’d like to share what it is not: 

1- Whole30 is NOT a diet. In fact, by reading It Starts with Food and Food Freedom Forever (by Melissa Hartwig), I know now that diets are essentially a a short-term plan in long-term failure. Think about it- you commit to something extreme for a few weeks, maybe a few months. Once you’re done, you reward yourself by GOING BACK TO THE SAME HABITS THAT CAUSED YOU TO WANT TO DIET. It’s a circle of strife, friends. We don’t need that. I’ve been doing a lot of “unlearning” in the realm of creating a sustainable lifestyle for myself. With that, the word diet got the boot.

2- Whole30 is not a get slim quick plan. In fact, once I read It Starts with Food, I didn’t place my expectations for the program on losing weight. My desire was to give my body a proper reset so I could start to make decisions that felt good. I wanted a different relationship with food, and the decisions I made around it. I didn’t want to take any pills or shakes or get a surgery or any of those other means you see all too often on social media. I just wanted to do better and be better, that’s it. The rules even forbid you weighing yourself during the program, and I totally support it. Now this eventual slim down that I’ve termed “The Snatchening?” It didn’t happen overnight. And it won’t. It probably won’t for you either, and the sooner you become okay with that, the sooner you can be on this road of better decisions as well.

3- Whole30 isn’t for everyone, but I still believe everyone should try it as intended. In talks with people about the different rules of the program, the first thing I often here is “So… I can’t have *insert food here*?” I get it, the thought of foregoing cream and sugar in your coffee is terrible. The thought of not sitting down with a little chocolate at the end of a tough day was killer for me. You know what, though? I did it. We’re talking 30 days. One month. The program isn’t asking you to give up essentials, like water and air. And no, you cannot tweak the program and do it in your own way. Simply put, you cannot half-ass a Whole30. If you read the book, you’ll understand why it’s important to do it as written.

With those things considered, here are a few things the Whole30 is, in my view:

1- Whole30 is a learning process.  Look, if you cut out grains, dairy, sugar, legumes, and soy from your life, you’re going to learn exactly what foods contain those things (plot twist: everything). My grocery trips became longer as I spent time reading labels, googling words I didn’t understand and sending photos to my Awesome Partner in these shenanigans on whether said product was a go or not. I learned how so many words are used to describe sugar, or sugar alcohols. I learned how sweet a strawberry could be, and how different foods I never even knew existed could be wonderful. I learned my own strengths, vulnerabilities, and capabilities in a way I was unable to hone in on until this process. I started some physical activity too- a little more running,  a little more Zumba, some stretching and yoga and dancing in my living room on Saturday mornings. I felt stronger because I was slowly becoming stronger.

2-Whole30 is just the beginning of a longer cycle. In Food Freedom Forever, Melissa Hartwig chronicles the cycle as 1-reset; 2- enjoying food freedom; 3-acknowledging when you’re slipping and begin again. The Whole30 is just the kick before the push that helps you get your food habits on a better cycle. What I’ve found, though, is that so many are afraid of making just that first little step, they continue to stick with the comfortable. This takes you out of your comfort zone. It gets a little unbearable in the beginning. Soon enough, though, a breakthrough happens and you’re able to push through a little stronger and wiser.

3- Whole30 really does change your expectations and relationship with food. Do you even realize how many memories we attach with food? We often don’t want dishes on holidays if they’re not an exact replica of mom’s or granny’s. We celebrate joyful events with indulgence. We also mourn with foods that comfort us. We eat when we’re stressed. We eat when we’re not even hungry. We eat when food is just there. We eat because we’re awake. We eat because we’re alone. I mean… I broke a lot of mindless eating while on this reset, and it didn’t hurt to do it. I often asked myself “will eating this honor the long-termchoices I want to make? Will this even satisfy me in the way I want? Am I truly hungry and need a meal, or am I bored/angry/tired/lonely?” By focusing my intentions on meal planning and construction based off of a set of guidelines, I made fewer impulse choices that would leave me feeling like crud, and found a way of living that not only maintains my life, but will sustain it in the long run. I (will eventually) have a family I want to make good choices for. Starting those choices for myself has been one of the best decisions I’ve made this year.

This is getting a little lengthy, but it’s just the beginning of what this journey has been like for me, and I hope that if you are thinking of doing the same that you will. I’m open to any questions you have, and if you need a coach/cheerleader/buddy, let me know! Share a comment whether you have or haven’t done it. I’m here for you!

Also, buy the books and read them. What are you afraid of?

Yours in Snatchening,

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PS- The book links provided through this post are through the Amazon Affiliates program, which provides me with a little compensation for your purchases. Full disclosure is in the sidebar.

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The Lies “Someday” Tells…

Me and Someday are breaking up. Why is that, you say? Because Someday is full of lies, and I’m pushing for more defined answers in my life.

How often do we see an old friend in passing, or give a quick phone call (or text, ugh) to someone, and you get a “we need to catch up over dinner/coffee/strong alcohol and snacks someday!” It sounds like an awesome offer, but I’m learning that more often than not, Someday never happens. Someday is a random placefiller, a social cue brought on perhaps with the intent of continuing the conversation. However, the lie of “busy-ness” often competes with the follow through of Someday, and Someday just doesn’t come.

I know I seem to blame a lot on our connected (but severely disconnected) states of being these days, but in my observations, I find it a little astounding and heartbreaking that we would rather let a million Somedays come and go before we actually use the phone button on those phones, call someone (no, not text), and set a plan to do something that requires you to be in the same place with them at the same time. All of the intent behind Somed
ay gets lost in the idea that you’ve got “too much” going on. We all do, but come on… We make things happen when we truly, sincerely want to. Busy is glorified. Busy is overrated. And that’s why I want to break up with Someday.

I’m over this idea that I *have* to be consistently busy. A few periods of extreme burnout have caused me to sat (yes, sat) all the way down. While sitting, I observed. Most of the time when Someday is mentioned, people have phones (often of the smarter persuasion) in hand. How hard is it to take another 40-60 seconds to synchronize your watches, set a time and place, and actually show up to it? When do we start treating people like people, and not time fillers you consult at the last minute? Why is this so difficult to do?

We’re so bad at maintaining relationships these days. I used to be excited at the prospect of Someday with certain people, but now if I have to bring it up a few too many times, I drop it. I refuse to treat an instance of a person I see on a semi-regular basis and want to see more of as a ship passing in the night that I can’t get ahold of. Sometimes, people show you exactly where you fit in their range of Someday. It’s my hope, though, that we get better at making Someday a reality, before you regret never having made that move.

To help get rid of the lies of Someday, and actually be better at being better, I’ve  been working on the following:

1- Being more intentional with my words/ being a good communicator of my intent. If If there’s something practical that keeps me from solidifying a date, I’m upfront. Did we forget that people usually can be understanding if we’re forthcoming about difficulties? I have a friend that is good at letting me know when it’s not her pay week, so our plans may have to be reworked to when she has more available funds. I have a few jobs (including side hustles), so the little time I have available, I’d rather know sooner as opposed to later if I’ll be filling it with your presence. If I’m going to need to bounce early because I have a project to work on, I won’t wait until the appetizer hits to spring it on you. If I don’t think I’ll be able to come because I’m going to want to introvert and take a 2 hour bath or something, I’ll put it out there with another offer to hang.

2-Checking myself and my priorities. Do I have too many things on my plate? Am I over extended? Is this for a brief period or do I need to evaluate some of my commitments? Am I providing too much of myself to a person/situation/organization that does not give me an adequate roi (return on investment)? What am I really doing this for? If I make some changes, would this then allow room for this relationship to cultivate?

3- Making the thing happen. Along with the Someday lie, there are some that feel that making the arrangements is enough. Then, you have some people that are good at cancelling the day of, sometimes with mere hours to spare, with no regard for how this may have affected the other party’s day. Again, there is space to be reasonable- being sick, worn out, broke, or otherwise unable can be a good reason to cancel in favor of a more agreeable date, but when flaky patterns persist, I let the flakes fall to the side and keep it moving.

Let me be frank: the name of the game is consideration. Consider what another is giving up to spend time with you. Consider all of the other things a person could be doing in the world, yet they choose to be in your presence. At the very least, they would like a chance. I’m not saying that you must now fill your social calendar to the brim with coffee and farmer’s market trips (unless that’s your thing, then go nuts!), but if you are truly sincere in your wishes to spend time with a person, do this:

Say you want to do it. Suggest a date, time and place. Repeat until a mutually agreed upon selection is chosen. Put it in your phone. Show up, and be a good communicator if you can’t. Don’t let Someday stop you from being great.

Got it? Awesome. Now stop lying on Someday and make it happen.

 

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The Lost Art of Apologies

Before we begin, I’d like to start with a couple of questions. How many of you have been on the receiving hand of a crap apology?

Me.

And how many of you have given a crap apology?

Also me.

Also me.

I think that part of what subjects us to this wave of crap apology is the fact that we all have devices attached to us so frequently, we think that to apologize is to shoot off a quick “sorry,” and move on. We think of people, and subsequently their feelings, as items on a digital checklist that we address on our own time and keep going. How often, though, have you moved on from something that needed more than a quick text? How many times would you have been more accepting of something if there was actual responsibility taken from the person who hurt you, instead of a “sorry your feelings were hurt,” or “sorry you got offended”? Why do people think that this wave of “I ain’t sorry” is really helping us grow in our relationships? Now, there are some reasons that you shouldn’t feel compelled to apologize for. I’m working on a few of the ones my buddy Alise mentions in her post as we speak. There are some things that we shouldn’t apologize for. For the ones we should, meaning you were an incorrigible douchenugget or flubbed so hard nobody wants to even fine you, this is where this particular post comes in.

If we really dig in and get honest with ourselves, I’d bet that we find that being on the receiving end of a terrible apology has colored how we interact with that person from that point forward. Nobody wants to bare it all and put a little shred of vulnerability on the table and expose what lies beneath… even if it does lead to a healthier reconciliation. We’re all protected like the suits of armor at Hogwarts, except there’s no life or death battle looming, especially not against Tom Riddle. He gone.

All geared up with nowhere to go.

All geared up with nowhere to go.

How, then, do we begin to make apologies that matter and save relationships that matter to us? Because I like a good mnemonic (although I have trouble saying the word), we’ll use the word “art” to remember the steps. So, to make apologies that count, one must:

  • Acknowledge what you have done, and how your actions affected the offended party. This is not a good time to pull the “yeah, I did wrong but you/him/her/the devil made me do it.” Nope. Own your part in this mess, and own it wholly. If you need some time to reflect and think about what you did and how the other person could have been hurt by your actions, take some time. If you’re drawing blanks, ask them how it affected them specifically. Make an effort to actually call or see the person instead of text them. I find in moments like this, where you can be proactive instead of reactive, the best instances of healing develop. After you have acknowledged your actions and the hurt they have caused, you can then…
  • Resolve to do better. I think this is where so many apologies fall short. You can’t just say “sorry” (even if you are) and leave it at that. The next step is vocalizing what you plan to do to ensure no repeat performances. Acknowledge it, then create a course of action to prevent it. What do you need to be more mindful of going forward? What obstacles do you need to remove that will prevent you from being a less trash individual? This is where you create a plan and share it. Sharing it helps keep you accountable. After all of that, we get to the last step, which is…
  • Thankfulness. Practice it. The person you hurt is under no obligation to hear you out, so recognize that first. Thank them for their time, and if they do accept your apology (because I can’t and won’t guarantee that they will), thank them for trusting you again. It’s important to realize here that an accepted apology is not a reset button. Depending on the level of offense, a “sorry” does not give you a get-back-in-their-best-graces free card. You’re going to have to work to restore this thing. Going forward, remember this moment so that you can be motivated to not do whatever you did again. Perhaps a small gift (if your person is a gifts/edible arrangements type of person) will get the message across at this point. We must remember to be grateful for people that let us back in after we’ve messed up, no matter the level of our mistake. Use this opportunity as your launching pad to being a better you.

Got it? Review time.

 

“Hey, I’m sorry I did the thing that made you feel like I wasn’t as great of a human being as you’ve previously thought. I totally mishandled myself in the situation, and my carelessness/selfishness/obliviousness let you down at a time that you needed me. Going forward, I would like to not let these things fall off the radar, so I’ll try and use my calendar more. Feel free to send me things I can plug in my phone too, as little reminders. To make up for messing this thing up, here’s *thing*, and again… I’ll do better.”

There it is. Go forth and be trash no more.  Here’s a handy pocket reference, drawn from the labor of my own hands because I was over photoshop and this was faster.

Drawn by me.

And to think I almost called this post “The Anatomy of an Apology.” Hmmph.

If you have any other advice, thoughts, or questions, leave them in the comments. 

Class dismissed,

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Growth in the Flood

For a while, I was not good at feelings. Showing them, expressing them, actively feeling them… I just didn’t do the feely stuff. Somewhere in my life, I decided I never wanted people to see me cry, so I didn’t. Instead of dealing with tough issues as they were, I put them in a box to handle later, except later hardly ever came. I was the strong one. The tough one. The fixer. The rock for everyone. I didn’t have time to cry. I had stuff to do, and issues to solve.

In the last year or so, I’ve realized how ridiculous that was. Not by any grand revelation or anything, but simply by crying one good time in a moment where I felt particularly vulnerable, alone, and scared (probably on the way to one of the millions of doctor appointments I’ve had in the last year or so). In the middle of this sob fest, I believe I said “I don’t like that I have to do this right now, and it sucks.” In the midst of this tear-filled haze, I had a bit of an epiphany. You see, instead of putting my feels in a box to handle later, it’s much better to acknowledge the now, no matter how uncertain the now feels. Previously, I felt like I needed the whole picture available in order to accurately evaluate and deal. That’s not necessarily needed to validate how you feel in the moment. In any moment. I figured it was about time I started listening to the advice I gave others- your feelings are valid and yours, no matter the source. Accept it all– good, bad, and ambiguous.

Here’s an incomplete yet short, list of all of the things I’ve found myself crying about in the last 10-ish months:

  • That time I tripped over my laundry basket then panicked because it could have happened in the middle of the night and I may have passed out and nobody would have known
  • Rejection from a job I really wanted
  • Rejection from a person I really wanted a better connection with
  • Good news
  • Thai life insurance commercials
  • Friends moving
  • Friends staying
  • A wedding I attended
  • A wedding I was invited to
  • A wedding I was on the way to
  • Baby announcements
  • Baby showers
  • Seeing fresh babies
  • Being surrounded by little families and realizing how much I want my own. Today.
  • Realizing that growing up with a front row seat to substance abuse has given me a very unique lens on life that I didn’t ask for
  • Slowly being okay with that and pushing aside the “can it happen to me, too?” thoughts
  • Having actual conversations with my now 3 year old niece
  • Things I can’t fix for others that I really want to
  • Things I can’t fix for myself that I really want to
  • Empath-ing all over the place and feeling all of the things when things are haywire
  • Small ponderings about whether I am, do, or have enough
  • A few books I read
  • A bunch of movies I’ve seen (the latest: Kubo and the Two Strings)
  • That time I was mentally prepared for the anxiety that accompanies opening a can of biscuits (or maybe cinnamon rolls) and they didn’t open
  • When being poked with needles for my own health
  • When being biopsied for my own health
  • When sitting in silent doctor exam rooms to check on my own health
  • Coming home and needing a hug more than anything, but being greeted with silence
  • When I wanted better for my family
  • When I wanted better for myself
  • I saw something really cute and I didn’t know what to do with myself
  • A time or twenty when I felt forgotten (#MiddleChildProblems)
  • A time or twenty when I felt overwhelming love/appreciation
  • That one time in church with the one song playing
  • Okay, maybe that 2nd-80th time the other songs played too
  • Black people getting killed constantly by the police
  • Knowing how badly I want to bring a life in this world but living simultaneously with all of the anxiety that comes with raising a Black child in 2KAmerica
  • How far I’ve come
  • The awesomeness and anticipation of what’s yet to come

Me and my yoga mat have become really familiar at this point in my life, and who would have thought at this point I’d even own a yoga mat, much less use it? Something about child pose that makes it easier– I get in a good stretch and the mat helps mop up the tears. I suppose child pose helps me tap into my vulnerability. By staring my feels in the face, searching for the roots of them, and being broken down by the “pushed aside” emotions I needed to feel ages ago, I feel myself growing. Growing and crying. Crying and growing. Learning more about myself. Releasing ideas that held me captive. Confronting my wants and fears. Shedding layers. Acknowledging myself. Acknowledging my feelings. Affirming my need to be here for this moment even if I am a puddle of tears. Feeling stronger as I stand up. I’ve needed to keep a stockpile of Kleenex for the tough stuff, and there has been plenty of tough stuff. I’ve grown to embrace my sensitive nature. I whelm in my overwhelm. I am, in gamer terms… leveling up. Unlocking achievements all over the place.

Funny enough, at the end of these sessions, after I’ve flooded my apartment with tears, and my face is all puffy and unrecognizable, I smile. Why? Because like all great things, there is growth after the flood. Once you get past the rubble, clear the debris, and salvage a little, you come back a little different but never the same, and that is awesome. If nothing else, it serves me in learning I am exactly where I need to be. Maybe you need that affirmation as well, so let me be the first to encourage you to let it out. Even if you don’t have it all figured out. Sometimes a good tear duct flushing will lead you to answers faster than stressing it out.

In the meantime, I find myself answering questions about where I’ve been with “I’ve been… being.” It’s succinct, to the point, and sounds slightly better than “I’ve been wrapped in a cocoon of emotions, being refined in tears, and am ready to emerge as a fly and emotionally adept butterfly any time now.” Maybe I should say that, though. I’m in a Butterfly Season.  Getting ready to burst forth with awesomeness or something. What do you think?

But hey. Sometimes after all of this crying, I need a nap. If I actually let you see some of this tear shedding you might just be in my circle. Who’s got some shoulders I can borrow?

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(Do) I Deserve?

 

This year, I’ve been working on my openness. Typically I’ve been the rock and sounding board for others, which left me in a place of being unable to express myself emotionally- good and bad. These practices in vulnerability have left me sometimes exhausted, sometimes exhilarated, but always growing and grateful. While working on my openness, I’ve decided to share a little something that I’ve been having trouble with lately.

Before I go into the content today, I want to do a little scene setting:

Picture it: You’re on the couch bored, and like most people, you’ll find yourself reaching on your phone for a social media break. It’s one of those seasons where good news is all across your feed- an engagement ring here, a few sonogram baby announcements there, a couple of elopements around the corner… the usual. As you add your congratulatory message among the hundreds, you see a phrase repeated in the well-wishes, and it stands out… “Congrats, girl! You deserve it!”

Deserve? This is a seemingly harmless wish, but I have some issues.

Let me be honest, I have a hard time with this particular word. I looked it up  in a few different sources like the true nerd that I am), and it’s generally defined as “merit or worthiness based on a particular action or quality.” So, as my mind does the thing, I think of how this is in great contrast to the my Christian upbringing. In faith-based communities, it is often touted that the things we have (money, jobs, possessions) are not ours, and we don’t deserve them through any acts that we’ve performed. In fact, the source of many of our #blessings is God’s grace and mercy working on our behalf. So when it comes to this world of families and relationships, where does the narrative change?

I read Emma Lindsay’s post on Medium titled “Being Single Is Hard” the other day, and some of the themes in it still resonate with me. We really do need people. My world has been changing in the last 5 years or so, with many of the friends I’ve made from birth until now going on to marry, start their own families, and do awesome things. I understand and accept the natural drifting that comes when your focus changes. More often than not, I’m perfectly fine in this. There are moments, though, when I wish there was someone around to discuss before I take on a giant purchase, or even to just discuss the (many, many, many) things on my mind. Just the idea of a presence to lean on would be comforting, considering the year I’ve had.

However, what stood out most in Emma’s piece is that one of her friends somehow suggested that she not date for a while to “work on herself.” I almost fumed at this line, because I’ve heard it (and seen it) thousands of times. Let’s be frank: I’ve spent the entirety of my twenties not in a relationship. I’ve done the soul-searching, the list-making, the fasting, the praying, the not thinking about it, the thinking about it, the being myself, the not being myself, the putting myself out there (and subsequently retreating like the colored girl I am when the creeps were enuf), the being okay with where I am, the not being as okay with where I am, etc., etc., etc… And if that isn’t considered “the work,” then what exactly is?

“Go travel,” they say. *shows pictures of my last overseas trip*

“You should learn to enjoy your own company before you invite others into the equation,” they say. I’m an INFJ whose primary love languages are quality time and acts of service. I may currently live alone, but I still thrive on hearing another voice on the other side of the phone, rather than text messages for everything. I would say I’m sorry, but I’m not a good liar anyway.

“If you don’t love you, how will anybody else?” This little bit of sad-vice been meme’d across the internet, and I blame the linen suited relationship peddlers (and their fake deep followers) for this one. I find this idea tough to grasp, too, because I find it wholly untrue. First of all, I love the mess out of myself. Mess and all. I’ve learned my quirks and embrace them. I pause throughout the day to think of things I appreciate about myself and the world around me. I’m flipping brilliant, have a heap of hobbies, and I bring my awesome humor to any situation I find myself in. Your babies and animals trust me. I know what I want in a partner, and I don’t believe in settling for any situationships or friendlationships with people that can’t make up their minds. Quite literally, the name of my game is #ShutUpAndLoveMe.

With that said, I definitely agree with Emma- being single is hard, and I’m willing to step up and admit it for myself. Being that I’ve done “the work” (whatever that is in your world), and still find myself here is most curious. Quite simply… if deserving things/events/people is solely a cause and effect based on doing “the work,” wouldn’t we all be exactly where we want to be? If we deserve things based on our efforts and self improvement, why are we not all at our jobs of our dreams and with the people of our dreams? Better yet, if you don’t deserve at least an awesomely supportive partner to be around for tough times, does that mean you deserve to experience those tough times alone?

I suppose that lovely platitude about “when it’s your time, it’s your time” is a good answer for that, but for me… it’s not enough. I have lots of questions, and plenty of time to think about them. What makes one “deserve” over another? Is it an all-or-nothing game, or one where the rules don’t count or make any sense?

Maybe everything's made up AND the points don't matter.

Maybe everything’s made up AND the points don’t matter.

I think I’ve done enough here. Maybe I do deserve, and I don’t even know it. What do you all think– am I simply overthinking this, or is there some merit to this thought? Let me know in the comments. 

XOXO,

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PS- I saved y’all from an obvious Momma Dee reference. I deserve your accolades for that, if not anything else.

Teyana Taylor’s Body Ain’t My Goals.

There are a lot of things I could talk about in this space, especially considering I haven’t stopped by this space in a while. The election season, this seemingly national debate around idolization of a flag and a song, Olympic athletes unhinged, the $5 Bonafide Box’s return to Popeye’s… trust, there’s plenty to talk about. Today, though, I want to talk about something that’s had the masses equally abuzz, though.

Sunday was the 8 billionth installment of MTV’s Video Music Awards (how long has it been since video killed the radio star? And did YouTube kill the video star? Did Vine kill YouTube? I have questions.). During this #blessed event, of which I had the pleasure of not watching and catching the highlights later, Kanye West debuted the video for his song Fade, starring a toned, trimmed, and tight Teyana Taylor. Say that 5 times fast.

Miss Taylor was giving us Flashdance, Fame-tastic, 80s style choreography in that workout room. Her moves were awesome, and considering the fact that she just gave birth to a little person roughly 9 months ago, her body looks awesome. Seriously. Mama was showing photos of a one week postpartum stomach, and had the nerve to have abs. I’m not mad at it at all. I wish I could hustle like that. She’s always had this athletic aesthetic, from her skateboarding days on My Super Sweet 16 until now. It’s pretty awesome to see her out here getting recognition.

boom kat.

boom kat.

duck walk with it.

duck walk with it.

seriously. this stomach had a whole human inside of it and is flatter than mine.

seriously. this stomach had a whole human inside of it and is flatter than mine.

 

But anyway, let’s get into the issue. With this video drop came mass proclamations of people deciding they wanted to get in the gym, exist on the crumbs and water and air diet, and do all of the reps. Teyana became the new leader of the #BodyGoals movement. I saw these expressions of admiration as cute, but there’s also been a little something nagging at me, and I think I know why.

For most of the summer, I’ve been on my own version of a “better me” journey, which I’ve recently named #TheSnatchening on Instagram. I’m making conscious efforts to make better choices about what I take in, as well as the energy I put out. It’s a whole mind, body, spirit movement. I completed a Whole30, and have plans to start one in the next week or so (spoiler alert: I cried a lot). With that, I’ve done a lot of soul searching and deep talks (okay, cries) with myself about my own goals in this– what do I want? How do I get there? How long before I get there? What does the endgame look like for me?

I haven’t been weighing myself regularly. I don’t really do any calorie counting or anything of that sort. I don’t want to get caught up in numbers (which is relatively easy for me to do as a numbers person), and potentially introducing less wise choices into my life. Most of my documented wins have been in the differences in how things fit–either I’m fitting into things I hadn’t been able to, or the things that used to fit well are falling off. Yay. Snatch. My workouts mostly happen at home, with the help of the devil… I mean, Nike Training Club. Cussing out burpees in my living room just seems to be a better waste of not showing the world my full weirdo in public, yanno? I do occasionally attend Zumba classes when it fits my schedule, and generally decreasing my level of ridiculousness so I can combat this PCOS thing, as well as this severe iron deficiency thing. I’m not looking for a quick fix, or even a pill, wrap, or surgery to jumpstart what I imagine to be a longer-term, sustainable way of living. If I shed pounds, awesome. If I don’t, awesome.

I guess the problem I have with making someone else my goals is that for me, it undermines my own efforts at a better me. It feels like I’d be betraying all I’ve gone through and done with current body, and would be immediately ready to ditch it for a new model, like a starter wife. I feel that it could do more harm than good, and cause me to set unrealistic goals and stress/obsess over not reaching them. It’s not honoring my journey, and that is definitely a top 3 goal for all decisions I make at this point. So, as I continue on #TheSnatchening, I’m becoming more aware of my body changing, and becoming more and more amazed as it does things I never knew it could. Finding ways to astonish yourself each day is pretty dopesauce, to be real. I’m working on being just as kind to myself as I am to others, which is still a work in progress, but I’m getting better. I may never look like Teyana, but I can look at being a better me day by day.

Step by step, I’m getting better.

Anyway, whether you’re new, true, or do this fitness thing, how do you set and keep your goals? Do you find any struggles particularly difficult? If so, how do you keep it all in check? Let me know.

XOXO (and let me know if you need a guest at the gym),

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Back to the World

A boomerang always comes back to its point of origin.

Much like a boomerang, I feel like I’ve been on a journey. So much has changed. I’ve learned a great deal about myself, others, and the world around me. I’ve moved, started a new job, and made acquaintance with THE CUTEST NIECE IN THE WORLD (and yes, she will get a hashtag in all caps). Even in the middle of all of the changes, there were parts I missed.

As time went on, I wondered how I would do it. When I would do it. If I still could do it. I love words, love putting words together, yet something I’ve taken so much joy in felt… foreign. Time went on. I kept putting it off. Compensating by adding to an ever-growing imaginary “to-do” list that had no progress as well. Trying out other new things, and wondering how to share. Twitter, of course, kept me occupied, but finding time (outside of livetweeting network tv) just was not working. Ask my ukulele how that’s working out.

I looked up and realized it was November. Halfway through the month, almost. The homeskillet Alise reminded me it was Tevin Campbell’s (one of the faves and you will never debate me on this, idk idk idk) 38th birthday1, and days ago, Sesame Street (another childhood favorite of mine) turned 45. In less than two weeks, I’ll be 29. Don’t look at my face; just trust me on this one. I ordered my birth certificate as the ultimate receipt.

Because I’ve been saying I’m “almost 30” since I was 25, I am really into this whole concept of carpe-ing the diem. Is it scary? Sometimes. Is it worth it? Sometimes. Is there a lesson behind it? Most definitely. Will you (meaning I) share it? Well… if I write, I will. At this current moment, I see myself at the edge of a swimming pool, ready for my first lessons2. I stare out at the pool ahead of me, and shudder as my toes hang over the line. Nothing separates me from exploring the vastness around me, except for my fluctuating willingness to get in.

After a few deep breaths, a hit of my asthma pump, and another check to make sure my cap is on, I’m jumping back in.

Need to know where to find me? Check out Twitter and Instagram, @beezhunny is my handle at both. As always, I’m working on being a work in progress, and would love some extra friends on the journey. Until next time, tell me what your favorite Tevin Campbell song is in the comments. Make a playlist (or listen to mine). Jam. It’s a celebration! Like a boomerang, I’m back!

The Box Braided Balladeer would approve.

The Box Braided Balladeer would approve.

Glad I Made it Through without a “Do the Write Thing” Pun,

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1- I set a calendar reminder in Outlook so I never forget Tevin Campbell’s birthday again.
2-Getting swimming lessons is on my “30 list.” More on that later. Kthxbai.

When the Words Wash Over You…

Many nights, I don’t sleep well.

Sometimes I start too early, then after about 5 or so hours, I pop up searching for answers. Answers… to what? Could be anything: math problems, that response I should have given at work/over the phone/ during that messaging time, did I lock the door?, people from the past, people from the present, the future in all of its ambiguity, the list could go on and on. I’m never particularly worried or stressed about things, I just… spend a lot of time thinking, sometimes planning, or thinking about planning.

Often when I wake for the morning, a thought comes to me- usually my cue that I need to take these words to heart. They sometimes come in the form of song lyrics, sometimes scripture, and sometimes encouraging, affirming life truths I just need to surround myself in. A couple of weeks in particular, one surrounded me, and I’ve not been able to let it go. It simply said, “It’s okay to want… It’s okay to wait.”

raindrops

For me, that could be any or all of the things I’ve been thinking about. Perhaps it’s the same for you. You are waiting for that next level. You want a new job, a new car, a new degree, a new house, a new life… and you’re trying to make it happen all on your own, yet forces keep stopping you. It could be that you need to slow down a bit, really map it out, meditate over it, and then try again. Sometimes forcing certain outcomes pushes them further away from your grasp. There is no shame in waiting for the things you truly want. No one should make you feel less than for deciding something you desire is indeed worth the wait. Sometimes, waiting ensures that the plan falls in place even more divinely than our own orchestration could have made it.

In the past few years, I’ve learned to trust these messages. I know they’re delivered to me for a reason, and the fact that I’m receptive enough to tune in and really think about what it all means gives me a reason to be peaceful– even if I can’t get a good eight hours of sleep. What I’ve learned to trust the most is that sometimes, when the words wash over you like that, you’ve just gotta them do their cleansing.

Does this happen to any of you? What do you find yourself into when sleep doesn’t come so easily?

The Time I Rode the Turquoise Jeep…

It’s not every day when a girl can say she met some of her favorite Internet sensations. This past Friday, though, I crossed another unfathomable dream off the bucket list, when I saw Turquoise Jeep in concert.

Who or what is Turquoise Jeep? Let’s just say this: They’ve been releasing videos on YouTube since about 2009, and a many of them are close to, if not past, the one million view mark. I’m not sure what keeps us dedicated Jeep riders back for more: Flynt Flossy’s raspy voice and dance moves, Pretty Raheem’s (always colorful) choice in clothing and smooth voice, Yung Humma’s dedication to smanging and the press and curl, Whatchyamacallit’s general aura of mystery along with sharp dressing, or Slick Mahony’s falsetto. What I do know, though, is we are loyal fans of this group, whether they’re real or not. For just a sampling of what they offer, check out the classic R&B stylings and green screen realness of Pretty Raheem in “Can He Move It Like This?”

 

I found out one day before this concert that it was even happening. Didn’t matter- I was going. The friends that totally relate with this obsession all live out of town; didn’t matter- I was going (for the TEAM). I had already made plans for dinner and to see The Butler; didn’t matter- I was going. My neighbor wanted to smalltalk with me forEVER during the little time I had between movie and concert to change and get a taxi downtown; didn’t matter- I went. Regrets? I have ZERO.

2013-08-23 21.44.41I knew I was in the right place when I saw the picture above. The last of the opening acts was finishing up with a rousing Jodeci chorus, and I happened to run into a couple of old buddies from undergrad. I was beyond excited. When they finally came onstage, I was front and center.

 

We got cavities, and Pretty Raheem grabbed my hand:

 

We fried (or fertilized, whatever your preference), and Yung Humma grabbed my hand:

We smanged:

We watched Flynt Flossy break it down for the lessers:

We watched them preview a new song, “Naughty Farmer,” which seemed to go over well with the crowd:

Once they were done, there was an announcement of where they would be for t-shirt sales and autographs, along with pictures. They didn’t leave until everyone who wanted to got a chance. I didn’t say much, except I hugged most of them (can’t remember- slightly starstruck), then took a picture with them and my new friend who knew the choreography as well as I did. 2013-08-23 23.12.13-1

I didn’t stay for any afterparty- I didn’t need to. Mission in foolery: completed.

If you ever get a chance to see them live, I highly recommend it. Check out their tour schedule here, and if you get a chance to see the Jeep live, you better know how you like your eggs. They will ask.

Lee Thompson Young and Tough Talks

Lee Thompson Young, 1984-2013 (photo from TMZ)

Remember that face above?

I was stunned this afternoon to find out that Lee Thompson Young, formerly of Disney Channel’s The Famous Jett Jackson, and recently of Rizzoli and Isles, had passed away today. I remember him being one of my first tv crushes, and making meeting and marrying him one of my first long-term goals. From the looks of many of my peers via social media, we shared the same sentiments. He was handsome, seemed charming, and kept up various roles past his time as a Disney child star.

What was even more stunning, though, was that reports of his death came with a speculation of suicide as the cause. Many were struggling with the concept of why or how it could happen to someone that seemed to live a fairly even keeled life, but if this is indeed the way this young man left this Earth, there is often a level to life that those struggling with depressive, suicidal thoughts never reveal.

I realize that depression is a very tough subject to tackle, and I am by no means an expert or authority on the issue. What I can do, though, is offer support, and encourage each of you out there to look at mental health issues as more than something to joke about occasionally. Don’t let someone’s pain and suffering be your punchline.

Check in on your friends. If you haven’t seen someone in a while, look into their well being. Care about people. You don’t have to make grand gestures; just letting someone know that you’re thinking of them could make all of the difference. Recognize the signs of depression and offer support and love to your friends and acquaintances that may be going through. Help combat the stigmas that surround mental health- encourage people that may need it to seek help and be unashamed.

It doesn’t take much, but I feel that these little steps can make a world of difference in someone’s life, and help those tough talks about mental health become a little less tough. So while I can’t marry Jett Jackson, I can use what little influence in my corner of the interwebs to ensure something good comes of his tragic passing.

 



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