May 11, 2012

A Change Has Come

In Jacksonville, Florida, spring has sprung.  I’m so glad to be back in the southeast where the weather is mild and the sun shines bright.  It is May now and quiet warm unlike in the northeast where it is still chilly.  My best friend told me that it was about 60° one day last week while it was over 80° degrees here that same day.  Even though the calendar says that spring has sprung it takes the northeast a minute to catch up.

While I’m enjoying the sun and warm temps down here I was thinking it’s time for a change.  What kind of change? A hair change of course.  I had been wearing my dreadlocks since 2009 and while I initially loved them, the love affair was coming to an end.  I was not grooming them as I should have and the thought of grooming them myself was not appealing.  They were dry and just out of control. I thought about getting them groomed by a loctician but the thought of first sitting and waiting my turn and then spending an insane amount of time getting them washed and twisted did excite me at all.  Oh, and did I mention sitting under the hooded oven to get them dry? Hmm, that was not something I wanted to take part in on my Saturday morning.  I am so over sitting in the salon.  There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s just not for me. At least not on a regular basis.  Hence, a change was inevitable.

Okay, so I established that a change was needed but what on earth would that be?  Ooh, ooh, ooh, I know.  Let’s untwist all of those shoulder length locs one at a time.  Great idea right?  I would get to keep my length and try new styles too right?  W-R-O-N-G!  I started doing some research and it could be done but it would take me like 2-3 weeks.  And wouldn’t you know, I couldn’t recruit one single person to help me untwist them.  So that was not the right answer.  My dear sister suggested I chop them off and get a texturizer.  Great idea I was thinking since I had done that 2 times in the past.  I knew exactly what to do and how to give myself the texturizer.  So off to the beauty supply store I went in search of another texturizer.  I came home with a natural hair transition kit.  I had the brilliant idea of  “gently” relaxing my hair to make it more manageable.

These are my locs before the big chop

Once I got it home I got that sinking feeling that my sister’s brilliant idea wasn’t so brilliant after all.  I left that kit on my bed and just stared at it for a bit.  Then I took to my laptop and began to surf the net.  I wanted to find ways to wear my hair without the chemicals at all.  I was tired of starting over with a twa (teenie weenie afro) and feeling obligated to get back on the creamy crack lite version (I’m describing the chemicals use to straighten hair-a relaxer). You do know that a texturizer is a mild relaxer but yet and still, it’s a relaxer?  I still remember the feeling my head would get when it was time for a touch-up.  It seemed like my scalp was calling for the chemicals.  It’s hard to describe it but those of you that have had relaxers probably know what I’m talking about.  I found some interesting ideas of what to do with my twa but really had no confidence they would work for me.  And even if they did I probably wouldn’t have the patience it took to allow my hair to reach my goals.  So what were the other options? Well, I hate wigs although I own one.  I’ll show you that in another post.  I also have never had a weave and I’m not interested in starting that now.  What’s a gal to do?  You guessed it.  I marched that creamy crack right back to the beauty supply store and came back with conditioner and some gel.  Yep, that’s it.  Conditioner and gel period.

On April 21, 2012 I did the big chop.  The big chop is when you cut out/off your relaxed, loc’d or weaved hair down to the new growth.  The new growth is virgin hair as long as you haven’t put any chemicals in it.  Since I had not twisted my hair in a while (I’m ashamed to say how long, so I won’t) I had plenty of nice fresh new growth.  It was terribly dry but fresh and untwisted nonetheless.  Check out my big chop mug shot below.

The big chop mug shot

It’s scary looking isn’t it?  I look like I stole something. I could have smiled and put on a little face paint right? LOL! It’s okay, I don’t look like that when I actually leave the house.  But anyway, I digress.  I had more hair than I thought so since I didn’t have time to fix my hair that day before I had to go to meet my sister I had to wear “the wig”.  Sasha is her name.  She’s cute but I sweat like I’m working out when I wear a wig in the summer.  So Sasha won’t be making many guest appearances this summer.

So there you have it, the main reason behind my new hair change.  It is a journey that I will be taking and sharing with you all here on the blog.  I hope you enjoy taking this journey with me.  As time goes on, I will be sharing some of my hair confessions as well as pictures and the new methods and techniques I am using at the moment.  This is new for me because like I said every other time I’ve had a twa, it’s been processed.  But not this time, a change has come.

Stay tuned to see what my hair actually looks like these days.

Have you made any hair changes lately?  If so, please share.

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October 10, 2010

It’s All In My Head!?!? – Part I

In the words of my step-son when he returned to school after being suspended from kindergarten for two days, “I’m baaack!”  I am indeed back to blogging from taking a brief hiatus.  Where have you been Missy, I can hear you saying. Well, I’ve been managing some new changes/challenges in my life and I’m not totally where I want to be but I really missed blogging while I was away.  I won’t be able to address each change and challenge in this blog post but I would like to start with one of my challenges first.

This summer I found out officially that I have fibromyalgia.  If you have been following my tweets and Facebook status updates recently, you will have heard me mention it from time to time.  Fibromyalgia is a fairly new syndrome with a myriad of symptoms.  I describe it as a disorder characterized by extreme fatigue, wide-spread muscle pain along with disrupted sleep.  Each and every case is different  but along with what I described above I have irritable bowel syndrome, chronic sinusitis and some serious neck and back pain as well as headaches.  In describing this disorder and my symptoms, I have only scratched the surface. I could go on but for the sake of the length of this post, I will refrain.

Front Cover of Fibromyalgia pamphlet

 Doctors aren’t 100% sure what causes fibromyalgia.  Some believe it comes from some sort of trauma to the body such as what happens when you have a car accident.  I can go with that because when I was about 12 or 13 I was involved in a car accident.  I stayed out of school for about 2 weeks to recover.  Others believe that the disorder is triggered by an imbalance in the chemicals in our brains.  Antidepressant seem to help some people.  However, they only work for me if I see the chiropractor on a regular basis.  So since the syndrome is a combination of symptoms, the real cause is still a mystery.  Diagnosis is also hard because blood tests cannot reveal whether or not you have fibromyalgia . Diagnosis is based on the symptoms you present with, the length of  time you’ve experienced the symptoms and your past medical history.  There are other illnesses and diseases that have symptoms similar or that mimic symptoms of fibromyalgia therefore;  making it a very difficult illness to diagnose.

Now that I have endured this illness for about 21 years and am taking medication and managing it so much better, I do agree with researchers and physicians alike that it is indeed all in my head.  Yes, at this point I do believe that whatever causes fibromyalgia is all in my head. Surprisingly I now take gabapentin (brand name neurontin) off-label which means that fibromyalgia is not one of the indicated uses of the drug.  Gabapentin is typically prescribed to manage seizures in individuals with epilepsy.  It has also been indicated for those with nerve pain.  The fact that gabepentin works well for me lends me to believe that there is something going on in my head but just what, only the Lord knows.  I’m happy that I’m feeling much better although I am not pain-free nor where I would like to be but this is a start in the right direction.

Although I believe fibromyalgia is all in my head, I’ve learned a few other things from this experience:

  1. If you’re in pain, something is going on in your body.  For years I’ve had so many complaints of aches, pains and discomfort that my friends and family would often tell me that I was falling apart.  At first that used to hurt my feelings but then I realized that I did feel like I was falling apart.  I went to the doctor but no one could tell me what was wrong.  After years of the back and forth for this or that I just decided to live life the best I could no matter how I felt.  But even in doing that I was not convinced there was nothing wrong.  I just didn’t know how or where to go to figure out what was wrong.  But deep down in my heart, I knew that something wasn’t quite right.  All I’m really saying is, don’t ignore pain.  When you have a toothache, that is an indication that something is going wrong in your mouth and you need to see a dentist.  Toothache pain is intense so with the same urgency that we would see our dentist, we must attack any pain in other areas in which we are having pain.
  2. Don’t get discouraged with the process.  I must say that I gave up after a few years of trying to find an answer to my health concerns.  I became frustrated with the advice to just lose weight.  I was baffled as to how doctors feel the need to give you any kind of answer no matter how absurd instead of saying they don’t know and that I should maybe try a specialist.  All of those years that I just lived in pain, discomfort and frustration could have been minimized if I would have had the fortitude and stamina to stick it out and pursue that answer with passion.  There were highs and lows in the process where I would pursue an answer but after a period of time with no answers, I would just focus on other things. Most importantly, when you’re searching for answers, it’s a process.  Sometimes it doesn’t take long to find an answer and other times it takes a while. When it takes longer we have to have the “Little Engine that Could” attitude.  Sometimes I just have to say to myself, “I think I can, I think I can,” and finally tell myself, “I know I can and  I will.”
  3. P.U.S.H.  This acronym means Pray Until Something Happens.  Even though I had given up on finding a definitive answer to the health woes I was actively dealing with, I did not stop praying.  I prayed as Paul did asking God to remove the thorn from his flesh. I felt I had a couple of thorns in my flesh and I prayed and asked God to remove them on many occasions.  I never doubted that He was able to do it but I did have to pray that if it wasn’t God’s will to remove the thorn, that He would give me the grace to endure.  And he definitely did that. The Lord kept and preserved me in an unbelievable way during the roughest part of my illness. I’m grateful beyond words for what He has done and is doing.  So no matter how you physically feel and in knowing you may not have all the answers, continue to pray until something happens.  It took many years but my change did come in July of 2010.

Can you tell that I’m a preacher?  A country one at that.  I’m trying to learn the art of not being long-winded.  I’m not there yet but I’m working on it.

All in all, I’ve been on an awesome journey of self-discovery, health education, good days, bad days and triumphant days.  I’m still learning, growing and recovering both mentally and physically. It is my prayer that through this blog and the things to come in the way budding business ideas I can help others to become knowledgeable and understand more about fibromyalgia.

How about you? Do you suffer from a long-term illness? If so, please feel free to share your story or comment. 

August 7, 2010

Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 = Small Business Death by Regulation

Every since July 20, 2010, I have been watching, reading, and tweeting about the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 (SCA of 2010). This is the first blog post so far and I purposed it that way because before I spoke one word of my own viewpoint, I needed to read the proposed bill and gather as much information as possible so that when I did speak, I could speak intelligently. So since I am well read and up to speed I feel equipped to officially give my “two cents” worth.

For starters, I am a regulator by trade which means that in my traditional 9 to 5 job I work as a Regulatory Affairs Associate. In short I complete many of the same tasks that an employee hired to help companies comply with the SCA of 2010 would complete. So from the drug (pharmaceutical) side I submit the applications to FDA for drug approvals and then after approval I submit all updates to the application including any changes to ingredients, procedures and processes to the FDA. I review labeling and a host of other documents on a consistent basis. It is to be noted that there is a different level of depth that my current  job requires that this new proposed regulation would not, however; I fully understand what the bill is requiring. So, what the SCA is requesting is not foreign to me and I would have no problem helping small businesses comply with the regulations should this bill be passed but I am definitely not advocating from a regulatory standpoint at all. I am advocating from a small micro cosmetics business standpoint.

So with that in mind I would like to give you 6 reasons why I oppose the SCA of 2010:

  1. This bill will snatch the rug right from under small business owners. If this bills is passed it will force hundreds of small cosmetics manufacturers out of business which includes me unfortunately. The regulations are too burdensome and overwhelming for micro-cosmetic manufacturers to comply with as written. Not only will it require more manpower to run your business, it will also take away some of the flexibility and innovation that makes Indie products unique and desirable. How will this new bill do that? Well, if we are required to report each and every change made to our formulations within 60 days, who in the world would want to change their formulation even if it were imperative? The manufacturer would have to submit this paperwork every time there is a change from one cosmetic manufacturer to another  in a similar way in which pharmaceutical companies change manufacturers. And of course if you make the needed change to your formulation and don’t comply with updating the FDA within 60 days, your business could be suspended or removed from the database (see Section 612 Registration of Establishments and Registration Fees, 2 Notification of Changes, B Deadline for Certain Changes and 2 Removal and Suspension). This is one of many examples I could use but I will stop there.
  2. Over regulation means overkill for small business. Have you ever wanted to convince someone of something by trying to talk them into it but instead you ended up talking them right out of it? Well this is what I believe this bill will do to small business owners. The sponsors of this bill along with certain special interest groups insist that personal care products are not safe enough but the means by which they are seeking to remedy this won’t get the job done.  They want us to agree with them and pass this bill but the more they talk, the more I’m convinced this legislation isn’t necessary.  I am one of the first to agree that there should be a way to ensure personal care products are safe but over-regulation will not help, it will only harm the industry as a whole. I strongly believe that once the players sit down at the table and brainstorm with all of the facts and science in front of them a more feasible solution can be developed and implemented. Passing this bill will push small businesses right over the edge of the cliff which is not prudent or effective in reaching the desired goal.
  3. If it aint broke, don’t fix it!! Small cosmetics companies aren’t broken so why do we need fixing? The vast majority of the ingredients used by micro-cosmetics manufacturers are safe for use.  Most of us start out of a need to produce products that are healthier alternatives for our families and customers.  I do not know of one manufacturer that does not read, research and formulate with the utmost of care and concern for what they are producing.  Fixing something that is not broke doesn’t provide any benefit to consumers at all.  So since it isn’t broken I think our focus should shift to the myriad of issues that do need fixing. Homelessness, obesity, violence and domestic abuse are just a few.
  4. The passage the SCA of 2010 seeks to undo exactly what they propose and claim the bill will accomplish. Micro-cosmetics as they are now are among the safest of products and as I’ve said before, this bill is not the way to make them safer.  One way to determine this is by looking at the track record of the cosmetics industry as a whole.  I’m not so sure it’s the micro-cosmetics manufacturers that are making chemically laden products.  Can you imagine what some of these larger company’s labels will look like once they comply with this bill if it’s passed?  Why don’t we just kill another 100,000 trees for all of the paper we will use to make these new labels that will resemble books? Many of the big box companies are the ones that use lots of the chemicals in question so to add every trace element found in each ingredient used to their label would  be a very interesting sight to see.  Instead of making blanket laws for the entire industry, why not address the big box company issues separately from the micro-cosmetic issues?  If I were the parent of a teenager and a toddler I would not discipline them in the same manner because of the age difference so in the same vein to address the big box issues along with the micro-cosmetics issues doesn’t make much sense.
  5. The massive loss of small business will make the current economic situation far worse. If this bill is passed there will be so many more people unemployed.  The purpose of my starting this business is to generate additional income for myself and to eventually be able to give back to the community once I expand by hiring people to work at the company. I am a single mother of twins and aside from needing additional income, I also started my business out of a need for other alternatives in treating my twin boys’ eczema.  No one has the job stability that once existed and I believe owning a business is the way to ensure a better future and quality of life for myself and my children.  This bill will cause so many people to lose their jobs after working so hard to build their businesses from the ground up.  Some thought should be given to the livelihoods of these people.  Just as the oil giant BP is liable for the oil spill that caused so many to be out of work and lose revenue, this bill will also cause many to be out of work and lose revenue. When I dig deep and really look at it, the sponsors and special interest groups are much worse because the point has been made that this bill would unduly alter and change the quality of life for many Americans, yet the push to pass it continues.
  6. The one-size fits all approach will end up catering to “big-box” companies with no regard for small business and how they are managed.  As quiet as its kept, the big box companies already have Regulatory departments and if they don’t they certainly have the resources to hire the needed employees to comply with the bill should it pass.  I love my business and I enjoy Regulatory work but even if I take into consideration how smart and efficient I like to believe I am, there is no way I as one person can comply and even if I were up and running I would not be able to hire the people to do the work for me.  Picture it: a see-saw with micro manufacturers on one side and big box manufacturers on the other side.  Which do you think will rise to the top should this bill be passed?  I know you know the answer so I won’t insult your intelligence.

This is just a snippet of how I feel but I could not smash it all into one blog post.  I am fired up for the cause and as State Advocacy Leader for NJ, I won’t go down without a fight.  I will post updates and new developments as they become available in the coming weeks.

I hope you can see why this bill will cause small business death by overly regulating an industry that doesn not presently need it.  But for those that insist we do, I believe there is a better way to accomplish the desired purpose and goal.  There is a way to ensure the safety of personal care products without imposing legislation that will drive small cosmetics companies out of business.  The toughest part of finding another way requires those directly involved to sit down and work on an amicable resolution to the perceived problem.  Will that happen? I am praying it does.  But in the meantime, I’d like to hear your thoughts.

Question: If you were able to vote either way based on what you know right now about the SCA of 2010, how would you vote and why? 

Photo note: Please note that the items in this photo were not manufactured by Embellished Bath and Body.  The candle is manufactured by Starfish Oils (www.starfishoils.com) and the soaps are manufactured by Nubiean Heritage (www.NubianHeritage.com). 

July 14, 2010

5 Things You Can Do to Get the Job Done

Most of my close friends and family members know that I have some challenges when it comes to fashion design (for myself) as well as decorating my living space. Today I would like to focus my interior design challenges and I will postpone my fashion design challenges at a later date as they are worthy of their own series of blog posts.

For the first time in several years of my mom and I sharing living space and then my husband and I sharing living space, since my subsequent divorce, I am truly on my own again.  Now it’s just Camren, Cornel Jr. and I and I am totally loving it!  I have a very spacious two-bedroom condo (that is much more like an apartment) where I am “doing my own thing”.  Now that is all well and good until it’s time to decorate and I completely draw a blank.  I don’t know how to coordinate colors, choose the correct items to match my theme, nor do I know where to position the furniture I already have.  So before I can even buy anything else to add to the decor, someone has to help me position what I have.  And to answer your question about why I just can’t watch HGTV and work from there, the answer is it doesn’t help me one little bit.  Unlike the Food Network, from which I get much inspiration, watching HGTV does not conjure up any grand ideas nor does it tell or show me what to do with “my” living space.  They are always working on someone else’s space.

When I lived in Florida, my sister helped me with all of that which included showing me what types of wall decorations I needed to even suggesting and helping me choose carpet colors.  She acted as my personal interior designer and helped me to make my house a feel like home.  Her own home is decorated beautifully and I don’t think a professional could have done better.  I encouraged her to start a side hustle but she wasn’t interested.  But at any rate she is thousands of miles from NJ so I am on my own to some degree.  One of my best friends has given me some ideas but she is not as hands-on as my sister was so it isn’t quite coming together just yet.

Toward the end of this month, I will have my first official house guest staying with me for a few days.  I am so excited but have so many things to do to prepare.  These are small projects I have been putting off until I have the time.  Well, I still don’t really have the time but I am making the time to tidy up and do some decorating. 

I want to share with you several things I do when I am faced with a challenge.  My current challenge is a decorating and interior design challenge.  Here they are:

  1. Acknowledge that you are challenged in whatever area(s) you are allow yourself to accept it.  We all have our strengths and weaknesses and when we learn to embrace them we help ourselves out in the long run but not acknowledging and embracing them leads to more stress.  How so you may ask? Think about it.  If you realize you have a weakness in an area but you have a project that needs to be completed, fumbling through it on your own not only lengthens the time to get it done but sometimes may cause you to have to get a professionlal after you have spent countless hours working on the project to discover you can’t or don’t want to complete it yourself.  So not only does not acknoweledging your weaknesses cause you stress but in some cases it costs you more money in the end.  Ex.  My weakness is in decorating and knowing the who, what, where, why, and how of decorating.
  2. Prioritize your projects.   Since I have moved I have a laundry list of things I would like to do and furniture and other things I need to purchase.  But I can’t do all of those things at once.  So since my kids are on vacation at Nanna’s and I have a house guest coming while they are gone, what is most important for me to get done is the question I had to answer?  I looked around the condo and decided that we would spend most of our time in the living room either watching TV or having meals.  So not having all 4 dining room chairs put together and in good condition was an issue.  That has become my first major project.  So the goal is to put all of the chairs together and make sure that the dining area is functional.
  3. Make your list of supplies. Whether you are doing the project yourself or allowing a professional to help you, it is a good idea to know or have an idea of what’s needed to complete your project.  That way if you hire a professional you can know exactly what  materials you are paying for.  So, I sat down and identfied what supplies I needed to get the other two chairs assembled.  In transit to the new location screws and leg cushions were lost so they had to be replaced.  I also needed to cover the seat cushions on the chairs.  I would need fabric and something to attach the fabric to the cushion.  I decided on a glue gun. I made a list of things I needed and headed out to the store to pick them up.
  4. Ask for help.  Now just so you know, I did waltz my little over ambitious self to the nearest Home Depot for supplies.  I started out on my own but of course I was overwhelmed with so many screws and tools so I had to ask an associate for help.  I got what I needed and was on my way.  I ended up at Joann’s looking for fabric and boy was I in for a rude awakening.  I was seriously bombarded with way too many choices and being the genius I am, I walked out of the house without a fabric swatch.  As I am looking around the store, I’m trying to describe to my friend what color my couch and curtains were.  She was no help at all as she is also challenged in the same area I am.  While we were on the phone another friend called to which I knew might be of some help.  I described my delimma and she immediately began to tell me colors that I could  put together to match my decor.  Instead of chossing a single color, she encouraged me to look for prints .  I ended up with a nice floral design that I can use to help introduce more color to the room.  In this case I got help from the store associate and a friend.
  5. Execute the plan.  I left Joann’s ecstatic and ready to start my new project.  With my trusty glue gun I began re-covering the cushions and placing the cushions back on the chairs.  I am not finished yet but I’m about half-way there. 

Check out the before and after cushion shots below.

                                    Before

                                     After

Questions: What do you think? How do you tackle and get accomplished those things tasks that are most challenging for you?

Stay tuned to see the final finished product soon to come.  And always remember, Life is Sweet, Embellish It!!!!

July 12, 2010

Encouragement Monday: Awesome Wonder!

Today’s Encouragement Monday’s purpose is to help us refocus on the wonderful nature of our God.  There are times I get discouraged or frustrated and I have to pause and make myself take a time out.  In doing so, poetry helps me to refocus on the positive and find peace because I forget about me and my problems and meditate on the the beauty of the Lord.

One of my friends recently described how she has deemed Mondays “Manic Mondays” at her blog because she is getting her family back on schedule from the weekend.  I often feel that way too so as an anecdote for those mornings when things aren’t really coming together and you just need a gentle reminder to help you through the day I am sharing this poem I wrote on October 15, 1999.  I found it while unpacking some boxes recently and had totally forgotten about it.  It does not yet have a title but it is an ode to the beauty of nature and the awesomeness of our God.

You are the sun that forever shines.

You are the gentle breeze that forever blows.

You are the soft rain that forever falls.

Today you are my all and all.

You are the river that forever flows.

You are the voice that forever speaks.

You are the door that’s forever open.

Tomorrow you are my all and all.

You are the love that forever reaches.

You are the peace that forever keeps.

You are the joy that forever radiates.

You are the God that forever saves.

Forever you are my all and all.

Question: What inspires and helps get you through a rough day?

July 5, 2010

Encouragement Monday: No Quitting

Today’s Encouragement Monday is about not quitting.  My Pastor touched on it yesterday at church and it was something I had been dealing with recently as well.  I have learned that sometimes when I am going through certain things, someone, somewhere is also going experiencing a similar situation.  I am learning to share what I’m going through to encourage others.

I have  been working on launching Embellished Bath and Body, a handmade cosmetics business now for several years.  There have been ups and downs and at times I can think of a dozen or more reasons why I won’t or can’t launch the business.  Every now and then I need some encouragment to keep pressing forward.  This past Tuesday during my Lifestyle CEO Coaching session with Donna Maria Coles Johnson I got a good dose of encouragment that helped me get over the hump and get myself back into gear.  

There may be times when I may not be able to reach someone to encourage me when I need it most.  So for those days when everyone is busy and I need a boost, I’ve learned to encourage myself by praying, reading encourgaging literature, or watching encouraging videos.  Below I have posted the link to an encouraging poem in video form entitled, “Don’t Quit”.  I pray it will encourage you as it encourgaged me. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VkCFeNeqyHk

I’m curious, how do you encourage yourself when quitting seems easier than pressing forward?

June 30, 2010

Fruit Salad of Life

I am a  fruit lover and during my cleanse that I told you all about I was able to eat fruit. In following some of the meal suggestions I was given as a guide for the cleanse, a fruit salad was one of the items that I could have with a meal.  While shopping for the items to eat on the cleanse I picked up various types of fruit I had planned to eat one item at a time.  The first fruit I ate was the honeydew.  It looked pretty on the outside but was not sweet at all.  I stood in the kitchen looking at that huge bowl of honeydew very disappointed. I also tasted the strawberries to find that since they really weren’t in season, they were not extremely sweet either.  On the other hand, I had canned pineapple, mandarin oranges and grapes which were all very sweet.  Now I have  dilemma:  what am I going to do with this fruit that is not very sweet and should I throw it out or keep it? Hmm, after thinking for a second, I had a plan.  What was it? I am sure you can guess I decided to make a fruit salad with all of the fruit I had bought.  So I combined the strawberries, blueberries, honeydew, kiwi, pineapple, mandarin oranges, and grapes in a bowl and sprinkled them with fresh squeezed lemon juice.  This was one of the best fruit salads I have ever had and I am looking forward to having another one real soon.

I am sure by now you are wondering what in the world does a  fruit salad have in common with life right? Well I am very glad you asked because I am happy to answer that question for you.  Here are three ways I relate a fruit salad to life:

  • As I mentioned above, I had several different types of fruits in my refrigerator.  Some were sweeter than others but some were not very sweet at all.  In my opinion, that represents my life in that there are some sweet spots like graduating from college, getting my first “real” job, having children, renting my first apartment or preaching my first sermon.  Then there are some sour or not so sweet spots like dealing with physical illnesses, getting divorced, getting a traffic ticket or losing a loved one.  But at the end of the day I combined those sweet spots with those sour spots and realized that have lived a very blessed life and I have I have achieved many of my goals already. I have also been able to use my experiences to help and encourage others.  All of those experiences combined have shaped and molded me into who I am today.  And while I have not arrived or morphed into this perfect person, each experience has it’s purpose. and I am so amazed at how I have grown and how much I have learned from my experiences.  When you combine the sweet and the sour you still end up with a great fruit salad.
  • In life we must learn how to be creative as I was when I decided to make a fruit salad with my not so sweet fruit.  My first thoughts when I tasted the various fruits was to either put them back in the refrigerator and re-visit them on a different day or to just save myself the frustration of coming back to stinky fruit  and throw them out and start over.  What I actually did initially was to put them back in the refrigerator and as I was grabbing the other items to use for my lunch the light bulb went off and I thought why not make a fruit salad?  Voila!! A logical idea was born.  It wasn’t rocket science but it worked.  In life we have to think of creative ways to achieve our personal goals, nurture our families, stretch a few dollars or launch a business.  But without a doubt, creativity is a must in life.
  • Sour spots + Sweet spots = destiny We have all been created for a purpose.  I don’t think that anyone truly wants to live a mediocre life in which we meander around not fulfilling our destiny.  So how does this equation work?  The unpleasant sour spots in life combine with the sweet more enjoyable spots in life to teach us so much about ourselves that we are compelled to embrace our destiny and do everything we can to make it happen.  I can use myself as an example in that there came a point many years ago that I began to search for more to life than simply working, hanging out with friends, and going to church.  I was blessed with a good job, a house, a car, and a ministry but still felt a call to something greater.  I began to pray but no instant answers came.  Over the years the longing became even stronger but life continued to happen.  I had been out of work several times, moved out-of-state and back a couple of times, gotten married and had kids, gotten divorced, lost a house and so on and so on.  So I had some ups and downs but it wasnt until I made my first bar of soap that I realized I was called to be a business owner.  And not only was I called to be a business owner but I would be blessed to combine my love and passion for ministering into a my love for making cosmetics and having a business.  (Stay tuned to the blog to find out how these two passions meld together in a unique way into the destiny chosen for me.)

I am a foodie by nature and I frequently connect the foods I enjoy to various aspects of life and relationships.  What are your thoughts? How do you think life is related to a fruit salad? 

Wishing you all much love, peace, and joy and remember, “Life is sweet, embellish it!”

May 28, 2010

Buried Treasure

I have recently moved into a new apartment.  It’s sad to say but I unpacked my last box on last Saturday.  It feels good to finally get things in their proper place. I have much more decorating and polishing to do but I am not in a rush to do those things. I want to take my time and do it just the way I have itplanned.

I found several “hidden treasures” while unpacking the remainder of the boxes but the treasure pictured below is one of my favorite ones for several reasons.  I have had this massager since 2001 and got it shortly after 9/11 for my birthday from a co-worker in the chemistry lab.  I have used it several times and it has come to my rescue many times as I battle what could be arthritis or maybe fibromyalgia in my back and shoulders.

I have had several moves since I have used my massager and wasn’t quite sure whether I had sold it, given it away or lost it.  Thank heavens I found it! I battle this reoccurring pain in my right shoulder-blade that may again be from an illness or the fact that I carry my gagunta purse on that shoulder.  (One day I will blog about what’s in that purse.) But nonetheless, this is exactly what I need to help me ward off some of the pain and discomfort.

It is a holiday weekend and I have a great weekend planned.  The kids are attending a birthday party on Saturday and on Sunday, we will attend the early service at church and I will then take them downtown for the Memorial Day parade.  There will be marching bands there and the kids will be beside themselves with joy to see those young men and women play the drums and dance. I can hardly wait too.  I will reminisce and think back to my college days many years ago.

After a busy weekend, my unearthed buried treasure will once again become a trusted friend to help me relax and relieve the stress of a busy day.  I am so looking forward to using it again. 

If you are so inclined, tell me how you relax. I have some other things to share but in lieu of a massage at the spa, this little handy-dandy massager holds me over.

Enjoy the holiday weekend and be safe.

May 27, 2010

It’s Spring Cleaning Time

It’s that time of the year again.  The  seasons have changed, winter is gone and spring is in the air. This time of the year is great because the heavy-duty winter gear can be stored and out with the spring and summer clothing.  Along with  putting away the winter clothing, some people like to give their homes an old-fashioned “spring cleaning”. I can remember growing up and my grandmother and aunt taking almost a week to clean the entire house from top to bottom, windows included.  The things you didn’t want anymore were thrown out or given away, lighter window dressings were hung and tablecloths were changed.  The house felt and smelled so different after spring cleaning. 

I have discovered that there are different kinds of spring cleaning.  Some may only clean their homes or others take the time and effort to spring clean their physical dwellings which are their bodies.  I am in the midst of spring cleaning in my home but I also decided to spring clean my body as well.  My doctor suggested a product that the office nutritionist sells to her clients.  The product is called NutriClean (pictured below).  Inside this little box was lots of goodies.  There were seven packs of aloe capsules.  These were taken first thing in the morning followed by one heaping scoop of fiber powder from the jar.  That was the best fiber powder I ever had. It had a fruity taste and colored your water pink.  I enjoyed that particular product.  The last thing in the box was seven packets that include two aloe capsules and two fiber capsules to be taken at night just before bed.  During this cleanse I was only able to consume clear vegetable broth, vegetables (cooked and raw),  and fruits and water of course.  No fats were allowed on the vegetables and no meat or beans were allowed unless you were having severe headaches.

I learned some valuable things during the spring cleaning/cleansethat Iwould like to share.  They are:

1. It takes will power to make it through a complete seven-day cleanse but well worth the reward.

     Over the years I have tried other cleanses but have not ever been successful.  I usually don’t make it past the second day.  But the rewards and results of this cleanse were priceless.  I did not cleanse solely to lose weight but I did lose seven pounds and I was happy about that.  The purpose of this spring cleaning was to clear my body of all toxins and get me back on track to healthy living. The biggest reward was losing the cravings for the junk food and sweets.  Anyone that really knows me know that sweets and I “used” to be bosom buddies. Not so anymore. We are acquainted but not intimate ow.  I am so thankful for that.

2. If you have a weak moment, it’s really okay.

Having a weak moment and indulging in the forbidden isn’t the end of the world.  It happens to the best of us.  Don’t beat yourself up to badly.  Get up, shake the dust off , get back on the ball and continue to love and encourage yourself.  I had to use this advice to keep me on track and not blow the whole cleanse.  I had time to recover and I am glad I pressed on to the end.

3. Picking up my old habit is not an option.

I am notorious for making some less than wise food choices over and over again. I really loooove food and have since I was a wee little girl. I was told I ate everything that was put on my plate from the time I began eating solid foods. During this cleanse I had to finally make up my mind that a lifestyle change was in order.  Since the cleanse I have started back with my low glycemic index diet. It is working out well and I am satisfied after my meals. My snacks include yogurt, pita chips, trail mix and nuts.  I have continued to drink the water too.  So going back to my old way of eating is just not an option. I am in lifestyle change losing weight mode right now and looking straight ahead.

So tell me, when was the last time your body had a spring cleaning?  Is it overdue?  What product(s) do you use to help with your spring cleaning?

May 24, 2010

Encouragement Mondays

Happy Monday to everyone.  I pray that all is well and that your Monday has gotten off to a wonderful start.  Mine did not for several reasons but in all things I do give thanks.  One reason I give thanks is because there is no sense in complaining, it doesn’t change things and secondly, my Monday blues only last for a very short while. Which means that in the end, God gets all of the glory!

Just as I had to get myself back on schedule from this weekend, so did the kids.  This morning my Camren didn’t want to start his day without an old-fashioned train race.  So since the Thomas the train had him sidetracked, Thomas had to go bye-bye into the closet.  Once that was done our day proceeded as normal.  Until met traffic in the most unexpected places.  This day perhaps is not any different from most days except it is Monday and I had a nice weekend.  I prayed, shook the enemy off my back and donned a smile as I entered my office building this morning.  My body went through the motions and my spirit eventually caught up.  I am thankful for that. 

I have deemed Mondays as Encouragement Mondays.  Each Monday I will present a video, favorite Scripture, or poem to help provide inspiration to start the week.  I am missing my boys and they begged me to stay at school with them today but of course I could not because I  had to get to work.  So while I am encouraging you, I am also encouraging myself this Monday.  Please enjoy the video link below. 

Tell me, how do you encourage yourself on Mondays after a great weekend?  Did this video help?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tEj0_hjEC6U