Thursday, December 29, 2011

30 Things Challenge

The initial purpose for this blog was to keep track of me doing 30 things I've never done over the course of 30 consecutive days but that quickly fell through. However, with the year coming to a close, I realized that I have spent a year doing many things that I've never done-- not a bad way to spend a year. So I'm happy to present a (partial) list of, at least, 30 things that I've done this year (some good, some not so good) that I've never done before. Introducing...the list!


What I'm most proud of:
  1) Went to Key West
  2) Jet skied
  3) Gave blood
  4) Got my nose pierced
  5) Volunteered w/ my church (wrapped gifts at Walmart)
  6) Moved into an apartment by myself (w/o a roommate but, obviously, with my kids)
  7) Joined Toastmasters (first step in becoming a motivational speaker)
  8) Lost 40lbs
  9) Got into a size 14/16 dress-- haven't been that size in 15+ years
10) Was seriously considered by a weight loss show & they flew me out to LA
11) Beat 3 unnecessary tickets in court over 3 separate occasions

And the rest: 

12) Bought a Saturn
13) Died my hair black (3x-hair won't hold dye)
14) Attended Christmas Eve service
15) Participated in the candlelight service
16) Bought an XBOX (took it back)
17) Took a leave of absence from teaching
18) Went to Boca Raton for my birthday (courtesy of my best friend)
19) Gave two speeches in front of my Toastmasters group
20) Bought a Nikon
21) Hired myself out as a photographer for a birthday party, two baby showers, and maternity pix
22) Hired myself out as a freelance tutor for math (I teach English)
23) Went to a gun range (2x)
24) Loaded a gun and shot it by myself
25) Got a new agent
26) Got achilles tendonitis
27) Had strep 2x within two months
28) Came close to falling in love
29) Took my kids to South Beach
30) Lost a 1st cousin on my mom's side (RIP Brandon)
31) Started a blog (this one!)
32) Allowed myself to have a boyfriend for longer than three days
33) Tried a joint, still don't like it, see no reason for it, and now I can passionately say the sh*t is stupid
34) Had a scripted reality show (South Beach Tow) and a commercial (South Florida Education Connect) on TV at the same time (was just informed you could see me in that the Degree commercial I was a background extra in)
35) Cooked chicken alfredo (didn't come out all that well)
36) Cooked steak-- not bad
37) Cooked ziti
38) Cooked period
39) Hosted a party in my new apartment (didn't go all that well)
40) Grew my nails (until I bit them this month)
41) Participated in a 5k for suicide prevention

Now I'm sure there were a whole host of other firsts but I can't think of them. However, I look forward to the next year of new things. =)

Giving Blood

On a beach in Boca Raton

Lowest weight this year

Pierced nose

Jet ski!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mental Jumble

I don't know what I want to talk about today but I feel compelled to share. That could be the white wine that I imbibed for that very purpose. I just felt like writing; I need to write. I need the escape it provides; I need to delve into the depths of my mind and find what it is that I've been thinking but not allowing to surface. What is it that's in my mind and moves me just so? What commands me to sit here in my comfy chair, eyes closed, head tilted back in total surrender to the dance my fingers are performing on these keys? I don't know. As I type, I am hoping that answer surfaces like a side found floating in the Magic 8 Ball. "Reply hazy". Yes, yes it is hazy-- much like my future. Ah, here's the real reason I'm here. I'm lost. I know what I want...kinda. I know I want to be a motivational speaker that reaches the young masses of females and incite them to not only want but to do better in their lives; to know that their past does not determine their future, they are more than their oppressors, their deferred dreams, their swept-under-the-rug desires. So that's one. I also want my doctorate and will settle on completing my masters for now. But I don't want to settle in love; I want the ultimate package, a man who provides all the -ly's (financially, emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, etc) a girl can ask for. I want to not always feel like I'm constantly behind watching the ship, which holds my future, float a way. I want my family back together. I want what there is for me to have, every bit of it. I want growth, maturity, tenacity, perseverance, fortitude, humility, ability for prayer, everything. I also want to make, sell, and create movies.  I want it all.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Weighing on My Mind

Lately, my weight's really been getting me down. Oh, I gained a little of the weight back during the summer-- maybe about 10lbs. But it wasn't until I went back to work that it really flew back on. I felt so powerless, walking by that mirror each morning, avoiding my eyes as I brushed my teeth. I didn't want to actually see what I was feeling, what I knew was happening.

First, it was the suspicion that my stomach was rounding out. I took a pregnancy test, hoping that that would be the easy answer (not that I wanted a baby--that would have presented a whole other bucket o' problems for me). With the negative reading, I had to admit that I was just plain gaining weight and, for some reason, just in my stomach. My pants were still fitting around my legs but the waist band was marking up my belly. My bras did the same under my breasts and around my back, even the bras I still had from my heavier days.

One day, after lunch with some coworkers, I went to the bathroom and I finally saw it. My stomach round and firm like a 6-month pregnant belly. When did that happen? How did that happen? It just didn't make sense and it scared me.

But, on Friday, while brushing my teeth, I allowed my eyes to run over my face. The cause for the pull that I'd been feeling stared back at me. My double chin had returned nearly two-fold. My beauty became buried in the bulge at the bottom of my face. That gorgeous woman, the one from just 5 months ago, no longer exists. She's floundering in the fat pool and she doesn't know how to get out.

It's depressing me. Even with all my other problems-- money, house, family, son, work, stress, dreams, etc, nothing is making me feel worse than the reflection in the mirror, the vanishment of my accomplishment. I have fallen waaaaaaaay off, not just a little but a lot. I've fallen down the chute, back to the beginning, and I'm looking for the ladder. No, not true. I'm not looking. I guess, I'm afraid of even trying again, of getting so far in the game and enjoying myself, only to fall back down to start. This is my second time in 6 years getting down to 228lbs then gaining back the weight. When will I see the 100s? When will I learn how to take off the weight and to keep it off? Why do I keep doing this to myself?

I hate this cycle.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Breaking Up is Hard to Do

Weeeeeeelllll.....not really. I've often been told that I'm heartless. Truth is, I'm not; I just don't know what love is (I think we talked about why in an earlier post).

Anyway, I did it; I finally did it. I broke up with McDonald's.

Yesterday, on our lunch date, I held his crispy golden goodness between my lips and mentally whispered, "Goodbye". I felt our parting in every greasy pore of my being. My soul spoke to me, comforted me, as I thought about the fat-filled reflection of my bathroom mirror. In it, my chin hung low, pulling on my cheeks, giving my face the countenance of Droopy. Before my eyes flashed another image, a picture of me just 5 months ago, beaming a 1000-watt smile, double chin all but gone, the result of months of hard work.

Fast forward to October and it is not the double chin that is gone but all of my hard work and my pride and my confidence and my self-esteem and my ability to fit into my bras and my clothes. Those 40lbs I lost this year have been found. I no longer need to put out an APB but an H-I-T for those pounds. I want them gone. I'm watching my friends, who were inspired by my weight loss, achieve the success I had, the success I want back. And they look GOOD. I no longer do.

I can't find my face in the fat. And, yet, I'm still not motivated enough to get to work. Judging by how fast I regained the weight, I've come to realize that what held true before no longer does. Before, it wasn't the food I ate. Not really. Now it is. Since going back to work in August, especially during the whole 2 weeks of work in October, I've eaten at McDonald's nearly every single day-- 10 pc Chicken Nuggets, medium fry, and a medium sweet ice tea. I've barely exercised. I'm stressed out about the amount of work. My son's failing school. I don't really make enough money to live on my own but I have to live on my own (my rent takes up one whole paycheck). And all this weight is filling out my face and my stomach. I look pregnant. I, seriously, look pregnant. Self-esteem crusher. I have dreams deferred and I am so stressed I don't know what to do.

I know there are other people out there feeling like or who have felt like me. I know I can't be the only one in this great big world. And I know, in the scheme of things, my problems are quite small but still, for me, they are problems. I need solutions. So my first order of business was to break up with McDonald's. And, truth be told, I felt relieved to have made that decision. It's a step in the right direction.

Hodge Podge & Cactus Huggin'

I don't actually know what I want to talk about in this post. It's been a rough ride for the past two weeks, a constant barrage of bad news and a small (unmentionable) glimmer of good news.

You see, October's usually my month of change; it's usually the time when bad times get good and good times get better. But not this October. This October has been one burden upon my shoulder after another. I got strep throat; I broke up with the boyfriend (who, technically, wasn't my boyfriend anymore anyway); I had an allergic reaction to the Amoxicillin (skin just plain hurt to touch all over); I had to pay a traffic ticket (yeah, it was my fault); I've been late to work 3 times in one week; my son spent an entire weekend retching/feverish; I got into it with my other son's father-- he claimed that I won't "let" him be present in my (yeah I said my) son's life and he thinks he can be a better parent because I just-- I don't want to discuss this any further because the conversation really doesn't merit rehashing (and this was this morning); I hurt my foot, guess I strained a muscle or something on my heel so now I limp a bit-- it's healing, though; I lost my voice; my son's football team was massacred on the field; Mother Nature dropped off her gift two days early; I got into it with my mother; I found a roach in my house; my car is back to drinking anti-freeze fluid like it's kool-aid; my Ladies' Night didn't go off as planned last night; and the list goes on and on and on.

Yep, it's been a pretty crappy October except for a couple of things. One, my family is relatively healthy and, two, we're all alive. Oh, and I, finally, moved into my own apartment and out my mother's house. Those things are certainly praise worthy. There, that helped me put my mind into the right perspective.

I got confirmation I'm on the right road; I just need a little patience. It's going to come together; everything is being put together. I just need to keep doing what I'm doing but to do it better, neater, faster, more efficiently (is that even a correct phrase).  Patience, patience, patience. And work. Time to get to writing.

Monday, September 5, 2011

*Gasp* The Ugly Duckling's a Swan!

What's really funny is that I don't remember having a poor body image until I got to high school. My mom, one day, bought me Dexatrim but, even then, it didn't really connect. I just thought myself unattractive, not fat. Or really, it wasn't unattractive but just not one of those girls, the popular ones that everybody knew. That was my complex, that I wasn't popular enough, that I didn't have a great multitude of friends (truth was/is, I'm a one best friend kinda gal).

I never had a problem w/ guys liking me. I had a problem with older guys liking me and touching me and making suggestive comments. It wasn't until I was 17, working in a McDonald's, when a manager barely older than me, cornered me and just stared at me before uttering, "You're really pretty for a fat girl". I muttered, "Thanks" and went back to work. But that moment was a very transforming one for me.

The more I wanted to cry, the more I ate. I built a food wall around me until I thought I was protected from men. But, no, that didn't work. Men (aunt's boyfriends, coworkers, classmates, randoms, etc) just stopped speaking out loud and started whispering when they thought no one could hear. I became a secret desire, one good enough for dark places, never brought out into the light. That seriously beat down my self-esteem for years; I've only just begun to stand, to straighten out my backbone.

This year I lost a lil weight and got my first boyfriend, one who's proud to parade me around, who's proud to be seen with me. Life has definitely changed for the better and I don't want it to stop changing.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Unequal Opportunity Employment

I live in Miami, a place jokingly referred to in the streets as another country. The joke goes on to say that in order to visit you need a passport. It is obvious Hispanic culture, namely Cuban culture, influences everything in Miami from politics to street signs to food to radio stations (I dare you to find even 10 English speaking ones on the whole FM spectrum, forget on the AM track). But, now, sadly, the one thread that use to hold Miami on to the tip of Florida has severed-- the ability to find non-bilingual (READ: Spanish)-required jobs. Even sales jobs.

And Assistant Deli Manager positions at a local grocery store.
And bank financial advisors.
And Legal Assistants (the Spanish requirement was mentioned 3x in this job posting).
Sigh. What's a non-Hispanic American-born college-educated student-loan-owing woman to do? Teach? Pssshaw...I'm willing to bet $20 (if I had it) that the bilingual (READ: Spanish) requirement is coming down the pipeline for that job too. Besides I'm already doing that. I may not be underemployed like these people but I'm definitely undervalued. I need something that pays me closer to what I'm worth, something that doesn't feel like going to work or, at least, doesn't leave me feeling financially stressed/stretched.

I received a degree from an accredited four-year institution (the same one as this guy, who makes a TON more money than me) just like other degreed professionals. I've been working since I was 17 so I've got 15 years of experience in the work force. I've got the IQd chops to hack it as a scientist, a medical professional, or a lawyer but, while I was in school, creativity warred with common sense and I ended up with an English Creative Writing degree.

And, yet, my sister, who hasn't even completed her associates degree, makes about $5,000 more than me. Her raises do not consist of just a couple of hundred a year like mine (if the public allows teachers to get a raise). Her job is not stagnant like mine. Hers allows for growth both financially and mentally.

My brother worked his same job for 4 years and just got a promotion and a leap in pay in the tens of thousands. He started out making the same as me before he finished his baccalaureate degree. The next step for a teacher is to become an assistant principal then a principal. No thank you. I'm thoroughly through with education, hence, the reason for my job search.

Still, English is versatile enough that teaching isn't my only option. That is, if I didn't live in Miami.

And I can't help but feel frustration and a growing sense of resentment as I peruse the jobs on EmployFlorida, jobs (not the ones I posted) for which I would be more than qualified if not for the bilingual requirement. And it sucks. What sucks? That I'm not Hispanic? No. That's not what sucks. What sucks is American education, the idea that we are superior to everyone else in the world, therefore, we do not need to spend the money or time educating our youth in a foreign language (READ: Spanish...or French or German or Chinese (Mandarin/Cantonese) or Japanese) to the point of fluency. We don't need to make our young citizens competitive candidates for employment in the land of their birth. This is America, right?

Yes, it is. But it's also the land of PC notions, the land that refuses to make English its national language because of misplaced ideas about the constitutionality of a country declaring a unified language. And it is also the Land of Opportunity. What happens is the very people who seek out the Land of Opportunity make that land live up to the name, creating and seizing opportunities, making, baking, then slicing out their share of the American pie.

And we regular non-Hispanic American-born & raised-English speakers are left with the feeling of being neglected through our own making. We, as a people. refuse to shoulder the responsibility of educating the future, of preparing our children to fight for their own slice of the American Dream. The job market is tough enough without feeling wrongfully disadvantaged for being a native of this country. America has forgotten its own. It has turned a blind eye to the bilingual (READ: Spanish)-required job postings, which, in a way, weed the non-Hispanic members of American society out of the potential applicant job pool. And there is no equal opportunity in that.

**Additional note: Interestingly, a day after I wrote this blog, this very same issue showed up in the Miami Herald in an article written by Jon Silman. Read it here.


"At interviews, he was told he was overqualified, and if not that, then not bilingual, which is in Wallace’s opinion a Miami requirement.

“African Americans have a particular issue with employment -- or anyone who’s not bilingual -- for employers who have a preference for Spanish,” Wallace said." **

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Setting Goals, Not Just a New Year's Thing

It is now September 3rd, the beginning of a new month, a new season, a new me.

This week I worked out on the treadmill three times. During Monday's workout, I wanted to die. By Friday, I pushed myself from 20 minutes to 30 minutes. Proud of myself, considering I didn't want to work out at all. Benefit of working out with your best friend? You're held accountable for each other. So workout we did. All week, I've been reading running websites and health blogs and I feel inspired. Introducing my End of the Year Goals for 2011.

1) Get down to 210lbs by losing, at least, 8lbs a month

2) Submit my weight loss story to Fitbie

3) Become a runner

4) Sign up for my first 5k

5) Sign up and complete 2 photography classes

6) Begin the journey of getting out of debt

7) Have one story mapped out, a screenplay revised and expanded, and another screenplay revised and rearranged.

More goals to come but I feel like that's a healthy amount of things to accomplish in the next 4 months. 

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Suckage, thy name was Monday

This week officially sucks-- and it's only Wednesday. Is there really a point to hashing out all the miserable details just so you can be mired in the miserable muck that started out as Monday? I know they say, "Misery loves company" but, really, I just like to be left alone with a good book, some mellow music, and an empty cup to catch my tears. Well, not really. It just sounded good, poetic, to say, er, write.

I don't catch my tears; in truth, I rarely grant them release. I guess part of the reason why is that I'm afraid of what would happen should the flood gates be thrown open. Maybe I should come with a QMV warning system like they have with hurricanes and other natural disasters because me giving in to tears would be exactly that, a disaster.

So, no, I won't spew a litany of grievances against the fates for the abuse I've endured these last three days. Nay, I shan't. Even though I'm not too happy with the three traffic tickets I received from an over-zealous cop (it's the end of the month) as the rain clouds preempted the sunset. I won't complain; I'm here, relatively healthy, and whole. I won't complain because to do so would be an invitation to the tears that threaten to fall at any given moment. And I don't think this house is stocked with enough tissue.

In case you haven't realized it by now, I'm depressed. I'm recognizing it for what it is and am working out to combat it. I had just finished working out an hour or two before I received my tickets. Guess that's why I wasn't in such a bum mood about them.  Monday, I started working out with my best friend/colleague immediately after work in the gym: 20 minutes walk/jog on the treadmill and about 20 minutes of strength. Today, we added jump roping. I think I'm going to have to keep up with the working out this school year; it's really burning the stress hormone.  Yesterday, I skipped it (had to register my son for school) and I was an emotional wreck.

Today, not so much.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Bogey Man Among Us

I looked under beds. I looked in closets. I looked online (familywatchdog). I even looked into the eyes of the men in my family. I kept a vigilant watch for the bogey man, the one the evening news warned about, the pedophile that lurks among us. Having been a victim of sexual harassment, molestation, and rape on separate occasions, I'm always on the lookout, trying to protect my kids. Well, Friday, I found out that I failed.

While I had forbidden my sons from attending sleepovers until they were old enough to call me and say no (age 13 or there about depending on observed maturity), even kept my youngest from going over his father's house unless I knew their itinerary, a pervert, wrapped in the disarming package of a 2nd grader, got to my son. He touched him in the private area. My son didn't share this with me until years later. He's now a 6th grader.

All this time, I had a feeling something was wrong, I just didn't know what. Because my son was diagnosed with ADD and ODD (oppositional defiant disorder, or something like that), it was easy to brush the increasing behavior problems off as symptoms or displays of his issues. But more and more was I starting to notice sexuality rearing its ugly head. First, it was the sites I found in my internet history, not once but twice. Result: banned from the internet unless an adult is present at all times. The discussion turned up disturbing conversations 4th grade boys were having amongst themselves as well as equally disturbing behavior. I removed my son from that school and it was a "good" school.

Then it was the use of vernacular (not used in my or his father's household) towards another student at the new school, another "good" school. Finally, it was the male member drawn on paper during class and tossed at a fellow student at yet another "good" school and it had only been in session for 5 days. The pattern showed my son was the problem. Something was wrong and I pressed for an answer. What I got stilled my heart.  He was touched. The bogey man found him. I failed. I failed. I failed.

And I can't help but recall a dream my son mentioned to me. As he was being devoured by an alligator,  he screamed for help and I couldn't hear him. I didn't save him. At the time he shared it with me, it scared me so much that I changed my plans of moving to New York to pursue a career in writing/acting. I would have brought him with me but it was a land of strangers. So here I remain in Miami.

My son has been changed and I didn't help him. I'm saddened by this fact, scared of what it might all mean for the future, powerless to change the past. And I also wonder about that little boy, the one who was known for misbehaving and throwing tantrums. I wonder if he was acting out because he, too, was being touched. Only adults have the power to pervert the innocent. Or so I thought.

This parenting stuff is hard.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Gotta Have Class

Didn't make it to church this morning but that did not stop me from talking to God. As the Bible says, church is within us. We are church. So I talked to God, seeking His face (ear) because I want to be the best me I can be, that He wants me to be. As I wrote a little earlier today, I didn't know how to make that happen. And, truthfully, I spent the morning feeling somewhat sorry for myself.

I read articles about daughters reminiscing over things their mothers said or wish they could tell their mothers (see herehere and here) and I had tears in my eyes because, no matter how rough a relationship one of them attests to, I still never had even that level of closeness with my own mother-- a woman who, during one particularly heated argument this summer, told me she hated me as much as I hated her. The funny thing was that, until that moment, I never hated her; I'd been disappointed, yes, disgusted even at times but I never hated her. And it was at that very moment that I realized she hated me. Everything ever done to/for me or not came flooding back from the recesses of my memory and slid into place. It was an Aha! moment, a Now I get it moment of understanding. It was because she never loved me that I kept getting thrown out of the house,  or spanked on the regular (well, my cheekiness surely added a good reason), or just plain treated differently from her other 3 kids (kids created w/in her marriage--  I was from someone else before). So as I read, I wept for a relationship that never was and probably never will be.

I sat here on my bed, mired in misery, pleading pitifully for something, for God to show me something. And He did. A thought popped into my head, I already showed you something (see A Walk with God). Well, what are you going to do about it? My school's (Covey's) 7 Habits credo (summary found here) flashed through my mind, well, mainly 2 of the 7: Be Proactive & Sharpen the Saw. Then my eyes landed on a banner on top of a news website I was perusing; it was an advertisement for an online Masters in Creative Writing at a reputable school I vaguely drooled about going to a few years back. They didn't have this degree at the time and now they do. So I clicked the banner and filled out the the boxes, requesting more information. But I wasn't satisfied because 1) I didn't know how I would pay for such a thing (I'm in a student loan mess right now) and 2) I wanted something a little more accessible now. Immediately, my mind grabbed hold of a memory detailing an offering for photography classes at the local community college. Yes!, I thought and quickly pulled up the MDC website.

I found the photography classes and, with a little more poking around, I found other classes I would be interested in taking as well: teaching ESOL (required by my job, gotta have a just-in-case in the back pocket), learning more Spanish so I could stop complaining about the anti-nonHispanic-American non-equal opportunity job market here in Miami, web design (so I can finally do my own website), and magazine writing (so I can put my degree to use). Talk about sharpening the saw.

I've decided to make the sacrifice to take, at least, one of these classes each month (may have to do every other month due to financial constraints) because I can't complain about my life if I'm not willing to do something about my life. Not yet excited because i always say I'm going to do something and I don't follow through. But I'll endeavor to make this time different.

In Need of a Road Map

I'm lost. Somewhere along the way, I got off the path, I lost my passion, I left behind my purpose. And I am clueless as to where to begin to reclaim it. Even though my late grandfather, who passed in February 2004, warned me in a dream to "never settle", that's exactly what I did.

I've been settling in my employment and got complacent as a teacher, drawn into the lifestyle of afternoons and summers off. The first 4 years of my 6 years of teaching were struggles but they were for a purpose. God was using the classroom to teach me some very important lessons about myself, lessons that only took that long to learn because I was too stubborn to look at them for what they were and to use them towards my improvement of self. But once those lessons were learned, I overstayed my welcome. The stress of being undervalued and overworked and, in some cases, feeling discriminated against affected my health. I've had more hospital and doctor visits in the last 2.5 years that I've had my entire life. Now, I have high blood pressure and adult acne, a heart harboring hatred and humiliation, and bitterness brewing in my brain. I don't like it. I don't want it. But I don't know how to change.

I've applied to dozens of jobs, seeking to get out of education and back into the corporate world. But the world has changed a lot in the 6 years I've been missing. It's like being Rip Van Winkle and waking up in place populated by a foreign language and abbreviations. Half of the items in job descriptions are like Greek to me. And I feel lost, angry, and bitter that I've let myself down, that I've let myself become so comfortable in education, that I settled.

How do I un-settle? How do I reclaim myself? Where do I begin?

Monday, August 15, 2011

A Walk w/ God

So I was on Facebook today, mindlessly wasting my last day of vacation (school starts tomorrow for us teachers) on one of the few games I play on the site when an old friend of mine posted, "Oh wow! A VERY worthy repost: Sometimes, God doesn't give you what you think you want, not because you don't deserve it, but because you deserve better." I quickly reposted but it got me feeling a certain kind of way. It felt like God was pressing in my space, seeking my attention. I needed to be alone so I went to my thinking room (the bathroom) and sat on my thinking chair (porcelain throne) with a notepad and a pen with the sole intention of hearing what God had to say. I prayed and I listened and my mind wandered so I returned to praying and listening and my mind continued to wander (I have a serious case of adult ADD-- self-diagnosed) and I continued to pray. Finally, a few directives came (noted below) and they started flowing faster than my hand could transcribe. Tears started rolling as He ""talked". I'd been convicted. He spoke to the very core of me. I know what to do; He has placed it in my heart many many years ago. I just really need to live it, live purposefully. I <3 my God. And I'm so thankful He loves me.

The notes verbatim:

"1) No sex until the issue is resolved, no titles either 2) Be cleaner 3) Be nicer 4) Be more humble 5) Be a doer; stop procrastinating and wasting the talents that I have bestowed upon you. I get no glory from Facebook. I can only get it from you being delivered into your purpose. And you are purposed for great things. You will be an instrument of change in the hearts and the minds of my people. Not through Facebook. Not through hours of precious daylight and time wasted cruising on the internet. You are not meant for that. You are to go out into the world; I have you pegged as a traveler, a deliverer of my message to cities, counties, and states across the nation-- and, eventually, the world. Your gifts are not meant to lie in unfinished thought, in just plans and not progress. You ARE a child of God. You are not to shrink from the light in which you're called to stand. You have got to recognize your worth. Sure, I can tell it to you; sure, I can show you your purpose. But what would that solve? What will it gain? I have been sharing the vision w/ you for years- through dreams, people I've sent your way, and by the way of the little voice whose whisper is, both, felt in your heart and heard in your mind. Stop ignoring me, stop ignoring you, before I am forced to do something about it. That is all."

Thursday, February 17, 2011

30-day Challenge Update

Obviously, it's a bust. Literally. Sat, Feb 5th, started out great. I got my first Mary Kay makeover. But, as I was on my way to pick my son up from a birthday party before heading out to a semi-pro football game, I got in a car accident, which rendered my Jeep useless. It was my fault. I'm okay. Physically.

What that did for me was send me in a downward spiral of shock, disappointment, and self-recrimination because there I was about to fail at completing something again. Without transportation or a "gracious" ride, I found myself without the means to complete several of the activities I had planned. Truthfully, thinking about it now, that's fine b/c most of the firsts I'd completed involved some kind of self-inflicted pain-- and I had yet to get my tattoo.

Maybe one day, I'll start the challenge up again.

But, for now, my car's still down with new problem after new problem being discovered with each repair. I'm just ready to throw in the towel on it. But I have a feeling I'm supposed to be using this down time for some God time.



Tears of a Lost Parent

I love my son. I truly do. But there comes a time when a parent has to make difficult choices, choices that can affect a child’s future in unknown ways. And it is the unknown that scares me.

My child didn’t ask to be born, Even if I subscribe to the theory that children choose their parents based on the lessons they are to learn in that lifetime, I can definitely say I didn’t get a whisper in my ear saying, “Please don’t abort me”. Or I don’t know, maybe I did because, if I let you in on a little secret, aborting him had been my long thought-about plan.

I was a single mom to a two-year-old already, a child conceived out of the violent act of rape. I was also a college student, going to school full-time and working full-time. I barely had time to spend with my first child so another child was definitely not in my plans, not for a long while. But when stupidity and lack of proper birth control planning reigns, consequences do too.

I tearfully sought counsel from my friends but was met with biased and heated accusations; “How could you even think to have an abortion?” “It’s amoral, a sin against God.” “I would never do something like that.” (I found out later, within that same year, most of them did do something like that). So I stopped looking for help and made plans for termination. But as luck would have it, a bank account I shared with someone, who shall remain nameless, became mysteriously empty. Meanwhile, I was climbing up there in pregnancy weeks.

When I hit twelve weeks pregnant, I stumbled on an abortion website, which had a movie called “The Silent Scream”. This movie showed a 12-week fetus being aborted and how it opens its mouth as if it’s screaming while some device moves in to either crush or sever its head. That movie did it for me; that movie sealed my fate. I was going to be a single mother of two children.

Little did I know that there would be days of sorrow that outnumbered my days of joy. Or maybe I did.  When I was eight months pregnant, I dreamed I was asleep under water and a whale swallowed me. The similarity to the story of Jonah and the whale did not escape me. I wasn’t exactly running from God but I wasn’t running to him either. I hoped it did not mean I had years of hardship ahead but that hope was futile.

My second son was special, intelligent, headstrong, and mature beyond his time since birth. When I first looked into his eyes, I was taken aback by the knowledge and intelligence I saw in them. It occurred to me that this child had been here before. Frankly, it scared me a little and I doubted my ability to take care of him alone.

Now, nearly twelve years later, following yet another phone call from his school’s principal, outlining the unlikelihood of him passing the fifth grade due to his attitude and laziness, I sit here, thinking the same thing: I can’t do this alone. Though he and his older brother started on similar paths of academic struggle, the older one sought to improve himself while the younger just, simply, shut down. They are, literally, night and day as far as their times of birth, personality, and spirit.

After trying nearly everything from punishments to rewards, I don’t know else to do other than to make that ultimate sacrifice. I love my son but clearly a mother’s love, my love, isn’t enough to ensure he has the best future possible. I feel like I failed and I worry about his future. Sometimes, a parent has to make difficult choices. So I’m sending him to live with his father. God help me.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

I came, I saw, I blundered

Day 5: Nose piercing

Man, have I got a story to share but as my computer is sitting at 6% and I have to let my overheated charger cool down, I will have to relay it later. For now, enjoy pix.

Ok, I'm back.  So here's the story: yesterday, one of my best friends calls me right after she got off from work and said, "I'm going to do it. I'm going to pierce my nose. But I have to do it tonight before I change my mind." So I'm like, "Ok. I'll come with you." Stupid. Now, I was going with her for two purposes: 1) to be a supportive friend 2) to talk myself into getting one (I had planned to at some point for this 30-day challenge).

So we chat about it some more and somehow it became definite that I was going to do it and that I was going to do it first. We both knew that I would chicken out if I were to go after her. Night falls and I'm waiting for her call. I get it. She's upset because the people she's with are taking too long to bring her back so that we can leave. She tells me that she changed her find because it will be too late to do it (the shop closed at 10 and it was 8 and we had a looong way to travel, Hialeah). I'm relieved. I got a reprieve from the imagined pain (thanks Google) and I got ready to go out to Blue Martini for another friend's birthday.

Once done with showering and getting prettiful, I glanced at my phone. A message from the bestie, which simply read: "I changed my mind". Darn.  The original mission was back on. Ever the supportive friend, I called her to say I was ready to go. No answer. I called again. Voicemail. Relieved once more, I headed to another friend's house to await the appointed to time for meeting up at Blue Martini. I sent a text message to the bestie: hey, pick up. I'm close to your dad's. We could still make it. No sooner had I arrived at my friend's, TQ's, house did my phone ring. It was the bestie. The mission was on once again. My feet now slipped in my shoes from little beads of sweat.

We arrive. The lady running the place speaks the barest broken English. It was Hialeah after all. I spoke my smattering of Castellano Espanol. We had a little understanding. The piercing cost $20, the cleaning salt solution cost $10. Done and done. Off to the back for the slaying, er, stabbing, um, piercing. First up, as agreed, me.

I sat on the chair, heart thumping wildly against the ribs of my chest, my hands now lightly dewed with the same sheen as my feet. My mind cast about futilely searching for anything I could say to get me out of this self-imposed predicament. I Elmer Fudded my Spanish, feebly grasping for reassurance that what I was about to do would not cast me out of the realm of the sane and send me spiraling down the brittle staircase of insanity. She tells me that on a scale of 1-10 the pain is a 2. I am not reassured. She does this for a living.

After 10 minutes of stalling and "Wait, wait, wait"s and getting a bestie pinky swear that Adrienne would not punk out, I allowed her to insert the metal tube into my nostril and to hover the needle right the marked spot. With a deep breath and my eyes screwed shut, I submitted to her. Five seconds, no blood, and a level 4 pain (not a 2) later, I had a nose piercing. And I looked good.

It was the bestie's turn.

Now, I know I have a weak stomach. I know that the sight of a needle causes my legs to jelly. I know I can't stand the smell of blood. And I know that in a traumatic situation I would be no good. But I thought I could handle it. So what followed next is a pure exhibition of my level of stupidity and loyalty to my friends.

I made a series of mistakes. Mistake #1: I stayed in the room. Mistake #2: I held her hand (she made me). Mistake #3: I listened to the screams. Mistake #4: I looked down to see what was wrong. Mistake #5: I didn't leave at the sight of blood covering the lower half of my bestie's face. Mistake #6: I stayed despite my roiling stomach. Mistake #7: I listened to the screams. Mistake #8: I looked down again when the wielder of pain muttered frantically, "Oh my God, oh my God." Mistake #9: I wore tall wedges and didn't strap one down so I couldn't run to the bathroom. But once I made it there, I couldn't hurl so I sat on the toilet seat trying to will my stomach still. Then I returned to the scene of the crime.

Luckily, it was all cleaned up and my friend sported a pretty cute nose piercing. What went wrong with her is that she moved while being punctured and ended up having to be punctured three (3!) times before the piercing could stay. When I heard that, I had to return to the bathroom. Later, the woman brought me an alcohol soaked paper towel to inhale.

So my bestie and I left with mirror-matching piercings; hers is on the right and mine was on the left. I say "was" because, later during the night, when I fell asleep in my car upon returning from Blue Martini (and a horrible meet-up with a now ex-luva), I accidentally swatted my nose. The pain awakened me. I texted the bestie; we had a 15-minute textversation. I thought I just flicked the ring but, when I went into the house to use the bathroom, I saw the piercing dangling from my nose. And it hurt too much (level 2) to push back in and so I took it out. Bye-bye $30 and the proof of my bravery. Thank God I took pictures!

I want my piercing back. I thought it looked very fetch (I am going to make fetch happen). BUT I don't think I can endure the level 4 again. Besides, my stomach can't handle it.

Really nervous!
I'm so nervous!

We're going in.
I accidentally hit it and this was the result.
It really cuters up the face, dontcha think?

It is done! Eek!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Let's go to the movies; let's go see the stars

Day 5: Ditching homework to go see a movie on a school night

Yeah, that's right. We're badass rebels over here. Well, at least I am. The movie tickets I had in my wallet were burning a hole in my brain. So I surprised my kids by taking them to see Green Hornet. I'll write a better post tomorrow. I just wanted it dated for today. Until then...

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

No skirting the work out

Day 4: Tattoo was a bust but had another first that kinda made up for it.

Today I had planned to get a tattoo as I have been too chicken to ever get passed entertaining the idea of entering an establishment where they brandish needles and make them dance across your skin, leaving trails of permanent pigment. *Shiver* But I was going to do it as part of this challenge. I mean, I've always wanted one. It was an daring idea. But I could never summon up the courage. However, today I did.

I drove up to AAA on US1 and got out. Both of those were huge steps, HUGE. I walked up to the guy smoking outside of the building-- turns out he's the man I came to see. Asked about closing times (had to go to boot camp). Strike one: they close before I return from boot camp. Strike two: it was only 6 but he said he was done for the day and he was the only one there. Strike three: it costs $70 to get the words Never Settle inked across my wrist. That's $70 that I can't spare b/c I'm currently not working for 10 weeks and only have $200 to my name. Sigh.

Strangely disappointed, I climbed back into my truck and sat there, my mind scrambling to come up with another first so that I didn't punk out on my challenge on just the 4th day. I had nothing. I used the Facebook phone app to reach out to my peeps in cyber world. They got nothing. I was stuck. Frantic, I drove to boot camp.

Once there, I got out and went into the back seat for my workout shoes, socks, and pants. Shoes. Check. Socks. Check. Two of them. Double check. Pants...oh no. Where the hell were my pants; I just knew I threw them in the back seat too. I sat down and searched my mind. I got the mental image of me tossing my black w/ white stripes workout pants into the washer. Crap. My house is 20 minutes away. I'm not driving back there just to get them and then drive back to the park. The workout would be 3/4 over.  Double crap.

I painfully trudged my way over to Terek, the trainer. Painfully because my arse felt as if two little people took turns giving me 31 punching licks in each cheek and my quads felt as if those little people then took a concrete bag and swung at each thigh bone. So, with my head slightly down, I utter, "Yo, Mr. T. I'm not trying to skip out on the workout or anything but I left my pants. I mean, I got my shoes and socks but, yeah, no pants, just the skirt I'm wearing." Mentally, I've already cautiously climbed back into my Jeep and started the ignition. Patiently, I waited for his expression of sympathy.

Yeah, right. What expression of sympathy? Terek the Trainer, or T-Rex I shall now call him, replies, "Great. Go ahead and put your shoes on. I'm glad you decided to work out, even in that skirt." Um...yeah...that wasn't the reply I was going for.

Anyhoo, work out I did. For the whole hour. After the first bursts of sunshiny pain shooting up my quads, exercising got a little easier. Who knew the remedy for the soreness from exercising is more exercising? That's like drinking more alcohol to get over a hangover. Who comes up with this ish? God's got a funny sense of humor.

So, there you have it. My first time doing boot camp in a skirt. An experience not worth repeating. I will always make sure to leave a pair of pants in the trunk.


Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Gotta feed a Cullen

Day 3 of the 30-day challenge: donate blood.

After arriving an hour before the opening of the center (I thought I was showing up an hour late) and wolfing down a non-nutritional lunch at McD's (gotta eat), I finally did it. I did the thing that I've been wanting to do since senior year of high school but was too chicken to actually do because of my abhorrence of needles. I gave blood. Technically twice too. I mean, the blood donation center chick had to prick my finger with this boxy needle thingy to see if I had enough iron and enough blood (??? could you really not have enough blood?) to give. So those 7 or so droplets count to me. I mean, after all, they are precious.

After doing all that, I thought ok, I'm clear. I even went so far as to type that as my Facebook status on my phone app. But before I could push send, homegirl whipped out a blood pressure cuff. My finger hovered above my phone and my pulse began to quicken as I saw the challenge coming to a crashing halt before my eyes. I squeaked out, could high blood pressure prevent me from donating blood. I had to ask because, you see, my blood pressure is the whole reason I was even able to be in the donation center during the middle of the day on a work day. I am on medical leave because I can't get the damn thing to stabilize. Teaching is such a stressful job when it's not your passion. I even have acne now and have lost 40lbs because of it (see my about me pic). What prompted my doctor to authorize a leave (actually, she's been telling me to quit since October) is that on Wednesday, January 19th, my bp hit 170/108 plus it initiated a massive migraine. Immediate leave of absence required to save my life (maybe not something so drastic but it was enough to scare me and really concern her).

So, here I am, challenging myself to do something useful with my time every single day-- which brings me back to the point of this entry.

The donation lady (ok, I'll share her name, Marie), wrapped the cuff around my upper left arm and began pumping away on the little blue ball (get your minds out the gutter).  I waited with bated breath and sweaty palms, dreading the number she was going to utter. She removed the cuff and said, "Not bad. 124/90". Maybe she's dyslexic. One TWENTY-four? Come on. But who was I to argue with a medical professional? I had my all clear; I was going to be a life saver. I was going to be a blood donor.

Skipping over the whole prep process in which Marie alcohol swapped the inner nook of my left arm so vigorously that I had to double check to make sure I still had my pigmentation ("have to be cautiously clean"), I want to end this entry with this: it didn't hurt all that much. In fact, it hurt less than the IV I had two weeks ago (in the same spot). And I'm glad I did it. I know I said it tongue in cheek before but I really do hope what I've done today can help save a life. I feel good and that's what this 30-day challenge is all about.

Take me, James (Twilight), I'm yours.
That's right!
She said, now that you've given once, you can come back to give again. And the look on my face says...?

Monday, January 31, 2011

So this is what hell feels like

Day 2 of the 30-day challenge: Boot camp.

Yes, hell. That is the most apropos way I can think of to describe the hour of pure physical torture I voluntarily endured. And now my legs feel like jelly. Not the good jelly. Not the kind that smears all nicely on the lightly toasted slice of bread. No, not Smuckers. My legs feel like the store brand jelly, the kind all clumped together, the kind that tears holes in your bread as you try to evenly spread it. My legs feel like painful cellulite.

And that, my friends, is a good feeling.

Why? Because the type of exercises I did tonight are going to make my inner thighs look as sexy as my outer thighs. I love everything about my legs except the jiggles in the middle. So when these bad babies are as toned as the rest of my legs, I am FINALLY going to learn how to walk in heels and show them off EVERYWHERE. ZZ Tops will follow me, serenading me with "She got legs" with every twist and sashay of my strut. I am going to be one bad mutha-- shut yo' mouf. But only if I can make it through the next 6 months of hell. Then, like Persephone, I will return to grace the earth with my beauty.

After Boot Camp

Before Boot Camp (excuse the blur)
During the Boot Camp

Sunday, January 30, 2011

He said, Let there be light. And there was light.

And He said, It is good. And it was good.

Yes, there is light. This blog is the green light to my self-imposed 30-day challenge, a challenge which requires that I do a different something that I've never done every day for 30 days. When written down, it sounds daunting. I am a person who struggles with follow-through. But I am also a person who is bored with the current state of my life. For the past 6 years, I have been employed as a teacher. But for the past 6 years, I have found that I have been the student. It's time I take my learning and turn it into doing. So let the challenge begin.

Day one: completed. Welcome to my blog. I, the Queen of Mental Vomit, hope you'll be entertained, enlightened, and encouraged to begin your own journey towards your best you.