Unfolding

unfoldsolangemusic

Photo courtesy of Solonge Music.com

My body was longing for my old normal amid my new normal. It was craving the usual and I was on day seven of giving it anything but. Routine override started with just being tired so sleeping in and skipping out on the gym, then there was the migraine that led to another missed workout but a greet encounter with a pretty decent guy, then there was a couple of dates with said pretty decent young guy and farewell gatherings with people who’ve been nothing short of supportive during my year in Buffalo. There was an early flight, then the glorious girls trip to DC. Not finished. There was the early rising to see my east coast nephew off to his first day of kindergarten  then staying at his puppy eye sad face request for when he got off the bus that afternoon, then returning the following day to pick him up off the bus again. There were several trips to Marshalls to get a few things to help me get organized and settled. Lots of movement and no two days looking even close to the same.  Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely have a thing for adventure, flirt with spontaneity often, and pride myself in my flexibility. However, I (body, emotions, mind, and spirit) was beyond just not in the mood. #Overit #Done #Ikilledmyownvibe

In fact, as I walked through the crowded lunch time streets of downtown Philadelphia, only wanting to get to the Target  on 19th and Chestnut for a new laundry bag, I could feel myself giving way to the week that was and the rest and routine that wasn’t.  I was tempted to call my teary eyed feet dragging I just want my bed moment  a breakdown, a fall apart, a rapid unraveling that would sure enough unveil my private thoughts, vulnerabilities, insecurities, and anxieties smack in the middle of the cross walk full of suits, dresses, really cute heels, strollers, and dogs on some the longest leashes ever (like seriously, owners were really far behind their pups).  But for as overwhelmed as I felt in that moment, I knew I was not falling apart. I was not having a breakdown. I was not unraveling and forced to reveal all of the things I’ve yet to make peace with about myself especially all of the rejection and discrimination and retaliation  I’ve faced daily the past eight or so months at work. It was more of an unfolding.

 

In that moment, I took a deep breath, and imagined me unfolding a white linen napkin. But I didn’t just unfolded the napkin. I unfolded it and placed it in my lap. I placed it in my lap as if I were expecting a meal, expecting nourishment, expecting what I needed to be well.

unfold by tezza

Photo courtesy of By Tezza.com

My life is in a season of unfolding. What it has looked like- folded, compact, pretty, still, and quaint is not looking like that any longer. It is unfolding into a blank fabric square capable of multiple purposes, including being reshaped and refolded, but also protection, and catching the overflow of what is next in my life. It is strategically and slowly becoming undone in full confidence that what will be served to me next (this next season of my life) is a combination of what I want and need to be, do, live, well.

My hope for you this week is that in those moments when your days have become weeks and even months of not being what you need let alone desire that you are reminded that your life is unfolding.  It is going through a process where it doesn’t look like what it did at first glance. It’s shifted. The creases are no more. While it looked awfully pretty and proper folded on the table and now looks rather plain and bare on your lap, its purpose remains. Your purpose, amid all that life is gifting you presently remains the same. Circumstances don’t dictate your purpose any more than a meal dictates your appetite.  And don’t bother trying to refold the napkin the way it was. It doesn’t typically work out. Have you ever tried to recreate that fanned out linen napkin look? It ends up looking like a wad of used tissue. It makes you snatch it off the table and put it on your lap, right where it belongs. Don’t let your current season try to push you backwards and engage in behaviors or with people that no long serve the fruition of your destiny.

Let this season unfold as you wait in confidence for what is next. Trust that what you have experienced thus far was not in vain, an accident, coincidence, or happenstance. Trust that you have been and continue to be in process as you progress towards what you both desire and need to be, do, and live well. xxoo

unfolddesign chic

Photo courtesy of Basic Chic.com

Actively Authentic

Processed with VSCOcam with hb2 preset

Photo courtesy of Urban Bush Babes.com

“But here’s the thing,” I wrote in half print, half lazily but legibly curled letters, “Don’t call me if you don’t know Jesus,” and left him my phone number.  I showed the note to my friend who laughed a laugh that was somewhere between good luck and don’t you think that’s a bit much, to make sure my handwriting was legible. I sat the note atop the receipt, gathered my bags as my friend gathered hers, and slipped out the side door of the restaurant just as easily as we slid through it, tired and ready for drinks and appetizers. “Well, I guess we’ll see, ” I told her. “Oh he’ll call, ” she said. “Only if he knows Jesus or is illiterate. Cause I said don’t call if you don’t know Jesus.”

The following morning I was relaying the story to another friend while I picked over a veggie frittata and sipped a soy chai latte, telling myself I can indeed leave the cute little shop on Connecticut Avenue without a slice of caramel, carrot, or chocolate cakes, cookies, tea bread, or any of their decadent desserts staring me down across the marble table. “Oh, so did he call? ” she asked. “No, or at least not yet. But that’s the thing. If he doesn’t call it means he doesn’t know Jesus and I don’t want to waste time getting to know someone who doesn’t share the same faith as me. Or he does call and unless he’s rebellious, then at least I know we have our faith in common, ” I responded. “Oh Ahyana that is so smart. I love it. No wasting time- yours or his.” “Exactly!”

It was bigger than not wasting each other’s time though. For me, it was about being actively honest about what I want and don’t want. It was the commencement to me living out a renewed commitment to myself to not settle for knowing what I want and not going for it, taking a wait and see approach, but knowing what I want, owning it, and living it out.  The reality for me is I am not even close to interested in getting to know a guy who does not have the same faith as me. I’m not into missionary dating (Oh if I date him, live out enough Jesus, he’ll come around and join my faith). I’m pretty open to a lot of things in the guys I do occasionally date (race/ethnicity, hobbies/interests, them not liking the Warriors the way I do, political views, etc.), but the faith piece, that is a non negotiable. Because it’s a nonnegotiable, I need not negotiate my time to get to know someone who doesn’t share my faith. I need not get attached or let them get attached, when that’s not what I want in a partner.  I need not buy a dress, shoes, get my hair done, sty up past my bedtime on a work night, or force myself to watch a sci-fi movie for someone who doesn’t share a core value of mine, something I know I honestly want in boo and is a part of a lifestyle I honestly seek to live out.

aalolobu

Photo courtesy of Lolo Bu.com

It’s also been me getting my stride as I keep striving on a journey that has been painfully difficult for me the past couple of years. The past few years have been riddled with this weird strange now I see you now I don’t phenomena. When it’s convenient all of me is seen  and when it’s not convenient bits and pieces of me are seen and desired. When I’m visible it’s what can be taken for their gain and when I’m not visible it’s rejecting what I have to offer despite my knowing or the research to say it’s necessary at this time. This moment however, this moment of here’s the deal sweet guy with all that southern hospitality and humor, if you aren’t interested in all of me which means knowing sweet grown man Jesus, then you gotta keep moving was my refusing to be seen or shared in bits and pieces. I’m done with the folks who like bits and pieces. I want the folks who are interested in me as a whole, a whole person who really sees and engages the world through how I’ve come to know Jesus and how I’ve come to make meaning of my faith and living it out.

Here’s what I’m hoping for you this week. I’m hoping that you do something, anything, that reflects you actively living out what you know you want and or need in your life. That you get past the list on your phone, picture you posted on your vision board from Glamour magazine, swiping right, inserting the chip, and actually do something that really reflects the person you desire to be. My hope is you take a moment to be honest with yourself and then with others in some real way. You say “Not today,” “No, ” “I’m not interested,” “I’m not comfortable,” “That won’t work,” “I’d like to try that,” “I don’t need that,” “Don’t call me if you don’t know Jesus.”  There is something wonderfully liberating when we choose to move past thinking, wanting, longing, envisioning, praying, and imagining the person and the life we want for ourselves and start doing.  Some might have said as someone who doesn’t date much and hasn’t had many boyfriends, it was risky saying that to a a guy who could be a potential partner. That I’m not getting any younger. Maybe.  I know. I think it would have been risky if I consciously made one more decision that wasn’t aligned with what I want and  my own potential. May your week serve up moments to live out your honesty and authenticity.  Oh, and yes, he called 😉

aapinterest

Photo courtesy of Start Handing Out Stars Tumblr.com

Managing the Middle

Processed with VSCOcam with hb1 preset

Photo courtesy of Dear Frances.com

If you’ve ever lived on a  super cute little side street,  with porches and front yards that make you swoon, the occasional barking dog, and trees that beg you to step up your multi tasking game of looking up and watching where you walk, book ended by two main thoroughfares or even one main thoroughfare, you can relate. I live on said super cute little side street.  In order to make it just about anywhere- work, the gym, the grocery store, Target, or Starbucks, I have to cross a big ol’ busy street.

Now, there’s a method to crossing at the end of my street which intersects smack in the middle of the busy street.  First, the traffic lights at one end of the busy street has to be red and at the other, they need to be green.  Then, I have to make it to the middle of the street before it narrows into turn lanes. If can make it to the middle, getting all the way across the street is typically easy peasy. Make it to the middle then make it all the way to my final destination, which depending on the day could be to work or to get a tall soy green tea latte.

I’m learning in this season of my life, it’s important to get to the middle but not to get stuck. The middle is not the final destination, just a place to pause, so I can strategically get where I am trying to go. It’s important to start. To make the lists, to apply, to purge, to let go, to shift. It’s necessary to take the class, download the app,  meet with the financial adviser, unsubscribe from your favorite shops so you don’t feel like you’re missing out on “a great deal” every time an email comes through,  do your homework on the best counselors in the area, etc.

It’s even more important to accomplish work through the list and get stuff done, submit the application, attend the class, use the app, stick with the budget prescribed by your financial advisor and use that budget to empower you to not re-subscribe to your favorite shops for “a great deal”,  and complete an intake with the counseling practice you think will best meet your needs.

But what’ most important, is to make it all the way across, to get to the other side, journey on to our final destination.

mmbytezza

Photo courtesy of By Tezza.com

Can you imagine if all I ever did was get to the end of my sweet little side street, make it safely to the middle and stayed in the middle? Can you imagine if I just stayed there? If i never paid attention to the changing lights at either end of the busy street that created the conditions for me to finish the process I started? If I ignored the slowed cars, waving hands, and usually smiling faces that signaled “Danger is not present, be cautious, but go for it, cross the street, continue your journey, get to your destination”? Someone would probably call the police and say “There is a woman who is just standing in middle of the street. While she’s not disrupting traffic per se, she may end up getting hurt or causing someone else to get hurt.”

It sounds pretty ridiculous, right?

Yet, we do this. We make it to the middle and we hang out there. We are somewhere between grateful, surprised, excited that we started and made it past the first part of the journey to the middle. We didn’t get hit, no broken bones, no EMT coming to our aid. But then, we stay in the middle. We stay  longer than necessary, ultimately foregoing  our destinies.

We settle for the job because it pays the bills and provides insurance.  Never mind that it’s not even close to the work we’ve dreamed of doing or went to get a graduate degree for.  We stay with the partner because they’re not that bad really. They pick you up from work in your car. They help out with the kids (or your kids, depending on their mood)  as long as it’s not when the game is on, they aren’t tired, there’s another happy hour, or overtime isn’t being offered. We don’t apply to the ivy league school because college is college and if you got a scholarship to Princeton you can surely get one to the state school.  Slim thick is the new black, so no need to really go to the doctor about the weight we’ve put on that we know is a result of our job, because we’re not leaving the paycheck or the comfort of being there at what was supposed to be two years tuned seven  or the half priced appetizers where we go on Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday after work. We’re not going on a date after the divorce. In the middle “taking time” is acceptable. So we take six years and we look forward to year seven, even though the marriage ended because the abuse needed to end before someone’s life did.  We don’t let anyone get too close romantically because they may see the scars from when we used to cut or notice we tense up at their touch because of the attempted sexual assault, so we text a lot, talk a lot, and after the third date we find the reason to cancel date four, block their number, and try a new dating app. And we’re definitely not leaving the church we’ve been going to since we were four.  They depend on us to lead the small group bible study at our home, set up and tear down for the events, step in as second soprano if sister Angela does have to go visit her poor sick momma in Kentucky. It’s familiar. It’s manageable. We haven’t been hit.  It feels safe. The middle of that big ol street can be safe, but only temporarily.

mmbecauseitsamazing

Photo courtesy of Because It’s Amazing Tumblr.com

The same way my chances of being hurt or causing hurt the longer I hang out in the middle of the street as opposed to finishing the process of actually crossing the street, we increase our chances of self harm and harming others the longer we linger in the middle of our journeys toward our purpose.  The longer I stay in the middle of the road, the longer I expose myself to the driver who is not paying attention to me and hits me, or swerves to avoid me at the last minute and hits someone else or something.

When we don’t figure out how to strategically navigate our middle or look for others who signal it’s safe to keep on keeping on, we rob ourselves of abundant lives;   lives that were meant to also help others on their journeys. We aren’t the best employees, partners, parents, entrepreneurs, daughters, friends, cousins, artists, leaders, versions of ourselves we were created to be.  We cheat our partners, children, friends, community members, patients, clients, and students-  offering them a hologram of us.  And, we know this.  Our bodies know this. We heap on unhealthy habits that typically lead to some type malady. We say we’re tired, feel stuck, just need a vacation, but it’s more than that. It’s the cost of settling for an illusion of safety. The middle offers an illusion of safety.  It offers the promise of almost. Let’s us take pride in starting, but it deters us from moving forward, reaching, completing, thriving, living- if we’re not mindful to manage the middle.

I’ve spent the last few years in the middle.  At first, it was exhilarating to make it to the middle. To observe enough to know when it was safe to make the initial cross- to start. There was entering a new field of work, a nice title, solid salary, new freedoms, new people, travel, and so many experiences and opportunities. However, I’ve noticed recently that it’s time for me to finish crossing the street.  The middle has served its purpose in facilitating my journey to the other side. It’s given me the time needed to note how temporary it was and how much more I’ve still got to do in order to be who I was created, gifted, and called to be. It’s given me the time needed to note the pain that results from hanging out there too long and the living that I am missing out on just hanging between what was and what will be.

My hope for you as you are on your own journey is that you stay mindful of the middle. Use it wisely, but don’t linger, don’t get stuck.  Let it serve its purpose in your life, but don’t let it hijack your purpose or your role in someone else discovering and living out their purpose.  Pay attention to the lights, the drivers, the signals so you know when to proceed with caution, but proceed nonetheless.

mmhuffpost

Photo courtesy of HuffPost

 

 

Madam Know It All

mkiapinterest

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

It was #SelfcareWednesday and while part of the routine for a little over a month now has been a ballet body workout class, last week I didn’t put on the tights, pull up the hair, or put on the shoes. I needed a bubble bath, tea, and some adult coloring time. So, I did just that. I knew what I needed and this time, I made sure I got it.

 

In fact, it was the third day in a row where I managed to make sure I got what I needed. Whether it was extra sleep, coconut cream tea at one of my favorite coffee shops in West Philadelphia, not telling a few friends that I was in town so I didn’t run myself ragged trying to see and catch up with everyone, surprising my east coast nephew with pizza for dinner, chatting with my grandfather, or curling up in my aunt’s oversized chair and watching the Lethal Weapon shows she keeps on her DVR for me to see when I visit- what I needed took precedent over what others wanted or even needed.

As I pushed my little blue cart down the aisles of Marshalls looking for a new travel coffee mug that was double walled, cute, and reasonably priced but totally fawning over throw rugs that might introduce a little more spring into my space, I found myself declaring what I’d been doing to my friend on the phone. “It’s been costly and exhausting,” I told her. “So the way I see it, if I could spend all of that time, energy, and money trying to make other people happy, I could certainly start doing the same for me,” I continued. “AK, yes. Make sure you out here getting what you need,” she said.

Processed with VSCOcam with f2 preset

Photo courtesy of Tendances de Mode

I’ve had the fortune of seeing women in my life go for what they need. I’ve watched some grow into it, others fight for it, and others strut with a madam know it all stride as if it was in their genes. However, it’s only been in recent years that I’ve paid attention to what I’ve seen these women do. As I’ve pondered how, I’ve been able to recall the numerous times they made a decision to honor what they needed. Whether it’s been ending unhealthy relationships, quitting jobs with unhealthy environments, boldly starting new businesses, going back to school, no longer enabling adult children, taking a real vacation or even a staycation, end their thing for unavailable guys, or actually go to all of their annual appointments even after the last one turned up to reveal a lump, I’ve seen these women identify and go for what they knew they were in deep need of.  I’ve watched these women wrestle with the guilt that so easily leeches onto so many of us when we say “no’ to others and “yes” to ourselves, successfully managing to slip from its grip. I’ve watched them glow brighter and brighter each time they’ve made a sound decision that allows them to honor what they know they need even if it is interpreted as selfish, ridiculous, or ill timed.  But perhaps what I have witnessed that is most powerful is the peace and the joy that these women have. With each choice made to truly honor what they needed, they had more peace and more joy.

We’re working our way through the first quarter of the year (craziness right?) and maybe yours has been a little like mine, not exactly what I expected. Maybe it’s demanded a little more fight and offered a little less reprieve. What I’m learning that the best thing I can do is to honor what I know that I need. Recently that’s been to exercise self compassion, speak kindly to myself, keep up my #SelfcareWednesday routine, and even step down from a committee at wok that was adding way too much unnecessary stress, and spend time with people who add a bit more joy to my life than drama.  With each firm no and confident yes, I’ve had more peace and more joy.

mkialb

Photo courtesy of Luise Brimble.com

I want to encourage you this week to listen to what you need and honor it. It might be a little tricky. Wants can seem like needs, and needs can seem like wants. Be patient, quiet and still as you distinguish between the two.  Quiet the naysayers and escort the guilt out the door, off the front porch, and of the property.  Turn the phone on silent, get the bagel and the cream cheese, buy the shoes and wear them straight to that networking event where Mr. Not So Right will be, take the day off and go to the movies by yourself and get the large popcorn.  Put in for a few days off, book the appointment at the hair alone and not with your homie who always gives you a discount but only because she’s cancelled and rescheduled five times in the last two days. Take the yoga class, call the counselor and make the appointment, sleep in on Sunday and trust that the Reverend and the Lord will forgive you.

The better we are at knowing what we need, the better we are at supporting the people we love and need us. We get more peace, we get more joy, and honestly we get to know ourselves that much better. Besides, you are the only person on this planet you will have the longest relationship with. You might as well get to know yourself really well. Invite Madam Know It All over for some coffee, tea, or a cocktail and let her stay as long as she (you) needs.

mkiadh

Photo courtesy of Donna Hay.com

No Spanx Needed

Photo courtesy of myselfie xxoo

Photo courtesy of myselfie xxoo

As we debriefed our weeks on the phone I smiled as I highlighted several moments during my week when I knew what I needed and went after it. I didn’t talk myself out of needing it. I didn’t draft a plan B, C, or D, when plan A was what I needed. I didn’t wait for the most convenient second, minute, or hour of his, hers, or their day. I didn’t prepare a defense, come up with as many analogies and politically correct phrases as possible. I didn’t exhaust myself mentally and emotionally to make people get it or to make myself not need it. It. was. GLORIOUS. It was like fitting into that dress/skirt/pants that made you feel amazing which is why you purchased it, then life happened and you didn’t look so awesome in it, but then you were determined to fit in it again and now you do kind of glory.

Knowing and getting what I needed was familiar for me. That’s how I lived my life much of my post undergrad years. Then that was how I would encourage and equip clients to live much of my post graduate school life. Then I started thinking I needed what other folks said I needed especially because of either how old I was (a house) , or how great I was at my job (higher salary or better job title, or both), or how attractive I was (still single? why? what happened to so and so? come here with me so you can meet so and so.) and things kind of blew up. And kept blowing up. The dress/skirt/pants wouldn’t make it past the middle of my inherited them straight from my momma honey brown thighs.

Yet, last week when I knew I needed to get off campus and park it at my breathing space- Starbucks, I did. When I knew that being there for only an hour wasn’t going to give me the reprieve I needed after a morning of being inundated with the pain and hurt that comes with being Black in the United States of America I stayed longer. When I knew I was going to have to keep asking about attending a training in Philadelphia this week, I kept asking. I didn’t keep making the case for my need to attend. I did that already and once was enough. I kept asking because I knew their was a confidence that if I kept encountering “I still haven’t heard back from so and so, they’re just so busy you know” I would just give up. I didn’t give up and I will be at that training this week. When I knew one of the best ways to ignite passion among a group of student was to get them to a women’s leadership conference  in Manhattan, not only did I ask for and receive a super steep discount  from the organizer,  I petitioned for us to go from the school and…we are going to the SheLeads Conference on October 6th, 2016.

cclehappy

Photo courtesy of Le Happy.com

There were a couple of other things, like the days I knew I needed not to go to the gym because I was so worn down. Yet I knew I also needed to go there at least three times this week as I work on my fitness goals. Or when I knew I needed not to respond to a text message right away  because I needed time to respond thoughtfully.  Or when I knew I needed to actually talk to a friend from back home. Not text, but talk. So, I picked up the phone and called. You get it.

Perhaps what made me smile even more as I recalled the ways in which I knew what I needed and went after it was I did so without apology, guilt, or shame. I did so without second guessing or minimizing. I did so without alterations.

I keep telling people that my move has been good for me. In  the past almost two months I have this respect for, belief in, compassion for, and curiosity about, myself that had been on buried under the ruble of my life that had blown up. Now, I’d say I am somewhere between the best version of myself I once knew myself to be and the best version of myself I imagine and believe myself capable of being. The dress/skirt/pants made it past the middle of my thighs- no spanx, petroleum jelly, or cocoa butter needed.

Photo courtesy of Style Blazer.com

Photo courtesy of Style Blazer.com

 

You Better Believe It

bbcfpinterestShe came over to help pack. However, I was all packed out and made a lot of headway earlier in the day. I didn’t need help packing as much as I needed company. I needed a real live person to talk to, and talk about more than the job that was, the job that’s to come, and the life that was in between. I needed to talk about things that had been rumbling in my mind, things I knew I subconsciously believed, consciously had rational reason to believe, but wanted to be untrue currently and certainly on my next adventure.
So we did just that. My opportunity to let loose the rumblings came up just as she asked if I was excited about my move. I assured her there was excitement. It was just amid uncertainty, exhaustion, curiosity, fear, and desire.  While I had moved past the nauseous I don’t want to go out the house gripping what if I travel and need help no one helps me anxiety, I still had worry about being in a new environment, being in need, being vulnerable, and not getting what I needed, being penalized for my vulnerability.

“I believe people try,” I said. I believe I have friends and family who try to care and try to love me, they mean to, but their execution- actually doing it, um not so much. She nodded. “I am absolutely freaked out that people will mean to help me, me to help me transition, mean to care enough to help me adjust to the new institution, mean to call and text to see how it’s going….I just don’t believe they will. I need them to actually do it and not mean to.” A scene from the movie 2 Guns with Denzel Washington and Paula Patton ran through my mind. She looks at him longingly (and I cannot blame her, it is Denzel Washington), wanting to be enough, and in her response to her asking if he loves her, he manages to say “I meant to love you.”  I was crushed for her. Like, geeze, really? Just say “No.” Don’t say you meant to. You got lazy tryna love me though? I digress.

bbmamaslatinas

Photo courtesy of Mamas Latinas.com

As I heard myself, I knew that my belief in intention and action were of major importance to me, more than I previously thought. Furthermore I knew that my belief in people generally having good will, was what allowed me to not hold people accountable when they said they’d do something and didn’t. I would tell myself it was okay and it meant something that they meant well. Over time my actions changed. I would ask less, expect less, do it myself or convince myself it could be done alone.

Those aren’t entirely bad theories. I think people in general do mean well, want to help, support, be a good sounding board, cheer you on in life and all that good stuff. I think we live in a world where wanting (maybe except for in our professions and after a certain age if you identify as a woman) is enough. Want til the cows come home, it’s last call at your  favorite after hours spot, or Santa shimmies down your chimney. We’re also in a time where we don’t want people, especially the folks we love, to hold us accountable, ask and expect us to be honest and integral about our time, finances, energy, or abilities, etc. Some of that accountability and integrity would mean acknowledging our limits. Here in the US, we struggle with the idea of our finiteness.
It’s not entirely bad to bounce back after disappointment and to figure out how to get what you need or want on your own. It’s not bad to be as my one supervisor called me “resourceful.” It’s more socially acceptable for sure. I’d suggest it enhances your critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, and productivity. It is a problem though when it inadvertently reverts to less trust not only in folks considered trustworthy at one time, but in people in general. When it seeps into expectations, lowering them and lowering them, until it’s mangled the roots of hope,and squelching connection, relationships, and community.

bbblackhairomg

Photo courtesy of Black Hair OMG.com

My words to her lingered long after we talked about everything from our faith, family, vacations planned, and what we believed to be our callings in life. Even long after I returned missed calls during her visit, upped the insurance online with the moving company, and threw a load of laundry in the wash. Even until today, after attending a new church, walking the six blocks past the roundabout to Perks Coffee shop for a matcha latte with almond milk and a totally gonna regret it later gluten filled banana walnut muffin, enjoying my window seat, sunshine, and knowing that it’s only a glorious 73 degrees outside.  Because here’s the thing-  If I, you, we don’t check what we believe from time to time, we slowly hijack ourselves from rich fulfilling lives. I had a choice to make after that conversation and even now, post move, post new job. It was either keep believing that everyone had sweet intentions or that some people do and some people will come through for me more times than not. For the folks who just can’t seem to get past wanting to care, love, show up, return a call or a text, etc., I can accept that right now that’s just who they are, and I don’t have to keep expecting from them something they aren’t able to offer. I could not have moved myself. I chose to believe the folks who offered to assist me meant it. Some of them did and some of them didn’t. Thank God for the ones who did! Living in a new city, I chose to accept the offers for lunch, Target and TJMaxx trips as ways to get to know me, help me adjust, help me connect and build community. I chose to believe when folks said if I had questions, please ask, and that all my question asking (I had and still have a lot) weren’t empty offers or going to annoy folks. My move and transition would be pretty depressing if not for a shift in what I believe about people and how that could shape experiences that reinforce that belief. With folks who are able to live beyond intention and into action, I would say I have been even more willing to not do everything on my own and ask (wisely of course).
So, as you launch into the last full week of August (go ahead and go all Macaulay Culkin Home Alone on me and smack your cheeks and scream) may you also launch into wading through what you believe and how those beliefs are influencing your life. If there are any that are sabotaging you, stealing from a life that’s incredible, victorious,and emphatic, you might want to go ahead and unpack those beliefs and craft yourself some new ones. xxoo.

bbpinterest1

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Finally Friday

It’s Friday and there’s been some challenges, lots of conversations, discoveries, cause for pause, sweet finds at the mall, and of course joy on my journey to Friday. I hope there’s been some of all that, but mostly the sweet finds at the mall  and joy, okay okay, mostly the joy, on your journey to this Friday. And if not, the great thing is the day is not over so may you find some joy in your day today.

 

Downtown Discoveries

Whenever I visit a new city I’m always interested in the economic development (especially small businesses), the food scene, the arts, and education. So being here in Buffalo, NY I got to doing my research and discovered a few co working spaces. One of which, Dig Buffalo,  I was able to tour this week. It was pretty sweet to be in a vibrant space of fellow entrepreneurs, innovators, and changemakers. Not to mention on my way there I got see another part of the city that included a beautiful furniture store (I really love all things home), a few restaurants, and a gorgeous flower market. You know how I feel about flowers. It was a great way to spend a Wednesday afternoon.

Photo courtesy of Masinka via Flickr

Photo courtesy of Masinka via Flickr

Coffee Break

When you spend almost a year having the closest Starbucks 35 minutes out of state and the two local coffee shops ones that open shortly before you have to be into the office and close within a half an hour after you leave the office, you are like a kid in Dylan’s candy shop in Times Square when you have a Starbucks that’s about six minutes away, another that is 12 minutes away, a local chain of coffee shops that are between 5 and 15 minutes apart, and then a host of cute one of a kind coffee shops like Spot’s and Perk’s. Not to mention a juicery. So after I got to visit the coworking space…I strolled over to the coffee shop for an iced soy green tea latte, a high table window seat, and some sunshine.

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Soul Work

I’m notorious for starting a new book before I finish another book, especially if the books complement one another. So now I’m amid Rising Strong and Successful Women Think Differently which is by Valerie Burton.  The latter has been helpful in keeping me focused on what I desire to be and do next, challenging thought patterns, and creating new ones. Similar to Rising Strong, I can read two or three pages and have enough to meditate on, ponder, deconstruct and reconstruct for a couple days. I kid you not. Most recently it was how I look at success. I had to recall a recent success. Mine was managing my move from Chestertown, MD. It was the cheapest, quickest, effective move I’ve done to date. I attributed the success to things like having a clear goal (move by date) in mind, asking for/accepting help (I believed that those who offered help were sincere in their offer and would hold up to their end of the deal), packing at a realistic pace, etc. One of the best things about this successful move was that it totally punched my “Ahyana you are a bad picker.” theory dead in the face.” For the past few years, between the house, my brother as a roommate, jobs (location and actual responsibilities), even friends, I was worried that I had lost my ability to discern and choose what was best for me. While the move may not seem like a big deal, it was huge for me. To select a solid moving company, ask for and believe in the offers for help, to let people help, to recognize my limits and pace myself accordingly was instrumental in unraveling my you have no idea what you are doing and you make choices that are huge losses for you so why bother trying to be strategic or including other people myth. Taking the time to actually realize the progress, even huger (so what if I made that word up, it’s Friday)! I’m making progress people!

Photo courtesy of Glam Bistro.com

Photo courtesy of Glam Bistro.com

 

Happy Weekending! xxoo

 

 

Light Bulb Moment No. 2

lbm2herkindoftea

Photo courtesy of Her Kind of Tea Tumblr.com

It was only day two at my new gig and I was so tired.  Like showered, in my pajamas, dinner devoured, on my couch, feet up, television on by 6:30pm and we’ll see if I stay awake past 9pm tired. But even in my weariness, I was determined that I wasn’t going out like that tonight. The night before I absolutely gave in to the tired and watched TV until I woke up and realized TV was watching me. Tonight I knew I needed to make some time to do something that feeds my soul. Michael Ealy on my television wasn’t gonna cut it. So, I decided I’d listen to a pod cast.

The pod cast that caught my eye…“7 tip for Surviving Seasons of Change” with Chrystal Evans Hurst. Kinda perfect for a chick like me on her third out of state move forte last three summers. As I listened and she talked about giving yourself time. Like slow it down. Be flexible. And then giving yourself space. Physically, but also mentally, and emotionally. Then she said “Change is hard. Change takes work.” “Oh my gosh yes!,” I said to the four walls of my bedroom.

You’d think that as a counselor by training, practice, and purpose in life I would know this. That I would eat, sleep, breathe this fact. However, I knew that part of my weariness was not just because of all that comes with a new life change but how I was managing it and how gracious I was not being with myself in the change.  How much I was leaning on my grit, and leaving behind the grace that is needed because change, even when it is necessary or chosen in hopes of something amazing, it is hard and it takes work.  The things in life that are hard and take work (relationships, loss of any kind, trauma, a promotion, going to school or back to school, weight management, etc.), are the things in life where we are all the better for when we choose to honor this truth and treat ourselves with grace, love, understanding, and care. 

Here’s hoping this adds a little light to your day! xxoo

Light Bulb Moment No. 1

lmno1bantuwear

Photo courtesy of Bantu Wear 

I have been told that the perkiness served up by most Starbucks baristas is not coincidental. Starbucks doesn’t have the market on joyful, enthusiastic, optimistic people. They just make it a part of who they are and if you are going to work for them then you have to buy into and be who they are. I have known this tidbit for years, when a new client of mine came straight to our first appointment in her uniform.

Yet, as I waited for my tea and smiled at the barista thinking “It must be so nice to do work you look forward to coming to and makes you smile everyday,” is beyond me. Because as soon as those words left my mental mouth I realized that I too could do that. However for the past couple of years I totally bought into this myth that I didn’t need that. That I didn’t need to be positively emotionally connected to my job, it didn’t need to make me happy just money to pay blasted bills. That to expect happiness or joy from my job most days than not was unreasonable. Kinda like expecting any of my celebrity crushes to just pop up at my place and take me to dinner in Paris (that is unreasonable…they don’r know where I live…or me. )The barista called out my drink and smiled as he passed it to me.

Here’s what I’m thinking. I’m thinking it’s absolutely okay to desire, expect, and seek a job or jobs that add or show potential to add joy and happiness to our lives. There are no guarantees and we probably should shy away from our joy and happiness being primarily reliant on factors outside of ourselves.  Still, lack of guarantees should not have us thinking we are seeking to much by seeking joy and happiness in an activity that uses so much of our time, energy, ability.  I say, ignore the super pragmatic basic well meaning folks who say as long as you get a paycheck emotional welfare is overrated. I’d say it’s underrated. A job that makes you happy (assuming g nothing illegal makes you happy, or anything that harms you or others) is not asking for too much. It may be what you need just as much if not more than the paycheck. 

Here’s hoping this added a little light to your day! xxoo

Finally Friday

Welcome to the weekend! My week has been full. Mostly full of me filling boxes and cubes with all of my life’s possessions for a new adventure, but also with some good people that have been part of this past year’s most recent move back east adventure. I’ve gotten to squeeze in a few more really good and even necessary conversations face to face over sushi, apple almond danishes,  salads from Chipotle, and a soy green teal latte from Starbucks, plus a few long distance calls to my California folks. Despite all the busy, I’ve also still managed to get some early morning quiet time at the coffee shop, continue doing some soul work, celebrate people I love, and come across a few folks with whom I got to share my story ( narratives are powerful and I love when I get to hear some one’s narrative and someone gets to hear mine). So before I get on with the rest of the preparations for my Birthday BBQ tomorrow, here’s a few things that have brought joy on my journey to Friday.

Theme Party Planning

I love it when a good theme comes together. While a few weeks ago I was all about a very low key no fuss, oh for real today’s my birthday, kind of birthday, a four year nephew who was all abut one more summer barbecue party changed all that and I’m glad. I’ve been working with my barbecue queen sister and momma to pull together a colorful country chic BBQ. This week the burlap table runners came, the mason jars and milk bottles have been pulled out, and then these super sweet little berry containers arrived to hold all types of party treats. So very excited!!!

ffbakersconfections

Photo courtesy of The Bakers Confections

 

Soul Work

Still reading Rising Strong and wading through my stuff. We all got stuff and this book reminds you of tat, but in a way that says and let’s deal with it so it doesn’t become a hindrance to our wholeness. I’ve been reading a lot about need. I’m not too great at needing and I excel at helping meet needs. It’s not that I don’t like to ask for help, I’ve just  had some awful experiences when I have and in pretty much every area of my life. So, my response has been why bother. It’s logical but not healthy. I’m working on it. I’ve also been really reflective and purposeful as it comes to other influential words I’ve stumbled across, like the ones I’m sharing below.

ffelevationchurch

Photo courtesy of Elevation Church.org

ffpinitmr

Photo courtesy of Beyond Surrender Tumblr

 

Photo courtesy of Starin Moi.com

Photo courtesy of Starin Moi.com

 

Story Time

It’s happened a couple of times this week and it’s been strangely awesome. Someone applied for my old gig, did her research about me as the former director and stumbled across this here blog, more specifically my post about being committed to what you know to be healthy for you even others are trying to convince you otherwise. You can take a read here. Another reached out via social media and we chatted about my experience for just under an hour. It was strange because I knew that my story would more than likely cause the folks to withdraw  their applications which one shared they did already after reading my post the other shared they were going to cancel their skype interview. Both also shared their own current situations and well they knew what they wanted and my story, my experience, my truth, didn’t support what they wanted. It’s powerful when folks want to hear your story, even more powerful when they don’t deny it or interrogate you, but perhaps what was the most powerful for me was owning it and all of it. Our stories, all parts of them matter and we get to own them instead of them owning us and we get to keep writing when one chapter or even a sentence has come to an end.

ffpopsugar

Photo courtesy of Pop Sugar Fashion

 

Read All About It

It’s been a while since I stumbled across a share worthy blog, but this right here- share worthy for sure. I don’t even know exactly how I stumbled across it, but I like to think it was Jesus making sure it happened. If you get a moment I suggest you go check out Chrystal Evans Hurst  here.  She has the whimsy and wisdom combo down to a perfected science. She’s frank and funny, real and relatable, and has a way of just reminding you that you have power even when your circumstances suggest otherwise. You will laugh, cry, say “OMG!” and well probably want to share her site with others.

Photo courtesy of Chrystal Evans Hurst

Photo courtesy of Chrystal Evans Hurst