Month of Gratitude: Democracy to Online Classes

So I'm more of a once a month blogger. There I said it. I've missed a week or so of posting my month of gratefulness items. Determined to complete my goal of posting, I will do a condensed catch-up version from the 4th of November until the 15th, letters D through O. This is gonna be a long one, so I'm grateful that you're taking the time to read this far. For those of you just getting to know me, this is a great way to see my many layers! Let's go!

You can find my other posts with the hashtag #MonthOfGratefulness

D is for democracy. We recently had our mid-term elections and I had the pleasure of being a precinct book inspector with my mom at our precinct here in Florida. While that day didn't turn out the way I would've liked and the officials that won were not my first choice, the process of democracy is one that I am incredibly grateful for. Everyone is not so fortunate. While its been a frustrating process because with every form of leadership and power there is always the opportunity for corruption and greed; and for the people who need help the most are overlooked - but the most beautiful thing of democracy is that you have the power to use your voice!

There's a choice you make to either vote or not vote. I have a legacy of people in my family that marched, fought and died for me to able to exercise my right and privilege to vote. I'm a firm believer in if you don't vote you don't have a right to complain about things being the way they are. The other thing about democracy is that it doesn't just start with or end with the voting process. Even if you're elected officials aren't who you want them to be, you have the opportunity to develop a relationship with them and let them know your issues and causes that you are concerned about. If they seem opposed in helping, take the time to educate them on why they should see your side. You have the power of influence and I will be blogging on that more later. I am grateful that even when I'm not confident in my ability to influence, I live in a country that allows me to use it anyway. 

E is for espresso!!! I don't even know where to begin... First, I'm so American, so I've only had the real cup of espresso once and I thought I was licking the bottom of a coffee pot. It was strong!! Needless to say, I only had two sips. So, I came across a gas station that carries these little cups that look like creamer, but it's espresso shots! I grab a handful from time to time and drop one of those bad boys in a cup of Maxwell house and I'm in heaven!! I just love coffee. It's weird because this love has only been a two and a half year thing. My husband got a keurig and I was amazed at how wonderful coffee smelled and that creamer came in all sorts of flavors that one thing led to another...

F is for friends. I have a small circle of friends and I'm very careful who I actually call a friend. I am friendly to everyone, but only a few get to actually say that they are my true blue friend. I am grateful for them because some recognize when I'm pulling into my #INFJ shell a little too tight, and they lovingly find what I need to come out of it while giving me my space   My true friends don't always know what I need or how they can help, but they ask. And they don't take it personally if I don't answer. My friends understand that I will pray for you one minute and be ready to rip one ones throat out for you the next. They know I can laugh one second and be 400 degrees angry the next, and it usually has nothing to do with them. And they give me space. I love my friends and I love my space. Those that know the balance of that and can still love me, are my true blue friends and I'm grateful for that. 

G is for Geneva. Yes, as in Switzerland. There's not a lot to the city - watches, the Alps, chocolate, and a lake. That's if you're a tourist. But for a traveler that enjoys the beauty of people, the richness of history and the enchantment of culture, Geneva is a heavenly place. I recently got to experience her beauty on my 32nd birthday. I was working, but my colleagues surprised me with a cake while we had our dinner on Lake Geneva. Hands down, the most beautiful birthday ever. 

H is for Habitat for Humanity. My husband and I recently were blessed to complete their homeowner program and on July 11, 2014, we officially signed the papers and moved into new, safe and affordable home. Through HFH, I made some amazing friends, gained a circle of influence from women who run things in my county and built my own house!! There is no other feeling than being able to put the frame up on your own home, touch the walls and know that hands and hearts that sacrificed their time to help put a roof over your head. Our last year in the program was an exceptionally difficult one and without Habitat, I know that we'd either be homeless right now or be in a huge amount of debt. God blessed us to be able to qualify, meet all the requirements, make our down payment and fall in love with our community one nail at a time! Now, Pinterest and Michael's has become my friend!

I is for ice. Yes, I'm serious. I have an affinity for fountain beverages. Not healthy, but we're not going to discuss that right now. I prefer my fountain beverages to be in a tumbler or styrofoam cup (not Eco-friendly 24/7 either, but...). This preference is all in my head but something about hearing my ice in my drink makes it taste better. I think it's because I was born in Arizona and ice just doesn't last in a cup there. I used to chew ice but my teeth have become too sensitive now. I don't know about other places, but hospital ice is the business too. I think it's because they don't use hard water. Sonic restaurant comes into a close second. The weirdest part is, the colder it is outside, the more I want a big cup of whatever with ice in it...and I hate being cold.  I think I'm related to Olaf from Frozen.

J is for jeans. Like... All kinds of jeans. I just love them. No matter what trend is in style, they just make a statement. 

When worn for your body type. 

Flare jeans were my go-to in middle and high school. I see that acid wash jeans are making a comeback from my childhood, including the rips and holes. Not sure how I feel about it because,,, you know, body type. And give a good dark wash jean jacket to accessorize with a scarf and dress... #OOTD winning!!

K is for Kleenex. I should invest in some stock in the company that makes it. I recently found it wise to watch The Best Man Holiday finally since I missed it when it was in theaters and was told I'd probably cry. No spoilers for those that haven't seen it, but not only did I cry, I snort-slobbed into a ball of emotions that were already heightened because I had chose to also watch The Fault in our Stars prior to. 
 So yeah... All the feels that ever felt like feeling worse than they felt about feeling is in this movie. 

L is for lipstick. I've always believed that no matter how unpretty you feel, sometimes a little color on the lips is all you need to brighten your day, or at least make you smile when you look in the mirror. I've recently become more interested in various shades because of some posts I saw by my beautiful friends on Facebook. The #NoBareLips30 was started by Keiko Kaveri and after seeing all her posts on her Instagram, I didn't want to be left out...then the universe saw my attempt to match shades to my skin tone there are now 2 ULTA stores in my county!!!
So this girl is stocking up so I'll be ready for next year's challenge. I don't do this for vanity by any means, but there are such stupid unspoken rules of what Black women can and cannot do/wear/say/feel/love, etc. that this challenge just speaks to the barrier of LOVE YOU, DO YOU. And we can see that mainstream Hollywood is catching on now that Shonda Rhimes is dominating primetime television and knocking down misconceptions of Black women AND the beautiful Lupita Nyong'o is representing in all shades of awesome! I digress...

M is for mammograms. We have just come out of Breast Cancer Awareness month. I received an email reminder to wish a friend happy birthday

Barbie, as she was affectionately called, died May 2009 from breast cancer. She had the aggressive HER-2 gene and her battle was incredibly rough. But she never complained, never gave up. She left behind two beautiful sons. As a woman living with HIV, I am always concerned about comorbidities, specifically ones that impact women. Breast cancer is something I've asked to be screened for even though I have no signs and I'm "too young" as I've been told by physicians. Trust me, I'm not looking for cancer. But I want to know what is going on at all times, so I have a fighting chance. To all the women (and men) that have been impacted by breast cancer, to those that have lost loved ones, to those that are fighting on even now...I know that your life is more than a pink ribbon. I know that your fight goes on even after the ribbons unravel and the yogurt cups expire. I pray for you all daily, I pray for us all that we will find a cure for cancer. 

N is for nappy hair. I decided to cut my hair off right after my 30th birthday, six months into my marriage, all for the sake of saving money and saving my child's self-esteem. Prior to my wedding, I got my first ever sew-in because I was going to be traveling a bit afterwards and knew I wouldn't have the funds to keep up with my relaxer touch-up appointments like I wanted. Three months after the wedding, I removed the sew-in, washed, and flat-ironed my hair. I was not impressed but I fought with it. My daughter came inside from playing with the neighbors one day and begged me to let her go swimming. I had just done her hair. For moms with little girls that rock ethnic hair, you KNOW the struggle of once it gets wet, it's over. I refused to let her go because the kids played rough and I knew there would be no saving her 'do. She sulked away, mumbling, "I wish I were White, then I could swim everyday." This statement didn't surprise me, but it broke my heart because at the exact same age, for a very similar reason, I thought the same thing. I pulled her into her room and sat her down. I told her she was beautiful. I told her Mommy's hair is just like yours. I told her God created her and He makes no mistakes. She gave me the blank stare. That's when I knew all this talk meant nothing. I had to up the ante. My husband unknowingly fueled the fire for me to feel bold enough to make the statement I made to my daughter when he complimented my hair pre-blow dry. He was like, "I like the curly thing you've got going". He sincerely thought I was wearing my hair like that on purpose. I reflected on that then told my daughter, "I'll prove it to you. I will cut off my hair and let it grow back from scratch. You'll see." And I did. And I was terrified. Then, I fell in love and I will never, ever, ever go back to chemicals and have yet to touch heat to my hair. When my baby saw me in my natural state, I saw the societal blinders of misconstrued acceptance fall off. She loves herself, her best friend rocks natural hair and my little girl feels pretty. The struggle to maintain a style though...that's another blog, another day.

O is for online classes. I'm the Queen of Procrastination-dale. I live there and sometimes I reign over battles between waiting because I'm scared, or waiting because the timing just ain't right. This ties into my #INFJ-ness again. So, online classes help me in that. It prevents me from the guilt I feel when I arrive to class late...because I will. It helps me make my own hours to do my work so I'm not constrained to drive to class, and forced to my work in one sitting. I'm grateful for not being forced into face-to-face interactions when I do that on a regular basis with my work and just need a break sometimes. Online classes are the best. I get to wear what I want, drink and eat during class, play Candy Crush during a presentation, hit pause during said presentation because I have to go check the mail or pick baby girl up from the bus stop. The #YASSSness of online classes just never ends. I'm just ready to be done though. Like for reals,  I have 30ish more credits I need before I graduate. Pray for me. 

So that's all that I have for now...tomorrow is the letter "P"...

Prayer, popcorn, pumpkin spice latte, pajamas, pretezels, pizza, pasta, porta potty' many "P"...

What are you thankful for?