I am beyond excited to be reintroducing the Rockstar Series with the amazing Cindy Lou! She’s a badass professional lady, a wonderful friend, and frankly, something of a force of nature. She’s been cracking me up and inspiring me since 2010 and I’m so thrilled to get to introduce her to all of you!
When I asked her, “who are you?” for this blog post, she replied (among other things you’ll see below), “a woman of substance.” How freaking awesome is that? I imagine most of us strive to be women (or men) of substance, but it’s rarely the first thing that comes to mind. I was impressed that it was so central to Cindy Lou’s self-identity and that she could immediately articulate it  with beautiful simplicity. Since she’s clearly saying it better than I can, I’ll pass the reigns along. Meet Cindy Lou!

Cindy LouWho are you?
Hi! I’m Cindy-Lou. Who am I? I’m an intense, hilarious Afro-Caribbean woman of substance. Some may say I’m a workaholic but when I emerge from that telephone booth you get to see the X-Men/Avengers-loving bestie who’s always up for an adventure (and yes, I’m the friend in the group who’s always talking smack).

What’s important to you?
God and family (yes, I consider some friends family). I have been through many health challenges in my life and those two groups have always been my constant. My spiritual life and desire to be and do better has kept me from many “Madea” moments. Yes, I would love to have my own family and the perfect job ,and maybe one or two kids, but at this time in my life it is important to me to be the best human being that I can be, to love the people that I am blessed to have in my life, and to not waste time focusing on the materialistic or superficial.

I’m into complete well-being: mind, body and soul. Sometimes we allow stress to creep in and this leads to mental and physical imbalance. I truly believe that there is always a way to relieve stress and re-center ourselves so we can be at our peak.

What does a day in the life look like?
Ugh! I get up at 4:30 am and wonder, “Why, why, why?!” did I find a job that forces me to make a five hour daily commute IN NEW YORK! I try to get out of bed by the second alarm, but definitely before the fourth. I do some yoga stretches, and take some time to talk to my maker. While making breakfast I listen to ABC7 (I never leave home without checking the forecast for the day). Then I make and pack my lunch and snacks so I can have control over the things I eat during the day. I usually take either unsweetened applesauce, nuts, select fruit, popcorn or sometimes goldfish crackers. I prefer tiny meals throughout the day rather than a few large portions that  will only leave me lethargic.

After taking two trains and two buses I arrive at work in Long Island. I’m a theater program coordinator responsible for creating activities and workshops to accompany the performances we present or produce. This involves a lot of research, communicating with performers or agents, and the rare privilege of sneaking into rehearsals to get a better grasp of the performance. Recently, I have been going into schools to prepare students for their theatre visit.

I don’t get home until close to 8:00pm. I’ll have dinner, relax for a bit then push myself to do some aerobics before grabbing a shower and hitting the bed, excited to do it again tomorrow. Throughout the day I make time to speak to my sister in Trinidad and Tobago, and to my mom and other siblings on a weekly basis.

I must be honest and confess that I don’t always feel the urge to do any form of exercise by the end of my day, but I am committed to the goals I set for myself and work hard to achieve them.

You wrote a book a few years ago. What inspired you to write it? What do you want people to know about it?
Two years ago I wrote Finding Me: The Journey Continues and last year I started a face book page, Sistah With A Purpose. The book and page were created for the same purpose: to encourage others, especially women, on this journey called life. My sister will tell you I’m a magnet for chatty strangers. People will just start talking to me and sharing their ‘situations,’ so I always share words of encouragement.

I actually wrote the book while commuting to and from work, so I suppose something great came out that long commute. In this book I share my journey as a means of encouragement and to let everyone know. “Hey, we’ve all been through stuff, but we should never give up or stop pushing forward.” S.W.A.P (Sistah With A Purpose) serves to do the same in my own personal sassy way.

3) What do you do when you’re feeling stressed? What brings you peace?
When I’m feeling stressed I reach out to God first, in an effort to understand the lesson to be learned from those stressful situations. Then I reach out to one or two of the wonderful women of my inner circle. It’s always best to have someone with whom you can share your deepest secrets and inner most fears, someone to whom you are accountable. Everyone should have that one person who is both their cheerleader and drill sergeant at the same time.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Finally to alleviate stress and refresh my inner peace, I seek out nature. I get myself to a body of water or park as fast as I can. This is one of the reasons I still live next to Prospect Park (Brooklyn) despite working in Long Island. There is something to being in nature. For me it puts things in perspective. My problems seem smaller when I think of this great big world and all the other things that are happening, especially in recent local and world events. I may take a walk around the park, just sit near the pond, or hop on a bus to Brooklyn Bridge Park. Water has zen qualities that just calm my soul. Who knows, I may have been a fish in another life!

Cindy Lou Two4) It’s hard to be a busy professional lady in NYC. How do you make it work, stay healthy and still have a social life?
It is indeed a circus trying to juggle your work and social life in NYC. My job and commute take up a lot of my time, but I have the most wonderful friends who remind me I need to socialize every now and again. I go to brunch, the movies, dinner, and social events/ concerts with my gal pals. There is no significant other at this time (believe me I have tried) but I am focusing on self awareness and growth at this point in my life.

As previously mentioned, I believe in holistic health: mind body and soul. I have struggled with my weight for most of my life, but I never let it consume me. It’s about loving the person you see in the mirror and enhancing what you’re working with (read my book). Confession is good for the soul too, so it’s time to admit: I have always loved aerobics. Billy Blanks’ workout videos to be specific. These videos allow me to work out without having to leave my apartment. I have dabbled with Zumba, but I always push myself more with Billy (and yes, we’re on a first name basis). When I’m not sweating in my apartment I hit the park for a couple laps. I have pushed myself to jog on occasion, but I love power walking.

I used to be a gym rat but after serious medical complications last year that left me hospitalized for over a week, I was forced to give up my membership on the long path to recovery. My doctors blamed gastroparesis for my visit and told me I would never be able to have a salad or raw foods again, including fruits and vegetables. I was forced to stick to a very restrictive diet, but daily I introduced new things into my diet and have now identified certain fruits and vegetables that don’t create problems for me. I continue to watch what I eat and take nothing for granted.

What’s one thing we haven’t covered that you want people to know?
With all the things that I juggle, I still find time to volunteer at my church. I’ve promised myself to have a listening ear to all who feel the desire to share, even strangers. I also strive to make a positive difference in the lives of all the young people with whom I come in contact. It feels good to do good. I know it sounds corny but it’s true. Try it and see!


About the Author Aubrie Fennecken

Aubrie Fennecken is the Chief Alchemist at Opportunity Kitchen | work + wellness strategist | nonprofit fundraising expert | providing productivity and self-care support for mission-driven humans

One comment

  1. What a beautiful story! This story really inspired me to keep plugging away at my dream. Yes it’s tough sometimes but with faith anything is possible.

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.