Yes!!! Why Not??!

Ohhh Emmm Geee, has it really been 2 months since I last wrote a blog post???! It seems hard to believe, but yeah it has been 2 months and 2 days since I sat down to share with you the adventurous, sometimes mundane, details of my existence. Life has been good, very, very good. My New Year resolution to make this my year of yes Three Weeks and A Day has led to one of the best Summers I have had in a while.
I have said yes to every invitation to hang out, even if I didn’t feel like it, I made myself do all kinds of stuff I wasn’t in the mood for, like hitting the gym, 5 to 6 days a week, even if it was pouring rain outside; and when my son came to me, out of the blue, with what I initially thought of as a ludicrous idea of wanting to pursue a modeling career, instead of my knee-jerk reaction of, “That’s crazy, go focus on your academics instead.” I, instead, said, “Sure, why not?” and immediately started the groundwork needed to get him started in the industry.

All that yes-ing has been taking away from the time needed to do other things, like my writing, with only 24 hours in the day, obviously, something will fall through the cracks. The important thing is that I didn’t abandon my blog, even though it as taken me 2 months to sit down and write again. The good thing is that the yes-ing has created new stories for me to share and that, in my opinion, is always a plus.

My fifteen-year-old, I have written about him several times, MILF, recently decided that he wants to put his 6’3 height to use and model. I was a bit taken aback since he has never ever expressed any desire to do anything like that before. First, I asked, “Why?” and he said,”It’s something I just want to try.” He maintains that if he is successful then he can make some money to help fund his college education. Of course, he had me at “college education.” So, I did a little bit of internet research and spoke to a few people, then hired my wedding photographer turned friend, Carmen, to do a photoshoot of my son and the results were fantastic. Turns out my boy does have some model appeal. He was a natural in front of the camera and even Carmen, who has been photographing people professionally all her adult life, was amazed at the ease in which Blake worked and his level of comfort and confidence in front of the camera.

Not sure where this desire of his will go, or if it will even go anywhere but I am doing my part as his mother and encouraging this pursuit. If it works, then fantastic, if nothing comes of it then I hope his disappointment, if any, will be short-lived. I am just happy that he decided on his own, without any input from me, to chase a dream.

The Summer of yes has also brought with it a myriad of social activities – too much hanging out, eating and drinking, has me gaining back 4 of the total 27 pounds I had lost before the Summer rolled around. Notwithstanding my gallant efforts to lose those nagging 4 pounds and to continue my weight loss journey towards my goal weight, which is now 12 pounds away, I just can’t seem to say no to the dinner and drinks invitations. I am trying though and I have not given up on the hope that I will get to my goal weight before the year ends.

I love live music and performances so I have made it a Summer of concerts and shows. Usually, I am a bit hesitant to shell out my hard-earned money on some of these overpriced concert tickets but this Summer I treated myself to a few artists I have always wanted to see perform live. I had the pleasure of seeing JLo do her thing, Aziz Ansari (a comedian), Billy Idol and Bryan Adams, who were on the same ticket, and most recently Lenny Kravitz, who I swooned over the entire time.

At the beginning of the JLo concert, right in the middle of Jennifer’s third or fourth song, the lights in Madison Square Garden went out. When her microphone suddenly went dead and the lights went off, I thought, “Dear God, I hope this isn’t a terrorist attack.” However, before my mind had time to go to town with that idea, the back-up generators at MSG kicked on and we were informed that we had to evacuate the arena. By then, my girlfriend, who was seated next to me, got a text from her husband informing her that the entire West Side of Manhattan was experiencing a power outage. Even though I was disappointed that the concert had to end abruptly I was relieved that it was only a blackout.

I was among the 25,000 attendees, who had to be evacuated from Madison Square Garden when the lights went out at the beginning of the JLo concert on July 13th, but I was only one of a few, who was interviewed by the local news about their blackout experience. 😁

I am yet to see the clip of my 10-second interview but a few people reached out to me and told me they saw it. My immediate question to each person was, “Did I make a complete fool of myself?” After all, I did have a couple of drinks earlier that night, but the general consensus was that I sounded “intelligent” and most importantly I looked “great”. πŸ˜‰

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Moments before the lights went out at the JLo Concert – July 13, 2019 – #nycblackout2019

My Summer of yes has also brought with it some physical changes – not major changes but subtle changes – like when my hairstylist of the past 7 years suggested I try a different look this Summer. I hesitated at first but then reminded myself that change is good and told her to go for it.

When she first spun me around in her chair, after creating my new hairstyle, I liked the look but all the confidence I had leaving the salon was sucked out of me when I walked through my front door and my husband took one look at me and exclaimed, “Oh no…What did you do?”

“Trying a different look. Do you like it?”

“Not really!” was the honest reply.

So funny how the opinions of others, that we value, can have us doubting ourselves. I kept my “new do” for only 2 weeks, even though I had planned to rock it for the remainder of the Summer. Truth is, my husband is a simple man, who pretty much likes everything about me, nothing that I do really bothers him, but he truly wasn’t feeling my new look so I got rid of it much quicker than I had planned to and went back to the tried and true and that made him a happy man.

Perhaps the best experience of Summer 2019, was watching my former paralegal turned dear friend, Kerese, give birth to her first child. When I arrived at the hospital she was already in labor. Kerese had asked me beforehand to photograph the experience, maybe even make a video and I said, “Yes, of course!” I assured her that if hospital personnel would allow me into the delivery room it was a done deal. Well, it must have been my lucky day since no questions were asked when I waltzed into the delivery room, camera in hand ready to document the birth of my God-daughter.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the trauma of it all. I had never seen anyone give birth in my entire life, and despite having given birth myself, it’s a totally different experience when you’re on the other side watching it unfold with every breathless push by the Mom in labor. Whoa!!!!

It was brutal! I was in actual tears when she started crowning. It wasn’t an easy delivery, because my friend was too tired to push after a while, but she did it though. It took longer than anticipated but she gave everything she got and through lots of tears, screaming and scratching at her husband’s arms, my friend gave birth to her precious baby girl, Alexandria. It was an amazing, traumatic, breathtaking, bloody, magnificent, stomach-churning experience, all rolled into one, and I am still blown away by the miracle of it all.

There you have it, folks, I didn’t abandon my blog, I was too busy “doing”, “being” and generally just “living”. My unintentional hiatus brought with it a myriad of stories that I look forward to sharing even more of in future blog posts.

Thanks for sticking around and waiting for me to come back, and an even bigger thank you for reading. If you’ve enjoyed this post, don’t be shy, go ahead and hit the “like” button and leave a comment below.

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The Weekend That Was!

Last weekend my husband and I flew out to Salt Lake City, Utah for our friends’ wedding. Initially, I really didn’t think there’d be much to see or do in Utah since I am one of those New Yorkers, who feel like NYC is the epicenter of the World, so I really wasn’t expecting much but farmland and wide, open spaces in Utah, but we were in for a big surprise.

Our first observation after we collected our rental car and drove to our hotel was that it was a Thursday afternoon and there was zero traffic on the highways, like none. Where was everyone in the middle of the day? At work, perhaps. New Yorkers work too but there is always unjustified traffic to fight and curse at on any given day or night in NYC. Always! We were pleasantly surprised by the lack of traffic in Salt Lake City, we arrived on Thursday and left on Monday, drove everywhere, and not once did we encounter any traffic; and get this? We even visited downtown, Salt Lake City, twice, and both times we effortlessly found parking.

As we drove to our hotel we were struck by the gorgeous mountains that served as the backdrop to the city. We observed “white stuff” on the peak of the mountains and we wondered could that possibly be snow? I mean it is the end of June, the first official day of Summer was upon us that couldn’t possibly be snow; but sure enough, it was.

A few days later we had the opportunity to take a drive up one of those mountains and experience the beauty of Summer snow-capped mountains live and in living color. Oh, what a sight that was! Absolutely picturesque!

Bold Mountain, Utah – Both these pictures were taken on June 22, 2019.

Utah is apparently known for its snow. I later read that Utah has the best snow on Earth because it has the perfect balance of wetness and fluffiness. Who knew?! I also learned that Utah gets an average of 18 snowstorms per year, averaging 551 inches, thus it takes forever and a day for the snow to melt from the peak of the mountains, hence the beautiful snow-capped mountains in June, which may very well last all the way into July. It was indeed a sight to behold!

The only thing I knew about Utah, prior to my visit, was that they were the home of the religious sect called the Mormons and that some (not all) Mormons practiced polygamy, which I find intriguing.

We did a bit of sightseeing tour of the Mormon Temple, which was pretty impressive. The architecture of the Temple was intricate and stunning. The erection of the Salt Lake City Temple began in 1846 and took 40 years to complete. I couldn’t help thinking that these masons and builders were way ahead of their time in the construction of such an architectural masterpiece. The pictures below do not do justice to the beauty of the Temple.

On the Temple property, there were also bold, elaborate sculptures that depicted the story of Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith, the founder, and creator of the Mormon Church, and who it has been said, was anointed by the Apostles Peter, James, and John to carry on the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Mormons, or members of the Church of Latter Day Saints, as they preferred to be called these days are a friendly bunch, who will eagerly give you a tour of their Temple while providing a synopsis of the teachings of their doctrines. I was even gifted with a copy of The Book of Mormon, which I actually plan to read someday.

Greg, my husband, and I quickly learned that when in Utah, one must hike. Utah is known for its’ parks, canyons and its’ epic mountainous trails so when we were invited on a hike, which we were told comprised of an “easy trail” we jumped at the opportunity.

Oh my gosh! The trail was not an “easy” one, it consisted of nothing but uphill climbs, and as fit as I think I am, especially since I have been working out consistently all my life, I quickly realized, only 10 minutes into the hike, that no amount of time spent in the gym could have prepared me for this real mountain hike. I was breathless and damn near dying just a fraction of a mile in.

Since the trail had been described as “easy”, I was expecting some flat paths coupled with climbs, not just uphill, treacherous climbs. I am not ashamed to admit that I quit the 4.8 miles, 4,141 feet ascent to the peak of the mountain, after only going a mile up. As the air got thinner, I found myself out of breath and petrified of falling and hitting my head on one of the rocks. I shamelessly threw in the gauntlet and told my husband to continue without me, and while I waited for him to return, I surveyed the beauty around me, took out my phone and took endless pictures of the Bell Canyon Trail, especially since I would never see this place again, because I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will never embark on an uphill mountain hike ever again in this lifetime.

The lawyer in me wanted to visit the Courthouses downtown, Salt Lake City in order to observe the daily proceedings and to get a sense of the type of cases being heard, but my husband wasn’t having it. He told me in no uncertain terms he wasn’t at all interested in “that stuff” so I had to settle for a visit to the Capitol Building instead, where the legislators and lawmakers conducted their business. We didn’t get to go inside, which of course I wanted to do, but our time was limited, so we settled for a tour of the grounds and some snapshots instead.

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On our second night in Utah, we went to a party on the Park City hip strip. We were late and as we parked the rental, as such we didn’t properly observe the parking instructions because we were too busy trying to get inside and rejoicing at how close a parking spot we found to the party’s venue.

At the end of the party, we returned to our car to find a parking ticket. We hadn’t realized that we should have walked to the end of the block and feed the meter. As we contemplated the expense of the parking ticket, especially since we were used to the astronomical parking violation fines of good ole New York City, we realized that we were being let off with a “warning”. The great city of Park City, Utah, decided not to charge us for our violation but instead waived the fine with a notice that read “Don’t worry this one is on us”. Incredible!!!! Can you believe it?! I think it was that moment that we fell in love with Utah!

Our mini vacay to Utah was one of the best getaways we’ve had. We enjoyed the warmth and friendliness of the people, the overall beauty of the State and how very clean the place was. It was hard to find a stray piece of paper on the ground anywhere.

It was interesting and fun learning the facts and history of Utah, enlighting myself about what made them special and even finding out that Butch Cassidy is a real person from Utah. Did you know that? I didn’t!

Who remembers the classic Paul Newman movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? I thought it was just a fictional portrayal of outlaws and bank robberies. It took visiting Utah to learn that Butch Cassidy was a real-life person born and bred in the great state of Utah, and may even arguably be the most famous Utahn to date. Then again everyone knows of Marie and Donny Osmond, and apparently, they are from Utah too, I didn’t know that. Did you?

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A 45 Year Marriage

Since it is Mother’s Day on my side of the World the plan was to blog about my mother and all the lessons she has taught me, but then something felt uneasy and weird about the day. My heart felt heavy and I attributed that to all the rain we are having today in New York City but then I went into my Google calendar to add an event and I realized that today is May 12th…May 12th!!!! My father died on May 12, 2015!

So that’s what it is! The heaviness in my heart was from that undeniable feeling of loss, I sometimes don’t even recognize. It’s weird, isn’t it? I know the anniversary of Daddy’s death was coming up and I had planned to honor him by writing about him in one of my blog posts on the actual anniversary of his death but I didn’t realize that this year the anniversary of his passing would coincide with Mother’s Day.

It doesn’t seem fair to write about my Mom on the anniversary of the day I lost the most formidable man I have ever known and it doesn’t seem fair to dedicate my blog post to my Dad on Mother’s Day. I could just cop out and not write at all since I am not feeling my best and let the sadness take over my day but I am way overdue a blog post so I have decided to write about them, both of them, and their marriage, instead.

I was one of the lucky ones, it wasn’t until I was in elementary school that I realized that not every household had a mother and a father. I had taken it for granted that all my peers were being raised by the people who made them but that wasn’t always the case. This fact made me appreciate my parents’ union more and more and when I became a full-blown adult going through my divorce I realized what it must have taken to stay married for the 45 years my parents were. They were lucky enough to be able to live their vows and did not part ways until the day my father transitioned into another World.

He had kissed her that morning, she said. He had kissed her on the morning of May 12, 2015, for the very last time. It was almost as if he knew he was leaving her forever on that day. My father had been really sick for the past few months and had become bed-ridden since February of that year when the Cancer had ravished his body so brutally his legs could no longer carry him and he was confined to a wheelchair.

My mother took care of my father like she always had during their 45-year union during those last few months of Daddy’s life, except, taking care of him in those last months was very different and more demanding than all the years put together because now she had to bathe him and sometimes even feed him and care for him in a way she had never done before. As she fed him breakfast that morning he motioned for her to come closer to him. When she did, he kissed her, he planted his lips squarely on hers, something he hadn’t done in weeks, maybe even months.

In retrospect, I am almost certain that that was his way of saying goodbye without alarming her. A way of saying good-bye, without letting her know that those were his final hours. My father was that kind of man. He was that old-fashioned kind of guy that would bear the brunt of pain, suffering, and difficulties by himself without unloading on anyone, especially his wife. In his eyes, his number one responsibility in life was to take care of his wife and his family despite whatever he was going through no matter how difficult the circumstances, without complaint; and take care of us, he did

Growing up we were never in want for anything, anything at all. My father was an excellent provider. The irony is that when they first got married my mother made more money than my father. She has often told me the story of how she had to apply for the loan on their first house because she had a nice, stable job as a civil servant with the Jamaican government and my father was merely a soldier in the Jamaican army. He was not making much money back then and would never be able to get a loan, but my Mom stepped up to the plate and did what she had to do to secure their mortgage.

That may have been the only time in their marriage that my mother had to step up financially because my father, who was a visionary, left the army a couple of years into their marriage, and with his keen sense of business and leadership qualities built a company from the ground up which had over a 100 employees on the day he died. He was a shrewd businessman, who knew how to take risks and turn over a dollar. He was driven, disciplined and determined and I admired that about him so much.

Isn’t that what marriage is about though? The willingness to step up and help your partner for the betterment of the union as a whole. My parents’ marriage wasn’t easy; I witnessed first hand a lot of compromises and sacrifices. It wasn’t easy but it worked and somewhere along the way they learned the art of compromise and didn’t view letting go and letting the other person “win” as one individual getting their way over the other.

One of the many things I admired about them was their ability to listen to each other – not just hear the other person but to listen. No doubt, my father was the head of the household but he listened to his wife. No important decision was made without her, even though he was the head. He was in charge but not above “taking counsel” from his wife. They complemented each other because they never competed with each other, they each had their individual role to play, which they did very well and happily too.

On May 12, 2015, a few hours after my father kissed my mother for the last time he took his last breath. It was his goodbye. He let himself go after she had left their bedroom. In those last days, she was with him all the time but not even an hour after she left the room at approximately 1:05 pm he let himself go. He took his last breath, knowing she wasn’t there, because in his own way he might have thought it best not to alarm her or not to let go in front of her and make an already sad situation even sadder.

Happy Mothers’ Day to all the Moms out there, but especially to my Mom, who gave so much to her children and her husband. And to Daddy, the reality of your death has a way of striking at the most inopportune times, I still think it’s crazy how your larger than life persona was reduced to just a shadow of who you really are in the end. I will always remember you though as the strong, fierce, force to be reckoned with that you actually were. A man who loved his family, his wife and his children, more than anything else. A pillar in his community, a tower of sheer strength and determination. A real family man.

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You’re Getting Fat!

“Babe, your thighs are looking a little chunky there in my boxers.”

I was startled out of my daydreaming. That was the sound of my husband’s voice but clearly, I wasn’t hearing the words spoken accurately. Did my husband just tell me I am getting fat?

I have a habit of wearing his boxers around the house and as I waddled up the stairs to our bedroom those were the words I heard coming out of his mouth. He was behind me.

“Did you just call me fat?” I said challengingly.

“Your thighs didn’t use to look like that in my boxers.”

“Like what?” I said threateningly, as I spun around to look directly at him.

“So big.” He said matter of factly. “Did you gain some weight?”

I was horrified! My husband did just call me fat.

I tried to answer but I stumbled over my words because this was a completely new one in our marriage. My sweet, dear husband, who, on my worst days always has something nice to say to me about my weight was now telling me I was fat. How many times have I squeezed into a dress that was obviously too tight and asked him if I looked fat and he always told me I looked “great”. I could feel and even look like a bloated pig and my darling husband always tells me I look great, he has always maintained that I am not fat yet here he was staring defiantly at my thunder thighs while asking if I had gained weight.

I was so hurt. I felt the tears forming in the corner of my eyes. Don’t blink, Racquel, don’t blink. I felt defeated. I was so hurt I couldn’t even get mad. Truth be told I had packed on the pounds, quite a bit of it too.
I sighed and tried hard not to let my husband see how much his innocent words had affected me, “Yeah, I think I gained a little.”
“How much?” He asked. Oh my Gawd, why won’t he stop talking???!!!
“I’m not sure.” I lied.
Of course, I knew how much weight I had gained. I weigh myself at least twice a week. I have been doing so for years. I had noticed the numbers steadily climbing for quite some time now but I was in denial. At first, I fooled myself into thinking it was muscle gain, after all, I lifted weights regularly in the gym; then my clothes started getting super snug and I explained that away since clothes generally shrink after a while when you wash and or dry clean them so, of course, that’s the reason my clothes were now tight. I was in major denial.😟
A few days later, hubby and I were getting dressed to attend our annual Christmas Ball and the zipper on my gown would not go all the way up.
WTF??!!!
Luckily, my Mom was visiting for the Holidays and was able to do some kind of trick with the zipper allowing me to still wear the gown but boy was I uncomfortable all night. I looked gorgeous in the dress, take a look at The Good, The Bad & The Downright Ugly but I didn’t feel gorgeous at all. When you stop feeling gorgeous that’s when you know it’s time for a change.

Weight Watchers

As clichΓ© as it sounds, I decided that I would embark on a new, healthier me for the New Year. I had some success on Weight Watchers back in 2010 so a few days after the Christmas Ball, while examing the increase in cellulite on my thighs, as my husband’s words replayed on repeat in my head, I joined WW again.

I had heard about the Keto diet, which seems to be all the rage these days so I did some research on it but I wasn’t interested in trying anything which forced me to eliminate entire food groups. I needed something sustainable, a program that I could possibly keep doing for the rest of my life, as such I joined WW on December 31, 2018, and I am happy to report that it’s been 3.5 months and I am still sticking to the program.

My favorite thing about WW is that you can eat pretty much anything, no foods are forbidden, as long as you don’t go over your allotted caloric intake, or as Weight Watchers calls it your “points”. Mind you, those points go extremely fast.

When I first joined WW my daily allotted points would be all gone by lunchtime. I would freak out because it would literally be midday and I would have consumed all my daily calories. This frequent occurrence forced me to turn to the zero points food in order to sustain me throughout the rest of the day.

WW has named quite a number of foods such as grilled chicken breast, vegetables, and fruits zero points food. You’re permitted to eat as much of these foods as you want and not use any of your daily points. These zero points foods have saved me many times but it had gotten to the point where if I ate one more grilled chicken salad (without dressing) for dinner I was going to keel over and die. 😁

I hate boring food, and I especially detest vegetables. I am not much of a broccoli, eggplant, kale kind of person. I am a carnivore – a kind of meat and potatoes kind of gal so this is where I had to learn portion control. I had to exercise discipline and cut my eyes past that 10-ounce ribeye and instead whet my appetite with a more reasonable portion. Man, that was/is hard.

Portion control is the most difficult part of the program for me. I still struggle with eating just a cup of chips instead of ripping open a bag of Lays Wavy while reading and just popping a few pieces in my mouth every few minutes until the entire bag is gone.

I have developed some healthy habits on the program though, like juicing. Since I don’t like eating my vegetables (I swear I sound like a 4-year-old πŸ˜ƒ) I had to learn to juice them and mix them with fruits in order to make it more palatable. The Nutri Bullet which I have had sitting in my kitchen cabinet for years has proven to be a godsend.

Exercise

Another great thing about Weight Watchers is that you get to eat your activity points. The more you exercise the more you get to eat. Each and every activity you can think of, even something as simple as walking the dog, is outlined in the WW app and has points value attached to it. Therefore, the longer I stay on the elliptical, the more points I get back so that I can devour that 10-ounce ribeye. πŸ˜‰

I challenge myself daily to see how much activity points I can attain just so I can eat them later that day. If I want to have that martini or glass of wine then I have to stay on that treadmill or in the weight room or do an extra challenging class so I can earn that reward, this forces me to workout at least 5 days a week. Thankfully, I actually like working out and enjoy (yes, I said enjoy) going to the gym.

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It’s been 3.5 months and as of this morning, I’m officially down 21.2 pounds. The first 10 pounds seem to come off steadily, then I struggled to get down to a 15-pound loss, and I can’t even begin to tell you how difficult it was to reach 20. It seemed as if each and every time I got down to a 20 lb loss, that I’d wake up the next morning and gain back a pound or two sometimes even three. It’s a nightmare! I’m still not even comfortable announcing the 20+ lbs weight loss because it has been a struggle to maintain and sometimes it feels as if I have plateaued.

Plateaued or not, I am not about to give up because the non-scale victories blow my mind, like the fact that I can now fit in clothes I haven’t worn in years, that my jeans no longer pinch my inner thighs, that I can actually see a reduction in my cellulite (even though they aren’t all gone), that I have lost inches off of my waist (my girlfriend told me recently that my waist looked “snatched”), that I feel stronger, that my skin is glowing, that I can now see my collar-bone and my husband, the one who started all of this, has remarked that I shouldn’t “lose too much weight” because he doesn’t “like skinny girls”. πŸ˜‰