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15 Reasons Why Your 30s are DOPE!

“I am currently thirty five and I feel that I am in a much better place than I was in my twenties.”

Loc’d and Loaded

I have had hair issues since I was young. I am so grateful now for my hair journey because it helped me appreciate where I am and how I take care of my daughter’s hair.

Table of Contents:

Girls’ Day in the City

Phantom

Level Up

River Tubing

Peace that Surpasses All Understanding

Girls’ Trip

Writing My first Book

Kareem

My UTI Saved My Life

15 Reasons Why Your 30s are DOPE!

I am currently thirty five and I feel that I am in a much better place than I was in my twenties. The biggest reason is because I have officially given up. Not given up on life, but given up on trying to live up to the expectations of others. I choose to live my life the way I want to. I choose to give myself the luxuries I was never afforded as a person who grew up in poverty. I didn’t realize I deserved this until I entered my thirties. At first, some of my peers made fun of my experiences. Now, that they see the joy I have in my life, they want to be a part of it. Well, I decided to let all of you in on my secrets!

  1. Finances

When I began teaching, I could barely afford my apartment. It was awful. I lived off of hotdogs and breakfast as dinner. So, I decided to go to grad school to earn a masters. The hope was to increase my salary. I did get a higher salary, but I also gained more student loan debt. I also traded in my car every few years. It created a ton of negative equity in each car I bought. But something happened. A few years ago, I had to file bankruptcy. It only cleared the debt relating to my business, but I still had to pay off my own personal debt. After hitting thirty, I noticed I was much closer to retirement (in EDU you can retire after 28 years, I’m in year 13). I became a little nervous and uncomfortable. So, I made a conscious effort to begin paying down debt. I followed the Dave Ramsey method. I’ve begun living off of a percentage of my income. I sent a percentage to savings each month. I pay down my credit cards little by little. So far, I have paid off two in the last year. Now, I’m also looking into stocks and rental investment properties to help me move into retirement more smoothly.

  1. Hair Stylist

I have locs, so I haven’t needed a hair stylist in years. However, since turning thirty, I have begun to need certain services. I started seeing greys! So, I periodically visit my hair stylist to get my hair dyed. I do not recommend doing this at home, by yourself. Allow professionals to handle chemicals.

  1. Skincare

I had a ton of acne growing up and my skin is sensitive. If I pick at a bump, it turns black. Now, since visiting my esthetician and getting facials, my skin glows. Peers from back in the day asked if I bleached my skin. I try to get facials every month or so. At home, I use a facial scrub twice a week to decrease new acne. I also use tea tree oil to moisturize my skin. I also use my exfoliator on my entire body once per week. It makes my body feel super soft.

  1. Get Checked

A few months ago, I had a health scare. I hadn’t been to the doctor in years. The only reason I went was because I had a UTI. After getting checked, I had early warning signs of cancer. I am so glad they caught that. I had to have minor surgery to get it removed. The scary part is that if I hadn’t had an issue, I probably would not have caught it soon enough. Don’t take your health lightly. Diabetes and high blood pressure plague our community. Get checked. For everything!

  1. Wax/ Vajacial

The older I get, the more hair I seem to have. After a while, I was tired of shaving. The hair grows back more coarse and more often. So, I decided it was time to make a change. Waxing was the best thing I could have ever done. I only have to go once every 6 weeks. The hair stays gone longer and grows in silkier. The vajacial helps your skin stay smooth and makes the color more even. It’s beautiful!

  1. Glasses

I began having headaches when I turned thirty. I thought it was high blood pressure or something. Then, one day I began typing my symptoms into Google. I made an appointment to get my eyes checked. Yup, I couldn’t see. I got my first pair of glasses and my whole world changed. I could see shapes and colors I couldn’t see before. I have astigmatism. The world isn’t supposed to jump…lol

  1. Social Media

Just like Marie Kondo tells you to remove things that do not bring you joy, you need to remove people or pages on your social media that doesn’t bring you joy. If you’re not vibing with someone or something is posted that offends you, delete it. Remove it from your life. That disconnect helps you clear out the negative energy.

  1. Friendships

Similarly to social media, you need to review your friend circle to see if anyone needs to be removed. Everyone in your circle is not rooting for you. If the conversation gets dry when you’re telling them something you’ve achieved, let them go. Also, your friends should be motivating you to grow. If they are doing the same things they were doing years ago, they’re stagnant. Get new friends. 

  1. Massages

This year, I put a lot of strain on my body from working out. It got so bad that I was limping. Epsom salt baths were not doing it for me anymore. I began researching the best masseuses in the city. I found one in University and it has been the best thing. I get a 2 hour massage once a month. It has helped me relax and deal with my stress. Best investment I’ve made in a long time.

  1. Travel

Like I mentioned in one of my previous posts, travel is paramount to my survival. My first international trip was to the UK in college. The bug bit me and I haven’t been able to shake it since. Travel gives me something to look forward to. I try to take mini trips once per month, like a road trip or weekend getaway. Then, like twice a year, I try to take big trips. International. Festivals. Either alone or with friends.

  1. Style

As a little girl, I watched a ton of movies and read a ton of magazines. I always wanted to dress like Robin Givens on Boomerang. So, when I became a professional, I began to find clothes to complete that look. I still follow fashion blogs and social media accounts for inspiration. What I have found is you feel better when you love how you look. If you don’t like how you look in your clothes, exercise. I work out at least 3 days per week. This keeps my self-esteem high!

  1. Homes

Find a home that feels good to you. Don’t live above your means. Make your home feel good to you. Decorate for your personal style. I prefer a home that feels lived in. I use warm colors that hide spills. I have two kids and pets! If you prefer fancy, though, go with it. I also chose to buy a home that costs way less than I can afford because I want to use my money to help me feel good. I’m barely home during the week, so I didn’t want a home that took all my money out of my pocket.

  1. Workshops/ Conferences

Always look for ways to improve yourself. Whether it’s work related or personal, do something that helps you grow. You’ll feel better. Plus, you’ll see the world through a new lens. You may also develop new skills that could profit you in the future.

14. Family!

Spend time with them. You never know when they will no longer be here with you. You begin to realize that in your 30s.

15. Toys

Whether it’s outdoors or indoors, find something you can enjoy. Outdoors, I enjoy my paddleboard and bike. Inside, you can play with something that makes you warm 🙂 Don’t feel ashamed to enjoy yourself, whether it’s with someone or alone.

What’s something you learned after 30? Like, Comment, Share 🙂

Loc’d and Loaded

I have had hair issues since I was young. I am so grateful now for my hair journey because it helped me appreciate where I am and how I take care of my daughter’s hair.

When I was a toddler, I had no hair. Ok, maybe I lied, I had a few square patches of hair. My braids typically looked like Coolio. As I grew older and prepared for kindergarten, my mom hooked me up. Not really. She gave me Jerry Curls. Lord have mercy. I bopped around kindergarten dripping everywhere. I didn’t know enough to be embarrassed, but I knew I didn’t like it.

My aunt Wendy and I in front of Burger King

When I got to first or second grade, my mom began putting in those box perms (relaxer). She didn’t use Just for Me or other kiddie perms, she used the actual grown women ones. It tore my hair up! My hair became dry and brittle. Part of the problem, looking back, is that my mom didn’t take care of my hair after putting those chemicals in my hair. She rarely moisturized or conditioned it. It was just dry from wash to wash. She never taught me how to take care of my hair.

Wednesday Bible Study

After years of anguish, I became a teenager. A friend of mine had a sister who did hair at the local mall. So, I spoke with her and she agreed that if I swept up periodically, she’d do my hair for a discounted rate. Best decision ever!! So, I got my Halle Berry cut and rocked it all through high school. My hair was the healthiest it’s ever been. The next problem was college.

Senior Year at OW

I went to college in a different city and didn’t know anyone. Before I left, I got braids done, hoping it would last long enough to find a hairstylist. Luckily, I was blessed. I met two great friends who hooked me up, Mikey and Krystal. By the way, Mikey is now a well renowned hair stylist. These two would do my hair for little to no payment, as we were broke college kids. I am forever grateful.

College of Charleston

Once I graduated and began my career, I went back down a familiar path. I resumed going to the hair salon. Now, I could actually afford to pay full price and not have to clean up. But, around this time (2008) something interesting happened. The movie “Good Hair” with Chris Rock came out. I watched the documentary and was dumbfounded. No one had ever explained how terrible hair chemicals were, especially to black women. Women had calcium build up on their skulls and were losing hair. I felt aghast. I knew I had to make some changes.

So, I immediately decided to go natural. I decided that my last relaxer was my last relaxer. I had to do a ton of research to figure out how to take care of my natural hair. There wasn’t much information out there since many black women hadn’t made this transition yet. I decided to do a slow transition as opposed to the big chop. I wasn’t ready for that. I slowly let my hair grow out, week by week. However, after a few weeks, I went ahead and chopped it off because having the straight ends on super curly hair looked crazy.

I rocked my fro for a few weeks before I became tired of caring for it. My stylist didn’t like caring for it either; she was old school. She was not very pleased that I was no longer paying a million dollars for a relaxer every 6 weeks. I began to take care of my own hair. I went on a spending spree buying all of these different products. My styles rarely turned out how I wanted them. I settled with rocking an afro. 

After a year, I became inspired by Lauryn Hill, Ledisi, and Lalah Hathaway. I decided to grow locs. Working in schools and having old school parents, this was not a popular decision. However, I knew it was right for me. I had no hair care experience and I needed something simple, easy, and adorable. I began my loc journey in 2009. It was one of the best decisions I ever made.

I began with small little twists. I used to wash my hair with a stocking cap on to prevent the twists from unraveling. It took nearly 3 months for my hair to bud. Budding is when your hair begins to form locs and grow together. At this point, you’re in the “ugly” phase. But I don’t look at it as ugly. I look at it as a time you grow to love yourself. You begin to understand your hair and accept who you are as a person.

Taking care of locs is simple. I wash my hair once every 3 weeks. My favorite hair care line is TPH by Taraji P. Henson. After washing it, I retwist it. This can take between two and four hours, depending on how distracted I am. Then, I either wear it straight, do braids for curls, or use pipe cleaners for wavy hair. Each day, I moisturize with a product that has biotin. It keeps my hair strong at the roots. My styles typically last until my next wash.

I have been growing my locs for nearly 12 years now. I am so glad I chose to do this. My only regret is not starting sooner.

Girls’ Day in the City

Having a family with four people can be great. But sometimes, the girls need time to themselves. Sometimes the boys (my husband and son) take off to do outdoor activities like riding ATVs or going fishing. On those special occasions, my daughter and I take the opportunity to pamper ourselves. The plus about living in a city like ours is that there is so much to do. We never run out of fun activities. I cannot wait for her to get older, so we can do bigger trips. Mexico, give us 7 years…lol. Many of the places we visit are accessible by the train. We love taking the train Uptown.

Self Care

In the mornings, we start by primping. I have dreads, so I only get color done at salons. However, the princess regularly gets her hair done. Our favorite stylist, Mr. Robert, owns Beautiful Essence Salon in Rivergate Shopping Center. He has been her stylist since she was 3 years old. Whether your hair is natural or relaxed, he can hook you up. The man has skills, and he is the only one who can do her hair without her crying (she’s tender-headed). 

Of course with hair comes nails. We have two salons we visit regularly. Most open early, like 9am. They have chairs that fit adults and little people. Plus, the cost is so low for the little people that you don’t mind if she messes her nails up by the end of the day. I usually get gel because I’m rough at my house and my job. I let her get regular…she doesn’t need to get baked…lol. Being that they have so many chairs, we are not in there long. The service is spectacular and the ambiance cannot be matched!

Nail Studio– Fort Mill: they get to know you by name!

Wet Paint Nail Bar- Steele Creek: they serve adult drinks 🙂

Entertainment

After getting our girly fix, we usually need some form of entertainment. No matter what you’re into, Charlotte can fulfill your needs. If you want to go outside, there are tons of parks: Freedom, Independence, Romare Bearden, and First Ward are my favorite. We usually pack a picnic (I keep a blanket in my trunk) and head that way. If I didn’t fix anything at home, I just pick up take out or dessert. 

If you’re more into academics, I recommend Discovery Place. There are three different places. Discovery Place Kids is located in Huntersville and has so many science related play spaces. They have a water station, first responders section and a grocery/restaurant section. For a style related more to hiking, visit Discovery Place Nature Center near Tyvola. The center houses different biomes and information centers. Lastly, for a cool tech scene, visit Discovery Place Uptown. They have stem kits and a large IMAX screen for science based movies. Another great visit, that’s not related to Discovery Place, is the Sea-Life Aquarium in Concord. It boasts sharks, stingrays, and a variety of other fish and coral. Finally, you have to check out the coolest library in America, ImaginOn. It has cool exhibits, tons of books, and offers unique programs that include children, for children.

Food

My favorite part of our girls’ day is the food. We don’t eat much, but we enjoy eating. Our favorite food is pizza, but occasionally we try things outside of that genre. We love food that’s photo friendly and yield enough for to-go boxes. We’ll eat the leftovers for dinner. Here’s some of our favorite spots!

Fahrenheit

Vapiano

Cuzzo’s Cuisine

Nappy Chef

Mellow Mushroom

The Pump House

Flower Child

Zoe’s Kitchen

Nana Morrison’s Soul Food

Fuel Pizza

Merts

7th Street Restaurant

Stats

Sonny’s BBQ

Dessert

After a long day of gallivanting around Charlotte, we like to cool off with a refreshing dessert. For a savory treat, we love donuts from Duck Donuts. If we’re feeling particularly rich, we go to Pop Bar. If I’m on the frugal side, I’ll pop by QT. If we’re just grabbing a quick ice cream, we’ll eat at Sweet Frog or Cold Stone. Sometimes, I’m on a health kick. At those stages in my life, we grab a smoothie at Smoothie King. 

My favorite part of the day, however, is when my daughter says, “This was the BEST day ever!”

Phantom

“Boys, come upstairs for your bath!” I waited at the top of the stairs for the boys to arrive.”Did you pick up behind yourselves?”

“No,” they laughed in unison.

“Where’s your mom?”

“Downstairs on her phone, silly!” the boys giggled.

The twins, Michael and Mitchell, barrelled into the bathroom and tossed their clothes all over the floor. I checked the bath water to make sure that it was not too hot. It was just right, which is good because the boys tumbled in. The water splashed everywhere. Even Though the bathroom was humid, I felt a cold wind breeze on my neck. My mind went down a terrible path. I watch many apparition-based films, but I was not sure whether or not I believed in those things in real life. 

The boys finished up their baths and waddled away into their bedrooms to get dressed. I went into their rooms to retrieve their towels and tossed them back into the bathroom. I waited as they dressed, so I could read their bedtime story and say prayers. I had to fight my feelings of discouragement, as my wife never helps me put the boys to bed.

After reading to the boys and tucking them in, I walked across the hall to our bedroom. I dropped my clothes in the closet and walked to our walk-in shower. I lowered my head as the hot water washed over my body. I felt so alone. I placed my damp feet on the floor mat and grabbed my towel. I dried myself off and placed my towel back on the rack. I tossed my washcloth on the sink, so I could use it in the morning. I crawled in bed alone, again.

I woke up the next morning and left my wife sleeping in the bed. It was 5:45am and I did not want to disturb her. I slipped my feet into my slippers and wrapped my robe around my shoulders. It was a bit chilly in the house; chillier than usual. I felt the hairs standing up on my forearms before sliding them into my robe.

I walked into the bathroom and looked for my washcloth. I looked in the place I left it last night, on the sink, but it was not there. It was folded and placed on the towel rack, squarely on my towel. The bathroom counter was so clean. No hair shavings or dabs of toothpaste. I washed my face and placed my washcloth back on the bathroom counter. I picked up my sonicare toothbrush, dabbed it with charcoal toothpaste, and began to brush my teeth. Speckles of dark toothpaste scattered on the sink, counter and the mirror. I rinsed my mouth out and cleaned the bristles of my toothbrush, then placed it back on the counter.

Walking into my closet, I dropped my robe on the carpet and rummaged through my hanging clothes to select my outfit for the day. I picked a royal blue polo shirt and tan khakis. I unrolled my light brown socks and placed them on my feet, one by one. As I began to step in my shoes, I felt another chill and heard the house knocking. Ghosts aren’t real. Ghosts aren’t real.

As I turned to exit my closet and revisited the bathroom, I noticed my wife sitting on her phone on the toilet. She barely spoke as I walked past. My washcloth was gone off the counter and placed exactly where I found it this morning.  I re-entered my bedroom and bed was made, with the pillows neatly stacked and the corners turned down. My heart began to flutter. I quickly grabbed my phone and headed downstairs. 

Once I got downstairs, I was in shock. The living room floor was completely bare of toys, blankets, and papers. The pillows were neatly stacked on the sofa. I put my hands on my head in shock, so I canvased the remainder of downstairs. The kitchen table was completely wiped clean. There was no food or crumbs left on the counter or stove. There were clean dishes in the dishwasher. The air smelled fresh and clean.

I walked over to make my coffee and toast. I turned the Keurig on and listened to the water spouting out, sounding like ‘The Grudge’. I opened the fridge to find the bread for my toast. There were only 3 slices left. So, I untied the package and pulled two slices out, and placed the package back in the fridge. I closed the fridge door and turned to head back to the counter. I placed my toast in the toaster and proceeded to walk back to the Keurig. I took a paper towel off the rack to wipe up some of the dribble that sprung from my cup. It was the last one on the roll. After wiping it up, I sat the used paper towel on the counter.

I picked up my mug and grabbed my toast. I headed to the table to consume my breakfast. The kids were still asleep in bed. I was so grateful to have some quiet time. Then, all of a sudden, that’s when it happened. The Ghost! I heard a soft grumble turn into loud howling. I was so scared. I looked all around the room, but couldn’t find anything. That’s when I felt the wind. It had been subtle earlier this week, but this time the wind was strong. I began shaking from the chills. Where can I hide? What should I do? I began to cry inside.

Thumps began to pound the steps. The ghost was getting closer. I was perplexed and couldn’t move. As the thumps grew louder, I could visibly see myself shaking. I ran into the pantry and closed the door as much as I could. There was a gap in the door, so I peered out. Suddenly the growl grew louder and closer.

“Get out of the fucking pantry!” my wife screamed. “I’m sick and tired of you! Everyday I have to clean up behind you and these kids. You leave your crap all over the living room. You throw your washcloth all over the bathroom. Look at the paper towel roll. You’re already in the pantry. CHANGE IT!!!! I’m sick of this. I’m sick of you and these ungrateful kids. You complain that I’m on my phone. You know why? Because it’s the only form of peace that I have. I quit. I’m going on vacation for a few days. I’ll decide if I’m coming back.  You figure out how to run this house by yourself.”

I stood there in shock. As I stepped out of the pantry, a few things tumbled off of the bottom shelf. I looked over at my disheveled wife.

“So, we don’t have a ghost in the house?”

Level Up

Today was terrible! My cell phone would not work!

Most mornings, I ride to work with my hip hop blasting and windows wide open. I don’t appear to be thug life, but I love the music and the bass. Today was different. On my ride in, I had a voicemail notification from my boss. I listened to the message, then tried to call him back. Oddly, my phone would not connect. I also noted that I did not have a missed call, so how did I get a voicemail message?

I continued on with my day. When I got to work, I tried to send my usual ‘Good Morning’ messages to my friends. The messages were marked ‘Failed’. I thought, “That’s odd!”  Once I stepped into the school, I connected to the school’s wifi and all of these messages began to pour into my phone. I received 11 texts, 2 from messenger, 1 from WhatsApp, 3 instagram notifications, and 1 facebook notification. Why did I receive all of these messages at the same time?

When I left work, I could no longer respond to messages. So, I tried to call my husband. That’s when I knew something was seriously wrong. I checked the bars at the top of my phone and there was an x in place of the five bars. I was very upset. Between my family and my job, I use my phone for everything; email, calls, texts, social media, and zoom. I felt lost and betrayed.

I rushed home and calmly (not at all) told my husband that we need to go to the Sprint store to figure out what’s wrong with my phone. It felt like I was in a video game. Level 1, we went to the “Sprint store” in Rivergate. It was closed. Apparently, I failed to realize that Sprint and T-Mobile merged. So, we had to drive to a different shopping center to find the T-Mobile store. 

Once we got there, we explained to the tech what was going on. She took my sim card out and tried restarting my phone. It still wouldn’t connect to the network. She told me that I needed a new sim card, but that they do not carry Sprint cards. She directed us to another T-Mobile store, Level 2.

We made it to the second store. We walked straight to the desk and proudly stated that I needed a new sim card. I explained that we went to the previous T-Mobile store and they stated that I needed a new sim card. Without hesitation, the guy went to the back and retrieved one. He came out and took my phone. After several minutes, he looked up at me and said, “It’s not the sim card. I don’t know what’s going on, but even when I put the new one in, it won’t connect to the network.”

 At this point, I was frustrated up to my eyebrow follicles. He also indicated that he can’t do anything, but that I should go to the lead store where they have technicians who specialize in Sprint phones; Level 3. So, I asked, “What time does the store close?” I felt like I was on a bad video game where I had to complete levels to fight the biggest villain at the end to win the game. He indicated that the store closes at 7pm. At this point, it was 6pm. Right as I was about to have an emotional meltdown, it began to rain.

As I walked back to the car, I was at a loss for words. I was hungry, disappointed, and wet from the rain. My husband didn’t speak, as well. We headed over to the LAST LEVEL!! At this point, it was pouring rain and the parking lot was jammed pack. He let me out of the truck in front of the store to find a parking spot. I ran into the store looking crazy. I ran to the desk, nearly crying, and said, “My phone won’t make calls, it’s not my sim card, please HELP!!”.

 The tech looked at me blankly and said, “What type of phone is it and is it Sprint or T-Mobile?” 

“It’s a Samsung Galaxy and I’m with Sprint.”

“Give me your phone. Go walk around, this update will take 10 minutes.”

“Ok,” I said in a raspy voice.

I paced back and forth, waiting for my phone to be fixed. Looking at all the overpriced accessories on the walls. After a while, the tech walked over and handed me my phone.

“Here, it’s fixed.”

“What was wrong with it?”

“When the companies merged, they sent out a network update. Apparently, your phone didn’t get the update. So, I updated it.”

At that moment, I realized where I went wrong. Monday, I got home from work and was utterly exhausted. I remember seeing an update request on my phone. I remember laying in bed and pressing the download button, but that’s the last thing I remember. I fell asleep with my phone in my hand. Apparently, my phone did not finish the update. The next morning, I turned my phone on and went on with my day. The glitch progressively got worse throughout the week. By Wednesday, it barely worked at all.

One thing I learned from this experience is my dependency on my phone. But, how do I get better? Any tips??

I thought a Person Who Hadn’t Been Tubing Said Something….

I’m at least 82% sure I’ll never go tubing again. Not that the experience wasn’t thrilling, I just think it was a one time deal for me. 

A few weeks ago, the minions (my children) and I decided to go tubing. I call them my minions because they are my lifelong sidekicks. We needed something outdoors to do because we were bored. Usually, we go hiking on the weekends. But, we wanted to try something new.

So, I googled every tubing place in a three hour radius from our house. Some places were closed due to Covid. Some places had age restrictions. I googled, searched social media, and finally called a viable option. 

We chose Wilderness Cove Tubing and Camping in Saluda, North Carolina. This location is about 2 hours west of Charlotte, NC. There are about two or three other tubing companies along the same road. I’m sure they are all about the same caliber. However, I like the prices and setup of Wilderness Cove.

That morning, July 3rd, we headed down to Saluda. We took highway 74, then several back roads. The last road down to the tubing location was heavily winding and going down deep. I was afraid my poor little sports car couldn’t take it.

Once we got there, they had plenty of parking. Which was great because it was a holiday weekend. There was a very long line to the paystation. Yes, they take cards and cash. There were two restroom stations. That’s important to me because of the minions. You never know when they’ll have to go. Now, I have to be honest. With the climate of our country, I was a bit nervous. We were the only black people out there when we arrived. However, everyone out there was kind and hospitable, joking with the kids. I felt ZERO tension. After paying and picking up our tubes, we headed over to the river.

I asked the boy if he wanted to tether to us. Wilderness Cove gave us two tethering cords, so the kids would float attached to my float. The boy decided that he did not want to tether to us. I know, I know. I can hear every black momma rolling over on the couch saying, “He doesn’t get a choice. You’re the momma!” Well, I gave him the choice. The girl decided to tether immediately, of course.

The journey began smoothly. The water was calm. We took pictures and videos documenting our journey. But right around 1 quarter into our trip, the water changed. There were tons of rocks, which created rapids. The boy was slightly ahead of us. The water became insanely bumpy. As we rounded the end of the first set of rapids, the boy flipped out of his tube (he had on a life jacket). He floundered in the water in a panic. I was able to grab him by the arms and catch his tube on my foot. In one fell swoop, I used all of my arm and leg strength to toss him into his tube. Thank God I lift at the gym!

He was done! He no longer wanted to tube. The girl and I were still doing ok. She did flip off her tube, but she handled it like a champ. She crawled onto my lap and then scooted into her tube. After the first rapids, my son decided to tether to our tubes. 

All along the river, people were everywhere. There were people swinging off ropes that were suspended from trees, jumping into the water. Kids were jumping off rocks into the water, little people. I was in shock. I loved how the people who passed us constantly asked us if we were ok; they witnessed the three tube tips. Everyone out there was like one big family.

After about two hours on the river and multiple rapids later, we pulled to the side to disembark. My booty was sore from bumping all the rocks. The following days, I had bruises up and down my legs. We were soaked from head to toe and sore all over. We boarded the bus and headed back to the tubing station.

Overall, it was not a bad experience, just different. I enjoyed the camaraderie. I loved the coolness of the water, especially on such a hot day. I think the fear of my son dimmed the experience. So, maybe when they are older, we can try again. 

Do you tube?

Peace That Surpasses All Understanding

I woke up this morning in a panic. I grabbed my mouth and rubbed my fingers over each of my teeth. They were all there and none were loose. This may come across as strange to you, but I was having a moment. That morning, I had the most terrible dream. I can firmly say this morning because I specifically remember when I had this dream. 

Around 5 am, I got out of bed to go use the restroom. I returned to bed afterwards and had a bit of trouble drifting back to sleep. However, without me realizing it, I was sailing into another dream. In my dream, I was at a nighttime cookout with my family. My cousins and I walked out of the house to the back deck and I tickled my front, lower tooth with my tongue. It felt loose. So, I went to feel it with my hand, and it came out of my gums. As I held it, it dissolved in my hand. Panicked, I rubbed the rest of my teeth. A handful came out in my hand and with my tongue, I could feel the missing spaces in my mouth. I threw the teeth down on the ground and my cousins began to laugh. I was so upset that I woke up.

I immediately rolled over and pulled my phone off the charger. I googled, “What does losing teeth in a dream mean?” Several results came up ranging from emotions from losing a family member to depression. However, the ones that really stuck out to me were stress, anxiety, and major changes underway. I feel my stress and anxiety is directly related to the pandemic and the return to school plan.

As you know, I am an assistant principal. As much as I regularly make jokes, last week crushed my spirit. The governor announced that South Carolina schools will have students come back five full days. Our district made a plan and as leaders, we had to develop a feasible plan to ensure students and staff are safe when they return.

Last week, our leadership team met to discuss this plan. The entire week was filled with Zoom. In the past, our leadership week consisted of all the school leaders meeting at the district office devising a plan to create a successful school year. The fellowship among the leaders is encouraging. This year, we lost that camaraderie. You may laugh, but I even miss the ice breakers. I miss meeting the new administrators and making them laugh. This year is going to be different and it has my anxiety on 10.

To help calm my nerves, I decided to go to a place that could give me strength. The bible. I was directed to a passage and I immediately felt my morning soul lighten. Matthew 6:25-34

25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature?

28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin:

29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.

30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?

31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?

32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Biblegateway.com)

I had to remember something. God has placed me exactly where he wanted me to be because he knows that I can handle whatever task lies ahead of me. With this, I gained an internal peace. I am utterly grateful for the peace of God that surpasses all understanding.

What do you use for motivation? Comment below!

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I Choose Me

A few days ago, I was listening to the radio. Tamia’s song “Me” began to play and I realized that I am truly happy with where I am in life. I am happy because I choose me. Choosing me means loving myself for who I am and choosing to do things that make me happy. No one controls your happiness but you. 

There are generally two thoughts on how to be happy. One is giving to others and the other is taking care of yourself. I prefer a mixture of the two. As an educator, mom and wife, I do a lot of giving back. So, in my personal life I choose to do ME.

As a teenager, I was a very angry kid. I hated my circumstances. I grew up in a single family home where my mom worked multiple jobs. She was rarely home. My siblings and I had to do everything for ourselves. It was challenging and forced me to grow up too soon. I also grew up without enjoying many things that my peers did; family vacations, bike rides, summer camps, etc. As I began to mature and find success, I had to figure out why I still was not happy. I had a husband, kids, cars, and a great job, but I was miserable.

I decided to find myself. I was in my thirties and realized that I didn’t know who I was. I didn’t have any hobbies. I only had a few friends, which I rarely called or texted. Going to work was like going through the motions. I was not happy. I went on a spiritual and personal journey to get to the bottom of my feelings.

The first thing I realized was that my childhood church ruined my perception of life. I grew up in a holiness church. The rules were insane. Bible thumpers, don’t come in my comments with foolishness either. We couldn’t wear pants, dye our hair, get our nails painted, etc. It was insane. It ruined how I viewed people. I had to change my perception on what God really cares about. So, I actually read the bible and studied for myself. I got rid of those negative outlook and realized that God is love. That’s what he cares about. Not whether my nails have polish or not.

The next thing I had to work on was what hobbies I enjoyed. I care about my health, so I naturally leaned towards the gym. Instead of going randomly, I created an actual care plan. I began to go every other day at 5:30 am. I knew my personality. I could not go to the gym after work. I had to cook, help with homework and was usually slam tired. So, I forced myself to become a morning gym person. Those workouts have helped my self-perception and my self-esteem.

I remember as a kid once, my dad took us to the beach. Also, in college, I did a study abroad program in England. I wanted to regain the feelings I had back then. So, I began to join travel groups online. A big thread that popped up at the time was the Aruba Soul Beach Festival. I saw pictures and the music line up and was enamored. I wanted to go. So, I asked my friends and I asked my husband. Nope, no one committed. So, I went back to the thread and noticed that someone wanted a travel buddy. I messaged her. She, another girl, and I decided to make that journey. It was the best decision I ever made. I traveled without my family for the first time. It was a different experience. Since then, I have committed to at least one trip a year with a group of friends. It has allowed me to visit multiple countries and gain experiences I would have missed otherwise.

Lastly, I wanted to work on my professional life. I was a teacher, at the time and was in grad school for education administration. So, I worked on my resume and professional responsibilities. I was a great teacher and wanted to help others. So, I began presenting strategies at learning conferences. This also enabled me to travel for free and added to my resume! After two years, I gained an assistant principal position. But, of course that wasn’t enough for me. I began blogging and working on books. Now that I have published a book, I am working on more. I love being able to share my thoughts with the world. 

I hope that by learning who I am, you learn who you are. 

What makes you happy?

Marek and Saniah’s Pirate Adventure

During quarantine, I began to spend a ton more time with my kids. We became obsessed with making up stories to help us pass the time. Because of our big imaginations, we decided to write some of our stories down for publication later. The kids insisted that we actually publish the book. I reached out to my painter friends to help me find an illustrator. My friend Damon introduced me to William. We met virtually and began to visualize the book. After months of work, we finally published our first book.

I have always been in love with reading. It has been the one constant in my life. It has helped me live while growing up in poverty. I read constantly. I lived vicariously through the characters. Now, I decided to allow my children to be characters themselves. Our pirate adventure is the first in a series of imagination adventures. The book is available for purchase now on Amazon.

Kareem: A Short Story

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“Another man was slain today in Uptown after a violent night of protests. We here at WCTV…”

Chanda  turned the television off before heading to work. It had been a long week of civil unrest after a young man was gunned down by the police. She grabbed her phone to scroll mindlessly through her social feed, to try and relieve herself of the trauma she was witnessing. She wanted to protest too. She felt overcome because she felt that by protesting, her work contract could be compromised. It was so early to be fighting these emotions. Chanda’s silent protest was working with children each day. Making sure they learn and feel safe. She grabbed her keys,  lunch bag, and  laptop bag, and opened the door to the garage. She briefly left the car door open to run back in the house to grab a water bottle. 

Chanda came back to the car and saw a missed text message from her boss: 

“We will need to meet first thing this morning. I expect everyone to be there!”

“What does he want now?” Chanda thought to herself.

The morning drive isn’t bad. Chanda lives right around the corner from the school. She drives slowly in her 2011 Toyota Forerunner. She makes sure to watch her pace, since she passes school children walking to school. She turns into the parking lot and the weight of her world settles on her chest. She looks in mirror and recites her daily mantra:

“I am here to serve, my heart is open, I will learn and grow!”

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