This Mother’s Day Goes Out To All Women

By the end of this year I will have 1 niece and 5 nephews and no children of my own. I am not about to ask people to pity me, this is more about empowerment through sharing your story. As I have stated, I have infertility. I first started feeling like I really want children at the age of about 28, maybe 29. So 5 years ago. I knew it would not be easy and after a procedure, getting off the pill and doing everything I was told to do to regulate my cycle, I still have infertility.

I feel done with crying. I know there is a chance I may never be a mother. However, I still have hope. I just scheduled a midwife visit, since I now have insurance. I know I am not a good candidate for IVF and I have heard stories from many women lately about their struggles to get pregnant or even adopt. I feel like there is still more I can do and I know my life can provide something.

It has been a joy to welcome my niece and nephews into my life. I do not care that some folks tell me that the children of my cousin who I grew up with like a sister and my best friend of over 20 years, are not my niece and nephews. I am close to them and I love them. Even if I am not able to have children, I have these wonderful kiddos in my life. I send them books and see them grow and have all sort of hopes and dreams for them. Dreams of them being completely happy.

This Mother’s Day, I am thinking about all women. Those I know who are mothers, those I know who have lost their child(ren) due to miscarriage or tragedy, and those of us who want to become mothers, but it is not as easy as we once thought it would be. Happy Mother’s Day and may the beautiful children we are blessed to be apart of their lives grow up to be incredibly happy.

Everything in Life is Falling into Place

It feels like everything is falling into place. One of the great things about life is how it always seems to work out, especially when you put the effort into going with the flow. Focusing on what was really important to me seemed to help manifest changes that are making me really happy.

My health seems to be in a better place. I am feeling better mentally and physically. My cycle is not only back, but becoming regular. My face is clearing up. Both signs that my hormones are balancing out. I also have not turned to food for comfort in times of stress. I love checking out all the farmer’s markets in the area with their beautiful produce. We are not bringing home so much junk food. I am enjoying short walks and yoga. I feel like I am returning finally to being active.

Being active is just one way my life is feeling fulfilled right now. I started an incredible job a month ago where I feel valued, working with an amazing team and love what I am going. The opportunities for growth these job offered has already led to a promotion! I am glad I am writing a blog about this because the next time life feels uncertain I have a reminder that life works out when you put good efforts into obtaining what you want.

My partner had faith in me and was so supportive of me this past year. I am so grateful for our relationship. We have been working to spend regular quality time (my love language) together and still have the feeling that waking up next to each other is the best feeling.

Treat People How You Want to Be Treated

I touched on this a bit in my last post. Since gaining some weight, I have been fat shamed. People ask me why I stopped working out and say things like, “oh no, you have gained weight,” or “maybe you should seek a second opinion because I do not know why a doctor would ever want you to gain weight.” I also had a family member point out to another family member that I looked much thinner last year, thanks Facebook for those walks down memory lane. It makes me feel horrible.

Then after being put down so much, I start shaming myself. You should never put yourself down. I gained weight and that does not make me a bad person. It was the result of going through a tough time and hormonal issues. It is ok. I am working on the problems and feeling better. No one deserves to be treated poorly because of their physical appearance.

When I hear someone say, “they look disgusting,” I think, “no, your disgusting.” We should be bringing each other up, not putting people down because think about what it really does for your life to treat someone that way. I was bullied heavily as a child and what I regret the most are the times I bullied others. Even right after I did it I felt horrible about it because I knew what it was like to be in their shoes. I did not know how to handle myself though and had way too much going on at home to become self aware until I went away to college.

I am deeply sorry for the times I have passed judgement on or hurt others. I sometimes meditate on how I have moved on from these negative past behaviors and what I still need to work on. If we have children, I already know there is so much I am going to teach them. So much that I feel I was not taught that is valuable to becoming a great human being.

While their are still these negative attitudes in society about certain physical appearances, I have to say I am really loving some of the steps that have been taken to opening up everyone minds and expectation. Such as the inclusion of women of all shapes and sizes in clothing advertisements. I think the more we normalize things that no one should feel ashamed of, the happier everyone can me, and therefore, the healthier we all can be.

Just some food for thought. You are beautiful.

Fighting Negative Feelings

When I lost weight 2 years ago I got rid of my largest pair of pants. At the moment I could probably use those pants because I am being stubborn about buying any new clothes even though I only have 2 pairs of pants that really fit. Yesterday I even ripped a pair of pants trying to get them on. I immediately thought, “I am so fat.” Negative thoughts like that have crippled me in the past. I do not want to be crippled by a bit of weight gain and pants that rip.

On the positive side, I have officially had 3 consecutive months with a cycle! I have been doing short yoga sessions 6 days a week and walking 2-3 times a week. I have been eating when I am hungry. I have been increasing my vegetable intake and reducing my junk food intake. Chocolate is the item I can not resist, but I am working on making my own chocolate with coconut oil, cacao powder and maple syrup. Well, what I am really going to do is make Take 5’s with a pretzel, date caramel, natural peanut butter and my homemade chocolate. 🙂 Its really good.

I am also getting busy. With my volunteering and reading, this week I was out of the apartment the most I have been in months. With my 3rd consecutive cycle, I can slowly start working out again. This week I am going to do a couple short body weight routines I use to do. At least an upper body and a lower body routine. I am very excited because I miss feeling strong and working out.

I get to see my family soon. I feel like I have a wonderful relationship with my partner. He scheduled his defense for the end of March and we are going to New York at the end of April to look for a place to live. So why should I let a negative thought sabotage all the amazing things I have going for me?

Hormonal Update

I mentioned that I had a cycle in September, but then things were quiet for a couple months. Nothing happened in October and I only spotted for a few days in November. Exactly one month after spotting in November, I got an early Christmas present from mother nature. I was pretty happy and finally felt like I had an update to provide on the matter of my hormones.

All I have done was stop working out and focused on managing my anxiety. I have not full on binge ate since November. I did not gain a single pound over the holidays, but that could have been due to the food poisoning I experienced on Christmas day which made it impossible to really eat much for a week. However, I feel different when I am full. I keep thinking that I can not imagine putting anything else in my mouth. I just stop eating because I am full and not in an uncomfortable way at all.

My anxiety has mainly been due to not letting things go and avoiding things. I have avoided issues, such as responding to questions regarding planning my wedding when I am not even engaged yet, and tasks that for some reason seem daunting, such as completing a written sample that was requested of me. Of course, avoiding these things ends up increasing my stress levels.

One of my faithful readers who is a dear member of my extended family and my partner have provided me with much help. Telling me to go with the flow of the visit or family gathering and to remain calm with people or I will just be projecting my anxiety onto others. I do not want my anxiety to sabotage my life and hormones. It has not been easy, but what is? I am getting there the best way possible and enjoying it.

 

Ch-Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes!

My partner received a job offer and we officially have accepted it on Thursday. We will be moving to the Hudson Valley area of New York in late Spring. I have never been to that area of the country and I am really elated to explore it for the first time. It is a relief that we have this figured out. We are also hoping to buy our first home when we move, whoa! So much excitement!

In March we will go scope out the area to look for housing. Then in May, after graduation, we will drive both our cars over to New York to get settled in and learn the area before he starts his position in June. There is plenty of time. I can also start looking into jobs for myself!

It just feels like life is coming together. We are in one place together. We will both be out of school. We can settle down. We can save more money. It is the beginning of the next chapter of our lives. I just keep breathing a sigh of relief and in disbelief that I will be a New Yorker. Life just keeps getting more interesting.

Additionally people can finally stop asking us when he will be finished. Something that is an anxiety inducing experience because a PhD can feel like it will never end at time. Regarding most questions though, if you think about it there will always be a question they will be asking. They likely have not seen you in a while so they are asking to catch up with you. So be nice, likely it is not their goal to make you feel like you are behind in life. That feeling is all on you.

Look for more posts regarding this in the Spring. 😉

Motivation and Body Image

I want to be completely honest with this blog and Wednesday morning I watched a YT video that made me realize that I was leaving out part of my story. I mentioned that I gained weight and I know I can get back on track. I had gotten up to 31 lbs heavier than a year ago and slowly it is coming off from the hard work I have been doing. Hard work being saying no to all the fried food and sweet temptations.

Motivation has been challenging. I see myself struggle to walk as much as I use to or put on size 12 pants I have not fit since early 2015. I have had times where I looked at my body in disgust and that action disturbed me because I know I deserve to treated better than that including by myself. Its so funny, 4 years ago it seemed like I was going through all these exact same emotions. I had just completed an internship at the end of August 2013 and then started a job in November 2013, which brought my spirit back to life.

Now, I may not have just started a new job, but within the last 2 weeks I have been seeing a upswing in my overall well being. I really needed this. I use to feel beautiful and sexy at this size. I know others see me that way too. Last weekend, I started to see it again. Granted initially I was trying on all the dresses I own to wear at the family wedding this weekend, but once I found one that would work I looked at my legs and thought, “I have nice legs” I smiled.

It is just proof that whatever may be going on, you have to remember to be there for yourself and love yourself as you are at that moment. Loving yourself is not this smooth easy going thing, just like our lives. I am still working on giving myself the love I deserve and keeping motivated during this period of healing and change. This stumbling is just part of the process to getting back on track.

Nothing, I Feel Like Doing Nothing

Honestly, this time off of work and activity has been both good and bad. I have had a chance to relax, de-stress and spend time with loved ones. I have had a lot of time to help my partner prepare for interviews, research the areas we might move to, look into places I could potentially work and develop future plans. I also have had the opportunity to just do exactly what I would like.

Lately however, I do not know what I feel like doing or feel like doing nothing. This is an unusual feeling for me. It worries me too because being active regularly supports my happiness. Walking, yoga, running, working out and even just dancing around my apartment are things that are part of who I am. I have not been doing them and I worry about what that means. Is this a sign that I am depressed or taking a turn toward that direction?

I went for a walk yesterday. A long walk, 5 miles. I forced myself to do it and I was glad I did, while also telling myself I was miserable. I think part of the reason I felt that way was because I had to watch all these other folks on the river path doing what I use to do, run. Being active was the way I de-stressed and boosted my mood. It has been difficult to do so without it and I know my partner is tired of my wining.

I have been venting to him about my feelings and concerns. I am fortunate to have someone who listens to me even when I know I am being irrational. I am also lucky to have friends and family who support me. Maybe this is just a low time in my life and I need this to rest up for all the changes we will experience this Spring.

I am going to continue to push myself to go for walks and try to play some music to get me moving around the apartment more because it makes me feel like more than nothing.

Professional break

In regards to my museum career, I am taking a bit of a professional break. Its needed. I feel over worked. I started questioning my passions. I also was not sure where I wanted this to take me because so many people focus on moving up, but how do you move up in this field. What are my plans? How long will this break be? What will I do during this break?

Currently, I has been focusing on listening to my body. It is healing time. Though are this very moment I am still experiencing the after burn from consuming 2.5 Fire in the Hole wings 9 hours ago, not a healing food, but its a process and I am working on it. In this process of healing my body I also want to heal my mind. I struggled with mediation the past few months because I really put it off. I want to be more meditative.

In the past meditation helped me deal with so much: anger, stress, grief, doubt, etc.. I am currently taking 1-2 minutes a day to just break away from tech and people to just focus on my breathe and how every part of my body feels. The thoughts of, “What can I do for money, can I get all my tasks completed today, how are we going to stay in budget, when will life feel normal again” is removed for just a moment. Once I feel I have that down and I am not letting it slide until the very end of the day, I will move on to sorting through my thoughts that are troubling me and spending more time gradually on meditation.

Additionally, I am working on professional development. I just ordered a book to hone my leadership skills. I am also looking for webinars and workshops that help me become a better educator in the museum space. I also need to get my first aid and CPR training renewed, which could help me currently to become a volunteer or even babysit to make some money. What is taking up a lot of my time right now though, I volunteered to review grant proposals for my old city.

What does that mean? The government and some large organizations or companies can have money set up in their budgets to award to groups who are doing work that follows their mission. These funders will put out a call for non-profits or small companies to propose or tell you more about a project they need money for. Those who get funded are selected with the help of a panel of reviewers, a selection of their peers.

I am reading a lot of materials, investigating their budgets, watching sample videos or combing through brochures to score and provide comments on the strengths and weaknesses of the work they are suggesting to do. Being a reviewer helps me understand what makes a great proposal and feel inspired by the work I had no clue was going on in my community! I am so humbled and proud of the work they are doing. It is reminding me why I wanted to be part of this informal teaching and learning community.

With my partner not yet having a scheduled defense nor a job yet, I am not sure how long this break could be. I know that I want to make good use of this time to refresh, heal and improve myself. It is a journey, but I am taking you with me through this blog. Everyone has points like this in life and I feel like too often its kept private how you deal with it. I want to share this so others realize they are not alone, gain some understanding of how to make it work for them and maybe get inspired.

As always, please share any comments or personal stories in the comments below 🙂 I appreciate them.

Farmer’s Market Inspiration

Since my move, I have been enjoying the local farmer’s market a lot more. This farmer’s market is open 3 – 4 days a week YEAR-ROUND! I love it! Plus, it is so close to our apartment that I can bike to it in about 20 – 25 minutes. With this amazing resource, we have been eating plenty of vegetable-heavy meals and I thought I would share them with you this week.

Baked Beans on Roasted Potatoes with a Soft Boiled Egg

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For this, I roasted 2 potatoes sliced into wedges, soft boiled an egg and made Brand New Vegan’s Baked Beans in our new Instant Pot, but I substituted 1/4 cup maple syrup for the 2 sweeteners in the recipe. It was plenty sweet for us with half the amount of sweetener and we both felt that the Costco maple syrup was a great addition to the flavor. I picked up the potatoes ($1/lb), peppers (50¢), onion (50¢) and free range eggs ($1.75) from my farmer’s market. The navy beans I was able to grab from the co-op down the street from the market. All you need to do is pour 3/4 – 1 cup of the beans over your potatoes and slice your egg over the top.

Peach and Blueberry Chia Seed Pudding (as seen on Instagram)

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Chia seed pudding is so easy and perfect for the days I commute 2 hours to work. To make it I just grabbed an old glass peanut butter jar I use for storage now and put one chopped peach, an ounce of almonds, 2 tablespoons chia seeds, 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 cup unsweetened soy milk and filled it the rest of the way with blueberries. Shake it up really good and let it sit in the fridge overnight for a great breakfast in the morning. The peaches ($2.75 for a peck), blueberries ($3/lb) and raw almonds ($5/lb) are from the market.

Mixed Fruit and Yogurt

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Another way we have used the new Instant Pot was to make yogurt. We could not believe how easy this was, nor how much better it was than store bought yogurt. Yes, it does take time, but it is mostly hands off time and you can make it while you sleeping or are at work. I enjoy taking a cup of yogurt and adding in peaches ($2.75 for a peck), nectarines ($2.75 for a peck), cherries ($3/lb), blueberries ($3/lb) and whatever fruit I get my hands on at the market.

Chinese Five Spice Veggie Balls with Zucchini Over Ramen Noodles

This is the one dish took work, mainly because it was the first time I prepared it and I made it up from different recipes I found online. I was trying to make veggie balls like the ones you can get at IKEA, but with an asian flare. I used 1 cup leftover brown rice, 1 cup cooked beans, 1/2 cup nut meal (this, oats and rice are great options to make meat ball or meat loaf type things gluten-free by the way), a chopped onion, a chopped red bell pepper, 1/2 cup corn, 1 cup chopped kale steamed, 2 tablespoons ginger, 1 tablespoon garlic, a lot of spices and salt and pepper to taste. I recommend picking up a Chinese 5 spice mix to simplify things.

Then, I sautéed the vegetables with the spices and then combined the beans and vegetables in the food processor for a few pulses. Using a cookie scoop, I made 1 inch balls and baked them at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, making sure to rotate/flip them half way through. I placed them with some roasted zucchini over ramen noodles tossed with hoisin sauce, sesame seeds and green onions. Its not the prettiest, but for my first try at making these they were not too bad. I have some adjustments I plan to make. I picked up the onion (50¢), pepper (50¢), corn (5 ears for $1), zucchini ($1 for a 2 ft long zucchini), green onion ($1 per bunch) and kale ($2.50 per huge bunch, its double the size of the bunches I have picked up from Whole Foods) from the farmer’s market.

Chickpea and Eggplant Burger Salad with Tomatoes, Beet Hummus and Chèvre

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I picked up romaine (3 heads for $1), eggplant ($1), tomatoes ($1 for a basket of 5 medium sized tomatoes), beets ($1 for 5) and locally produced chèvre ($8 for 8 oz) from the market to recreate the burger I told you about from Atlanta. I decided to put it into salad form though because they were out of the bread I love and I got a sweet deal on some romaine.

I started by soaking 1 cup dried chickpeas for at least 24 hours. In a food processor, I pulsed my well soaked chickpeas, 1 cup nuts, handful of fresh parsley, a few sprigs of fresh mint, 1 tablespoon cumin, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and salt and pepper. I formed the mix into 6 burger patties and baked them on a lightly grease baking sheet until golden brown on each side, I think it took 20 min on each side.

While the burgers were baking I made beet hummus by steaming 1 lb. of beets in the Instant Pot. Then I added the peeled steamed beets to a food processor with 2 tablespoons tahini, 2 tablespoons lemon juice and 1 tablespoon cumin to blend until smooth. I then assembled the salad with the romaine, chopped tomatoes, dollops of beet hummus, crumbled chèvre, balsamic vinegar and the burger crumbled on top.

Mushroom and Kale Dip

The market has a great mushroom ($4 bag which varies in size based on type of mushroom) stand so I saw this as a brilliant opportunity to recreate a dip my friend brought to one of my last bingo nights before I moved. We had this with cheese and crackers for lunch one day. To make this I tossed cooked beans and lentils, lemon juice, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and sautéed mushrooms, kale and onion in a food processor and pulsed until it was a gritty hummus like consistency.

I will try to add the other picture on Instagram or to this post this week. I would love to hear and see your farmer’s market creations in the comments below or tag me on Instagram! 🙂 #FarmersMarketInspired

To end this post on a very real note, there is also a Jamaican vegan bakery one day a week at the market and this week I enjoyed a bag filled with mango passionfruit goodness in the form of something they called Caribbean tear drops. YUM! No picture because I inhaled before I even left the market. 😉 They reminded me of these Cuban pastries my mother-in-law gave us once, a pocket of juicy flavor in a small pocket of crispy pastry. ❤