Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Power of OKAY

Last month I learned the word Okay. Yea it sounds stupid but it was a meaningful occurrence. Since I was a child I always had people telling me what to do, what to think, how to do things, what my preferences should be, etc. I was always quiet, respectful and listened even though at my core I wanted to rebel. It didn't matter who these "authority figures" were in my life. I always wanted to say "fuck you and the way you do things". One time I took my mother's dark red lipstick and wore it in the 3rd grade. I wasn't a fool to walk out the house with it on, I put it on when I got there. Mrs. Kantro immediately looked at me with a furrowed brow and said "Michelle, we don't wear that in here, please go to the sink and take it off". I was pissed, like "how dare she...who the fuck does she think she is telling me what to do?". Again not foolish enough to say it or act on my temperature rising, I walked over to the sink and took it off.

I'm not sure when enough became enough, but it was like overnight I didn't give a fuck about what anybody thought anymore. I said whatever I wanted to say and did whatever I wanted to do but within strategic reasoning. If I was talking to family members I was never disrespectful but I always made my point. I always had the last word. I was 13 years old with bursting hormones and emotions. My body was a dime, my father had passed the year before and my mother was so strict you couldn't even sit outside on the stoop by yourself. I couldn't go anywhere. I started making my point across by her telling her that if it's lies she wants from me, it's lies that she'll get. A bold and daring statement I always gave as the advice to my friends. Kids will do whatever they want anyway, and you will be the last to find out. I was doing her a favor by telling her that because that's the last thing a West Indian parent wants to hear from others. Nobody wants to be the last to find out and to be lied to all along, much less people talking about how you don't even know what's going on in your own house. So I made my story simple. If I say I want to go to the movies, then don't make me tell you some BS story about how I have a project and I have to go to the library. There we reached a mutual understanding...we had to trust one another. There is where I gained autonomy.

Later on, I became so disgruntled for a variety of reasons. I didn't even care to get to that mutual understanding with people. I said what I had to say, I argued back, got into confrontations. I was aggressive with words even if they weren't expletives. Last month my blood boiled in a situation which might be considered trivial, and I started working my mouth again. When I spoke to a friend, she asked me why I couldn't just say okay and do what I want. I don't even know why. I don't know why I have to explain, and confront, and assert myself so much, but that thought never crossed my mind. If you want to keep a good relationship with people sometimes you do have to just shut up and say okay. That's the bottom-line. It took me 27 years to learn that lesson that when another situation arose, I just said okay and moved along. I have to work on my girls, because I see it in them as well. Not everybody is going to understand you, or even try. So just say OKAY.

Stop Buying Store Bread: Honey Whole Wheat Bread Recipe

I've never made bread before and this was an easy recipe very easy to make. As usual I don't have enough time and energy to come on to fill you all in on the things I really need to share. So one at a time. The most important post I can make right now at this moment is to stop buying store bread. There is 1 main ingredient and 4 other additives that we should be steering clear from.



Let that roll off your tongue for a minute. That is the main ingredient you should immediately check your bread and throw them in the trash if they have it. I did that last week. Why, what's the big deal about azodicarbonamide? Well it's the chemical used to make yoga mats. Essentially a foam type of plastic. It's banned in Australia and most European countries. In Singapore if you are found using this chemical, you get slapped with a $450,000 fine and a 15 year prison sentence. It causes/induces asthma as well. The bread brands we always bought were Nature's Own's, Arnold, and Big Marty's Hamburger Buns. I haven't had a chance to check the bakery breads, so I'm not sure what's the status on different stores. I was really pissed to know this is what I've been feeding my daughter who loves sandwiches. Don't count on the government to protect you, it's up to you to research the things that are going into your body. The FDA passes anything that will make them a profit. The U.S. profits from it's citizens sickness and diseases in case you didn't know. 

I'm always on a quest for knowledge, I'm trying to find out as much as I can about GMOs and the more I learned the more I'm convinced we need to buy 100% organic. It's expensive and hard to keep up with when every freakin thing is tainted. Everything I've learned about diseases such as cancer is this. It is a cumulative effect. Yes you're not meant to have it, but the accumulation of all these bad things from the air, the water, and most of all; food is what causes cancer.  Azodicarbonamide and the extra additives in breads today wreak havoc in your body long term. Additives such as:

  • potassium sorbate/potassium bromate
  • sodium benzoate
  • high fructose corn syrup

I went back to basics. We don't buy orange juice. We make our own. Now that I've learned how to make bread, I plan to make our own, or invest in a bread machine. I have yet to get my own vegetable garden going but that's in my long term plans. In the meantime I'm buying fish/meats and high risk fruits and veggies organic, and low risk items conventionally until I can get a handle on knowing where to get the best price for each product. This is a must have recipe.

Honey Whole Wheat Bread Recipe 
Yield: 2  (9x5) loaves


2 cups warm water (110 degrees) 
1 tbs active dry yeast
1/2 cup honey 
1.5 tsp salt
3/4 cup quick oats
1/3 cup vegetable oil 
3 cups whole wheat flour
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour/ 4 cups if you're skipping any oats or seeds

  1. Dissolve yeast in warm water. Water should be warm to the touch but not hot. Add honey and stir. 
  2. Add oil, salt, and wheat flour, and oats. Stir until properly mixed. 
  3. Add all-purpose flour gradually. Knead dough on flour surface for about 10-15 mins until dough is smooth and elastic. All the flour will be absorbed. 
  4. Grease bowl generously with oil and put dough inside coating the entire ball of dough.
  5. Cover with a damp cloth and place in a warm place to rise for 45 mins. I put my oven on the warming feature and put the bowl inside. You can use the warming drawer if you have that feature as well. 
  6. When dough has raised/doubled in size, punch the dough in. Divide in 2 , and put it inside 2 greased 9x5 pans. You can sprinkle more oats on top. Next time I plan to add pumpkin seeds. Place it back in a warm place and wait for it to rise an inch or more. 
  7. Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 mins. If you have a convection bake option, use convection baking. It will lower your oven by 25 degrees but it uses the fan to distribute the heat evenly which bakes the bread more efficiently. 
  8. Update 8/29/13, I reduce white flour depending on how much seeds/oats I want to add by 1/2 cup-1 cup. I also cover it and wrap it in wax paper and saran wrap to keep moisture for softer bread.

"When you are young and healthy, it never occurs to you that in a single second your whole life could change."
-Annette Funicello


Thursday, July 25, 2013

5 Truths to Staying IN Love

When I was a little girl, I couldn't imagine who I would marry but I knew that I wanted to get married. I would envision the wedding, and try to see the man's face in my dreams. I would fantasize about who he would be and how much excitement he would bring into my life. My oldest daughter is four years old and she said to us the other day "Who am I gonna marry when I grow up?".  There it begins. A little girls' quest for the unknown, the inexperience and innocence in not knowing what lies ahead. The sparkle of hope and magical fantasies that comes with being a child. I think back to my adolescent experiences and smile because I had thoroughly enjoyed my journey through life and whatever wild times I had. I experienced much thrill, danger, excitement, exploration and self-discovery. Sure there were many tears shed along that path, but it all worked itself out. After all, everything happens for a reason.

When I met my husband in art class freshman year in high school, I wasn't immediately drawn to him. If anything I was judging his choice in attire. The moment we became friends he pursued me and I felt bursts of joy. The pulsating muscles in my body would race. I love a game of cat and mouse. I love the exhilarating feeling of watching men at attention up for the chase. Falling in love is right up there with sleeping in, eating something so sinfully delicious, your baby babbling at you, the newborn smells, and dancing when no one is watching. When people find out we've been together almost 13 years, people gaze at us in wonder...they say "wow that's a long time..." Not because 13 years is a long time, but because we're only in our mid 20's. That drift in silence is always the same expression on their faces. A questionable "How..?" but usually too presumptuous of a question to ask when you're 10 years older and just getting to know a young couple. The teenage years through the early 20's is marked by nonstop changes, instability, questionable choices, indecisiveness, and the list goes on.  How do you stay in love through the most tumultuous period of life? How do you keep things from going stale? How do you keep going when things are falling apart? How do you stay together and not grow apart?

Showing Affection is a MUST!

  1. Be Best Friends: From the moment we met even up until now, all we did was talk. I talked till he fell asleep on the phone, till I fell asleep with the phone still connected, wrote letters to each other, wrote emails, wrote cards, talked on instant messenger, talked till we couldn't talk anymore. We argued, disagreed with each other, fought, cooled off, came back and talked all over again. Sharing everything and not keeping secrets is big. Promise one another this cardinal rule: That you will NEVER throw what your other half said to you in a moment of vulnerability in their face. If you start that shit, you might as well break up, because that crap will brew an ugly resentment.
  2. Keep your Family in check: This is a big one for me. Families will try to tear you apart, think they know what's best, intrude, disrespect, withhold love, give guilt trips, cause drama,  and disapprove/criticize every damn detail in both of your lives. It's a miserable existence I've lived through that crap. It's your responsibility to stand up for your significant other unless you want them to stand up for themselves and cause permanent damage. At the end of the day it's all about the two of you, who and what bring you the most happiness. While it shouldn't be a tug of war, your family was there first, and is supposed to love you and support your choices. On the flip side if you love someone, you need to work just as hard to get along for your partner's sake. 
  3. Time together: It's not only about sex, it's about intimacy. When you're married you don't necessarily have time to just be in love. The bills need to be paid, the garbage is overflowing, the kids need to be fed, there's a show you wanna catch up on, and you need more "me time"...
      • Take long hot baths together, soaking in the tub feels so damn good, much less to do it with your best friend.
      • Write cute little notes to your man on the bathroom mirror, on post-its, on text, whatever you can to give affection, it makes him think about you and want to come home. It makes his day happier. 
      • Cook and dance together.
      • Back rubs and foot rubs all the way. This might be cliche but it really helps. It relieves the tension either person was feeling and is an investment into the relationship. When people do stuff for you, you feel gratitude.
      • Come to bed earlier. Lately we've been coming to bed earlier not necessarily to sleep ;) Whether the tv is on or not, it's "our place" to talk, to feel each other's warmth, to unburden our chests with worries, feelings, bad days, good days, share ideas or even jokes. 
      • Feed each other bites of decadent things from time to time, its romantic =) 
      • Share a bottle of wine and a cigar. We don't smoke but sometimes its nice to do something different. When the kids grow up and go to college, we plan to backpack through Europe and experiment. 
  4. Dates: Dates don't always have to be outside of the home, they don't even have to be worked into the daily schedule. Half the time we were on serious budgets when it came to how much we spent on a date, and the other half we were busy either getting pregnant, being pregnant, or like now being parents without any support system/date nights for ourselves to get a breather. So we'd improvise with our shows and movies we watch together. I'd cook a bunch of things the night before and the next day we'd feed the kids, play with them, stay in bed all day, watching movies while the dishes piled up. So the dishes always pile up who cares? They'll still be there tomorrow...

  5. Togetherness: Don't just sleep together. Pray together, dream together, aspire to greatness together, motivate each other, always try to get on the same page together. When you have a disagreement it's not about your side, or his side. It's about "what is best for our family". We're all on the same side, the same team. It's easy to forget that when you're pissed off. Maintain yourself and your own interests. The spell breaks when you're no longer enchanting each other. If you look good you feel good, and if you both feel good and never run out of things to talk about well that's great togetherness. It feeds the mind and strengthens the relationship. 

I can't guarantee he won't break my heart, or cheat on me. Families break up all the time. I have faith in him as much as I can in spite of my deep seeded issues with trust. You'd be a fool to think that it's not a possibility. You can't with 100% certainty vouch for anyone. Where there is light there's darkness... Knowing that fact is what keeps us in check. 
We are not objects to be acquired but we must be maintained and treated like prized possessions.
 Stay passionate. 

This article is also featured on Thought Catalog.

Google the Benjamin Franklin effect or go here to see how my truths are confirmed the science of love: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/21/relationship-advice-_n_5187567.html?ncid=fcbklnkushpmg00000063

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Growing up "Daddy-less"

Growing up, I had a father who loved me, and I loved him. Eventually I came to learn that he wasn't my biological father. While it didn't seem to matter, the coming years after the man who raised me (whom I called "dad") passed away, and my life was changing in a dark direction. Growing up I felt different, it's like I knew in my gut there was more to the story of my different last name. Finding out the truth changed something inside me. I thought I didn't care that my biological father left for so many years until one day I just broke as a grown married woman expecting my first child. It took years of questioning myself, trying to find who I was, and what my worth was to get past it. There was more to my story of how I became depressed and had a really low self esteem at one point before which I don't care to divulge into right now. The bottom-line is that daughters need their fathers. They don't need them to just be in the home. They need them to be constantly working on a strong father-daughter relationship. I know many women with fathers but no real relationship of substance and they deal with just as much issues as I did.

Oprah's Life Class: Daddyless Daughters is a must see if you have children or grew up without a father. Here are the main points if you missed it:

3 Ways Women Become Daddyless Daughters
Expert Iyanla Vanzant says a father acts as a role model for his son. For a daughter, she says, a father teaches a girl how to be with herself as a woman and how to have nonsexual relationships with men. Watch as Iyanla explains the importance of a father in a girl's life and the three ways women become daddyless daughters.

Two Painful Ways a Father's Absence Can Affect a Woman's Life
Shanon didn't know her father until she was 15. Then as an adult, she stayed in a toxic relationship to prevent her three girls from growing up without a father like she did. Iyanla says Shanon is exhibiting one of the ways daddyless daughters manifest their pain. The second-most common way is promiscuity. Find out why expert Dr. Steve Perry says promiscuity is a form of self-mutilation.

The 7 "Uns" of Daddyless Daughters
Relationship expert Iyanla Vanzant says daddyless daughters have a "treasure chest of 'uns'"—feeling unwanted, unloved and so on. Find out why Iyanla says every daddyless daughter needs to unpack her "uns" and redefine the story she believes about her life.

I watched the entire episode on OWN including this documentary: "From Fatherless to Fatherhood"

I was moved by the impact, the confirmation of my own thoughts, beliefs or stories I told myself about my own situation. It was comforting to know my feelings were validated and that I am in fact past it, over with it, DONE. It didn't happen overnight but it was a journey I've been through for many many years, searching, seeking, hurting, etc. Now that I've had closure I'm at peace. It might be something I re-visit in the future should there be any new revelations but at this time, I'm content.

If you're fatherless or have children, or are thinking about having children, this is a must see. With our current divorce rates and number of single parent households in society today, I can't tell you the enormous impact this key relationship has in all our lives. There's so much I'd like to point out to single parents about this topic but honestly these clips have addressed them all. I urge you all to check it out. Huffington Post Article and Clips on Being Daddyless.

Hasta Mañana 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

A Break from Blogging and the Possibilities

Recently I've been having a holiday. For the last month my goals are on pause, everything is at a standstill. I had my daughter's 4th birthday party, a religious function to bless our new home, one of our vehicles started becoming unreliable so we had to find something else, and I've just been enjoying myself. I stayed up late nights reading, connecting with some people I didn't talk to in a while, learning some of my very own life lessons and even caught up with my DVR. I ate whatever I wanted, didn't track anything and didn't exercise, just chilled. It was really refreshing to do nothing for once, except it comes at a price of gaining 6 lbs. I was busy instead of productive. Now I have to get back on the race since my daughter is starting school next month, I have a wedding to go to, and I officially have a sitter until Oct-Nov!! =) Date nights are officially back temporarily!! I had to cancel my first date in the longest the week before because my daughter got sick (as usual, she gets sick at the worst times)...Last Fri night we enjoyed a night out for our 5th wedding anniversary, it was so great! If you're in the Orlando area or you might wanna check out a restaurant and rum bar called Cuba Libre in Pointe Orlando. The appetizers were authentic and flavorful, however their entrees weren't that good. I can make a better Seafood Paella on my worst day. The baby octopus should've been presented in pieces not whole. Overall, the ambiance, spacious environment, and Cuban culture makes it a great place to have tapas and dance the night away. I had a great time. I can't wait to do it again.

I wanted to share this because I need to be reminded of  these things myself: 

I just hate that I've become one of those people that has to track calories and exercise so much that if I don't my body just blows up. It sucks. Some of us have to work harder than others to defy our genetics, metabolism, hormones, whatever. I knew I was different when I couldn't skip a meal and lose a few lbs growing up but this past month really killed my motivation after I saw the downward spiral of merely adding back dairy to my diet. How can we continue to grow and challenge ourselves if we're constantly fighting an internal battle? I sacrificed my exercise time this week to teach my older daughter how to write and I felt bitter at the end of the day. It doesn't matter how well I eat, if I don't exercise, and stay on top of my water intake, supplements, cycle, the lbs just creep up. My hormones are out of wack again, which is why I have the massive warzone going on on my face as well. It's not a pity party. I know what it takes to be healthy and keep my issues in check, I'm just having a damn hard time staying on top of it. In recent news I'm learning about GMOs and gluten wreaking havoc in our systems. I'm not a hypochondriac but when you read about the symptoms of gluten intolerance you can't help but wonder "heyyy... maybe that's what's wrong with me". I've been away from blogging for over a month and there's so much I've learned and want to share. I definitely plan to.

I had a pregnancy scare. I thought I was on to baby #3 and that shit scared me to death. I mean more panic than you felt when you thought you were late in high school. How do you know when you're done having kids, permanently? I feel like I'm done on most days, and on some really good days I imagine having at least one more. I looked for a vasectomy Dr for my husband, now all is left to do is to schedule the damn appointment. He asked me if I was sure and I said yes. The fact remains that we're still young and I go from loving a song one minute to sick of it the next. He's not even 100% sure when we sat and really thought about what that meant. The possibility of being pregnant again didn't shake him as it did me. He automatically said " if it happens, then it just means we're meant to have 3 kids even though it goes against our plan, and we'll deal with it". He worries that our little one Amorina will no longer be a baby and I'll miss having a baby in the house and it will be too late. The need to have a boy isn't even a desire for both of us. We're content in our life; our home, in our family, we can't ask for anything more.  Maybe that in itself is reason enough to make the decision, only time will tell.

Timeless possibilities makes the world go around. If we knew what destiny had in store for us, would we get up everyday with such a strong zest for life?