Thursday, February 25, 2016

Dear FLOTUS...My Not So Black History Moment

Dear FLOTUS,

I’ve watched you for the past eight years. You’ve moved and led with such the perfect combination of grace and strength. The way you support your husband and stand in the face of giants is admirable. There is not a bad thing anyone could say about you.

I’ve watched you mother your girls. You’ve kept them covered. Protected. And they’re absolutely beautiful.

It’s Black History Month, as you know, FLOTUS, and I must say: You changed history in my household -- something that I will never forget, and neither will my daughter. But it wasn’t a “traditional” Black History Moment.

A couple of months ago, my daughter Kayna’s school (Osage Elementary) sent home a letter. The letter stated that they would be doing something called “The Hall of Presidents” and that in this presentation, if our daughter wanted an “extra” opportunity, she could participate in the First Ladies presentation where each 2nd grade girl who volunteered could portray a First Lady.

After Kayna said she wanted to participate, I sent an e-mail to her teacher saying she wanted to take part. When she came home that day, she proclaimed excitedly: “Mommy, mommy! I get to be Michelle Obama! I get to be Michelle Obama!”


Tears welled up. I wasn’t sure if I should show her my joy or not. I didn’t want to taint her experience and excitement which was different than mine. My tears came because I remember playing Betsy Ross in the 4th grade at our President’s Day presentation. It was either that or only having the opportunities to play Harriet Tubman or any other remarkable slave. But this? This is a game changer. And what was most beautiful about it? She wasn’t excited because First Lady Michelle Obama is black. She was excited because she is our current First Lady of the United States of America. My daughter is eight, and has been alive for as long as you've been in the White House - so you're all she's known. It's normal for her to see you in this place. 

And FLOTUS, whether the nation has been 100% in agreement with you, your husband or the politics that tend to outweigh some of life’s greatest truths, this was life changing. And my reality is that I am conflicted about Black History Month because we are more than slaves. We are more than what happened thousands of years ago or even 60 years ago. There are black leaders and black activists, business owners, dancers, actors, poets, and yes, now a First Lady of the United States that have made history.

FLOTUS, she was proud. She could identify with you. When she created her small, short speech, she studied you. And I was glad she did. She even wanted to wear orange like you because it’s what you wore for the State of the Union. 

My family and I are extremely big on diversity and creating platforms where people of all ethnic backgrounds can understand one another and grow thereby. My husband and mine’s professions in ministry and non-profit work allows us to work with all kinds of people from all walks of life. But this? This made being a brown girl in 2016 something to brag about because it had nothing to do with just being brown. It had to do with being a person.  And with all of the shootings, accusations, and struggles in our country with race relations, this is my open letter to you. Thank you. Thank you.

My sincerest prayer is that these are the moments that become stamped in history. And that we can celebrate great accomplishments that happened through a person in humanity; in society. That we see people as people. When I ask my daughter to describe her friends to me, she doesn’t see color. This generation is growing up different. Having a Black President and First Lady makes it more accessible and more accepting for children to identify themselves in leadership positions across different sectors in the nation. And that makes them see color less. We can learn from a page in their book. I’m not saying this nation still doesn’t have issues. I’m not saying that it’s not deeper rooted due to people’s backgrounds and experiences. But what I am saying is that there’s hope. And moments like these prove just that. 


video

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

My Whole30 Journey!

Food was an event for me. Notice I said was. Every time I met with someone, or had a great victory or failure: food was involved. I didn’t really realize until I embarked on my Whole30 journey, how much this was the case, and how emotional and mental food consumption really is.  If you want more info about Whole30, you can visit their website here.. If you want more information on their starter book: “It Starts with Food” click here.

Here’s my 31 day journey with some excerpts from my journal.

Days 1-7.
Why did I agree to do this? My body hurts. And I’m mad at myself for even consuming so much garbage. The book is clear: The more junk you’ve eaten before means the “carb flu” will be that more intense. What is “carb flu”, you ask? It feels like you have the flu. Aching body. Fever. Shakes. But it’s just your body detoxing from carbs. Why did I do this right after my family and I completely splurged over Christmas? I’m so glad my husband is doing this with me because, truth be told: I would have given up by now. Thank God for that Whole30 Facebook support group too because this is craziness personified. And they feel my pain.

Days 7-14.
Okay my coffee doesn’t taste that bad without a 1/3 cup of cream in it. Yes I’m one of those people: Almost as much cream as coffee in the cup; and flavored cream at that. And now I’m becoming used to the black coffee with unsweetened, no carrageen almond milk. It really tastes great! It’s all good. And I don’t miss sweets as much as I thought. That’s a miracle in itself.



Days 14-21.
Hello Tiger Blood!!! Yeah, this is the burst of energy that is making me feel like superwoman on steroids! I. FEEL. GREAT! Wow. So great; like can’t explain great; like super productive great. And I’m so in love with new foods and restaurants that I never knew existed in Philly that are extremely Whole30 friendly. Who knew?

Days 21-24.
We are in Ocean City, MD for a conference where all of our food is paid for. And I know that I’m definitely a confirmed Whole30 junkie, because I now carry food around with me! Yes, food in my purse and food in my bag; so that I’m always prepared. I didn’t want to fail so I packed up the grilled cooked organic chicken and put it in zip lock bags in my purse.  LOL! But it’s for fear of what they’re serving at lunch time. It’s because I’ve come too far to stop now. And on top of it, I can’t tell you how great I feel.

Days 24-28
I know I’m not supposed to, but I weigh myself. Whole30 is big on not weighing yourself and not counting calories during the 30 days, but I seriously can’t take it. And, lo and behold, I’m 10.5 pounds down! I’m super motivated.

Days 28-30
Red sweet potatoes. I went to a large fresh produce market in the city and stumbled upon red sweet potatoes for the first time. I found out that they are of Japanese origins and much sweeter than a regular sweet potato which means that I have really found something to  assist with wanting something sweet and it’s natural and pure. And I found it on day 28! I think I could do this for life.




Day 31
I’ve lost 12.5 pounds. I feel great. I want to tell others about how clean eating can be for you. But what I’m really feeling the greatest about? I have control over my cravings. And what I’ve learned the most? Nothing should have that much control over you. Not even food.

If you’re like me, depending on your personality and emotions, food can become an event. I’m still a foodie at heart, but now I can control those feelings.  I believe that discipline is the secret to many of our silent struggles. It’s not as deep as we’ve made it. When we operate in discipline it shows our submission to the process. And if we can’t submit to a process in every area of our lives, then it will be hard for us to walk in long-term success. But when we are disciplined, we give God room to deposit more, because He knows that it won’t be an “event” for us. It will be life-long.


So whatever you choose to make an “event” in your life, I hope you’ll join me on the road to living a more disciplined life in every area. It’ll bring great rewards! Cheers! 

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

What If...

“I called upon the Lord in distress: the Lord answered me, and set me in a large place.” (Psalms 118:5)

There’s a “large place” that awaits you. You’ve cried. You’ve waited and you’ve pressed and now is the time. One translation says: “Pushed to the wall, I called to God…” You’ve been pushed to the wall. Mocked. Ridiculed. Talked about. Yet, you stood. Mistakes made. Apologies made, and now you’re standing at the crossroads of past woes and future hopes. You’re standing at the intersection of “small space” and “large space”. Your mind goes to all of the visions and dreams that you wrote down years before, and there’s and overwhelming voice inside screaming, declaring now is the time.



Oh, the crossroads.

While you’ve waited for this moment for more than a decade the feelings that you feel are mixed. You’re almost mourning what was, as a piece of you has died. Not in a bad way. As things, people, places, old mindsets must die in order for the new to begin; but you still find yourself sad. Cautious. Concerned. Worried. Even though you know you shouldn’t be. Even though you’re highly aware of the depth of God, the breadth to His ability to take care of you as you’ve been in worse seasons, but it's the thought of it being real. And "it" is whatever you deem “it” to be here in this context. It’s your why. In a world filled with resolutions, discounts at the gym, top of the year hopes, you've realized your "why" is more than those things for you. Because other “New Year’s” have come and gone, but this one; this one feels different.

Oh, the intersection.

You’re one step into the large place with one step in the small space. You glance back at the small space and can see each twist and turn you’ve taken in life. You can see every place you’ve lived, every job you’ve had, and every success along with every failure because it already happened. You close your eyes and turn your body to face the large place, open your eyes even slower that you turned around and there’s nothing on the road at all;  because you haven’t walked it out yet. And deep in the distance you see the vision.

And you take a step.

And another. And another. And the more you walk, the more is revealed. That is what your new “large space” is about. Walking it out.  And in 2016, walking it out should contain these three important things for you:

1.       Empowerment. The large space means that you are empowered to empower others. It means your wing span has broadened which means that it’s bigger than you. It’s for the people around you, your family, your co-workers, your church members. It’s large so it can’t be contained.
2.       Execution. The large space also means you have to do more. You have to finish strong. And you have to become more organized and task oriented because you’re going to be responsible for a lot more than you were in previous seasons. There’s an app for almost everything. Use those if needed to help you. Execute in your finances. Execute in your relationships. Execute on the job and business. Execute in your health. Tie up the loose ends and make it happen!
3.       Expansion. The large space promises expansion. So, I challenge you to let your nets out into the deepest part of the water of your life. Take a risk. Do something you’ve never done before. Because expansion is promised in the “large space”! Break free, and erupt into the plans God has for your life. 




Don’t beat yourself up if you could relate to the crossroads. I could too. I’ve often asked myself, God, my husband as we’ve literally watched our lives transform: is this really happening? And the answer is a resounding yes. He is the God that restores all things so beautifully and magnificently as only He can. Embrace it!