Friday, December 30, 2011

New things coming

So, since the blog is a place where people close to me read up on things in my life I thought I would make a quick announcement. I am going to be an Aunt for the 5th and 6th times. Hilliary is pregnant with her second child due in July and Brittany with her 3rd child in August. I have been an Aunt since November 10, 2007 when my nephew Isaiah was born. Just 13 days later, Jesus took him home in a car accident that also took my step-mom. It was really hard when that happened and God blessed us so richly when he brought Shawn on May 12, 2009. I thought since they are such a huge part of my life, I would devote an entire post to my loveys! Here it is

Shawn: Shawn Christoper Lee was born on May 12, 2009 right after Mother's Day. He is a true miracle as we were never really sure Hilliary would be able to have children. He was born just 3 days after I received my Masters Degree so I wasn't able to be in Indiana to see him born. I wasn't able to get home until 5 months later actually and although we officially met when he was almost 5 months old, we are thick as thieves. Shawn immediately got very interested in things and he started with Finding Nemo. Even just a few months old, he would stare at the TV screen and watch it for hours. That was later replaced by hot wheels and Toy Story and now you can't drag him away from his various superheros! He is a hoot! He is so funny and although had some hearing issues that made speech come later, he is starting to talk quite a bit. He is absolutely fantastic and is really enjoying visiting Aunt Erica upstairs from his own house. I get to see him a lot and my life is totally full because of it.

Kaylea: Kaylea Hope Isabella Hughett was born on October 2, 2009. I was able to be there at the hospital and see her just minutes after her arrival by C-section. She is my younger sister, Brittany's first child. She is named after My mom, me, and Hilliary in that she has all of our middle names. My mom's is Kay, mine is Lea, and Hilliary's is Hope. Kaylea was bright right out of the womb. She started speaking at 6 months and could tell you full stories now. She is really big into Tinkerbell, Megamind, Cloudy with a chance of meatballs and Justin Beiber. Yes, that's right...JB. She sings "Baby Oh" and has all sorts of excitement as soon as he is on the screen. She likes to go to Keka's (Aunt Erica's) and Big Guy's (Anthony's) House and see Niky Niky (our cat Nika) and loves to go Shopping. She takes after her aunt there. She looks exactly like her mama and is so genuinely sweet and kind. She is one of my favorite things in life.

Madelyn: Madelyn Mae Marie Chastain was born on August 27, 2011 the same exact day I had enough of missing them and we drove our U-Haul truck into Indiana. She was born that morning and I was there to see her by evening. She looks just like her daddy, Dale and she has a full head of dark hair where as her big sister is a blonde! She is cute and cuddly and has huge cheeks. She is not really into anything yet since she is only 4 months old but she is fantastic and cute and is starting to laugh and smile a lot. She is going to be a great sister!

New Baby # 1: Hilliary's new little guy or girl is due in July and it will be fun to be around for every moment this time

New Baby #2: Brittany's little guy or girl is due in August and again, so much fun to be around!

I love my babies and thought, it would be nice to give them a talking about today! They are just the sweetest things on Earth

--Aunt Erica :) --

Thursday, December 22, 2011

4 months in

I noticed that I have been updating the blog on our time here in Indiana every month so I thought I would do our 4 month update. We have been having a pretty easy time in adjusting to the Indiana way of life. Anthony is loving his job and the people he works with are super-nice and easy to enjoy. I have been taking more and more tutoring clients by the day and I am enjoying helping all of the kids. I had our first event at our house on December 8th when I had a Simply Said party at my house. It was a lot of fun and it was nice to be able to have people at our place and entertain a bit. On December 17th we had our close friends over to celebrate Anthony's 31st birthday. We had a blast and it was a great blessing to spend it with close friends.

We also hosted Thanksgiving at our house and will be hosting Christmas in just a few days. We are excited to have my sister, her husband, my nephew and my mom over for Christmas dinner and we are spending Christmas Eve with my dad and family. It should be pretty fun and such a blessing to be with my family finally after 9 full years of not being with them. Anthony is really hoping for some snow but so far, nothing.

The new year is hopefully going to bring all sorts of things. Anthony will most likely be starting college, I will be getting my associates number and deciding how to proceed in the mental health field here in Indiana, and we will be getting my car and our stuff out of storage in California and paying Anthony's car off!!! There are all sorts of good things coming in 2012. We hope you are well and wish you all a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!


Sunday, December 18, 2011

Envy and Jealousy

Today I am dealing with some painful things and one of those is Envy/Jealousy. I really like to look at definitions because 1.) I am extremely nerdy and love my vocabulary to be exact and 2.) I think if you know what you are dealing with, you can name it when you pray about it. So, here are the definitions of the two.

Envy/Jealousy: A feeling of discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else's possessions, qualities, or luck. (N.)

Now, here is what God says about it ( just a little bit of what He says)

James 3:16 -- For where Jealousy and Selfish-ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.

James 4:2-3 -- You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions.

1 Corinthians 3:3 -- For you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way.

These are just a few verses in the Bible about jealousy/envy. These are painful things for me to admit to but this is my sin of choice. Some people really enjoy drinking to excess, some people are lustful in their hearts, some struggle with anger...mine is jealousy and envy.

After reading these verses, it was funny because a lady walked into Starbucks with a beautiful new baby and I just winced in pain because this is what God is dealing with me on currently. I am jealous of people I know and love, people I have no knowledge of, and people that are so far removed from me it is silly. If I take a gander over my whole life, I can see that this pattern existed a bit before but has become noticeably stronger since 2009. I know that there is a desire in my heart that has not yet been realized but I want this problem to go away. I want to be faithful enough to God to stop feeling this way while my desire has not been reached.

I also know (as a Therapist) that these feelings are healthy and real and I won't stop acknowledging them. I know that it is "normal" to feel this way when you have gone through a loss or a time of longing and things are not coming to pass. I know that this is a reasonable and explainable and even understandable way to feel. I feel compassion for others who feel this way and can empathize deeply with their heart. I also feel convicted, angry at myself, and in pain and these are things I want to be done with.

Sometimes my therapeutic self and my faith become enemies and I have to figure out where I stand on something. However, when I dig deep and think about how it feels to be angry or resentful or spiteful or jealous...I know that those are not good for my spirit or my mind. It is my job to pray about this problem and give it to God daily for the betterment of my relationship with Him as well as with myself and others.

I just had to put this out there today. I am going through a lot and I wish it would just go away. I wish I would just be able to rejoice with those who rejoice. This makes me feel like a rotten person and I don't want to feel that way. I want to be happy, truly happy without regard to other's lives. God, please take this nasty feeling out of me.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

What part of speech are your resolutions?

Resolution: A firm decision to do, or not to do something. Synonyms: Decision, determination, resolve, solution.

Today when I decided to start talking about 2012's New Year's Resolutions, I looked up the word Resolution on I immediately noticed the second word of the definition; Firm. So, since I was going that far, I looked up the word Firm. This is what I found:

Firm: Having a solid, almost unyielding surface or structure (Adj). To make something physically solid or resilient (V). In a resolute and determined manner (Adv)

I tutor a lot and one of the topics that gets worked on frequently is Parts of Speech. I always make sure we spend plenty of time on this topic because constructing great strong sentences requires using all parts of speech. I think that creating really great resolutions are going to require all of the parts of speech of the word FIRM for me.

I am one of those people who really likes resolutions and start overs. I am very into the proverbial "Mulligan!" For those of you who are not aware...

Mulligan: (In Golf) An extra stroke allowed after a poor shot, not counted on the scoreboard.

Each year, I find New Years exhilarating as it is a chance to do over some things, get an extra stroke or two, and possibly fix some things so they don't count on the scoreboard. I think we all try to better ourselves with our resolutions and taking them seriously is not always that easy. I have done a number of things over the years to try to get myself to achieve more resolutions. I made 50-100 one year and just gave myself credit for ANY of them reached. I believe I reached 25 or so that year. Not too shabby! I have made a few really general ones in hopes that I would achieve them all and that year, I was incredibly unsuccessful.

I don't think there is any one way to create resolutions or any right answer to the things that we need to change in our lives in the New Year. I am still a firm believer in resolutions because it is a challenge to better oneself and no matter what date you choose to start something, that is always a admirable goal. I am happy to report, as I look back over the life of the blog and the resolutions I have set in the past, many are achieved and many of my personality flaws have been sharpened and worked on and yet...I am so far from done. Every day that I am given is an opportunity to create a better and more productive person.

This year, I thought I would start a bit early working on the goal of creating some meaningful resolutions and some solid things that I can commit to in my 32nd year, 2012. (Brief pause to grieve that I am 32 this year)

Just in case you want a method to my madness, I am sharing the way that I write my resolutions each year in hopes that it will inspire you to make changes of your own and invest in your own life. Here is my process:

Step #1: Outline priorities.

The first thing I do in choosing my resolutions is to make a quick and easy priority list. Here is mine for reference:

1. My relationship with Jesus Christ
2. My Health -- Hence my relationship with me
3. My relationship with Anthony James Lewis
4. My other relationships (Family, Friends, etc...)
5. My career/work
6. My hobbies/interests
7. My flaws/weaknesses
8. My home/environment
9. My long term goals/dreams
10. Enjoyment of life in general

This is just a very general and rough outline of the things that matter to me in my life. They are semi in order with the top 3 being certain. Onto step 2.

Step #2: Write three solid goals for each priority

1. My relationship with Jesus Christ

-- Develop a consistent quiet time with the Lord each day.
-- Find and attend a body of believers in Indiana that Anthony & I both feel comfortable in and can minister through and be ministered to.
-- Develop spiritual disciplines of prayer, bible reading, rest, silence, etc... to a further degree than they are at now.

2. My Health -- Hence my relationship with me.

-- Get Hemoglobin A1C score down to a 7 on average each three months of the year.
--Develop discipline of moving my body in purposeful exercise at least 3 times per week on a regular basis.
-- Develop discipline of getting at least 6-8 hours of sleep per day.

3. My relationship with Anthony James Lewis.

--Have at least one date day per week where we get 3-4 hours of ALONE time with no family, cell phones, etc... interrupting
-- Develop the discipline of the debriefing time at the end of the night that includes prayer, devotional and just talking through our days.
--Make a concerted effort to speak sweetly and treat him with polite attitude and appropriate respect. (This one is huge every single day and it could always get better)

4. My other relationships (Family, Friends, etc...)

-- Spend at least 1 hour per week with my nieces and nephew and pay complete attention to them (not looking at cell phone, watching tv, etc...)
-- Be in better communication with friends by writing letters, emails, sending cards, and returning texts and phone calls in a timely manner.
-- Be aware of friends/family needs and commit to daily prayer time toward those relationships.

5. My career/work

-- Keep planner updated and work hard to not overbook my time but to be conscientious of mine and other's time.
-- Maintain paperwork and keep up to date for contracts, invoicing, and parent feedback forms.
-- Get associates # in Indiana in 2012 and begin getting hours for licensure in the state of Indiana.

6. My Hobbies/Interests

-- Get craft room entirely put together including table, shelving, and supplies in an organizational system.
--Finish Shawn's 1st year scrapbook by the end of 2012 and begin Kaylea's and Maddie's at the very least.
-- Create a reading list for 2012 for pleasure and read, read, and read some more.

7. My flaws/weaknesses

-- Figure out new boundaries and limits for relationships within Indiana and how that has changed from California.
--Do my best to take all Diabetic Medications, attend all medical appointments, and take all required vitamins
-- Stay organized and work each week to prepare for new work week and manage time schedule.

8. My home/environment

-- Make effort to get entirely moved in and unwanted items purged by March 2012
-- Get items out of storage in California and gone through to eliminate excess stuff.
-- Organize storage in a productive way

9. My long term goals/dreams

-- Begin savings account to work on down payment for house.
-- Pay of at least 20% of debt by the end of 2012.
-- Create savings/college fund for child (whenever that happens)

10. Enjoyment of life in general

-- Go on one Erica date per month
-- Make time to do at least 2-4 hours of pleasure only time each week (reading, crafting, movies, etc...)
-- Do a thankfulness journal each day of 2012 so I can acknowledge my blessings

This is my process each year to writing my resolutions. I pray that this year can be successful and that you are able to meet all of your 2012 goals! :)

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Giving Back

Lately I have felt very passionate about trying to work on an area of my life that needs some dedication. I need to do more things that are R.A.O.K. These things are random acts of kindness. The kinds of acts I am talking about is when you do something for someone and you don't sign your name or claim your act. These things show the fruits of the spirit so much and yet your reward is entirely from God and your own heart. This is an exercise I have been trying to do for the month of December and I had some things to share with you about what I have learned through the experience so far.

I won't tell you what acts I have already done or for whom because that would totally defeat the purpose but I thought I would share with you what God has been speaking to my heart through this experience. Here are some learning experiences that have been popping up:

Learning #1: People need random acts of kindness:

This world is harsh. Just when you get your feet underneath you sometimes, the carpet is pulled out from under you. People die on holidays...children get born with illnesses and leave Earth far too soon, jobs are outsourced and you seem to run through savings in minutes, unemployment is at a high, cars break at the worst possible times, husbands leave wives and wives leave husbands for no other reason but pure selfishness! Because we live in a fallen world, horrible things happen. People take their own lives and leave behind shattered hearts, people abuse drugs and hurt their family members, women carry babies inside them for 9 months and they are born dead. These are reasons to put your hand out to those around you and give! You have no idea what the person behind you in Starbucks has gone through, so pay for their drink and maybe give them hope in life again.

Learning #2: Sometimes it is hard to even come up with dental floss

There are times in our financial lives when the chips fall all at once. There are those times when you go into the bathroom and realize that you are out of floss and start to cry because buying dental floss sounds like an expensive item. Sometimes just being able to put your hand out and give someone a basket of household products that you have extra of is such a blessing to them that it helps them get through the month.

Learning #3: There is always someone worse off than you

I know that with the last couple of years of bad things in the economy and job market, it is has been hard to think outside of your own problems. Anthony lost his job in Feb. of 2010 and was unemployed for a full 9 months which felt like 9 years. He frantically searched for a job the same amount of time each day that he would be working at a job and yet NOTHING. I remember that, and in those times, felt like helping someone else would be a joke but I remember us helping a person out in a situation that was almost scary to us to do and over and in abundance God took care of us. Within one week of that event, Anthony was hired at Starbucks. I really don't believe that it was a coincidence. Sometimes looking outside of yourself helps you find solutions and more importantly perspective when it is most needed.

So far, this is what has been coming to me as I step out and try to find ways to give to those around me. I pray that each of you going through something hard will have someone reach out and that in turn, you might reach out too!


Saturday, December 03, 2011


Lately I have noticed a really ugly trend among people that I know. Since this is "The United RANTS of Erica," here I go. I have noticed lately that a lot of people I know really wish things were always handed to them and to go beyond wishing that, they also EXPECT it. I mean, if I am going to be real, I would really like it if I did not have to work to pay my bills, did not have to clean the dishes to eat off of them, did not have to wash my clothes to have something to wear, did not have to shop to have groceries fill up my pantry and fridge, and did not have to work to have a happy marriage. Everyone wishes these things, but the facts are....we have to do them or we do without those things.

On top of that, some of us have things that are even harder to cope with. For me, a diagnosis of diabetes so that means to even breathe, I have to stick myself with a needle 5 times a day and stick my fingers just as much! For others, infertility where the time to "try" to have a child is not even close to their biggest issue. They have to fight to try to make a baby with a person they love. Others have the issue of not having the legal right to marry the person they love and care for. These are things that a lot of us take for granted.

I am talking about the people today that literally think that everything should be handed to them on a silver platter and everything should be easy or they quit. Just like with my last few posts, there is not a person in particular I am speaking about but a vast amount of people. Just a good example from someone I do not know in the least....

I was in Wal-mart yesterday because here in the Midwest, that is what we do with our free time. I was going in to grab a few items I had great coupons for. Just a plug, got 10 Oral B dental flosses for like $2.00 :) So, I was standing in the oral hygiene aisle minding my own couponing business and trying to make sure I had all of my ducks in a row when a lady interrupted me and said this. "I don't mean to bother you or interrupt your shopping, but I see you have a binder full of coupons. Where do you find your coupons?" This was an innocent enough question and although I really like my alone time in couponing, I decided to answer. I told her that I get all of my coupons either online, through products and services, or in the Sunday Paper. She then extended her questioning to ask how I get things so cheaply, how do you get overage back, and yadda yadda yadda. I spent the better part of 20 minutes teaching this woman how to coupon when she then responds to me by saying "That is too much work. I would rather just pay high prices" and then she began to rant about how she could not afford groceries or hygiene items because they are too expensive.

Now, I am not a perfect person who never complains about the price of gas or thinks that the price of those french fried onion things are too much for what my husband calls "Onion dust" but...come on people!!! First of all, she felt that she was entitled to ask me a billion questions and then speak of what I do as if it was a waste of time...yet...she also wanted to complain about the price of items she buys everyday. If you don't like something, do something about it. I do couponing because I don't like paying $3.00 for hand soap. I clip a few coupons, read a blog or two and I pay pennies on that $3.00.

Here is another part of this entitlement issue. The facts are, I am happily married. Because I am happily married, I hear a lot of bitterness. I hear people say things like this to me "Must be nice to be married to Mr. Perfect" or "Must be nice to have a husband that does and says nice things." I get so annoyed by these phrases that I just want to yell "IT SURE IS!" Now, if you are one of these people who has bitterness in your heart for how you have been treated by a man or if you are still looking for Mr. Right and it is hard to be happy for others, I need you to hear something. I need you to hear this....I work hard to be happily married. I think of my husband before I think of myself. I pray for him daily. We pray together. We have arguments and disagreements but we fight hard to be kind and respectful to each other in the midst of them. I have been through heartbreak before meeting Anthony too and I made decisions that were difficult to get to him.

I still have to wash dishes and clean up his socks and underwear off of the floor. It is still marriage and marriage is difficult when it is easy. I will be the first one to say that my husband is soooo easy to love. However, I get some credit for this because I did not choose to marry someone that I didn't know, didn't respect, and who was a complete idiot. I dated Anthony, I got to know him, I sorted through his assorted issues joined with mine and decided to vow forever. Every single day of marriage is work. Granted, it is work that I love doing but before you say something starting with the phrase "It must be nice...." realize that I put myself in a position to be successful in marriage. I chose a respectful, honest, caring person and I bust my backside to treat him right as he does me. We can all fail...we can all succeed. I should say, this is obviously not pertaining to situations involving abuse...that is the abusers fault...100%!!!

Now onto it is plain and simple. You don't work, you don't eat. There are very few situations in life that are not a decision or choice. Those things are abuse, disease, etc...Some things just happen to you and then the choice comes with how you deal with them. As for this topic, it makes absolutely no sense to me to sit and complain about not having money or not having security or items if you choose not to work. I realize that some do not choose unemployment. Some can't find suitable jobs and some are disabled. These are not the people I am talking about. We all choose a certain path in life. Some of us get out of high school and go straight into a job that makes us enough to survive and we are fine with that. Some of us choose to be stay at home moms and dads and some of us go the college route and choose to be career minded and put the building of family second.

These choices all culminate into how your life works out. If you make a choice, own it. If you choose to stay home and not work, you choose to have that amount of money less. I am not speaking about one income families here...I am speaking of no income families. If you choose to have X amount of children, you choose those diapers, meals, toys, dr visits, etc... I see nothing wrong with the choices people make for themselves, I think I am just sick of people thinking that they can make a choice and have the benefits of making a different choice. I hope I am making myself clear on what I am actually ranting about here. Here is a really simple life example:

If you choose to use Colgate toothpaste and the box says the benefits are Whiter Teeth and Less Tartar, don't get mad because you didn't get the benefits of stronger enamel that the Crest is supposed to give you! If you wanted those benefits, BUY THE CREST!!!!

That is a really simple way to say, when you want need to go and get it. It isn't someone else's job to swallow your pill to make your cholesterol go down. It isn't someone else's job to do your homework for your college education. I think it is high time that we as humans begin to take ownership of the choices we make every single day and the choices we don't make.

I did not choose to go to med school, therefore I don't make doctor money. I choose to spend time on coupons, therefore I save money. I choose to work my butt off every day of the week, therefore my bills get paid on time. They might be just on time, but they are paid. This message is not for those of you out there that try your hardest and still meet bad times. It is about the entitled, the spoiled, the rotten, the bitter. For some reason, this has been on my heart.

I should shut up now.


Thursday, December 01, 2011

Some more racial ranting, the good kind!

Yesterday when I wrote the post "The Black Elephant in the Room" I never imagined that it would receive so much praise and so much attention. I wrote it to get things off my chest and if a few people read it, great. If they didn't, that was okay with me too. My blog has always been the place that I really let myself go and allow all of my thoughts and feelings to trickle out. Sometimes, I even say more to my blog, than to my closest friends. Yesterday I covered a few irritations of being in a biracial relationship and how others treat me in my marriage and cause hurt and pain.

Today, I decided to take a different point of view and point out just a few of the amazing blessings of being in a biracial relationship.

Blessing #1: The children in my life are approached with diversity.

I have a lot of children in my life. I have my friend's kids who I adore, my nieces and nephew who I can't get enough of, and many kids that I tutor on a regular basis. These kids, for the most part, have all met Anthony. They all love him and admire him. I don't know how you could not love him and admire him if you know him at all. These kids, who otherwise may never know a person of color personally, have gotten to know Anthony and are faced with a real version of someone instead of a stereotype right out of the gate. Many of these kids are very young and that is a great time for them to form the ability to judge someone not by the color of their skin but by the content of their character!

Blessing #2: I get to be happy!

One of the things that has been true about me for longer than I remember and passed down to me for years is that I have always been attracted to people darker skinned than myself. (Which I should note, includes a lot of people since I am the hue of Elmer's Glue) As a little girl, I would only allow my mom to buy me black baby dolls and all of my Barbies were the "Malibu" edition which is another way of saying "A Barbie of Color." I loved all things in black culture. I preferred R&B music, Black Comedy movies, and always thought that the black guys in school were clearly the hottest! :) That is just who I am. Since that is true, it would hardly have been profitable for me or a white man to date or be married because my attraction level would have been low at best. We all prefer something in the people we date whether it is long hair/short hair, blonde or brunette, tall or short, skinny or curvy, etc... I preferred dark skin. I still prefer dark skin. I am not ashamed of this, I am not sad about this. I am happy. I look at my husband and am more attracted to him daily. I almost can't wait for his salt & pepper hair as he gets older. I love that man with everything in me but it doesn't hurt that I think that he is the finest thing that has ever been made either! :)

Blessing #3: The culture I get to be a part of

There is a whole culture out there of people who are married and in biracial relationships. We understand each other, we support each other, and we cheer each other on in the face of roadblocks. I am so lucky in that my family has always supported everything I have ever done but some are not so lucky. Some families do not approve of their children marrying outside of their racial identity and some even disown their children for these choices. I was raised in a family who not only taught me to be tolerant of other's physical differences but also their differences of sexual orientation, lifestyle, religion, politics, and socioeconomic status. I was never a bully and gladly, never really bullied either. There is a whole culture of those of us who fell in love with someone who looks different than us by skin color but treat us like we should be treated. I am happy to be a part of that group of people. This includes all of you who are reading this who are my friends (Sophia, Paula, Susan, etc...)

Blessing #4: Anthony James Lewis

There is no other man for me in the world. This one was ordained by Jesus Christ to be my husband and it turns out he is black! Those are the facts and those facts are blessings

I hope that you all have a great day and let's be honest....I have a lot more of the negative ranting to do but....I wanted to rant in a good way today.

P.S. If any of you who are with me on this stuff want to guest post for me and write about your experience of being a part of a biracial marriage, I would love to have you! It's always good to get different viewpoints on where we can grow as humans

"When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." -- Martin Luther King, Jr. (I have a dream speech)

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Black Elephant in the Room

So the other night, Anthony and I were in the car and discussing some things that we have noticed about our marriage. I noticed that I have never really taken the time to write about what my irritations are in being in a biracial relationship. Now, most people will automatically assume that my irritations are about being married to Anthony and all of our cultural differences and on and on. No, not at all actually. My irritations are with white people in my life who say really thoughtless things and do really thoughtless things. This post is going to feel passive aggressive and for that, I apologize. There is no one specifically that I am pointing out for doing the following things but there are corporately a ton of people who have done these things. If you are one of the people who feels like this list may include you, I mean no harm but I hope that it helps you become a tad bit more sensitive to other's feelings on their privacy and their marital relationship.

Irritation # 1: The Myths!

I have heard this sentence from men and women alike and from people who know me very well and people who hardly know me at all..."Erica, are the myths true?" First of all, I will not begin to act like an idiot and not know what the "myths" they are talking about are yet I still make people voice them. If you are bold enough to get into my bedroom with my husband and myself, prepare to have a red face when you ask me if he is well endowed!! Secondly, I will not be answering that question. I would like you to take a moment and ask yourself how you would feel if I (a woman) came up to you (presumably a woman) and asked you what kind of heat your husband was packing??!! Do you want to slap me yet? Exactly! Also, please do not get mad when I do not let you in on whether black men perform oral sex or not. I have no intention upon putting visual images into your head about me or my husband in the privacy of our bedroom. This is not something you would ask a person married to a white man, so please don't ask me!

Irritation # 2: The second thing that really burns my biscuits and to be quite honest, makes me incredibly sad is when someone asks me or my parents "Are you okay with Erica marrying a black man?" Are you serious? I know a number of white women who are now divorced from their white husbands because that man has hit them, cheated on them, hit their children, etc... and yet they don't get asked that question. My mom has always told me it did not matter who I fell in love with as long as they treated me right because she was smart enough and street wise enough to know that there are awful people in every race plain and simple and Erica wasn't raised by a fool. I picked a man who makes my heart melt and treats me with so much respect, I start to think I am pretty great stuff! I wish all of my friends could have an Anthony....if only everyone in the world would figure out, my parents don't need to give me approval and they don't need yours either.

Irritation # 3: Here is a little hint, if every time I see you, you tell me how great it is that I married a black man and how "okay" you are with it. You are not okay with it! PERIOD. I will leave this one alone from here.

Irritation #4: I will just put the sentence here and speak on it for a minute "I worry about your kids, that they will be confused." This sentence translates to "I am confused and worried because you are threatening the way I think and feel...your kids are not even on my radar." First of all, please worry about your own kids and the ignorance you may be spreading and don't learn how colors mix in kindergarten. Dark Brown and White...makes lighter brown. NUFF SAID!

I am sure I have more, but I just had to put it out there. If you are offended or feel hurt by anything I have said, I wish I could say I am sorry...but I have been getting offended by these things for a long time.

Main Ideas:

(As Anthony would say) Stay out from under our clothes
My parents don't need your approval
I don't need my parents approval
NO you aren't okay with it

P.S. Thank you to those friends who just take Anthony as Anthony and never tell me they are okay with it. I know you are because of that! We love you right back!

The End!

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Finding a new place in life

We moved to Indiana over 2 months ago now and we are settling in nicely. I am learning that I am in a different place in my life right now. For the last, oh let's say 13 years I have been all about my career for the most part in finishing my Bachelor's degree, my Masters Degree, getting hours for a license as a Marriage/Family Therapist, and beyond. When we decided to leave California, I just assumed that I would continue to be consumed with my career, just in a different zip code. That could not be further from the truth. My whole heart has changed since moving here. Maybe this is what God had in mind?

This is not to say that I still don't have passions/dreams/goals for my career. It just seems like the importance they used to hold is not quite there right now. I have been having a really hard 2 years in dealing with the loss of our child and thinking about when I would like to proceed in trying to have another baby. I have NEVER came to a place where I felt like I was completely ready and would go forward. I am still not there to be honest, but I am way further than I was in California. I am at least focused on my health here and doing the right thing by my body to prepare for having another child.

The doctor and I have agreed entirely on the plan and I am moving toward those goals that we have set out. I am still working in the meantime by tutoring, coaching, and pursuing my associates number here to finish hours for Indiana licensure but it just isn't the thing at the forefront of my mind. I think daily about what it takes to be a good parent. I think about what it means to take care of yourself and really get your body in a good place to not only carry a child but raise one. I think about my marriage and how I could be a better wife each day. My priorities seem to have shifted and in my opinion, are beginning to be clear and in order.

I am getting so excited for our first holidays in Indiana. We are hosting Thanksgiving at our house so it should be a blast. I love to entertain. I am also having a big birthday bash for Anthony in December for his 31st! These kinds of things are really making me happy in the midst of a very uncertain and waiting time. I am enjoying being around my family and seeing my nieces and nephew so much. It is such a blessing to be able to watch their daily lives and growth. I do miss California in some ways but to be honest, mostly the people I left there and not the state itself. I feel so much more peaceful here and my blood pressure has come down to normal on a daily basis. That can't be a coincidence!

Anthony and I both feel happier, more well rested, and less stressed than we have for the last 5 years! I am hoping that my blog will also be something I now have time for as it has always been a great friend to me.

I hope you are all well and check back in often for updates! Happy Thanksgiving in advance!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Don't take it personal

Yesterday, I spent a bit of time with my gorgeous nephew Shawn and he served as a great reminder to me of things I need to learn. He is 2 years and 5 months old and full of energy and curiosity. He loves to get into things, try things out, and experiment. He comes to my house and every item I own becomes his next big interest, for a few minutes. Yesterday he was playing with my refrigerator magnets and learning that they stick to each other, to the fridge, and not to certain other areas in my house. Neither Hilliary or I got to him in time to keep the magnets from their swim in Nika's water dish. These are things he is doing now on a minute by minute basis and of course driving his mama crazy!

Hilliary and I were talking and she was feeling overwhelmed by his sudden new need to try everything and not listen very well either. I was reminding her about where he is in his development and saying to her "Don't take it personally" when I realized I need to take my own advice. Reminding Hilliary that Shawn is simply a two year old with a lot of world questions and not a child who really wants his mother to be near insanity is when I realized that I take so many things personally in my life and allow them to be hindrances to my walk with Christ, my relationship with my husband, and even my self-care.

I take it personally when a bill is overdue and we can't figure out how to make ends meet. I blame God and feel like he doesn't love me because all things don't fall in place easily. I take it personally when my husband forgets to do something I have asked him to do yet don't want him to take it personally when the same thing happens to me because I have overbooked myself with things to do. I take it personally when I feel awful and people do not stop needing me, instead of drawing boundaries and taking care of myself so I can feel better. I can truly take a lesson from Mr. Shawn Lee and not take it personally!


Saturday, October 08, 2011

A month in

The last time I wrote in my blog it was 25 days before we were going to leave for Southern Indiana. So much has happened since that blog was written and it feels a million miles away. Technically we have only lived in Indiana for a month and 11 days and it has been absolutely crazy. Before we left for Indiana we had planned to have a large yard sale to get rid of some of our belongings to make our move much easier. Well, on August 7th I was admitted to the hospital for Gallbladder issues and was treated for a few days before having my Gallbladder removed on August 10th. I turned 31 years old on August 9th and that same day, Anthony and I were married three years. I spend my birthday and our anniversary on heavy medication and in serious pain. The next day, I was one organ down.

As you can imagine, that is not the ending we had planned for our time in California. The move was made very hectic due to this as I could not lift anything and really was no help to Anthony at all in the packing of the truck. Also, I wasn't able to drive my car so we had to leave a lot of our belongings in storage in California and my car is still parked there as well. What a bummer! I am, however, grateful that my Gallbladder has now been removed and I feel so much better from that nonsense.

The trip across the United States was incredibly fast due to us moving our cat as well. The trip went very well and was uneventful and we appreciated that so much. Nika really liked to travel and spent most of her time sleeping underneath the seat or looking out the windows when we made pit stops. She is really adjusting to Indiana nicely but then again, she is an indoor cat so I don't know if she would even notice anyway.

As we were about a state away from Indiana, my little sister (Brittany) went into Labor with my second niece. She was not really scheduled to be delivered until September but she had other ideas. She was born at 10:56 am on the day I arrived, August 27th. I was only hours from being able to be there. Luckily I was over at the hospital by that night and got to see my beautiful new niece, Madelyn Mae Marie Chastain.

I spent the first couple of weeks here doing what any other person who just moved does. I saw my nieces and nephew as many times as possible and started to unload boxes. A few weeks into September, in my hometown they have what is called "The Persimmon Festival" I come from the Persimmon Capital of the world and this festival has been going on for 65 years and it is always a big thing for my home town. I was determined to go a few days this year and enjoy it and remember what I loved about it as a kid.

The first day of the festival or the "kick-off" is the Candlelight Tour at Spring Mill State Park. I went down there with Hilliary, Robert (her husband), and my nephew Shawn and really enjoyed the whole event. I remembered how beautiful Indiana can really be and was able to catch up with a few high school/youth group friends. It was a great night. That afternoon I also went to watch my best Indiana Friend's little girl, Riley participate in the Mini Miss Persimmon contest. She was fantastic and ended up being crowned a princess in the pageant. So cute!

I went to the festival on Monday and really enjoyed seeing people and eating Persimmon Pudding and hanging out with Anthony and my family. Tuesday it seemed like my time here just changed drastically. We were having a great time at the festival and decided to call it quits for the night and headed over to the Mitchell Library where we had parked our car. My mom was riding home with us as well as my nieces Kaylea and Madelyn. A quick review, my mom had a stroke a few years ago and started to have problems walking. Last year she started using a cane and lost significant balance. So, we were walking to the car and my mom slipped on a small bottle in the road and lost her balance and fell.

The next several hours seemed to fly by as we called the paramedics, met her at the hospital, found out her hip was broken, and scheduled surgery for the next morning. Surgery was a success and she was released from the hospital a few days later, into a rehabilitation facility in my hometown. She is still there and it is presumed she will be for 6 weeks. Since then I have established Power of Attorney and have handled all of her business as well as my own. I am happy to help her and I know she needs it but I think we are both pretty exhausted. The good news is her rehab is going very well and she is doing everything the doctors are asking. I appreciate that more than she will ever know.

In our home, things are going pretty stressful as well. About a week after we moved here, Anthony started his new job at the Starbucks in a neighboring town. He really loves everyone he works with and just like Anthony, loves his job. We are very grateful with how easy the move was in terms of establishing employment for him. We found out upon getting here however that he was going to take a pay cut due to it being a different state. We thought that he would not be getting a pay cut due to his recent evaluation in California but we are not sure what is going on with that. On top of that, the store he works at has significantly less business than the one he came from so he often gets cut from work a 1/2 hour to an hour early and that loses money of course.

I have already started working here doing some Life Coaching as well as tutoring local students. I have not established a full time position yet due to helping my mom out and the fact that we are operating on one vehicle in a place with no public transportation. I also have to register with the Board here and that requires testing and a LARGE fee (Over $300). Overall, I am sure that with time we will be able to catch up our finances from the very expensive move and be able to find our niche but we are certainly in a very stressful situation starting out.

We love our new apartment and love the price that we pay for it. We are really happy with our neighborhood and location. We are more than excited to see the kids so much and we are looking forward to the holidays with them. It has just been a very hard month.

I have been sick the whole time we have lived here with what seems like the common cold but it won't go away so now I have to find some money to see a doctor so that I can get some antibiotics. Diabetic meds have been difficult to come up with since money has been so difficult starting out here and I have to establish all new doctors. I forgot how hard it is to move across the country and start over entirely.

I am hoping by the new year to feel settled and not miss California so badly. I don't miss the expenses, the stress, or the schedule. I don't miss hurting over not seeing my babies and having so much to do I could hardly sleep. I miss my friends, the weather, and knowing what was next for the most part. I know we made the right decision but I am struggling with all of the realities of this move. I am tired, sick, and stressed. I pray it all stops soon and I can see better health, better finances, and brighter horizons for me and my whole family.

I appreciate you reading and hope you are all well


Saturday, July 30, 2011

25 days until life changes completely

So some big changes are happening in my world. I have had this blog since I was in my undergraduate program in 2004 and it is so weird to me that I am 7 years down the road and looking at another huge change in my life. This blog has seen me through a huge break up, two years of single-hood and searching for myself, dating Anthony, going to graduate school, getting married to my sweet Anthony, graduating with my Masters, traveling, getting pregnant, losing my child, Anthony losing his job, and now it is going to see me over 2500 miles of moving back to my home state of Indiana. This decision comes at just the right time and I have watched God bless the decision over and over and I am looking forward to him continuing to bless it in 25 days when our car pulls out of California in pursuit of our new home in Indiana.

This move is a drastic change for Anthony who has always lived in Southern California and pretty big to me as I have grown very used to living here for the last 9 years. I have these beautiful nieces and a gorgeous nephew though that I refuse to miss growing up. Our financial struggles in California have been excruciating and although our marriage has stayed incredibly stable and happy, that is not a good reason to continue to struggle when we could be really thriving and enjoying our lives somewhere more affordable.

I wonder every day what this change is going to bring to us. Will we have a child soon? Will we buy a home in the next five years? What jobs will we end up with? What adventures will the Lord takes us on now. This blog has seen many adventures, heartbreaks, and celebrations and I am sure it is bound to see even more. I decided to blog today about what I look forward to in the next year of our lives with the move coming up.

-- I look forward to being a better wife because I won't have to work three jobs in order to survive.

-- I look forward to traveling more because we can afford to

--I look forward to focusing on my health

-- I look forward to time with my sisters, parents, and my babies

--I look forward to being healthy enough to try to get pregnant and start our family.

-- I look forward to building better relationships with all family members.

-- I look forward to every day being married to Anthony Lewis (as I always do)

As this change comes around the bend, I am excited yet nervous. Overwhelmed yet overjoyed. Here we go blog followers...another journey to embark on together.


Saturday, April 23, 2011

It's time to talk

I have been silent for what seems like forever on my blog and I have missed the outlet but sometimes, it is just time to be silent. For the last few months, I have been working on a lot of issues. Anthony and I moved out of our apartment in February and that has been an adjustment as we moved to less space and a better place overall. Our financial status for the last year has been so hard due to him losing his job so we are feeling less and less stress daily. It takes so much longer to crawl out of that hole than you would imagine. My health has taken the top spot in my life lately and that has been something new that has required me to do a lot more personal journaling and therapy work than I would like to admit.

I found out this last couple of months that I have the first few signs of impending glaucoma and renal failure. As you can imagine, that really threw me into some sadness and annoyance but this time, it also threw me into action. I have been doing so well with my diabetes and am now in control. I know that I have the ability to reverse the damage I have done to myself and I will. I have been working towards health goals that I have never cared enough to even look at so it's been a few interesting months.

I am getting really excited as in just a few weeks I will be heading to Indiana to celebrate my nephew's 2nd birthday and see my family. My sister, Britt is pregnant with her second baby, a little girl Madelyn Mae. I can't wait to meet her! I love being an aunt and that has been a huge motivating factor in my decision to treat my body better....heck..treat myself better. I am still working diligently toward building my private practice client base, selling Avon, tutoring, and just finished up a semester at Vanguard helping out with the Cog B Lab.

Anthony just enrolled in college and is working at Starbucks. He would love to work on his business degree and work toward corporate Starbucks. He loves the company and really believes in it. I love to see that in him. We are currently NOT trying to have a baby until my health is fully on task. That is the right decision and we are happy to be doing it. Sometimes being great parents is prolonging your own desires until they line up with what is best for your little ones!

Overall, we are doing well and I would love to write longer but it is time to stop for today. I hope you are all doing well. Thanks for stopping in to read! :)


Sunday, January 16, 2011

How is my life going?

I listen to a lot of Podcasts and I enjoy a lot of self-help ones and things that challenge me to be better. I am constantly in process and find myself continuing to change every single day. Today I was listening to one and the question that was posed was "How is my life going?"

I thought the blog would be a great place to talk about how my life is really going. There are so many areas of life but overall, you have one life. Here is how my life is going...

My life is certainly better than it ever was in my 20's. In my 20's I was disorganized, undisciplined, horrible within relationships, unsuccessful, selfish, a bad friend, and the list goes on. I decided how I would talk about my life is that I would take a moment to describe myself. I have never done this and it feels sort of awkward so goes....

I am a wife. I am the kind of wife that doesn't do everything perfectly. I love my husband very much and value his position in my life. I often fall through on daily tasks but do a decent job of loving him and supporting him through life's trials. I am the kind of wife that never talks bad about my husband to anyone. I seek advice from a mentor couple and other than that, I speak kindly of Anthony and treat him with respect. I am incredibly faithful to Anthony not only in deed but in words and in private. Sometimes I lean back on old habits like speaking harshly or being selfish but in this 3rd year of marriage, I am doing better than I have in the past.

I am a woman. It used to feel weak for me to be feminine and often I would simply avoid that part of my personality. I am not afraid to be a woman anymore. I embrace my girly side and completely love wearing makeup, getting dressed up, selling Avon, and being the feminine part of my home. I love that I am not only in love with jewelry and purses but also have a mind that is intuitive and strong. I embrace my ability to talk through issues and have empathy in most situations easily.

I am unhealthy. I have battled my health for years not just because I am a type I diabetic but also overweight. Over the years, there have been times when I haven't cared what goes into my body or even what my body is going through daily. I now take all of my medications faithfully and see my doctor's whenever possible. I also think much more about what I eat and do. I think consciously about my health each and every day and if you knew where I was coming from, you would be amazed.

I am a therapist. One of the things that makes me who I am is my deep calling and desire to help hurting people. Yes, sure I am also intrigued and amazed by the human condition but overall, I like the look of relief on someone's face when they have been battling depression for years and suddenly they don't want to die. I come from a long line of mentally unhealthy people and for that reason, my heart is burdened. I believe with everything in me that God created me with this purpose in mind.

I am happy. This one has so much meaning for me. My life has been full of heartache, tragedy, loss, and pain....but God has redeemed so much. I am married to the love of my life. I had a short time to be a mother to my son Jamie and lost him while pregnant but some people don't even get weeks. I have a beautiful family that includes a niece and nephew and I love them dearly as well as the sisters who made them. I have a beautiful nephew in heaven who only 13 days here but I still love and look forward to the day I meet him. I am overall satisfied with my life with a desire to always be better.

How is life going? Pretty stinking good...maybe more than I thought when I started this post!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Avon Giveaway

Hi everyone,

I am using my personal blog to give the rules/guidelines for my current Avon giveaway.

Here are the rules:

For every $25.00 that you spend, you will be entered into a drawing only open to my customers for a makeup bag full of over $200 worth of product. There are no limits to how many entries you can have, that is completely up to you. This drawing will be open for Campaign # 3 and # 4 so get your orders in.

** As a special incentive, if you have friends who might like to order, if you get them to become a customer and they only spend $10, you will get two extra entries into the drawing. Make sure and let your friends know that if they put in a $25 order, they will also get an entry!



to shop and get your entries! :)

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Happily Married

If there is one thing that I have learned about marriage in my last 2.5 years is that you can NOT be selfish and happy at the same time. I think I started out in Marriage incredibly selfish and kind of had it in my mind that Anthony's job was to make me happy. I quickly learned that there is no way that works. The marriage that works and is happy is where both people have a servant's heart and want to help the other.

Lately God has really been dealing with me on being selfish. We have had a very hard last year and a lot has changed in our plans for our life. Anthony lost his job in February of last year and everything sort of changed. Our plans to have a child got drastically put on hold and even living in California is up in the air at this point. My dream was to stay in California and try to have a child in the next couple of years. I am not sure what God's plan is but I have learned that my plans are not necessarily in conjunction with His.

Lately, I have really been thinking about my issues that make marriage harder. I am a control freak. Growing up in a home where things were unpredictable to say the very least made me someone who hates change and hates not being in control. I try not to use my blog as a place to blast my parents or tell the world what I think they did wrong. I have learned that parenting is literally THE hardest job in the whole world and so, I will no longer throw stones. I would do things very differently than both of my parents did them but what is done is done.

I also do things very differently in my marriage than I have seen married people do. My grandparents were married for over 40 years, however, it didn't seem that they really liked each other. I think there was love for sure but there was so much ignoring, bickering, and lack of intimacy. In my home, my mom and dad divorced when I was 1.5 years old so I don't remember ever having a nuclear family. My mom remarried when I was 5 and had my little sister so things were very different and chaotic in our house. My dad remarried when I was 4 and had my other little sister and at that point, I felt like I completely disappeared.

The step-parents were worlds apart. My step-father was in my home and had a lot of say in what I did, said, and how my life was. Again, this isn't the place to talk about things that went wrong but I'll just say, they went wrong. My step-mother was one of the most genuinely good people I have ever known. She really treated Hilliary and I like a priority and never tried to be our mother which was paramount to my respect for her. She passed away in 2007 and I truly miss her.

We went through another divorce when my mom and step-dad divorced when I was 16. I mostly saw their marriage in action and what I recall was hiding things, a lack of respect on both sides, inappropriate behavior, and totally forgetting how to parent. I guess for me, I am so afraid if I am not in control that these types of things will happen in my home.

The new year is bringing me new awareness. The number one awareness it is bringing is that Anthony CAN BE TRUSTED. I have known that for the last 5 ish years but somehow it has not translated to my behavior. I think I am beginning to see that God picked him in mind of all that my heart had to go through as a little one.

Thank you Jesus for loving me through this and through my past!

I pray you all are Happily Married! :)

Saturday, January 01, 2011

What is rest?

Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.
Mark 6:31

One thing that has always been difficult for me for a long time is rest. The definition says that it means "a state of inaction." For me, that is the hardest thing to read although I know that the truth is that rest is essential for well being and health. One of my resolutions is to have a daily quiet time and also to do more self care. This year I want to learn how to rest. Today I am going to do just that.

I want to get myself a cup of tea or coffee and sit/lay on my couch in my most comfy pj's for 30 minutes uninterrupted today. That includes silencing the cell phone, not having the TV on, and not getting on the computer. No books either...just rest. A state of inactivity!