Mid-September Already? Where is This Year Going?

flying-calendar-pages-resized-600It seems as if one day I was sporting my booty shorts, tank top and sandals and now today I feel as if I needed a full length coat on! WOW, this year truly is flying by! (BTW, just kidding about the booty shorts..lol).   Fall is actually my favorite season of all. I love the clean crisp air, pumpkin spice drinks, the colors of the trees and the clothes…there is nothing like a cute pair of boots and a nice jacket.

The last time I blogged it was about the passing of my mother 10 years ago and I thought this time I’d keep my post light and fun and just catch you up on whats been happening in my corner of the world.

IsaacSchool started up on August 25th and can you believe  that the 1st round of Parent Teacher Conferences is scheduled for next Friday?  I’m such a bad mom and have yet to take a picture of the boy teen all dressed in his uniform (ooops) but so far the year is starting off OK.  He is in the 10th grade and he was happy to see that he has Geometry I instead of Algebra II (Algebra almost did him in last year.) I am really in love with his school and was happy to see that they are adding more and more classes to their curriculum as the years go by.  His school is known for its Arts, Academics and Athletics and they are really heavy into the arts and this year he is in Ballet and African Drumming!!  He loves the African Drumming class and is ‘so-so’ with the Ballet ;-).

workoutI’ve been keeping up with my workouts and have managed to work out consistently for 44 days straight!  My time is limited on some days so when I know that it will be hard to fit in an actual workout, I do things like:  take the stairs instead of the elevator to my office (we are on the 10th floor), park farther away from the metro in the morning, and I’ve been known to just walk around the house – from room to room and up and down the steps to get in my steps for the day.  I’ve been mixing my workouts up with walks, runs, full body workouts and weight training.  I can already see the results and haven’t had to ask Anthony to open up a jar of spaghetti sauce lately.  I would like to make it straight to 100 days of exercising in a row but wont be disappointed if I take a day or two off.  It is really nice to see how much of a routine working out becomes when you do it regularly for a few weeks!  This Sunday I will be running the 5 Miler at the Navy-Air Force Half Marathon and Navy 5 Miler race here in DC.

Fun?… yep, I am having tons of that!  From having a grandson sleepover at the house and then taking them to Six Flags the next day, to picking up and driving off to Pennsylvania in order to party with friends to just this past weekend were we tested out Airbnb and hit NYC for 2.5 days and stayed right in Times Square.

NYC        6Flags        roadtrip                                                        

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10 Years Ago Today

mom10 years ago today marks the very last time that I heard my mother’s voice and tomorrow marks the 10th anniversary of her death.   August 27, 2005 was the day that my mother left the world of the living.  I talked to her at around 11:00pm the night before and she slipped away peacefully early the following morning.

My mother and I never did have the best relationship but when she called me from the hospital that night, I remember she asked about me, all of her grandchildren and her son (my brother, whom I had custody of).   I made sure to tell her that everyone was ok.  I had no doubts that I would be speaking with her again soon because I thought this was just one of her many stints in the ER due to her lifestyle.  Well, I will never forget the phone call that I received early the next morning — I remember the doctor that attended to her being so specific about everything that they tried, telling me how bad her condition was and letting me know that she went peacefully and wasn’t in pain. I dropped the phone and screamed.

I have so many mixed feelings about the passing of my mother and have cried over her death for various reasons.  I think I cry more for the “what if’s” than anything else.  You see, I can’t recall one time that my mother said “I love you”.  I also can’t recall being read to, having her help me pick out clothes, doing my hair, showing up at school to meet my teachers or attend a school performance… none of that!  What I do remember is feeling alone, often going hungry and wishing that my mother would love me or pay attention to me.

My mother unfortunately had a drug and alcohol problem and to top it off, my father the
asshole that she was married to was very abusive towards her.  I can look back on it all now (with my adult eyes) and see that she felt stuck and that she was broken.  I know that she had a deep-rooted drug and alcohol addiction and I know that neither of those are easy to break but as a child… I just wanted my mommy!  Her drug of choice back then (all through the 70’s) was heroin and most of my childhood memories of her include her being high, in a deep sleep or awake with a 40 oz of Colt 45 in her hand.

She was a beautiful woman with a smile that could light up a room and a laugh that would make you laugh if you heard it.  She was nice, caring and she could cook like nobody’s business but I can’t help but to ask… “What if?”

  • What if she got some drug/alcohol intervention early…
  • What if she wasn’t in
    that abusive relationship…

Well, the reality is that she didn’t get the intervention early and she stayed in that relationship for 11 years.   She did manage to leave my father and take my brother and I with her (when I was about 11) but by then, the drugs had such a hold on her that she was just a shell of the person I know she truly could have been.

At the age of 12, she took my brother and I to Warwick, NY to spend the summer with my grandmother (I had never met my grandmother before this) and when summer ended, my mother never came to take us back with her.  She did come and visit from time to time the following year and she called here and there as well but she never came to get us. I ended up graduating from high school in NY and moving to DC with a baby on my hip, and a trunk filled with our stuff at my side.   I would go months and months without talking to my mom.  I mean, what was there to talk about… I was angry and quite frankly (looking at it with adult eyes) I think she was a bit ashamed.

Years past and my mother ended up moving  to NY and into a halfway house.  During the course of her life she tried to get help for her addiction but nothing worked or perhaps she didn’t “work it”.  She had a son when I was 16 that I eventually took custody of when he turned 8 and I saw my mother very infrequently (perhaps once a year… if that).  She went on with her life abusing drugs and drinking and I went on with my life here in DC.

When I would go home to visit my grandmother I would see my mother from time to time but we just made small talk.  I never sat down and asked her the million questions that I had about her life, my childhood, our future..etc.  I just let it be.  If I had to do it all over again, I would have had those talks.

A part of me resented the hell out of my mother, actually still does but again when I put on my adult eyes, I realize that she had a disease and had that not had a hold on her, I am sure things would have been different.

This anniversary of her death has been by far the hardest for me.  I don’t know why.  I’ve spent a lot of time talking to my boyfriend Anthony about it, crying about it, trying to analyze why it’s so hard this year and I think it boils down to the fact that I really miss the lady that I never knew and won’t get the chance to know and that just sucks!!  I never got a chance to have those ‘adult’ conversations with my mother, we never went out to lunch, went shopping, giggled on the phone, none of that!

This isn’t a “mom-bashing” vent.  Believe me, I’ve re-read this post a few times and even called my boyfriend and said “Damn, I am making my mother out to sound like a horrible woman” but that isn’t the case at all.  What I have learned to do with the negative effects of my childhood and with the memories of being raised by a junkie is to turn that into power to use to fuel my own parenting!  My children have never seen me drunk, I talk to them all endlessly about following their passion, letting them know that I am there for them  no matter what and I try to make it to all of their “big moments”.   I became a huge child/teacher advocate and held some sort of office at each of my children’s school PTA.   Now, I am far from the perfect mom (there’s no such thing) but my mother did teach me that it was time to break the cycle!  Because of her, I am proud to say that I have raised 2 beautifully, smart and spirited daughters that are so passionate about their parenting that they put me to shame..LOL!!  I know that I finally broke a cycle of abuse (drug, alcohol and physical) and never once have I hid my past from them or the boy teen for that matter.  I’ve told them all about my childhood, all about how choices in your life can work with or against you and unfortunately that life isn’t fair but you can play the hell out of the cards that life deals to you.

I miss the mother I never truly had but I am playing the hell out of the hand that life delt me!

((May she continue to rest in peace))

last time

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My Boyfriend’s Reply to My Recent Blog Post…

reply

Just yesterday I blogged about my OCD and Anxiety and pretty much let it all hang out about the struggles I have with each and how I know it affects my loved ones.  Normally when I create a blog entry, my dear boyfriend will read it, email me some compliments then slip in a few ‘edits’…LOL.  He is such a great proofreader and my fingers tend to move faster than my brain and I am quick to make typos.  I noticed that yesterday’s post came and went without any edits and I questioned him when I got home to see if he read my entry.  He told me he read it but did so on his phone and didn’t really see anything that needed editing.   He also didn’t comment much on it at all which I found to be a bit odd.  Well, to my surprise he emailed me a word document today that contained the following:

 A Blog to the Blog “My Voyage To You”…

While reading this blog…I began to reflect on the realness of having OCD, Anxiety and OUR relationship.  Like most new relationships, we discussed what we like, disliked, etc. and Aurelia mentioned to me her condition.  She was even kind enough to share with me the definition and some other literature which I read thoroughly.  Being on the receiving end of someone with OCD and Anxiety, I’m wondering if other loved ones have similar experiences and how they deal with them. 

To be brutally honest, I had no idea what I was dealing with and how our relationship would be altered by her condition.  My mindset was, “it’s a medical condition” and if you care about someone, if you really love someone, then you figure out a way to make it work.  Likewise,  I’m sure I’m not always the easiest person to deal with; so I’m taking this condition and I’m going to see what I can do to mitigate its effect on our relationship.  The first very time that I can remember it having a definite effect on our relations was when I wanted to do a weekend get-away…a surprise weekend get-away.  You can tell from the symptoms listed; change and surprises don’t go hand-in-hand with someone with this type of disorder.  So, what I thought would be a simple two day get-away…turned out to be a lot of questions about who, what, when, how, etc.  We did manage to get through it; but I made a mental note for future reference and I also got a better understanding of what being a relationship with someone with this disorder was all about.  I’m a hopeless romantic at heart and love doing things such as get-aways and surprises; so my dilemma quickly became how do I feed my desire to do these things, with someone with these conditions.  We talked a lot about it and I did alter the plans for my next weekend get-away.  The second time I planned something for us, it came with an entire itinerary, maybe not the location, but the pick-up time, dinner time, dancing time, breakfast time the next date, etc, for the entire weekend.  I sent it to her prior to our departure and she felt much better about it.  The more get-aways we took, the more comfortable she has become and now days, if I plug something on our calendar and say, “don’t ask”, she doesn’t.  She knows it will be fun and I’ve covered all of the bases. Our latest get-away was last weekend in Atlanta, a trip I had planned 6 months ago, but chose not to tell her because of the “surprise” factor and also because of the “worry” factor.  The trip was planned on our week with the “boy teen” and I knew she would worry for 6 months about what to do, how we would manage it, etc.  I actually had already talked with him and made arrangements for my adult son to stay at the house; but she would have literally not have enjoyed the time leading up to the event…due to her condition and her constant worrying about something happening.  As it turned out, everything was great; the kids loved being in charge and things went off smoothly.

There are two areas where we still struggle somewhat and is a concern for both of us; in my opinion. One has to do with unplanned changes that occur from time to time.  No matter how much we plan in advance, unexpected changes happen.  We had made plans to take the grandchildren to the local amusement park on Friday and we were planning on doing a college drop for my daughter on Saturday.  We received a late notification that our daughter would actually need to be dropped off on Friday.  To me, this was a simple switch-a-roo.  To someone with OCD & Anxiety, this was an event that needs a conversation, then another conversation, some more planning and then another conversation.  I have to catch myself not asking her to not to worry or obsess over changes; when it’s not something she can control. It does require more patience on my part, something I’m still working on by the way; and it requires an understanding that things will be fine at the end of the day.  As she has sporadic episodes of worrying about things, I try to remind her of what I call the “day after affect”, which invariably always ends up just “fine”.   The second area has to do with “repeatedly being asked or hearing the same thing”.  This one is more on me to continue to adjust and it really is an adjustment, since most of the time I operate in a “ask me a question…I give you an answer mode” and move on.  Over the past two and half years, we have gotten better at reading each other and she can tell when I’m a tad bit annoyed and I can tell when she is a tad bit worried and we each adjust accordingly. Adjustments actually come quite naturally now and something as simple as walking to the same side of the commissary to begin shopping is easy to do.

She often has asked me about my “lack” of worrying about things and just as she can tell me how she’s wired, I share with her my internal wiring.  My internal wiring is built on “Faith”, which is spiritually based.  Faith and Fear cannot exist in the same space, so I don’t fear what tomorrow holds or next week for that matter; because my faith is that everything will be alright.  That God has the master plan for our life…and things will be just fine.  One of my favorite scriptures is Roman 8:28 “ And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.”  With that mindset, I am not really concerned about most things in my life.  It’s often said opposites attract; and that could not be truer in our case.  While she worries about most things, I walk around with not a care in the world.  I can’t explain it, it’s just me; just as her condition is just her.  For those who are in relationships with those with OCD and/or Anxiety, life can be a challenge.  Now, not to sound all gloomy, there are some positive, I can’t remember the last time I’ve had to vacuum!!  Seriously, if you have found that person who you plan on spending the rest of your life with, you know…that person who will be running out to get you “depends” and vice versa; you will learn to accept and adjust.  It’s really a small price to pay for eternal happiness.

I read this twice and immediately teared up at my desk and had to step away to call him to tell him how much I appreciated the time and energy it took to express all of that.    I thanked him for all of the understanding and adjustments that have been made thus far and all he did was assure me that it was never a problem and we together would continue to adjust as we move forward.

Damn, I am one lucky gal!

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OCD, Anxiety and Relationships

ocdI joke a lot about my OCD and anxiety and how it is the reason for my tidy home, meal planning Sundays, timeliness to all appointments and more but the reality is that it is really a BITCH of a combination to deal with daily and I can’t imagine that it is all that much fun for my loved ones either.

Here are the textbook definitions of OCD and Anxiety:

Obsessive-compulsive disorder:  (OCD) is an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, ideas, sensations (obsessions), or behaviors that make them feel driven to do something such as clean, count, check, hoard (compulsions). Often the person carries out the behaviors to get rid of the obsessive thoughts, but this only provides temporary relief. Not performing the obsessive rituals can cause great anxiety.  The individual who suffers from OCD becomes trapped in a pattern of repetitive thoughts and behaviors that are senseless and distressing but extremely difficult to overcome.

Anxiety:  An emotion characterized by feelings of tension, worried thoughts and physical changes like increased blood pressure.  People with anxiety disorders usually have recurring intrusive thoughts or concerns. They may avoid certain situations out of worry. They may also have physical symptoms such as sweating, trembling, dizziness or a rapid heartbeat.

Sounds like fun, huh?

I was diagnosed with both shortly after my Grandmother (Ma) passed 13 years ago and I received therapy for it for years and I have been medicated for both the OCD and the anxiety for 13 years now.   These disorders affect how I feel and behave, and they also manifest real physical symptoms when they are heightened.  I’ve suffered from panic attacks, sweating, muscle tension, rapid heart beats, dizziness and headaches.  There used to be days that I couldn’t leave the house for fear that something bad would happen to me and while my OCD and anxiety aren’t that bad now, they still affect my daily life and the lives of those that are around me as well.

I spend a few hours each day focusing on obsessive thoughts and performing seemingly senseless rituals, making concentrating on some of my daily activities very difficult.   While I go through great lengths to hide my behavior,  my very close friends, children and boyfriend all know about it.

Some of my obsessions are as follows:

  • Constant, irrational worry about dirt, germs, or contamination.
  • Excessive concern with order, arrangement, or symmetry.
  • Preoccupation with losing or throwing away objects with little or no value.
  • Superstitious ideas about lucky/unlucky numbers.

Some of my compulsions are as follows:

  • Cleaning – Repeatedly washing hands, bathing, or cleaning household items.
  • Checking
    • and re-checking several times a day that the doors are locked, stove is turned off,  etc.
    • Checking that I did not make a mistake.
    • Checking some parts of my body for anything that doesn’t look “right”.
  • Repeating – Unable to stop repeating questions. a name, phrase, or activity
  • Touching and arranging – Do you know that I even turn the toilet paper roll the correct way when in a hotel room (under).
  • Mental rituals – Endless reviewing of conversations or counting to neutralize obsessions.

This is all daily and quite frankly, it is tiring as hell!!

It doesn’t take much to start the vicious cycle but last minute changes to my schedule and not knowing all of the details of a ‘plan’ seem to throw me off and immediately spark my obsessions which lead to my compulsions and unlike a light switch, it is hard to turn off.

I know that my OCD and anxiety are hard to deal/live with for my loved ones.  While my adult daughters are now out of the house and not with me daily, I am sure it had a huge impact on their lives over the past 13 years and for the boy teen who is 15.. well, I get into my repeated question asking stage with him quite frequently and I know it annoys the hell out of him.

The small things…

While many things are easy for me to hide as it pertains to my OCD, smaller things like not liking my food to touch or my constant use of hand sanitizer isn’t.  I can’t tell you how many times we’ve gone into a restaurant and I will order a meal and depending on what I order I will have to ask it to be served on 2 or 3 separate plates in order to not have items touching.  If my order comes to me all on one plate — I literally freeze & stare at it and the palms of my hands get hot.  I quickly scramble around looking for an empty plate on the table or ask the waiter for a new plate and then separate the items myself.   Very embarrassing when eating with people I am not comfortable with but those that know and love me are usually quick to offer me a clean plate to ease my discomfort.

Just yesterday my boyfriend and I needed to do our grocery shopping and decided to go to the Commissary.  They are doing construction on Base and he had to park towards the left of the store instead of the right where we usually park.  No big deal, right? Wrong.   Parking on the left of the store meant we walked into the store using an entrance that we never use.  We walked into the store at the freezer section (instead of the produce section) and all I could do was stop walking and stand there.  I looked at him and without even saying a word he said “I know, we are going to walk to the other side of the store and then go from there”. That’s right, I cant seem to function when walking into the opposite side of the store than what I am accustomed to. We only needed a few things and I knew just what we needed but my brain couldn’t process a thing!   Of course we walked all the way to the other side of the store then began my ritual of walking up and down every aisle (whether something I needed was there or not).  While it may seem like something small and I don’t even know if my boyfriend knew this but I started to tear up at that moment. Just the realization that something so small can throw my brain and body out of whack is sad and the fact that he knew it thew me off without me saying a word was thoughtful but still sad!

I’m not really sure what the point is of this post is … but I truly appreciate, recognize and thank those in my life that understand my disorder and try to be understanding to me in return.  There are many things that I do and/or say that irk the hell out of my loved ones and I can imagine that it is quite easy for them to forget about my condition at times.  When this happens and I remind them, I am constantly thinking that they view it as an “excuse” for my behavior when it is my “reality”.

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My Sweet Boyfriend and His Sweet Surprise

SurpriseI met my boyfriend 2 years and 7 months ago and our friendship caught on fire and turned into love. Since then he has helped me thought he emotional ups and downs of my divorce, losing my job, losing my  health insurance, gaining a new job, regaining my ‘self’ and more.  He has also helped me with the boy teen whenever needed.

There are many things that I absolutely love about my other half but the thing that comes to mind the most is the fact that I love how he keeps our relationship exciting!  He is always on the lookout for things for us to do and he knows so much about me and what I enjoy and there is never a dull moment.  We go on biweekly date nights, go dancing every other Friday at my favorite spot, take a beach vacation together ever November (well, there have only been 2 so far but many more to come) and he also plans weekend getaways that I usually know about in advance.

Last night, my other half turned it up a notch and handed me 3 envelopes to choose from. Each envelope was marked with a number 1, 2 and 3 and I was told that whatever envelope I chose would reveal the surprise he had in store for me this weekend.  He also told me that once I made my choice, he would destroy the other 2 envelopes and I wouldn’t get to know what was in them! (WOW).  Well, it took me awhile to choose and I picked #2.   The picture you see above is the letter that was in the envelope!  I was in total shock as I read the contents of the letter.  I was overwhelmed with emotion that 1. he took the time to pull this all together; 2. his letter was so thought out — he knows I have OCD and anxiety and he took that into consideration and made arrangements for everything 3. nobody has EVER done something like that for me before.

I tossed and turned all night last night like a kid on Christmas Eve!  I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me this weekend!

 

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My Tribe Rocks!!

tribeI am happy to say that I have found my voice again and I am using it wisely!  Over the past 3 years things have been really challenging.  Throughout the entire divorce process, I’ve had some great days and some down right shitty days but I refuse to wallow in what went wrong and I am totally focused on living the best life possible.

Before my divorce I was a  vibrant, out-there, very vocal lady who would blog and coach other women to live their best life possible.  During the divorce I began to shrink down into myself.  I literally felt completely broken down but I know now that I had to break all the way down in order to build myself back up again!

I can fully admit this now — for many years, I was emotionally needy.  I don’t mean this in a ‘Lifetime Movie’ female psycho killer type of way but in the way that many people are emotionally needy.  I relied on someone else to make me happy, I often blamed others when I wasn’t happy and I looked to others to fulfill my needs.   I will be  honest — my 17 year marriage was a financially cushy one.  I had no worries about bills, if I just mentioned that I liked something, it would magically appear and I didn’t have to work if I didn’t want to and that became a comfort to me.   I poured my time into working part time and caring for the kids & volunteering at school.  What I didn’t realize is that this left such an empty hole as it pertained to affection and emotions.   I totally blame myself for this (now)  because I know that I am in charge of what I allow and keep in my life.  During the entire divorce process I was stripped down so low and spent a lot of time alone and  it wasn’t until then  that I slowly became more emotionally self reliant.

While I did a lot of this work solo, I can’t begin to thank those that stood beside me and pulled me through as I worked to rebuild myself.

  • The Bestie – words cant even describe our bond.  20 years and going strong —  more like sisters than friends.  We can get a feeling that one of us needs the other and we will call and already know 1/2 the story.  She has always been there for me and no matter how far off the ledge I go, she gets me, she pulls me in, dusts me off and sets me back on my feet again.
  • My Chicas – A group of ladies (approximately 9 of us) who have been going out to dinner monthly and have been supporting and celebrating each other for over the past 9 years.   The Chicas are  so supportive of one another and we strive to always live the best life possible.  We have a running Facebook Chat set up where we talk about any and everything morning, noon and night!!  They were/are there for me daily with all of the support that I need.
  • My December 99 Moms – I’ve known these ladies since I became pregnant with the boy teen. Yep, for over 16 years now (we met at iVillage) and we’ve kept in touch daily through different message boards.  We are now on our own private Facebook board and I pour my heart out to them whenever I need to.  They never judge, they are always there and they are super-supportive.
  • Anthony – *deep breath* This man has caught HELL (sometimes to his face but mostly behind his back).  Because of the timing of when I met him and the timing of my divorce many felt that HE is the reason for the divorce.  Not true! I have letters written to myself that date back 11 years questioning the marriage (just wanted to clear that up).  When I lost my job, he helped me to pay my rent, when I needed help with the teen, he was right there with whatever was needed, when I had to go to court, he was right there beside me.  This man right here has been such a great friend,  supporter, shoulder to cry on and much more.  Our friendship grew into what it is today – a friendship caught on fire — also known LOVE!  He is my person!
  • My Online friends – people say that you have to meet people in real life in order for them to be considered friends.  I say that is bullshit!  I have the BEST online friends in the world.  Always there to pick me up when I am down, celebrate with me when I do well and some even tell me about myself when I am wrong.

Obviously there are other people who have helped me find my way back to who I really am but the people above are the people that come to mind 1st.   While I don’t have a lot of blood family to talk to and lean on, I have a tribe of people in front of me, beside me and behind me that I call family and I love each member of my tribe!

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Weekend Wrap Up – The Homeless, the Casino & More…

WeekendWrapUpIsn’t is amazing how fast the weekend flies by?  I started off this weekend with nothing on my To-Do list and no set plans but that slowly changed and the weekend unfolded into one filled with alot of fun activities.  I am blessed to have a job that gives me each and every Friday off (YAY).  My Friday was spent running errands, getting a much needed manicure, doing household chores and I did manage to sneak in a quick nap before having to pick the boy teen up at the subway after his part time job.  Friday night was spent quietly at home with take out from Outback: ribs for the teen and wings and cheese fries for my other half and I.  It was delicious!!

run

A quick 3.1 mile run and a 2 mile walk.

We woke up early (6am) on Saturday morning for our weekly Black Men Run meet up/run on the Washington Mall.  My other half, Anthony,  is affiliated with the running group but has been battling knee issues for the past 10 months. Just 11 days ago, he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on his right knee to repair the damage (ouch).  He normally is a very active guy — officiating basketball throughout the year, working out a few times a week in the gym and he loves to run. While he somewhat of a newbie to the world of running long distances consistently, he made it up to running 10 miles (last Fall) before his knee injury took him out of commission for 10 months.    He is slowly on the mend so for this weekly BMR run on the Mall, he walked as I ran.   I join in on as many runs with Black Men run and Black Girls Run as possible. Anything to keep me movingand improving.  The weather for this run was less than ideal thanks to the constant rain but my run felt amazing and I ended up with a faster than usual pace!   I ended my 5K with a final time of 28:49  — a 9:15 mile pace in the rain —  YAY.

winnings

Our winnings!!

Saturday afternoon was spent relaxing and napping (heavenly).  I then dropped the boy teen off at the Metro so that he could meet friends, Anthony’s teen also had plans with friends too so we decided to head out for a “Parents Gone Wild” date at the Maryland Live! Casino. We used to live just 10 minutes from the Casino and we have never stepped foot inside. Now we moved clear across town (almost 1 hour away) and we decided to finally go and see what all the hoopla was about. When we walked in, we were like kids in a candy store looking at all of the shiny colors, buttons and wheels spinning about.  We decided to eat before we tried our hands at gambling.  We were in line to eat at the ‘All you can eat Crab and Everything Else Buffet’ which is $34.99 per person. As we waited in the super long line, a total stranger walked up to us and just handed us a  ‘Buy One Meal – Get One meal Free’ coupon!  Those that truly know me, know that I LOVE a good savings.  I jumped up and down and said a silent prayer to the coupon Gods asking them to shine down on this coupon and make it work and guess what?… it did!!  Well, that was the beginning of our good luck!  After we ate ourselves silly on crab legs, salad, fried shrimp, Chinese food and more, we headed off to the Black Jack table.  I’ve been to many Casinos before and I love a good game of  Black Jack or Poker.  I quickly sat down to play at the $10 table with Anthony standing behind me.  I started off by placing $50 on the table and  I quickly turned that $50 into $97.50!!  I know how to get up and leave when I am ahead  and that is exactly what I did.  I cashed in my chips for cold hard cash.   Anthony has never sat at a black jack table but decided to try his luck and placed $60 down at a $15 table and he quickly turned his $60 into $160.00!!  Needless to say we were beyond excited and like me.. he was quick to get up and leave the table to cash in his chips.  Actually, after I counted his chips and saw that he was $100 on top, I remember tapping him on the shoulder and saying “C’mon babe, we are done”!  What a fun night we had!   We had a great meal at a discount AND won $150.00!

homelessSunday was a day spent with the boy teen. We got up early and hit the road and drove to Baltimore to feed our Neighbors Without Walls (the homeless).  We met up with others at Terra Cafe where we prepared approximately 250 bag lunches (fresh sandwiches and snacks) and placed them into paper bags to be handed out along with fresh water and oranges on the streets of Baltimore.  We had such a great time meeting the fellow volunteers that gathered together for such a great cause. I love volunteering with the homeless and with children and the boy teen is very passionate about volunteering and helping the homeless in any way possible so this outing was really special to him.  There were many moments that really made my heart smile but one in particular caused me to tear up.  As I was on one end of the street passing out water, I walked back up the street towards where the boy teen was passing out the lunches and the picture that you see above is just what I saw.  I look up the street to see Isaac in a prayer circle holding a homeless man’s hand while praying for their safety, health and more.  I was done! Tears flowed and I felt so proud to have such a loving and caring son.   We volunteered for a total of 4 hours, met some great people, some with homes and some without.  A huge thank you to my friend Cinneen for telling us about this great volunteer opportunity.

food

Delicious!

Sunday evening at 6pm is when we do the boy teen shuffle.  My ex-husband (wow, seems odd to type that out) and I share custody of the boy teen and he spends one week with him and one week with us.  We got home from volunteering and rested up a bit — well, I rested, the boy teen was busy on his PS4 and then we headed into DC for the drop off.  On the way back home we stopped by the grocery store and picked up a few items for grilling.   I have been blessed with a boyfriend that loves to grill!  Unless we have other plans or unless he isn’t feeling well, Anthony will grill up enough food on Sundays to last for a few days. This week Anthony grilled several sweet Italian sausages and some huge chicken kabobs with green and yellow peppers.  I seasoned the kabobs with seasoning salt, fresh garlic, onion, pepper, Cajun spices and then topped it all with a bit of zesty Italian dressing.  Anthony turned that raw poultry into a masterpiece.  While he was busy on the grill, I mixed up a few delicious drinks and we sat on the back patio listening to Kem on the wireless speakers as the food cooked.  It was the perfect ending to a fun, family filled and lucrative weekend.

Inquiring minds want to know – How was your weekend?

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