“Even a happy life cannot be without a measure of darkness, and the word happy would lose its meaning if it were not balanced by sadness. It is far better to take things as they have come along with patience and equanimity.” -Carl Jung
This week, I’m looking for the happiness in all things. Is that a bit much? At this point, I don’t believe that it is. This year, we have gone through hell and back, and we are still witnessing nationwide suffering with wildfires all up and down the west coast, whether you believe in it or not, Covid is still very real, and it seems like everyone is at odds with their neighbors about their views of what is happening in the world. I thought I’d had a tough week last week because homeschool and life didn’t go as planned everyday, but I realized I’ve had a tough year. We’ve all had a tough year.
Guess what? Adults are not the only ones having a tough time, but our children are navigating uncharted waters, unsure of what to feel. So, if they lash out, refuse to do work, and are not themselves – think about the times you as an adult have felt the very same way! To accommodate the high anxiety, I’ve started changing the way we start our mornings. I mean it’s homeschool right so we can do what we want. We turn on a little smooth jazz, spray some calming essential oils, and discuss things before we get to work. This is an attempt to make our days better, and I cross my fingers, say a prayer and hope for the best. Some days we fly through work like an old school Concorde, but other days, it’s pulling teeth; good days and bad days.
I had a discussion with my daughter and one of her friends this weekend, and they were saying how things have changed dramatically at their school amongst the students, and who they feel best represents them as their President. I don’t tell people who they should or shouldn’t vote for, but when the rhetoric follows, the sublimed racial messages, that is when I see the problem. I was told about some uncomfortable messages these small group of young adults were putting out into the atmosphere. I sat them down and explained racism is not an inherited trait. You are not born with a racist gene. That is something taught, indoctrinated, drilled into you by individuals closest to you: friends and family. I also explained to them, (my two) they have always been taught right from wrong and to not stoop to the level of someone who spews vileness. It is their job to rise above. They are to respect and care about others, but walk away when ignorance rears it’s ugly head
So I ask…What are you looking to accomplish this week? What kind of meaning do you want for your life this week? Are you willing to take the bad and make it good should it come? Can you say, I won’t complain in the midst of your storm. This week, we are going to go forth and be amazing, rising above all that is: 1- Not good for our mental health. 2- Does not serve the greater good. 3- Does not improve our overall well-being. 4- Does not make us happy and puts a smile on our face. 5- Is negative in ANY way. My motto this week is “inhale the good shit, exhale the bullshit!” I have given you a very simple blueprint to make this week amazing. GO FORTH AND MAKE IT GREAT!
Mental Health is and should be treated as a part of your overall health. You can be physically perfect, sound body, heart healthy, every organ doing what it is supposed to do, all of your numbers exactly where they should be, but mentally you can be on life support. Of all mental health issues you could experience, depression and anxiety are right at the top of the top 5. As a Black woman I have heard far too often in my lifetime that people my color do not become depressed, we do not have issues with anxiety. I am here to dispel that “rumor” and to further normalize the conversations of mental health, and talk about what we really feel. I can remember an Aunt of mine as a child who had what they considered a “nervous breakdown.” She was almost catatonic. She would sit and stare into a void that none of us could see and some responses were merely grunts. I never knew what the cause of her affliction was, but I can still vividly see her sitting there on our sofa, basically a shell of herself. I was a child at the time, without any type of knowledge or understanding of how your brain can make your entire body turn against you.
A few years later I would be in conversation with my Grandmother; and I asked her why she waited so long to have my mom – who would be her only child. Still a child, I had no idea what kind of doors I was opening at the time, but I did have a better understanding. When she had my mom, she was 43 years old. She explained that she was pregnant before my mom, almost 13 years before she gave birth to her. At that time, she lost her uncle, the man that raised her when her mom could no longer take care of her because she herself experienced a crisis. This stress affected her to the point that she miscarried what would have been my uncle. The culmination of both losses were too great for her and she found herself in a deep depression. My Grandfather was helpless and unaware of what to do. Fresh home from WWII and still trying to find his way as a “colored” man in a white man’s world, he too was a little lost. My Grandmother was the daughter of a twin. Her cousin, the daughter of her mom’s twin, came and took care of her. She told me it took her almost that long to get herself together, to get her mind right, to know that she could take care of herself before she even thought of taking care of someone else. Just in the first 400 words of this post I have shown that 2 generations of Black women experienced mental health issues at a time when it was even more “hush, hush.”
That is the thing about depression, it doesn’t care who you are or what you look like. It doesn’t care how successful you are, how much money you make, or what kind of car you drive – depression does not care who it attacks. This week, there was a discussion with Dallas Cowboys quarterback, Dak Prescott speaking on his bout with depression. It made its rounds on a lot of the sports talk shows because Skip Bayless said he had no sympathy for Prescott because as quarterback of “America’s Team” he’s supposed to be a leader of men. This was in response to Prescott admitting that he had began experiencing depression and anxiety during quarantine, and those feelings intensified when his older brother died by suicide in mid-April. Well Skip Bayless, you have sunk to a low of lows. What’s sad is he knew where he was going before he even got there because he prefaced it by saying, “viewers could condemn him as cold-blooded and insensitive for what he was about to say.” Depression and anxiety doesn’t care WHO YOU ARE and what team you throw the ball for. I applaud Dak for having the balls, literally and figuratively for coming out and sharing his feelings. Once Skip said what he said, we had more men in powerful positions express their times of depression and feelings of hopelessness after losses and other traumatic events. I even saw someone say, he’s rich and famous; what does he have to be depressed about? Money and fame is not a depression deterrent, nor does it make you exempt. These people are still human, no matter what type of money they make. Shame on you Skip Bayless!
This reaction is one of the reasons a lot of people hide their depression. The world around you may not receive it in a kindly manner. I think I read somewhere that depression is when we live in the past and anxiety is what happens when we can’t control the future. Regardless of what causes each of these disorders, there is a common thread between the two – an attempt to control the uncontrollable. I had to realize that myself when I became depressed and anxious. For a while, and I mean a while; there was a time before I sought help for the feelings that I was feeling. I actually went into the doctor for a regular check up and bloodwork, and my doctor goes – you don’t look like yourself, what’s going on? I burst into tears immediately, because as hard as I thought I was hiding everything she saw it. I then started to think, who else had noticed, but didn’t say anything. Maybe my friends and family thought I was just being bitchy and withdrawn, but that is not what my doctor saw. Many people do not seek help or advice, some talk to their friends, I didn’t do either, but my healthcare provider literally saw me.
Depression and anxiety can be debilitating and paralyzing. You feel a sense of constant impending doom, while feeling like you are about to jump out of your skin. There were times when I would look in the mirror, but question who the person was inside of me. I was the strong one. The one people would come to. The one who could always give advice and help. So how was it, I found myself paralyzed in my own body. I was able to go on with life as normal, but let me tell you…I did not care about anything. I faked my way through life for well over a year. I went through countless medications and side effects that were extreme. I lost my ability to taste, I lost other senses, temporarily thank God, but just the trial and error of finding what can make you feel normal again is almost as exhausting as the illness itself. Like Dak, I experienced those feelings again at the mid-point of quarantine. I realized though where I was headed and realized again that I have too much to live for and refused to allow that darkness to engulf me again. I began to take proactive measures – after a month of sulking. Maybe I needed that month, but once it was over, it needed to be over! I had to get back to life in the most intentional way. The depression and anxiety didn’t just magically go away, I just learned over the years how to function effectively.
The stigma of mental health has to be erased. We need to normalize talking about our feelings, going to therapy, acknowledging our issues, and treating others with respect and kindness because we don’t know what they are going through. Mental health illnesses are a global issue, not just a me or a you issue. We’ve all been touched by it whether we realize it or not. Some situations are unique and require more attention and “finesse” than others. I implore you, don’t do like I did and wait for someone to “see” you and know that you are not fine. If you are feeling unlike yourself, talk to someone, get the help you need, IT IS NOT WRONG. An accurate diagnosis means an accurate course of treatment. You can overcome anxiety and depression, the question is: are you willing to seek the help you need? Don’t wait too long.
How has mental health issues affected you? Let’s begin a discussion. Leave a response in the comments.
September is National Suicide Prevention Month. This week, September 6-12 is Suicide Prevention Week. Suicide is a subject most people shy away from, it’s one of those subjects that is – taboo. Well, we can’t shy away from it, and we have to talk about it because it happens and it happens often. Suicide is in the top 10 causes of death in the United States, with about 50,000 people dying each year, and an estimated 1.4 million suicide attempts. With those numbers, we all know someone who has either attempted suicide, has been affected by suicide, or has even considered it.
We need to get the word out about this preventable epidemic, because it is preventable. Just as we call attention to cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and other illnesses, suicide and suicide attempts need our attention as well. If we know and understand the risk factors, the available treatments, and what it takes to keep our friends and family safe – I have extreme hope that we can get these numbers lower. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for people 10-34 and the 4th leading cause of death for people 35-54. The overall suicide rate in the United States has increased by 31% since 2001. Someone you know may be hinting to you they need help, they may be actively crying out for help, and they may just be trying to disappear, but as I said, we must know the risk factors and how we can help.
Some of the most common risk factors pertaining to a suicidal individual include:
Current or past depression. Depression can become overwhelming and too much to bear for some, and they feel suicide is the only cure. Other mental health issues further exacerbate those intense feelings; so a combination of mental health issues can lead to suicide.
Substance abuse is another factor. Extensive and long-term drug use can lead to changes in the chemical makeup of the brain which can make an individual suicidal. One may also feel they will never get over their addiction, thus the only option is to end it all.
Exposure to a traumatic event. Individuals with PTSD, survivors guilt, and maybe even a woman post-miscarriage are some examples of a ‘traumatic event.’ A traumatic event can be a wide variety of scenarios that overwhelmingly overcomes someone to the point of no return.
Social Isolation. What is that? Well, now we’ve been in quarantine for months, unable to gather with friends and family on a regular basis which has left a lot of individuals “socially isolated.” Teens find a problem with this too. They fall out with a friend or friends and becoming the outcast; this has lead to an increase in teen suicide.
Loss of a relationship.
Legal and financial issues.
Traumatic brain injury. For example, football players who’ve had several concussions over the years, diagnosed and undiagnosed that lead to CTE.
Easy access to firearms.
Unstable home life.
Life threatening illness.
Suicide has proven to be no respecter of age. Children younger than 13 years of age are turning to suicide because of an increase in bullying, abuse, and feeling unwanted and unseen. It is up to each of us to help, you never know what an adult or a child in your life is going through. So how can you help? Each of us can be more supportive and a little less judgmental. Inquire about things going on with the people in your life. If you are around them enough, you may notice the change in mood, even the subtle ones. Offer support, even if they tell you nothing’s wrong. You don’t want to be pushy, but you do want to assure them that you are there should they need you. If they do bring you in, stay involved. The situation is delicate, and for all intent and purposes, deadly. It is not the time to be a flake. Abandoning them now would only bring up more issues. Finally, know the signs; which I will lay out for you next, and if there is a need – by all means contact a mental health professional.
What are the “Red Flags” you should be looking for? These signs can be very subtle, as to not draw attention to what they are planning, or as bold as a neon sign. Some who plan suicide may do one or more of the following:
Seek out medication, controlled substances, or firearms.
They may seek out friends and family to say their final goodbyes.
Putting their affairs in order.
Showing and expressing feelings of hopelessness.
The may become easily agitated.
Showing signs of shame in everything.
Along with a host of many other signs that may be unique to that individual.
As I have said, most people don’t like to speak on the topic of suicide and it is a taboo type of subject. If you ask, a lot of people will say that it is selfish, it is the ultimate betrayal, and it is unforgivable. People think that way because they don’t understand the complete breakdown of the mental health issues behind the reason for an individual choosing to take their life. Suicide and suicidal thoughts can a affect anyone regardless of age, gender, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status. I encourage you, not just in September, but each month of the year to check in with your loved ones. Ask the questions about how they are feeling, if there is something that is heavily weighing on them – especially if they are prone to depression and mental health issues. Use this month to share the stories of loss, reach out to someone you know who suicide has affected, take time to heal if you have been affected, raise awareness. Like mental health, we have to end the stigma attached to suicide and focus on preventing it from happening in the first place.
If you know someone who is in immediate danger, call 911 immediately and thoroughly explain the situation to ensure that it is handled properly. If possible, contact the individual’s doctor if they are under care to let them know their patient is in crisis.
If you are in crisis and need to speak with someone, call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK(8255).
If you don’t think you can talk, text NAMI to 741-741 to actively text with a trained crisis counselor.
Are you trying to navigate this pandemic with grace and positivity or are you just trudging through at this point? When are we going to return to some sort of normalcy? Ha, maybe not for a while. The situation has spiraled completely out of control, and at this point we are waiting for the next shoe to drop; i.e, the second wave. So much in the world is madness right now. Fires are raging in California, the Joshua trees have been almost completely decimated. Protests are still going on and police are still shooting and exerting excessive force on people of color. “All Lives Matter” is clashing with “Black Lives Matter” creating perfect storms. I’m thinking that I should save a little lamb’s blood when I buy my next pack of lamb chops…just in case. Things are completely insane right now and the news basically requires a trip to your therapist after watching it. So I ask, how can you find positivity in the midst of a pandemic?
First of all, you get up and be thankful. Thankful that you are not counted in the 190,000+ casualties of the pandemic. If you have been lucky enough to have not contracted the virus, be thankful that you are not amongst the recovered individuals still suffering from the lingering effects of the disease. You don’t have the difficulty breathing, you are not losing your hair, you are not having the anxiety attacks that many say they are experiencing post-Covid-19. Be thankful, if the virus has not touched your family in any way because there are almost 200,000 other families in our country that it has affected; not to mention the doctors, nurses, aides, and other front line workers.
The next way you find positivity in a pandemic is to appreciate what you have. If you are still employed and have remained employed throughout this entire crisis, you can mark one off in the win column. If you have a roof over your head and haven’t had to worry about food insecurity like so many have, mark off another win. Though you may complain about the enormous amount of time you have spent with your family, think of the memories you have made that you don’t even realize you did. Down the road, when your children are older, and you say, “You remember back in 2020 when we couldn’t go anywhere?” You’ll think about something really cool you did. A fantastic meal you shared. An impromptu dance off you had. A hard puzzle that took you forever to put together. The fact that you couldn’t find toilet paper, Lysol, or Clorox wipes for months and when they did return it cost a lot. So through the sadness, the wanting time to yourself, and wishing they would just go back to school; appreciate the time you did get with your children because you may never get time like that again. Allow those happy moments to flood in. Those happy moments get our happy hormones flowing and keep us calm and zen for the next round of not so good news.
This all may sound cliche, but in a hard time such as we are experiencing now, wallowing is not a good thing. Wallowing leads to depression and feelings that take you to a lonely dark place. Not one of us can afford to be in that place right now because the world itself is dark enough. We have to be the light! If you can’t be the light, go into the light – no, not that light, but the sunlight. Sunlight is nature’s cure all in the right doses. Sunlight increases vitamin D, which promotes reduced inflammation and modulates cell growth and stronger bones. Sunlight, like holding on to those happy moments, also promotes the secretion of serotonin – the happy hormone. That is why people get, “the winter blues” during winter months because there is less sunlight at that time. An increase in sunlight during the day can also lead to a better night of sleep, which leads to a better version of you. Sun —> Serotonin —> Sleep —->Better Mood —->Better You.
Our entire nation is In crisis, how we handle things ultimately is up to us. Are we going to go through it in a positive manner, leaving a positive mark, positive change – not only for yourself, but for your children and those you hold dear. I’m not telling you to be a constant ray of sunshine because we are going to have our moments of despair, simply because of everything that is going on around us. Find the good in this situation. Find your joy. Find your happy place. Find someone to lean on. Give someone, someone to lean on. Be thankful and appreciative because things could be so much worse than they are. Most of all, find your positivity, hold on to it, don’t let it go, and by all means, don’t let anyone allow you to feel bad about finding positivity in this pandemic.
Regret: (v) feeling sad, repentant, or disappointed over (something that has happened or been done, especially a loss or missed opportunity).
(N): a feeling of sadness, repentance, or disappointment over something that has happened or been done.
Regret is one of those words that sticks around and hangs over you like a storm cloud that could burst at any moment. Have you ever heard the words, “we regret to inform you…?” Have you ever felt regret or regretted doing something or not doing something in your life? Regret is such a word that when you hear it, you begin to cringe. There aren’t any synonyms to the word that I can find to make me feel different about the word: sadness, sorrow, disappointment, to feel contrite…none of those words exude any type of confidence. My last post was about living your life, but now I want you to go through life with no regrets from this point forward. If you have an opportunity, take it! If you find yourself not benefiting from the opportunity but you tried, know that you leapt and that you have no regrets.
Are you doing something that you don’t love, just for the sake of a paycheck? I’m not recommending that you quit your job, but reevaluate some things in life. There is so much more out there and I guarantee if you are in a position where you are overworked and underappreciated, there is something inside of you wanting to break free and show you your real worth. What are your marketable skills? How can you take those skills and make them make money for you? Is what makes you marketable in a field that is in demand? Can you thrive in this particular niche? Is it over saturated, or is there room for more. Believe me when I say there is always room for more because no one is going to do the job like you will. STEP OUT ON FAITH.
Think about all of the small businesses that are now thriving, even in a pandemic because they have something everyone wants, and they can work from the comfort of their homes. Imagine if you were the woman or man who decided to make the face mask, or made a homemade disinfectant product strong enough to kill viruses, or you created a hand sanitizer that was marketable…do you think any of those individuals would feel sorrow, sadness, or contrite at this moment? Will we have regrets in life? Absolutely. I’m asking you that from the time you read this until the time you take your last breath, you live life with as few regrets as possible. Don’t even think of them as regrets, think of them as missed opportunities. You got that, regrets have now been changed to missed opportunities.
Aside from taking your marketable skill and using it to benefit you and not some company, you can also continue learning. Learning doesn’t necessarily mean paying for college and courses, but read. Take the time to read as much as you possibly can. You would be amazed how much you can learn from simply reading. I read everything from the daily news, to trashy romance novels, science fiction, self help, and I even read medical journals online. Information is POWERFUL, and you never know when that power is going to be needed. My motto is, “learn as much as you can about everything you can.” When my dad was in the hospital before he passed. The doctors were overwhelming us with different scenarios and diagnoses, not really going in-depth about a lot. I had one doctor tell me to just prepare myself, as if my dad was actually going to die. I went home and looked into medical journals and trusted sources…not Dr. Google and researched everything. The next day, I waited for all the doctors with the knowledge I obtained from “doing my due diligence” and their mouths hit the floor. I have met some great doctors and some doctors who are just “passing through” and when I tell you the doctor I saw the next day switched up my dad’s care completely; I was shocked, but I was glad I decided to READ. My dad improved because of my desire to learn more and lived another 5 years. No regrets.
If you are too afraid to leap, baby step your way to a life with less missed opportunities. What’s the saying, “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” Your life isn’t going to change over night, but you have to want to change, put in the work, show up, exercise the discipline, and keep moving forward. Those baby steps will add up and before you know it, you have made major changes that you were not even prepared for. Stop placing limitations on your life. Your possibilities are endless and there are no limits to the things you can accomplish once you put your mind and heart into it.
In the end, life will throw you curveballs, and the path that you thought was straight can end up being a very winding road. Your mission, should you choose to accept it is: don’t play victim, crying and screaming woe is me, make no excuses, and most importantly – don’t waste a minute. There is no time to spare in the 24 hours we get each day, so make them count and live life with less missed opportunities and REGRETLESS!!!
Late night on August 30, 2020 I had an epiphany. I needed to live my life to the fullest and to become the best version of me. I started the next day with walking every morning. That week, I improved my step count by over 40,000 steps! I realized that I allowed quarantine and our new way of life to get to me and I needed to be more intentional in every aspect of my life. I had begun to have more anxiety attacks, I was sinking back into my depressive moods, and engaging in the behaviors that lead me further and further down into a hole that I have found very difficult to come out of before. I can put on a good face like everything is well and good, but who can’t? I’ve gone through anxiety and depression enough to know how to hide the depression part.
Tonight as I was drinking my tea, there was a message. If you drink tea and know about Yogi tea, there is always a message for the drinker. It said,”Love yourself so that you may know how to live with self-respect.” That can mean an awful lot of things to different people, but to me it meant that in order to absolutely love myself, I had to know how to respect myself. You don’t need anyone else to disrespect you, you have the capability to do that all on your own. How can you not respect yourself?
Thinking negative thoughts about yourself.
Allowing others to treat you any way that doesn’t uplift you.
Putting the needs of others ahead of your own.
Suppressing your feelings.
Hanging on to toxic individuals.
Not taking care of yourself.
Approval seeking from others.
Pretending in order to fit in.
Allowing people to use you for their needs. (And so much more.)
If you are doing any of these things, or anything similar to the above mentioned things, you are not loving yourself and treating yourself with respect. With 17 weeks left in this year, I decided I wanted to end it with more self respect, more love, more me, and being kind to myself. It isn’t about being selfish, but about feeling good mentally, physically, and emotionally. You can give all of yourself until there is no more to give, and once that happens – the takers move on to the next person they can feed on. Even your family has to have a shut off valve. They may be your all and you may be their all, but they cannot take it all. At the end of the day, there has to be something left for us to remind us that we are an individual. We are more than someone’s mom, wife, or dad, and husband. We take on our roles to the point that we lose our identity. However, being a mom and a wife is only a part of my identity; I was first a woman and I need to continue to be that outside of my other roles or the most prominent ones will take full control.
I’m not telling you to lose it and go crazy! That’s not what I’m doing. I’m being more organized, creating schedules, and making sure that I make time for me in that schedule. As simple as that sounds, week one was tiring. Today, I stayed in bed until almost 12 noon, my sinuses didn’t help, but my body needed that time…I needed that time. Even my children slept in. My son, who is 6, did not come into my room until after 11 am. Was he awake before? I don’t know, but he was quiet, he kept himself busy, and when he wanted me, he came and got in bed with me and laid there and just talked. I appreciated that. It was as if he knew, mommy needed some extra time because all was not well. At 3, we dropped Sissy to her friend’s 18th birthday party around the corner…she could have driven herself, but she is dragging her feet getting her license (that’s a whole different story for another time), and we came back home. Still, squinting out of one eye, he decided he wanted one on one time with me and we watched Aladdin and Jurassic Park. After everyone was fed, bathed, and put to bed; I walked. I finished my menu for the week, checked the pantry and freezer to see if I needed anything from the store, and made my list. Still carving out my time and taking care of the home base.
So you see, you can have the best of living your life, while being a mom and wife too – it’s about the intention you plan to give each area. I always intend and strive to be the best mom, wife, and woman I can be. I don’t always hit the mark, but when I shine, I shine bright like a diamond! I will keep being their very best mother, and I will keep being his very best wife, but for my sanity I will also START being the VERY best ME, because if I lose me…they lose me, and that would be the real loss of love.
Tonight as I sit here, tired beyond words I just want to say to all moms out there…don’t give up, you’ve got this. This week has been extra busy and tiring, and I thought that I was being more organized and setting myself up for success. I also realized that no matter how many lists you make, how early you rise, how hard you work, setbacks will happen and you will just get tired. Last night I was so tired that my entire body hurt, but no matter how tired I was, sleep was nowhere to be found. Eventually around 11:30, I conked out.
I’ve realized that as a mother and wife, one of the main reasons we cannot find sleep or it cannot find us is because we have an inability to turn our brains off. Our mom brains usually have one function – ON. We rarely have airplane mode, do not disturb, or a sleep mode. We are overburdened with the thoughts of tomorrow, next week, next month, and even months down the road. I know that in order for me to get a more restful night’s sleep, I have to start unpacking some of that worry and clutter that is filling my head from the day by at least 3 hours before bedtime to be able to sleep. Easy to say, hard to do…trust me! I can give to you, just as I give it to myself, but it is up to us to make it work.
Mama’s, I think of us like an ant hill. We have the Queen and the workers, but guess what; we do it all. Nothing gets done right if we don’t do it, so why not just get it done right? Yes we can dictate a few minor things to the “workforce” but they can’t handle it all like we can. I want you to know that if you are feeling overworked, underpaid, and maybe a little under appreciated…I’m with you. We don’t always get the I love you’s, thank you’s, and we appreciate you that we deserve, but they do love, appreciate and thank us for all we do. Sometimes we have to tell ourselves and keep on working.
So, if you find yourself a little tense – which is not a hard place to find yourself lately step away. There has to be a place in your home unoccupied by another individual at some point, even if it’s outside. Breathe in some calming relaxing breaths, grab a cup of tea (peppermint, chamomile, lavender, green, valerian, ashwagandha are all relaxing teas). Read a book or go for a walk. I know that in the last 6 months we have all spent more time than we would normally spend with our families, without getting the normal amount of time we usually get to ourselves. I just want you to know that you are not alone! We are in this thing together and I am always here to listen. By all means, do not allow the stress of the moment make you miss out on the beautiful things life has to offer.
“Looking at beauty in the world, is the first step of purifying the mind.”
Here on the Gulf Coast of the United States, anytime the weatherman says that a storm is going to enter the Gulf – we start sitting Shiva. Literally we are brought low anytime we see tropical depression, tropical storm, or hurricane in SE Texas, especially in the months of August and September. Laura was not initially forecastedto come this far into the Gulf of Mexico. First, it was supposed to impact Florida, then Alabama, then Louisiana, then Texas. In the end, she decided to split the difference and hit between Texas and Louisiana. There is a bridge you cross over Interstate 10 leaving Orange, Texas, and halfway across that bridge you realize at the bottom of the bridge you will no longer be in Texas. I have taken that route too many times to count. Drive 39 miles and you are in Lake Charles, bypassing smaller towns such as Starks, Vinton, Sulphur, and Westlake along the I-10 east corridor. I have also taken the back route through Port Arthur into Cameron, making trips to Holly Beach, and enjoying the day. However, Laura came in as a Category 4 storm destroying as much as possible in her path. In Texas, the wind damage was noticeable, 300,000+ households were without electricity, evacuation orders are still in place as of right now in some cities. Many sick and at least 5 dead in the area from improperly using generators, and some areas are still impassable. Electricity, internet, and phone service has been spotty, but it could have been much worse. As I said, Laura was unpredictable from the word GO. My hometown, 60 miles west of Lake Charles was on course to get a hurting from Laura – far worse than what we received. The storm was on the same path as Hurricane Rita that hit the area in 2005. Rita hit us a month after Katrina devastated the Mississippi and New Orleans areas, we were using Ford Park Entertainment Complex as a shelter for evacuees when we were ordered to leave ourselves. Rita created one of the largest evacuations in US history because Houston, Texas was called to evacuate as well. We spent 36 hours in traffic! With Laura following that same path, no one knew what to expect and with 2 storms in the last 3 years that caused so much flooding and dread, a lot of people were “storm weary” and decided to hunker down. I was one of those people who decided I would stay and “ride out the storm,” but when I got up on Wednesday morning and saw that the storm intensified and may do so even further…we waved goodbye to our home and prayed it would still be here when we returned.
We made it all the way to Austin in an exhausted, almost fugue state, checked into our hotel, showered, and tuned into our local news KFDM Channel 6 who always does live coverage during storms to keep those who evacuated and those at home informed throughout the storm. If Laura would have stayed on her NNW direction, it would have been 2005 all over again, 15 years later, but at the last minute – Laura took a northerly turn. That northerly turn is what caused so much damage in Orange, Texas to Lake Charles, Louisiana and further. That is just on I-10, you have the damage to Cameron Parrish and the city of Cameron, as well as further inland into Louisiana. Lake Charles’ devastation is heartbreaking to see. I heard a news report about a tree falling on a house and killing a 14-year-old girl. Her sister frantically called her name and tried to find her and once she did, she realized why she could not answer. These cities are a part of me. I still have a lot of family that live in Orange and “across the bridge” as we say in Lake Charles and surrounding areas. My roots run deep through these communities, so to see them shattered is a hurtful thing.
The day after the storm there was an explosion at a chemical lab that released a toxin into the air. So now you are forced to stay inside your home within a certain area of the plant, no electricity, if your windows are open for some kind of airflow you are still getting the toxin…what do you do? The President visited the area today to survey the damage in Louisiana and in Texas and refused to say that these extreme storms were a result of climate change. His response was that the area has always been prone to strong storms. That very well may be true, but they would lose intensity quickly. Laura made it to almost northern Louisiana still a hurricane. However, in my 37 yearsof living in the area, I never had to evacuate until 2005. I had twin classmates that were born in the middle of a hurricane when you weren’t “evacuating entire counties. His Mar-a-Lago estate is right near the coastal waters of Florida and I guarantee you, a hurricane could not care less that he is who he is. I think the President and I will have to agree to disagree, or we can just disagree on this one. I know that water temperatures are much warmer, earlier in the year, causing the June 1 start date for hurricane season to almost become moot and as a result, storms have begun to appear before then. These storms see no political affiliation and they do not discriminate. They do not care if you are black, white, purple, rich, poor, doctor, or work at McDonald’s, whatever you have belongs to it; if it is in its path. Unless we get a cool snap that dramatically affects the water temperature in the Gulf, we have 32 more days of watching, waiting, and praying that nothing comes this way again. We were blessed and slightly inconvenienced this time, but just as Laura was unpredictable, the season is just as shifty as she was.
Thank you Beaumont Channel 6 KFDM for always staying when we need you!!kfdm.com
“What kept me sane was knowing that things would change, and it was a question of keeping myself together until they did.” – Nina Simone
Someone asked me, how I keep it all together – I’m not sure that I do. For the majority of my adult life I have been responsible for someone else. I had my first child at age 20, in college, just after finishing my last final for the semester. It would take me 10 years after that to get my degree because I jumped into working and being a mom full time. Before I knew it, I was a full-time mom and working full-time, and before my daughter turned 1, her dad and I bought our first house. I was still swinging working full-time and being mom full-time with the demands of a new home. My husband has been a shift worker for almost 20 years and I was lucky to have a job where I could decide which shift I wanted to take at the time. Back then, there wasn’t any job security when your child was sick and had to be hospitalized. After we moved into our home, my daughter had to be hospitalized twice within 3 months for a week both times, one of those weeks required surgery. While my job was good and easy-going…the company wasn’t. I missed too much time with my daughter’s illness and they let me go. I wasn’t upset about it because that meant I could spend more time with her after she had been hospitalized twice in such a short time. I was unemployed for less than two months because a really good job came around that I couldn’t pass. So, she would go back to hanging out with Granny and I would go back to work.
Many years later, I would become “The Stay at Home Mom.” I, in my ignorant wisdom thought that working full-time and maintaining home was hard, being home full-time is what is hard. At work, you get a lunch break, regular breaks, the occasional coworker you don’t mind talking to and may even possibly become friends with. At home, you are easily accessible. Everyone has access to you and they expect you to be home because I mean, YOU DON’T HAVE A JOB! First things first, my version of SAHM is not book clubs, lunches with the girls, and cocktails at 2. This is not an episode of any of the Real Housewives and most days I’m too busy to even eat lunch AT HOME. So, I was asked about my schedule and how I keep things together. It’s a simple task that you can start on Sunday. First and foremost, I try to meal plan for the week. Take stock of what you have in the house before you start and go from there. You may not have to go out to the grocery store if you have enough in the freezer to make things work for the week. If you regularly cook and do theme nights like Taco Tuesday, Pizza night, or spaghetti/pasta night; it makes it that much easier. Our family is all about Taco Tuesday, so we know that we may have beef tacos, chicken tacos, fish tacos…some type of tacos on Tuesday. That’s one day down, only about 4 to go because at least two nights we eat leftovers. I would also suggest you invest in a crockpot or pressure cooker because that is called – set it and forget it. No standing over the stove and working, it does the work for you. I’ve made everything in a crockpot…even GUMBO! In the words of my daughter, “That crockpot gumbo is smack Mama!” I guess that means good because she usually eats at least two bowls. Below are the simple things I follow weekly to keep my house semi-in order.
Meal Plan, grocery list, shopping or grocery order.
Create a basic cleaning schedule. (Make your bed daily…you would be surprised at the number of people who don’t make their beds. -Pick up clutter. -Clear and wipe kitchen counters, stove, wash dishes, sweep and empty garbage. — I usually do this before bed and it’s done for the next day. -Don’t leave clothes lying around. -Clear and wipe bathroom counters at night and in the mornings and make sure sinks are wiped out. This makes your bathroom look clean all the time. (This is what is done on a daily basis.). If you have pets, you may need to vacuum daily.
Twice weekly I mop. I will for sure get my steps in twice a week because sweeping and mopping my entire house is work. When I sweep and mop, I also sanitize all surfaces since Covid started. I Lysol door handles to entrances, bedrooms, bathrooms, faucets and toilet handles. I “glance” over it everyday, but twice a week, they get thoroughly sanitized. No pets, you can vacuum 2-3 times a week, more depending on the traffic.
Once a week: Clean out the fridge, dust, (we use our fans a lot and they’re dark so they get cleaned once a week as well) Change and wash your linens. -Laundry, deep clean bathrooms(tubs, toilets, showers, mirrors, and fixtures.
Don’t worry, whatever you missed will get done.
I try to stick to my schedule as best as I can, especially now because I’m homeschooling my son. This takes a chunk out of my time so I have to be mindful of the time I have to get things done daily and use it as wisely as possible. You have to do what works for you. I can give you a starting point, but you may need to add or take away from it. Not everyone cooks as often as I do, so meal planning may not be necessary. As I said these are guidelines and what keeps me from completely losing my mind. For instance, I sweep everyday because of the type of floors I have. It is tile that looks like wood and it is dark so everything and anything shows on that floor. While I adore them, we have a love/hate relationship too. I have children that can help, but nothing is done right unless you do it yourself and I hate going behind someone to do something they supposedly did. The only person that cleans as good as I do is my husband, and he works hard enough already. How do I keep it all together? Walking that very thin last nerve I have been holding onto since 2013!! My suggestion to you is, don’t lose it trying to keep it all together.
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