It’s five days into 2020 and I’m finally posting my annual power/focus word for the year. It took a minute because I was meditating, contemplating, and confirming what my gut was telling me. But first, let me rewind and say that 2019 was a great year in my life. I THRIVED in so many areas that I credit to God and the Universe aligning in my favor, and staying focused on my goals and other things that were important to me. I saw great advances in my journey that are too numerous to detail. And while not quite where I want to be yet, I am pleased with my growth and progress. My 2019 takeaway is staying positive and watching the energy you radiate and welcome.
For 2020, my word is FEARLESS. I recently read in someone’s Twitter post that “2020 will be the same as every other year if you let your fear stop you from becoming the person you want to be.” Now in general, I believe I am courageous about a lot of things and have exhibited that in my life at times. But I also recognize that more times than not, I have allowed fear to mute my inner lioness and create doubt about myself and capabilities. And guess what? It is usually because of someone else’s opinion. I have traced it back to my childhood and have since forgiven those who did not know any better all along my 50+ year journey. More importantly, too, is that I have forgiven myself for allowing others to have that much influence in my life and destiny.
But no experience is wasted and being fearless, for me, is more about an intentional mindset to use my experiences to better heed my inner voice, boldly pursue my dreams, set aspirational goals, and live an unregrettably fabulous life on my own terms. I had positive, forward movement in 2019 and plan to build upon that traction. So, to the year 2020, I proclaim that I, Nina Ann Hall, am a lioness (by astrological sign and in my spirit), and you will most definitely experience the effects of my roar. #FEARLESS
What’s your focus for 2020? Pick one word and find your tribe atoneword365.com. And remember, Live your Best Life for YOU!
Mother’s Day can be challenging for those who grew up without their Mom, or lost their Mom as adults. I lost mine tragically to suicide when I was only 15. Yet there doesn’t seem to be an adequate way to acknowledge the memory in the sea of Hallmark moments or gift-buying ideas. If Mother’s Day causes you the blues, the best solution is to create your own moment. Moms give the greatest gift that is possible: LIFE. Regardless of any familial circumstances, she was the vessel that allows you to grow, develop, and evolve to create your own experiences and memories. So what better way than to honor Mom than by living your best life, having no regrets, and making each moment matter. I believe that’s what she would have really wanted for you. So if you have your own kids, be a great Mom to them. If you are childless, celebrate and enjoy the gift of life in your own unique way. Make the memory of your Mom’s gift to you really matter this Mother’s Day and forward on.
Fiftyish is a quarterly perspective on health, wellness, beauty and graceful living.
The acceptance of aging is a process that had to mentally unfold before I began to appreciate wellness, health, fitness and anti-aging products. I’ve maintained good health, always enjoyed clear skin – nary a pimple as a teen or young adult — and my 105-pound young adult and post-pregnancy self really believed I would be Olive Oyl skinny my entire life.
All lies, I say!!!!
“Age is just a number, and agelessness means not buying into the idea that a number determines everything from your state of health to your attractiveness to your value.”
My brain says I’m 33 but that morning backache and knee pain suggests more my real age of 53. While internally I feel youthful exuberance, and gratefully, my God-blessed melanin keeps me wrinkle-free, my physical reality is that my body has aged, and it is broken with weight gain, high blood pressure, aches/pains, skin hyperpigmentation, and other effects of menopause.
Okay, “broken” is a stretch…but I have come to terms that my body needs regimented self-care, self-love and some healing during this naturally-progressing stage of my life’s journey.
Pioneering women’s author, health and wellness expert, and board-certified ob-gyn Christiane Northrup, M.D., wrote in her New York Times best-selling book, Women’s Bodies, Women’s Wisdom: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing, that “the secret to thriving is the knowledge that we are never simply victims of our bodies. It’s very reassuring to know that we all have within us the ability to heal from anything and go on to live joy-filled lives.”
We cannot stop aging or turn back the clock, so the goal for us fifty-ish age women should be looking and feeling good no matter what age we are. Northrup has widely used terms such as “gracefully aging” and “ageless” beauty to describe an overall mindset for women to embrace and own their body’s changes, and she has written extensively in books and on her blog about the subject.
These are themes that have also become more commonplace in my friend groups and amongst peers as we embrace graceful aging and laugh about being the old ladies in the room. However, we don’t sit idly by as if we have no say in the matter. My belief is that if there is breath in our bodies and we can move, we can – no we MUST — adapt and modify our lifestyles to embrace and love our matured, beautiful selves with intentional focus and some lifestyle, dietary and skincare changes. Oh yes, and some inspiration and motivation, too.
My fitness inspiration comes from my Goddaughter’s mom and friend, Lorna. For pretty much the 15 years I’ve known her, she has always gone to the gym. And in the last five years, she considered training for a fitness competition. I didn’t think she was serious because at that time, she was married with four kids, worked full time, active in church ministry, working on a master’s degree, started a storefront retail cake bakery, got a divorce, then later earned a doctorate.
But in the past several years, each time I saw Lorna, I exclaimed “girl, look at your arms and legs.” She was transforming right before my eyes. And then last year, I attended one of her first natural body fitness competitions, and I was in awe and shock (in a good way) about the whole experience and what I saw. She was 51 but looked 25.
It also gave me pause to really think about my priorities and why I could not commit to ANY type of fitness routine for the betterment of my health and overall wellness. I do want to be healthy and keep my blood pressure in check, feel good about myself, and look comfortable and toned in my clothes. I recognize that stress, mindless eating, and bad habits took over as life happened, but it’s never too late to regain control and make conscious, healthy lifestyle choices.
Yes, I got all of that from attending one of Lorna’s competitions. Here’s her story:
From Step Class to
Lorna S. Deshay,
Ph.D., (Mom, Marketing Expert, Cake Decorator, and Pro Fitness Competitor)
did you begin your fitness journey?
I began working out in 1998 in a step class that was offered at a Rehabilitation Medical Center. In 1999 I began working out at Australian Body Works who later was bought out by LA Fitness. I have been working out consistently since 1999. At times I would work out two times a day, five days a week. My current regimen is working out one time a day, six days a week.
was your initial motivation for beginning a workout regimen?
My initial motivation in 1998 was
just to do something during my lunch hour. Who knew that the lunch time filler
would be become an activity that I became so passionate about. I began to enjoy
working out and didn’t feel complete if I missed a day or two.
did that morph into fitness competition?
As I was working out at the gym, you begin to see the same people all the time. Especially if you are consistent with the times that you may go. There was a guy who asked me if I “competed.” I know I looked at him side eyed because that isn’t anything I ever considered. I worked out consistently and hard just because I enjoyed it. From that point, he began to train me. I still did not make a commitment to compete, I just thought maybe I would consider it. Well, as of May 2018 I competed in my first show as a Figure competitor. Before stepping on stage, I thought I would do one show and be done. The following day after the show, I was looking up other shows that I could compete in. Since May 2018 I’ve competed in six shows and have obtained my Pro Figure status with three natural bodybuilding organizations (SNBF, ANBF, and One World Alliance). My current goal is to compete in a World Championship show and the Natural Olympia.
your 20-year fitness journey, how have you balanced being a wife, mother,
friend, employee, business owner, doctoral student and all the other things
you’ve had going on in your life?
Regardless of my responsibilities, I
had to keep up with my workout regimen. I specifically designated time at lunch
to go to the gym and when I was working out twice a day, I would go to the gym
again before I had to pick up my younger kids from after school care. When I
knew that I wouldn’t be able to make it to the gym at lunch time, due to a
meeting or other work-related obligation, I would get up early and go to the
gym at 5am and be there when they opened. When I had to travel for work, one of
my hotel requirements was the fitness center. If there was a LA Fitness in the
area, I would map out how far was the hotel to the gym. I remember traveling to
Columbus, OH and there was at least a foot of snow on the ground. I layered up
and went to the gym. I prevented myself from having excuses for not going. My friends laughed at me one time because
Atlanta had an ice storm and we were stuck indoors for a few days. They
couldn’t believe I was calling the gym to see if they were open.
lot of women just may not feel motivated to work out because they don’t feel
they have the time or don’t feel they can commit. What would you suggest?
I think women should consider how they want to see themselves one year, five years, or even 10 years from now. A healthy body will not just happen or sprinkle over you. To prevent medical conditions as you get older, live longer and healthy, and even look better, women must set realistic goals. I suggest that if women need to lose weight, they should hire a trainer so that they can learn the correct way to eat and how to incorporate a workout regimen. Dieting is never the answer, eating correctly to be part of a healthy lifestyle is the answer. Most women may not be motivated to work out so finding a friend who will commit to work out, is the ideal solution. Accountability will help. It doesn’t matter what age women are, deciding to begin working out would be advantageous to a healthy lifestyle. Please remember that if you are having medical complications, on medication, or have had any surgeries, discuss with your physician before you begin any workout program.
Lorna. You are very disciplined and make good points about nutrition, dieting
and accountability. What about women who may not have the financial resources
to join a gym or hire a trainer or nutritionist?
I would suggest looking up beginner at-home workout programs on YouTube. Here is a link I found for a 15-minute beginners at-home cardio workout (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VHyGqsPOUHs). Please remember to take it slow and work at your own pace if you are just starting a workout routine. Over time you will build up endurance to keep up with the instructor. Also, here’s a basic eating plan that is very easy to follow.
competitions or intense workouts may not be a motivator or even a realistic
expectation for most women to consider or pursue, especially in middle age, but
a few things can be learned from Lorna’s competitive fitness journey, like discipline,
attitude and commitment. She is focused and balances her family life by
incorporating wellness, fitness, and health into activities, the types of natural
products she has in the home, and preparing well-balanced, nutritious meals.
It also comes down to a matter of perspective and how one can translate lessons from another’s experience and journey into their own personal goals. Age really is only a number and for my fellow fifty-ish aged women challenged with their own wellness and mid-life aging concerns, recognize that feeling and looking good is possible and doable with the right mindset. Free your mind and rest your soul. You can look youthful and vibrant by creating your own style and finding your path for taking better care of yourself.
My #Thrive2019 Lifestyle Goals
to visiting my doctor(s) for a physical and wellness checkup, I continue to seek
out natural remedies for improving my sense of physical and mental wellbeing. I
now primarily use items like castile soap, shea butter, coconut oil and honey
regularly for my facial and skincare regimens.
I am also now more conscious about what I eat, making sure
to include salads and raw and cooked vegetables in my daily diet, whether at
home or at a restaurant. I drink
primarily water as a beverage, either alone, infused with fruits and
vegetables, as an herbal or green tea.
I move more, too. Either I’m walking at lunch, doing a Zumba class, punching and jabbing in a kickboxing class, periodically doing yoga, meditation and mindfulness activities, or taking advantage of the equipment in my complimentary workplace gym facility. My routine rotates weekly because I adjust based on my schedule and how I am feeling that day. But one thing is constant is that I am committed to doing something every day to actively move my body, even if it’s as simple as stretching to improve flexibility and balance.
How are you inspired and motivated to be an ageless beauty?What are you committed to doing to improve your health and wellness? Self-care is self-love and involves making actively conscious decisions about one’s wellness. Share your thoughts below.
always moves forward regardless of circumstances. Even if you become stuck and are trying to
figure out a solution, life lives on. And sometimes the best solutions are
patience and time. Patience to allow the
universe to align in your favor and time to allow the work to transpire.
when you are in the thick of it, it is easier said than done. No one wants to
be stuck, feeling emotionally, mentally or physically trapped without answers.
It’s a painful, lonely and gut-wrenching experience.
know. This same feeling has intermittently disrupted my life for 38 years since
when my Mom passed in my teen years, and I felt abandoned, unloved and rejected
by my family. I’ve been stuck more times than I care to remember trying to
navigate life. Sometimes because of circumstances, bad timing or just plain, poor
But what has been constant in all my travails is my ability to learn, grow, recover and renew. So, when it was time for me to again reflect, plan and identify my yearly guide word, I knew “THRIVE” was my word.
3: to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of
I remember when I was going through an especially difficult hardship a few years back and feeling depressed, a woman who hired me to do freelance writing said, “you are thriving; you are making it, and that’s something to be proud about.” And more recently, I had a college friend tell me that I make rebounding seem easy, so others can’t see or don’t understand my struggle.” In both those scenarios, I was so caught up in how I felt or what it looked like, I didn’t even see that I was indeed moving forward and thriving in my life at the age of 53. As my peers are winding down, I’m gearing up and thriving, looking youthful and feeling good. That’s a true blessing and one that should not be taken for granted.
So even though it never feels easy or fun to me because I’m living it out, my heart chooses to intentionally thrive in all areas of my life in 2019. My #Dream2018 efforts won’t go to waste because patience and time are on my side. As a matter of fact, several of my dreams began to manifest last year, and I look forward to seeing them thrive in 2019.
The talented musical duo, Black Violin, continues it Classical Boom Tour with a second Atlanta Symphony Hall performance on Sunday, December 2 at 8:00 pm. This is a special treat that I wrote about in May, and a perfect way to embrace classical music with an urban twist. Experience something new with your young budding musician, a night out with family or friends, or maybe even a unique date night experience. Limited tickets remaining. Black Friday discount promotion may apply (Friday25). Learn more or purchase at https://www.atlantasymphony.org/ConcertsAndTickets/Calendar/2018-2019/Black-Violin-18.
Violin music can be soothing and entertaining, and the violin is a beautiful instrument. I remember for one year during middle school that I attempted to learn to play the violin. I would practice but just couldn’t seem to get the sound right. It sounded more like grating and I didn’t feel encouraged to try because it wasn’t coming naturally, and I knew my Mom couldn’t afford lessons or to rent the violin. So why bother, right?
Not so fast with that line of thinking. I should have stuck with it because those early memories came flooding back a few Sundays ago as I listened to classical music with hip-hop influence performed by two very talented African American men, Kevin Sylvester and Wilner Baptiste, of Black Violin along with the Atlanta Youth Symphony Orchestra.
This experience was a breathtaking musical treat that included the two violinists along with DJ SPS and drummer Nat Stokes helping to liven the illusion of a underground classical concert party scene (if there is such a thing). The laid back vibe was set to tempt emotional sensibilities that included Wilner belting out smooth vocal tunes and Kevin charmingly hyping the crowd with his infectious smile and personality. The music was romantic and simultaneously robust while capturing the urban rhythmic essence of Cardi B over Mozart and Bruno Mars and the old school sounds of Michael Jackson and Boys II Men in some of their music.
My mind was all over the place thinking about what great role models these men are in supporting music education for our youth and showcasing the uniqueness of culture, music and art. Kevin and Wilner were able to conceptualize the idea of Mozart being hip and capturing the ingenuity and improvisational versatility of music as a multi-genre art form referred to as “classical boom.” A beautiful experience and powerful expression of what musical genius looks like when limits and stereotypes are removed.
Below is a short video of some of the performance. Hope you enjoy and plan to check out Black Violin for yourself.
Looking for more ways to focus your writing? Consider the 30-day writing challenge with Shut Up & Write! The challenge begins April 1 and involves daily writing exercises that can be completed in 20 minutes. This challenge can help aspiring and dormant writers to develop a writing habit or spark creative juices to get those stories written. Learn more at http://www.shutupwrite.com/30-days-of-writing/.
“Wow” is the best word for me to describe Marvel’s Black Panther. It really requires no introduction but in case you aren’t aware, it has quickly become a top-grossing movie directed by Ryan Coogler (Fruitvale Station, Creed).
I went solo and saw it on a very late Friday night in an IMAX theater several weeks after its opening. The IMAX ticket was pricey but I had heard so many positively encouraging reviews and comments about the film that I felt it necessary to be immersed in a complete theatrical experience when I viewed it. Words really cannot explain my giddiness at the vastness of messages and positive portrayals in this film, and I am definitely happy for the IMAX experience.
I am no comic book fan by no means. My superhero knowledge is, or let me say, WAS limited to the regulars. But this Black Panther movie, let me tell you, was excellent. I felt so much pride in seeing all the beautiful Black faces, acting finesse of seasoned and newcomer talent, the superhero storyline and the vivid imagery of Wakanda (a fictitious African nation). The character of King T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) was great. But honestly, most of the movie I forgot it was about Black Panther. But no movie spoilers or critiques here; you must go see this movie yourself. This post is on my women-centric thematic takeaway from the film in honor of March’s Women’s History Month (with respect to February’s Black History Month).
Year of the Adored Ones. It seems so apropos that this movie released in an immense season of female empowerment where women have used their collective voice to create societal change and norms about valuing women. I became enamored by the character and strength of the warrior women body guards called Dora Milaje, the general of armed forces (Okoye), the smart, tech-savvy younger sister (Princess Shuri), and of course the characters Mother Queen Ramonda (Angela Bassett) and Wakandan spy Nakia (Lupita N’yongo). In doing a little Black Panther and Marvel research, I learned that the name Dora Milaje means “Adored Ones”, and that truly is an apt name and description for all of the women. The Adored Ones are courageous, confident, loyal, smart, talented, persistent, tenacious and regally beautiful. In their core beauty and essence of black femininity, these women’s hearts reminded me of myself, my friends, and any woman that I admire for being true to their power and uniqueness.
Beauty in (Black) Women’s Complexity. The principles of honor, love and power are thematic throughout the movie, and are adeptly representative of real life challenges that many black women face. For example, there is a scene where Madam General Okoye immediately makes a dramatic decision during the height of the movie that I’m like, “Yes!!! Stand in your truth.” From a survival perspective, I see similar daily scenarios by black women but which often get overshadowed under misogynistic labels and negative stereotypes that dare acknowledge the complexity of womanhood and blackness. It is not always easy to stand on the principles of survival because our hearts get in the way and passionate presentation is misinterpreted. But more representation of Wakandan warrior princesses on film could help shape a conversation on the perceived mysticism of black womanhood and their real world instinctual survival skills, perspectives and experiences that are too often devalued.
Endless Possibilities Do Exist. The telling is in the sharing of our stories. Last year we learned in Hidden Figures of the amazing contributions of black women in science at NASA. We also learned how a black woman’s cancer cells have advanced international medical research with the immortal cell line HeLa in the film, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. While ficticious, what makes Black Panther’s Wakanda just as powerful is the telling of its technological advancement led by a young black woman, who looks all of 15 years old. If I were a young black girl or teen in 2018, I would be doing flips at the commanding presence and intelligence of Princess Shuri while signing up for my local STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) classes. When given the opportunity to be and show our best in an inclusive and supportive environment, black women can and will do much to advance society and life. This is what we should be teaching our young black girls and supporting and encouraging them towards greatness and excelling in areas in which they show gifts, talent and technical strengths.
Lastly, I learned of a petition to create a Wakanda series on Netflix and wanted to share for those who also have fallen in love with Wakanda and want to watch the backstory unfold. I imagine it would be rich in African history and pride and a great legacy story. Please share and spread the word.