Serena Williams Can't Believe She Has A Kid, And Neither Can I

 
Me and my girl...
 

A few weeks ago, Serena Williams, aka the world greatest athlete (don't debate me, debate your mom) had her first child, a baby girl. We all got a chance to see little Alexis via Instagram, and also the sweetest video chronicling the months until her debut. From the video, it's apparent that both Serena and her fiance are complete saps, which I appreciate because I am also a sappy mama. 

Wait, let me go back. First, let me tell you that I love me some Serena Williams. I remember my high school days, knowing exactly one thing about tennis, and still spending hours watching whenever Serena or Venus was on the screen. I've spent years rooting for Serena, even waking up at the crack of dawn to catch her win the Australian Open. Beyond her dominance on the tennis court, I admired her fierceness and her determination to not be "just" a tennis player. She's not just the best tennis player ever, male or female, she's probably the best athlete out here, male or female. We can have a debate about it if you want to, but you're disqualified if any of your arguments are rooted in sexism. 

Anyway, my kinship with Serena got a million times stronger when I saw she tweeted this:

Immediately I thought, "OMG IS SHE ME???? HOW DOES SHE KNOW MY LIFE?" Apparently I'm not the only mama surprised that she did indeed grow another human and is now responsible for them. 

It's such a strange feeling to be in a place that you never expected to be, and that's me when it comes to motherhood. I truly never pictured my life with a child in it, until I met my husband. Even during my pregnancy, as BabyPi kicked me constantly, I didn't have a good grasp of what it would be like to be someone's mama. Like pledging or marriage, you truly don't know what it's like until you're in it and experience it, I suppose. 

I've had so many moments of "oh shit, I'm someone's mama!" in the early months of my daughter's life. I'm still not used to it, and it's still kinda weird(?) to think of myself as a mother. When I think of who I am - who Jareesa is at the core - "mother" is not the first adjective that comes to mind. Not defining myself as a mother first, or solely as a mother, is extremely important to me and how I view myself.. but at the same time, I'm so amazed that I have that title at all. Is this what it's like when you win the Powerball or something? Like you assume something is unattainable and then it happens and you're just...in a constant state of "did that just happen?" 

At least once a day I have a moment where I'm amazed that I'm a mom, and usually it's because Phi giggled at me, or grabbed my face for a kiss, or did some other adorable thing. She's such a joy and even when she's fussing, I'm reminded that she's my joy, my baby girl, and I'm her mama. I know we'll have so many more moments in the future, that will make me equally proud and happy to be Phi's mama. 

I'm Committed To My Boycott of The NFL, Even If You Think It's Stupid

It's fall, which is my favorite time of year. The days start to get a little shorter, the air is a bit crisper, and the kids are back in school. It's also time for my favorite sport - football. But this year, I'll be watching only college football, cause I just can't bring myself to watch any NFL games this season.

Before I explain exactly why I'm not watching the NFL, let me give you some context. I grew up in a football house - everything revolved around football season. My dad went to college thanks to a football scholarship, where he was a running back. As a kid, I always remember seeing football on in the house. In good years, my parents would bless us with trips to the Silverdome to see the Detroit Lions play. My dad started also started a Pop Warner football club, and both of my brothers were on his team. One of my brothers followed in our dad's footsteps and also played college football as well. 

I was a Detroit Lions football fan before I fully knew all the rules of the game. I remember vividly watching football with my dad during the Barry Sanders years, and how excited my dad was to see him in action. I wasn't really a college football fan, but I loved watching Lions games with my family. When I became an adult, that love of the team carried with me, and I spent many a Sunday at the sports bar, or at home, watching my beloved team. Even when I moved and couldn't get games locally, I'd use various avenues to at least see the highlights of my team, if I wasn't at a sports bar downing wings and beer.  But I wasn't just a Lions fan - I was a football fan. I'd gladly spend my Thursday night, Sundays, and Monday nights watching football, regardless of who was playing. There was a short list of teams I wasn't interested in watching, but for the most part, I'd watch an NFL game over anything else on TV.

I'm not a casual fan, by any stretch. And that's one reason why I felt a personal responsiblity to take a stand this season, and not watch any NFL games. Over the past few years there's been a lot of things within the NFL I've disagreed with, including:

·       The countless incidents of domestic violence committed by players;

·       NFL teams paying their cheerleading squads less than minimum wage (and essentially pimping them out);

·       The lack of opportunities for Black head coaches despite the Rooney Rule; 

·       The arbitrary way that the NFL levies punishments against players; 

·       How the NFL uses NCAA football as a de facto development league (yes I'm one of those people who believes that college athletes should be paid); 

·       The health risks heaped on players, both from CTE but also the amount of pain meds heaped on players.

But Colin Kaepernick not being signed by any team in 2017 is what has pushed me over the edge. Yes, I"m boycotting because of Kaep, but honestly, it was simply the last straw that broke the camel's back. I've found the NFL problematic for years, but I couldn't bring myself to pull the trigger. I've now reached the point where I find nothing redeeming about watching the NFL. 

I've seen a lot of comments about people boycotting the NFL this season that boil down to, "this is stupid, unless you're a Nielsen home it won't matter anyway". True, I'm not in a Nielsen home, but I also know that my dollars aren't enough to bring down a billion-dollar industry. That's not my intent in the least. 

I'm the type that votes with my wallet. I don't give my support - financial, time, etc - to institutions I don't believe in. That's why I haven't sent foot in or bought from a Walmart in about fifteen years. I've even stopped shopping a brand I love (Modcloth) because it was purchased by Walmart. Now, me not shopping Walmart has zero effect on their bottom line, but it does have an effect on my conscience and wallet. I could give ~$5000 a year to Walmart, a business with numerous problematic business practices, or I could give that money to brands who practices and ideals align more closely with my own. I'm taking the same approach with the NFL, and I've resolved to not spend money at the sports bar, or buy tickets or merchandise, or add NFL Redzone to my streaming package. These are all things I've done in years past, but I can't bring myself to continue to support the NFL with my money or my time. 

You may think I'm stupid, or misguided, or that I'll cave in by Week 4. I might be all of those things, but I'm also principled. Until the NFL makes a significant change, I simply can't support their activities. So this fall, I'll be spending my time doing other things, like knitting and writing. I expect I'll be a lot more productive this fall, and that's a great thing. 

Progress On My Stuff To Do In 2017 List

I wrote this list back in February I think? It's July so that's a good time to check in on the progress I've made against this list, right?

This is version 2 but expect to see numerous updates of this list throughout 2017...and if you don't see updates you have my permission to ask me why the fuck I haven't updated my list. Accountability and whatnot...

  1. Finish Phi's baby blanket (this is kinda cheating cause it's like 90% done but I'mma put it on the list anyway) - DONE! AND SHE LOVES IT! 
  2. Post on BGU at least once a week - I'm trying 
  3. Find freelance writing opportunities - DID IT! 
  4. Pitch freelance writing opportunities - DID THIS TOO!
  5. Try knitting socks using the two circular knitting needles method - STILL SCARED
  6. Go see my family so they can meet Phi - DID IT AND THEY LOVE HER TO PIECES
  7. Finally try knitting a hat on double point needles - BOUT TO DO IT
  8. Get pretty and take photos of already knitted items 
  9. List already knitted items on Etsy
  10. Update my LinkedIn page with my APW internship. - DID IT!
  11. Apply for opportunities in Atlanta - STILL DOING IT, NO LUCK YET 
  12. Search for homes for sale in Atlanta - HAD TO STOP CAUSE I FOUND TOO MANY I LIKED
  13. Convince Meg that I should be Chief Data Officer for APW - I'll start off as "Data Guru" tho...ok maybe not "guru" cause all the startups use that term and it's corny...but basically I wanna be the queen of all things data & sales & marketing for APW, I just need a better title than "queen of all things data & sales & marketing". - TRUST ME, I'M TRYING
  14. Take a girl's trip - no baby, no husband.
  15. Help my cousin soror plan her wedding
  16. Get ordained to do weddings in Georgia
  17. Convince someone to let me officiate their wedding in Georgia
  18. Go to Elise's yoga class twice a week - STILL TRYING
  19. Take the baby to Bring Your Own Baby yoga class at Blooma - WASN'T REALLY INTO IT
  20. Pay off my last credit card that carries a balance (I'm actually really proud that I'm down to 1 credit card that's carrying a balance, trust me this is an accomplishment) - MAKING PROGRESS!
  21. Find a reliable babysitter so I can go out with my husband to stuff - THE HOMIES HAVE FILLED IN HERE & WE'RE GRATEFUL
  22. Book a cheap flight deal so we can take a trip as a family, preferably an international trip so Phi can get a passport stamp. - STILL LOOKING!
  23. Go back to the Primal lifestyle, at least 80% (I'll be shooting for 100% but I know that's unrealistic for me) - I'M LIKE 50% SO FAR.

I'm Ready To Start Freelancing, But I'm Afraid To Pitch!

I feel like I've told this story before, but I'll tell it again: I fell into writing by accident. This blogging this started on a lark, as a way to vent about the stress of my PhD program. I didn't expect to do it long-term, and I didn't expect anyone to read it. But people did read it, and they kept encouraging me to write. And then I fell into my internship with A Practical Wedding. Over the course of my year-long internship, I learned so much about writing for the web, and got plenty of practice writing different types of pieces - essay, sponsored, roundup, etc. When I started my internship, my goal was to develop my writing skills so that I could start pitching as a freelancer. I know I gained the skills, but I didn't gain the confidence! I feel so intimidated by freelancers who have training (like degrees in English) and have published pieces for respected outlets. Beyond my APW community, I don't have connections to editors. All I've got is a list of outlets that I'd love to pitch to and publish in, and a growing list of piece ideas that I'm a bit nervous about.

I think I'm suffering from imposter syndrome. I'm worried that my attempts to pitch will be seen as amateurish. I'm worried that my ideas will be rejected. My fear of rejection is paralyzing me. I haven't even pitched anything to APW, and I have a blanket invitation! My brain is struggling a bit - I don't wanna blame it on the baby...but it's the baby. Maybe when I go back to work, my brain power will come back too? But beyond that, I'm trying to work on getting past my fear and just jumping into freelancing. I know that "no" is the worst thing that can happen, and yet I'm still nervous and afraid to truly put myself out there.

Any tips on how to get over my fear and just do it?

 

Maternity Leave Is Giving Me The Time To Watch All These Shows Yall Been Talking About For Years

During my pregnancy, I really looked forward to my maternity leave. I was pretty much over work by the end of my pregnancy - waddling into the office, running to the bathroom every five minutes, and I found it hard to focus. I was ready to stay home and snuggle with my baby girl, which I've done since she was born.

I planned to breastfeed, and I knew going into it that I'd spend a lot of time feeding the baby...but I had no idea just how much time I'd spend in front of the TV! Especially in the early days, with Phi cluster feeding, it seems like I stayed glued to the TV while she nursed for hours. Initially I was watching my go-to faves, like Grey's Anatomy and Archer but that got old fast. One night around 2AM, I decided to start exploring the offerings on Kodi (app on the Fire TV stick) and I realized that instead of watching old stuff I've seen before, I could watch new stuff! Thanks to Kodi, Prime TV and Netflix, I have access to all these shows that I never watched when they were on-air.

And that's how I ended up going down the rabbit hole with several TV shows. First one I started was Nip/Tuck and I was hooked instantly! From the first episode, I knew this crazy show was right up my alley. It's so over the top and crazy, just what I need when I'm in my nursing chair with the baby. I'm about halfway through the series and I really don't want it to end. BTW, I'm watching using the Phoenix add-on in Kodi, as the show isn't available on Netflix.

Via Netflix, I started watching Damages, the Glenn Close show about a law firm, and that one got me quick too. I love a show with a strong female lead and a mystery, and it doesn't disappoint on either front. Unlike Nip/Tuck, I have to pay attention while this one is on, so no middle of the night watching for me.

This weekend we also randomly started watching The Good Wife. I'd seen my folks on social media rave about the show for years but I never got around to watching. I love the format and some of the characters, though it moves slightly slow. It's hard to watch a 24-episode season when I'm used to watching cable shows which typically have much shorter seasons.

Since I have this free time on my hands, what older shows should I watch? I've seen Sons of Anarchy and Mad Men. I have Breaking Bad on my list, and I have zero desire to watch The Walking Dead. I was thinking of maybe watching The Sopranos since I didn't watch it while it was on. Anything else?

It's Time To Go To Work On This Healthy Lifestyle

Body issues and struggles with my weight are not new to me. I've written throughout the years about my desires to lose weight, wear a smaller size, and feel better about my body. I've had successes through Weight Watchers and the Primal lifestyle, but each time I've fallen off the proverbial wagon and ended up heavier than before.

The time when most women gain lots of weight - pregnancy - is the time that I gained very little. I gained only 25 lbs during my pregnancy, and lost it all within four weeks of giving birth. Since then I've been back to my pre-pregnancy weight of 245 lbs, and holding steady. I share that number as because I want to be as transparent as possible about the journey I plan to undertake. See, even though I've lost my pregnancy weight, my body has changed in ways that I don't like. And even though the scale shows the same number, to me, I appear bigger than I did before. Things have shifted, skin has stretched, and I'm left with an image that I don't like at all. So I have no choice but to fix it through changing my diet and getting back into exercise.

It's my hope that sharing this publicly will help me stay accountable to my goals, instead of slacking off.

Here's my plan:

  • Use the Primal Lifestyle as the foundation for my lifestyle change. I'm shooting for 100% adherence which means I'll end up somewhere around 80%, which is where I was before. Basically this means removing processed foods from my diet, focusing on proteins and healthy fats in my diet, moving more (walking,yoga, etc), and trying to get a decent amount of sleep (may be hard with the baby).
  • Utilizing the gym in my building as well as getting back to yoga classes.
  • Not using "cravings" as an excuse to eat unhealthy things that will derail my efforts.

By far, my biggest challenge is going to be the moving more portion of this plan. I've never been much into working out, but I know I need to do it. It's also going to be hard for me to leave the baby, but I know I need to get more used it. Eating habits have always been easier for me, but it will be challenging with a new baby. Regardless, I'm committed to making changes and becoming more healthy not only for myself, but also for my little one.

I'll report back soon on how it's going!