Still Vegan: An Update

So I am a little over a month as 100% vegan. I am still here. I am still kicking. I went and took dairy out of my diet for more than a year learning how to substitute products and finding some amazing finds. So when I decided to go 100% vegan it wasn’t a full shocked. I told my husband as soon as I could find some alternatives that didn’t allow me to be hungry and I felt like I could dedicate myself to it I would and I did. I went cold turkey.  So how as the adjustment been? Let me tell you:

Push Back

In my immediate family I get zero push back. For 2 years I have always altered my food so it wasn’t anything noticeable until I took the meat out. My son was happy that meant he felt the need to eat my portion until I stopped that. They have been supportive. They love to tell their friends that I don’t eat meat like I am some type of alien. I had a playdate for my youngest and the child was vegan. They was able to see someone their age doing it and not feeling as if she has lost anything. She talked to them about cakes and cookies and how her dad alters it so she can still enjoy those things. I showed them vegan approved candy and how at the end of the day being vegan isn’t a life sentence. From outsiders I always get the stare like why?  My why is simple people don’t realize that I have had my gall bladder removed and was supposed to watch what I eat. I didn’t.  This was over 10 years ago and not once did I change my diet. I ate fatty foods and didn’t care. When I first lost weight all I did was watch the portions which helped I am sure but my liver wasn’t able to process the fat  in most of the foods I still ate. I was in constant pain but I looked great. I wanted my insides to match my outsides so after talking to my doctor I went vegan.  Since then my body functions like it has never done in all aspects. My belly feels amazing.

I still cook regular food for my family. I try to make it healthier but they are not vegan and have no desire to do so. My family still like what they like. I don’t try to stop them. I may portion control them but not eliminate too many options. I do slip in vegan snacks for my kids outside of the normal french fry. They have no clue but they enjoy it.

Choices

Non shameful plug here, but So Delicious is my go to.  I have a dance that I do when I see it in the store. Imagine Beyoncé popping every time I am in the refrigerator or freezer aisle. My kids just say oh lord mommy and her products. I have been happily using them for quite some time.  From their non dairy ice-cream and yogurt to their non dairy milks and non dairy cheese, I do not miss out on having these items and my stomach doesn’t have to do the most to break it down. I love them. I have to do a lot of work to get them. Sometimes I can go to my local Shoprite but often times Whole Foods will have a better selection.  Surprisingly Target can be a great place to go. I am sure Wal-Mart has them I just don’t go there much these days anymore. Also I take weekly trips to Produce Junction where I can get fresh produce.  I do my veggie and fruit hauls and from that as I learn new recipes Produce Junction always has what I need. I also make sure I grab my fresh weekly flower bouquets.

Snacks

I love snacks like the next person. I love humus, pretzels, fruit, non dairy yogurt, acai bowls, and granola and dried fruit. I love that I keep a lot of these options on demand.  This way when its time to snack I can. Portion control is still a major have to. You can still overeat with anything. Being vegans doesn’t take out portion control in the least bit.

Meal Prep

I still meal prep for my family on their items and I do the same for me. I prepare roasted veggies to always have them ready to add to my meal. This week I had some fun learning how to prepare eggplant. Made some amazing eggplant parmesan with non dairy cheese. It was so delicious. I also belong to some amazing vegan groups as they share their recipes I love doing them and having such colorful plates and choices. I never like quinoa but that is something that I love to eat with roasted veggies and some avocado as a great meal on its own.

Beyoncé and Veganism

When Beyoncé put out the call for people for folks to go vegan in hopes for folks to win lifetime concerts folks was lining up. I said to myself if I would go vegan for tickets I could go vegan for myself and be healthier. I am not doing more for someone else that i am not willing to do for my own health and sanity. Beyonce went vegan as many learned and even took sugar and alcohol to prepare for her Beychella event last year. Kudos to her. I am enjoying going vegan but I need a dip of sugar as well as my occasional alcohol.

Vegan and Socializing

I do a lot of restaurant reviews. I have yet to have an issue. Just like when I go out with my family or friends I always check out the menu before I go so I can be prepared. I make sure that I am educated on what they offer and try to know what I want before I go. When I visit my parents I cook my food and take it with me. It hasn’t been an issue. Preparation helps to succumb any potential issues. None of my friends has had an issue with me altering things. I may go out-of-town, I know what I need to do to ensure my dietary needs are met. I am going to a wedding next month, the bride has made sure there are options for me. I am good.

Bacon

Bacon has been the only thing I missed. I made some bacon the other day for the family and the smell alone made me want to backslide but I didn’t.  I am aware that there are some brands that sell non bacon bacon but I have yet to have it.  I may consider giving it a try. However even as strong as bacon is to my heart, I will not consider it.

Vegan and the Holidays

Unless I put in an order from Go Vegan, I plan to go to a restaurant for Easter that I have already scouted out its selections. I can go to other people’s houses and just make my own food to be honest. There are so many recipes for vegan soul food that are delicious. So the holidays do not pose a threat to my eating habits at all.

If there is something you want to do that you feel is going to improve your health and you speak to your doctor to be sure its safe, I say walk in it. Do it! I surround myself with what I need to eat successfully. I make sure that I do what I feel I need to eat what I need. I think my body is finally in a peaceful and healthy eating relationship with food. I am not on a vegan diet. I am living a vegan lifestyle.

Vegan Fests

I look forward to going to at least 3 vegan festivals this Summer. I didn’t even know they existed. I can’t wait to align with more in the community or vegans in Philadelphia and surrounding areas. If you know of any more send them my way!

 

Increased Self Care

Who doesn’t love getting a mani/pedi? How about a salon trip? It feels amazing to pamper yourself or just continue your up keep. As much as these activities are awesome and can be forms of self-care, do not limit that to your only self-care. Increase self-care to those things that bring joy into your heart and life.  What about that hobby that brings the type of smile that can’t be wiped away?  What about making time with friends a priority? What about going back to school to accomplish a goal you left sitting? What about making time for rest and unplugging? We all need to dip deeper into self care now more than ever.

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When I hear older folks make complaints such as “what is this self-care business, we didn’t have that growing up,” it irks me. Those be the same women that have the most insecurities, the most hard battles in their spirit that have gone unchecked. When you know better you do better. Why aren’t you practicing it yourself or encouraging the younger generation to focus on their mental health just because no one encouraged you? You remember them lonely battles you fought? Remember that feeling of being overwhelmed? Why would you want another woman or man to go through that?  Even it made someone 5 seconds better, it’s worth it. Encourage and then practice it yourself. 2019 is about accountability and that is even in how we treat ourselves. We can’t expect anyone to treat us well when we treat ourselves badly. Think about it from head to toe. What are you doing to make you whole? If you are still eating, drinking, not working out, have a thousand bad habits that contribute to your body and mind’s demise, these things need to be worked out.

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Self care is about self-preservation.  It pulls you out of darkness and makes you alert. When you don’t practice self-care often times you are numb to things and people around you. It doesn’t stop bad things from coming but it can help you deal with it that much more. Think about the times you let yourself go mentally. You weren’t even ready for hits that life was about to throw. Self care is super important. I don’t care what you call it.  You can call it self-care, self-love, me time, whatever it is find it, be consistent, and then add some more. There is no such thing as too much self-care. That is impossible. Having joy in this world is what keeps people from feeling hopeless. That hopeless feeling leads people into paths that don’t bring about positive results. People need hope. Joy isn’t about walking around with a smile 24/7.  It means that you have things in your life that bring you real happiness no matter what. Self care is about preserving peace in a world full of chaos. Self care is about loving yourself even when the world wants to make you feel unlovable. Self care doesn’t care what your status is in life. Self care is important. Please invest in yourself. Practice some more self-care!

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Keep your Thanksgiving Wits

So this is the last weekend before Thanksgiving. Keep in mind that the grocery stores will be super crowded. So take your patience with you as you travel out. Between stores and traffic it will be a testing time.

Prepare for the holidays with more than what you will eat. Think about who you will invite and if you can find it in your heart to give towards others who may not be as fortunate. Think about ways you and your family can assist others either by donating food to food banks, volunteering to serve meals to others on Thanksgiving morning, or finding a family to sponsor. Either way let’s open our hearts to one another.

Another way to get ready for the holidays when going to the grocery store is to go with a list. I would attempt to get all that you need and treat it as if it was the day. This will help you to make those trips and you may find it may take more than one.  You will always need extra milk, eggs, and butter. So stack up early. I for one know that I need to get the list going so I don’t forget the key items. Thanksgiving eve is not the time to go to the store. All of the last-minute folks will be on super edge. Avoid them if you can.

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Also think if you are doing a fancy seating chart, how you want things decorated and who will sit where. Also don’t forget about the kids. It’s best to have activities to keep the littles occupied.  This will save from the necessary meltdowns. If you are having dinner at a specific time and you know you are the late type person, have appetizers for others to enjoy while they wait. It’s super annoying to go to someone’s house, arrive on time, and they still making key dishes and they have ZERO snacks. Think about your guest and have good appetizers as well as great drinks.  Trust me you will be the hostess with the mostest if you have the necessary food in place.

If you can’t cook let me stress this isn’t the time to train. You should have been practicing all year-long but not today. Today is the day you stick to the things you do well. Maybe that means you should bring the wine.  Either way don’t be out here telling folks you got a speciality dish and your food ain’t hitting. I don’t know about you but the way my family is set up, you getting clowned. Stick to what you know and stick to the basics. If you have kids also bring them extra activities. Not all host will keep your children entertained although they should if they invited guests with kids. Even with our kids being a little older, we come prepared with extra outfits, entertainment, and we have a code word if we think things are getting out of hand. We have a code word between my husband and I for everywhere that we go. We use this word if one of us is ready to go or something is happening that is too much. This has been our saving grace.

If you go to someone’s home bring something. I always try to bring something. Like the times we go to my mom’s house. I bring a dessert, something. I have 5 folks in my home. There’s no way I am coming to someone’s home squad deep with nothing in my hand. Unless the person insists, bring a dish. Or even bring a bottle to share. That is always a gift. If the person of whom you are going doesn’t drink, make a non alcoholic drink that is festive to share. There are ways around no alcohol. Get on Pintrest, online, anything and make it special.

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Think about what you are going to wear. Some people wing it and that is fine, but if you want to be dressed up, make sure you have your outfit together. My uncle doesn’t require fancy attire so unless I get the kids Thanksgiving shirts, I just stick to being comfortable.  If your gathering is requiring more formal affair, be cute and comfy. Do not over do it and especially with kids. They are going to get dirty. They are going to play. They do not ever care about dressed and dress shoes. So go into the situation knowing that and always bring a back up outfit for them so when the pictures are done being taken you can move along and enjoy your day!

Above all be grateful for what you have. Think about the day and what it is all about. More than prepping food, it is about making sure that you spend it with those you love. It’s about being grateful for all advancements that we have. It’s about sitting around the table enjoying one another’s company. So enjoy as you prepare it doesn’t have to be filled with stress! Don’t forget to call your loved ones who couldn’t be with you on the day as well and tell them you love them!

National Make A Difference Day

How can you make a difference? This is such an open-ended question. We always have a tenacity to go to what we don’t have before we answer. You start listing all of the things you aren’t before you can just simply find ways to be the difference in someone else’s lives.

Whatever gifts and talents that are inside of you is more than enough to make a difference. Here are a few ways you can give back and make a difference:

 

Home Life

One charity starts at home. I hate to see people who are super bomb to everyone around them except their own family. I hate to see it with parents who go out and win everyone else’s child but ignore the issues with their own. I hate to see husbands and wives flex on social media but behind closed doors, give silent treatments and ignore the needs of their spouse. We all have to do better.

  • Spend more time with your children. Yes you work to provide. Provision is responsibility. Taking time away from your phone, to sing a song, or play one of their games, or sit and ask them what they like and what’s bothering them makes a difference for a child. Try it some time.
  • Love on your mate. Whether it’s a boo, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife, take some time and spend it on them. Yes gifts are great, but how about watch one of their shows actively with them. How about talk and make sure the air is clear? You can also make a dessert together. These are inexpensive ways to show the ones you love that you are one with them.
  • Check in on loved ones. We say we love folks but the only time we check in on them is if we have the tea about another family member. Change that. Call and ask if all is well and mean it. Than when you find out it’s not if you can help, help. Also unless someone told you to tell another person, build trust and just listen and not take their issues to another family member so you “can pray about it.”

Work Life

  • Show up and be on time ready to work. That’s a ministry all in itself.
  • Don’t be apart of the office gossip-remember the same lips bringing you the tea, is the same one taking your tea to stir at another pot on you
  • Be the change in the office you want to see
  • If the job no longer serves you, don’t stay get an exit plan. This may take time, but be proactive in leaving
  • Find ways to be more productive even if that means changing the scenery. When work starts to get to me sometimes I redecorate to fit a new mood. It helps me about 60% of the time

Social Media Life

  • Don’t go back and forth with them……. (in my Lil Duval voice) if you find yourself having to respond to more than one comment just stop. You aren’t going to win an argument on social media with trolls
  • Be who you post to be. Yeah that’s right. Align your social media to reflect who you are. On my social media I highlight me as a mom and wife. I don’t create doors to let anyone think they have space to slide in the DM. They do but at that point they just are trying to do the most.
  • Make sure you don’t do subliminal post. This is hard even for me at times. You see a post and it speaks to you but post it cause it spoke to YOU. You can’t be out here taking shots at folks you don’t even @

 

We all have things that we can give to the world. I came across a young lady on social media that is a hair dresser and she feeds the homeless. This is her life work. She literally gets out there with the folks that many would snub their noses at, and she feeds them and cleans them up and does their hair. She has a whole team of folks that assist her. Think about how her being there does for them. She treats them with dignity and respect. I know if I was down and out the last thing I would want is someone kicking me when I was done. What about those who raise money for others?  They are making a difference in the causes by which they are raising it for. How about those who set up camps at the bus stops for kids to make sure all of the kids have breakfast. You don’t know what someone may be going through at home. Everybody ain’t sitting at home collecting checks. Some middle class folks work everyday and still can’t make ends meet. How about the men who go into the community to pray over the city. There are a few groups here in Philadelphia who do it consistently. What can you do? Whatever gift is inside of you can help make a difference.

I said it before but around thanksgiving I see so many companies give back to others and it warms my heart. If you cut hair, how about offer your services to people who can’t afford to maintain their cuts on a regular basis? If you are a financial planner, offer your services to a few families for free to get them out of debt?  The sky is the limit. Whatever you do, do it well. Someone needs the very thing you have and complain about. Make a difference today and everyday!

 

Checking in on Your Loved Ones

There is something to be said when you check in on your loved ones. Whether it’s a quick check in or a full on call and listen session we need to be proactive in doing more for each other. We are connected and we need to keep that connection as strong as it possibly can be. We need to do a better job on spreading love to everyone and even the ones we know well. We tend to give better compliments to strangers at times than we do to those we are around. Be the type of person that is nurturing to one another and attempt to find the good in your circle of loved ones.

So for that I am challenging all of my followers to do a quick check in. I know that often times we use text messages and we don’t talk on the actual phone, but it may be time to do a full on call. You can use text messages as a lead way but overall it would be good to hear a voice and be sure that your friends and family are truly okay. Its getting colder out and seasonal depression is real. Even the ones who you think is totally fine and there are no issues present could be fighting a silent fight.

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You would do yourself a disservice to ignore your loved ones in this season. So spend a little time and make it your business to reach out to a few folks over the next couple of weeks. Be sure that if you do that you ask open-ended questions too. Sometimes people will hit you with the yes and no and true interaction is engaging. Also keep in mind some people are private. Make sure the conversation and space is safe for them to open up and speak. Don’t judge what they have to say. Just be sure that you are truly inviting and be there. Some people don’t want a fix they just need to vent. I want to be able to look back and know that I attempted to be there for my friends and loved ones and I encourage you to do the same!!

Less Than Perfect Day

We all fit this build. I know not one perfect person. I mean it I can’t tell you of a person real or imagined that is perfect. I know some who appear to be better than me, but none that is perfect. Why do we have all of this pressure to be perfect? We make all of these demands on others that we often don’t even put on ourselves.  Let me give an example, if you grew up where your parents dictated all of your goals in like education and you know how that felt, why do you then tell your kids they can’t be whatever it is that they want to be?  Perfection and waste of money just to find out they going to rebel and do their thing and may not want to be around you.  Stop this mess.

Since we are all less than perfect we have to got to stop this list that we keep of ways to attack others. Just because you don’t agree with someone else’s level of sin, you judge them, talk about them, tear them down but won’t scoop out that sin in your own life, we got to stop this.  We put sin or whatever you want to call it in categories. If you overeat and walking around with a thousand pounds you know you ain’t supposed to have but point out your fellow-man who lies, why its all wrong, right?. Yes lies are bad and neither one of them are okay.  Work on both issues not just the one you want to highlight.

Work on being balanced. Like for me I love the Lord but unlike some others who just seem to have peace and tranquility on their lives all the time, I throw hands. I will if pushed back, swing.  I love to argue and I love to fight.  Not that I am out here getting into beefs daily because that’s not the case, but if I was somewhere and wasn’t thinking of the goodness of the Lord I could throw hands before I talked you to death. I ain’t out here saving folks if provoked. I am the one for ducking and bobbing and swinging if I had to. I am going to let the spirit of deliverance into my life full-time but I am not there yet. I think what saves others is my kids. I have them with me ALL the time. Its rare I don’t have them. In order to be a good example I have had to walk away so they don’t see Trap momma come out but I am also of the tuck the children ministry and will go for blows if I had to. This is one of the non perfect examples that I am actively working on it.  I can admit that.

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Like for instance I am the cookie baking mom who loves to celebrate my kids, but I also have to pray my strength in the Lord once again on patience if I tell my kids a thousand and one times to do something so I don’t speak out of context. That is real. I can be around other moms and hear them with them flowery voices and be like, man that’s the Lord working and say welp I got some ways to go. I am not perfect but I am perfectly working through all things.  I welcome my flaws for one reason. I used to cry and get upset because I was a straight A student since 2nd grade, no lie, no cap. I was the one who appeared to be an angel but I was the one that if I messed up it was like a huge mistake more than an a small issue.  My other siblings were the opposite so they came off as more problematic at times, but I was the one to watch. So as I got older, I felt like everyone liked to get that magnify glass into my issues and it would get to me. But now, I am like I will tell it before you tell it. I will work it out.  There can’t be shame in non perfection when you own who you are. Also when you take them flaws and work on them and when you do the work to be better, no one can hold you.

If you feel under pressure by others, change the magnifying glass. People will ride you if you let them. Don’t put them off, throw them off of you and back them off of you by simply owning who you are while you work out what they see. Trust me if they had the light turn from you to them there are a few chapters they don’t want others to see too. They simply forget it. AND don’t think you have to remind them to change the light’s view either. You become the scapegoat to others trust me. So learn not to take it on the chin all the time. By the time a person, goes to work, take care of their kids if they have them, drink a gallon of water a day, clean, cook, and work out that alone will keep them occupied with getting their life.  When I do all of that and try to sneak in some husbae time and get my 7-8 hours of sleep I don’t have time to find out what someone else is doing. Apply that same word to your life. You don’t have time to bring out other folks imperfection trying to keep yourself polished and balanced.

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So celebrate that you are less perfect. Own it. Do the work to be balanced.  Balance is more important than perfection. Folks that work on perfection are often the ones who fail the most in the long run. I would rather you think I am failing in the forefront while I work on me in the background!

Counseling Days

I know I am going to say a few things that may come off of a few folks.  Whenever it rains it makes me pull out my journals.  I have been in counseling on and off for a few years. So when rainy days it takes me back to that moment. I believe in counseling by licensed counselor.  I am not all for folks running to everyone with their issues.  The reason is everyone don’t have the license and mindset to rightly divide where a person is.  So it’s not that you can’t run to a friend, or a pastor but you just got to be careful.  I do love licensed pastors because they can be a jewel to the community having the spiritual understanding with the licenses can be super helpful. So for some they get so upset the second you say don’t run to the pastors. I didn’t say don’t I said be careful. It could be from my level of hurt that I am openly saying I am still working through since my old pastor tried it.  I will say is some folks will talk to you and then have their message be your life on Sunday. Some folks like to do that prayer list conversation and reality your life becomes the tea of the week.  So be careful. People are messy individuals in real life no matter what their title!

In counseling I noticed that my days that I would go in was on rainy days.  It wasn’t that many sunny days. It really could just be that during those times I noticed the rainy days because of the down place that made me go there in the first place.  I can admit that made a lot of sense.  However today’s rain made me pull a few lessons for my current life. Not that life has totally went left, but emotionally I really want to respond to those around me in the proper way even when my petty, smart assed mouth yes I said smart assed mouth is ever-present.  I really struggle with balanced my life in those regards.  I really am sweet but if pushed or provoked or I just want to let loose, I can and will and I know deep down in my heart, that life will not bring me any good down the line.  So I dusted off a few techniques so I could find the place where I needed to be.

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I was asked  in my Facebook message what reasons have I gone to counseling a few weeks ago and I acted like I hadn’t seen the message, but I seen it. I have gone initially for postpartum.  So a few years ago after the birth of my son, moving from one city to another and being a stay at home mom of 2 under 2 my life was under pressure and after almost calling the police at my fiancé at the time, I called me a counselor who saw me stat.  Ever since then I have gone for various things. If I feel triggered about something in my childhood, issues within myself, or issues with motherhood or being a wife, I stroll right down.  My last session was almost 2 years ago with a counselor in person.  I also have done some pick me up sessions with a mobile counselor meaning I call them and they say hey Toi, what’s going on how can I help.  I prefer in person counseling but it is hard to do with working full-time, and being a wife and a mother that the mobile counselor is what I rely on.  Now I don’t call every time something gets on my nerves. I only call if I feel like I am overwhelmed and reaching out to strategic friends and family who are not the cause in my head of the trigger doesn’t help, I will call my mobile therapist.  They are wonderful. Always warm, and if they are judging you it’s in their head and not out their mouths. They give you real life tips and they have been helpful to and for me.

Now growing up the general message was that you don’t share your business. I now know that is wrong information. You have to be strategic in who you share. If I am not comfortable and for me I choose male or female depending on what’s going on.  So shout out to my counselors because altogether they have been super bomb. Let me encourage a few of you who have never gone but are super on edge on if you should go.  Consider asking your insurance who to go to so it’s covered.  Watch your coins. Sometimes it ain’t free and you need to know that.  You can get services through your job at times.  Even them free 6 sessions can be the difference between bail money, suicide, a fight, or a mental meltdown.  Trust me-no shame at all.  If you know of someone in your inner circle who is getting counseling unless they tell you to give that information out to others its imperative to shut your mouth and let people be great.  I had that happen the first year that I went and someone super close to me told others how I was in counseling and taking meds at a time where I wouldn’t have shared the information with anyone.  I hadn’t even told my momma and two its super personal and set me to trigger even more. But counseling is necessary for those who need it. I honestly think that everyone can benefit going at least once.  Even the super happy folks have things inside of them that need worked out.

Benefits of Therapy

  • Having a 3rd party call you out without having a personal relationship
  • Healing whether mental or emotional healing
  • Consistent sessions give you something positive to look forward

Pitfalls of Therapy

  • Opens other wounds as you process
  • Emotionally down for about an hour after session and having to recover
  • If not taken serious or stopping too soon can make things work, so commit

The pitfalls aren’t anything that is super detrimental but needed to be said.  You may go to counseling and think you will leave skipping and jumping and that may not be the case. I have left therapy mad more times before because of the assignments given after you leave make you think.  That is what the counseling is supposed to do.  So be aware that its work.  It’s not a great high time like the movies show you.

The other day I wrote about national family day and then this week I felt like just unblocking folks, and walking in full healing I just wanted to be sure that it was for the right reason. I called my counselor and letting him/her know about it.  She was so happy about it but the reality is I have been walking in but these last steps of speaking openly about my family was super good for me even if no one else felt what I was trying to say. Not to say that no one does because I love reading your comments as well as your emails about some of the issues you may have had in your own family.  That made me feel good knowing that I wasn’t the only one who had to be tried in that area.  Also today the rain allowed me to write.  It allowed me to share with my therapist about a few things that transpired and helped me to find ways to be a help to those around me and not give into things I know will trigger me.  Also I find that a lot of techniques I end up practicing on those around me even if they don’t know I am.  But the results is the only thing I am looking for. I am looking to be the right that I want or need in my life.  I really don’t want to be a hinderance to myself and especially the ones I live with. If I am walking around mad, pissed off, yelling, testy, what will that do for anyone?  No!  So although I am not perfect I am very grateful for balance and attempting to balance me in all areas.  I am really not working towards perfection.  That perfect life for me just doesn’t exist.  However if I can balance things better than that works for me.

Shout out to all of you who like me are a work in progress and rely on therapy or ever had it to make you whole!