I’m a Unicorn

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I’m a God-fearing woman full of faith in a scientific world.
I’m a nurturing mother who loves kicking ass at work.
I’m a strong black woman married to a strong white man.
I’m riddled with anxiety but I love people to a fault.
I’m not weird, but I’m “contradictory” and I love it. I love it and I love to share my journey with other unicorns, those who love me, or those who just enjoy staring. The truth is that life is just not that black and white, so weird doesn’t exist.
In my stories, you’ll probably notice that a lot of issues are amplified by my own thoughts and (often unreasonable) concerns. That’s who I am. In embracing myself, I find it therapeutic but slightly terrifying to share my thoughts. Thanks for checking them out and feel free to comment or ask questions.
Here we go!

“If you’re always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.”
Maya Angelou

Continue reading “I’m a Unicorn”

Let it Go

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!

Rewards

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.

#newhairwhodis – Week 1

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…

smile :)

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?

Rotaries

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.

Don’t Wait

“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.

T is for Tattoos

I like tattoos. I have 6 and would love to have more. For the most part, they’re hidden because I know that there is a stigma associated with tattoos and I haven’t reached a point in my career where I can comfortably let them “bloom”.

My newest tattoo is on my forearm and dedicated to my daughter, Liana. As someone who overthinks each and every decision in my life, I naturally took over a year to decide that I would get it in a visible spot on my arm. I created a Pinterest board to piece together the concept and asked for opinions before contacting an artist and making an appointment.

Those of you with tattoos: you know the moment right before the artist touches you with the needle? That last chance to change your mind? I literally started sweating because I worried that this was a mistake. But a couple hours later I was looking at my new artwork and so happy that I went through with it.

Fast forward a few weeks to my mom (love ya Mom!) seeing a photo of my arm. I think I got the reaction I expected to be honest.

Why there? Why so big? What are the people at your next job going to think?

The last question had popped into my own head. I admit that I add a lot of value to others’ opinions of me. I always have. Oddly enough the timing of this tattoo wasn’t random. I got it the week after I busted my ass to complete a huge grant application. I got it then because I saw a new side to myself. Completing that application despite a lack of support from my (then) boss was a huge confidence booster. He wasn’t a fan of my ideas, but I was, so I pushed through. It didn’t hurt that I got plenty of positive feedback from others. So even when he did some shady stuff, I pushed through. Not to prove anything to him, but to prove my intelligence and competence to myself in a new way. I DID THAT.

I’m a strong person, that also happens to be a black female scientist with tattoos. You may see those other things first, but my strength will be what you remember. We all value different things, so how can I expect people that I come across to understand everything about me at first glance?

What’s funny is, I changed jobs before ever finding out if I was awarded funding for my project idea. At the end of the day, it just wasn’t worth staying. But that accomplishment will stay with me. Others may see some huge random tattoo on my arm. But I see my amazing daughter. I see my strength that I hope will make her proud. I see a unique me.