Monday, September 24, 2012

Happy Birthday to Me :-)

Today is the first day in God knows how many years that I've worked on my birthday. Last year my birthday was during the weekend, and anytime that it's not, I take the day off. Alas, I could not do so this year since the office manager is on her yearly trip, and I have to cover for her. Despite my birthday being on a Monday and my having to work, it's been a great day so far :-). I think the birthday gods are smiling down on me because this has been a very mellow work day. I've been shown lots of love today, which I really appreciate. I've realized that as time goes by, I get better with age ;-).
37, but don't look a day over 25, hahaha!!!
So much has changed in my life over the past year. I've done things I never thought I'd have the courage to do, adding some things, getting rid of others. This blog is called The Best Me That I Can Be, and I'm continuing to take steps to live my best life. Along the way, I've met some great people who have enhanced my life.

I'd like to thank everyone who takes the time to read my thoughts on the world around me. I know that what I have to say is not particularly profound, but I always try to speak from my heart.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

It's Nothing

A friend of mine who lives close by has been having a very tough time for quite a while. Also, because of various health problems it can be hard for her to get around. Like me, she has no family here in the Boston area, but unlike, me, both of her parents passed away. As of late, she hasn't been feeling well, so I make it a point to check in on her to see how she's doing.

Yesterday was a pretty bad day for her, so I offered to pick up something for her to eat after I was done with work. Initially, she said yes, but then she started to feel worse, and said that I could come by another time. I knew that she needed to eat, so I told her I'd be in the neighborhood, so I could just stop by and drop off the food. She agreed, and so that's what I did.

I planned to just hand off the stuff and leave, but she said she was feeling a bit better and invited me in. While we were chatting I assured her that it wasn't a big deal for me to stop by. I only live a subway stop away. She said she doesn't know enough people with that attitude, but to me, that's just common courtesy. Like I told her, I grew up in the country, where I had to drive to see my friends. Taking the subway one stop is nothing. Also, even if I had to drive to see her, if she needed me, I'd go.

It's pretty sad that a simple act of kindness has become such a rarity in today's society. To me it makes perfect sense to visit a friend who's unwell, and to bring them whatever they might need. I know that in many regards I'm an anomaly, but this is ridiculous!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Do You Love Yourself?

Lately I've been encountering people who, for some reason or other, have low self-esteem. Many of them are absolutely wonderful, but they can only see their flaws. Newsflash: We all have flaws. None of us is perfect. Plus perfection is actually rather boring. Looking at myself objectively, I think my belly is too flabby and that my thighs are too fat, but those are just two minor parts of a whole person. When you look at those things in conjunction with the rest of me, I'm not half bad ;-).

A friend of mine has someone in her life that she cares about, but he treats her badly. He's selfish and rude. She did him a huge favor, and when I say huge, I mean life-altering. In return he can't even be bothered to treat her with decency. Her life would be exponentially better if she cut ties with him, but she won't. I asked her if she loved him more than she loves herself. Without hesitation she said "Yes". She believes that his life is worth so much more than hers. When are people going to understand that every human life is valuable? I have a major problem with these assholes that go around killing innocent people because they're pissed off about something or depressed. If you're messed up, don't be trying to take other people with you. Although I feel every human life is important, if someone wants to die, that's on them, not me. It's not necessary or fair to take innocent people's lives.

Although it took me a while to come around to this way of thinking, I do love myself. My love for myself has less to do with how I look and more to do with how I feel. Right now I have a really good life, a part of which I spend letting other people know just how special I think they are. The things I say to them aren't empty flattery because I feel there's no point in lying to people in that way. If I see something about you that I like or that I think is noteworthy, I'm going to tell you. Most of the time I get the response "You're so nice". Yes, I'm a nice person, but I'm not saying it to be nice. I am being completely and totally honest. If there's good in you (which there is in most of us) I will be able to see it. Some of you try to hide it underneath a gruff exterior, but I can see right through it :-).

For those of you that are having a hard time loving yourself, remember this. It's a cliche, but cliches exist because they're based in truth. Until you love yourself, it's not possible for you to truly love someone else. It's not possible to let another person see who you truly are unless you love yourself. My ex-boyfriend said that I never let him in. There's truth to that statement. Because I wasn't comfortable with myself, I wasn't comfortable letting him see all of me. That's just one of a myriad of reasons why things didn't work out between us.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Good Music and Good Friends

You all know from the URL of this blog that I have an immense love for Gavin DeGraw. His music has changed my life. As a live performer he is beyond compare. I got the opportunity to see him twice last week in two different settings. The first one was a fairly large crowd and made me feel kind of like I was at a sporting event. It wasn't a stadium or anything like that, but it had a very impersonal feel. I'm used to seeing Gavin in much closer quarters. I found that performance to be a bit lackluster, not the least of which was because of the sound engineering. I also felt like his set was very generic, which felt right in line with the direction that I see his career going in. Luckily, I didn't pay money for that particular show. One of my friends won free tickets and asked if I'd like to go with her. I also got to meet up with some other friends, so the night wasn't a total loss.

To be perfectly honest, I was dreading going to the show the following night, especially since it was in Hyannis (Cape Cod) and I had to drive to get there. Had it not been for the fact that a friend was depending on me for a ride, I wouldve stayed home. All I can say is thank God I didn't stay home! The second show was in a more intimate setting and Gavin was able to connect with his audience. That's what was missing from the show the night before. I bet all he could see is light and just the faces in the front row. Not so, at this smaller venue, which has a rotating stage. Every seat in the house was a good one. I had an excellent view of him and was able to take a few pics. Unfortunately, I forgot to put my memory card back in my camera from the last time I downloaded pics onto my computer, so I couldn't take very many. Regardless, Gavin electrified the crowd, so much so that the tent we were under was like a sauna! I was covered in sweat by the time his set was over. Words can't describe how happy I was to see the "old Gavin" performing on that stage. I know the more intimate shows don't bring in as much money as shows in larger venues, but Gavin does his best shows when he can really interact with the crowd, which is hard to do when you can't even SEE them.

In the future, if he keeps playing such impersonal venues, I will pick and choose the shows that I go to, looking for the ones with more atmosphere. I almost gave up on him, not as a musician, but as a performer. When you know and have seen what someone can do, it's heartbreaking to see them stray away from that formula. Yeah, we all want money (some of us more than others), but as far as I know, he owns the licensing rights to his songs, so he'll make money until the day he dies, purely off royalties. His work to build a grassroots following paid off in that his fanbase is a very loyal one. I got to hang with some of those awesome loyal fans at both shows. What we have in common, besides our love of good music, is that we look out for each other. We're a community that would've never gotten together were it not for Gavin's music. With the release of this new album, there's been a push by Gavin's "people" to get him new fans, without even bothering to try to retain the old ones. All I can say is that they're making a huge mistake. To quote one of my favorite Gavin songs, "Time will tell. It always does."

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Two Years

Two years ago today my ex-boyfriend broke up with me. At the time I was devastated, and after this blog post I will no longer be posting specifically about that particular break-up. I might occasionally mention it in passing because you never know what life may bring.

Although I was blindsided by the timing, the end of my relationship with my ex was a long time coming. In many ways, it may have been over as soon as it began. When you're in a relationship with someone that you feel you can't tell your friends and family the whole truth about, that relationship is doomed. For almost five years I lied by ommission to my mother, the most important person in my life. I also rationalized the lies that I told myself. If "loving" someone makes you go against your morals and the beliefs that you hold dear, walk away before you're in too deep. Although my intuition was constantly telling me to detach from the situation, I stayed out of sheer stubbornness. Plus, I'm someone that will never give up on you if I feel like I can help you.

If you only take one thing away from this post, let it be this. No matter how much you love someone, that love means absolutely nothing if they don't love themselves. A person has to feel worthy of love and treat themselves with loving kindness before they can receive love. My ex was practically alone in this world. Due to his upbringing, he and his mother were more like acquaintances than family. I have a tendency to want to embrace those who have lost their way, and in many ways he and I were kindred spirits. He knew what it was like to grow up poor, and he had seen the ugly side of life. I realized, too late, our common struggles weren't enough to keep us together. Whereas I embraced my past and evolved, he did not. I think a part of him is somewhat ashamed of where he came from so he acts almost as if that's no longer a part of who he is. Those of you who frequent this blog know about my humble beginnings and how I've let them be an impetus for me to try and have a better life than I might've otherwise had.

Two years removed from, what at the time seemed to be, one the most devastating events in my life, I continue to understand why things turned out the way that they were supposed to. The passage of time helps me to see that he and I were both meant for something different.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It's Official

Last night was my last yoga teacher training class. I'm officially a registered yoga teacher. I can't believe I made it. Prior to the beginning of the program I wasn't even going to do the training. A deposit of $600 was required at registration which was in December of last year. I knew I wouldn't have that money by the deadline so I thought I'd wait until I saved the money before I did the training. Thought maybe I'd catch it next year. I mentioned to a friend that I wanted to do the training but didn't have the money. She told me to email the yoga studio owner (who would be doing the training) and let her know that I was interested. I knew that I'd have that $600 by the beginning of the training, but not before. I contacted Krista (the studio owner) and let her know my situation. She said that I could give her a check for $600 to hold my spot in the program, but that she wouldn't cash it until January.

By the time the yoga teacher training program started, I had all of my money and I was ready to roll. The rest of the money for the program was paid in installments. Every month I gave Krista a check. How I managed to carve out that payment every month from my finances is truly beyond me. Before teacher training I never would've thought I could've handled another monthly expense, but the universe provided for me. Along the way I've changed physically, mentally, and spiritually. I've made some wonderful friends, and I've acquired a skill that I can use to help people for the rest of my life.

I will be forever grateful to my friend who convinced me to go for it. I just knew there was no way I'd ever have the money to do it, but she gave me the best piece of advice ever. She said "Just jump. The money will be there when you need it." She was right. My faith in what's meant to be has always been strong, but the money aspect of things sometimes shakes my faith a bit. In my heart I've always known that I'm going to make it, but this phase in my life has taught me about what's really important. First and foremost we need to take care of ourselves. Also, we aren't what we wear or what we own. Stripping away all of the extraneous shit that we impose on ourselves will bring us closer to the divine, which resides in each and every one of us.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

My Life-Continued

It seems like writing yesterday's blog post broke the ice for me to start updating this blog again. When I last talked about my life story, we were in the apartment I was sharing with a college friend after I graduated. My privacy had been well and truly violated, which I totally was not digging. One thing I forgot to tell you is that when I spoke to her about my not being happy with boundaries being overstepped, she said that where she's from that type of behavior is okay. I was thinking "Really? I'm from rural Georgia, and although we aren't the most couth people, even that doesn't fly with us."

After all of that went down I knew that I couldn't trust her, and went about my business for the rest of the summer. I found out that she was planning to move back home for a bit and then move to Las Vegas with her sister, so once our lease was up, she was out. On the day that she actually moved I didn't know she was leaving until I got home from work that afternoon. There was a note on my bed telling me that she was gone and that I owed her money for my part of the utilities. She included her parents' address so that I could send the money. I fully intended to send the money until I went into her old room and saw the note that she left for the freeloader girl. In the note she went on and on about what a great friend freeloader girl had been to her and how maybe she could visit her once she moved to Vegas with her sister. Wtf?! I was the one who got her out of a jam when she needed someone to take over half of the lease. I'm the one whose stuff her family and friends commandeered why I wasn't there. All I got was "You owe me money. Send it to this address." While this other girl who did nothing but mess up dishes without washing them, as well as not taking a turn cleaning the bathroom gets "You have been such a good friend to me." After reading that I knew there was no damn way she was ever getting the money that I owed her for utilities. When it comes right down to it, I got screwed in that deal. Looking back on it I just hate the fact that I didn't have the guts to speak up for myself. Of course with time comes maturity and hopefully, the ability to take action when someone is treating you unfairly. I just know that were I in the same situation today there's no way that I would stand for what went down. Live and learn.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Been Away Far Too Long

Hi, everyone. Did you miss me? I know it's been a long time since we last saw each other and there's definitely still more of my life story to tell. I've been very busy with my yoga teacher training and in three weeks I'll be all done. There's a big push to get some practice teaching done, so I've been trying to line up some private sessions with friends and colleagues. I also plan to set up another blog that will be centered around yoga. This journey is just beginning for me and I am looking forward to sharing with you all of the things that I learn along the way.

Monday, April 30, 2012

You Really Never Know Someone...

...until you live with them. It's such a cliche, but so true. Although the story I'm about to tell you happened almost 14 years ago, the retelling of it makes me feel like I'm right back there in the summer of 1998. In July of that year my younger brother was graduating from basic training as a Marine, so I took a trip down South to go with my family to his graduation. Before leaving the apartment for my trip, I closed my bedroom door. Off I went to enjoy some family time, secure in the belief that everything would be the way that I left it when I got home.

Boy, was I wrong! First of all, on the cab ride home I was thinking about the fact that I had strawberry Pop-Tarts, and I was looking forward to having one. Get home, go in the kitchen, no Pop-Tarts. Ask my roommate if she's seen my Pop-Tarts and her response was "My mom must've eaten them." I'm thinking "Your mom?" Apparently her parents were in town while I was gone, and they stayed in the apartment, rather than booking a room in a hotel. Supposedly they slept in her room, while she and her clubbing buddy slept in mine. Strike one: My Pop-Tarts are gone.

I go into my bedroom to unpack my stuff and notice that there are keys on my bed. Here we go again. Back to my roommate's room to ask her about the keys. Her response was "Oh those must be Paul's keys. We watched a movie in your room the other night, and he must've left them there." What? They watched a movie in my room? Strike two: My roommate and some dude were rolling around on my bed.

Putting stuff away in my closet I noticed that my bathrobe wasn't hanging inside on the door. Why do I have to keep asking this girl about my shit? Off I go to her room yet again. Ask her if she's seen my bathrobe. She asks what color it is, and when I tell her, she informs me that her mother slept in it while she was there. Apparently she thought it belonged to freeloader girl. You remember freeloader girl from my previous post, right? The million dollar question is: How would her mom even know about the existence of that robe unless she was in my room while she was visiting? That pretty much tells me that this chick's parents slept in my bed. Strike three: Some woman I don't even know is sleeping in my robe.

After that, I really had very little to do with this girl because I was raised to respect other people's property and to not touch something that isn't mine without permission. Where I'm from, a closed bedroom door when someone isn't home means "Do Not Enter". Invasion of privacy, anyone?

Unfortunately, at this point in my life I wasn't assertive enough to voice my disgust at all that had transpired while I was gone.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

School's Out Forever

For any of you that have ever been in therapy, you know that it takes a long time to change deeply ingrained behaviors. It's easy to fall back into the patterns that you've been following for your whole life. As I mentioned before, I'm an emotional eater. Weight gain is a sure sign that I'm upset or depressed about something. The time that I spent in therapy had helped me to cope with things without feeling the need to overeat because I had a place where I could go to let all of those feelings out. By the the time I graduated from college I had lost weight and was feeling good about myself.

Right after graduation I decided to share an apartment with a friend of mine that was in the same degree program as I was. Her roommate had broken the lease and she needed someone to live there until the lease was up. Because I wanted to continue living in Boston, it seemed like the perfect opportunity. But then as the saying goes, you never know someone until you live with them. In the beginning things started out well, but then I found out that she was letting a friend of hers crash there and share her bedroom. I know what you're thinking. If her friend is living there, why couldn't her friend help with the rent? That's a valid question. Because it was her place that I was moving into, I didn't feel like I could ask that question. Looking back, I think how much easier it would've been if we each had paid a third of the rent. I guess the other girl figured that as long as she didn't pay rent she wasn't responsible for any of the housework. She was a great one for using the dishes and then not washing them. It made for a great existence for the three months that I was there.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Where Do I Go from Here

Speaking with a counselor at Berklee's counseling center was definitely necessary in order for me to work through my grief. This was the first time that someone I was close to had died. There had been deaths of relatives, but those happened when I was very, very young. Plus this was the death of someone with whom I was in love. I was in counseling for the rest of the school year, then I went back to Georgia for the summer. In some ways it was easier being home than it was being in Boston. I was around my family, which was nice. My mom and I are very close, so it was great to get to see her every day for three months.

Once the summer was over, things were kind of tough. Pretty much everywhere around the campus of Berklee was filled with memories of Mr. Nice Guy. I would come to a street corner and be reminded of the day that he gave me the last bite of his biscotti. To this day that's a memory that makes me smile. He was such a sweet person.

Although I was coming to terms with my grief, October was a hard month for me. The time around my birthday was hard, too, because he died a little less than a month after my 21st birthday. For a long time I would fall into a depression during the autumn months and it would last through the winter into spring. Sometimes it even stretched into summer. Sometimes it didn't end for a year or two. During my senior year of college I continued to see the counselor, but he had gone into private practice, so I had to pay to see him. I ended up in tears during at least 80% of our sessions, if not more. It was something that I needed at that time in my life because it helped me work through much more than the grief I was feeling.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I've Got a Mirror and Eyes to See It

An email from a friend inspired me to elaborate on a remark I made about some white people not feeling comfortable around black people. When I was in elementary school one of my friends was having a sleepover. She didn't invite me because  her mom said she "didn't want me to feel uncomfortable being the only black person there." She may have meant well, or she may have been projecting her feelings onto me. God only knows for sure. For the first seven years of my educational life, I was the only black person in the room for at least six hours a day. Why on earth should that bother me? We all speak English. We all eat with utensils held in our hands. We all wear clothes. We all wear shoes. I'm sure you see my point.

My whole life that's been my take on things. Most of the time I go about my business, doing my own thing, while others do theirs. Occasionally I'll experience a situation that slaps me "black to reality". It's not that I forget that I'm black. As the title clearly states, it's hard for me not to know. It's that I forget that it still matters to other people that I'm black. There has been more than one incidence of my getting on the subway, sitting down across from an older white person, and watching as that person gets up and goes to another seat. I can tell by the look of disgust on the person's face that they're moving because I sat down. It would be a different story if I sat right beside them when there are so many seats to choose from, but I'm sitting across from them. How sad is it that a person has such an issue with me being in their line of sight, that they feel the need to get up?

You may think it's just older people who are like this, but I had an ugly incident with a younger person take place when I was waiting to cross the street one night. At that particular intersection, I know the cycle of the traffic lights and knew that the light would be red for a few minutes while traffic from the opposite direction got the green light, in order to allow the people on that side to make a left turn. As I was starting to cross the street, the light on my side turned green, so I went back to the curb. As I was standing there, a car drove by and there was a white teenaged boy hanging out the window. He threw something at me as he shouted "Fucking nigger!" Because he doesn't understand the laws of physics, whatever he threw missed me completely. Why such anger? I wasn't holding up traffic. As soon as that light turned green I scurried out of the way. I must admit that encounter shook me up a bit. I hadn't felt pure hatred like that directed toward me by a stranger in a very long time. Regardless, I still refuse to go through the world in a defensive posture.

Friday, March 9, 2012

I'd Never Been So Low

The words you regret most in life are the ones that remain unsaid. The untimely death of Mr. Nice Guy threw me into a tailspin. For the first couple of weeks, not a day went by that I didn't cry. To know that I would never see that smiling face or feel his arms around me again was almost more than I could take. All I wanted to do was sleep. When I wasn't in class, which I was now known to skip, depending on the class, I was sleeping. Food and sleep were my escape from the pain. Whenever I had to interact with anyone in class, I felt like I was standing outside myself. The world was a movie, and I was a mere observer. I felt very isolated. To a certain degree I shut down. My friend who always pointed out my accent didn't understand the amount of pain I was feeling. She kept trying to get me to go out and do things with her and her boyfriend, but I was grieving. Because I didn't know how to vocalize my pain I froze her out.

My schoolwork had started to suffer, and one of my professors said something to me about it. I told her what was going on with me, and she suggested that I visit Berklee's counseling center to talk to a counselor. At this point I want to stop and tell you that for pretty much my whole life I've felt like I needed to be in therapy. You know my background. Though I was never abused, actually, what my paternal grandmother did to us could be considered verbal abuse, as well as emotional abuse. Regardless, I've always felt different, not only because I was a little black girl in a mostly white environment, but also because of the way my parents (more specifically, my mom) raised me. A lot of black children are raised to be angry and to hate white people. As soon as they step out into the world, they assume a defensive posture. I wasn't raised to hate white people, and there was very little anger in my household toward whites. Sometimes my dad exhibited it because of some of the prejudice he endured while growing up, but for my mom it was different. Her views and her tolerance are what shaped me as a person.

That being said, I grew into a kind, sensitive, loving, shy woman with a strong sense of morality. That doesn't play very well when you start going to school with more black kids and they think that in order to be black you have to be loud and obnoxious. I didn't really fit in with most of them, and although I was very comfortable around white people, they weren't necessarily all comfortable around me. Another thing that contributed to my feeling out of place is the fact that before I left for college my mom recommended that I stifle the sarcastic side of my personality so as not to alienate people in my new surroundings. I know she meant well, but for a really long time I wasn't sure who I was supposed to be. Yes, sometimes my sarcasm could be hurtful, but it fell more under the category of not suffering fools gladly.

Back to seeing the counselor. I made an appointment with a counselor at Berklee's counseling center. Although I naturally thought if I was ever in counseling/therapy it would be with a woman, my counselor ended up being a man who wasn't that much older than me. He was also very attractive, but once I started talking about my pain, his attractiveness was an afterthought.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

More About Me

My girl Cathy Keisha tagged me in a post on her blog in an effort to learn more about me. I'm already baring my soul on this blog. What more does she want? She's so demanding, that one!

Without further ado, here are the things that I must reveal about myself:

Describe yourself in seven words:

What keeps you up at night?
Thoughts of how I'm going to transition from my current occupation to being a yoga teacher, Weight Watchers leader, and possibly a therapist. I also wonder if I'll make enough money doing those things to keep myself afloat.

Who would you like to be?
The very best version of myself.

What are you wearing right now?
Work clothes. A magenta cardigan, white camisole, gray slacks, and black boots.

What scares you?
The prospect that my niece could grow up to be exactly like her mother. This is a woman with major issues, that I'm started to see become a part of my niece's life.

The best and worst of blogging:
The best is when I post something that resonates with someone, and they truly understand where I'm coming from. The worst is trying to come up with things to write about.

Last website you visited:
My girl CK's to read these questions.

One thing you'd change about yourself:
I would've saved money for college when I was a kid.

Slankets or no?
The concept is a solid one, but I don't know if I could walk around like that, even just in my apartment.

Tell us about the cat/person that tagged you:
CK and I met through Twitter. She's a sista like me, so we bonded immediately. Her disposition is also similar to my kitty Topaz's so how can I not love her?

Next up I need to tag other bloggers that I'd like to learn more about.

Carole: This is Admiral Hestorb's and Katie Bella's mom. I've learned a bit about her, but it would be nice to know more.
Max: Although Max is the kitty whose name is featured on this blog, his sibs Bugsy and Knuckles live with HH and cause havoc as Max watches them from OTRB.
Confucius Cat: CC and I have been out of touch lately and it would be nice to know what's on his mind.
Mattie: Here's my little sweet tater. He loves everyone and everyone loves him. Let's see how he describes himself. Bet he'll use the word "smexy" ;-).

Friday, March 2, 2012

I Thought I Knew Pain Before...

Sophomore year without Mr. Nice Guy was kind of like a settling in period for me. A lot of time was spent getting to know my way around Boston. I felt like I was finally finding my place. Just before the beginning of junior year I was walking around Boston enjoying the warm weather, when who should I see on the street corner, but Mr. Nice Guy! He came up to me and gave me a big hug and then apologized for being sweaty from riding his bike. Do you think I cared that he was sweaty? Of course not! We did the usual chitchat thing, and he told me that he was kind of sad that his old roommate that he moved off-campus with left school. At the time his next words didn't really register that much. He said, "Now that I'm living with a cop it should be easier for me to stay sober." I thought his sobriety was firmly in hand, so I didn't think twice about his words.

After that day I saw him all the time. One day I was headed back to the dorms after class and was waiting to cross the street. As I'm standing there, he comes walking up to me from the other direction. We hug, and chat for a few minutes. He's eating biscotti and gets down to the last bite. He offers it to me, but I don't want to take it because it's the last bite. He's like "Come on. It's the last bite." So I take it and we part ways. I remember having a warm feeling inside because he gave me the last bite of his biscotti. Cheesy, I know, but I'm a romantic at heart. Another time I ran into him a day or two before my 21st birthday. I told him that me and some friends were going out to celebrate and invited him along, but he had other plans. He was like "I'll have to buy you a beer sometime." Of course I don't drink and I let him know that. With a hug we parted at the corner, and I spent the rest of the day all dreamy-eyed from having seen him again.

Because we kept running into each other so frequently I just knew this was a sign. My love for him had been rekindled so I decided it was time to lay it all on the line. I found out his student mailbox number and decided to send him a note. Basically the note said I missed hanging out with him and that maybe we could get together. I gave him my number and told him to call me. So I dropped it off at the student mailroom and then I waited. A few days go by, no phone call. A week goes by, no phone call. I finally actually see him in the mailroom one day while I'm checking my mail. We hug and I ask him if he got my note. He said yes, but that he lost it along with $200 that he had in his pocket. He told me he'd definitely like to hang out and asked for my number. He also gave me his. That weekend I called him, but his roommate answered the phone and said he wasn't there. I left a message for him to call me, and the waiting began again. A few days later I was on the phone telling my mom about how I had called him and he hadn't called me back when call waiting beeped in. Lo and behold it was Mr. Nice Guy returning my phone call. Apparently he had been in the studio doing some recording (he was a drummer), and found the message that I had called on a note on the refrigerator. He said that he had recorded some really good stuff, and that I should come over sometime and listen to it. In my mind I was thinking "Yes!". I was thinking that maybe we'd finally be alone together so that I could confess my feelings to him. He said he'd let me know when I could come over.

That next week I saw him outside a convenience store across from my dorm. I was walking with the friend of mine who used to always point out my accent and she didn't like him. He didn't really like her either, but that's beside the point. I remember he was eating a small bag of Baked Lay's and he offered us both some. He was always really kind like that. We all chatted for a bit and then she and I left. Little did I know that was the last time I'd ever see him.

That next week during my usual travels around campus I kept expecting to see him, but I never did. The night of October 20, 1996 into the morning of October 21, 1996 was awful for me. During the night I kept having the recurring nightmare that someone had slit the throats of the cast of the show "Friends". I could see the bright red blood from the slashes on their throats and their heads were lolling back. I'd wake up from it, but everytime I fell asleep I would see that same image again. The next morning I felt awful, like a cloak of misery had been draped around me. I didn't want to get out of bed. It was so bad that I skipped my first class that day, which was at 9:00 in the morning. When I did get out of bed I looked out the window to the church across the street. I saw a statue of an angel there, but all I could think of was how awful I felt. It was such a gloomy day outside, which matched the feelings inside me. Finally I decided to go to my afternoon class. At the end of class I saw my roommate standing outside the door. When I walked up to her and asked her what was up, I couldn't believe the words that came out of her mouth. She said, "Mr. Nice Guy is dead." My immediate response was "You're lying!" She said no and went on to tell me that there was a sign in the Production and Engineering Department (since that was his major) announcing it.

We walked to the department so that I could see the sign for myself. There it was in black and white. That's when my world came crashing down around me. My roommate and accent girl both had to go to class, so I went back to my room. With tears streaming down my face, I immediately called my mom. When she answered the phone the first words out of my mouth were "He's dead!" Of course she had no clue who I was talking about. Through my sobs I explained to her what I had found out. Word was he had been hit by a car while riding his bike. Later accent girl told me she heard he had OD'd. It didn't matter to me how he died. All I knew was that the man I loved had died before I had the chance to express my feelings to him. After I hung up with my mom all I could do was cry. I sat on the floor of my dormroom and bawled like a baby. I cried so hard that I literally made myself sick. At one point I had to go to the bathroom and throw up. The next day there was a memorial service for him at school. My roommate and I went, but all I could do is sit there as my tears flowed. How was it possible that my first real love had been taken from me?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Yoga Teacher Training

As many of you know, I'm in the process of training to become a yoga teacher. As a part of that training I attend a class every Tuesday night, for three hours, where I learn to break down the poses and teach them to people. I also learn aspects of the philosophy of yoga. The truths of yoga philosophy are deep, yet simple. A lot of people assume that if you're a yoga practitioner, you must be Buddhist or Hindu. Yoga isn't affiliated with any particular religion but encompasses the basic tenets of all religions. I have no real religious leanings. My parents are Southern Baptists, but I never had any interest in tethering myself to a specific religion. I do believe that there is a higher being or a higher state of being. I refer to it as God because that's the easiest thing to do. Yoga philosophy describes God as the divine, whether that be a holy spirit, a figurehead, or the sense of the divine that we all carry within ourselves. Joy, compassion, perseverance, and gratitude are all encouraged in the yogic philosophy. There is no one path to the divine. There are many divergent paths, and it's up to you to choose the one that works for you. In that observation, I see a message of tolerance. We all come from very different places, but for the most part we want the same things.

To make up for the lack of excitement in my last blog post, I'll leave you with a picture from my yoga teacher training class. In the picture I'm in downward dog, and my classmate Elizabeth is giving me an assist to push my hips further up and back.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Sophomore Year

Since my last installment regarding the life and times of Michelle Stringer, I know many of you have been dying to know what happened next. Amazingly enough, I rarely ever saw Mr. Nice Guy during my sophomore year of college. He and one of the guys that he roomed with freshman year got an apartment off-campus. Since we weren't on the same track as far as which degrees we were pursuing, we didn't have any classes together. I missed him, but there were other things going on. I was spending more and more time with my girls, as well as exploring more of Boston. I know that's not the answer you were all looking for, but that's the way things ended up being. Looking back on it, my sophomore year was actually kind of boring...

Friday, February 10, 2012

Weight-loss is a Journey, Not a Destination

You may have noticed that I haven't really been doing my weekly weigh-in blog post. The reason for that is to take some of the focus off my weight-loss journey. There will be ups and downs and I need to make sure that I'm okay with that because I'm in this for life. One of my Twitter friends is also on a weight-loss journey, and yesterday she tweeted that her trainer told her that a newspaper wanted to do a story on her and her weight-loss. Her first reaction was "But I'm still overweight." By uttering those words, she effectively negated all of the progress that she has made. I got her to look at it all from a different perspective by telling her it's not about how much work she has left to do, it's about the work that she's already done. When we have our eyes on the prize, that's the only thing that matters to us. That tunnel-vision stops us from seeing the successes that we've already realized. Weight Watchers encourages its members to celebrate the small victories because eventually they will add up to become large ones. In Sanskrit there's a saying "Pada pada" and it can be loosely translated to mean "Step by step". In life we must take all things step by step.

When I get to my goal weight my life isn't going to magically change. I'll still be the same Michelle, just not as heavy ;-). My goal weight is not my destination. It's a milestone along the journey. Once I reach that milestone, it will be time for me to reassess my path and make any changes that might be necessary. Two weeks ago I lost 3.4lbs, which was great, but of course a bit of hubris came in and the following week I gained. I brought myself back down to earth, got back on plan, and am happy to report that I lost 1.4lbs this week.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Young Lurve

I've gotten a request or two for a description of Mr. Nice Guy from my freshman year in college. So here goes nothing. He was tall and lanky with broad shoulders. He had short brown hair and brown eyes, and wore these cute little glasses with round lenses. One of the things I loved most about him was his smile. It lit up his whole face. He was a midwestern boy from Kansas and one of the nicest people I ever met. I think the fact that he was so nice is what made me fall hard for him. After we spent time together on my 19th birthday, I would sometimes hang out with him and his roommates in his dorm room. Whenever I saw him he always seemed very happy to see me and would greet me with a big hug. For those of you who don't know, I absolutely love hugs, so to get a hug from this tall, fine man would always make my day.

One of the not-so-great things is that Mr. Nice Guy had been in rehab back in Kansas at some point during his freshman year at University of Kansas. Apparently he ran with a crowd that was heavily into drugs. One night when I was hanging out with one of his roommates, he came in the room all upset. Apparently one of his buddies from his drug days in Kansas was using again. Mr. Nice Guy felt that his friend was in trouble and that maybe the guy's parents needed to be made aware so that they could step in. He was so afraid to make that phone call to his friend's parents, but like any good friend, he knew it had to be done. I sat on the floor beside him as he made that call, and I could hear the tears in his voice. Much later I thought to myself "I should've held his hand while he made that call", but I didn't. Instead, once he hung up the phone I asked him if he needed a hug. He said yes, and I hugged him tight. He thanked me and told me that I was a good friend. Soon after, I left and went to my room. Little did I know, that situation was a foreshadowing of things to come.

Monday, February 6, 2012

It's Good to See You Again, Michelle

In an earlier post I wrote about the fact that I no longer have a a desire to have straight hair. For most of my adult life I've worn it long and straight. I thank God that I never got it chemically straightened. Actually, that's more than likely the reason why I have such long thick hair now.

On Saturday I went to get it done, and when my hairstylist asked what I wanted her to do, I wasn't quite sure. She had a magazine at her station and showed me a picture of a woman with her hair in an intricate braided style. I told her I really liked it. Instead of braids she did double-strand twists. The end result was this:

For those of you who may be wondering, yes, that's all my own hair ;-). Told ya it was thick! With this hairstyle, I feel liberated. Part of yoga is finding one's true self, and I think that it has helped me to get closer to my true self by helping me to realize that wearing my hair in its natural state has now become a part of my identity. In pictures from two or three years ago when I had straight hair, it looks great, and I look happy. When I think about it, I realize that I still look the same as I did back then. The thing that has changed is my perception of how I look. I am seriously going through a process of awakening.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Freshman Year

As I settled into my new life in Boston, I of course also had to go to classes. A music college is like a foreign land as compared to your standard college. There were general education classes that were required, but for the first two years you focus on music theory and sight-reading music, which means you should be able to figure out a tune when given a sheet of music based purely on the key it's written in and the starting pitch. Because my singing experience was with choirs, those things didn't come very easily for me. I met a girl in my sight-reading class that ended up being a really good friend. We used to do our homework for that class together. She definitely helped me to make it through that stuff.

Because my school was about 80% male, I was friends with a lot of guys. Seeing as I grew up with two brothers and a host of male cousins, I was very comfortable hanging out with guys. I understood their sense of humor and I knew that if I was sarcastic with one of them, they wouldn't take it the wrong way. Some girls have a really hard time with sarcasm. Why that is, I have no idea. Both of the girls that I became good friends with lived on the same floor of the dorm so when I went to see them, I'd have an opportunity to meet some of the guys that lived on that floor, too. One guy in particular was so nice to me. We became fast friends. The thing that sealed our friendship is the fact that we hung out together on my 19th birthday. Initially I was going to hang out with one of my girls (the one who always felt the need to point out my accent), but she totally blew me off. On my way back from her room, I met up with Mr. Nice Guy. He was on his way to Boston Harbor and asked if I'd like to come along. At this point I hadn't done much exploring, so it was nice to be able to take a walk around with someone. We walked through the Public Garden and Boston Common as we made our way to the Harbor. It was a very companionable walk. I don't remember what we chatted about but I remember really enjoying being there with him. Once we got to the Harbor, we sat on the sea wall and dangled our feet over the edge. It was a beautiful fall night and it was starting to get dark. There were boats on the water and the city was starting to light up. I think that night is probably what inspired my love of being outside in the city once night fell. Also, looking back on it, I think that night is when I fell in love with him. He was a beautiful person inside and out and I was touched by the fact that he chose to spend his time with me when he could've been doing a host of other things. At the time, I had no idea that the seed of love had been planted, but over the next couple of years it would grow.

Monday, January 30, 2012

My How I've Changed

Those of you who read about the debacle with my hairdresser know that I took my braids out and had my hair straightened for the first time in about nine months or so. The first day after I had it done I was like "Oh this is really nice. It looks very pretty." Day two rolled around and I was like "Okay, this isn't as straight as it was yesterday." By the time day three rolled around I was like "Ugh! This sucks! I'm not used to feeling hair on the back of my neck!" Initially I thought my issue was with the fact that my hair is long, therefore I decided that I needed to get it cut. After spending some time online looking at short haircuts, I realized that I no longer like the way my hair looks when it's straight. I feel like straight hair is very much a part of my past and the way that my life used to be. It reminds me of being with my ex and how I let myself be subjugated by that relationship. Also, ever since I took my braids out, it seems that things have been going wrong. I keep getting a later start than I would like to when leaving to go places. There was an incident here at work that was reminiscent of something that would've happened in the past when I was with my ex and cloaked in the apathy that surrounded him. I'm not a superstitious person, but I do believe that everyone and everything possesses a certain type of energy. I now feel a lot of negative energy associated with my hair being straight. Luckily I'll be going to get that taken care of on Saturday afternoon. Yes, with the same person who straightened it, but once it's done I already have someone else in the pipeline that I plan to check out.

I think a lot of what I'm realizing right now has to do with my going through the process of yoga teacher training. Yogic philosophy teaches you to detach from the things that aren't important or that don't serve to make your life peaceful. My straight hair is actually causing me stress and anxiety. I don't like the way it looks and I end up pulling it back into a ponytail, which is a waste of the $60 I paid to have it straightened. I've become very conscious of what's a necessity in my life. Straight hair is definitely not a necessity for me anymore.

Friday, January 27, 2012

A Breakthrough!

Yesterday was my weigh-in day for Weight Watchers. As you may remember from last week, I didn't go to Weight Watchers because I was supposed to get my hair done. That ended up being one of the worst Thursdays I've had in a while. I'm happy to say that I bounced back this week and had a very good Thursday. Bet you're wondering what made it so good, aren't you? I'm trying to decide whether or not I should keep you in suspense for a while ;-). Just kidding! I won't torture you like that. The thing that made my Thursday good is the fact that, after continually gaining a pound or two and losing less than a pound when not gaining, I was down 3.4lbs when I stepped on the scale. That's totally not the result I was expecting. I feel like I ate a lot over the past week. I think the fact that I'm doing more yoga and more walking is what counteracted all of the food I've been eating. It was a nice surprise. I thought my pants felt looser when I put them on yesterday morning, but I wasn't sure whether or not my mind was playing tricks on me, hahaha!!! My goal is to lose again next week. I don't expect to lose another 3lbs because that's not realistic. I'd be happy with just one :-).

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Boston Here I Come!

During the last installment of my life story you read about how I got rejected by one college, but accepted by another. Neither of these colleges was in Georgia so it was time for me to well and truly leave the nest. The trip that my parents and I took to Boston during the fall of 1994 was the first time any of us had flown on a plane. I had never set eyes on Boston and my biggest point of reference besides the Boston Tea Party was the fact that New Edition and New Kids on the Block were from there, hahaha!!! I had no fear about living in a place that I knew so little about.

When my parents and I arrived in Boston it was starting to get chilly. Fall weather had already arrived, while back in Georgia it still felt like summer. I remember our first full day in Boston included going to the sporting goods store across the street from Berklee's main building to buy me a jacket. The next day it rained, and the day after that the sun came out. That was my first experience with how changeable the weather is in New England.

Compared to most people from Georgia I've never had much of an accent, but of course to New England ears I do. Probably because I pronounce my Rs ;-). One of the first girls I met, who ended up being one of my best friends, would constantly ask me to say certain words. Whenever we'd meet someone new, the first words out of her mouth were "Listen to that accent!" It actually annoyed me a little bit because I wasn't the only person there with an accent. Berklee has a very large international population.

My roommate my freshman year was a junior and spent all of her time in her boyfriend's room since he had a single room. Because of that fact, it was like I had a single room, too. I never had to worry about anyone having a problem with my friends coming over to hang out. The downside was that I was away from my family and all alone. At first I didn't even have a phone in my room so I had to use the payphone in the hallway of the dorm. This was before everyone had cellphones so about a month into my first semester I had a phone put in my room.

Every person that goes straight from high school to college should experience at least one year of living in the dorms. It's like living in a community of people with common interests but different experiences. For people from small towns, college may be the first time that they've had any first-hand experience with someone of another race. If someone is an only child, they get to see what's it's like to have to share a room and a bathroom with one or two other people. The experience is even better when you can live in a college town like Boston.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Protect Your Peace

As many of you know, I'm currently in training to become a yoga teacher. Every Tuesday night I go to a three-hour class where we discuss and practice poses, as well as discussing the philosophy of yoga. The philosophy is set out in what is known as the yoga sutras. One of the sutras last night included the words "protect your peace", meaning to protect your inner peace and well-being. We often let other people disturb the peacefulness that we are sometimes able to find within ourselves. For example, you're outside enjoying a gorgeous, sunny day. As you start to cross the street (at the crosswalk), a driver comes speeding by and doesn't even slow down. You jump back so as not to get run over, and your right arm automatically flies up and your middle finger makes an apprearance. That careless driver just disturbed your peace. The beauty of the day is now lost on you because of the anger you feel at someone you don't even know. You just gave that stranger a lot of power.

Another way that your peace can be disturbed is by fostering an imbalance in your relationships. You know there are things you need to do for yourself in order to maintain your own well-being, but whenever you try to do those things, your friend or mate approaches you with a request. Because selflessness may be a part of your nature, you defer your own needs in order to meet the needs of others. By doing that, you're letting your friends and loved ones disturb your peace. What's the point of you making all of those people happy or satisfying their needs when your own needs go unmet? If your needs continue to go unmet, resentment starts to build in your heart. From that resentment arises anger, apathy, depression, and a whole host of other negative emotions. This becomes the perfect set-up for the severing of ties with the ones that you care about. At the time it will make perfect sense for you to walk away from them, but when you look back on it later, you'll wonder how you let it get to that point. Protect your peace so that you can live a happy and fulfilling life. When you feel that peace being disturbed, quiet that disturbance with the knowledge that you have the power to bring yourself right back to that place of peace and that only you can determine whether or not someone else will disturb it.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Did She Have to Put a Foot in Someone's Ass?

I know that's the question you've all been asking yourselves since you read about my hair salon debacle. Rest asssured that I'm not hopping around behind someone with my right foot stuck in their ass. One thing I will say though is that the infamous Maria didn't call me to confirm my appointment. Instead I got a text from my hairdresser saying that she could take me right after work. Maybe she was afraid I might cuss Maria out. Who knows?

Anyway, me and my big, bushy head of hair made it to the salon right after work. Luckily I wasn't getting braids done again or I would've been there forever. When I walked into the salon, my hairdresser and the owner both greeted me, but Maria didn't. That made me go "Hmmm..." Although there was no one at the sink having their hair washed, I sat there for a good 15 minutes before Maria called me over to the sink. Not quite sure what that was about, but whatever.

Finally she calls me over to wash my hair. Normally she's very chatty when she's washing my hair, but not this time. Once my hair was washed, it was only a few minutes before my hairdresser had me sit in her chair. There was very little conversation between the two of us. The only thing she asked me is if I wanted a part in my hair. I told her yes and because it's been so long since my hair has been straightened, I told her it didn't matter what side she put it on. This time she didn't stop in the middle and go do someone else's hair. Maybe that's because I wasn't having braids done. Anyway, I was out of there in less than three hours, which hasn't happened in a very long time.

The camaraderie that I felt with everyone there at the salon is pretty much gone. I can still joke around with them, which I did, but after being disregarded by them, there's a part of me that will remain closed off. Basically, I don't trust them not to screw me again. The issue with me finding someone else to do my hair is that there aren't many black hairdressers that work with natural hair. Guess I'll just have to see what happens.

Friday, January 20, 2012

You're Kidding, Right?!

As you know, I usually weigh in at Weight Watchers on Thursday, but I had a hair appointment after work. Since the appointment was at 6:00, I would've normally been able to weigh in and then make it to the salon on time. The one glitch in my plan was the fact that I had to take the braids out of my hair. I started taking them out on Wednesday night after workstudy at the yoga studio. It takes a lot of time and there were many small braids, so I didn't finish. I figured I could finish in the morning before I left for my 8:00am doctor's appointment. Got up at 6:15am yesterday morning to continue with braid removal. Got them all done except maybe 15, and had to take a shower. Everyone's water in my apartment building is connected so if I start to take a shower and the guy next door turns on his shower, my hot water turns cold. I did not have time to wait for him to finish his shower so I was like "Screw it. I'm not taking a shower." I was basically still clean from the day before and I sit behind a desk all day so I don't work up a sweat. With that in mind, I work on a couple more of the braids, pack my lunch, get dressed, and head out. When I left the house it was 7:45. It takes at least 20 minutes to get to the subway stop that's near the doctor's office and another 10 to walk there. By the time I get there it's 8:20. I'm there for a physical and the medical assistant is like "I don't think she'll be able to do the full physical, but I'll take you back anyway." Now you and I both know that doctors are late all the time. So she takes me in, takes my blood pressure, asks if I have allergies to any medications, and then weighs me. (On a side note, according to the digital scale she had, I lost weight this week.) A few minutes later the doctor comes in. When she asks me how I'm doing, I tell her I'm fine except for the fact that I was late for my appointment. She looks at me and says "Well the people that work for me are like that (meaning that she knew they had a problem with me being late), but I don't share those feelings. I'm always happy to see your smiling face." No, she's not a native New Englander, hahaha!!! She's a Southerner, like me.

So we got down to the business of her performing my physical and she had me out of there before 9:00. I had to go back out to the waiting area to wait to have some blood drawn. After about 10 minutes or so the tech was ready to take me. After giving away four vials of my blood, I was on my way to work. Because I hadn't finished taking my braids out, I had a lop-sided 'do and I had to buy a wide headband to hold the front of it back. I knew that as soon as my work day was over I'd need to go to the ladies room and finish taking out my braids. About five minutes before 5:00 I headed to the ladies room. I was only able to get five braids done before I needed to leave. Once again I was like "Screw it. Her assistant will have to take out the rest." I stop by 7-Eleven to grab a snack because I know I'll be at the salon for a while and of course I end up getting there late. When I get there, the lights are all off and there's no one there. I texted my hairdresser and said "I know you didn't mean 6:00am." Her response was "No." I proceeded to ask her why everything looked like it was shut down and she was suddenly all apologetic, saying that while the plumbers were there fixing the sink, they broke something else and that everyone's appointments were cancelled. Funny how no one called me. She was like "Didn't you get my text?" Of course I didn't or I wouldn't be standing outside in below freezing temperatures with one glove off texting her. She was like "Maria said she called everyone." The only call I got from Maria was on Wednesday reminding me about my appointment. She was very apologetic, and I told her it was all good.

Normally it wouldn't be a big deal, but I cancelled plans with a friend that I haven't seen in years in order to get my hair done. Also, there have been many times when I've had to wait while she stops in the middle of doing my hair, so that she can do someone else's. This salon is a small operation, but I also had to wait sometimes at the old place, which was larger. I've always been really patient because I had no reason to be in a hurry, so to be totally forgotten like that was a bit of a blow. One of my friends recommended that I find someone else to do my hair. Because I wear my hair in natural styles instead of chemically relaxing it, I'm picky about who I'll let touch my hair. I'll have to do some in-depth research. The only good thing that came out of this is that I was able to finish taking the braids out.

Today I'm walking around with a big, puffy head of hair. I texted my hairdresser this morning and let her know that I had to cancel plans for her to do my hair and that I'll be seeing the person that I cancelled plans with on Monday. I told her that when I see this person I don't want to look like something out of "The Color Purple". Supposedly she can do my hair tonight as long as the sink gets fixed (which it's supposed to). The infamous Maria is supposed to call me to confirm, but it's almost 2:30 and I haven't heard anything. Stay tuned. This could get ugly...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Senior Year

Sorry to leave you hanging. Seems like I was in the 11th grade for an eternity, huh? When I left you I was contemplating college in Chicago. One of the requisite items for my application to DePaul University was an audition tape. There were two or three different types of songs I had to perform and I had to practice those songs after school with my chorus teacher. This is the man who threw the music folder and dented the poster. I was never too terribly fond of him, but my dislike of him grew when I didn't get into DePaul's music program. I feel that he didn't do enough to prep me to sing those songs. He was also working with another student on audition material, someone that I know for a fact that he liked better than me.

To say that I was devastated by being rejected for the music program was an understatement. I cried my eyes out. DePaul encouraged me to apply to another program, but I really wanted to be in their music program. I just happened to get something in the mail from Berklee College of Music in Boston the same week I got the rejection letter from DePaul. Berklee didn't require an audition until after admission, so I decided to go out on a limb and apply there. I didn't apply to any other colleges. I figured that if I didn't get in, I'd regroup and apply to other schools for the spring semester.

Well there was no need to regroup because Berklee accepted me. I had never, ever even been to Boston and only knew about it from what I had read in books. I was also a huge New Kids on the Block fan, and they're from Boston, hahaha!!! There I was, a black girl from the rural South who had only ever left the South to go to the Midwest. I had absolutely no clue what I was getting myself into, but I was lead by my curious nature and my adventurous spirit.

Friday, January 6, 2012

Die, Lying Bastard, Die!

Before you start trying to gather bail money, I have to tell you that I'm not going to kill my lying bastard scale; although I really should. His metaphorical death will come to pass instead of his physical one. I plan to put him away in the storage area in my apartment and forget about him. His grasp has been much too tight over the past year and I decided to pry his bony, taunting fingers from around my ankle. By doing that, I think I'll be able to make progress so that 2012 can be my year. My year to reach my weight-loss goal. My year to transition into a career. My year to treat myself better than ever before.

When I went to my Weight Watchers meeting yesterday, I found that I had gained. It was no big surprise because I ate a lot of junk and got very little exercise. Yesterday's meeting dealt with the things in our life that block us from weight-loss success. Someone mentioned the fact that the reading on their scale is always different from the readings at WW. Because a person's weight can fluctuate throughout the day, WW recommends that members only weigh themselves once a week, preferably on the same day of the week around the same time. That's so that life becomes less scale-centric, drawing the focus to other things. For the first time since I started the program, I'm only going to step on the scale once a week, at my WW meeting.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Sharing the Liebster Love!

My girl Cathy Keisha gave me the hook-up and tagged me for a blog award. It's called Liebster and roughly translates to "sweetheart". CK is a 'hood cat with a heart of gold and I'm honored that she chose me. You should all drop by and pay her a visit. She's a laugh-riot and she don't take no mess from nobody, especially TW aka The Woman.

I'm tasked with passing this distinctive award on to other bloggers, as CK has done with me. Once you've been tagged, please do the following:
  • Link back to me because I'm the blogger who gave you the award.
  • Put the award on your blog.
  • Choose 5 other bloggers with less than 200 followers to pass it to.
  • Let those bloggers know by leaving a comment on their blog. If you just say "Tag, you're it!" I'll personally have CK send over some of her homies to rough you up. I guarantee you right now, it won't be pretty ;-).
I'm going to tag a mix of animal and human blogs that I'd like for you to read:

First up is a very cool cat Katie, who lives with Glogirly and documents her own adventures as well as giving Glogirly some screen time ;-).

Next up is Carole. She's a cat lover and kindred spirit, who's from the South, just like me :-).

For all of you supernatural book lovers out there, Amber is your girl! Check out her reviews and book suggestions.

One of my absolute favorites is Hailey's Dragonfly Garden. I've mentioned the website several times, but the site also has an accompanying blog.

Last, but not least, is my good friend Berkeley. He's an adventurous little teddy bear who travels the world and shares his experiences.

I think there's a little something for everyone on the list of bloggers that I've chosen. Enjoy!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

I Don't Drink

Here we are three days into the new year and I'm sure there are some of you who are still recovering from the revelry of your holiday celebrations. No matter how people all over the world choose to celebrate, there's a common thread that weaves through them all. That common thread is alcohol. I personally don't consume alcohol for two very important reasons: the first being that I don't particularly like the taste, and the second and most important being that there's a history of alcoholism in my family that has produced devastating results. There's also a somewhat peripheral reason, which is because the medications I take don't mix well with alcohol.

Sometimes the smell of alcohol makes me sick and I know that goes back to my childhood. My father's parents were both alcoholics. There are some people, who when they get drunk love everybody. There are others who hate everybody. My paternal grandmother fell into the second category. I'm not sure if my paternal grandfather was a mean drunk or if my grandmother pushed him until he was mean to her. In a nutshell, he beat her. Not only did he do so with his hands, he also did so with belts, rubber hoses, anything he could get his hands on. This is what my father had to deal with throughout his childhood. His father only ever beat his mother. Never him, his brothers, or his sister. Prior to my parents getting married, my mother had no idea that this type of thing happened in that household, but she found out soon enough. Once she and my father were married, they lived with his parents. The first time she experienced them fighting like cats and dogs, it nearly scared her to death. She came from a household where her father never would've even considered laying a finger on her mother although my maternal grandmother could be a real pain.

After two years of living with them, my parents got their own place. Not too long after that, tragedy struck. My grandmother was on the phone with my aunt (my dad's sister) when my grandfather walked into the bedroom where she was talking on the phone, and they started to argue. I'm not quite clear on exactly how everything transpired, but the argument escalated and ended with her shooting him. Not only did she shoot him, she killed him. Because of the history of domestic violence, she didn't do any time.

This all happened before I was born, so I wasn't aware of it until later on in my life. The one thing I was aware of is that my grandmother was a woman who was constantly giving mixed messages. When she was drunk, she didn't want us anywhere near her. I remember one Easter when I was around four or five, we had gone to her house for an Easter egg hunt. We weren't there very long before she started to get angry. Of course she had been drinking and apropos of nothing I suddenly heard her say to my parents "Get those damn kids out of my house!" That is burned into my memory. No matter what she said or did after that, that day is what colors my memories and perception of her. When she was sober she was always like "Come give me a hug. I love you." How does a child reconcile an angry drunk with the person that's hugging them tight and saying "I love you"? As I got older, I refused to go to her house during holidays because I refused to take the verbal abuse. Now that I'm an adult I can see that she had a serious problem. Because she never saw it as a problem and therefore wasn't willing to get help for it, it always cast a dark cloud over her relationships with people.

As someone who is clinically depressed, it would be very easy for me to self-medicate with alcohol instead of taking my antidepressant. The family history of alcoholism (which is also on my mom's side of the family) would be the perfect excuse for me to live it up and get drunk every night. That being said, I don't condemn people that choose to drink; whether socially or otherwise. One thing I do know is that I would never allow myself to knowingly get involved romantically with someone who has more than a social relationship with alcohol. It would be too painful. Alcohol can destroy relationships in very subtle ways.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

A New Year, Full of Hope

Today is the first day of 2012. For anyone who wasn't satisfied with how 2011 turned out, it's a chance to wipe the slate clean. For those who like what they did or accomplished in 2011, it's a chance to keep the momentum going. No matter how your previous year was, this new one is filled with hope and promise. The possibilities are endless. Embrace this year and make the most of it. Happy New Year, everyone!