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20 years have passed…

When the World Trade Center opened in 1973, the Twin Towers were the tallest set of buildings in the world.  They were a dominant and recognizable attribute to the Manhattan skyline; it simply wasn’t New York without them.  I remember going Downtown as a little girl and being near the towers.  Standing below and looking up, it seemed the upper floors and tops of the towers disappeared into the clouds! Not only were they the bustling apex of financial business in the Empire State, but they were also an iconic landmark for the world, and especially for New Yorkers.

I watched the limited series “9/11: One Day in America” on Hulu in small doses over the last few days.  Small doses because the evil that occurred on 9/11/2001 is so very heartbreaking for many reasons.  It’s astonishing that this horrible event unfolded in a span of only 90 minutes under one of the starkest and clearest blue skies I have ever seen.  This series is one to watch; it reminds you that there is a tapestry of stories that underlie that fateful day.  We are reminded once again of the heroism of firefighters, police officers, civilians, and first responders.  And that so many suffered from survivor’s remorse, PTSD, and other psychological reverberations.  Let’s not even mention the physical effects of being in the presence of so much smoke and debris from the collapsed buildings that led to illness, disease, and death.  Some survived that day only to die years later, almost like some terrible afterthought of the day.

To have grown up in New York and to be familiar with the love the city had for the Twin Towers; to watch them fall again brought tears to my eyes.  It seems so silly – to become emotional about the demise of buildings – after all, they’re only structures of steel beams and concrete.  Generations from now, the love for the Twin Towers, the dreadful events of the day, and the underlying evil, won’t dredge up the same emotion that it does for those who experienced it firsthand or watched everything unfold on 24-hour news that day.  Or understand and know that for America, this watershed event created a dividing line – a “before 9/11” and an “after 9/11”.

Those who did experience it have vivid memories of where they were and what they were doing that day.  I was nearly three months pregnant with my son.  I still recall the shock and disbelief at what my eyes were seeing.  I also remember the feeling of trepidation and fear about this mixed-up, messed-up world I was bringing a child into.

Those who are now in their late teens or early 20’s are the offspring of those like me who were pregnant or of those who had very young children on 9/11/2001.  They are also the same young people who were in their final high school years or graduating when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.  Born into post-9/11 times and “coming of age” in pandemic times … two eras of America that demand resilience and strength to negotiate.  They have no firsthand knowledge of the more “innocent” times, the times before the Department of Homeland Security was established and when you didn’t have to take your shoes off for inspection before you boarded a plane.  Theirs is a different world to navigate.  I hope that enduring these times somehow gives them the birthright to be the generation that brings about the most change and evolution.  There must be a reason for these events occurring in some of the most important years of their lives.

20 years have passed… and part of me wishes I could skip over 9/11/2021, to turn away and shield myself from reliving the pain again.  But the reality is, we must never forget…because we have a responsibility to continue memorializing the fallen, the heroes, and the survivors, and to tell the story, no matter how painful it is.  

#9/11 #neverforget

 

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You are exactly where you’re supposed to be…

Do you ever get to the point when you just throw your hands up about a situation and say you’re just not going to worry about it anymore? 

An albatross is a bird, but metaphorically, it is also used to describe something that burdens you…it follows you, weighs you down, and makes you feel as if you’ll never get rid of it.  Be it a bad financial situation, a relationship that’s bereft with problems you can’t seem to solve, a child who’s giving you trouble, a weight loss journey … you name it.  Oh, the struggle!

Then, all of a sudden, somehow you just arrive at that place.  The part where you have suffered and fought for so long.  The part where you’re tired of driving yourself headfirst into the storm.  The part where you’re ready to let go and let God.  That time, when you realize you’re not supposed to fight, but now you’re just supposed to flow, and let life happen. 

When you get to that point, though, it doesn’t mean the problem or situation goes away!  Oh no…it only means that you’ve decided not to exert the extra energy it takes to tussle with something that’s just not going to change right now.  Doing so only adds to the strife, and takes your focus away from the valuable lesson you’re supposed to learn from the situation.

No more fight…it’s a moment of sweet release.  But guess what else? More important than letting go is the realization that the position you’re in is where you’re supposed to be, even if you don’t understand it, and even if you don’t see how it’s going to turn out.

You are exactly where you’re supposed to be…

Although the future just ahead of you seems cloudy,  concentrate on what the Spirit has for you today. Don’t worry! Lavish in the goodness of now! Keep up with your connection to the Universe…and before you know it, step by step, everything is alright, just like you knew it would be.  

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We are exposed to many negative and scary stories on a daily basis – in the news, on social media, and other people’s stories of mishaps and misfortune.  Everything can be on a pretty even keel in your life, but once you turn on the 24-hour news channels and expose yourself to news about the escalation in gun violence and murders, protests, injustices, deaths, etc., the feeling of balance can dissipate.

Back in April, I watched the live broadcast of the multi-week trial involving ex-police officer Derek Chauvin who has now been convicted of the murder of George Floyd.  What I didn’t get to see live, I watched on recap videos.  It was a difficult three weeks of watching the video of Mr. Floyd being tortured and taking his last breath.  Yet, I was determined to stay informed about each and every detail.  Why?  Because this time, like so many other times …when it got to the end and we were once again disappointed at no justice, I would at least be able to piece it together in my head as to why.  Yes, I expected to be disappointed, which is sad all by itself.  Ultimately, justice was served…bittersweet justice that only scratches the surface of the real justice that’s required.  As you’re reading this, Mr. Chauvin will have already been sentenced; sentencing is scheduled for June 25.  According to the news, he faces a 30-year sentence, but again…I am skeptical that he will receive the max.

I have a son, who is driving and moving and shaking like he’s supposed to at 19 years of age.  Truthfully, I’m terrified each and every time he walks out of the door and I don’t relax again until he returns home.  When I watch and hear the stories of any shooting or murder of young people, of Black men, by any perpetrator, not just the police – no matter how hard I try, I internalize grief and fear connected to the incident.  It’s as if what I’m seeing and hearing happened to me.  The whole thing presents a level of stress that’s an ugly undercurrent to daily life.

If you took a psychology class in school, you most assuredly learned that if you are faced with a dangerous situation, your body goes into a flight or fight mode –  you run or you defend yourself.  Emotional shock is another response to a traumatic event.  Of course, this speaks to a real event that actually happens to you.  But what about the stress and fear that arises from unrealistic events – those you put yourself into that aren’t really happening to you?  In those instances, our body reacts just as, or almost the same as, a real event – the adrenaline rush of flight or fight.  Imagine doing that over and over – fight or flight, then recovery, then repeat.  

Putting ourselves in this position is toxic to our lives, and toxic to our health.  It’s also toxic to our minds – the more fear you create for yourself, the more narrow your life becomes.  By focusing on the fear of things you can’t control – that aren’t even happening directly to you – will eventually negatively impact the quality of your life.   “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage” –  Anaïs Nin.  

So, what to do?

Focus on the present.  Take a break from the news – turn the tv off for as long as you need to.  Take a social media break.  Distance yourself from negative people.  Surround yourself with laughter, nature, replenish your soul with good things!  Play music and dance.  Take a bubble bath, watch The Kings of Comedy (my go-to!), try a new hobby, read a book.  

When I look at my son, I’ve got to choose to “see” him today – he’s funny, smart, handsome and he keeps me young!  Why would I want to miss all that goodness each day by obsessively focusing on what could happen to him out in this world?  It is a choice that I have to make for myself.  We – you and I – are the masters of our thoughts and surroundings – what we let in is our choice.  We can’t afford to live our lives in an abyss of fear; live for today – it’s enough.  Tomorrow will take care of itself. 

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On a recent Sunday, I decided we needed a pancake breakfast at home.  I got out the package of pancake mix that I ordered from Barlow’s (Black-owned business, check them out; link below.)  The pancakes were delicious, but while I cooked them, I was reminded that I don’t make the best-looking pancakes in the world.  Ha!  Distorted, contorted, misshapen, oh my!  Each is a different shade of “doneness” (a cultural diaspora!).  But they taste good…so don’t judge me!

Growing up, my mother would make pancakes every Sunday for breakfast.  We’d have bacon or sausage and eggs and orange juice; I always looked forward to her pancakes!  I could smell them cooking when I woke up.  They were always round and the same size, evenly done on both sides.  If she ever burned or messed any of them up, we never knew!  No matter how much I practice, I can never get them to look like hers – I’ve practiced for years!  Ugh…

Maybe I took after my father with the pancake situation.  Daddy wasn’t much of a cook in the kitchen, but boy could he grill!  Remembering back to the times when my mother was admitted to the hospital for a few days, my father tried his best to ensure that life for me and my brother didn’t miss a beat.  In advance of my mother’s hospital stay, my Aunt Dottie would braid my shoulder-length hair in those infamous three plaits I always wore in the hopes that my hairdo would keep until my mother came home.  Auntie fixed it so all Daddy had to do was brush down ‘dem edges.  Lord, I wish we had edge control back in those days!  But like I said, he did the best he could.  Whew!

So, back to the pancakes.  Yeah, Daddy tried it – he cooked the pancakes on Sunday because he knew we would expect them.  As they say down here in the South – bless his heart!  His pancakes were all kinds of shapes and sizes!  When we got our plates, my brother and I exchanged looks, shrugged, and dug in anyway and they were really okay.  Besides, the choices were – eat or starve until Mommy came home!  Nevertheless, when I cook my funny-looking pancakes, I think back with fondness about those times with my father – and put that butter and syrup on my ‘cakes and enjoy!  

Moral of the story – do your best!  If you’re not really good at something, just do the best you can, don’t overthink it.  Somebody will view it as such and appreciate it.  Perfection is overrated anyway!  

Success has a simple formula: do your best and people may like it. – Sam Ewing

Barlow’s (https://barlowsfoods.com/) Check them out and order your pancake mix – they are delicious!  Four simple organic ingredients go into the mix – you can taste the simple freshness!  #supportblackowned

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Spring is here!  Yayyyy!  Summer is my favorite season of the year, but spring is a welcome appetizer!  I love it when the birds begin harmonizing like SWV and Jodeci, the sun starts planting deeper kisses on our skin, and the Earth ushers in a revival after winter!  It’s time for refreshment and renewal and I’m here for it!

Speaking of being here for it…I’m doing a new thing!  I’ve been having sessions with an awesome nutritionist and I am learning so many new facts about food!  Like many of you, I have gained a few COVID pounds during the pandemic.  Now that spring is here, I’m ready to get myself in shape!  Woooo, lookahere….the methods I used to lose weight during my 30’s and 40’s don’t garner the same results as I approach 60, or at least not as quickly. The struggle is real!

A few months ago, I signed up for the Weight Watchers three-month promotion.  I lost five pounds in the first month, but the program did not work for me.  Why? Simply put, I need someone to hold my hand.  For me, success in this type of program means in-person weigh-ins and counseling sessions through a customized program, but COVID restrictions ruled that out.

Enlisting the assistance of a nutritionist is just what the doctor ordered (pun intended).  I am learning about reading product labels and what to look for, how many servings of fruit and veggies to include in my daily diet, getting assistance with my exercise goals, tips on how to get adequate sleep/rest, etc.  During our virtual sessions, she tunes in to my needs and provides advice that suits my lifestyle and what I’m trying to accomplish.   

So yeah…at the very least, I must include five (count ‘em five) servings of fruit and veggies, combined.  Minimal!  Now, if she told me I had to include five cookies in my daily diet, I’m all in! Ha!  Five servings of fruit and veggies don’t seem like a lot, but when you barely ingest one or two veggies on a regular day, it’s an adjustment!  Luckily, she gave me a daily meal plan template to structure my meals around the required servings of protein, grains, fruits, and veggies.  

I’ve got the juice!  A few years ago, I juiced regularly, but the practice fell by the wayside so I sold my juicer at a yard sale.  I’ve picked it back up again – purchased a new juicer and now I’m on my way!  I bought a Hamilton Beach juicer, from Target that’s relatively inexpensive at around $60, and I like it!  Click here to view or purchase.  The big mouth at the top allows me to insert small fruits without having to cut them up. One of the downsides to juicing is the big mess it makes!  To combat that, I put a grocery bag in the pulp receptacle to catch the pulp.  It makes cleaning easy – just pop out the bag and throw it in the trash when you’re done!   If you desire to keep the pulp for other uses, using a large plastic storage bag in the receptacle instead would give you easy clean-up AND storage!   

My first juice endeavor is Morning Glow Detox – a recipe I found online at  3 Healthy Detox Juice Recipes.  It’s a sunshiny orange delicious concoction of carrots, oranges, golden beets, ginger, turmeric, and lemon!  Try it!  I’ve also listed some other great resources for juicing recipes and methods below.  Juicing is a great way to conquer your daily required servings of fruit and veggies. To me, juicing doesn’t replace a good ole plate of crispy Brussel sprouts, and I’m not advocating for juicing as a meal replacement, but it is a great enhancement to your diet to include more of the good stuff!  And it can curb your appetite!  Make several different juices to drink throughout the day.  They’re best enjoyed freshly made, but most can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to three days.  I make my next-day supply of juices at night before going to bed.

I am so excited about my sessions with my nutritionist and finding new methods of healthy eating – using meal plans, cooking at home, being mindful of how my body reacts to certain foods, the proper use of supplements, creating a sleep plan, etc.  As I go along, I will continue to share about my new undertaking of self-care.  

As you grow older, your health and wellness plan needs to change; what works yesterday may not work today.  I’ve learned that the best way is to have a plan with attainable goals included.  Knowledge and mindfulness are power – where you are, where you plan to be, and what you need to do to get there is key.  Wellness is a journey, not a destination!

Juicing Resources

Juicing with Drea: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OasOy1cdlUk

Juicing for Clear Skin & Weightloss: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UxNPGhHkTc4

3 Fresh Juice Recipes:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2bOlsvr7CUE

I also ordered a book called “The Juicing Bible” (click here to purchase), the crème de la crème of resources on how to use natural foods to cure what ails you.  Can’t wait to receive it!

 

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Oh So Classy Spotlight – Kenya Hughes

Let’s turn the spotlight on our Oh So Classy member Kenya Hughes!

Kenya is committed to Classy Living Society’s highest membership level…the Oh So Classy level, where members continue to enjoy unique perks and fabulous benefits.

Kenya shared why she joined CLS. She’d been following Classy Living Society on social media for a while and loved that the organization gave back to the community in so many different ways. She was excited about the various ways to volunteer. After attending the Red Dress Gala in 2017, Kenya felt so welcomed even though she didn’t know anyone there. She had an amazing time! After continuing to follow CLS, she attended the Christmas Pajama Party ~ The Mingle Jingle, and that was it…she was sold! She laughed! She danced! She cried! She joined!

Kenya was born and raised in the beautiful city of Charleston, South Carolina, known for its elegant French Quarter, Battery promenade, and Waterfront Park. She enjoyed growing up there as her dad was granted an Air Force transfer from Ramstein AFB, Germany, to Charleston when she was five years old. Kenya loved learning about the history of Charleston and now reflects that as painful as the past is for this city, the people are incredibly resilient. She sees so much love and culture in “The Holy City,” where she’s always embraced her childhood memories. Friendly people, fantastic food, and those breathtaking beaches were Kenya’s backdrop, and living only 25 minutes from the beach was an added bonus for her.

Because Kenya’s parents always invited people to their home for the holidays or whenever there was a need, she knows this is where she developed her heart for giving and serving the community. Kenya remembers that her family was always serving others when she was growing up. Back then and now, it just seems like the natural thing to do. Her parents never said no when she constantly brought people who didn’t have any family to their home during the holidays. So she just kept bringing them. These random acts of kindness have followed Kenya, and now she and her husband continue to help families in need. Kenya will never forget their first act of kindness, where she and her husband fully furnished an apartment for a mom, her two daughters, and two grandchildren two weeks before Christmas. “We do things when we are led by God,” says Kenya, and many more people in need have crossed their path since then.

Kenya feels that her mother has been the most significant influence in her life, and her parents established a firm foundation for her. She’s grateful for the discipline she’s had in her life and knows that this has helped her experience the success she enjoys today.

Kenya says her test is her testimony, and not having children of her own has been a test. She’s taken that pain and has turned it into purpose by giving all she has to those who need it the most. Kenya tries to encourage women never to give up and, more importantly, don’t lose hope. She feels that we all have something worth fighting for, and we all have to decide for ourselves what it is and what it’s worth. Kenya says we all have a story, but it’s what we’re willing to do with that story that counts. She decided to choose joy despite it all and doesn’t hesitate to share her story to give others hope. She continues to find joy in the journey.

Kenya moved to the Atlanta area in 2002 and has lived in Alpharetta, Ga. for the past 15 years. She’s been married to her wonderful husband, John Hughes, for 14 years, and even though they haven’t been blessed with children of their own, Kenya says God has placed many children in their lives in many other ways. Her only niece, Erin, knows her as Funtie (fun auntie), but Kenya admits that she has many adopted nieces and nephews. She enjoys spoiling them and then sending them home!

After being featured on The Ellen Show for one of their random acts, Kenya and her husband John started a non-profit organization called “We Are The Hughes.” Their “Ellen” money helped them get off to a fantastic start, and they’ve been going strong for over two years now. They continue to perform random acts of kindness throughout the year, and they’re able to bless many more families. Kenya says “being part of The Ellen Show is an experience that I’ll never forget.” No, she didn’t make it to the white couch, but Kenya was one of three people that Ellen highlighted out of three hundred during her 60th birthday show. Kenya and her husband were part of the One Million Acts of Good $1 Million giveaway. They were also able to mingle with Michelle Obama, Jennifer Anniston, Kevin Hart, and Channing Tatum.

Kenya has worked in retail management for 24 years, with the past six years working at Rooms To Go. She’s currently a General Manager at a North Georgia location. Seeing her sales associates and managers grow brings her so much joy! She loves her job!

Kenya loves crafting and creating. After making a fall wreath for her front door a couple of years ago and posting it on Facebook, she received 43 orders for Thanksgiving and Christmas wreaths. Kenya created a Facebook page called DYD Wreaths by Kenya. Check her out on Facebook! Kenya is currently renovating her home, and she and her husband are doing most of the work themselves, so Hobby Lobby, Michael’s, and Pinterest are her best friends. Kenya answers the call to travel and would love to see the country in an RV with her husband. Her dream is to visit Africa one day.

This Oh So Classy member is looking forward to creating more beautiful memories with Classy Living Society in the future.

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Welcome to the NEW Classy Chronicles!

Formerly, the Classy Chronicles was the official online digital magazine of Classy Living Society. The newly revamped Classy Chronicles is now a platform housed on the Classy Living Society website! Through easy-to-navigate dropdown menus, the Classy Chronicles provides an outlet to many subjects of interest at the click of a mouse – articles and features that highlight people who are doing amazing things in the community, health and wellness, work-life balance, beauty and fashion and more!

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