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Southern California is known for its beautiful beaches…and one plot of land was recently reclaimed by the Black family it was once stolen from.  

On a recent trip to Cali, I was so proud and honored to visit Bruce’s Beach, a stretch of Manhattan Beach owned by Charles and Willa Bruce, an entrepreneurial Black couple.  They purchased the land for $1,225 in 1912 from a wealthy land developer, independent in his views at the time as a white man who had turned his back on segregation by offering up land for sale to African Americans.  The Bruces built a resort that was popular among Black beachgoers, who frequented the resort’s hotel, café and dancehall with fervor.  But the white residents in surrounding areas and the Ku Klux Klan weren’t so happy with the resort’s success and the revelry of Black guests.  They did everything they could to drive the Bruces out, even to the extent of trying to burn the resort down. 

In 1924, the City of Manhattan Beach took the Bruces’ land by eminent domain, a power that the government has to seize land for purposes of public use, in this case, a public park.  In return, the couple received a little over $14,000 in compensation, an amount significantly less than they asked for, and only a smidgeon of what the land was worth at the time.  Interestingly, but not surprisingly, no park was ever erected at the location.  The Bruces’ resort was torn down, and the local government passed laws to prohibit the Bruces from reopening their business in other parts of the area.  The land was transferred to the State of California in the 1940’s and later to Los Angeles County.  And sat empty.  

Charles and Willa Bruce – photo taped to plaque on location

Fast forward to modern day…the story of the Bruce’s Beach seizure became center-of-attention during discussions of reparations for people of color in California.  In late September of this year, the Governor of California signed a bill that allowed the return of the land to the Bruce family…the land that Charles and Willa Bruce purchased so many years ago.  While official transfer details are still being ironed out, the fact remains that the Bruce family is reclaiming their legacy, along with an official apology from the State of California.  Bruce’s Beach is surrounded by homes valued at upwards of $7 million and the land itself is said to hold a current value of $75 million.   

Commemorative Plaque

 

This is but one of a million stories of African Americans being driven from the land they owned and earned a living on over the course of the century.  There are stories we know about, like Rosewood and Tulsa and others, but there are many hidden stories as well.  In my family, my maternal ancestors who were rooted in Chantilly, Virginia owned land where Dulles Airport now sits, but no one had or has documents to prove it, nor what happened to it.  It was also likely seized by eminent domain when the airport was built, or maybe it was seized in some other manner years before. 

Many African Americans have no recourse in reclaiming what once belonged to them, mostly due to lack of land ownership documentation.  Other people of color lost their land when unable to pass down the rights to their “40 acres and a mule” to their descendants due to lack of access to legal representation to construct a will.  Financial lack and inability to pay property taxes, etc.  also resulted in loss of land ownership.  So many stories of loss…

 

Visiting Bruce’s Beach was a moving experience.  The beautiful park on the land that  once held a thriving Black bed and breakfast is nestled among multi million dollar homes on a hill that overlooks the ocean.  A commemorative plaque stands in remembrance of the rich history of the Bruces and their land.  The park’s benches are a good spot to sit and ponder the land’s history, or to revel in God’s artistic scenery.  A couple threw a Frisbee back and forth, children were playing and another couple enjoyed a picnic lunch.  The green grass, the trees and the not-too-distant sound of the ocean created pure serenity.  With eyes closed, my soul stirred with a feeling of peacefulness in this place where for a moment the dark past that created so much pain could be forgotten.  As a gentle breeze swept past my face, I imagined Charles and Willa Bruce; their spirits finally resting peacefully in the triumph of reclamation.

(Dean Musgrove/The Orange County Register via AP, File)

I encourage you to Google Bruce’s Beach to learn more about this wonderful piece of land and the incredible story of the Bruces and their ancestors.  Perhaps you have a “land story” in your family to look into or discuss.  Tell me about it in the comments!

If your travels ever bring you to Southern California, be sure to head over to Manhattan Beach and pay Bruce’s Beach a visit.  It is a beautiful monument to the Bruces, who were pioneers of their time.  

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Nobody really likes to talk about pooping or gas or tummy issues! But you know your tummy be talking to you when something’s going on, right? Just a’growling and a’rumbling!  You better stop and learn what it’s telling you! It’s important! Good gut health should be top of the list for self-care and good health because it is directly connected to overall wellness, including mental and emotional wellbeing.  

Here are five tips you can use now to embrace good gut health:

1. Educate yourself

Google it!  There are a plethora of YouTube videos and articles out there.  Not to replace medical advice from a good gastroenterologist, mind you, but simply learning how digestion and gut health is connected to overall health provides a  jump start.  “The 11 Best Ways to Improve Your Digestion Naturally” on the Healthline.com website, provides a list of some of the best ways to improve gut health:

  • Eat real (whole not processed) foods
  • Beef up on the fiber
  • Include healthy fats (salmon, anyone?)
  • Adequate hydration
  • Stress management
  • Mindful eating (eat slowly with focus on the food)
  • Chew, chew, chew it up!
  • Regular exercise
  • Don’t overeat (it takes 20 minutes for your brain to know your tummy is full)
  • Get rid of bad habits like smoking, too much alcohol & late-night eating
  • Include gut-supporting nutrients such as probiotics, etc.

2. Make necessary lifestyle changes

If you’re young, start taking care of yourself now!  I stopped eating red meat and quit smoking in 1996 and maintained a daily robust workout regimen.  I attribute those lifestyle choices I made early on to enjoying relatively good health as I approach 60. I am a firm believer that how you treat your body when you are young can make or break how debilitating the inevitable degenerative changes your body goes through in your 40’s, 50’s and beyond.  Of course, if you’re older, it’s never too late to institute good habits!  Diet and lifestyle changes go a long way to healing your gut.  Eat for nutrition, not for comfort or because you’re bored or to give in to cravings.  Lose weight, quit smoking, exercise!  Start today!

3. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure

Have you ever considered what this saying means?  When it comes to our health, it’s easier to stay healthy than to get healthy from an unwell state.  I watched my mother endure the ravages of diabetes – a disease that literally attacks your entire body.  While she tried to make healthy choices, the disease had already begun to take its toll on her physical being and the damage was irrevocable. All diseases begin in the colon — and digestive issues lead to many of these health issues, some of which are sometimes avoidable by making preventative choices before you get sick.

4. Supplements!

Did you know your body has its own digestive ecosystem?  Gastrointestinal flora is simply a safe balance of good and bad bacteria working together for common good in your digestive system.  Just like anything else, though, when the bad outnumber the good, you’ve got troubles! Probiotic supplements help create a good balance.  If you don’t like taking pills, yogurt, kefir, kombucha, etc. are viable options.  Celestial Seasonings makes a great ginger tea with probiotics that is pure liquid wellness, Woooo!  Pick it up at the healthy food markets, like Sprouts and Whole Foods.

5. Don’t be hard on yourself

I have suffered from acid reflux for the last few years, and a few lifestyle changes stand in the way of good gut health for me.  Yes, I know, I know….  For some reason, I am a lot less disciplined these days.  The journey has never been a straight line. Yet, I’ve decided to stop being hard on myself, and use that energy to do what I need to do – one step at a time.  I re-dedicate myself as many times as I need to.

What are some of the things you do, or can do for a positive impact on your wellbeing?  If you know what that is and haven’t started, begin today!  Dedication and focus is key!  It starts in your mind first!

When your tummy is happy, you will find that many other parts of your body are better!  And it’s not so much what you eat because tummy wellness has so many moving parts.  Doing all of the things that cut down on inflammation (another good health topic to Google) and creating wholesome balance in your body can go a long way to overall health and wellness.  It’s all about self-care! Be kind to your tummy!

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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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A few days ago, as I prepared to make my grocery store run to pick up a few “essentials”, I stopped short at my reflection in the mirror.  One month into this pandemic quarantine stay at home shelter in place situation has done a number on my hair! I’m missing my periodic visit to my hairstylist or barber for a trim and/or to spruce up my ‘do!  These days certainly call for bad hair day alternatives – a baseball cap or sporty fedora…or…a head wrap!  Scarves, turbans and head wraps are extremely versatile and offer the opportunity of wrapping your head in variety of colorful fabrics to suit your mood and style.  Here are 5 links to fun and easy “how-to’s” that will have you on your way to becoming a head wrap expert!

*******

 

Essence Magazine recently shared “5 Easy Head Wrap Tutorials to Try Before Your Next Zoom Meeting“, which will provide a great start to variety of head wraps.  Click on the title link to be on your way!

I was drawn to YouTube as well because there are a number of tutorials offered there.  Here’s one that caught my eye because of the gorgeous fabrics!

I learned also that the structure and look of the head wrap depends on whether your hair is long or short.  I also learned you can create a tall turban even if you don’t have a bushel of hair! Like so:

Head wraps are also a great way to cover hair loss as a result of bouts with alopecia, or from chemotherapy treatments for our warrior sisters battling cancer.  Tune in to ZsjaZsja!

Finally, here’s one for my sisters with the big curlies or long braids!

There are many many awesome tutorials on Youtube that are easy to follow and just entertaining to watch!  Choose the one that speaks to your style and start wrapping!

For my grocery store journey, I went with one of the turban style head wraps featured in the Essence Magazine article, added earrings, lip gloss and was out the door!  Which of these did you like the most?  Do you wear head wraps, scarves or turbans as a regular style choice?  Tell me your head wrap story in the comments!

 

 

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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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