Bye, Bye 2017 and welcome 2018!

Yes, so it is a new year. A chance to start the year of with a new start, with a new state of mind, with new intentions. I have to have a better year than last year, I just have too.

Last year, yes, there was some beautiful moments, but when I think it through, geez it was pretty rough. I only worked for half of the year. And in that half of the year, I was super stressed. I was so depressed. And I was having a hard time finding help. Real help. I was in a very low place, but I was making money. I realized more and more that money does not rule me. And yes, sometimes money can make life easier, but it doesn't when it comes to stress. It can make life really feel like sh*t. I felt very alone also. Because most people just didn't understand what I was going through. Most people cannot understand someone else's level of stress. Because we all handle and process our problems very differently. So what may seem small to you, can be explosive to me and vice versa. For a long time, I had not been handling my stress well. And it would send me into a very deep dark place. 

I then finally decided to rid myself of the stress. Making one of the boldest moves I had ever made in my life (outside of packing up my things and moving cross country, lol, pretty bold...ohh, yes and traveling all the way to Asia by myself, also pretty bold...look at you Raven, being bold :). I decided to quit my job without having another job lined up. Yes, sounds crazy right. But I reminded myself that I was not the first person that have ever done that before,. It was bold, it was crazy, but it was necessary. Now about 7 months later, I am still on the job market. Yes, it has been tough. I have spent every dollar I have to my name. For one of the first times in my life, I know the true meaning of being broke. And it is tough. Especially with someone who is as prideful as I am. Its very difficult for me to ask for help or for me to accept help, but I had to humble myself during this last 7 months. Because I would not have made it by myself. 

One thing for sure, it has helped me to become more faithful and closer to God. Its a great feeling when you feel like you are not alone in this or that this is apart of the plan. I believe that it is. This is a learning lesson for me and I am learning a lot from it. They say all in God's timing right. I don't want to rush it, so I work hard every day to keep that faith burning. 

I also seen clearly those who are in my life to really help me in many different ways. There are people who said they would help, but it seemed like I had to jump through hoops for their help. And bet, I never really got their help. But God put someone in my life to be that help. And as I would, I tried pushing him away. For many reasons. Partly because I just was not used to that type of love. Partly because I have control issues and its hard for me to give that up. Partly because I have lived with a certain image of what it means to be a man. Partly because I live vicariously through other people and believe my life is suppose to fit some-type of mold. And through all of these different levels of insecurities, he was still by my side. He is willing to do whatever it takes to make me happy. He has made so many sacrifices. He has ignored my attitude and still loved me. He wants to be my provider when I feel like I have nothing. He is patient. He has taught me more about having faith. He has made me a top priority. Something I am not used too. I am used to being behind the kids, behind the work/career, behind baby mommas, behind family, behind ego. But, he's made me 1st. He has helped me to handle my stress. He has been God-sent, and still I fight the love he is offering. But I am thankful everyday for the love and support he has been to me during this trying times. It is times like this that we will one day reflect on and I know its only going to make us stronger, together. 

In the stress of 2017, one thing that sums up my lesson learned is to be humble. Raven you cannot control everything. Raven, sometimes things don't look the way you thought, doesn't mean its not right. Raven, you are living this journey how it is suppose to be lived. Raven, you gotta love yourself. Raven, you gotta have faith. Raven, you gotta trust. Raven, its okay to be loved. 

Results in 28 Days: Results & Reflection

Yep! So I tried it, ya know...one of those internet fitness craze. Its called Resultsin28days.com. The reason I tried it was because 1st: it was super cheap (about $40), 2nd: I was convinced with the routine, it looked simple enough and the food regiment was something that I was used to when I am on my conscious eating hype, 3rd: I looked at the before and after pics, and they looked believable. I know I needed something. My body was getting out of control. I just hated how I was looking and feeling in my clothes. Most important, I was become less and less comfortable with myself. I had a conversation with a girlfriend about us both feeling the need to get rid of our half-shirts. Knowing, it's one of my favorite clothing items. So, I said...forget that! I am getting back in control of this body of mines.

Okay, the Exercises. So the exercises are fairly simple; however, I can see how it can be challenging for people who have never done any working out or may have more weight on them. This is why I think they should have also made videos with modifications. Apparently this month's challenge has that. But, I ended up having to make my own modifications because it was a lot of work on my knees. It was about an 8 minute video of exercise that you repeat 4 times. That's cool because you get a hang of the workout, however, it gets a bit boring just repeating the same movements over and over. ALSO, it weighed a lot of my knees doing the high cardio like that over and over. But, I managed to do all of the exercises. When I would miss a day, which wasn't many...I would pick up right where I left off. 

Okay, the Food. The nutrition plan is pretty basic, if you have ever gon' on any health kick you are aware of what foods are healthy and what foods are less healthy for you. My motto is everything in moderation. So I followed the nutrition plan mostly; however, I was not crazy strict. Why? Because I wanted to condition myself to something that I could do after the challenge. Its crazy to think I am going to totally eliminate red meats and rice, but I do not need to have it as often. I drank a lot of water, even added apple cider vinegar to it (I actually really like the taste of it). I also made sure to up my dosages of veggies. When I am eating a lot of fruits and veggies, my body begins to crave it once I am off. So, like I said...everything in moderation. 

Okay, the No Alcohol policy. This can be a challenge. Especially when you are surrounded by friends who like to drink. However, I am enjoying drinking less and less these days. So it was not as hard for me to say no. I did drink a few times during the challenge though; however, not nearly as much as I had been doing. And I know that it really did make a huge difference. My drink of choice is beer, and it goes straight to the belly. 

Okay, would I do it again? Me, no. Why? Because I feel like it has done what it was suppose to do for me, which was motivate me. I am now self-motivated. I know I can get great in-home workouts via youtube and I am quite aware how I should be consciously eating. I also don't have a facebook, which mean I did not have a community support system (RI28 has a facebook group) to keep me motivated throughout the process, so I felt alone in it (well besides my friend in Cali who also signed up, we would check in periodically about it). So, I just feel like I have all the right tools to keep up with my health and wellness as I know I should.

Here is to a great start for 2018 (well in terms of health and wellness, lol)


Growing older and growing apart.

One thing that I have been struggling with lately has been friendships. Friendships. Seems as you start to get older, you start to drift apart from friends. Also, as you get older, it becomes difficult to make new friends. 

Now that I have lived in Maryland for 2 years, it has been difficult coming to terms with the distance that I am away from friends (and family) back home. However, I think I believed I had a different expectation of how our friendships may evolve due to the distance. Yes, we are no longer in the same physical area, but that wouldn't caused a wedge in our union. (I now beg to differ). I do not hear much from my friends back home. Hell, I haven't had anyone visit either. Maybe a casual group text or a #shoutout here and there, but not the way I would like. I do not have social media, so I do not have that instant gratification of knowing what your friends are up too. BUT, I know I do what I can. I call, I text, I Marco Polo (a more intimate social media platform), I send pics. But, I just don't feel like it is reciprocated in the same way. Yes, I do know that you cannot expect someone to be the friend to you that you are to them. We are all individuals. We all relate to people differently. We all need people in our life in different ways. BUT, I do know that it is now becoming exhausting for me to feel like I am giving so much of myself away without getting it in return.

How come it feels like as we get older, people invest more time in their intimate relationships than they do their friendships? I get it. As we grow, we are focused on our households. We are focused on our careers. We are focused on building a family of our own. However, does those things truly distract away from our friendships? Can it be a balance? BUT as soon as one is heartbroken (God forbid), they run back to their friends. Must we chose between our intimate relationships and our friendships?

Being in a new area, with no friends and family, obviously I have had to make new "friends." In the two years I have been year, that has been more than a challenge. I think the older you are the more content you are with your person. You are more sure of yourself, of your likes and dislikes. At 32, I know the kind of woman I am. I am aware of the energy that I seek to have around myself. And let me tell you hunny, it has been hard finding that compatible energy in a friend. Yes, I do have people that I enjoy, but you know that deep kinda friendship, someone who just really gets you, yea...I can't say I have found that. 

I am a social butterfly. I thrive on having others around me. I really do enjoy it. Now, what do I do now that I have become pretty much a party of 1 (outside of the significant other). How do I grow into this new phase in my life? As I am writing, I hear Goapele saying "sometimes you just have to let it go." And that is exactly what I am focused on. I need to focus more on myself and stop looking outside of myself for happiness.

Ohh happiness, a constant battle. 



Just for funsies

Just wanted to share the cutest little walking thing on earth...

Oh sh*t, I'm 32!

Like, I need to get my sh*t together. I have been waking up the past few months and looking at myself in the mirror and really unhappy with what I see. What I do know, is that I have the discipline to do what needs to be done. However, I am tired of it going in waves. Like I go through these phases. A lot of this has to do with stress and depression. It will really kill you. I recently turned 32. Like, when did that happen though. I swear time be moving. You better move with it or you will get left. I know right now my body and my mind looks and feel sad. And, I really want to have a better hold over both. I need to take the reins back on my health. I need to do what is right for Raven. I am getting no younger. And, I know I want to be in the best health before I start popping out little Raven's lol. OMG! Like, I am seriously in baby-making age. LOL, thats pretty scary, I cannot lie. But I gotta have my body and mind right. Sometimes we get so focused on the body, and we forget the mind. But I know my mentals have a lot to do with how my body looks right now.

So today, I said, enough is enough got dammit! Back to conscious eating! Back to daily meditation! Back to feeding the mind and soul with postivity! This is no easy feat. I work really hard not to be hard on myself, but I want to make my discipline my dedication. If that makes any sense, lol. Anyways, we always gotta remember to love ourselves; even when we don't want too.

Can I get an Amen!!

(I'll give a 3 month update ;)

Proud to be American.

One my ongoing self exploration journey,lol, I have longed for something to connect with. I have always thought there had to be more. Not feeling as if this place we called America really belonged to me. Not feeling like it is my rightful place. Not feeling like my culture is deep enough. After traveling out of the country 5 times in 2 years (crazy! I know, I am sitting my a** down lol). I have found a new sense of pride in what it means to be American. 

I know I would see the American flag and not know whether or not I can identify with it. Looking at America as it being the White man's country. Not being appreciative for all the blood and sweat that my elders put in building this country.

I had for a long time envied my friends that were from other countries. How they can wear their colors proudly. How they can come together and enjoy their homeland food. It all clicked when I was in Togo. Like wait? We have all that in America. 

I am proud to be American. I am even more proud to be Black American. We are a resilient group of people. We are survivors. We are dreamers. We are inventors. We are trendsetters. I just love our swag. We have our foods. We come together. We love family. We have religion. This is OUR land too! And I am not ashamed to say I am American. I am proud! And I say that in all sincerity. Yes, we have a f*cked up history, but sh*t what country doesn't. Yes, our present can be kind of shady. But, have you watched BBC lately.   

America. We come in different shades, we come in different cultures, we speak different languages, we dress different, but doesn't make it any less than any other country. Makes it more unique actually. And I am grateful for my place in this land. 

My trip to the Mother Continent. Togo, Africa

So I finally made it. Awaited so long to go to Africa. Sh*t, anywhere in Africa. But, West Africa in particular. Why? Supposedly because of the Transatlantic Slave Trade. The dark history of what brought enslaved Africans to the Americas. The need to feel a connection to a long, lost, homeland. Being able to see with my own eyes what some of the countries are like. Well, instead of taking a trip to the beach this year for my birthday, I decided to go to Togo. 

Here in Maryland, my closest thing to a family are a group of people from Togo. Before moving to the area, I had not known anyone from the country before. But spending most of my weekends with these guys, I have learned some things about the culture, food, music and language. One of them was traveling back home this month, so I decided to tag along. At first, I thought I would base my decision on what country to visit on my DNA results. I had that done a few months ago and the results came back saying that my bloodline was 80% Nigerian. I was pretty amazed. I guess I never imagined it saying that. But it did. And, honestly, I had never really considered visiting Nigeria. Just wasn't a thought. So, I didn't want to force myself to a place that I had no desire to go to. So, Togo it was.

When I first got off the plane (after two 6 and a half hour flights, f*ck, I really hate international flying lol) I was looking for my friend. I walked out of the airport, and all I could see was Black people. LOL. I heard someone calling my name, but couldn't make out anyone. And then I seen Joe. lol. My initial reaction as we drove along the road was like "F*ck, I'm really in Africa." And then about 7 minutes later, I was like, this looks like Jamaica. And then about 15 minutes later, I was like, okay where is the country-side. LOL. Lome is where we were. The city. A bunch of motorscooters, cars, and very Western. It was a version of any other city. 

Once I got settled in, I pretty much did what my Togo family does in Maryland. We did a bunch of going to different people's houses, eating, drinking, and talking. LOL. Socializing is very big in Togo. They love it. It was a lot of the way they had fun. They were really surprised about how much I had already knew about the food and culture. I told them my friends back home had Togolized me well. They also had interesting views about Americans, similar to the way that Americans would view Africans. No one group of people is exempt from having limited views or ideas about other groups. We all have to be more open to exposing ourselves more to different people and getting to know them. 

Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to see a slave house or a voodoo village as I had hoped (fyi, not the evil sh*t that we see in Hollywood movies, but the actual religion which has been used for healing). But I got to spend time with my friend and live the Togo way. We did take a long drive across the country side that I enjoyed very much. Driving across the country, I got to see miles and miles of undeveloped lands. Which was beautiful. I also got to see small villages where people lived in huts made of hard clay. They walked miles to the closest town centers to pick up and sale items. I watched children walk miles in the pouring rain. Definitely hardcore! 

Probably the best site was the waterfall. It had to be one of the most beautiful things that I saw. We headed up North to visit a city called Kara where they would be hosting a traditional wrestling match. Unfortunately, I did get very sick, so I was not able to fully enjoy that experience. But, I did have a chance to drink the local beer. It was delicious. It was sort of like an alcoholic sour apple cider. I loved it. And we had it for breakfast, what better way to enjoy local brew.

What I learned is that African countries is like playgrounds for Europeans. Partly because of proximity and also history of colonialism. I suppose not a lot of Americans, particularly Black Americans visit African countries for vacation because of the torn history that our country has with the land. 

Another thing that stood out was how lean the people were. It made sense, people did a lot of walking. So the bodies was gorgeous. And the stuff I seen young girls carrying on their heads, it just deserves an award. LOL. Also, the guns on the girls pounding fufu. Man! Gym for what? LOL. 

Would I go back? Yes, but honestly, I am a nature bug! So, I like experiences where I can be among nature. So, I would plan a trip that can focus on that part. No city life for me, I get enough of that at home.

Thank you to all my Togo family who welcomed me in with open arms.