“My Mental Breakdown”

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Last Friday around 1:13 in the afternoon I experienced a mental breakdown. Is that okay to share or talk about these days??  If not, this is a break from all regularly scheduled programs that are being broadcasted on the picture perfect social media channel.  I interrupt this program with a dose of reality.

 

After a week full of 9 – 10 hour days covering for a colleague’s work load on top of my own – my brain could take no more.  I had received three calls from frustrated suppliers and managers that morning.  During the last call I could feel my voice starting to crack as I tried to listen to this manager’s frustration.  Nothing to do with me, just her frustration with the process.  I hit my red ‘end call’ button on my phone and started to shake, then the tears started to flow.   Luckily, I was working from home. The dam that was holding all the stress and anxiety of trying to handle too many things together finally broke.  I mean I was seriously sobbing uncontrollably the kind of cry that comes from a deep place within.  My laptop continued to chime with incoming emails, reminders, skype messages pinging me everyone wanting something. All I could do was cry –  I could not take in one more thing.

 

Thankfully my husband returned home early and found me.  He didn’t know what was wrong and I could barely get any words out.  He told me that I needed to message my manager to tell him I needed a break as I was in full meltdown. He had watched me come home from work that week each night like a zombie.  How do you message your manager telling him that you are having a mental meltdown?   It’s not like in a sports game where you can yell to the referee that you need a timeout – this is life.  You can’t use the words “mental breakdown” in a skype or email message at work.  Well this girl had to break that ‘rule’ on a beautiful Friday afternoon as I simply could not pull myself together.

 

My manager responded after a few seconds and asked why I did not ask for help earlier in the week and wondered how things got to that point.  I told him that I thought I was handling things okay, but evidently, I wasn’t.  More embarrassment as I continued to try to explain how I got to this point – where tears were spilling onto my hands and splashing my laptop as I typed. He made me step away from work for a few hours to regroup.

 

I was in shock that I got to the point of breaking down. As a mom, I’m used to mentally juggling a million different things, throw work and life on top of that and this is just another day in my world.  Nope not that day – my brain and spirit said otherwise.  The whistle had been blown I was officially down and in time out.  I feel slightly embarrassed and vulnerable post meltdown at work especially with my managers.  I guess my meltdown did result in a conversation led by my managers the following week making sure that the team knew that although things are super busy we need to know that we can ask for help.  There is even discussion of a monthly mental health day.  I guess my tears are making a difference, lol!

 

It has me thinking, why is this the norm? Trying to keep everything buttoned up, perfect and okay.  We give our best selves to our work all day and come home with nothing to give but irritability and exhaustion to the people that matter the most.  Our society rewards and encourages this work horse, lean in, slaying it mentally. I especially do not think this is good for women and moms. We must take more things off our plate, speak up and ask for help.  The norm should not be to run a million miles an hour and juggling a billion things.  If you do have a lot going on you need to have more downtime and self-care.  It needs to be okay to ask for a time out at work.  Where do we find that courage to say we are not okay and make this a priority?  Our western culture rewards the hustle and places more value on material possessions, success and power while eastern cultures embrace going with the natural flow of life, shorter work days, time with family, slowing down and taking care of yourself spiritually, mentally and physically.

 

Last week’s meltdown was a scary wakeup call that I was NOT expecting. I feel differently and want to change my approach to my mental health.  I also hope to create social change in our culture and how we work especially as women in a society that was created by men with traditional 9-6 values.  Our bodies were not meant to slay it Monday – Friday for 8-10 hrs.  Especially as women we go through monthly cycles that sometime require us to rest more or need more downtime.  We are taught as woman to ignore our bodies and to be like men, umm yeah no we are different we birth babies for crying out loud! Our work systems were not designed with this in mind.   It is time for more conversations around this topic and change.  I’ll start here with sharing my meltdown moment instead of the highlight reels of my life that we all choose to share daily.

 

I hope my emergency broadcast will help someone.  If you are in a meltdown moment, find someone to talk to, if you have EAP (Employee Assistance Program) at work use it. If you are in extreme crisis and no one to talk to call 1-800-273-8255 or even message me if needed.  I’m here to help and support!

 

Feel free to leave a comment about any recent meltdowns that you have experienced or practices that you have in place to protect your mental health and wellness!

 

Cheers to breakdowns that lead to getting the help that we need!

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By Kara Norman- Empower Her, Inc.

Kara Norman Atlanta Based Women Empowerment Thought Leader and bi-weekly blog contributor.

Kara Norman has been working with Women and Girls for a number of years. Her nonprofit organization Empower Her Inc , have led to many opportunities in the space of making social changes as it deals with women and their many roles in society. You can learn more about Kara Norman and Empower Her Inc. at http://www.empowerherinc.com/

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Foodie Tuesday with Smarty Marty- Macaroni Salad

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This week recipe idea is a classic with a twist… Macaroni Please, but not just any macaroni,

we are adding a few vegetables to make this what they call a Macaroni Salad….  As always 1st things 1st we need to gather up the following ingredients.

Ingredient Listing: 

  • 4 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
  • 1 cup mayonnaise1/4 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 2/3 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup grated carrot (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped pimento peppers (optional)

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The Fresh Ingredients 

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Chopped & Diced 

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Closer Look at this delicious delight.. 36121281_2339658576045078_4215063879044038656_n Dinner is Served! 

Directions

  1. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the macaroni, and cook until tender, about 8 minutes. Rinse under cold water and drain.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the mayonnaise, vinegar, sugar, mustard, salt and pepper. Stir in the onion, celery, green pepper, carrot, pimentos and macaroni. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving, but preferably overnight.

Food Styled and Prepared By Smarty Marty

Recipe By – Allrecipes.com

Atlanta Based Photography Elisha Akram (Kustom Kreation Photography) weekly food/recipe contributor Smarty Marty(My Older Sister) combines her love for cooking, photography and plating meals each and every Tuesday for this Segment entitled Foodie Tuesday. Join us each week for a variety of dishes prepared by Smarty Marty

Black Love visits Atlanta!

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By invitation only well not really if you’re familiar with local events you could’ve signed up to attend this evening event Black Love. My friend Kara Norman invited me to a night out to one of her favorite shows on TV for an open discussion into challenges that come up in a marriage. We enjoyed an evening of what would be considered a live broadcast of the show with special celebrity guest Grant Hill and Tamia. It was an evening of conversation dealing with marriages from different perspectives and couples from all ranges from newlyweds two couples with plenty of skin in the game dealing with the real issues in overcoming to stay together. During our outing we had lots of fun at the photo booth provided by Far Out Galaxy! They also gave us lots of fun gifts from and Kara and I got a chance to grab a quick picture with the celebrity panelist!!! An exciting night I was all smiles and enjoyed every minute of my time.Kara+and+ElishaBlack Love copy5-1-18+DD+Atlanta+Woodruff+Arts+Center+-+Black+Love+-+Robot+Booth20180501238Black Love1 copyGrant+Hill+&+Tamia+Black+Love+Event

Elisha Akram (Kustom Kreation Photography) is an Atlanta Based Photographer Specialing in Social Events, Weddings, Families  High School Seniors & Business Headshots!

We also custom design party supplies for life’s celebrated moments! Live Love Create Go Kustom! 

Kara Norman Atlanta Based Women Empowerment Thought Leader and bi-weekly blog contributor.

Kara Norman has been working with Women and Girls for a number of years. Her nonprofit organization Empower Her Inc , have led to many opportunities in the space of making social changes as it deals with women and their many roles in society. You can learn more about Kara Norman and Empower Her Inc. at http://www.empowerherinc.com/

Foodie Tuesday with Smarty Marty -Vegetable & Chicken Lasagna

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Noodles Chicken and Vegetables… a delicious combination. This week Smarty Marty is cooking up Lasagna utilizing chicken tenderloins and fresh vegetables. To get started with this dish we need to gather up the following ingredients.

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Ingredients

  • Nonstick cooking spray
  • 2tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/2cups very thin bite-size carrot strips
  • 1cup chopped onion (1 large)
  • 4cloves garlic, minced
  • 14 – 16ounces frozen broccoli florets, thawed
  • 12ounces shredded cooked chicken breast
  • 3cups fat-free milk
  • 9tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 1/2cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 1/2teaspoons salt
  • 1/2teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4cup snipped fresh basil
  • 115 ounce carton fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 1cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese (4 ounces)
  • 12no-boil lasagna noodles (about 8 ounces)
  • 1cup whole wheat panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs)
  • 1/4cup grated Parmesan cheese (1 ounce)

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Directions

  1. Lightly coat a 3-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.
  2. In a large nonstick skillet heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat, swirling to coat the bottom of the skillet. Add carrots, onion, and garlic; cook about 6 minutes or until softened, stirring frequently. Remove from heat. Stir in broccoli and chicken; set aside.
  3. For sauce, in a large saucepan whisk together milk and flour. Add broth, salt, and pepper, whisking until smooth. Bring to boiling over medium-high heat, whisking constantly. Boil about 1 minute or until slightly thickened, whisking constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in basil. Set aside.
  4. In a small bowl stir together ricotta cheese and mozzarella cheese.
  5. Spread 1 cup of the sauce in the prepared baking dish. Arrange three of the lasagna noodles crosswise over the sauce in baking dish. Spoon another 1 cup of the sauce over the noodles, spreading evenly. Dot with one-third of the ricotta mixture, then one-third of the chicken mixture. Repeat layers twice. Top with the remaining three lasagna noodles. Spread the remaining sauce over the top. Cover baking dish with foil. Cover and chill for at least 8 hours or up to 24 hours.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Bake, covered, for 1-1/2 hours. Remove foil. Bake for 30 minutes more.
  7. Meanwhile, in a small bowl stir together panko and Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle panko mixture over lasagna. Drizzle with the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil. Bake, uncovered, about 5 minutes more or until the top is lightly browned. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

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Food Styled and Prepared By Smarty Marty

Recipe By – www.bhg.com

Atlanta Based Photography Elisha Akram (Kustom Kreation Photography) weekly food/recipe contributor Smarty Marty(My Older Sister) combines her love for cooking, photography and plating meals each and every Tuesday for this Segment entitled Foodie Tuesday. Join us each week for a variety of dishes prepared by Smarty Marty

“Leaping, Falling, Tail Tucking & Getting Back on the Horse!”

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Six years ago, I walked away from my six-figure job to pursue my dreams to empower women and girls.  I found this picture and I blogged about that moment when I walked into my boss’s office and boldly said “I quit!”. You can check out my original blog post here: http://empowerherinc.blogspot.com/2012/08/ps-i-quit-step-closer-to-my-dream.html.  That person that took that leap seems so foreign to me now. I’m in tears just thinking about that moment and even sharing my thoughts in this week’s blog post.

 

I quit my job to have more flexibility for my family and to walk in my passion and gifts. I took on some contract work to supplement my income and set off to change the world.  I had no plan just – a 501 (C) 3 and a dream. My oldest daughter was entering high school and I knew that I wanted to be home when more.  I was very successful at work but my job was very demanding and offered little flexibility. Prior to my quitting I had helped to run a community based organization for girls for 5years.  I created great programs and events for girls in our community and was ready to branch out to help women and create more events that would spark social change on a full-time-basis.

 

I launched my organization and hosted several events.  It started out great – then life happened.  A close family member got sick and passed away, we experienced unexpected financial issues and many other challenges.  A year later I tucked my tail between my legs and returned to my 9-5, so ashamed that I was back where I started.  I was back to being overworked, stressed and embarrassed that my plan did not work.  I tried to keep things going with my dreams on the side but I got busy being a mom and wife.  Empower Her, Inc. had a “Closed” sign on its virtual door.  I have tons of dust covered boxes in my attic right now full of my Empower Her, Inc dreams, visions, etc.

 

Fast forward to June 12th, 2018.  My friend sent me a screenshot of plans I made in 2013 for a leadership camp for girls. She read me the details of my proposal for this program and the requirements that I was requesting for a space to host the camp.  I could not believe that it had been 5 years. The details were so specific.  At the time I knew that I would get that space, register tons of girls and provide a camp that would also help my girls! The camp was a big part of my plans but it never got off the ground due to not finding a space and the resources.  I had forgotten about that dream and about my plans.  It’s funny how God brings things to your attention at the right time.  Especially as my 14-year-old is settling into her summer routine and is too old for camps but needs some type of enrichment.

 

The same thoughts of wanting to put together amazing programs for girls and women has crept back into my spirit as well as fear. The thought of putting something together again and relaunching has me shaking in my boots. Just to even write again on this blog started out as a struggle. I enjoy blogging as a guest on this blog because it is under the safe covering of someone else’s dream. I have my own blog that I started over six years ago that I have not touched instead I am sharing my thoughts here where it is safe. It’s like I have “Leaping for Your Dreams PTSD”, lol.

 

God has been telling me over the last few months that it is time to share my journey and gifts with the world again. I want to stay hidden and quiet but He is pushing me to move forward. So,I am leaning into Him more, praying, planning and strategizing to launch some new programs/events in the fall.  I am at the end of this week’s Power Hour Blog post and I realize I did not have much to share – just my journey, where I am today and where I want to be.  I guess that is okay too.  I would ask for prayers and support as I get the strength to get back on the horse again.  For those of you that have scrapped up knees from your recent leaps I am here to provide band aids, to be scared with you and to be your biggest cheerleader when you are ready to leap again.

 

Feel free to share your recent leaps, falls or tail tucked between your legs moments in the comments section.

 

Cheers to leaping, falling and getting back up again!

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By Kara Norman- Empower Her, Inc.

Kara Norman Atlanta Based Women Empowerment Thought Leader and bi-weekly blog contributor.

Kara Norman has been working with Women and Girls for a number of years. Her nonprofit organization Empower Her Inc , have led to many opportunities in the space of making social changes as it deals with women and their many roles in society. You can learn more about Kara Norman and Empower Her Inc. at http://www.empowerherinc.com/

Foodie Tuesday with Smarty Marty- Shrimp Fried Rice

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Smarty Marty Foodie Tuesday recipe idea this week is a takeout favorite… She’s cooking up some shrimp fried rice. 1st and foremost we must gather up the ingredients needed for the dish.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked white rice
  • 3 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 cup fresh bean sprouts
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked medium shrimp, peeled and deveined without tail
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

Shrimp Fried Rice

  1. In a saucepan bring water to a boil. Add rice and stir. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Set aside and allow rice to cool.
  2. Heat a large skillet or wok for 2 minutes. When the skillet or wok is hot, pour in vegetable oil, bean sprouts and onions. Mix well and cook for 3 minutes.
  3. Mix in cooled rice and shrimp and cook for another 3 minutes. Stirring constantly.
  4. Mix in green onions, eggs, salt, pepper, soy sauce and sesame oil. Cook for another 4 minutes, stirring continuously, until eggs are cooked and everything is blended evenly.

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Food Styled and Prepared By Smarty Marty

Recipe By – Allrecipes.com

Atlanta Based Photography Elisha Akram (Kustom Kreation Photography) weekly food/recipe contributor Smarty Marty(My Older Sister) combines her love for cooking, photography and plating meals each and every Tuesday for this Segment entitled Foodie Tuesday. Join us each week for a variety of dishes prepared by Smarty Marty

40th Birthday Celebration in the Garden!

You’ve heard of a vegetable garden, a flower garden, and even a secret garden. So with all that in mind earlier this year we were contacted by Ronda, she was putting together her birthday celebration and she decided to have an intimate dinner with friends in her private home. The theme of the dinner party was Garden.


Friends, How many of us have them? Well for Ronda, she has quite a few that joined her for a private chef table experience. It was a milestone birthday and she decided to celebrate with her closest friends over some delicious dinner paired up with the best-tasting wine for the entree. We were so happy to be apart of the beautiful celebration and we totally appreciate being able to take a delicious plate home.Official Ronda's Birthday Celebration 2018 copy

A very welcoming tablescape with customize menus fresh flowers and paired dinner wines for the meal. Official Ronda's Birthday Celebration 20181 copy

Appetizers and drinks were served as the guest awaited the time to be seated for dinner.Official Ronda's Birthday Celebration 20182 copy

Check out the private Chef Aleem in action to learn more about the chef and his services click  here! 

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Great night with close friends over delicious dinner and wine.

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your choice of drinks and champagne for a birthday toast DSC_4302 copy

Happy Birthday, Dear Ronda! This smile says it all as they closed out the night with the famous birthday song by friends. 

Elisha Akram (Kustom Kreation Photography) is an Atlanta Based Photographer Specialing in Social Events, Weddings, Families  High School Seniors & Business Headshots!

We also custom design party supplies for life’s celebrated moments! Live Love Create Go Kustom!