Category Archives: healthy living

Life, perseverance & yoga

IMG_9486Droplets of sweat dripped steadily down my face & onto the black mat before me. How long is she going to make us hold this pose?  I grimaced as I struggled to stay in an uttanasana, in otherwords I was bent over attempting to touch my nose to my knees quite unsuccessfully.  The instructor continued speaking in her soft voice, which at the beginning of class I had found to be quite soothing; But after 45 minutes had become more of an annoyace than an assurance.  I didnt want to hear about softening my body to flow with the movements or how my breathing should bring me into a state of knowing.  Can we please just shavasana already I screamed in my head!  I was wobbly, unbalanced, my breathing was more of a deep pant refusing to coincide with any movements & Im quite sure I resembled a new born calf trying to hold poses that in my mind my body was never meant to attempt. My hands, feet, legs & arms all felt like they were on fire & I had no idea you could be so sore from yoga!  The embarrassment of gathering my belongings & limping out of the room was becoming less of a deterrent by the minute.

The thing is, I had put myself through this torture, I had paid $15 to participate in hot yoga & be tortured for an hour and fifteen minutes.  I berated myself, knowing that the word hot preceding anything would probably feel slightly like a dialed down hell.  Also, since the class was 15 minutes longer than most I should have opted for something that was appropriate for a woman that hadnt laid eyes on a yoga mat in over a year except to toss it into the trunk of her car.

When we finally reached my favorite pose, shavasana, I melted slowly onto my mat with a deep satisfied exhale & closed my eyes.   The room was silent aside from the steady beat of low music & periodic snores of a man that was obviously more spent than I had been, but my mind was blaring.  Thoughts flooded my mind & I eventually settled on thinking of how this class was much like my life.  You see, I have this vision of being a super bendy, impromptu split doing, yoga guru but In order to reach my goal I have to make the practice of perseverance in adversity a way of life.  I struggled through the pain of lotus position & wanted to stop at navasana but I eventually came to the realization that I had to push through or refuse to grow.

The urge to bypass the painful parts of growth in leui of quick relief is a universal human trait.  We want to be strong enough to hold ourselves up in an awe inspiring hand stand dont want to do the work to strengthen our arms.   We run from the hard work that will catapult us to the next level, seek refugee in partying or dead end dating instead of identifying the cause of & working through lonliness, or we put off tedious tasks opting for the much more pleaurable lure of procrastination.  I believe that we have so many options that can pull us away from the focus of our daily ‘practices’.  The pull of distraction & ease of giving up is something that can easily deter or delay success.  But if you keep your thoughts on your end goal, eventually you will get there.  You may be tired, sweaty & sore but you will arrive!

As we exited the class the instructor stopped me as the new girl in class & told me cheerfully that she hoped to see me again in class & guess what she did!

Love you lots & much success in all you endeavors!

Court

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The desires of your heart: Do you really know what they are?

In the book of Psalms it states that if you ‘delight yourself in the LORD, He will give you the desires of your heart’.  For a long time I asked God to introduce me to my husband so we could get started on the family I’ve had tucked away in my mind for at least the past ten years!   Recently, in one of my discussions with God a thought popped in my head that although I had requested my God given husband many times, this had not truly been my heart’s desire.  I didn’t quite understand this immediately but as I continued to marinate on the thought it became clearer as to why what I thought was my heart’s desire to usher in love was actually quite the opposite.  When in relationship, my thoughts and actions did not align with someone seeking to give and receive love from a man.  They were the actions (many times) of someone bitter and highly suspicious of anyone of the male persuasion.  If introduced to a guy one of the first things I would wonder was what was wrong with him or immediately pick apart things I didn’t seem to like about him in an effort to keep myself from wanting to get close.

I can honestly say that I’ve had men in my life that truly loved me (as best they could) and for a long time I focused on the negative effects of the one mentally and physically damaging relationship I had many years prior instead of recognizing what was before me.  They had offered me love and I did not truly accept what they offered.  As a result, the relationships were dead before they began, buried under a mound of past hurts, insecurities, frustrations and fears.  Of course there were other issues at play, but I know this was my biggest part in the demise of our relationships.  I could see love, always just over the horizon and thought I was eagerly paddling towards it but since I refused to do the soul work of breaking through the waves of the past love always seemed to remain at bay. 

I had based my theory of love on the relationships I knew about which mainly consisted of womanizers, women that seemed to have perpetually broken hearts and first hand experiences of dealing with men that were not mentally mature enough for a relationship.  I accepted these ideals, ingrained them into my mental perception of what ‘all’ men were and lived them out through my speech and interactions with men.  Men were dangerous, they would cheat on you and never stick around.  Throughout my life I began to accumulate the burdens of distrust, insecurities, over-analyzation, fear and judgement some through my own experiences and many through observation and they continued to grow larger and heavier.  So when love did present itself I acted from a place  of a woman laden with baggage instead of one free to love.  The bright  side is that eventually, I became a woman eager to lighten her load!

When I take stock of my actions in relationships and in relation to men in general I can see that my heart’s desire was not for love.  The desires of my heart were for the perpetuation of what I had known in the past and so that’s what I chose to live out.  I  didn’t trust men, spoke extremely negatively of them and always seemed to focus on the worst possible outcome, for example if I texted my boyfriend and he didn’t text me back within a certain amount of time my mind automatically flooded with thoughts of him cheating (a bit cray, yes I know).  So in an effort to ensure that my heart and head are on the same track I’ve been taking the time to focus on the positive, to accept what is and truly grow in love (starting with myself).

If you are wondering if your heart’s desires are truly matching up with your thoughts I would recommend doing the following

  1. Do a soul check:  Regardless of what your heart’s desire is, be it a job, a house, a baby or relationship, take some time to sit and think about how you truly feel concerning these things. Ask yourself if this really is what you want in your future?  Do you want it because you’re on societies time table and think you should have them by now or  are you receiving pressure from a source outside of yourself to push for these goals?  Make the all too common pro/con list.  If it turns out that these are things you really do want ask yourself if you are profiting in some way by not having them or is there a false fear that comes along with having what you truly think you want.  For instance if you  want a new job but are afraid of leaving the security of the job you currently have or maybe possess anxieties around job interviews or change in general.  In my case, I am working through a tremendous fear of someone else attempting to control me, giving up freedoms I have grown accustomed to and being cheated on.
  2. Flip the technique:  Once you know some of the mindsets holding you back, begin to counteract these by speaking life into your situation.  In other words turn the negative thoughts into a positive one.  For instance with a job, there is the possibility (and hope) that you will be much happier in your new position and or have increased job security.  In my case one of the things I try to focus on is trusting men and always acknowledging the security and contentment that will come along with my desired relationship.  If you tend to focus on the negative always remember to envision the flip side of the outcome.  Condition your mind to focus on the positive shifts whenever a negative fear based thought attempts to thwart your progress.
  3. Take action:  Take some action consistently towards your desire, set a goal of daily, weekly or monthly action steps or whatever will fit your schedule and work towards your desire.  It could be applying to a job a day, attending resume workshops or joining a toastmasters group to improve your public speaking and interview skills.  For me, taking action to better myself in relationships isn’t quite as concrete, but I chose to begin by loving me and consistently taking stock of my feelings and thoughts when in certain situations.  I have begun a daily meditation practice in addition to reading scriptures, prayer, affirmations, loads of videos and podcast but mostly taking the time to fully love and accept myself while expressing love to the people God places in my life.

Sometimes our heads and hearts won’t agree and that’s life.  But if we are the only one’s holding ourselves back from our goals we can always get them on one accord!  Here’s to your dreams!

Let me know what other things work for you in the comments!

God Bless,

Court 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

Let me tell you about my haul!

  
I am super excited about my thrift store haul today.  I don’t normally post about clothing, but this was just too good to pass up.  I’m big on shopping, but I’m also big on finding deals and using coupons.  Usually in retails stores you’ll find me making a bee line towards the clearance section, which is obviously a great way to save some cash.  But today there was no need as a couple friends and I hit up a couple of thrift stores in the area and I felt like I had gone to retail heaven with the deals I got!  It was enough it make me say I’m never shopping retail again (at least until the new year).  I purchased a bunch of items, (3 sweaters, 4 jackets, 1 skirt and 4 shirts to be exact) but wanted to share a couple of my favs with you! 

 

banana republic jacket – $12
  
 
elie tahari jacket – $12
 
 
$12
  
HD in Paris top – $5
 

The sacred morning

There is something sacred about mornings. As the blanket of night gradually concedes to the brilliance of a new day.  Somewhere between the tug of sleep and the steady nudge of morning, I find my sweet spot.  The sun covers my body in a warm blanket of light and the sounds of nature beckon to me a fresh start.  I cherish mornings like this when I’m not awakened by the sound of an alarm clock, or a blaring television. When I’m not feeling rushed, nervous or anxious about the day ahead, but can awaken with ease and in my bodies own timing.  I find much reward when I am able to give these gratifying mornings purpose by spending time with God.

But honestly, most of my mornings are no where near this gentle or serene, in fact I wouldn’t consider myself an early morning person at all.  So when I have to get up early my usual mornings consist of waking up to the harsh sound of an alarm clock which I have set to go off four or five times, rushing around groggy with sleep still in my eyes as I get ready for work (usually running late), walk my dogs, make my breakfast etc etc.  There usually is no time for God, or at least I don’t make time for Him.  It’s easy on the weekend’s when I’m alone in bed to pick up the bible first thing and read but mornings like this it usually doesn’t even cross my mind.

Proverbs 8:17 states, …and those that seek me early shall find me.  In some scriptures, early, is replaced with diligently, but either way our goal is to seek Him at a time when we are free of distractions and able to focus completely.  In the bible we see that Jesus, got up before the sun rose to pray so that there would be no interruptions or disturbances.  And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.  (Mark 1:35) This week I’m taking a note from Jesus and will do my best to wake up early and pray.  Who knows maybe it will stick, if you want to join me comment below and we can help keep each other on task!

Below are some biblical quotes about the morning…

  • Psalm 5:3 In the morning, LORD, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly.
  • Psalm 143:8 (ES) – Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust.  Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul.
  • Psalm 5:3  (ESV) – O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I prepare a sacrifice for you and watch.
  • Psalm 30:5  (ESV) – For his anger is but for a moment, and his favor is for a lifetime. Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning.
  • I also ran across this cool fact about essential oils such as rose and lavender which are best harvested in early morning because the yield is the greatest during this time.  The amount of oil diminishes throughout the day, much like our energy in some cases.

Be blessed, and here’s to a purposeFULL life!

Court

Flaws and all

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Recently, I read about the leaking of Beyoncé’s photos sans retouching, in which she looks like a woman with some blemishes, smile lines and other imperfections that you would expect to see on any human walking the earth.   My mind immediately jumped to Cindy Crawford’s consented release of untouched photos, bearing stomach stretch marks and all.  It was refreshing to see a beautiful woman embrace what a culture of perfectionist has deemed unattractive as Cindy unapologetically flaunts her cellulite, flawed skin and other imperfections before the world.

Both of these instances garnered mega uproars in the social media realm and as expected, people applauded Cindy’s candor and the gifting of her middle finger to the world of retouching.  But the reaction to Beyoncé’s photos caused me to say hmmmmm.   Some fan’s were heated to say the least because she wasn’t the impeccable and unblemished woman they were used to seeing.  She seemed, well, human.   As a Beyoncé fan myself I thought she still looked great untouched and while she worked hard for her title of Queen Bey and her immaculate image,  it is just that, an image.  I also felt a twinge of empathy for the tremendous pressure she and other celebrities must receive to constantly remain that flawless face splashed across the television screen or print ads.  It can’t be easy to live up to those standards and yet many women try, while ultimately failing because no one, not even Queen B herself is perfect.  I see it in myself and those I love all the time, the negative self talk, ridiculous diets, and caked on make up to hide what society deems ugly.  There is a constant pressure on women to reach impossible goals of whatever is considered perfection at the time, even going as far as  disfiguring and harming  organs attempting to achieve the perfect hour glass shape or Minaj-esque butt.  It is an epidemic of self-hatred mostly due to a widespread massacre on our esteem.

But, what else is to be expected when we are constantly bombarded with a stream of ‘ideal’ women, when our husbands or boyfriends gawk at them, when we are compared to them or are criticized for not fitting the mold?  In a study researchers found that the amount of time spent on-line, watching television and reading magazines was directly related to the internalization of the thin ideal, body surveillance, reduced body esteem, and increased dieting in teens (NetTweens).  This alerts us to the fact that constantly taking in these portraits of supposed perfection will eventually have an effect on one’s esteem, especially if that person is already insecure and nothing like the images they view.  Although this study focused on teens, there is no age limit to the effects, young and old women are suffering alike.  In 2013 there were 15.1 million cosmetic surgery procedures performed in the United States and the number continues to rise each year (Plastic surgery.org).  Unfortunately, I have no answers as to how to stop such a systemic and deliberate attack on women’s body images that even some of the most monetarily successful women in the world aren’t immune to.  But I will begin with discontinuing negative self talk and urging those closest to me to do so as well, also I will try to embrace my imperfections, and love myself as I am, flaws and all.  Won’t you join me?

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When life doesn’t go as planned

Recently I’ve gone through a lot of small life changes financially and relationally that have stressed me ALL the way out and I’m quite sure contributed to this periodic uncontrollable twitch under my left eye.  Aside from the fact that as I write this there’s a huge snow storm going on & I have no power or heat; the situations include some unexpected (extremely expensive) financial woes and the culmination of my on/off again 2.5 year relationship. These situations have undoubtedly made me think long and hard about life in general.  If ever you have found yourself exclaiming, ‘it’s one thing after another’ to no one in particular,  then you definitely understand my plight.

During times when the trials of life seem to hit hardest it can be near impossible to remain positive and we can easily berate ourselves for making terrible decisions that lead to us hitting that brick wall.  The brick wall which we could have skirted around had we listened to our inner GPS (God, family, friends, intuition), but ultimately didn’t.  After much introspection I thought of a few things these experiences and other tough times have given me (and you) the opportunity to do.

1. Draw closer to God.  There are many times in my life where I feel I ramp up my prayer life or time spent with God during a crisis or hard time.  When I do, it helps me realize not only that I need to constantly pray and seek Him, but also that I am nothing without Him.  When in trouble, I usually ask for His help first, even if it’s just a short God help me!

2. Realize just how strong you really are.  Although it’s nice to have assistance in getting through a tough time, when forced to do things alone or get through inner trials you learn to appreciate your own strength.  When I look back on times that should have broken me and didn’t, I kind of recognize the fact that I am one bad mammajamma!  When we go through the fire and come out unscathed, maybe just a little hotter, it’s always a plus to know that you can rely on you.

3. Recognize the people that have your back.  Next to relying on God and yourself there’s nothing I more thankful for than the angels God has given me here on earth. There are certain people that I can call if needed and they are right there, consistently and without complaint.  It’s truly a blessing.

4. Woman(man) up and take ownership for the predicament you’re in and make better decisions going forward.  Towards the end of last year I decided to make better choices in life as I’m a pro at making ‘meh’ type choices. Although many of the things that occurred recently were a snowball from years or months prior.  I found a way to blame other people for the sadness I felt around the situation, which is the wrong way to handle any situation. Eventually, I had to take ownership for my poor choices in the past and forge ahead.   A lot of financial woes, were my fault and stemmed from years of building up debt on credit cards, not saving or investing as I should, unnecessary shopping sprees instead of paying bills, trips that I could almost afford but not quite and simply put just not being a good stewart of the funds I was blessed with.

5. Make room to rectify mistakes .  They say mistakes are lifes way of teaching you lessons and if that’s the case I’ve learned a LOT! But now is the time reflect on what went wrong and how it’s possible to make amends for those choices. One thing I recognized was that I had allowed myself to become super unorganized in the way I paid my bills. And since I knew better, I had to do better!

6. See the sunny side of the situation. I can’t say for sure that there are silver linings to every grey cloud, but I know there is at least one positive that can be drawn from most situations.  And if we love God and are doing what He has called us to do then we should believe that everything will work out for our good (Romans 8:28).  Even now, as I sit here afraid that I could turn into a popsicle any minute now, I’m grateful for the solitude and time to catch up on some reading. Of course we all get down for a minute, but cry it out, watch a comedy but do what needs to be done to help you get it out and find the good in a bad situation. Focusing on the bright side is far more productive than wallowing in the negativity.   The thing with negative thinking is that the more you focus on it the deeper you sink until you’re drowing in it and in some cases unable to save yourself.

2 Corinthians 12:9-And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

God bless,
Court

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2015 the year of resolution alternatives

Happy new year! With the new year comes the usual creation of resolutions and tackling old bad habits to start a new. But if you’re anything like me those resolutions may start off like a lightning bolt and somewhere around April or May-ish fizzle out like a sparkler. I forget about them or don’t make time and by the start of the next year I’m beating myself up for not accomplishing what I set out to do.

So, this year I’ve decided to not make a list of specific task for 2015 in lieu of one very general, easily applied life goal. The only thing I’m focusing is making better choices in all situations. Eating, relationships, finances, career, basically everything. Our lives are all about choices and maybe if before making a decision I can remember to take the time and focus more on the pros and cons I’ll choose the best possible one. I don’t want this type if thinking for a year, I want it for life!

I thought of a couple other alternative ways to create your resolutions if the conventional way isn’t quite cutting it for you either.

1. Make monthly resolutions: instead of making large goals to tackle at the beginning of the year, you can make smaller ones for each month. If you keep a calendar write your goal on the top of the month to keep as a reminder as you go through the year. You can also break up a larger goal into doable pieces this way.

2. Make one general blanketed goal or resolution: it can be something like my own of making better choices in all situations or something you struggle with. But make it something that you can easily incorporate into your life so that it almost becomes second nature.

3. Group resolutions: if you have a couple of friends with similar life goals make a resolution together. Have check points throughout the year and let each other know how you are doing. Having accountability partners is always a great way to remain on track.

I want to know what your resolutions/goals are, post them below!

Here’s to a purposeFULL life & a prosperous 2015, God bless!
Court😊

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The Super (Wo)man Syndrome

I know that one way God speaks to me is through other people. Since I’ve heard the same message three times within the past week, I think someone in heaven is definitely trying to get my attention! Once at church, once on Kerry Shook and again this morning at a conference Im attending. Although the latter was centered around prioritizing life based on work and gardening (yes, I said gardening) not spirituality it still hit home for me. I can only hope no one else noticed that luminous glow a top my curly hair when someone switched the lights on and that lightbulb shined accordingly! As Oprah would exclaim, I had an “A Ha moment”.

The messages were all very different, but had one central point, the importance of prioritizing your life. I’ve heard before that if we try to do everything, we usually wind up accomplishing nothing and as i ventured back to my hotel room after the seession I came to the concluion that I had been accomplishing little to nothing in so many aspects of my life.

I don’t have the issue of not being able to say no like others, it’s that I have the Superwoman Syndrome. I literally want to do it all! Even though my plate is already filled to capacity, I find myself taking on new ventures with friends or colleagues. I’m wanting to start a not for profit, develop another business, pursue a new class, write new blog post, volunteer for the new ministry, start a new ____________ (insert activity, any activity). I’ve had so many people look at me and ask if I was crazy or tell me that I need to slow down and focus on one thing. But in true superwoman syndrome fashion my thinking was screw that, Im doing it all!!

Im in no way saying that we shouldn’t take on multiple task or endeavors because in this day and age it’s difficult not to. But focusing on one thing at a time has its perks, the main one being not driving you to drink or crazy! Even if you do have a lot to accomplish, by giving your all to one thing at a time you will probably end up with a much higher return on investment. This is especially important since you’re investing one of the most valuable things you own, your time!

Currently, I’m in the pruning process as we learned today at the session. I’m cutting away fruitless task and finishing off what I can so that I’ll be able to focus on the most important things. I won’t drop any of my current projects as I have committed myself to and understand the strength of my word. But I but will delegate when possible and won’t take on anymore task no matter how appealing.

Eventually, once some of the endeavors I’m currently working on begin to grow and flourish I’ll return to others, but going forward I’ll be more selective about what I committ my time to. My goal is to reap the rewards of a job well done, not half done!

What needs pruning in your life?

Here’s to a purposeFULL life!
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YaY for New STUFF!

I finally made it to Whole foods as I’ve moved and haven’t had time to research a health food store. But I picked up a few of my staple favs and a couple new products. The olive oil and green tea extract Shea butter from Nubian Heritage smells heavenly and the reviews aren’t in on the simply bright facial grains as of yet. I’ll try it for a couple weeks and see how I feel about it.

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Farmers Market…

So, I’m (re)starting my healthy eating habits and a couple days ago I was able to check out the local farmers market. I got kale, some wonderful fresh strawberries and onions. Now, I don’t know if it’s all in my head, but honestly everything taste sooooo much better than what I purchase from the store. Each bite of a juicy, ripe strawberry was like a burst of fresh in my mouth! Is that a bit much lol? Well, let’s just say everything was delish.

It is a smaller market (only about 7 vendors) but there were a variety of options from fruit, veggies, flowers, jams and soaps. I was proud to support local farmers and small business, the only downfall is price. The eggs I bought were $6, which was a little pricey for me, but other things were just slightly above regular store prices. Plus a lot of farmers markets are now taking public assistance cards. I think I’ll make it a habit!
Here’s to a purposeFULL life!

 

 

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