Sometimes We Fail…

Sometimes we fail, y’all. It’s a fact of life I was reminded of when I set out to survive a green smoothie cleanse. Let me explain. I had high hopes of emerging from a long detox regimen with glowing, flawless skin, a flattened stomach and relief from the joint pain that plagues me do the inflammation in my body caused by chronic disease.

I went to the store with my mother, who generously offered to pay for half of the groceries in my cart that was loaded with spinach, frozen fruit, almond coconut milk and kale. I ordered some plant-based protein powder off Amazon, and busted open the box my sister’s Ninja blender arrived in well over a month ago. I scheduled several posts in advance for this blog and completed my school work so that when the detox symptoms set in, I wouldn’t have to try to think with brain fog. I was all set, and prepared for overwhelming success.

Until day 2.5 on the cleanse. Let me tell you something; days three and four of any sort of detox program is meant to separate the strong from the weak. It’s where heroes are born and you get to see exactly what you’re made of. Apparently, I’m made of the desire for something to chew!

I tried to hold out, you guys. I sat in my bed, watching Friends and noticing how borderline racist and outrageously fat shaming it is, willing myself to be satisfied with the herbal tea that was supposed to help my detoxing efforts along. But, I wanted a boiled egg so bad I could taste it. The salt, and the instant satiety called to me.

I made every effort to talk myself out of it. I told myself that I had all the nutrients I needed in those darn smoothies I had been drinking. Fat, protein, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. Any desire to eat an egg was not based on actual need, but rather on desire.

Logically, I knew that all of the above was true. But deep down, where my intuition dwells, I didn’t give a hoot! So…I boiled some eggs and ate them. They. Were. Phenomenal. Absolutely everything I thought they would be, and they satisfied me in a way that nothing had in days.

Then the guilt set it. I’d failed. I’d set out to do something, and I didn’t do it. I found myself spiraling down into the black and white thinking that used to make me binge eat at times like this, because I’d already blown it, so I might as well go to town. But, therapy taught me to arrest that kind of thinking, and understand that an all or nothing attitude hadn’t helped me in the past, so it wouldn’t help me then, either.

So, I counted it as a lost, but not the end of the world. Then I re-evaluated my goals for starting the cleanse in the first place. To lessen my pain, clean up my diet, and get a hold of my sweet tooth. I realized that I could accomplish all of those things while eating whole food, so that’s what I’ve decided to do.

I have a smoothie and eggs for breakfast, another smoothie for lunch and a nice dinner. It’s been working. My sugar cravings are almost non-existent, and the ones I do have can be solved with a Larabar. I’ve been sleeping better, I can do squats again without excruciating joint pain, and my energy is off the charts.

So I failed, that much is definitely true. But you know what else? I learned some things about myself along the way. Besides that, I also reaffirmed how much I’ve grown in my relationship with food, and the practice of self-love. I hope that you can see by my little anecdote that even when we fail, if we learn something along the way, it’s not a total loss.

Our failures do not define us. How we respond to them does. I’m choosing to respond with compassion and grace towards myself. I really hope that when, or if, the time comes, you’ll do the same. ♥

When’s the last time you had a goal that you didn’t quite reach? How did you respond?

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Extraordinary Lives #Quote

It’s that time again! Are y’all ready for a quote that I’m pretty sure I’m going to make my life’s mantra? Ok, then here goes!

You have so many extraordinary gifts; how can you expect to lead an ordinary life?

Louisa May Alcott, Little Women

Is that not one of the most lovely sentiments you’ve ever read? For more (and if you can believe it, it gets better) go read the full scene from the book here. I read Little Women every year at Christmas when I was a little girl, and it just keeps getting better. Most recently, I’ve been inspired to write simple stories about ordinary people and the extraordinary impact they can have on the world. If I’m able to capture a fraction of what Ms. Alcott did, I’ll count myself a success.

But back to the quote. If you’ve every been discouraged by life not turning out the way you expected it to, remember this quote and remind yourself that sometimes there are plans greater than ours to be had. Embrace it.

 

Thank God for the Challenge #Sunday

Sometimes I read mini-devotionals from the Bible app, and I came across one a few weeks ago that had a sentence in it that resonated with me: “Thank God for the challenge that exposed the giant.” It’s from a book called Unashamed written by Christine Caine and it totally sums up the ways in which my life has been shaped over the last few years, and why. Sometimes we don’t even know the issues of faith we have until the giants in our lives are exposed. So today I want to encourage you to thank God for the things He’s allowed to come your way to show you who He is and what you can overcome through Him. Your problems may loom large in your mind right now, but remember, giants do fall. Happy Sunday, everyone!

 

How Dare You Speak to Me That Way! (Only I Can Do That)

I’m going to be a little vulnerable here today. If you’ve ever read my blog before, you’re probably wondering how much more vulnerable can a sista get? I’m really pushing that envelope, aren’t I? But I have this deep feeling that there are people out there that need to hear what I have to say. People who feel like they’re alone in their struggles. People who feel like no one understands. I’ve been there. It’s by the grace of God that I made it through. So I consider it my duty and my privilege to help someone else do the same.

Which is why I feel the need to discuss negative self-talk. In case you’ve never heard of the term, I’ll explain what it is. You know how you have a bad day, you get home and maybe you think, “I’ve had a horrible day. I’m going to bed.” And that’s exactly what you do. You know tomorrow is probably going to be better, the day’s behind you and you move on. Someone who has a problem with negative self-talk might think, “I can’t believe I spaced out like that during that meeting. And everyone knew it. Plus, Martha from accounting didn’t say good morning back to me. I’m such an idiot. What’s wrong with me?” And so it would go for hours and hours. That’s negative self-talk with a big dose of rumination to go along with it.

Nobody likes to admit they have weaknesses. Especially in a society like ours where confidence is prized and egos are celebrated. Some people can’t even fathom that anyone can be so overly critical of themselves that it becomes dogma. Something that haunts them and slowly erodes at their self-esteem. It get’s to the point where there’s no disputing it and what they think about themselves is the absolute truth. As you can probably tell by now, I’m highly familiar with the phenomenon.

I first began to struggle with negative self-talk when I was about 10-years-old. Despite its descriptive name, negative self-talk does not originate from within. The seeds of it are typically planted by someone in a position of authority, such as a parent, teacher, older sibling, etc., who is highly critical of an already extremely sensitive person. Eventually, the outside opinions and voices develop into an inner critic. It gets to the point where even when no one else is perpetuating the abuse, the victim does it for them.

I’m not explaining all of this to put you in a ‘woe is me’ frame of mind. I’m telling you this because getting to the root of things helps me figure out how to get over them. Or even better, through them. Once you understand that the anxiety and criticism you feel is not who you are, but simply an outcome of circumstances, you can let those feelings go, making space for what was truly meant to be a part of you in the first place.

This is a mantra that I say to myself now, “Make sure that the language with which you speak to yourself is reflective of your intent.” I decided to live my life with intention. For me, that means living out the goodness and mercy that I know God promised to me. He intends only good for my life, so that is what I accept. And I make sure that the way I speak to and about myself, reflects those intentions.

When you believe that you deserve goodness and kindness, you change the way that you think of yourself. It’s wasn’t easy, and trust me, it didn’t happen overnight. It took a major overhauling of my life to get to a place where I refused to be anyone’s victim anymore. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way because now my life, and the people who are in it, reflect my intent. And so does the way with which I speak to myself.

If you struggle with negative self-talk or low self-esteem, I really think you should look into this challenge. It involves a simple 30 day exercise to help you see the value in you. It’s a start in the right direction. I promise you won’t regret it!

Rest Shouldn’t Be a Dirty Word: Why I Take My Naps Seriously Around This Piece!

I don’t know why we have such an aversion to rest in Western culture these days. Maybe it’s all the productivity tips and goal setting books, articles and Instagram posts. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with seeking success. But sometimes I think that our measures of success are way off base. Are you really successful if your bank account is full, but your life is empty? I’d quickly answer that question with a hard no.

For the past 18 months I’ve learned how to rest. You’d think that would be something that I wouldn’t need to learn, since we come into the world knowing how to do it. Somewhere along the way in my path of life I decided that rest was optional. Something to be done when I had the time to spare. Other stuff took priority, and I can’t even say that the activities that drew me away from rest were always productive.

I put myself last in so many ways. I felt overwhelmingly guilty if I took time to “laze around”. That’s how I viewed rest. Either I was being lazy, or I literally kept going until I collapsed. That black and white thinking pattern is typical of people like me (more on that in another post).  Going until I dropped was the only way I could justify the simple act of taking time to rest.

It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder of the thyroid (which explained why I was so inexplicably tired for a looooonnnnggg time) that I finally slowed down. Medical professionals have concluded that the type of health challenge I have is brought on by years of stress, both physical and emotional. I realized that in my case, the cause was also the cure.

I gave myself permission to sit down somewhere and chill out. My rest became sweet because it was no longer stifled by unnecessary guilt. My body, mind and soul breathed a sigh of relief because this was what all of me had been craving for years.

Isn’t it funny how God allows situations in our life to bring us to the place where He would have us? I truly believe that my life, the good and the bad, are orchestrated by the One who created me and set a path of His will before me. Even the bitter things are sweet if they bring about growth, knowledge and an expected end.

Making rest a non-negotiable factor has improved my well-being dramatically. The best part is that when I rest the way my body was designed to, I’m able to accomplish a lot more than if I pressed through the signs of fatigue and kept going. Besides that, the process of completing what I set out to do is much more pleasant.

I don’t share my thoughts and life experiences on this site because I’m a narcissist.  I share them because I know that there are some of you who might read this and have it resonate with your spirit. And maybe, it’ll change a mindset and therefore, a life.

Just paying it forward!

How do you balance your to-do list and your well-being?

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Office This Morning #Mindfulness

Something kind of weird happened to me today. I got a pretty late start because I had a late night. Sometimes I have issues sleeping, so that’s not uncommon. I woke up around noon-ish (don’t judge me. I’m an artist and we do that sort of thing), ate breakfast or rather, brunch, and played with Pooh, my little toddler friend for a couple of hours. Then I headed to my office to put in a little time at my customer service gig. When I went to log onto my computer, without thinking, I keyed in the password to my old work computer…a computer I haven’t touched or even had access to in almost a year.

It freaked me out! First of all, it was just plain strange. Second of all, I typically make every effort not to think about my old job or anything related to the company because my experience with them at the end left a bad taste in my mouth. But the unusual occurrence of completely operating on autopilot got me to thinking; What else am I doing out of habit, with no regard to my circumstances in the here and now?

I don’t think I’m alone in having the habit of operating in a reactive space based off past experiences and future concerns. To some extent I think it’s safe to say we all do. But what if that habit is about more than passwords, routes to work or getting a cup of coffee first thing in the morning? What if it’s about how we move in and experience this world? What are we missing if we don’t actually live in the present moment?

I’ve been enamored with the concept of mindfulness for years. To paraphrase, mindfulness is practicing the art of being fully present in each moment. Many of us spend our time fixating on the past, or worrying about the future. So much so that we miss what’s happening in and around us in the here and now. Our focus on the past and the future, whether consciously or unconsciously puts our bodies in a constant state of stress. Many times, the past memories our minds automatically wander to are not good ones, and future dwellings are about what can go wrong. When we focus on the present, we send a message to our bodies that we are safe and everything is OK right now.

Our nervous system and our brain synapses can relax, giving us the peace we crave. Stress hormones decrease, along with our heart rate, while our detoxing and digestion abilities increase. Living in the now gives our bodies permission to let go. Mindfulness doesn’t have to be a big production of meditating and being still, although it can be if you want it to. Mindfulness to me means slowing down. It means letting ourselves live as children do: without regard to time, or agendas, or limitations. It means being. Being in the moment, mind, body and soul.

I hope you give yourself the gift of being in the moment today. You deserve it.

Just breathe…and be…and smile. 🙂

What do you think about mindfulness and meditation?

If you practice, what benefits have you noticed so far?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of Faith: When Time Stands Still

It’s hard to know what to do with yourself in the wait. Time seems to drag and your shoulders rise from the tension of long held anticipation. Wonder has long faded and you’re left with anxiety and doubt at war for space in your mind. This is the kind of waiting that feels like torture. Time seems to stand still, which leads to thoughts questioning the point of it all. Does it really matter? Will it make a difference if I give up? Who am I to think that what I want so desperately is even mine have?

In case you can’t tell, I’m familiar with this kind of waiting. It’s not the kind God would have for us. I can hear some of you asking if there’s any difference in the way we complete the act of waiting. I think there is. Have you ever waited for someone who’s late? Have you noticed that how you feel about the person you’re waiting for changes your attitude towards the situation? When it’s someone whom you perceive as a powerful benefactor, what you want from them may trump your inconvenience. When it’s someone that you’re doing a favor for by meeting with them, you may be indignant and put out. When it’s someone you have affection for, you may shake your head and wait patiently. The amount of time that you spend waiting is the same, but your perception and attitude changes based on who you’re waiting for.

When we’re in a season of waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises, the best thing we can do is to remember who we’re waiting for. Our trust in God and His timing should make waiting less of a challenge and more of pleasure. Our affection for Him, and our understanding of His towards us, can serve as a comfort in the wait. It’s not all up to us. Once we’ve done our due diligence in preparation, it’s out of our hands, and firmly in His.

Relax in that knowledge. Breathe it in. Allow your shoulders to fall and your jaw to unclench. Choose to serve at His pleasure, and to wait with patience, confidence and peace for His timing.

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31, NIV