Thank You COVID-19

I want to start this post off by saying that I’m not writing this to be insensitive of those that have been negatively impacted by this pandemic. Trust me, so have I. I just wanted to use this space to highlight some positivity within this uncertain time. I don’t want to focus on what I’ve lost. As I am returning back to the office that I’ve not been able to work in since March, I want to reflect on what I’ve gained, what I’ve been able to focus more energy into, and the experiences that I’ve been grateful to have over the last five months.

  1. Patience ~ I have been humbled. God always comes through though, but it may not be on “my time.” I’ve learned to trust the process.
  2. Lived in the present ~ I’m always so focused on my future. My next goal. My next project. Being forced to stay in the house with minimum funds made it so that I had no choice but to slow down and live in the now. Everything seemed paused which made me enjoy my limited company even more. I was also able to soak in all that I’ve accomplished and where I am now. 
  3. Spent more time with my boyfriend ~ We have been nailing this looooonnnngg distance for the last year but I must say I have loved staying with him for the last four months. It gave us a time to learn each other’s pet peeves, cleaning habits, daily routines, etc. before we actually live together and I loved every minute of it
  4. Was able to be included in family moments and birthdays that I haven’t been able to be around for in years ~ I have not been in my hometown this long since I was in high school. Because of school, I have missed many birthdays, but not this year. I have been able to be with my family, on my sister’s, one of my brother’s, my mom’s, my Papa’s, and my future sister in law’s birthday. I also was able to participate in family game nights, family dinners, and family cookouts. 
  5. Physical health ~ Although consistency slacks as I get busier, this has remained as a focus of mine from what I put into my body to how I take care of my body. There’s still room for improvement here. 
  6. Discovered my love for painting ~ I share in my last post, “Get Creative!” some of my latest painting projects. I plan to focus on that more while I have another week until classes restart.
  7. Poured more energy into passion projects ~ During the last five months, I have (although not alone): 
    1. Followed my mom’s lead on publishing her blog that she has been wanting to do for a while. I’m so happy that she included me and my friends on this project. Its hard to put into words what this blog means to me (but maybe I’ll write about it later),
    2. Completed 1 season of a podcast, Party of Four, with three other friends. We are currently working on re-branding for Season 2. New content, new structure, new everything and I’m really excited for that. 
    3. Just released Courtney and I’s very first episode of our YouTube Channel, The Real Ali and Court. Check it out and if you like what you see, make sure you subscribe! 

Here are some of my favorite moments:

Striving for a positive thoughts only mindset! Although, it may be difficult. I challenge you to put at least one positive thing that came from this pandemic in the comments. READY. SET. GO.  💞

LIVE.LAUGH.LOVE yourself first. Until next time. Mwauh 💋 -Alex

Random Thoughts

Words that are fun to say :

Discombobulated

Shish kabob

Flabbergasted

Barnacles

There was a point in my life where I did not use profanity what-so-ever. Possibly a 1 to 2 year span. Besides the fact that I was young and should not have been using such language anyway, my disengagement from use was built on an idea I had come up with. I had decided that people only used cuss-words for lack of energy and knowledge they possessed of “better” terms. Not only were they being lazy but they were ignorant to extensive vocabulary. It sounds pretty harsh and it is, but is it not true?

As someone who loves language, dialects and accents = linguistics…I have found that I find speech most intriguing when words I rarely hear are used or when the order of words are switched up in a way that is new to my ear.

I was recently asked can a villain be a villain and a hero at the same time? I think the answer is yes. A Hero has to be a villain to someone who doesn’t believe in what they stand for, and hero to those who do. So we all at some point are villains to someone, right?

My personal question then is can a villain be a villain to another villain? Hmmmmmmm.

In the past two years, I just realized that my mom was an actual person. I know that sounds weird but seriously. In the sense that she too actually had feelings, a past, trauma, even good memories and stories that all attributed to who she is. I believe this is because as a child, I only viewed her as a provider and recently as our relationship grows I know now she is so much more. I wonder who else has experienced this.

IDK

This week has been a lot for me. A bunch of mixed emotions: at one moment my mood is lighthearted and idyllic; I’m sure of … not everything but a lot of things and the next I feel gloomy yet reflective and sure of nothing at all.

How does that saying go,  “I was good until I wasn’t.”

It amazes me sometimes how a person can affect my mood, and it only happens with those I let in . Some would suggest it’s the quarantine that has got me all in my feels but honestly this is just a “me” thing. As I said in my last post I can feel myself growing, I feel and see things shifting and though I haven’t fully grasped what is happening and what it all means I know it’s happening.

Imagine being in the middle of a tornado. Viewing it from the outside, it’s obvious that it’s a tornado but for those in the middle of it (unless you knew it was coming ) it just appears that everything is being tossed around, flipped, uprooted, and placed somewhere it does not belong.

There are some occurrences that we can control and nevertheless a multitude that we cannot. For an example, sufferings from natural disasters are something we cannot control. That pain is inevitable, but what about the sufferings from our daily disasters that we can?

“Sadly, many of the things that undermine our joy and happiness we create ourselves.” (The Book of Joy), and of this I am aware. I am aware that some of my gloominess is arising because of my failure to discipline my mind and deal with it in a less lethal manner so to speak, but for some reason(for the past two weeks) I’ve just been pretty lenient with myself. I have not put on my big girl draws or forced myself to hold in tears of frustration. I gave myself space to let my mind think about all of the things I push out on the day to day basis just to keep a poker face. I spent hours writing down my thoughts… the ones that shouldn’t be said out loud. I let myself do that because I am human and I needed to feel, even if it hurt.

I typically don’t read other blogs – you may be thinking how hypocritical, but the truth of the matter is I never knew blogging was a thing outside of being for those who travel, those who are foodies and those who own boutiques. Frankly, I’ve never stumbled across a blog or been sent an entry to read in order to open up my mind to the thought, so consider yourself more advanced than I! lol. However, I’ve read at least three blogs in the last month. My most recent was by a King that goes by the name of Petahjay on Instagram. He wrote a piece titled I am not okay but I hope you are.  Just by reading the title, I knew it was something my spirit needed. It was as if he were I and my feelings had jumped onto the screen I was reading.

Earlier that day I had been speaking with a friend and I said :

It was if my own, advice that I didn’t even know I needed, was being thrown at me and I burst into tears. The crazy part about it all, is that sometimes you know something is off but you yourself can’t put your finger on it. I feel, but I can’t explain what I’m feeling. I don’t know what I’m feeling.

This past Monday, May 25, 2020, George Floyd, a resident of Minneapolis and also a member of the African American community, was killed in Minneapolis by a Caucasian police officer. Since this horrific event riots have been taking place from state to state, one of those states being my very own: Georgia. Yesterday evening there were peaceful protests and later in the night rioting and looting began to take place. This too happens to be a subject that I’m not sure how I feel about. I do believe that we, my people, the black community are desperate for change and to do something is better than doing nothing at all. I believe that we don’t know what will work but we’re willing to try anything. I know that if you are drowning and dependent upon only yourself to survive and don’t at least try… you will surely die.

*Starts playing Lord Is Coming by H.E.R (feat YBN Cordae)

“History is not my brothers’ story

The original founders were buried in the ground

Where men have planted seeds of disease and they’ve justified being thieves

Feeding their inner demons, and blaming the minorities

It’s a World War III, corruption verses greed

Not you versus me” -H.E.R.

I am that girl who loves to listen to music loud and sing with every fiber of my being songs that are saturated with feelings. Whether happy or sad and I may not be going through it personally, I can feel their passion.

Here’s a list of songs that help me feel:

“I’m not okay” H.E.R.

“I apologize” Anita Baker

“Just the Two of Us” Grover Washington

“Speak” Jhené Aiko

“Ain’t Nobody” Chaka Khan

“Talk to Me” WhyNotHauch

“Yesterday Blues” (Remix) WhyNotDuce

“Gonna Love Me” Teyana Taylor

“Crazy Eyes” Alex Mali

“Still” Tamia

“Lord You Are Good” Todd Galberth

“I Need You Bad” Jasmine Sullivan

“Attention” Kiana Ledé

“Eternal Light” Free Nationals & Chronixx

“Nobody Like You Lord” Maranda Curtis

Until Next Time

-Courtney B.

To Grow or Not to Grow…

Lately I’ve been thinking about my journeys and how much I think I’ve grown. Growth can be defined as a gradual development…of any kind.

I’ve just been growing…

and GROWing…

and GROWING…

and cutting and GROWING

Growth isn’t usually effortless. It takes some work or energy being used to fuel the process. Sometimes we have little control over the amount of effort being put forth, or the level of ability, capability and willingness of another person. If you don’t receive what’s needed to develop optimally as an embryo, infant, child or adolescent, your growth and could be stunted. Other times we have interruptions that present challenges that must be overcome before we can begin to regenerate growth. For me, that just makes growing more rewarding.

When I had my last child, I decided to nurse him exclusively, make all of his food myself, and I did not want him to have to be cared for by anyone other than me or his father. That required me to make sacrifices so that I could give him, what I thought was the best that I could give him. I don’t regret any of it. I can see the fruits of my labor (in each of my children).

Growth is not always inevitable but I know that if I take care of, feed properly, nurture, and love myself, my hair, my plants, my children, my mind, my faith: Growth is inevitable. Keep growing & glowing like my big baby-girl, Alex.

Thump out

Food For Thought

Greetings all! I hope you had a productive and enjoyable extended weekend. I know I did. I worked in my garden, made plans for several work related projects involving gardening education, put together a greenhouse with my mother and I cooked for and spent quality time with all of my children (future son-in-law included).

I have been thinking about creating a page to share recipes and yesterday gave more inspiration to do so sooner than later. Next Tuesday, June 2, we will post recipes to create a whole meal, from start to finish. We welcome you to join in the Food for Thought recipe exchange and we will feature those recipes in the months to come. The idea is to help each other with meals. I don’t know about anyone else but I know a few people, myself included, that get tired of cooking the same things every other week. Sometimes I just want something new, and complete, and where the recipes are all in one place.

Spending the day with my family, brought to mind family meals and get- togethers in my home as a child. Meals were usually balanced, prepared by my mother or father and we sat down at the kitchen table and ate together. Food was a major part of every celebration. My O’pa used to cook fish and/or shrimp, sweet potatoes and greens or salad, what seemed like every Friday evening. He would call and personally make sure you knew you were invited and were indeed coming. And when he wasn’t cooking anymore, he assigned duties and supervised the event. I refer to it as an event because I looked forward to seeing the family together, talking, laughing, fussing, fighting, crying, cheering, loving, supporting…I miss that. He transitioned in 2014 and that tradition stopped. I want to reintroduce that to my children and I want to encourage you all to join in.

Let’s bring family meals back, discussions and reflections; without cell phones, or television; or separate rooms and different times. If you already do it great, encourage us who may not. If your schedule is tooooo hectic, try to squeeze in one meal a month. If you do that already, try once a week…you get the picture.

If you would like to contribute a recipe, please email them to ThumpInThought@gmail.com with recipe as the subject. Feel free to tell us why you chose the recipe, what you liked or loved about it, and if you made any or recommend any, additions or alterations when preparing it. We will post new recipes, the first Tuesday of every month. I’m excited to try your favorite or families’ recipes and possibly see some pics of you enjoying them.

Thump out!

*The featured image was found on brain-smart.com

Love Yours

Lately, I’ve been trying doing a lot of thinking. I Decided not to post last week because I was was going through a little something. With Mother’s Day approaching on the 10th, I felt a wave of sadness come over me. I lost my mom five years ago February 2, 2015 and lost my grandma March 2, 2018. True heart break.

Thinking of the relationship I had with both my mom and grandma makes me feel warmth in my heart. My mom was pretty strict, but would give me just about anything I wanted. I remember going shopping with my mom and asking her to buy me this and that. When she would say NO, I’d get a little upset and for some reason she would feel bad and get me what I asked. CAN YOU SAY SPOILED!!!! Over the years I learned to be grateful of the things I was blessed with and not to get upset over the things I didn’t have. When I was in high school, my mom always made sure I had at least $40 a week for the ala cart line. She knew I didn’t care for the food in the regular line! And she was not going to see me go hungry that’s for sure. Man how lucky was I to have this woman in my life…

My grandma was literally my best friend- we had a bond that was unmatched. I could tell a joke and she would be right there laughing saying “girl get out my face acting crazy” or “go way from here” Yes “GO WAY” lol. She taught me so much. Taught me the importance of knowing how to cook for myself, cleaning, gardening, keeping it classy, being humble, and so much more.

Two of the strongest Queens raised a young Black Queen… Raised a young lady who is creative, nurturing, optimistic, and God fearing. For that, I thank them. I love them. I miss them. Although they aren’t with me physically, our relationship remains SOLID.

Love yours until the end of time.

Chavon💛

WTF(orgiveness)

Somehow, over the years, I’ve managed to convince myself I was a forgiving person because I was still able to have relationships or interactions with the people who’d wronged me. I thought I had forgiveness mastered. Was I accepting or forgiving? Was I forgiving everyone or only those I wanted to? Can everything be forgiven or are there things that only the Most High can forgive? Can unforgiveness lead to unfavorable consequences for me?

Thoughts: I’m really, good at accepting, not so good at forgiving. I would think I had forgiven someone until I’d see them and my blood would slowly begin to boil with anger until the unresolved became obvious. I was selectively forgiving but I wasn’t forgiving everyone. Cases that involved harm or malice toward my children or loved ones who may have been unable to defend or protect themselves, were not worthy of my forgiveness. How naïve was I. As Iesha stated yesterday, forgiveness is a necessary part of self- healing: more for us than the other person. I was making myself forgive people that I felt had to be, that I wanted to be, or that would frequently be present in my life (family, loved ones, employers, neighbors, educators, health care providers, baby daddies). I figured there was no sense in holding a grudge or having ill feelings towards someone I would, by choice or requirement, have to interact with regularly. I was suppressing emotions to make forgiveness possible or easier. I believed that some things were unforgivable by humans but not by a higher power: God, Jehova, Allah, Jah, Elohim, Yahweh, Shiva, Akal Murat. (If your religion or spirituality was not represented, I apologize)

I was experiencing insomnia, anxiety, loss of appetite, weight loss, hair loss, lack of desire to participate in any romantic interactions, misplaced blame, animosity, mistrust, distrust…I was going through it, sometimes all at once.

Like many thoughts, these led to discovery. They guided me to strip, cleanse, dissect, deconstruct, reconstruct, raise my confidence and elevate my consciousness. I learned so much about myself, my actions, my purpose. The journey has been amazing, not every experience was pleasant, but each was substantial to understand forgiveness, come up with a plan of action, and to execute.

What is forgiveness?

The act of forgiving is defined as conscious and deliberate decisions to release feelings of resentment or vengeance toward a person or group that has harmed you. It is intentional.

  1. Acknowledge the situation and/or person requiring forgiveness.
  2. Identify and/or locate the emotion that emerged from the situation.
  3. Navigate the feeling.
  4. Process the feelings.
  5. Release

  • Acknowledge the situation and/or person requiring forgiveness

I began doing yoga regularly. Mostly at home (I studied chakras, essential oils and stones. I tried to learn meditation. Notice I said try. And I attended counseling. The counseling helped tremendously with assigning blame, as I was feeling guilty for someone else’s actions. I am responsible for the person being around but not for what he’d done.), but sometimes I found inexpensive or free classes to visit. Last year, I even stayed the weekend at Yogaville, in Buckingham, VA.

  • Identify and/or locate the emotion that emerged from the situation

Simply, how do you feel about it? Do you recognize the emotion or reaction? Where is it coming from? Where can you feel it? Practice mindfulness and bring awareness to your body. My yoga practice was becoming more routine and I was getting good at the poses but still working on the breathing. And yes, I continued to try meditation.

  • Navigate the feeling

Cry, exert physical energy (work out, sex, kick boxing, construction), cook, write (journal, poetry, music), listen to music, dance, clean, garden, paint, draw, sew, sleep, soak, destruct something, burn something, find something…whatever gets the job done. Take time to be present in the emotion. If you don’t feel any better or different, do it again, or do something else.

  • Process the feelings

Process – A series of progressive and interdependent steps by which an end is attained: a chemical process: The end being self-expression: emotional release.

Go where you find clarity and can be at peace and free to be, without judgement (water, bathroom, on the road,  your alter, church, in nature). At this step, take responsibility for your part, good and bad. Whatever the situation, if we are involved then we play some part. Even standing in as an extra can be considered a “nonacting” part. Acknowledge, appreciate and be grateful for lessons learned and gifts received.

  • Release

This step was an issue for me. I didn’t know how to. I was hurt: in pain. I thought crying or yelling equaled releasing, but I was holding on to that hurt and pain (those emotions, negative sensations. Punishing myself over and over and over. It wasn’t until I cried 12 times about the same thing, over a 12 month time frame, that I said, “something ain’t right”. I had so many unsettled matters; some forgotten by accident and some on purpose. It made more sense to keep on keepin’ on, which couldn’t be done while dwelling on or being knocked off track by undesirable happenings.

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try meditation again. We will explore meditation more extensively in another post but if you don’t think you’re doing it “properly” just keep at it.

I was stubborn and proud. I knew why I was mad, who I was mad at and I knew that they did not deserve my forgiveness. They had taken enough from my family and myself that I was not going to let them have that too. I though I was healing, working on me, making sure my children were alright but I was still stuck, tethered to my pain, hate, disgust, deceit, disloyalty, disappointment, abuse, abandonment and fear… unrelinquished feelings.

Moving on from that place became the goal. I don’t know about you, but I have too much to do to be stuck. Eventually I felt at peace with a lightened heart, clearer conscious, a renewed confidence, clearer vision and stronger faith. Once you have all those things, processing and releasing are more accomplishable. That doesn’t necessarily mean easier; it is sometime dependent on what the forgiveness is going on. At least you are aware of the necessary, which is half the battle. Now let the necessary occur and keep it movin’.

SIsters, How y’all feel? Brothers, y’all alright?

Hello beautiful beings! 

              I hope this message finds you well and in high spirits. I have been weirdly in an extremely joyful mood! Literally every day that I wake up I feel how we all feel when we finally get that perfect lighting for a photo and actually capture the perfect image, or how ecstatic we get when our absolute favorite show is FINALLY coming out with another season and it airs on Netflix sooner than we expected.

I’m not exactly sure if it has to do with “The Book of JOY” I am reading, by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu, but I am in a state of peace and I feel immensely blessed just thinking about it because I know everyone cannot state the same. However, if you are reading this post you are already covered in my prayers for peace, reassurance, and love from HIM that is higher than us, to overtake you.

              One thing that I have found helps shift the mind and over all being into the direction of gratefulness is to make a Grateful List. No matter how small or how silly you may think it is… Write it down. At least 4 things.

My list for this week:

1. sunlight and the warmth it shares

2. a sweet tangerine

3. clear sticky tab flags (for marking my book when reading!)

4. having no hangnails (Thank ya Lawd)

*Shifts* While everyone seems to be concerned with what others are doing to fill their time… What I really want to know is what everyone is doing to fill their bellies!

Before this whole COVID-19 quarantine took place, I was faithfully going to the gym 3-4 times a week and eating a substantial amount to compliment my gains and build muscle. 

My workout world has been turned upside down because the act of going to an actual gym motivated me a great deal. It’s my assumption that a lot of people are eating out of boredom. Me, Ms. Individuality over-here, is doing the complete opposite! I think I’ve gone into survival mode, eating only twice a day, if that (I know, I know, not the healthiest but this is me being honest). 

However, I have made the meals I do eat count! In the morning I like to eat something a little light: a bowl of oatmeal with a banana, peanut butter and honey on the side does the trick. Or I’ll have an avocado (or two) with Everything Bagel Seasoning sprinkled on top accompanied by a large glass of water!

I’ve found that not many people are huge fans of avocados because of the texture, color or even mild smooth taste. I’ve also found that adding salt and pepper makes a world of difference. If it happens to be too soft for your liking, eat it when it’s a bit firmer to the touch. 

While avocados are green they are actually considered a fruit. Most fruit consists primarily of carbohydrates, avocado is high in healthy fats and loaded with fiber. Some benefits of this fruit include: rich with antioxidants that protect the eyes, helps prevent cancer, inhibits fungal infections, helps lower cholesterol and prevent heart disease. I’m sure with more research you can find a benefit this fruit can prove for you.  

Whewh, okay getting back on track…

I snack throughout the middle of the day mostly on nonsense so you can feel free to be creative during this time. Create a new mid-day snack and share it with me! See how this relationship works? I give, you give… reciprocity.  

When it comes to dinner, CeeMarita’s got you covered! This week I kept it strictly vegetarian with my meals:

Meal No.1 – Veggie Pot Pie

Before you turn up your nose, this is a very delicious meal, colorful and under $10! Assuming you already have the seasonings.

So all you need for this yummy tummy filler is 

  • 2 cups of mixed vegetables for a 9X9 inch pan that can go in the oven (Glass is fine too)

Vegetables include: corn, green beans, peas, carrots and broccoli

  • 3 cans of Pillsbury Crescent Rolls
  • a quarter of chopped onion
  • 1 can of cream of mushroom
  • 1 can of cream of cream of celery
  • 1 can of cream of potato
  • 2 tbs. of butter
  • Salt/pepper

Optional 

  • Thyme
  • Seasoning salt
  • Italian seasoning 
  • Garlic powder
  • 3 tbs. of White cooking wine

Now for the magic: 

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 390 degrees 
    1. Whynot 350? Because Whynot 390? Live a little, 390 degrees it is. 
    2. Grab a large non-stick skillet and toss in the 1 tbs. of butter along with all of the vegetables over medium heat. Add in all of your desired seasoning (for the record I used everything I listed above)
    3. If the vegetables are frozen place a cover on top for about a minute to ensure everything is thawed out
  2. While that’s on the stove heat up the leftover teaspoon of butter in the microwave.
    1. Use a small portion of the butter to grease inside the 9×9 pan 
  3. Unroll 1 can of crescent rolls,  layer it and press into the bottom and up the sides of pan (it’s okay if it don’t go all the way to the top of the pan.)
  4. Once the vegetables are fragrant and the butter has seemed to evaporate pour in the cream of mushroom, cream of celery, and the cream of potato. Allow it to simmer/cook for 2 minutes and then pour vegetable mixture into pan evenly 
  5. Unroll leftover crescent rolls and place over top of veggie mixture and press into sides of pan sealing mixture in the middle. Bake on bottom rack for 30 mins until golden brown.
  6. Once 30 minutes are up, remove from oven, use the remaining portion of better to brush on top of your now completely finished vegetarian potpie!

IF YOU SO HAPPPPPPEN TO BE A MEAT LOVER, I love you all the same. Yeah, of course I do, so you can add in your meat of choice if you SO desire.

*You would cut up and cook your meat separately all the way through and then add it into the vegetable mixture, all other instructions remain the same.

I hope you all enjoy this quick fun meal. It is one of my favorite gems in the sack that I love to revisit every few months. Remember, this is all an experience we are going through together so if you have any suggestions on how to spice this meal up I am all ears. Never had potpie? Well here is the perfect chance to try it out, only $10, the best thing that could happen is…. You gain a new recipe. Are you a good cook? What quick cost efficient meals are you eating during this pandemic, How healthy or unhealthy are you eating during this time?

OH and you thought I forgot….absolutely not. Drop that 4 point Grateful List in the comments. I WANNA SEE THEM ALL, lol.

#Keepgoing Until Next time. 🥑 –Courtney B.