Public Transportation.

2.5 years.

I’ve lived in Bay Area for roughly 2.5 years and this place is absolutely my home.

In the 8th grade on a pad of my Dad’s lined yellow paper I jotted down some of the experiences I hoped for in my life. {I’ve been a brain dump writer for as long as I can remember.} Writing as a way of releasing energy? 8th grade Cierra wasn’t quite as in tune with writing things down with this specific intent, and yet somehow, it is exactly what happened. #God

That list included a variety of things; the main items I remember are working at Disney ( check!) and living in San Francisco (sorta check?!). The Disney piece made sense. I loved everything Disney and the spirit of dreams coming true; my Mom still regularly reminds me that the belief of magical moments in and throughout life has always lived in me. ❤

SF? Felt like a long shot.

I wasn’t even sure where that thought came from but I wrote it down and didn’t think a moment more about it. Fast forward to 3 years ago when I packed a backpack and hopped on a plane to SF for my 28th birthday. I called a friend from grad school who I knew lived out this way requesting a crash pad for my backpacking adventures. {In 3 years time, this friend has become one the greatest promises of my life that God’s delivered on.}

4 months later I moved out here. I sold most things that made my Ohio home, home, and I thought to myself, whew! A fresh {scary} start!

I barely recognize myself sometimes. The growth. The maturity. The decisions. The public transportation.

The therapy.

Man has this been a journey. But this Bay Area life!?

This is my home.

Tiny apartments with intimately shared spaces, hoping on a train from Oakland to Palo Alto up to 4 times a week, $5 lattes, endless YG playing in my night life adventures, cultural exposure, speak easy spots, binary thinking challenged at every turn, breezy layered attire, impromptu day trips to some of the west coast’s greatest sites, waterfronts when I need them most, yoga and coffee spots (everywhere!)…I could go on.

The thing is, it’s not that some of the very things I love, don’t equally annoy me. (i.e. Did I just pay $15 for avocado toast?! WTF!) It’s that at the end of the peaks and valleys of every single day– I feel at home… & that I’m exactly where I am suppose to be.

I have no idea what else on that 8th grade list God/The Universe intends to bring into my life… in fact the only thing I can truly say I know is that my steps have absolutely been ordered.

I’m not running this show, and it’s moments like hearing a dad read to his 4 year old on the train this morning that I’m reminded of that. Will I become a wife, parent, and/or mommy who reads to my child on the bustle of a early morning train? Who knows! I can sure see it!  I may not end up being the soccer mom, or PTA parent of 3. I may not get married and rest my head in the suburbs. In fact I have no idea what comes next in my life.

And for the very first freaking time, I don’t care…or rather, I’m not consumed by it.

I will live my life, love with my big heart, and cry unapologetically when life hurts. my feelings, hm!

I choose to live–with faith that some of the most random adventurous dreams & thoughts I have about life are likely God/The Universe shining light on these uniquely ordered steps to come.

And for now, I will live this single city life as long as the good Lord will have me here. Flourishing. Public transportation and all.

#youcomeinwaves

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Trying Something New.

So I did a thing, and I’m really glad I did.

She’s amazing. Human and imperfect just like the rest of us. She flattered me. Pursued me. Complemented me. She makes my heart flutter uncontrollably every time I see or hear her name pop up on my phone.

She’s into me…feeling me this I know. She’s learning more about me. Curiously has questions…is committing to someone else and equally committed to seeing things through.

I did a thing. I asked the questions I was afraid to hear the answers to. Named my feelings. Embraced a new identity. Chose vulnerability, and for the first time, I challenged myself to be real, apologetically me, and forthcoming about my scary truths.

I did a thing, and I didn’t get the answer I wanted. I’m still breathing. The world didn’t crumble. Sure, I’m disappointed but not at myself. Not at anyone. I’m disappointed with the outcome and really proud of myself for being true to the one person I sell short.

She’s amazing. Human and imperfect just like the rest of us. She flattered me. Pursued me. Complemented me. She makes my heart flutter uncontrollably every time I see or hear her name pop up on my phone.

She is me. ✊🏾

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Beyoncé Confidence.

I saw Beyoncé perform live twice in this calendar year. If you would have told me she’d be a highlight of 2018 for me I would’ve laughed right in your face. I’ve never been a Beyoncé fan. I loved Destiny’s Child but when she broke off to do her own thing, I felt like I broke up with the group too. Beyoncé… with her light skin and the light hair– it only made sense to me that she’d blow up to be majorly famous on her own. I think I envied that or was just a hater, who knows.

As the (wannabe) ‘Kelly’ of my friend group, I have had several Beyoncé’s in my life. I think there was some part of me resenting what I assumed ‘their’ lives to be.

Watching Beyoncé tell her story at Coachella and then again at OTRII, I surely realized that we all have something.

Every single one of us. (And being a hater serves no one!)

Beyoncé had a lot of somethings. I’ve seen her twice in concert– by no means to I know her life. What I do know is that she went through some shit and found a way to get through it.

She wrote. She sang. She cried. She doubted. She kept going.

Her mega star status and millions didn’t excuse her of human pain. Her light skin and long hair didn’t make her any less black. Her confidence is a key attribute to who she is.

Confidence.

Her performances gave light to the way confidence, despite circumstances, can change your perspective. It won’t make color-ism, sexism, or any other ism disappear, and yet it can give you the inner strength to help you move through life believing in who you are and what you want.

I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that I’m definitely a fan now. 😩🙄 DT, I don’t want to hear a peep about this. There are other artist, (hey Kelly girl), who I still hold close to my heart as a teen mega star super fan; I now have a different level of respect for Beyoncé.

I respect and appreciate the gift of someone modeling true confidence. The reminder that I can look in the mirror and work on that confidence muscle as much and as often as I’d like. Her beauty is wrapped up in how much she unconditionally loves herself—that’s a squad and band wagon I’ll gladly hop on.

Thanks, Bey.

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Go Girl. It’s your Birthday {29} to {30}

I LOVE birthdays. Particularly my own. I can’t really articulate why, it’s just that I’ve always had so much joy in celebrating another year of life. 30 years of life…my God, what a gift.

This time two years ago I packed a backpack, hopped on a plane, and went on an adventure to the bay. 4 months later I moved here.

Last year I was celebrating with my Bay Area friends– committed to being the life of the party for my last go-around in the 20s.

Coming into a new decade, I had mixed feelings about what I wanted this day to look like. A big celebration? A quiet night in? Something in the bay? Another trip, bucket list item? What to do with the first milestone birthday with so many mixed emotions??

21 was a memorable evening at Ugly Tuna (shout out to Columbus, OH) with my dearest friend, Theresa, followed by a classic college house party…hello orange dress, heels, and random guest encouraging me to take another shot. Lord have mercy.

The birthdays after that are a blur– not because they didn’t matter (or because of booze), but they just felt like a guarantee. Most of my early 20s was marked with location changes and moves. 4 different states, Graduate School, first full-time job, first loves. First apartment (that I could NOT afford 🙄), and my first pet, Ruby 🐾. The dream job coming true– working at my Alma Mater serving a population of students I’ve always had an affinity for–the cool kids–the athletes.

I held my own. I shot my shots at every opportunity I wanted, and for the most part, I met every goal I set out to accomplish.

I spent my 25th birthday Home in the Ohio valley. I wanted to see my grandmother and spend time with my family.  That year I lost some significant weight, got a trainer, a man, and I was DOING IT.

Somewhere in the midst of feeling invincible I realized that, that simply wasn’t true. I had to sit with that 20s being a decade where I experienced deep loss. My Birthday twin passed away. My grandmother died. My mom stayed in and out of the hospital. My siblings started having children and I wasn’t around them as much as I hoped. My parents appeared to be aging and I had to make huge adult, life changing decisions. Debts of college and all the moves I made were starring at me begging me to do something, quickly.

My late 20s became a battle between me and myself. I started to really see what I wanted as life experiences and those experiences came with some seemingly impossible decisions. My own health was in question and I slumped into a depressive state that I hope to never revisit. I was doing everything I could to make a broken romantic relationship work. I didn’t want to face the challenges of life alone. In carrying all that depression and fear for what was next… a still small voice of light lived inside of me and I just kept doing my best to make the next best decision.

Moving to the Bay Area felt perfect and like the worse decision of my life all at once. I remember crying the night of my 28th birthday because I knew what I wanted and I also knew the pain that would come with it.

The move came with a devastating break up. A loss my heart wasn’t ever prepared to experience. Topped with leaving my main squeeze, Ruby in Ohio, and the immediate support systems of my parents, thousands of miles away.

I could feel that deep depressive state knocking at the door. My mom stayed in the hospital with life threatening complications and I had opted to be across the country. My dad was doing everything he could to hold it together for all of us and I just felt selfish, disconnected, and helpless…like I wanted to just give up.

Peaks and Valleys.

Life hasn’t made any miraculous shift; I have. Or at least I’m starting to. As I allowed anxiety to overwhelm me with what I wanted most out of my 30th birthday celebration, I was overcome with more light…. gratitude… I made it to 30.

I have both of my parents, my siblings, my nieces and nephews, friends, ability to move through this world–I have light! This birthday became about celebrating that– celebrating the gratitude I have for EVERY SINGLE PERSON AND LIFE EXPERIENCE that has helped me arrive right where I am.

I am not married, pregnant, partnered, or totally in love with myself. I am WEALTHY. I am rich with love, light, and spirit. My 30th birthday was a perfect reminder of that. Being home, in my bed, squeezing my parents, my dog, classic friends who reminded me of what true friendship is– family you choose. I have friends who have loved me through my darkest hours, and family who continue to remind me that even when I don’t love or like myself, they see my light and they’ll keep seeing it until I do.

My 30th has been the perfect combination of tears (of joy), tears (of gratitude), hugs, puppy face licks, toady-oat visits, trap tunes, belly laughs, fellowship, travel, cookie-cake, Janice famous cookies, balloons, parental affirmation, phone calls, texts, Facebook messages, great food, deep reflection, and genuine happiness.

A memorable moment from today is a friend’s text…

” Happpppppy Birthday sunshine! I hope today serves as a reminder of your light that you exude every day!!! Hugs to you!!!” -Brent

He had no idea what this meant for me at the exact moment I received it– boarding a plane with mixed feelings about what’s next in my life. What a reminder that whenever I feel lost in the dark… my light is still shining so bright.

My 20s were some pretty amazing years and I still absolutely love birthdays….particularly my own… Cheers to a new decade of embracing light…even in the darkness.

The smile on my face doesn’t mean my life is perfect. I just appreciate what I have and what God has blessed me with.- Cousin George, Daily Devotional 9/16/18

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thirty

1988

 

8th Grade.

I saw the movie 8th Grade last weekend and it wasn’t at all what I thought it would be, and per usual…right on time.

If you plan to see the movie- I give some spoilers below soooo…. 🍿🙋🏾‍♀️

The plot centers on a graduating 8th grader trying to make sense of friendships, life, relationships, and dreams that seem they’ll never come to pass.

There’s a particular scene where she ask her dad for some help with burning some things. He hesitantly says yes, and while the items are burning, he asked her what they’re burning.

Her response: My hopes and dreams.

While melodramatic, that’s the exact feeling that comes up some times in life. Don’t forget, I’m dramatic so all the melodramatic feels remain consistent in this lifetime movie. You have all these hopes, timelines and goals- and suddenly you look up, look around and recap events, only to feel like… well damn.

To no surprise this made me emotional because while on the eve of 30, so much of my internal self feels like little 8th grade Cierra. The girl who tried everything to fit in, and perceptively did– and it never was enough for me.

The girl who tackled and continues to battle weight insecurities, joined the track team (knowing good and well I hated running), cheered and had uniforms taken out to fit my roundness, and so much more.

The girl that hoped that the one particular guy would notice her and validate her existence– completely missing all the ones who did…the ones who do.

That’s still me. Joining gyms, buying girdles, instagramming different make up videos, and buying shit I don’t need so that that ‘one’ certain type of person will notice me. Who that person is God only knows…

I’ve always been seeking the feeling of really mattering, being that cute, hot, or whatever the hell enough to really…REALLY matter. Never noticing all the people who notice and love me, just as I am.

I found out this week that I re-tore my lateral meniscus. I’ve been on crutches for two weeks and now I’ll wait to see what comes next for this healing process. I’ve been doing everything in my power not to break down.

Manicure, movie, lunch, and ice cream. A hot shower, meditation, and silence.

All to sit with the facts, this injury is live and I have to get through it one day at a time. Paralleling life- I can only take take experiences as they come and one day at a time.

8th grade was such a tough year and it’s because it’s one of the first times for a lot of people that you are looking at yourself and trying to figure out who you are and how your line up against everyone else you’ve been growing up with.

This doesn’t stop in the 8th grade. Particularly not with people out here living their best lives on social media. FOMO is real, Okuurrt. It hasn’t ever stopped for me and I imagine for a good handful of other folks too.

There’s a moment in the movie where the daughter asks her father if he’s ever sad about being her parent. She asks because she feels like if she were raising a daughter like her, she would be sad. The Dad’s response is one I’m quite familiar with…

“If you could see yourself the way I {your parents, your true friends, your brother, your sister, etc} sees you, you would shock yourself with how special you truly are.”- Quote by every person in my life who loves me unconditionally.

I am imperfect. Critical. Hilarious. Gorgeous. A work in progress… I am ENOUGH.

And one day soon, I’ll really believe it.

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Quiet Thoughts.

It’s so quiet. 14 days of {belly} laughs, communal meals, nephew dances and new adventures…now met with silence. I’ve always known how much I love my family. I’ve written before about being the child that had no desire to grow up. I knew it was a joke.I mean really…Who rushes signing up for paying their own bills!?!

I recognize how fortunate I am to have grown up in a household where my parents did everything they could to maintain a pleasantly memorable childhood spirit alive. At times I wondered whether or not growing up the way I did inhibited my ability to have ‘common sense’. I use to feel under-developed because of my perceived naivety about people and the world around me. I’ve walked around with such joy and appreciation…and still do…somewhat fearful that, that joy- would be slapped abruptly off my face. I now know that my outlook on life is the result of a lot of things…one of which being parents who intentionally designed a world for me where free-spirited living was possible.

As an adult, I now see the world for what it is; light and dark, twisty, unpredictable, and full of hidden gems. My parents are no longer super human to me– they’ve graciously shown and shared with me the obstacles that they have managed and some that they still are managing. My appreciation for who they are and all they overcome, deepens with every conversation.

Spending these days with them have awaken my spirit to such joy. I literally have not laughed this much in years. Dropping them off at the airport felt like a piece of my heart was being ripped away– and the silence made sense.  My people were leaving.. and initially that felt like my joy was leaving with them.

Watching people you love leave feels like pulling a rubber band in opposite directions. The further I drove away– the more tension built…until the band snapped (and the water works began).

I love living in the bay, and yet my heart seeks daily for the comfort and love of family and Home. For companionship. For hugs just because, and laughs that draw tears and headaches of joy. I think I should have abs for all the cracking up I did these past few weeks. Seeing family repeatedly for several days reminded me of all the things I loved most about my childhood. Unwavering love. Laughter. Pain–familiar pain. Hugs. Singing. Unapologetic authenticity. My parents gave me all of this. I hope that this life, in it’s own way, will give me those things too.

They are the reason I light up every room I walk into– they gave me a gift I’m finally able to receive.

I have learned so much during this Bay Area transition about myself and who I’m becoming on this journey through life. I am so appreciative of every lesson, every heart ache, and ever pound on my body that has shown me who I am. I am MORE than enough.

…and that even in the sneaky silence, the absence of companionship, and skepticism around what my life will become… I am undoubtably loved, worthy of love, capable of loving, and, equally, lovable.

COVERED in HIS Grace and Mercy, always.

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I Pass Facebook Everyday.

It’s been a year. I drive past Facebook headquarters nearly every morning during my 40-90 min commute to and from work; tolls have become my new normal.

It’s strange how in a years’ time, I can anticipate what continuing life in the Bay area would truly mean. Shared (small) living spaces, no Ruby…maybe? I feel like I’m about to go get her, just saying., lots of introspection, and even more new opportunities to learn more about myself. All of that, followed by a loaded question, What’s next for me? And if I’m being honest– sometimes I hate it. It’s this constant battle between the two vision I see.

1. Me packing up the same 3 suitcases I moved here with and getting back to my family;

2.Me accepting the temporary emotionally exhausted shut down moments, wiping the snot, and resuming the life of independence and unexpected twist and turns, alone.

In re-reading the options– the choice seems obvious. TIME TO GO! Okay not really but I am over these uncomfortable waves of emotion.

I was talking with my boss/friend today about being in a career crossroad; that place where you recognize work-life for what it is, and yet still have these dream-like expectations for quality of life. Goals to accomplish and such–and being a spot of trying to make sense of it all–without getting ahead of yourself.

He’s regularly asking me what I want. When I get past the usual rambling off of materialistic or family lifestyle request,  the conversation commonly shifts based on a current life event. Those events range from Midwest friends’ weddings, my mom’s health challenge/hospital stays, my nephews growing up with a ‘FaceTime’ Auntie, my niece’s sweet little voice on my voicemail telling me she loves me, or new health/workout regiment. Reality sets in on a few things. Everything I love seems so far away, for every obstacle, I keep looking for short cuts, and every area of my life that I’m trying to grow in, is right in front of me. Begging me to not give up. But all those instances, are still not the answer to his question…What do I want? Really though?

F**K. I mean really though.Not that explicit terms solve anything, but from all of my Audible book-listening sessions to and from work (thanks Kevin Hart and Gabrielle Union) I’ve picked up on the use of f-bomb as an outlet to life. Sometimes there’s just nothing more that comes to mind.

My reality being I’m in a great place– I love the bay area, I’m building social networks, I’m building my business, I’m building my savings– and still–I keep trying to work around the real work…..Me… and sometimes,  all I can muster up is a big loud f**k I have more work to do. And that work starts with embracing the obstacles and traffic.

This last year has given me such an appreciation for what’s hidden in texts, texts being books-articles-chain e-mails even (thanks, dad!)- text message– etc. I read now more than I ever thought possible. I’m realizing that every new piece of information I read is walking me through another phase of life. A recognition that I’m moving through my life experiences exactly as I’m designed to… gradually letting go of the damn GPS.

Everywhere I’ve gone this year, I’ve relied on a specific route for getting there. The least traffic on google maps, or a back road with fewer cars– always looking for the least amount of obstacles. Only to learn that obstacles I’ve been avoiding are also all the lessons on patience I’ve been passing up. This year has shown me the importance of patience and learning that instant gratification is rarely what I need–there something to gain in following intuition and enjoying the ride.

So cheers to Facebook, 90 min commutes, and a life full of lessons to patiently learn. Work deadlines being missed. And Scoop carpools being cancelled last minute. Jesus be a fence.

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train-of-life

10 Months and Counting: A Grateful Reflection

Time is moving so quickly I’ve missed a whole month of documenting my transition. October was quite eventful. For anyone who follows any of my social media accounts, you’ll see that I celebrated Halloween quite a few times last month. I celebrated a dear friend’s birthday which helped me connect with other wonderful people in the bay area.

@ 10 months in, nearly 11, I can say that the bay area has definitely been a wonderful experience. My cousin’s girlfriend asked me today during dinner whether or not I could see myself staying out here. It took me a little while to think through my answer given all the factors that have made this transition one I’ll always remember.

1. I miss my dog– every single day.

2. I miss my family–every single day.

3. I sometimes doubt my ability to manage the cost of living out here.

4. Sometimes, I feel really alone.

Those are 4 pretty significant things that have remained constants from the moment I hopped off the plane.

I spent the Thanksgiving holiday at my dad’s fraternity’s brother’s house, (shout out to the Kappas), with he and his family. They welcomed me with open arms– a family full of Berkeley and Stanford grads. It was great to start building some connections with people outside of my daily cycle. I don’t know if they know how much advice they shared with me during my short few hours with them, but I drove home listening to Luther Vandross Christmas album in tears. Not sad tears. Grateful tears. It was this Thanksgiving that I was reminded of how intertwined spiritual guidance is in my life. I haven’t been to church nearly as much as I’d hoped. I’ve struggled to find a church family that feels like home…the way One Church was for me in Columbus. And yet, the still small voice inside of me continues to guide me through one of the most emotional journeys of my life…this move…all these changes…constantly working and living outside of my comfort zone.

I cried driving home thinking of all of my family gathered together without me. I cried thinking, I have no idea if I’ll ever experience any holidays the way I’m use to ever again. These tears shocked me. They came from deep within and reminded me of what yielding to faith truly means and feels like. Painful, scary, seemingly lonely, hopeless….lost.

Yoga has been my centering. I’d say I’m a full blown Yogi now since I’ve been practicing consistently for at least the past 4 months. (HELLO CROW POSE!!!)  I recently starting working out with a trainer again (Hi Dre’!) and that combined with yoga has given me some sense of a routine. I bailed on carpooling and am still navigating which commuting style to and from work is going to allot me enough sleep, peace of mind, cost efficiency, and whatever else I’m forgetting. I tried out No-Eat-Out-November this month, a tradition one of my colleagues shared with us back at Ohio State as a way to save some money right before the holidays. To my own surprise I’ve been EXTREMELY successful and have saved soooo much money not going to happy hours.

My weight continued to creep up and for a while I was just spent with myself about it. 225 lbs. Who in all the hell could’ve seen that coming? I mean in my mind, I moved to the one state where for the most part, people are EXCEPTIONALLY healthy, mindful, and fit. Wouldn’t you know that my ass some how found a way to achieve the exact opposite of all of those things! sheesh! I was watching my Buckeyes today and her the commentator share that JT Barrett weighs in at 220lbs, I shed a tear while eating a final scoop of leftover banana pudding.

Somewhere around the end of October/Early November, one of my friends looked at me and said, “Why don’t you just pick one thing to focus on for now; one small tangible and just do that. See where it leads you.” And so I’ve been doing exactly that. The one thing has been not going out to eat as frequently. By God, I’ve done it. And what I’ve learned is that I am more than capable of self-control and achieving goals once I break them down and start looking at things one stick of butter at a time. I’ve done extremes. I’m great at them. Except all the extreme things I’ve done pertaining to diet and exercise have landed me right here–the yo-yo diet expert. No thank you. I’ll pass.

With the yoga practicing business, I’ve gotten much better at meditation. With that, has some skill building in visualization. I had a vision so clear recently of my future self, it scared me, fascinated me, and excited me all at the same time. I could literally see my family, my life partner (with a man bun?!), my home. I could see my smile and my figure and my peace. This could all be a sign that I’m either officially losing my mind, or that I’m finally stressing a little less and that’s allowing me to see everything that’s in front of me. I’m also seeing the gift in being patient with myself AND holding myself accountable. I’ve always done one or the other. Eat the whole pan of X item, Cierra, that’s being patient with yourself. Or. Tilapia and broccoli only, Cierra, that’s holding yourself accountable. I’ve also picked up something I suggest everyone give a try— EVERY time I pass a mirror, I say, “I love you,”. Got that from one of my favorite yogis and it’s hella weird at first, and yet, it’s changing the way I see the person looking back at me.

If yoga has taught me anything at all, it’s the true talent of listening to my body and allowing it to tell me exactly what it needs next. When to push, when to relax. When to write, or when to pray. When to act or when to stand silently–tears and all.

I ramble-write these reflections for you, the readers and for me, the writer.

I have one hell of a story to tell.

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Trust

 

365 Days in the Bay– Heyy Birthday (8th) Month: Holiday Wedding Weekend <3

Finished the Shift Shop Challenge last week–#NAILEDIT; ended the challenge 14.25 inches down and roughly 2 pounds lost (forever please!!)

Not going to lie, initially I was a bit disappointed with the lack of weight loss. They say the more you have to lose the faster it comes off in the beginning, right?! Wrong. Not for this chicken tender lover.

In all actuality, I had to be honest with myself about food and life encounters along the way.  I still found myself at happy hours, having the occasional meltdown days, and ending a long term relationship. All things that carried some emotional weight (that I of course ate through 🙄). So there’s that.. lol BUT, I finished! I didn’t have a crappy meal and give up. I showed up every day and I gained a pair a pants in my closet back, so that’s a win. (Thanks, Taylar! 💕)

This process of letting go of perfection has me learning how to uncomfortably sit in things not going quite as I had planned. Once I have a plan–a vision–I take it personally when it starts unraveling.

This relationship being one of these plans.

 I couldn’t let go. It felt (and still feels) unbearable to lose him. To see another relationship come to an end.

God called me to take a leap of faith. To take a chance at living my life across the country. Distance and life was inevitably pulling us in different directions.

When you’re telling someone that despite how hard it is, you are actively choosing them, and they tell you to ‘Stop’…listen.

It was time.

It ended. Seemingly abruptly. The workout challenge ended too, and it was just me, my thoughts, and all this energy around what I should be doing next?

Which brings me to now. I’m currently flying from SFO to CMH for a wedding weekend. My line sister is getting married today and one of my childhood besties is getting married tomorrow. I’ve spent this past week crying my way through yoga classes (mainly because I’ve been out of practice and every balance pose I fell out of!!) and preparing for the shift to training mode at work. It’s another new season for me–Fall being the only season I haven’t experienced in the Bay. The irony being that it was this time last year that I made my way to the bay for the very first time.

I made a solo birthday trip out here with just a backpack and plane ticket. Crashed at one of my best friend’s house and literally explored the Bay. 4 months later I moved here.

Please hear me. If you can put some of your fears aside, you can live out some of the greatest dreams of your life.

If you would’ve told me this time last year that I’d be making a life for myself in California– working at top tier institution, bringing my small business dreams to life, and surviving and learning to thrive with Bay Area cost of living, I probably would’ve started cracking up laughing. Mainly because I laugh at everything, lol, but also because it’s been a dream of mine for quite some time.
Setting the fear aside is MUCH easier said than done.

To be out here alone has been uberly challenging and uberly rewarding. I’ve heard time and time again, if you find yourself being the smartest/expert in a space, it’s time to move on.
I am by no means an expert in any of the spaces I’m navigating lol so I know I am exactly where I’m suppose to be.

Challenged at home with adapting to a new living environment. Challenged at work in navigating institutional cultures while still learning the logistics of my role. Challenged in relationships by navigating new friendships and mentors while trying to maintain those very things with people across the world.

Challenged in watching my parents age from a distance. Manage health challenges, and not being able to drive home for a quick dinner, check in, or a hug just because.

Challenged to be without Ruby. My rescue dog who in all actuality, rescued me.

Challenged to be away from my nephews and my niece– in 2 years time I went from no auntie responsiblites ( just Godmomma duties!) to 3 nephews and a niece!! My siblings have all nurtured my life in truly distinct ways and I so dearly want to do the same for their kids ( and maybe my own someday…)

Challenged to end a relationship with someone I truly loved in order for us both to truly grow…growing apart.

Challenges all around…and yet I’m exactly where I’m “suppose” to be.

I have been really pushing myself to live in a space where I’m making the next best decision. A space where I’m not harping on what I “should” have done differently or wish I could change.

Just making the next best decision.

I look forward to this weekend’s decision to see two people I love dearly, get married! I look forward to seeing my parents, my dog and the house I grew up in–even if it’s only long enough for my mom to make me a grilled cheese.

I look forward to starting a new Shift Shop Challenge Sept 4th, and doing the best that I can while giving myself allll the grace I need right now (I said grace, not excuses!!).

I’ve put on some significant challenge/stress  weight within the last 2 years, and I’m looking forward to giving myself the peace and mind of gradually and persistently working on me.

One next best decision at a time.

365 Days in the Bay: 7 Mos.= Making the Shift

I just finished Shaun Week ; He’s by far my favorite Beachbody trainer. HipHopAbs may have something to do with it. I’ve battled weight for as long as I can remember, and my mom was always standing in the sidelines trying to figure out how she could help–WITHOUT making me feel like there was something wrong with me. A tricky task for sure.

My mom, bless her heart, had me in EVERYTHING! I did tumbling, jazz dance, tee ball, soccer, girl scouts– anything she could think of to keep me active. Myyyy preference was to either be reading a book somewhere in silence or watching Barney. I was easily entertained and the smallest of things made (and still make!) me happy.

Around middle school is when I really noticed my weight– couldn’t categorize it as baby weight anymore, and my friends bodies all look so different than mine. I was short and round and they were all getting taller and leaner. I remember trying out for cheering in the 6th grade and having to get my uniform custom made because my tummy was just so round. The best part of it is no one ever made fun of me, Not ever. Not to my face anyway! I never heard a fat joke, or got tripped in the hallway– any of those stereotypical overweight middle school-er experiences. Maybe it was because my dad was our middle school guidance counselor—or maybe it was because people were apologetically kind for 12-14 year olds.

Either way, at that point (while at a seamstress getting a new uniform made) I realized that there might be a problem. That maybe there was something ‘wrong’ with me and I wanted to ‘fix’ it.

Shortly after I got a Zumba DVD set for Christmas (thanks, Mom!) This was in 2000 ya’ll– before anyone knew anything about Beto (can I get the accent symbols please!?!) and salsa to shed pounds. I was roughly 13 years old and I danced in my living room every single day. Without hesitation, I had all the dance moves memorized and found myself making up my own moves along the way (who’s surprised!! 🙂). Soon to follow was my introduction to Shaun T via HipHopAbs !

Mom started packing my lunch with applesauce cups instead of Scooby snacks, pretzels instead of Doritos, and carrot sticks and apples instead of 4 cookies. This is around the time I fell in love with apple slicers and started having apple slices dipped in a single serving of caramel as my sweet treat for the day. I walked into high school a sneaky 60lbs lighter with barely any effort.

High School to college I maintained. I was always thicker than everyone else, but not quite as round. College brought on new obstacles of mixed drinks and 2am pizza which QUICKLY caught up to me. (Thanks Catfish Biff’s, O-H!) I found myself feeling out of shape (no more soccer and cheering practice to keep me active). I joined boot camps, or group fitness classes– I found that Zumba had really taken off, so I started popping in classes on campus or wherever I could find them. Shook the weight again. #zing

Fast forward to 2015. I looked in the mirror one day and decided I just wanted to be fit. I wanted to see what it felt like to be someone who was actually IN-SHAPE! I’d been working out a Lifetime Fitness for a year, started developing relationships, and met a trainer who challenged me to take my “get-by” fitness to the next level. And that I did. With Brian at my side, I lost 60lbs all over again– but this time I lost it on a 25 year old body. All the curves were falling into the right spots. I was shopping on sales racks, and slipped this thick booty into some size 8 pants. Can I just say that in ALL of my life (up to that point) I had never seen a single digit clothing item slip onto my body like butter. I was hooked. Addicted even. I was working out twice a day, eating tilapia and broccoli like it was going out of style.

Such is life, I ended up tearing my meniscus, and shortly after my grandmother died.

I just stopped. Everything just stopped. No gym. No tilapia. No snap-chatting my journey. I just disappeared. My depression was already slowly resurfacing (before my grandmother passed) and her dying just tipped me off the edge. I had all these feelings about losing her coupled with the reality of recognizing that these days we think we having coming, are just. not. promised.

2 years later (nearly 3) and I have that middle school feeling  all over again. It’s like I haven’t really been paying attention to my weight. I’ve just been trying to survive…and eating through it. I’ve just been working really hard to wake up everyday- go to work- and make it back home without a break down. Her death just unleashed all this junk I’d been suppressing– everything came out and ever since I’ve been managing it.

Rewind to my last post where I talked through Beginning Again. I’m in a space where I now see that attempting to bury challenges that are still alive and well, will only mean that they’ll resurface at some non-optimal time. May as well manage them as they come. This weight. Can’t be buried anymore. It can’t be ‘fixed’. This weight is the physical representation of everything I carry and attempted to silence. I can’t silence it anymore. Time to do the work of recognizing how I have arrived here– carrying all this baggage and begin, again, to let things go.

So back to why I started writing this post- lol! I just finished Shaun Week– the premise being it’s a one week program and can help generate some momentum/belief in your ability to complete something. To get to the finish line and to keep moving to the next goal.

Shaun Week shed light on a few things:

  • Food matters WAYYYY more than we want it to
    • I completed all the workouts and ate freely, just made myself the promise that I would track everything on MyFitnessPal no matter what. I noticed I eat a TON of carbs and sweets (hello dessert after every meal—); the snacks are what are eating up all my calories for the day. Who knew?!
  • Working out as soon as my eyes open works best for me
    • Day 6 (yesterday) I waited until the afternoon and I almost forgot (mainly because I was laying in bed watching yet another Netflix movie lol)
  • Water is a challenge
    • Have you every tried to drink 1/2 your body weight in water?! Good God Almighty. Anyone who knows me knows that I ALREADY have to go to the bathroom 10,000 times a day…add drinking all that damn water!!! #DEPENDSPLEASE
  • Keeping fruits around help with the snacking
    • I’m a bored/stress/I don’t know what to do with myself eater. Having fruits around helped with that. 1. I didn’t want to eat an apple lol 2. So I didn’t snack unnecessarily. I’ve decided not to tell myself I can’t have something. Instead I just don’t keep it in my house. If I want ice cream, I have to literally get in the car and go buy it– can’t walk to the freezer in my pjs and go HAM just because.
  • Including others in the process (when I ‘m ready to include them!) works for me
    • I decided to wait until after Day 5 before I said anything to anyone– mainly because I didn’t want anyone giving me their thoughts if I didn’t finish. That worked for me!

My first. goal was to finish something. By God, I just wanted to start and finish something well– and I did! I did the 7-day program and shed 7inches this week… #hm!

Tomorrow I’m joining my dear friend Taylar Proctor on another Beachbody journey–emphasis? Making the Shift.

For the next three weeks I have committed to completing The Shift Shop with Beachbody trainer Chris Downing. I will by all means, be doing the modified version of all the exercises in addition to modifying the meal plan. I tend to be an extremist so I have to be careful when I take the leap into program and remind myself– I have to do what works best for me! However, I will try and then modify as necessary 🙂

Goals:

 

1. Drink 1/2 my body weight in water 5 out of 7 days per week ( I may very well be wearing Depends this week…me and my bladder and all this water?! Lord Jesus be a fence!)
2. Purchase and Prep meals on Sundays (that’s today! already scheduled to get cooking with a friend at 2p!)

3. 10 min of Personal Development (audio books during commute and starting my day with my daily word devotions, or blogging– hey ya’ll!)

Most important goal?! FINISHING! No matter what–sticking to the process, being kind to myself on the tough days, and keeping track of progress.

To help with accountability I’ve taken before pictures, measurements, etc.; at the end of the program I’ll post my results here (eek!)

Beginning again starts with making a shift. These next three weeks are going to be dedicated to exactly that. Taking small steps toward making a shift, facing challenges as they come up (instead of burying them), and moving forward–or as Shaun T would say— Digging Deeper. 🙂

May the odds be ever in my favor!

 

hydration.nutrition.fit.sound.

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