2015…The Year Everything Changed

Let’s talk about how I haven’t been able to write on this blog for nearly a year. I’ve been feeling stuck.  Every week I would try to write but would be unable to formulate a working sentence.   Some weeks I wouldn’t log on at all. And for a second, I thought perhaps my run with blogging had come to an end.  Maybe I’d arrived to the finish line.

But then I thought to myself, this couldn’t be the end because I think about it every day. Literally.

So I wrote drafts and then stopped.  Wrote drafts that got deleted because I was careless and forgot to save them (which really drove me crazy). Wrote more drafts then stopped.  None of the sentences came together. I couldn’t complete a single article.  I sought friends for help and asked them for topic ideas.  I got lots of great ideas, too! I cried to them about not being able to write and for a second I would feel a breakthrough but of course it didn’t last long.

Let’s rewind to Summer 2015.  I was living the life!  There I was living in the apartment of my dreams, dating a man whom I absolutely adored, content with the job I had.. and my social life was booming per usual.. then, bam – it all changed.  In June, my mom suffered a massive stroke.

My mom’s stroke caused my comfortable world to suddenly become… well, uncomfortable. My life was changing and I did not want it to.  It was the weekend Milton and I had planned to go to Hampton to visit my parents.  We would take off work and travel down 95 South to take my parents to dinner.  My relationship with Milton was rather new and I really wanted him to get the chance to bond with my parents.  But it didn’t happen that way.

I got a call from my dad Thursday night that my mom had a stroke.  We didn’t know how serious it was. Friday morning came and we heard my mother wasn’t doing well at all.  She had been transferred to intensive care.

So I gave Milton the option of splitting up.  I would go to Hampton to be with my family and perhaps he could enjoy a free weekend to himself. I waited to see what he would do.  I figured he’d take the easy way out with door #2 and make plans to hang out with his boys.  I began mentally preparing myself for the lonely 3-hour drive to Hampton alone.

To my surprise, Milton did not back out.  An hour later, he showed up to my apartment, carried my bags to his truck and drove me to Virginia.

I was floored.  I knew that I already loved Milton but my love for him grew deeper that day.

The next few weeks and months were followed by a series of emotional trips back and forth to Hampton. Twice doctors told my family that we needed to prepare for my mother’s departure.  Can you imagine someone telling you to get ready for your mother to die? Like, what?

I mean, come on, I’m only 33.  I needed my mother for a heck of a lot more time.  I needed to hear her opinion on things.  I needed her to see me grab my Master’s degree.  I needed her to teach me how to cook more of her special dishes. I needed her to walk down the aisle when I got married. I needed her by my side if I decided to have a child. I needed her for so much more – all the millions of reasons a girl needs her mother.

Life became hard and not fun.  My mother was unresponsive for weeks.  I was annoyed. Annoyed that I couldn’t live my life how I wanted. Annoyed that my Friday nights were spent traveling to Virginia and not out on date night. Annoyed that my emotions were everywhere and I couldn’t control it.

Fast forward to now. My parents have come back to Maryland so we all could better care for my mom.  In August, I moved back home.  The transition has been difficult. Gone are the days when I would come home from work only to be greeted by Jackson (my cat).  Gone are the days when I would cook odd meals without receiving weird stares from family members. Long gone are the days when I would come home, throw off my work clothes, lay on the couch and listen to the busy yet soothing sounds of rush hour traffic on Rhode Island Avenue.

Those days were replaced with caring for a mother who could no longer do anything for herself.  That, itself, was a shock and it made me feel depressed.  I was mad that I was inconvenienced with my mother’s constant need of care and also bitter about having to live at home. I missed my sanctuary. But then I felt bad because here I was annoyed yet my mother was the one who was really suffering! The most difficult thing was my mom not being able to speak which still really frustrates her.

In the midst of all the complaining I have done (and I’ve done a lot of complaining), I realized that there is plenty to be thankful for. My mom is now walking! She is doing things on her own, which include feeding and dressing herself. She brushes her own teeth.  She has come a long way.  And I believe God that she will talk again.

Every week I walk in her room and tell her she’s going to talk again. For months I would tell my mom that she needed to pull it together because I needed her present for the beautiful things in my future. It sounds selfish but I don’t care.

The stroke has done something for my family, too. My siblings and I have a bond that I cannot explain.  We were already close but we have grown closer.  There’s something about a sibling that differs from a friend.  They really know you.  They know where you have come from and they understand you in ways that others cannot.

My dad is my hero.  Late nights and early mornings he’s spent caring for my mother. Traveling up and down the highways for countless doctor’s appointments.  Completely involved in every aspect of my mother’s recovery.  The days where I knew he was tired and drained – he never lost hope for her healing and never complained.

A few nights ago, I got home around 9:30 PM. I glanced in my parent’s room and saw them sitting together working on improving my mother’s speech. They were reading words together.  My father asked her a series of questions and she answered with yes or no.  Those moments that I’m able to witness with just the two of them are so special.

Although, I’m back living in the same room I grew up in, I’m back a different woman.  I’m stronger.  I’m thankful to God for being a healer, a comforter.  I’m thankful for the time I have with my mom – moments that I took for granted before. I’m grateful for those times when it’s just us. When I’m doing her hair. Or when I offer help because I see her struggling trying to do ordinary tasks – the look in her eyes is priceless. She can’t say thank you so instead she embraces me with a hug so deep, it feels like our hearts are touching.

So I choose to be thankful for where I am. I choose to make the best of my time at home. It’s not where I want to be but it’s where I need to be. Because when I do go back out there, I’m going to be fully prepared for everything that lies ahead.

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my parents and sister kristin at her graduation. 5/4/16

 

xoxo,

Candace

DC Nights at Home

As a kid, I remember saying to my father, “Daddy, I’m going to live in DC when I grow up.” And he would say, “It’s expensive to live in the city. I doubt you will be able to do it.” Even though I knew dad meant well, I replied, “I’m going to do it.”

And I did.

Living in the city a little over a year has been everything I’ve ever imagined, plus more. The days are noisy and the nights are just the same. People are walking the streets. Cars breezing by. The ambulance are ringing up and down the avenue. Liquor stores are bustling on every corner. Students and the working class are waiting for the Metro bus. Residents are walking their dogs. Police zipping in and out of traffic. Neighbors arguing into the wee hours of morning. The faint noise of the Red Line subway car gliding by. Restaurants galore. It’s Rhode Island Avenue and it’s my home.

A fifteen minute drive to work. Walking distance to the subway. Just a dash from 295 and 50. Minutes from Downtown. Friends and family close.  Plenty of things to do on date night.

I was without a car for three months and was still able to get around the city without hassle.  The city is convenient.  The city moves fast.

I’ve always been fascinated by the busyness of the DC. If I could live here the rest of my life, I would.  You ever get this feeling that you know things are only temporary? Like, pretty soon, the fantasy will come to an end? Well, that’s how I’ve felt the entire time I’ve lived here.  And I don’t know how long I will be here, but I will enjoy this ride while it lasts.

I have my cool cousin, Christina Sturdivant, to thank for birthing a portion of my obsession with city living.  She introduced me to DC’s swanky restaurant scene where we have an unspoken rule of no chain restaurant indulgence.  It has become so much fun to try new places!

While growing up, a part of me did feel it may be impossible to live in the city as a single woman.  I mean, there I was age thirty and had yet to leave the suburban nest. I was in grad school and working a job that I did not enjoy that was also unrelated to Social Work. Then, Hyattsville happened–with a roommate (hey, Patricia!)–and I enjoyed every minute of it. It was close to The Nation’s Capital!

But it wasn’t DC.  I still wanted DC.

Almost two years later, Patricia was heading to grad school and I had accepted a position making a bit more money in a field I wanted to be in.  But I was also left scrambling for a new place to live. Maybe I should try DC? No, I don’t make enough money to live there. Well, let me just try. So I searched and searched for weeks.  Joined every apartment hunting network possible.  Circled ads in the paper.  Visited apartments I couldn’t afford.  And then it happened. I stumbled upon an affordable one bedroom apartment on the Northeast side of Rhode Island Avenue. What a dream come true!

This has been the best time of my life.

In my 32 years of living, I’ve come to learn that anything is possible.  You can have what you want, you just have to prepare, exercise patience, never stop working for it, and when the opportunity comes (because it will), maximize on it! Dream big. No matter what others may say, go for what you want!

Signed,

A Girl From the Suburbs Living in the City

xoxo.

7 Things I Learned While Working Fashion Week

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I did it.  I worked fashion week.  What a dream come true!

I purchased a ticket, hopped on a bus labeled NYC as its destination, caught the train to 55 West 17th Street, walked right into heaven at Manufacture New York building and introduced myself as Candace Woods.  I did, however, manage to get lost while traveling a few blocks.

Now that I have finally come down from my high, I can write about the seven things I learned during this unforgettable experience.

  • Comfort is cool but you must be stylish while on the clock
  • You must network and know how to properly introduce yourself
  • Have business cards ready and actually hand them out
  • Bring a cute change of clothes in case you go to a party later
  • Always be prepared for a turn of events
  • Learn as much as you can from the designers and fashion veterans.  Follow them around without being weird
  • Bring snacks! You will work up an appetite

It was just an amazing experience that I hope I can re-live in September.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed. :)

xoxo.

Fashionably yours,

Candace

Five Reasons You Should Look Good for NYE


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For several weeks, I’ve been ranting to my friends and family the importance of dressing well for New Year’s Eve.  Some of them think I’m being over-the-top, while others happen to agree.  This year I’ve managed to not only find myself something to wear early (surprisingly), but I’ve also been able to help others put together NYE ‘fits (yes!). It’s been a lot of fun.

Make no mistake, there’s no need to go overboard with shopping – going into debt, spending money you should be saving, or even over-thinking it.  You can easily mix and match pieces together in your own closet to create a fresh, fun and creative look.  My challenge to you is to put forth effort into having a fashionably grand experience at your event.  And even if you’re staying home, put on your flyest pair of PJs and have yourself a good ole’ time! Remember, class and elegance is key.

Here’s are five reasons why I believe we all (men and women) should look good for NYE:

1) It’s just plain fun to dress up.

2) You end the year on a good note and you start the new one off right. Who can argue with that!?

3) You never know who you will meet and the connections you can make both professionally and socially.

4) You’re more likely to enjoy the event.

And finally,

5) When you look good, you feel good.

Happy Dressing and Happy New Year!

-Candace

Hello, 30!

I’ve been 30 for one week now!  I had a wonderful experience with family and good, good friends.  The night before my birthday, I was supposed to go out with my girlfriend to Bohemian Cavern.  We decided not to go and I stayed home to chill.  What took place that night was special.  I was alone and able to reflect and journal the final moments of my twenties.  It was enriching and almost even spiritual as I cried a few minutes before the clock struck midnight.

Why did I cry?  Not because I was sad or scared.  I cried because I was happy.  Blessed.  I felt content and thankful.  Grateful for the tough times I survived.   Appreciative for having amazing people in my life.  Excited for what’s to come.  The tears flowed as my smile widened.  I’ll never forget that moment.

Last week, I asked several of my 30-something/40-something friends if they had any advice for me.  Here’s what they offered:

1) Live all of your dreams.

2) Have dinner with your real friends – often.

3) Be true to yourself.

4) Don’t concern yourself with what people think of you or your decisions. Do you.

5) Never compare yourself to others.  Have your own path.

6) Don’t be afraid.  Even if you fail.

7) Try new things.  And travel.

8) Be aggressive!

9) Be the potential.  It’s no longer about who/what you’re “going” to be.  It’s about being that person right now.

10) Keep your 40+ and retirement in mind. Save, save, save!

Any more feedback/advice from my 30+ friends? Please feel free to share! xoxo.

Fashionably yours,

Candace T.

30 Things My 20s Taught Me

“A woman is the age she deserves.” Coco Chanel

Well, here it is! 30 is almost here.  I’m excited.  I’m nervous.  I’m anxious.  I’m hopeful.  I’m ready.

My twenties were good to me.  I’ve learned a great deal and had so much fun along the way.  Here are a few of my reflections.  Enjoy!

1)      I couldn’t have made it this far without my heavenly Father.

2)      I need my Mother.

3)      How to have a blast being a single woman.

4)      Giving back to the community makes life worthwhile.

5)      The journey to self-love is ongoing.

6)      To listen attentively to older, wiser women.

7)      Never, ever to leave candles unattended.

8)      If he doesn’t pursue you, he don’t want you.

9)      My sisters keep me sane.

10)   You’re doing yourself a favor by saying No.

11)   You can have braces however many times you need.

12)   My girlfriends are EVERYTHING! and some cousins are more like sisters (whaddup Sturdi!).

13)  Confidentiality is also everything.

14)   How important it is to save money.

15)   Never to text and drive.

16)   Never to drink and drive.  Seriously.

17)   You should always be in the middle of a good book.

18)   Good, supportive bras are crazy expensive!

19)   My relationship with my Dad is unmatchable.

20)   People-pleasing gets you nowhere, fast.

21)   Every day is the PERFECT day to dress fly.

22)   Quality, honest male friends are a gift.

23)   It’s fulfilling to dine alone.

24)   Credit scores are important.

25)   Never to avoid confrontation.

26)   It’s toxic to compare yourself to others.

27)   A romantic relationship will only add to me because I’m already complete.

28)   Real women can apologize first.

29)   I am my own best friend, but you sure do an even better job, Alexis E. Brevard!

30)   Traveling is incredible.

My thirties will be an amazing journey!

-Candace T.