Go Faith! It’s Yo’ Birthday! Get Busy! Go! Go! Go!

If you’re a true old school millennial, and a product of the 80’s, then you totally get the title reference. Today’s my birthday and I’m glad about it! There’s so much to be grateful for, and so many blessings that I know I don’t deserve. But isn’t that what grace is? God’s unmerited favor, given to us over and over again.

That being said, I’m not a fan of winter. So, I typically choose to celebrate my birthday in March. Because of that, I don’t have any out of the ordinary plans today. I’ll complete a video interview for a contract I’m seeking (blazer on the top, pajama pants on the bottom all the way), take two online tests for another, do some homework and my mother’s hair. Tomorow, I’ll go out to eat with my extended family to celebrate my mama’s birthday (ours is 10 days apart), and that’ll be wonderful. But that’s it, nothing special.

The difference is that I’ll still feel special because XX amount of years ago, I entered the world, sans fingernails with my hair sticking straight up, just like Don King. Do I know how to make an entrance or what? I was a month early, eager to begin the adventure of life here on earth, and I’ve been a wide-eyed dreamer ever since.

I’m grateful to still be a dreamer, even after living through so many nightmares. I love my optimism and faith in the face of opposition. That’s what I’m celebrating today. I’m here, decades later, still believing that hope springs eternal. Still believing that the good always outweighs the bad.

Still believing that this is going to be my best year ever!

Advertisements

Rest Shouldn’t Be a Dirty Word: Why I Take My Naps Seriously Around This Piece!

I don’t know why we have such an aversion to rest in Western culture these days. Maybe it’s all the productivity tips and goal setting books, articles and Instagram posts. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with seeking success. But sometimes I think that our measures of success are way off base. Are you really successful if your bank account is full, but your life is empty? I’d quickly answer that question with a hard no.

For the past 18 months I’ve learned how to rest. You’d think that would be something that I wouldn’t need to learn, since we come into the world knowing how to do it. Somewhere along the way in my path of life I decided that rest was optional. Something to be done when I had the time to spare. Other stuff took priority, and I can’t even say that the activities that drew me away from rest were always productive.

I put myself last in so many ways. I felt overwhelmingly guilty if I took time to “laze around”. That’s how I viewed rest. Either I was being lazy, or I literally kept going until I collapsed. That black and white thinking pattern is typical of people like me (more on that in another post).  Going until I dropped was the only way I could justify the simple act of taking time to rest.

It wasn’t until I was diagnosed with an auto-immune disorder of the thyroid (which explained why I was so inexplicably tired for a looooonnnnggg time) that I finally slowed down. Medical professionals have concluded that the type of health challenge I have is brought on by years of stress, both physical and emotional. I realized that in my case, the cause was also the cure.

I gave myself permission to sit down somewhere and chill out. My rest became sweet because it was no longer stifled by unnecessary guilt. My body, mind and soul breathed a sigh of relief because this was what all of me had been craving for years.

Isn’t it funny how God allows situations in our life to bring us to the place where He would have us? I truly believe that my life, the good and the bad, are orchestrated by the One who created me and set a path of His will before me. Even the bitter things are sweet if they bring about growth, knowledge and an expected end.

Making rest a non-negotiable factor has improved my well-being dramatically. The best part is that when I rest the way my body was designed to, I’m able to accomplish a lot more than if I pressed through the signs of fatigue and kept going. Besides that, the process of completing what I set out to do is much more pleasant.

I don’t share my thoughts and life experiences on this site because I’m a narcissist.  I share them because I know that there are some of you who might read this and have it resonate with your spirit. And maybe, it’ll change a mindset and therefore, a life.

Just paying it forward!

How do you balance your to-do list and your well-being?

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Office This Morning #Mindfulness

Something kind of weird happened to me today. I got a pretty late start because I had a late night. Sometimes I have issues sleeping, so that’s not uncommon. I woke up around noon-ish (don’t judge me. I’m an artist and we do that sort of thing), ate breakfast or rather, brunch, and played with Pooh, my little toddler friend for a couple of hours. Then I headed to my office to put in a little time at my customer service gig. When I went to log onto my computer, without thinking, I keyed in the password to my old work computer…a computer I haven’t touched or even had access to in almost a year.

It freaked me out! First of all, it was just plain strange. Second of all, I typically make every effort not to think about my old job or anything related to the company because my experience with them at the end left a bad taste in my mouth. But the unusual occurrence of completely operating on autopilot got me to thinking; What else am I doing out of habit, with no regard to my circumstances in the here and now?

I don’t think I’m alone in having the habit of operating in a reactive space based off past experiences and future concerns. To some extent I think it’s safe to say we all do. But what if that habit is about more than passwords, routes to work or getting a cup of coffee first thing in the morning? What if it’s about how we move in and experience this world? What are we missing if we don’t actually live in the present moment?

I’ve been enamored with the concept of mindfulness for years. To paraphrase, mindfulness is practicing the art of being fully present in each moment. Many of us spend our time fixating on the past, or worrying about the future. So much so that we miss what’s happening in and around us in the here and now. Our focus on the past and the future, whether consciously or unconsciously puts our bodies in a constant state of stress. Many times, the past memories our minds automatically wander to are not good ones, and future dwellings are about what can go wrong. When we focus on the present, we send a message to our bodies that we are safe and everything is OK right now.

Our nervous system and our brain synapses can relax, giving us the peace we crave. Stress hormones decrease, along with our heart rate, while our detoxing and digestion abilities increase. Living in the now gives our bodies permission to let go. Mindfulness doesn’t have to be a big production of meditating and being still, although it can be if you want it to. Mindfulness to me means slowing down. It means letting ourselves live as children do: without regard to time, or agendas, or limitations. It means being. Being in the moment, mind, body and soul.

I hope you give yourself the gift of being in the moment today. You deserve it.

Just breathe…and be…and smile. 🙂

What do you think about mindfulness and meditation?

If you practice, what benefits have you noticed so far?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Confessions of Faith: When Time Stands Still

It’s hard to know what to do with yourself in the wait. Time seems to drag and your shoulders rise from the tension of long held anticipation. Wonder has long faded and you’re left with anxiety and doubt at war for space in your mind. This is the kind of waiting that feels like torture. Time seems to stand still, which leads to thoughts questioning the point of it all. Does it really matter? Will it make a difference if I give up? Who am I to think that what I want so desperately is even mine have?

In case you can’t tell, I’m familiar with this kind of waiting. It’s not the kind God would have for us. I can hear some of you asking if there’s any difference in the way we complete the act of waiting. I think there is. Have you ever waited for someone who’s late? Have you noticed that how you feel about the person you’re waiting for changes your attitude towards the situation? When it’s someone whom you perceive as a powerful benefactor, what you want from them may trump your inconvenience. When it’s someone that you’re doing a favor for by meeting with them, you may be indignant and put out. When it’s someone you have affection for, you may shake your head and wait patiently. The amount of time that you spend waiting is the same, but your perception and attitude changes based on who you’re waiting for.

When we’re in a season of waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises, the best thing we can do is to remember who we’re waiting for. Our trust in God and His timing should make waiting less of a challenge and more of pleasure. Our affection for Him, and our understanding of His towards us, can serve as a comfort in the wait. It’s not all up to us. Once we’ve done our due diligence in preparation, it’s out of our hands, and firmly in His.

Relax in that knowledge. Breathe it in. Allow your shoulders to fall and your jaw to unclench. Choose to serve at His pleasure, and to wait with patience, confidence and peace for His timing.

“But those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:31, NIV

 

 

Holding Hope in 2018 #HappyNewYear

Here we are. Day one of 365. I’m sitting here at 3:03 in the A.M., after having braved the cold to ring in the New Year with my family, because you were on my mind. Yes, you. I don’t think you really know how much you mean to me. Every one of you matters. Whether you visit this blog only once, or are a regular guest in my space of creativity.

I’m thinking of you in the wee hours of the morning (not in a creepy way, I promise) because I want you to hold hope in your hands as you arrive in 2018. Open up to the possibility of more than what you see. Reality is only as concrete as our perception.  When we allow ourselves to look to the future with excitement and anticipation, we give ourselves the gift of hope.

I went to church on Christmas Eve last week and the pastor spoke about hope; how we’re left with nothing if we don’t have it. The message echoed the thoughts I’d been having for months as I thought about what I’m left with after losing more than I wanted to. Hope was at the top of my list, and because of it, what wasn’t on the list mattered less than I thought it would. I have hope, therefore what I look to is so much more important than what I see right now.

That’s the gift I want to give to you this brand new year; what we see is not all there is, and what we’ve lost is not all there will ever be. There is always hope. ❤

I’m hoping to maintain joy this year. 

What are you hoping for in 2018?

 

P.S. I’m silly, so here are some pics of my 3 AM shenanigans. She ain’t got no worries, or eyebrows, lol. 🙂

What Do You Hold? #HappyNewYear

What it do, Fam??? Can you believe we’ve stepped into a new year? Where did 2017 go? I’m not complaining, because believe you me, I’m glad to see it go! I literally spent the last quarter of 2017 in reflection. From October on, I spent many hours thinking about what 2017 meant for the scope of my existence. I contemplated how certain transformations within me will translate into changing the entire course of my life. I know I can be a little melodramatic at time, but I meant exactly what I just said. There are times in life when you know that something has shifted within you, therefore you can be certain that things are going to change around you.

We create what we believe; about ourselves, our circumstances, our ability to create change in order to live the life we’ve always dreamed of having. I truly believe that all of our experiences, both positive and negative, help shape us, whether for the good or not. It’s up to us to choose how we respond to those events. I always strive to learn the lesson in the experience, and my experiences this year have taught me truths that I will always hold dear to me.

I’d like to share some of them with you, in the hopes that they will inspire you to reflect on what you hold closely in your heart.

Number One: Rock Bottom Is Not the End. I lost my full-time job in March of 2017. To make matters worse, I also spent time in and out of the hospital and doctor’s offices for a newly diagnosed chronic disease. So not only did I have to face mounting medical bills, but I had no way to pay them. No health insurance meant paying out-of-pocket for the medicine I needed to keep my heart from attacking itself. Thank God for my sister and her generosity. As you can imagine, it was a low point in my life. I felt overwhelmed. My pride was hurt, my spirit was crushed…And then God stepped in. My perspective regarding what it means to earn a living changed for the better. I no longer want, nor believe, that a 9-5 is the only way to live. God breathed new life into my long held desire of being an entrepreneur and began to show me ways to make it a reality. Make no mistake, the going has been tough, but I’m walking in purpose and that makes the steep mountains much easier to climb.

Number Two: Self-Care is Not Optional. Why do we think that it’s OK to put ourselves last on our lists? It’s not and I know that deep down to my core now. I struggled for decades with feeling like taking time to care for myself was selfish and unnecessary. The only way I rewarded myself or gave to myself was with food and it was entirely unhealthy and self-destructive. This year I finally got this whole self-care thing. I matter. I’m worth it. I deserve it. I’m not going to let anyone stop me from doing it. Now, I sleep when I’m tired. I do things simply for the joy of doing it. I let go of unhealthy guilt. I say no without tripping. I allow myself to daydream. I meditate. I do things that feed my soul, so that I don’t have to fill my body to numb the desire for a more meaningful life. I’m giving myself that meaningful life, and it’s made all the difference.

Number Three: God Loves Me. You would think I already had a good grasp on this, right? Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever understand the depth and breath of His love for me, or any of us. I’m pretty sure it’s beyond our comprehension. What I know for sure is that 2017 gave me the gift of a better grip on how much God delights in me. His is the only unconditional love I’ve ever known, and now I take time to bask in that knowledge. He doesn’t love me for what I do, or what I give, but because He made me. I wish I could wax poetic about how overwhelmingly, intentionally, unreservedly He loves you and me. But my words are far too limited to do it justice. I know that He does, He has and He always will.

I hope you all enter 2018 with lessons of this past year tucked tenderly in your hearts, knowing that the adventure that awaits you will be that much more amazing because even though you don’t know what 2018 has in store for you, you know exactly what you hold.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Confessions of Faith: Living in the Free Fall

It’s 10:30 on a Saturday night and I’d planned to turn in early after watching a few episodes of Sienfeld. Let’s choose to gloss over the glaring need I have for a better social life and focus on the matter at hand. As usual, when I closed my eyes, the words I’d been searching for while awake, came to me as soon as I was on the brink of sleep. So here goes….

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, then I’m sure you’ve noticed a huge decline in the frequency of my posting.  I think I’ve mentioned before that my health challenges were the reason for my disappearing act. But what I didn’t mention was all of the other things going on in my life that demanded my attention.

I spent almost a year in therapy. Not once a week for an hour therapy, but really intense five days a week for several hours a day therapy. I’m pretty sure I was one hop, skip and a jump away from straight up commitment. For real, for real. I was straddling sanity and the worst part was that I had absolutely no idea why. I’ve since learned that a few physical issues were the cause of my angst, but it was a long time coming.

Now, the truth of the matter is that I’ve had my fair share of trauma. But I’ve always picked up the pieces and carried on. I’m strong. Not out of destiny, but necessity. This was different. This was scary. This was crying myself to sleep for months every night without knowing why. This was going to the bathroom at work and stifling my cries and not knowing why. This was suddenly not remembering how to do the job I had done for three years. I was in trouble and totally exhausted from the effort it took to not look like I was falling apart, even though I was.

One thing I know for sure: I was fighting for my life and all the Bible reading in the world wasn’t making it any better. I recited Psalms every night with tears streaming down my eyes and asked God to help me. It was by the grace of God that I found a treatment center about 45 minutes away from my home that accepted my insurance.

So I went. Even though I’m a “strong Black woman” and we don’t do therapy. Even though it meant taking a leave of absence that eventually, among other things, led to me losing my job. Because even though I didn’t know what was going on with me, deep down I knew that I was worth fighting for.

I knew that the state I was in was beyond the few coping skills I had. I needed professional help. The center I went to helped me sort through the major issues I’ve had surrounding food since I was a little girl. They helped me work through the residual grief I had regarding the death of my daughter. They helped me remember my worth and reduce the overwhelming anxiety that nearly crippled me. And yes, they prescribed medication that helped me cope for the few months I needed to be on it.

At the center I learned the practice of yoga, and breathing techniques. I had individual psychotherapy and group therapy. Meditation and drama therapy. Art therapy and music expression. You name it and they did it. I was one of the few specks of color in that cup of milk, but it didn’t matter. What mattered is that I was able to heal in the presence of like-minded women from all walks of life. The women there were housewives and corporate moguls. Artists and college students. Business owners and baristas. It didn’t matter because we all had one thing in common; we were brave enough and fed up enough to go after the help we knew we needed.

To be honest, I didn’t plan to tell you guys all this. What I planned to do was tell you how grateful I am for God’s provision through this season of healing. But as usual, when my fingers hit the keyboard, things went another way….Hopefully what I’ve said will help someone else going through a hard time. You will get through it. I did.

I’m standing on the other side of victory. Thanks to the underhanded workings of my former employer, I lost my insurance, which meant that I had to abruptly end my therapy sessions. And that’s o.k. I know that all things work together for my good, and if God hadn’t decided that it was time to move on, I’d still be there.

Since I lost my job, I can’t tell you how much joy has been restored to my life.  Don’t get me wrong. Initially, I was absolutely devastated. I was angry and those old familiar feelings of shame and embarrassment came back, along with the thought that maybe I just wasn’t good enough. There was also the fact that I was in the midst of a serious health crisis that required extensive healthcare to treat. Healthcare that I no longer had access to because I no longer had insurance. If you knew where I previously worked, you would be astounded at the irony of my situation.

There wasn’t much I could do. At the time, I couldn’t work. My doctors had me on full restriction. If I worked, I risked permanent damage to my heart. So I had no choice but to cancel some of my doctors appointments and diagnostic tests, then pay out of pocket for what was necessary to aid in my recovery.

There’s something I learned in yoga. It’s the act of leaning into discomfort. When you‘re in a pose that pulls you and strains your muscles, and all you want to do is come out of it, that’s when you breathe into it. That’s what God did for me when I surrendered to Him. It is often at the place of our most earnest surrender, that God’s glory shines the brightest. When we stop resisting and rest in Him, He has the perfect opportunity to show us who He is and what He can do.

I haven’t worked in over six months, but I have lacked nothing. It’s certainly not because I’m so good with money that I had six months worth of savings in my bank account. I wish! I’ve had all that I needed and some of what I wanted. Actually, I loaned money a few times and was able to bless others as well, despite the fact that I was denied unemployment benefits. God provides.

Without the undue stress of a job where I was harassed and my creativity was stifled, my health has improved by leaps and bounds. I literally get better every day. God heals.

I still used the coping skills I learned in therapy and now I know that it’s time to get back to doing what I love, and that includes writing for this blog and creating my novels. God restores.

At my lowest points, God stuck by me. When I didn’t believe in myself, He spoke life into me. Sometimes taking a leap of faith is not an option. Sometimes, you’re pushed. That’s when you get to live in the free fall. It’s breathtaking and exhilarating and freeing in so many wonderful ways. God loves.

I’m living out loud and unashamed. I hope you join me.

XoXo,

Faith

Those who know your name trust you because you have not abandoned any who seek you, LORD. Psalm 9:10 (CEB)

But I have trusted in your faithful love. My heart will rejoice in your salvation. Psalm 13:5 (CEB)