Before Securing the Bag, Secure the Soul

Whoop! Whoop! It’s the 1st blog of the year! Day 4 is feeling like month 4 in my spirit. Everyone is talking about securing the bag. Let’s talk about securing the soul. Babyyyy, that’s my goal. The money will come, but I am choosing to keep my mental and emotional clear.  With countless news stories of the government shutdown, failing school systems, murders, suicides, & death; movies that evoke the fear of enjoying daylight, covering your eyes to survive, and the latest resurgence of “The Pied Piper”‘s journey, this is all troubling and triggering to even the most stable person. Above all, a deterrent to us really thriving, and “living our best lives”.  It’s time to refocus.

It has been stated that attention is the new currency, and we are going in debt because of our attention is diverted in too many directions. The social media timelines, ads popping up for you buy something, loud music, streaming videos, page stalking, etc. No worrries, I am guilty of a few. No wonder, ADD, ADHD, anxiety, and depression is plaguing us. Trust, I know some are clinically diagnosed, but many of our mental health concerns are self-inflicted by what we allow in our spirits, and not dealing with suppressed trauma.

Even the Bible, reminds us to “take up the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you will be able to stand your ground, and having done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth fastened around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness arrayed, and with your feet fitted with the readiness of the gospel of peace.…” (Ephesians 6:13-15)

Not to go all “churchy”, but there is a ring of truth to it. I have no idea of what’s going on, but it is damaging, and derailing our happy.  Here are some tips to realigning solid focus:

  1. Limit time on social media. If you find yourself aimlessly scrolling, put the phone down.

  2. Breathe. Breathe deeply. It calms and clears the mind.

  3. Avoid entertaining things that trigger feeling of fear or sadness, especially if you have you have not dealt with your own issues or still healing.  (I still close my eyes during certain parts of horror films…AND WHAT?!)

  4. Find the nearest body of water. Put your feet in the sand or allow the ripples to run through your fingers. Listen to the sounds and inhale the smells and senses. (or visualize the scene, then write about the feelings of peace that you experienced)

  5. Read a book, preferably a paperback. Touch the pages, and mark the quote worthy passages. Share what you read. Converse.

  6. Journal. Write it out. I teach an Intentional Journaling class, so I absolutely love the healing  and AHA moments that writing gives.

  7. Go outside. Exercise. Literally, take time to smell the roses. Connect with nature to ground yourself. Find free things to do in your city.

  8. Be careful of the conversations you keep, even the self talk. Is it productive? (We use the T.H.I.N.K acronym in education)

  9. Meditate. Pray. Read your Bible (or any inspirational text)

  10. Find a therapist. (There is nothing like having 50-60 minutes, of uninterrupted “you” time. Let’s reclaim that time like Auntie Maxine told us)

We got this, peeps! Let’s grow better.

If you love poetry, my 2nd book is out on Amazon, https://amzn.to/2Sv0uyi.

I'm Proud of you!! The Survivor's Gratitude

In October, I greeted family and friends for my 3rd Annual Gems & Jewels! As I walked around the room, I gleamed with joy and gratefulness to see my people! I mean, my vision, was happening!! We brought families together again. We laughed, shared stories and talked to our kids about relationships, abuse, owning businesses, saving money, trailblazing and answered all their questions. I was in bliss.

However, when I spoke at another event, a young lady asked me, "What was the worst kind of abuse?", it shook me because I remember being like that young person that negotiated abuse as if one was better than the other. I actually studied and calculated it, coaching myself, " I know I have to deal with some abuse, so which one can I deal with the most." I remember counting the bottles of liquor, hiding the brands that made him act the worst. I knew the number of drinks before the cursing and name calling would happen; the number of seconds I had to duck or prepare to fight.

What I didn't prepare for was an exit. I masked sh** well, for me and him. I remember writing this poem called, "Hands" in my journal. I thought about publishing it in the sequel, " Unmask You Too", but I will share it now:

Hands

Honestly, I'd rather you hurt me with your hands,

That pain I can't feel,

I have been trained to withstand

That I can conceal,

But your words, I can feel,

They replay in mind,

They affirm my imperfections every time,

They have made gashes in my brain,

Left scares,

Dragged on tracks of a train

I can feel that pain.

The hits,  they become numb,

I can zone out to that.

But the words have killed me,

I may never come back from that.

 

"No abuse is better than the other, and it will get worse. No should ever accept being hurt to prove your love.", I replied after a slight pause. I admired her courage, her hunger to really want to know what she should do, without blatantly asking. She was careful with her words, but I knew she was asking for what I never could fathom until it was almost too late; the "key" to escape; a dropped "gem" to shine light on her dark situation;  for someone to say, "I've been there. It's ok to leave."

Many times, we fear judgment, embarrassment, disappointment of being alone, and the anxiety of finding a new "normal" and safety. We grieve the loss just as we would as one who has passed away, but arm to be prepared for the next attack. Have your prepared yourself for healing, love, peace and protection yet? I'm growing better too.

To those of you that share your story, you are couragoues. I'm proud of you. To those advocate for survivors, hold our delicate hearts and dress our mental, emotional, psychological and the physical wounds, thank you.

To those that can no longer speak or haven't found their voice yet, I give mine to you. 💜

To learn more about domestic violence, check out https://www.loveisrespect.org, (teen resources), https://www.thebutterfly-project.co. and https://ncadv.org/statistics.

Be great! 🌹

Coping When Carrying the Crisis

In an interview about my 1st book, Unmasked:The Journeys and Its Lessons, the host asked the final question, "How do you cope with loss? I replied, "You keep living. I lost my whole family 12 years ago. Just as someone who loses a limb, you wake up everyday, and push past the hurt. You use the strengths that you do have to rebuild to heal. Things will never be the same, because you aren't that person anymore. You are a survivor. A force to reckoned  with. Move like it. " 💪💪💜

Here's to those that move different. The light that shines through cracks is the most iridescent. I love that new glow on you!

Check out my journey.

 

How to get the book:

Online: Check out http://amzn.to/2AHAN4x for the Kindle version

Paperback: Paperback copies can be purchased via www.heartworktrending.net

When purchasing your book(s), please include mailing address, quantity desired, and names of individuals that you would like the book signed for, if other than yourself, in the Note.

 

"The most powerful piece is to master peace." Photo by Ashley Johnson

piecepeace.jpg

How We Did It: God and Therapy

Why I chose to do it?

Honestly, I felt like it was time. We had a 15 year (really longer...sigh, I know) beef with each other. To be honest, I don't remember all the details, and it really wouldn't matter much now anyway.

This weekend, I posted a picture of my daughter and her dad, captioned, "Sometimes, you have to lose a few fights to win the battle. I could write a book about this life...(I kinda did. 😉)
Here's co parenting and raising a sincere kid.
Sidenote: @mstinalawson inspired this pic. Shout out to moms and dads that make it happen. 💪👑💜"

The responses were heartwarming, and it made us both proud.

Babbbyyyy...let me tell you this:

That was all Gawd, and therapy!!

If you read, "Peace & Woman Up", from my first book, Unmasked: The Journeys & its Lessons, you got a glimpse of life during the murky stages.

If you know our story personally,  it was not an easy route. It was not always filled with roses and tulips, but some tears, abuse and confusion. It was a tug-of-war, with a couple of moments of stargazing, hand holding in sunsets and some painful regrets.

One thing we both agreed on, was that we loved Sincere. I will be the 1st to admit, we put our child through a lot, especially during her early years. She deserved so much better.

At one point, I forget what we were fighting about. I realized that the bitterness and fear of hurt, was stopping me from maintaining healthy relationships. I hadn't healed past wounds and had never taken the time to rediscover myself. I had become cold to love because I conditioned myself to protect my heart. If I even thought, I was getting close to someone, a small voice would say, "Remember what happened the last time?" I settled for relationships that allowed me to stay emotionally disconnected, so I could control everything. The truth is I was really scared. (Yep. I did my own heartwork.)

Therapy was a beautiful gift.

It taught me to free myself, to move past the stage where I was stuck emotionally, and it did the same for him. Forgiveness is powerful.

Although, we will never be a couple, we both realized that our child needed us more. We needed each other as partners. While we may make single parenting look easy, mama gets tiiieeeddd. Plus, there is strength and balance in uniting and supporting our daughter.

Let me throw this disclaimer out real quick: I won't say that this is going to be easy.  There's no quick fix, but it's progress. We definitely call each other out on our bull***, try to be honest as possible with each other and communicate clearly. Changing the way we interact with each other has been helpful. We practice healthy debating, no cussing each other. We make plans in consideration. After all, that's what co-parenting is about.

Shout out to all those who co-parent, and those who are working on the journey.  You'll get there. I would definitely say that kids will make you grow up, and question your own actions.

 

"So, what made y'all finally grow up after 15 years?", along time friend laughed.

God and Therapy.

“However, now I understand.

I learned that the gift was never about me loving you,

But learning to love me,

Now that I have unmasked you, too,

We both are free.”  - Same Line, Different Song, from Unmask You Too

incollage_20181014_192335508-e1539564920629.jpg

What I Learned from Therapy

To the outside world, it may seem paradoxical to have a therapist seek therapy, but the truth is even the best therapists have a therapist. I highly recommend it! It definitely made me a better therapist, and helped me gather myself.

When I wrote Unmasked: The Journey and Its Lessons, it was a release for me, but an introduction to the world. It was healing in writing. I grew up with 3 brothers. There wasn't a lot of crying and expressing emotions. My mom worked at Ben Taub as a Buyer, and later, Pharmacy Tech; played piano for churches, and taught music, so I didn't share much because she was tired. My dad was a truck driver, but he was a great listener, but he always made me figure things out when I really needed advice.  I really didn't get any best friends until 7th grade (and we are still friends to this day). I say this to say, writing was my release, my friend...my therapist before I knew I needed one.

When I finally decided to do therapy, here is what I learned about myself:

  1. The hardest thing to do is to love someone else when you don't know who you are. Take time to figure that out.

  2. If you don't take the time to learn who you are, someone will teach you to be who they want you to be for their benefit.

  3. There is no "normal".  That ish is all subjective.

  4. Heartbreak is its own kind of mourning. Never give the same person the same opportunity to mistreat you. Ghosting is for cowards.

  5. Vulnerability is for the brave.

  6. Some things you never get over, you just find a way through.

  7. Talk to yourself. Rationalize ish. Answer back. 👀👀👀

  8. Storms don't last forever. I promise.

  9. Time is one of your best resources. Use it to your benefit.

  10. You don't need to know everything. It will come in due time. God will provide. The Universe will align.

 

screenshot_2018-05-09-13-15-49.png

Music and Writing Saved My Life! What saved yours?

"Writing has always been my passion, a way to express my emotions, and more importantly…heal. I hope that when you read this book of poems, you smile, you cry, you relate, and you join me on the journey of unmasking to become unmatched. You belong. You have purpose. You are imperfectly perfect. So many people have let me into their lives, but only a few know about me..."- Unmasked: The Journey and Its Lessons

I'll admit that I was apprehensive about straying away from the traditional office, " couch" therapy role because I didn't want people to lose sight of what a therapist "looked" like, which was a preposterous thought when I really heard myself say that aloud. I mean, mask off, I'm breaking stereotypes, and crashing glass ceilings, anyway!  From a more spiritual space, God whispered to me, "Remember your calling."  God called me to reach lives, bring hope, and healing to teens. I also reflected on the idea that Jesus went out among the people to do his heartwork, so why can't I?  Doing so wouldn't make me any less of a professional.

Once again, I followed my heart, and it lead me to create "The Unmask the Gift Project". When I wrote Unmasked: The Journey and Its Lessons, I set out to share my story, and show people who I was behind the mask (imperfections and growth). I wanted to be transparent to let others know that we have all suffered with mental issues (yes, even me), and overcame them with therapy and support. Lastly, the educator in me, desired to promote literacy, and be a living example of  how writing (journaling, reflecting, etc.) can be a powerful healing tool. 

Ironically, I partnered with a childhood friend, who was dropping his album, "The Gift Box". Our visions of encouraging people to be true to themselves, and use their gifts to achieve greatness aligned, so we decided to use our talents to help students discover their truths. We both attended GLEC, an HISD Fine Arts Magnet School, so we knew the impact that music and literacy could have on improving behaviors, academics, and overall self esteem. Yes! Music and writing saved our lives, and our passions became our careers. This is our way of saying, "Thank you", and giving back to  a community that fostered our love for the arts.

Our goal is to partner with schools, and community organizations to mentor students, inspire them to use their gifts, and provide positive outlets through writing and music.  Allow me to introduce The Unmask the Gift Project. Join us in this endeavor. 

Mission: The Purpose of the Unmask the Gift Project is to promote mental and self awareness through creative art and self expression

Vision: To inspire audiences to unmask their potential and operate authentically in their gifts.

Kick off is Feb. 23rd. Check out: www.unmaskthegift.eventbrite.com

Unmaskthegift
I realize that my success is never accredited to myself, but to those that love me enough not to let me fail.
— Unmasked: The Journey and Its Lessons

HOLD ON! I’M WORKING ON SOMETHING

“Hold on! I’m working on something. Hold on! I’m working on something. Hold. On. I’m. working. on. something”, I kept hearing as I curled up in a ball, wounded up in bundles of blankets and covers, not sure how I was going to get out of all of this. So symbolic of my life right now. Each time, I hear this response, it sounds like the voice of someone I lost: my dad, my 2nd oldest brother, Keith’e, and my youngest oldest brother, Chuck.

This was the resounding response from a question that I asked God in a silent prayer 3 nights ago (and yes, I questioned God, but that’s another blog): “Am I missing something? Like I don’t get this at all. Every time, I think I’m set to fly, my wings get clipped, and I start back on the ground.”

The same calm response was, “Hold on, I am working on something.”

I repeated it a few times, then I thought to myself, “Ok, what is that supposed to mean? Help me out here!”

These memories popped up in my spirit. I remember growing up as the only girl, and it dawned on me that they all told me that same sh#@, and I would get frustrated because I thought that they were too busy for me, when in fact, (I didn’t see it at that moment) they were working for me. When my dad was working on the car, “Hold on, I’m working on something.” The next day, my car was washed and full of gas. When my brother, Keith’e was playing dominoes or on the phone, he was making a money move, “Hold on, big sis, I’m working on something.” The next thing, I know he would ask me if I needed anything. When Charles was working on beats, “Ok. I got you, but hold on, I’m working on something.” The next hour or so, Chuck would pop up, like “Now, what did you need?”

For anyone who is going through a tough time, like me, this our reminder that God has not forgotten about us. He is busy, working for us. The experiences that feel like setbacks are actually opportunities to re-evaluate, and refocus for the next phase of the journey that God is taking us on. Let’s call this the layover phase. Let’s use this space to recollect your thoughts, restore peace, and prepare.

Let me whisper this to your heart, “Hold on, He is working on something.”