Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Letter to Myself on My 30th Birthday (Part 1)

Dear Younger Dionna,

It's me...I mean, you...I mean...well, you know what I mean.  It's our 30th birthday and I thought I'd share some things I wish I knew when I was younger.  So, here goes:

Things I Wish My Younger Self Knew
1. The shyness will go away
2. Boys do stupid things.  Make sure you surround yourself w/ girl friends who will make you smile when boys hurt you.
3. You have this awesome heart that loves hard.  Be careful w/ it because it gets hurt easily.
4. Your love of books never goes away.  But, try and diversify the kinds of books you read.  All the romance novels are going to mess up your head.  Real life if not like a romance novel and you won't realize that until it's too late.  Mysteries and sci fi books are cool too.
5.  You will NOT be married by the time you're 24 (most people aren't).  So, stop telling people that.
6.  Learn to play an instrument well.  It's sexy and makes your life as a vocalist so much easier.  I know you don't care much about that now.  But, you will later.  Trust me.
7.  Don't lose your retainer.  Be careful with it.  If you lose the one you have, Momma and Daddy aren't gonna replace it and your smile will look like that at least until you're 30.
8. Learn how to create community wherever you go.  That skill will help you in so many situations later on.
9.  Learn how to style your own hair.  If you don't, you'll always be relying on other people to take care of it.
10. Find a good hiding place for your diaries.  Everyone in your family is nosey and will read it if they find it.  It's embarrassing when they bring up the stuff you wrote in front of you.
11. Try to develop a love for exercising and eating right.  Your body changes at 30 and you will have to work harder to not be overweight.
12.  Try to like more fruits, veggies and ice cream flavors.  If you don't, people will start making fun of you for only liking 2 kinds of ice cream.
13.  Baskin Robbins Cookies N Cream is the best and that NEVER changes.  :-)
14.  Get used to your glasses now.  You'll find contacts inconvenient and annoying.
15.  Saving money is cool.  Embrace it.  It's one of those life skills that will serve you SO well when you're older and need to make big purchases.
16.  Getting good grades and being involved in a lot of activities DOES help you get into college.  But, getting scholarships helps you not be in debt up to your ears when you graduate.  So, apply for every scholarship you can get your hands on.
17.  Don't watch that Scream 2 movie that Jada Pinkett-Smith is in.  It'll mess you up and you won't be able to sit in a movie theater without fearing a psycho killer will come out.
18. Don't worry.  You'll get long division one day.
19.  Remember the first & last names of your friends from elementary school.  It'll help when you're trying to find them on Facebook later.  Oh!  You don't know what that is?  Don't worry.  You will.
20.  Love yourself.  Warts and all.  It's crucial to your happiness and peace.

That's all for now.  I know that being a kid can suck sometimes.  Being a teenager and being in your early twenties can suck too.  ;-)  But, you'll do well.  Trust me!


Monday, June 30, 2014

Countdown to 30!

In about 3 hours (on the East Coast) and 6 hours (on the West), I turn the big three oh...30 years old.  Man!  Grown ups are 30!  Your early 20s suck because you're learning most things the hard way.  Your late twenties are fun as you learn who you are and flex your independence.  And, I hear your thirties are the best years of your life!  I'm looking forward to finding out if that's true.

Anyways...as I approach my 30th birthday, I'm feeling like a true adult.  Here are some things I'm learning or have learned about the adult me:

  • I'm an introvert - I love you all.  But, I get my energy from being alone.
  • I enjoy traveling alone (probably because I'm an introvert).
  • Jewelry makes me happy.
  • Food makes me happier.
  • Sweets make me happiest.
  • My body is changing and I can't eat all of the food and sweets that I want anymore.  I should probably start working out too.  But, I can still buy jewelry!  :-)
  •  Being a good aunt and god mother is important to me.
  • I love hard and I have a hard time letting go of people I love even when I know I need to.
  • Although, I've learned to tame it (somewhat), I can be a jerk when I want to be.
  • I love kids. But, thinking about pushing one out of me (or one being pulled from me) makes me wanna pass.
  •  Turning 30 doesn't freak me out.  I'm actually really looking forward to what my thirties will bring.
Happy Dionna Day Eve!  Tomorrow, we begin the best month of the year - my birthday month! 

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Sometimes Things Don't Make Sense

A few years ago, I met a guy.  Let's call him Ronald.  Ronald was funny, young at heart, athletic,  and loved kids.  He was competitive, knowledgeable about music and loved Jesus.  All good stuff, right?  If you know me, it's safe to say that he was definitely my type.  After spending time w/ him at a few group events, I knew that I liked Ronald.  He liked me too.  We only hung out w/ groups of people and I'm sure we were annoying as heck.  You know -  private conversations, inside jokes, grinning the whole time we were together, teasing each other.  Looking back, I feel sorry for our friends.

Outside of hanging out in person, we sent each other messages on Facebook.  I don't even know how it started.  But, every few days I'd get a message from Ronald and it was the best feeling.  In these messages we talked about our favorite things, what was going on in our lives, we shared fun facts and jokes and songs that we liked.  It was fun and gave me something to look forward to.

After a couple of months of this, we finally had The Conversation on a gray day in November.  Ronald invited me to hang out w/ him 1 on 1. OMG! OMG! OMG!  What do I wear?  Is this a date?  Hmm...I should just dress up some jeans.  What are we gonna do?  Should I free up the whole day for him?  I should come up w/ some topics to talk about in case there's a lull in the conversation.  Should I plan to pay for myself? Maybe I'll do the thing where you go for your wallet and see if he stops me.....I'm a female.  This question and idea parade could go on forever.

We meet up and go to lunch.  We have some laughs on the car ride and share details of our life stories over Mexico food.  It's going great!  Then we have The Talk.

Him:  I like you.
Me:  I like you.
Him:  I was in a relationship not long ago and it didn't end well.
Me:  I'm sorry to hear that.
Him:  I think I'd like to be in a relationship with you.  But I want to take some time to pray about it and make sure I'm in a good place to begin something new.
Me:  That makes sense.  Is there anything you need from me?
Him:  Yes.  I need some time and space to pray and get counsel without any distractions.
Me:  Ok.  How long?
Him:  I'm not sure.  Maybe a month?
Me:  Well, I won't wait forever.
Him:  No.  No.  And you shouldn't.  But, let's regroup in January.

OOOOkay...this kinda sucks.  But, it's not the end of the world.  And I could use some time to evaluate things too, make sure I'm ready for a relationship.

So, we stopped talking, stopped texting and stopped sending messages over Facebook.  But, of course, I thought about him all the time.  And I was excited about the possibility of starting a new year in a new relationship.

The new year started.  No call.  A week into the new year?  No call.  Mid-January.  No call.  I started to get nervous.  End of January.  Nothing.  Of course, I didn't call him because he's the one that needed time to think.  Plus, I'm not desperate. :-)

February sneaks up.  I get sick (not related...I don't think) and I'm at home laying on the couch.  My phone rings and it's Ronald!  We started off w/ awkward small talk (happy new year...me being sick...blah, blah, blah).  Then, he went on to apologize for not calling me sooner and explained that he didn't know how to tell me.

"Tell me what?"  you ask?  He didn't know how to tell me that he had met someone that a freind of his introduced him to and that he'd decided to date her.


Why did I tell that horrible story?  I told it because it was a pivotal point in my life.  I learned that sometimes, no matter how much you hope and no matter how excited you get, things don't always work out the way you want them to.  I learned that sometimes you are rejected and you don't get to know why right away.  Sometimes things just aren't right even though they look perfect to you.

One day, maybe I'll be able to say, "THAT'S WHY THAT HAPPENED THE WAY IT DID!"  Maybe an amazing song will come out of it.  Maybe it will change your life.  In the meantime, I'll wait and try not to over analyze it....too much.

Oh!  And yes, Ronald and home girl are still together.  :-)

Saturday, May 24, 2014

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

A friend of mine wrote a blog post recently about low self esteem and what we choose to believe. It hit so close to home that I knew I had to share my experiences.  I battled low self esteem and high insecurities my whole life and thought I had won...and then I moved across the county to a place where I had no friends and no family they they reared their ugly heads yet again.

7 Years Ago...
I knew I was insecure.  I had a negative view of myself and couldn't believe that other people would value me.  Then, one day, w/ the help of some friends I decided to choose to believe that I was loved, that I was awesome the way I was and that I was made perfectly.  I wrote a song about it and sang it every time someone invited me to sing anywhere.  That song, "This is Who I Am," was a memorial to the decision that I made to believe the truth about myself.  I knew it was a process.  I knew it would need to be a decision I made every day.  But that day in 2007 was a turning point for me.  [For the full story and to hear the song, check out this video.]

Fast Forward to 2013...
As you all know, I moved to New York after getting a promotion at work.  I don't have any family here and I knew almost nobody outside of co-workers.  The first year here was VERY hard.  I had left my community - the people who knew me, who could remind me of who I was when I had a hard time remembering, the people who would miss me if I didn't show up somewhere, who would notice if I wasn't being myself.

Then, the voices started attacking.  No, not schitzo voices.  But, that nagger, the doubter that loves to say things like "You're not loveable."  "You are alone because you should be alone." "You're not good enough."  "You can't do anything right."

Unfortunately, even after "This is Who I Am" and everything else I had done to throw off those old insecurities, I learned the hard way that, if you let your guard down, they can come right back.  I started to believe those lies again and let them into my heart.

Then, a few months ago, I was reminded of the importance of guarding your heart.  Not just guarding our hearts from being given romantically to the wrong person.  But, guard it from believing lies, guard it from anger, guard it from bitterness, guard it from unforgiveness, from depression.  I had let my guard down.  And when you allow negative thoughts and lies to linger, they can take hold and start looking like the truth and reeking havoc on your self esteem.

Now that I know what's going on, I'm better at calling out the lies that try to worm their way into my heart and that has made being here and being alone so much easier.  While it hasn't been fun to battle this again, I'm very grateful that I'm learning this....skill.

Instead of allowing the negative thoughts to sneak in and get comfortable, I surround myself w/ positive things.  I put up affirming notes from friends all over my apartment.  I keep an Affirmation Box full positive notes that I've been given over the years and read them when I need to.  I watch comedies on TV.  I listen to "The Fighter" by Gym Class Heroes (featuring Ryan Tedder) as often as I can stand it.  The goal?  Surround myself w/ positive and affirming thoughts so that I believe the truth, focus on being joyful, so that negativity and depression don't take root.

I'm grateful that I'm learning how to stand on my own, to fight against the lies, especially when there's no one else around to fight with me.

When I was deciding whether or not to move to NYC, a friend told me that you learn SO much about yourself when you leave your comfort zone and you grow in ways that you don't expect.  She was right. 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Bourgeois and the Gluttonous Day(s)

Wow!  Could I be any more terrible about keeping my blog updated?  Don't answer that!!!

Anyways, I have survived my first full winter here on the East Coast.  Man, it was a rough one.  I thought it was bad and then I kept hearing native New Yorker say that it's the worst winter they've ever experienced and I KNEW it was bad.

Now, we are in this weird "not quite anything" season.  Some days it's spring.  Other days it's summer.  Some days feel like winter is trying to creep back in.  In summary, winter is brutal, summer is smelly/sticky/hot and spring is schitzso.  The weather in New York is horrid.  Don't move here if you like consistency, sun and comfort.

A few weeks ago, a couple of friends (Jocelyne & Christian) came to NYC and spent the weekend w/ me.  God decided to grant us a gift and the weather was beautiful.  Sunny and in the 70s!  :-)  We spent all of Saturday walking thru Manhattan and eating everything that we could.  I swear, we ate at like 5 places in 3 hours. 

Among our stops were 2 of my favorite New York places:

  • Artichoke:  If you ever go, try the Artichoke Pizza.  It's like eating a Spinach and Artichoke dip pizza.  The slices are huge.  Plus, it's cheap (under $5).  Your life will never be the same.
  • Insomnia Cookies:  The cookies are served soft and warm.  Enough.  Said.  [They deliver.  But, unfortunately, not to Brooklyn.]

On Sunday, Jocelyne and I went to Smorgasburg.  It's basically a bunch of food vendors who set up in 1 location for your gluttonous pleasure.  It's like what I imagine heaven to be.

What I learned that weekend is that I don't hate New York at all.  I really do enjoy exploring and eating and seeing new things.  But, I'd like to do those things in community, with people I enjoy spending time with.  Oh - and good weather never hurts.  

P.S.  To give you a sense for all that I ate that weekend....

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Burrrrrr in Bed-Stuy

Winter is here and 1 thing is very clear....I don't live in Southern California anymore.
It is COLD here.  There's no other way to say it.  No point in sugar coating it.

The first thing people who know I'm from CA ask me when they see or speak to me is how I'm dealing with the cold.  Well, friends, the answer is simple - I'm handling it.  I do everything I can to spend as little time in it as possible.  And, when I have to go outside, I layer up as much as possible.

I will say that the weather is such an important fact of the lifestyle here.  I've learned a lot about NY this winter:

1.  There's no way to look thin, be warm AND dress professionally at the same time.  So you get used to looking thick in your professional attire.  It's probably a good idea to buy pants a size bigger than you need for the winter here.

2.  "Snow Days" are real.  It's not just in the movies.  And schools close early when a snow storm is coming.  People leave work early and it's completely normal.  It's a wonder anything gets done around here in January/February.

3. I have no idea about the science behind it, but I'm so grateful for that salt stuff people put down so that I don't slip and fall.  And for the people who take the time to shovel their sidewalks.  The people who don't do those things are not cool and I'm glad I've learned that if I do slip and hurt myself, I can sue them.  :-)

4.  It doesn't matter what the actual temperature is, you have to pay attention to the "feels like" temp cuz that wind chill is no joke.

5.  Before moving here, I knew about rain, snow and hail.  But, did y'all know about freezing rain?  It's liquid when it's falling.  But, because the air is freezing, it's ice by the time it hits the ground.  No bueno.

Do, I miss 70 and 80 degree weather in January?  Absolutely!!!!!  Yep!!!  Every freaking day!!!  But, at least here I have an excuse to buy and wear cute scarves and gloves and not feel silly.  :-) 

Bedridden in Bed-Stuy

Okay, so I wasn't really bedridden at all.  But, I liked how it sounded in the title.  :-)

On January 6th, after flying back to NY on a redeye flight from my perfect trip to LA, I came home early on a Sunday morning, went to sleep and woke up with what felt like a sprained ankle.  To this day, I don't know what it was.  I don't remember twisting it, falling or dropping anything on it.  But, I couldn't put all my weight on my right foot.  There was swelling for the next few days and it wasn't until this week that it felt normal again.

Can I just tell you how terrible it is to have a foot/ankle/knee injury in NY?  We walk everywhere here.  We need our lower extremities to be fully functioning every day.  Limping around here was not fun.  Going up and down stairs was arduous.  Walking to and from the train was exhausting.  Going anywhere was pretty much a chore.  I'm not the most patient person in the world and I pride myself on walking fast and hate being stuck behind slow walkers.  So, you can how frustrating that 2 and a half weeks was for me.  I thought I had really accomplished something when one morning I limped passed a man on crutches.  WIN!!!

I'm MUCH better now and back to being able to make plans and not worry about the amount of walking I'll need to do.  But, it was very weird this mysterious injury.