Monday Notes: The Relationship I Have with My Body

“When is the last time you felt good about your body?” the naturopath asked me.

I thought about it for a few seconds, then I said, “I think I’m going to cry.”

“That’s okay,” she and my husband affirmed.

I knew it was okay to cry. But I was taken off guard by own emotions. When I really stopped to think about it, I didn’t know.

It wasn’t in the past year, when out of the blue, I developed a rash that took up my entire forearm. It’s healed now, but it looks like a faint trail of bacteria.

Last year is also when perimenopause seemed to have ramped up and took a hold of my physical being. It’s also when I decided to get a crown on my front tooth, instead of a cap. Since December, I’ve worried everyday about my crown falling off when I eat or when I sleep and grind my teeth, leaving a gaping hole in my mouth.

So, no. I didn’t feel good about my body last year.

What about ten years ago? Nope. That’s when I started gaining a pound a year, even though I worked out four times a week and ate mostly healthy foods. My primary care physician didn’t seem too worried about it, so I figured I didn’t need to be either. Still, I didn’t feel good about my body. I felt fat.

What about twenty years ago? Definitely not. That’s when I had to deliver my second child as a C-section. I wrote about this experience recently, but I want to reiterate that there’s no way anyone can prepare you for your body being sliced open and sewed back together in what seems to be a lackadaisical way.

What about twenty-six years ago? Almost. I almost thought I was okay. It was a year before my wedding. I was talking to my grandmother, and she mentioned that I was fat.

“You’re supposed to wait until you’re married and have kids before you get fat,” were her exact words.

I was 125 pounds.

The next week, I began eating 1200 calorie meals and doing aerobics five times a week. By the time I stood at the altar, I was 100 pounds and a size one, something I’ve never been in my life before or after that date.

What about thirty years ago? YES! The last time I felt good about my body was thirty flipping years ago when I was an eighteen-year-old high school senior. I was petite. I was cute. Curves were curving in all the right spaces. Skin was tight and bright. All of the things were where they were supposed to be.


It’s amazing what can be revealed by just one question.

I’ve never thought of myself as having issues with body image, not really. But as I sit here and reflect on how long it took me to come up with a real answer (30 minutes) and what it took for me to figure out an answer (blog), I admit I have. If I didn’t, I would’ve been able to answer that question much quicker or at least three weeks ago, while I was actually at the doctor’s office.

So, today, I have questions, instead of answers:

  • When is the last time you felt good about your body?
  • If you already feel good about your body, how do you maintain that feeling?

Until then, I’ll be offline, staring in the mirror, saying some affirmations or something.

Monday Notes: Award-Winning Blog

A lot of times, I do things based on how I feel in the moment. I attribute this to a strong sense of intuition.

This year, my gut led me to judge the Florida Writers Association’s (FWA’s) Royal Palms Literary Awards (RPLA). I had done it before, but it was a long time ago. I felt it was time for some writerly service.

When I read the guidelines, I saw there was a new category: blogging. “What?” I thought. “I have a blog. Will this be a conflict of interest?” I decided it wouldn’t be. FWA is hella professional; they use rubrics and very careful directions, so I made a firm decision to go for it.

When I read that entries could be singular or a series, again, I was a bit excited. “I’ve done many series,” I thought. But which would be appropriate?

It was between Corona Chronicles and Mental Health Matters. I based my decision on stats. Both series were released during 2020, but Mental Health Matters was pretty successful in terms of readership.

Entries were limited by word count, so I had to decide which part of the series I’d submit. Again, I based it on stats, not on which ones I personally liked. According to WordPress, the following were hits:

So, I got all of my materials together and emailed them.

Months later, I was quite surprised to learn I was a semi-finalist.

Then, over the weekend, during the virtual ceremony, I was again surprised to learn I’d actually won. FWA awarded me first place in the blogging category!

But guess what? I wasn’t as excited as I was the first time I won a writing award, and here’s why:

  • I’m a different person. I’ve learned not to rely on awards to make me feel good about myself. Sure, I’m happy, but I’m not ecstatic. The first time I won was 2016, and I was still developing my identity outside of external rewards, so it was still exciting because I was associating it with my self-worth. Today, I know awards and compliments are not connected to how great of a person I am.
  • Awards mean something in the writer community. This second award gives me credence in the writer world. I can add this to my CV when publishers ask for it. I can include it in my bio. It means something because other people believe it means something. I get that and use it accordingly.
  • Comments on my blog are the real reward. And they are no match for any award. The other day, I legit teared up at a blogger’s words because it was so authentic. This has happened before. Anytime someone tells me they understand what I’ve said, or a story resonates with their experience, or I’ve helped them feel heard and less alone, I feel a sense of purpose and deep satisfaction. That’s something a state award can’t give me.

So, yes. I’m appreciative and proud of myself for having won another award for writing, specifically for something I literally do for free just for authenticity and connection. However, I do know that it is not the end-all be-all for my talent. What truly matters is how I’m impacting the world with my words. And for that I’m truly grateful.



Monday Notes: I Let Go

I let go of relationships of convenience, where people put you on hold, until you fit into their lives.

I let go of relationships which lack symbiosis, where I visit, and they make excuses for passing my home en route to see someone else.

I let go of relationships where I am not a priority, where careers and other people constantly come first.

I let go of relationships bound to outdated traditions, ones where innovative ways to interact are dismissed.  

And when I let go, I allow for experiences aligned with who I am today.

I open space for new relationships to develop. Relationships where I have authentic discussions with friends about overall wellness—mental and physical.

I recognize friends who have been consistently present, those who communicate in multiple ways during varied times and those who’ve settled in for a lifetime of connection.

I embrace my sister, someone I’ve known for three years, but someone with whom interacting is as natural as breathing. A recent international trip solidified what I’ve always suspected; relationships are not hard.

I notice old friends reentering, reengaging, and recalibrating at just the right moment. Either I need them, or they need me right now.

I accept my cousin’s invitation to commune with her and her family post-Christmas in a different city and state. Her suggestion is timely.

When I let go, I allow myself to expand in newness.

And when I expand in newness, I’m no longer stagnant, resentful, or bitter. Instead, I am growing and evolving in self-awareness and self-love. In this state, I can begin accepting current circumstances, accepting that all relationships don’t last forever, not even if you wish upon a star and meditate on them during the new moon. Some connections are seasonal, and that’s okay.

Peace to everyone letting go of something this fall.



Monday Notes: The Nutribullet: A Life Lesson

“That’s what we do in this family. See things and ignore them,” my youngest daughter said a few years ago.

I don’t remember what she was talking about. It may have been a piece of paper left on the stairs for too long or it could’ve been something she’d noticed about her sister. Either way, I agreed.


Fast forward to a few weeks ago.

My Nutribullet stopped working. I had already piled everything in it: frozen fruit, kale, Vega One, and kefir. But when I twisted it in the little motorized thingee, it wouldn’t start.

I was also running late for yoga. I didn’t have time to figure out what had happened. So, I left it on the kitchen counter, ordered Tropical Smoothie, and rushed out of the door.

When I returned, of course it was still sitting there. It was mine to take care of; however, when I tried to unscrew the base, it was too tight. I sat it to the side. That was Monday.

On Tuesday, the contents began to separate. All the fruit rose to the top. Water settled toward the bottom. I asked Dwight to help, “but not right now,” I added. I have an adverse reaction to wet food and didn’t want to get sick.

He agreed.

By Thursday, the broken Nutribullet was still sitting on the counter. I started to say something to Dwight, like hey…maybe you should unscrew it today so we can throw it away. It was trash day, and I even ran into the garbage men and had a thought to just hand it over to them.

But I didn’t. Dwight knew it was there, he’ll unscrew it when he’s ready. I said nothing.

Then, Friday night came. I was just settling into a deep sleep when I heard a thud and a pop. I’d left Dwight downstairs putting together a bike rack, so I thought maybe he was in trouble.

“Did something fall?” I asked when he came back in the house.

“Fall?” he repeated.

“Yeah.”

“No,” he said.

Back to bed I went.


“Quite a mess downstairs,” Dwight said Saturday morning.

“Yep,” I replied.

“Yep?” he asked. “Don’t you want to know what the mess is?”

“Boxes and sh*t,” I answered, assuming he was talking about the bike rack’s packaging.

But no. That wasn’t it. A few minutes after I’d gone to bed, Dwight looked to the left because there was a vomit-like smell. When he turned on the kitchen light, there it was. Monday’s smoothie splattered all over the blinds, kitchen, and stove. The Nutribullet had exploded, hit the ceiling (apparently), and left six-days’ worth of rotten fruit all over.

All I kept thinking about were my daughter’s words: That’s what we do in this family.

Or maybe it’s just me.

Maybe I’ve learned to ignore all of the things, until situations explode into a vomit-filled mess that has to be faced. Now, that’s an analogy for you.

Either way, lesson learned. Deal with everything as soon as possible. Otherwise, you’ll be scrubbing moldy kale and mangoes off one panel at a time. And that, my friends, is no fun.


Monday Notes: A Confession on My 25th Year of Teaching

Twenty-five years ago, I began my career in education as an English teacher. However, I didn’t enter the profession out of a profound sense of passion. Here’s what happened:

I began undergrad as a business major: business management, to be exact. However, there was an assessment everyone took to test out of remedial math (Math 109). I took and failed the test during orientation. Then, I took it again and failed at the beginning of Math 109. The university offered it again mid-semester. Failed. And again shortly after, which is when I passed.

That’s when I figured I needed to change my focus. How was I going to be a business major if I couldn’t do basic math?

I sought advice from one of my aunts, who suggested I become an English major. When I talked to the advisor, she said English education was a better option.

Fast forward twenty-five years, a masters, and doctorate degree later, and I’m still teaching.

I’ve thought about if this one choice was a “mistake.” I mean, clearly, I have a passion for reading and writing, but did I need to become an educator? Maybe I could’ve been an investigative journalist, as my blogging buddy Dr. D. recently observed. Or perhaps I could’ve just begun a writing career twenty years earlier.

I don’t know. Falling into an abyss of what ifs is not good. I do not recommend it.

Here’s what I’ve decided.

There are no mistakes. Whether consciously or unconsciously, we’re always making choices. But our choices are tied to who we are, our level of awareness at the time, and our self-imposed limitations.

Whether consciously or unconsciously, we’re always making choices.

At the time, I didn’t have a home to return to in Chicago, and I damn sure wasn’t going back to live with my grandparents. I just wanted to do whatever would afford me a salary and a ticket toward independence. An education degree did that.

However, I also didn’t know any writers. I’d only seen so-called safe and secure jobs: pharmacy technician, accountant, social worker. I couldn’t conceive of a career in writing, much less pursue a degree that may lead to one. My choices seemed limited.

I know what you may be thinking…why get more advanced degrees in the field? My answer is the same: lack of awareness and self-imposed limitations.

I had no idea I could’ve easily switched to an MFA or even a PhD in English, so I continued the same path I’d begun in 1991: Education.

So, here I am.

I don’t have regrets, though. No. That’s not what this is about. I’m writing this to encourage anyone out there who believes he, she, or they only have one path. Not to sound cliché, but there are infinite paths for living life. Infinite. Think about what you want to do. Research your options. Talk to people who are doing what you think you want to do. Then, make up your own way based on your informed decision.

If what you want to do isn’t reflected in your family or environment, then don’t be afraid to create a life based on what you want. Guess what? That’s what I’ve done over the past seven years.

Today, I own a successful business, with no business degree. I’m a successful writer, without having an English degree.

I’m convinced each of us can do what we want. All we have to do is first believe it is possible.



Monday Notes: Low-Maintenance vs High-Maintenance Relationships

A few months ago, I was talking to my daughter about some relationship challenges I was having. I’d decided I no longer need to be in relationship with certain people.

“I think it’s just COVID, Mama,” she said. “The pandemic taught me that I don’t have to be running around doing all these things for people.” Then, she added, “You know … it’s important to know which relationships are low-maintenance and which are high-maintenance.”

I’m not stopped in my tracks very often during a conversation, but that last part quieted me. I had to think about it for a second, and I told her as much. What does that even mean? Why does it matter?

Here’s what I’ve come up with.

What Does It Mean?

High-maintenance relationships feel tiring. I described one before when writing about my former best friend. She seemed needy and relied heavily on me as her “therapist.” She always had an issue requiring my counsel, but even after a great convo, for some reason, the issue was never resolved.

I’ve had other relationships that are accompanied with thick books for engagement of how to show up. These books included pages of rules not always aligned with my personality: Show up like this. Call on this day. Make me a priority all … the … time.

I’m sure I’ve been high maintenance to others. The tone of the text, the gloss in their eyes, or the exasperation in their voice proves it. Each says: What is it now? What more can I do? I followed the guidelines, but now there’s more. I recognize it because I’ve been that way with others. Like, dang … Haven’t I shown up enough for you?

Low-maintenance relationships, on the other hand, are synchronistic. Rules for engagement are intuited and easy. For me, this looks like reciprocity. Sometimes you pay for the lunch date, and sometimes I pay. Sometimes you suggest an activity for us to do, and sometimes I do. We equally hold space for the other person to vent. But we’re not venting all day. Most of the time, we’re having fun, laughing, talking, and sharing in life. Many of my friendships are like this. My relationship with one of my sisters is like this. It’s easygoing; there is little tension.

Why Does It Matter?

Step into this analogy with me.

A few years ago, I wanted a red, Mercedes-Benz GLK. I contemplated doing all I could to get one, until I spoke with my car-aficionado husband. Not only was general upkeep expensive, like always buying premium gas, but he also told me the car wasn’t reliable. If something broke down, then I’d be paying an astronomical amount for repairs. It was a high-maintenance vehicle I couldn’t afford.

Relationships can be similar.

High-maintenance relationships are expensive. You pay with your time. You pay with your energy. Occasionally, you actually pay with money. But I’m here to affirm this for you. If you don’t have the bandwidth, it’s okay not to have them. Your reason, whatever it is, is valid. Just like that Benz wasn’t the best for my situation at the time; sometimes, some relationships aren’t either. And that’s okay.


Post-script: There is no such thing as a no-maintenance relationship. All cars, no matter their cost or age, require gas and an oil change (or electricity and new tires) 😉


Monday Notes: Semi-Finalist

Guess what? Remember My Mental Health Matters series from last year? Well, I entered it into the Florida Writers Association’s Royal Palms Literary Awards blogging category, and it’s made it to semi-finalist status!

Crossed fingers that I’ll make it past this point.

Here are the articles that are up for review:

No matter the outcome, I want to take this moment to personally thank all of you for continuing to rock with me on this blog. It brings me joy.

Monday Notes: Vegan and Plant-Based: A Criticism*

Have you noticed there’s a push toward vegan and plant-based living, or is it just me?

Let’s start with the obvious: food. My friend, Jermaine has been trying to convince me that vegan is the way to go for a decade. He’s encouraged me to swap ground turkey or beef with Morning Star Farm’s Crumbles. The ingredients include food like soy, water, and carrot juice concentrate. To be fair, I’ve never tried it, because I’m not into the fake meat. But if I did, this seems like the way to go. What I don’t understand is sometimes plant-based patties like these include chemicals I can’t even pronounce, like tertiary butylhydroquinone and ferric orthophosphate. Not to mention, they’re still processed foods. I’m no dietician, but it doesn’t sound healthy to me. And even though many plant-based burgers include pea protein, this protein substitute isn’t considered a vegetable, which is consistent with what I’ve noticed—plants nor vegetables seem to be a main ingredient in plant-based or vegan foods, but rather the juice or extract from plants and other sources. Although research has shown there are health benefits to consuming meat-replacements, it just sounds weird to me to swap out one processed food with another.

Over the past two years or so, I’ve also noticed vegan and plant-based living has filtered to things like cleaning products, such as Mrs. Meyers. The purpose of using plant-based cleaning products is plentiful, ranging from being biodegradable to being cruelty-free. However, sometimes these products include harmful synthetic chemicals for fragrance, leading to seemingly toxic effects. Like a plant-based burger, some of these ingredients include words I cannot pronounce, like phthalates or octoxynols. Huh? I’m not sure about you, but I’m all for saving animals from being experimented on, but I’m not down with sacrificing something like my reproductive health to do so. I’m no martyr and it sounds like a win-lose situation.

I’m all for saving animals from being experimented on, but I’m not down with sacrificing something like my reproductive health to do so.

Finally, let’s talk vegan/plant-based clothing. Clothes like TOMS have existed for over a decade. But I’ve noticed more companies cropping up or jumping on the vegan clothing bandwagon, mainly in the form of vegan leather. According to Harper’s Bazaar, vegan leather is a material that mimics leather, but is created from artificial or plant products instead of animal skins. From what I’ve read, plant-based clothing can be made from chemicals, like polyurethane, or plants, like pineapple leaves. Some companies use fish skin, and they can’t be labeled “vegan,” but rather an animal alternative … which ends up being another animal.

All of this has my head swimming, and here’s why:

I tend to always think about the unintended consequences. For example, we all enjoy our cellphones, but somehow, we’ve created a negative situation for honey bees and disrupted the ecosystem. Similarly, I wonder what we’re doing to our bodies and the world with our vegan and plant-based alternatives. Are we ruining our bodies by eating processed “vegan” food because we don’t know what the real effects are?


I’m not a medical doctor, but I read a lot for my own edification. Here are some suggestions that seem to make more sense:

  1. Read labels. Just because it says “vegan” or “plant-based” doesn’t mean it’s automatically good for you.
  2. Know definitions. There’s a difference between a vegan, vegetarian, or plant-based meal, especially when it comes to burgers. For example, a Beyond burger, black bean burger, and a veggie burger are completely different.
  3. Eat vegetables. There are thousands of healthy vegetable-based recipes that require real food. They fall more into the vegetarian category.
  4. Consume less. Don’t buy more food than what you and your household can eat.

Point number four probably requires its own blog post. While I think of how to expand the
“consume less idea,” let me know if you’re vegan, vegetarian, or a staunch meat eater. What do you eat? How do you maintain your health in such confusing times?


*Information presented is a combination of blog, magazine, scholarly articles, and my opinion.

Monday Notes: On Aging (The Gray Area)

In the United States, there seem to be two choices: you’re either young, or you’re old.

That’s it.

When you’re young, you’re hella attractive. You have lots of energy and the latitude to make so-called “silly” choices—in music, in relationship, and in the overall living of life.

When you’re old, you’re hella unattractive. If you’re “brave,” you let your gray hairs grow wild and speak your mind like a toddler, but more often than not, the elderly are depicted as being crazy and forgetful pains that society either tolerates or ignores.

Well, what about people like myself, who are middle age? Where do we fit?

Kind of like my generation (X), I noticed we don’t fit anywhere.

On the one hand, I blame pop cultural and preformed societal views. We’re too old for skinny jeans, but not old enough for a Mumu. Too old for the club, but not old enough for the senior center. Too old to “start over,” but not old enough to retire.

On the other hand, friends and family tend to limit us. For example, if I decided to do a TikTok video for the Touch Down 2 Cause Hell challenge, eyebrows would raise. In fact, I’ve had people question why I even watch and know about these social-media challenges. I’ve never asked, but I surmise they think I’m “too old” to be aware. Based on the wide-ranging TikTok video demographics, I know this isn’t true. Anyone can lip sync and dance. But I do think there’s a reason why we’re so impressed when an over-fifty person twerks on beat. It’s seen as an anomaly.

Because I like to play contemporary rap music in my Jeep as loud as possible, my sister once called me a twenty-year-old forty-six-year-old. Maybe I should be like the phlebotomist I met who blasted the smooth crooning of Anita Baker’s love songs, or perhaps, I can mirror one of my favorite bloggers and deem only R&B from the seventies and eighties as respectable. Just kidding. I’m good with the music I prefer; however, I think others believe I’m “too old” to be listening to what I do…how I do.

If that isn’t enough, I have a thirty-something friend who has referred to one of her forty-year-old friends as “old and crusty.” She’s also admitted that she fears growing older and putting on a few pounds, possibly looking different than she currently does. There’s the other friend who has described her daughter as “cute and young,” while grumbling about how said daughter isn’t “like us…old” (and I assume not cute). And finally, there’s the friend who recently left me a birthday message deeming both of us as now “old,” because we’re approaching fifty.

It makes me tired. I’ve never spent so much time announcing that I’m not old or emphasizing that I’m getting oldER.

<insert big ole sigh and eye roll>

Let me leave you with this final story: A few years ago, one my cousins partied with me in New Orleans. He’s the type of person who stays on the dancefloor until the club closes, and this night was no different. He took up so much space with his moves that party-goers started screaming, “Go Old School! Go Old School! Go Old School!” in unison. It was like a scene out of a movie. He be-bopped around, sweat pouring down his face, shirt drenched. Then, he did it all again the next night.

Why can’t we acknowledge the gray area and let people live their best middle-age lives, whether it fits our societal norms or not?

I’ve frequently thought about that night. Aging is something we’re all doing, every moment, but proclaiming to be old is quite another thing.

I’ve wondered why my cousin couldn’t dance his heart out without being labeled “Old School?” Why couldn’t he just be a human being having fun in life?

More importantly, why can’t we recognize there are more than two types of people? Pun intended—why can’t we acknowledge the gray area and let people live their best middle-aged lives, whether it fits our societal norms or not?

Let me know what you think.


Here are some other articles from bloggers who discuss aging:


Monday Notes: Empathy

Tupac had a song called “Brenda’s Got a Baby.” I remember when I first heard it. I was alone in my dorm room.

It starts like this:

I hear Brenda’s got a baby

But Brenda’s barely got a brain

A damn shame, the girl can hardly spell her name.

I don’t know if it was the soulful harmony that preceded these words or the actual rap, but I was captivated.

The song goes on to describe how she didn’t know her parents. One of them was a drug addict. But here’s the kicker. Her cousin became her boyfriend and she ended up pregnant! And guess what? Brenda was twelve.

I remember being glued to the black and white video. Tears streamed down my face and I hadn’t even gotten to the worse part. Brenda had her baby, threw it in the trash, and then became a prostitute.

What in the entire…

Anywho, it was too much. And I remember it all. I sat on the edge of my bed and cried as if I knew Brenda personally. Even though I didn’t know anyone remotely close to a “Brenda,” I remember feeling the pain of being a twelve-year-old, who was pregnant with her cousin’s baby. And then I felt the pain of being a baby thrown away in the trash.

That’s how I’ve been my whole life.

Some may say I’m an empath. I’ve never claimed it. But I do admit to being empathetic. It comes naturally.

It doesn’t matter if I know your backstory or not, I have the ability to listen to what you’ve told me, recognize, understand and share your thoughts and feelings.

My problem, until recently, has been realizing that not everyone has this ability, which coupled with my (sometimes) judgmental nature, caused problems.

For example, when my father died, my cousins wanted my stepmother to pick them up from the train station. It was remarkable to me that they would ask a recent widow to do something more equipped for a Lyft driver. I couldn’t wrap my brain around why they couldn’t put themselves in a grieving woman’s place and sense she may be a bit too sad to function normally.

I recognized it again when my goddaughter brought her godson, Mark to our house a couple years ago. We were decorating Christmas trees.

Mark bounced around helping each person with their ornaments. He danced when we turned on some music, and when we watched Frozen, he belted out a song as if he was Anna herself.

But when it was time to go, he shriveled up like a roly-poly pill bug and sulked around the house until it was time to go.

And I felt his sullenness.

Without my goddaughter telling me parts of his homelife, I sensed that wherever he was going, there was no joy. For some reason, he was crying on the inside. He was more than just disappointed because he’d had a good time at our home. His sadness held an untold story.

“I feel sorry for him,” I said out loud.

“You always feeling sorry for someone,” a friend of mine replied.

I couldn’t understand how she or any other adult who witnessed the same Mark I just did, didn’t feel similar. Aside from my goddaughter, why didn’t anyone else feel his sorrow?

But now I get it…kind of.

For some people, empathy is a learned behavior that can be developed by reading fiction or purposely practicing how to walk in others’ shoes. It’s a skill, like active listening.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this information, though. On the one hand, I understand we can’t all go around crying over music videos and lyrics. On the other hand, I do wish people were more empathetic. It seems more empathy might create better families and communities…somehow.

So, I’ll end with the above thought and let you decide. Will empathy weaken or strengthen us?