Happy Fathers’ Day!

I’ve been blessed to have the most amazmeanddading man to call “Dad” and I am so blessed that my daughter will be able to say the same thing about her own dad, my husband, one day. They both are the definition of ‘selfless,’ always putting their daughters first and doing everything they can to make sure they are happy, healthy, and invested in emotionally and intellectually. As an adult – and now a parent myself – I have hindsight and appreciation for all that my father did for me growing up and even now. Having him as an example meant knowing a real man when I found one and marrying beyond well.

Watching my husband interact with our daughter now, I revel in the closeness they share – the silly moments, the caring cuddles and kisses, the piggyback rides, the tickle wars, the silly inside jokes. At just three-and-a-half years old, I can already see how her closeness with her daddy will only grow and how I have (God willing) many, many years ahead to watch their relationship unfold from a front row seat. It’s humbling and beautiful and I am honored by the blessing, truly.

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Fathers hold a special place in our families and today we honor all the great ones on this great day. I know the two in my life deserve all the praise!

Happy Fathers’ Day!

Love,

El

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

 

 

Back.

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