Baby Steps Back to Good Health

One of the things imperative to my health improving is getting back in the kitchen. I stopped cooking regularly like I once did. The result was almost immediate weight gain and elevated blood pressure. I realize food is not the only issue. It is, however, the first of a few things I will address.   I’m setting small attainable goals so as not to get discouraged.  I will measure results in 30 days.

The day after my doctors appointment I went grocery shopping.  I bought fresh and frozen produce.  I had a plan in mind.  Meal planning is so important.  I bought vegetables that I would use for omelets as well as stir fry dishes.  I also bought nutritional shakes and meal replacement shakes for days when I’m on the road.  My schedule can change in an instant.  I want to avoid the urge to stop for high sodium meals on the go.  Wouldn’t you know it, while I was shopping I got a call for a commercial.  Those shakes came in handy.  I had just enough time to take my groceries home and get on the road. It was a rush but I was prepared. I felt accomplished drinking my shake instead of searching for a drive thru on my way to set.

Two days later and I am sticking to my plan of homemade or shakes.  It is not hard if I plan ahead.  It is the last minute hunger that gets me in trouble.  So far so good.  Follow me on Instagram to see what I cook up.


Next Step – Exercise

My last post addressed my first step back to health; diet. It’s only been a few days but it has been a good few days. I haven’t skipped a meal or done any binge eating. I have also been preparing my meals at home.  Now I am going to add my next step, exercise.

Like some of you, I have a specific room for excercise.  The problem is I don’t actually use it.  Here’s my solution.  I rearranged a room I am always in, my bedroom, to make room for exercise.  I made a space big enough for strength training, flexibility training, and cardio.  No excuses now.  I will see this space every morning and every night.  I figure if nothing else guilt will eventually set in.

Guess what? This morning it worked.  No guilt needed.  I woke up and I wanted to do it.  I pulled out my yoga mat and yoga blocks and did a half hour of flexibility training.  I am so proud of my effort.  I even set a work out plan for tomorrow. Oh and I had oatmeal for breakfast, not instant, rolled oats.  I added vanilla almond milk, cinnamon, raisins, and peanut butter.

Self Care

Today’s trip to the doctor was like being dropped on my head.  There is nothing like having someone hold a mirror to your face and show you how much you have been lacking.  I knew but for whatever reason it wasn’t real until day.

I went for my back pain which has been an issue since I was rear ended in 2010. While I was waiting to be seen I noticed the scale in the hall.  I forgot about that part.  I don’t weigh myself at home.  I measure myself but I stay off the scale.  I knew the scale was going to reflect a number seemingly unhealthy for my height.  I was dreading it.  When it was my turn, I hadn’t quite decided if I would look.  Once I got on the scale, my breasts decided for me lol.  I couldn’t see past them to the number on the scale.  I contorted so I could see.  Then I tried to justify the number.  It can’t be right.  My movement could’ve threw it off.  Plus I was wearing shoes…and layers…

Then it was time for my vitals.  Anxiety hit again.  Would my blood pressure be elevated? Then I start thinking about strokes, heart attacks, medications.  By the time the doctor came in.  I had lost focus on my back and started thinking about everything else.

What was the outcome? Well the short version is, things that once came easy now have to be worked towards. Is that the answer I want? No. However, it is what it is.  If I want to be healthy I have to constantly work towards health. I have to work harder to combat family history.  I cannot neglect self care.

I already know some days will be harder than others.  I also know the payoff will be well worth it.

Love May Be Blind

Love May Be Blind
But It’s Not Deaf Dumb and Stupid
By: Shira Bethea*

You can have all the fun you want with unconditional love but my love for others has conditions. It may seem unkind to you but it is my unconditional self love that allows me to love others with conditions. Does that sound selfish? Let me explain. I have learned to walk away from situations that were detrimental to my well being. I can love you forever, from a distance if need be. When the company of another negatively impacts me spiritually, emotionally, or physically; ties must be broken. I can love someone and still recognize the need to be apart. It is no easy task to part ways with someone you love. There are times though when it is very much necessary.

I don’t know if love ever ends. Part of me thinks a person can only stop loving someone they never truly loved in the first place. I believe in order to truly love another person, you must first love yourself. Spending time alone helped me a great deal. Self examination is powerful. I continue to examine myself daily. It is a never ending process. It allows me to recognize and acknowledge my gifts as well as my flaws. Having that self awareness helps me to recognize others that see the same in me. Oftentimes people end up in relationships with people they “love” but those people don’t even recognize or appreciate their gifts. Equally disappointing is being with someone who only recognizes your flaws.

If you follow my blog, you already know my stance on soul mates. ( Ideally you want to be with someone who recognizes both your gifts and your flaws. Someone who only sees your gifts is likely looking at you with an unrealistic view. That’s fine if you want to be with someone who is out of touch with reality. I don’t. I recognize the flaws in the people I love and they certainly recognize mine. The beauty in it is we continue to love each other despite those flaws. They are not at all deal breakers. In some cases those very flaws make us even more lovable. I don’t believe in looking to another person for completion. If you do not feel whole alone, you may be more likely to settle for hurtful behaviors in someone you believe you love.

Love does not hurt. Love uplifts. Love encourages. Love positively motivates. I will release anyone or anything from my life that emits negative energy. Once a pattern of anything resembling disloyalty or disrespect is displayed, it’s a wrap. Those behaviors are often deliberate. However there may be times when someone is oblivious to their behavior or more so the affects of said behavior. I find in some of those cases resolution is as simple as a conversation. Take a good look at the people you keep in your life. Think about how you met, how you interact, how you contribute to each others betterment. I am a firm believer in hand selecting the people that surround you. A few years ago I took a good look at my surroundings and realized that some of the people in my life were there only because they had always been there; not because I actively selected them. There may be people that come into your life without an invitation and there are people they may have had an invitation at one time but have overstayed or taken advantage and are no longer welcomed. Perhaps you can relate. It could be neighbors, coworkers, or even family members that are in your life simply due to vicinity but if you met the person under different circumstances you likely would not choose to keep in touch.

When selecting those to keep in your inner circle, balance needs to be found between holding someone to an impossible standard and settling for less than what is deserved. You should honestly be able to say that you meet the very standards that you are holding others to. That goes back to self examination. Once you have been able to examine yourself, find your happiness within yourself, and love yourself; identifying people that deserve to be in your life will be easy. It will also become easy to walk away from people that are selfish and self serving; people that do not meet your conditions. I hope this helps you to understand exactly what I mean when I say that my love has conditions. It has nothing to do with displaying kindness. I try my best to display kindness as well as a brotherly/sisterly love to all those that I meet. I just know that everyone that wants to be close to me will not get the opportunity if my standards are not met. Actively selecting those close to me is imperative to my happiness. I will dive deeper into the subject in my next piece entitled “Redirecting Your Focus-Finding Your Happiness.”

*previously published in Formation Magazine

Redirecting Your Focus

Redirecting Your Focus
Finding Your Happiness

By: Shira R Bethea*


To me happiness is many things. It is something I have. It is something I wear. Happiness looks good on me. In some ways it is a place. It was a journey finding it. It took longer than I had hoped but once I found it all the things I endured along the way seemed miniscule. I learned a valuable lesson. My happiness could not exist in the environment I was in. There comes a time when you really have to take a serious look at all the components of your life and decide what does and does not belong. That was my problem. I allowed too many things to exist in my life that did not belong. There were people that did not belong and they brought behaviors that did not belong. Once I figured that out, life became increasingly easier.

Do not get me wrong. My life still has it’s challenges. It still has its downs. I am just better equipped to handle anything that comes my way. So how did I get the strength to clean out my life. In one word, faith. Faith that I could overcome any obstacle set before me. Change can be hard. I still pray incessantly. Doing this gives me peace. It gives me strength and it gives me guidance. I have shocked myself with some of the things I have survived. I know it was not through my own strength alone that I survived. I am eternally grateful for all of the good gifts bestowed on me by my creator. That is one of the reasons why I have made a routine of meditating daily.

For me, maintaining a strong personal relationship with my creator is crucial in directing me to healthy human relationships. I knew that I had at least one relationship that was anything but healthy. For some reason, I allowed it. To this day I cannot be sure why. Perhaps I was doubtful of what I deserved. Perhaps I thought happiness was a fantasy. Whatever the reason, it went on far too long. Once I started to clean out my life, I could not stop. It was like a cleansing. It was then that something wonderful and unexpected happened. I fell in love. I fell in love with myself. Bit by bit things started to fall right into place. I was increasingly aware of me; what I had to offer and what I deserved. I found happiness in myself. I found happiness in my faith. I found happiness in my career. I found happiness in my circle of people that I had hand selected.

I never imagined I could be so happy. I believe that is precisely why I settled for less. Thank God for knowing better and doing better.

Make room for the better things that are coming.

 *previously published in Formation Magazine

When Is It Okay?

When Is It Okay?
A Public Display of Antipathy
By: Shira Bethea

*previously published in Formation Magazine

A recent trip to the grocery store left me questioning my moral compass. It has been days since the incident and I am still wondering if I did the right thing. I arrived at the store just minutes after it opened. The store was practically empty. I passed only one other customer my first few minutes in the store. Then I passed an elderly couple. The couple was stopped at the end of an aisle. They appeared to be in the midst of a quarrel. It happens. No big deal right. Then I saw it. My peripheral vision caught the man swat the woman across the face. By the time I processed what I saw I had already passed the couple. I was, however, heading towards a store associate. I told the associate what I saw. She without even so much as looking at me told me I need to tell a manager. She clearly was disinterested.

Instead of looking for a manager as I was told. I went looking for the couple. The woman spotted me and started to make her way towards me. She grabbed a hold of my cart and began pleading with me. The problem was I did not understand a word she was saying. I was not even sure of what language she was speaking. When the man saw that she had left his side and was now with me, he began to yell in a language foreign to me. At that point I decided to find the manager. I found another associate at the front of the store. When I asked if she was the manager, she replied “no.” I proceeded to tell her anyway. As I told her what I saw another customer interrupted, “The older couple? Yeah, he hit her. That woman is demented and he has no patience.” My facial expression must have said my thoughts because she began to back pedal. She followed up with, “I mean, not that it’s okay. Just tell him not to do it if he does it again.” I was stunned.

The manager did finally make his way over. Just as he did the couple got in line behind me. The cashier whispered to the manager. The manager just stared as the woman continued to talk to no one in particular. I had no idea what she was saying but her tone was that of someone pleading. No one paid her any mind. I watched the manager to see his reaction. He had none. Even after I checked out I lingered in the front of the store just observing. I left when the couple left but I didn’t do anything else. I still think about it because I just don’t know if I did the right thing. It still bothers me.

I had good intentions. Though the feeling I was getting from the people around me was I should mind my own business. I questioned myself the entire ride home. I wondered what was best for both of them. I have heard stories of people coming to the defense of people being abused only to be attacked by the very person they were trying to defend. I wondered if what I saw was a one off moment or did it happen often. Was the woman actually “demented” and if so how would the customer that suggested it even know? Did that even matter? I know being a caregiver is no easy task. I also know what I saw was not okay. I couldn’t help but wonder what would have been the outcome had the authorities been involved. Would the man have gotten the assistance he likely needs to be a proper caregiver? That of course is assuming that he was a caregiver. Would the woman have been completely removed from the situation? Would her new environment even improve her situation. As you can see I still have not come to anything conclusive on this one. This one may bother me for a while. One thing I have learned over the years is to take a lesson from every situation. Instead of coming down on myself for decisions I have made, I try to use the instance as a lesson. That is precisely what I intend to do. I wasn’t prepared for what I saw that day in the grocery store. I had never considered what I would do if ever presented with such a situation. Now I am giving it a lot of thought. I am spending a lot of time thinking about domestic violence, elder care, caregiver support, and even immigration. Even though I still have not come to a concrete conclusion, I feel talking about the situation will better prepare me (or anyone else participating in the conversation for that matter) should I be in a similar situation again. I am curious to get your thoughts on this one. Feel free to share with me how you think you would have reacted had you been in my position. Email me at I may share your thoughts in a future article.