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

Parenting at The Polls

Standing in line to early vote today, I turned to my husband and noted, “You know? This is her third time voting in her two and a half years on this earth.” Her would be our daughter, Emmanuelle. She doesn’t let us call her “Emmy” anymore. She’s way too mature for that, it seems 🙂

With the exception of voting in the primaries (which I do, but my husband doesn’t since he votes independently of party lines), we always go to the polling places together as a family and exercise our civil liberties. Of course, I think of the African American freedom fighters before me who helped secure our right to take part in these elections, but I also think of my daughter’s generation and the generations to come.

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As a woman, I also feel that it is my responsibility to be a good role model for other young ladies when it comes to practicing my civic duty and that that starts at home, with my own child. There are so many issues that affect us as women today that we need to take a stand on, lest someone else does – and by ‘someone,’ I mean someMEN.

When you vote this year, I encourage you to bring a young person along – be it your own child or a neighbor or a family friend. Explain to them what the process of voting looks like, what research you did into the candidates and referendum on the ballots beforehand, and why you feel the way you do on whatever topics you feel strongly about. Encourage questions and dialogue and be open to educating and being educated. Who knows when a question can turn into more.

Happy Voting!

Love,
El

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Beautiful

Growing up, I was the only black kid in my class – from 1st grade through 8th. Actually, I was the only Person of Color period (save for when when one other black student came and left for a year in 4th grade and another came and left during 7th grade).

My class was small – just 17 to 18 students at one time – and my classmates were nice. The class was too small to not all be friends, really, so by and large, it was fine – except the feeling of being “other.”

The questions I would get were the isolating factors.only-black-kid-in-class

“Why is your hair like that?”

“Why are your lips so big?”

“Why is your butt so big?”

“Do you tan?”

All questions I was asked repeatedly over the years. The problem was not only with the questions, but with my lack of answers – not for them, but for myself.

Because I did not see myself reflected in my immediate environment, my child mind did wonder:

“Why IS my hair like this?”

“Why can’t my lips be smaller?”

“Why do I have a booty already and curves when the other girls don’t?”

At least I understood that I do tan – and burn, even. So, I guess there’s that.

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As confident as I was – and I was confident, being the top of my class and super outgoing and involved with everything – my insecurities about my racial identity were rooted solely in the fact that I saw very little positive imagery of blackness around me save for my own outside circle of friends and family.

TV shows weren’t showing it. TV News surely wasn’t. And the books I read all had white protagonists for the most part. People of Color – especially children- were largely depicted in unflattering ways if depicted at all.

In high school, there were more Black people and now finally Hispanic and Asian as well, which was refreshing. There still weren’t a lot at my school, but I was happy to finally not be the “only anything” in class. High School and beyond was really when I felt the coming of me – bold, challenging, assertive, and no longer insecure about my own personal pride or beauty.

I made a couple promises to my future self at that time as well, recommitting to those promises again in college, and again post college as a young working woman, and yet again as a wife and mother.

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Those promises included making sure that my future children went to a school that was culturally and racially diverse, as well as being top-performing academically. I vowed that my children would never be the “only anything” in school and that any school that they went to would be representative of the United States at large. If the Black population of the nation was at 13%, then the school’s student body population would have to be at least that too.

The second promise I made to my future self was to bombard my children with positive imagery of their strength and beauty as Black people from infancy. I mean, I was reading children’s books with black protagonists to my baby when she was still in the womb and had an entire library of said books on the shelves before she even came home from the hospital. Beyond that, at this age – almost three – when her concept of beauty and self is still just forming – I make sure that all of her dolls are Black as well. While I truly believe all people on this planet are indeed beautiful and all women in particular should be celebrated, there’s such a lack of appreciation for Black women and girls’ beauty in this world, I want her perception of beauty to be planted early and by ME, not by what she will see in most TV commercials, movies, books, toys, games, etc. etc. Eventually, as she gets older, I am sure that my daughter will have a whole beautiful rainbow of colors from the palest white to the deepest hue of black, but for now – it’s all about the Black dolls alone.

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I was so happy to come across Malaville Dolls yesterday – a line of fashion dolls in the vein of Barbie, but that celebrates black features, including big, fabulous afros and coily curls galore. Made in South Africa, the dolls ship all over the world for a $28 shipping fee and come in at just $20 a pop. I bought two yesterday as presents for my daughter and will buy more as they become available if my daughter enjoys them, which I feel like she will. I was never big on dolls, but my daughter? That’s another story! lol!

I am so happy that dolls like these and hashtags like #blackgirlmagic are investing in all of our children and teaching them that Black is indeed Beautiful and shouldn’t be maligned.  I am also happy to see my white friends and other POC take to the dolls as well for their children, which is heartwarming and necessary too, and helps to balance out the singular image of beauty that we see for the most part. Kudos to them! It’s tough to think outside of your own experiences sometimes and parents who do this do just that. These movements of self love and these parents who embrace the universal beauty of all people, make it just that much easier for me to raise my daughter as the gorgeous little miracle she is, brown-skinned and coily, curly hair like her mom and maybe even her own child one day down the line…

Check out this video from NowThis about the Malaville Dolls and don’t forget to buy them online at malaville-toys.myshopify.com for you and the children in your life!

Love,

El

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Being a Better Friend

Married people at times, especially happily married people, can make very crummy friends. It’s true. I’m guilty!

We don’t mean it. It’s just that you get caught up with the day-to-day hustle and bustle of managing work, home, and just basic survival and your friendships start to sustain by text messages and Facebook. You feel like you caught up with your friends, but you really haven’t. Maybe you haven’t talked to them in several months. Maybe you haven’t really talked to them in a year!

Last week, I had the opportunity to catch up with a dear friend of mine, Imani, whom I hadn’t seen in about that long. My daughter’s godmother wanted her overnight, so I thought it would make for a great date night for me and the hubs. Only, my husband had a reunion with his frat brothers on the books that slipped his mind, so I quickly realized I would have no hubby and no baby for an evening. It hasn’t been that way in ages! vibetribe

I reached out to Imani, and, like the beautiful, awesome woman that she is, she didn’t make me feel guilty for not reaching out sooner or with more regularity. Instead, she was the sweetest and most gracious friend I could have asked for, making time to meet in the midst of her own uber busy week so that we wouldn’t miss each other again.

We had great conversation, thoughtful differences of opinion, and more times than not, just good, symbiotic vibing! That one night out with my girl reminded me of how much my friends matter and how we have to make time for ALL THE PEOPLE who count.

friendstarIt’s easy to put family first – as we should. No one would challenge that. However – it is important to put friends up there too. Friends understand us in a different way than our spouses even… not better, but different. There’s a comfort in these relationships that is akin to a sisterhood or brotherhood, meaning it needs to be invested in and nurtured as well. The only way to do that is time – true, quality time. Sure, make time to talk and text and facebook or whatever, but do more – meet, greet, have girls’ night, guys’ night, etc.

I am making a commitment to myself and to my friends to just be a better friend. I am sooooooo very blessed to have these people in my life – people who know and love and support me whether it’s that they see me all the time or hardly at all. That is a gift and one not to be taken for granted.

Love,

El

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Learning to Accept Help…

Even when you are doing well juggling all of life’s responsibilities – work, family, friends, activities, etc. – it’s nearly impossible to keep from feeling overwhelmed at times. The last couple of weeks have felt like that for me. Ok, really… the last couple of months, maybe. From all accounts, I haven’t let a ball drop… yet. But, I know that is not of my own doing. The network of support I have between my amazing husband being a sounding board and endless source of love and understanding, fantastic mother-in-law who helps with watching my daughter when we need it and is always a great ear to listen, my sister and parents who are just a phone call away, and my friends who never make me feel bad for ‘only having time for a quick tea or lunch’ (I need to be better than that), I have a lot of people helping me toward the finish line each week.

The Brownlee Brothers’ recent display on the world stage truly illustrates my point (see above).

Today, I urge you to acknowledge the network of people around you who allow you to be GREAT. If you aren’t tapping into your network, then I urge you to remember you can’t do it alone. You will burn out and that helps no one. I really believe we were put on this earth to help each other and be a part of a greater community. If you are always used to “giving,” learn to “get” as well. There are plenty of people willing to pitch a hand – if you let them.

Love,

El