Health and Wealth: This is 32- Part 1.

So… ya know how on “Girlfriends” Toni and Joan were arguing about who was and wasn’t 30, or who made 30 first?! Now, don’t get me wrong, I love being in my 30’s… but babyyyy…I get it. **see Tamar’s “whew chile” gif**

One of my best friends always says that when she turned 30, as soon as she got out of bed, she heard her knees pop and it’s been a battle ever since lol!

I didn’t believe her until I turned 30 and I swear something in my back got a little creak in it and LAWD it’s been creaking ever since! My 30’s have without a doubt held some of the best moments of my life, but when I tell you my alcohol and food tolerance has disappointed me— I’m just tryna figure out who put this timer in my body and why they set it to go off so immediately and effectively! ** No lie, as I’m writing this I’m on facetime with a friend and he just basically said the same thing! Y’all! What is life?!**

So yea, the 30s are a lot. They’re great, but they are indeed a lot. And I’ve high-key realized that in order to get through them as close to unscathed as possible, we have to focus on prioritizing our health in all areas. Physical and Mental health are two I think we hear/talk about most often, but in all honesty, Spiritual and Financial health are just as critically important to have a balanced life. Per the usual, I’ve been thinking about this for a few months and writing, and exploring, and listening to Shonda Rhimes “Year of Yes” on audible in the meantime, and I finally have decided on some pretty normal but largely impactful shifts that I look forward to making the pinnacles of my journey to a healthy ass, wealthy ass life.

Naturally, I figured who better to share this (and build a little intercessory accountability) with, than you?! So, here goes: 5 lessons I learned about building health, and therefore wealth in your 30s!

Part 1: Physical Health

Lesson One: Move bi**h, and get out of your OWN way. 

Yea. This is one is kinda self-explanatory. As much as we hate to admit it, we are indeed our best adversaries and worst enemies. You know those age-old tips: a body in motion stays in motion and you can’t outwork bad eating habits? Well, they’re basically scientific facts (i think), and high key, speak to the overall understanding that even when there are other factors to consider, your accountability to your health is the only thing that can help you attain it. 

Now, before we get too far into it, understand this friend… I get it! I too have vowed to never again be one of those “wake up at 5 am, drive to an unnecessarily expensive gym with folks who stink and irritate me for existing at 5 am, just to spend the rest of the day tired and pretending to like protein shakes that taste like chalk and strawberry” type people. Nah and no thanks! However, just throwing it all in the air and hoping that this here double chin just somehow disappears on its own is NOT the answer either. Plus honestly, personal preferences on aesthetics aside (cause I’m cute AF with both of my chins), I know that things like high blood pressure and diabetes run rampant in my family and I just don’t have the energy to fight that battle. 

What this meant for me

With that in mind, here are a few things I have chosen to commit to that I feel fit well with my present lifestyle and will support my mission to increase my physical health:

1. Committing to my meds- both pharm and farm.

If I’m being honest, for me, this one is kinda hard some days.

In 2017 I went to the hospital because a very random and very painful bruise on my wrist somehow moved up to near my forearm overnight.  After googling and learning that I was on my way to half deadness thanks to the infamous WebMD, I went to the ER, and well… low and behold WebMD was right this time.  The bruise on my arm was actually a blood clot, better known as Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT), and while that was stressful enough for me, it was only half of the diagnosis. I also had blood clots all over my lungs, Pulmonary Embolism (PE), and neither my medical history nor the doctors could explain why.

So, at 29… (well really 30 because even after we thought it was over, the clots came back, twice) I had to accept that I would be on blood thinners for the rest of my life. And it sucked!! For the entire next year plus all I did was complain about the twice-daily dose of Lovenox shots to the stomach for 3 months straight, then the intense daily sensitivity and pain caused by the less invasive pill, Elliquis.

Now, to be clear- I wasn’t being extra. I’m talking about a daily minimum pain level of 6. Every day. Some days a straight 10. I hated it so much. I got so angry at this random betrayal from my body that I was even willing to risk my life to stop taking the medication altogether.

In fact, I did just that.

I stopped taking the blood thinners and opted for a daily low dose aspirin, thinking that it would be enough… but it wasn’t. And gambling with my life wasn’t worth it. So after this summer’s final set of severe complications (another blog, for another day), I decided to stop playing with my life and chose to keep myself alive by taking my medication, on time, every day.

Now, I want to be super clear here: I know some folks may be inclined to go the holistic route, and honestly, I’m a fan of that too. However, with my specific condition, I chose to use the blood thinners provided by my doctors as a tool for accessing the future I want.  If your meds will definitely keep you alive, I sincerely encourage you to be absolutely certain you’re willing to risk death before you decide to stop taking them. It may work for some folks, but if you think you might not be one of those folks, it’s okay to commit to what works for you.

With that being said, I also wasn’t interested in being in pain all my life or having to be dependant on pain medication for relief. So I decided to put my pain management in my own hands and started exploring various holistic options within that realm, which led me to Cannabidiol (CBD). CBD’s anti-inflammatory and anti-anxiety properties have helped me effectively manage my pain and anxiety (oh yea, I realized the pain is worse when I have high anxiety… yea, we’ll get to that part on a different day), and this Lemongrass Salve from Poplar Creek Farms has been a lifesaver for days when I’m super sensitive to touch or just cramping really bad. Oh yea… another fun fact- you can’t take ibprohen on blood thinners, so my uterus and I are really tryna figure out life these days. Pray for ya girl!

All in all, I’ve learned that by choosing to view the medication I take as a benefit rather than a burden, my anxiety and pain has lessened much more and I feel like I have the tools to help me control the pain I do have, without having to fear an unnecessary addiction to pain meds or other complications that may arise from compounding meds over time. 

I’ve figured out how to stay in line with what works best for me, and you gotta do what’s best for you, even if it feels like an inconvenience. If you have a medical condition… take. your. meds! Your choice, if they’re from a pharmacy or a farm. Just please make sure you are actively participating in keeping yourself alive. Be your body’s best friend on purpose!

2. Committing to moving my body 3 days a week.

Whew! Shout out to the shame and shade my apple watch loves to throw my way on the days I don’t tho! Sheesh!

So, just before the pandemic started, Drew Drew and I started going for walks in the neighborhood. Honestly, it started because we knew our lease was about to be up and were regretting not taking advantage of having a whole trail and park, basically right behind our apartment complex. I know you’re thinking it… yes, this actually started as a “let’s see how much of our money’s worth we can get from using this trail” kinda thing like we’d just paid for the Sunday buffet at Golden Corral and felt hella jipped cause they were about to close soon lol! Don’t judge us! 

Soon after this development came the inevitable “we should do this more often” and there began an unnecessary overcommitment to these long-ass walks, without any plans or ideas around to maintain this random new goal. I mean, we had weird work schedules, a whole global pandemic outside, and honestly not the best walking shoes at the time, so though our attempt was good and strong in the beginning, after a few weeks, it began to fizzle out.

We ended up moving to a new apartment, but still in the area near the trail because we knew it was a great tool for us, and… you know… it’s a pandemic **Elsa Majimbo voice**. We decided to shift our expectations to a very do-able goal: 3-mile walks, 3 days a week. Again great idea, in theory! I mean it was feasible, and fit easily within our schedules. There was just one problem; I hate working out/walking outside!

I know, I know! Terrible. But, I’m one of those folks who actually prefer the consistency of a treadmill and really loud headphones to the mediocre outdoors lol! I can zone out there in ways that I just can’t when I’m walking outside and it really diminishes the interest I have in keeping up with my goal.

So… soooo, I just realized I start a lot of my paragraphs off with so lol! It’s cause I write how I talk and I obviously say “so” as a transition  A LOT! LOL! It’s a thing.  

Anyway, as I was saying, so, as relationship growing would have it, Drew Drew and I had to have the seemingly unnecessary but very necessary conversation about how we could best support one another’s health goals, but also respect the times when they don’t line up, and still commit to pushing ourselves to keep our personal commitments anyway.

  • For Drew, that means going for 4-mile walks, 3 times a week, outside.
  • For me, that means taking my ass downstairs and getting it in on the treadmill and weights.

Both of us are sure to be flexible and inviting when we know the other needs or wants to spend the workout time together, so actually, sometimes it also means a slower and more conversational walk to the bridge or on White Rock Lake together. Either way, we commit to getting movement in at least 3 days a week. (If I’m really being honest, sometimes this also ends up looking more like only 2 active days and the rest of the week spent making excuses for why I don’t want to do the 3rd day, even though I know just doing the workout would feel much better than the self-loathing… I digress.)

My point here is, no matter if I remember to track it on my apple watch or not, my commitment to myself is that 3 times a week, any day between Monday and Sunday, I’m going to get my heart rate up for 30 minutes or more. Period. That’s it. That’s the goal, and I’m sticking to it. 

3. Committing to Keto… for real this time.

Yea… I’m one of those women who was born as the bigger girl. My sister and I joke that our 5’5 mom somehow birthed amazons and if you’ve seen us together, you know it’s true. Even when I was small, I was bigger than a lot of folks around me in height and weight, so naturally, I’ve had insecurities about my body since I can remember. I’ve done every diet that I’ve heard would be a good idea and I’ve either temporarily succeeded, or given up halfway through cause it felt unbearable, and this year, I just got tired of it all.

I quit my gym, stopped caring about calories or carbs, and just ate what I wanted when I wanted. And I enjoyed it! Homemade cookies and soul food classics galore, ya girl was on a roll. And that roll along with all the other one’s I’ve accumulated over the years is still very present up under my beloved crop-tops and inside of my favorite high waisted tights. I did notice one thing tho- I’ve spent so much of my life hating my body and denying myself positive eating experiences because of a toxic and ill-placed infatuation with self-loathing and internalized identity suppression. Ending that cycle has been and still is infuriating and exhausting some days, but I promise you it’s also been life-changing; which is why this time, me committing to keto has nothing to do with self-hate, but everything to do with giving myself a chance to show love and appreciation to this body that has gotten me so far in life.

I know the first thing folks think when they hear about keto is all the things you can’t have, and honestly, when I first tried it in 2019, that was my thought too. Now, however, I don’t think about what I can’t have, instead, I lean on my favorite keto-friendly foods and go-to recipes,  and have fun in my kitchen creating new meals and adapting old ones. And since so many people have chosen to participate in this lifestyle, (which shares some similarities to the eating requirements of folks with diabetes such as very limited sugar and carb intake), lot’s of stores and companies have created keto-friendly foods that make it a lot easier to grab something ready-made or create a quick weeknight dinner. One of our favorites is this 1net carb tortilla from Mr. Tortilla! We are hella Texan and missing out on Taco Tuesday is not an option over here so these things are becoming a weekly staple.

Okay now before you get to thinking otherwise, understand, I’m not tryna convert you to keto. Dieting isn’t for everybody, and I recognize that. I’m letting you in on my experience because I hope it’ll encourage you to take the time to really think about the way that your current relationship with food makes you feel. If it’s not a good feeling, do what’s necessary to change it. Maybe you feel obligated to finish every plate because of a rule when you were growing up. Address that trigger and make the decision to split the plate of food you make or order at a restaurant to build a new habit of being comfortable leaving food for later. Maybe you’ve grown accustomed to surrounding your celebratory moments with food. Try asking your friends to meet you at the park to celebrate a big win, or joining local active social groups like Let’s Do This Houston for a curated group bike ride around the city instead of a snack filled kick-back at the house.

Whatever you choose to do, do it for you! Find something that gives you a spark, and stay away from anything that makes you feel less than or confined. Believe in yourself and take charge of your habits and body as a whole. 

Whew! That was a lot! lol!

Well, friend, I guess this concludes Part 1/Lesson 1 of this Health and Wealth: This is 32 Series. I really do hope that my experience resonates with you and that you find it helpful in your journey to creating a healthy life and lifestyle that works. for. YOU. If you’re interested in trying either of the products mentioned above, please use the links in the text or use those provided below to help build my partnerships so I can get some discount codes poppin for yall soon! 

Always in gratitude and intentional bold balance, 

Brilliance

What does #BoldBalance mean to you? Shop ekwepoize.com for statement apparel and products curated and created by @balancingbrilliance.

A #BlackAF memoir of a PWI graduate

I went to a PWI but my undergrad experience was hella BLACK.

We broke bread together, laughed together, cried together, marched together, started businesses together, supported art together, shit we all still out here being as Black as we were born and advocating for all of our sistahs and brothers, together.

Together.

We didn’t let the klan’s permit to march or the young republicans party stop our together. We experienced the second stage of racial identity development together. We raged together. We lamented together. We healed wounds together. We learned our language together. We replenished what was stolen from us, together.

And don’t get me wrong, this ain’t a hate piece.

I fully recognize and respect the sanctity that is the HBCU and the experience it provided and continues to provide my beautiful cousins across the diaspora.

This ain’t a comparison piece.

I don’t think one can compare a Black experience in these two ways much like one can’t compare the Black experience of growing up in Ghana vs. South Oak Cliff. In both places we claim ownership. In both places we know we are at home. In both places we find beauty, regardless of the _________ (I use this space when referencing the “it” Solange sang about in cranes in the sky)

This piece is about me showing love to those who walked where I walked.

I write this for those who knew from birth that Blackness and Africanness were synonymous and yet not at all, because of the things stolen. I write this for those who walked grounds soiled with the blood and pain of our ancestors and named for the cruel and sadistic southern “leaders” who implored their constituents to actively seek to destroy Blackness and Black bodies.

This piece is about NAACP #6816, BSA, Soul Lifters, and the whole NPHC who filled up conference rooms, auditoriums, ballrooms, warehouses, Farrington Pit, the YARD, and every other space with every Black face so often it wasn’t hard to claim you knew every Black person on campus.

This is for those of us who wrote VOTE OR DIE on the walls of campus buildings in spite of knowing we might be expelled but because we knew everyone didn’t make it to the Black Athena forum or take African American History with Dr. Pruitt and hadn’t felt the shaking and power in her voice when she spoke of the conditions of slave ships and the four little girls who were murdered in a church bombing.

This is for those of us who were denied access to our own information but fought tooth and nail to get it anyway.

This is for those of us who were never exposed to an HBCU, or any college for that matter but still made it across that stage.

This is for those of us who were told not to go to an HBCU if we wanted to be taken seriously or be successful in life by counselors, teachers or peers.

This is for those of us who got it out the mud and don’t think twice about doing it again and again and again.

This is for those of us who will create the legacy.

This is for those of us who generated and exemplified Black excellence at a PWI that didn’t have an Ivy League title.

This is for those of us who search grad school programs at HBCUs only because we’ll be damned if they bamboozle us again.

This is my story. This is our story. This is a story of Blackness.

Asé

the break. an ode to Toni Morrison

Last night, I felt my breaking. 

I didn’t know the cause, 

but the effect. The effect was spiritual and physical. 

I felt myself break. Not mentally or emotionally. 

Spiritually

I felt my world shift. 

I couldn’t pinpoint it.

Too much wine, not enough vitamins. Too many hormones, not enough wine. 

There was a reason, I was sure of it. But I couldn’t identify 

it. 

Last night my place in the world changed. 

There are greats who are charged with words.

They are who we listen to. 

They are who we believe. 

We know that they are human yet their words inspire the earth to grow fields and rain to fall down in torrential madness. 

They are not gods, yet 

they communicate with the universe we believe we cannot see.

James Baldwin spoke to me yesterday.

He spoke again this morning. 

“Write. You have to write.

give more. speak more.  be, more.”

Last night I drowned in my bed. I screamed in my sleep, had conversations without remembrance or response. 

Last night my kum-by ya left this realm and my insides fought themselves to find a new way to request God’s presence. 

Toni Morrison.

I found life in her words. 

Last night, her words became past and my spiritual song lost its melody.

Come by here, my Lord. Come by here. Oh! Lord, come by here. 

Last night I churned pain. This morning, I woke up and understood why. 

I am now forced to speak louder. I am now forced to write. I am in conviction of the call I am required to answer. 

Last night, the bluest eye became a mary jane and today I must write.

The Microagression Mixtape

mi·cro·ag·gres·sion

/ˌmīkrōəˈɡreSHən/

noun

  1. a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.
  2. when someone from another ethnic or cultural background “lightly tries” you but pretends like they didn’t because they know in any other circumstance, they would catch these hands.

Track 1:

I first heard this word in a team meeting at a non-profit I’m working for. They consider themselves to be hella progressive so words like racism, cultural competence, disenfranchisement, and systemic oppression are as common as good morning and said with an intent that unfortunately equates the same energy, but that’s a story for a different day.

So yea, it’s my second team meeting, and this tall, Black Woman in leadership stood up and said “blah blah, something something, fucking microaggressions, something” and my heart thumped so hard I thought I was going to be dizzy.

I hit her with the “wait, what did you say… please repeat,” and when she did my heart started thumping harder. At that moment, I felt as if something lost or forgotten had been found and shined and polished and handed to me for safekeeping again. However, that feeling only lasted for a quick second.

Track 2: An Interlude

I have a fascination with DVDs. Even as a self-proclaimed PR guru with a real appreciation for successful marketing, I loathe commercials. And even though Netflix can rid me of that interruption too, I still prefer DVDs. Call me crazy or whatever. That being said, the Movie Exchange is my secret happy place, and on days I plan to veg out in the bed with a huge takeout box of jerk wings and a bottle of something brown, I pick up about $10 worth of previously used DVD sets and live my best life.

 

Lucky for me,  some soul with what I can only presume was a cluttered entertainment center, dropped off the “Underground” series starring Jurnee Smollett-Bell and Executive Produced by John Legend. Through this random purchase, I was provided with one of the most heart-wrenchingly illustrated accounts of the descendants of kidnapped and enslaved Africans forced to live in America that I’ve ever encountered. After finishing the 2nd season it was easy to see why the television network canceled the show:  the direct and indirect intentionalism of the script. I was 10000% here for it. Unfortunately, the powers that be, were clearly not.

While I was watching, there was a line said that aligned so perfectly with a feeling that had been lying directly under my skin. Someone asked one of the main characters, Noah, about learning to read. He responded saying that learning to read was the worst part. That being able to put words to the pain that he experienced made it even more unbearable.  That’s exactly what I felt the moment that I heard the word microaggression. Immense and unfiltered pain. 

**As I am in avid disagreement with spoilers in any capacity, I won’t be providing additional context as I would rather you watch the series yourself.

Track 3:

On my 28th birthday, Solange put out the “A Seat at the Table” album. “Don’t Touch My Hair” blasted on the radio and I felt that shit on a spiritual level. There is no need to analyze or read into the lyrics. They are clear and precise and bring out every single needed word without wasting it on synonyms nonsense. It’s blatant.  I had to get the album… and like many Black and slightly bourgeois millennial, I had to get it on TIDAL because black enterprise and the Reasonable Doubt album are indeed gospel.

That’s when I heard “Cranes In the Sky”, and by the 5th “it”, I was empty.

That day, I took one last, deep breath…

I breathed in every time I had been told that I was assuming or too racially sensitive

I breathed in the times I let sprinkles of racism, sexism, classism, and disrespect roll off of my brown skin to appease others

I breathed in the times when I felt too tired to fight or too small to speak and spiritually unconsidered and emotionally drained…

I breathed them all in and when I exhaled, I felt my equilibrium begin to tilt.

Track 4:

My whole life I heard that I was assuming, divisive, or intentionally looking for people to be causing me harm. I had been told for 27 years that I was the problem because I believe that racism was more than just a word in the history book. Then, I learned that word, and Solange put out the “A Seat at the Table” album and I think I took that one last deep breath because I had to prepare myself for the release of pain and weight that I had been trying for 27 years to convince myself that I may actually be making up because I was tired of fighting and arguing and feeling small and unconsidered and strange.

But then, when I exhaled, I lost my balance.

You see, of the biggest challenges of living in a space of consciousness or desired awareness is the lack of training manuals available that coach you through being your truest self to becoming your aspirational self. I move based on my gut instincts, vibes, energies, frequencies, and sometimes even the weather. There are so many words that I don’t quite know yet, and I feel that the lack of nomenclature takes away from the perceived validity of my speech- no matter how valid it may be, especially when I am attempting to bring people from different backgrounds into my thought processes or experiences.

The power that I felt being able to finally put phonics together to form a word that described this feeling that I’d been having was unnerving and liberating. This feeling… the one where people are saying something inherently racist and harmful, but not so blatant as to offend anyone else other than the already preconceived angry and repetitively outspoken black woman in the room– being able to call that shit out was just grand!

But, a few days later, that same knowledge began to make me feel really really small.

Track 5:

I started to think of all the other times I’d been trying to explain that feeling and had gotten nowhere. I thought of the times I’d gotten lost in battles of semantics with assholes that prided themselves on that type of behavior and walked away feeling like I somehow put the collective understanding of white supremacy culture, white fragility/privilege and institutional racism back another 2-3 steps. I thought of those moments and I started to get angry.

Angry because- like… who TF actually came up with these words and why aren’t they on vocabulary lists in schools so Black folks like me who don’t have scholars or academics in their families will have the nomenclature required to justifiably bring light to the fucked up, subvert and overt racist shit that happens to them on a daily basis?

Then, I started to feel empowered. Empowered because I had more than just a word. I realized that if someone had defined this specific Black experience, it was likely that they had done more. 

I started using the word every chance that I could- teaching every person I knew about what it meant and encouraged them to make good use of it too. Then came words like intersectionality, diaspora, monolithic, etc. These words and phrases rolled off my tongue freely and I felt like I had somehow joined a new part of the fight for liberation. 

Track 6:

This transition: grand, to small, to angry, to empowered… all of that in a matter of moments. I knew that I wasn’t crazy to believe in the validity of my experience, and I hate that it took me 27 years to learn these phrases. I’m sick of having to know exactly what words to say to prove a point that we all know is true, and I’m pretty much over the attempt. What I have committed to, however, is sharing what I learn with anyone who may also be in the process of figuring out how to stand in their truth even without the right words.