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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365 Days in the Bay: Begin Again

Have you all seen that movie? Begin Again? GREAT movie about this music producer whose life was on a specific path and per usual, things took a turn.

For the past month, I have been living the retired life. Hanging out with family, wearing PJs until noon only to shower, put athletic Nike gear back on, and lounge throughout the day. I spent the first two weeks of this month getting drooled on in all the best ways by my nephews and the latter two weeks hanging out in my hometown. I’ve been able to see people and places I haven’t been to in years. Visited with my sergeant Grandfather, popped in all the local coffee and ice cream shops, watched great friends get married, took a miniature road trip with my Mom, and visited my first gun range with my Dad.

I made my peace with Ruby being in Ohio and today, I prep myself for a solo flight back to the bay tomorrow evening. As I wrap up my last few days of “retirement” I’ve spent some time thinking through how I make these next 6 months the best 6 months. I’m 2 months shy of my last 20 something birthday (Dear Jesus.), I am pleasantly plump, and I’m really looking forward to beginning…again…

So what do we do with these new beginnings? I mean I’ve had 30 days to think through this! The end of the year tends to move so quickly. The holidays become these timestamps for another NYE and another year. I assume I’ll be here for this year’s holidays and several years after, but the truth is, all I REALLY have is right now. And with right now– I know my best wish for myself is to move away from getting by and move into living presently and purposefully.

My goals for the next 6 months are as follows:

  1. Be painfully honest. With myself. With others.
  2. Blog twice per month.
  3. Join, complete, and share my experience with 2 health and wellness challenges. This can be anything I want– 30 days of Yoga at CPY, a Beachbody Challenge, a Water Challenge, a Meditation Challenge, a Juice cleanse– just something that is centered on health and my getting back to making some progress here. ( I can’t remember the last time I had a vegetable. #facts)
  4. Launch Business Website.
  5. Save $1000.

The hope is that by writing these goals (and sharing them with whomever continues to find my writing intriguing/helpful), I can achieve the ultimate goal of fully living and appreciating each moment as the gift it truly is.

This time away from work has reminded me that things just move so quickly. No point in harping or re-reading chapters that have already ended. In addition, no point in stressing and concerning myself with chapters that haven’t been written. Each day is a new opportunity to begin again.

And so.

Today. I begin.

Again.

And with you (readers) as my witnesses, I take the next best step at being authentically and presently me.

hydration.nutrition.fit.sound.

Bolivia

Bolivia, August 2016

365 Days in the Bay: 6 Months and lots of Changed Plans

6 months have rolled by of my Bay life and as I wake up this morning in Atlanta, I’m charged with some emotional thinking. 6 months ago I took a leap and moved for a fresh start, and today— I find myself looking for a ‘fresh start’ all over again. oy vey. What happened?

My plan was to just make it to July.

If I could make it from Jan-July, I’d be okay.

In July I would get some downtime, and most importantly, I’d be bringing my four-legged best friend, Ruby, to the bay. I’d take advantage of my job’s 11 month appointment and take the month of July away from work and as time to re-group and reshape priorities.

In July I would get to see my nephews again, at 4 months, and take a dream road trip with my dad across the country. A memory we both would take to our graves.

In July I’d get to pick my mom up safely from the airport and have downtime to leisurely (and proudly) show both of my parents what I’ve been mastering on the West Coast all on my lonesome.

In July I would attack health goals, debts, and personal business goals full-steam ahead and re-calibrate for another Stanford academic year.

In July I’d see some friends, do lots of CorePowerYoga in all the difference cities we’d be driving through, and I’d come back to work a skinny slaying baddie….rightttt.

If I’ve learned anything during this full transition into #adulting it’s that plans change. And by God they did…quickly…abruptly… circumstances calling me to make selfless, thoughtful, logical, and very emotionally exhausting decisions.

No roadtrip.

No parents in the bay.

More weight gained.

No Paycheck.

No insta baddie post.

No Ruby in California.

Dear God.

WTF.

July has been everything I needed…not necessarily what I wanted. My time with my nephews reminded me how quickly those little nuggets are going to grow. It reminded me that time truly doesn’t stand still and life waits on no one. It was great spending time with my brother. We haven’t spent that much time together in years… I see him and I always see this guy that somehow managed to get it all right. The career, the life partner, the kids (who gets identical twin boys!!), the house– everything really. He’s just always been so strong in all the ways I feel weak. Time with him reminded me that the same strength lives inside of me– I just haven’t been pushed into having to use it. Living close to home comes with it’s benefits. Hands on (free) dog-sitter, impromptu grocery store runs with mom, and surprise weekend/weekday visits from my two favorite people (my parents). The ability to go home when life smacks you right between the eyes…luxuries I hadn’t thought twice about until I sold all my belongs and moved across the country.

The bay doesn’t offer those comforts. It offers everything being triple the cost that I’m use to, lots of traffic, thousands of people I don’t know, lots of homelessness and poverty, and tons of alone time.

In the same breathe, the bay offers this dreamer–me–the clean slate of becoming everything I dream of being.

July didn’t fulfill the dream of driving across the country with my dad because my spirit wasn’t settled with everything I was attempting to put in motion. In my mind, I had convinced myself that Ruby coming to the bay was the ultimate sign of “Cierra is growing up”. Bringing her would mean that I didn’t, for the third time in my life, hand over my responsibilities for my parents to manage.  Let’s look at history: At 3, I asked for Goldie, and at 13, I asked for Chloe. At 23 I didn’t have to ask anyone about getting Ruby… I was an “adult” and able to make my own decisions. In all 3 instances– my dreams became my parent’s responsibilities— all snuggled by their unconditional love for me.

Ruby’s probably the best part of my time in Nashville and as difficult as it’s been to be a dog-mom through all my own life transitions– Ruby has saved me from myself on more than one occasion. Opting for Ruby to continue her life in Ohio has been this constant guilt battle for me. Feeling like I’m failing her and myself by not stepping up and pushing through, and at the same time, knowing deep down, that trying to take care of both of us could end up being the worse decision I could make. Dramatic maybe, but absolutely how I’m feeling.

I’ll remember this July as a time in my life where I made some tough decisions. A time where I put others before myself. A time where I could recognize the still small voice reminding me that it is well–despite the tears, the heartache, and the tough decision– it is well in my soul and I will be okay. Ruby will be okay….and that I still have lots of work to do (and that I’m still in my 20s, still learning, and still a permissible hot ass mess).

The stillness of July has been grounding. Humbling. When I take a look around me, I see that all the decisions I’ve made while walking by faith and not sight have led me to exactly where I needed to be. Having a relationship with my sister. Living across the country and navigating life on my own…choosing Ruby’s best interest over mine– a house where long commutes and traffic don’t impact her quality of life and mine. The good ol scale silently reminding me that it’s not going to budge until I work through some of the baggage I’m carrying with it.

July has been a time of some serious summer cleaning. I know the more I learn to let go, the more I begin to fall in love with everything I’m becoming. The more I’ll understand the complicated truths of life– that no one is out here having it all. Every piece of life comes with some type of sacrifice.

I wish I could say that I’m 100% confident with all the decisions and realizations of July; what I can say is my mission is to continue to make the next best decision and keep moving forward.

Feel the fear and do it anyway? I’m living with the fear and reality of my decisions right now. The do it anyway is tied to having the courage to trust myself– my decisions, and move forward…

I was able to pop in my church, One Church, during my quick visit in Ohio. My pastor, Greg Ford, was preaching about The Faith Gamble. This idea that we are constantly in a space where were asking God to help clarify or send us some type of sign that we’re doing something right. Greg talked through the importance of recognizing when we have to give something up, in order to walk into our next blessing, our next season. He talked through how in these moments—our flesh thinks we’re crazy and yet our spirit is thriving.

All of that is everything this past 6 months has been. Me giving up everything that make me comfortable for the chance of walking into a life I’m honored to live.

I’m giving up everything I know…feeling all the fear…and doing it anyway.

“I want to take the hand I have right now, and play it to my best ability”- Greg Ford

hydration.nutrition.fit.sound.

faith

 

365 Days in the Bay: Get Your Mind Right

Still month 4. Totally geeked about completing my 6 day juice cleanse (7 lbs down). Cleanse finished on Wednesday. Today is Sunday– and 5 of those 7 pounds are back.

What the royal DUCK (with an F.)

I was talking with a family member tonight about eating 3 rice krispy treats without even noticing and then burst into tears. I was trying to explain how I think there is a food devil that lives in my head that just makes me eat a bunch of junk without my even getting a chance to enjoy and or noticed it! As I was trying to explain, I realized that I was officially off my rocker and just needed to stop talking for a second. After a series of questions, We came to terms with a few things.

My body is SO ready for me to get my shit together; my mind on the other hand?

I have some work to do.

If you follow my snapchat or insta, you’d see that I’m pretty transparent about my food choices and gym routine. When I’m locked in, I’m locked in. You could put 10 rice krispy treats and chocolate chip cookies in front of me; if I’m on a juice cleanse? I’m not touching them! Fascinating to me that I have such unwavering commitment when I’m following some type of strict regiment, but give me freedom? No meal plan? I’m eating allllllll the rice krispies. All of them. In one sitting, and won’t stop to blink.

WHY? Why, God. Why do I feel like a total food addict!!!!

I don’t have that answer. Nor do I really think God has anything to do with my relationship with food. What I did realize today? It’s a control thing.

I like being in control. Relationships. Work. Food. Give me the reigns and I will run with it.

When I’m on a cleanse– there’s control and I’m leading- for myself– with some given guidelines. When I’m at a gym and doing some serious fitness regiment– there’s control and I’m leading for myself– with some guidelines.

When I’m going to the gym occasionally and “trying to lose weight” there are NO controls. Which means I do whatever I want. Which means I typically achieve the exact opposite– less gym time and more free-for-all food time = MORE WEIGHT #ugh.

So what’s the solution? Some would say to stick to strict regiments! They work for me, right! The problem is I end up losing weight to prove a point, not to be healthy. I end up losing weight to win a competition, or to make my trainer look good, or to have some super inspiring story.

The hang up has been this (getting back to my discovery from tonight). I don’t want to lose weight. I don’t want to just watch numbers decrease on the scale. I actually want to be healthy. I want to have a healthy relationship with food. I actually want to love my body and not punish it by excessive workouts and obsessing about a quarter cup of carbs being too much.

I actually want to learn how to cook things I actually like to eat. (Like healthy chicken fingers and french fries—don’t judge me, yes they do exist!!)

Is this possible? Am I so much of a black and white thinker that I keep sabotaging myself? This is all me. I know what to do….so why can’t I do it. What’s changed!?

My mind.  4 months time and my head is spinning. Sure things are settling, but this self-critic would be lying to you all if I said I’ve actually given myself time to process some of the stress I’ve been creating and carrying:

  1. Roommate search: I have been obsessing over this and completely neglecting that I chose a place I can actually afford. Sure a roommate would be helpful; but the stress I’m putting on myself to find one is just not reasonable. Let it go. There is purpose in all of this.
  2. Work responsibilities: lately I have worked myself up so much about what I don’t want to do that I haven’t taken a second to just accept some of the things I cannot change. Like the fact that I’m new and everything is different and I work in completely different functional area right now. Let it go. There is a much greater purpose in all of this.
  3. Making friends: I watched Netflix and Hulu all weekend feeling sorry for myself without even recognizing that I’ve been going non-stop for the past 3 weekends…WITH FRIENDS. A weekend at home was needed. Let it go. You are meeting people at your own pace.
  4. Missing my dog: I hear my neighbors walking their dogs in the morning, or I’ll have a low moment where Ruby would climb up next to me a snuggle…and she’s not there. I’ve been stressing and feeling guilty about her not being here with me. Let it go. She’s with the two people who arguably love you most in this world– your parents. She is fine. You are fine. You will be reunited…it will be okay.

I’m clearly not typing all of these out for your benefit– but mainly to remind myself that some of this stressing has to stop. Particularly if it’s health I’m looking for. Sure stress is a part of the daily life grind; excessive stress, however, serves no one well—particularly not me and my long term health journey.

Don’t get me wrong. The juice cleanse was everything. My taste buds are rewired, my body feels clear, and I’m getting clear signs of what makes me feel good and what things are triggers (i.e. sugar and caffeine now = an INSTANT headache). Now it’s a matter of taking the time to recognize what my body is telling me, listen, and move forward.

My body is telling me it’s ready to let go of this weight in exchange for health. My body is also telling me that getting my mind right is the first step that I’ve spent a good chunk of weight loss journeys ….skipping.

Not this go-round. I’m not doing this for a trainer. I’m not doing this for the ‘likes’. I’m not doing this for a boyfriend or life partner to think I look stunning in backless Olivia Pope gown rockin’ my natural hair (although I wouldn’t be opposed) My focus isn’t on weight loss anymore…It’s my dream to be healthy. This time, I’m okay with being the tortoise. I’m done sprinting. If I lose 1 pound this whole year working through all this junk I’ve created in my mind. Well so be it. Lord knows once I can connect back to knowing without a doubt how beautifully unique, and wonderfully-made I am….just as I am right now…despite size and fitness capabilities….

there will be no stopping me.

#hydration.nutrition.fit.sound.

mind right

365 Days in the Bay: 4 Months in and a Juice Cleanse

I knew I was ambitious with thinking I’d be writing everyday, so then I switched to every week…and then every month…and then well, yeah. Here I am 🙂 lol

What a whirlwind. You all were reading first hand the initial transition woes. The emotional roller coaster days and the unbelievable amount of self-doubt in my ability to call California home.But by GOD alone.  A LOT has happened in 4 months.

-I moved to my own place.($$$$$ Send me a roommate immediately, Brian you movin’!?)

-Went on my first road trip to Santa Cruz (Hello weekend getaways just because!)

-Hosted my first visitors: My big sister and my nephew– doing SF tourist highlights (got punched in the nose by a 2-year-old and it really hurt!!!)

-Went on Yacht Day Party with allll the trap music (YAAASS!)

-Entertained the idea of dating (then realized I was too overwhelmed and introspective at the moment to give energy to anyone else)

-Re-downloaded SnapChat in an effort to recapture some of my adventures (mainly because I spent most of the time on the Yacht party trying to remember my snap password to capture the ultimate turn up…and I failed! #damnyouvodkatonics)

-Walked the full Lake Merritt perimeter with some friends (without peeing my pants, yes I have bladder control issues– leave me alone)

-Refurbished a dresser someone was tossing in the midst of their own move (and tricked a friend into helping me carry it in to my place 🙂 )

-Started (and hopefully completing ) a 6 day juice cleanse.

Sure there are many other highlights of these past four months (i.e. my parking ticket record) but these are just some of the things that remind me of how far I’ve come. The tears have slowed, the fighting has ceased, and the growing continues.

The juice cleanse being the most recent of activities (currently on Day 4), coming out of a need for a reboot or hard reset. A fresh start. I’ve been so quickly moving through this transition that I hadn’t looked up in a while. I looked in the mirror a few days ago (4 to be exact!) and couldn’t even recognize the person staring back at me. In all the good and hard ways, I’ve been changing and haven’t taken a second to look myself in the eyes.

My hair is short and I get a line up at barber shop in Palo Alto where I’m the only black female ever present. I keep a line up…when did that happen?!

I have braces and my teeth are actually straight now– like I think it’s time to take these things off!! I hadn’t even noticed that these brackets have been doing their job amidst all the random food pieces I continuously am picking out of them.

I look JUST LIKE MY MOTHER. I mean it’s creepy guys. I looked up one day and I scared myself. I am no longer this little awkward rolly-polly 10 year old. Although I feel that way, my body has matured in ways that remind me that I am a full blown adult.

All of this has happened, or maybe has been happening and I just haven’t noticed. I’ve been so busy being soooo hard on myself that I lost track of everything I am doing right.

I am an aunt to 3 nephews and 2 nieces. People were telling me happy mother’s day and I couldn’t wrap my head around why! My sister is a new comforting presence in my life…2 years ago she and I barely knew each other…let alone spoke to one another…and yet she was the first member of my family to come out to see me. She and my nephew…

So much has changed in 4 months.

He and I closed our chapter.

So much has changed in 4 months.

A new chapter in my life. I find that I’m still writing, just not here. I’m writing my first book about transparency and vulnerability…and weight– how they all interact and can completely muck up self-love and self-esteem.

I’m brainstorming how to get my business off the ground and gambling with what it means to be your own boss. It’s sounds cool right, but by God- it’s a ton of work.

I’m drinking 6 juices a day– starting and finishing with a thicker dates/almonds based pressed juice with Chlorophyll and Aloe Vera Water and other green juices throughout the day. As I fight through what I thought were hunger pains, I realized that my brain was trying to calculate why I was no longer stuffing my body endlessly just to feel…

This juice cleanse has removed food as a distraction and really opened me up to what keeps me up at night…what I’ve been hiding from, and what I want most out of this life.

It’s also reminded me to do things that I love and learn to appreciate food in ways I had forgotten. This cleanse has given me time to pick up some of the books I have beautifully placed as decor and read them. This cleanse has helped me look in the mirror everyday with a little grace and little damn girl #hairflip all at the same time. This cleanse has reminded me of the importance of sleep, and nutrients, and metabolism pacing, and what it means to love myself RIGHT NOW… not just the “already healthy me” but rather the “I’m working on it” me.

hydration.nutrition.fit.sound.

I feel God_s presence as assurance, comfort, and love.

 

365 Days in the Bay: Weeks 5 & 6-Playing in the Rain

It’s been raining since my arrival. Everyone keeps telling me I brought Ohio with me. I keep reminding them that if I truly brought Ohio, it would be snowing 😉 

Weeks 5 and 6 have been full of house hunting and navigating what are the essentials. One of my colleagues gave me a book to read- Essentialism by Greg McKeown. The premise was getting to what is absolutely necessary in our lives and leaving the excess behind. A daunting task for a low key hoarder. 

Up until this move I have kept absolutely everything. Door decs from being an RA, text messages, the socks from my first time at Girl Scout camp… lol okay not really, but you get where I am going. Everything. When I accepted this job opportunity I knew I didn’t want to bring all of my past with me. Nor could I! Not if I was really setting out for growth. A big reason I took this leap was to make some sense of why I had allowed things...items…collections…to be so valuable. Why was I so committed to having excessive space and and things to fill it with?

This move involved packing, and repacking my suitcases several times. Selling all of my furniture.  Sorting piles and lots of “did I really just throw that away?!” Lots of Plato’s Closet adventures and Goodwill donations.  All to arrive in CA with 3 suitcases and a few boxes I shipped. Pretty unbelievably adult-like of me! Hm! #forthewin 

In looking for somewhere to live, I have become continuously more grateful that I listened to God as he urged me to purge. All of the spaces here are super tiny and emoji big eyes expensive. OMG!

I can count on one hand the places that I have found that meet my essentials:

1.Ruby (pet-friendly; LARGE dog friendly is whole other beast!)

2. Safety (relative of course)

3. God’s Blessing (i.e. gut feeling)

4. Affordability (also relative)

5. Kitchen (no kitchenette or microwave business; yes people are paying lots of money to live somewhere with no kitchen! Smh)

6.Parking (designated being ideal)

Finding all 6 of those has been damn near impossible. Either I’d meet a great group of roommates and they’d say no dog, or I’d find a place I love that was 3,000+ per month. No bueno. I still haven’t found all 6; however, I have most certainly discovered what is a must while recognizing that I’m still figuring some of this out along the way…

I read my daily devotional this morning which reminded me of this:

Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.—Matthew 6:33

I suppose that if I swap my list around and let God lead as number one, the remaining 5 essentials will fall into place.

The rain continues. House hunting and rain have occupied weeks 5 and 6 which means I’ve had less time to emotionally exhaust myself. The sun pops up intermittently,  I’ve eaten some fantastic food, met some insanely awesome people, and even got a little twerk team night in (totally impromptu!)  all things I needed and graciously appreciated. (Thanks, God… and yes, I just thanked God for my dance-sesh/twerk team adventure… he knows my heart!)

I’ve found myself missing my grandmother which is a little overwhelming. She died nearly 2 years ago now and for whatever reason she is walking with me every day of this transitional roller coaster. Overall I’m getting better at dancing in the rain, knowing that it won’t last always. I’m dancing and moving right along. Taking a second to splash in the pot holes, while being mindful that at some point, I need to step out of the hole, out of the puddle, and move forward.

It’s so encouraging to know that even when I lend down the path of feeling nervous or scared of doing this all alone, a still small voice graces me with the reminder that I came into this world with Christ,and I will walk through every phase of life with Christ…even when I fight disbelief and resentment. There have been so many times in my adulting life that I have been convinced that God was a figment of imagination that helped people manage the craziness of life. For every moment I doubted, I literally could feel a spiritual presence hugging me just a little tighter.

Sometimes I think us believers are just a group of hopeless dreamers…but then I remember that even if that proves to be true, I’d much rather continue life as a dreamer and believing in the spiritual presence of life than to believe that there truly isn’t any”Disney magic” in this world. 
When I am in doubt, and the “rain” overwhelms me, something spiritual reminds me that all is well, and that Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Hebrews 11:1

“When we recognize that what is visible must first come out of what is invisible, we might find ourselves getting out of some pretty rough jams…”- Gregory Barrette (Daily Word)

Cheers to rain that hides tears while giving me a reason to lean into faith, remember to play, and to not take myself so seriously. ❤

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365 Days in the Bay: Weeks 3&4:The day I broke.

That day was today. Well it was Friday Feb 10th. A complete and utter break. The lowest of lows. The bottom of the barrel. I knew it was a new low because I cried soft tears. Then loud ones. Then no tears. Just numbness.

Today (Friday) was the day my heart gave in to giving up. And then I found my ID.

It was that kind of day. The day where slowly but surely, every decision I made had some type of fall out. The day where you spent the evening before dreaming about being at home and woke up to remember you have no idea where the nearest Target is.

 The kind of day where I went to the post office without my wallet, I couldn’t find work letterhead for official documents, people are continuing to ask me questions that I don’t know the answer to, I can’t get a hold of my best friend…and then I lose my work ID. 
Cue the waterworks. Snot bubbles.

I mean honestly…  I reread this now for edits and all I can think is “What makes those collective things feel so big? So overwhelming? So defeating? 

I hear this inner record playing. Reminding me that I chose this. That God presented this blessing of a west coast opportunity and I opted in. I hear people talk through their own situations and I think about how blessed I am. How dare I allow a lost ID to derial me?! The shaming starts, the depression rolls in, and I get that “it could be worse, and here you are, complaining” feeling and verbal confirmation in the pit of my stomach. 

The reality of this moment is that I have been battling me vs. me. No one else. At this point I have a decision to make. Are you going to embrace the severely challenging  work required of living a great life or are you going to freeze and go home? 

I see why people give in to giving up. I see why people take their lives. If you aren’t mentally prepared  or if you haven’t spent any time or been forced to build your resilience, life can seemingly have these moments of aggressive carpet pulling from beneath your feet… my feet. 

It’s the collection of the little things that make for the big meltdown moments. For me it’s the scale creeping up, or another failed housing search, or another email task as soon as you’ve completed one. Or crockpot meal failures that turn into pizza night that turn into food guilt, that turn into financial panic. WTH! Does anyone else’s brain seemingly kick into overdrive analysis out of no where?! I literally have to say STOP out loud sometimes to bring the spiraling to a halt. 

It’s these little things that pile up, and then you (I) lose your (my) ID and somehow that equates to I am a total failure. #lies

I shared this because these are the days I am in the boxing ring fighting with myself, no one else. 

It’s in these moments that I have learned that if I get still enough, stop sobbing enough, and listen close enough, Life seemingly and suddenly turns a new leaf.

I am able to think clearly and remember who I truly am.

I officially started my own business. I am a business owner and have an opportunity to build on something I absolutely love. Believe in the Journey is a real dream that I have actualized. It’s been my dream since I was 13 y/o. 

Dreams take time…commitment…and patience, Cierra.

I have a support system. All over this great world I have friends calling to check on me, friends and distant family in the area making sure I know I’m not alone. 

My Columbus pastor texted with information on a church family to reach out to. God stirs my spirit with hope…. right when the wheels fall flat off the wagon.

You are not alone, Cierra.

I have a chance to read these books I keep moving with me every time I move. I have a chance to practice everything I tell everyone else. I have a chance to dig my feet into this earth and breathe.

I am growing you, Cierra–helping you find your roots so that when the real storms come, I know you are planted firmly in who you are, and who I created you to be.

Today would’ve been my grandmothers 84th birthday. She cleaned floors on her hands and knees at my age so that my mom and her siblings could have a shot at more.

She fought, at 82 and a full 95lbs, for me to hear how much she loved me, how proud of me she is, and how much pride and joy I brought into her life.

Life is a choice. My grandmother chose to keep fighting for as long as she could; she was in awe of how life evolved from her scrubbing floors for a living to watching her granddaughter walk this earth with two degrees. From how her life  transitioned from barely getting by,  graced into her peacefully passing away in the comforts of her own home.

  My grandmother chose to keep fighting through addiction and through pain, and through lost. She fought for 82 years. How dare I think about letting go now. 

My mom misses her mother every single day. She keeps fighting because she believes in me and she believes that despite current struggles, her greatest battle is the one she is facing with herself. The one I am facing with myself. 

We are not alone, mom.

Mama would poop her pants to know I had the courage to move across the country; I hear her voice in every moment along the way…..You can do this, Cierra.

It’s time for me to fight for myself. So that at 82, or 92 or 102, I can reread this blog and remember that I didn’t give up. I fell hard. I busted up quite a bit of broken skin in some tough places…

But I didn’t give in to giving up. Not today. Not ever.

Rest easy Mama. I’m going to be okay…we’re going to be okay. 

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365 Days in The Bay: Week 2-Decision.

End of Week 2. Midway through week 3. Completely over-stimulated about the number of decisions I’ve been considering within such a short amount of time. I miss my dog. So I decided to dog-sit. I needed to eat healthier. So I decided to go to the Farmer’s Market. I needed to get out of the ‘house’. So I decided to drive to Mountain View for a movie.

Those being some of the simple decisions I made; that weren’t quite as simple when you (I) don’t know where anything is. ha!  I’ve found myself in this interesting space of talking about Maslow a lot lately. I am experiencing, so clearly, the need for basics needs being met.

The work environment is charged with my needing to make the decision of how I work best. Or quite possibly– me making the intentional decision to articulate how I work best. My past few jobs have shown me the importance of teaching people how to work best with you, or rather how to mange up. I’ve finally given up on trying to mold myself into someone else style; I know only myself and I’m going to go with what I know best. All to say– 2.5 weeks in and I am deciding to set my own pace {despite the fire-hose full of work I’ve been drinking}.

This past week has been full of lots of tears. I would be lying if I said I hadn’t second-guessed myself. I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that by day 3, I was wondering if I made the right…decision. It’s hard to know, right? We live in a world where we (I) are often chasing the next best opportunity. I live in a space between my own two ears that strives for purpose and value driven work. By Day 3 I was so viciously searching for meaning and clarity that I had made the right choice, meanwhile I was being placed in a space of deciding and actualizing all the moving parts of my new role.

“Can you do this? I mean truly, Cierra, can you do this? Are you going to make the decision to commit to all the discomfort, all the sleepless nights, all the tear, all the feels that come with change and transition? Are you going to embrace everything you are experiencing as a part of your journey…your story? Are you going to remember how your best friend helped you prepare for this moment? He said to you, ‘Only you know how change impacts you, and only you can prepare yourself for how you can be successful amidst so much change.’– Are you going to embrace any of that?

Are you going to apartment search? How many roommates can you live with? What can you afford? What are you giving up based on affordability? What do you value most? Do you want to drive to work? bus? train? Do you even know how to use public transportation? Is your privilege showing? Are you being a wimp? Are you thinking too much? YES!!! Okay you are thinking too much, how do you just be? but wait…that requires thought too!?”

Ongoing decisions and ongoing questions. Things that have challenged me to get to know myself on a much deeper level. Forcing me to gain an understanding of what I am afraid of– what I need in order to be successful, and what am I ready to embrace as a growing space. I cannot do it all at once. I just cannot and I am going to stop asking myself to. I am going to stop expecting that by 2.5 weeks in, I should have it all figured out. I am also going to rename failures. Haven’t come up with what that’s going to be yet, but that word must leave my vernacular…asap.

I spend a lot of my down time on the phone. Talking to friends I haven’t connected with in a while. Family members encouraging me to stay prayerful and empowered. I still hear the sting of distance so clearly in my parents voices…little do they know that nearly every time I hang up the phone— I cry.

Big tears. Big weeping ugly snot bubble tears. Tears that are connected to how much I love them– how much family means to me– and how hard it is…it was… to decide to be this far from them. All of them. Life is tough and I recognize how fortunate I am to be the product of two people I love so much it hurts. Loving and missing them as also charged this completely other conversation with myself about what having a family of my own means to me…questioning whether or not I see or want to be a mom, wife…’nuclear family’ person. Those are big questions {and decisions} for a different day…I just know I miss them more than I can truly articulate.

Decisions have been the current for these past few weeks and I’m all in. I’m all in to making decisions based on what I know is best for me–my goals–my peace–my sanity.

My anxiety has been on a new level and it’s because while I’ve been on the phone asking advice; it’s the first time in my life that at the end of the day, I truly have to LIVE in whatever decision I make. Just me.

I can ask as many people as I want about the CA commuting and neighborhoods, safety and social aspects, roommate vibes or solo living– I can ask and ask and ask and ask– and people are happy to talk it out…and yet ultimately…It’s up to me to decide what’s best for me. How liberating and terrifying at the same damn time. #ohvey

All of the complexities of identity discoveries, work environment vibes, personal preferences– all of these ‘things’ end up defining us and truly shaping how we interact with the world and with ourselves. In all the anxiety I am feeling; I’m most excited for the courage I’m gaining in being authentically me…snot bubbles and all.

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365 Days in The Bay: Week 1- Wearing My Skin

Last Saturday I left my best friend in Ohio, Ruby. My four-legged daughter/best friend/life-companion. One week without her has taught me a lot about myself. Starting with I’m a dog person. That’s just who I am. As exhausting and expensive as having a pet can be, I’ll likely always find myself snuggled up next to a furry friend. This week has also shown me how humbling and freeing it is to have time with just you. I’ve been transitioning into a new job, yes, but what’s been the most shocking is the complete unveiling of self. My self.

No TV. No social life. No distractions….just me. I tried deflecting and my human best friend (not Ruby) reminded me that my inaugural California frustrations had everything to do with me. Things I’ve been able to pack down deep inside and put on a mask and hide behind in lieu of being well-received and liked. For years my priorities have been all jacked up. I’ve been silencing myself in order to people please. To be the brilliantly successful kid I hear my parents telling all their friends about. I buried the brokenness and took the ‘high’ road. Acting. I’ll just pretend everything is fine and maybe eventually everything will….be fine.

Faking it until you make it isn’t working for me. 28 years later…end scene. Camera fades.

Pans screen to reality.

No TV. No social life. No distractions….just me. This strange space of realizing, feeling and being. This first week has been a great training ground for authenticity. For the first time in my life, I’m being honest with myself. Telling folks what I need to be successful, openly identifying my intentions of working style and saying no. Do you know how hard it is to say “No” in your first week of work? 

And here I am…saying No. Not because it feels great or because it’s liberating. I said ‘No’ because I ultimately know who I am or at least I’m beginning to– I’m just un-burying everything I’ve hidden in order to fit in, but I know, that I cannot afford to hide anymore. My mental health and self-love has taken too many hits on the back of others’ happiness. No. More. I have to say No to anything that threatens my ability to be my best me.

So what does that mean? How do you transition into a new role–into the trenches saying No? Let me tell you– I’m no genius, but I’m learning that no isn’t the problem. People don’t freak out about no– it’s how you say it and how your provide a solution to what you are saying no to. No requires solution-oriented thinking and a commitment to proactive versus reactive work-flow. That’s a true art that I’m embracing. It’s also about letting people know who you are up front. Setting clear expectations and recognizing that although those expectations may be challenged– you have to be honest with yourself and and only YOU can truly take YOUR best interest at heart (please re-read that Cierra, that line is from you and for you!).

I love being in a work environment that respects that. That respects me being me, and my being honest about it, and I’m grateful that God continuously places me in environments that are a training ground for helping me to become everything He designed me to be.

Aside from work, this week has been quite profound in reminding me of the color of my skin. In Ohio, I rarely took notice to my differences. Primarily due to the privilege of growing up around forward thinking families and continuously being in an environment where my name proceeded my identity. Small town privilege or something of the sort. I could have it all wrong. Maybe it’s just that I was truly a color blind kid until the world reminded that I couldn’t afford to be. That my skin was too dark and my hair was too tight to not be aware of how my melanin and crunchy coils would impact my interactions in the world–outside of my comfort zones or pockets of “safe”ish spaces in Ohio.

Being pretty alone in a new environment brings to life a constant reminder of a statement I’d regularly hear from my mom, “It’s okay that you are comfortable, Cierra; just know that you must always be aware.” My mom use to say that to me all the time and I’d roll my eyes. I’d say “Okay, but Mom it’s not like that anymore!”

My bubble burst when I looked myself in the mirror one day and said, damn. Not the good kind but the deep reality kind of ‘damn’. It literally doesn’t matter how nice I am, how qualified I am, how insightful I am– fill in the blank– I will always have to be aware in a way that non-brown people may never understand. And then I felt dumb. Naive for being such a late bloomer….dreamer maybe, I don’t know. I’m still working through everything; I’ve always had culturally sound and profound people in my life, and somehow I just so resisted my blackness as something that could work against me and as something I truly needed to understand.

It’s a strange feeling– looking yourself in the mirror and feeling all the bubbles you’ve been allowed to live in, burst. Not because someone popped them. Not because anyone has called me out of my name (to my face anyway); but just because for the first time in my life, I’m experiencing people treating me different due to the color of my skin. Looking at me a little longer, being off-put from my smile and genuine exuding of goodness. People giving me advice on different communities to be in touch with out here, or neighborhoods where I’m most inclined to be comfortable– based on my brown skin. Oh mom. Yes. I must always be aware.

I went to see Hidden Figures today so I’m not sure if that’s what’s triggered such a level of awareness. I also watched President Obama’s Farewell Address– the first presidential address I’ve watched in entirety. I also, for the first time, took some time today (MLK holiday) took some time researching how and why we have this holiday. I think all of these experiences combined helped me feel comfortable writing or talking about everything I’m processing. I’ve always hid behind my blackness– hoping that my Cierra-ness would be enough to take the color component away. I wanted that so badly, but as I entrench myself in truly knowing myself, I have to be honest in acknowledging the blackness I carry and all that comes with it.

So. A heavy first week, but an enlightening one nonetheless. Here’s to more self-discovery, honesty– authenticity, and self-love.

I use my powers of faith and strength to face and overcome difficult situations. I use my powers of love and understanding as I pray for myself and others. I use my powers of wisdom and guidance when I question my life’s direction.

I am a spiritual being, gifted with unlimited power and potential.

‘When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then we will see face to face.’—1 Corinthians 13:11-12

-Daily Word 1/17/17

 

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Write.

I’ve been thinking of a creative title for the past 3 days. I knew I wanted to make myself sit down and blog about my first morning waking up in the Bay Area as a newcomer. I wanted some profound catchy title. I thought about writing first thing this morning–but since I woke up at 5am bright-eyed, disoriented, and starving, I was distracted by my buddy Maslow reminding me of the basic needs I needed met immediately…FOOD.

I then quickly learned that west coast football = morning football; my Pittsburgh Steelers were playing at 10:00am so no time to write #gametime. With an afternoon quickly filled with answering check-in phone calls, making sure folks knew I was alive, and hitching a ride  with a new colleague to do my first Californian Trader Joe’s run (please note: Bring your own bags!), I walked back in to my sleeping stomping grounds feeling a bit outpaced.

Day. 1. Maslow: Basic Needs met… the reality of the move starts to settle in…time slows…heart rate sky rockets…thoughts racing…

You came here dear Cierra on a one-way ticket. You left the comforts of your 2 bedroom 2 bathroom apartment, your dog, your family, your friends, and you now are shacking up in dorm-style room  with whatever happened to fit in three rolling suitcases. What in the actual hell did you pack that you truly needed?? Have you ever arrived some where and try to make sense of why you packed certain things over others?  I have enough clothes to avoid laundry for 3 months… but no toothbrush case or deodorant *rolls eyes*. I have enough shoes to change my outfit 5 times in a day, but no rain boots or shoes that can put up a fight to wetness…nope..tennis shoes…and “dress boots”…it’s been raining since I arrived. You have 8 bottles of perfume but no blanket {you want to go night night, *****? Kevin Hart reference…} WTF!

I’m fine. Truly I am, lol– I literally just laughed at myself as I re-read my post lol, but really guys I’m okay 🙂 I have my basic needs, but it’s funny what we think we need until we realize what we truly need. I need time. Me time. I need some down time of adjusting. Time to mentally work through all that has happened in the past 24 hours, and what will happen over the next few weeks…months…years?  I need time to cope with no dog–no Ruby laying her head on my lap as she sense my anxiety. I need time to sit in silence, hear the rain, and wrap my mind around being patient with transition. Silent time to remind myself that I am just fine and that I have hit my quota of “figuring out” for today; my brain needs a break.

I’m a Virgo, so naturally one of the first things I did after situating my basic needs was starting to organize. Make list. Write goals. Perfect my living environment (everything has it’s place!) In my “perfecting” I was swept with the overwhelming reality of no matter how exciting and life altering and guts-y this move is… there is no way I’m master overnight perfection. There’s no way I am settling in to the reality of this decision in less than 24 hours. You can, however write. “You need to write, Cierra.”

Write. That’s the title I came up with for my first big day in The City. So I’ll continue to write…and write…and process…and write. I’ll continue looking forward and stepping in to all the discomfort and allow myself to feel everything I’m feeling. I’ll look forward to continuing to find all the little nuggets of encouragement my mom secretly packed within my luggage…because she is the best and she knows that I was unpacking the moment I got here. ❤

What a blessing to have an opportunity to experience a fresh start. What a blessing to look at myself in the mirror and say “Here you are, Cierra. You have actualized your vision board….it’s time to create a new one and start living the life you were designed to live.”

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