Deep In The Heart of Texas

*clears throat

I was born and raised in Townsville, NC.

At one point I thought I’d die there, but that’s another blog.

I have survived 17 long and excruciating winters on occasion.

I have some beautiful memories of hs having no power, no water for days at a time,

But still being able to beat thanks to the wood stove

Or filling a bathtub with water

Pipes bursting

Well water frozen solid

Silence and only the sound of Mother Nature

Swarovski diamonded snow with the reflection of the sun

Made snow families with my own family

Frigid times for sure.

BUT I AIN’T NEVER SEEN NO SHIT LIKE THIS!

Escaping Survival Mode

According to Psychology Today, “survival mode” is an adaptive response of the human body to help us survive danger and stress. 

From the outside looking in, many people would assume that I had an overall healthy childhood and adolescence. I was raised by my grandparents in the country. I got good grades. I never came off as disobedient. My yes mams and no sirs were always polished. Despite being a “good kid” raised in a super religious household, my life has never been exempt from trauma and dysfunction. I am almost certain that I’ve suffered from depression for years undiagnosed. 

I recently read and shared an article that discussed the immobilizing effects of depression. I recognized myself immediately. I wasn’t in a position to get out of the environment that I was in so I mentally became immobile. I don’t remember how I learned to control my rage. How to play along. How to seemingly “fit” into that world until I could get out of it.

Fast forward to now.

At 30. Far removed from the people, places and things that brought the trauma and dysfunction into my life, I still catch myself functioning in survival mode.

It is very difficult to escape this mindset.

I’m constantly reminding myself. I question my decisions alot. Why am I doing this? When it’s time for me to make important decisions I ask myself if I’m doing what I want to do or what needs to be done? Anything involving money and I’m asking if I’m buying an item from a headspace of lack.

Whatever helps right?

To the person that resonates with this blog:

  1. How are you or have you been working on escaping a mindself of survival mode?
  2. What has been your biggest challenge?

Old Intentions, Current Realities

Here’s my “perfect” day:

  • Wake up
  • Walk Milo
  • Meditate
  • Breakfast
  • Check accounts
  • Start work (reading, writing)
  • Lunch/Gym
  • Check accounts
  • End work (reading, writing)
  • Dinner
  • Walk Milo
  • Meditate 
  • Bed

Two years ago, I was in a completely different headspace than I was now. This was when I had quit my corporate job. I was fully convinced that I wanted to pursue writing full time and that me quitting and writing down this perfect day was exactly what I wanted for my life. I wrote them down like all the gurus said. I set my intentions under every moon in high faith that this would some way somehow become my life. You know the old cliche, if I knew then what I knew now, I would do xyz differently? Well. Looking back at these intentions and my current state of life, I’d say I’m exactly where I wanted to be. And as frustrated as I am with what my life appears to be right now, I can’t be upset at anyone outside of myself. 

Here’s why.

I wasn’t specific!

In any way, shape or form.

I left myself completely open to interpretation and influence of whatever else was going on in the world.

Ask and ye shall receive, right?

I had to mentally walk myself back through these intentions that I set FOR MYSELF. What the hell was I thinking? Why didn’t the author warn me?!?!?

I had no sense of what time I wanted to wake up or why I wanted to wake up at said time. At the crack of dawn? Catch the sunrise?  I didn’t know what kind of meditations I was interested in or even how to practice mindfulness in said meditation. Walking meditation? Shower meditation? With singing bowls and palo santo? Did I want to have enough time for a hearty homemade breakfast or did I wanna hit somebody’s drive thru line? What kind of accounts was I checking? Social media? Bank accounts? In terms of work, was it ONLY reading and writing? And did the reading and writing pay the bills? I mean, I knew I hated my job because it kept me away from my reading and writing………

BUT DAMN

Moving forward, I began detailing my goals, intentions, and prayers etc down to the number of times that I am going to have to pee each day. 

If you feel like you’re in a funk (like me), I challenge you to go find old notebooks, prayer journals and buried sticky notes and revisit some of the intentions that you have set for yourself. What manifested? What are you currently waiting on? Are you where you said you’d be? Maybe you’ll discover where you are is where you wanted to be after all. 

Although it took two years to fully manifest, this is truly the life I thought I wanted for myself. Truth be told, it’s not. I’ll preach to myself first before I preach to the masses but hear me loud and clear. 

WHEN WE ARE NOT SPECIFIC WITH OUR GOALS, ANYTHING GOES.

Damn Near Vegan…….

Yes.

My former chittlins and pig feet eatin ass is vegetarian. Damn near vegan but still struggling with cheese.

I’m on the cusp of my three month mark of missing bacon.

Growing up in Townsville, NC, I was raised on chicken, fish, rabbit, squirrel, opossum, pig feet and stankin ass (all pun intended) chittlins. All of it. You name it, we ate it. Super Southern. Smothered in gravy. Doused in Texas Pete Hot Sauce. Paired with cabbage cooked with ham and string beans. Saying no to food wasn’t an option. It was a high level of disrespect especially since I wasn’t contributing to the groceries NOR was I “big enough” to tell anybody what I wasn’t going to eat.

Despite the diet that was accustomed to as a kid well into adolescence, I’ve always maintained a very petite frame. The “biggest” I’ve ever been was a size 13 and the smallest I’ve ever been has been a 00 in high school.

I’m currently struggling to hang tight to my size 6 Levis without them trying to fall off the bone (get it? Fall off the bone? Nevermind).

My diet had been pretty much the same my entire life except for the three months that I went pescatarian. That was fun yet short lived. At the time it worked because I was kickboxing and it helped me get my abs faster. When I stopped kickboxing, I went right back to Cajun chicken trays and fried pork chops.

But then it all changed.

I moved to Texas.

Not just Texas.

HOT ASS TEXAS.

DRY HEAT ASS TEXAS.

Things were cool during the beginning of spring when I arrived and then it started getting hot. Not only did it get hot. It got hot right when COVID caused me to lose my full time job.

I decided to become an Instacart shopper, in said heat. If you’re not familiar with Instacart, it’s a grocery delivery service that allows someone to shop for your groceries for you and have them delivered to your door.

This coupled with my diet and Texas heat proved disastrous. I’d notice that I always felt sluggish no matter how much water I drank. No matter how many naps I took. NO matter how much sleep I’d gotten the night before. My body still wasn’t adjusting properly. And I ain’t like that. I just couldn’t maintain the energy levels that I needed to Instacart.

Naturally for me, when I feel like my body is off balance, the first thing that I evaluate is my diet. In my mind, everything physical stems from there. I considered going back pescatarian or limiting myself to chicken and fish. But then when so many of the employees at Tyson Foods started testing positive for COVID, I knew that meat NOR seafood was going to be an option.

The true icing on the cake was shopping for Instacart. I saw countless customers buying pounds of meat- raw, cooked, processed, soda, candy, junk food………just all kinds of shit. It started making me sick to my stomach because it was so much of it EVERY FUCKING DAY. Many repeat customers. I could count on one hand how many meatless deliveries I had or even deliveries that included fresh fruit and veggies at one point.

Talk about a weird way to fully and abruptly change up a diet right?

May 2, 2020 was the last time that I had meat. I went all out because I knew how serious I was…..THIS TIME. I ordered curried goat, steamed cabbage, red beans and rice from a nice Jamaican spot.

Since then, I can definitely smell meat from outer space. I accidentally had mashed cauliflower that had bacon in it (on accident) and some string beans that I had been prepared with ham. It ripped me an entire new asshole.

My body has never felt better. I have more energy. No more sluggish days despite the 100+ degree weather. No more catnaps. I sleep better at night. My concentration is A1 and my anxiety and depression are super manageable. Going out hasn’t limited my ability to go out to eat either as more vegan/vegetarian options are becoming available on menus.

It wouldn’t be me if I didn’t add fuel to the fire. Not only did I cut out the meats, but I started doing research with the support of a few Facebook friends pointing me in the right direction (thanks Demetria).

The more I learn, the more I’m appalled, disgusted, angry and sad. The information has been overwhelming at times and at other times it’s been very encouraging. At this point, I’m trying to convince as many people as possible (especially black folks) to GET OFF DA MEATS! I’ve never met so many black vegans and vegetarians before in my entire life! It keeps me energized to continue educating people of the benefits of embracing a plant-based diet, so much that I’m actually going into plant-based education and advocacy work!

For many, it should take COVID or a doctor’s death sentence for change (although there’s a  90% chance that it will). There’s so much shit happening with our foods that we aren’t even aware of. The transition into a plant-based lifestyle inspired me to analyze how our food affects our wellness- mentally and physically especially in low socioeconomic black communities. I have ideas for launching plant-based education initiatives and even maybe launching a non-profit. Who knows? One thing I know for sure is that many unhealthy eating habits and patters have been passed down from generation to generation and my goal is to stop them as much as I can. Toxic perspectives about clean eating have also been passed down from generation to generation, and I plan to help stop that too. Plant-based diets aren’t just a “white people thing.” Hell, it’s not even a healthy people thing. It’s a simply a more conscious decision. Oh and don’t get me started on how embracing a plant-based diet is a direct approach to fighting systemic racism! That’s a different convo for a different post!

If you’re interested on learning more about weaning yourself off of DA MEATS, feel free to reach out. If you’ve transitioned and did a bit of backsliding, START OVER AS MANY TIMES AS YOU NEED TO BUT NEVER GIVE UP. Then, tell me how you feel.

Untitled 4/27/20

What if I told you that today, I spent the bulk of the afternoon crying in my car in a park? Like boo hoo. Snot running. Struggling to breathe bawling. A lot of folks I know probably wouldn’t believe it and even more would likely be upset that didn’t reach out to talk to them. The thing is…..I needed to cry today. I needed to fall apart. I needed to RELEASE.

Everything kinda hit at once (with the assistance of my period of course) and I lost my shit.

I started my day off like normal. Instacarting. Batches were trickling in but few and far between. For lunch I had street tacos from a food truck and I sat in the parking lot eating and people watching. A norm for me.

Then I started getting into my own head again. I started thinking about being 30. Living with my sister and brother in law. Not having yet gotten my own apartment since being in Texas. Not getting the full time job that I was really gunning for. Not being able to get Milo from NC right now. COVID19 fucking up all of my plans. The list continues.

Just all of the things that I’m not able to do. I started feeling helpless. The sure fire sign that I am on the brink of going into a state of depression.

I had a complete meltdown.

I let all of my frustrations and fears fall from my eyes. I screamed. I cursed. I prayed. I begged.

And you know what I noticed after I did all of that?

Nothing in the park stopped because I had a meltdown.

Folks were still getting their miles in. Smiling. Laughing. Kids still played on the playground (a separate COVID convo to be had).

NOBODY NOTICED. There was no one to ask what was wrong. NOBODY GAVE A DAMN.

So I started laughing.

Here I am. Having an entire pity party.

Alone.

Expecting the world to stop.

The world won’t stop because I’m sad. Because things aren’t going according to plan. Hell, it still hasn’t stopped for COVID.

I had a day. A moment. Cool. But how many more days can I afford to fall apart like this? None.

I got out the car. Went to a table and started reading.

If you look hard enough, you’ll find clues on what to do next.

Two clues came to me today.

The first was a quote from the book I’m reading Think Unbroken by Michael Anthony.

If you win the day, then you win the week.

If you win the week, then you win the month.

If you win the month, then you win the year.

Think Unbroken, Michael Anthony

I decided to change the working to be more proactive for me. I jotted it down on a sticky note to put over my bed.

The second thing that came was a shift in my mindset from a very interesting place.

I saw a man at the park. He was flying a kite. From a fishing rod.

It was actually flying and he looked like the happiest man in the world.

Who said he had to ONLY fly a kite from the string it came with?

Who said that you had to ONLY fish with a fishing rod?

NO DAMN BODY.

I was reminded to think outside the box. I can make up my own rules if the “rules” that I’m attempting to follow aren’t working for me.

I was reminded to think bigger. Perhaps what I need right now isn’t coming to me because what I think I need is too small.

I quickly pulled my shit together and left the park.

Empowered.

Children of Blood and Bone

Initially I didn’t want to read this book.

Not because it’s not one of thee most magical books I’ve ever read.

Not because it was 525 pages.

Not because of its name.

I didn’t want to read this book…..well…..because everyone else was reading it.

Super simple. Rather dumb. But I didn’t want everyone ruining the book for me.

This book was the last book that I purchased in store at Barnes and Noble before they close their doors because of COVID-19. I could not have been prepared for the life changing experience that took place between the covers of this book.

This year has been all about personal accountability and this book continued to provide it for me. I began seeing bits and pieces of myself in each of the main characters.

In Zelie, I saw my fears constantly haunting my thoughts and sorrow in my memories. Forgiveness that I owed to myself for not being stronger than I was. I saw my doubts in my ability to lead because of my past. I felt Zelie’s frustration as she struggled with knowing how powerful her gifts were. How draining it was physically when she used them to get her closer to restoring magic in Orisha.

Zelie’s doubt in her strengths reminded me of my own. I still struggle with it sometimes. The imposter syndrome. Other people see and believe in them, but most days for whatever reason, I tend to focus on my weaknesses. Even after bringing magic back (not quite the way she intended), she focused on all fo the things that went wrong. That she failed to accomplish such as protecting Baba. her focus remained on everything she didn’t do along the journey without giving herself credit for the bravery it took to begin the journey.

Tzain reminded me of how strong I always felt the need to be since I’m the oldest sibling. It’s an unspoken responsibility. We aren’t expected to show weakness. We should always lead by example. We have to figure everything out first. The eldest are the protectors. Sometimes that backfires. This happened when Zelie had her first experiences in love with Inan. Sometimes we are forced to sit on the sidelines to allow them to experience life. No matter how much we try to forewarn them. They are bound to make mistakes. I was right there as Tzain gave up the fight and watched Inan break Zelie’s heart. It was even painful to read. But when Zelie needed his reassurance and support, Tzain was right there.

We are all children of blood and bone.

All instruments of vengeance and virtue.

Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi

Through Inan I remembered how hard I fought to maintain my religious upbringing even when I no longer identified with it. Knowing that what you were taught no longer makes sense but still feeling the guilty need to honor it as a sign of loyalty and respect. Inan resented his magic based on the fear that he was taught. I was afraid of my spiritual path because of my upbringing. For the longest I rejected the supernatural things that kept happened to me. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to question anything religious. I wanted to be able to question why I could ask questions but was never bold or brave enough to stand up to my folks.  Saran taught Inan and Amari to hate magic. I was raised to believe that people that didn’t go to church couldn’t prosper in life. Those views didnt change until I started meeting people that didn’t go to church that were living prosperous lives. I began meeting people that not only didn’t attend church, but people that had closer relationships with God than the people that I knew that went faithfully. It wasn’t until I had a mental breakdown that I decided to allow my spiritual journey to begin freely. Since giving up the fight, this is the healthiest that it’s ever been. I too, have plenty of friends (like Kaea) and family that don’t understand it. And I’m completely okay with that.

Although I wanted to read this book as pure fiction, I simply couldn’t. I lost track of time. I allowed my imagination to roam freely in Gombe during the festival. I dreamt about maji pulsing through my veins.

I am beyond grateful for the messages I’ve received while reading this book and ordered Children of Virtue and Vengeance before I was done with Children of Blood and Bone. I look forward to the journey continuing for Zelie, Tzain and Amari now the magic is back!

I apologize if you read and assumed that this would be a regular book review. This ain’t that. This isn’t one of those books. You literally have to experience it’s magic firsthand. It’s deeper than fiction.

Read the book? Wanna discuss it? Contact me!