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Embracing Womanhood

    Happy 2018: Shoot Your Shot

    All those who were ready for 2017 to end, raise your hands! grabs a couple peoples hands to grab because I was way over 2017 Guys, 2017 was a clusterf— and I’m so happy that I made it to 2018! Did you choose a focus word? I didn’t. I chose a phrase: Shoot Your Shot.

    I know, that almost seems like it’s too broad but whatever. I spent 2017 watching people achieve the greatness that I wanted for myself because I didn’t make an ask, follow through, etc. But that’s not going to be me this year. This year I’m going for it all in all areas of my life.

    Bye, Bye 2017!!!

    Ok. So 2017 wasn’t ALL bad but it was some bad. Change dominated our lives around the TCM household. At the end of 2016, we made the decision to homeschool the girls when we moved. We moved back to civilization BUT the school system in our area was no bueno so instead of worrying about the quality of education they would be getting, we decided I would just do it.

    We also found out that we were expecting BC! I love the idea of pregnancy but the reality is that pregnancy doesn’t fit me so well. I spent the better part of 2017 tired, in pain, cranky and puking. Yeah, not good at all. I ended 2016 ready to make 2017 my year and that didn’t happen AT ALL.

    Hello 2018!!!

    Now I’m not expecting 2018 to be perfect. That would be silly. But our family is pretty much done making changes. We’re done having children so our family dynamic is finished. This year we’re focusing on buying a house (finally) and really just fine tuning some things, i.e. behavior, schedules, and really getting into a rhythm.

    Shoot Your Shot

    This is almost like a version of Shonda Rhimes “Year of Yes” except I’m being more proactive. In sales, there’s a concept that’s taught to not out sell yourself. What does this mean? Meaning don’t assume what the customer needs and that you can’t provide it. I spent 2017 telling myself I didn’t know enough, I didn’t take good enough photos, my content wasn’t good enough, my videos weren’t good enough but then I would see others just out here being great.

    2018 is my year to be great. That’s what “shoot your shot” means. I’m just going to be as great as I possibly can giving my best and knowing that it’s good enough.

    Are you ready to take 2018 by storm? What’s your word or theme for the year?

    10 Questions To Never Ask A Woman

    It seems as though womanhood opens the doors for being accosted with some of the most sexist questions that people want answers to. Don't ask us these.

    Being a woman seems to open the door for a level of shenanigans that most men don’t have to deal with. From pregnancy to just womanhood in general, we seem to consistently be accosted with ridiculous questions. Not only are they ridiculous but they can even be downright invasive. What questions fall into this category, right?

    10 Questions To Never Ask A Woman

    1. When are you going to get married/Why are you single?

    What if marriage isn’t her priority? What if she decided long ago she wanted to be married to her career instead of another person? Or what if this is her goal and you’ve just highlighted how she’s not living her dream? These are both some of the dumbest questions ever. If she knew and wanted to change that don’t you think she would? Not only that, this question is incredibly insensitive, rude and invasive. Unless it’s part of some odd proposal, don’t ask this.

    2. When are you having children?

    Sometimes I wish it were as appropriate to pop people in the mouth who ask this as it were for the question to be asked. Many women don’t want to have children and even more women have tried without success. This is such a sore topic for us and many of us hide the pain and frustration that accompanies this topic.

    3. Are you pregnant?

    I’m a woman AND pregnant and I wouldn’t dare to ask another woman this question without happening to overhear her mention how excited/nervous/anxious she was about the pending bundle of joy nesting in her belly. Why? For starters we hold stress weight in our stomachs. Unfortunately being accosted by all of these questions ISN’T STRESSFUL ENOUGH for us and we deal with other things like sexism, motherhood, wifehood, etc on a daily basis. Also, we get bloated. We have PCOS. There are so many reasons OUTSIDE OF pregnancy that our tummy region may be swollen. Don’t be insensitive. If we want you to know our business, we’ll tell it.

    4. When are you going to have another child?

    I was asked this literally as I was pushing abc out of my body with the pain of having a baby without meds still radiating through my body. As in my placenta was still kicking it up in my body and we were trying to get her on the boob and figure out life. Why are people so preoccupied with others populating the world? Now I could see if it were another woman who was about to ask the question of “would you be my surrogate” in there because that may be pertinent but outside of that, stop assuming that once we have one we’re going to populate the world. Not all of us plan on being the Duggars–no shade, just not for me and my womb. Pregnancy is NOT fun. Children are NOT cheap on anything–time, emotion, money. So unless you’re coming up off all these, don’t ask.

    5. Are you going to try for a <insert sex/gender of the child they don’t have>?

    This question is always so confusing to me. Making the choice to have a child should be filled with joy and excitement and orgasms and flushed faces. I understand that this isn’t what it looks like for all. In fact, Chrissy Teigan (she’s awesome) publicly highlighted the struggles of fertility. She and John made the choice in what gender children to have because of how they went about getting pregnant. Unless you’re offering IVF or other fertility treatments, how do you suppose we go about choosing the sex/gender of our unborn (and possibly unplanned) children? And in all seriousness, most of us just want healthy babies. Sure, it sounds cliche until there’s a threat or reality of you losing your child. It’s not cliche at all though.

    It seems as though womanhood opens the doors for being accosted with some of the most sexist questions that people want answers to. Don't ask us these.

    6. Is <insert random part of a woman’s body> real?

    Say what now!?!? I’ve been asked if my hair was real and I get that with modern science people can further enhance parts of their bodies but what makes you think this is an appropriate question to ask? Seriously. If anyone wanted this information to be public knowledge then they would walk around talking about it. Be clear that once I have this baby, I will gladly get some things nipped, tucked and raised (heeeeeey Atlanta plastic surgeons!!!) but I may not want people to know! And you know some women are blessed with naturally perky breasts, rotund booties, and amazing hair–don’t belittle their beauty!

    7. How do you do it all?

    I’m a seamstresss, blogger, small business consultant who homeschools their children while being happily married and pregnant. My friends are moms who are entrepreneurs or other women (and some men) who are doing big things in life and this is a question that we are all constantly asked. While it may come off as a compliment, when we’re asked most of us don’t know what to say. Like really, what does an answer to that look like? Like when asked, do you really want the truth of how we’re tired practically all the time but we see it as being worthwhile? Or that we just make things happen?

    8. Have you ever thought of selling/joining an MLM?

    Now I have friends that totally rock this out and are really successful with their companies and no shade to that at all. But I’ve also been asked more consistently to join one than any other question in the world. Do men get asked this question as much? I know my husband hasn’t been asked not once if he wanted to sell makeup/wraps/vitamins/drops/wine/his last born child. What makes women the prime target for this?

    9. How could you not want children?

    Now I’m a mom of 3 and find this question rude as hell. Being pregnant isn’t fun. As eventually rewarding as it may be, raising children isn’t always fun either. As women, our bodies will literally grow a person (painful), push the person out or have surgery (painful), raise the child (painful and expensive) and hope that they’re a great addition to society. While for some this is sheer glory, for others it just isn’t. I get that motherhood and being a natural nurturer is supposedly every woman’s dream but it isn’t. We live in times where we have more choices in life, careers, and dreams.

    10. Who’s plate do you fix first–your husband or your childrens?

    What.The.Entire.F-bomb. Listen, if I just slaved over this hot ass stove the first plate I’m fixing is my own! Please get out of here with the epitome of sexism! In all honesty, I fix my kid’s plates first because the food is hot and I want theirs to cool down. Then I fix mine and then my husbands so that I can make sure that he gets the most food. But people like to seriously judge whether or not a woman’s marriage is strong based on who’s plate gets fixed first. Please miss me with this line of thinking.

    Big shout out to my Facebook friends that were able to remind me of the questions we’re constantly accosted with!!!

    So ladies, did I miss any?

    “Hidden Figures”: The Must-See Movie for Little Girls

    “I’m going to be famous because of my math skills.”

    My niece exclaimed this as we were riding in a limo for mini’s birthday party. The other little girls looked a little confused as to how you could become famous for being good at math when I brought up the movie “Hidden Figures”. As I shared with them the struggles and triumphs of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson, I was excited to finally be able to have a movie that celebrated an iota of our accomplishments while giving little brown girls tangible characters to want to be like when they grew up.

    Hidden Figures

    I had the opportunity to take mini to see the movie “Hidden Figures” along with a couple of local schools when AT&T shut down the theater at Atlantic Station. We got the royal treatment when we got there. Snacks, drinks and no lines were the introduction. When we sat down, we received a warm welcome from AT&T and they spoke briefly about the importance of STEM in the workforce today–especially as it pertains to women.

    The movie itself was…amazing. I know that this word gets overused but in truth, that’s just what it was. In today’s society we’re all feeling the effects of racism, sexism, classism and the like. I haven’t had to deal with much racism–well, not overtly anyway. I didn’t have doors closed in my face or have to run over a mile and a half to use the bathroom because of my color. And mini? She has no clue about any of this.

    What was so beautiful to see was the determination and attitude of the women on screen. White, black, men, women, homosexual, heterosexual–it doesn’t matter. At some point in time we’re all going to face something that we don’t think we can overcome or know we can do something that people tell us that we can’t. “Hidden Figures” is that lesson to us all to persevere in the face of adversity.

    "Hidden Figures" is the must see movie of the year and AT&T made it available for 300 Atlanta Public School students to see!

    The Panel

    After the movie was over, we got another treat. There was a panel of 3 women that were working in STEM-based careers–one of them a fellow Spelman sister of mine. We also got a surprise with Janelle Monae being on the panel as well. I’m not going to lie, I was a little star struck when I saw her! The kids asked a lot of great questions but they were mainly directed to Monae and she handled the questions with both wisdom and grace.

    "Hidden Figures" is the must see movie of the year and AT&T made it available for 300 Atlanta Public School students to see!

    L to R: Eshe’ Collins – Board Member, Atlanta Board of Education, Dr. Maria Carstarphen, Superintendent of Atlanta Public Schools, Angela Baskerville, Vice President Technology Development, AT&T

    While the panel was great, the audience was even better. Being in a room filled with these minds that are sponges waiting to be filled was amazing because of all they were being offered in that moment. I appreciate AT&T’s “The Bridge” program for taking the future of our children seriously enough to make this investment in them and I was lucky to apart of it as well.

    "Hidden Figures" is the must see movie of the year and AT&T made it available for 300 Atlanta Public School students to see!

    Dr. Carstarphen, Janelle Monae, Eshe Collins and Angela Baskerville pose for a selfie with 300 Atlanta Public School girls representing three area high schools.

    If you haven’t seen the movie “Hidden Figures” yet, get out there and see it. There’s a reason why it’s the highest grossing film entirely fronted by Black women. And many thanks to AT&T for including my daughter and I in this great opportunity!

    **Pictures courtesy of AT&T.

    16 Things to Be Thankful For In 2016

    We're our own worst critics and sometimes it's hard to see the beauty in what we're doing but here are 16 things I'm thankful for in 2016.

    Time is flying by this year. I can’t believe that it’s already November! That means we’re ONE month away from concluding 2016. As I look back for all my goals that I had for 2016, it’s hard not to beat myself up for all of the things that I didn’t get done and wanted to. But since we’re in the month that reminds us to be thankful, I’m going to focus on that instead.

    via GIPHY

    16 Things to Be Thankful For In 2016

    Here are 16 things I’m Thankful for that happened in 2016:

        1. I didn’t die. Yes, that is actually something that I’m very thankful for. This year I as pulled over a couple of times (maybe once or twice) and with the current state of police brutality I was scared I wasn’t going to see my babies again. But I made it and I’m alive and quite thankful for it.
        2. We’re all in good health. If you follow me on social media, you know that mini broke her finger but outside of that, we’re in good health!
        3. My marriage is super strong. Starting a new business with a fairly new marriage and pretty new baby can strain a marriage but ours is thriving in the face of potential adversity. We had a really hard month monetarily speaking in April and instead of causing strife, it made us stronger!
        4. My site went viral. And it broke a couple of times but I’m really excited about all the people who looked at my site!
        5. I’ve colored my hair blue. Yes, this is an accomplishment and something that I’m thankful for. After stifling my creativity for so long it feels great to just be myself and all that entails—including blue hair.

    I always thought red heads had more fun till I went blue.

    A photo posted by Aaronica | The Crunchy Mommy (@thecrunchymommy) on

      1. We went vegan. As a family. It was pretty awesome but not awesome enough for us to stay that way. I’m going to give it another try next year.
      2. I’ve expanded! Ok, not me personally—well, actually I have but not in the way that you’re thinking—but TCM has expanded a bit. I started consulting as a social media marketing manager, blog coach and doing graphics for others.
      3. I was published on the Huffington Post. Check me out.
      4. I was published on Red Tricycle. Twice as well!
      5. I’m a contributor on other sites! This is big to me because I love so.many.things that I don’t cover on thecrunchymommy.com. You can find me on ClumpsOfMascara, AwesomelyTechie, and Little Family Adventure
      6. I’m gaining even more direction. Prior to starting TCM, I had been blogging for pleasure for 10 years. When you’re blogging as a hobby, it’s very different. Blogging is so fluid that there’s a lot that can be in the air and still moving and developing. I’m now more confident in the direction that I want to take my career as a writer and entrepreneur.We're our own worst critics and sometimes it's hard to see the beauty in what we're doing but here are 16 things I'm thankful for in 2016.
      7. I’ve made some pretty awesome new friends. I’m a social butterfly who goes back into the proverbial cocoon after events. I love being alone and know that I’m actually hard to REALLY get to know but I’ve met and connected with some rather amazing women and have developed some great friendships!
      8. I lost some weight. I gained it back BUT it was gone for a bit!
      9. I’m learning grace. This is something that has been hard for me since all I see are my flaws. But there’s so much beauty in them. I’m learning to accept compliments and not point out all the bad that they missed and more importantly, I’m learning to treat myself with more grace.
      10. I was in the Listen To Your Mother cast. This was a really amazing experience. My voice was given a stage and I loved every moment of the experience.
      11. My sewing skills have really taken off. Last year I was making baby harem pants and that was about it. It was cool since it launched my sewing piece of the business but I shut that down for a bit so that I could focus on my technique and creating even better quality items. My birthday wish came true when my new serger was delivered and now my sewing skills are really amazing!

    Did I become a millionaire this year or lose all the weight that I wanted to? I didn’t. But looking back at these 16 things has shown me that I have a lot to be thankful for with what I did manage to accomplish.

    Looking back through this year, what are some of the things that you’re most thankful for?

    I “Let It Go” Elsa-Style

    There comes a moment in most women's lives where we have to let go of the feelings of inadequacy and embrace our beauty. This was my weekend.

    No, I didn’t freeze my entire city, run off and then create my own frozen castle while embracing fabulous powers that I’d been hiding for years but I did break through my own mold and let go of a lot. I also did embrace some pretty fabulous things about myself that lead to even more fabulousness. But what am I talking about, right?

    I cut all of my hair off and I, a plus-sized mom, wore a crop top. For a performance. In front of everyone.
    There comes a moment in most women's lives where we have to let go of the feelings of inadequacy and embrace our beauty. This was my weekend.

    Some might think this isn’t a big thing and for many it may not be but for me, it was huge.

    Breaking through the barriers I had on myself

    On Saturday morning, I woke up to a medium length, curly frock that I hadn’t washed in 5 days. When you’re a natural haired woman, washing your hair is quite a feat that involves tools, products, and most of all, time. I love my hair and try really hard to take good care of it so that it will love me back but bleaching, coloring, not sleeping on satin really takes a toll on one’s curls. I thought I wanted long hair because the curls had become so much of my identity. But Saturday after a lovely thrifting trip, I had my India Arie “I am not my hair” moment and had the poor lady at Great Clips questioning her career as she snipped away the fears of boldness that I had grown with every inch of my hair.

    I am not my hair. My hair is not me.

    This was the first of many barriers that I broke this weekend.

    I had the honor of reading in front of hundreds for the Listen To Your Mother production on April 23. I made my outfit and was really proud of it. I’m not sure why I thought that in the span of a couple days I would all of a sudden lose 100lbs and be this svelte mama ready to rock a crop top. But Saturday came and I still had the fluff. But you know what? I put my crop top that I made on with my flare pants and rocked the hell out of my reading as both my story and rolls made their debut.

    I am a plus-sized woman and I wore a crop top. And I rocked the hell out of it. Proudly. 

    There comes a moment in most women's lives where we have to let go of the feelings of inadequacy and embrace our beauty. This was my weekend.

    For so long I had subscribed to this standard of beauty that said that when I achieve it, I will feel proud to be myself. Then and only then would it be acceptable to no longer fear my truths because I would be pretty/skinny/strong/accomplished enough to stand on my two feet. But this weekend I basically said “eff that! I’m doing me and I’m doing it now!!!” And you know what? It feels pretty amazing.

    Embracing my truths

    Sure, cutting my hair could be seen as a symbolic gesture of something or another. I could make up some deeply rooted attachment for what hair meant and no longer means to me. But I want to walk in my truths now and no longer fear judgement because of it.

    I like my hair short.

    Whew! So liberating that is!!! This is my truth. I simply like short hair. But I had brainwashed myself so long that I needed my hair to be long. Not because my husband liked it. Not because I liked it. But because it was part of this mold that I had created for myself.

    Safe.

    I wanted to be safe. I wanted to be the safe black girl with curly hair that gets along with everyone and offends no one. Safe from being targeted from racial slurs as I walk through the parking lot with my peanut butter skinned daughters. Safe from being labeled the “angry black woman” when there’s a lot that angers me. Safe from having to feel strongly about anything but my family.
    There comes a moment in most women's lives where we have to let go of the feelings of inadequacy and embrace our beauty. This was my weekend.

    But that’s not me. 

    I’m a fiery, passionate woman that cares about a lot. I care about the homeless man that I drove past with a backpack and dog who had a sign that said “Will Work for Food for My Dog”. Not himself, his dog. I care about the black women being exploited in the meat industry. I care about my friends being called racial slurs as they walk through the gym parking lot. I care. And I’m not safe.

    I “Let It Go” and broke MY mold

    I was talking to the hubs and he was asking if I felt like I had to play it nice all the time or have long hair because that’s what society deemed appropriate and I couldn’t have disagreed more. I don’t believe in being held down by societal expectations. But it was me that had created this mold for myself and I did it because I wanted to be liked. I wanted to be accepted. I wanted to be “that” mom. You know the one–flawless hair, always put together, adorbs even in her top knot and yoga pants as she brought perfectly baked cupcakes in for her kid’s birthday. But you know what? I hate doing hair and I’m not always put together BUT I’M STILL BEAUTIFUL AND WONDERFUL AND SMART AND INCREDIBLY TALENTED!!! And capable of creating stellar run on sentences. And not to take away from “that” mom. But that’s just never been who I am. In college, I wore socks and shower shoes and sweats every day to class. I thought I looked amazing. I was also significantly smaller with a larger amount of self-confidence but you get where I’m going.
    There comes a moment in most women's lives where we have to let go of the feelings of inadequacy and embrace our beauty. This was my weekend.

    I had to break my mold this weekend so that the real me could breathe and exist and grow. April has been an incredibly tough month but you know what? Those tears from April have watered the seeds that I’ve planted in life and May I’ve got my baskets ready to pick the blooming flowers because I “Let It Go“.

    Celebrating International Women’s Day with Elevate Me

    International Women's Day celebration with the launch of Elevate Me.

    Happy International Women’s Day!!!!

    This is my first year really celebrating this and I’m seriously wondering why. I mean, I’ve been a woman for 30+ years and I’m JUST now celebrating? Pft. But I’m really excited with how I spent my morning as I rang in this International Women’s Day.

    I had the honor of attending the Elevate Me launch breakfast on the Georgia Tech campus. As I laid in my bed this morning reviewing all the reasons to keep me in bed (abc woke up screaming and some how ended up in my face so naturally I threw her in the bed which led to her feet being jammed into my ribs–again. Then there was the issue of wardrobe. And I was exhausted. I have a million and one {yay!!!!} orders to get out. The list is long!) but decided to only listen to the reason why I should go–I had RSVP-ed yes. If we’re friends on Facebook, than you already know mama has been having a bit of a challenging time this past week and in a conversation with my besties, I swore that my life as a mompreneur was going to be coming to an end as I dusted off my resume.

    But as life consistently shows me, what I need will always show up on time.

    International Women's Day celebration with the launch of Elevate Me.

    Elevate Me Global Network International Women’s Day Breakfast

    Prior to attending, I’d spoken with the organizer, the brains and beauty behind the operation Melisa Alaba. She’s such a walking dichotomy as she has this quiet energy about her that fizzles and sparks but discreetly. We chatted about the “Why” behind the breakfast and her vision became mine. One of the things that Melisa does is she has the ability to make you feel what she does and this was further confirmed as I wiped tears away while she talked during breakfast.

    The Run Down

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    Going through the agenda it was hard to not be excited as a new entrepreneur facing the world. There was so much information being shared by such amazing women. The first speakers were Esther Famojure and Deshawn Jenkins from the Global Women’s Entrepreneurship Initiative (GWEI) that was started at Georgia Tech. They’ve worked together to plan impactful events such as African Atlanta 2014, African Beyond Africa, and provide resources for women entrepreneurs.
    image

    Agatha Achindu, the CEO & Chief Yummy Officer for Yummy Spoonfuls spoke about helping women all over. As a fellow crunchy mom, I had already known about her since I followed her on Instagram and a girlfriend of mine had told me about all the delicious foods she made for babies. But listening to her messages that she shared was truly awesome. As she spoke, she talked about how the things taken for granted in America are really only taken for granted in America (to be read as #firstworldproblems). She went on to address the greater issues in the world with women saying that “poverty is rooted in gender inequality“–which is true since statistically speaking there are more women than men in the world and women make way less than men do. I loved when she encouraged us to help other women through other means than money–because all of us don’t have that to be giving. But our words have power and encouragement costs nothing. Before she went on to tell us a little about her story, she encouraged us to reach back and help pull others forward. I was surprised to learn that after 9 years of being in business, Achindu almost gave up. But here are the two pieces of advice I needed to hear that I’m sure someone else needs to hear as well:

    Never underestimate the power of dreaming. If your friends don’t believe you can make your dreams come true, you need to get new friends.

    Keynote Speaker Mareshia Rucker

    I remember when this story aired and as a northerner, I was shocked that this was still happening. Separate proms based upon color is crazy to me! But we had this young lady come and speak and she was so dynamic as she talked about the work behind making this prom happen and the pain she felt at the treatment from the same “friends” that she would laugh and study with in school. Now a Junior at Fort Valley, Rucker is a Mass Communications Major. As I sat and listened to her and the power of her words, my eyes filled with tears of gratitude. As a mom to two little brown girls, I’m so happy that they have someone like her that they can look to in the midst of the craziness of growing up. Standing up for what’s right, having integrity and character and vulnerability. I’m so proud of Rucker and her endeavors!!! Her motto is something that is so beautiful and should be remembered:

    Melisa Alaba

    image

    She’s the whole reason why this group of women was even brought together. Elevate Me is her brainchild, her baby, her spiritual gift. It’s a 90-day Mastermind think tank that all started when a client told her that she could no longer afford to work with her. Alaba is a Life Coach and Licensed Professional Counselor with a heart of gold who couldn’t let her client’s work go unfinished and she didn’t. The first mastermind group was designed around her. One of the big questions that she constantly asks herself and thinks when she sees people getting involved with different causes is “How do you choose what to get involved with?” What she found was it’s the thing that pains you the most. The very thing you lose sleep over. She shared that the mastermind groups have been designed to help participants learn to communicate effectively with others, build their businesses efficiently, and have accountability partners with sisterhood.

    My Takeaways

    Sisterhood rocks. Womanhood rocks. Entrepreneurship is hard, but it rocks too. Like I said, this was right on time for me. I wasn’t feeling confident in the path that I was walking. I felt alone–though I shouldn’t. I felt like there weren’t enough resources. I felt like I wanted to do more, be more, and I know where I want to be going but not exactly sure how to get there. But today I received the confirmation that I needed as I celebrated International Women’s Day with these fellow entrepreneurs.

    What can you do in 2016 to help one or many young girls realize that they can do anything?

    The Day I Stopped Hating Myself

    People think self-love is so easy. It isn't.

    I thought I had hit rock bottom when I had admitted to not being able to see my physical beauty any longer after having abc. But I didn’t. I hit it recently when I found myself just angry all the time and hating everything.

    I wasn’t mad at anyone in particular. Well, maybe I was. But it was me. I was mad at myself.

    Why be mad right? It seems that I have everything I wanted–and I do. I no longer work for anyone. I have the best husband the world could ever give me. I have 2 healthy and happy kids. I’m healthy too. But I wasn’t happy. How could I possibly be happy when I hated myself?

    I think I finally realized it about a week ago. I was looking in the mirror and all I could see was the weight that I’d gained, the scars that my eczema had left, the post-partum hair breakage, and the allergic reaction that I was having under my eyes. I hated everything that I saw. And I felt like the world hated me too. I’d stopped getting responses for pitches, no sales in my store, no motivation to do anything.

    I felt like my kids hated me too and thus my patience was thin. Abc’s slaps in the face as she fought sleep hurt more and felt like stabs to the heart. Mini’s constant lack of listening felt like she was saying that my words weren’t good enough to listen to instead of just a 6 year old being a 6 year old. And then my mom was in town and I think that’s when it came crashing down. She didn’t look proud of me. She corrected every little thing that I did with my kids and downed every decision I made to my husband. Not even the person who birthed me was proud.

    At this point in the past, I normally breakdown and just stop moving. I go into a semi-catatonic state just laying in the bed for as long as it typically took to shake. And I did that on Valentine’s Day with my kids and husband laying around with me. Their presence felt supportive as we watched episode after episode of whatever Disney show mini is addicted to. They let me lay and wallow and they didn’t say anything as I sorted through my thoughts and organized my feelings separating what was reality, what I could control, and what I just needed to let go.

    People think self-love is so easy. It isn't.

    Letting Go

    Growing up with a brother who was perfect at everything, I always felt like I needed to show that I was worthy of my parents approval. This feeling and scarring that I’m dealing with as an adult is the root of the post behind me having a favorite child. Here’s the thing, I want my kids to grow up to do the things that make THEM proud, not seeking the approval that may or may not come from my husband and I. I want for them to proud of themselves and not worry about pleasing everyone around them–like I do. This is something that I consciously have to let go of time and time again. While my mother did tell me that she IS proud of me, it shouldn’t matter. What needs to matter to me is that I AM proud of me and this feeling shouldn’t be dependent on anyone but me.

    What’s Real vs Fake

    No one hates me. Ok, I’m sure that there’s at least a handful of people that do but the masses don’t. How do I know? It’s not because I try really hard to please everyone (though most times I do), but it’s because I’m genuinely a good person. I like people. Black, white, Asian, Indian, Alien. I like people–on most days. But I believe in being good to others so the idea that everyone hates me is absurd.

    What I Can Control

    This is the hardest part for me. I can control a lot–but there’s more that I can’t control and these things, I need to stop focusing on. When I look in the mirror, I was mad, angry, frustrated, disappointed. I couldn’t believe that I had let myself and my health go the way that I have. I’ve never been as big or as heavy as I am now and I’m in shock that I’m here. But here’s the thing that I have to realize and fully digest: My self-worth and self-love is not dependent upon a number on a scale.

    I haven’t been giving 100% at the gym. I haven’t been 100% with my nutrition. I haven’t been 100% with my business. And these are the things that I CAN control. When I see myself, I CAN change how I feel. I have full control over my attitude about things and that’s what I need to be focused on. In this microwave society that we live in, we expect for things to change over night and when they don’t, we quit them. I’m guilty of this. But this too is something that I can control and will.

    While I can’t believe that I’d let myself go so much physically, I couldn’t believe I’d let myself go so much mentally or emotionally. Everything has been affected by this and I’m more disappointed in the fact that I’d allowed myself to hate the person that I fought hard to become and love. But I envisioned how I used to be. I saw my smile so full and bright. I saw the patience I had with my mini that fostered her growth. I heard my laugh that was so loud and contagious. I felt the love and happiness I had. And I wanted it back.

    I woke up the other day and I decided to stop hating myself and am actively loving me and the life I’ve created.

    7 Ways To Take Care Of Yourself Right Now

    We all know that taking care of ourselves needs to be a priority. Here are 7 ways to do it NOW! www.thecrunchymommy.com

    As mothers, we boldly love our children. If there’s anything or anyone that gets close to harming them, the fierce mama bear comes out and we handle it. As wives, we boldly love our spouses. I’m the first one to say “There’s two things I don’t play about: my man and my kids.” I, like most women, put our loved ones first when it comes to care. We serve them their meals first. We prepare their favorite dishes. When we’re out shopping, we buy them little trinkets.

    But what about us?

    As much as I believe in being tireless in caring for my family, I also believe that we should be equally as fervent in taking care of ourselves and not putting our needs on the back burner. It seems once we’re no longer single, we no longer matter to ourselves and this is problematic. How can we take care of others when we aren’t even taken care of?

    Be Intentional About Your Care

    As moms, we’re familiar with the feeling of guilt. We feel it if we sleep a little later, go to bed a little earlier, make a dinner that not everyone loved, if we’re running late, if we yell–you get it. But here’s the thing, YOU MATTER. As my husband tells me when he’s fussing at me for not following my own advice (yes, I’m talking to myself here too), mother’s are the nucleus of the family. If we’re down because of sickness or stress, our families aren’t taken care of. And we feel awful because things aren’t taken care of AND because we’re sick, we can’t win right?

    We all know that taking care of ourselves needs to be a priority. Here are 7 ways to do it NOW! www.thecrunchymommy.com

    Set yourself as a priority. We plan and plan and plan. We have family planners, personal planners, business planners and nowhere in those planners are time slots filled with focuses time for self-care. We feel like we have to be these super moms and we don’t. We don’t have to be the only ones caring for our children. We don’t have to be the only ones cooking dinners. It takes a village to raise a child–and support a mother.

    What IS Self-Care?

    Self-care is the intentional act of taking care of yourself–doing it on purpose. So that means looking pretty on purpose. Eating healthy on purpose. Exercising on purpose. Failure to practice self-care will lead to physical and mental exhaustion. By paying attention to our own needs, we develop a stronger motivation to take care of others.

    We all know that taking care of ourselves needs to be a priority. Here are 7 ways to do it NOW! www.thecrunchymommy.com

    But I Don’t Have Time

    Make it! Seriously. You don’t have to go on a 7-day Mediterranean cruise. Here are 7 simple things you can do today:

    1. Have a healthy meal. Don’t eat your kids scraps or stand up eating. Sit down and have that meal while you think good thoughts.
    2. Take a walk. Maybe not outside right now because it’s pretty chilly but do something that you enjoy for 30min and have it be physical.
    3. Take a long shower. Nice and hot. Don’t rush as you’re in there. Really just enjoy the heat and how it feels to just feel your muscles relax and destress.
    4. Do your nails. Or have them done. Sometimes it can be really hard to get into the nail shop to have them done but if not, do them yourself! I love how my nails look once they’re done.
    5. Get dressed in clothes that make you feel good. After having my youngest, I would squeeze into my pre-pregnancy jeans feeling like a sausage. THIS was not self-care! Put on something that makes you feel nice.
    6. Put on a little makeup. I’m not saying that you should do a full out lotus flower facial contour but some blush, mascara, and lipgloss make a world of difference. There’s nothing like looking pretty!
    7. Journal. Have the sacred space for you to be totally honest about what you’re thinking or feeling. The amount of solace that comes with an emotional dump is priceless.

    We all know that taking care of ourselves needs to be a priority. Here are 7 ways to do it NOW! www.thecrunchymommy.com

    I heard an analogy once that said to fill your own proverbial well so that you can fill others with your overflow. Be intentional about filling this well. Take care of yourself the way you would your child. You deserve to be taken care of it and you deserve to be good to yourself. So do it.  Be bold about it.

    5 Tips on Establishing Good Routines

    Routines are essential to be effective in your every day life. Need help in establishing them? Read more at www.thecrunchymommy,com!

    As a kid and on into young adulthood I thought routines were mundane. I mean, who REALLY wanted to do the same thing day in and day out right? It’s amazing how a little person can totally rock your perspective on things. When I was pregnant with mini, I researched and researched and researched sleep routines to make sure that I was doing everything the right way. And it worked. Mini was sleeping on her own through the night at 6 months and I didn’t have to have her cry it out at all. Success. But sleep routines aren’t the only important routines in lives.

    Routines are essential to be effective in your every day life. Need help in establishing them? Read more at www.thecrunchymommy,com!

    Best Routines For Productivity

    Routines benefit both kids and adults–especially moms that work from home.

    1. Morning Routines for Parents
    2. Morning Routines for Kids
    3. After-School Routines
    4. Evening Routines
    5. Bedtime Routine

    Morning Routines

    Mornings in my house are tough. No one but abc likes to get up in the morning–the rest of us are all seeking that extra 5-10 minutes of sleep. But mini has always been the worst. In the morning, it’s best to get yourself ready prior to the kids. This way if there are any additional hiccups, it’s ok because you’re already ready to go. This also means making sure that their backpacks, lunches, etc. are ready to go. It’s best to leave these things along with any of your things by the door so there is no hectic searching for them in the morning.

    Routines are essential to be effective in your every day life. Need help in establishing them? Read more at www.thecrunchymommy,com!

    After-School Routines

    Some kids go to an after-school program and some come straight home–either way, you need a plan. Most days when mini comes home she will drive me crazy unless I have a plan. Abc + mini without a plan? Man… That’s insane. After-school routines in our home typically include a snack and some form of exercise with homework for mini.

    Evening Routines

    These are my favorite! Yes, this is the wind down time that most of us wait for. Our evening routine is dinner with some good conversation. After dinner is a family activity and then showers.

    Sleep Routines

    With mini, this was so easy. We did a book, song, dance and then bed. Now abc? Maaaaan. Difficult is an understatement. But we’re consistent which will pay off.

    5 Tips to Developing Routines

    1. Be Consistent: Once you start the routine, make sure that you do it everyday. It’s hard, especially on weekends, but you’ve got to be consistent.
    2. Make sure to be flexible: In starting the routine, kids can be resistant. This might mean that you may need to tweak the routine. Or just allot for the adjustment to the routine.
    3. Be Patient: Anytime we introduce new things to both ourselves and the kids, there can be a frustrating adjustment period. You see the benefit of the routine and you want it to help immediately. But when it doesn’t happen right away, it can be frustrating. But be patient with yourself and others.
    4. Write it Down: And set corresponding alarms on your phone. If you’re doing it for kids, create picture one for them to see the order in which they need to do things for the end of the night.
    5. Review it: This seems obvious but it isn’t. When you start your morning, review what you have to do aloud. Same with the kids. Review what it is they’ll be doing when they wake up, get home, etc. so that the expectation is set.

    Routines are essential to be effective in your every day life. Need help in establishing them? Read more at www.thecrunchymommy,com!

    What routines do you have in place?

    New Year, Improved Me!

    Every year some meme goes around spouting “NEW YEAR, NEW ME!!!” Ever since this started, I’ve despised it. Why do you have to be a new person in the new year? What’s so wrong with being who you are? I like who I am and I’ve works really hard to be able to say that so you’ll never hear me shouting out the bandwagon phrase of “NEW YEAR, NEW ME!!” Instead, I subscribe to the notion of “New Year, Improved Me!”

     Don't do the "New Year, New Me" instead, take what you learned and make yourself better! Read more at www.thecrunchymommy.com!
    Lessons From The Past

    2015 has been an incredible year. I left the corporate world and decided to chase my dreams working for myself. My Spelman sister said it best when she told me “If I can work as hard as I do for someone else and I don’t like them, imagine what I can do for myself!” When the year began, I set out to stop surving in my life. I wanted to thrive. I wanted to no longer feel like I was just going through the motions as a mom, employee, wife, etc.

    I did that. I broke out of the mold and started thriving. I took risks and learned sooooo much! The lessons that I learned this year are going to take me to new places this upcoming year.

     Don't do the "New Year, New Me" instead, take what you learned and make yourself better! Read more at www.thecrunchymommy.com!
    New Goals

    At the beginning of 2015, there were some things I wanted to focus on and I did. I accomplished all but one task which has been carried over into 2016. In 2016, I want to focus on growth. 2015 had so many lessons and things that kind of came at me that I wasn’t exactly prepared for. But in my lack of preparation and having to learn on the fly, I gained so much. Because my lessons increased my knowledge, my starting point for 2016 is that much greater.

    Don't do the "New Year, New Me" instead, take what you learned and make yourself better! Read more at www.thecrunchymommy.com!

    New Year, Improve You

    You know the saying…

    Instead of focusing on ways to “become a new you”, use this opportunity to better yourself because of what you learned. Take those lessons, those goals accomplished, and even the ones you didn’t accomplish to propel you forward in the new year. What worked for you last year? What didn’t work? What did you accomplish? What do you have left? Really think about these things so that you can see all the growth that you’ve made–even if you didn’t accomplish EVERYTHING you wanted to!

    So what are your goals for this new year? What would you like to improve upon? Need help? Here’s a printable for you to establish a focus word for 2016 along with a place for you to create your list. Put it up so you can see it and cross things off as you accomplish them!

    Let’s do great things this year!