Toxic people - we all know them and are forced to deal with them at certain times in our lives. Identifying unhealthy people, their destructive systems and subsequently learning how to cope with these damaging behaviors can be difficult, especially if they are of the manipulative sort. Manipulative people are often excellent chameleons, disguising negative words as constructive critiques; hurtful, derogatory judgements they consider to be nothing more than harmless opinions. They are masters of turning the tables, causing healthy people to question their experiences and doubt their confidence or self-worth.
Below are 10 ways to identify toxic and/or abusive people.
Below are 4 ways to cope with abusive or toxic people.
Coping with them:
A friend of mine contacted me about an amazing opportunity I’ve longed for going on four years. His excitement got me excited. I mean, this was a really great chance for me to step out of the background and into a spotlight I’ve worked toward my entire life. And there it was, on my doorstep, ready to realized for real! I dreamed of that day. I prayed for it. I worked hard for it for longer than I could remember. It was in my blood. In my sights. My lifeline… And then, I got busy with other things that took my eyes off that particular prize. Over time, I let that dream become diminished in my sights and focused on things that were more immediate.
Life happens. We get busy and our goals change. There’s no shame in that at all. I mean, if you aren’t evolving, you’re dying so I don’t feel anything negative toward the development of my life path. Not one bit. But that doesn’t change the fact that this goal which had been put on the back burner for a few years, was still something I wanted to do.
So I packed my little bag up (figuratively, of course) and set off on the journey to my destination. I was stoked. I was as prepared as I could be given the short notice. I thought I was ready for the challenge… until I actually stepped up to the plate to swing the bat… and fell flat on my face.
I failed. Miserably.
Ok, so maybe it wasn’t the worst effort I’ve ever made. We are our own worst critics most of the time. But I knew in my heart that I had not earned the opportunity I was trying to win. My lack of consistent preparation throughout my season of waiting caused me to stumble when it was “go” time. And the last minute preparations I threw at the task simply did not garner the outcome I had hoped for.
Even before I received the official notice that the opportunity I was reaching for had slipped through my grasp, I knew instinctively that this was not going to be the win I hoped it would be.
Randy Pausch says, “Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted…”
Yup. I have yet another experience under my belt. But instead of getting upset about it or beating my head against a wall or even feeling like the failure I was in that moment, I decided that failure would not define me. Instead, I decided that it was time to make some changes. I knew I had not prepared like I should have for that opportunity, not in the long run. I tried my best with what I had at the moment but there was a clear deficit because I had not remained prepared all along. I let some things slip through my grasp because other things had taken center stage in my life.
It is all a matter of your outlook. You see, failure is not failure until you quit trying to succeed. Just because I failed at this one task, does not mean I am a failure all of the time. I own my mistakes. I take responsibility for not staying prepared over the years and allowing other things to pull me away from my original goal. And I forgive myself for letting my friend down. I mean, he put his name on the line for me and I came up short. I’ve apologized to him for it. It is what it is. I can’t change the past. But I can damn sure have a hand in shaping my future!
To finish the quote by Randy Pausch, “Experience is what you get when you didn't get what you wanted. And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”
Sometimes you win. Sometimes you learn. But never, should you actually fail. ❤️
It’s the dog days of summer!
Ok, I’ve been dying to say that because our family adopted a new puppy this past weekend. Angel and I drove to Pittsburgh and back for our new little bundle of joy. We haven’t named him yet because we just don’t know what to call him and the family is having a hard time agreeing on what he should be called. I’ll post more pics of him once we figure it out.
I’ve also been fighting Ulcerative Colitis (the reason I went Pescatarian to begin with) this month. It started around July 1st and it’s been a struggle ever since. Then there were my birthday and the July 4th holiday cookouts. The point is, my workout schedule has been thrown completely off. Don’t get me wrong, I’m still getting to gym every few days and my eating habits have pretty much stayed healthy too so I consider this a win all around. But now that things are settling back down, I’m planning to get back to the nitty gritty.
I’ve apparently hit that dreaded plateau. UGH! I’m still weighing in at 190 (down 15 lbs from the day 1 challenge weight of 204.8 and down 38 lbs from where I was in November, 2017). This has been the same for about a week and a half or so. But I’m not discouraged. In fact, I’m still kind of encouraged because while the number on the scale hasn’t really moved, my other numbers are decreasing.
I took my daughter for a bra fitting because she needed an update (growing bodies need constant upkeep in the wardrobe department) and while we were there, they measured me too. I’m officially back in a size 36 bra band (down from a 38 and two months ago I was told I needed a size 40). And my cup size has decreased from a G to a DDD! This is a HUGE triumph! My goal is to be a D or DD sized cup so I am almost there! And hopefully, with continued success I’ll even get back to my coveted 34 band size. This is completely possible too because the sizing specialist said I was really measuring 33 on the bottom of my ribs so a 34 is a very attainable goal. Oh! And I am able to wear regular sports bras and sexy, lace backed bralettes now without looking or feeling like an old woman with saggy breasts draping down to my knees! Hey sexy summer tank tops!! 💁🏽♀️🙋🏽♀️
I am very comfortably wearing a size 12 in bottoms across the board now and the other day, I wore a size 10 jean shorts without my eyes (or tummy) bulging out in horror. Also, my tees are all fitting loosely and have some swing now too. I bought a tee at Lackland AFB when my son graduated from Basic Military Training in May. It was an XL. It’s now hanging on me and even the shoulders are too wide. And my leather biker vest has been cinched all the way in and it too was flapping around my breasts and tummy in the wind last night. The only down side to this is that I sold my size large leather riding jacket and replaced it with a W1X. By the fall, this jacket will be too big to wear anymore and I’ll probably have to spend the money on yet another size Large. I am grateful for this victory but man, the yoyo is really frustrating because quality riding gear ain’t cheap!
My double chin is gone. GONE. And my cheekbones are more prominent now, casting a shadow on the lower half of my face. Thank GOD for that amazing brand of skin care, Urban Skin Rx because the serums are keeping my loosening skin firm and plump. I was really concerned that losing weight would increase the lines on my face and neck but so far, that has not happened. I’ve started using a firming cream on my legs and tummy too. Hopefully it will work and help me to tighten the texture of my body skin. The last thing I want to do is look like a wrinkled old prune when I finally get an acceptable bikini sized body again.
Wednesday, I went shopping in my closet for a dress to wear to a brunch scheduled later this week and I now have several old/new options to choose from again. Dresses I hadn’t worn in almost two years are now back in daily rotation AND I’m not busting out of them OR getting that ‘lovely’ back bulge around my bra anymore. I also have not felt like putting on spanx because they create pressure around my tummy (a serious no no for UC flair up days) and thanks to the exercises I’ve been doing on my abs, I didn’t need them either! I mean, I actually have a shot at getting rid of my mommy belly. That 10.6 pound kid I had 20 years ago will finally be forgiven for ruining my body! lol
All in all, I feel better, even with the digestive issues I’m struggling with. My ankles aren’t swollen anymore and it doesn’t hurt to get up in the middle of the night to take this rascal of a puppy out for a twilight potty break. No more wincing when my feet hit the carpet and I can’t remember the last time my back was out of joint from heavy boobs pulling it in every which direction.
Yup, it’s been pretty amazing. I’m reminding myself every day not to worry about what the scale says because getting healthy is so much more than just dropping pounds. I feel great and energized too. Even the lack of sleep over the last week has not drained me to exhaustion because I have more energy in general.
Onward to week 6!
No matter how you feel about the Zodiac and all it’s many controversies and significances, there is one thing I found to be true. I am a typical cancer moon child. I was born on July 3rd so I'm smack in the middle of this wondrous zodiac sign.
The Cancer symbol is a crab and it is a water sign ruled by the moon. The ebb and flow of a lagoon has always drawn me in. The light of the moon has always fascinated me. The ocean of emotion has been my home as long as I can remember. The soft lullaby of waves lapping the sands is comforting to me in inexplicable ways.
I’ve always felt like a mermaid, and not because I don’t have a thigh gap (thick thighs save lives). I just always loved the sea. No, I don't want to drown in it or even be covered in salt water, but there is something magical about laying on the beach, soaking in the sun and the scent of salt water caressing my beach curls. And the moon’s majesty is romantic in ways I’ll never be able to explain. It’s soothing. It calls my soul from fathomless depths.
So I wanted to share three makeup inspiration pics I’ve found that reflect my thoughts about this sun sign. These looks range from natural to total glam. Enjoy!
This everyday look is perfect for running around town and running errands. It's also a great look for when you want to get out of the house quickly. Simply dab a bit of silver in the inner corners of your eyes and you're pretty much set. No special effects required!
Got a little more time to primp? Smokey eyes are always a win! Silver is the highlight again, but this time, glam it up with warm tones on the upper lids and contour with two shades darker than your natural skin. Don't forget that nude lippie to polish the look!
This third look is a bit more progressive. Contour with red, instead of tanned skin tones and add pearls in fun places. Plus, that red matte lip will always bring spice to the game. We Cancers LOVE to spice things up when you least expect it!
So technically, this is week 4 and I said I wanted to do my fitness check ins bi-weekly. But since I've actually done my check ins and updates for the last 4 weeks straight, I figured instead, I would just post some thoughts I had about the gym and all the time I've been spending there. So here goes!
I get it. Not everyone comes to the gym to work out. There are other reasons people frequent these spaces that have zero to do with getting in shape or body sculpting. Here are four things I have observed that had to be addressed because... well, you’ll see as you read.
Number 1: Shut the heck up!
Cell phone conversations are for the lobby. Period. Usually gyms have this posted everywhere and with good reason. People don’t want to hear your personal drama while they are working out. It’s rude. When you are exerting yourself on your treadmill run, your adrenaline heightens everything. This includes your volume. While you may sound normal to yourself, you are louder than you think to the people around you. Your loud talking can pull someone right out of their zone. Be courteous. Be kind. Be quiet.
Number 2: Keep it moving!
Aligned with number one, having a full out conversation with your gym buddy between sets is fine but just don’t do it on the machine you aren’t even using anymore. Maybe someone else is waiting for that machine and now, instead of wiping it down and moving along, you’re blocking their progress because you are standing there talking. Stop it. It’s not cute. It’s not okay. It’s really just frustrating AF because now everyone else on the circuit has to adjust to your conversation. Don’t be that person. Save your drama for after your work out or better yet, take it to the locker room. Mmkay? Thanks.
Number 3: Wipe yo isht down!
Wipe down your equipment after every use. I see people jump on a machine, then go to the free weights then jump back on the same machine again. What are they doing? I don’t know. And honestly, I don’t really care, as long as they aren’t bothering me or disrupting my workout flow. But I have a problem when I also see them do this and neglect to wipe their machines down after using them because they’ll be right back. What about the other people in line for that machine behind them? What if I get there before you find your way back over to that leg press? Listen, I do not want your sweaty handprints (or butt prints - ugh GROSS) on the machine when it’s my turn to use it. It’s disgusting. It’s disrespectful. I will report you, you inconsiderate sicko!
Number 4: Don’t be a meat head!
Sure, you’re there to work out. You’re there to get in shape, tone your muscles, get healthy, build bulk, slim down or whatever your personal motives may be for working out. We all have our own agendas at the gym. But I do not want to hear you grunting under the strain of extra weight you are trying to lift because you want to impress the people around you. News flash: no one cares. We aren’t even laughing at you. We are cringing because you are distracting us from our own workout. Shut the heck up, go about your day, sir, and leave us to our own. Thanks.
Bonus Round: This Ain’t Tinder!
I shouldn't even have to say this but here I am saying it anyway because apparently, it needs to be said. Don’t try to pick up the chick on the rowing machine next to you when she is trying to focus on working out. When I go to the gym, I go for a purpose. And that purpose is NOT to find some side piece to have a sweaty, body odor laden gym affair with. I am trying to better myself and improve my quality of living, not become a snack for a muscle brain. Leave. Me. Alone. Don’t stare at me as I work on the ab machine. Don’t watch my boobs bounce when I’m jogging on the treadmill. Don't stand so close behind me I can feel your breath on my neck while I'm refilling my water bottle. Don’t follow me out of the gym into the parking lot to get my number. I’m married. And you’re creeping me out. Most women would be totally creeped out if you followed them out of the gym. We’ve heard too many stories. We’ve had too many experiences with entitled men who think they are God’s gift to our gender and won’t take no for an answer. We get it. You’re the bomb. But please, go blow up someone else’s workout routine and leave us alone!
What are some things you’ve observed in your workout time that drives you nuts? Let’s discuss it in the comments.
There was a time when any dye on my hair would leave me with stressed out, frizzy, straw-like tresses. Adding color in was very damaging and I can’t even describe the pain I felt when seeing the results of the bleaching I had done to lighten my natural color. And then there are all those pesky grays that keep coming back. They litter the hairline around my face, aging me at least 20 years. So, color has become a regular coping method for me. This is also the main reason I big chop every two years. I get bored and need change. Coloring my hair was one of the easiest (albeit damaging) ways to shake things up for my appearance without a huge commitment (like adding more tattoos on my person) and keep my somewhat youthful appearance. Oh the things we do to “self medicate” lol.
Enter 2018! In January, I decided I was done with the cycle I’ve been caught in since I went natural. I am so tired of cutting my hair off every couple of years because my poor tresses couldn’t handle the damaging styling choices I keep making. And even when I baby my hair with the best and expensive products on the market, things just weren’t aligning very well for length retention. Man, I have been natural for over 10 years and the fact that every business venture I have tackled since becoming an entrepreneur has centered around protecting natural hair is a huge kick in the gut because again, I can’t seem to get past shoulder length curls!
Necessity is the mother of invention. This was true with my satin lined hat collection. I couldn’t wear the beautiful hats and accessories I was shipping all over the world to people who had fallen in love with my designs. And now, the same is absolutely true for my hair care systems, based on porosity.
Last week, I bleached my hair almost platinum and then dyed it red all in the span of 24 hours. I must have been NUTS to put my hair through that kind of trauma. But… not so fast! My curls are still not only in tact but shiny and bouncy. My coils are thriving still and healthy too. There is minimal frizz and I am confident that finally, I have found the answer to my hair woes!
I have high porosity hair. This explains why relaxers only lasted 3 weeks for me. It also explains why colors didn’t last past a month and my hair was always super dry and straw-like. Now I seal the hydration in properly with the Caheez Hair Care natural hair butter and growth oil. It keeps the hair hydrated from within and keeps the elasticity and bounce flourishing!
I am so excited to wear my new color with pride! I am even more excited that the color didn’t totally destroy my locks. Thanks GOD for the revelation that lead me to create these systems. I can’t wait to see how long my hair will grow now! Waist length, here I come!
Being a success is often mistaken for being rich, beautiful, heavy laden with opportunities, meeting goals or other outward, results driven criteria. But I have found that success is not measured in physical accomplishments. It is best measured by inner growth. Success is a state of mind, not a state of being and definitely, not a bank statement. It is owning who you are, accepting yourself in every way and learning to love yourself even while you work on your growth points.
To that end, there are clear indicators by which we can define our level of success that have nothing to do with how many items we can mark off our To Do lists and Goal Calendars. While the definition of success is a positive result outcome, the measurement of it is not quite so black and white. If you are looking for tangible triumphs, perhaps you are looking for the wrong things. Success is an inside job that is reflected in outward results. Below are five measurements by which we can determine our level of success.
Bringing it all together: measuring success is an inside job. It's personal and different for everyone. It is not so much goal oriented as it is health oriented.
“Success is liking yourself, liking what you’re doing and liking how you do it”. Maya Angelou
It’s crazy how I’ve put off getting back into the gym for so long and now I’m becoming addicted to working out. But that’s how it goes, isn’t it? I wasn’t supposed to be posting another update so soon. I’m really trying to get on a bi-weekly schedule. But man, the results are just so amazing and I’m feeling pretty great so I had to share.
I started out at 204.6. Today I weighed in at 192.8. I started this fitness challenge officially on June 1st. Here is a pic of what I looked like when this journey began.
And below is a photo I took yesterday:
Those jeans are juniors and they are sized 13 from Hollister. The top is a size large but I bought it when I was a size 8/10 (which should still be a medium in most brands) and haven’t been able to wear it for over two years. Also, we did a new head shot session because I dyed my hair red last week and needed to update them. Amazingly enough, my cheekbones were casting a shadow on the lower half of my face. WHAT???? I can’t remember the last time that happened!
Perhaps the thing I’m most excited about is the fact that people outside my inner circle are starting to notice the changes. They say it takes 2 weeks for you to see a difference, 4 weeks for your family and friends to see a difference and 6-8 weeks for the world to notice the changes. It’s been a little over three weeks and I’m ahead of schedule because people who haven’t seen me for a few months are all commenting on the size changes. This makes me even more motivated than I was when I started.
I met with a nutritionist on Tuesday. I’m desperately trying to avoid the normal plateau of every weight loss journey. I figure if I can quadruple the efforts I’m making by eating a healthy, balanced, vitamin packed diet, take the right supplements for what my body needs, keep exercising and keep my digestive issues under control too, I will hopefully be that much closer to my goals.
I’ve still got quite a ways to go but I am cautiously optimistic that I am going to slay this weight loss journey and hit my goals as planned by the end of the year. Fingers crossed and all that jazz! 💋
"A gift opens doors; it gives access to the great." Proverbs 18:16
I grew up reading this scripture all the time. It has always been one of my favorites. To me, this scripture means that a person can do anything they set your mind to do. Their gifts, talents, callings... they will open doors and make room for someone and beyond honing those gifts and practicing so they are ready to proceed when the right doors open, all a person has to do is have fun moving forward into their destiny. That's it!
But on a deeper level, this passage meant that the playing field was level. A person's connections (or lack thereof) didn't matter as much as the abilities that God placed inside of them because when it came down to it, those abilities would be all that really mattered. One's background, no matter how enriched or how disadvantaged it may be, couldn't stop a person who was blessed with the ability to do something they were meant to do. This text meant, we are all special in an individually unique way and nothing and no one could stand in the way if someone was supposed to do something. Destiny.
How refreshing. How empowering! How naive.
What I did not take into account in my youthful gullibility was that despite one's talents, things would not always be as easy as just doing the best one could and walking the path. Sometimes, there would be challenges along the way that threatened to relieve a person of their predestined path. There would be events and people along the way that try to actively stop them from succeeding. What a twist of fate, huh?
But no matter, we were designed to overcome obstacles such as these.
to do through me because it challenged them or made them uncomfortable for some reason. They had other ideas of what they thought should happen in my life or in their churches despite God's will He had so graciously revealed to me AND them. For various reasons, whether it was because they wanted someone else to take a position over me because I didn't know them as well as the other candidate did or they didn't care for my style so they tried to usurp my calling and play chess with my anointing... Man, I got stories for days...
But honestly, none of that really mattered. When the rubber met the road, those blocks did not stop what God wanted to do for me... through me... in me. All they did was create plot twists in my story that made for a much more compelling read. What those setbacks did do was strengthen my faith. They forced me to remain humble and dig deeper into my relationship with God so I didn't miss what was in store. Character building experiences... that's what they became - moments in which I had to choose to become more than I had been before.
I'm not saying it was easy by any means. It wasn't easy. It was really difficult. At times it felt downright impossible.
The point is this: do not let anything make you doubt what God said would happen. When you KNOW that you KNOW that you KNOW you are doing what you are supposed to be doing, do not stop doing it! Sometimes the manifestation looks different than you originally imagined it. So what! Sometimes the promise takes a little longer to arrive than expected. But trust me, it WILL arrive. And when it does, you have to be ready for it. So while you’re waiting, while you’re struggling to keep your faith strong, remember you are in a season of preparation. And when God says, “now”, you better be ready for immediate action.
2 Timothy 4:2 says to be ready at all times. Be ready while you wait.
So I am feeling some amazing affects of this challenge already. While the scale is kinda staying where it was last week (between 194 and 196), I am not overly concerned yet. Here’s why:
Wednesday, I put on a pair of jeans and was a little bit disappointed when I didn’t need a belt for them. All the other jeans I’d been wearing recently were getting too big and they would slide off if I don’t keep pulling them up. What I realized later was that the jeans I was wearing were not size 14 or 16. They were size 12! WHOOP!! I’m officially down a full dress size. I’m wearing shorts and skirts and even dresses I couldn’t wear for over a year! Peep the pic at the bottom of this post! I'm wearing the same shirt I wore for my very first head shots in 2013 when I weighed 155. It is slightly tighter in the tummy but as you can see in the other pics, it's extremely comfortable everywhere else!
Additionally, there are a bunch of tees I couldn’t wear for a while and now… They are size large, which was beyond my reach for such a long time. I’ve been in extra larges and pushing 2x for a minute now. But putting on those size large tees and not having too much of a gut pushing out in the tummy area was beyond amazing. Its like I have a new wardrobe!
I have more energy. I walked up 3 flights of stairs to visit a friend early last week and I was not huffing and puffing as per usual. This felt amazing because not only were we chatting the entire time, I didn’t need to stop and breathe when we arrived at her apartment!
We went jet skiing on Father’s Day down at Ocean City. It was BEAUTIFUL and the water was cold (perfect for the 93+ degrees we were experiencing). The skis they had us on were pretty decent and faster than the ones we used to own years ago. I haven’t been on a jet ski since 1999 (I believe - but don’t quote me). I was a little concerned I wouldn’t be able to last the full hour without feeling like death when I got off. But nope. I was not only fine, but could have gone longer. And I wasn’t pussy footing around either. I was gunning it for all she was worth (between the wake of boats and other skis in our loop). Not only did I not fall off but when I hit a massive wave, it didn’t even phase me (well, except for the face full of salt water I swallowed). lol
The point is, I wouldn’t have been able to do that a month ago. I would have been falling off and dead by the end of the hour.
All in all, I am feeling some kinda amazing. These 5 day a week workout schedules are pushing my limits mentally, physically and emotionally. (I originally wanted to commit to doing three days of cardio and two days of strength/weight training. Instead, I've been doing cardio Sunday, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and adding strength/weights on Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Tuesday and Saturday are my rest days.) I am committed to doing this challenge because I really wanted to drop down some dress sizes and get into shape. It’s been two and a half full weeks and I can see that it’s working. (They say it takes two weeks for you to see a difference, four weeks for friends to see a difference and six weeks for the world to see a difference.) There’s still a long way to go but dropping down a complete dress size is nothing short of perfection.
Onto week 3! I’ll check back in on week 4 with new pics. 💋
My name is Carla Helené. I am a cheeky naturalista, serial entrepreneur, speaker, educator and self love advocate who encourages women to embrace their truth, love themselves and make margaritas out of life’s lemons. Is there a recipe for this? I’m not sure I but I know we can figure it out together.
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