Monday, April 30, 2012

Conviction vs Condemnation-Sunday Meditation

Sorry I've been absent.

Had a few things on my mind lately, mainly a bout of recriminations and self accusations. For some reason, all my past mistakes were playing in HD in my head and I was seriously down on myself, searching myself, wondering if my response at the time was right. This mind of mine tends to remember the things that are long forgotten by others, while forgetting the things I need to survive the day to day.

But I digress.

I wondered if these thoughts were condemnation from the devil who is known to accuse the brethren over and over again of sins already forgiven and forgotten by the Lord God, or conviction from the Holy Spirit for me to search my heart and repent of my sins. I am still not clear. I keep hearing love covereth a multitude of sins, and I know that that is my weakness. I am too quick to write people off, too quick to anger, too slow to forgive. I've been hurt so much that I tend to over react sometimes to prevent myself from being taken advantage of, used and abused. Sometimes, I have to call my sisters to make sure my reaction is the right one because just like an overactive immune system, I tend to go on all out war instead of just a warning. Sigh. But I guess this is what happens when the core of a relationship is not love. If I had love, I would be able to forgive and forgive and forgive and forgive ad nauseaum right. But when does one draw the line?

I remember a sermon I heard preached 2 years ago at Jubilee Christian Center in Boston. God so wanted me to hear that word that I heard it twice from two totally different pastors. I mean different, the first church was an all american modern church (Jubilee), and the second church was an all nigerian traditional church (CAC). So I paid close attention.

The pastor at Jubilee spoke of a new law, a gospel law of love and trust. God's love for us, and our trust in Him. He listed several costs, if you will, of this law.
To rethink: Be totally honest about who we are and what we do.
To repent: Be willing to lose any habit/plan/friend
To renounce: give up all rights to our lives, dying to ego and what people see us as.
To replan: be prepared to make changes, make amends and let go of those who have wronged us
To receive: Jesus Christ by faith, knowing that we do not have to do anything to earn God's favor.

I have been stuck on cost #1 all week, thanks to this sermon on envy by Pastor Rick Warren. I never saw myself as an envious person or a covetous person. But that sermon made me hold a mirror to myself and I wasn't happy with what I saw. I have a lot of work to do, all these years of being born again, I thought I would have got it by now.  But as long as I hold on to my "rights" and "fairness" I guess I will continue to be stuck in the rut  of grudge bearing and anger. As long as I keep focusing on people's opinions of me and what I do, I guess I will continue to be stuck in discontent, insecurity and grass is greener syndrome. So much food for thought. God help me.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Customer Service

I finally bought a console for my entryway on Ebay.  I have never bought furniture from Ebay so I was a bit nervous. The furniture arrived in good time but I was unable to pick it up until two weeks later. I put it together only to find the thing was wobbly and uneven. At first i felt burned, I could not return it since I had missed the return deadline. However, I contacted the seller and to my great surprise, he was very helpful. I sent him the pictures and he sent me a replacement stat. In fact I think I contacted him last Sunday, sent pictures in the middle of the week and I arrived home Monday to find the replacement awaiting me. All I could say was wow.

Contrast this with the treatment I've received at some stores here in the ELP. Since I've been here, I've endured more insults than I've ever had in my life, especially coming out of Boston, which is forever famous for being a racist town. The first time was when I was shopping at my favorite grocery store and the cashier asked if i was planning to pay with a EBT card. It was not my first time there, so I was a bit taken aback because I'd never been asked that before in my life. I usually let such ignorant statements slide but this time i confronted her, and her lame excuse was everyone uses it here. However, I have never heard anyone asked that particular question and even if everyone was using it, her only question should be credit or debit. Not credit, debit or EBT.

The second time was at the Limited in Cielo Vista Mall. Yes, I'm naming names. I waited in line to pay for almost 20 minutes. There were at least 4 people behind the registers and one person ahead of me. This person was being helped by two cashiers: one was ringing up the purchase and the other was talking and talking and talking. One of the cashiers was cleaning, (who cleans when there is a customer waiting on line?); and the fourth was being taught something by someone. Finally, one cashier came from somewhere, not one of the others who were obviously too busy to help me, and rang me up. I was not pleased and as fate would have it, I picked up the wrong shirt so I returned it and didn't replace it.

I chalked that episode up to poor customer service and again thought nothing of it until I went to Dillard's the other day to look at my Gianni Bini shoes. I stopped at the jewelry display, you know the type, every Macy's, J.C. Penny's, Sears, Loehman's, Nordstrom Rack, and Filenes,(RIP) has it. You know, the cheap $20 stuff that is usually on a table. Anyway, I was looking through when a salesperson came running out of nowhere. I mean running. I thought it odd but paid it no mind. She asked if i needed help and I said no. I thought she had left to go behind her counter or whatever but I happened to look up and saw two not one, two of those salespeople staring me down, watching my every move. I was hopping mad. Two of them had to keep such a close eye on me? Two of them? I walked away, went to the shoes which is what I really came for. However, the ignorance continued. There were two salespeople on the floor just standing there, and I was wandering up and down and down and up looking for my shoes. Not one offer of help. Not one. I walked out and swore to never go back again. Unfortunately for me the shoes are carried exclusively by Dillard's.

Anyway, the final straw was last Sunday. So this time I dressed up. I had on a wig. My designer bag, super high heels. Hey, when dealing with shallow people, you have to meet them at their level. I walked through the jewelry section again. What a difference. The same woman was there, and she was super helpful, asking me what i wanted to try on, my size etc. Same 20 dollar display by the way. Hmph. I wanted to tell her to spare me, she already made her first impression on me and it was not helpful.

I carried on to Express to pick up some new pants. Unfortunately, I got distracted by the clearance section and bought some things that were so not on my shopping list. I went up to pay and like any good shopper i had my coupon and my gift card (what, you don't shop with coupons? na wa for you o). I laid all these out and before the stupid girl had even checked my stuff, she was telling me that the coupon wasn't good on clearance items. Say what now? What happened to "Did you find everything u were looking for? Who helped you out today?" I had even planned to give one of the floor girls a shout out because she was quite helpful but the silly cashier ruined it. I told her that not all the items were clearance and then she had the nerve to ask me which ones were and were not. Seriously? So in that case, how did you know enough to tell me my coupon was not valid on clearance items? I gave her a blank stare and she figured it out herself. The whole thing left a foul taste on my mouth. I'm still debating whether I should return all the extra stuff I bought and buy them online instead. The thing holding me back is that I made a vow  to never ever step foot in the Cieolo Vista Mall again. I am shopping strictly online for my Limited/Express/Gap stuff. I have been shopping at those stores since before most of those cashiers were born so it would really be my loss, not the cashiers if I quit them at this stage.

I must admit though mostly everywhere else has been good. Target, Goodwill, my grocery store, Pro's Ranch, where I am more often than not the only nappyhaired girl there (lol), so am not ready to call ELP a totally racist town. But that Cielo Vista Mall is getting the serious side eye from me for now. 

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

We don't neeeeed no more trouble...

Gosh, am in a Bob Marley mood today. No idea why.

I actually left my house last night, and did not go to a work event or shopping. I went to a poetry slam downtown. Am trying to feed my inner artist and all that so I can break through to the other side of this writer's block. Anyway, it was fun. I couldn't stay to the end and I came late but I enjoyed what I heard. Am mad at the judges though. I don't know what they were doing, giving my favorite pieces lower than usual scores. Which truthfully, is not that big a deal cos the scores were average 9.5 out of 10. I loved every minute. I can't wait to go back again.

The bassline on Concrete Jungle was my soundtrack home last night. Top down on the highway, heaven! I can't find the version I was listening to, but enjoy this one.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

I won't complain...

There's a praise
That lives deep in my heart
And it says
Oh Lord I love You
I am blessed
When I think of Your goodness to me
It comforts me daily

But there are times in my life
When things don't work out right
And my burdens are heavy
And there's no joy in sight
Put my eyes back on You
For You've always come through
And with this simple refrain
I will bless You, bless You

Lord You've been
Good to me
You made the way
I could not see
Your love came in
And lifted me
And now, I won't complain
Through the years
You been there
To dry my tears
There is not
A closer friend
Than You

Oh Lord You have been
So good to me
More than this world could ever be
I really want to thank You
Lord I won't complain

Lift my hands
Give You praise in the midst of each storm
'Cause You are worthy
When life's sorrows and heartaches rush in
I will remember (You are still worthy)

Let the words of my mouth
Leave no room for doubt
Because down through the years
You've been faithful
And when I think it all through
Oh Lord it's been You
Who's been there all the time
And I'm grateful, grateful

Lord You've been
Good to me
You made the way
I could not see
Your love came in
And lifted me
And now, I won't complain
Through the years
You been there
To dry my tears
There is not
A closer friend
Than You

Lord I know that You know what's best for me
Even when my weary eyes can't see
I really want to thank You (really want to thank You yeah)
Lord I won't complain (Lord I won't complain)

Let the words of my mouth
Leave no room for doubt
Because down through the years You've been faithful
When I think it all through
Oh Lord it's been You
Who was there all the time and I'm grateful

Through it all
Through it all You've been there for me

Through it all
Through every trial, every heartache You've been there

Through it all
Every tear that I've cried Lord You've been there

I lift my hands and I give You the praise

Through it all
Down through the years every step that I had to take

Through it all
You've been there any time I'm falling

Through it all
All You've been there to hold me tight through the crazy times

I lift my hands and I'll give You the praise

You've been good
You've been good when I think of all You've done

You've been so good
It makes me want to shout for joy and give You glory

You've been good
There is no one like You, You've been so good yeah

I lift my hands and I give You the praise

Let's say thank You
Thank You
I won't complain
Instead I'm gonna say

Thank You
Thank You

I'll lift my hands and I'll give You the praise

Through it all
Through it all You've been there every day of my life

You've been so good
You've been so good and I lift my hands to give You praise

Let me say
Thank You (6 times)
I won't complain

Instead I'm gonna say
Thank You (6 times)
I won't complain

Instead I'm gonna say
Thank You (4 times)

say it 

Lyrics from:LyricsReg.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Wake up call

I gained weight!!!!

I know exactly where I went wrong. Let's see, it was the halfhearted workouts, the incessant snacking, the outside eating, that last one messed up my calorie bank and my financial budget. Still, it hurt to get the usual speaking to from my personal trainer. I needed to hear it, and it's precisely why I am paying him.

It's too easy to lie to oneself, you know. To say, well, i gained a pound, it's because it's that time of the month. I gained five pounds, well my pants still fit so it doesn't really matter, or the ultimate, i gained 10 pounds, what's the use, let's just give in and eat that cake. (oooh cake, i love cake but I digress).

Anyway, I am determined to get back on track. A pair of Gianni Bini shoes are at stake here, and also these neon Target wedges. I am taking my jogging seriously, even doing the ultimate no no for me, working out in the evening. I hate evening workouts on my own. I always find an excuse not to partake, however, it's a war right now on these here pounds so I'm willing to do whatever it takes.

I refuse to lose, well, in this case, I agree to lose, lol.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Style Icon: My sister

My sisters and mother have great style. Even better, they always manage to look great on a budget. When my sister  told me that her outfit today cost only $62, I had to share.  She is no joke when it comes to getting a good deal, in fact, she guided me through negotiations for my nightstand from Marshalls earlier this year
Skirt: Limited $8.99. (Originally $59.90, final reduction 14.99. I snagged it when they were doing a 40% off store wide promotion.)

Blouse: Limited. $12.99 (Originally $24.99, I got it for 12.99. I was actually pretty upset because I had missed getting it just a few days prior when the store had its 40% of sale.)

Shoes: Boutique 9. $39.99.

I have been begging her to blog about her wonderful clothing deals but she just ignores me. Maybe this post will encourage her. 

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

TV head.

I just found a new show that I am about to become hooked on. ABC's Scandal. I love LOVE Kerry Washington. I was sad that the premiere was on Thursday night, my night clinic night. But fortunately for me, ABC has the two first episodes online! I watched one of them last night instead of sleeping, and wow. I love it. I can't wait to go home and watch the second one today! I am almost tempted to get DVR for this show.

I got that feeling.

I really love the warm balmy nights we are having in El Paso right now. It reminds me of Miami somehow, minus the smell of the water. The cold bitter nights I used to endure are a distant memory. I hated sitting in my living room because of the frigid air.  The warm nights feel so good. I like walking outside again.

The weather change gives me hope. The one thing I have missed about living in New England is the season change. The bitter winter, the darkness, the cold that permeates through you if you don't bundle up, that finally changes into lively spring, the small buds on the tree, the smell in the air, the light. You don't get that in Miami.

My hope is being built up again. I know that just like the winter has passed into spring, I will also pass into a new season of joy, and the loneliness and frustration I feel right now will also be a distant memory. In the meantime, I have promised myself to be content in this season. To be grateful for the life I am leading right now.  To enjoy myself right now and not wait until whenever, my debt is completed, my weight is down, etc. To be kind to myself, for real be kind, and not just promise to be kind and never follow through. It is all so simple, yet so hard to do. It's much easier to complain and whine and be swallowed in self pity than to just simply live. All I can do is try.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Breaking through

I was determined this morning to work out, and not do my fakeout workout either. A fakeout workout as I define it is when I go to the gym with all plans and promises, and then get lazy and get off the treadmill after say about a mile, 1/2 of which is usually spent walking, slow.  Today, I got real with myself and ignored all mutterings and whinings same as my trainer ignores me when I complain and cry. I set a goal of around the block 3 times which translates roughly to 3 miles. It was painful and I walked and my feet hurt and my legs ached and it was dusty. But I made it. Slow as a camel trekking through the hot desert sun but I made it and I felt so proud of myself. I have been high all morning. I cant wait to do it again!

New Week

I feel so accomplished this morning. My weekend was productive for once. I painted my chair and it is finally in my bedroom. The thing is, I underestimated the amount of paint I would need and went crazy with dilution. My first clue should have been that the original pattern was visible under the paint. I filed it down a bit with sandpaper which took off the color. Then, because I ran out of paint, I wasn't able to paint the seat and instead covered it with an old ankara skirt that I was planning to turn into pillows. I was very disappointed with the results, but it's now growing on me. I might leave the ankara like that or change it for another ankara I have. Lastly, I tried gluing the broken leg in place but alas, it didn't work. I guess I had better just buy a new leg for the chair.

My next project is to figure out how to stick mirrors into an old painting. I also need to pick up my hall table from the office where it has been waiting for me all last week. I really wish the office hours were compatible with the regular working person like myself, or that they came to work at the exact time listed on the door. If
I am really lucky, I might be able to pick it up on Thursday otherwise it would have to be Saturday. Argh, I just reminded myself that am working thursday night. Noooooooo.

Target is killing me right now, my chairs and table are back on sale again. After I bought my patio set, I promised myself no more Target furniture, time to diversify a bit. I think am going to order it. I wonder how long the sale will last for.  Temptation!

I cooked but I need to get back into watching my calories so I can hit my target goal of 158 this month. I have to get serious! I must work out daily and stop being so lazy when it comes to running. The minute it gets painful, I stop, instead of pushing myself further and further.

I made Cilantro-Lime Roasted Chicken with cauliflower.  I can't wait to taste it. I was fortunate to have lime and cilantro on hand, especially cilantro, not a fan of it at all. Always tastes to me like eating cloth, that and parsley. I just happened to have some leftover from the salsa I made last week. I also stirfried a whole bunch of vegetables, boiled some chicken breast, and lastly made some bok choy. I have no excuse not to eat well this week. None whatsoever!

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

I whip my hair back and forth...

I went natural in the spring of my first year of college in 1993. I was inspired by a friend of mine who had transitioned from a perm to wearing her hair without chemicals, I make that distinction because she still straightened her hair daily and never ever wore it curly. I didn't have a big chop or anything like that, I just stopped perming my hair, and let all the permed hair fall out.

This was before the internet and Amazon even so I had no clue what to do with my hair. I just threw it in extension braids  and that was that. I hated braiding my hair though so as much as I could when I was out of  my mother's clutches, I would leave it out. Now, because I thought natural hair was strong and could take anything, I abused my hair. At the time though, I didn't realize I was abusing it. I combed it all the time and went to bed with it loose and free.  I loved washing it but then it would take me about a week to get it soft and then it was time to wash again. My regimen at the time involved washing it with nexxus humectress or the suave equivalent, conditioning it, and then braiding into four or five plaits while wet. I would oil the plaits in coconut scented petroleum jelly.  I was told by hairdressers without a clue that I was washing my hair too much and all that water was damaging to my hair so I would let it languish, except I would catch a bad case of dandruff or it would get HARD and unmanageable.

My youngest sister's hair was also natural but unlike me and my extensive manipulating, she would just leave it in a big afropuff on the top of her head. She rarely combed it, rarely washed it.  Needless to say, her hair was much longer and thicker than mine. I wondered why my hair wasn't growing, why it wasn't full, why it wasn't pretty like the pictures of naturals I would see in Essence magazine. Actually, I knew my hair was growing. I could see the new growth when I had my braids in. When I was in medical school, I dyed my hair and I could literally see the color grow out of my hair until it disappeared. My hair was growing but I wasn't retaining any length.

Things came to a head for me finally in 2009. I was frustrated with my hair. It was short, I didn't know what to do with it and again, I felt it should have been much longer than it was.  I was so frustrated that I even posted my frustration on my facebook wall.

As life would have it, my youngest sisters had become obsessed with an online forum called Long Hair Care Forum many years prior. I never paid them no mind because they had betrayed me by getting perms, plus I thought the forum was just for permed folks. Finally, while on call one night, I visited the site and was blown away. I somehow ended up on the fotki of Chicoro via black girl with long hair. OMG. Her hair was waist length and it looked similar to my texture while wet. I was so impressed I bought her book full price on Amazon. That's a big deal because as usual I was broke and full price for a book? me? But I didn't care. This woman's hair was long, and I wanted my hair to be long too so I was willing to pay the price.

I learned so much from her book. The first thing I learned was that my hair needed moisture, moisture and more moisture. I was a bit crazy in the early days. I was a moisturizing fool, to the point that I was leaving grease stains on pillows and thangs, just like in the day of the jerri curl. But it was worth it. For the first time, my curls were defined and my hair did not look ashy. More importantly, I was retaining length. Then I learned about protective styling and I stopped wearing my hair out in a puff. Finally, in my quest for protective hairstyling, I got my second weave ever, and I became a weaveaholic for about 2 years. I would still be one now, but ironically, the best weavers for me are all based in Boston. I found two haidressers there who can do the closing so crucial for a full head weave really well. I found it ironic because when it comes to hair, Miamians are no joke. Their hair was always did every week, in all kinds of styles, and you could always find a hairdresser for cheap. I did these amazing braids similar to ghanaweaving for $25 bucks. Killed my hairline but I digress.

I had to let go of my love for combing my hair (which was the main reason I didn't want to lock my hair) Now I only  comb it when I condition it, so maybe about once a week if am being diligent about washing my hair or every 2 weeks if am lazy, like now. Of course with any new thing, it eventually becomes old, and I have backslidden a few times. I was brought up short by a photo I took in August of last year and I went searching again for tips. My hair was wilted and dry and screaming for help.

This time around, I discovered youtube and the many videos on natural hair and I got re-obsessed again. I especially loved Kimmaytube and Naptural85. Inspired by them, I even started documenting what I had done with my hair. I had a lot of time on my hands. I was studying for my boards and unemployed so I basically cooked a lot and played with my hair.

Once I started working I got lazy again. I tried the wig route for a while, and eventually broke down after three years and put single braids in my hair. I had swore off them because I always lose the hair on my edges. Of course, as expected, even though I asked for big braids to minimize damage, I lost a few braids here and there with my hair still attached. It hurt!  Nevertheless, am back on my quest for waist length hair. My routine is simpler now. I spritz my hair with water, oil it with coconut oil and seal with my coconut petroleum jelly. This works for me. I braid it for the night or twist depending on how rushed i feel. In the morning, I repeat and put in a bun.  I thought my job was adverse to my hair so I was putting gel in it and brushing with a boar bristle so it would lie down flat but I swear I could hear each hair snapping so I stopped the madness.

My favorite resources as as follows: 
JC of Natural Haven. This is an amazing natural hair blogger. She is amazing because she actually cites reference articles. I never even knew there were hair scientists doing experiments on hair and stuff.

Blackgirllonghair: The articles inspired me when I was frustrated with my hair, and they led me to Chicoro so I will always love them.

I really want to buy this book very very soon: The Science of Black Hair. My sister has nothing but good things to say about it.  Here is the companion website.

And of course Chicoro, I still go back and read her book. She also mails out weekly email tips.

You could find anything and everything hair here, plus more.

And finally there are some Nigerian hair bloggers based in Nigeria. I am pretty excited for that. 

A hair retrospective. Not the greatest quality because I took most of them with my cell phone. I still have a long way to go. Now that the weight is falling off, and the debt is cut in half, it's time to get obsessed with my hair again.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

Could it all be so simple?

I just discovered an amazing way to clean the tub. I discovered it on some random website during my many many marathon surfing nights. I typically hate cleaning my tub. I thought I found my way around it when I discovered Method daily shower spray. It smells so amazing and it really keeps soap scum at bay. But, of course am not consistent about using it daily. I'll be good for about a week and then fall off woefully. Anyway, my new trick is Mr. Clean or its dollar tree equivalent. I cleaned my tub with it and it works. My dollar tree equivalent is of course a buck, and it's not as firm as mr. clean and is probably only good for one tub wash but it works! It's so easy! Am in love.

Another wonderfully simple solution I found is for my chair. I just discovered it last night on Mr.Goodwill Hunting's blog. All this while I had been sweating this amazing wing chair that he had on that site, black with plaid accents. It looks very expensive and I figured he bought a chair and had it re-upholstered. Can you believe it is painted!!! OMG! Painted! You can read all about it here. With the step by step here. Am just in awe right now! And super plus, very cost effective. That's my weekend project. And if it comes out all wrong, no problem, I can always repaint it.

And here I thought internet surfing was damaging my brain. Ok, it is, it is because I spend too much time surfing  but keep praying for my deliverance.


Monday, April 02, 2012

Baba Time, please pump your brakes.

Wow. This year is already in the fourth month, the second quarter of the year! ARGH.

Father time, I beg, there is no need to rush. Or maybe it's just me because 24hours seems compressed into 2hrs and the day is done already with none of my many goals accomplished.

Last week, I was very ambitous, and I very ambitiously did not complete a thing. I made a plan to walk/jog 3 miles daily, write almost daily, work on my novel blah blah etc etc. Of course I accomplished maybe 10% of that, but nevertheless, it is well. I have a new week to start all over and get it right. I know I will be able to do more with my time once I get out of my habit of excessive net surfing. I did promise myself no more gossip blogs last week, and while I haven't been completely cold turkey, I have managed to cut it down to about maybe ok, i did cut it down sha, no need to quantify. LOL. At least am not reading it second thing in the morning anymore.

My major number one problem is procrastination! If I could truly conquer that, everything else in my life will fall into place. Sigh. Prayer warriors and regular praying folks, pray for me.

Nevertheless, I will make another plan for this week, because after all as they say, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Financial wise: I am on target with paying back my debt. Not on target with my budget. I had an extra check this week but despite calculating and recalculating, due to my trigger happy ways with the previous paycheck I was unable to do as much damage to my debt as I had hoped. I was hoping that this month of April will see the end of two major debts but we will see sha. The plan is no spending outside of food/gas/rent for this month.

Novel wise: Haven't touched it. I need something to spark my creativity. I was to go to two events on Saturday. The first one I missed due to work. The second one I came home and crashed like a mad woman. But I did go see Red Tails finally. it was alright. The acting was something else. I also finally read Hunger Games. Kobo books was having a sale and I am kicking myself for only buying one of the books instead of all three. They cost 89 cents for the first, a buck for the second and third or thereabouts. I should have known better. My call partner whilst I was in residency had been reading and talking about those books for the month we were together. She was hooked like some people were hooked on twilight and harry potter. I had been trying to borrow them from the library electronically since last year but they only had the audio versions and I don't do audio. Hopefully, another sale will come my way. In the meantime, I keep wondering about the characters. That's the type of story I want to write.

Home Decor. My goal is to have a fab apt by July and here it is April already. Sigh. I will talk about that in another post. I need to go work out right now, not at 7am. LOL.

Fitness. Am losing weight. But I can't run a mile  to save my life. Had a crazy dream about my training sessions. But next post. This way I have something to talk about tomorrow and I can accomplish my goal of 6 posts/week. Lol.

The real reason I don't write is because I just find my day to day so boring and I don't want to bore my one reader, you know?