Monthly Archives

August 2017

Inspiration and Motivation

The Personal Deception of Defeat

August 31, 2017

Oh, the many lessons we can actually learn from little children. They are amazingly resilient, open, and honest. They truly can’t be stopped once they put their mind to something that they really want to accomplish. I was quickly reminded last week of just how amazing these little people are through an experience with my 6 years old daughter, Jojo.

Miss Jojo is truly one of a kind. She is extremely smart, vibrant, ambitious, and is definitely one not to be messed with. All of this is hidden under the cutest smile and set of eyes I have ever seen (Yes, I am being biased as her mother…LOL).  Okay, back to the matter at hand. So, little miss was in the process of learning how to ride her bike without her training wheels. Her dad, was able to work with her one day, and the plan was to finish teaching her later on that week— at a play date set with my sister, and our friends at a local park.

Yes, so my plan was set in place and my sister Candace would finish teaching Jojo, how to ride with two wheels. Hey, I am not ashamed to say Candace has an insurmountable amount of patience. That is one of her greatest attributes. So… hey as her younger sis, I had to employ this great God given skill by having her finish teaching her niece how to ride. Candace arrives at the park and begins teaching Jojo how to ride with two wheels. Additionally, our lovely friend Livia joins Candace, and together they both work with her.

You might be wondering where I am in all of this…right? LOL, well I was sitting under the gazebo on the picnic bench holding the baby. Hey, don’t judge me…Ahahaha! So, I am on the bench looking at Candace and Livia teach Jojo how to ride as they walked her around the park’s track both holding opposite sides of her bike. This process went on for a short period of time before I saw Jojo take off riding with Candace and Livia running after her. I couldn’t contain my laughter.

Eventually, Jojo comes to a halt and Candace walks over to me to and explains the entire situation. Here is how the narrative lays out…They were guiding Jojo on her bike, and all the while she is saying, “I can’t do this”.  However, my sister’s oldest daughter Kristin swooshes by her on her two-wheel bike and Jojo says “Wow!”. Something then snapped and she took off riding like a pro. I laughed even harder. You see…Jojo taught me a very important lesson. We are the ones a majority of the time who places limitations on ourselves. Jojo started off doubting in herself, which translated into her limiting herself. Nonetheless, once she saw her cousin speed by her, she was probably like “Hell Nah!” in her mind. She then turned that fear into strength and built up the internal courage to handle her business.

That is the attitude we all should take on in this life. Life is hard, and yes it can be a huge pain at times, but we should never limit ourselves—No matter how big the obstacle(s) may seem. Jojo learned that day to ride her two-wheeler bike in under an hour. She set her mind to something and she was determined that she would not fail. Gosh!!!! I am getting the chills. My little baby girl just reinforced a very important principle and it left me speechless.  

Speaking from personal experience there are days when I am feeling very down and defeated. However, that is no excuse. I have to pick myself up, dust myself off, and handle my business.  I encourage my readers today to do the same. Don’t wait for life to hand you opportunities. Prayerfully seek them out and go for them wholeheartedly. The company Goalcast usually posts these very motivating videos on Face Book of famous people giving some exceptionally encouraging speeches.  In every speech that I have seen, there was always one common denominator. They made up their minds that they were going to go full steam ahead and tackle their dreams and goals.

The formula may vary for each person, but there is one component that will never change. That component is your willingness to achieve what you set out to do—via determination. I love the saying, “Go Hard or Go Home”. Give it your all! Again, NO EXCUSES!

~Contessa Thomas

 

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Inspiration and Motivation

If Walls Could Talk…

August 27, 2017

How many of us have hidden secrets that we refuse to make known? Some of these secrets may seem trivial, but it actually weighs us down in a way that we fail to imagine or comprehend. Keeping a secret creates a separation between you and the person or persons that you are holding back from. You cannot be your 100% self because you’re holding back something. Keeping a secret robs you of your freedom— the freedom to be who you are supposed to be. Keeping secrets causes you to be what one would call a “fake”.

Keeping secrets can kill you. It may not kill you physically, but it will kill you mentally, emotionally and spiritually. Keeping a secret causes you not to be true to yourself.

If walls could talk what would they say about you? If walls could sing, what would be their tune? If walls could feel, what would be their feelings towards you?

I remember for a long time that I had a hard time being 100% open about myself. Why?

Well you see… I was afraid of what other people would think about me if they knew the total truth about me. If they knew my struggles, if they knew my pain, if they knew what I was thinking at that very moment, they would not like me. They might look at me in disgust and say, ” how could you?!?! “

Being born in sin, living with complete tendencies to do the wrong thing, but still yet not able to show my face because of the judgment I would face. Talk about being in serious bondage!

There are many reasons why someone may hold back and keep secrets and I am not saying that the reason is justifiable in them choosing to do so, but I understand why. I personally have experienced and continue to experience moments where I keep things to myself. Why do people keep secrets? I began to assess why I kept certain things to myself, and this is what I learned about myself (and this may be true for others):

  1. You don’t want to hurt the one that you love.

Your secret could be the causative factor as to why your relationships will fail and therefore, keeping it a secret grants you a safety net.

I am personally guilty of withholding information from a loved one, because I knew that if they found out about this thing in my life it would destroy our relationship. Ideally, this is not the path to choose. It is better to be open and honest. The truth shall set you free…even if it hurts.

  1. You are ashamed of what you have done and do not want anyone to know and look at you differently.

Man…. The higher up on the social/ leadership ladder you climb… The harder your fall if you ever trip up.  Fear of judgment is a large reason why people don’t show their true colors.  How debilitating this is. Not being able to be yourself 100% can become stifling.  I’ve been there.  For those of you who know me, and for those of you who don’t, I haven’t always been a “saint”. I’ve made huge mistakes… many of which I have kept to myself, because I knew that I would be categorized and judged without the opportunity to be understood. 

  1. Your secret can be the demise of someone else.

Secrets can kill… literally. If there is someone else involved with your situation, spilling the beans can also bring them down. 

There are so many more reasons why people withhold information and keep secrets. Regardless of the reason this practice of keeping secrets can become dangerous.

I’m not talking about keeping a secret because someone confided in you and they don’t want you to share it. That’s a different type of secret. I’m referring to hidden information within your life that is unhealthy being harbored in your mind. This type of information needs to be discussed and let out so that you can be set free.

Believe it or not, keeping secrets can actually have a negative impact upon your life!!!

According to Lickerman (2012), keeping secrets have been shown to lead to depression. According to a study conducted in the Netherlands, researchers learned that young people between the ages 14-19 who kept private secrets had higher levels of rule-breaking behaviors. Additionally, they also reported lower moods and had more complaints of headaches. It was also learned that secrecy was correlated with feelings of loneliness.

After doing a profound amount of reading about negative impacts on keeping secrets— I’ve learned that keeping secrets impacts your ability to  making friends. If your withholding information, it becomes difficult for you to truly connect to others and establish meaningful friendships. In being open, honest, and even vulnerable, you will allow yourself the opportunity to truly connect with others. In turn, this will increase your likelihood to have real relationships.

I also learned that keeping a secret private can be stressful! It’s stressing to keep secrets because you are always on guard in trying to make sure no one finds out. It could be hiding a relationship from your parents, or trying to keep that lover on the low. Keeping that secret will have you paranoid, defensive and overall stressed.

It is also true that small secrets can easily snowball into bigger secrets; they will keep on growing and growing. This weight will be too much to bear, and the stress of lying to your friends and family can cause major anxiety. This stress and anxiety can immediately be released by coming clean right away.

Another impact of keeping secrets is that a secret can easily turn into a web of lies. It is almost impossible to keep something important from the people you care about without telling lies.  Lying is destructive and can destroy your relationships. So, as cliché as this may sound, honesty really is the best policy.

“If Walls Could Talk” what would they say????

I want to encourage you today to find someone whom you can trust and confide in.  Letting go of those “secrets” will set you free!!! Yes, there may be some consequences associated with your honesty, but it will free you of the mental bondage and stress that can destroy your life completely.

 

~Candace Mezetin

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Inspiration and Motivation

Nooo!!! Say It Ain’t So!!!!

August 24, 2017

Meat!!! Oh…how I loved you so very much…but now we must part ways…for good. Last week I had an eye opening experience when watching the documentary “What The Health” that is showing on Netflix. Now, let me just say I was the biggest hater ever when my sister first brought this documentary to my attention last month. I pretty much have seen similar documentaries, but none has resonated with me at the level as this particular one. As I watched the documentary I became more disgusted with my past and recent consumption of animal products. I was also alarmed at how rigged the entire system is to keep people sick, as products with high cholesterol and other absurdities are being marketed as ‘healthy’.

Every time I closed my eyes, I would see the pus oozing out of the infected cows and pigs as the butchers punctured their abscesses. The pockets of pus, which contained the white blood cell filled fluid gushed out on the assembly line. It made me so sick to my stomach, and frankly just recapping the scene is still creating a churning effect even as my fingers type away at the computer keys. The horrible treatment of these poor animals…MERCY! If, you haven’t seen the film already, I encourage you to go and view it. It may not have the same effect on you as it did on me, but I can guarantee you one thing—it will definitely spark a moment of thought about your dietary habits and choices as Americans.

Okay, so where was I…Oh yes! Telling the world how much I love or should I now say “loved” meat. Honestly, this moment was long time coming as my sister Candace would always try and convert me to give up the good animal flesh. However, time and time again I would just shrug her off with a sly smile and a quick “okay”. Dada dah!!! This time was different. I knew instantly without a doubt the life long choice I would now have to make for the overall well being of my family and myself.   I cannot sit here and type without disclosing that I also became stressed out as eating meat, fish, and poultry was a huge part of my life and culture. The following questions ran through my mind all at once: “What will we eat now?”, “How will my husband and children take this change?”, “Can I successfully sustain a plant-based dietary lifestyle?”, and etc. The questions seemed endless as I tried to digest this new world that I now chose to embrace with open arms.

Thank God, I have my sister Candace who is a Vegan veteran. She has been very encouraging as the aftermath shock waves currently linger on. This past Tuesday I went to Shop Rite near my residence to purchase more food for my home.  This shopping trip was a little different from the previous ones, as I would no longer be purchasing meat.   So, I left my children with Candace and headed to that particular supermarket.  Once I entered the store I went straight to the produce section, and this time with renewed intent to uphold a plant-based diet, began looking around for fruits and vegetables to sustain the dietary needs of my family. There in the produce section, I stopped by the mushrooms (one of my husband’s favorite veggies) to carefully select some.  As I stood there this loving old man and his wife passed by my shopping cart. The old man however, stopped and looked in my cart and said, “hmmmm, I believe you look like you will have more than 12 dollars worth of produce”. So, he pulled out a Shop Rite store coupon for $1.50 off of 12 dollars or more of produce during a store purchase.  I was so happy, because let’s face it, being on one income, one has to really shop wisely in a cost effective manner.   Nonetheless, even more than being happy for saving a near couple of bucks, the man validated and boosted my attitude about eating Vegan, and he didn’t even know it. His act of kindness ran deep and caused more ripples than he would have known.  What a great encouraging start to our new life of eating healthier. I proudly walked around the store pushing my shopping cart full of vegetable and fruit produce.

Overall, I am extremely happy about my choice to eat healthier. I cannot wait to try all the new vegan recipes I’ve saved from Pinterest. The recipes look so good, I couldn’t stop my mouth from watering as I hit the “save” button. This new journey, I know will definitely have its challenges, but I am up for them as I know the health pay off is great.  I look forward to losing some weight and feeling energized more than ever before. Additionally, my husband gifted me with an 100 dollars gift card from Amazon over 2 years ago for my 30th birthday. Over the last couple of years, I knew I wanted to buy something that would have a lasting impact. Well, last week after making the decision to give up all meat and diary items, I finally knew what I wanted. I ended up purchasing a Ninja blender. To me the greatest 30th birthday gift I could ever have was a new start to optimal health for my family and I. Now every time, I glance over at my kitchen counter I can smile with great pride as I reflect on the selfless choice that I made for the sake of my family. Yes, I could have bought anything, but this was the perfect gift for us all.

Again, I want to encourage all of our readers to take a moment and reflect on your health and the health of those around you. What choices can be made to create healthier lifestyle choices, that could impact your overall health, and subsequently add years to your life. The reality of the situation is that diseases are rummaging through our communities at such an alarming rate. This is the time to take a stand, and take back control over the things we ingest, because we don’t want the disease wagon to stop on our street, and much less in front of our home and barge into our front doors.  A lot of people work hard within their professional realms to obtain monetary wealth…but what good is monetary wealth if your money making machine is on the verge of breaking down.  This is just some food for thought…get it!!!…LOL….budda boom ching!  

I am extremely happy with my new lifestyle choice. My husband and children are also on board this new health ship as well.  My heart is truly overjoyed and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store for us. Alright!!!…Time to venture into uncharted territory…Ahoy Matey!

~Contessa Thomas

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Inspiration and Motivation

Girl, You’re Weird!

August 21, 2017

It’s been quite often told to me…

“GIRL, YOU’RE WEIRD!”

I would usually just shrug it off, flash my pearly whites and keep it moving.

After hearing it so much, I began to ponder on those words.

What makes me so weird?  What makes me so different?  Why do I have a sense of awkwardness about me?

I really started to think about myself a little more.

What makes me so weird?

For starters… I’m socially competent, and I can do well in a crowd, but I feel the most comfortable when I’m alone…. that’s so weird!

I need structure and order to feel at my best even though I am able to survive in a world of randomness…weirdo!!??

I enjoy my house being clean and clutter free; however when I open cabinets and closets, things always fall out. Girl… you’re so weird! (LOL)

I am the most at peace when my children are with me, and I can function well with them around me 95% of the time.

I struggle to establish and maintain deep friendships…one where I feel 100% connected and open…without any reservations…I have some close relationships, but having 100% comfort level is something I really long for…

I’m so weird.

I really can’t explain it, but I feel it and I know it, and I’ve heard it from others. 

I’m different!!!

What do I do about it?  Should I seek to change my genetic makeup, to be made up into society’s prototype of normal?

Should I start going left when all along I’ve been going right… being me…purely genuine?

No.  Even though I’m different a.k.a. weird, I have to be confident in who I am. 

This is me! I need not to be ashamed.

Can I change?

Yes!

Can I grow?

You know it!

Step by step…little by little…

Stand TALL, stand STRONG, stand ROOTED.

You see…

No one could ever, ever be a better me. 

Yes, I’m weird. I’m different

And it’s ok. 

I want you to be encouraged today.

Be happy with who you are.  It’s ok to be different.

In being different, our world can be a better place—full of color and vitality.  We all can’t be doctors, lawyers, teachers, chefs, or police officers. We are all like a puzzle piece and when every individual in society fulfills their role and purpose the puzzle starts to come together. 

 

So, if someone ever tells you that your weird…

Look them in the eye

Smile…

And in full confidence say

“Thank You”

~Candace Mezetin

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Back To School- Making The Most Of Yourself

August 17, 2017

Message To Students:

A plane comes in across the Atlantic, ready to land at JFK airport. As it banks to line up for the runway a body falls out onto the beach at Rockaway, NY. It was later found that the young man had climbed up the wheel support to stow away to the United States. In another account, a coastguard ship rescued a number of people from China who tried to swim a shore from the ship that couldn’t get close enough to the shore. Some died before they could be rescued. These and numerous other stories can be told over and over of people risking their lives to come to the United States. Why are these people risking their lives to come here? OPPORTUNITIES! Opportunities…for a better life for themselves and their families—for a better chance at a job and education. Education is very valuable to people from all around the world. Education consists of the mental, physical, spiritual, and social status, and are all equally important. Education is a MUST! It is one’s passport to the future.

So, it is imperative that children, young people, and parents make the decision to make up their minds and repeatedly tell themselves “I’m gonna to make the best of my opportunities. I’m gonna go to school, be on time, pay attention, do my classwork and homework, I am going to be prepared to learn and make the most of my opportunities.” In addition to my professional beliefs, I also believe that God wants us to have the best chance at education and to be all that we can be. I know with all my heart that He wants us to “advance as fast and far as possible in every branch of true knowledge”. How do you do that? Through education…, which is one of the most important ways to do your best as our Creator has intended.

It is also vital for children, to know that school teaches more than what is in the books. It teaches you to think, to talk, how to conduct yourself, how to listen. Remember, when you are talking you are rarely learning— so listen more. School teaches you how to get along with others and that’s an important part of life. It teaches you to help others as well as yourself, so indeed help when you can. Make it a priority to assist a new student around the school, or to help a new student to feel comfortable. Simply stated…treat others as you would want to be treated. Try sitting by someone who is alone at lunch. Be supportive, be kind with the fellow students, and be respectful to your teacher.  

Now we may all have our specific subject preferences, which may not be math and/or reading. Nonetheless, still be thankful for this chance to learn. We all ought to be thankful for education, for classrooms that are cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and for a school bus that takes you to and from school— as many students walk miles to school and have to walk home for lunch. In a quick personal account, my 12-year-old nephew was with me on the Caribbean island years ago, and after a week he said to me “Uncle Tony when I go back to America I am not going to complain about anything”. He realized just how blessed he was to be in the land of opportunities.   Furthermore, be thankful to your teachers who make sacrifices to come and teach you everyday, to your parents who work long hours to give you all the good things that you have and stay up late with you to complete homework and projects.  A spirit of thankfulness is truly PRICELESS.

A couple more important tips I would like to share with students:

  • Be careful of the T.V. programs you watch and the music you listen to. Guard the avenues of your mind constantly.
  • When you read or watch good programs, learn new words and use them.
  • Make it your practice to speak Standard English—people make judgments about you, first by the way you look, by the way you speak, and behave.

It is extremely important for parents to encourage their child or children by example. Let them see you read and as often as you can—read to them. Let them read as they travel around and see writings on posters, notices, information on buses and trains, and road signs—make a game of it.

 

Message To Parents:

As parents, I know that all we want is to make sure our children:

  • Get a good education
  • Enjoy good health
  • Learn important life skills

However, throughout the span of my professional career I have come to the conclusion that the best thing a parent can do for a child is to instruct them in the ways of the Lord. For me, that is the foundation of life! To have faith in a God who loves them so very much in spite of what they may be going through or experiencing. In my opinion, the greatest gift you can give to your children is…the gift of hope! It is something that will benefit your child or children forever. I encourage each and every parent to start the day with a short, but meaningful devotion to ensure that God is always on the forefront. The goal is to have one’s mind right before you head out to meet the daily battle(s).

Next on the agenda is Success. Success in school is dependent on the parent—child—teacher partnership. And it literally has to be a partnership. All parties play major roles in the outcome we want to see. So, be adamant about establishing friendly relationships with your children’s teacher(s), set goals for the upcoming school year, and ask your child to help you set them up. Additionally, establish routines for the day’s activities (e.g. – worship, a place of study, reading, and eating, etc.). Also, check your child’s bag before and after school, and check the school’s web page for any important announcement. It is also a great thing for parents to volunteer at the school if possible, attend school conferences, and events, etc.—again…if possible. Be involved!

Do not be afraid or shy to talk to the teacher about your child’s likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, personality traits, and your vision for your child. The more information you share with the teacher, the better their understanding of the child’s needs, and the better their chances of meeting them.

For any parent(s) whose children may not be doing well academically, don’t immediately blame the teacher/school. Work together as a team in order to come up with a plan of action to get them up to speed or back on track. Importantly, remember to include the child in the plan. In Finland, and other parts of Scandinavia they have the highest success rates in education. Why is that??? From personal experience in working in Scandinavia—they consistently include the children in their plans and decisions.

Here is the take away message—keep the lines of communication open with the teacher in person, or phone, email, notes, etc.  Be sure to also effectively communicate frequently, to reassure the teacher(s) that you are on the same team. Also, do not hesitate to offer words of encouragement. Teaching any where from 20 to 30 students with varying personalities is a tough task. They need your support. Remember they are for the same goals as you are, which is to shape and develop young minds into becoming responsible, viable adults, making the most of their potential! Embracing their opportunities! Becoming all that they can be!

~Hopeton P. Thomas

 Hopeton P. Thomas  

Hopeton P. Thomas is a retired counseling psychologist and school counselor. He also possesses backgrounds in vocational and Dept. of correctional counseling and Theology. He counseled for 20 plus years with New York City’s department of education, during which he was awarded New York City counselor of the year in district 75.   Additionally, Hopeton is a husband and father of 5 children, and a grandfather of 9 grand children. He is also a writer and poet.

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Inspiration and Motivation

Frustrate Eato Part 3- I’m an Overcomer!

August 13, 2017

At first I didn’t know how I was going to figure out this vegan lifestyle. All I have ever known is cooking meat, until I became a vegetarian. Being a vegetarian shifted my diet from flesh foods (chicken, burgers…etc…) to eating plant based foods along with animal products. As a vegetarian I consumed processed vegetarian meats, cheese, eggs, and all the other sugary foods that were easy to make. Some of these foods included cereal, waffles, or other processed foods like bagels and croissants.

After my husband’s diagnosis of MS I knew that it was time to make a change. Change can mean different things for different people, but for me and my family that change meant cutting out all animal based products as well as processed foods. This included cheese, eggs, processed vegetarian meats, sweets that were made with eggs and milk and also candy and processed snacks like Doritos.

You better believe that my children put up a resistance to this change. 

They no longer could have the foods that they had grown to love. 

I felt sad for them, but at the same I was super excited for them!!

The first week of embarking upon this new life, I spent a great deal of time reading this book called ” Medical Medium ” by Anthony Williams. It was recommended to me by a close friend. This book talks about the healing powers of certain foods specifically for certain diseases. I had my handy dandy notebook and pen ready and I vigorously began jotting down relevant recommendations that he made, so that I could apply it to my life. In that moment it seemed so overwhelming because I felt that I was far from attaining the goal. One day I just broke down in tears because I felt like I was given the biggest job in the world and I didn’t know how to tackle it.

Step-by-step Candace , step by step….

So, I started spending time researching different recipes that I could make for my family. Some of these included different types of vegan meats, and different ways to make rice or quinoa. The internet provided so many different resources and that gave me an inkling of hope. The pictures of the foods also looked good! 

As I began to try some of those recipes the outcome wasn’t quite the same as the recipe projected. LOL. 

I think that the hardest part for me was watching my kids turn their noses up to the food I placed in front of them. Hearing my children say, “yuck,  I don’t want that. That’s so nasty.” really broke my heart and it made me feel discouraged. Here I am toiling in the kitchen trying to cook food for my family and they don’t like it. There were some points where my husband tried to play my food. Telling me, ” Oh, I like this that way better or it’s too lumpy.” LOL. Cooking woes! 

Even though my family’s response really discouraged me, I did not give up. I kept on trying to make foods that they would like. One day I made this lentil vegan burger that my children absolutely loved. Even my husband said that it was good.

After that experience, my confidence with cooking vegan dishes strengthened. The next challenge came when we had to take meals  out of the house and vegan options were not always readily available.

During the month of July we had a party almost every single Sunday. Our partying even extended into August, LOL. Regardless of where we went,  I decided that we would stick to the vegan diet… even when we are outside of the comfort of our home.

So, we went to a party for my friend’s daughter and he was a vegan so I felt safe and secure that my children would have food that they would be able to eat. At the party they were serving pizza. There was regular cheese pizza and there was vegan pizza. I already told my kids that we are not having cheese pizza and they were to have the vegan one. The vegan pizza was delicious! However, my children begged to differ. 

You see, the pizza was very hearty, meaning it had mushroom, spinach, peppers and onions on top of it. My children saw that pizza and the stinkiest face I could have ever seen appeared across my second daughter’s face. My oldest son started to pout, my third daughter just look plain old sad, and my baby, he began to wail on the top of his lungs saying, “I want the other Pizza!”

We were in a party room with other children and their parents. So, as you can imagine, the room was a bit full.  It was so loud in the room and my son was inconsolable so my friend took him out of the room. I followed behind shortly to see if I could help her calm down my youngest son, but he was not having it. My friend offered him a tangerine, which eventually helped him to regain his composure and calm down. I couldn’t believe my children’s reaction. Lol. I later explained to the party host that the children were having some difficulty transitioning from regular pizza to vegan pizza and that they were not expecting all the vegetables to be on the vegan pizza. He completely understood and assured me it was all good. 

The following week we had another party and I was sure this time to ask what they would be serving and of course it was pizza. I learned from my mistake the first time.  Since, I was not going to allow my children to have cheese pizza I decided to purchase a vegan pizza, and bring it along with me to the party. At first I felt a little weird bringing my own pie to the party, but I soon realized that I had to be confident in the decisions that I made for my family — even if it seemed weird. Funny thing is that because I brought my children their own pizza, it sparked a conversation between another parent, and I about eating healthy and different foods. In addition, we also spoke about why we are choosing to change our diet for a better health.

The more consistent I remain in sticking to the vegan diet, the easier it is becoming to make foods for my family; foods that they are enjoying.

The children are happier being vegan and are more accepting to the changes we have made. 

I want to encourage you today to never give up and to never lose hope if you are making a change your life. This change could be your diet/eating lifestyle, or it could be letting go of some bad habits that you have. Your change could be going to a new job that poses a greater challenge than the ones you were experiencing at your old job. Your change could be trying to lose weight and becoming healthier. Whatever your change is today, stay consistent. That ultimately is the key for your success. Don’t get me wrong, you will make mistakes along the way. You may have slip ups, even major setbacks, but I want to encourage you to keep on your journey. The race is not for the swift, but for the one who endures to the end. I know that I personally find it helpful to align myself with individuals who share similar goals with me.  This common ground will help you both to push toward the prize of the goal you are seeking to attain.

Even though the walk can be challenging, remember don’t give up. Embrace your frustrations as they come (that’s if you need to) , and then pick yourself up and try again, pick yourself up and try again, and repeat that cycle until you’re no longer falling down, but finally walking smoothly on your journey to a better you.

~Candace Mezetin

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What You See Is Not Always What It Is

August 10, 2017

This past Tuesday, I took the children along with my sister and her children to the local library for a math enrichment program. While there I decided to apply for library cards for the children and myself as we recently just moved to the area.  So, I went upstairs and left the baby with my sister and headed back downstairs as I decided to put my new library card to use.  On my way down I felt like I really wanted to read an autobiography or biography.  I then approached the librarian and asked her the direction towards my desired reading choices. I quickly made my way to the back of the library, and started looking through all the biographies and autobiographies. Long story short, I ended up stumbling on the Jennifer Lopez’s story entitled “True Love”.  At that moment I decided that this would be an interesting read as I had to kill 3 long hours at the library, as I waited for the children’s class to end.  

In my mind as I picked up the book, I automatically started to judge how ‘WACK’ this book was going to be. Hey, how many of us heard about Jennifer a.k.a Jenny from the block.  Being a native New Yorker myself, I know how hard life can be growing up and I was interested in how Jennifer’s experience was.  Additionally, Jennifer did not have the best reputation as well. The media at times painted her out to be this lovesick woman in search of a true love that she could never find. To be blunt, in my mind I painted her as being a— you know what…. However, I was so happy that I actually took up her book and read about her story.  

As I sat in the library chair watching my newborn sleep I picked up the book and started reading about Jennifer’s life. All I have to say is …WOW! Truly what you sometimes see is not what it is. Here was a strong woman in her own right, after going through so many difficult situations and she still was pressing on.  Many of us are so quick to judge her (including myself), but fail to realize no matter how the media tries to immortalize her (as they often do with celebrities), she is human just like the rest of us.  I intently kept reading through her book and my entire view of her was altered.

The book began with her literally falling apart mentally and emotionally as her 7 year marriage to Mark Anthony was ending. She took me with her through her journey of finding herself and overcoming the reality of a broken heart, and trying to rebuild her family as single mom.  I now have nothing but respect for her as I personally witnessed this type of journey up close through the life of my mother.  My mom was abused and broken emotionally, mentally, and physically as she searched to find her happily ever after ending.

Gosh! Back to the matter at hand…how many of us throughout our life were so quick to judge a person on what it appears to be??? In fact, how many of us are still doing it as I type.  The truth is we should never judge anyone based upon how something may look. If a matter concerns us that much about an individual…why don’t we just take the time out of our schedules to go to that individual and ask them about it.   Aha… a lot of us are much too cowardly to do such a thing.  Instead, we would rather sit back and conjure up this entire story in our heads about that person (Deep sigh)…again I am no saint and have been guilty of this as well.

So, what makes me so different from others…let me tell you.   I have made a conscious decision to not be so quick to jump to conclusions without first getting the facts straight. In cases with celebrities like Jennifer Lopez, most of us will never get the chance to get a glimpse in to who they really are unless they decide to share it with the world.   Nonetheless, this does not have to be the case within our daily lives.  Instead of creating a fiction drama in our heads about people—let us take the time to actually get to know them.  If you are the kind of person who thinks or says I don’t have the time for that— then you obviously should be way too busy to create a story in your mind about them (which more than likely is lacking a great deal of truth).

I challenge all my readers to fight the urge to jump to conclusions about others. I want to encourage you all to take the time to get to know people—especially if they matter that much to take up residence in your mind.  Remember, “What You See Is Not Always What It Is”.

~Contessa Thomas

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Inspiration and Motivation

Oh, Little Black Girl

August 6, 2017

Life is not a walk in the park.

Life doesn’t always throw peaches and cream your way. We all have different experiences that we face, experiences that destroy us, mold us, and then build us up.

There are some days where I struggle. I struggle emotionally. It’s hard at times, especially when I look back at “yesterday”. Those memories, both good and bad STILL have an impact on me.

One day, I was in my moment, and these are the words that came to me…

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Where is that little black girl that I used to know? 
Round and stout with the kinkiest black afro 

Where is that little black girl that I used to see? 
Playing freely with her toys and her favorite Barbie

Where is that little black girl who used to laugh so loud? 
Her laugh so contagious, it would immediately ignite a crowd

Where is that little black girl who’s imagination was so free?  She would write about anything… You just let her be

Where is that little black girl who always used to smile? 
A grin so wide,  ear to ear,  something she could not hide

A little black girl robbed by life’s woes
Innocence snatched by ravenous folks
Her smile, her glee, her freedom slipped away
Traded with sadness,  and sorrow and overwhelming dismay 

That little black girl should be looking ahead for all the joys that life SHOULD bring

Instead she looks back at the freedom of her past, hoping that song she could once more sing 

Little black girl.. little black girl
You’ve experienced what we call life
This road is not easy, it’s filled with undue strife

So  realize in your pity, that you have to rise above
Look to the stars, reach for the clouds who’s end is way, way up above

Yes,  you’ve had setbacks,  yes,  life is hard, yes you live with the weight of your past,  bearing the biggest, ugliest, nastiest scar. 

Raise the bar!
In the midst of your weight and constant state of doom
Tap into your inner greatness and let all your thoughts of greatness consume…

You. 

Arise out of this state of despair
You have little ones following behind you, so please beware

Their success has some stance on the choices YOU make, so don’t hesitate 
To be great!

Little black girl…find your smile 
Little black girl…find your joy 

Little black girl you were destined to be the greatest you…Stand tall and believe

Oh little black girl

 

~ Candace Mezetin

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Inspiration and Motivation

I’m Too Sexy For My…?!?!

August 3, 2017

This morning as I looked in the mirror at myself the song “I’m Too Sexy For My…” popped in my head.   Truth is that this couldn’t be farther from the truth, as I did not feel like I was one ounce of sexy.   Ugh…my body?!?! That emotional rollercoaster of gaining weight seems like a never-ending cycle.   As I continued to stare at my reflection, all I could say to myself softly was “Contessa you have to get back on track”.   I didn’t even care that I just gave birth two months ago, and should have actually given myself a little break.   All I knew was that I needed my pre-baby body back.   I know, I know….I need to take it easy. However, despite the most logical thing to do in this area, I still want to get back on track ASAP.

Why is this?!?! I let my thoughts wander a little more. I know! It’s the pressure of society to be skinny, pretty, or handsome. In addition, the expectations of my family also played a major part in my internal struggle. You see… being born into a predominately West Indian home (Jamaican relatives), being fat is shunned upon. I vividly remember Thanksgiving 2011 after giving birth to my beautiful baby girl (8 months at the time), my dear aunt made a very hurtful comment.   She told me that my daughter and I looked like twins. Awe, what a nice thing to say right?….NOPE! My little baby girl was actually a beautiful chubby baby with umpteen rolls all over her arms and legs.   So by comparing me to my daughter, she was subliminally saying that I was very fat.   I laughed out loud as I was in the company of others…however I was bawling on the inside. I wanted to crawl into the deepest and darkest hole and stay there forever.

Another instance I can remember feeling low is when I go to visit my loving grandmother who is 96 years old. Sometimes, when I see her I have to mentally prepare myself for when she first lays eyes on me. What will she say about my weight or body structure? At times, it gives me a mild case of anxiety. In the past, she would pinch my thighs and tap my abdomen and say “Yuh suh tick hup” (You are so thick).   Again, in that moment I want to run out of her apartment and cry.   Now, let me say that I do not believe that my grandmother is being intentionally mean (as I felt my aunt was), she truly is bound to a cultural mindset, which frowns upon weight gain or ‘thickness’.    

Now that I mention these stories, perhaps that is also contributing to my urge to get my pre-baby body back….because to feel like that again…NO THANKS.  Social media is another culprit that makes me feel ashamed of my now body as well. Let’s face the facts—how many times have we seen celebrities who have babies and in within ‘two days’ they are skinny again…LOL.   Yes, I am exaggerating a little, but hey you get the point.   So now regular moms like myself feel inadequate and like complete failures as we look in the mirror at our belly fat and oversized breasts and think…yuck!

This is my reality— which I am choosing to share because…self-hate will not reign in my book. I have to rise above the odds and get it together mentally and emotionally.

Reality check! Regular women do not bounce back in ‘two days’ from 10 months of pregnancy and major body changes. I am also speaking to women as a whole…whether or not you have children. Our bodies change throughout our lifetime, due to various factors. No matter the reason(s) for the changes we have to learn to love our bodies. Here are some ways in which I am learning to love me again:

  1. Find Time For You– whatever you choose to do, find a little time in the day to make yourself feel special. This could be closing your room door and watching your favorite TV show or movie for an hour or so.   A personal favorite of mine is to pamper myself after I have put the children to sleep. Whatever it may be…just make sure you actually do it.

 

  1. Uplift Yourself – Throughout the years I have come to realize that you have to be your #1 fan. If you don’t love yourself, how can you truly expect anyone else to. Give yourself the daily pep talks as you look at yourself in the mirror. I will be real…in the beginning it is very hard because as I can recall I didn’t even want to look at myself.   In fact, sometimes I still don’t. However, I would go and groom myself and say as I stare at my reflection “You are beautiful Contessa”, “You are one sexy lady”…SAY IT AND BELIEVE IT!

 

  1. Drown Out All The Negativity With Positivity – Another life lesson that I have learned is that people are faster to tear you down rather than build you up. Learn to take all the negativity that is propelled at you and turn it into positive energy. As a child I remember the Bounce fabric softener sheets commercial saying, “Don’t let static stop you”, well… “Don’t let haters stop you”.   In the words of Forest Gump…“That is all I have to say about that”.

I can say with great confidence, that I am still a work in progress, but I am encouraged, as each day I learn to love me, no matter how I look. “Rome was not built in a day” and neither will my body be. Life is a journey…so let us try our best to enjoy the voyage and leave our stamp on it. This stamp I speak of is one of positivity— in which the future generations can thrive off of for many years to come.

Love you and don’t let anyone or anything deter you from doing that.

A Work In Progress,

~Contessa Thomas

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