Shine your light

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For the longest time, I gave not even an iota of care about what anyone thought of me. But as of late, I’ve mulled and mulled over making certain decisions because I was unsure of what other people would think.

Will I be judged for posting this picture? Is someone going to think I’m conceited? Will they think I’m overly ambitious for pursuing this project? Will what I put out be accepted?

New flash: they probably already think all of the above.

The beauty of life and growth is not allowing what other people think to cripple you. What other people think of you should not stop you from being your genuine self!

One of the most liberating things you can do is accept yourself for who you are at the present moment. Your no college degree having, gap-toothed, over-analytical, wide-hipped, over zealous self. Because when you have love of SELF, the outside forces cannot destroy you.

Sharing your light is what matters. If you’re too concerned with the thoughts of others, how can you share your light? How others perceive you is not your business or your reality.

Random but, I just felt like sharing.

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Giveaway: the four agreements

I’ve read a lot of books that have shook me up inside and most recently, that has been The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. It’s a quick but poignant and necessary read. I felt it in my heart to give this to one of you, my faithful readers, as a gift. I know it blessed me tons so I want to share the knowledge.

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The power of words

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The Four Agreements, pg. 34 & 35

There was a woman, for example, who was intelligent and had a very good heart. She had a daughter whom she adored and loved very much. One night she came home from a very bad day at work, tired, full of emotional tension, and with a terrible headache. She wanted peace and quiet, but her daughter was singing and jumping happily. The daughter was unaware of how her mother was feeling; she was in her own world, in her own dream. She felt so wonderful, and she was jumping and singing louder and louder, expressing her joy and her love. She was singing so loud that it made her mother’s headache even worse, and at a certain moment, the mother lost control. Angrily she looked at her beautiful little girl and said, “Shut up! You have an ugly voice. Can you just shut up!”

The truth is that the mother’s tolerance for any noise was nonexistent; it was not that the little girl’s voice was ugly. But the daughter believed what her mother said, and in that moment she made an agreement with herself. After that she no longer sang, because she believed her voice was ugly and would bother anyone who heard it. She became shy at school, and if she was to sing, she refused. Even speaking to others became difficult for her. Everything changed in the little girl because of this new agreement: She believed she must repress her emotions in order to be accepted and loved.

Whenever we hear an opinion and believe it, we make an agreement, and it becomes part of our belief system. This little girl grew up, and even though she had a beautiful voice, she never sang again. She developed a whole complex from one spell. This spell was cast upon her by the one who loved her the most: her own mother.

Wow, what a revelation. After reading this passage, it dawned on me that at one point in time, I held on to similarly disparaging words.

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Jiro Dreams of Sushi

I love food. I dream about food. I do a happy dance when I get food. Sometimes, I eat just to chew. I can’t eat enough food. But what of the food that I’m consuming? Have you ever stopped to think about the quality of your food? Is it healthy? Is it savory? Are you living to eat or eating to live? I realized that for the most part, I’m living to eat and not really enjoying my food. After watching Jiro Dreams of Sushi recently, I had a shift in my food mindset.

Last night, I dined at Ocean Prime for the first time. Typically, I do not frequent fancy-shmancy establishments because I don’t like spending a stupid amount of money on food, lol. And if I do and I end up disappointed, well, there will be hell to pay. But, to my surprise, I was very pleased with my dining experience and my meal.

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No regrets

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I pride myself in not having many regrets in life. But as I get older, I’m finding that I’m becoming more cautious. In my early twenties, I threw caution to the wind. Now, anything you say will be researched for honesty and authenticity. I question motives. I question intent. I question whether someone has my best interest at heart or whether they are self-serving.

There are things that you can control and then there is just life. You don’t know what will happen. You can’t control it. You can only go with the flow.

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Cupcakes and condoms

In honor of National Women’s and Girls HIV/AIDS Awareness Day, Co-founders of The Red Pump Project, Karyn and Luvvie, decided to present an event around several U.S. cities. The Red Pump Project is a nonprofit organization that raises awareness about the impact of HIV/AIDS on women and girls.

To commemorate this day, I attended Cupcakes and Condoms,  hosted by the Atlanta ambassador, Skyy Banks. We spent our afternoon mingling, chatting about sexual health and, of course, eating cupcakes.

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A positive disposition

Sometimes it feels like we enjoy being unhappy. Something comforting about wallowing in self-pity. Woe is me. How much better and more fulfilling our lives would be if we focused more on the positive things happening in and around our lives. I came up with a list of ten things we can do to have a more positive outlook on life. Take heed.

  1. Smile – you’d probably be surprised to hear that I don’t really like smiling. I prefer to smile with my eyes, not with my teeth. Every once in a while, I’ll come across something that makes me smile. Today, it was a picture of a baby girl giving her father a sloppy wet kiss. It melted my heart and I genuinely smiled (with my eyes). However you like to smile, do it. Instant mood changer.
  2. Pray for someone – sometimes when you feel down and out about your situation, you want to vent to God with your “why me” speech. Stop it. Pray on behalf of someone else’s situation. There’s a blessing in praying for others. Intercede.
  3. Find a solution – your car broke down? Take the bus. Your boyfriend mistreats you? Leave him. You’ve been feeling sluggish? Change your diet. Instead of complaining about your situation, look for solutions to remedy it.
  4. Take deep breaths – if you’re any where as dramatic as I can be sometimes, you’ll turn some situations into soap operas. Stop it. Close your eyes, breathe deeply and focus.
  5. Say something good – a friend of mine always says to me, “tell me something good”. It kinda frustrated me because I’m someone who does 50 million things at once with twice as many thoughts running through my mind. I never have time to reflect on the good things happening to me throughout the day. Yet, if he asked me what was wrong about my day, I wouldn’t hesitate to answer. Make it a conscious effort to focus on the positive and eliminate the negative things in your life.
  6. Surround yourself with positive people – it’s a no-brainer that positive people give off great energy. No one wants to be around a Negative Nancy. Feed off of the positive energy and make it your own.
  7. Do a good deed – Christmas is right around the corner. This means charitable opportunities abound to make a difference. Go caroling at an orphanage or nursing home. Volunteer at a homeless shelter or soup kitchen.
  8. Go easy on yourself – quit it with the negative self-talk. We all make mistakes. No point in dwelling on them. Figure out what you can learn from it and move on.
  9. Make a gratitude list – we take the simplest things for granted, like being able to open our eyes every morning. What can you be grateful for today? Need help? Here are 60 things.
  10. Sing off-key, on purpose – nothing brings me more joy than randomly singing obnoxiously loud. I mean, no one can out-sing me in a Beyonce tune. NO ONE. 😀

Happy Monday.

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Nothing lasts forever

While sifting through my 30+ unpublished blog posts, I came across one that I wrote it back in December of 2011. Not sure why I never hit publish. But after reading this post this morning, I just had to share this with you all. Enjoy.

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I think I’ve always had in mind that nothing lasts forever. It’s kept me from taking things too personally and getting my feelings hurt. But I eventually did let my guard down and got hurt. But I reminded myself to learn from those experiences. Use them as teachers to guide me forward. To reflect and remember the good times. When you look at it that way, nothing really feels like a loss.

The danger in the relationships we form in life is in thinking that everything is permanent. We’ve all heard the saying, “the only constant thing is change.” Knowing this, I accept all that the universe brings my way in whatever form. I accept that absolutely NOTHING lasts forever. Not people, not marriages, not life. Everything is subject to change. And the quicker we acknowledge that, the easier it will be for us to accept the twists and turns in our lives. And the less hurt we will be by situations in life. Hopefully.

One of the truest quotes I’ve ever heard was concerning seasons. Every year, Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall come. Every year. And each year, each season is uniquely different. Do we ever question the seasons as to why they change? No. They have to. And so do we. Accept that. Sit with the “uncomfortableness” of it because it will make you feel awkward.

I remember one of the first times I attended a service at Destiny. I stayed after for one of the youth chats. We were split into groups with strangers. I don’t remember what we discussed but I remember telling a personal story. One of the girls, noticing my struggle, shared one of her own to comfort me. It touched me SO much, especially coming from a complete stranger. I never interacted with her after that day. I didn’t know her or anyone else in the group but I still felt a connection to her. I felt like that was my “moment” with her.

The moment we realize that life is fleeting, that nothing lasts forever and that we cannot control the future, is when we will start to savor each moment of life we’re given. Stop dwelling on what you don’t have control over.

I cannot waste another day not being happy with every single decision that I choose to make.

Take things one day at a time. Don’t promise me anything in the future. Promise me today. This very moment.

Nothing lasts forever. You live and then you die. That’s it. So live before you die.

People Come Into Your Life For A Reason, A Season Or A Lifetime

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When you figure out which one it is,
you will know what to do for each person.
When someone is in your life for a REASON. . .
It is usually to meet a need you have expressed.
They have come to assist you through a difficulty,
to provide you with guidance and support,
to aid you physically, emotionally, or spiritually.
They may seem like a godsend, and they are!
They are there for the reason you need them to be.
Then, without any wrongdoing on your part,
or at an inconvenient time, this person will say
or do something to bring the relationship to an end.

Sometimes they die.
Sometimes they walk away.
Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand.
What we must realize is that our need has been met,
our desire fulfilled, their work is done.
The prayer you sent up has been answered.
And now it is time to move on.

Then people come into your life for a SEASON….
Because your turn has come to share, grow, or learn.
They bring you an experience of peace, or make you laugh.
They may teach you something you have never done.
They usually give you an unbelievable amount of joy.
Believe it! It is real! But, only for a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons
things you must build upon in order to have
a solid emotional foundation.
Your job is to accept the lesson, love the person,
and put what you have learned to use in all
other relationships and areas of your life.
It is said that love is blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Notes on a plane

9:37pm EST 10.17.12
It’s almost ten pm est and I cannot sleep. Not sure where I am. In the sky somewhere, on my way to Frankfurt. I did really good with this flight. I made it to the airport on time. Checked my one suitcase and it was smooth sailing from there.
I will say though, connecting flights on extended trips like these are the worst. I flew from Atlanta to Newark and now to Germany. I want to sleep but I can’t. Had I gotten a direct flight like when I flew to London, I would be knocked out right now.
I’ve watched two movies: Brave and People Like Us. I read a few chapters from The Perks of Being a Wallflower. And I listened to Tony Braxton and Adele. Now I don’t know what to do. These seats hurt my back and it’s too cold to lean my head against the window. I want to stretch my legs so bad. Ugh.
“Close your eyes and think of me and you.” That worked once. Lets see…
11:10pm EST
It didn’t work. Well, kinda. I slept through about eight Stevie Wonder songs.
Our male flight attendant is really funny. Earlier for dinner he announced that we’d be having steak and potatoes. I started doing a happy dance in my head. When the female attendant came around, I was more than eager to tell her that I wanted steak. I figured, although lobster would be amazing, it would be too messy. So imagine my surprise when she asked if I wanted beef or chicken. Im sorry?! He tricked meee!  Well, trick me once, shame on you. Trick me TWICE, shame on me. For breakfast, we were supposed to have bacon and eggs. Instead, we got the smallest croissant ever created and a bowl of fruit. Ashton, where are you?
5:55am CEST 10.18.12
We landed an hour early in Frankfurt. Long story short, I got to see my good friend Bessie, rode on the autobahn and walked around a bit. I will be back!
2:15pm CEST 10.18.12
Dude!!! Lufthansa is THE best airline I have ever flown on! No seriously. Does it get better than this?! After spending a few hours in Frankfurt with my friend Bessie, I boarded the flight to Nigeria. Immediately I noticed the wide aisles and seats. When we took off, I noticed that Germany has so much more greenery than America. More and more, America is becoming less appealing to me. 😦
I’ve been fighting the urge to fall asleep for some time now. I don’t want to be jet-lagged so I’m staying awake or at least trying to. I took a quick nap and when I looked out of my window, I saw nothing but white tops! The Alps, perhaps? I don’t know but it was beautiful.
The flight attendant announced that we would be served a light lunch. That was definitely unexpected. I heard the menu and assumed that maybe this lady is a prankster like the attendant on my previous flight. But NO. I really received lamb. LAMB. Actually, there was nothing “light” about my meal. I’m so shocked and happy!!! The best part is that there is FREE wine and no one asked me for ID!!! Yup, I’m slightly tipsy but its okay.
The flight attendant just convinced me to continue eating this raspberry cream thingie. I’m not a big fan of sweets but its…interesting.
Oh, I forgot to mention about this hot wet wipe. I saw the attendant coming down the aisle with it but I had no idea what for. After observing the people, I realized it was to wipe your face. I guess a quick clean up. I don’t know. I followed the crowd.
I’m watching the absolute worst movie: Moonrise Kingdom. Meh!!!!
I want more wine and I’m ready to sleep the rest of the way.
As a departing “light snack”, they offered a slice of pizza. I kindly declined. There is too much going on in my stomach right now. I did take the gummy bears and chocolate. Best. Treatment. Ever.
6:33pm WAT 10.18.12
Landed in Lagos without any issues. There was a man waiting for me when I arrived. Not much to say about it just yet except that traffic is truly a nightmare. I should probably not complain about Atlanta traffic in comparison to how long I spent in the car.
11:55pm WAT 10.18.12
I am finally getting sleepy. Everyone else is knocked out. Tomorrow is a new day, new adventure.

Love yourself

I was reading The Daily Love this morning and the topic was about love, of course. In the post entitled ‘Do You Know What Love Is?, they define love as “UNCONDITIONAL acceptance of what is”. They go on to say that ” if we can’t accept something as it is, it’s VERY difficult to change or transform it.” And transformation is essentially the goal. When you love yourself enough to accept your flaws, you love yourself enough to work on changing them. The love must be there.

The idea is to ACCEPT how you are with NO changes. This is the starting point of transformation.

This is the part of the post that I really like: application.

We are asked to complete a phrase mentioning one (or more) of our perceived flaws. What is the one thing that you will learn to accept about yourself today? I’ll start.

“Even though I _____________, I completely and totally love myself.”

• Even though I am an emotional wreck, I completely and totally love myself.

• Even though I drool when I’m extremely tired and make my pillow stink, I completely and totally love myself. 🙂

• Even though I care too much sometimes, I completely and totally love myself.

• Even though I can be very lazy, I completely and totally love myself.

• Even though I over think and over analyze everything, I completely and totally love myself.

• Even though I worry, I completely and totally love myself.

• Even though I have moments of insecurity, I completely and totally love myself.

• Even though I doubt, I completely and totally love myself.

• Even though I am irrational and bull-headed at times, I completely and totally love myself.

Whew!!!!!!

Now, it’s your turn. Be honest with yourself.