Lighter!

Happy Saturday, Ya’ll! Apologies for the the short absence again, but at least this time, it was by design.

I find that when the demands of life (family, work, side projects, etc) start to consume all time and mental capacity, it’s important for me to take it one thing at a time as not to become overwhelmed, which was just about to happen. At present, I have a huge work event I am in the midst of planning and executing, transitioning my daughter to a new classroom and teachers, and consulting on a venture that is exciting, but really engrossing. On top of all that, I have been really focused on my health and exercise lately in the hopes of reaching a goal that I have had for quite some time come August (more on that later).

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Instead of just falling back on my usual semi-joking phrase of “I need a second ‘me’ to get all this done,” I took a hard look at my efforts and did an inventory of my time, and you know what I found? I found that I wasn’t using my time efficiently enough. During working hours, I was getting sidetracked with business calls and meetings that could be discussed via emails and not in-person meetings and, during the early morning hours, when I wanted to work out,  I wasn’t waking up early enough to do that or my meal prep as a vegan (which I’ve been easing into since last September and committed to at the top of the year). Essentially, I was shorting myself all the way around.

So, what did I do?

I put myself on a regular schedule, getting up at 5:30am or 6am everyday (yes, even the weekends), and starting out my day and ending my day with exercise of some sort 6-days a week (yes, two-a-days… one strength session of 50 minutes and one cardio of 45 to 60 minutes) and just a cardio or strength session on the 7th day – something to get me moving, but not like the other 6 days (essentially, a bit of a rest day). I joined [solidcore] for my strength and, for cardio, either run (ok, jog really… I am slow! lol!) or do spin at CorCycle, REV Cycle, or FlyWheel depending on my schedule. They are all a part of the health and nutrition plan my amazing husband and founder of BYBD Fitness & Nutrition has put me on.

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I found Organifi Green Juice and it’s been a game changer for my morning pick-me-up. I am so energized, I haven’t had the need or draw for caffeine or sugar of any kind for more than a month (I am not a big coffee drinker, but I love black teas and have been switching over to herbal teas more and more).

By far, really sticking to a vegan diet has felt wonderful as well. My meals are satisfying, my digestion is back on track, and I just feel GOOD when I eat the right things at the RIGHT TIME. I now understand and follow my Circadian Rhythm and have been implementing an 8-hour eating window that has aided with my weight loss, which will flip to a 10-hour window when I get into maintenance mode. I listened to this podcast on the Tim Ferris Show from Dr. Rhonda Patrick that my husband sent me and the first hour alone was mind-blowing! She even inspired me to investigate doing a water fast as well, which I did for 10 days. I had only planned on doing four days, but at the end of four, I felt energized and so clear-minded, that I decided to extend it to five days. At the end of Day 5, I decided to do it for a solid week and just extend it to seven. At the end of Day 7, I was like, “F It. You came this far. Might as well make it the full 10!” I am so happy that I did it. For those not familiar with water fasting, first – do your own research and make sure you consult your doctor. It triggers stem cell regeneration, aiding your immune system, and “stimulates the production of ketones, an energy source for neurons, and that it may also increase the number of mitochondria in neurons.” (Arjun Walia, www.collective-evolution.com)

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Water fasting for me was also a very spiritual experience. I prayed… a lot. I meditated… a lot. I rested when I was tired (which can be a lot, so be ready for that and do sleep or nap as much as possible when you feel the need), but woke up refreshed and feeling challenged in an empowering way, not a depleting one. It was MOTIVATING! I didn’t expect that with intermittent fasting, but it was definitely enjoyable and something I hope to do again in a few months.

All of this was happening in conjunction with putting into action the words and wisdom of Jen Sincero via an audiobook my sister gifted me, “You Are A Bad Ass: How To Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life.” I am not a big “self help” book person, but this one? Man! Jen speaks the truth all up and down this book. Seriously! I have listened to it twice now in the car as I am driving to and from meetings and it has been so enlightening, I’ve been extremely thankful for her words and my sister’s thoughtfulness in putting me on to it, because never would have picked the book up myself.

I’m down 20+ pounds and somewhere between my pre-pregnancy weight and my wedding weight, so I am happy about that. Goal weight is what I was at when hubs and I started dating nine years ago, and, given my diet and exercise schedule right now (and my husband supporting me in being away at all these classes, taking the lead on home life so I can go and make it a priority), I know I will hit that target in another 6 to 8 weeks. I’m excited!

On top of all that, I just signed with a new agent to help me pursue new avenues as a TV Host / Radio Personality, which has always been my passion. It’s a move I should have made years ago when I decided not to re-up with my former agent.

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I just feel “lighter.” Not just because of the weight loss, although, boy! That’s been freaking awesome! I mean, I am not as stressed. I let other people’s problems (yes, even loved ones’) be THEIR problems. I assist where I can, but I don’t WEAR those problems as my own, which is something I tended to do – eating when I was stressed or worried about someone else or forgoing working out because I just wanted to sit and be still and be alone with my worry for them, as if that was doing them any good.

I feel “lighter” in that I am allowing and seeking out positive energy from those around me and giving it off too, especially to strangers and acquaintances. I am “lighter” in that I am sloooooowwwwwing doooooown and taking one task at a time. That right there is probably the toughest for me, especially with work, but I work better when I take projects little by little and the results have been impressive.

I feel “lighter” in that I see and appreciate the little moments with my husband and my daughter and our dog even more IN the actual moment, because I am focused on the present and not thinking about what needs to be done next, or tomorrow, or next weekend, etc. This too is an exercise because you know, especially as a mother, we are always thinking about a million and one things that need to happen. But, when I am doing this right, I feel like the best mommy and wife in the world because I am dialed in, immediately relieving myself of the ‘mommy guilt’ that creeps in on us when we least expect it and when it really isn’t deserved.

I’m learning that while it is important to give, it shouldn’t be done to complete exhaustion. “Put your own oxygen mask on first,” people. It’s time for all of us to breathe. The air (and the water!) is fine 🙂

Love,

El

On The Grayest of Days…

My alarm just went off reminding me to blog today, since I am just recommitting, but the timing is almost comical. Not even an hour ago, I found out that a dear friend and colleague, THE Mr. Tony Boler passed away in his sleep and right now I can hardly see through the tears.

Tony Boler was one of several amazing men of character, discipline, humor, and talent that became my family at WDKX in Rochester, NY. Just graduating and starting my first TV Reporting job at what was R News, I was asked to start filling in on the morning radio show at WDKX. Little did I know that even after a move away from Rochester, it would be WDKX that brought me back to the city. My damn colleagues had found a way to become my family without me even knowing it and Tony was the slyest of them all with that. I would walk into the station on weekend mornings (when I didn’t work, mind you) like an expectant toddler who knows her favorite uncle is right behind those doors with a triple-scoop ice cream cone just for her! Tony just oozed comfort, and fun, and support, and JOY! And THAT voice! Y’all! If you haven’t had the honor of hearing his voice on the airwaves, you have missed out and better catch some reairs, because his voice – his deep, buttery voice – would make Morgan Freeman, Isaac Hayes, and Mr. Darth Vader himself just say, “F it! I had a nice career, but Tony Boler just sunned me so I’m out.”

When my parents came to visit me in Rochester, WDKX was the first place I took them to so they could meet my new Rochester family and Tony and owner Dre in particular. I wanted to show off my ‘new uncles’ and show that I was in great hands, which, from their smiles you can see they knew it to be true.

When Kuti and I had our daughter, we hopped in the car for a what-was-supposed-to-be 6-hour road trip (it wound up being nine thanks to weather) with a 4-month old for the station’s 40th anniversary. My family grew so, of course, my Rochester peeps needed to meet her as well. Tony was right there – proud and congratulatory with a huge, proud smile.

Tony had a loving wife and amazing children he loved and thought the world of. I’m ancillary to this whole thing. His family is devastated, as are his close friends. I surely am not trying to make this about me and my grief at all, especially when, like kids in families do, I moved away and we really only relied on Facebook for updates for a long time. Still, this hurts in a very acute way, especially since that time in Rochester and WDKX in particular holds such a huge, pivotal place in my life. I would NOT be here – professionally or personally – without the people who occupied those DKX walls. Period. That’s the truth.

To make this news worse, not only does this come on my husband’s birthday (what was supposed to be the subject of today’s blog), but it comes the Monday after spending my Friday in Alabama for a quick flight in and out of Birmingham on the same day to bury my aunt RenĂ©e, my closest cousin EbonĂ©’s mother, who died far too young as well.

You want to talk about voices? RenĂ©e’s voice was that of a quintessential Southern woman… Like the thickest of honey. Growing up, when she would say my name (“Liz” back then and while I was reporting as well, actually), it was more like, “Leeeehhzzz” and I loved it. Anyone who could make a one syllable name sound important enough to drag it out for three instead, was more than ok in my book. She doted on my cousin EbonĂ© in the sweetest of ways and took so much pride in seeing her become the amazing mother she did. Her love of my uncle was palpable and their commitment to each other over decades was unmatched. Our family won’t be the same without her and it’s a new normal I don’t think any of us are ready for.

So… There you have it. One of the grayest of days. Death… And then more death. So how the freak do we make this a “great day?”

By living!

By speaking LIFE into people!

By crying it out and feeling the pain, but swimming through it, not drowning in it.

By taking the emotions as they come, but welcoming momentary distractions that bring in humor or unrelated observations of awe.

By sitting still and enjoying nature, the breath in our lungs.

By being a friend… Always.

Forget tomorrow: TODAY IS NOT PROMISED. This ish could all be over in a matter of moments. What have you done to change your circle and your world for the better, your ‘family’ for the stronger? If you can’t think of anything, it’s time to get to work… And it’s time to get to work now.

I’ve had a commitment in my heart for a year and a half now, one that I finally spoke into existence this weekend. The minute I did, I was filled with elation, purpose, excitement, and a weight lifted off my shoulders – and this at the BEGINNING when I should be scared and frightened and nervous about the road ahead because it’s so big. Nope. And the news today? Tony’s passing? It’s just confirmation that there is NO time to waste. He didn’t. I won’t either.

If you have something on your heart to act on, I encourage you to get over any fear, any doubt, any worry, and just act. The hardest part is starting and/or outwardly expressing your intention. You know when you have waited long enough and you know when even legitimate excuses are not strong enough to give you pause anymore.

You can be great… IF you allow yourself. I’m ready to be great and I am so thankful for the examples that the people who have passed before me have left.

R.I.P. Tony Boler

R.I.P. Aunt Renee

Love,

El

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The Present of Peace…

I came across a quote today that might be old to you, but I had yet to hear it.

“If-you-are-depressed-you-are-living-in-the-past.-If-you-are-anxious-you-are-living-in-the-future.-If-you-are-at-peace-you-are-living-in-the-present.”

“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”

Lao Tzu, Father of Taoism

It rings true to me by and large (with the exception of seasonal depression, which affects me and doesn’t fit into the ‘living in the past’ perspective) and it amazed me at how simple and right on it was.

We are bombarded with expectations of ourselves, both from without and within, at such an early age, it can be extremely difficult to just “be at peace” in the now. Honestly, for Type-Aers like me, it could down right feel frivolous at times. As a kid, I was taught to focus on school and get great grades so that one day I could get a great job and live a great life as an adult. It makes sense, but there wasn’t really a lot of room for the “now” in my head even then. Everything was about building up a resume toward that end goal.

I fancy myself a painter, but I refused to take art classes in high school once I figured out that languages would count as an art credit. Always the overachiever, I made up my mind to forgo something I really wanted to do and take four years of Spanish, three years of French, and two years of German all as a high school student. I loved that I was the first person in the school’s history to take all three languages offered. That was a cool little internal bragging point, but honestly, although I walked away with the basics, I know I should have just really, thoroughly learned one or two tops and taken an art class to feed a passion, not ignore it. My thought (that I know see was flawed) was that art just wasn’t ‘serious enough’ when I could do something else with that time that would make me even more attractive to colleges. There could have been a balance, but I was all or nothing.

Later, in college, although I had plenty of fun with friends when I did go out, I put self-imposed rules on myself not to really let loose too much. I would skip week day get-togethers, telling friends it was a ‘school night’ and only allow myself to go out Friday or Saturday nights (rarely both in a single weekend). Good… I guess. But in four years, not one Tuesday or Thursday night outing or happy hour just to live and be present? That’s just weird. I swear I didn’t do college right. lol!

In elementary school, I was always thinking about middle school. In middle school, high school. In high school, college. In college, work. While working, marriage. While married, motherhood. Now in motherhood, it’s a mix of it all: work, marriage, kid… and the ‘what next’ of them all. I don’t suffer from anxiety, but my goodness! With all the running thoughts we as women have, it’s amazing that we all aren’t. It would be understandable.

Thinking about the past – what went wrong, who did what to hurt me, how an experience let me down – was something I grappled with very significantly twice in my 20s. I met both bouts of depression with too much sleep and too much sugar/carbs/food in general, finally pulling myself out of them with a huge dose of self-love, healthy lifestyle changes, and exercise. It wasn’t simple to stop thinking about the past. In fact, it was a lot harder than I thought it would be. The past is what makes you, after all. But once I started thinking about the singular DAY I was on, and, in many cases, just the hour, I was able to breathe, focus on the NOW, and… wait for it… ENJOY myself and appreciate the breath in my body and promise of the day ahead.

I am not saying that serious bouts of depression are as simple as just changing your perspective. For some, therapy and/or medication is a must as well. But for the majority of people who experienced depression the way I did (again, this is outside of seasonal), the shift in mindset and perspective can be the singular ‘cure’ you are looking for – IF you can push yourself out of the quicksand feeling of being stuck in a pattern of disappointment.

If you haven’t already done it today, give yourself 5 to 10 minutes RIGHT NOW with no TV, no phone, no music, …nothing and just BE with yourself, in your stillness and breathe… deeply… purposefully… s l o w l y.

Don’t let your mind wander too much or you will be thinking of nonsense or to-dos sure enough and that defeats the purpose. Breathe – focus on your breath. Close your eyes. Ignore the thoughts in your head that worry about if you fall asleep or not. So what if you do? Rest your mind. We give and give and give of ourselves every day to everyone else – our families, our friends, our employers, perfect strangers! Give yourself time to recharge. Give yourself the present of peace: NOW.

Love,

El

 

 

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Forgive Me, Followers, For I Have Sinned…

It seems I fell victim to the blogger curse. You know the one. The one where you start a blog with the best of intentions, start writing and curating at a fevered pace, only to – after months of dedication – fall off… hard.

It been roughly six months since my last post, which is just shameful. So what I have I been doing? Honestly – stressing a lot, it seems. The election sucked the soul out of me for awhile, as did story after story of police brutality and unarmed victims, not to mention wars, bombings, new-age concentration camps, and countless other evils. I’ve been weary, ya’ll! Winter was long and cold and seemed to drag out longer than I wanted it and, in my personal life, I found myself often consumed with everyone else’s problems, taking on the weight of their decisions as if they were my own when they most certainly were not. I found myself in ‘Super Savior’ mode, trying my best, but falling short only to finally accept that people have to want to change on their own and that my ‘helping’ wasn’t helping at all.

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The thought of writing something positive here some days was just too much to take on. I felt like a phony. I knew you would be able to see right through me too, so… I just stopped. That was my mistake. By not trying, I allowed the overwhelming tidal of the world’s worries to permeate my spirit more than it would have if I had just kept seeking out the positive and sharing it here. I forgot that each blog post was my – and your – armor against that in which we cannot control.

The time away from this blog wasn’t all spent in doom and gloom, I swear! I celebrated a birthday. My daughter celebrated a birthday. My husband is about to celebrate one too and his mom, my dear mother-in-law just celebrated her 70th! All blessings! My husband and I marked six years of marriage with the most perfect trip to Savannah and acted like the disgusting newlyweds we still think we are. It was fabulous! My frenchie, Lombardi, made it through a health scare and is back to his loving self and I am in pre-production on some new hosting/video ventures with a great team that is equally as passionate about the project. I started a plant-based diet that is doing wonders for my nutritional needs and fitness goals and my husband – personal trainer extraordinaire Kuti Mack of BYBD Fitness & Nutrition – has put me on a workout plan I am actually sticking to for once (even though I hate weights!).

LIFE IS GOOD!i-amp-039-m-back-sorry-i-kind-of-stopped_o_2294831

We all get tired.

We all feel drained.

It’s not realistic to think that every day is going to be filled with pure happiness from sun up to sundown, even if that is the hope. Still, like the tag line of this blog says, “Every Day Can Be Great,” and that’s the truth. Every day has the ABILITY to be great, but it takes us to ACTUALIZE that potential.

I’m still learning; I’m still growing; I’m still figuring it all out.

I thank you all who are reading this and welcoming me back (and those of you who nagged me in the interim to return), and sincerely apologize to any of you whom I just ‘left hanging.’ I can’t say that I will never go through a spell where I need a break from writing every day again, but I promise to at least give you the heads up next time should it ever occur again. Deal? Deal!

I appreciate you all more than you could ever, ever know. You are something SPECIAL!

Love,

El

Defiance!

I may be the first person in history to ever walk out of a meditation class and then, soon after, be filled with a spirit of defiance thanks to a clear mind. But I like it. And I welcome it. And it’s necessary.

Following the session at a local yoga wellness studio, I took time to drive around my favorite neighborhood along the ocean and take in the view: the beautiful houses, the private beaches, the ocean sparkling in the sunlight. It was just gorgeous. I did that thing that you do when you think about earning millions of dollars, cashing in some of your chips, and buying your dream home. I thought about buying a house there… and then, my next thought was about whether it would it be safe for me and my family as African Americans. There aren’t many of us in that neighborhood if any, so I thought of how it would be if my husband were driving to our hypothetical multi-million dollar house late at night after coming from a night out. Would he be stopped by police on the way home for looking ‘out of place?’ I thought about my daughter as teenager, hanging out on the private beach with her friends. Would people question her if she lives there and has “permission” to use the beach?

I’m not alone with thoughts like these. Many a black wife and mother before me and probably after me will wonder these things, but the meditation helped clarify my thinking – detoxing me from the negative. And just as quick as that thought popped into my mind, it was gone and it was replaced instead with the spirit of resolve and appreciation for how far we’ve come as a nation. As if on cue, a few hundred yards later and I was greeted with a friendly smile and wave from a blonde woman walking her dog. Homegirl was not even thinking of me being potentially out of place and I was doing all the stupid thinking for both of us.

Last week’s election results have had me questioning who sees me as me and who could care less. It has had me questioning who sees me as less than them and who sees me as not even worth a thought. Between the election results and the uptick in police brutality, my mental has been under assault for several years now.

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Today – it stops.

Our country has come too far to snuff out all of the good and all of the strides we as a collective American people have made in our very short history. Warm smiles, friendly exchanges with people from all backgrounds, all religions, all races – DAILY – can’t be belittled or ignored in place of the acceptance of fear and exhaustion given the hate that was able to win last week.

Today, I choose to become both defiantly optimistic and defiantly successful in my quest for justice for all and my own personal achievement.

It means speaking up when I’m tired and taking action when it’s not convenient. It means not accepting hate as the norm, but also not turning a blind eye to it and acting like it doesn’t exist just because it doesn’t feel good to think about it. It means that a lot of days are going to be a challenge and I’m going to have to really work to be positive. But I’ve never been afraid of hard work, so this is no different. My opponent – hate – may look like Goliath right now…. after all, it was just voted into the halls of our highest office. But, when it was all said and done, when you go back and look at history, David was the victor. When you fight for what is right, the battle is yours – and the only arms needed are love, patience, resilience, and the refusal to be silent.

I’m done being afraid. I’m done being angry. I’m going to live my life in spite of people who would try and govern my steps and I will seek opportunities to be a mouthpiece for people who can’t speak up for whatever reason lest they be trampled by Goliath.

I have one life and I’m no longer going to waste it thinking about how much better it could be elsewhere when I can make it great right here. “Every day can be a great day” – especially when the tough ones are still building a brighter future.

Wish me luck.

Love,

El