GIVE IT UP, TURN IT LOOSE

So you made it to 2017! What now?

Have you set goals or come up with a variety of New Year resolutions that you have no intention of seeing through? Don’t get me wrong… I love ringing in the New Year. I feel its magic and I relish in all of the hope and possibilities that come along with it. However, I’ve never agreed with the concept of waiting to change your life.

If there is one thing that I am certain of, it’s that life comes at you fast and hard, and that no one is promised tomorrow. Therefore I say that the very moment that you are inspired to do better or to be better… you should act! Don’t follow the crowd and start your new health and fitness routine with the rest of the world. If you do, you’ll be more inclined to give up on your goals, when the rest of the world abandons theirs in February.  Don’t wait until the clock strikes midnight to let the love of your life know just how much they mean to you. Do it today, and everyday! If you’ve felt convicted about cussing, drinking, or being argumentative, quit hanging on to those bad habits. Break those chains the moment you feel compelled to do so!

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Life is to be lived! Through many trials and tribulations, I’ve learned that I’ve got to do what feels good to my soul ❤

Make 2017 about you! Live authentically and be true to yourself. If you are still unsure of who you are, now is the time to explore. Develop your gifts by investing in something that you love and move at your own pace.

As we settle into the New Year, keep in mind that if you don’t like something about your life, you and only you can change it. So don’t hesitate and don’t delay. As one of my favorite groups En Vogue A.K.A. the Funky Divas once sang…  “Give it up, Turn it Loose”.

Give It Away Now!

Last week I wrote a little about my rock bottom. I talked about my husband becoming ill and all of the life changing events that took place during that time. I shared with you how putting things into prospective and realizing just how blessed my family truly is, helped me to live an abundant life.

This week I’d like to CHALLENGE you to help make a difference! You see all of us who are caught up in this thing we call Social Media, are familiar with the never-ending circle of challenges that go around. We’ve been “So Gone”, “mannequins”,  poured “Ice buckets” over our heads, and a bunch of other things.  As the Season of giving is upon us, let’s take a different approach! Over the next 21 days, I challenge you to uplift someone else ❤

Right now you’re probably starting to panic. You’re thinking of the million and one other obligations that you have, and looking at that budget like, “How can I fit something else in”. You can-TRUST ME! See I want you to know what I learned several years ago. I am by no stretch of the imagination monetarily RICH, but I am RICH in MIND, BODY, and SOUL.  Thus I encourage you to spend the next 21 days focusing on what you have to give instead of what you don’t.

Say these words with me, “There is always enough love and kindness to go around.” If you are ever in doubt, or questioning the impact that you have on the world, speak those words; release them into the atmosphere, press on, and watch how the circle of love you create widens.

No act of kindness is too big or too small! Not sure how to begin? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Gather all of the old cellphones you have lying around the house. Encourage your friends and family to do the same. You can then donate them to The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. They will resell them to fund outreach programs.
  • Donate new or gently used socks (Yes SOCKS!)  to a local shelter. Socks are the most needed, yet least donated items in shelters.
  • Put on your running shoes and headphones,  and grab a trash bag or two! Spend an hour or more picking up trash or raking a neighbor’s yard.
  • Everyone loves Random Acts of Kindness. Pay for a strangers Coffee or give that Coworker who always has your back a pack of Lifesavers  ❤
  • Give Blood if you can! This one is near and dear to my heart as I have Aplastic Anemia. I’ve had to rely on the kindness of strangers many times in my life.
  • Organize a can food drive within your church, social circle, or workplace.
  • Volunteer at a Soup Kitchen
  • Check on an aging or disabled person in your life. See if they need a ride to the supermarket, or simply some companionship.
  • Donate Cat and Dog food to a local animal shelter.
  • Round up any clothes, shoes, or accessories you no longer wear. Donate them to the Salvation Army, Goodwill, or Charity House
  • If nothing else…. BE KIND. Never underestimate the power of a smile, Kind word, or sweet Gesture. Simply making eye contact with a stranger or holding the door open for someone could change their outlook on the entire day. So throw KINDNESS around like Confetti!!!

Additionally, if you aren’t keeping a gratitude journal… now is the time to start! As you are giving of yourself, you will quickly see how blessed you truly are. You’ll be able to point out every little thing in your life that comes together and makes you whole.

Winston Churchill once said: “We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” I say, “Giving enriches both our own lives, and the lives of others.”  So please join me in trying to change the world, one small act of kindness at a time ❤

I stayed busy last week! I was blessed to be able to spend time volunteering at my boys school where I lead an amazing night of Physical Fitness, games, and fun. At work, I assisted in organizing our “Toys for Tots” campaign. While at home, my family prepared bags for the homesless. I’m so grateful that I am able to be a blessing to others ❤

 

CONNECT, LISTEN, LIVE

Thanksgiving 2016 was a success! There was an abundance of food, love, and laughter. Every time I am blessed to be in the presence of my extended family, I leave feeling refreshed and renewed.  This year, fellowshipping with my loved ones on “Turkey Day”  had a different effect … it stirred up a hunger and thirst deep inside of me.

2016 has been challenging to say the least! With so many ups and downs throughout the year, the only thing that has kept me grounded is my faith in God and my strong commitment to family. Realizing that this year is quickly coming to an end and that 2017 is full of both hope and uncertainty, I’ve decided that I will continue to walk in faith and allow God to work in my life.

Because I’ve spent much of this year engaged in one social debate after another, and wrapped up in all of the drama of the world…  I feel the need to center myself and re-connect with God! God has been so good to me and I am so thankful for his endless grace. Thus I’ve decided to share with you the process that I undertake when I’m re-centering myself, and waiting on a word from the Lord ❤

CONNECTION

The first step in the process is the most important! It’s all about connecting your heart and mind to your inner self. It’s my belief that your inner self is where all of your wisdom lies. So it’s extremely important that you find a way to be alone with your thoughts. Whether you have to wake up early, sneak away during the middle of the day, or simply sit quietly in a parking lot or driveway. You must be able to ask yourself important questions! Your soul is full of wisdom, every question has an answer, and your inner voice knows the way.

LISTEN

The second step in the process is multifaceted. (1) Listen for God. (2) Listen to God, and (3) Do what he says. As Christians we know that we can take everything to God. We turn problems, hopes, dreams, and wants, over to the lord fully believing that he will work them out. But what about God and what he wants from us? What about the things that he needs us to know? The Lord is constantly moving in our lives, and he’s often speaking directly to us. Many of us miss the message simply because we are not listening. If you have connected with your inner self, you are now plugged into Jesus and ready to receive word from the Father. Stay focused, let God speak, and do not interfere with his word! If God is telling you to go… GO!!!!

LIVE

God doesn’t just want us to live, he wants us to live prosperous and happy lives. God wants us to live abundantly! Many people struggle with understanding abundance, as they believe that in order to be happy they have to be rich. In reality, all we have to do is change our focus! Our attitude determines our outlook on life. If you conscienciously make an effort to be grateful for that which you already have. you will begin to see your life in a whole different way.

Living is definitely my testimony. Several years ago my husband suddenly and unexpectingly took ill. We had two small children, a house, car payments, and tons of plans. My husbands doctors were telling me to prepare for the worst. I was trying to wrap my mind around being a widow at 30, a single mom, and bankrupt! Instead of folding under the pressure, I continued to pray. I begin to keep a gratitude journey, and thank God daily for all that I had. Even though my funds were limited and my husbands health was touch and go, I would say “Thank you for the three meals that my family ate today God.” I would look around and say “I’m thankful that my husband was able to see another day Lord.” By putting these things in perspective, I was able to see what was truly important. Today my husband and my accounts have rebounded, but I take nothing for granted! I may not have all that I want, but I have all that I need. Life is both sweet and abundant.

So let’s recap…

2016 is on it’s way out! Spend the last few weeks of this year connecting with your inner self and with God. Listen to what God is telling you, and be prepared to make some changes. Personally, I’d like to be more present in my everyday life! I feel like I’m currently doing too many things at once, and it’s causing me to miss out on the little moments that are happening around me. I’ve been doing some reading, and I think that I am going to focus and learn the art of meditation (Stay Tuned to see how it goes)!  Hopefully prayer and mediation together will help me live more in the moment. Speaking of living in the moment… As I mentioned earlier, we just celebrated Thanksgiving and I wanted to let you know that I’m so thankful for each and everyone of you who read, comment, and support my blog! I hope that you have an amazing holiday season, and that you embrace the oppertunity that you have right now to CONNECT, LISTEN, and LIVE ❤

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AS I LAY DYING

I’m wired a bit differently than most people. This isn’t a new discovery for me, or something surprising that I found out after a lot of self-examination. I’ve always known that I was different. I feel too much; I care way too much! Therefore I’ve learned that when things happen in life-how I respond not only directly reflects the strength of my character, but can determine the course of my life for months, if not years to come.

The 2016 presidential election wreaked havoc on my mental and spiritual well-being. Donald Trump being elected the 45th President of the United States sent me spiraling into a state of turmoil. I was so worked up that I got physically sick.

So much happened in the days after the election that further complicated things for me. I lost old friends, made new ones, pissed off coworkers, abandoned social media, became the topic of rumor and speculation, and had an all out B*tch Fit!

It often felt as though  I was having a outter body experience; like I was watching the events of my life unfold on a movie screen, or through someone else’s eyes. I’ve always been the likable girl! The one that you wanted on your team. Being disliked or unpopular was literally foreign to me. Until November 8, 2016…

Before I continue it’s important that you understand that I literally am EVERY WOMAN!!!! I’m from a small town that was predominantly white. I’m an HBCU graduate (HAMPTON UNIVERSITY STAND UP!!!), a member of a BGLO, a former Labor Union Organizer who worked hands on with immigrants. An accomplished Actress who has toured the country performing, and most recently a teacher, counselor, resource officer and a mother. I’m not telling you these things to toot my own horn… I simply want you to understand that I’ve lived a number of lives and been influenced by a number of people.

I know that people regardless of their race, religion, or sexual orientation, all have one thing in common… THEY WANT TO BE HAPPY! For the life of me, I CANNOT understand why anyone would have a problem with this. It further amazes me that these are the issues that have divided America: a country that was built on the pursuit of happiness.

I realized early on why I took Trumps victory so hard. As a lover and a feeler, Donald Trump’s win felt like a slap in the face. It was a direct assault on everything that I believe in and stand for. Thus my first reaction, like many throughout the country was to lash out.

Now before my friends on the other side start yelling or complaining as they have been doing for nearly two weeks now ( they’ve been coming at me via: phone, text, direct message, and the postal service), I realize that there is more at stake. I know that we are at war with extremist, and that the bible speaks against homosexuality and abortion. I get it! But the BIBLE also tells us not to judge, and to love our neighbors. It burns me up that people think they have the right to pick and chose what part of the GOOD BOOK they are going to acknowledge and stand behind.

Ok, my rant is over… let’s get back on track. Through all of the chaos, I had an epiphany! Here I was pointing out the problems with our newly elected President,  and receiving backlash from some pretty surprising places. Without rehashing the whole situation, let’s just say that the RIGHT almost broke me!!! For the first time in my life I  was crying out in rage, I used the word hate (and meant it), and I was plotting revenge.

I knew that I had to GET IT TOGETHER! My break through came as I realized that it is OKAY to NOT BE OKAY. Growing up, I was always taught to be kind. Additionally, I have a habit of putting the wants and needs of others before my own, and I could never stand the idea of someone truly not liking me. Therefore, I’d fight to find common ground with everyone that I met. Subsequently I’d built a number of superficial relationships with people whom I needed to cut ties with.

Many of these people confronted me and accused me of trying to fight other people battles. In my mind I’m asking, “Do they see me at all? I’m a Black Woman for Gods sake!” These same people accused me of being to sensitive. My reply was, “Maybe you’re just too numb.” It was suddenly so clear to me what needed to be done. I realized that now is the time to pick sides and I refuse to stand idly by when so much is at stake. If that makes me unpopular, than so be it!

The last two weeks have taught me that I am STRONGER than I ever imagined! As the old me who sought to please the world lays DYING… a NEW and IMPROVED me is waiting to be born. The new me will not allow my past relationships to make me bitter. Instead, I will use them to make me better! The new me realizes that you are the people you surround yourself with. Therefore, she will move forward in love, but chose her friends wisely.

In closing, I say to anyone reading this, whether you are on the left or the right; in the days to come, we will all be tested. Do not let anyone’s ignorance, hate, drama, or negativity stop you from being the best person that you can be. Rise above it all, even if it means that you have to walk alone ❤

 

 

 

 

 

Boys and Their Games

So there is a popular game going around that you may not have heard of if you don’t have kids. The game is called Bean Boozled and it’s by the makers of Jelly Belly. Yep!  You heard that right. The people who make those delicious jellybeans in fantastic flavors like: Berry Blue, Cotton Candy, and Crushed Pineapple have created a game and you guessed it… it’s all about jellybeans.

Okay, Okay… I’m sure that by now you are wondering where I’m going. Your probably thinking, “What the What? I didn’t come here for this.”But if you stick with me and this…

I promise it’s gone jump up and hit you ❤

So back to the game. Bean Boozled is a simple game found in a little box right on the candy aisle. The box is full of jellybeans of all different colors. The thing is, you may have two blue jellybeans that look exactly the same but they taste totally different. When I say different, I don’t mean Blueberry and Cotton Candy different! I mean what on God’s Green Earth different! Like Blueberry and toothpaste, or Chocolate Pudding and Canned Dog Food; the box literally has flavors like… Lawn Clippings, Rotten Egg, and Stinky Socks. They are masked to look like the Tutti-Frutti, Lime, and Buttered popcorn jellybeans. Thus, every time you put a bean in your mouth,  you are gambling with something that can potentially MESS YOU UP!!!!!!

My boys have been asking me to by this HOT MESS of a game for months. I always side step and tell them “Wait until it goes on sale”, or “Next time”. Well this week as I walked around with the weight of the world on my shoulders, literally sick over the outcome of the Presidential Election, my two guys got me! They asked if they could have this candy while we stood in the checkout line at Walmart, and me being already defeated, agreed. They danced around happily and couldn’t wait until we got home where they immediately ran off to their room and started playing Bean Boozled. After about 20 minutes my youngest son Miles came into the living room where I was sitting and handed me a tiny green jellybean. Thinking nothing of it I grabbed the bean and popped it into my mouth-my 7-year-old and his older brother watched grinning like Cheshire cats!

My sense of taste was immediately assaulted by the taste of salt and slime, “IT TASTES LIKE A BOOGER” I yelled as my boys feel to the floor laughing. “We got you”, they called out. “Do you want to try another”, one asked.

The GEM here comes later on in the evening when my youngest son Miles is sitting curled up with me on the sofa. He is tickled with himself for fooling me with the jellybean and no lie, he looks me in my eyes and says “Mom, the game is like life. It can be really GOOD, or it can be really BAD; but it’s always FUNNY.” Hold up, wait! Did I just get schooled by my 7-year-old? Here I am dwelling on all the hatred and violence going on in the world, and missing out on the fun and love that is all around me!!!

Listen to me LOVES! While I am of the opinion that Donald Trump being elected as President of these United States is the worst thing that could have happened for a number of reasons; I do not pretend to know what the future holds. Trump could surprise us all (I’m giving you the side-eye right now) and be one of the greatest presidents we have ever seen. This whole scenario could be the start of something new and great in America! On-the-other-hand… Trump could crash and burn and take our country and its  economy along with him. Whatever is going to be is going to be! What is clear is that people like you and I owe it to our children to make lemonade out of the lemons we have been handed.

Children look up to adults and they are master imitators. Our babies are looking at us and forming opinions about the changing world around them. If they see us angry and afraid, they too will become angry and afraid. Those are the last attributes that I want for my two little kings. I want them to be empowered and to know that they are as good as the majority! I want them to know that they can still be whatever they want! I want them to do better, and be better than me and the people of the world today! I want life for them to be Really good, and when it does get BAD, I want them to remember to laugh and have fun! I want them to understand that God is ALWAYS in control.

I want to let anyone reading this know that what the world needs right now is love. I AM A LOVER SO I’M GONNA LOVE ❤

I vow to use LOVE,  TACT,  and COURTESY,  to help change the world around me. I am determined to be apart of the solution, not the problem! With that said… make no mistakes about it. I choose to be kind because it makes me happy; I will however defend my boundaries and my loved ones without hesitation. There is no jellybean foolishness within me. What you see, is what you get! I AM LOVE, AND I AM FIERCE, AND I AM MOVING ON 🙂

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My Sweet Miles and his NASTY game!!!

Pouring From Empty

I am a WIFE. I am a MOTHER. I am a DEVOTED DAUGHTER. I am an EDUCATOR and a MENTOR. I am a COACH. I am the PRESIDENT of the PTA at my boys elementary school. I am a VOLUNTEER, I am a THESPIAN, I am a CRAFTOR, I am a straight up HUSTLER, and…

I. AM. EXHAUSTED!

I talk a lot about setting rules and boundaries and carving out time for yourself, but truth be told… I am a chronic over-committer who always puts the needs and wants of others over my personal self-care. A few weeks ago the burden of my sometimes insurmountable commitments and activities caught up with me. I’m somewhat embarrassed to say that I bottomed out mentally, physically, and emotionally (there were tears, tears, and more tears). Not only was my breakdown overdue, but it was scary!!! I felt like the world was crashing down around me and I had no control of it. It was then that I realized that it was time to make some changes.

Looking back I can’t help but to laugh at myself because deep down, I knew what needed to be done. The problem was, I just didn’t want to do it. After all, I was put on this earth to serve!!! Isn’t it selfish to feed my own soul when I’m clearly being told to give, serve, and lead? Just as I was struggling with what to do next, God delivered a message to me via a new FRIEND. The message simply stated… “You cannot pour from empty.”

Those simple words spoke volumes! I’d been filling up on superficial acts for so long that I had forgotten what it felt like to truly thirst and hunger for something. Indeed it was time to do away with the superficial and focus on being intentional.

It’s been a month since I started over! I’ve learned more in the past 30 days, than I have over the course of my entire life; and it’s all because I took the time to listen to myself. I put every piece of myself under a microscope and did away with that which no longer spoke to me. Doing so was surprisingly easier than I imagined it would be, which serves as further proof of my growth and development.

Next, I cut ties with people and situations that were holding me back. I did so without making excuses or offering apologies. I sat aside time that is exclusively for my family and I made prayer and meditation an integral part of my day. I even went as far as deactivating my old Instagram (which was kinda trashy), and switching up my Facebook and twitter.

Blocking out the distractions of the world was super important for me, as reconnecting with who I am at my core was vital. I knew that I had to clear all my baggage (every bit of it!), and I realized that it was time to stop worrying about other people’s opinions of me. How I feel about myself -will from here on out always be my major concern. Afterall, I have to live with me!

The moral of this story my friends is that in order to complete the task that God has given us, we must be INTENTIONAL. If we cannot discern what is best for us as individuals, we cannot truly serve! It is okay to put yourself first; to feed your soul, and do what makes you happy! Doing so impacts your mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical well-being and allows the best version of you to show up in all you do.

Quit pouring from empty! Live INTENTIONALLY ❤

img_7284Me finally resting ❤

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.   

Let’s Talk

It’s no secret that I have a gift for gabbing. Not only did I earn my pin name Miss Congeniality 1920 participating in pageants;  I’m also a super social individual who has mastered the art of conversation! I realize that everyone isn’t as comfortable as I am with making small talk, so I decided to put together a quick guide to becoming a conversationalist!

At this point you maybe asking, “Why is being able to hold a conversation so important?” Well…  I’ll tell you why!  Conversations are super important because they are literally the foundations of relationships. It is through dialogue that we are able to connect with individuals based on similar backgrounds, interest, and experiences. Many people find it difficult to establish small talk; others struggle to end a conversation with out coming across as awkward or tacky. Whether you are a shy introvert who avoids conversation, or the life of the party… the following tips will aid you in communicating with people throughout your everyday life.

Getting off on the right foot

I ‘ve always found that leading with a compliment is the best way to start a conversation. Whether it’s a “Hey girl, I really like your hair”, or a “Wow… You smell really good! What are you wearing?” If you can make a person smile, or feel good about themselves, I assure you, a great conversation will soon follow! Keep in mind that when initiating a conversation you must be both kind and genuine. Do not over reach or embellish things for the sake of creating small talk. If someone compliments me on my outfit and I’m wearing sweats (Not the cute sweats, but the oversized dingy ones that I love to lounge around the house in), I’m going to think the he/she is being sarcastic; and I’m immediately going to shut down any further conversation.

Go small

Many people don’t realize how important small talk is. Chatting it up about the weather, current events, or the atmosphere at the company holiday party, often leads to deeper conversation. During small talk it is essential that you are, or at least appear to be a good listener. People really begin to open up when they believe that you care, and are actively engaged. You’ll be surprised by the connections that can be made during one simple conversation.

It’s important that you avoid giving too much too soon or “Over-sharing”. This rule doesn’t just apply when engaging in conversation with strangers, it’s also a good rule of thumb in general. Unless you are having an in-depth conversation with your loved one, Bestie, or Therapist, stick to the highlights of your day, and leave a bit of mystery.

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I hate it when this happens! Continue reading to find out why its rude to interrupt the conversation in order to make your contribution.

Be a Fountain

If you’ve read any of my previous post, you know exactly what a DRAIN is! A Drain is someone who is overly critical or negative. When you are meeting someone for the first time or engaging in small talk, stir away from complaining about your life. Be as light and upbeat as possible. If for some reason you are having a bad day or you’re just not in the mood to do a lot of talking, you can once again put your listening skills to good use. If you’re actively paying attention, you can scan the dialogue for “Oh really/tell me more” opportunities that will both prolong the conversation and keep you off of the podium . Once you’ve noticed the conversation dying off, you can politely bow out by saying “It’s been a pleasure meeting/talking to you”,  or “I really enjoyed catching up”. In the event of your conversation being interrupted by someone who is less skilled in the art of communication, you can simply EXCUSE yourself and move on to small talk with someone else. At this point it is also acceptable to turn your attention to your cellphone.

When talking in small groups, avoid taking over the conversation and appearing to “One-Up” the other participants. Even if you have cooler vacation stories or have scaled Everest a million times; talking about it after someone else has brought it up can cause you to appear cocky or selfish. You can talk about your amazing adventures some other time, or lead with shared experiences when it’s time to mix and mingle again.

That’s all folks

As you can see, there really is an art to carrying on a conversation. I’m confident that if you lead with the suggestions that I’ve laid out, you’ll have little to know problem engaging in conversation. In closing, I cannot emphasize enough… the importance of relaxing and being your wonderful self! Be confident in who you are, and open to sharing your interest and ideas with the rest of the world! You my LOVE,  are worth getting to know 🙂

The days of mustering through lame conversations are over! You can now ensure that you and your soon to be friends always have interesting topics to discuss.

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I sincerely hope that you enjoy reading my blog! Please share it with your friends and family and continue coming back weekly for updates, advice, and love. I’m just a girl trying to change the world one smile, kind word, and sweet gesture at a time ❤