culture · life curation

Celebrating Podcasts: My Favorite Way to Learn!

Today is International Podcast Day and I’m thrilled to be able to share and reshare some of my favorite podcasts with you all! I didn’t know this day even existed prior to this weekend (I’m just as surprised as you are!) but I’m delighted that I can do my part to show support for some of the fantastic content creators that provide excellent, timely information on their podcasts.

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Listening to podcasts is a great way to pass the time while exercising

On the top of my list is LOA Recon with Jeannette Maw. I love her simple way of explaining Law of Attraction and providing wonderful stories illustrating her point.

The Mind Your Business podcast with James Wedmore has great interviews and combines left brain logic with right brain principles as a way to have a balanced approach to business building.

In Other Words gives me my weekly fix of art and museum news and discussions.

Abiola Abrams’s Spiritpreneur School gives tips on how to create a thriving business that incorporates your passion and spiritual gifts. Abiola also has a great YouTube channel that you may want to check out.

The Side Hustle Show with Nick Loper is an excellent resource for aspiring business owners that are looking for ideas and inspiration.

The OWN Network has amazing Super Soul Sunday interviews from a slew of thought leaders and innovators.

And last but not least, Entrepreneurs on Fire with John Lee Dumas is great for learning about the art of podcasting and building a business around it.

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I love listen to podcasts as I unwind, too

Let’s show our love for our favorite podcasters by:

  • Encouraging someone to listen to podcasts and giving them your personal recommendations
  • Giving great ratings and reviews of your favorite podcasters on podcasting platforms (iTunes/Apple, Google Play, Spotify, Stitcher, etc.,)
  • Send a word of encouragement or a monetary donation to your faves, just to show them how much you appreciate the work that they do

These gestures can go a LONG way in supporting your favorite podcasters.

Do you have any favorite podcasters that you want to share? Please leave a comment below telling us all about them!

life curation

While I Was Away . . . Part 1 – Buying a Home

I already gave you all a bit of a broad overview of what has been going on with me during my hiatus. While recovering, I had a chance to accomplish a few big goals. Unlike years prior, I had to be mindful to pace myself, which means I went a lot slower than normal. Things that normally could have happened in a week took a month or two to occur. But slow and steady wins the race, right? So even slow progress is better than no progress. I’m going to do this update in a few parts, because there were a lot of beneficial changes that happened over the past few months.

Many of you know that I practice conscious creation, so while I believe I had a hand in my health decline (I didn’t develop proper skills for coping with stress and didn’t pay attention to signs that I was damaging my health), I also know that I can use, and have used, my conscious creation powers to get some things that I wanted. So, my biggest accomplishment was . . . I bought a house! It was quite a fun journey, though it had some ups and downs. It wasn’t nearly as stressful as I thought it would be – which is how I know that this was the right time to purchase.

Me on the day that I got the keys – shiny faced and excited LOL!

Believe it or not, I hadn’t planned to purchase a property in the US this year, especially when my health was giving me trouble. I was still considering the possibility of purchasing abroad and relocating. But when I met a mortgage banker acquaintance and learned about what it takes to get home financing, I figured, “Why not?” The moment I felt the process was getting too stressful, I was okay with walking away and trying at another time. As luck would have it, the entire process was smooth and stress free.

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Pictures don’t do this foyer justice

I toured a few houses with a particular setup in mind: an older home, at least 2500 square feet, 4 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms, a stream in my backyard, close to my doctors’ offices and my commuter lot, and less than $250K. In my locale, it’s possible to get all of these things but you usually have to compromise on at least two elements. I fell HARD for the first house I toured. It had everything I wanted – even a 4th bathroom. But, it needed a LOT of work done to it (at least $50K), the owners were selling it as is (all risks were on the buyer) and the owners weren’t budging on the price, which was far too high considering the amount of work needed. Eventually, the house was taken off of the market, and I had to start hunting again.

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A darling thrifted vanity that made its way to the new house

I viewed a few more, then I saw another delightful home. It had a stream in the backyard, and pretty much everything I wanted, except the price was a bit higher than I wanted. We tried to negotiate with the seller, but they only reduced the price by $5k. Considering the amount of upgrades that the home needed, the selling price wasn’t competitive enough, so I decided against trying to buy it. Then, a couple of days later, I saw the most perfect house ever! I’d have to sacrifice my stream in the backyard and one of my desired bedrooms, but it had an attic that was perfect for a 4th bedroom. The house had been on the market a total of two days. When I went to put a contract on it, the realtor regretfully informed me that there was already a contract on it. I was a little saddened, but I figured that this setback only meant that there was something better on the horizon for me.

Two pics of my incredibly gorgeous wallpaper (again, photos don’t do it justice!)

Well, after touring a total of about 9 or 10 homes, I finally ended up checking out a house that, from the photographs, WAS NOT what I wanted. But, when I walked in, all I could think is WOW! My jaw dropped as soon as I walked in, and when I finished walking around it, all I could say is, “This is the one”. The seller and her realtor were fantastic to work with, and the sale was SO EASY. I knew, just by how relaxed the process was, that this was the home I was meant to purchase.

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Decided to use the built-in shelving to display my Barbie collection

This house was PERFECT. The square footage, rooms, location and price were all perfect. On top of all of that, it was in fabulous condition and needed very few upgrades. I didn’t get the stream in my backyard, but I got something even better: there are woods just a few feet from my property line, so I can see deer, rabbits and raccoons outside of my patio window. And my bedroom has a balcony, so I can sit out there, sip my tea, and enjoy the tranquility of my new neighborhood.

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Still perfecting the great room, but loving it so far!

It’s wonderful to be able to focus on taking care of my health and to be in close proximity to the care I need and the amenities I enjoy. My family and I love our new home and are happily settled into our new neighborhood. My favorite thing in the world is the fact that my new neighborhood is in the county, so there are lots of trees and fewer street lights. Being closer to nature has been so calming: I love it here!

That’s it for part 1 of my updates. I’ll have more updates next week. Look out for the first Fibro Friday post tomorrow! Take care.

 

 

health · life curation

Fibro Friday – Do You Have Fibromyalgia? Getting Properly Diagnosed

Welcome to the very first Fibro Friday! I’m hopeful that this series will provide valuable information and tips for other fibromyalgia sufferers, and it’s my sincere desire that my experiences with fibro will help someone else get back on the track to wellness.

*** Disclaimer – none of this is intended as medical advice. Please consult a licensed physician for a professional opinion. ***

The singular toughest part of my fibromyalgia journey was getting a proper diagnosis. There are still a lot of care providers that don’t know how to properly interpret fibromyalgia symptoms, and as a result, patients spend a lot of time suffering before there is a conclusive diagnosis. Even once patients receive a diagnosis, there are some care providers that treat fibro as some “strange” illness that only requires antidepressants and stress reduction to “clear up”. There is even a subset of care providers that deny the existence of fibro altogether.

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On your health journey, you may end up doing a LOT of research.

Let’s be clear: fibromyalgia is a REAL condition, with devastating symptoms. There is still a lot of mystery around why it occurs and how to best treat it, nonetheless, it is real. The challenging part is, again, diagnosing it.

So, how can you determine if you may have fibromyalgia? If you have any of the following symptoms for at least 3 months, then you may suffer from the condition (an asterisk beside the symptom means that I personally experienced it as a fibro sufferer):

  • body aches , soreness or general pain, especially in the back, neck and shoulders *
  • morning stiffness *
  • exhaustion that doesn’t seem to let up *
  • sharp pains or pins and needles sensations *
  • feeling “sick” but not suffering from a cold *
  • may experience virus-like symptoms (feels like the flu) but can’t seem to get better *
  • suffer from extra tiredness and muscle pain after only slight exertion *
  • sensitivity to heat or cold *
  • anxiety, depression, nervousness, moodiness *
  • headaches *
  • sleep problems (can’t get to sleep, can’t stay asleep) *
  • forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating *
  • stomach issues (bloating, nausea, constipation, excessive gas) *
  • painful cramps
  • restless legs syndrome

You may have just one or all of these symptoms. I know that I often felt like I had the flu: I’d often complain of feeling like I got “hit by a truck” and, while the feeling lessened as the day went on, the overall “sick” feeling never went away completely. I was so tired that I couldn’t get out of bed on some days, and the headaches would occasionally be so intense that they could stop me mid-sentence and have me holding my head and I’d seize up from the pain. Nausea, sensitivity to heat and cold (I can’t go into the frozen section of some stores without a jacket because the air makes my body ache), and sleep issues (waking up every two or so hours) are just the tip of the iceberg.

If you have any of the symptoms and suspect you may have fibromyalgia, your best bet is to start with your primary care physician (PCP) and ask for a referral to a neurologist or rheumatologist. Your PCP can do preliminary testing to rule out other conditions (anemia – which often exists concurrently with fibromyalgia – or thyroid disease come to mind), but an examination by a specialist (like a neurologist or rheumatologist) will give you more conclusive results. If your PCP’s testing reveals that you have some other condition, try the treatments for that first, and see if you get some relief/improvement of symptoms. If not, it may be time to see a specialist.

Fibromyalgia is diagnosed through the process of elimination. After autoimmune conditions and other diseases are determined to be nonexistent, then a patient can be diagnosed as having fibro. If it takes you months or years to get to this point, take heart: I started having the worst of my symptoms at the end of October 2018, and I was diagnosed by February 2019. However, these symptoms first showed up (in a milder form) back in 2014/2015, at which time I went to a rheumatologist. The rheumatologist tested me for lupus, and when the tests came back negative, she sent me on my way and didn’t bother to examine me for any other conditions. Imagine how much further along I could have been if this had been addressed properly back then! Ah well: here’s hoping my experience helps you to shorten the time on getting a proper diagnosis.

In short, take a look at your symptoms, and see how long you’ve had them. If it’s been more than 3 months, ask your PCP for a blood test and, if that comes back okay, then ask for a referral to a rheumatologist or neurologist for additional testing. Let the specialist know that you suspect that you have fibromyalgia: they’ll know which tests to do, in order to rule out other conditions.

I know this is a pretty long post, but the next ones will probably be a bit shorter. I just had to let it be known that you’re not crazy, your symptoms aren’t just “in your head”, and a proper diagnosis is the first step on your path to wellness.

 

art · travel

Getting My Art Fix in Raleigh, NC

While I haven’t personally driven a long distance  since late 2018, I still travel via plane, train or as an automobile passenger. A few months ago, my family visited Raleigh, NC, so I tagged along. One of the days while we were there, we got a chance to tour the North Carolina Museum of Art (NCMA). I mentioned NCMA before (back when I toured the sculpture garden) but the last time I was there, I didn’t have enough time to tour the inside of the museum. I was delighted that I finally got a chance to see some of the artwork housed at NCMA!

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Exterior of the museum

I had a great time checking out the contemporary art, and I finally got to see Amy Sherlad’s award-winning painting, Miss Everything. You all may remember how much I love Amy Sherald’s work: I’m always excited when I can see one of her paintings in person.

I also got to see some pieces from artists I’d never known before. I love how I always learn something new when I go to a museum!

Gerhard Richter’s Station (577-2) (1985)

Sean Scully, Wall of Light Peru (2000)

Skunder (Alexander) Boghassian, Night Flight of Dread and Delight (1964)

One of my favorites referenced the three graces, some of my favorite mythological beings. These goddesses rule realms such as charm and elegance (some of my favorite topics!). Three Graces, Les Trois Femmes Noires, by Mickalene Thomas, was a show-stopping piece that was both grand in size and impression it left upon me. It was probably my favorite of this trip.

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Three Graces: Les Trois Femmes Noires (2011) Mickalene Thomas

Those are my highlights from my most recent trip to NCMA! I hope you enjoyed it, and I’m looking forward to returning and taking some more pics for you. Take care!

 

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art · life curation

My (Not So) New Hobby – Painting!

During my time away, I had a chance to resume one of my interests: painting! There is something so therapeutic about applying paint to a canvas . . . The brushstrokes, the blending of color, the magic of taking a concept and turning it into a tangible work of art. I love to paint and I can’t wait until I have more time to devote to my craft. Until then, here are a couple of pieces that I’ve created:

Me with a piece I completed earlier this year: I premiered it in Los Angeles in June 2019

Recent piece in progress

I’m so eager to see where this curiosity leads me. I would love to continue developing my skill, take a few classes, and work with some new techniques and materials. This hobby relaxes me and gives me a much needed creative outlet, so I’m sure I’ll have more paintings to share in the future!

 

 

words of wisdom

Rest in Power, Ms. Toni Morrison

As you all recall, Toni Morrison was the subject of a Words of Wisdom post from July 2018. In that post, I shared some of my favorite quotes from her, and I commented on how her words sweep me up every time I open one of her novels. Her encouragement, to write the book that we want to read, is one of my biggest inspirations behind my own writing practice.

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It broke my heart to hear that she became an ancestor on August 5, 2019. As much as it hurt to know that I’d never be able to tell her, face to face, how much I love her writings, I believe that she had done her work, and deserves her rest. So may she continue to rest, and may her words continue to inspire us to be better versions of our selves.

If you aren’t already familiar, now would be a fantastic time to acquaint yourself with some of Ms. Morrison’s work. My favorite is probably Sula, but The Bluest Eye and Beloved are also fantastic reads. Her last novel, God Help the Child, has gotten great reviews (I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list).

     

I also saw a book of Toni Morrison quotes that I’m adding to my wish list. It has 365 quotes: perfect for daily reflections.

Such a beautiful cover

How fortunate we are that we get to enjoy and learn from Ms. Morrison even as she rests eternally! I hope that you check out her works for yourself!

life curation · Uncategorized

It Feels Great To Be BACK!

Hi my dear friends! I’m so happy to be BACK on the blog! As you may recall from my last post, I’d been experiencing some health issues that were making it difficult for me to keep up with my blogging schedule. To be honest, I didn’t feel like getting out of bed on most days, and even little tasks felt like huge chores, so blogging fell WAY down on my list of priorities.

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Smiling because it’s great to be back!

After experiencing some pretty dreadful symptoms for several months, I was relieved when I finally got a diagnosis. I have fibromyalgia, a disorder that affects your entire body and causes widespread pain, fatigue, difficulty concentrating, and a host of other symptoms. I’ve read countless articles and found that most doctors agree that this is a neurological disorder and not a joint/muscle issue. I often find myself needing a lot of rest and even small, stressful situations can lead to a “flare up”, where my symptoms are more intense and I find it difficult to function. When I experience “flares”, I have to rest more and use stronger pain medication in order to get some relief.

Through all of this, I feel truly blessed. Yes, this condition is annoying and I wish I didn’t have it. But, I have a wonderful support system, and I recently moved into my first home, which is much closer to my care providers. My new home is beautiful and serene, and being in this setting has contributed tremendously to my overall health. I’m so fortunate that I have an understanding workplace that allows me to work from home as needed. And now, after making a few changes with my providers, I finally have a healthcare team that has given me the treatments and tools to feel better daily.

This experience has taught me SO much and I am excited to share these lessons with you all. I feel like I have a new lease on life! Now, I still have pain occasionally, and I have to monitor my symptoms daily so that I know what I need and how to best care for myself. But simply KNOWING that I’m not just tired or stressed has been such a relief. Knowing that I have an actual condition that is medically recognized and treatable means that this isn’t “all in my head”, and if other people are experiencing this, then that means I’m not alone, and there’s a good chance that that are treatment options that can really help me minimize my symptoms.

So I’m BACK! All of my posts won’t be about fibro: I’m going to leave those discussions strictly for Fridays, which will be (for now) Fibro Fridays. I’m excited to share self-care tips, lessons, and more information that I’ve gotten since learning about this condition. I look forward to sharing this journey with you all, as well as resuming my art, music, luxury, and lifestyle posts! Take care!