Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My 10 Mile Walk Home


It started as a challenge and then it turned into a desire to challenge myself.

You see, I’m not your average walker. Sure I do walk-a-thons every now and then, but my walking is limited mostly to walking to the bus stop or to my car and from the bus stop or my parking spot to my destination. But somehow things changed today.

At the start of this month, I entered into a fitness challenge. The challenge was to join with two other friends and complete fitness tasks by the end of the month.  Some of the tasks included walking up a 13 flight staircase, burning 600 calories on aerobic machines, doing chest presses and more. I guess you could say it was a challenge to become more active. And It has worked for the most part. I have allowed the gym to be a part of my life again and frequent it. Just this afternoon during my lunch hour, I took a core strengthening class which involved using free weights and a body bar and though it was intense, my body felt fabulous.

One of the tasks in the challenge was to walk from my job to the Manhattan Bridge together with the other members of my team.  That is when I decided that the day we choose to walk to the bridge, I would walk home.  
I never walked over a bridge before willingly except for the tragic day back in September of 2011 when we had no choice but to.

I wanted to see what it was like without the panic. Today, we completed the task for our team, walking to the Manhattan Bridge and I also completed my goal of walking over the bridge to Brooklyn and home.

If you are a person who normally drives or takes public transportation to and from New York City like I do, you will never realize how close Manhattan and Brooklyn really is by foot.  That was just a small stretch of my walk though. I normally drive down Flatbush Avenue, but never walked the stretch of it. It has been years since I did the three mile walk through Prospect Park, and I was also able to add that back into my life. In just over 10 miles, the challenge I set for myself was completed.

I am a little tired. My knees are mostly feeling it, but I’m good.

 
Besides the walking factor and the cardiovascular workout that the walking gave me, I was also able to see things I had never seen before in both Manhattan and in Brooklyn.  Picture taking never felt better when I could stop to give my aching feet a rest. 

Now that I know I can do it, I won’t hesitate to continue on my fitness journey that I have planted my feet on because it has me so motivated.  
 
 

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Sweetest Love Dedicated to Foreverness



Couplets of Longevity: A poem

Duets that stick

relationships of wedded bliss in foreverness

guitar riffs and twirling hips

and musical ecstasy slips that never shift

and heart still skips and togetherness

in harmonious drifts that seem to uplift

melodic flows with steady spiritual drifts

knowing the conversational importance

and also having patience

for the long stretch; past to present

one of heaven’s descents

are true examples of love at its best


Models of Love: A Thought

It still amazes me to see love within a couple that has been married for years and years and years and are still going strong.

My parents will celebrate their 42nd anniversary this year. What an example of the way love in a marriage is meant to be. Goes to show you that sometimes all the money invested in a big old expensive wedding is not always something that will be a waste. Some marriages actually do last and are timeless.
 
Surprise in Sweet Love: A Story

Couples like my parents or the Witherspoons who just celebrated 23 years of marriage are blessed to have something like this.

As a surprise for her husband, Mrs Witherspoon thought it would be nice for their wedding song, Anita Baker’s “Sweet Love,” to be sung to them as they celebrated their anniversary dinner. It was funny trying to not be seen until the moment and time arrived and luckily, it worked out perfectly.

Mr Witherspoon seemed very surprised and it was so nice to see the beauty of their smiles shining. 23 years and still strong; now that is definitely an example of sweet love.



Saturday, August 25, 2012

Harlem Run/Walk 2012


It was a great day in Harlem on Saturday, August 25, 2012 when the Percy Sutton Harlem 5K Run and NYC Family Health Walk-athon occurred.
 


Sign-up and registration began at 7:45 AM where packs of people gathered on 135th Street and St Nicholas in front of the WBLS stage, to hit the streets of Harlem and do some running and/or walking.

I did the Harlem Walk two years ago when the theme was remembering Haiti.  This year’s focus was on peace and the chance to stop the violence in our communities.



The run began first and was a five mile race.  The walk was for two miles.  I run on the treadmill every now and then but am not a great runner, so I decided to do the walk which was still good because it was a walk that helped to building upon the foundation of peace.
 

The music was blaring and folks were dancing in the streets to the WBLS Deejay and Dr. Bob Lee getting the crowd hyped. But there was more than just dancing.

 
There was a movement, pictures, a sonorous trumpet rendition of "America the Beautiful" and "The Star Spangled Banner," community and even a group warm-up that took place right there in the street. By the time the walk was set to begin, the crowd was hyped, energized and ready for action.




Prior to walking, Congressman Charles Rangel encouraged the walkers by saying, “stamp out the senseless violence.” Police Commissioner Kelly also spoke about joining together to promote peace in our communities.




Throughout the entire walk from start to finish, walkers chanted “guns down, peace signs up.” A walk and a message poured out into the streets of Harlem. The path that was taken was down St Nicholas Avenue from 135th Street to 127th Street, up 127th Street to St Nicholas Terrace up to Convent, W 141st Street and then back. People in the community saw and smiled in joy and also chanted along.

Many people may not ever see the beauty of Harlem and during the walk I turned into a tourist discovering different sites including St Nicholas Park, Alexander Hamilton’s house and some of the most beautiful, old churches. I couldn’t help but to take pictures. These were great sites to see.

I think I like the idea of promoting something like putting the guns down and throwing the peace sign up. Today Harlem was filled with runners and walkers reaching out to the community as a team about stopping the violence and keeping peace flowing in our communities. It was more than a walk to me. It was like a march and it was definitely for a great cause.


The Harlem run and family walk-athon was part of Harlem Week which is really like Harlem month beginning on July 28th and ending August 25th. Besides the walk, Harlem week features a plethora of fabulous events that take place during this time frame and in the Harlem area. For a list of events, please see the event calendar here: http://harlemweek.com/calendar-of-events/

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Finding Me!


We are just about past hump day and I have to say in only four days of the week, I have found things in this life that have truly upgraded my feelings about the true meaning of happiness; Finding me!

1.       I’ve discovered that I truly love to exercise. I actually enjoy going to the gym and getting all sweatied up. It changes my mood and makes me feel great. 
 
      
       Just think, a couple of months ago, I was not mentally prepared to get up out of my laziness, and go into the ME zone to do pushups or to get on the elliptical machine for twenty minutes. Who would have thought I'd be the one to actually want to do a pushup?  I think that you truly do not know yourself until you make an effort to change your life towards what makes your insides smile. I think I achieved that.

 




2.      I found a new drink. Sambazon Acai With Blueberry and Pomegranate.  For a 10.5 fl oz bottle of 100% juice,  I got a lot.
 
       I got 100% of the daily value of vitamin C. I got 25 mg of Omega 3s.  It had a sweet, refreshing taste that went down smooth, had no aftertaste and only contained 130 calories. It tastes good to me especially since I love pomegranate. I am one of the lovers of this fruit who will take the time seed by seed to have some.  This drink is a great alternative because you can actually taste the combinaiton of the fruits. I am not much of a juice drinker. I mostly drink water and tea nowadays, but a drink like this is excellent. Any gluten free and vegan free juice that can quench my thirst is worth trying again. This one I would even recommend.

 

3.       I love to cook. I have never found so many different recipe ideas to make until I gave up eating meat.
 
       I come up with new concepts every day to try to keep my vegetables interesting because I also gave up rice, pasta and bread.  Don’t get me wrong. I could have my veggies plain with no problem. I didn't realize how much I really like vegetables until now.

      But the last time I tried a diet of this sort, I was back eating more meat than prior to it, and gained all my weight back. I do substitute meat with beans often. Have you ever tried Honey barbecue baked lima beans with broccoli and yams? Very good flavor and a dish I discovered is really great. You should try it. J

 

4.       I like showers but I love baths. I didn’t realize how much I love them until I started finding myself on my knees scrubbing the tub to take a bath every day. 
 
       It is so worth the filling up the tub with hot water and bubble bath to soak the aches away and meditate for a little while by yourself. Sometimes this is the only peace away from everyone and everything, but I have found that it works with my spirit and I love it. Especially when I treat myself to roses and add them to it. Flowers are great for the skin and for my mood. Even looking at the beauty of God's hands makes me smile. A place as beautiful as the one in this picture makes me feel like singing a ballad because I also love to sing; a lot.  
 

5.       Yoga is a great way to stretch out those muscles that we use and abuse every day. Sometimes we neglect them and then find ourselves in pain. But yoga helps to loosen the tension and brings relief to those areas that can tend to bunch up; like thoughts. Yoga and deep meditation has helped me to assemble words I never thought I'd say and instead of simply thinking about things, saying it and letting it mean something and it has brought inner peace that is so deserving. 

       I also found joy on the medicine ball after I found out it could work wonders for my lower back.  We sit all day long at work and often wrong when we lag back in our driver’s seats trying to get comfortable. But yoga works more than the muscles. It aims at relaxation and tension in the mind.  It is a very stilling practice and I love it.

 

6.       I was looking for a new pink lipstick and I found one. It actually looked pretty nice on me.
 
       It came in a makeup bag set from Red Door and also came with one of my favorite perfumes, Red Door, and a mirror that is just perfect for my purse. Funny thing. I had been looking for a new fragrance not realizing how much Red Door parfum really agrees with me. Such a great scent.
 
      The bag is pretty nice too. I actually use this bag as an after workout refresher bag. It is really helpful and I love it. But I can also use it is a evening bag. All I know is that it fits well in my pocketbook which is fabulous.

 


7.       I didn’t realize how much I really love to dance until I started taking Zumba. I think I love to sing and to dance equally. Zumba is such a great class. You move your body to the music like you would at a club but you sweat as if you were running a mile on a treadmill. I used to think I was a great dancer until I walked into this intense class. And boy do we glide across the floor. I think I run to take these classes. I guess you have to have some concept for dancing to be able to flow well in it.  I think I did.  Watch this video and tell me what you think?

 
 

I believe happiness is knowing who you are and simply doing the simple things that can enhance your mood and bring joy. That's the happiness that matters the most. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Poem: Shadow Dancing in my Spirit



I see you shadow dancing in my spirit
when the Brooklyn moon is shining dark streets
brought to life by the sparkling star shine
where night carpet rides way up high
on which dreamers dance until morning time
the missing puzzle pieces of their slice of life

I slumbered as gently as untampered snow on a car top
Same old melody that continues to bop
I can face the truth; my life as naked as a politician
Skinny in the Sea of Galilee dipping
No secrets; as loud as whispered ballads climaxed in the frame
You remain in the tight crevices of my drum beat pattern playing

Dreamers cite the melodies of song, lyrically posing on tracks
Carry on their daily life snoring ringtones of possibilities in stacks
I was caught off guard on the eight in target when you gravitated to me
I’m in the Dead Sea deep down under unable to hide the blush on my cheeks
Just sit back and meditate is what he said when the breath of love was last
Walking on clouds into the miracles of heaven interrupted by the sound of brass

Friday, August 17, 2012

It's Tea Time

This new diet that I am on has me doing things that are so new to me and who I am that even I get surprised at my own self.


It becomes even more real to me when it comes to my drink choices. I used to always be the one ready to head to happy hour for my favorite drinks. I used to be the one running to Starbucks every morning for my Venti pike. But in considering my diet, exercise and my weight loss goals, these have become less of an option for me and more of a when I want to treat myself thing. I guess you can truly call this a new lifestyle because that is exactly what it is.

I always loved drinking tea, but now it has become more relevant in my life. It has been about four weeks since I had my last cup of coffee. I can’t say the same for alcohol as I used to consider myself a lush. Nowadays, I drink on occasion. If I am at a party and it calls for me to have a drink, I have one, but I no longer drink every day or even every week. I surprised myself today when I went to my favorite happy hour spot and when our waitress came to our table, I asked for a glass of pineapple juice and cranberry juice mixed instead of my usual long beach or leechy martini. My friends and even our waitress looked at me as if I were strange, but something has changed me to thinking about my goals and trying to stick to the program.

Not everybody is a tea fan.  I think it is about the taste. If it smells and tastes like tea, to some folks it is undesirable.  Since I stopped drinking coffee, I also stopped drinking caffeine which includes soda. Though I do like green and black tea, at this moment when my body is losing water through perspiration while exercise, I need to have drinks that will help to keep my body hydrated. Water is a great option, but so is tea.


So here are some of my favorite caffeine free teas that I have tried thus far that you might find interest in trying also:



1. I love Starbucks. They have a line of tea in there known as Tazo.  Little did I know that Tazo is also sold in most supermarkets which is great for me because I got to try their Tazo Africa Red Bush. It is an herbal tea and is caffeine free. It has a nice fragrance and taste. It is made with rooibos and hibiscus flower. It is very smooth and makes a great cup of tea.


2. I love apple pie. The smell of it is simply divine and taste is to die for.  Cinnamon Apple Spice Herbal Tea from Celestial Seasonings smells and tastes like apple pie in a cup. It has a nice spicy flavor and has a comforting feel going down.  This tea  really tastes great and is so good, you do not need to add sugar to it.  Most people do not know what the taste of the tea truly is because they mask it with sugar, honey, lemon and other additives. This tea doesn’t need any additive at all. You can simply enjoy it plain.


3. Organic Roasted Dandelion Root from Traditional Medicinals is a great tea because it not only has an interesting flavor it also promotes healthy liver function, increases your bile flow and also acts as a cleanser for your blood. It can be used as a delightful beverage or even as a dietary supplement. This tea is caffeine free and can be purchased from most major supermarkets.


4. Stash has a tea sampler of superfruit teas that are a mixture of caffeine free and naturally caffeinated teas. All green teas are naturally caffeinated, but they are not such bad choices to have as they also have benefits to the body.  Of the caffeine free teas that are featured in this assortment, the Yumberry Black Currant Herbal Tea has caught my interest. I would buy a box of just that tea bag alone. Others featured in this box include Acai Berry, Blueberry Superfruit, Pomegranate Raspberry Green Tea, Goji Berry Green, and Mangosteem Green.

Rumor has it that drinking warm substances after eating a meal helps with digestion and to speed up your metabolism and cold beverages slow it down. It has also been said that tea has a calming factor to it. I cannot say whether these statements are true or not, but as for me, it is for one, a substitute from the coffee and also a beverage that I have come to really enjoy a lot more than I did before. Tea is actually more than just a beverage to have when you are feeling sick. It tastes good. Anytime can be considered tea time for me because this goes well with my new lifestyle.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Poem: As Beautiful As a Vacation in the Tropics


 
Thoughts of you are as beautiful as a vacation in the tropics

Laying there in the sand with a cocktail mix
As refreshing as the gush of eau from the waterfalls of Haiti
You’re the only one I know that can get me into thinking like this
Like wanting to dance in the rains of the Caribbean summer nights
Or wake up to the site of your eyes by my side as my morning light
I imagine it and the thought of your warm, crisp air upon me simply bites
Thoughts of you flow freely like wind to a kite
You’re the only one that makes me feel more peaceful than the sweet flowing sea
A bathing suit and some sun tan lotion and I'm set to be sun kissed
makes me want to run to the shore, soak until it’s warm enough to swim in it
I’m blown away by the glam of your kisses
A rose petal and bubbles in the water streams in innocence
A late night workout together as one intertwined
Then sit on the booze cruise sipping on Sangria and Miami Vice
I wish upon a star for a taste of your glitz
And why, because you remain forever in my bits
Oh how I wish I held the requirements to enlist
You steal the show each time, how can I resist
I want to march to the beat of your heart after a morning run in the sand
Dance the night away to the sounds of a tin pan band
I think it’s just that perhaps I’m ready to vacate and
walk through a midsummer night dream under the red sky, hand-in-hand
Somehow, you never left my spirit and still I sit in awesome wonder
I still imagine you tattooed to my birthday suit like henna
I wish I could sit in the midst of your lovely sun and bake to crisp
Thoughts of you are as passionate as a vacation in the tropics

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Poem: My GPS Got Me Lost Again


My GPS got me lost again
I ended up in a foreign land
Nowhere close to where I should have been
Map quest brought me back to earth again
I can claim that I left it for a little while
I drifted away to a place that’s unfiled
That you can’t reach on your rotary dial
Just know that from here it’s a million miles
On the road again I started
To the destination I aimed from when departed
Cruising all along whole hearted
I sped like an airplane about to ascend from the tarmac
There’s something about driving on an empty road
Where you are just free to cruise the zone
Because no cars ahead to break your flow
Except those cops hiding wanting to make you ticket hold
So it was me on the road in the middle of the night
My eyes barely open and so to faith I held on tight
Hoping that I’d make it without falling out of light
Hoping this wouldn’t be the day I’d spirit rise
Then it happened without indication of change
I found out my eyes closed when my car drifted lanes
From the express side of highway to the local exchange
Thank God I was on the road without another to trace
That moment in time had me shook
There was nothing to keep me awake that was written in a book
Nor was there a solution I could find on twitter or facebook
Just a car on the road being driven by a rook
That could've been the night I might've met my last breath
I can say I regret nothing in life but am not ready for death
Because I have so much to live for and so much interest
In doing exactly what from heaven I was sent

And so I cried and prayed the rest of the ride home
It was me in the car by myself but no I wasn’t alone
For God saw me through the auto zone
I knew his shadow covered me all along
So how can I doubt in his love for me
Because I lived it and have this true testimony
All I know is I'm still here and that I believe
That he kept me to do and be a better version of me
I did get my ticket though for being just that
The cop was hidden in a corner while I was speeding down my path
75 in a 50, he said while at my exit, so mad
No regrets but a freakin' expensive ass ticket! Dag!!!


Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Genre Battle

There are people who will tell you that if you sing, you ought to choose a genre.
 In otherwise, if you sing R&B, you can’t be a Gospel singer.  But I always wonder about that. I hear R&B artists add Gospel songs to their albums all the time. I write songs that have lyrics suitable for R&B and also for Gospel. Actually more than wonder, I used to be very confused about that and it made me doubt in myself.
Okay, so I dance when I sing along to the songs that have words other than testimony and of the mercies of the Lord. But is it the same as dancing around the truth that we all fall short of the glory of God?  How can I look at someone else and judge whether they are a backslider or not when the Bible says that no not one but Jesus is worthy? In other words, if it were not for Jesus taking on the battle for us, none but Jesus would rise up to heaven.  
I always had questions in my mind that circled around other Christians slinging doubt my way. Am I not Christian because I choose to sing a song that is categorized as Rhythm and Blues?  Is my going to church in vain?  Is my going to God in prayer not the same as all of us sinners who similarly go to God in prayer simply because I sing in night clubs and in bars with bands? 

And why can’t my singing of the mercies of the Lord be real just because I am a singer who likes to sing? Should I base my belief in myself on what others think is right for me?  What if I go to God in prayer about it? Am I a heathen because I am using my anointing to sing other than music that can lift someone's spirit? In all actuality, doesn't music uplift spirits? When I am feeling low, listening to music regardless of genre seems to make me feel like a new person.  But I am just one in the megamillions of people on this earth. Maybe that's just me.

Why is it so hard to believe that all go to God in prayer because they need him? But who besides God can speak on behalf of the relationship that he and his soldier in the army share?  

All these doubts and questions like baggage I carried on my back. I used to care a lot about what people thought and how they perceived me. When I went to church and was called to sing, I used to always doubt that the congregation would not believe that my ministry is real because I also sing R&B. Why did some thinking of me as  just singing like usual and not real to them if it was real to me, persuade me to think differently about myself? I started to believe that about myself and it made me feel awful.  I used to try to do just what people wanted just so that they could think of me as a good person. 

And then I realized that of all the things that can bring me down, hurt my pride, make me want to throw in the towel and give up everything that I started just because things did not go my way, people let me down or stress just keeps using me as a target, that the battle is not mine because the Lord has my back in all things.  Actually, it was a preacher who said it today at church that reminded me of it. He kindly pointed it out in the Bible. Exodus 14:14 says, "The Lord will fight for you. You need to only be still."
And that is why I love the song, “The Battle is not Yours” because it speaks a fountain of truth. We can still hold our heads up high if we never let go of God’s unchanging hand because he will bear the weight of our problems for us, if we believe. I know he is real and I claim him as my Savior. Yes, I am a singer who sings R&B, but I love the Lord wholeheartedly because he loves me unconditionally, despite who I am and regardless of where I am.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

A Morning Boost that's Caffeine Free

So I found out that I really can do without the coffee boost. 

It has been about nine days without coffee and after all the headaches and achiness I felt as I craved it, today brought the reality that there are other things that can give me that rush of adrenaline.; like a morning workout.

Okay, I won’t say that I am the biggest workout person out there. I do however get the occasional desire to do something for myself that will benefit my life.  Working out was that additive. And so, this morning, I joined a new gym. Little did I know the type of evaluation I would be given way too early in the morning to be doing anything other than putting the alarm clock back on sleep, so I could do just that for ten more minutes.

But I have to say, the things the trainers had me do were so intense, that I felt the energy just stimulate my entire body for the duration of the day.  We did some step aerobics.  I have done that type of workout before, so was already familiar with the exercise.  Little did I know that the trainer would add about five risers which brought the step almost taller than me. It was like jumping from the first step to the fourth on the stairway to the stars. But I did it as well as other aerobics and toning exercises.  I was even inspired to come back in the evening to take a zumba class.

I wasn’t even tempted today for a cup of delicious dark roast coffee, didn’t get that headache I was getting days before and felt great. A cup of morning cardiovascular is a good substitute. I would even suggest it to others who are interested in doing workouts with benefits.  A morning one is excellent. I’m  not saying that I will make it a daily routine, but I think it is a good way to start the morning off, so I might try to do it more often.  Nonetheless, I am doing something that is good for the mind, heart and body.  To want to is the first step. To try is going the long run. To do it is victory.  I’m on my way; I think.