Reflections

In typical Cadacia fashion, as the year draws to a close, I find myself in a conscious overwhelming state of reflection. My mind is overcome with thoughts of the many events that have occurred over this past year, how I feel about my 2017 as a whole, what I have done well, what I am ashamed of and what I would like to improve upon for the upcoming year. I also found myself thinking a lot about change and how the embarkation of a new year does not have to warrant change. Instead, individuals warrant that change.

So here is a little bit of transparency for you: Within the last four months of the year, I have not attended the gym with the same level of frequency as I have been over these past 3 years.  Just this morning, I tried to evaluate my current situation in determining why it has been so difficult for me to make it to the gym. My conclusion is that I have placed an overwhelming amount of items on my plate. While the goal has always been to eat, I am realizing that with age, my metabolism is slowing down. There is a ton that I want and need to consume, yet, I am not able to work off the weight as easily as I once was. My goals and visions for my life continue to grow, yet, I cannot juggle all at once like I could do at one point in time.

What does this have to do with change? This has EVERYTHING to do with change, especially in the area of mindset. I am learning to adjust my mindset about my physical capacity to accomplish my goals. I still think it is of great importance to maintain my health through proper nutrition and exercise. I also think it is important that I continue to leverage myself academically and professionally. With that, something will lack a little. I can continue to eat well, exercise and work on my career, however, I cannot devote as much time to all of these things at once. I have to prioritize and that is what change will look like for me moving forward. I am refocusing on my academic and career goals first. I can simultaneously eat well, yet, workout a little less. That. Is. Ok. I am learning to be ok with that and, even more, learning to silence the background noise; the voices that question why I haven't been to the gym; the voices that question my gains. My gains will show up in other places until I can get back to re-prioritizing the gym. So in closing, the ultimate reflection for 2017 is that all of its events have led me to my current state and that is learning to be ok with where I am.

Gentle

There is something about reaching the end of the workweek that excites me more and more, as it approaches every single week. On Fridays, my smile is much brighter; there is an extra pep in my step. I play my praise and worship music on my way into work a little bit louder. Ultimately, I feel most grateful for everything concerning my life on Fridays. I look forward to the weekend with a mind-racing full of the endless possibilities of the things I could do to be productive; how I can work towards making the upcoming week better than the last? With the happiness that accompanies my Fridays, I’ve begun a new Friday ritual that has made me even happier. Once the outdoor sunlight settles for the evening and the heat within my apartment rises, I feel charged to make my “me” time a full on experience. I deem this the “self-care” experience.

I will preface my “self-care” experience in saying that I have read my share of articles that discuss all of the things that self-care is not and lists an array of misconceptions about self-care. Something I’ve learned is that self-care has everything to do with self and what makes self feel good in every capacity of the word. With this, my experience begins with me lighting my momentary favorite candle. I, then, work towards making my home mimic the calmness that comes from the sun going down by either dimming the lights within my own home or completely shutting them off. Afterwards, I turn up the tune of whatever melody perpetuates the joy that I’m met with every Friday and continue this rhythm by running a shower.

This shower is incomplete without a trial run of lathering black soap, followed by gentle rubs of Trader Joe’s Lavender Sea Salt Scrub. The scent and sensation of the salt grains against my skin are well deserved and that is realized over and over again as I continue to scrub. The crystals work effortlessly to cleanse me of all that has been poured in over the course of, yet another, intense workweek. My shower is not concluded without Trader Joe’s Tea Tree Face Wash. One pump, simple lather, face feeling refreshed. Once out of the shower, I love on my skin some more by moisturizing with a combination of coconut oil and tea tree oil. This moment is sealed when I take the time to be still, even if for five minutes and concentrate on my thoughts. The weeks are so tough and overloaded with things to do that I never allow myself the mental space to think and simply be still. Once my moment of silence is complete, I either pour myself a glass of water or (if I’m feeling extra fancy) fill up my champagne flute with Trader Joe’s Sparkling Pink Lemonade. (I know, TJ’s should be paying me for the amount of times that I endorse them.)

Up until I started to do this without much thought, I never realized how much joy it brought me nor did I realize how much I need(ed) it. Although this Friday ritual has only recently begun, I have taken this year to tap into my self-care a little more. Some things I have done are making my manicures a priority by scheduling appointments that I have not deviated from (until I realized the chemicals were ruining my nails). I have also scheduled massages when I can and they have made a world of a difference. I work hard and am even harder on myself. It is always nice when I get the opportunity to do the smallest of things to appreciate myself …because we all know that NO ONE can love you like you! I’m learning to be gentler with myself and if you didn’t get anything else from this post, get that. Be gentle and kind to you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reasons Why I'd Choose Cuba Over and Over Again

Upon returning from my trip to Cuba, I felt refereshed, fulfilled and at peace. The lingering moments made me remember how neccessary it is to vacation and disconnect from the hustle and bustle of every day life. Cuba was just that for me. Although I have vacationed many times before, there was something special about this trip that prompted me to compile a list of reasons why I'd choose Cuba over and over again.

1. The prominence of the African Diaspora

I'll let you all in on a little secret: remnants of the African Diaspora exist all over the world. Something else I should let you know is that existence of the diaspora does not always warrant knowledge of being part of it. To my surprise, however, Cubans are so woke. A lot of them possess just as much (even more) mealnin as (than) I and they know that their ethnicity cannot be defined as solely Cuban/ latinos. The evidence of the diaspora was prevalent in their appearance (obviously), hair, skin, style of dress, cultural traditions. Their appreciation for their heritage was made apparent to me, when they would compliment me. The compliments were not out of a spirit of fetishization. Instead, it was almost as if they were looking into a mirror and as they graciosuly offered compliments to me, it reflected back on them and how beautiful they are. I loved that. 

2. The Genuity of The People

I have traveled to many Caribbean and tropical islands. Naturally I have met a ton of people in my travels and have availed myself of the different personalities. There was a genuine warmth protruding from the people of Cuba. Most of the people we interacted with possessed such beautiful spirits and took on the responsibility of ensuring that we had a safe and enjoyable experience.

3. Feels Like Home

In continuing with the genuity of the Cuban people, I felt like I was at home. The first Air BnB we stayed at emanated a strong sense of home. We felt comfortable the moment we walked through the door of our "flat." This sense of comfortability was only heightened when we started each morning with a home cooked breakfast from one of the hosts. While the breakfasts were very simple, they were fulfilling and forged a sense of community and familial living. Our host gave us "mami" vibes instead of that of simply a "host." (What felt like) our personal taxi driver instilled a sense of saftey and instead of simply providing a service, it felt like our friend has come to pick us up and hang out with us for the day.

4. To practice my Spanish with folks who want to practice their English.

The truth is, anytime I travel to a country where the dominant language is Spanish, I leap at the opportunity to be able to practice mine! Although, I am fortunate enough to have a job that forces me to use it, there is nothing like being immersed in a country; a culture that forces you to navigate pieces of its culture through the usage of the language. To my surprise, there are a lot of Cubans who speak English as well. Being amongst people who valued my language so much so that they wanted to practice speaking with me was a win win! We exchanged our desire to know more by speaking our second languages to one another. How beautiful is that?

5. Simple Living --Cheap Cheap

Being socialized in a very American culture is a severe disease that I can always place a band aide over whenever I travel. Being able to go abroad and observe how simple others live (out of neccessity) is one of the most humblest expereinces life has ever afforded to me. Cubans do not make much monthly. The way to assess the level of wealth of a Cuban is if they have one or two of the following items: a cellphone; a car. Those who do not possess one or either of these are among the majority and that is ok. Cubans are people who are at such peace with what they have. Majority of their money goes to travel expenses and food for the home (which isn't that much becasue they can grow their own produce). Majority of the money my girls and I spent while there was on food and transportation. The "lavish" lifestyle is almost nonexistent and the beauty in this is that the country is not plagued by the superficial.

6. Eat well

Speaking of the American plague, Cuba made me realize more and more how much of a terror my home country is. This was evidenced in the food I ate whle in Cuba. It was some of the freshest and purest food I have EVER consumed in my entre life. Why? It isn't saturated with hormones and all that extra artificial stuff that our country markets to us as organic, steriod free, hormone free, gluten free, etc. The food there is homegrown (aka truly organic) and its cheap because it is not out sourced. This ensures that there is no reason to "preserve" the food before it gets to us. 

7. To Disconnect

I could not use my cell phone while in Cuba because there was no internet access. It was lovely living in each and every moment. I was void of social media and was not consuming myself with what everyone else back at home was doing. I was not texting others and checking in or filling in about my trip as it was happening. I recieved the opptounity to be completely present and live through each moment so that I could recount a FULL experience upon my return.

7. Beach Life

My vacations are totally incomplete without at least one beach day. Varadero was breath taking and absolutely perfect. I was able to sport my new swim suit and accessorized it with my new body (that I did not know existed underneath my clothes). I could see my toes at the bottom of the clear blue water. I could lay on the beach chair, left alone to my thoughts. I could play my gospel music and give God glory for the mighty works of his hand that include the beach!

8. Direct flight! Hello?

Getting a direct flight has been a steady struggle for me. The fact that Delta airlines would show me so much love and grant me a direct 4 hour flight to Cuba wa certainly a highlight of this trip!

While this list could certainly go on and on, I stop it here. That trip was a total life changing experience and if you had the slightest desire to take a trip to Cuba, it is my hope that this list influenced your thoughts in a positive way.

An Ode To Men in The Gym

Dear Brolic (and not-so-brolic) Men in The Gym,

Let me begin by, first painting a picture for you: It is Saturday afternoon. Approximately 3pm. It's a rare sighting that I'd be in the gym at this particular time on a Saturday. To my delight & surprise I discover that the gym is bare. Most equipment is free of bodies & fresh sweat. Replacing the stinging stench of sweat is the sweet scent of GAINS pervading my nostrils.

My body gravitates towards one of the three squat racks which I actually have the liberty of choosing. As I alternate between my squats and jumping rope, a short man waltzes over and thoughtlessly interjects. As he slowly begins to replace the weights I have on, it occurs to him to ask if I'm using the squat rack. "No sir. My towel is simply adorning it for decoration and my water bottle is only a focal point as I jump." In actuality my lips spew, "I am," as my eyes beg to question why he'd even...

 

This man among others is the reason I saw a need for this letter; the letter that has been brewing throughout the crevices of my mind for quite some time. So here is an ode to you; a list of "dont's" I've taken the liberty of compiling as a result of dealing with you. Take heed.

  1. Do not assume that I am done or not using something because I am two feet away. You don't do it to other men and I'm not the one.
  2. Do not hover over me as I get my sets in on the squat rack. There are other (male) occupied racks that you can go to and  inquire about.
  3. Do not low-key, yet high-key bore a hole in my back as I'm doing squats. Shockingly, I can feel your lusty lingering eyeballs. I can also see you through that magical device that happens to display reflections. 😉(Message: Its quite creepy.)
  4. The gym isn't yours! When I come in, I'm looking to workout just as you are. I like lifting weights too. If you are doing a circuit workout which consists of the usage of various machines, you gone have to give one up bruh.
  5. Although, I am open to assistance, I don't always want your help. I, generally am doing it right and I can show you better than I can tell you.
  6.   Men and women have different body make-ups. This means your tips on nutrition may not always work for me. Why? Well, you can eat whatever you want, come into the gym, kill two hours & magically obtain a six pack. I, on the other hand, am required to eat a consistently clean diet (one cheat meal a week) and work out for similar results. (Salty much? Maybe a tad.)

 

My final request is that you would recount  all of the thoughtfully crafted points outlined here the next time you're in the gym and happen to consider how you will interact with a woman you encounter. Thank me later.

 

Signed,

Yet Another Chick Who Lifts