Archive of ‘KB’s Journey’ category

Just Keep Swimming

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I have been muttering those three words to myself over and over again for the past two weeks.

I have placed so much value on doing things perfectly that I often fail to celebrate the art of just getting something done.

However, I’m in the middle of learning that any forward-moving progress HAS to be celebrated. For many, this is such a “duh” concept but I’m a perfectionist-in-recovery. The fear of not doing something right (whatever the heck that means) would keep me paralyzed with anxiety for days, weeks, or even months. I would rather not do anything then to deal with feelings of imperfection.

Wondering exactly what that looks like? It is hiding from friends because life feels “less than” and I’d rather not sit in a group setting feeling that tension. It is avoiding my Red Pump inbox for days because I knew that I couldn’t accomplish 100% of my key tasks at that moment. It is leaving the 13:13 series unfinished because I realized that I couldn’t complete the challenge in 13 days like I wanted. It is walking away from fitness goals after two days with more eating that exercise.

So, I would stop moving. I would stop doing. I would stop connecting. I’d let the water rise to my eyeballs before “fight or flight” forced me to get busy and make something happen.

The issue is that I was sacrificing results at home, with Red Pump and with several other dream projects and the guilt would consume me. So, I started praying about it and God placed this idea of “progress” in my spirit. No matter how imperfect, messy, or slow I am, what matters is that I keep going and don’t stop.

Just keep swimming.

As Lara Casey wrote in this incredible blog post,

I will not “do it all,” I’ll simply do what God wants me to do every day.

Doing what God wants me to do every day means I have to listen, be open, and always do something to move forward. That is the only way that this works. The. Only. Way.

If you are feeling stuck or stagnate, you gotta get going too. Let’s chop up our big goals into tiny ones and start working towards the greatness that lies ahead.

You ready??? Let’s go!

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Taking A Step Back to Care for Yourself

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Now that I am “settling” into my routine and new lifestyle, I have started to make a more conscious effort to prioritize my mental, physical, and emotional state – even if only for minutes at a time. After all, I have to look out for little old me because if I fall apart then I’m not going to be of much help to my baby boo.

While I may add in a massage here or aromatherapy session in there, the five items below are the core of my self-care routine. Meaning that without them, life would be a little more bleak for your girl!

Coloring Book

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When I was in college, I would buy kids’ coloring books from Walmart and just fill the pages for fun. I didn’t intentionally do it for the therapeutic factor but that was a welcome outcome. These days, my go-to coloring book is “Color Yourself Happy: 100 Positive Passages to Color.” In addition to intricate designs, the pages are also filled with quotes designed to inspire and uplift. That is so perfect for days when I’m feeling less than my best.

Therapy

For the past year or so, I’d been thinking long and hard about seeking out a therapist but I never pulled the trigger. Until motherhood. Becoming a mom was the life change that finally pushed me into therapy. Let me tell you something, guys. If you are thinking about therapy, DO IT. Your mental stability is so important and many of us take it for granted. My appointments have been nothing but a blessing to me and give me the space that I need to open up and develop the tools that I need to juggle all of my current responsibilities. Therapy doesn’t make you weak. It makes you smart (and brave).

Taking Walks

I’m still easing back into exercise, but I have started taking walks as a way to quiet my mind AND meet my daily steps goal. Whether it is a stroll around the office or an evening stroll through the forest, this activity is exactly what I need. Of course, you can substitute walking for any physical activity that centers you.

Bubble Baths

When we first moved to our current place, I was so excited that there was a jacuzzi tub in the master bathroom. “I am going to take baths all of the time,” I exclaimed. It took my two years, but I am finally starting to take advantage of the soothing abilities of that tub. My girlfriend, Arionne, gifted me with a lavender bubble bath from Shea Moisture after Caleb was born and it is my go-to when I need to “whoosah.” Add a little Erykah Badu into the mix and I am good to go!

Coffee

Coffee isn’t just about the caffeine for me. During maternity leave, Starbucks was one of the first places that I ventured to by myself. Even now, coffee runs feel like one of the few “acceptable” solo outings that I can take without the baby. Every time that I take a sip, I am fully embracing the moment to prepare for the day, reflect, and catch my breath.

Am I perfect about doing them regularly? With the exception of my (almost) daily cup of joe, not at all. But, I’m trying.

How do you take time to show a little love to yourself? I’m always looking for other ideas. Share!

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Yellow Blooms

This is my first Mother’s Day as a mom (yay) and the ninth time that I am marking this occasion without my Katy. In the days leading up to today, I have spent a lot of time thinking about my mom.

What was her first Mother’s Day like? What did my Dad get her? How did she feel?

Among all of the thoughts was this story that she often told us about Mother’s Day growing up. Every year, her church would ask people upon entry if their mother has passed or if their mother was still alive. Based on your answer, they would give you either a red carnation (alive) or a white one (deceased). My maternal grandmother passed away when my mom was young, so she would get a white flower. And, while the flower was no doubt beautiful, it made her sad. She wanted that red flower. As an adult and as our mom, that painful memory always stuck with her.

And, now, it sticks with me.

Can you imagine? Mother’s Day is filled with so many triggers for those who have lost a loved one. Her carnation story has always filled me with such sadness but that isn’t what I want to think about today. So, I decided to buy myself a bouquet of yellow flowers. That was my mother’s favorite color and one that makes me think of her fondly. When I look down at my flowers today, I will feel happy as I reflect on the good times shared and not of the years lost.

No shade to white carnations, but I don’t want to see you. Not today. Not next Mother’s Day or the ones after that.

To me, yellow blooms bring the sunshine and who doesn’t love the sun?

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Why HIV Testing Should be on Every Woman’s To-Do List

Last year, I had the opportunity to participate in a campaign shoot for #DoingIt, the CDC’s latest campaign promoting HIV testing along with Rae Lewis-Thornton and Charreah Jackson (ESSENCE Magazine). In support of the campaign and National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, I shared this post today on The Red Pump Project‘s blog.

If you are like me, then you know that life can be incredibly busy. From family to work and beyond, it seems like there are always more tasks than there is time. As a new mom who works full-time and helps lead The Red Pump Project‘s incredible mission, my life is hectic, fast, and overwhelming. With so many items that must get done and so few hours, it is VERY easy to push self-care to the bottom of my list. Taking care of my body and mind becomes a last priority. We are all guilty of it.

However, there’s no time like the present to change that for the better.

Today is National Women and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, a day of education, empowerment, and action. We should also use this day to take a step back and think about our health and how we take care of ourselves. We only have one life. It is worth protecting and you must be the one to do so. The best defense is a good offense and HIV testing needs to be part of your strategy.

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HIV testing is free, fast, and confidential. And, almost everyone should be #DoingIt. In fact, the CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care and that people with certain risk factors get tested more often. If you aren’t 100% sure of your HIV status, then you need to add “get tested” to the top of your to-do list.

Write it down NOW. 

Always make time for HIV testing, girlfriends, and cake. In that order.

Always make time for HIV testing, girlfriends, and cake. In that order.

Getting tested is the first step to protecting your health. If your test reveals that you are living with HIV, it is important to get connected to a care team, which can include doctors, a case manager, peer supporters, and a specially-trained pharmacist. Available treatments are very effective; can prolong life; and may also reduce risk of transmission by reducing the amount of the virus in your body. If your test is negative, you can take action to continue to protect yourself and your status.

The great news is that new HIV diagnoses declined 40% among women from 2005 to 2014, with the greatest decline seen among African American women (42%). But, this doesn’t mean that our work is done. We must continue to talk about HIV with our loved ones and peers. If it is one thing that I have learned through my years leading Red Pump, it is to never underestimate the power of a conversation. Talking about HIV prevention, testing, and treatment is key to fighting stigma and ending this epidemic.

To find a testing site near you, call 1-800-CDC-INFO (232-4636); visit cdc.gov/DoingIt; or text your ZIP code to KNOW IT (566948).

Today’s to-do list: Know my status (check). Talk about the importance of HIV testing (check). #RocktheRedPump (check).

I know what I have to do today. Do you?

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Learning to Love Motherhood

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As I shared last week, I returned to work after almost three months on maternity leave. I am still settling into my new routine and lowkey struggling because it isn’t as easy of a transition as I hoped that it would be. Two things that I have discovered about myself during this past week? I hate rushing now and I am slowly starting to love motherhood.

Slowly.

I love being Caleb’s mom, but I haven’t been as open about “motherhood.” It may seem strange to some people but there is a difference. Trust me. It has been hard to embrace certain elements like the sacrificial nature of this whole thing or the fact that the definition of “success” as a mom is pretty ambiguous. Being back at work has reminded me just how much I love SMART goals and having a clear picture of—and path to — success. Motherhood comes with no such blueprints, but I’m slowly starting to become comfortable with that.

Slowly.

When I get confused or frustrated about what to do next, I remind myself that, quite simply, motherhood is love. Love is an action so as long as I give my heart to Caleb, I have won half of the battle.

love is patient

Last night while washing bottles, I focused on the wall art above our counter that sums up 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. As I let the words sink into my soul, I started replacing the word “love” with “motherhood” and it began to calm my stressed out spirit.

I won’t always get it right or know it all but as long as I am patient, kind, protectful, trusting, and hopeful, I know that I can’t fail. I can do this. I will survive motherhood because it is love in action and I love my little Caleb with all of my heart.

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Midweek Check-In

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Please pass the coffee!

Hi, y’all! Things have been somewhat hectic on my end because the last ball to juggle (for now) has finally been tossed into the air.

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First day at daycare!

Today is my first day back to work and Caleb’s second day at daycare. This past week, I have been completely overwhelmed with creating a new routine for us and preparing for this big week. This post about Sunday night prep from Katie at Live Half Full has been incredibly helpful. Gone are the days where I could just figure out my life each morning. No, I need to have the majority of that done WELL in advance so I can just be on auto-pilot when I wake up.

In other news… Due to the fact that I have been SO focused on my return to work, I wasn’t “planful” in getting the rest of my 13:13 series blog posts up before my self-imposed February 13th deadline. So, I am going to share the remaining content out between now and the end of the month, including a (now late) post about DIY Valentine’s Day mason jar gift ideas. HA! I’ll repurpose that one somehow. I was so excited about starting that content series that I have to see it through. After all, it is one of my February goals so I have to get it done.

Last update before I go and get Caleb dressed for the day… Red Pump launched our eighth #RocktheRedPump campaign yesterday! I can’t believe that Luvvie and I started this journey in 2009. It is incredible to see how far we have come with our particular style and message around HIV/AIDS education. For the details on the campaign, head over to this dedicated page on our website.

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I’m off to get this day started… Wish me luck! I was promoted while on maternity leave so I’m just hoping that there is somewhat of a grace period to get me back up-to-speed. We shall see.

 

Xo.

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The Courage to Hope

Years ago, I clipped a powerful quote out of Essence and pinned it to a cork board in my apartment. The quote read,

The three pillars of deep spirituality are faith, hope, and love—yet it is courage that enables all three.

Listen, man. That quote blew my mind at the time. When I decided to focus on 1 Corinthians 13:13, I made my way back to those words and decided to really spend some time thinking about what the writer was trying to convey.

“Hope” is defined as “a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.” It is a word that we often use lightly like, “I hope they have this dress in my size” or “I hope Rihanna hurries up with her album.” Yet, to hope deeply for something requires an immense amount of courage. One has to really believe that it can happen and that can be scary. At least, it can be for me. There are so many projects and businesses that I have always wanted to launch but I haven’t because of fear. I’m talking the kind of fear that holds me back and keeps me from feeling hopeful about the future.

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Introducing the 13:13 Series

13_13 I’ve been thinking a lot about love lately. Not just what it means on the surface, but what the bible has to say about the word. It’s no surprise that this search led me to one of my favorite scripture passages, 1 Corinthians 13, which is all about love. This passage is so rich with words that help us understand what it means to love deeply and it concludes with this seemingly simple statement…

 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

Faith, hope, and love are three pillars that are absolutely necessary to have in order to live a fulfilled life. In honor of this verse and in the lead up to Valentine’s Day, I have taken on the challenge of writing 13 blog posts in 13 days that touch on faith, hope, and love. I’ve wanted to do something special on the blog for February for the past few years, so I’m excited. I guess love has that effect on me.

Links to the posts are below:

Keeping the Faith When Life Says “Nah”

These Beautiful Pillows Bring the Love Home

The Courage to Hope

{Giveaway} Faith, Hope and Love Prints

15 Valentine’s Day Gifts under $50

Monday Motivation: Focus on Real Love

10 Ways to Do Good with Your Boo

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Elevating My Style & Beauty Game

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While browsing one of my favorite blogs, The Style and Beauty Doctor, I came across Danielle’s post listing out her 2016 style and beauty resolutions. Reading her list made me think in detail about what I wanted to accomplish this year in those two areas. Looking back at pictures from years ago, I noticed that my interest in my outward appearance took a dip as I took a step back from the social scene. During my pregnancy, I practically fantasized about reinventing myself after giving birth. Post-North West Kim Kardashian West was/is my muse. She was everything when she re-emerged with the blonde hair. Don’t remember? See here.

Yet, with all of that fantasizing, I never thought about writing clear goals for my style and beauty game. After thinking carefully, here are my top five focus areas for the year.

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