Control Freak

The beginning of Sza’s song Supermodel includes a clip about control.

That is my greatest fear. That if I lost control. Or did not have control. Things would just, you know. I. It would be fatal.

Sza, Supermodel

It resonated with me.

I admit it.

I’m a control freak.

I don’t even think I mean to be. 

My obsession with being in control is directly connected to my childhood.

The adults around me failed to take charge when and where (I thought) it was necessary. This resulted in me being forced to function normally in chaos and dysfunction all of the time. I felt helpless quite a lot. 

That fear of feeling helpless impacts almost all of the relationships in my life. I prefer to have control of most of my interactions with people. 

I’m not a bitch about it or anything like that (I don’t think) but I do prefer to be in charge when I can. I enjoy planning things and trying to account for any deviations from the plans. If I’m planning a road trip, I’m going to account for traffic, accidents, flat tires etc. If it’s a celebration, I can almost guarantee that I’ve accounted for the caterer to show up late or not at all. 

Being in control keeps my anxiety and panic at bay. 

But I learned a very valuable lesson recently.

Last week my car wouldn’t crank.

I just got the car at the end of May.

What the fuck could possibly be wrong now?

It was so random. I was stuck in a Ross parking lot on my lunch break. Midday. In hot ass Texas. 

There was no way I could have planned for this. However, I was somewhat prepared. I had jumper cables. I had access to roadside assistance. That’s as far as the preparation could go. I had to accept that head on. I simply had no control over the car not starting.

Instead of freaking out this time, I paused. It wasn’t the appropriate time to fall apart. It was time to strategize so that I can get back up and running until I could get to a mechanic to figure out what was wrong with it. I asked a stranger to jumpstart my car and then I drove it back to my apartment. I got another jump from a friend and was able to get it to the dealership. The dealership arranged my transport to and from the dealership. There was a screw missing on the battery and a clamp that was loose. Easy fix. I didn’t have to pay a dime for the “repair.” 

2 year plans are nice. Vision boards are smart. Following all of the directions serves its purpose most days. But they are simply preparation and the unexpected and unexplainable are simply bound to happen. Everything is temporary. Nothing is permanent. Shit happens. Things fall apart. Plans fail. People fall out of love. Friendships end. Loved ones die. 

As harsh as it sounds, it’s the reality of things. 

This isolated event served as a simple reminder that life is fluid and control is truly an illusion. 

JUST OUT OF CURIOSITY……

Do you consider yourself a control freak? Where does it stem from?

When do you feel most in control? When do you feel least in control?

How do you adjust when unexpected events happen in your life? Do you adjust in a healthy manner? If not, what could change?

It’s My Party……

And I cried because I NEEDED to,

You would cry too if you walked in my shoes.

Yesterday was my 31st birthday.

It was yet another year of celebrating life in the middle of this pandemic. Unlike most birthdays before last year, I wasn’t genuinely excited.

I knew that this year would be somewhat different since I now live in Texas and most of my family and friends live in North Carolina. 

It began as one of the most “un-birthday-est” birthdays ever. 

I’m used to celebrating throughout the week amongst friends, family and strangers alike. 

Karaoke.

Dinners.

Bar hops.

Vineyards.

Smoking cigars.

Kayaking.

Connecting with nature, 

Hood rat shit with my friends.

This pandemic forced me to do some serious shadow working.

I have had breakdowns galore. 

I have had some rough wild nights.

My support system is A1. 

This revolution around the sun is propelling me forward. I feel it. 

Leering go of the things that torement me. The things that kept me bound. The things that lived rent free in my head for far too long.

It was hindering all that I was trying to manifest.

And on my birthday things changed. 

There was shift. The good finally about to outweigh the bad. 

I got that message very loud and clear. 

Yesterday was an entire party just for me.

And dammit I cried!

Thank you all for allowing me to share this space with you in this lifetime. 

Time to rebrand.

#takemetochurch

The one good thing that’s come out of this pandemic is how much I’ve been able to network, especially online. Many have led to in person meet-ups. The nature of how we are connecting to people has changed since the onset of the pandemic. Those that were formerly camera shy have relocated themselves to the front of the lens. Those that have never imagined online dating are finally finding love. New friendships are emerging everyday amongst people that have shared interests. Seeing people connect with people they would have never connected with offline is beautiful. 

This was the case for Mila and I. We hadn’t met before the pandemic but are both alumnae of North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University. Mila graduated in 2008 and I in 2013. We have hella mutual friends on Facebook and our mutual friend Chynna connected us. 

Initially the connection was for Mila’s podcast- The Pieces of Mi. On the podcast, Mila shares all of the pieces of herself which include mom shit, political shit, human journey shit and real hot girl shit. 

On this week’s episode, Mila, JaLissa and myself take a deep dive into our relationships with black folks and the church. 

Listen via the link below.

https://anchor.fm/thepiecesofmi

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.

Fired From Instacart….How Sway?

Like Craig.

I got fired on my day off for “stealing” groceries.

But first.

If you aren’t aware, Instacart is a grocery deliver service app that guarantees same-day delivery. As a customer, you can simply download the app, register as a customer and literally begin online grocery shopping just like you’d do with any other online purchases. The stores that Instacart is partnered with are provided for you. You can chat with your personal shopper and request substitutes and refunds if your items are not available. Once your groceries are purchased, your shopper delivers the items to your doorstep. The process is similar to become a shopper. You simply download the app, register and wait for your lanyard and Instacart Visa card to arrive in the mail before you can begin shopping. Once the shopping is done, simply deliver to the customer.

At the peak of COVID-19, I lost both my full time and part-time jobs. I became an Instacart shopper to keep myself afloat while applying for full time jobs. Combine the fear and frustrations of COVID-19, being over/under qualified for jobs and not being willing to accept minimum wage positions, I had a nice little cocktail of not being able to find another job. *I tried applying for unemployment and it was a nightmare.

I’ve been a shopper since March 2020. I started in Killeen until recently here in Austin. I’ve seen many a highs and lows as a shopper. The best and worst of customers, grocery store employees and customer service agents.

I survived the hump when customers were tip-baiting (offering big $$$ only to reduce the tips to $0 after their items were delivered). I survived the huge data breach (which Instacart initially denied) that reduced deliveries significantly. More recently, I have been surviving “bots” or hackers snatching the higher paying deliveries from honest shoppers. The Instacart platform has been a wild, Wild West shit-show for a long time but nothing compares to the email that I received yesterday about my account being deactivated.

So then I said

And then they said

My response was

And this is all that they provided

But that wasn’t enough for me.

All communication ceased from that point.

To date, I’ve only received ONE phone call about an order not being delivered and of course I had Instacart to contact the customer to verify the delivery and they did.

Any other emails I’ve received about an order not being delivered were met with me contacting customer service as well. Each time I had to defend myself. And each time I asked the customer service team to verify the deliveries with the pictures that shoppers are required to provide during delivery. I was told that they didn’t have access to this information on numerous occasions. How ironic.

Below are a few screenshots of real time conversations with customer support agents, because well, Instacart doesn’t allow you to actually speak with someone unless you’re being accused of stealing their groceries.

In the age of social media, I decided to head to Instagram to see if there was a way to get more assistance. I DM’d the officially account and went to the comment section of their posts.

Lo and behold.

I’m not the only one that this has happened to.

Their posts are FLOODED with complaints from shoppers like myself about issues ranging from account deactivations (as a result of false non-deliveries), tip-baiting, rude customers, poor customer support agent experiences and shoppers not being paid and/or reimbursed properly.

Don’t believe me? Go see for yourself.

My biggest question after this ordeal is exactly HOW is Instacart holding their customers accountable for rudeness, tip-baiting and false accusations? To me, it seems as if the only people being held accountable for anything is their shoppers who are risking their livelihoods to provide a service for a company that doesn’t support them. I also wonder if this issue is persistent across all independently contracted delivery service apps.

All I know is that what happened to me is a true shame. Unfortuately I’m sure that this won’t be the last time that it happens to a shopper. If you’ve had this experience or any other horror experiences with independently contracted delivery service apps, please feel free to reach out. We deserve answers.

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.