On Dying: Our Marjorie

My neighbor of fifteen years is dying in a hospice from pancreatic cancer. Something she didn’t want to share with anyone so I’m just finding out this week in her final days and hours. I understand her not wanting everyone to know I am just as private when it comes to my own personal tragedies but I would like to have been able to tell her what a wonderful neighbor she has been all these years. I would like to be able to tell her that I will miss her, I mean really miss her. Maybe she didn’t want to see the heartbreak in my eyes or feel my tears slip down from my face to her hands as I try to convey my feeling for her. I have told her on more than one occasion how much I appreciated her but right now I don’t feel as if it is enough.

My family and I moved into our predominately white Italian neighborhood fifteen years ago. I knew very little about Rhode Island and less about Providence or its neighborhoods. Our realtor took us to homes in Cranston, Providence, Johnston and finally our home in North Providence.We visited the house I was to buy on a cool October night driving down from Boston where we lived. My dream was to find us something in southern MA but the home prices were way too high for me a divorced single mother of three. A co-worker who commuted from Rhode Island suggested I take a look over the border in his neighborhood so every weekend we would drive out and just scope the neighborhoods as best we could without a guide. I liked the quietness and small town feel of Rhode Island so contacted an real estate agency. My realtor took us to homes in Cranston, Providence, Johnston and finally the home in North Providence. As soon as we walked in the door we all loved it. It just felt like home to all of us.

On moving day my cousin joked that my neighbors were probably peeking out their windows at this little black family moving in and saying there goes the neighborhood. I laughed but it hit me at that moment that other than my co-worker telling me North Providence was a great place to raise kids I hadn’t much thought about whether it was a great place for black kids. It never crossed my mind there were no other black families on the street or in the neighborhood I could see. My guard went up a bit from that moment not knowing what to expect and my mind prepped for anything bad. What I got however, were the best neighbors and the the absolute best neighbor in Marjorie or Ms. Marjorie as I instructed my kids to call her.

I no longer remember how or when Marjorie introduced herself to me or my family but she has been a rock for me since I moved here. All of my neighbors have been kind but especially her. She and my other neighbor Jackie looked out for my kids and home when I was working from 6:30am to about 6:00pm I was commuting to and from Boston for work. That first year I dragged my youngest with me to his school in Boston. My middle schoolers were latch key kids but for good or bad it was the way it was and we were happy in our home and they were safe with both neighbors checking in on them or spying as they would say.

Marjorie loved my youngest son from the very beginning. He was six when we moved in and although she was good to all three of my children we all joked about how Jabriel was her favorite. She would make him the best cookies and drop them off-
“Here you go I baked these for sweetie.” she would say and I would smile and say thank you knowing I was going to devour half. He could not appreciate the goodness of fresh home baked chocolate chip oatmeal cookies he thought Oreos were treats for Gods sake. The cookies she made were the real treats and they were the best.

We talked often both of us being  PBS fans, political junkies, and social commentators. We talked about our failed marriages, why I wasn’t dating, my kids, her daughter, our jobs, her retirement, and her depression. She was thoughtful and meticulous. I admired her life story and her struggle to be independent. Our lives mirrored to some extents and I understood her but there were things I didn’t understand and will never know about her.

I was mad at her last year when her tree fell in my yard, a big one, and she didn’t say anything about it. Legally it is my responsibility to get rid of it but she never acknowledged it only calling our other neighbor who told her there was nothing she needed to do I just inherited a tree. I was angry with the both of them.  As angry as I was with her I felt like she didn’t want to say anything because to get it cut was expensive and she was retired on a fixed income for whatever reason she didn’t know what to say if she couldn’t help so I chose not to make it a big deal and my dad cut the tree for me. That was the only time I was ever mad at her and I’m happy I chose our friendship over a fallen tree. How could I be mad at the person who fixed my kids dinner while I was in Dallas, Texas for a work event? Or who brought my trash bins in every Wednesday morning, or who gave cards to all of my children for every milestone and wrote to my son while he was away at bootcamp- he never got the cookies she sent but I’m 100% certain some Navy officer knows how much love went into each delicious bite. She had done too much and continued to be too much of a nice person for me to make a tree a thing between us.

Now she is somewhere slowly slipping away into her light and I hope she knows I will miss her and how heartbroken I am that she will no longer be our next door neighbor. I hope there is an afterlife because I know a wonderful one awaits her because she is one of the most deserving.

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On Confidence: Trust Your Voice

A few weeks ago I told my daughter I wanted to put up wallpaper in the bathroom. She thought it was a terrible idea, she went on and on how really a bad idea it was so I didn’t. I wanted to put up the wallpaper, it was just a small area but I thought it would brighten it up the space, but her reaction made me think ‘well, maybe it will look bad. Why spend the money if its going to look awful.’ But I kept seeing the image in my head and it looked okay so I went to Home Depot and bought it. I put the roll at the door of the bathroom so I saw it every time I walked in just staring at me. Finally one morning I said just put the damn thing up if it looks bad take it back down.

I put it up and I loved it. It looked great for my first attempt and it did brighten up the space. I texted a picture to my daughter and she loved it. She said that was a really good decision. When she got home she raved about it more because pictures don’t give it true justice. I was  happy but disappointed. I was disappointed that I didn’t trust my own voice, my own gut when it has worked well for me before.

I noticed that the last few years I have not listened to my voice when I needed to choosing to either to ignore flashing red lights and proceed anyway or stop dead and do nothing when something needs to be done. I don’t come from a background of bad decisions. I pretty much made reliable decisions throughout my life and even if some were bad I was strong enough to fix them and move on. Now, however, I seem to hesitate and sometimes just outright freeze, just like I did with that wallpaper.

I wonder if my decisions  were easy to make in the past because they involved no risk where as now it seems everything I want to do involves some sort of risk. I will be fifty in two years and I know I am in midlife crisis. I’m confused and anxious as how I want to spend the rest of my time on this earth. In my head I have a vision of my life but right now my present is not matching so I feel anxious and I don’t want to make the wrong moves.

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I don’t want to keep questioning if I should buy the damn wallpaper or not so I’m making myself listen to that inner voice that tells me to be brave because I think that is what I am missing now, my bravery. So dear reader if you are reading this and you are feeling the self-doubt in your own voice start exercising it more. Acknowledge your fear and do it anyway. Let your inner-voice scream inside of you. Trust it like you did before. Be Brave buy the damn wallpaper, the dress, invest in your own business, tell that guy you love him, make the plan to lose that weight…whatever it is TRUST YOUR VOICE.

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Don’t let the noise of other people’s opinions drown out your inner voice. Steve Jobs

 

On Sunday: Plan Your Week

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I realize if there is anything I want to accomplish during the week I NEED to plan for it. Having tasks in my mental to-do list only works for so long and I find a lot of things slip by because I haven’t given it the importance it needs.  Sometimes even the smallest things need to be planned in your week. Planning ahead of time always increases productivity and accomplishment. So today before your week starts PLAN YOUR TASKS.

Plan Your Projects: Are you working on any big projects either for you nine to five, your own hustle, or personal tasks. Plan those and assign time to do them during the day/week.Figure out what your deliverables are and give your self a deadline. Life often throws us curveballs but if you are able to schedule and commit to that time, more often than not you will find yourself completing tasks and meeting goals.

Don’t Forget the Small Stuff: Add a few of those things that at the end of the day you face-palm yourself for forgetting like paying the electric bill, making a doctor appointment etc. Add at least one of these a day to your week.

 Plan What You Will Wear: How I feel about tackling my day is often reflected in what I wear. Most days its pretty good and I look fine but some mornings I wake up feel like crap and dress accordingly and usually by noon I don’t feel like crap anymore but I still look like crap because I picked out a crap outfit. So I try to pick out clothes for the week based on what I have scheduled.

Plan Your Meals: If you are anything like me the older I get the more concerned I am about what I eat. I am not overly body conscious but I do like to feel healthy, strong, and without bellyfat. #thestruggle  Planning meals is actually quite easy but it takes few moments of thought. I try to plan my lunch by what I actually cooked for dinner the previous night or by throwing together a simple salad and adding chicken or salmon for the next few days. I used to only plan Monday through Thursday and treat myself to pizza or burgers on Friday but now I don’t even feel the need to do that.

  • Think about what foods you want to incorporate into your diet.
  • Don’t overbuy. Don’t go to the store on the weekend and stack up with fruits and vegetables thinking you are going to eat all of it in one week. If this is a lifestyle change chances are it will take a couple of weeks to really acclimate yourself into this new habit. Its better to have to go back to the store midweek than to throw food out because it went bad. yw0212h_minty-greek-salad-recipe_s4x3

Plan to Workout: Eating alone will not make you healthy and strong. I have a 100 year old aunt who still does aerobics zumba. Often times I say I don’t have enough time to dedicate myself to exercise but anytime I am sitting in front of the television is time I could invest in exercising. Just Do It!

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On Nudity: Kim Empowerment

I am no fan of Kim Kardashian or any member of her family so I ignored the many links of Kim breaking the internet (insert eyeroll), again. Of course there was immediate backlash to the photo with plenty twitter clapback. The best coming from Ms. Midler

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Kim responded yesterday with a powerful essay on nudity and empowerment (Huffington Post 3/8/16). Powerful is a strong word and I would not use it to describe Kim’s essay in the least but its 2016 and we have Donald Trumps and Kim Kardashians as influential people.

I don’t think Kim is a dumb woman, matter of fact kudos to her for building an empire for her family off a sex tape because there are millions of women in sex tapes and they have not been able to capitalize the way she has. Every family should have a Kris Kardashian …or not.

Every few months we should expect a nude photo from Kim and an explanation of why she feels it is empowering to show her body.

I am empowered by my body. I am empowered by my sexuality. I am empowered by feeling comfortable in my skin. I am empowered by showing the world my flaws and not being afraid of what anyone is going to say about me. And I hope that through this platform I have been given, I can encourage the same empowerment for girls and women all over the world.

Her body is her business. Period. And that is okay. We can scream self-worth till we are blue in the face but if your self-worth is based off nudity and a soft-porn sex trade mentality and its celebrated around the world I doubt there is much anyone can say to change that. What bothers me about her ‘powerful essay’ is her selfish  and misguided idea that she is really contributing to helping girls and women all over the world. She has spent thousands on plastic surgery for her body and face that the majority of girls and women all over the world will never be able to spend. She has spent those thousands to gain the perfect body for her and her audience based on what she knows they want to view. It has nothing to do with empowerment but money…and again that is okay but don’t try to make us believe you are trying to do some worldly good when you are just trying to make a buck. KK what you are trying to do is build your brand, put more money in your pocket, and build your family’s wealth and that is okay. I’m not going to judge your hustle and I’m not going to click on your links.

We should all stop expecting more of Kim Kardashian West because she has shown us who she is time and time again. So what she is a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter she has made her own mold and she doesn’t have to fit our idea of what any of those titles should be. I don’t look at her and see empowerment I see a business. I see a woman who is a mother, a wife, a sister, a daughter and a businesswoman.

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This is her business folks!

On The New Year: Helping Hands

Happy New Year

First Monday of the year and after a long break it is time to get back into the grind of things.

I’ve taken the last few days to figure out what can really be different in this new year for me. I’ve made all the same old resolutions before- eat healthier, exercise, socialize more etc. etc. etc. I start off well but by March I fall back into lazy habits and its a seesaw for the rest of the year. However, there is one resolution I am vowing to take this year and that is to ask for help.

I am a person who goes it alone much of the time. Maybe I suffer the only child syndrome but it is very hard for me to ask for help especially when I am drowning. I usually save myself but there are many times things could have been simpler if I just reached out to people. In this instance I do not communicate what is really going on very well.

2016 I am opening my own business and the prep is excruciating. I have endured many sleepless, anxiety-filled nights. My days have been filled with self-doubt and tears but my reasons have remained sound. My passion has only grown but in order to get where I want to go successfully I must crawl out of my shell and ask for help.

Connecting and relying on the expertise of people offering their skills is paramount in any business, no matter how high you think you can soar solo you will need help, eventually.  I am seeing this as a part of the big picture.

My goal this year is to seek out people who can reinforce ME and my goals. I am always available to help the next person but I now realize I have to be available to receive help.

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On De-Stressing: Detox Bath

Christmas 2015 doesn’t really feel all that Christmasy. Maybe its the higher than normal temperatures, Christmas Eve in Rhode Island is supposed to reach sixty-five degrees. Despite the warm weather making us feel like its September and not December Christmas is still the most stressful time of the year.  Going to the store for even the smallest of things becomes an epic ordeal, we have holiday meals to prep for, plus attending all the holiday office parties- which leave little time to unwind and can be stressful in itself. A relaxing detox bath is just the ticket you need to rejuvenate your body, mind, and soul. I put up some lights in my bedroom for calming glow at night and after a detox bath my bedroom becomes a mini-retreat. I need this after a hectic weekend.

Why a Detox Bath?
It is something simple I can do at home that relaxes me and contributes to my overall health. An easy healing therapy that facilitates our body’s natural detoxification system. It is recommended to do one at least twice a week. I wish I could but I try to do one once a month.

My Basics
Baking soda-neutralizes chemicals like chlorine in this Rhode Island water.
Epsom salt-draws out toxins, is a stress reliever, improves sleep and concentration.epsom-salt-e1377029973453
pink-himalayan-bath-salt-crystalsHimalayan Pink Salt. I am currently a bit obsessed with the Pink Salt, I just discovered it about a year ago and use it in my food, my coffee facial scrubs, and now my bath.- The replenishing nutrients in Himalayan Pink Salt helps to stimulate circulation and soothe sore muscles. Naturally rich in nourishing and skin-replenishing minerals, bathing with pink bath salt is a healing and therapeutic experience for mind and body.

Essential Oils
Peppermint– Peppermint is a natural energy booster. I keep some on my desk and take a whiff of it when I feel my concentration levels dipping. I add a few drops in my bath to give me that pleasant lift
Lemon– Lemon oil is calming in nature and therefore helps in removing mental fatigue, exhaustion, dizziness, anxiety, nervousness and nervous tension. It has the ability to refresh the mind by creating a positive mindset and removing negative emotions. It is also believed that inhaling lemon oil helps in increasing concentration and alertness.
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Other oils I  may switch up and use are lavender, rosemary, and tea tree oil.

Combine
1. Run hot water into the tub. You want it to be good and hot to make your body sweat. In the winter I may crank up the heat a bit and close the bathroom door to get a sauna effect.
2. Add about a cup of baking soda. Remember it helps to clarify harsh water from the tap
3. Pour in one cup of Epsom salt and one cup of himalayan or sea salt. You can just pour 2 cups of Epsom salt but I’ve been mixing it up lately and so far I love this combination
4. Drop about five to six drops of your essential oil (I’m using peppermint at this time) into the water
5. Slide in and immerse as much of yourself into the water as possible and sit for 20minutes. This is a soak NOT a bath so use no soaps you are letting your body release toxins not taking more in.
6. After 20mins or so ease out of the tub. You will feel lightheaded and somewhat drained so be careful.
7.Your pores are wide open so use a natural moisturizer like avocado oil or coconut oil no perfume lotions.
8. You’ll want to make sure you clean the tub throughly because of the toxin waste left behind.
9. Retreat to a personal space and continue to let your body relax.

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During this hectic time of the year your body, mind, and soul will thank you for the moments of calm.

On December: Where Did 2015 Go

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I can’t believe how quickly the year has gone by. On one hand it has been wonderful because I was able to watch my granddaughter for the past year grow. Nothing is more wonderful than seeing the leaps and bounds changes babies make. They start with nothing but curiosity but each month they accomplish something great…they crawl, they walk, they discover real food…every month offers up hours of discovery and achievement. On the other hand for adults it can be less about fun curiosity and more about the finish line. I look at the past year and immediately become critical of my own achievements.

I want to  be excited about the past year but most of my lessons have been hard. I guess what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…so they say. I’m still here and still on plan to be my own boss in 2016 albeit not the first month of January as hoped. My daughter gave me wonderful encouragement about starting a business: One thing you can count on is that you have to adjust to how your plan may change.  So, this month I am dedicating to making adjustment to the changes and taking a cue from my lovely granddaughter and grow.

Cheers to December
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