Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stand Up for Yourself!

The other day I was was talking to one of my friends, and we were having one of those conversations that we typically have where we uplift and encourage each other. Well, for some reasons, we got on this topic of HOPE! I think that she or I was saying that we were hoping something for someone, and I said something like "we can hope, want, or wish for someone all day, but at the end of the day, he/she has to make the change for his/herself. She stated, "You should write a blog about hope."

After that conversation I was scanning through Facebook, and one of my friend's FB status stated that "He who has hope, has everything." I really started to think about that quote and the conversation that I had with my friend. Lo and behold, I was watching  the Oprah network, and this great motivational speaker was on named Toni Robbins. Toni was working with this guy named Steve who was a recovering alcoholic and drug addict. Steve was in a very low place and was contemplating abusing drugs again. He felt that he had no hope of getting his life in order. Toni Robbins stated that after the man left the show, he was going to be alone and would have to "Stand Up for Himself." When Toni stated this, I started to cry. I was crying, because I thought about all of the people who are stuck in situations that they do not want to be in, and I really want them to know that they must and can "Stand Up for Themselves." I know from experience that there is nothing better than "Standing Up for Yourself."

Toni Robbins

For instance, I really wish that everyone would take better care of their bodies. I know so many people who complain about their weight, and they have everything that it takes to change their bodies. I have worked out for years and always stayed around the same weight. Over time, I started to pick up pounds slowly but surely. I really thought that I could not lose weight and have arms that were defined. But, once I realize that I needed to make some changes, and I could change my body; I became unstoppable. I can really hope that people will take their health seriously, but they have to do it for themselves.

However, let's talk about the changes that were necessary: drinking less alcohol, not eating fast food ever, not eating potato chips, being mindful of my sugar intake, buying doughnuts for my students and not eating any, and doing one intense hour of exercise almost everyday. I really thought that there was no way I was going to or could make these changes. But I did it, and guess what? I feel invincible. Whatever it is in my life that I want to change, I have the power to do it. I feel so liberated. No one could do it for me. My doctor could really wish and hope that I would lose weight and lower my cholesterol, but I have to "Stand Up for Myself."

How many of us really hope that our friends would leave the guy that is abusing her or would move on from the guy that has already left her. How many people in our lives are hoping that we would change some of our destructive behaviors or would stand up and claim our rightful place in the world without fear? We must, all of us, "Stand Up for Ourselves."

What I have noticed is that there are a lot of people who will stand up for themselves, but there are a WHOLE lot of people who will not. I see people who will not set limits in their lives, will not state with authority what they know for sure, will analyze situations forever in order to not have to make a decision, will only eat chicken, will not get in a pool, will not take a trip alone, and are always hoping or wanting to do something but will not take the leap of faith.  Most people who are living "Their Best Lives" took a leap of faith. Life is about taking risk and "Standing Up for Yourself."

Two weeks ago I went biking with this group that is mostly all men, and they are strong riders. The ride was only about 17 miles, but it was sooooo hilly. It was a really tough ride for me, but I finished. I am so nervous about going back, but I got too; I must face that fear. I can't shy away from challenges, I must "Face My Fears." Believe it or not, when you face a fear like a big hill, I can guarantee that it will carry over to other areas of your life, and you will find yourself having courageous conversations, being more confident in the work place, setting limits on your life, renting a car and driving across the country alone etc. But no one can do it for you, you have to "Stand Up for Yourself."

I really have a lot of hope for all of the students whom I teach. I really hope that they discover their talents, study, respect their parents, value education, cultivate a love for reading etc. I can hope all day and pray about it and preach about it, but I can't do it for them. They must "Stand Up for Themselves."

Today, my heart is not so glad, because today, for some reasons, I really want people, including myself to "Stand Up for Ourselves" and really enjoy all of the things that were created just for us.

Here are some quotes from Toni Robbins:
"Turn your fear into power (faith)."
"Get out and start doing something!"

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Gerald's Game by Stephen King

The Gifted Writer Stephen King!

Stephen King is a ridiculously, creative writer. When I read the things that he write about, I wonder, "Where did he get those ideas?" I would love to talk to him just to see if I can understand the way that this man, with such a gifted talent for writing, thinks. (I must admit that I am extremely attracted to smart men.)

One of the first books that I read by Stephen King was Pet Semetary, and boy was I scared. Who thinks of the idea of burying an animal or a person and it or he/she coming back to life? When I read that book, I think that I was in my twenties, and I still have those vivid images in my mind and still can not bring myself to read that book again. Eventhough I really, really loved it, I just don't like being scared. I need to have someone in the bed with me every night in order to read this book again.

Some other great works by Stephen King are The Green Mile, Carrie, Cujo, Misery, just to name a few.

While on my weekend trip with my great friend Margaret and her travel company Journeys of Serendipity, we discussed books a whole lot, and one of the ladies suggested Gerald's Game by Stephen King. I already know that it is difficult to go wrong with Stephen King, so I downloaded Gerald's Game as soon as I got back home.

I have been reading a lot of books that were just good stories like The Hunger Games, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and I wanted to stay on this trend of reading good fiction novels, so I started reading Gerald's Game. All I can do is "wave my hand." This book was completely mind blowing.

What I like about this book more than anything was the storyline: a lady and her husband go to their summer home to have sex, and he dies.... Ok! The dog gone man dies while the lady is chained to the bed. This happens very close to the beginning of the book, and the next 300 or so pages is this lady dealing with her past, trying to escape and stay alive. Quite a thriller.

The other thing that I really loved about this book is the writing. Here is one of the poetic lines from this novel: "Time was a cold sea through which her consciousness forged like a waddling, graceless, icebreaker." Who thinks of a line like this, and didn't that line do a great job of creating a vivid picture in your mind? His writing is what makes his books so memorable. Once he creates that very clear picture in the reader's mind, it is difficult to forget the characters, the setting, the storyline etc. The man can write.

Now, you want to know if the lady escaped from the house, and if she escaped, how did she do it? Well, My Dear Reader, you must read the book to find out :)

Happy Reading!!!!

May all of your days be filled with great books!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

It's My One Year Anniversary, and I'm just getting started!

Committed and Dedicated to my health
and happy about it. Look at that smile!

I've been a regular physical activity girl for quite awhile, but today, April 26, marks one year that I have been working out with the greatest trainer in the world, Berhane, and my life will never be the same. I must proudly say that I have NEVER missed an appointment since I started working out with Berhane. Once I commit to something, I see it to the end unless it just doesn't work.

About two months before my one year anniversary of working out with Berhane, the greatest trainer in the world, I started getting excited. I told him that on my anniversary I wanted him to take me to McDonald's, and I wanted him to buy me anything that I wanted. Of course this was a joke, because there is no way that I will eat anything that comes from McDonald's.

But on a serious note, I was really thinking that after a year of working out with Berhane and incorporating everything, and I mean everything that he has taught me into my life, I really thought that I should be able to  relax. I was going to workout and eat without giving it much thought. Just relish in my accomplishments. I thought that after a year, I could coast alone and maintain.

Berhane quickly told me that "I sounded like a loser." Very hard pill to swallow, but after he explained it to me more, and I REALLY thought about it, I got the point.

Who gets to the top of their game and relax? Do you think that Beyonce, Bill Gates, the founder of Facebook, President Obama, Oprah Winfrey, Drake or anyone else who is at the top of their game is relaxing? I must continue to focus on being stronger, riding my bike and running faster and for longer distances, always look for ways to improve my diet etc. I'm really just getting started.

I really thought about the idea that I thought that I could relax since I am at the top of my health game. How many of us have reached our goal weight, relaxed, and slowly, but surely, went back to old habits and gained back every one of the pounds that we lost and some? When it comes to our health and many other areas of our lives, we can never relax. We can't have our dream career and relax. We must work to keep that dream career a reality. We can't get married to the guy or girl of our dreams and have kids and then relax. We must work to keep the marriage strong and happy and work equally hard to raise our children to be happy, productive people. There is no time for relaxing!!!!

I must quote my favorite blogger Erika:

You must be vigilant. Not because one cookie is sooo bad for your diet (and, depending on how small you are, it actually could be), but because if you are breaking from a sugar habit, even the slightest act of submission can result in it coming back full force. If you’ve gone weeks without sweets, you’re training your mind to forget that sweets work as a means of making you “feel better.” When you give in – even the slightest bit – you remind your brain again, and you give the compulsion more power. You can’t do that… which is why I say it may take months or even years to fully defeat. I don’t get cravings for sweets at this point and can go to parties without eating the cake offered there. I can even bite into a cookie, and not eat the other half (especially if it’s a crap cookie, and you can usually tell.) It just requires a lot of thought, a lot of vulnerability – you’ll now be dealing with lots of emotions, especially during your cycle – and a lot… and I mean lot of honesty. If you’re only “a few weeks in,” you’re not ready to test yourself. Excerpted from Q&A Wednesday: Menstrual Cravings & Defeating The Sugar Demon | A Black Girl's Guide To Weight Loss
I love Erika's blog......

After working out with Berhane, the greatest  trainer in the world, for a year, here are a few things that I have learned and made apart of my life:
  • I'm just getting started and will not stop until I leave this planet.
  • The insides of my body are so much more important than the outside. I do want to be appealing to my eyes, but I think so much more about what I do to the insides that contribute either positively or negative to my outsides.
  • It's been confirmed to always work hard and try to go to the next level, not to please others, but I do it for myself; it makes me feel great. Guess what? This idea has carried over to other areas of my life: career, relationships, biking, running etc.Working hard ain't easy, but it sure is fair.
  • Alcohol is a poison, and I should limit my intake. It is impossible to go to my maximum health consuming alcohol on a regular basis. 
  • Eat to live, not live to eat. Food can kill.....
  • I can sneak and eat whatever I want too, but the body does not know how to keep a secret; it tells everything.
  • Hips are not hereditary. That is where my family may store fat. Once I lowered my body fat, the hips dwindled down.
  • Sugar is the enemy and should be limited and/or avoided.
  • If I eat things that are good for my body, I will never have to count calories again. HALLELUJAH!!!!!
  • Stay off of the scale and get my body fat checked often. Over Christmas, I lost two pounds, but my body fat went up 1%, and that's bad news.
  • It's not how much I eat, it's what I eat that really matters.
  • Being healthy has no goal, it's for a lifetime.
  • Make NO excuses. Either I am going to do, or I'm not.
  • Good or bad results are depended upon what I do consistently.
  • I NEED other people on this journey; I can do it by myself, but I don't want too.

This year of working out with Berhane has been an investment in myself that I definitely do not regret. I am looking forward to getting leaner, stronger, and finer.....(Ok Berhane, I know I shouldn't worry about being fine, but please let me have my moment.)

Here's what I have been doing over the past year:

Part 1: The waist!

Part 2: The Waist!

I hate doing pushups, but I love having a strong upper body!

Doing a push and rolling a ball from side to side. TOUGH!

Part 1: Squat with the sand bag!

Part 2: Squat with the sand bag!

Push up on the bench!

Part 1: The back!

Part 2: The Back!

Squats with the bar!

Part 1: The Kettle Bell!

Part 2: Kettle Bell!

Part 3: Kettle Bell!

Part 1: The Pull-Up

Part 2: The Pull Up!

Part 3: The Pull Up!

Lunge to the left!

Lunge to the right!

Had to show the squat with the sandbag again. This
exercise makes me feel invincible!!!!!

At the end of a workout!

Phyiscally and Emotionally I am in a GOOD place! Why don't you join me?

As stated before "Hard Work Ain't Easy, but it's fair!!!!!!

Results are based upon effort always!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Atonement: Making of Reparations
for a Sin or Mistakes!
Everyday, we are in some way or the other, whether we know it or not, doing things that we may need to atone for. Recently, an incident came up in my life, and I really can not remember if I did something to this person in order to get the response that I recieved. I really pondered this situation and even called a few people whom I knew would tell me the "truth," and I still could not figure out if there was anything that I did to this person that I needed to atone for. To this end, I have decided unless they tell me what I did to them to elicit such a response, it is impossible for me to atone for it, and I guess there will be no atonement.

However, the main character, Briony, in Atonement by Ian McEwan, did something that she really needed to atone for, but throughout this entire novel, I had to ask myself time and time again, if she should atone for something that she did as a kid.

So, Briony, basically spends the rest of her life trying to atone for something that she did when she was thirteen years old. She told a lie that really impacted or almost ruined so many other people's lives. However, the two main people whose lives were effected the most, her sister and the guy whom she loved and he loved her back, had three request of Briony to atone for what she did, but it is not clear in the book whether or not she ever did those three things.

McEwan is a gifted writer and storyteller who knows how to tell a story from different perspectives and with a tinge of mystery. We get to know about many of the characters' thoughts and perspectives which really makes the reader sympathetic to them. He unravels the truth very slowly and this makes the reader wants to keep on reading. I was not too happy with the ending, because I always want too see lovers live happily ever after although I know that this is not always the way things end.

This book made me think a lot about love and forgiveness and the idea that we are commanded to love and forgive. Neither love or forgiveness are easy when we must love and forgive people whom we do not want to. In the case of Briony, I can understand why her sister and her lover wanted to stop loving her and never forgive her. I know for me that I would have wanted to torture her and then maybe I would have been able to love and then forgive her. In the case with my friend that I mentioned earlier, I know that I will continue to love and will forgive, but there will have to be some changes in the relationship if I did not do anything to solicit such a response, and I do believe that change is good.

If you want a book that is well-written and is about about love, class, WWII, and atonement, than this is the book for you.

Ian McEwan

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Phoenix, Lionel Richie, and Jesus!!!!

(There is a point to this post; just follow closely. You know how I can ramble sometimes.)

Eudora Welty

One of my favorite short stories is " A Worn Path" by Eudora Welty, a writer from Jackson Mississippi who wrote about Southern Life. In this story, the main character is an elderly African American woman "Phoenix, who makes a periodic journey into town to obtain medicine for her little grandson, who has swallowed lye and will probably never wholly recover. Phoenix has made this journey so often that she can do it by a kind of interior radar, and thus her mind is free to wander while her feet stay on track. She meets only one person on the road, and thus the beginning of the story is dictated by her interior thoughts, which are somewhat confused and therefore confusing to us, the readers" (Storybites). It is implied that each time she makes this journey it's like a rebirth for Phoenix; she gathers new strength and makes this trip with renewed determination.

So, I want to think that Eudora Welty named the main character after the phoenix from Greek mythology. "The phoenix is consistently characterized as a bird with brightly colored plumage, which, after a long life, dies in a fire of its own making only to rise again from the ashes. The most universal characteristic is the bird's ability to resurrect. Because it is reborn from its own death, the phoenix also took on the characteristics of regeneration and immortality" (New World Encyclopedia). Are you seeing the connection between the two Phoenixs who both experienced a type of rebirth. (Keep following me as I make a leap.)

On a road trip during my Springbreak last week, I downloaded the new country CD "Tuskegee" by Lionel Richie. Listening to that CD, I felt a new love for Lionel and songs that were written and song in the 70s and the 80s: "Say You, Say Me," "Easy Like Sunday Morning," "Endless Love" etc.  Then I thought about the short story "A Worn Path," the phoenix from Greek mythology, and Jesus: Resurrection. (Being on the road gave me a lot of time to think, maybe too much time.) Lionel is experiencing a rebirth or resurrection like the Phoenixs and Jesus.

Lionel Back in the Day!

Lionel Today. HOT!!!!!!!

However, it's Easter Sunday, and many people are celebrating the ultimate Resurrection. The resurrection of Jesus Christ. I believe that all rebirths or resurrections are modeled after the resurrection of Jesus Christ; killed but rose three days later and has given us a chance to reconnect with God, assures us that we will rise again, confirms that justice will prevail, fufills the prophecy of the Bible etc. 

Today, Easter Sunday, I am reflecting on resurrection and the fact that we all get new chances everyday to resurrect ourselves, our lives, how we see things etc just like Phoenix from "A Worn Path," the phoenix from Greek Mythology, Lionel Richie and JESUS.

Thank You God for Resurrection!

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