Friday, December 3, 2010

Open Letter to the Universe

Dear Universe,

I know that there's a lot of chaos going on out there, a great deal of which has been created by us humans. In my own little corner of the world I'm working to alleviate my contributions to the chaos all around me. I'm letting go of the negative people and energy that have been a constant in my life for too long. I'm also opening myself up so that you know that I'm willing to accept what you have to offer. If what you have to offer is less than desirable, but will benefit me in the long-run, I will accept it in the spirit in which it was given. I know that one of your main purposes is to facilitate my growth as a person. If it's something less than desirable and will only harm me in the long-run, I hope that the life lessons that you have taught me will help me to recognize that which is harmful and to walk away from it. In the past, you placed roadblocks all along some of the paths that I had chosen. Some of those roadblocks were to test my inner strength, but some of them were to test my sense of self. Having a distorted sense of self can have severe consequences. It manifests itself in not knowing your worth as a person, and makes it hard for you to speak your truth. Since I finally found the courage to start speaking my truth again, there are some people who say they don't recognize me, but those who know me deep down know that I have returned to a state of being that honors me as the strong, intelligent woman that I am. If someone doesn't like how I'm living my life then they don't have to be a part of it. It's just as simple as that. Thank you, Universe, for bringing me to where I am at this moment.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Giving Thanks

Tomorrow will be a time for us here in the United States to give thanks while spending time with our friends and family, feasting on good food. Those of you who follow my blog know that the past 4 months or so have been a bit rough for me. While making my way out of the darkness that was created by those rough times, I feel that I've had a spiritual awakening. Things aren't as good as they could be, but they're a whole helluva lot better than they would be had I continued on the same path. This spiritual awakening that I speak of has filled my heart to bursting with love, joy, and compassion for those around me. We're all in this life together, so why not leave good feelings and good vibes wherever we go? There are some people who are so far down that they think they'll never get back up again, but they're wrong. No matter how far down you get, with a bit of encouragement you can always pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and start again. You really don't wanna know how many times I've had to do just that. If I told you, you'd wonder how I got out of bed in the morning. (Guess what? Some days I didn't.) If your life has taken a downturn, know that it won't last forever. Think of it in terms of the law of averages. Everything always averages out to be 50/50. Flip a coin 100 times, and the law of averages dictates that 50 times it'll come up heads and 50 times it'll come up tails. That may not truly be exact, but that just tells you that things will never go one way all the time. Life has its peaks and valleys, so if you're down in the valley, it's only a matter of time before you climb to the top of the peak. Be thankful that you get to experience those peaks and valleys. They shape who you are as a person, and let you know how strong you are. If you don't try to get to that next peak, what are you doing with your life? Nothing, but sitting around, waiting to die.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I Thought I Would Miss You More

We spent five years of our lives together. There were ups and downs. There were good times and bad. The day that you chose to end it, I was shocked. I know that what we had wasn't perfect, but I believed in us. Even after it was "offically" over, we were able to maintain a bond. Little did I know that this bond would make you think you had the right to dictate to me how I should live my life. When I finally stepped out of the neat little box that you had put me in, you went berserk. "How could you...?" "What gives you the right to...?" "You're nothing but a...!" The hateful words that flew from your mouth like projectile vomit washed over me, trying to drown me. Instead of thinking rationally, you lashed out. Your mission: to cause me as much pain as you feel I caused you. I knew you were hurting and tried to wait it out. Whenever I tried to reason with you, you shot me down. All of a sudden you questioned the past and every move I ever made. You let your paranoia get the best of you and made me out to be evil incarnate. After all of that, I still had sympathy for you. I know it was hard for you to see me moving on, but there was one action that dried up the last vestiges of my sympathy. Upon finding out how low you could sink, it's like the memories of times past magically disappeared. Those that know me know that I feel things very deeply. When someone hurts me, it cuts right to my very soul. Maybe the universe is trying to shield me from more pain by bringing me to a state of inner calm and peace. Now that you're gone, I honestly thought that I'd miss you more. Apparently the loss of your negative energy brought me to a place of acceptance.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Who Shapes Your View of the World?

No matter how much we all try to maintain our inner positivity and good humor, the way that we view the world can definitely be shaped by whomever we choose to spend our life with. By nature I'm a caring, generous, loving person who is slow to anger. As a Libra, I'm a natural born mediator and try to see both sides of any situation because fairness is very important to me. This morning I came to the realization that for four and a half years I let myself move further away from the traits that make me a good person. During that time I was sharing my life with someone who believes that the world is against him and that his lot in life will never change. Funnily enough, he wasn't really doing anything to change his lot in life. He was so closed off to the world around him. After being with him for a while, I closed myself off, too.

Now it's been four and a half months since we cut ties. Now that we have, I can feel myself opening up again. There's not a persistent black cloud over everything that I do and say. I've always smiled a lot, but now when I smile, I put my heart into that smile. Over the past six or seven months my weight-loss journey was hampered by the bad feelings that he brought out in me. I've finally got my head screwed on straight and over the past two weeks I lost 5lbs. I can see my goal just up ahead and I plan to keep charging hard to get there.

I let someone that I loved shape my view of the world. Had it not been for the fact that his outlook was one of a toxic nature, doing so would not necessarily have been a bad thing. But since his aura is rife with hatred and isolation, I, in turn, became surly and suspicious of everything and everyone around me. I also became quite apathetic. As many of us know, apathy never leads to good things. I'm happy to be once again shaping my own view of the world. If there ever comes another time in my life where I feel the need to choose someone to share my life with, I will be sure to choose someone who enhances my view of the world instead of shrouding me in the darkness that will only drag me down.

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Strength to Carry On

Those of you who are friends with me on Facebook know that on Wednesday I was having issues with the new printer here in my office. What is it about office equipment that can take us from zero to 60 in the anger department in no time at all? Well those of you that saw I was having printer issues didn't know there were other things that added to the stress of my day on Wednesday. First off, it was mine and my ex's five-year anniversary. He called me at work and was like "It's been nice knowing you for five years." To some that may sound kind of flippant and asshole-y, but that's standard behavior from him. I will say the conversation went downhill from there. Although I won't repeat what was said, suffice it to say he went from joker to jerk-off in the course of the conversation.

On Wednesday I was also supposed to begin the first of my copyediting classes so that I could finish up my certificate. That's also the night I usually have my Weight Watchers meeting, but since the meeting and the class conflicted, I planned to weigh in, then go to class. Mind you, class is three and a half hours long and began at 6pm. By the time class was over, the buses would've stopped running and I would've had to walk home from the subway station. On any other Wednesday I probably wouldn't have cared, but after having to battle the printer that Satan gave birth to and then having my ex act like a jerk-off on what would've been our fifth anniversary it was enough to do me in. I knew that if I went to class instead of going to my Weight Watchers meeting, there was the possibility that I would have the binge to end all binges once I got home from my copyediting class. I had already had a mini-binge the previous night because of my anxiety about the upcoming anniversary, as well as the upcoming classes.

Before me was a tough decision. If I went to class, I'd be working toward having my copyediting certificate by the end of November; but I'd also be risking sabotaging my weight-loss efforts. I once gained six pounds in one week and I hated that feeling. On the other hand, if I went to Weight Watchers and stayed for the meeting, I'd be sitting in a meeting knowing that I had gained weight this week and thinking about how I should be working on getting my certificate so that I can get closer to having an actual career. It didn't take me very long to make up my mind. I decided to withdraw from the classes and finish up my certificate in the spring. By that time I'll be back living in Boston and the logistics of getting home from class will be much easier. I won't be as vulnerable to potential weight-loss sabotage, and I also won't be living with the ex anymore.

When I was younger, I would've just gone to class and not gone to my Weight Watchers meeting because I would've been in such a hurry to get my copyediting certificate that I wouldn't have heeded the warnings that my head was trying to give me. By going to my meeting, I gave myself what I truly needed at that time. I needed the support of my Weight Watchers ladies in order to continue on my journey of using food as nourishment for my body instead of for my heart and soul.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Women, Know Your Worth!

Last Friday I had dinner with a friend of mine from college. She has two children (born six years apart), and lives with their father in an apartment that she can't afford the rent for. Neither she nor the father work. He receives unemployment and she receives food stamps. Of course this doesn't sound too terribly different from scenarios going on all over the country. The one glaring difference is that she actually CHOSE this life.

After the birth of her first child she lived with her parents in a well-heeled neighborhood in New Jersey. She had a job in New York City making good money, and she and the father argued about the fact that he didn't support his child. The arguments went back and forth, with her parents occasionally putting in their two cents. Eventually she and the father broke up. During their time apart, she lost weight and was really working on getting her life together and providing a good life for her son. Granted, she was still living with her parents, but she was paying her bills. A few years later, enter baby daddy. He sees her looking all fly after her weight loss and decides that he's gotta hit that again. Fast-forward a few months and she's got another bun in the oven. Why she would even think about conceiving another child with someone who never even tried to support the first one is beyond me.

After the birth of her second child, she decided that she and baby daddy shoud give it a go as a family. She moved from that cushy suburb in New Jersey to Jamaica Plain, MA. JP isn't a bad place to live, but the schools aren't so great. My friend soon realized that when her eldest came home and told her about all of the inappropriate language that the students were using. To combat that problem, she decided to move to a pricier area with better schools. That's all well and good if you are working and can actually afford to pay for the apartment, but as you'll remember, she and baby daddy aren't working.

From what I understand, baby daddy isn't trying to find work. He'd rather spend his time out clubbing. On Friday night when she and I were having dinner, I asked her how things are going between the two of them. Her exact words were "We're like mortal enemies." What?! You had this man's two sons, gave up a home with a built-in babysitter, and gave up a good job making good money to be with his ass and you're like mortal enemies? What the fuck?! She said that he's verbally abusive to her and that she can't remember the last time they were intimate. Like most men, he won't let a mere argument deter him from sex, but she said that she holds a grudge. She also said that some of his words sting. Of course they do! Words are very powerful. She said she wouldn't tell me the things he says to her. I told her I didn't want to hear them because I'm sure that if I did, I'd punch him in the mouth as soon as he walked back in the door.

Now here is someone who was doing well for herself, but decided to throw that all away to try to be a "family" with her baby daddy and their kids. I'm all for family when it's a positive existence that can nurture the children that are involved. Unfortunately this "family" isn't fostering a healthy environment for children to thrive in. She compared herself to those chicks on Springer and Maury who know their men aren't worth the dog shit on my shoe. Those chicks are always like "But I love him!" Yep, she loves that deadbeat asshole. I know you can't choose who you love, but when you're a mother, it's important that you put the needs of your children above all else, even above their father if he's not helping you to try to provide a stable life for them. I know those children feel the tension in that household. That's probably why they chose to act out while we were eating dinner.

Regardless, I know that no words I say are going to make her kick baby daddy's ass out of the apartment that her father is paying the rent on, and go back home to her parents. That would actually be the best thing for her. She could live with them until she found a job and got on her feet. After that, she could look into getting a place for her and the boys. If baby daddy wanted to visit the kids, he could as long as he knew he'd have to find his own place to stay while he was there.

Women, I implore you to stand up and take charge of your lives. We deserve to be treated with respect and should always make an effort to cultivate our own self-respect. No hole is ever too deep to climb out of. Sometimes you might need a helping hand to get out, but you can still get out. Love is not supposed to make you feel worthless or hopeless. Your children depend on you to do the right thing for them so that they can have a solid foundation to build a life after they've grown up. Children should not have to suffer for their parents mistakes. They deserve a better life than that. It hurts me to see this happening to my friend because I know that she never envisioned her life this way. Who does? The fact that she chose to be with and have children with a man whose dependability factor is below zero is water under the bridge. What happens from here on out is most important, but until she takes off her blinders, she'll keep digging her hole deeper and deeper.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Pressing the Re-set Button

About three weeks ago my Weight Watchers leader had her last meeting with us. This is the second leader I've had leave since I started this journey in January of 2009. This leader is Regional Director for the Northeast Region, so she has to attend a lot of meetings related to her work in that capacity. Unfortunately, the meetings that she's required to attend are in direct conflict with our Wednesday evening WW meeting. Because she felt that we should have the continuity of the same leader every week instead of our regular leader sometimes and then a sub other times, she decided to hand us off to a new leader. Anyway, in that last meeting she talked about pressing the re-set button with regard to the program. After doing WW for a while, it's very easy to get bored, complacent, and off track. A lot of people think that this is a diet that I'm on, but it's actually a way of life for me. If I don't make it a way of life, then there was no point in losing the weight, because it'll come right back. Pressing the re-set button involves getting back on track. Back in April I went off the rails just as I was about to reach my weight-loss goal, and I've been struggling to get back on ever since.

For those of you that don't know, my boyfriend and I broke up about two and a half months ago. Although we're broken up, we still live in the same apartment because we just got the place in April and there's a lease; and because neither of us has the money to move right now. As an emotional eater, it has been hard for me to live with my ex-boyfriend and stay on plan. Two weeks ago when I weighed in, I had gained. I had no idea how I was going to press the re-set button as I saw myself spinning my wheels as my goal got further and further away. Luckily, something happened to break the cycle. Last week, I went to Georgia to spend time with my family. While I was there, I was able to press that re-set button. I didn't binge or overeat, and I didn't feel a need to. During that week, a feeling of peace and relaxation settled over me. I went to WW and weighed in while I was there. When I stepped on the scale, I found that I had lost 2.2lbs. Yeah baby!!!!

Since returning from that trip, I've been able to stay on plan more than I was able to before. I have officially re-set my perspective on my journey and will be seriously working toward my goal again. I have weigh-in again tonight and it feels like I may have lost again, but even if I didn't, the pants I'm wearing are a size smaller than the ones I was wearing three weeks ago, so I'm already victorious!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 11, 2001

Everyone has their own experiences regarding September 11, 2001. Right now I'd like to share mine. Just three days prior, on Septermber 8, I moved into a new apartment. I was psyched because this apartment was nicer than my old one and the rent was cheaper. It was also around the corner from one of my good friends from college and in my favorite area of Boston. My first three days in the apartment were spent getting unpacked and settling in. Little did I know that on Day Four the US would be changed forever.

On the morning of September 11 I took the subway to work as I usually did, but while walking to my office I had an overwhelming urge to cry. During this period of my life, my intuition was especially heightened. I got what I called the "death feeling". Whenever I had that feeling, I knew someone was going to die. Normally when I got that feeling, not too long afterward, I'd hear from my mother that a distant relative had died.

Once I got to work I set the feeling aside and got set to settle in for the day. The first person to mention a plane flying into one of the towers was my boss. Of course we all thought it was an accident. But then when the second one hit, we knew something was wrong. An eerie feeling came over the office and no one was really able to get any work done. As we all searched for information online, the towers were burning. It all seemed so surreal.

Little by little information started to trickle in. The planes left from Logan Airport. One crashed into the side of the Pentagon. One crashed in a field in Pennsylvania. Something beyond our comprehension was going on. The governor thinks everyone should leave downtown Boston. Outside is the sound of helicopters and there's chaos as people are trying to decide whether or not they should take the subway. I walked home. On the way I called my mom and then I called one of my good friends. He and I discussed how scary it was. Everyone was stunned and seemed at a loss.

When I got home to my new apartment, I turned on the tv to watch coverage of the attacks. It was everywhere, on every channel. You actually couldn't get away from it. Because the windows of my apartment faced a brick wall, I got very little sunlight. All I can remember is me sitting in a dark apartment, clutching a pillow to my chest, and wondering what was next.

In the days that followed, this country pulled together in a way that I'd never seen in my lifetime. For a while it was almost like the US was one big family. Differences were momentarily set aside so that we could all mourn together and comfort each other. Unfortunately, it seems that we've lost that bond that we built after the events that took place nine years ago. Many said "We will never forget", but they have. They let the trivialities of life get in the way of the fact that it could've been any one of us on those planes. For whatever reason, we're still here. Because of that reason and many others, we need to appreciate ourselves, each other, and everything that we have. The infighting that takes place among the American people is exactly what our enemies want. Don't give them the satisfaction. Pull together again and let them know that we are resilient people. Do it so that those who died as a result of the tragedies of September 11, 2001 will truly never be forgotten. May we find peace individually, peace collectively, and peace universally.
Photo courtesy of

Thursday, August 12, 2010

When the Universe Does You a Favor

I know that there's a force greater than I can ever comprehend at work around me. I'm a firm believer that what you put out into the universe comes back to you. When I was younger, that concept was hard to grasp, but as the years have gone by, it has been proven time and time again. Recently the universe did me a favor, but at the time I didn't see it as such. All I could see is what I felt I had lost, rather than focusing on what I had gained. I'm someone who tends to internalize anger and sadness, which manifests itself in overeating. If I'm not really careful, it would be easy to undo all of the hard work I've done with Weight Watchers.

We may not always get the things that we want, but the universe will always provide us with the things we need at any given time. If you've been living in a dream world and need to be slapped back to reality (metaphorically speaking), then that's what you're going to get. Believe me, I've been slapped back to reality more than once. If you're someone who's been compromising your morals and values to hold onto to something or someone that you think belongs in your life, then there are going to be all sorts of stumbling blocks placed in front of you because you're not being true to yourself.

Don't get me wrong. Sometimes things happen with no apparent explanation. They may not be a direct result of our actions, but nevertheless they have an effect on us, sometimes bringing about a re-evalution of where we are in our lives and where we want to be. My 35th birthday is coming up and ever since I was 25, I've assessed my life every 5 years to see what has improved and what still needs work. I'm not currently where I had hoped to be at the age of 35, but because the universe did me a favor, I'm closer to it than I may have otherwise been.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Kindness of Strangers

Hello there, readers. It's been quite a while since you've heard from me, but only because I haven't been truly inspired to share any of my life experiences. Well, today something happened that I thought would be nice to share. We hear or read all the time about people doing bad things to other people, but it's a rarity to find a story where someone does something nice for a fellow human being. I'm not saying that nice things don't happen; I'm just saying that those nice things are rarely highlighted.

This morning I was walking to the bus stop, talking to my mom on my cell phone about a problem I was having. Only steps from the end of my street, I saw the bus drive by. My instinct of course was to run to try to catch the bus, but I had to wait until a couple of cars went by before I could run across the street. By the time that I ran across the street, the bus was already headed for the next stop. If I were wearing sneakers I would've kicked it into high gear to catch the bus, but I was wearing sandals with a bit of a heel.

Just as I turned around, I noticed a car stopped in the street. As I walked past, the lady inside got my attention and said that she saw me running for the bus and offered me a ride. She lives up the street and said that she drives by the subway station on the way to work. That was such a neighborly thing for her to do. There was a time in American history when this type of thing would've been commonplace, but we've become a nation ruled by fear. As she was offering me the ride, the woman (Barbara) even told me that she wasn't some crazy person because that's the assumption that we naturally make nowadays. As she drove me to the station we made small-talk and I thought "Wow, what a nice lady." Barbara was a godsend on a hot summer morning when my day wasn't looking very bright. A dear friend of mine said that this must've been good karma coming back to me for giving my seat to a pregnant lady on the subway last week. You know what, maybe she's right :-).

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A Tribute to Moms Everywhere

Mother's Day is coming up on Sunday, and since I won't be spending it with my mama, I wanted to take an opportunity to honor her and all of the other wonderful ladies out there who have helped shape our lives. Truly being a mother, in all respects (not just in name only), is one of the most selfless things that a woman can do. Most choose motherhood, but there are times when motherhood chooses them. However it works out, the most important thing is to love and nurture your child so that she becomes a productive member of society. Being a productive member of society can mean many different things, not just contributing to the gross national product.

Raising children presents many challenges; more so today, than when I was growing up. I applaud ever woman who is out there doing her best to raise her children right in a time when child neglect is running rampant. To all of you single mothers (whether by choice or circumstance) out there handling your business, keep your head up. Do your best. That's all anyone should ever ask of you. To the grandmothers out there raising grandchildren (my own mother included), I know you thought your time was done, but there's another generation that needs your wisdom and guidance.

I know that without my mother's support and encouragement, I wouldn't be the woman that I am today. She gave me strength when I felt weak and thought I couldn't go on. She gave me love when I felt unloved. She also gave me the tools that I need to make it in this crazy world. Thank you, Mama. I love you.

For those of you whose mothers are no longer with you,; on that special day, do something that will honor her memory. She may not be here on Earth with you, but she'll always be in your heart. She's also all around you in the gifts that she left behind, whether that be her favorite recipe or a song she taught you when you were a child.

Happy Mother's Day to women everywhere. You're the ones who have shaped and continue to shape the leaders of this world. May your loved ones show you the love and appreciation you deserve, not just on Mother's Day, but every day of your life.

Friday, March 26, 2010

The Photo Game

My good buddy Max the Quilt Cat ( tagged me in the photo game. Here's how it works:

-Open your first photo folder
-Scroll down to the 10th photo
-Post the 10th photo and tell the story about it
-Pass along to 5 other blogs

The 10th photo in my first folder is this one:

It's a photo of me and my favorite singer, Gavin DeGraw, talking before one of his shows. I won a contest to get to go to his soundcheck for this show. After the soundcheck he was signing autographs, posing for photos, and talking with his fans. My boyfriend took several photos of us while we were talking. It was one of the best nights of my life!

Hmm, who should I tag so that I can pass along this fun game? I think I know exactly who would like to play :-).

Have fun guys! Can't wait to see your photos and read the stories behinnd them!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Do You Think Michelle's Getting Too Thin?

Yes, that's a question that one of my acquaintances posed to another acquaintance of mine. In the beginning this person was really gung-ho about my weigth-loss efforts, but now that I'm hovering around my goal, she's not quite as happy for me. In response to the question, Acquaintance #1 replied, "No. Why, are you jealous?" Of course Acquaintance #2 had to backpedal and was like "No, I'm not jealous!" But you know what? She is, or else she wouldn't have brought it up. This woman is 15 years older than me and is married with 2 children. Our lifestyles are completely and totally different, so there's no reason at all for comparisons.

When people, especially certain types of women, are used to you being a certain way, they can't handle it when you make a change. When I was heavier, I'm sure there were some who perceived me as cute, non-threatening, and in no way competition in any regard. Although I've never considered myself ugly, by any stretch of the imagination, I know that lots of women don't want the "fat chick" to start looking better than them. I'll say right now that I'm not competing with anyone for anything. From Day One this has been for and about me. I didn't want to be another statistic. I have a cousin who had two heart attacks before the age of 30. Although she wasn't heavy, she lived an unhealthy lifestyle.

As women we need to celebrate each others' successes and encourage those around us to strive for better things. When something good happens to a woman that I know, I congratulate her. New, flattering haircut or hairstyle? You look fabulous! Lost some weight? Good for you! Keep up the good work! Bought a new car? Girl, that's fantastic! I know that in life we often want the things that other people have. Guess what? If you really want those things, you can have them, too. It's going to take sacrifice, because we live in the real world, not on TV. Once you're able to get it, the sense of achievement is beyond compare. Instead of tearing people down, build them up. Ask them how they were able to accomplish some particular goal that you're interested in. I can almost guarantee that they put in work to get there.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Rest in Peace, Granny

I don't know very many people who can say that they grew up right next door to their grandmother, but I can. She was my mom's mom and gave birth to 12 children (one of whom died in infancy). She and my grandfather raised those 12 children on a farm in rural Georgia. Unfortunately, he passed away when I was two, so I never got to know him. Those women who have large families today are all about the publicity they can get. Granny didn't have a bunch of kids because she wanted to be on TV (Hell when she had her first kid, there was no such thing as TV!). She had 12 kids because when you live on a farm in rural Georgia, there's not much to do in the winter but get busy, LOL! Just kidding! Trying to raise that many kids during the first 2/3 of the 20th century wasn't easy. I know she and Grandpa made lots of sacrifices because they definitely didn't have much money. She continued to make sacrifices almost until the end of her long life. Initially, we thought that she was 91 when she passed away, but according to the Social Security office, she was actually 93. She saw and experienced many, many things, and was a part of my life for 34 years. My brothers and I used to play football and baseball in her yard with our cousins. We used to eat the teacakes that she baked (I can still remember the taste!). Before we were old enough to go to school, my younger brother and I used to go shopping with Granny and Mama. Those were such happy and carefree days that are very easy to forget about when you move away.

Although I did move away, I never forgot her and the childhood memories that she was a part of. Whenever I came home, I would always make sure that I went to her house to visit her. Over the past year, all I was able to do was sit with her. She didn't talk much. All she did was stare out the window. The last time I saw her alive was less than a year ago when I came home for my uncle's funeral. When it was time for me to leave for the airport to go back to Massachusetts, I stopped by her house to say goodbye. The last words I spoke to her were "I love you, Granny." She told me she loved me, too. I'm glad that those were the last words we said to each other. I just wish that I had known they were going to be the very last words we would say to each other. The very end of her life wasn't easy, but I hope she knows that those that truly care about her miss her very much. You'll always be in our hearts. Rest in peace, Granny.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Something for Your Sweet Tooth

Many of us love our sweets, but don't love what they do to our figures. Here's a way to get your chocolate fix without feeling guilty, courtesy of Weight Watchers. I make these all the time and can vouch for their deliciousness. Enjoy!

Mini Chocolate-Chip Cookies

POINTS® Value: 1

Servings: 24
Preparation Time: 10 min
Cooking Time: 20 min
Level of Difficulty: Easy

Go ahead and grab a handful of these bite-size cookies. They might be little, but they pack a big chocolate punch.

2 Tbsp butter, softened
2 tsp canola oil
1/2 cup(s) packed brown sugar, dark-variety
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp table salt

1 large egg white(s)
3/4 cup(s) all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp baking soda
3 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips, about 1/2 cup

Metric Conversions:

30 ml butter, softened
10 ml canola oil
120 ml packed brown sugar, dark-variety
5 ml vanilla extract
0.25 ml table salt

1 large egg white(s)
180 ml all-purpose flour
0.50 ml baking soda
84g semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375ºF (190ºC).
In a medium bowl, cream together butter, oil and sugar. Add vanilla, salt and egg white; mix thoroughly to combine.
In a small bowl, mix together flour and baking soda; stir into batter. Add chocolate chips to batter; stir to distribute evenly throughout.
Drop rounded half-teaspoons (2.5ml) of dough onto one or two large nonstick baking sheets, leaving a small amount of space between each cookie. Bake cookies until golden around edges, about 4 to 6 minutes; cool on a wire rack. Yields 2 cookies per serving.

Indulge your craving for an intense chocolate experience. Buy a 3-ounce bar of fine chocolate with a percentage of 75 or higher on the label. The percentage indicates the combined amount of cocoa bean and added cocoa butter in the chocolate. The higher the percentage, the greater the chocolate taste and the less sweet the product. Chop up the bar and use it instead of the chocolate chips (could affect POINTS values).
© 2010 Weight Watchers International, Inc. © 2010, Inc. All rights reserved.WEIGHT WATCHERS and POINTS are the registered trademarks of Weight Watchers International, Inc. and are used under license by, Inc.

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Honest Scrap Award

Several of my Twitter friends have given me the Honest Scrap Award which is to honor bloggers who put their hearts on display, as they write from the depths of their souls. Thanks to all of you who thought of me. I definitely put my heart on display and have written about many subjects near and dear to my heart. Some have been happy and uplifting, while others have been sad and eye-opening.
The conditions of receiving the award include listing 10 things that others may not know about me, as well as passing the award on to 10 other bloggers. Without further ado, here are 10 things you may not know about me:

1. I'm a middle child, with an older brother and a younger brother.

2. I was born on my parents' 8th wedding anniversary.

3. My mom's birthday is exactly 3 weeks after mine, making us both Libras.

4. Although in most instances I am right-hand dominant, I'm technically left-handed.

5. I have 2 tattoos and am always contemplating getting more.

6. I'm allergic to cats and dogs. (Just found this out last year.)

7. Prior to coming to Boston for college, I had never been to Massachusetts.

8. I've never broken a bone and have only had stitches once, in my mouth when I got a tooth pulled.

9. I got to shake Carly Simon's hand at my college graduation.

10. The actor Brian Dennehy's brother, Marty, was one of my college professors.

As for passing this award on to 10 other bloggers, almost all of my blogging friends that I follow have received this award. There's one that I can think of that may not have. Her name is Sue Tanida and her blog is You can follow her on Twitter as @angelicinsights. Her blog is wonderful in that it helps to guide others on the path of spirituality. She shares her beliefs and feelings regarding Christianity and invites you to explore and form your own opinions. Check her out!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

This Really Hurts My Heart

It saddened me to read that a high school student in South Hadley, MA committed suicide after being bullied online and in school. You can find details here:

The article gives us scant information about what precipitated the bullying and what type of tactics were used, but it does tell us that the guilty parties are still allowed to attend school. Why is it that a student can get suspended or even expelled for bringing a gun to school, but can continue to attend school after bullying another student to the point of suicide? Not only that, but apparently these kids are "proud" of what they did!

There is a streak of cruelty that runs deep within the youth of today, not only in the US, but all over the world. These young people think that they are untouchable because they never really have to suffer the consequences of any of their actions. It's almost as if they're living in an alternate reality where the rules don't apply to them. With the advent of the online community it has become easier to say horrible things about other people without ever having to look them in the face. Not only that, but those horrible things can, theoretically, stay in cyberspace forever for all the world to see. No one wants a constant reminder of how many people hate them. The teen years are very rocky and kids are constantly having to make adjustments in order to make it through every single day.

When I think about what Phoebe Prince must've been going through, it makes me want to cry. All she wanted to do is live her life, go to school, and be with her friends. Some thoughtless kids took that away from her because they didn't feel that she had a right to it. I don't have children, and when I hear about something like this, it makes me glad that I don't. It scares me how cruel people can be. The desensitization of the world at large has produced a generation of mean-spirited individuals who don't give a fuck. This type of behavior also worries me because I have nieces. Jade is the one that I'm closest to, and she's experienced bullying. People have spread rumors about her and picked on her. Luckily she's strong enough mentally and spiritually to hold her head high and let it roll off her back. For those that aren't as strong, life can be torture.

When I was in high school I was made fun of for not being "black" enough. It only went as far as the occasional taunting, and, truth be told, I can't remember exactly what was said. If I were in high school now, I'm sure that my life would be a living hell thanks to the internet, and parents' lack of interest in what's going on in their children's lives. To all of you parents out there, please pay attention! Don't fall into the "Boys will be boys" or "That's just the way kids are" trap. There's nothing normal about that kind of behavior. For parents that suspect that their kids are being bullied, sit them down and talk them to get to the bottom of things. For parents that suspect one of their kids might be a bully, get the kid some help. Just imagine how you would feel if you found that your daughter killed herself because she was being bullied in school. Above all else, I want Phoebe Prince to rest in peace. My heart goes out to her family and friends.

Monday, February 1, 2010

A Birthday Shoutout

Today is my niece Jade's 12th birthday. I can't believe how quickly time has flown. She was born a few months before I graduated from college and at the time I had no idea how big a part of my life she would be. I moved back in with my parents after college and stayed for a year and a half. During that time, Jade spent a lot of time there, which means I was there for the most formative years of her life. She and I built a very strong bond, and after a year and a half I was sad to leave her.

She's a great kid who has had to deal with some very tough times. At 12 she's probably seen more than I had at 24. She's been in situations that no child should ever have to find herself in, and has come out of them as a very kind and loving child. She's very considerate of others and would never intentionally hurt anyone's feelings. She will fiercely defend those that she cares about, even if sometimes they don't seem worth defending. Her wisdom goes far beyond that of her peers and many of her elders. Having a conversation with her can sometimes really blow your mind because she already has such insight with regard to the world around her. Her faith is strong and she knows that only by the grace of God is she still here on this Earth. I feel that Jade is destined for great things and I feel very privileged to have the opportunity to witness them.

Baby J, I'm wishing you the very best birthday ever, with many more to come. You know your Aunt Shelly loves you and will always be here for you. I pray that you continue to spread your love and joy to those around you. Happy Birthday, sweetie!

Friday, January 22, 2010

What Do You Really See When You Look at Someone?

Last week a co-worker and I were having a conversation about the guy who delivers our coffee. I told her that he hit on one of the ladies in the office next door, and her response was "She's not very pretty". I found that to be an interesting statement. It's not that the woman in question isn't pretty, it's that she made some unfortunate hair and makeup choices. She was very much stuck in a rut of days gone by with her stringy bleached blond hair and blue eyeshadow with blue eyeliner. I watch a lot of makeover shows so I know how the right clothes, hair and makeup can transform a woman.

Why do we think in extremes? Everything has to be either/or with no room in the middle for a closer look or a change in perspective. How many people have you ever seen who are truly ugly? I mean absolutely grotesque. They look so bad that it almost makes you physically sick to look at them. Go on. Think about it. How many people like that have you seen? Not many, right? Because there are very few people in this world, objectively speaking, that are truly ugly. Just because one person doesn't find someone esthetically pleasing doesn't mean that someone else won't. We're not all drop-dead gorgeous, but there is something about the looks of each of us that others will find appealing. Have you ever met someone who you thought had a really plain face but as soon as they started talking their face became animated and you could see a light that shines from within? Some people can look really scary when their faces are in repose, but as soon as they smile you think to yourself "Wow, he or she has a nice smile!". Think about that the next time you see someone that you don't immediately find to be attractive.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Trade Offs Associated with Life

We all have things that we'd like to accomplish by certain stages of our lives. We all have a vision in our heads of what we want our lives to be like, realistically speaking. If we've planned well or at least have a plan in mind, we know the steps we need to take to get there. It would make life so much easier if everything fell into place exactly like we envision it, but anyone who has lived for any length of time knows that life isn't easy. The old adage "Be careful what you wish for because you might just get it" tells us that what we want may not necessarily show up when we want it to.

For example, after years of dating the wrong people, you've just found the man/woman of your dreams. This person has everything you've ever wanted in a mate and there's not a dealbreaker in sight. The only drawback, he/she lives on the other side of the country and owns a business that can't be uprooted because of the type of service that it provides. You have lived near your parents your whole life and all of your friends live nearby. You really like your job and the people that you work with and you've established yourself in your field. What to do? Well, you could move across the country, leaving your friends; family; and job behind, try to establish yourself in your field of work at another company, and work on having a great life with this person. Or you could stay right where you are, continue to excel at your current job, have the security of friends and family around, and hope that you find someone else that may be perfect for you. Of course there's always the third option of the two of you meeting somewhere in the middle.

Regardless of the decision that you make, everything won't be exactly like you want it. To have some things you want, you're going to have to give up other things that you want it to be. The trick is deciding what it is that you want most and what it is that you're willing to live without. Very rarely (if ever) do the options in life come wrapped up in a neat little package tied up with a pretty bow.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Difference Between Can't and Won't

Have you ever been watching tv and seen someone do something that you want to do and think to yourself "I can't do that."? Whether it's running a marathon, climbing a mountain, baking a cheesecake, or taking a class; the question is: Are you physically unable to do so or are you unwilling to do so? There are very few things that most of us are physically unable to do. I'm physically unable to sit in the lotus position in yoga, but that doesn't mean that I won't continue to do yoga in some form. Some people are physically unable to run whether it be for health reasons or some other factor, but that doesn't mean they shouldn't go out and take a walk occasionally.

You are your only limitation when it comes to actually trying something new. If someone asks you to take Salsa dancing lessons with them (which is something you've always wanted to do), but you're afraid you'll embarrass yourself, your response will be "I can't." No, you actually can, but you won't because you are in your own head so much that you think the rest of the world is scrutinizing you. Just remember all of those other people in dance class are going to be so worried about doing it right and not looking like idiots that they'll have no time to even think about you.

Just because we want to do something and give it a shot doesn't mean that we'll become experts. It doesn't even necessarily mean that we'll do it well. The most important thing is actually putting yourself out there. Although we, as humans, can be very judgemental, try not to go through your life acting as if you're being graded on everything you do. Each person is different, so what's right for your brother or sister isn't necessarily right for you. If you have children, be an example to them by just trying. You never know; you might surprise yourself!

Friday, January 8, 2010

The Whole Size Issue

I just read the following article on about "plus" size models: Articles like that really infuriate me: A. because "plus" size in the fashion industry starts with size 10 and B. because people assume that if you don't weigh 115lbs you must be unhealthy. Those of you who have read my blog before know about my weight-loss journey. As someone who used to be a size 16, I think it's complete and total bullshit that the fashion industry considers a size 10 to be a "plus" size. The average clothing size for a woman in the United States is a size 14. Of course there will be women who are smaller than that, as well as women who are larger than that. I'm not advocating being big for the sake of being big, but there are some women who will never be smaller than a size 12 or 14. Because of their genetic makeup and their body type, being any smaller could actually harm their health. Their BMI might say that they're overweight, but a better indicator of good health is the ratio between your waist size and your height.

We're so used to seeing super-skinny models in fashion magazines that when we do see a woman that looks "normal", there are those who have a negative reaction. They think "We don't need to see her fat hanging out everywhere." By saying that, they're actually announcing their insecurity about how they look. Because fashion magazines have made the standard of beauty that of a skinny (possibly borderline anorexic) woman with no curves, the average woman doesn't think she's good enough.

When I chose to lose weight, I didn't do so in order to attain some ridiculous standard of beauty. I did it because I am genetically predisposed to certain health problems and I also wasn't satisfied, personally, with how I looked. According to the current BMI standards, my goal weight is the maximum healthy weight for my height, but according to my standards, it's the perfect weight for me based on my body type. If I were to go smaller than that, I don't think that I'd recognize myself. Right now I'm the smallest that I've been since I was 14 years old. That was 20 years ago, and the weight has shifted to new and interesting places since then. I don't want to look exactly like I did when I was 14 because my boobs were about 3 cup sizes smaller, LOL!