Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Skin Care, Weight Loss, and Getting to Happy...

Hey everyone,

Some of you may know me personally, while others haven't yet had the pleasure :-) but lately, I am on a crusade of loving myself. So far, so good. This journey includes me taking time out to do things I haven't done for myself in awhile. Life is already short enough and there are things I want to accomplish outside and within myself. I'm loving every moment because I am discovering new things everyday.

First of all, I was cursed with very oily, sensitive, and acne prone skin. I have read every Cosmo, YM, and Essence magazine to try and figure out what would help beautify my skin. I never understood how actresses like Halle Berry says she only drinks plenty of water to maintain her complexion. Really? Just water? When I read that, I began to gorge on water, and yet, no change. Some people recommended dabbing toothpaste on pimples...HA! I tried that too. I've tried everything from witch hazel to Oil of Olay products. I figured the more expensive the product, the better chances of success. Boy, was I wrong.

A few weeks ago, I was introduced to a product by both my sister and my BFF, and I was rather skeptical about its effectiveness because it came from...you guessed it, Dollar General. I figured after all of the high end products I had used, there was no way I was going to see results with something that came from Dollar General. Still, after such glowing remarks from my bff, I decided to give it a try. I started using it and I can honestly say it's working! I don't have near the oiliness I used to, nor do I have as many breakouts. This amazing product is by Queen Helene, and it is The Original Mint Julep Masque. It is only a whopping $2.75! You can't beat that! You just wash your face before application and apply the masque and allow it to dry for 15 minutes and then rinse off. It is an amazing product and I am encouraging everyone to give it a try!

Another must I have implemented into my regimen, is taking my vitamins daily. I take nine vitamins daily: Omega/Flaxseed for heart health, a soluble B-12 that I dissolve under my tongue, a vitamin E for my skin and nails, Chlorophyll, Spirulina, a multivitamin, zinc; which is supposed to be a major pimple zapper, and Biotin. I have noticed since taking Biotin my hair is much thicker than it used to be, which can be a major damper if I have just had my hair straightened. The Biotin, vitamin E, and zinc are probably contributing to the clearing of my skin as well as the masque, but I'm not planning on taking the risk of stopping anything just yet.

The last and final thing I have embarked upon is...WEIGHT LOSS. I have been a heavy girl most of my life and I have tried so many yo-yo diets with some success at first, but not long term. Weight loss is a process and I am choosing to do it this time for health benefits as well as to set an example for my boys. I don't want my kids to have to sit in at my funeral at the ages of 4 and 5 because Mommy couldn't step away from the table. This time, I am dieting my way which means I cut a lot of things out. If I have a taste for pizza, I don't try to diffuse that with an apple. I have a reasonable portion of what I want, and try to balance it out with a raw veggie, and hop back on track by the next meal. I don't drink anything but water and Lipton makes this wonderful diet mixed berry green tea. It tastes great and has 0 calories, fat, carbs, or sugar. I do try to limit to one a day because I want to make sure I get in all of my water. I usually have between 4-6 bottles of water a day. I drink two during my workout and the rest gradually during the day.

I had to realize that I may lose weight slowly but just changing my eating habits, but by exercising, I maximize those results. So, I go to the gym now twice a week, taebo once a week, and in between, I will do 50-100 wall push-ups, 50 sit-ups and maybe a few leg lifts. Some days I have to force myself to keep going but I know in the end, the results are going to be wonderful. I do have a great support system and my sister/bff for life has to constantly call me and remind me to go to the gym and push me to keep going on those days I just feel blah. I didn't get this way overnight so I know in order to change, it has to be a lifelong journey.

Unfortunately, I didn't weigh myself before I started changing my eating habits, but I should know something soon. I hate to dog the scale because I can get disappointed very easily, especially when I know I'm pushing my body to the brink. It's okay, because I am going to keep going regardless.

If you guys want to add some comments about things you've tried or your successes with anything, feel free to post. I am always looking for something new to try.

Always remember, there are no shortcuts to success!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Agony and the Ex-stacy

Lately, I have noticed a raging debate about women who knowingly chase after and have a relationship with married men. Some say, "blame the husband", and very few hold the other woman accountable. For the record, I despise everything these women stand for. I understand it takes two to tango, but women have been treacherous since the beginning of time. Who was able to tempt Adam to take a bite of the forbidden fruit? Oh okay.  I blame the man who is susceptible to another woman's wiles besides his wife's, and this makes him weak and not worthy of the one waiting for him at home. As a woman, how can you sleep with a man that does not belong to you?

Whether the wife is up on the affair or not, she is still the one at the advantage over the other woman. The wife is the one the husband comes home to. So, if the husband goes home to his wife at night, doesn't spend money on the other woman, and doesn't take the other woman out in public, where is the benefit for the other woman? Maybe there is a link missing in my DNA, but I just don't get it. How can you as a woman even contemplate hurting another woman like that? I can be attracted to a man all day long and we can have chemistry off the charts, but if he is married, that is such a deal breaker for me. I wouldn't care if he slept on the roof and she slept in the bed and they hadn't had sex in 20 years. If he's married...Adios!

Women were taught to be nurturers since they were able to understand what it meant. We nurse our men back to perfect health, we iron and wash their clothes, make sure they come home to a hot meal, boost their ego when the world emasculates them, and in spite of all these things we do, they still find it in themselves to cheat. What am I missing here? You mean to tell me there is a place you can get everything you need and more from a woman, and yet, it still isn't enough? Hold the phone please! Again, what am I missing?

What strikes me as super funny, is when the man recognizes that his ex has moved on from his foolishness and she isn't paying him one bit of attention, he comes crawling back. Where do they do that at? So, when I was doing everything for you, it wasn't enough, but now that I'm not thinking about you, you find me intriguing? HA!

We all go through our share of heartache and pain. If you are still living, you have been hurt by someone who has claimed to love you. You gave that person your everything and only received meager scraps in return. The great thing is that the struggle gets easier. You may not realize it, but you are so much better off without dead weight. Take time to do things you always wanted to do, but couldn't do because you were always putting the other person first. Appreciate yourself because the one thing I am finding is when you love someone else more than you love yourself, they always win.

If you find yourself on the heartbreak end of an affair, know that there is life and happiness afterwards! It may take some time to get there, but you will never regret your decision to move on. Take time to get back to happy because you deserve it. God had to remove that person from your life in order to prepare you for the latest and greatest. I may not be prepared for the one God made for me just yet, but when he comes, I'll be ready.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Muddling Through the Muck

A few days ago, I posted a blog about continuing to press your way through your situation. If you think about it, there is something you are supposed to do that ignites your fire. Whatever it is, you are so passionate, the people around you don't even understand your excitement . Now, some either have not tapped into this talent yet or some are just beginning to explore it.

Have you noticed that whenever you are about to do the thing you are most passionate about, everything seems to go wrong? One of the kids gets sick, you get sick, you've lost someone or something very important... These are nothing but distractions that are meant to take your focus off of what you're supposed to be doing.

Know that when you come up against obstacles during the time you are finally investing in yourself, it is nothing but a trick of the adversary. When you become so boggled down with these obstacles, what happens? Right, your focus is off your gift and it takes awhile before you can even bounce back. Take back your life. Let the enemy know you are not going to stand for something else being taken from you. It may seem difficult, but go forth with whatever plans you may have.

Continue to strive for greatness and live your dreams as if there is no tomorrow. There is no need to look back 10 years from now, with only bitterness and regret in your heart because you didn't accomplish what you wanted when you had the chance. Have faith and keep pressing.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

College Doesn't Necessarily Mean Success

I've noticed lately that there has been a recent push for people to go back to school and get a college degree. Education is the backbone of our society, and without it, many jobs are unattainable. There has to be no greater achievement than going to college for 4-6 years, to come out at the top of your class, grab a job in your field at $40,000 to start, only to owe back $100k+ in student loans... By no means am I telling anyone NOT to go to college. Everyone should really be aware of their options.

From the time we're able to process information, our parents, teachers, and other authority figures stress the importance of a college education. A college education is important because it opens doors that wouldn't otherwise budge without it, and you encounter a group of people you can network with for the rest of your life.

Honestly, some people aren't meant to go to college. Some people don't have the time, aren't focused enough, or it's simply not their thing. These people have found their niche elsewhere, and some are very successful in spite of not attending a four year university.

Some famous people who have never attended college:
Bill Gates
Halle Berry
Rachel Ray-Has never had any formal culinary training
Steven Spielberg
Woody Allen
Ben Affleck...

The list goes on with people who are a success despite not having a formal education. When and if I decide to go back to college, it will be because I want to; not because I feel I will be pleasing someone else. If you weren't called to go to college, don't worry about what others will say or think. The decision is not theirs and they cannot live your life for you. Wherever your specialty lies, do your research. Find out the nature of the demand for what it is you want to do. Network with others that are doing the same things you are interested in. Lastly, sometimes it is necessary to attend school in order to live out our dreams. The best that can happen is that you will have something to fall back on if all else fails.

There is a saying that people who aren't passionate about what you are passionate about won't understand your thinking. Don't allow society to tell you that your life has to be lived in a box. Also remember that just because something worked for someone else, doesn't mean it is going to work for you.

Do you and let no one else be the dictator of your path. As Captain Planet used to say, "The power is yours".

Monday, March 7, 2011

Keep Pressing...

There are times where I doubt whether or not I am meant to be a writer. Don't get me wrong, I have the ideas up top, and writing gives me a sense of peace, but I have days where I wonder if I am any good. I am so weird sometimes. On one hand I like to know what people think of my work, but on the other hand, both criticism and compliments make me very uncomfortable. I digress, and realize that as a writer, not everyone will like my content.

The people in my corner encouraging me to write are few. With their praise and encouragement, I feel like I am the Wonder Woman of writing. There are times I want to give up and do something easier, but that is a cop out and there are no shortcuts to success.

If there is a dream you've had since you were a kid, something you know you can do well and empower others with, GO FOR IT! Let nothing and no one stop you from living your dreams. Life is too short to spend the rest of it working for someone else who followed their dreams. I know so many people who are unhappy with their current employment status, and it's because, they want better, but are too afraid to fight for it. Fear is our enemy and out of fear comes excuses for why we can't succeed.

There is something in you right now that God didn't give anyone else. We all have this "thing". Whatever it is He thought enough of you to give it to you. Don't run from it, embrace it. Success won't come overnight, but if you work hard, and believe God for the victory in your life, the battle is already won. I believe in you, but do you believe in yourself?

Everyone deserves a shot at greatness. I'm ready for mine, how about you?

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Robo Mama

We've all seen the news enough to know that bullying is becoming a bigger issue and people from gardeners to celebrities are speaking out about it. Let me be the first to say, "Well it's about time". Seriously, bullying has been going on for years now and it is an epidemic that is causing alarm all across the board.

As a teenager I had my share of bullies. I was picked on because I was light skinned, because I had long hair, because I wore hand me downs, my teeth were crooked, I had thick glasses, and even because I spoke in proper English. The list was endless. Unfortunately, the bullying didn't stop with me. My sister and brother were both tormented and teased at the hands of bullies. Looking back, we were different from the other kids. We were quiet and withdrawn as a result of the problems our parents were having at home. We had also received culture shock moving back from Germany right into a neighborhood that was less than stellar. At the ages of 11 and 10 my sister and I, for the first time, attended a predominately black middle school. The kids made fun of us because honestly, the learning curriculum in Germany is so far advanced than the U.S. The things they were teaching, we had already learned three times over.

This caused us to be beaten up and made fun of on several occasions. I remember being in class and hating when the teacher had to leave for anything because I knew I was going to suffer in some way. The entire class had gotten quiet and suddenly there were random bursts of laughter all over the classroom. It wasn't until the girl behind me started slapping me in the head did I realize some idiot had set my hair on fire. I was furious, but not enough to tell the teacher or my parents what had happened. The wages of a snitch were costly and horrifying.

Myself, my sister, and brother suffered more at the hands of our tormenters but those moments are still painful to recall. Everyone had a theory of why it was happening. We heard everything from, the kids were from broken homes, to they were insecure with themselves and it made them feel better to attack others. I don't care what the situation is, there is no way it is ever okay to torment and abuse someone else. Parents should have some clues if their child is a bully, because that behavior just doesn't miraculously disappear when school is out. More awareness needs to be raised at home. The problem is with this new generation of kids, the parents are scared of the kids and scared someone will call 911 if they discipline the kids...You want to call 911 on me? I'll give you the phone...

I am a mother to a four and three year old. I realize when they go to school, there will be children there who have bullying tendencies. I encourage my kids to not be afraid of anything or anyone. I am going to ensure we have the type of relationship where they can seek me out and tell me anything, without fear or repercussion. I will admit, I will be the mother at PTA meetings, open houses, parent conferences, and I will make sure I have a relationship with their teachers and principal. If I suspect for one minute my child is being bullied and nothing is being done, I won't hesitate to get to the root of the problem. I won't even say I'm above violence, because I'm not. My children are very important to me and if they can't feel safe at home and at school, what is the world coming to?

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Guess I'm Not the Only One

Well, I guess it's confession time here. When I first found out I was pregnant with my first son, I experienced a barrage of different feelings. On one hand I was excited and felt extremely blessed that God was entrusting me with another life besides my own. On the other hand, I was terrified because I didn't know what type of parent I would be. When little Benjamin was born, he instantly became the most beautiful baby in the world in my eyes and I loved him from the moment the doctor laid him on my chest. As I struggled to give him my very best, I discovered I was pregnant with my second child when he was only four months old. I will admit honestly, being pregnant so soon after giving birth was very exhausting. I did not want to have another child so soon after the first, but I immediately fell in love with the tiny life I was carrying. I vowed my children would be well behaved and mannered, smart, active, and the sweetest little boys anybody would ever meet...well four out of five isn't bad...

When I was working for Walmart a few years back, before I had kids, there were all kinds of people who would come through that store. I swear, Walmart is circus and you will see all kinds of characters in there. Nothing is off limits, and no deed is too extreme. I could deal with the people and their eccentricities, but one thing I absolutely despised seeing was a parent with a disobedient child. You guessed it. I was one of those people who said my children would never misbehave in public, I'd be a strict disciplinarian, and yada yada yada. One day, a petite little woman, that weighed no more that 100lbs soaking wet, came through  my checkout line with a shopping cart full of groceries. In the front of the cart was a baby strapped in the car seat that was no more that 4 months old. She also had with her a little boy of about 4 or 5 that seriously deserved a stint in the time out corner. He had his arms folded in a way that reminded you of a dictator, and was yelling at his poor mother something fierce.

I have to give the mother credit because she remained calm, whereas someone else probably would have taken him in the bathroom and given him a "treatment". Now, during this time, I'm standing there watching her and wondering if I should page a manager because I just knew she was going to slap the life out of him where he stood. Much to my amazement, she continued on loading up her groceries as if he weren't throwing a tantrum on my aisle. One of my coworkers that was on the register next to me looked at me and we shared a glance that said, "that could NOT be me". She continued to load her purchases on the conveyor belt, I continued to ring up her items, and her son continued to scream and cry. She finally turned around and told him to be quiet, which only fueled his anger more. He proceeded to kick her in her legs as he screamed, "I'm not gonna shut up until you give me what I want!"

I could continue telling this story but looking back, I now sympathize with that poor woman. Some women are able to handle the embarrassment of a tantrum in public in stride, while others, like myself, have a complete meltdown. The kids, now three and four, needed tennis shoes, as they had outgrown their old ones. I love the Children's Place clothing and their prices are reasonable, the boys clothing is simply adorable, and their shoes are too cute for words. Let me mention beforehand that my kids have never been in any store without being restrained in a shopping cart. This is for my peace of mind, as I do not care to spend an entire shopping trip picking things off the floor or running around the store chasing my future running backs. Imagine my chagrin when I discovered Children's Place did not have shopping carts. Immediately, I knew I had to make the shopping trip a fast one.

Long story short, my kids were like caged animals being let out for the first time in their lives. They ran in circles around the store screaming and yelling as if the building was on fire. I put on my "I mean business" face, which only earned me a case of the giggles combined with more running and screaming. I received sympathetic looks from the other patrons of the store, as the cashier tried to distract me by trying to get me to apply for a credit card. I was beyond embarrassed at my kids' behavior because one was screaming bloody murder while the other was running around stomping through the store like Tyrannosaurus Rex. One woman was making a "tsking" noise under her breath while I was corralling both kids--as they had both begun to cry and scream harder at this point. I will admit that I handled the situation poorly by becoming frustrated with them, but, parent's make mistakes sometimes, and I will more than likely make more as my kids get older.

One thing I am learning is to not pay attention to what other people around me are thinking when my kids resort to tantrums. Some parents are more likely to sympathize because they have been there before and are glad that it isn't them in the situation again. Another thing I am starting to see, is that as frustrated I become with my kids at times, theirs isn't the worst behavior I have seen. Tonight in Walmart, a lady had her son in the shopping cart going up and down the aisles, when her son asked her for something sugar related. She firmly told him, "No". It always seems that the store is the quietest when your child is about to embarrass you. The boy actually yelled, "Imma f**k you up" which was immediately rewarded with a "Shut up" and a slap in the mouth. I was immediately embarrassed for this woman because she knew that no matter how wrong her child was for saying what he said, she knew where it came from.

Children are sponges and will repeat and do everything they see and hear. They will throw tantrums at the most inopportune moments and sometimes, make us second guess our decision to have children in the first place. As the parents, we need to learn how to remain calm because the minute we become upset, our children have gained the upper hand. When you know better, you do better. If children came with owner's manuals when they came into the world, parenting wouldn't be so difficult. In a way, I am glad for the bumps in the road and the chance to learn from my mistakes. If nothing else, I will at least have leverage for blackmail when my boys get older. As my father would say, God rest his soul, "Welcome to the joys of parenthood".