Self (S)Care – Physical Health Edition

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After losing my father a little over a year ago, I spent countless months focusing on self care that included protecting my mental and emotional stability. I spent numerous hours in therapy, spent time alone, enjoyed the outdoors, helped others in ways that I could appreciate and worked out . In the midst of doing all of this, I thought I was holding things together and doing a stupendous job getting through life. But, recently my body revealed to me that while I had been focusing on my mental capacity, my physical status was dwindling.

Two weeks ago I wen to the dentist and my blood pressure was elevated. In my 46 years, that had only happened once and I won’t even discuss the things that happened or the things I ate prior to that reading. Because it had never been a concern before, I didn’t worry myself with it at the moment. However, when I went in for my annual exam, my blood pressure was once again elevated, to the point where the nurse was discussing me being admitted to the hospital. After multiple readings, I was able to show a decline in both my systolic and diastolic numbers. Nonetheless, at this point I was overly anxious and knew nothing productive would come from this visit no matter what else was said. What I did do was request more screenings to make sure my sugar and cholesterol levels were in the normal range.

When I left the doctor, I made phone calls and started googling and reading as much as I could to try and determine how to get myself back on track. One of things I discovering when assessing my blood pressure is that work has become a stressful environment and has contributed to my elevated numbers. The second thing I realized is I’ve gained weight and weight gain has always had a negative affect on me. It appears my workout haven’t been as effective as I thought they were. The last thing I realized is that I calm myself by eating. While I only eat when I’m hungry, when I’m nervous I tend to choose junk food to satisfy me versus eating all the healthy snacks I pack.

The last week or so I have been very mindful of people and things that trigger any levels of stress. I have also become more mindful of the types of snacks I’m consuming, the amount of rest I’m getting and the effectiveness of my physical activity. I’ve also looked into visiting with a nutritional counselor and maybe trying meditation.

During this time of unrest, how are you handling things? What are you doing to take care of your mental and physical well being?

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Is Dinner Ready?

PROS AND CONS OF A PLATED WEDDING DINNER? - Caribbean Caterers

Is Dinner Ready?

“Is dinner ready?” During my son’s middle school and high school years, this was his first question after entering our home in the afternoons. As he got older and his schedule became busier, we found ourselves eating out more, actually a little bit more than anticipated. While the demands of our schedules didn’t always allow for a home cooked meal every day, we still found it necessary to eat complete meals. In addition to eating out throughout the week, we would use weekends to visit restaurants, some which were new and some we enjoyed enough to revisit and explore again.

Since the beginning of quarantine, we have yet to dine in many restaurants. We have dined in three spots, by default. Each time we were dropping off or visiting my son who is away for his first year of college. While still skeptical about sitting in close proximity to people, it doesn’t mean I don’t miss the idea of visiting some of our favorite restaurants.

I am a fan of all things Tex-Mex so I’m always on board to try new Tex-Mex places. The chips and salsa as well as the margaritas are a real treat for me. Tex-Mex being my favorite and my being allergic to shellfish/seafood, my options for dinner are sometimes limited. However, like most people I definitely have my preferences and I can’t wait to feel comfortable with the idea of dining out once again.

  1. Cyclone Anaya’s is probably one of my favorite Tex-Mex restaurants. There is nothing on the menu that I’ve tried that I haven’t thoroughly enjoyed. The only spots I’ve found that are better are the ones in Mexico.
  2. Perry’s – While not a restaurant we visit often, we are always on board for one of their pork chops. Their pork chops are delectable and great for leftovers since they’re so massive.
  3. Del Frisco’s – Del Frisco’s provides a one of a kind dining experience. The sides are to die for and the ambience is very peaceful with its soft lighting.
  4. The Pit – Now The Pit is not a restaurant but it’s a local barbecue place that usually has lines outside the door. The food is phenomenal and the portions are substantial.
  5. Yard House – I’ve been to the Yard House on multiple occasions and I order the same thing every single time. I always eat the pancakes and spicy chicken. Yum!

Not being able to eat out as much as we would like has been slightly disheartening. We still get food to go from some of our favorites, however, my husband and I are empty nesters and we thought we would be in these streets making the most of all things.

Have you dined out recently? How comfortable were you with your experience and where did you go? Drop some of your favorites below so we can add some new adventures to our list.

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Snack Attack – Comfort Food

With a schedule that has me hustling and bustling throughout the day, I have started to rely on snacks more than usual to hold me from breakfast to lunchtime. In the past, I would eat healthy snacks such as Nutri Grain bars, granola bars and fruit, but lately I’ve been relying on the foods that bring me joy. I like to call it my comfort food, the food I wouldn’t eat unless my calorie intake for the week suggested I could give myself some slack. I have definitely increased my consumption of all the things I truly appreciate.

  1. Popcorn – Popcorn is my absolute favorite snack and it’s healthy. However, I will eat bags and bags of popcorn within a day and of course I’m not eating the low calorie popcorn such as Skinny Pop. Instead I enjoy a mixture of white cheddar and kettle corn from the popcorn stand in the mall or Act II Extreme Butter with white cheddar seasoning added to top it off.
  2. Chips – I’m very picky about the chips I eat on some days and on other days I eat any kind that’s in the variety pack. My favorite chips are Doritos and I also enjoy the Flamin’ Hot Asteroids (Cheetos). Sometimes veggie chips are sufficient but on most days I want the good-good!
  3. Candy – This is one thing I’m very selective about. Other than a Reese’s, any other chocolate bar I eat has to have nuts. And I also only like select flavors of Skittles. I’m not a fan of the original skittles but I’ll take one of the blue, purple and peach. Although I never finish a candy bar or a bag of candy in one sitting, rest assured I keep several bags stashed away for those “just in case” moments.
  4. Sunflower Seeds – Sunflower seeds truly are a comfort snack for me. Chewing on sunflower seeds calm my nerves. I know it sounds odd but they really do settle me.
  5. Peanuts – Peanuts have the same effect on me that sunflower seeds do. I think it’s something about the salt that provides satisfaction, and makes me thirsty.

I know these are not the best foods for my health but I promise I walk my 10,000 steps everyday. If you have some suggestions for some delightful, healthy snacks, drop them below.

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An Attitude of Gratitude

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Lately I’ve found myself mentally and physically tired. Each new day and each new challenge has left me feeling more and more exhausted. I had this idea that once I finished graduate school I would find myself in a totally different state and at ease. However, I am a teacher in the year of 2020 and right now there is no tired like 2020 teacher tired.

This morning I woke up extremely grumpy and practiced an entire speech to present to the school administrators. I wanted to speak with them as to why my school day started earlier than any other face to face teacher and why it lasted longer than any other virtual teacher. I wanted the rationale behind me having to do both. I needed answers to all of my “whys”.

In the midst of my griping, to myself, I seriously considered the idea of quitting. The problem is, I’m not a quitter. So instead of thinking of reasons to leave, I had to convince myself of reasons to stay. The first thing that came to mind is the idea that being an educator has afforded me the opportunity to support my son financially as he experiences college at his school of choice. The second thing that came to mind is the idea that I’ve worked under several leaders and all have given me the opportunity to support my son without ever complaining or questioning my priorities. Pausing for a quick second and having that moment led me into a complete moment of gratitude and changed my perspective for the day. While thinking and thanking I just started going down the list. God I’m thankful for…

A brand new day with new mercies

Your favor on my life.

My family and friend.

My health and strength and being of sound mind.

A roof over my head.

Food on the table.

A support system like none other.

Establishing boundaries and protecting my peace.

My job

God’s protection..

While my list didn’t stop there, these were the minimal things that forced me to remember my good outweighs my bad. I stopped griping and started extending my thanks.

As a result, my day has gone better than expected. How are you maintaining your sanity? Send some tips to your girl.

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Fall Favorites

Fall has arrived and the temperatures are starting to drop in the great state of Texas. We still have to prepare for all four seasons to get through the day, but getting some relief from the heat has been reviving. We are in a season where we can pick from any of our closets and still dress appropriately for the weather.

For me, fall is a final opportunity of the year to wear my skirts and dresses. I’m not particularly fond of tights and pantyhose so very seldom do I wear dresses and/or skirts once the temperatures drop below 60 degrees.

One of my favorite looks for autumn is this faux leather dress. While it can definitely transition to a winter piece, the fact that it doesn’t have sleeves and is mid-length makes it more acceptable during the months of October and November. I’ve always worn this dress exactly as it is, however, I’m thinking of adding a cardigan and boots this year for a winter appeal.

This hot number was actually selected by my husband from Nordstrom Rack. He was super excited about the fact that I really like this dress and he was even more ecstatic about the number of complements I received on this dress. Your thoughts? What are some other ways you would revamp this look?

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Fake Religion

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Prayer is the only answer I know.

This week I had a blog post all planned out…in my head. I failed to complete tasks I needed to complete to write about one of my favorite topics, fashion. So as I sat struggling with writer’s block, I received a text asking about religion, faith and fake worshippers. The message left me feeling like “WHOA!”. My dear friend was very disappointed in the actions of people near and dear to her behind closed doors but were quick to jump in the “Yes Lord” and “Amen” corner on Sundays. I was asked my perspective on religion, faith and God. Whew Chile!

First, let me say I don’t believe in trying to guide people on their spiritual journey. I feel this journey shows you your purpose, God’s will for your life and how you can live a more fulfilling life according to His will and His Word. I contemplated just being silent on the subject and letting her determine what she needed to do until I realized she was seriously thinking about giving up.

My question to her was, “So based on your observations, what is your purpose? Her reply was, “What do you mean?” I explained to her when we see something wrong we often try to fix it. What could she do in that moment to support the people she spoke of? What did she see in herself that could be offered to help them grow? At that point she became silent. I explained to her my husband and I are facilitators of a Marriage Enrichment class at church. I shared to her when we were selected we didn’t find ourselves to be adequate because we didn’t study the Bible as much as others and we weren’t the shouting, religious type. But we later learned that was the very reason we were selected, because we were more of the world than in the church. In leading this class we discovered we are all faking religion in some sense but we have been able to help each other grow. Instead of passing judgement, we took off our masks and shared real experiences and became a support group for each other.

I’m not sure what advice others give to people that struggle with religion and faith. Sometimes I feel it is a journey many of us should travel alone. What guidance would you give someone that felt lost?

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Ipsy Review

My September Glam Bag

I recently decided to try Ipsy, where I have an opportunity to try five trial size products every month. I’ve seen Ipsy advertisements for a couple of years now but was very skeptical because I don’t feel I use enough beauty products to need five new ones every month. However, when I realized you complete a survey so they can determine products that best suit your needs AND you have the option to skip the month, I figured it was worth a try.

The first thing I love about Ipsy is you get a new make up bag every month. Now, please understand, I don’t use them but they are cute enough to be used as stocking stuffers during the holiday season or they can be used as a replacement gift bag for small tokens. They send a makeup bag they deem suitable for the season. It is wrapped separately from the products so it arrives with absolutely no wear and tear.

The next thing I love about Ipsy is that I get to pick one product every month of my choosing. Each month I have chosen mascara because that is the beauty product I wear the most and it’s also one of my splurge items . If I rack up enough trial size products, that’s one product I can save on throughout the year.

More importantly, I have been just as satisfied with the remaining four products they have chosen for me each month. Every eyeshadow I have received has been appropriate and the colors palettes have included only the shades I use. This is perfect because none of the items I receive are being wasted. I’ve also received some of the most amazing scrubs and masks. I am happy to report Ipsy is sending quality products and the ration is more than sufficient for the cost. If you love makeup or you are still in the experimenting phase with beauty products, just as I am, I would strongly encourage you to try Ipsy. It is definitely worth the hype.

August Glam Bag
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Music Makes You Lose Control

Music has always been an escape for me. Songs allow me to experience what I’m going through. Whether I’m feeling good or bad, I’ve always listened to music to help me relax, solve problems, motivate me, and even challenge me. Having a brother that was a disc jockey for many years, I’ve had the opportunity to indulge in many genres of music. I’ve learned to appreciate the tenuous sounds that help declutter my thoughts as well as the more rigid and unyielding sounds that make me want to take on the world. While I listen to everything from trance to classical (occasionally), I have a list of favorites that are somehow rooted in every playlist I have.

  1. “Nobody Loves Me Like You Do” – Whitney Houston and Jermaine Jackson
  2. “Angel”- Jack Johnson
  3. “Deliver Me” – Leandria Johnson
  4. “Free Me” – Joss Stone
  5. “Best Friend” – Brandy
  6. “Wrong Side of a Love Song” – Melanie Fiona
  7. “I Never Thought I’d Fall I’d Love on Christmas Day” – Brian McKnight and Boyz II Men
  8. “Naked” – Ella Mai
  9. “Never Wanna Live Without You” – Mary J Blige
  10. “All I Want for Christmas is You” – Mariah Carey

While most people listen to holiday music during the holidays, I listen to holiday music all year long. Mariah Carey’s Christmas song is actually one of the songs that I listen to when working out. And once I pick a song I like, I will listen to it on repeat for at least one week straight. Well, maybe not a week, but definitely enough to annoy people that can hear my music. What about you? Do you have a list of favorites that are in all of your playlists or do you have your selections in your playlist based on genres or activities? Drop a few of your faves below so I can try to add more variety to my selections.

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Parenting: You’re Doing it Wrong

As parents, we try our best to do the right thing at all times for our children. We constantly  pray and ask for guidance in leading our children. Unfortunately, even as adults, we are still products of our past environment and continue to be influenced by the things we saw and heard as children. These things lead us in making decisions that are not always appropriate for our own children. The lifestyle that worked for us might not be the lifestyle that our children are here to live. So what advice would I offer parents?

  1. Figure it out. – As I just stated, what worked for me in growing up did not work for my son. He did not respond well to harsh criticism. He didn’t have the desire to prove me wrong if I doubted him. He did not have the mentality of, “I’m going to make a believer out of you, even if it’s the last thing I do.” You have to figure out what works for your child to bring out the best of them. It took me many years to realize that my son needed to talk through things. He needed to hear the good and the bad and process it all for himself. This led him to understanding the power in his own decision making. When he made mistakes, he would either alter his efforts or stick with the plan until it came to fruition. In the midst of all of this, we had to figure it out. I didn’t read books and I didn’t seek advice from other mothers; we created our own lane that allowed us to run our race.
  2. Set boundaries – We wanted our son to feel free to share his thoughts, ideas and even things he disagreed on. However, none of this came without boundaries. We reminded him that while we were open to hearing what he had to say and we valued his input, there were still restrictions in his approach and what he was allowed to have input on. We talked to our son about major decisions such as purchasing vehicles, going on vacations and adjustments to spending that would impact him. We gave him the courtesy of knowing he was part of the decision making process as long as he understood and played his defined role.
  3. Express your love through words and actions  – I grew up in a household where love was in the deeds but never in the words. I can’t say that I liked this lifestyle so I definitely changed it in my parenting. Every night we said, “I love you”. We made sure no matter how upset we got, our son knew our love still existed. We gave hugs, pounds, fist bumps, kisses on the cheeks, and many more terms of endearment so he would never feel he wasn’t loved. Our love was extended beyond making sure there was a roof over his head and food on the table. Even during his teenage years, we made quality time matter. While we wanted him to know they things we provided him was a part of our love, it was not the only thing that we shared to show him how much we truly love him.
  4. Provide support – As a child, the one thing I was able to say is I had the most supportive parents on the planet. They attended all of our school functions and extra-curricular activities. This was so important to me in my development. However, support can take a different turn. Support extended beyond being at all the functions. Support included addressing the teacher that suggested your son would be a first generation college student on an athletic scholarship. Support was having a conversation with the teacher that made my son’s athletic abilities a priority over his academic abilities. Support was also calling out the behaviors of my son and the adults who felt he could go through phases of life with little to no accountability. Yes, we loved supporting the glowing moments but the growing moments were just as relevant.
  5. Model the behaviors you want to see – Lead by example. In parenting we have a tendency to want to be right because we’re the adults. The biggest example we could have set was admitting we were wrong and letting our son see us make mistakes. In learning from those mistakes, we had to show him how to bounce back and transform into something better. My son had an opportunity to watch us in roles of coaches, educators, students, parents, spouses, etc. Each of these roles challenged our decision making, our integrity, our resilience and even our pride. And with Simba watching, we still had to show him how to rise above it all. This took a very conscious effort because we had to make determinations on how we would want to see him respond if placed in a similar situation. Would he fold or would he spread?

Are you a parent? What are some of the mistakes you’ve made and what has helped you become more effective as a parent? Drop some tips below.

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What’s In My Makeup Bag – Save or Splurge

Makeup artists are becoming very popular. People are traveling to different cities and even states looking for makeup artists to make them look flawless while vacationing or preparing for a nice event. In addition to more and more women using makeup artists, women are starting to spend a lot more time in the mirror applying their own makeup to allow them a perfect look. I, on the other hand, don’t have time for it. I didn’t start wearing makeup until I was in my 30s and while I’ve added more products to my cosmetic bag, I’m just not here for a two hour makeover every morning. I have a 15 minute routine that works for me and it gives me a look that’s satisfying enough. So what’s in my bag and do I spend a lot on my products?

  1. Foundation (splurge) – I use the Lancome Dual Finish Powder. This product is a splurge, costing around $42, but it is long lasting. I like the fact that it’s not heavy like other products I’ve experienced. This product really does have a smooth finish and the blending is great.
  2. Foundation (save) – During the summer months I don’t wear foundation that often and because I don’t go many places I would consider important enough to wear my “expensive” makeup, I opt for Ulta’s foundation which cost $14.00. The foundation goes on very smoothly and is also light. However, it wears throughout the day and I have to touch up if I want the look to last.
  3. Highlighter Stick (save) – I’m learning how to use highlighter so I look for products that are very affordable while I experiment with this part of my routine. I use Victoria’s Secret Just Say Glow highlighter stick. Again, I’m learning so for now this is sufficient. Once this wears out I’m not sure what I’m going to use because they no longer carry this product.
  4. Blush (save) – I use to swear by Mary Kay’s blush until I could no longer find a Mary Kay salesperson. This sad event led me to try new products but I didn’t want to spend a lot. I tried Ulta’s blush but that didn’t seem to work out. I finally tried CoverGirl Cheekers and I am in love with the quality. I tried the color Rock N Rose and I will continue to purchase this product. The blush ranges from $5.00 – $7.00 depending on where I’m purchasing the product.
  5. Finishing Powder (save) – This is another product that I purchased from Mary Kay and well, you know how that ended. I came across Cover Girl’s translucent powder and I like the fact that they one powder that matches every skin tone so I don’t have to figure out what blends and what doesn’t. The powder cost approximately $7.00.
  6. Mascara Primer (save) – Many people don’t think there is a need for primer but it is essential. It definitely enhances my eyelashes and stretches the length before I apply my mascara. I use L’oreal Voluminous Primer and it runs about $6.00 if bought alone.
  7. Mascara (splurge) – I put a lot of attention into my eyelashes so therefore I’m willing to pay for mascara products. I think it’s cheaper to buy quality mascara than it is to put on lashes everyday or have lashes applied weekly. I don’t have one particular brand that I stick to but I purchase mascara products that have proven to be quality products. Some of the mascara products I use include Too Faced Better Than Sex, Milk Makeup Kush Mascara, Laura Geller GlamLash, Buxom Mascara and Bad Gal Bang Mascara. All of these products range from $24 – $30. I am also enrolled in the Ipsy program and I select a mascara product every month for my Glam Bag.
  8. Eyeliner (save) – I use one brand and one color eyeliner. I only use NYX blue crayon eye pencil. I catch the eyeliner pencils on sale at Ulta and that covers me for about two years. These pencils run about $4.50/pencil and I catch the buy one, get one 1/2 sale.
  9. Chapstick (save) – This is definitely a save because I always get the chapstick that is available at the doctor’s office. It’s a free product you can grab when you grab your lollipops.
  10. Lip Gloss (save) – I always misplace my lip gloss so I refuse to pay a ton of money for it. Victoria’s Secret recently had their lip gloss on sale for $2.00 and of course I stocked up on lip gloss. I also but Ulta brand lip gloss.
  11. Lipstick (splurge) – I just started wearing lipstick, like really wearing lipstick this year. I have been using Mac Uniformly Fabulous and it is amazing. The product is long lasting and some days I have to use makeup wipes to remove the product. I love this product because it does not wear throughout the day even after drinking through a straw or having breakfast and lunch. Very seldom is there a need to do touch ups.

Whew I did not realize how many products I had in my bag or how many I actually use in my 15 minute routine What’s in your bag? Any suggestions for any other beauty products or steals and deals?

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