It’s been many, many years since I created a New Year’s Resolution. I believe the work we must do is a daily resolution. Therefore, I have been waking up every morning over the past few years with a resolve to be the best I can; slay my goals; pull music from the static and let the challenges chisel me into a champion. I learned this neat trick from my minister, Bro. Jim Love, that I believe can help transform us all. Make an acrostic poem with the word resolution(s) for your personal purpose and improvement. Here is mine:
Read more, watch less.
Encourage others daily.
Separate myself from people who do not make me better.
Occupy my life with prayer, positive talk, and progressive learning.
Love and live more!
Understand God’s will for myself and attempt to better understand others.
Trust God more!
Ignore past mistakes, keep the lessons, and push through to the future.
Open my mind more to the guidance and Power of the Holy Spirit!
Need God more!
What are your goals, guiding words, and hopes for this day, month, or year?
“My Mom’s Suicide Note to Me” Photo Courtesy of Paul Jones, 2014
I called someone I had not spoken to in a month or so the other day. Anyone who knows me knows I am not one for too many phone conversations. You’ll rarely get me on the phone for more than ten minutes at time. But something just told me to call her. The last time I saw her she seemed a little different. She had been distancing herself from the circle more and more. When she wasn’t extremely happy, she was on the far end of the spectrum or out doing things she would have never done before like drinking while driving and filming it for IG. Something told me to call. So I did. I talked randomly. Reminisced with her. Made her laugh. And when I didn’t know what else to say I said, “It’s okay not to be okay.” She broke down. Said she had just made up her mind before I called that “Today would be my last day.”
I felt like a failure.
She shouldn’t have gotten that close to committing suicide before I checked in because I had noticed something was different in the months prior. But I wasn’t sure if it was worth mentioning or if it was even my place. It was. This post is for those of who might not be dealing with depression but are watching it like it’s reality TV and not fully understanding…for someone this is real life. For the ones who get too busy to care. The ones who notice something is wrong but never address it. The ones who don’t know what to say so they don’t say anything until they’re given two minutes and a mic at the funeral. The ones who “chalk it up to” whatever ridiculous things we chalk it up to so that we don’t have to face the demons; so we don’t have to acknowledge our own frailty. For the ones who think suicide waves BIG signs when it actually waves small flags.
10 Subtle Signs of Suicide:
- Long lasting sadness
- Complaints of problems sleeping (Too much or too little)
- Avoidance of things that once were part of their routine
- Change in personality
- Changes in appearance (Drastic weight gain/loss, unkempt, disheveled, hygiene issues, etc.)
- Talk of feeling “trapped” or a “What’s the point?” attitude
- Increased use of alcohol and/or drugs
- Complaints of fatigue and constant sickness
- Becoming reckless
Sometimes it’s not just a bad day. Sometimes it’s not hormones or the regular stress of life we encounter. Sometimes people really feel like they don’t have a reason to keep living. No one should feel that way. No one should be made to feel like they are weak for feeling that way if they do. No one should walk this life alone. If you notice, speak up. Support one another. Let people know you will listen even if you don’t know what to say. Do something. Doing nothing is just as bad as wielding the razor.
I was having a conversation with my dear friend, Courtney, about some of our other mutual girlfriends who we always support but never seem to support us. It dawned on me that for much of my adult life, the women (outside of my family) have rarely supported me in the way that I have supported them. Women seem to think that everything is a competition; that everyone’s out to get them; that there isn’t enough room in the sky for every star to shine. And I just don’t think like that. First of all, the only woman I compete with is Sean. Every day, I want to beat the old me! Secondly, I am too busy to be out to get you when I am out to get mine! Finally, my light does not diminish yours; in fact, two lights make the room brighter. Therefore we need to support one another! Here’s why:
- We can empower, encourage and uplift one another.
- We’re stronger in numbers.
- Every one of us is fighting an inner battle. Why create outer battles for fellow women to fight as well?
- In this misogynistic world we are still living in, why should we be against one another when the world already is?!
- Beautiful minds can inspire one another.
- Team work makes the dream work.
- We need to teach the younger women what sisterhood looks like so they’ll be more Golden Girls and less Real Housewives!
- We can learn from one another.
- You need a sister to show up for you in the times you cannot show up for yourself.
- What you give to others, you give to yourself.
It’s WAY past time to stop honoring and supporting women with our mouths but not with our actions. It’s WAY past time to stop forming these cliques that only serve the purposes of clucking louder in the hen house. It’s WAY past time to stop discriminating against other women based on size, education, skin color, sororities, religion, and all that other garbage! It’s TIME to be real. And real women know they cannot do it alone.
After seeing so many posts about the #InMyFeelingsChallenge, I finally watched the video. Clearly, Drake is going through something. But aren’t we all? When I’m in my feelings, my thoughts go haywire and if I did everything that came to mind at the time, I’d likely end up prison. These past few months I have been working on being very intentional about not staying in my feelings when I get in them. Here’s how:
- Don’t react right away. This used to be a BIG problem for me. Something would happen and the minute I felt offended in any kind of way, I was popping off that the mouth and trying to run people over. As much as I’d love to think of myself as a highly rational being, I’m sometimes not. Knowing this about myself, I work extremely hard to not react right away.
- Prayer is my saving grace in my darkest moments. I take a moment to ask God for His divine intervention in revealing to me what is truth versus perception and what I must do.
- Mindful breathing. I learned this from my friend, Lilith. Mindful breathing relaxes my body. I start by taking a deep inhale through my nostrils, holding my breath for a few seconds, and then taking a long exhale through my mouth. These deep and intentional breaths decrease my heart rate, relax my tensed muscles, and refocus my concentration.
- Apply 5Ws. I use the 5Ws (Who? What? When? Where? Why?) to write down what ACTUALLY happened. Facts only. Not my perception or feelings about what happened.
- Assess feelings. TRUTH BOMB: Our emotions don’t always represent the truth! Just because I feel a certain way, doesn’t make it a reality. Once I have written down the facts, I can then start to assess why I am in my feelings. Am I hurt because it’s true? Did I receive the situation in the wrong way? Do I have PMS? Am I hungry? Was I already upset about something else? Will this situation even matter a week, month or year from now?
- See the bigger picture. I remind myself that every step is an ordered step and everything that has ever happened in my life, whether good or bad, has served a higher purpose. I try to see past the moment and distinguish the greater meaning, trusting that even in the midst of being in my feelings, there is purpose.
- Journal. Journal. Words are powerful and when I am in my feelings, I have trained myself to use my words to describe, improve, and transform my situation. I write until my hand hurts in order to physically liberate myself from my pent up emotions.
- Thought exchange. I replace negative thoughts with more positive ones. The thing about choosing to stay in your feelings is that you’re also choosing to bind yourself to negative thoughts which will eventually lead you to a cycle of negative life patterns. The constantly bitter people in your life are probably allowing themselves to remain in their feelings so long that negativity becomes their new normal. Think on good things!
- Ask for Support. Sometimes we need someone to listen to us, pray with us, or guide us into a more positive place. FYI: The negative Nellies in your life are not the ones to go to! Avoid toxic people!
- Help someone. I find that when I am taking care of someone else’s problems, God takes care of mine! You don’t have time to stay in your feelings when you’re out in the world changing it for the better!
What do you do when you’re in your feelings?
Photo Credit: CHOATphotographer/Shutterstock
I have a friend named Courtney. Some of you know her. And those of you who know her well know that her relationship with her other has been tumultuous to say the least. She’s openly shared some of their trials and at times I’ve cringed at some of the things that have transpired between the two of them, yet here she is once again nurturing her mother through another bout with cancer and doing it like an angel! I tell her all the time she is the epitome of forgiveness. So here’s what I have learned about forgiveness from watching her:
- Forgiveness is a decision. You have to make a choice to forgive. And when I say “choice” this is not to be misconstrued with the “snap decision” of saying you forgive someone just so you don’t have to face the wounds.
- Forgiveness is not a Band-Aid choice. It’s a stitches choices complete with mending, medicating (not drugs and alcohol, my dear non-coping friends), healing time, and scars. This choice doesn’t say “I disregard what you have done” but instead says, “I am letting go of my right to punish you for what you have done.”
- Forgiveness is intentional. This means you are deliberately choosing to listen to the voice that tells you to “repair” instead of the one that says “rip them apart.”
- Forgiveness is not doling out your own justice. The reality is, when we try to exact justice, we usually make the situation worse and extend the pain for ourselves and all parties involved. We start a ripple effect of heartache.
- Forgiveness is a sacrifice. You will sacrifice payback (which momentarily feels so good…until it doesn’t). You will sacrifice the comfort of concealing your pain. You give up avoiding your emotions. You relinquish your walls so that you can do some real work. You forego your anger to get down to the real reason you are wounded. You have to give up all the #pettyBetty ways that help you hide your true feelings. And sometimes the sacrifice is the relationship that is bringing you these constant betrayals. From time to time, you have to give up that person so that you can move forward. That does not mean you stop loving, praying for, and being genuinely concerned about the other party; it simply means you love them from a distance.
- Sometimes you need wise council to help you on the road to forgiveness. You forfeit gossiping about it with your superficial, bitter friends and instead turn to a person who can offer guidance in the most righteous way.
- Forgiveness means trusting that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28). This is also a tough one because we all have more trust issues than Drake. Let’s just be honest. We don’t trust ourselves. We don’t trust our peers. We don’t trust God. And now you have to trust that this embarrassment, this hurt, this betrayal, this crappy situation is going to work out for your good?! You do. You have to believe that. And it’s not easy. We don’t like to be made to look like idiots. But when people say, “Oh, you just gonna take that?” Yes. All things are working together for my good. “You gonna let them just get away with that?” Yes. All things are working together for my good. “You gonna forgive someone who didn’t even apologize for what they did?” Yes. All things are working together for my good.
- Not forgiving is bad for your health! Yes! It’s true. Many people who are carrying around the hurt and bitterness overeat, drink way too much, and utilize other non-healthy ways to dampen the pain. All these bad habits lead to obesity, heart conditions, hypertension, stress, anxiety, and other ailments. In other words, if you let your spirit dwell in the dark, your body will look like it!
- Forgiveness is for you more than the forgivee. It’s your soul’s way of saying, ”I am worthy of being healed and being whole.” You still have to hold people accountable for their actions, but you don’t have to hold it over their heads. That hurts you. Your arms are the ones that will tire of carrying that weight.
- Lastly, forgiveness is a process. It does not happen overnight. Sometimes it’ll be easy. Other times the memories will be as fresh as the day it happened and you’ll want to go fifty shades of Cray on someone. It’s a process. Does it mean that you let bad things keep occurring to you while you wait or you just forget? It’s not forgetting. It’s transferring. It’s a conscious effort to transition from a focus on that person’s actions to a focus on your own attitude towards their actions. At the end of the day, the only mind you can change is your own. –Sean Johnson