30 Things I Learned by Age 30

1. Self acceptance.
I spent most of my late teens and 20s feeling like a failure because I had these highly ambitious expectations for myself. By the time I was 18, it was clear that I wouldn’t accomplish a lot of those goals and it shattered my world. Rebuilding an image of myself as someone I never expected to be – never wanted to be – was daunting for me. Embracing all of me has been a struggle, but thirty years of life has shown me how phenomenal I am on my most basic days.

2. Life is for living, not merely existing.
My grandmother had both legs amputated this year, and our family made the difficult decision to place her in a nursing home. Despite our undying love for her, we could no longer care for her in the way she needed. I am witnessing her life slowly deteriorate, and I am also witnessing her strength and will to live and not just exist despite the circumstances. So much of what my family has weathered this year with my grandmother has made me value the things beyond going to work and going home. I want to have good stories to tell my nieces, nephew, and their kids. When my life is reaching is final days, I don’t want to dwell on all of the things I missed in life. Much of that is why I stopped waiting for others a long time ago; I’ll go on a solo adventure in a heartbeat.

3. People are multifaceted.
I didn’t quite comprehend this until Fidel Castro died, but it makes sense. There seemed to be a 50/50 split between those who despised him and those who loved him. I’ve been to Havana and I’ve seen the effects of the Castro regime. I’ve seen the effects of socialism. Upon news of his death, I reflected on how I felt – how I was supposed to feel. Should I rejoice that the evil dictator was dead or should I mourn for the man who loved his country so much that he overthrew the Batista government for it? It made me realize that good people can do bad things. Bad people can do good things. Humans are complicated creatures and we all have our Achilles’ heel.

4. I have trust issues.
Thirty years of life has taught me to show skepticism toward everyone, and I hate it. I hate that I allowed enough people to betray me to the point that I don’t even trust myself with judging someone’s character. I’m taking small steps to build a healthier level of skepticism by allowing people to earn my trust with time and consistency, but I have a long journey ahead of me. There must be some balance, and I’m understanding that there will always be a risk of being hurt because people are not perfect.

5. I can’t do it all alone.
My mother birthed two children, but I felt like an only child because my brother was ten years older than me. Since he was uninterested in all of the girly things I wanted to do, I found contentment in my own company. As a result, I have always been fiercely independent, but I’m learning that some things in life require the assistance of a friend or family member. I’m making a greater effort to stay in contact with the people I know and love. Continue reading

Let’s Talk About Menstrual Cups

menstrual cup
Let’s talk feminine hygiene.

I finally got with the times. I was one of those ladies who began wearing tampons later than everyone else. Pads were my go-to for many years, then I made the transition. Then I discovered organic tampons and pads, and that started a new wave for me. Now, I’m trying the DivaCup.

There are two versions of the DivaCup. Size 1 is for women who have not given birth or are under the age of thirty. Size 2 is a bit bigger, and is for women who have given birth or women over the age of 30. If you have not given birth and are over the age of 30, then I don’t know what to tell you.

When I looked at all of the feminine products I was packing for my trip to Mexico, I knew something had to change. I love that the DivaCup supports my “pack light” initiative. So here is my play-by-play for the DivaCup.

7:00 pm
I sit on the toilet, and open the box. Inside is the DivaCup, instructions, and a pouch to store it when not in use. The instructions say to wash hands and the DivaCup thoroughly, so I head over to the sink sans underwear.

Back on the toilet, I continue reading the instructions for insertion. I fold the DivaCup twice, insert, and turn it 360 degrees (more like 720 just to be sure!). I make sure the stem isn’t sticking out and then I compare the illustration to how it actually is in my body. I mentally evaluate if I can feel it or if it is uncomfortable. Yes, I can feel it. No, it is not uncomfortable.

7:09 pm
I eat a slice of king cake, and text #CountryBae.

7:26 pm
I still feel it. Surely, this isn’t right.

7:35 pm
I google “are you supposed to feel divacup.” The answer is no 😂.

7:37 pm
I go back to the toilet, and try again. I definitely didn’t insert it correctly the first time because it was starting to slide out a bit. I remove it and notice that it caught a droplet of blood. I reinsert. I can still feel it, but not as much as before.

7:46 pm
I eat another slice of king cake, and text #CountryBae.

7:59 pm
I walk around for a moment, and realize that I don’t feel a thing. VICTORY!

10:52 pm
I start getting ready for bed and decide that I don’t want to sleep with this thing inside of me. I decide to remove it. I’m supposed to grab the stem of it and sort of wiggle it out, but it has slid in a bit, so I have to use my kegels to push it down a bit in order to reach the stem. I grab the stem and gently pull until it is out. Continue reading

I Finally Learned How to Swim

Picture When I was a child, I almost drowned at a water park. I was in the kiddie pool when one the workers told us to go to the normal sized pool because I looked too big for the kiddie pool. I wasn’t yet big enough for the normal pools either, but that was where I had to go. I don’t remember much about the incident, but I had a black swimming tube around me and I was slowly walking in the pool. Next thing I knew, there was a drop. I didn’t know how to swim, so I just went down under the water. My parents weren’t watching me because they were in the midst of an argument, but the lifeguard saved me.

I never went to a swimming pool or a beach afterwards, but a part of me yearned to learn how to swim. I remember another vacation with my parents where my dad tried to teach me in a hotel pool. There were trust issues, and I couldn’t get out of my comfort zone in order to learn. Fast forward to adulthood and I spent quite a few days laying on a beach, but never touching the water. I was slightly embarrassed about the fact that I never learned how to swim. Something bothered me about living up to the negative stereotype of black people being unable to swim. On many occasions throughout the years I searched for adult swimming lessons but could never find any in my area.

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Hair Triggers

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One thing I don’t play about is my hair. I’m so serious. I can tell you every single time since 5th grade when somebody fucked with me and my hair because I don’t forget that type of event! It’s that important to me.

My blood is boiling! Why did I schedule a hair appointment for today at 4:30 pm and show up to see that this woman isn’t even there. There’s a sign on the door that says, “Please call if the door is locked.” I call her MULTIPLE times and the bitch doesn’t answer. I AM LEAVING FOR EUROPE TOMORROW AND I DID NOT PLAN ON WEARING MY HAIR NATURALLY!! The purpose of getting braids was so that I didn’t have to worry about my natural hair getting frizzy in the Dublin rain. Furthermore, I wouldn’t have to carry a ton of hair products.

I don’t even have a plan b. Had I known that might have happened, I would have contacted my regular stylist to at least get a professional roller set. I think about my options, but there aren’t many. Nobody is doing hair on a random Tuesday evening in April. If I knew where she lived I’d go knock on her door. Do my hair or catch these hands!
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On the Hunt for Lionel Dugas

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I called my mom one weekend to ask about her maternal grandfather. My online research had not revealed anything, and I hoped that she could provide some missing links. The U.S. Census takers seemed to have skipped his home – which was surely in the middle of nowhere – for a few censuses, so my great-grandfather and his family were not listed. Unfortunately, my mother knew nothing of his side of the family. I found that to be strange since he was a major male figure in her life after her father died of cancer when she was just a teen. I called my grandmother three times, and she never answered the phone. Without even thinking, I grabbed my purse, camera, and phone, and headed out of the door. I was about to do one thing I said I would never do alone.

On a warm November morning in Louisiana, I drove about an hour to the middle of nowhere to find evidence of my great-grandfather’s existence. Our family’s cemetery is out in an area that no longer has a name. Cemeteries are creepy in general, but this one is way off the beaten path on a gravel road surrounded by woods. It’s a place I earlier said I would never go alone, but I insisted on getting some information to move forward with my genealogy research. I could only recall being there twice, so I navigated there based on years-old memories since Google Maps couldn’t offer any assistance.

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Discoveries on the Family Tree

When I purchased an AncestryDNA kit, I also began piecing together my family tree. It is something that I have wanted to do for over a decade after experiencing an awful family reunion. It happened around my freshman year of college, and it was planned by distant cousins who didn’t even label our branch of the family on the family tree. We were the biggest portion of the branch that showed up to the festivities, but we weren’t even labeled as family! There hasn’t been another major family gathering since then, and I’ve been trying to put a bug in my older cousin’s ear that she needs to spearhead the event planning. Well, here were are a decade later, and nothing has happened. I took matters into my own hand and started working on my family tree. It has become addicting.

I have not spent a great deal of time researching my paternal side of the family because someone previously did it. Instead I’ve placed my efforts into my maternal side of the family, and I’ve added 305 people so far. It’s funny to call my grandma and ask questions like, “How are we related to Rose again? I know she’s our cousin, but how?”

I was surprised to discover that my family has lived in the same 50 mile radius since before the Emancipation Proclamation. We stayed in rural Louisiana for generations, and I still don’t know how to feel about that fact. I find it interesting that no one became a part of the Great Migration. African Americans were headed north for a better life in droves, but my family stayed in an area that didn’t appear to have anything to offer them. Why?

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Early Voting and Finding Comfort in Another Country

early voting

I early voted today!

This election cycle has been the worst, and I’ve been over it since 2015. It is the third time that I’ve been eligible to vote in a presidential election, but I don’t ever recall being fed up with everything and everyone. I have the mindset that the peoples’ opinion don’t matter, but I vote in every election because of how hard others fought for that civil right. Politicians aren’t in those positions to serve their constituents. It’s all about themselves. The few who do care get eaten alive.

Early voting is always a good idea because the lines during Election Day voting are always long at my polling place. I live in a red state, so my vote for president doesn’t really matter. Trump is taking Louisiana without a doubt, so I was more focused on the senate and representative races. I don’t have any political affiliation, but Trump taking Louisiana so easily has made me consider moving to a swing state in the future. Not a single person solicited my vote. It’s all so surreal. I don’t belong in a world where former KKK leader, David Duke, is an option on a ballot. I just don’t deserve this.

One of the questions that has been asked regularly in my travel communities is, “If you decided to leave America due the election results, to which country would you move?” My answer has always been the same: I’m not going anywhere.

My AncestryDNA Results

Independence Day weekend was my most uneventful time off this year, and I’m not mad about it. My plan to attend the Essence Festival in New Orleans failed at the last minute, and it was my first time missing the “Black Family Reunion” in some years. Instead, I spent the entire weekend relaxing alone at home because I had been spending so much of my spare time stroking the ego of a man, and was over it. I kicked my feet up and watched Power, Underground, and Greenleaf, while browsing the internet and sipping Riesling. Twas lovely.

At some point in my internet browsing, I came across an interesting discussion within my travel community about DNA testing. I erroneously thought the only ancestry testing possible was through mitochondrial DNA, i.e., the maternal lineage, leaving too many unknowns on the paternal side. For that reason, I never found any true interest in it until then. Furthermore, DNA testing was marked in my mind as a scam after watching a series on Dateline or 20/20 where people submitted DNA testing to different companies and got different results.

I’m a spur-of-the-moment kind of gal. Some of the best moments in my life came from spontaneity, so no need to change a formula that works. After browsing through my travel community, taking everyone’s word for it, and failing to do any of my own thorough research, I went online and purchased a discounted AncestryDNA kit.

Before I even got my results, I was filled with assumptions. I expected to have mostly West African ancestry, of course. I mean, I’m chocolate brown with African features. Look at that nose, Maury. Look at that hair texture. Look at those lips, Maury!

From my father, I expected some Caribbean blood there, which just goes back to Africa anyway. But aren’t we all from Africa anyway?! On my mother’s side, I expected a small trace of European ancestry. I mean, I’m from Louisiana. We have French surnames that could simply be the result of one of my ancestors taking the last name of his master or quite possibly being his descendant. Also, no multigenerational American is purely one ethnicity, but I expected to be about 90% African.

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Saying Goodbye to Home Ownership

Saying Goodbye to Home Ownership

It’s funny how life works. And by funny, I mean awful. I had been in a long-term relationship, when my partner decided it was time to purchase our first home. A year before I met him, I looked into purchasing my own home because the apartment life had become depressing, but I changed my mind after learning some of the realities of homeownership. That 30-year commitment was real for someone like me who was a recent college graduate with no huge savings for a significant down payment and no generational wealth to assist in a cash purchase.

I also changed my mind because I had a difficult time finding people I could trust during such an important milestone in my life. I went through two uneducated realtors, and confirmed my opinion that most realtors are people who couldn’t succeed at any other profession in life. My mortgage lender treated me as if I didn’t graduate with a finance degree. On my own, I was oblivious to those little nuances that I should have been searching for in a home to ensure that it was built efficiently. Added to that, I resided in a city where just about everywhere was a flood zone, and that flood insurance cost is no joke. Frightened and frustrated, I walked away from it all.

Fast forward a few years later, and I was very apprehensive about purchasing a home with my guy because I felt the timing wasn’t right. I had no intentions of residing in the same city in five years, and I wanted more cushion in my savings account before making such a large down payment. After developing a strategy and getting a bit of reassurance from my guy, we pulled the trigger and made the most expensive purchase of our lives. Four months after we moved, the relationship ended abruptly. My ex got the house while I got a one-bedroom apartment rental.

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