Sharing is Caring…Literally

I grew up in a household with five other siblings, three being younger than me, and I can recall despising the concept of sharing. I would look at the adults and think, none of THEM are sharing – why do I have to? I would go to school and balk at the kids wanting to borrow my crayons, asking for my loose-leaf paper, eating my candy. I had to share my time, sometimes my bedroom, even my money when I was old enough to get a summer job. I relished in the times I had to myself, the moments I could open up a pack of Now and Laters without a hungry glance from a younger sibling, the moments when I could sit in a park and write uninterrupted (save for the attacking pigeons). I detested the concept so much that I carried my disdain over into adulthood, even in my friendships and unfortunately, in my marriage.

angry-teddy

Now, don’t get wrong. I was a very giving person, and I still am. But that giving was always on my terms, under my control. I love nothing more than to help someone in need, to donate to a cause, to give my time and energy to something I believe in. However, when I was younger, if you told me you needed my sharing, my stubbornness and deep-rooted aversion to it would take hold. Even if I succumbed, it would probably be half-heartedly or with resentment. The more I was faced with compromise, the more I stood my ground, feeling that if I bended and shared, it would be akin to weakness. Nothing exemplified this rigidness more than my marriage.

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We were married as teenagers, a time where you are still trying to find your way in the world, when you’re still trying to understand who you are as a person. And no one (NO ONE ) is more selfish than a teenager. Without the guidance of those who had been on that ride before, we fumbled through the relationship, without a clear path in mind. If he wanted to go left, I would probably go right. If I wanted to criss, he would probably want to cross. Compromise (the biggest form of sharing in a relationship) was a constant battle, and one that neither of us seemed to ever win. Instead of actually sharing, we would find ways to ensure our independence was intact, behaving in ways that destroyed the purpose and beauty of marriage. Even when it was breaking, it still wasn’t enough for us to attempt to mend it, because you see, we were both still viewing ourselves and our relationship from a selfish teenaged point of view.

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For me, it wasn’t until after I was far removed from the relationship that I could clearly see that the cracks were really breaks. Hindsight is always 20/20, and knowing that a lot of the issues could have been solved, had the intention to actually share and compromise been at the forefront, was eye-opening. Some say people never change, and I believe that to be true. You should never change who you are at your core, because your uniqueness is what makes you, and you should never compromise your moral standards. But experiences – those should push you to grow, to evolve, to elevate yourself to a higher standard. I’ve learned that sharing isn’t a bad thing, and when done correctly, and bring the most amazing people, experiences and most importantly – love – into your life. I realize now that maybe – just maybe – our kindergarten teachers had the right mindset.

 

(All photos courtesy of gratisography.com)

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The Happiness Factor

The other day, I had the most amazing discussion with an older woman, in her early 80s, named Joyce M. I met her at an alteration shop, and she watched as I tried on my bridesmaid dress, waiting to be pinned. She told me how beautiful it was, and we chatted about her wedding, and the colors she made her bridesmaids wear. I joked and told her that I already knew what colors I’d have for mine, and that I couldn’t wait to get married again (this is actually true, even though I currently don’t have a boyfriend nor actual prospects). After I was all changed and ready to go, we stepped outside, and continued to converse by our cars in the sweltering July sun. I told her that, although marriage would be great, I was currently focusing on myself, and how to become more like myself everyday. She indicated that my focus was coincidental, as she had attended a family reunion the previous weekend, and her nephew had given a presentation on the pursuit of happiness.

Pancakes

He discussed a study, the Harvard Study of Adult Development, which is considered the longest study ever (75 years and counting). The study follows 724 adult men throughout their life, examining their experiences and quality of life, but the crux of the study essentially investigates what happiness is and was for each of those men. What was coincidental on my end is that just a couple of hours prior, I had a great discussion with a friend on this very topic, about what happiness is and what it looked like for us. Many times, people comment on the way you live your life, and interject their feelings of disapproval, because they aren’t in your specific situation. They find it mind-boggling that your version of happiness isn’t reflective of THEIR version of happiness. The thing is…your happiness is your responsibility, and no one else’s. You aren’t responsible for their happiness, their relationships, their careers – that is something they ultimately have control over. What we make of our lives is a direct result of our own decisions, and in those decisions, practicing mindfulness and self-guidance.

Kitty Mail Slot

The discussion was so timely, because although I consider myself fairly content, I’m not sure if I’ve yet attained that goal of ultimate happiness. It was as if the Universe was speaking to me, and causing me to be mindful of my present, instead of focusing too heavily on my past or future. Joyce mentioned that her nephew presented a book during his presentation, by Dr. Seuss, entitled, “Oh The Places You’ll Go!”. How many of us have not even bothered to glance at that book, because it appears to be a children’s book? But oh, it’s definitely not, and it’s filled with a variety of advice on how life’s ups and downs will halt us, spin us around, even bring us to extreme moments of despair, but we have to keep moving. We can’t let past failures cloud our futures and our pursuits.I’m learning to be open to new situations and people, and to be careful to not close myself off because I think I already know better. Sometimes we have to start giving new and different experiences a chance, because we won’t know unless we actually try.

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I would often talk about finding love, and wanting to be in love, but at the first sign of viable interest, I would close my heart’s windows and shut the blinds. After a failed marriage, there was nothing in me that could even consider trusting another human again. If once upon a time I had a love so deep and intense, but one we both could ultimately dispose of so callously, what hope was there for something equal or better? There were days and nights that I could do nothing but cry in emotional and spiritual pain, unable to verbalize the exact cause of my hurt. As a result, I made sure that my walls were reinforced with iron and industrial grade concrete, and every once in a while I would make sure there was a steel gate to slide across that wall too!

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In the past couple of years of self-reflection and self-actualization, I’ve learned that while it’s quite alright to be cautious, sometimes you have to make space in that wall for a door too. I realized I was only going to receive the joy I longed for, the spiritual and mental peace I craved, if I took the risk of being open to change. Of course, the catch-22 is that no one else can determine what those risks will entail, because they can’t define what my happiness looks like. I’ve had to make the conscious decision to search for and create my own contentment. It has been difficult, because it has taken a lot of effort, and extreme soul-searching, but it is possible. I’m now living by the words of the famous Seuss, every day I wake up: “Congratulations! Today is your day. You’re off to Great Places! You’re off and away!”

 

 

 

It’s Better to Heal…Than to Hurt

It’s very easy to run away from and avoid the reality of our lives. It’s even easier to harbor hatred and feigned indifference, than it is to examine ourselves and determine the role we’ve played in the demise of something that was once deemed important and beautiful. Hatred is not a clear-cut emotion, but is typically a mask for something deeper, usually deep-seated pain and hurt. When people hate, it is because they are too emotionally immature to deal with the heartache they’re experiencing, the hurt they believe is caused by another person or situation. In actuality, no one can make you feel anything you don’t want to feel. Your emotions are your responsibility, and you ultimately have the control over how they are expressed. But how do we wade through our insecurities and elevate ourselves in a way that causes anger and hatred to be fleeting emotions, that aren’t allowed to take up residence in our souls?

Pinata Murderer

Practice self-love. This sounds so simple, yet so many people don’t know how to accomplish this. I sometimes blame it on our modern society and the new cultural expectations we seem to have. We are so dependent on the acceptance and love of others that when we don’t have it, we feel empty inside. We constantly seek the approval, the love…the admiration of others, and when it’s not reciprocated, we tumble down the rabbit hole of despair. You, and only you, have the power to create and manifest your own happiness. How much you love yourself should not be contingent upon how much someone loves you.

Self Love

Do NOT mirror emotions. This is a difficult one for me, personally, because I am an empath by nature – meaning I sense and feel the emotions of those around me quite easily. If I walk into a room and there are people being jovial and lighthearted, my first inclination is to do the same. On the flip side, if I’m sitting next to you, and you are angry, chances are, I will find myself slowly getting angry as well. My soul tends to be a little emotional sponge that wants to share in the experiences of others, even when those experiences are detrimental to my well-being and alter my mood. You have to be extremely cognizant of this in yourself, which I am still learning to be. It takes a LOT of extra work, but if I’m being attacked with negativity, I actively remind myself that I have control over my feelings and cannot allow infiltration by the hurt party. Count to ten if you have to, but do NOT match their emotional level. Your spirit will thank you.

Twin Horses

Be aware of your feelings. Pain can be a confusing place. Someone says or does something we perceive to be cruel, and the first thought an emotionally immature person has is to “get back” at them. Did you know that the more supposed revenge you seek, the more negative energy you bring on yourself, and the more horrible you feel (Unless of course, you are a completely narcissistic person who is incapable of taking responsibility for your actions and their resulting consequences)? There’s supposedly a very thin line between love and hate, but that’s because the line is a fallacy. Hatred does not exist without love, period. It is just the level that reveals itself when you are unable to cope with the pain that occurred within that love. Instead of dealing with the underlying feeling that is making you lash out, you instead blame any and everything in your life on the person you thought caused it, and you try to hurt them to match what YOU feel inside. Meanwhile, because they’ve matured and actively practice the art of self-love, they’re just deflecting all of your attacks with grace while continuously praying for your peace. Stop attacking and become aware of what you’re really feeling. If necessary, see a therapist.

Bloody Radishes

I realize that a lot of this may seem simpler than it is, because the level of passion behind the emotion you’re feeling may seem larger than life. Unfortunately, the truth is, you can’t run from your feelings, no matter how far you try to escape. Continuing to try to cause hurt to others, instead of focusing on your own healing, tends to hurt you more in the long run. Or, in some cases, you end up causing residual hurt to those around you, and those closes to your targets – and then they begin to build resentment within their hearts. Stop trying to actively breed a home of negativity – if you continue, you may wake up one day and find there’s no one left to lash out to.

 

The Book Isn’t Finished Yet

What a difference a year can make. For the past couple of months, I have spent considerable time reflecting on the things that have affected me over the last twelve months. I’ve made some bad decisions, I’ve lost people I loved, and I’ve gone from someone relevant to a stranger in the eyes of others. Relationships and friendships I thought would stand the test of time are virtually non-existent, and I’ve willingly welcomed the removal of others whose energy and motives weren’t genuine. I’ve learned so much about myself, and people, and some of this I may have observed and commented on before. My top four takeaways this year were:

It truly is okay to put yourself first.

I am notorious for doing too much, of being unable to say no to others. I’ve agreed to things I didn’t feel like doing, gone to events I know I didn’t want to waste my time on, I’ve even literally made myself sick trying to be everything to everyone. In the end, I realized that all of my concessions and compromises benefited few, and hurt no one but myself. My focus for this coming year is to become more comfortable with that nefarious “n” word – no. We get so guilty with the notion of putting ourselves first, because somehow believe it means that we’re neglecting others. As it’s been said before though: you are useless to others if you’re putting your well-being and sanity last.

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It’s time to stop looking backwards. 

Ah memories. Don’t we all just love them? I feel as if I’ve spent a disproportionate amount of time reexamining the past, at the way things were, and trying desperately to revert back, or at least create some semblance of that “comfortable” space (by the way – comfort isn’t necessarily a positive). All of that nostalgia caused me to miss out on the blessings I’m experiencing now. I didn’t allow myself to be fully present. Even when it hurt, I had to come to the realization that things will never be the same. What’s done is done, and the people from my past that have come and gone aren’t supposed to be in my future. While memories are great, I can’t let that wistfulness be a part of where I’m going. My journey is just beginning.

B&W Distance

Judgement and expectation are the first steps to disappointment. 

What do they say when you assume? That you make an a** out of you and me? Old saying, but still true during these times. People will behave in ways that will make you question how well you really knew them, and have you questioning the authenticity of their character. I foolishly placed unrealistic expectations not just on my friends and family, but also on those who didn’t owe me anything in the least. This idea of expectation is truly something that comes from growth – experience that leads to real wisdom. In the end, the only person you can hold liable for expectations is yourself.

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I am stronger than I ever dreamed. 

I can recall touting my strength, speaking of my tribulations and feeling very proud of how much I’d accomplished in my life, despite a myriad of obstacles over the years. This year did an amazing job of putting those humble brags to the test. My character was tested, my faith was shaken, but I still managed to rely on not just myself, but primarily my God/Spirit to get me through so much. When you are being attacked from what seems like all angles, it is very easy to place the blame on others, to hate, to become bitter, to be angry – to be weak. The simplest thing I could have done this year was to block myself from feeling and giving love. I’ve come to realize that strength isn’t in how vengeful you can be, but in how loving you can continue to be despite every attempt to essentially annihilate your spirit. Only love can drive out hate, and only a strong person can continue to love when met with negativity. I will continue to love those who consider themselves my enemies, and pray that they will elevate themselves and realize the beauty within their own souls.

Magnifying Glass

I love the start of a new year, because it provides us with the idea that we can start over again and be renewed. Our past isn’t erased, but it also doesn’t define who we are today, or who we will be for the rest of our lives. Take a moment this week to truly reflect on your experiences this year, and promise yourself that no matter what, you will give your all to make the coming year your best yet. Above all, send out love, and you’ll not only receive it, but you will gain knowledge and self-awareness. Be a better version of yourself in 2016, because your story is far from over.

 

 

 

Unveiling the Unavailable

I feel as if I haven’t written about relationships in a while, and the inspiration hit when I was having a discussion with a friend on the way home from work today. We were dissecting something I’d read that examined being attracted to and attracting unavailable people (both physically and emotionally), and ultimately, forging faux-lationships with them. Either the person approaches them, expecting them to be receptive to their advances, or, they find themselves drawn to those who are either in relationships, married, or just not ready for committment. This topic can be a little heavy, because people feel judged if they’re currently in them, or have been in them. I truly believe that, for the majority of people, they don’t go out actively seeking unavailable people. If anything, they like to believe that they are doing quite the opposite – avoiding them, ignoring them, or rejecting them. Every once in a while though, one of them finds you and somehow senses your internal unavailability as well, and BAM!, you’re sucked in. Against your better judgement, you engage in behaviors and activities that make you question your moral compass, all the while asking yourself how you allowed yourself to end up in such a situation. Understand that you are not a bad person, and there are a few reasons why this is happening to you (before you read them though, end that toxic relationship!).The convo caused me to do a little bit of further research (cough-cough Google) to find out why this “phenomena” keeps occurring.

Advice

People meet you at your level of broken-ness. This point was brought up in an article I read on Huffington Post, Why Do I Keep Attracting Unavailable People. It discussed how a fear of committment within two different people can somehow draw them to each other, because they recognize attributes, almost subconsciously, in each other. I’ll bring it back to something even more simple: misery indeed loves company. For some strange reason, we tend to believe that others in our dismal situation will somehow give us space to improve on ourselves. In reality, that broken energy is just being pushed back and forth between the two people. Instead of addressing their wounds, they’re feeding off of each other, and as a result, never completely heal themselves.

Pretty Girl

Having someone who’s unavailable gives you space to be unavailable as well. We all probably know of someone who has been/is a side dude or chick, and seems to be comfortable in that space. Sure, they complain about always being alone at night, and not being able to parade their love out in public, but for the most part, they’re happy with the situation they’re in. They claim that it’s easy, that it doesn’t require much from them, that it’s better than a full-fledged relationship. But guess what? It’s NOT. Not easy, and surely not better. If anything, it feeds the painful parts of you with more pain, and keeps you immobile. You get stuck putting enormous amounts of energy and life into something that shouldn’t even have come alive. Sure, you’re busy, and it seems like a quick fix, but we all make time for the things we deem important. When you find an available person that you’re really feeling, best believe you will do everything in your power to make room for them in your life.

Burning Bottle

You have daddy/mommy issues. Okay, hear me out on this one. I’m not suggesting that you need to go see a psychiatrist asap or anything. Many of us, especially if you grew up where I grew up, didn’t have the healthiest of home lives to mimic or learn from. Some of us had absentee parents, and whether we want to admit it or not, that dynamic has shaped our relationships. We’re afraid of getting deeper, of truly entrusting our love with someone else, so being in the faux-lationship is the best possible option. It allows us to relieve ourselves of having to be vulnerable and potentially being hurt, but you know what else it does? It also prevents us from being open to receiving the love we truly crave. Holding on to that which isn’t ours serves as a repellant to what we should be embracing, what we deserve. Yes, it’s great that you can live in a fantasy world that doesn’t require you to struggle in the deep end from time to time, but for how long? At what point do you decide that the shallow end just doesn’t fill your soul?

If It Isn’t Love…

**cue up the New Edition record**. So many songs about love…what it feels like, what it sounds like, hell, what it tastes like. It isn’t a negative emotion, experience, feeling. The very essence of love is in the fact that it denotes positivity and freedom. Love is freedom. Love makes you feel like anything is possible. It makes you feel as if you need nothing else in the world, that you can meet all of your basic needs with it. You can consume it, breathe it, touch it, cover your body with it like a blanket. I can tell you what it is, but unfortunately, I can also tell you what it isn’t.

New Edition

It probably shouldn’t make you miserable. Have you ever met someone who was “in love”, but they seemed like the most depressed person on earth? Always sad, complaining about what the love of their love isn’t providing for them, how they’re making them feel? And when you try to tell them that they’re probably not in love, but in some sort of passion or lust filled place, they come up with excuses as to why they’re being treated so poorly? Yeah, that’s not a loving relationship. Love is supposed to fill you with joy, not dread. If the unhappy moments outweigh the wonderful ones by a landslide, then you’re more than likely in a toxic relationship. ABORT!

Teddy Bear

It shouldn’t change who you are. So, you finally got the man/woman of your dreams, that person that you’ve been crushing on. And it seems like you’re exactly what they’re looking for. Except, you’re not. You’re constantly tip-toeing around them, walking on eggshells, afraid of being yourself. Maybe you learned they don’t like hip-hop music or something (that’s someone who’s obviously dead inside, but I digress), but it’s your favorite and it speaks to your soul. Or, you love corny knock-knock jokes, but they’ve told you that it’s one of their pet peeves. Or, more seriously, they tell you they want tons of children, and even though you can’t see yourself carrying around another baby, you pretend that it’s cool, in hopes that you can change their mind. They’re not in love with you anymore than you’re in love with them. All you’re doing is stifling your true self, and become more despondent and empty each day. And let me tell you, once that happens, you’ll find yourself in the first “this ain’t love” category above.

Miserable Woman

It should never hurt. Love should never, ever, ever hurt. Physically, psychologically, or emotionally (the only exception to this rule is in the case of Romeo and Juliet, and well, we see how that ultimately turned out anyway). I’m talking more than the miserable love of the first point. I’m talking about someone who is constantly cutting you down, destroying your spirit. I’m talking about the narcissists who lead you to believe that you are worthless, that you don’t deserve love, and that they’re the best you’ll ever find. Those people are severely dangerous, and should be steered clear of. If you’re in a “loving” relationship that is giving you pain in any way, you have to immediately (and safely) abandon that situation.

Box of Chocolates

Love should water your soul, and the best kind sometimes allows you to become more you, with all of your flaws and shortcomings. It should never be conditional or scary or painful. It should cause you to want to be a better person, and should elevate you. Now, don’t confuse this with love making you “whole”. You’re already whole. It just means that it should complement who you are. It holds no expectations of you that you cannot fulfill. When I was in love, it felt as if I could fly. The other person made me feel like I could conquer the world if I just set my mind to it. And once you’ve been in love and lost that, it can make you feel as if you’ll never get that back again. But you know the great thing about love? It’s not some limited edition item, with only a few made. Love is bottomless source within your soul, and as long as you’re open and willing, guess what? It will replenish within you, and somehow, more will find you.

Free Bird

Sometimes You Have to Lose, to Win

It’s been such a long time since I’ve written anything…since I’ve felt any inspiration to write. Oftentimes, real life and all of its issues come at you like a tsunami, crashing through everything you love and care about, until it feels as if you can’t swim and won’t ever make your way to the surface. All of the world’s problems because a cacophony of minutiae, and your tunnel vision can only focus on all of the things that aren’t going well in your tiny life, how you feel, and how it seems as if you’ll never survive. If you’re a writer, or someone who likes to create, instead of your craft becoming an outlet for all of the pain, it feels as if it’s stuck on the other side of a double-paned painted-shut window, unable to come inside. You see it fighting to come out from the cold, you know you need to let it in so you can let it all out, but you feel almost frozen in your pain, and nothing will allow you to chip away the paint and open that window. So, your best option? You pray and hope for some sort of breakthrough, that something will burst through the glass and let you release. And finally, finally, you get that epiphany that you’ve been waiting for, and the thoughts you’ve been holding on to burst through that dam of despair and onto pen and paper (or in this case, keyboard and screen!).

Rollercoaster

Ok, I know I made that seem extremely dramatic, but when you are stuck in a moment of pain, doesn’t it feel dramatic to you? Doesn’t it feel that no one could ever understand the shattering of your soul, because they all seem happy and unbothered? I’ll be transparent with you all for a moment – that’s how I was beginning to feel. And for the past month or so (or, if I’m really real, the past couple of years), it felt like no one had ever gone through the things I was going through, and that there was no way in hell that they could ever convince me things would get better. I’d like to chalk some of that feeling up to our social media addiction. We all do an excellent job of creating a highlight reel of our lives. We catch ourselves in the best light, at the right angle, in the perfect moment. No one ever gets to see us fall, or see our ugly days, or the mornings when the only viable option in our lives is to put the blanket back over our heads and call out of life for a day. The modern obsession with perfection has become stifling, at best. We want everyone to think we’ve all got it together, even when we’re falling apart.

Gum

I visited a friend’s church on Mother’s Day weekend…one of those mega churches with the overflow seating deal. Now, I have a deep belief in God, in Spirit, in a higher power, but I’ve never been very religious. I personally think religion can be very unforgiving and unrealistic. However, the message that day hit very close to home for me. One thought in particular woke me up out of my funk, and helped push me all the way back into real life. I’m paraphrasing, but essentially, the message was, “Some of life’s greatest invitations appear as if they are life’s greatest interruptions. Instead of feeling frustrated when your situation is interrupted, feel anticipation for the way God will change your life”. If you’re not into religion, think of it as chance, or the Universe, or what have you. In any case, it was in that instance that my frame of thought was flipped. It’s so simple to go the “woe is me” route when your life is upended, but what if you started thinking of your challenges as opportunities? What if you took that negative event and learned the lesson, and used it to make you stronger?

Lost Cat

Oftentimes, we engage in behavior or situations that we think are the best things for us, but are slowly killing our spirit. It may be a job that gives us status, and we work hard, but it leaves us feeling empty and exhausted. It can be a relationship that feeds us financially, but leaves our minds and our souls wanting for more. Sometimes, we just can’t let go of things, because we’ve had them for years and years, and the devil that you know is better than the devil that you don’t. But guess what? I don’t want any “devils” or negative energy up in my space, blocking what I could truly be accomplishing in life. If we waste time watering dead plants, or dying plants with shallow roots, we’ll end up thirsty from giving away our best water supply. Losing whatever it is that you felt you needed can seem like the end of the world, but start focusing on all of what you’ve gained in the process – experience, wisdom, knowledge, freedom in a part of your life that was once inhibited. The next time you go through a loss in your life, don’t believe it’s the end. Realize it’s just the beginning of becoming an even greater version of yourself.

The Positivity Plan

It is soooo absolutely easy to give out great advice. You listen to the other person so thoughtfully, you run the situation through in your head, you try to be objective and look at both sides of the story, and then you dole out equally thoughtful, objective guidance. You know what’s even easier though? To give out that advice, knowing full well you should be taking it yourself. We like to pretend we don’t have viable solutions to the issues that plague us on a daily basis, but when you give out that awesome advice to your close friends in similar dilemmas, it’s usually your subconscious telling you that you already know the answers to your problems. To kick it up another level, when you blog about your observations about other people, or instances in your life, there’s usually a grain of guidance lurking in between your words.

The Joker

So I’ll let you in on a little secret: I love when I can write about something, and someone will comment, or message me, or text me, and tell me that they needed to read what I wrote – that my words somehow resonated deeply with them. But at the end of the day, I write more for me than anyone else. I honestly don’t ever know if anyone is going to take the time to read my rants, to appreciate my thoughts. So in essence, it is pretty much therapeutic and cleansing for me. I’d even argue that it’s NECESSARY. So much so, that when I go a few weeks without writing or posting (I’m sorry!), the little negative cynic that hides in the recesses of my psyche starts to rear its ugly head. It throws temper tantrums, demanding I set it free so I can shift energy and add more negativity to the vibe. And when that starts to happen, I know I have to sit down and take time to talk to you all, so I can stuff him back where he belongs.

The Tragedies

We all have that negative cynic hiding within us. For some people, the company they keep makes it more apparent. Others stay in unhappy situations, relationships, jobs, and absorb all of the negative energy from others, and then pass it on to those who are trying to remain positive and have a hopeful outlook on life. I’m not saying you need to stay away from those people (although, if you’re a HSP like me, you’ll let people’s energy, whether bad or good, screw with your spirit, so I do try to steer clear). Rather, if you can handle it, you have to be the positive ball of energy so they can feed into you. What they really need more than ever is not someone who will add misery, but someone who can be a beacon, and perhaps urge them to think of creative ways to stifle their cynic. For me, it’s writing. Others may sing, or paint, or be physically active. The key though, is to do something that will cause an imbalance of energy, with the abundance tipping on the positive side of the scale. Who wouldn’t want an abundance of positivity? I know for me, after writing this soliloquy, I can already feel Cynic Sam (I literally just made a name up for him) retreating back into his cave. Find a way to make your inner cynic do the same.

The Beach

 

Be Phenomenal

A week ago, I was honored to provide an inspirational post for an awesome event in CT, “The Phenomenal Women Panel”. It’s been a couple of weeks since I’ve posted on the site, but I wanted it share this one with you all. Enjoy! 

Earlier today, my third grader was telling her brother and me a story about a little girl in her class. Apparently, this little girl had been biting her style (my girl won the classroom fashionista award last year – she is ABOUT THAT LIFE). As a result, my daughter was none too pleased. “One day I’ll wear something, like my animal print Converse All-Stars, and the next day, she’ll be wearing the same thing!” Jokingly, I said the little girl was triflin for trying to steal baby girl’s style. But then, I had to pause and think about that interaction.

In jest or not, we tend to teach our young ladies, at a very early age, that other girls should be considered first and foremost, their competition. Friends, sure, but ones you still have to hold at arms’ length, whoyou always have to side-eye and watch on the low. Because of course, other women, at the end of the day, are always out to steal your style, steal your man, steal your job, etc., etc. And while I’m all for friendly competition (although my friends, male and female, may not consider my idea of competition friendly, but whatever) this mentality is a nasty, negative habit many women are guilty of perpetuating.

We like to get on our social media soap boxes and speak of feminism, sisterhood, and women empowerment, but so few of us actually practice it. It sounds good when we say it, but to actually be about it? That’s a different story. That isn’t to say we aren’t capable of it; on the contrary. We women are so many things – loving, nurturing, intelligent, strong, motivating, encouraging – but we’ve allowed the narcissism of our society stifle that aspect of us, and in turn, our comraderie amongst each other.

What if, instead of hating on the chick that walks in the club with an outfit we ourselves wouldn’t be caught dead in, we compliment her shoes, so she doesn’t feel that sting of collective judgment? Or when we’re at work, instead of withholding information that could help others because we want to make ourselves appear irreplaceable, we share our knowledge and exchange ideas. I’ve found that getting along with other women in my peer groups has helped me a lot more than it has ever hurt me. When we begin to watch our words and actions, and commit to only spreading positivity between each other, we build tighter bonds and even boost our own spirits. As phenomenal women, our primary focus should be to uplift and encourage each other, not to dissuade and destroy. Be phenomenal.

 

The Heart of the Matter

Forgiveness. It’s a word that’s been on my mind for a couple of weeks now. I’d been contemplating whether or not I should write about it, and then Sunday morning, India Arie’s cover of the song “Heart of the Matter” rolled through on Pandora, and then her song “Wings of Forgiveness” came on. So yeah, the question in my mind was pretty much answered for me. And of course, with today being the observance of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, it seemed even more apropos.

Boxing

I’ve never considered myself to be a very forgiving person. In fact, traditionally, I’ve been the complete opposite, the grudge-holder, who contemplated all of the ways I could make you pay for hurting me, betraying me, no matter what the offense might be. I grew up around people who didn’t necessarily believe in the idea of letting things slide, of letting bygones be bygones. Because if you did, you were somehow weak, a pushover. And you know what all of that negative energy beget? A home filled with resentment. Pent-up anger. Anguish. Anxiety. All of the things that can lead to depression. I realized that it also hurt ME. If the other person was smart, they weren’t even thinking about me and my animosity towards them. I was only damaging my OWN soul.

Arm Wrestling

I’ve been dealt with some hurtful situations over the last year. Situations in which I would have had every right to lash out and act crazy. Initially, that was my first inclination. I wanted to do everything in my power to make those persons pay for what they had done to me, how they had made me feel. I sometimes even fantasized about how it would all go down. But for some reason, I made a different decision. I determined that it essentially wasn’t worth my energy. Yeah, I’d feel good in the moment, but that’s all it would be. Just a moment. Once it was done, my psyche would be wrought with the memories of my malicious impulsiveness. So, I did nothing. I meditated and prayed on it, and decided to just forgive.

Pancake Smiley

Let me tell you – that was quite literally the best decision I  could have made. Now, instead of being consumed with rage, I could focus on more important aspects of the situation’s aftermath – like healing from it. Anytime I had any thoughts on potentially going back on my decision to forgive, I just thought about how it would affect me. After a while, it stopped being in the forefront of my mind, and I’m pretty certain that I pushed my healing curve ahead tremendously. Yes, anger can be justified, but it’s also a choice. We can always choose to keep our minds and spirits there, and as a result, become breeding grounds for negativity. Or, we can choose forgiveness, and learn to be the person who moves on. Not because we’re weak, no. But BECAUSE we’re strong, and we love ourselves more.

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