I Need Some Resolutions

Why December 31? If you want to make a change in your life, you shouldn’t wait for this one magical day to make it happen.” That’s my husband’s argument against New Year’s resolutions. And in recent years, I’ve agreed with him. I’d grown sick of making ridiculous promises to myself every year, and inevitably breaking them before even a month had passed. But this year I realized, I am a sucker for “that one magical day.” I am still under the spell of the stroke of midnight on what we in the Caribbean call Old Year’s Night, that feeling that washes over you as you watch the ball drop in Times Square. And in the recent years where I’ve gone resolutionless, I’ve noticed a feeling of helpless stagnancy wash over me. So here’s hoping that by publicly divulging five of my resolutions, I will set some cosmic wheels in motion, and simultaneously shame myself into actually getting off my duff and making things happen in the ’08.

1. To take time out of every day to give my body the respect it deserves. Like most Americans — at least, according to this Reuters article — I’m done with diets. Now I opt to just eat healthy, and create a hodgepodge healthy cuisine guide of my own that relies heavily on Weight Watchers, South Beach Diet, and Cooking Light recipes, with a healthy dose of 100 calorie snacks and fruit in between. I make a healthy menu every week, and I’m working on controlling my ludicrous urges for an afternoon Sunkist at work, and salt and vinegar chips. They just added them to the vending machine at my office, and all I can say is, God give me strength. So I’m totally into eating part of living healthy, and seeing positive results. But I need to make time for exercise — more time than I made in 2007. I own an elliptical trainer and a total body gym. No more frickin’ excuses.

So far, so good. I’ve been more motivated, and that’s because of my reading material. I’m usually not one for diet books, but I’m currently reading Never Say Diet by Chantel Hobbs, and it’s kicking my butt into action like no other book has. The fact that she was once overweight and knows the emotions and excuses that come with that, goes a long way in making her arguments resonate with me. Here’s an excerpt, if you need a kick in the butt, too. I’m trying to remind myself that my body is a temple. I need to treat it like one every day of my life, if I want to live as long and as happily as I can. Which brings me to resolution #2.

2. McDonalds and Burger King are not seeing a penny more of my money in 2008. I pick those two particular fast food joints because they’ve been my I-really-can’t-stand-the-idea-of-cooking-right-now fallback for too long now. It needs to stop.

Sometimes, fast food is an unavoidable evil. But this year, instead of surrendering to the lazy chef blues, I’m gonna fight those urges, get off my butt, and make my own fast food. Yup, you heard me. Maybe it won’t be AS fast… but at least it’ll be real food that will satisfy my immediate craving for a burger or chicken or whatever.

For burger-and-fries in a hurry, I keep veggie burgers in stock, they’re healthier. Taste is essential, so I usually reach for one of Amy’s veggie burgers — the Texas burgers are delicious. I do make those Ore-Ida fries, but I recently discovered Lesser Evil Krinklesticks through Hungry Girl. I am dying to try these potato chip alternatives.

Most recently, I stopped myself from getting a tropichop max from Pollo Tropical, and made one myself! Check out my photo. Oh yeah, we got a new camera, so expect more food photos! This was so easy, and really didn’t take that long. There’s a base of brown rice, (I had some leftover from the day before, or you could just use Annie Chun’s Rice Express sprouted brown rice, two minutes in the microwave and you’re golden). I spiced my chicken breasts with Mrs. Dash (I heart Mrs. Dash!) and cooked it in my grill pan — psst, if you’re looking for a grill pan, don’t buy it at the department store. You can get ‘em for less than $20 at your local Marshalls or my BFF Ross. Then added some shredded lettuce, and the topping, diced tomato and onion with Gia Russa’s balsamic glaze. It was healthy, delicious, and took almost the same the time it would have taken me to get in the car, drive to the fast food joint, and come back home. I’m back on the recipe kick, so look for more of those in 2008.

3. To make the most of my time, and be good to myself always. Believe me, I am a SPECTACULAR procrastinator. Sometimes, I amaze even myself. If I have a task to do, I’ll find ways to stall until the last minute. I’ve always been one of those people who declares, “I work best under pressure!” I’ve been lying to myself for years. That’s total BS. Don’t get me wrong — I always meet my deadlines, but last year, I stressed myself out way more than I should have. Feeling stressed out and under pressure all the time is not cool, and it’s not happening for the ’08.

Tackling this resolution is a two-step strategy. I need to be more organized, and to seriously improve my time management. I thrive on writing out things-to-do lists, and a good day planner always helps me get my life together.

Edesse designs has exactly what I need to plan out 2008! Her day planners are bright, beautiful, and fun. I love the lollipop planner, but to go with resolution #2, I should stick to the salad. (psst, Edesse also has adorable notebooks, journals, furniture and more, and she’s a bella who comments and visits all the time. So check out her wares and show her some love!

Step two in tackling this resolution is, learn to deal with my stress in a healthier way. At my most stressed, you might not recognize me as the cheerful Afrobella you read on your computer. I have horrible road rage and honk at the slightest provocation. And I invariably find myself mindlessly snacking or shopping on the weekends, like every weekend, to “cheer myself up”. When it came time to celebrate and let my hair down, I’d drink more than I should and suffer the consequences the next day. I’m too through with habits that are unhealthy to my spirit, body, and bank account. My first step to center my spirit and find an outlet for the pressure building inside me, is taking a free yoga class. There are several free or cheap yoga, tai chi, and meditation classes in Miami, so I’ll be looking for the best one for me. If you live in a big city, there’s probably quite a few you can check out as well, if you’re making the same resolution.

4. To get back to the kind of writing I always dreamed of doing.

See this photo? It was taken in 2005, when yours truly won an honorable mention for a short story in the Derek Walcott Writing Contest. That’s Nobel laureate Derek Walcott himself, and I can’t tell you how psyched I was to meet him. Maybe you can see it in my OMG Cheshire Cat grin. For this Caribbean girl, it felt like meeting Shakespeare or Hemingway or Maya Angelou or Toni Morrison… an idol so monumental that you can’t wrap your mind around the fact that holy crap, I’m meeting this person whose work I studied in high school, whose name I grew up hearing in only the most exalted terms, whose face comes to mind when I think of Great Writers with a capital G and W. So anyway, I entered this contest, got a lovely diploma for my honorable mention, met one of my writing idols, and then promptly stopped writing fiction completely. What happened?

Back in 2005, I had fantasies of being the next great Caribbean novelist. I’ll be real with y’all — there were many factors that helped to make me a failed fiction writer. Immediately following my MFA, I was working on a raw, sprawling heartbreak of a novel. Got about halfway through, actually. Then I got my day job, which took me completely out of the magical world of fiction and face first into reality, complete with the pressure of regular deadlines. Then the “agent in New York” I was so proud of lost patience with my writerly angst, then she up and disappeared on me (thanks and good luck, Stephanie!). That was that. Every time I tried to get back to that novel, I would sit there, stare at the keyboard for a while, weep, and feel like a failure. The subject matter was so close to my heart, it felt like I had to stop writing to try to keep an even emotional keel. Forcing myself to keep telling that particular story was murdering my joie de vivre. Then, somewhere in the middle, sadness developed into depression, which manifested itself as a textbook case of writer’s block. It got to the point where the last thing I wanted to read or write or talk about, was fiction. Books, schmooks. Who reads those anymore?

Then, for my job I interviewed renowned Jamaican author Colin Channer, who is a very friendly, real, easy-to-talk-to kind of guy. In the course of the interview, I confessed all of my big bruised feelings about this constipated novel. His rebuttal? “Well write another one, then.” Whaa? I had never even thought of such a thing. The way he said it made it sound so simple. It lingered with me. I’m still not ready to return to my novel -I know when I do complete it, it will be incredible, trust. But like Colin Channer helped me realize, if I can’t write THIS one, then this isn’t meant to be my first book. Maybe my first book could be something totally different — perhaps something nonfictional, or a children’s book. Either way, this is a bold, slightly-strange way of putting myself out there into the overwhelming world of publishing. Hello there, I’m Patrice and I’m a writer who’s ready to get back to the wonderful world of books. I’m brimming with ideas, and I’ve got a book of short stories that’s already ready to go. Are you an agent that thinks I might be a good fit for you? E mail me at bella@afrobella.com. 2008 is the year of the triumphant return, dammit.

Perhaps what I need to complete the big, scary novel is a finish party, ala Farai Chideya, ZZ Packer, Lalita Tademy (author of Cane River, and Nichelle D. Tramble. If you’re an aspiring writer, look no further for your inspiration. Sisters, doing it for themselves. It’s a beautiful thing.

5. To be a better, braver blogger. Funny how I found time to start a blog, but I can’t find time to write a book, right? Afrobella started out so amorphously, so spontaneously, that I didn’t have time to psyche myself out. Boom, the site was up, I started writing, and a month into it, I was getting e mails and developing a small circle of regular readers. It really was as simple and organic as that.

I produced so much in that first year of blogging, I felt burned out by my anniversary. And as Afrobella grew, I started to really struggle with balancing a full time job with a full time blog. I started to question the quality of my blogging, and compare myself to others. Then I started to psyche myself out of tackling stories, or I’d run out of time on hot afrobella-related — oh, I know they’ll write all about that on this site, or shoot, they already posted that photo on that other blog. I let my mojo slip through my fingers. Well, I’m gonna try my best to be the best I can be this year. I’m not any other blogger, I’m Afrobella! I’m unique, and I shouldn’t be hesitant to share photos of myself, or put my two cents in the fray. I can’t beat myself up, or compare myself to the bloggers that find time to post every day anymore. I might never be the most popular blogger in the world, I might have a slow traffic month, I might not hit all of the deadlines I create in my head. But I will keep it fresh and real. I’m working hard to bring a new look, a new attitude, and a big dose of healthy change to the site. Foremost in my mind is a complete site redesign, followed by a mailing list. There are lots of other ideas that have been suggested to me along the way. And to prove my rediscovered diligence, look out for a big, bold, amazing Afrobella of the Month tomorrow. Promise!

Like I said, 2008 is the year of the triumphant return. It’s also the year of positive change. What will your 2008 be, bellas and fellas? What are your New Year’s resolutions?

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Comments

  1. I with you on the fast food thing. However, I found that Chick Fil-A has some decent options, but I don’t know if you have that where you live. Good Luck!

  2. Mrs. Mckinzie says:

    Hi!Bella, first I want to thank you for my 50/50 body balm it arrived on Sarurday morning ,and i used it that night.It smells so good and it does exactly what it is suppose to do ,and I just love it.One of my resolutions that I made to myself is to walk for breast cancer.I had a lump remmoved from my breast that was not cancer ,but it could have been.This made me so aware of why I need to do my part to help raise money for breast cancer research.I also want to finally get my drivers license.

  3. Good post, and good luck with the resolutions.

  4. Get it Afrobella! You and I have some of the same issues. I’m a major procrastinator and I elude time management most of my days. That is the thing I vow to be better at this year my self. There seems to be so many things to accomplish. Only time managment will help us achieve. As far as procrastination goes, well, I believe the very thing we run away from is where our annointing lies…

  5. Your post is totally inspirational. I have an appt. to join a lovely gym today. I’m not even going to whine about the price as long as it’s reasonable. There is NO price that I can put on my health.

    I’ve decided to reduce my sugar intake as well. I’ve been really annoyed by my lack of dedication to treating myself well while shaking my fingers at others who don’t. Hypocrisy in aisle one.

    I created my own blog back in November and it has made me more conscious and aware of the world around me. Everywhere I look, I find stories of interest to write about. The world has become my biggest inspiration and I get the chance to write & communicate.

    The blogospher has offered me a healthy outlet for my thoughts, ideas and frustrations instead of turning those things inward and making myself spiritually, mentally and physically ill.

    I compared myself to other bloggers and stressed about stats and thought that others were so much smarter, more insightful and better critical thinkers than I am. That is not true! One of the worst things you can do is compare yourself to others.

    Congrats to you Bella! I am looking forward to posting more on your site. I can’t wait for the new look and new you.

  6. People please please starting reading the labels. Do you have any idea what high fructose corn syrup? Do a search and find out for yourself. They put that crap in EVERYTHING including those 100 cal snacks that are suppose to be healthy, bread, yogurt,salad dressing soft drinks EVERYTHING.

    I’m a big fan of Stop dieting and start eating healthy. I’ve done a lot of travelling and let me tell you America’s have the worst eating habits.Most of use are over weight and we live shorter lifes than some people in third world countries. Why? Because of poor diets and no exerise. (When I lived overseas we walked everywhere).

  7. AMEN! I love your resolutions I am along the same lines of eating healthier treating myself better and focusing on my dreams. If you really focus the eating healthy is not too hard, because after a good workout and healthy meal… you dont want to go back feeling groggy and mind clogged from all the bad food. As far as fast food i second that. I read fast food nation in the past if you ever get a weak moment, which I know you wont b/c you made a promise to yourself, read a couple chapters from the book or rent the dvd……

  8. Nice post, bella! One of the worst things we can do is set the bar for ourselves based on what other people can do, are doing, or — what we PERCEIVE them to be doing. Here’s to a healthier year in all elements — physical, spiritual, emotional.

  9. Hi Bella, I know you can do whatever you put your mind/heart to….so here’s to a wonderful 2008..Show’em what you working with….lol.

  10. Patrick Jnr. says:

    Hello Lil sister you know the family is behind you all the way! Keep up all your good work!

  11. COngratulations! My resolution is also based in improving my overall health and well-being. And you’re right – eating healthy is a HUGE part of that. Fast food is convenient, but often full of preservatives and with loads of calories in a single meal. If you GOTTA have something, my new cheat is the Grilled Chicken Strips at Jack in the Box. Pure protein, and only 300calories with the teriyaki dip (though I don’t normally use sauces)!

    Lastly – you have an elliptical machine?! Soooo jealous. Honestly, if it’s near a TV, exercise during your favorite show. That way you’re partially distracted, and will get in your doctor recommended 30min of cardio a day.

    Good Luck!

  12. styleosophy says:

    I hate to say it, but I gotta agree with your ‘ol man’, I don’t do resolutions either. But your are fabulous-and I hope you greet 2009 with the awesomeness of conquering them all!

    That said, about a decade ago, I decided to start setting life goals as opposed to putting all my chips on the table at the beginning of every year. During my birthday season every year, I add a few more to mix. I’m forty now, and have covered roughly a third of my goals. Resolutions, to me equals temporary. A better choice for me is a lifestyle of healthy living and eating, a choice, a destination, a goal.

  13. Wow, resolution #3 is totally me. You might want to look into Qi Gong/Chi Gong as well, which is like tai chi, but more stationary. If you go the TC route, look for a sifu/instructor that fits your needs. The spectrum varies between hardcore “martial art” attention-to-detail vs. those who teach it like “really slow aerobics”. Look around, find one that fits your needs. You might want to get your blood sugar tested, too. The drinking/snacking to control stress actually primes you on a cellular level for more stress. The wheels on the emotional rollercoaster are greased with a sugary glaze, I tells you. In retrospect there’s def. a correlation b/t my sugar intact and days when I was horribly road-rage-y. Good luck, Bella!

  14. Getting healthy is difficult to do but here are my own tips that I used when I revamped my diet.

    The first is to eat some yogurt. You can get the fat-free or low-fat kind and it is an excellent snack that is good for you and won’t make you gain weight.

    The other thing is to get a Forman grill (or something like it). You can make chicken on it in 10 minutes. Vegetables take that long to cook, and pasta takes that long to boil. If you are going with the latter, make sure you have a fresh healthy sauce ready to go in the fridge. This means you can make a super-healthy and low-fat dinner in under 20 minutes, 15 if you are really hungry. Try it, I lost a ton of weight that way. Also, a chicken breast in a burger is healthier than a breaded and possibly pre-fried veggie burger. Good luck and yay for getting on track. I’m doing the same myself!

  15. Keep focused Afrobella. I gave up eating fast food too. Sushi is my new fast food craving or a slice of whole wheat veggie pizza!

  16. i to have made some resolution and want to see how long i will stick with them. i like the resolution for burger king and mcdonald for i did that 2 years agao and i havent look back since i dont even crave there food.

  17. i to have made some resolution and want to see how long i will stick with them. i like the resolution for burger king and mcdonald for i did that 2 years agao and i havent look back since i dont even crave there food. the only one i keep breaking is eating anything sweet.

  18. Grown and CLASSY says:

    ROSS IS YOUR BFF TOO? LOL I got a PLUS SIZED, CALVIN KLEIN pants suit for SIXTEEN DOLLARS!! LOVED IT!

    I suggest you skip resolutions and just set GOALS!

    Then do this!

    1. Understand the importance of setting short range goals and long range goals-Short range = up to a year, long range = 5-10 years
    2. Write a plan to reach each goal
    3. Write a specific time table for each goal
    4. Create an easy to locate file for each goal
    5. Regularly check the progress in each area

  19. One of my goals for this year, and I hope to meet it the first half, is to get the paper in my life under control and in order!! It’s ridiculous, what I need to file and organize and shred. Included in that is making sure I have a more comprehensive policy so that if anything happens to me, my children are taken care of financially. I have an accidental death policy, but I have realized it doesn’t cover anything if I get sick and something happens. I don’t even like to think about not being here for them, but I have decided that if the unthinkable does happen, I want to ease at least one part of their lives. So, in addition to organizing, I’m trying to get my affairs in order in that area. It’s maybe not the most uplifting thing, but a lot has happened this last year in the way of death with my contemporaries, and I feel like I need to take care of things. Plus, right now, no one could even find anything!!! They’d look at about four storage boxes of jumbled papers and just want to burn it all.

  20. Grateful1 says:

    I’m completely with you on this! I resolved to never diet again in this lifetime. I read French Women Don’t Get Fat and another book on French eating habits. Basically 1. Eat what you want, but not in excess 2. Eat whole foods, no additives 3. Shop for only 1-2 days worth of fresh fruits and veggies (this has proved to be a little difficult) 4. Use herbs, spices and sauces to “dress up” basic foods. So far so good. I thought I was going to balloon up with my ice cream/sugar/cake addictions, but the opposite happened. Now I eat fruit when I want something sweet and while I still have my ice cream, I don’t need much to satisfy my cravings. I drink more wine, but I drink more water too. The most important thing I learned is to actually ENJOY what I eat and if I know I won’t enjoy it, I won’t eat it, period. So goodbye fast food.

  21. well, i think the thing i want most is to be able to do the things i plan to do and need to do without feeling anxious, without a sense of crisis or a dramatic intensity. i just want to go to the gym in the mornings and do my thing and enjoy it. and have my oats with fruit and do my writing and make a nice salad for lunch and so on. no drama. no crisis. so for that to happen, i think i need to lose the tv and get my pop culture via netflix and Internet — where it’s more focused. whenever i’ve had this feeling, calm and doing my thing, focused, i’ve been without a television. the constant comparison and chatter, the hype and the constant selling selling selling selling clutters my mind and robs me of my joy. i don’t want to moral about it. but i feel that very clearly that the overdose of ‘improvement’ undoes my sense of satisfaction and crowds out my own ideas of what i want to do or how i want to be creative. so i have to sort that out. i gotta put it somewhere and play music while i’m working or just in the house and rely on my own mind.

    anyway, i’m excited about your resolutions bella. look forward to reading more of you.

  22. Hi Patrice.
    So your a writer. Well if your a good writer I know a publisher who has just created a new line of hard copy printed pocket books just for short story writers. You go to http://www.pickapocketbook.com Register and submit your stories same day. I did and I now have 2 stories already published.I got paid for the stories and I get quarterly payments on sales.
    My pocketbook is Kimberley Gold & Soul Catchers I write under the name Marlow. You will see my stuff on the site. Check this out it is for real.

  23. BlackHoney says:

    What a great post.

    Well Bella I have so many resolutions. I quit a job I hated in November. The first order of business for me was to chill for a month before I began looking for a job to make ends meet or something tolerable. On Jan 2, I began to revise my resume. I started to recall all of the comments made by my former managers and I started having anxiety attacks. Instead just living with the attacks, I pulled out my NaNovWriMo manuscript (if you can call 5000 words out of the proposed 50000 words a manuscript) and began adding on to it and I felt better. I’m not delusional enough to think that this will be good enough to publish or a big seller, but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do, so now is the time.

    I used to think something was terribly wrong with me because like so many other people I waited to the last minute to do anything. My manager attributed it to my poor work habits. I knew that was a lie so I did some research, and it appears that I’m an INFP and I have right brain preferences. So instead of trying to use a time-management and organization system for people who think linearly, I need to design some system that works with the way my brain works. I’ve been reading Organizing from the Right Side of the Brain by Lee Silber and Time Management for Unmanageable People by Ann McGee Cooper. I’m going to check out a Perfect Mess by Abrahamson next. These aren’t traditional time management texts that scorn you for your “bad habits”. They provide examples of different means to organization.

    Finally,instead of trying to lose that last 10 lbs, I concentrating on reshaping my body by lifting weights and improving flexibility and cardio health by dancing.

  24. I’ve already eliminated meat from my diet (meatless for 2 years), and I stay stress-free by finding some “me” time and by saying no more often than saying yes. I am currently donating blood, and platelets, but I plan on doing some volunteer work at the blood bank and hopefully the bone marrow registry. I haven’t entered back into the work force, and I refuse to do so until I find a job that’s a good fit for me (the husband will just have to continue hold down the financial fort). Bella, good luck with your writing venture. Don’t give up on your dream.

  25. BLACKHONEY: Try the Uncalendar system! It’s amazing because they provide a template that you can create and fill in to your own specifications. You can draw, doodle, free-write, brainstrom, and schedule however YOU need to! I discovered it at university and haven’t looked back since. They also have a great notetaking book also.

    http://www.uncalendar.com

  26. Latasha Scott says:

    Bella,

    I want to thank you as well for my 50/50 balm. It smells so good. I agree with you on not waiting until 12/31 to make those resolutions and to start right away. My big goal is to be more involved in church, eating healthy & last but not least making more time for myself.

  27. Bella , I look forward to hearing more about your next novel. I am going to forward your post to Nichelle.

  28. 2008 is going to be a bumper year for our family in health, togetherness, improved communication (yes even with those in Surrey!), career,finances and for those who are single getting hooked up..

    Our gym is moving to a more accesible area & i have heard that yoga or pilates not only relaxes you but improves posture – a body & mind thing. Perhaps getting a massage 2x a month or a reflexology session can also help you…Mom has begun reflexology.

    I think you should write 2 books geared for Tate 7 & Paige 10 this year & then one for Dominique 3 & Isabella who will be 1 this year. It can be a mix of stories, short poems etc…

    Remember that 2008 is 12 whole months..everything does not have to happen in January!

  29. Patrice, that sounds like a plan! Go with it!

  30. Hi bella,
    i am reading your blog since last month and i alwasy wanted to post but…i was too ashamed of my english because i am not a native speaker. So one of my new year resolutions is ..to speak without being ashamed or concerned an having this ohmygodeveryonewillthinkim stupid thought racing through my head.It stops me so long from thanking you for your incredible site. I love it! Visiting your site feels to me like… opening the door to a beauty salon with heavenly smells of lotions and potions in the air and a good stack of good books and magazines in the waiting area. I visualized this often wishing to have a place like this next to me but living in germany this was only a black girls/womans dream. I love your site now and i will after the redesign. Thank you so much for your inspiring writing.

  31. blackberry says:

    Hi, and thanks for your chicken recipe, & glad to hear you’re adding more. I use mrs dash too, and we love brown rice and salads. I’m new to your blog, and really like it.

  32. I read something very much the same to your post at techcrunch… at any rate, I believe car audio is generally misunderstood but has a lot of excellent quality manufacturers also. -Best Regards, Roy Terzian

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