“If you’re always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.”
I typed this out a few weeks ago and have been too lazy/stressed to bother posting it. Until today, when I saw what the President thinks of one of my favorite cities in the US. I honestly don’t feel that his comments deserve a lot of attention, but it made me think a lot about the last time I was in Baltimore…
A few weeks ago I went to a scientific conference in Baltimore for work. I had a couple objectives in mind:
1. Discuss the current work at our company that may be of value to the attendees by resenting a new poster that detailed our studies
2. Learn more about a specific area of drug manufacturing and get to know some of the experts in the field
The day I arrived, there was a reception, kind of like a mixer. All the great minds in the field of chromatography. A very experienced crowd with a lot in common. Including age, race, and gender. I stood out like a sore thumb as a black woman and it was pretty intimidating.
Stepped out of the room for a second to try to calm my nerves a bit and one of the security guards at the door asked if I was leaving. I told him that I just needed a break but I’d be back. He said “Good, come back. We need you in there.” I chuckled and headed for the bathroom.
When I came back I nodded to the guard and headed for one of the beer and wine bars for a soda. The gentleman serving drinks grinned and asked how everything was going. I guess I sighed because because he told me he was happy to see me at the conference. We talked for a bit about what the conference was for and I told him I’d come back to visit the next day. When I went to put a dollar in the tip jar, he said “Nuh uh. Nothing from you. Just go out there with your head up, shake some hands and promise you’ll come back over and let me know how things are going. My name is Charles.”
Charles made my day and I took his advice to heart. I strutted through the exhibit halls and in and out of those meeting rooms with purpose and no apologies. And the result was a very productive trip. Both personally and professionally. I needed that.
No matter how many degrees I earn or what accolades I gather, there are people that will think I don’t deserve to be considered equal. And I have to admit that I fall into the trap of believing them. Full-on imposter syndrome. It’s always nice to hear that someone is proud, but I truly felt a sense of community while I was in Baltimore. It may sound silly, but I felt like an underdog in a big fight with a whole group of people who look like me in my corner. And I knocked out the presentation, my nerves and any doubt that others may have had.
I’m a control freak. The thought or actuality of losing control is often what triggers my panic attacks and general anxiety. And while I have gained an arsenal of ways to combat this, it’s still a problem that I struggle with. When it really only affected me, I felt like it was manageable to some extent. Or maybe I just figured that this was something that I would have to suck up and deal with. As a mom, I am becoming more and more aware of my need to control my environment, and now my daughter’s…
I know that a full belly + plenty of sleep + lots of love + perfect health + fun = a happy Liana. But how many of those things are really up to me? I can’t stop her from getting sick. What about when I’m not there? Who will make sure that her naps start at the right time and last long enough for her to not be a cranky mess when she wakes up? These thoughts seem so stupid when I’m not in it, but they certainly don’t in those moments.
Most holidays me, my husband, and daughter travel to see family and we stay at our parents’ house. I always start out hoping that Liana will eat square meals at her normal times, take an early afternoon nap, and be in bed early so that she gets plenty of sleep. Guess how often this actually happens…never. Between Liana protesting and the grandparents not wanting to spend a moment away from her, times always shift. I used to make a fuss about these things with the grandparents, turning down activities because of naps or fear of Liana having a meltdown. But she loves visiting her grandparents and they love playing with her and watching her be the rambunctious talkative 3-year-old that she is when she’s happy.
She’s happy. She is HAPPY. I’ve started to let that sink in more and more. If I can focus on that through her threenage, preteenage, and teenage years, then I think we’ll be alright. And I can find myself in a happy place too. Girl, just let that ish go!
My toddler is potty training, which means we are all in training. She’s learning how to use a potty rather than a pull-up when she’s gotta go. I’m learning the many signs and indicators that a child has to go to the bathroom. I’m also learning patience, tolerance, and comfort with bodily fluids, so…yeah.
By now you may have noticed that I can turn anything into a life lesson. And our potty training routine is no different! When Liana sits down and actually goes “potty,” she usually gets a reward, whether it’s a piece of candy or watching a tv show. Being the sweet child that she is, her favorite reward seems to be getting huge hugs from me and my husband. We celebrate her successes and tell her we’re proud of her. “You peed in the potty! That’s awesome!” It’s a good time.
I love celebrating the success of my child, my husband, my friends and family, my neighbors, people who break world records, sports teams and people on reality TV. So why is it so damn hard to give myself a little toot of the horn when I succeed? I know I’m not alone in this, so let’s change it to “we”. Why do we feel like humility and grace are only achieved by keeping quiet about our accomplishments?
When I think of humility and grace, Misty Copeland comes to mind (if the name doesn’t ring a bell, do a quick Google search 😊). She is truly a star, and shows and discusses her talents and achievements, but is a total class act. Now I’m not bendy and graceful, but I’m a unique and talented woman. And it’s okay to showcase that. As I do, I find so many people just waiting to cheer me on and give me big hugs, maybe even give me candy.
It’s how this is supposed to go. These blessings are meant to bless others, not be hidden.
I get bored with my hair, so it’s not uncommon for me to pop up with a new color or some braids, or just a blown out fro. But last week I finally gave my hair what it needed…a big chop. I got a Devacut, which is a dry haircut meant to accentuate your hair’s natural curl pattern and shape. Now that I’m closer to a big city, there are so many opportunities to invest in my hair and give it what it needs. It’s been years since my last trim and I had never had my natural curly hair shaped.
I have to admit that I wasn’t quite mentally prepared to get so much hair cut off, but I’m feeling super motivated to take care of my mane the right way. I tell people all the time that my hair has a life of its own, so why not designate a piece of my blog to its many moods?
My plan is to solely use DevaCurl products in addition to some natural oils for my scalp. But we all knows what happens when we make plans. Let’s see how this goes…
I woke up in such a funk the other day. Just foul. I didn’t even try to hide it from the family. It just followed me around like a dark cloud. On my way to the gym I heard Lil Duval’s song “Smile,” which usually just gets the standard head bob and chuckle. But as Uncle Snoop started his verse, I realized that I could take his advice. What is SO bad?
“You got a lot to be smilin for. So what the **** you be wylin for? If you breathin, you achievin”
The Cleveland Clinic has a page (here) discussing the benefits of smiling, saying it can
• Change your mood
• Be contagious
• Relieve stress
• Boost the immune system
• Lower blood pressure
• Release endorphins (the feel-good hormone)
• Help you stay positive
They add that even a forced smile carries benefits. We all have moments in which a smile is basically impossible, maybe even inappropriate. But if you’re just not feeling it one day, just feeling blah, crank up some tunes and SMILE. What’s the worst that could happen?
For my previous job I usually relied on public transit into Boston, but every once in awhile I would drive instead. By far my least favorite part was getting through the rotaries/round-abouts/circles of misery. Lanes don’t exist and there are no rules. I had my first real Masshole experience in a rotary and it may have traumatized me. After that I actually had multiple occasions of missing my exit and going around a couple times out of fear of annoying or hitting someone.
Those times and every other time, I had to really commit to getting out of that damn rotary. Because there’s no such thing as passively exiting. It’s a good analogy for life.
I know that I get into cycles of doubt and self-sabotage because of my anxiety. Something big is approaching and I start worrying about whether I can get things done. Am I capable? Will I fail? The more I doubt myself the less productive I become and the spiral begins. There is something comfortable about staying in these anxious cycles. It’s familiar and I know how they’ll end. I never meet my full potential because I get in my own way.
I can see all of this clearly now only because it happens less often. When I don’t get stuck it’s because I’ve accepted that I have to be uncomfortable to succeed. It takes a conscious effort and decisiveness. I can’t get out of my own head if if I’m wishy washy and hemming and hawing at every challenge.
Deep breath. Check for danger. And make the move! I get where I’m going much faster, and with a little more confidence each time.
“First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a socialist.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.”
– Martin Niemöller, German Lutheran pastor of the early 20th century
I first heard this quote on the radio this morning, in reference to why we should vote and consider key issues when they arise. Not because they directly impact our lives, but because they will impact other lives, and one day you may need those “others” to look out for you.
Food for thought. Get out and vote.