Wednesday, January 17, 2018

I got my DNA tested!

After years of wondering where  I came from, wondering if  I really belong, wondering who I actually am, I decided to take a DNA test from A friend of mine had come to visit me at my job and she's been pressuring me to take the test for some time. So during the holidays had a sale on DNA kits and I ordered one. I can't remember how long it took for the test to make it to me, but I was super excited to take it.

The mailman left the test in my mailbox and I literally squealed when I found it. Now, when you take the test you have to wait at least 30 after eating or drinking anything. Luckily, I hadn't had anything for about an hour and was able to take the test right away. 

I opened the box and found this ancestryDNA packet inside with instructions to register the test before actually taking the test. This way Ancestry could send the correct results to me. The company even gives you the option to link it to a tree on the site. When you open the kit, there is a tube that you have to spit in. It's only about a tablespoon of spit, but it took me a couple of tries to fill the vile up to the line. After you fill it, you put a top on it and then you shake it a bit before packaging it up in the pre-addressed box to mail back to Ancestry. 

Waiting for my test results was the longest couple of weeks of my life. I mailed the kit in around the 14th of December and Ancestry started processing it on December 28. A little over a week after processing began, my DNA results were back. Now, I jokingly told my mom that if my results didn't have anything from Africa, she would have some explaining to do. She said, "I'm not explaining anything." Luckily, when my results came back, she didn't have to explain anything.

I knew there would be an overwhelming abundance of British Isles in my DNA. What I wasn't sure of was how much African ancestry I would have, or where that DNA would come from. Finding out that 19% of my DNA comes from Nigeria was kind of an anchoring moment for me. All my life I've been trying to figure out who I am, trying to see if my biology matched what I was raised believing. Seeing Nigeria, Ivory Coast/Ghana, Benin/Togo and other African nations in my DNA helped me no longer feel like I was a Rachel Dolezal-type person. I wasn't faking my heritage. I wasn't a "Mama's baby, Daddy's maybe" like I'd been jokingly told as a child. I wasn't just my siblings "White sister". 

Getting these DNA results did something that 35 years of life experience couldn't do-- helped me feel more centered and like I know who I am. The results gave me a sense of belonging that I've been searching for my entire life. I think I'm starting to find my own identity in a world that wants me to fit their mold.

*This post was NOT sponsored by

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Growing Up Biracial in a World that Wants Me to "Pick One"

Growing up, my parents and siblings had very different ways to describe me. If you had asked my Dad, he wouldn't hesitate to tell you I was his "cream colored" child. His very light-skinned daughter. My siblings would tell their friends that I was their "White Sister", and my mom would always tell people I was biracial. Growing up, I thought everyone had a family like mine-- a black father, a white mother and two black siblings with a different mom. I thought everyone had a "black side of the family" and had a Granny who was the neighborhood candy lady selling Lillie Dillies for 25 cents. (For those of you who don't know what a Lillie Dilly is, it's a wonderful dixie cup filled with frozen Kool-aid.)

As I got older, I realized that not every family was this way. My cousins didn't count in my mind because they all had at least one black/white relative through my parents. I honestly thought every family had at least one black or white relative. Once I realized not every family was like mine, I started paying close attention to every family around us. I started paying closer attention to reactions from kids on the playground, adults at the mall, and I didn't understand what I was seeing.

Other kids had families that, for lack of a better word, matched. Mine didn't. Other kids knew where they came from, who they were and seemed to have a better grip on their individuality. I didn't. I grew up confused and wondering where I actually fit in this world.

I went to a predominately white school for 13 years. (12 at one school, 1 at another). I was lucky to get the education I did because my family couldn't really afford the school I attended. I was able to go tuition free because my dad worked there. My graduating class had 73 students at the time we graduated and there were a total of 2 black kids, and that's only if you added me and another biracial girl together. So finding my own identity was not an easy task to attempt during high school. It wasn't an easy thing in college either.

One of the most difficult things I've had to do is fill out forms that demand I chose a race. From forms for school, employment, even the US Census, I've had to try to choose what race with which to align myself. Every time a form said to pick one, my insides were screaming at me to not deny the other part of me. I had a difficult time trying to rectify my desire to check all that applied and listening to the instructions given me. Worse were the times people tried to convince me to pick "Other". Oh, how I loathe that option. In my opinion, "other" meant not human. "Other" meant not worth having a true classification-- not worthy of being. I refused to be an "other", but what could I mark on those forms. I had taken to marking both Caucasian and African America, but  I wonder how often my choice was accepted by the form takers. Did the census list me correctly, did my refusal to bow to the pressure to choose one or other cause my results to not be tabulated? Did my desire to choose my own classifications keep me from positions?

The answer is. . . I don't know. I do know that even now, I'm still trying to fight for the ability to accurately depict my race/ethnicity. The county I work for will not allow biracial as an option. I have to pick between my white side and my black side or other. Since I refuse to be an other and they won't let me leave it blank, I've picked African American, for now. I'll keep fighting until I make them understand, make them actually hear me.

I'll leave you with this powerful set of lyrics from the musical Ragtime. Sung by Brian Stokes Mitchell, the song is called Make Them Hear You. 

"And say to those who blame us

For the way we chose to fight

That sometimes there are battles
That are more than black or white...

And I could not put down my sword
When justice was my right
Make them hear you

Go out and tell our story
To your daughters and your sons
Make them hear you
Make them hear you"

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Finding Your Squad. . . Weight Watcher update (Plan week 9)

I started my Weight Watchers journey 9 weeks ago with a weigh in. Our first weigh in was on January 11, and I had a wake up call. I hadn't realized that I had allowed myself to balloon up to almost 260 pounds. (258.2 pounds to be exact) I knew I was out of shape and needed to do something. An early post talks about my "Why" for joining Weight Watchers, you can read about it here.

Over these last few weeks, I have learned so much. I have learned how to make better choices, that my favorite oranges are Navel oranges (I don't think there is an orange I won't eat), and that broccoli slaw is my favorite vegetable mix. . . EVER. I have gained more energy and I've begun to see physical changes in my body. I also joined a gym (and more importantly, actually went inside to work out.) Most excitingly, I have been able to shed and keep 14 pounds off for a month. (12 pounds have been kept off for 6 weeks and I'm so happy about that.)

Today, I walked into weigh-in not to optimistic. I know there was one day when all I wanted to do was stuff my face with junk food (I didn't), but I wanted to. I really thought I had gone so far off plan that there would be a gain for the second week in a row, but there wasn't! When I stepped off the scale at the weigh-in, I was surprised to learn I had LOST 2.6 pounds and earned my third 5 pound star!

Our topic of the magazine thing this week was finding your squad. Finding the people who would support and help me along this journey and I am so happy to know that I have a great squad of people on this journey. Not only is there a squad with the people in my WW at work meetings, but I feel that those of you who take the time to read these post each week are a part of my squad. Your support has been wonderful these past few weeks. From a friend asking me to walk on our lunch breaks, to cousins going to the gym with me and all the encouragement you've given me, I am so lucky to have my "squad". You guys are amazing and thanks for coming with me on this journey.

SW: 258.2 lbs
Today 241.6 lbs
TWL: 16.6 lbs
PTG: 86.6 lbs

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

I see changes! Weight Watchers Update #4

This week, the scale and I were not friends and you know what, THAT'S OKAY. The scale and I are not going to be friends every week. This week, I gained .4 pound. That's only 6.4 ounces. Yes, I gained more than I lost last week (.2 pound or 3.2 ounces), but I'm still 14 pounds lighter than I was in January and that is not bad at all.

This week though, I've noticed a difference in my energy level. I have a bit more of a pep in my step most of the time. I am also noticing a difference in my body. My favorite shorts started to fall off me, so I gave them to my cousin. My dresses are fitting a little looser. My legs are starting to thin out a bit and my most problematic area is getting a little smaller. I can see changes occurring, so I'm not too disappointed that the scale isn't reflecting what I'm seeing. It will.

Oh, and I actually joined a gym. Yesterday was the first workout and I had my "Fitness Assessment". I have a long way to go, but I had fun yesterday. My arm kind of hate me a bit, but I had fun. I'm making my cousin, M, go with me. She is my biggest supporter. She doesn't hesitate when I need my butt kicked into gear or I need extra motivation. She is my biggest cheerleader and this journey would be so much more difficult without her.

SW: 258.2
Today 244.2
TWL: 14

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

What is Your Why? Weight Watchers Update

I wasn’t sure the scale was going to be in my favor this today. I spent the majority of last week sick as a dog and not moving. However, when I stepped on the scale at my meeting this morning, I was pleasantly surprised that I actually lost 12.8 ounces (.8 of a pound). I know it’s not a huge victory, but it is still more weight loss than gained on this journey. I am 14.2 pounds lighter now then at the start of this journey with Weight Watchers and for me that is amazing. I am learning to make better choices and to stick with them. I’m making lists of my favorite restaurants and smart point values of my favorite items so when I do go out with my friends, I can make decisions ahead of time and know how many points to save. I’m still having trouble using ALL of my points each day, but I think I’m getting better at it.

Every meeting, Bev passes out a Weight Watchers Weekly booklet for us to read through out the week. These little booklets have and article, a place for free writing and a recipe in them (and a coupon for something healthy). This week’s Weekly has an article encouraging us to figure out our Why for joining WW and some space to write it down. When I first joined 6 weeks ago, I wrote in my meeting book that my why was so I wouldn’t get diabetes like Daddy. I wanted to share my REAL why at the meeting today, but we ran out of time. I am going to share it with you now.

My real WHY for joining WW this year is Daddy, not just his diabetes and kidney failure, but Daddy. The day I took Daddy to the hospital before he died, he shared a few wishes he had for me. (Looking back, I wonder if he somehow knew that day would be the last day he could tell me what he wanted me to know.) Some of what he told me that day, I’m going to keep to myself, its so precious to me; but I will share that he wanted me to get healthy. Daddy wanted me to lose weight and be healthy. He did not want me to become a diabetic like so many in our family. He didn’t want me to struggle with cholesterol or any health related issue because of my weight. He wanted me to be better than I was.It took me 18 months before I was ready to start this process for real. I did attempt the online WW a few months after he passed away, but it didn’t work well for me. The face to face meetings are working so much better for me and I’m glad I took the leap this time.So, that’s my why for joining Weight Watchers. I want to make my Daddy proud of me and do something he had begged me to do so many times. This journey is not only for me, but it’s for Daddy.

SW: 258.2Today: 244.0TWL: 14.2PTO: 89

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Weight Watchers . . . One month in.

Hello! Today was another weigh-in. I walked into the meeting not really sure if I was going to like the scale. I ate too many carbs over the weekend and I was nervous. I admit I was a little apprehensive after gaining .2 pounds last week, I didn't want to disappoint Bev our meeting lady. I stepped on the scale and it was GOOD NEWS.  I lost 1.2 pounds, but more importantly, I earned my 5% charm!!!! I have officially lost 5% of my starting weight. I'm super excited about hitting that milestone and am amazed that I was able to do it in one month!

Last weeks meeting gave us a new booklet to read about moving more and to help me work on this new goal, I decided that on my lunch breaks and my 15 minute breaks I would go outside and walk. I didn't start until Friday, but I think that should be pretty simple to do and it may get my Fitbit to stop yelling at me.

I'm making better choices foodwise as well. My cousin M and I went over to her brother's house to hangout with his family and M brought pizza, chips, carrots and guacamole. When we sat down to eat, I only grabbed 1 slice of pizza and NO crazy bread (that was a first for me, I LOVE crazy bread) and waited a couple of hours before I decided to grab a second slice. I looked at the serving size for guacamole and chips and stuck to it and also knew I had carrots I could munch on. I did go over my daily points, but that is what weekly points are for anyway; and I only went over by less than 5 points. I guess it balances out a little because there are many days I have some of my daily points left over. (Bev doesn't like to hear that though, I need to work on using my dailys a little bit more.)

Overall, I am really encouraged by this week' progress and am hopeful I can make this work even if we no longer have the at work meetings in 8 weeks.

SW: 258.2
Last Week (LW): 246.0
CW: 244.8
TWL: 13.4
PTG: 89.8
(GOAL is 155)

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Weight Watchers. . . again.

When I looked at a picture of me from a recent vacation, I didn't like what I saw. I realized I needed to do something to change. So when my job offered Weight Watchers at Work with a subsidized price,  I jumped at it. I nervously went into the info session (with my checkbook) and listened to what we were being told. I made the decision I was going to make this happen because I need to do something. I need to be healthy. I filled out my paperwork, wrote my check and waited for the official weigh in the following week.

When that weigh-in came, I was borderline devastated. I hadn't realized that I had reached 258.2 pounds. My 5 foot 5 inch frame was carring 258.2 pounds! I sat down in the chair and looked through the booklets Bev handed me and downloaded the Weight Watchers app to start tracking everything. I went out and bought a FitBit in lavender and started the program.

My first week, I had a preplanned 5k, cardio kickboxing and the Kiddie Kardio program I do at work and took the dogs for a mile long walk. I tracked everything that went into my mouth-- from food to the Belgium Rock Sugar in my Teavana tea. I tracked everything and it paid off-- I lost 6.4 pounds in one week.

Week 2 on the program was much of the same. I went on walks with the dogs, did Kiddie Kardio and missed out on the Cardio Kickboxing class (Grandma's birthday). I tracked everything I ate and it paid off again! I lost an additional 6 pounds that week.

Week 3, didn't go as well as the others.  I did Kiddie Kardio, missed Cardio Kickboxing (Ladies Prayer Night) and did not get to go for the walk with the dogs because of 2 TV interviews.(There was also a major sporting event this weekend) Also, my cousin made some amazing bread and bread is evidently, my biggest weakness. I knew going into the weigh-in wasn't going to be pretty. I was pleasantly surprised I didn't undo my progress and only gained .2 pounds (3.2 ounces).

I know that what I'm doing is not a sprint. I can't be an Olympic sprinter aiming for the finish line. This is a marathon. I am not on some fad diet. I am trying to make changes that will last for a lifetime. I am changing my thinking, my habits and my life. Gaining 3.2 ounces in 1 week isn't going to derail my progress. I am going to make this work. I am going to change my life and I am going to get healthy. I WILL FIND ONEDERLAND and once I do, I'm never leaving. I just have to stick to this and make it work.

Starting Weight (SW): 258.2 pounds.
Current Weight (CW): 246.0 pounds
Total Weigh Lost (TWL): 12.2 pounds
Pounds to Go (PTG): 89 pounds.