The Simply Unedited Life

unediturbanna

Photo courtesy of Urbanna Tumblr.com

My laughter was bordering on obnoxious, people were starting to look at us, but I didn’t care. We didn’t care. The young man was an incoming first year student and stopped by my table in the student union building. “I’m very glad to see this,”  he said. I smiled and nodded at the wide eyed stocky ebony young man in front of me, trying to place his accent, wondering if he was Haitian as his last name suggested he may be. “I was worried,” he continued. My smile turned to my inner counselor tell me more face, and was followed up with an “Oh no, tell me more about what made you worried?” He lowered his voice, leaned over the table, and said “I don’t know how to say this, but well it’s here, and there’s me, and people…” I smiled and nodded. “You know what I’m trying to say !” he exclaimed.  I did, as he scanned the room and stopped whispering. We both laughed and laughed, paused, and laughed again.  We shook hands and he went on his way. His unedited honesty in that moment was refreshing.  My own unedited honesty in that moment was refreshing. 

 

The day went on, there were more students, families, and colleagues who stopped by, but that moment with him was the highlight for me. That moment of truth, the breached wall of vulnerability to ask on his part to be and seek truth and my breached wall to respond in kind was better than the friendly banter with coworkers, the flirtatious dads and hovering moms, the over stimulated sign up for everything students, and certainly better than the hours spent providing edited responses to everyone and anyone else who stopped by my little nook in the student union building.

uneditdropdeadgorgeouosdaily

Photo courtesy of Drop Dead Gorgeous Daily.com

As a person who has this thing about looking at people and situations holistically, whose on a quest to be and be engaged as a whole person, I revel in unedited opportunities. I revel in the unfiltered, unfinished, all the cards on the table (even the jokers), all the broken pieces in  heaping pile in the center of the room or center of our lives.  I should really say, I’ve recently come to revel in the unfiltered, unfinished, all the cards on the table (even the jokers), all the broken pieces in  heaping pile in the center of the room or center of our lives. For years I as very lets leave the past, not right now, and the future out of this. It’s not connected to right now, that decision doesn’t really have much to do with today, keep it moving, next please. The only exception would be my work as a counselor with others. I’d absolutely give them permission to explore how their past and thoughts about the future connected to their present. I just wasn’t so awesome at doing that for myself. I digress.

Here’s what I’m learning from my own life, from reading Rising Strong by Brene Brown, the Bible, having read Fight Back with Joy by Margaret Feinberg, slowing down enough to gather or talk and not text a few close friends and family members, the edited version gives us an illusion that leaves us in denial about its fragility  and forgets to remind us it is easily shattered by the beauty, strength, magnitude, and awe of the whole. The edited version offers what we think want, while the whole offers us what we undoubtedly need and our soul longs for. 

uneditkushandwizdom

Photo courtesy of Kush and Wizdom

I spent a full hour this weekend curating and editing a little over 3500 pictures on my iPhone. I had to choose 85 to print for free, which to upload to my computer to save and which ones to delete. It took an hour. Yet, as I scrolled through, there were pictures from my amazing birthday celebration last year, MAC makeovers in Manhattan with one of my favorite work friends, thanksgiving which would be the last time I spoke to my grandmother before her death, Christmas, travel, visits from my sister and nephew,  food from new recipes I tried, my youngest brother’s graduation- a collection of my life that had spanned almost a year and so easily reflected the unedited version of my life, the version of my life that speaks to the, love, joy, grace, and grit that has been woven into the fabric of who I am and refusing to let the challenges, changes, heartaches and heartbreaks unravel me. It provided clarity, room for thanksgiving, restoration, and gave way to hopefulness.

May your week bless you with opportunities to live unedited. And not unedited in a permission granted to hurt or harm others with thoughtless words or actions kind of way. Unedited in a way that allows all of you to show up bringing  your truth, reality, experiences, hopes, quandaries, hesitations, and creativity.  May their be no filter on the joy or the sorrow, the doubt or the belief, the process or the progress. May you have the blessing, even if brief and unplanned, of engaging with someone else who wants the whole truth (and you), and nothing but the whole truth (and you). May you have moments this week to see the big picture, the whole picture, the ways in which everything has worked and is working to create your simply LIVEd life. 

 

 

 

 

No Words

Photo courtesy of Magda Andrzejesk

Photo courtesy of Magda Andrzejesk

I’m not sure of it is my nature or the ways in which my education and experience as a counselor has nurtured me, but I am very okay with silence. I don’t find it awkward or comfortable. When it reaches out to hold the moment’s hand I extend my own to welcome it.

And so when he slumped over on the makeshift bench in my kitchen, and began to cry I placed his hand my own and sat with him. We sat in the silence. I wanted a few words to comfort him. Just a few simple but powerful ones and yet I knew that nothing would be more powerful than the quiet of the night settling in and allowing the room to fill with his breath, his tears, and soon his words. The silence made way for his words, words I was certain had only run amuck in his mind, but never tumbled off the tongue to tickle his ear. They were hard, crunchy, painful words. They were his hard crunchy painful truth. I was grateful that whatever words I searched for eluded me and that silence made her presence and her power known.

Photo courtesy of Go Feminin.de

Photo courtesy of Go Feminin.de

Silence has a way of making room for us. It has a way of making space for the hidden vulnerable uncertain parts of our humanity, lacking in judgment, abundant in patience. It has a way of coaxing us to painful yet courageous confrontations with truths we let linger in our souls but are in denial about its very existence.

The past few weeks have been full of experiences that continue to leave me with fewer and fewer words. I have found more solace in times of silence, more peace when the noise has come to cease, more clarity in the absence of chatter. I have found myself better able to listen to and access what I need to be, do, live well. I’ve been more confident in and happier with my decisions, at ease when I’ve said yes and when I’ve said no.

Photo courtesy of More Magazine.com

Photo courtesy of More Magazine.com

Last week I reminded us to make time for what we need. That in the US, between Thanksgiving and the New Year we are often busier than other times f the year, traveling, attending parties, hosting parties, shopping, returning, volunteering at annual events to support our communities, etc. If we’re not careful to get what we need in seasons of busy we do ourselves a disservice. This week I’m letting you know  sometimes you need silence. Sometimes it is the quiet that speaks volumes in and to our lives, giving us the clarity and resolve we need to make decisions that help us in our commitment to living incredibly, victoriously, and emphatically. May you find yourself speechless this week. May silence extend her hand and may you willingly extend yours to hold hers.

 

Me Myself and Forgiveness

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

Perhaps a week ago I would have started this post by apologizing for being MIA last week. I’d apologize for being exhausted and thank you for your patience. But this is not a week ago. This is today and I am not apologizing. Not out of pride, but out of realizing the reason I didn’t post is because I was doing what I hope you have been doing what we’ve been talking about this month- self care. And so there is no need to apologize.

I want to sit with this whole apologizing thing for a second. It’s usually mentioned in tandem with forgiveness. And forgiveness is usually in tandem with other, as in forgiving someone other than yourself. Forgiving someone, anyone, and everyone else. Your spouse, your children, sibling, parents, ex boo thang, the kid who bullied you in middle school, the teacher who discriminated against you in college,the boss who treated you like you weren’t worth the concrete their Pradas click clacked on.  We forget about the power of forgiving ourselves.

I don’t know about you, but I can be really tough on myself. The boundaries that I have, love, and was privileged to share with Founded Magazine recently, came at a price and a process. The price was a life I didn’t  like much  and a lie I bought into-  I was powerless to change . The process- recognizing the lie  for what it was and realizing that there wasn’t much that had happened in my life that I couldn’t make a comeback from. It would be a process,  and that process would start by me forgiving myself. It would be my letting myself off the hook for poor decisions whether it was in relationships, with finances, school, or work. It would be me sitting with the messes I made and not blaming myself, but gathering the broken pieces of my past and seeing them as that, broken pieces of my past. Not my future. It would be calling a mistake for what it was, a mistake. It would be pulling out the positives by all means necessary. Even in the most wretched situations there can be a powerful positive take away (and that usually comes with time removed from the situation).  The same way it is hard to care for yourself if you don’t take the time to know yourself, it can be hard to forgive yourself if you avoid sorting through the painful predicaments you’ve been lugging around (cue Erykah Badu’s Bag Lady).  It’s hard to forgive myself if I don’t acknowledge the ways in which I have not been gracious with or loving towards myself.

Photo courtesy of Healths Hire.com

Photo courtesy of Healths Hire.com

This past week was exhausting. I know that some of it comes with the transition of moving back across the country and gearing up for a new academic year at a new campus. I also know that some of the exhaustion comes from the work that I do. It’s inherent to the work of diversity, equity, and inclusion, but make no mistakes I really do love the work and helping people build relationships cross culturally. The only thing I’d change is doing it as an employee of someone else as opposed to myself. But that will change :). I also know that some of that exhaustion comes from me trying to expedite my life to be like it was about two years ago. Things were calm, familiar, safe, predictable, comforting. I wouldn’t use those words to describe the last two years at all.

As I laid in bed after my morning nap I reached for my kindle to start rereading Fight Back with Joy by Margaret Feinberg. There is a part of the book where she talks specifically about the reality of a comeback. Party of that reality is time. It is the reality of time and honoring time to heal and to recreate the life you desire (hopefully one with no shortage of joy). I was pushing myself too hard. I was amping up everything- the “I got everything under control,” the longer  and more frequent work out routines at the gym, the unpacking, styling, attempts at writing/blogging, social media engaging, rounds of checking in with friends, and it wasn’t boding well because the reality was I still needed time to ease back into the things that bring me the most joy and doing then from a plaice of joy and not necessity, expectation, obligation, or fear.

Photo courtesy of 123 Inspiration.com

Photo courtesy of 123 Inspiration.com

I apologized to myself. It may sound silly, but I did. The apology was attached to me and the forgiveness is attached to me. The only way I can stay focused on taking care of myself is patiently and slowly moving forward. Patiently. Slowly. Moving. Forward. Period. Not telling myself it was my fault, get over it, let it go, and get it done. That doesn’t work. It really creates a false sense of denial, that allows you to kind of survive for a bit, but sooner or later you are exhausted as all get out for “no reason”. Besides survival serves a purpose but  life well LIVEd is on that is about thriving.

August is winding down and thus the intentional posts about taking care of yourself. I will always want you to take care of yourself. I will always be working towards creating a life where I take care of myself. I couldn’t end the month without taking a moment encourage you to apologize to yourself and forgive yourself. You had a cheat week on your diet instead of a cheat meal. It’s okay. You’ll get back on track. You hooked up again with the ex you know is not healthy for you. It’s okay. Really it is. Take a moment to think about what you needed, what made you acquiesce to the request to come over or go out. It’s fine to need whatever you needed, you just gotta figure out a different and healthier way to meet that need. You bought the $100.00 pair of shoes instead of the $50.00 ones and your budget really said this month you should have gotten the $35.00 ones. It’s okay. You may have to skip happy hour the next couple weeks to get back on track, or host happy hour at your home and wear those new shoes. The point is we are human. We, as in you and me. Not just the other people in our lives. We cant just let everyone else be human, forgive them, shrug off the offense and then hold ourselves hostage to our own mistakes. May you have one of the sweetest most gracious self forgiving good loving kind of weeks ever! xxoo

Photo courtesy of Bank Street Art Tumblr.com

Photo courtesy of Bank Street Art Tumblr.com

Oh, and  this is the counselor in me- if the mistakes you are making or things you hare having a hard time forgiving yourself for include self destructive or abusive behaviors are ones, that’s gonna need more than this blog post, a bubble bath, and self reflection. Please seek professional help.

I

5 Ways to Love Yourself on a Lunch Break

Every day millions of Americans waste the almighty lunch break. Okay maybe not mullions. I don’t know the actual statistics, but I do know far too many of us don’t take a lunch break. We don’t even bother to eat lunch let alone actually break. Which I think is sad because believe it or not there is so much fruitfulness that could indeed come from your lunch break, whether it’s 30 minutes or 60 minutes. So today I thought I’d suggest 5 ways you can take care of yourself during your lunch break. OKay maybe six ways because some of yall might need to start by creating the habit of actually taking a lunch break. So look at number one as less of a suggestion and more of a foundation.

Photo courtesy of Mark Hunter

Photo courtesy of Mark Hunter

  1. Take a lunch break- You will get paid no more or no less if you take your lunch break. Even my hourly wage earners. Due to labor laws after a certain amount of time you must have a lunch break (and your employer is only obligated to allot you the break not pay you), so take the break. While you’re at it, please eat. Eat something. Might I suggest something on the healthier side that doesn’t come from a vending machine. If you want to be a good steward over your lunch break and your body, pack a lunch from home. This way you save time in terms of going some place to grab food and you control what is going into your body. Despite all the plastic surgery options, you still only get one body. Take care of it! 

    Photo courtesy of  Little Yogi Tumblr.com

    Photo courtesy of Little Yogi Tumblr.com

  2. Stretch- Chances are you are on of the many employed people nationally and globally who sit at their desk for the bulk of their day. Your lunch break is a great time to stretch. Many a times I have closed my office door, turned on a yoga video on YouTube, and done 20 to 30 minutes of yoga right in my office. It has been good for my body and my mind. Or gofor a walk. Get up and away from your desk and go for your a walk. Your body will thank you.

    Photo courtesy of Tony Anderson for Getty Images

    Photo courtesy of Tony Anderson for Getty Images

  3. Go for your goal- I am blessed with a 9-5 gig, well actually my new job is 8:30 to 4:30 and I get an hour for lunch. However I know that the only people I want to work for forever is Jesus and myself. So I use my lunch breaks to work towards my goals as a full time entrepreneur. Whether it’s researching, scheduling meetings, actually meeting, building my social media platforms to actually engage with others and not just post and throw information at others, or pin pictures on Pinterest that I want to use on my blogs, I use my lunch breaks front time to time to work on my goals. You can do the same. Let’s say your goal is to buy a house, Use your lunch break to research a realtor or the neighborhoods and schools you may want to move to. Or let’s say you want out of your current work situation bit want o work for another company, this is the time to search and apply (I might recommend that you search and save jobs on your phone and actually apply from your personal computer). Wanting to head to Paris in the Spring? (Me too btw.), but start researching places to stay, and things to see or do. Time to nurture your goals is time to nurture yourself. 

    Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

    Photo courtesy of Pinterest.com

  4. Explore– One of the things I Ioved about working in downtown Philadelphia was that unless the weather was below freezing or melt your flesh, I’d take every opportunity to go out and explore. Sometimes it was a new park and other times it was a new store. Who am i kidding, most of the times it was a new store ans scoping out a new restaurant to go to for happy hour later. The point is, it was time that I would walk and wander. I’d meet new people, observer the rich architecture in the city (especially in older buildings), maybe stumble across a great sale, or just new ideas for how to style my clothes or home. I work in a small town now and I take  the time to explore the town and visit the boutiques that are just a few blocks away from my office. Don’t underestimate the ways in which allowing yourself to explore can renew your energy, creativity, and productivity.

    Photo courtesy of 33 ridges.com

    Photo courtesy of 33 ridges.com

  5. Connect- When I lived on the west coast the phone date was my friend and lunch time was a good time to call several folks who were wrapping up their day on the east coast. I was “company’ for several people’s commute home on the east coast. I enjoyed it because it was a way to tend to our relationship. Self care doesn’t have to be done by yourself. It can be a time where you connect with others who leave your soul feeling brighter and lighter. You can of course use this time to connect with people face to face as well. For my busy mom’s who usually can’t do a happy hour or dinner during the week, make use of lunch breaks to connect with your friends in other departments. For my financially savvy folks, brown bag that lunch and gather outside in the park, in the company cafeteria, or in someone’s office. Talk, laugh, and live (but don’t gossip, and for those in relationships, don’t vent about your partner. Leave the toxicity and negativity at the door. Talk to your partner instead of about them, that’s how many a relationship goes awry- unless the relationship is abusive. That is different).

    Photo courtesy of Full Start.com

    Photo courtesy of Full Start.com

  6. Get grounded- Whether you choose to pray, journal, meditate, listen to a sermon online, or ready a few of your favorite spiritual blogs, sometimes using the middle of the day to center yourself is really great way to love yourself. I will visit Redemption’s Beauty in a heartbeat for words that instantly remind me that God’s gt everything in control and i need to chill and let Him do His thing. I have also started carrying my journal to work, especially on the mornings where I didn’t journal before work, and reflect and write during my lunch break. Sometimes I will walk to the coffee shop, journal in hand, and grab a soy chai latte (or green tea latte if I hit up Starbucks) and connect with me, myself, and I.

So reader, it is Monday, this the “official” start of the work week, which means depending upon when you are reading this you have 5 or 4 lunch breaks on the horizon. Use them wisely and more importantly use them to LIVE well. xxoo