Dearest Aaliyah

It’s January 16th and I’ve thought about you on this day every year since you transitioned. I listened to your RED album today and it was such a lovely reminder of why you’re so special to me. To others, it might seem like an obsession. I just know you made a massive impact in my life and on my heart. You were definitely different from the rest; one in a million.

I could literally go on and on about your achievements and the beautiful person you were but I’ll save it for another time. Hold it down in heaven until we all get there. Peace Queen.

Gratitude x100

This year of 2020 crushed my heart but it also increased my gratitude. My zombie apocalypse theory was realized to a degree. COVID represented the zombies and what did I have to do? Stay safe inside my luxurious house and watch movies or play games with the fam or lounge outside in the sun. Oooooooh what a horrible form of torture….not.

Of course, I lost some things that are special to me. My beloved annual tennis tradition was canceled on the eve of. My beloved annual county fair didn’t set up shop. I haven’t seen most of my family since the beginning of the year or last year and Christmas kinda felt like just another day.

Despite everything, this has been one of my best years because my perspective was forced to change and my level of gratitude, compassion, and empathy multiplied. And that’s what I believe this year was meant to do; it was like a hard reset on the world that God knew we needed but that He also knew we would never be able to achieve on our own.

I remember at the beginning of the pandemic when churches were closed and I read a quote about how the devil thought he/she was so slick shutting down places of worship but alas, you corny devil bitch, you helped make nearly every home a new place of worship so your evil little plan backfired.

I believe better days are coming and that when we ring in the new year, the illegal fireworks and loud music and alcohol consumption will represent far more than we realize. I know this was an impossibly difficult year for many but if you’re still here, it means your work isn’t done and that God still has big plans for your life. ❤

Butt Smackin’

Get your mind out the gutter (jokes). My husband is the epitome of an athlete. Had his environment been nurturing and supportive of his talent, he easily could’ve been a pro basketball player, a pro tennis player, a pro boxer…my boy has skills. I’m an athlete in my own ways and together, we watch a whole lotta sports. Basketball, tennis, and boxing would be the top choices but we’ll put on any live sport just to enjoy live action. Except for UFC stuff cuz I’m squeamish when it comes to body parts bending in unnatural ways and the over the top beatdowns.

There’s a certain camaraderie between 2 male competitors that has become my life motto and I know we’ve all seen it. 2 dudes playing one-on-one at the park, 2 dudes sluggin’ it out to let off some steam, 2 dudes tackling each other on a field, 2 brothers wrestling to settle an argument. It’s what happens after that warms my heart. When the 2 dudes wild out but then slap each others butts to express that it’s still all good.

On the surface, it looks pretty juvenile. Like elementary kids fighting, then playing, then fighting again. But underneath the booty slappin’ is a powerful dynamic that I wish our world would adopt. The act of letting go of a grudge, forgiving, hugging, and moving on.

In pro sports, it’s the equivalent of the ballers giving dap after the championship game. The tennis players who shake and hug after a grueling 5-set match. The boxers who take the time to make sure their opponent is ok and to show respect to the opponent’s team. Some meatheads would argue that there is no place in sports for this show of emotions but I would argue that it’s those positive emotions that keep competition strong and healthy. Before we’re competitors, we’re human beings meant to engage and support one another on this sometimes difficult journey called life.

Obviously, random butt slappin’ is frowned upon and may even result in catching a case. It’s the intent behind it that I’m after. No matter how hard we battle or how much we disagree, you’re a human being to me, a Child of God to be specific, and I let go of any ill will and wish you well in life. Easier said than done but very possible and something to strive for.

There are very few butts we can legally slap but metaphorically, we should all be butt slappin’ everyday. For ourselves and for humankind.

Hold it down in Heaven, Kobe

A Voice For The Voiceless

Maybe it’s because I’m a loudass Leo or maybe it’s because of my deep empathy for people in tough situations. Ever since I was a child, I loved hearing and telling stories and most significantly, creating my own stories. I guess that’s what lead me to this point in my 44 year old life; all I do is craft new stories to tell and then go out and tell em.

When I say stories, I mean nonfiction real life. Everyone has a story to tell but not everyone wants to share or has the ability to share and that’s kinda sad to me. While I love a good fiction story every now and then, my mind stays focused on real life because our collective stories are more powerful than any fiction the mind can conjure.

As my audiobook trek has me crossing paths with super cool people, I realize more and more that I want to help tell and share their stories. God blessed me with a storytelling voice and a passion to help others and I aim to use my blessings to make the world a better place.

When I retell someone’s story, I am no longer myself. I become that other person, that writer who took their valuable time to put together their thoughts and accomplishments and pain. It’s similar to acting but I see it as a deeper connection as I represent the real emotions of a real person.

I truly love what I’m doing. It took me awhile to get here but I rest assured knowing I’m on God’s timing and His divine path for my life. There is no greater pleasure than doing what you were born to do. I am humbled and honored beyond words.

Get High

One of the scariest things for me to do during this time of pandemics and racial unrest is to check the news. As if a virus killing hundreds of thousands of people wasn’t horrific enough, there remains an underlying system of violent racism in the U.S. that is taking center stage. Its impact is enough to make me wanna throw my mask and social distancing aside and say F*CK THIS.

I’m not Black but my family is, so this senseless violence hits close enough to home. We’ve created this concept of a safe bubble in which we feel safe and protected from the invisible enemy known as COVID. In the movies, invisible monsters are always the worst. We can’t see them, can’t plan to catch them, can’t thwart them. In this true life horror flick we’re all starring in, the most frightening entity is the same one we call on for help. This entity has historically been portrayed as the good guy. As one of us but with an oath to serve and protect our communities.

As kids, we’re conditioned to trust this entity above all others. At some point, the blinders are removed and the violent truth swoops in and murders our mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers. I wanna feel safe in the suburb I dwell in. It’s a small city in relation to the big cities nearby and not much happens here. Nothing newsworthy anyway. And while I don’t think anyone will be storming our house, there is always that looming threat when one of my Black family members leaves the house. The “what ifs” carry enough weight to boil my blood and have me subconsciously planning revenge but I know that’s not the route to take.

Although I feel like I’m such a minuscule part of this equation, my best course of action is to be the change I wish to see. Not that I’m a bad person (I’m really not, I promise) but there is always room for improvement so I choose to take control over that which I have control over.

I’ve been practicing self discipline when I’m out on the road because people driving out there are rude and dangerous and just annoying as hell. Instead of not saying anything to essential workers, I now go out of my way to thank them for their service and bravery and let them know they’re appreciated. I’ve been searching for ways to volunteer my services online and am now part of an organization that helps the blind and visually impaired community.

In each of our small bubbles, we still hold the power to change the world and make it a better place. I’m not prepared to go out and protest and put my life in danger and that’s just real talk. I wholeheartedly commend those who do. Now more than ever is the time to go out of our way to spread love because the world needs it. Even if it’s one small gesture at a time in our small communities.

To quote the great Michelle Obama…

When they go low, we go high.

Introverted Extrovert

I’m an oxymoron. I’m a loud Leo who wears her heart on her sleeve but I love to be peacefully by myself. I’m very expressive in my communications but prefer to communicate with myself in my head.

Social networking is nonexistent in my life so I feel fraudulent being on Twitter and Instagram. I use Twitter to keep up with current events and get chuckles from the silly public commentary. I see people tweet random things and wonder why they feel it necessary to blast their thoughts to everyone, yet no one. I witness strangers fighting and calling each other the most vulgar of words and wonder what they get out of those interactions.

On the other hand, I understand the value of Instagram when it comes to connecting with family and friends. It’s like an online photo album and I’m a sucker for photo albums. Though my photo albums are physical and contain pictures processed at the local store. Remember those days? You’d take a roll of 24 or 35 pictures, drop off the film in an envelope, and wait a week for them to be developed so you can admire your photography skills? So nostalgic but I digress…

I’m about to be 44 in a couple days and with each passing year, I realize I’m just not of this current world. My mind wants to cling to the simpler times and has been having a hard time adapting to what our world is right now. I’m digressing again. I’m an introverted extrovert. When I see loved ones, I shower them with affection and loudly share my stories. If you happen to catch me online, it’s not really me. It’s just a shell of me trying to keep up without compromising my authenticity.

I could also be an extroverted introvert. Either way, I’m embracing all the facets that make me, me. ❤

Benefit of the doubt

Merriam-Webster defines this phrase as the state of accepting something or someone as honest or deserving of trust even though there are doubts.

I’ve chosen to apply this phrase to the way I treat people, particularly strangers. Especially during these uncertain times of pandemic. Humans were already cruel and rotten towards each other before COVID-19. Now this threat has everyone on high alert and it’s either brought out empathy and compassion in people or the absolute worst in people.

Seeing so many horrific images of violence and death has broken my heart and on some levels, lit a fury of fire inside of me. I find myself looking at my neighbors and people I pass in the store differently, skeptically. I imagine what I would say or do if some no-mask wearing freak starts a fight with me or anyone around me.

But so far, this hasn’t happened and I’ve done an amazingly good job of keeping my head down, minding my own business, and practicing safety above all else. I just know I have to be very careful with how I process my heightened emotions and also how I protect the core of my being. So I continue giving people the benefit of the doubt because more than likely, they’re experiencing pain in their life.

Maybe I’m overly idealistic or maybe I’m just too old to absorb everything happening around me. I feel good continuing to live by one of my favorite quotes:

Be the change you wish to see in the world.

The only way I can do this is by giving the next man the benefit of the doubt. Peace.

Hoodies n Sneaks

When I was in high school, Contempo Casuals and Wet Seal were THE clothing stores to hit up during all mall trips. Unfortunately, I was usually just window shopping cuz my parents couldn’t afford new clothes for me all the time. That was reserved for the beginning of each new school year and for that, I’m grateful that I got anything.

I put together outfits attempting to look like Alyssa Milano and Debbie Gibson. I’m not sure I loved the clothes so much as I was desperate to look like other people. Being this way as a child is fairly normal, I think. The problem is that I kept this mindset through most of my adulthood. Believing that I was expected to dress a certain way and that I wasn’t attractive unless I emulated celebrities. The style was very form fitting and feminine. Lots of painful high heels. Usually very uncomfortable.

The irony is that now, at the age of 43, my favorite pieces of clothing and shoes are all athletic. Ever since I quit my last office job (ever cuz I aint’ never going back!) I’ve completely shunned dresses and makeup. I now collect hoodies and sneakers, 2 things I would previously never be caught in.

To add to the irony, it’s crossed my mind that I’ll be judged for wearing what I wear at my age. But the beauty of hard earned wisdom is that I don’t care what others think. As long as I know I’m being true to who God made me to be, I’m good.

STFU!

This is what I’ve literally had to tell myself time and time again. I’m a thinker and a planner. My mind is always trying to figure things out and organize and plan for the near and distant future. Most of the time, it’s a good thing but it takes a turn for the worse when it controls my life. I find myself up in the middle of the night worrying about my responsibilities for the week. I’ll frustrate my own self by over analyzing a problem that’s not even mine to solve.

It’s a catch-22. At least until I started meditating. When I finally learned that I have full control over my mind and thoughts, it was GAME-SET-MATCH. I WIN! Regular meditation sessions have transformed my overactive mind into a state of near constant peace. My life only keeps getting better. I still have problems but my perspective and subsequent actions are vastly different.

When I find myself drilling too deep into my past mistakes, I meditate on how I can’t change the past but have control over the future. When I find myself looking too anxiously far into the future, I meditate on appreciating the here and now. The precious gift of this very moment.

I love how meditating is so personal and customizable to whatever your soul needs at that time. Sometimes it’s loads of positive affirmations to keep your eyes on the prize and sometimes it’s ceaseless gratitude cuz you understand how amazingly blessed you are. And sometimes it’s just quiet time. Time to block out all distractions and still the mind to quietly absorb the wisdom being fed. At times, it helps to have soft background noise like ocean waves or birds singing and other times, complete silence.

If you’re not regularly or have never meditated, since you read this to the end, please do me a favor by meditating today. Expand your mind and soak in the experience. Maybe you’ll feel like doing it again tomorrow. 🙂

Zombie Apocalypse

Tomorrow, September 15th 2019, I will start a 9-day HEALTHY FOOD detox. Mostly because I need to lose weight but also for my overall livelihood. Back in my 20s, I ate whatever I wanted and barely exercised and maintained the same weight. Life was gravy back then. I had my 2nd and last child at the age of 28 so throughout my 30s, I attributed my weight to “baby fat.”

Now I’m in my 40s at my heaviest with no excuses to fall back on. I know my metabolism has slowed down and I admit I eat a lot of unhealthy food. For me, my 40s have been my most enlightened years. I’ve embraced the person God created me to be and my hopes and visions are abundant and versatile. But it’s also been a time of massive introspection. What good are my ideas and plans if my body is slow and sluggish?

I used to watch a VH1 show called Celebrity Fit Club. I initially found it entertaining but later became inspired by the success stories. The resident doctor on the show was Dr. Ian K. Smith and I dug his style. His approach was realistic and compassionate so I purchased his book, The Fat Smash Diet, and put it to the test. The 1st chapter, at least.

Following the 1st phase of the diet, Detox, taught me the key to losing weight: my food intake. This was bittersweet for me because in 9 days, I lost 7lbs but I also realized that exercise alone wouldn’t work. I love food so much that I’d rather exercise every day of the week than give up my favorite foodies. I gained back those 7lbs (and then some) but it was a life lesson I’ll never forget.

Fast forward about 12 years later and I’m ready to smash the fat with Dr. Ian again. I went to the grocery store and loaded up on the foods/drinks I’m going to consume for the next 9 days: water, lowfat milk, herbal tea, egg whites, brown rice, plain oatmeal, lowfat yogurt, beans (garbonzo, black, kidney), and tons of fruits and veggies. Today is my last “cheat” day so I’m enjoying it but have a dogged determination for a successful tomorrow and following 8 days.

Why is losing weight SO DAMN HARD? I consider myself strong-minded but hot damn, this shit is a challenge. I find myself frequently hungry and the thought of not being able to eat freely saddens and frustrates me. But I can’t be a bitch baby about something as important as my health so I’m gonna stick to this no matter what. I believe writing down and meditating on the positive aspects will help keep me focused so here goes:

  • I’ll look better (simple but true)
  • I’ll be able to play tennis better (very important in my life)
  • I’ll feel incredibly proud of myself (you got this woman!)
  • I’ll hopefully avoid fatty diseases and ailments and live longer
  • On the same note when I’m older, I’ll still be supa dupa fly

So why is this blog entitled Zombie Apocalypse? Because I refer to it all the time in terms of how spoiled and privileged we are as a society. We drink special bottled water, we only want our favorite sugary cereals or pastries, we throw away perfectly good food just because the sticker says “sell by this date”, we lust for greasy fast food. But bump that yo!

What if there was a zombie apocalypse and we were all trapped in our houses trying not to be eaten alive? What if all we had to eat while being trapped was healthy foods? We’d thank our lucky stars and happily eat that healthy food! Remember when The Walking Dead crew almost ate dog food (or was it cat food?) Either way, they were so desperate for food that they contemplated eating nasty ass slop barely fit for animals. If I view food through my zombie apocalypse glasses, I’m hoping it will keep things in perspective when I can’t have cake or cookies or bacon.

LET’S DO THIS.