Thursday, October 5, 2017

On Learning How To Show Up For Myself

When in NOLA... #beignets #yum
"You look so happy!," read one of the comments on my Instagram page a couple weekends ago.

In the picture, I was smiling... I was moving... I was grooving. And I was happy.


I was in NOLA for the weekend on a self-care retreat (shout-out to all the attendees of #HereWeGrow17). For the first time in what seemed like a very long time, I put everything off to the side and I focused on myself for three days.

I listened to inspiring talks from women who reminded me to take care of me; I got a massage; I tried acupuncture; I meditated and did some yoga; I ate good food. And beignets. Lots of beignets. I ate lunch poolside and had great girl talk; I had dinner with my sister-friends and we chatted about all things love and life and getting our minds right; I walked along Bourbon Street and drank 1/3 of a Hand Grenade (that drink was strong!); I soaked in the NOLA sun and replenished my mind, body, and spirit.

It was literally just what I needed to feel rejuvenated.


Tara (the mastermind behind the entire weekend), Amber, and Yours Truly
Throughout the weekend, I kept thinking how happy I felt that I made the time for myself. And showed up for myself. Leading up to the weekend, so many things got in the way of me actually going (like childcare!) and, at one point, I remember thinking that I was just going to cancel. That would have been the easier thing to do anyway.

But I didn't do that.


I listened to my heart and listened to what I truly needed. It ended up being the best weekend that I had in a very long time. And not just because I was in a different city or away from it all. It was because I showed up for myself and gave myself the permission to just be.

And what I needed was time to be... me.

Alicia.

Not the mom. Not the girlfriend. Not the Vice Principal. Not the blogger. Not errand-runner. Not the reminder of all the things that everyone needs to do and all the places that everyone needs to go. Not the house-cleaner or the laundry-washer or the lunch-preparer or food delivery person ('cuz, let's be forreal: I hardly cook and I don't like to do it anyway.)

Just... me.

And you know what? It made me happy. Very happy.

The look on my face when I
choose to show up for myself!
Real talk: I need to do more things like this for myself. And I need to show up for myself more often. Because my needs are important too. But no one is going to honor my needs if I don't honor them first. If I need sleep, I'm going to sleep. If I need to talk to a friend, I'm going to call. If I need to cry-it-out or dance-it-out or run-it-out, I'm going to do that. If I need to take 45 minutes to myself, I'm going to take it. If I need to create a boundary because I've had enough of something, I'm going to do just that.

And everyone else is just going to have to deal. 'Cuz this delicious mommy needs to recharge if I'm gonna be any good to anyone.

Showing up for myself. It's not selfish. It's self-care.

Monday, October 2, 2017

{Kids Style File} Twining With Mickey

shirt and jeans: H&M | kicks: Vans | vest: BabyGap | smile: August 


True story: August loves Mickey Mouse. Like, loves. With all his heart. Matter of fact, these days the kid has been watching entirely too much Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and Mickey and the Roadster Racers on TV. And I ain't even ashamed to say it. Because: live your best life, August.

Live. Your. Life!

The other day when we got home from Aiden's homecoming football game, this little babe walked into the living room, walked up to the TV, turned it on, climbed into his chair, made himself comfy, and settled in to watch Mickey.

All by his lonesome. As if he had a rough day and needed to relax.

Babies these days!
Peep the smile, y'all!
A lot like love...
Since Mickey is his homeboy (he needs that on a t-shirt, by the way), it was only fitting to do a fall-styled photoshoot with Mickey.

And August was all for it. Because: love!

August: What up, M?

Side profiling
We recently moved (more on that later) and it's been a whirlwind with unpacking, getting into the grove of things, and getting my Fixer-Upper-meets-Property-Brothers-meets-House-Hunters-Renovations on.

I'll share pictures of the new place soon, but for now... I'm taking a moment to breathe and take it all in.

For the last three months of the year (seriously... where the heck did 2017 go?!), I plan on doing more of the things that makes me smile. Like loving on my babies, hanging with my friends, writing, and taking all the pictures of my cute babies (#DontDebateMeOnThis #TheyAreCute).

And you should too. Because: YOLO!



Happy October, lovelies! Let's all take a tip from Baby August and live our best lives!

Thursday, September 28, 2017

That Time I Reached My Breaking Point

Image via google

Me: Remember [redacted]?
Aiden: August's old nanny? Yeah.
Me: Starting tomorrow, she’ll be taking you to school and picking you up.
Aiden: But… why?
Me: Because... it was stressing me out running all over the place trying to get you to school, pick you up, pick August up, and then get you to football practice. I was very tired and sad by the end of the day. And I don’t want to be anymore. So I hired [redacted] back to help out. I’m sad that we won’t have that train ride together anymore, but it’s just something that I need to do.
Aiden: Okay.

That was a conversation that I had with Aiden a couple weeks ago. Up until then, my days were spent running around from one place to the next, trying to keep it all together… and failing. Miserably.

Up until then, my days would go something like this:

I wake up, check the time. Shucks, it’s 5:30am already. Ugh! I just went to bed! Snooze for a few minutes. Convince myself to get out of bed. Get the kids’ lunches together. (I know Aiden can pack his own, but no sense in both of us being miserable. He might as well sleep in a little longer.) Wake Aiden up. He groans and grunts. Can’t blame the kid – I feel the same way! A few moments later, we’re out the door, heading to the subway. I read to Aiden while on the train. It’s our thing and it’s our time. Get Aiden to school. Hugs, kisses, and lots of you-can-do-it pep talks. Dash on the train to get to Harlem in time for work.

Whew!

I’m already wiped out, but it’s only 7:20 in the morning. But I push through. I attempt to boss-it-up and not act as crappy as I feel. Glance at the clock. It’s 1pm already. I gotta get someone to pick Aiden up from school. Text all the parent friends that I know. Can anyone pick Aiden up for me today? Afterschool hasn’t started yet and I’m at work. I’ll owe you big time! Pray for a response. Let out a sigh of relief when I get a “yes” from his BFF’s mom. Dash over to Aiden’s BFF’s house after work to pick him up.

With Aiden, dash back down to Brooklyn to pick August up from daycare before the cut-off time. Miss the cut-off time. Crap. I hate all the things right about now. Vow to pay the $25 late fee by tomorrow – and be on time! (I’ll pay the fee, but can’t really guarantee that I’ll be on time. #Shrugs) Glance at my phone. Crap! We’re late for football practice. Take the bus over to the football field and get Aiden changed into his football gear while at the field. #DontJudgeMe #ItsBeenALongDay #AndItAintOverYet

Head over to a nearby restaurant to try to find August something relatively healthy for dinner. Sit for the first time in hours while Aiden finishes up practice and August eats dinner. Take the train home after practice. Get the boys showered, snacked up, hugged up, and in bed.

Breathe… for the first time since 5:30 in the morning. Glance at the clock. Crap. It’s after 10 and I’m beat. Beyond beat. Shower. Down a bowl of cereal. Get in the bed.

Crash.

Wake up the next morning.

Rinse.

Repeat.

Over and over again until I’m filled with so much stress and anger (towards everyone and everything) and resentment that the tears don’t even fall anymore.

Damn. This can’t be God’s plan for my life. (My therapist seems to think so too.)

I can’t take it anymore. Something’s gotta give. (My therapist seems to think so too.)

And so…

I made some drastic changes.

I re-hired my old nanny to help shuttle Aiden to and fro throughout the week. I started to send the laundry out instead of doing it myself. I put HEB on bedtime duty for August so that I could relax a little. And, most importantly, I didn’t feel guilty about any of those things.

I’m still busy and I’m still tired at the end of the day, but I have so much time and energy freed up from my schedule. There aren't as many "tabs" open in my head. And, most importantly, I’m no longer miserable.

And that’s what matters the most.    

Baby steps, y'all. Baby steps. 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Summering, Freely


Aiden's summers used to be jam packed, pretty much from sun up to sun down -- summer day camp, speciality camps, and back-to-back activities. I used to be determined to keep him on somewhat of a schedule so that he'd ease back into the swing of things once school started.

But over the last few weeks of our summer break, we've been summering... freely. Every morning when he wakes up, we decide what we'll do on that particular day. We don't have a set schedule, but we're somehow settled into somewhat of a routine that goes a little something like this:

Pool.

Beach.

Playground.

Splash Pad.

Repeat.



When we get back home, he reads for an hour or so and plays with his toys. Sometimes he goes back outside with his scooter or bike, and sometimes he just plays with his nerf guns around the house.

And sometimes... he plays on his iPad.


Next summer he may be in summer camp for the entire summer. In a few weeks, he'll be in summer camp for a couple weeks so that he gets used to somewhat of a schedule before he starts fourth grade.

But for now... he's summering, freely. He's going to bed late and waking up late. He's cooking his own breakfast when he wakes up. He's reading and relaxing and taking the time to find new things that interest him like building forts, playing board games, researching funny things on the internet.



He's free to worry about "kid stuff" -- the pool... beach... playground... splash pad... repeat. He's summering, freely. And after the year that he's had, he deserves to do just that.


Summer, freely.

I wouldn't have it any other way.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

This is My One Rule of Thumb for Self-Care


I have a lot going on in my life at pretty much any given moment.

Obviously.

And I'm sure you do to.

Sometimes I don't have time to think about all the things I need to do in order to stay mentally, physically, and emotionally healthy because it can feel like adding another "thing" on my already too-long to-do list.

So I don't. Think about it, that is.

But what I do do is treat myself like I'd treat a good friend that I like and love and care about. Thing is, whenever I talk to my friends and they vent to me about something or ask my advice about something or whenever we just talk about love and life and whatever else is on our hearts and minds, I make it a point to show them how I love them.

If they say they've been running on E all day and haven't had time to eat, I tell them to stop what they're doing and eat a good meal. Everything else can wait.

If they're not drinking enough water, I tell them to drink up.

If they say they're so stressed that they haven't had time to sleep or think about anything else, we talk it out. Then we talk about working out or some sort of physical activity that'll help take the stress away, if only for a moment.

If someone or something is draining their mental energy, I give them my best advice on how to protect that space.

Because I like them. I love them. I care about them.


But, for a long time, when it came to myself, I didn't do the same for me. I just pushed passed things, brushed them off, or tried to grind through.

Nah.

That's no way to get through life.

But once I started treating myself like I'd treat a good friend... like I'd treat a friend that I love and like and care about...

Once I started treating myself like I actually cared about and liked myself...

Magic happened.

I work out better. I sleep better. I eat when I'm hungry. I'm learning how to protect my emotional space and stick up for myself more. I'm learning how to create boundaries. I'm learning how to be vulnerable all over again.

And I'm doing it all without having to "manage" a to-do list. Another to-do list.

It's pretty glorious.

Monday, June 19, 2017

A Note to The Graduates

Me, with my fourth grade team
Last week, I had the pleasure of addressing the fourth grade students at our school graduation. I wrote a pretty good speech. In my head. While I was in the shower. Then, I got out of the shower and totally forgot the speech. Ha! Luckily, some of it came back to me and I was able to deliver some inspiration to the masses. Turns out, it applies to big people as well so read on and be inspired.

Good morning, parents, teachers, friends and family members, and good morning graduates! We’ve been preparing for this day all year, and yet, I can’t believe that it’s finally here. Scholars, I’m going to miss so many things about this fourth grade class:

High heel parties in my office with [name redacted].

Snacks and stories in my office with [name redacted] and [name redacted].

Taking trips to Dunkin Donuts with [name redacted], [name redacted], [name redacted], and so many more of you.

Practicing cartwheels in the hallway with [name redacted] and [name redacted], which I still haven’t perfected. I’m sure we probably disrupted a few second grade lessons in the process, but the laughs and good times made it all worth it.

Talks with [name redacted] about how my children are doing.

And helping many of you solve problems throughout the year.

To [my principal] I’ve learned so much from your leadership these past couple of years and it’s truly been an amazing experience working with you. Thank you.

To the wonderful fourth grade teachers, I can’t think of another group of educators that I would've wanted to go through this year with. The way you love your scholars so fiercely, the way you reflect and self-correct, the way you make sure that every scholar reaches his or her fullest potential is truly incredible. You push me to work harder, to work smarter, and to be a fearless leader. Cheers to Team Summit! [That's an inside joke.]

Graduates, people ask me all the time how I do this job. How I keep up with the demands of this position, especially when I have two children of my own at home... how I keep up the stamina... how do I make this sustainable? But the question isn’t how, it’s why.

Why do I do this job? Well, just look around. Each of you inspire me to be a little bit better every single day. To be better today than I was yesterday. Because you deserve my best. I’ve found my purpose; I’ve found my why. Every morning when I wake up at 5:30am, I remember why I do this job and it pushes me to want to be excellent.

So scholars, remember your why. As you leave our school, as you go through middle school and then high school… as you weave in and out of friendships and try to find your people… as you stumble and fall and get back up again… remember your why.

It won’t necessarily make things easier – we already know that from having to press through [this year]. Things never get easier, but you... You get better.

I can’t wait to see where you all land in 10 years, 15 years, or 20 years because I know it’ll be someplace amazing. Remember your why. It may not make things easier, no. But it’ll make it worth it.

Now…. go forth and be great. Because you already are.

Cheers to the class of 2029.

Obviously I took out names and all identifying information. Why'd you think?

Friday, June 16, 2017

18 Months of August Kingston


August turned 18 months a few days ago and I can't believe my baby delicious is a full-blown toddler now. I'm talking super duper sweet one minute and full-on tantrums the next. Trying to communicate exactly what he wants and very upset when others don't understand him fast enough. Saying words and babbling. Playing nicely with Aiden and then slapping his glasses off of his face the next. Trying to be independent, yet frustrated when he can't complete a task the way he'd like to. And biting on everything with those four new molars that grew in!

It's been a perfect storm and I couldn't ask for the past six months to be any more challenging and rewarding... all at the same time.




August's words:

  • "Hi" (with a wave)
  • "Bye" (with a wave)
  • Shaking his head "no" whenever he doesn't want something 
  • "Get down" (whenever he climbs on something, which happens to be all the time. And yes, he first heard the phrase from me.)
  • "Hawt" = hot
  • "Tha-ci" = paci (aka "pacifier")
  • "Sheese" = shoes
  • "Bahm-ba" = pamper
  • "Ba" = ball
  • "Bay-bee" = baby
  • "Ah-ah" = all done (also means "I want to eat ____ [whatever he's pointing to])
  • "Muah" = kiss
  • And a whole lot of babbling


August likes:
  • Having "conversations" with pretty much everyone
  • Going to get his pampers and wipes when it's time to change his diapers
  • Wrestling with Aiden 
  • Slapping Aiden's glasses off his face
  • Playing with all of Aiden's toys
  • Pulling down all the toys off the shelf
  • Pulling all the books off the bookcase
  • Changing the channel on the TV
  • Giving and receiving hugs and kisses
  • Climbing on things. All the things
  • Running fast 
  • Reading books... all of them
  • "Talking" on the phone
  • Playing with all his animals and learning the sounds that they make
  • All things Mickey Mouse 
August dislikes:
  • When people tell him "no"
  • Taking baths (still)
  • Water in his face. Or on his head
  • When we take too long to take him out of his crib in the morning (he wakes up way too early)

Can't wait to see what the next six months brings!

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