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Marriage In The Black Community

I was scrolling through my phone and paused for a moment when I saw a beautiful picture of my parents. For their last wedding anniversary, I organized a photo shoot with a local photographer. The essence of these photos highlighted a lifetime of love, but more so, a lifetime of challenges, trials, victories, failures, argument, prayer, laughter, compassion, children, and grandchildren. A lifetime of marriage!

Research conducted at Yale University states that 42% of Black women will marry,  58% of black women will not wed. An astonishing amount of black women will never experience the beauty of marriage. I was so prepared to make a case for myself and female brown and black girls. The truth is, we have heard this message so loud and clear that it leaves us at times helpless in our pursuits of love and marriage.

The notion that we are not worthy of love. With the constant reminder that black men are incarcerated at higher rates than white. The facts on socioeconomic status and education. We’ve heard it many times. I wanted to reiterate these points and share that I was no longer apart of the statistics. But, I uncovered greater insight and an even more powerful message to share.

Through researching I’ve learned that black women do marry, that educated black women don’t always have it harder, that black men earn enough to care for a family and that a black man will marry me. I referenced this article posted on Thoughtco. An insightful article written by Nadra Kareem Nittle entitled Black Marriages: Four Myths Busted by Facts. The author explores statistics and shares a different perspective on black marriages. A healthy, hopeful perspective.

I really appreciated this article, as it shifted my perspective on this issue. We needed this article!

I join with ThoughtCo. to emphasize and empower women, especially black women, to not give up on love. Regardless of age, education, and money, know that whatever you desire can be achieved. Know that love will find you in the most unexpected places. Know that the statistics exist, but you are not the statistics. Also, know that you can choose a life without marriage and still be fulfilled.

Lets us share these statistics instead;

“88% of black men are married to black women.”

“Among Black women, 70% of college graduates are married by 40, whereas only about 60 percent of Black high school graduates are married by that age,” Tara Parker-Pope of the New York Times reported.

ThoughtCo.

“For heterosexual Black women in search of marriage, however, the forecast is not nearly as gloomy as has been reported.”

Thoughtco.

Sincerely,

A Black Woman

The walk isn’t always easy, but the walk is worth it, if we do it together!

Additional Articles to Read

  1. The Root
  2. New York Times

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The World of Love

There is clearly commercialization of Valentine’s Day and LOVE every 14th of February. Like clockwork, the TV advertisements become loaded with Valentine’s Day ideas. Hallmark cards, chocolate, roses, a gamut of gift ideas start to roll out.

I recall being younger and telling my teenage friends that I do not believe in Valentine’s day. My reasoning was sound- Why does someone who loves you need one day only to show their love?

I required unconditional love. A steadfast, unshaken love. A love that requires no big gestures, but a small constant reminder we were in this together. That even though times get rough, even though we disagree, we are humble enough to return to each other and seek forgiveness and togetherness. So, for me, Valentine’s day is still not important.

I think too often, we focus on what material gifts we can give to each other. We feel pressured to perform and to out-shine the next person, especially in this age of social media. But, what good is a gift on the 14th, if the day after, you treat me awful. One day is not enough.

Now, please do not get me wrong I am not saying not to gift your partner. I am saying, I do not need a grand gesture for one day to prove someone loves me.

For many couples, Valentine’s day is an opportunity to prioritize their relationship, and I encourage you to do so. If you are single, consider a virtual Galentines. Whatever way you decide to celebrate, I hope you have a fantastic time.

The world has made love into a catchphrase!

If Cupid could read this, would he be disappointed in me?

Heres, how I see it, celebrate the people you love daily. The small gestures, random acts of kindness, and your thoughtfulness will cultivate an ever-lasting relationship.

Do you celebrate Valentine’s day?

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The Religion of Love..

For God so love the world, He gave us His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life- John 3:16

From a young age, I learnt that the ultimate love, is the love shown by God. It was the act of sacrifice that reinforced the depth of His love. A forgiving, sacrificial, selfless love.

Yesterday, I wrote about the Science of Love. And previously, I discussed that I believe in both science and religion. One of the aspects of religion that I admire is the unconditional love of God. That someone so undeserving, as I am, can receive such pure and infinite love. God has a greater plan for my life and a greater purpose so He sacrificed His son’s life for mine.

To know there is a love that helps, heals, forgives, and nurture is so reassuring. This love is AGAPE Love. The greatest love of all.

Teach me to love like you, Oh Lord

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Love, Really?- The Science of Love

You’re walking through the grocery store aisle and walk past a handsome young man, immediately you are drawn to him. Your eyes interlock and BAM, you’re in love (HAHA).

That’s how quickly it happens. Well, my friends, there is much more to love than cross the eyes.

The idea of love has been sensationalized. Often we see Love as this explosive physical attraction and intimate connection we share with someone. As Valentine’s day is rolling by this weekend, we’ve become programmed to buying gifts, chocolate, and roses, but what if I told you to love is simply science. Let’s explore this together.

There is so much research on the science of falling in love. Truth be told, much of love is brain chemistry! Hear me out. I am not a cynic by any means, I love love, just like the next person, but my scientific brain, need some answers (smile).

Our brain is wired to allow us to love. There are three categories to romantic love; lust, attraction, and attachment. Each of these categories is facilitated by a different hormone (neurotransmitters).

Lust is associated with increased levels of sex hormones. For females, it’s an increase in estrogen, and for males, testosterone levels increase.

Attraction is generated by Dopamine, Serotonin, and Norepinephrine. Dopamine allows you to pursue reward. Sometimes we can become addicted to a surge of dopamine and “seeking reward”, leading to serial dating.

Attachment is facilitated by Oxytocin and Vasopressin. Oxytocin is also referred to as the “cuddle hormone”. Oxytocin plays an important role in bonding between a mother and baby.

Dopamine, produced by the hypothalamus, is a particularly well-publicized player in the brain’s reward pathway – it’s released when we do things that feel good to us. In this case, these things include spending time with loved ones and having sex. High levels of dopamine and a related hormone, norepinephrine, are released during attraction. These chemicals make us giddy, energetic, and euphoric, even leading to decreased appetite and insomnia – which means you actually can be so “in love” that you can’t eat and can’t sleep.

Harvard

There’s a deep, complex relationship between mood, attraction, love, and neurotransmitters. So, my friends, the next time you say I love you, remember, you learn it here first, that love is chemistry working on your behalf. Share it with a friend.

Below, you can find an awesome infographic on love.

nm-science-of-love-infographic
Northwestern University

How cool is our brains?

And to think, my parent thought I was still love sick!

Reference: Harvard Study

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Why are Some Minority Communities Skeptical of Therapy?

On average there are 132 suicides committed each day. This is the astonishing truth and startling statistics in the United States. However, this issue stretches past the United States and extends globally. The rate of suicide is highest in middle-aged white men, who account for about 70% of all suicide in the United States (2018). But certainly, this is a concern for many other communities and races.

As a minority woman and an immigrant, I am aware of numerous mental health struggles and the suicide rate of the people in my community. I fear that too often, we stay away, not receiving help when it is needed. I have found that there is a stigma in attending therapy, seeking counseling, and adhering to the prescription regimen in minority communities. I know of this through first-hand experiences where friends or family members are affected by mental health issues that often get swept under the rug.

Over the weekend, I listened to a conversation between my father and my aunt on the effectiveness of psychotherapy. Their viewpoints on therapy varied. However, this conversation highlighted a bigger issue at large; the shame associated with therapy and mental health. From my observation and personal experience, there seems to be a hesitancy in seeking out therapy and counseling in our community. This belief is further emphasized at a young age, where you are reminded that whatever happens at home, stays at home. 

As I age, explore different thoughts, read books, interact with different cultures and people, I’ve realized a serious struggle many people of color faced in coping with mental health. This is not to say that other communities aren’t affected as well. I am passionate about equality in healthcare and bridging the gap in health care disparities.

So how do we bridge the gap in mental health access in minority communities?

On a smaller scale, we need to address these issues at the home level. One of the realizations I’ve made this weekend is the need to break the family cycle. Moving forward, I am committed to raising children that have the opportunity to express how they are feeling and how other’s actions affect them. It is at the level of the home that we can begin to break generational obstacles and strong-hold.

Thinking globally, I believe social media is doing an excellent job of countering this problem. Platforms such as Clubhouse allows for interaction with licensed therapists, social workers, psychiatrist, and lifestyle coaches. Resource accessibility has been an issue for many years, however, new waves of resources are being developed. Friends and colleagues sharing their experiences on Instagram live and IGTV aid in spreading useful information to others. These small discussions will amount to great changes by creating a safe space for those coping with mental health.

Also, COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of Telehealth in bridging the gap to accessibility, whether routine medical care or mental health needs. Teletherapy is a great resource as well. If you are looking to speak to someone, try going to Psychology Today Teletherapy, and type in your zip code. A list of therapists will be provided.

I still believe there is so much more we can do to create safe environments for others to heal, grow, and live a fulfilling life. One of my long-term goals is to make health care accessible to minority and immigrant communities, not only for routine care but for a holistic approach to health. Encompassing therapy and lifestyle modification space to build stronger communities now and in the next generation.

Has therapy helped you in the past?

Comment below. Follow us on IG @JAARABLOG

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At the Intersection of Science and Religion-Pt. 2

It’s around 5 am, and I remembered a conversation I had with a friend about religion and healing.

A couple of weeks ago, I talked about religion vs. science. I shared that I believe healing comes from God. I received an email asking me to prove my belief. Here’s the thing, I am proof. The fact that I am alive is proof. Take it or leave. That’s the beauty of life- we get to make the choices in life on what we want to believe. No fussing or fighting.

Okay, back to my story. In late 2019, I had an awesome encounter with a patient. He was diagnosed with metastatic cancer to the spine. He recalled having back pain, which he ignored for months until it was unbearable. He presented to the hospital for care and his imaging showed lytic lesions to multiple vertebrae. His workup revealed prostate cancer as the primary site.

The thing that struck me was not his imaging or diagnosis, it was his outlook on life. I kid you not, I spent over an hour talking to this patient about life, spirituality, and healing.

He explained that he believes the body can heal itself. He practices meditation, mindfulness, acupuncture, and other aspects of “alternative” medicine. He highlighted some personal experiences he had in the past. He truly believed he could beat his diagnosis. His perspective on life was admirable, and well, encouraging.

See, that’s the thing about life, OUR MINDSET dictates our entire life. If you place a pessimistic view on your life, you will see things as such. If you put a positive perspective on an awful situation, you will find a source of strength.

So, after an hour of talking, I turned to walk away, and he asked that I sign his brace (TLSO). I did! It says “really awesome meeting you, best of luck”. Having exchanges such as these are scarce. Moments like these, with such an honest conversation, reveals our need to be understood.

I am not sure where he is today.

Maybe he is doing exceptional, or maybe he has passed away!

His words and our conversation will remain with me forever. This is my hope as well, that somewhere along my journey, I will inspire just one person, and in return be inspired by many.

Share your thoughts on healing? Do you believe in therapy as a tool to help with healing?

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Just Let Me Grieve

I lost my aunt this past week from COVID-19 complications. And, I am trying to explore the process of grieving. Asking myself questions like, is it ok to cry? Should I celebrate the life and legacy or mourn the lost? And even a bigger question- Why her?

There are some things we can never really prepare for in life. Even though it is apart of the cycle of life. Maybe, it’s the suddenness that comes with death, or perhaps we just want to hold on to the people we love for a bit longer.

Now, I’ve seen death face-to-face in a clinical setting. A patient that passes away after you’ve provided care is always heartbreaking. I sympathize with the family and cherish the interactions I had during the course of their care. However, quickly moving forward to lend a helping hand to another patient.

I recall one instance during clinical rotations, I was coupled up with a dying patient, and each day I was required to round on this patient. She lacked the ability to speak and was coming to the end of life. At that time during my training, I thought, how can this be helpful? Why am I not seeing a patient that I can learn about medicine, instead of a dying patient? Later, I realize this experience was one of the greatest lessons I’ve learnt.

Silence is Key. I have applied the idea of staying silent in many aspects of my life. It is during this time of quietness, I can reflect on my thoughts, hardships, joy, laughter and grief.

Too often, we focus on actively going through the process. Claiming each stage- denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. We count down the stages of grief, hoping that it will resolve our pain.

Let me tell you the truth, the loved ones we have lost will forever be missed. Years later, you will find yourself telling stories about their character and laughing at their jokes. Maybe, even cry tears of sadness. In those moments, I encourage you to stand still.

Do not allow the pressures from others to dictate how you grieve!

Take time to reflect on how you are feeling. When it becomes overwhelming, reach out to others for help. A great resource is speaking to a therapist once you are ready.

I encourage everyone to take the time they need to recover from their loss.

Just let me grieve.

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God Has Not Given You Fear….

The most crippling emotion I have ever experienced was FEAR. And somehow, FEAR always leads to anxiety. The relationship between these two emotions remains a struggle for many, myself included. I’ll tell you a story ..

I enjoyed watching movies, pre-COVID, I would frequent the cinema- watch a movie and grab some dinner. Quick and simple! But, I’ve always avoided scary movies. Partly because it’s too dark and partly because I hate the feeling of suspenseful music and its effects on my emotions. As I watch in suspense, I become fearful, closing my eyes and screaming- “RUN or Don’t do it, girl…” LOL.

So, yes, you will never find me in a cinema watching scary movies.

See, that’s the thing, fear is an irrational emotion that takes over and encompasses your entire being. Wherever fear is present, hopelessness and anxiety also reside.

Over the years, I have worked through many of my fears. The fear of public speaking, fear of failure, fear of not fitting in. But, it would be a lie to say fear doesn’t affect me today. I am doing public speaking, guest commentary, and mentorship, facing my biggest fears head-on!

What I have learned is that fear will only reside in you if you let it! And, I am no longer letting fear reside in me.

If you’ve read the bible, you may be familiar with 2 Tim 1:7-” God has not given you a spirit of fear but of power, of love and a sound mind.” This is a favorite text of mine, passed down to me from my father. Frequently, when faced with challenging circumstances, I will recite this verse.

In addition to this verse, I have developed five steps I have used to overcome fear.

5 Steps to Overcoming Fear

  1. Recognize Fear- the first step is to recognize- what emotion you are experiencing. Throughout the day, we go through so many emotions; happiness, sadness, joy and fear. To overcome fear, you must first identify it as such.
  2. Talk about it- whenever, I feel fearful Ill phone a friend and go through my thoughts. In speaking to them I can usual reasons that it is fear that is impeding
  3. Confront your fear- I used to question this step- Why would I want to do something I am fearful of, but it does work. Confronting your fear, in small portions eventual leads to overcoming those fear
  4. Realize you are not perfect- It is okay to make mistakes and to fall short of the “standard”.
  5. Applaud yourself when you accomplish something that makes me fearful

Now, I know these five steps require time and constant work, but like I always say “we are all a work in progress.”


Try it out and let me know how it goes.

DO YOU HAVE ANY FEARS? HOW CAN WE HELP YOU OVERCOME THOSE FEARS?

Follow us at IG- JAARABLOG

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31 Goals for My 31st Year of Life

Oh man, I remember feeling extremely anxious and overwhelmed by thoughts of turning 30 years old (more on this later!). Well, that age came and went – HAHAHA. My goals for each year have shifted as I re-evaluate myself, where I am in the present time, and my long-term plans. So, guys, I will celebrate my 31st birthday in five days and today I wanted to share 31 things I hope to accomplish at 31.

  1. Publish 150-200 blog posts (I love blogging and writing, thank you all so much for reading and commenting and liking)
  2. Have a wedding
  3. Go back to school
  4. Dog Sledding!!
  5. Complete 3 Adirondack High Peaks
  6. Invest in our dream home
  7. Organize a Donation Drive (more on this later)
  8. Travel to Guyana
  9. Read the bible more
  10. More exercise, less excuse
  11. Collaborate with other bloggers
  12. Offer mentorship to anyone considering Medical School, Physician Assistant Studies or Nursing
  13. Start a podcast
  14. Be Present!!!!!!
  15. Complete my COVID vaccination
  16. Networking
  17. Read 2 autobiographies
  18. Journal
  19. Visit St.Lucia
  20. Walk to work everyday!
  21. CONNECT WITH OTHERS ON IG- @JAARABLOG
  22. Interview my mentor
  23. Read The Alchemist!
  24. Dance more
  25. Listen to others less!
  26. Pray MORE
  27. Build a strong christian home with Segun
  28. Call instead of Text (This one is tough ha)
  29. Support small business and other Bloggers
  30. Relocate
  31. Enjoy being alive!

Theses are my goals for the next year.

Does anything on the list surprise you?

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At the Intersection of Science and Religion

Wow! Heavy thoughts all week. I have really spent the last week digesting some deeper questions I needed to explore. I started off by examining my purpose this year, spoke on the pandemic and its impact on healthcare workers and today I want to dissect the role of religion on health and wellness.

Is there a relationship between science and religion? Or is it mutually exclusive? Does God heal? Or is it science that does the healing?

Now, this is a topic I’ve explored many times in my head. I have had many debates with friends and family members. Some of my colleagues agree, and well others disagree. And that’s alright! The great thing about being alive today is that we can live in a world and disagree peacefully.

I am at a point in my life where I know the answer to these questions. Now, many may argue with me, some may disagree, but I truly believe that healing comes from God.

I know, I know. How can someone who works along with science, study medicine, take care of patients, believe that healing comes from God?

It’s simple! I have seen it. I have lived it. My testimony is enough evidence for me. The testimonies of my family are enough evidence for me.

Like someone telling you that you have 4 months to live, but here you are 1 year later, not only alive but thriving.

Please do not be fooled. I am aware of how important medicine is in treating illnesses. And how many change research has brought to the treatment and management of diseases along the course of history. I support the medical community, I am apart of the medical community, and proudly so!

I will tell you this; I believe in science, medicine, and research. Also in technology and healthy debates. But, I also believe God heals.

I am not forcing you to believe, not one bit. We each choose which tenants to live by; religious or not. The life I have lived is much different than yours.

Please share your opinions on this below. What do you think?

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Dear President-Elect…01/06/2021

Dr. President- Elect Joe Biden,

I longed to see changes around me. I listened to your speech yesterday and you stated “at their best, the words of a president can inspire. At their worst, the words of a president can incite.” Those words resonated. Maybe, it’s the fact that our life in America has been turned-upside-down and I crave something different. I look to you with hopeful eyes, but with concern and a discernible mind.

I want to believe that you can bring about change. I truly do. As our lives are shifted like the wind by the words of our politicians, we longed for togetherness like never before. The promises made, year after year, without much fulfillment have left me empty. The future of my unborn children needs hope. I find myself turning to the only one who can truly save me, God.

But, I still have faith in humanity. I do not care about Republicans vs. Democrats. I do not care whose fault it is! I just need it to change. We need a president for ALL. Most importantly, we need a president that unifies us. A president that hears the cry of both sides and renders help to the wounded.

Now, Mr. President- Elect Joe Biden, I do not sit around and dwell on politics. But, I know the tears and pain of our country because I am our country. I wondered where we went wrong? I considered that it started well before my time. I am afraid it will be here long after my time.

Sincerely,

-JAARA

Has anyone been able to sleep peacefully after the events of yesterday? Or are you wide awake in shock?

Share your thoughts below, how are you feeling?

Disclaimer: Photo credit to Quartz.com

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Pandemic Burnout- We are Tired! So Let’s Talk About it

Often I get emails inviting me to attend healthcare burnout conferences. These emails usually state common reasons for burnout in healthcare and at the very end, a few helpful tips to reduce burnout. Thank you!

But, who’s really keeping track of healthcare burnout? Rather, pandemic burnout?

Imagine you spent your entire life thinking about how much change you want in the world and how you can do your part. You graduate, find a job, and start working. You work 10-12 hours a day during the pandemic to provide service, but your biggest hindrance is your patients.

We are constantly bombarded with the need to attend to patients, answer questions, round, telemedicine visits, clinic, N95, goggles. We move quickly from one location in the hospital to another to deliver excellent care. We take pride in caring for our patients and have a sense of fulfillment whenever they recover. A sense of sadness when they pass away. But has anyone stopped and examined the impact the pandemic has on our healthcare team; nurses, doctors, NP, PA, residents, physical therapist, occupational therapists, respiratory therapy, Xray technicians, environmental service workers, and cafeteria staff?

I know this issue is a work in progress. But can we take a moment and highlight the struggles of healthcare workers across the world. We see the picture and watch the videos, yet there seems to be a lack of responsibility to healthcare workers during the pandemic.

Experience of frontline worker
Continued experience from frontline worker

The Agency of Healthcare Research and Quality has listed some of the key factors leading to burnout. Burnout can cause a shortage of healthcare accessibility for patients. Furthermore, burnout leads to the inattentiveness of physicians and other members of a healthcare team.

Now, couple the demands of your career and family life. The balancing of family responsibilities, deadlines, and charting. Add your children into the mix, and by the end of the night, you are depleted.

You wake up the next morning to do it all over again.

This is the cycle.

You can put on your TV, watch the news and listen to the pleas of healthcare workers locally and across the world asking for social distancing and wearing a mask. Simply seeking light at the end of the tunnel after a long and grueling day.

This was our 2020! We look at 2021 with lots of hope and bright eyes. However, the 1st of January does not erase the issues of 2020. It takes an active and concerted effort of ALL to bring about needed changes.

Frontline workers detailed experience after a busy day

Things we can do to help with Pandemic/ Healthcare burnout

  1. Check in on your healthcare friends. If they work at a hospital or clinic, they are under an unbelievable amount of stress
  2. As best, follow the guidelines outlined for COVID-19. Wear a mask and follow rules of social distancing
  3. Consider getting your COVID vaccine once it is available to you.
  4. Be patient – when you arrive for medical care- waiting rooms may be filled, providers are running behind, staff shortages are present. They are doing the best to care for all.

So do patients owe healthcare provider and staff anything?

My answer is a simple and resounding “yes!” – common support is the bare minimum.

This post is a dedication to my fellow healthcare workers, friends, and family. To my friends in Urgent Care, ER and ICU.

We truly love our patients and want the best for them. As tired as healthcare workers may be, there’s no other job we would rather do.

Helpful Resources:

  1. TheHappyMD
  2. AAFP Foundation
  3. American Medical Academy
Mask Up my friends. Show your support by wearing your mask.

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Intentional

Listen to me when I tell you my approach to this year is purpose-driven! If 2020, has done anything positive in my life, it has reinforced my need to be INTENTIONAL.

To act deliberate, calculated, conscious, intended, planned, preconceived, predetermined, meant, done on purpose!!!

I will work intentional

So many of my goals for this year is centered around career and home life. I desire to make blogging a permanent part of my life. This platform has given me the opportunity to reach so many others across the world. I am truly astonished by the reach of blogging. It is my hope to publish 2-3x a week on my blog and to build a community that shares ideas and encourages each other. In my home life, I will work to build a Christian household- I will speak positive words of affirmation to those around me, I will spend time in prayer, I will spread a little more love to my friends and family.

Looking forward to sharing my goals, triumphs, failures, career and home with you!

I will live intentional

No more getting by! No more sitting around thinking and not working. No more considering other’s opinions and feelings before my own. I will walk in the path I desire. I will assert my goals and dreams with fierceness.

BOLDNESS!!

I will be intentional in my prayers

In our usual fashion, we welcomed the new year in prayer and fasting. As far back as I can remember, I have spent NYE at church in prayer and fasting. For me, it sets the tone of the rest of my year. It is a time for communion with God. A time to reset. A time to forgive. A time to lay out my plans. A time to seek guidance. This has always been my norm. But, I wonder, how much more can I give? Instead of saying a prayer of I want”, I will approach my prayers in 2021 with purpose, using these words “I seek your guidance in my life and I KNOW you will lead me”. I will spend more time in thankfulness.

Prayer from Bible app. Will share weekly prayers on Saturday on JAARA. After a year like 2020, we can all use a little prayer

So there it is – My word for 2021 is INTENTIONAL!!

IG- JAARABLOG

What is yours?

Comment below

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I am not my Hair. Am I?

I recently read an article by Maya Allen on BYRDIE entitled ” 22 Corporate Women Share What Wearing their Natural Hair to Work Means” and I was captivated. The sheer title alone grabbed my attention. The experiences of these women felt similar to my own. Their stories were somehow also my story. 

BACKGROUND

As a young girl, I looked forward to hair days with my mother. On Sundays, she would wash and braid my hair for school on Monday. My excitement for Sundays was always sky-high. The fancier the hairstyles, the better I felt.  Hairstyles such as braids, ponytails, clips, bubbles, and ribbons were my normal as a child. 

Getting my hair done on Sunday would set the tone for my week. I felt majestic, beautiful, and like royalty.

SOMETIME AGO

Something interesting happened from childhood to professional women. There was a shift in my delight of getting my hair adorned.

I felt I needed to fit a mold.

For me, that meant straight and black.

Every hairstyle I wore to work was black.

Straight, and without curls.

Whenever I was prompted by my hairdresser to try a different style, I felt uncomfortable. I remember saying to her “NO BRAIDS AND NO COLOR!”

At my first job out from Grad school. My number one hairstyle- Alway black.

TODAY

My views have completely changed. The idea that professional hair is straight hair was a completely false narrative I had adopted. So this last year, I decided that I wanted to rock my natural hair in its fullness. Whenever I could not wear puffs, Bantu knots, or braid out, I decided to wear protective hairstyles that were more natural-appearing. After examining the disconnection between my hair and my professional appearance, I have found two points to be true:

  1. I realized that I wanted to be accepted by others, even if others could not understand my inner conflict.
    I became too concerned about corporate/professional America accepting my big, curly, and colorfully loud hair yet, I had not accepted it myself. I did not need their acceptance. I must first accept me.
  2. For any young girl reading this- know that you are PERFECT. Your kinks, color, coils, clips, dread, and braids are all apart of you. What sets you apart is your most valuable asset.
    • We can all do more to accept each other’s differences, complement each other’s beauty outside the workplace and within corporate America.

KNOW THIS:

Professional Hair is YOUR hair!

Professional Hair is YOUR style!

Professional Hair is YOUR color!

SO I got my hair braided today and added a little color

Referenced Article

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5 Last Minute Christmas and New Year’s Gift Ideas for my Fellow Procrastinators

  1. BOND TOUCH BRACELET
Courtesy of Amazon

If you are spending the Christmas holidays away from family this year, then you may be feeling like you are missing out on the intimacy of family togetherness. I saw the Bond Touch Bracelet on Amazon and immediately felt like I needed one. A better idea is to gift the bond bracelet to a best friend, spouse, parents, or someone you are separated from this Christmas. Show you miss them. 

Review and purchase this product HERE

2. KIDS AGAINST MATURITY

Courtesy of Amazon

My fondest memories as a child on Christmas Day came after dinner. After eating together, we played board games. In past years we played Monopoly, Scrabble, Dominoes, Family Feud, and Jenga.

Consider KIDS AGAINST MATURITY if you are looking for a board game to add to your family collection or gifting.This board game is unlike the ones I played as a child, but I am definitely considering adding it to my own collection.

Review and purchase HERE

3. EMBER MUG

Courtesy of Target

Cold weather is no stranger to us New Yorkers. After our last snowfall accumulation of 24″, we need something to keep us warm. Ember Mug is a perfect gift for the tea lover and coffee drinker amongst you.

Pour a hot cup of cocoa and sip away.

Check it out HERE or TARGET

4. STREAMING, MOVIES, TV SHOWS

Whether it is Netflix, HBO, or Hulu, a subscription for streaming services will make a great Christmas gift. Watching our favorite shows and series is just a click away.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

5. Exercise Equipment/ Gears

After the holiday season comes time for New Year’s resolution. Invest in the health of others by contributing to their fitness goals. You can support them- whether saving up for a new Peloton bike or considering the MIRROR Exercise, contributing funds toward exercise equipment or work-out gear is a great Christmas gift for many.

Photo by Anete Lusina on Pexels.com

Merry Christmas to All.

Comment below! You may add suggestions for other readers in the comment section.

Disclaimer: These are my personal suggestions for last minute Christmas gift. There are no affiliate sponsorship. The links provided are for reader’s accessibility only.

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A Letter from me to ME

Dear younger me,

There are so many things I want to tell you. As I sit and type this letter I am flooded with so many thoughts. Thoughts of hope, joy, laughter, family, and hardships. Life has its trials and at times you will feel defeated, but you have learned that defeat is never the end of your journey. So to my younger self, I leave with you, three points of inspiration.

Your childhood does not determine your adulthood

I can recall vividly the moment I realized I was not born into a wealthy family. I was eight years old when I looked around and noticed the differences between myself, my neighbors, classmates, and friends. The difference in dress, food, resources, and property. You will come across that one person, that always seems to have it all. But, do not heed to jealousy.

Hold fast! As you become older, the struggles of your childhood and lack of finances will become the driving force of you accomplishing your dreams. You have learned to live by the motto, “Hard work pays off.”

1994

To my younger self, know that you are in charge of your destiny. Use the skills of your childhood to create the adult life your desire. You are a work in progress still.

Enjoy your childhood. Don’t rush to grow older

Take your time. You have much more of life to live. Do not rush the process of growing up. Cherish the silly games with your brothers. Spend more time running around, playing with board games, jumping skipping ropes, doodling with chalk, playing cricket, and telling moonlight stories on the bridge.

As you get older, you will reminisce on these times with your siblings at every family get-together. You will spend hours laughing about some small thing that now fills the room with so much life. Something as simple as the time you fell down the stairs or the night your neighborhood friend got a spanking, and you waited up late at night with your brothers laughing in the living room.

To my younger self, slow down and savor these moments.

Find a strong support system. You will need it !

Over the last year, you have weathered many storms including family illnesses, the death of a loved one, mental health challenges, a pandemic, and the diagnosis of cancer of a close family member. Life can be so messy at times, and yet so beautiful. It is during these trying times you realized how truly blessed you are to have a great support system. Remember to appreciate the daily check-ins. When you felt discouraged and spent days crying, they rush over to be by your side to comfort you. When you felt like not praying, they prayed for you.

w/Mom
w/Dad

Here’s the surprise- Your parents will become your best friend as an adult.

DO not take them for granted.

So to my younger self- treat your family and friends with love. They will show up for you time and time again.

With love,

Your future self

P.S. You’ll meet your best-friend and love in the most unexpected way.

On my “About” page you would have read that I am from Guyana, South America. This small bit of information does not quite give much insight to childhood struggles, accomplishments and unfulfilled dreams.

Day 8- Poached eggs, tomatoes and spinach

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 Eggs
  • minced garlic
  • 1/2 medium tomato
  • half onion
  • salted butter
  • crushed red pepper flakes
  • spinach (5-6 leafs)
  • parsley

METHOD

  1. In a cast iron pot/ dutch oven, place 2 TBSP butter and allow to melt.
  2. Add minced garlic, onion, tomato (diced) into pot and let cook. Allow tomato and onion mixture to become soft.
  3. Sprinkle in salt, pepper for taste. Stirring occasionally to prevent burning.

4. Create wells for eggs. Crack 4 eggs into mixture.

5. Sprinkle crushed red pepper unto eggs (optional)

6. Cover with lid and leave to cook on medium heat for 5-8 minutes, or until eggs to your desired liking

7. Add leafs of spinach on top and cover to allow spinach to welt

8. When spinach is steamed. Sprinkle parsley for garnish and remove from stovetop

Finished product
Grab your plate and enjoy!

Key Points

  1. This is my favorite recipe thus far. Its easy and quite delicious. Also anyone in your household can eat together with this recipe!! For non-keto family members, add slice of toast or english muffin for a complete breakfast
  2. NET CARBs– Tomato (2g) spinach (0g), Eggs(0g)
  3. Consider adding cheese if desired, maybe feta or goat cheese

I encourage you to try this one!!.

Ill write up a Sunday review of my experience thus far!!

Day 7- Salmon Cakes

INGREDIENTS

  • Two 5 oz pouch of pink salmon (or cans, drained well)
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 jalapeno, finely chopped
  • 2 Mayo
  • 2 tbsp finely diced red onion
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp chili powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tbsp Olive oil
  • Chives/ Scallion

METHOD

  1. Combine all salmon, mayo, chilli powder, salt and pepper, dice onion, jalepeno, chives and all other ingredients
  2. Form patties (4-5 patties)
  3. Fry in olive oil until golden and crispy. About 4-5 minutes total cooking time.
Mixture
Fry evenly on both sides
Finished product

Key Points

  1. NET CARBs- 3-4 net carbs. If you need a binding product, you can add grind pork rinds (I do not eat pork products) or small amount of almond flour.
  2. Added a small salad for lunch
  3. Recipe adapted from Hereketomama

Day 6- Buttery Garlic Steak Bites

INGREDIENTS

  • 1.5-2 lbs Ribeye steak
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
  • Garlic
  • Butter
  • 1 TBSP Olive oil

METHOD

  1. Rinse and prepare steak.Cut steak into bite size piece/ cube.
  2. Season with salt, pepper and other seasoning to your liking ( I also added crushed pepper flakes and onion powder).
Cut and seasoned beef.

3. Place a heavy pot/ cast iron pan/ dutch oven on medium heat and allow 1TBSP on Olive oil to get hot.

This is my favorite pot- My dutch oven gets the most used in the kitchen.

4. Place steak pieces into oil and let it fry. Flip unto the other for even cooking.

5. Once brown on both side. Add 1TBSP butter to the pot and minced garlic. Allow to fry unto golden, evenly on both sides

Butter and garlic added to steak

7. Once golden, remove from pot and place in your dish. About 20 minutes

8. Garnish with parsley and enjoy

Sprinkle some parsley, garlic and pepper flakes to garnish. Add a little zest with Lime/ lemon
All done. Viola, Enjoy!

Key Points!

  1. NET CARBs: Steak bites (0 net carb), Salad (2g)
  2. Recipe from DELISH
  3. Serve with salad of your choice or any keto-friendly side. Maybe cauliflower mash would work well here too.

Day 5- Breakfast sandwich

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 eggs
  • 3 TBSP Almond Flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 TBSP butter (melted) or Olive oil
  • salt to taste (Skip salt if salted butter used)
  • Turkey bacon or bacon of your choice
Grab your mug

METHOD

  1. In a mug of your choice, place 1 tbsp butter and microwave for 15-20secs until butter melts.
  2. Add 1 large egg to melted butter or oil, 1 tsp baking powder, 3 TBSP of Almond flour (Red Mill used), pinch of salt and sprinkle of dry rosemary(optional)
  3. Using a fork, beat ingredients together until smooth consistency
  4. Once combined together, take the mug with mixture and place into microwave.
  5. Microwave for 1.5-2mins and remove.
  6. Turn over the mug and remove “muffin”
After microwaving

7. Slice “muffin” down the middle

Muffin can be used for anytime of sandwich of your liking. Avocado toast would also work well here!

7. To continue making breakfast sandwich. Use heavy cast iron/ frying pan and cook bacon (2) slices and 1 egg.

8. Toast the two pieces of “muffin” to your liking

9. Assemble sandwich. Add egg, bacon to form sandwich. Cheese can also be added for a hearty Keto breakfast sandwich.

Finished product. I did not add cheese as it would high protein for my personal goal of the day

Key Points

  1. NET CARBs- 4-5 grams Carbs
  2. Adding cheeses to breakfast sandwich is ideal. For my personal goal, I did not add cheese
  3. The taste of “muffin” is more egg like than bread, but it does have softness to its texture

Day 4- Jerk Tilapia and Cauliflower Mash

The hardest part of changing my eating habits is the fear of missing out of certain foods. If I can infuse some of my Caribbean flavors into a meal, I am more likely to maintain these dietary lifestyle changes. So for dinner, I tried Jerk Tilapia and cauliflower mash. It was absolutely delicious!!!

INGREDIENTS

  1. Tilapia fish (filet also can be used)
  2. 1 large cauliflower
  3. Salt
  4. Black pepper
  5. Pepper flakes
  6. Butter (salted)
  7. Jerk seasoning(1 TBSP)
  8. Heavy cream/ Heavy whipping cream; 2-3 TBSP
  9. Garlic
  10. Spinach (frozen used)

METHOD

  1. Start off by cleaning cauliflower and cutting into small pieces. Rinse cauliflower and set aside. Place pot with water and salt and bring to a boil. Place cauliflower into boiling water and allow to cook until tender but firm.
  2. In a food processor or blender add cooked cauliflower, 2-3 TBSP butter, minced garlic, pepper flakes, sprinkle of salt, 2TBSP heavy cream and black pepper.
Should be able to stick a fork into cauliflower once cooked.

3. Blend until smooth and all ingredients well incorporated

Finished cauliflower mash

4. Next prepare fish for cooking. Take tilapia pieces and season with jerk season, salt and olive oil/ butter.

5. In a non-stick frying pain, place fish and fry until brown/cooked. Each side about 5 -7 mins depending on thickness of fish.

Jerk seasoning found at local grocery store. You can also use fresh ingredient and make your own jerk seasoning. For additional hotness I added chili and pepper flakes to the fish.
Before I used the jerk seasoning, I ensured it was KETO-friendly. By using CARB MANAGER, I quickly checked – 0 NET CARB, thus KETO friendly!
Fried Jerk Tilapia

6. As a side I made spinach stew. This is different than sautéed spinach. Spinach stew has a base of tomato, onion , hot pepper and bell pepper puree together.

Spinach stew; Pepper, onion and tomato puree base
Finished Product. Viola, Enjoy!

KEY POINTS

  1. NET CARBs– Fish (0g), cauliflower mash (5g per cup), Spinach (1 gram per 2 cups). Toal NET carbs =6grams
  2. For the mashed cauliflower, you can also add sour cream or cream cheese for creaminess and flavor.
  3. For side dishes try sautéed spinach or small salad, add half avocado for additional healthy fats

Prayer for Us 2/20- You Are Not Alone, Even In Your Dark Times

Bible Verse: Psalms 23:4

“Even though I walked through the valley of the shadow of death , I will fear no evil. For You are with me, your rod and your staff the comfort me”.

If ever you need someone to hold your hands in times of need, in times of fear, or in times of sadness, you can turn to God!. It is my only testimony.

Prayer courtesy of Bible App

Have a great day my friends!!

Day 3- Keto Stovetop Frittata

All ingredients used in this recipe!
  • 1 cup heavy cream/ whipping cream
  • 1/2 large onion diced
  • Butter
  • 1 cup diced bell peppers (red and green used)
  • 1tsp salt
  • black pepper
  • Red peper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp Chilli pepper (added to sautéed spinach)
  • 6 Eggs
  • 4-5 slices of TURKEY BACON or bacon of your choice (diced)
  • 1 cup Cheddar cheese
  • Dutch oven/ heavy cast iron pot for stovetop cooking. A lid will be needed
  • 3/4 cup spinach (frozen used)

Method

  1. Place eggs, heavy cream, salt, black pepper and pepper flakes into a bowl and whisk together. Be careful not to over whisk the eggs. Set aside.
Appearance of egg mixture after whisking together!

2. In a frying pan add 2 TBSP butter, and allow to melt. Into pan place diced onions, bell peppers and spinach. Cook until onion is translucent.

3. Allow adequate time for frozen spinach to cook. Fresh spinach will require less time.

4. 1/2 tsp chilli powder added for extra flavor (optional)

5. Cut bacon slices into diced pieces. In a pan fry until brown. 1/2 TBSP butter can be used to fry bacon (optional)

6. Remove bacon pieces from frying pan and prepare to assemble cheese, egg mixture , bacon and sautéed spinach

sautéed spinach, bell pepper, onion, bacon and 1 cup Cheddar cheese

7. In your desired pot/dutch oven place the egg mixture first. Then, add spinach/ vegetable mix. Sprinkle cheddar cheese and top with bacon pieces.

8. Place Lid and allow to cook

9. Cook on medium heat for 20-25 minutes or until eggs no longer jiggles and has a set consistency.

All assembled!

10. Remove after 20-25 minutes and enjoy

Finished Product.

Key Points

  1. Cut into 8 slices. On overage each slice is 3grams net carb

Day 2- Keto Salad

Ingredients

  • Spring mix- 2 cups
  • 10 Blueberries
  • 5 Grape Tomatoes
  • 1/2 Hass Avocado
  • 2 TBSP feta cheese
  • Chicken Breast

NET CARBs– 7grams of net Carbs

Two options for salad dressing. Net carbs for Avocado Ranch is 2g net carb. The Simply Dressed Cesar salad is 1g net carb.

Give it a try!

Key Points

  1. One of the tricky things is, not consuming too much protein to fat ratio. Keto-Friendly diet needs high levels or fat, medium protein, and low carb. Too much protein can hinder ketosis.
  2. A great tool I discovered is CARB MANAGER, which is extremely helpful for a newbie like myself.