Too Light to Be Seen

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:5

SAD or Seasonal Affective Disorder affects tens of millions of people. SAD is associated with the prolonged darkness of winter months. Some places experience winter up to seven months out of the year.

Can you imagine being SAD for over half the year?  Month after month looking to the sky only to find Cirrostratus clouds and gray shadows? Many people live a sad existence, when all they really need is the sun.

I dreamed once that I was in a home with a man and children. The place was dark but spotlight surrounded me wherever I walked. I was trying to get the man of the house to see that what was missing in this home was light. I tried a lamp but it was not working. I tried opening windows and pushing back drapery to no avail. In frustration, I left this home and the light followed me.

In Plato’s Symposium, the character Aristophanes introduces the concept of twin flames to describe love. The idea stems from man and woman originally existing as one being. They became arrogant and wanted to be Godlike, so the gods split them in two. Each half  craves the other half to experiences wholeness. Reveries illuminate unconscious desires. In that dream, I was desperately seeking light. I could not comprehend how someone could live in the absence of it. I tried to share my own but it was not enough.

I now understand that you cannot be the only light in a relationship; the only one planning for the future, the only one financially stable, etc. You need a companion flame. This companion love exists. It is too light to be seen, as one cannot look into the sun. You will not because its glow will surround you.

Sherri Shepherd and the Dangers of Loneliness

I saw an interview of Sherri Shepherd on the DL Hughley Radio Show discussing her ex husband to whom she is paying spousal support. DL jokes about him being a sorry **s man. Sherri said (paraphrasing) that she had to take ownership of her decision to marry him, a decision she said was made out of fear and loneliness. She also said that she was tired of being single and celibate. I was really surprised by her honesty.

Community is important. Friends are important. Family (blood or otherwise) is important. Loneliness is a powerful state of mind. Loneliness is not necessarily the absence of people but rather disconnectedness. You should not choose a mate in this unhealthy state. It is like shopping when you are hungry. You end up with a cart full of junk, completely ignoring your list.

So, what can you do if you find yourself in a state of loneliness?

  1. Reach out.
    • Someone wants to hear from you; an old friend, an older family member who may not get many visitors, an elderly neighbor. Someone needs to hear your voice and you need to hear theirs.
    • Build community. We are not intended to do life alone. Church, clubs, groups, are some ways to connect with others.
  2. Volunteer
    • Do something nice for someone who cannot repay you. Loneliness is rooted in being self-centered. Volunteering allows you to reorient your focus to someone else in need. You derive a sense of value in helping others.
  3. Practice daily gratitude
    • Write down five things you are grateful for and post them on your bathroom mirror. Glance at it everyday while you are brushing your teeth. It is a method to focus on the good things you have in your life and not the one thing you are missing.
  4. Journal
    • Write your feelings, goals, hopes, and dreams. It helps you visualize what is going on in your heart and head. There is power in the written word. I recently reviewed some of my journal entries and was blown away by my progress. This brought a sense of gratitude and happiness. This exercise helped reinforce that trouble don’t last always.

Identify your feelings of loneliness. Take steps to connect with others in a beneficial way. Don’t allow loneliness to lead you to detrimental habits or choices.

What say you?

 

Whole 30 – Egg Roll in a Bowl

And another one *DJ Khalid voice.

In April, I went vegan for 21 days. I lost about 13 pounds. I saw some pretty cool health benefits, such as,  no acid-reflux, better sleep, and the 13 pounds gone. The downside, I was consuming too many carbs, especially, for someone pre-diabetic. I needed a healthy eating solution but I this was not it. So, I set out to find another one.

I have been attending this boot camp that consists of HIIT weight training. The instructor/owner does this 30-day Challenge every month. I had been researching Whole 30 for nearly a year – no lie. It seemed easy to align the 30-day elimination diet, Whole 30, with the 30-day workout challenge.

I decided to spend my Sunday meal prepping as to make this journey a little easier. Below is my go at an Egg Roll in a Bowl recipe I found online and tweaked. What do you think?

1 head of cabbage

1/4 cup red onions

5-6 coves of garlic

6 green onions

2-3 tablespoons of coconut aminos

1 tablespoon of garlic chili sauce

1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar

pepper to taste

Sauce:

1/4 cup mayo

1 tablespoon garlic chili sauce

salt to taste

How to Move Across Country

I have moved from the Midwest to Dallas, back to the Midwest, and black to Dallas again. Below I will detail how I did it including mistakes and things I have learned. If you are looking to make a big move, keep reading.

DECIDE:

A decision has to be made. The old saints used to say that to follow Jesus you need a made up mind. I will say to follow your dreams, you need a made up mind. Nothing happens when you waiver. The bible says,

“An indecisive man is unstable in all his ways.” James 1:8-9 HCSB

Decide where  and when to move – You need a location. Are you moving with your job or will you be looking for a new one? All of this will factor in with your schedule to move.  I decided to move to Dallas after visiting a friend. It was sunny and warm. Chicago experienced a crazy blizzard that year. I was sick of the cold. Just like that, I decided to move. I was able to transfer with my current job. I gave away my limited furniture, bought a plane ticket, and was out. This was in 2007.

When I moved to back to the Midwest is 2015, I also transferred with my then employer. This time I packed up my car and drove 18 hours. I moved in with a relative until I could find a place.

When I returned to Dallas this year, I started a new job. I had flown out previously to interview and find a place to live. Once I received the job offer, I had a moving window of approximately two weeks. I had started my research into moving options months prior so pulling the trigger on the move was less daunting.

START SAVING:

Create a budget to get concrete numbers on how much you make and what your expenses are. Trim non-essentials like gym memberships, cable, eating out. Place all of that money in an account. You can never save too much. Below I detail some of the costs to expect.

Also, plan your move, if possible, around financial windfalls, such as, bonuses, tax refunds, reimbursements.

HOW TO MOVE YOUR STUFF:

Material trapping can be just that, a trap, if you let them. My prior moves I really just gave much of my stuff away. This last move, I had acquired quality furniture that would cost too much to replace. I conducted a cost comparison of different moving options.

  1. Moving Companies. A moving company will pack, load, and drive your belongings from one location to your destination. The price is a factor of distance and size of home moved (how many rooms/how much furniture). The lowest quote I received for moving a two bedroom apartment was $5,000.
  2. UPS . UPS has a Pack and Ship service in which someone will come to your home, evaluate how much you have to move, and provide a quote. I was given an estimate of $3,000.
  3. PODS. PODS is a company that provides shipping containers. A driver comes to your home and drops off a container. You load it. PODS comes back at a scheduled time to pick up the container and take it to their facility. They transport the container to your destination. You unpack it. At a scheduled time, PODS picks up the empty container. The price depends on the size container and distance transported. A container 8x8x7 from Indiana to Dallas was around $1400.

Other Costs:

  1. Loaders/Movers: If you don’t have friends to help you move, you need to factor in the cost of packers/loaders. The PODS moving referrals were pretty pricey. I was able to find loaders for around $89 bucks and hour.
  2. Living Arrangements: If you are purchasing, you will have to pay for flights to visit homes. If you are renting, you will need a deposit amount and first month’s rent.
  3. Flights, Hotel, and Rental Car: I had to travel to Dallas to interview. I also stayed a few days to view places to live. I caught a deal on a flight,  used my points with the hotel for a free day. Also, had some points with the rental car company.
  4. Incidentals: Once you move in you will need to buy cleaning supplies, produce, etc.

REST:

You will need to rest. Take some vacation time. Packing, moving, and unpacking is TOUGH. You will need some time to recuperate.

Below is a video of my PODS experience.

Do You Believe In Fairy Tales?

*Repost* Original date April 22, 2018

A fairy tale is defined as a mythical tale featuring magical and fantastic creatures. There are heroic feats accomplished by ordinary humans who somehow found their inner strength after a long quest. Beautiful maidens are brought back to life by the kiss of a true love.  In short, it is a made up tale in a make believe world with invented characters and creatures. They are written for children. As children, we still possess that wide-eyed faith that good wins over evil. We believe in happy endings.

As we age, we stop believing. Kissed too many frogs and they stayed ugly and slimy. Dropped all of our money on a handful of beans and a dream to wake up still broke with no golden goose egg.  Disappointment and bad breaks lead to disillusionment.

I want you to believe again.

This is why I write. Have an eye-wide open faith in love, redemption and the happily ever after. It is hope that keeps us going. I write hope-filled love stories centered around Christian characters with real life issues. It is an un-sanitized look at imperfect people with a hope in a perfect God making mistakes, getting it wrong, and through the drama – finding redemption and a happy ending.  The happy ending may not look like a prince on a horse but something a little unexpected.

1FBC (458x640)

I will keep writing and if, you will keep reading – we will get to our happy ending – together.

You can find a copy of Ruth’s Awakening: A Love Story on Amazon and Kindle.

 

LHHNY’s Cyn Santana and the Afro Latina Identity

 

 

Bird Box Review: Blindfolds, Birds, and Boats. Oh My!

You would have to be living under a rock or in box (bird box, get it?) to have not heard the buzz surrounding the Netflix movie Bird Box starring Sandra Bullock and Trevante Rhodes. It is a thrill ride, I must say. Watch below to see why it is so much more.

 

Enforcing Boundaries

One of the most difficult exercises I have encountered (outside of burpees) has been setting and reinforcing healthy boundaries in my life. I can distinctly recall having a bully of a friend in college. Not the physically violent type of bully but a controlling, will-imposing, guilt-tripping kind of friend. I tried everything, except telling her directly how she was overbearing, to end the relationship. The final straw was an argument that could have been avoided if I had only stood up for myself, erected, and enforced a healthy boundary.

Toxic people poison your life and impact your health by being a constant drain on your energy and mood. They can be tricky to identify. Humans are multifaceted beings. No one is all bad. However, when someone continues to do things that harm you emotionally, socially, and/or financially, you may need to set a boundary.

Controllers: These are people who want to dictate who you can or cannot be friends with. They want to isolate you from others so that their influence is the most dominant one in your life. You can experience this in friendship, marriage, or business.

Angry Birds:  These are people who have a negative disposition on life. They will shoot down any good news with a complaint. They will dull your dreams with why it will never work out. Do yourself a favor and erect a boundary. Start by informing that person of how their behavior makes you feel. Next, state that if the behavior continues, you will limit the time spent with this person. Last, enforce it.

denied

The Needy and the Greedy:  These are people who always have a hand out. They always need to borrow money or your car. They hit you with a sob story and lead you to believe you are their only hope. Point them to Jesus and a financial literacy course.

Establishing boundaries is no easy feat. Relationships develop behavior patterns. You may even positively identify as the ‘strong one’. It is easy to fall back into a familiar role if not careful.

Recently, I had someone call me at 4:30 am. The last time I received a call that early, my godmother had passed. I answered in a panic. The caller was stuck in a town an hour away and asked if I would come and get him. I was so relieved that someone was not actually dead. I put on my ‘captain-save-a-bro’ cape and headed out. As I was driving down winding, isolated back-roads in the dark, I realized how incredibly stupid this was. I was putting myself at risk to save someone who, as I learned later, was in the predicament by being irresponsible.

On the way back, I start asking all of the questions I should have asked earlier on the phone: Don’t you have roadside assistance? How much would an Uber have cost? Granted, this was an extenuating circumstance, so I was not tripping too hard that I had agreed to pick him up. However, I was annoyed by his lack of preparedness. I firmly stated that I was not driving back out to this town or any town in the middle of the night. I explained that he needed to have a plan in place in case something like this happened again, a rescue plan did not include me.

The next day, I get a call asking if I will ride out to the same town to help drive his car back. Having already firmly stated that I would not be driving back out to that remote town, I said no. I provided sound alternatives; get a male friend to help, pay someone to assist, or get a tow truck to haul your car back. Of course this person, used to me swooping in to save the day, was annoyed and angrily ended the call.

Enforcing boundaries is necessary to protect your mental and emotional health. You must set the rules of engagement for your relationships. Those who love and respect you will choose to play by the rules. Those who do not will be effectively blocked.