Growth comes from discomfort

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re likely aware of the many protests occurring in order to bring about changes in regards to how people of color (POC) are treated. This is not a new fight, it’s actually been going on for hundreds of years. The hate crimes/ police brutality are not new either, they are just being video taped more regularly thanks to technology. Through everything though, we as a people know that change won’t come from us just sitting at home. We must unite, protest and march together to bring about change. White people along with people of color must come together to bring about the needed changes. We must not remain silent.

It’s easy to see discomfort is a necessary thing to endure in order to grow as a nation, as a community, and as humans. A lot of people get stuck. A lot of people get comfortable. Many people are so comfortable, they’re miserable. Actually I personally know several people who are comfortably broke. So broke they can’t even feed their own children, and yet won’t step out of their comfort zone to relieve some of their expenses or make more money.

Breaking a habit, trying something new, taking a risk, making new connections, or putting yourself in a totally new situation won’t be easy, but it’ll be worth it. Calvin Coolidge says “All growth depends upon activity. There is no development physically or intellectually without effort, and effort means work.”

I, for one, know that I am not happy with my current financial situation. I also know that I have the power to change it. I want to grow not only financially, but also spiritually, emotionally, and physically. I want to help students learn and better their lives through science and beyond. I know I have to face some discomfort, I actually get really nervous giving presentations/speeches. Especially on video. And here I am jumping into teaching (likely virtually) starting in July. So I know it will be uncomfortable. I know it’ll be hard. I also know it’ll be worth it. I will be exhausted but also full of joy.

What area of your life are you trying to grow or change? Are you sitting idle hoping for things to just magically get better, or are you putting yourself out there to get uncomfortable and force yourself to change?

Growing in emotional maturity

For the longest time, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. In college, I was holding my breath waiting for my boyfriend to trust me. Once he didn’t trust me, there was no relationship. I just kept pressing forward only to make things even harder and more painful when I finally walked away. After college, I pursued a married man. He ended up doing to me exactly what he did to his first wife, but you could say I had it coming since I was the reason he left her. After our divorce, I started pursuing just the physical aspects of relations. I was literally too scared to get hurt to even consider a committed romantic relationship. Once this life caught up to me and I started considering seeking a healthy relationship, I found out I was pregnant.

With the pregnancy came all the feels. Looking back, I had a very physically healthy pregnancy, but my emotional well-being was very low. I was facing an uncertain future with a baby and her dad who wasn’t capable of loving me. Here I was, once again, looking for love in the wrong place. I yearned for him to even try and make it work with me. But it wasn’t in the cards. I had to finally stop being emotionally immature and move on from the things that weren’t helping me grow. Once I let him go, I felt my heart finally healing. Healing from the college guy who never trusted me. Healing from my husband who left me for someone(s) else. Healing from my baby’s dad who likely really wishes we had been more careful. (I refuse to use the word he did on here, but that part was definitely the most painful).

I started and have been reading the bible daily. I’ve been listening to certain podcasts and reading books. I’ve really taken the time to be selfish, if you will. And focus on myself. And I agreed with myself to take time to be single and heal with one exception. If someone were to enter my life and help me to grow then I’d allow it. I met someone unexpectedly about two months ago and it’s been an interesting ride. Shortly after we met, the city where we live entered a shelter-in-place that’s still occurring. Through this time, it hasn’t been easy to get to know each other. At first, things seemed great. But as time goes on, it appears to me that while his words are great and helpful, his actions seem to be misleading. I’m not quite sure if he sees me as his girlfriend or just a friend with benefits.

I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt since things aren’t normal due to Covid-19, but I also have to be true to myself. I keep praying to God to show me what He wants for my life. And I will continue to pursue His word. I just felt like I had to share, since because of the growth I see and feel inside of me, I will no longer settle for anything less.

I hope everyone’s doing well despite the craziness. 🙂

Positive mindset and manifestations

Please note: I am 100 percent aware that things could be worse. I am not here to say anything negative about anyone, as I do not know everything they’re going through and so trying my best to see things with grace and love despite the hardships I am experiencing.

Three months ago I finally woke up and decided to trust God completely and walk away from the toxic environment I had let take over my life. After nearly 9 months of praying and trying to make things work with the father of my child, I had to finally let him go. He made it clear he had no intention to try and make it work with me. He actually told me I had to change in order for him to even make an effort. Where have I heard that before? Oh yeah, my ex husband. I knew if I kept lying to myself and moving forward with this man I would end up slowly dying inside.

Sorry, that may seem extreme, but I know I am more than enough. And I don’t have to change for anyone who’s unwilling to change for me. Think of it this way: I was willing to look past his flaws to try and make it work. He wasn’t. And that’s okay, better to know now and move on before having it hurt even more.

What was holding me back was fear. Mostly, financial fear. See, I was already working three jobs and barely making it. Asking for a room-mate to move out meant losing the small amount he was helping towards my mortgage and bills. It meant waiting on the state of Illinois to process my child support claim, which I expected to take a few months even before covid-19.

But in January, I started readjusting my mindset to focus on the positive. I started writing down manifestations to change the negative things going on in my life into positive. To be completely honest, I never planned on sharing these but have felt called to since we’re all going through hard times these days. So, enjoy.

Instead of I’ll watch our child so you can work three jobs,
Manifest
I’ll take care of you and our children so you no longer have to work three jobs.

Instead of I’ll split your mortgage with you but not contribute towards anything else,
Manifest
I’ll make sure you’re financially comfortable and content.

Instead of my other child is worth more than the one I have with you,
Manifest
Every child is priceless.

Instead of outgrowing a two bedroom condo,
Manifest
I will own a beautiful and spacious house in the Oak Park area.

Instead of you’re not worth fighting for
Instead of I don’t want to help you heal and take down your walls
Manifest
I’ll support you and be patient with you during your healing process

Instead of unless you’re struggling financially, I don’t see why I have to help contribute towards our child’s life
Manifest
I will do everything I can to ensure our child is healthy and happy

Have a great Sunday everyone! And I hope some of this has touched you/helped you in some way!

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Moving on from disappointment

If you’ve been reading my posts, you’ve likely noticed a trend of me writing about heartbreak and hard situations that have shaped me into the person I am today. Ever since going through my divorce, I have been on the defense with every person I meet. I settled just for the wrong attention after my divorce just to justify things in all the wrong ways. Because of this, I met a slew of disappointing people. I told myself the physical attention was enough for me, but in reality I was dying inside. My expectations lowered to a point where I expected to be disappointed. I lost my way from God’s plan for my life. I lost sight of Mr. Better, the person I heard God tell me about. I started believing the lies people were saying about me. That I wasn’t good enough to be loved, to be taken care of, to be put first. That somehow I had to just settle into being last in someone else’s life.

Due to all this heartbreak and pain, I started closing up. My astrology sign is a crab, and I took no time to harden my shell. I started self-sabotaging anything that seemed good. I didn’t trust anyone at all. I started telling myself it was too good to be true, or there were hidden red flags. I would start creating excuses to not meet someone, or not go on a second date, or just plain not even talk to someone smiling at me. I have a three year history of running away from everyone and everything, good and bad. The only people I haven’t pushed away are my church and running friends. They’re the only ones I really keep around. For everyone else, there was a very tall wall to climb.

More recently, I’ve been taking time daily to focus on God’s word and what He wants for me. I have been seeking His voice lately and have heard him through a few avenues. He is still saying there’s someone better for me. He’s telling me there’s someone worth letting my guard down for. Someone God’s been preparing for me as much as He’s been preparing me for him.

After about 4 weeks on a dating app, I decided to delete it and try a different one. An app I had never really tried before but I know two people who found their spouses through it. I had never tried it before because I wasn’t ready to date with intention until recently. I was too scared of getting my heart hurt once again to actually consider a boyfriend.

Also, it’s important to note, I haven’t had a boyfriend in 8 years. I have completely forgotten how to be a girlfriend. How to let someone in. How to just be myself with no fear and no regrets. Last week this guy messaged me as I was about to delete all dating apps, then he called me. I freaked out, I can’t remember the last time a guy called me to talk. Then the craziest thing happened, he called me daily after that. And we made plans to meet. It all felt natural. I’ve known him not even a week, but feels like I’ve known him longer. But in the midst of it all, I’m still fighting my battles of self-sabotage and wall building.

Last night he sang this song to me. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bqIxCtEveG8

And it was like the song was written about me. And him. See, he’s been single for 5 years. I’ve been single for three. We were just not finding the right person for us. I was trying to fit square pegs in the circle God created for my life. I was holding my breath in hopes for someone to wake up and realize my worth. I was wasting my time with all the wrong people. But it helped me realize exactly what I don’t want. Exactly what will make me run away.

While my walls are still high and strong, I have started on my healing journey to let God guide my steps.

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Motherhood has broken my heart

I’m forever changed and always grateful for it. This is a growth opportunity, but one I didn’t see coming when I found out I was pregnant in September of 2018. See, I had lost my way. I was trying to pave my own path, only to be shown once again that my plan wasn’t written by me.

Once I became a mother, some things changed in my heart. One, I fell in love with my child. She was and still is my miracle baby. The baby that I was told would be very hard to have. The baby I will never take for granted after seeing so many others struggle through fertility and beyond. I can safely say I’ve never felt this type of love before and can’t imagine being able to replicate it ever again (unless there’s another child in my future). Two, I started feeling differently towards her father. This was the thing I didn’t see coming. I started imagining things differently from what was the harsh reality around me. I started dreaming and hoping. I fell in love with him. No, the idea of us working out. Of Aria having parents who loved each other and who could show her what love looks like.

I found myself yearning for the perfect family. The family that loved each other and loved others. The blended family that actually got along. The unusual story of it actually working out. My heart turned into a mother wanting to actually not be that stereotypical struggling single mom. My thought patterns changed and I started having massive anxiety. Sleepless nights, explosive moments, huge mood swings. I just wanted to have it all.

I got so wrapped up in my alternative reality that I didn’t see I was dying on the outside. Things weren’t working out. I was miserable, and I was trying to be someone I hated. Someone I didn’t recognize came out. I started drinking heavily, and using other coping mechanisms. It got so bad that the person I wanted so badly to want me was triggering memories of my ex husband and my failed marriage.

Thankfully, I was able to take a step back and make the healthiest decision. I chose to stop living in my fake world and finally wake up. I realized that being a struggling single mother isn’t half as bad as what I was doing to myself. And actually a lot healthier. Not just for me, but also for my daughter. She needs me to be happy and healthy, not destroying myself. She needs to see what wholesome, unconditional love is. Because she deserves it. And I deserve it. I am enough. I am purpose. I am love.

October = Change

For most of my adult life, the month of October (and the season of Fall in general) has brought change for most years than I can remember. In this post, I’m going to go over some of the biggest changes I went through and how they’ve shaped me into the person I am today.

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The year was 2007. This was the year I dumped my first long-term boyfriend. The actual break up didn’t happen until mid-November (right before Thanksgiving) but I initiated a break during the month of October in hopes that maybe we could mend things. But really, things were beyond repair. To be completely honest, I was in major denial since my ex never fully trusted me. Reading my emails, searching through old chat histories. He was on the hunt for any hint that I was unfaithful. Even when he found nothing, he just kept looking. And I just kept telling myself things would get better. I’m very thankful for the Fall of 2007 when I finally took a stand for myself and walked away from a toxic relationship.

The year was 2008. It took me a year to finally build up the guts to consider dating again. And I went in swinging. Asked a guy for his number that I met at a Young Adults (20s) Ministry, then called him 2 days later and asked him out. We went on several dates over the next few weeks. But after about a month or so, he took me to get coffee and basically dumped me. This was the year that I learned that I couldn’t always get my way.

The year was 2009. I told my close friends and my parents that I was dating a married man. Needless to say, no one took this well. My good friend went so far as to take away my phone until I promised her I’d end things. My mom yelled at me for what felt like weeks, maybe months. I had to even face HIS mom, who was somehow even worse. This was the year I decided to break all the rules.

The year was 2010. The married guy I was still dating was now divorced. This was the year I learned that divorces take a long time and a lot of money, especially when there’s an angry spouse involved.

The year was 2013. I married who I thought was my soulmate. This was his second marriage, but he told me everything was different. He said we were meant to be. He had never felt so sure, and I was right there with him. I loved him unconditionally and saw myself spending the rest of my life with him. This was the year that I learned that I loved planning weddings. After planning my own, I briefly considered becoming a wedding planner. Still wouldn’t mind this job one day, so it’s still on the table haha.

The year was 2014. My parents announce they’re moving to Pryor, Oklahoma. My dad got a job at Google and my mom will benefit with the amazing health benefits offered by Google. My dad recommends my husband to take his job that he’s leaving in Chicago. I start a new job as well, and finally make closer to what I’m worth (actually using my Master’s degree for the first time). Finally, my husband and I aren’t living paycheck to paycheck. This was the year I learned prayers do get answered, even if some of them aren’t exactly what you imagine.

The year was 2015. I ran my first half-marathon. My parents announce they’re moving back to Chicago. My mom’s health turns for the worst once they move back and she’s gone faster than anyone could’ve guessed. This was the year I learned that life is too short.

The year was 2016. My husband decides to fight for me for most of October, cancels our anniversary trip to Hawaii and moves out of our house the week of his birthday. My entire world comes crashing down. Soon enough I figure out everything that happened, especially since he refuses to meet with me in person due to guilt and shame. This was the year I learned that no person on Earth is worth losing your shit over. I even graciously didn’t destroy any of his things he left behind (which was everything). I’m very thankful I had an amazing therapist who helped me through the divorce.

The year was 2017. I ran the Chicago Marathon, my first full marathon. I trained hard and I raised enough money to provide clean water to 26.2 kids in Africa. Ok, actually 27 since it’s hard to cut kids into little pieces. This was the year I learned the most about myself. I invested in myself and my spiritual life. I’m very grateful for the change in 2017.

The year was 2018. I recently found out I was unexpectedly pregnant. While I wasn’t officially dating the father of my baby, I had let myself have deep feelings for him. Despite all the things going on, I was still too scared of rejection to really talk to him about how I felt. Lucky me, he decided to move on without really talking to me. I also decided to get baptized. I felt like it was extra-special since I was pregnant with Aria. This was the year I learned that while not everything is in my control, God is still on my side helping me be strong to face every challenge. This was the year I learned that I had to be strong and independent because now a baby was going to need me. I’m very humbled by the experience of being pregnant and single.

The year is 2019. And while I have a baby now, I am wondering what this October will bring. Hopefully good changes. Some things really aren’t much different from last fall, but definitely not pregnant this time.

What types of changes have you seen in your life? Do you see them in the fall like I do?

A special prayer

I recently found out that my ex is going through some major personal struggles. When I first heard this, a tiny part of me felt a little relief. Sometimes, when you’re on the outside looking in all you see is perfection. But then I felt guilty. And ultimately, I turned to God with all my feelings. I prayed a special prayer for my ex. One that I’ve been praying for since we split up over two years ago.

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I prayed that he find joy and happiness in God and Jesus. I prayed that God’s will be done when it comes to his personal life and struggles. I prayed that he felt love and hope through his family, friends and God. I prayed for God to grant him the strength and courage needed to get through this season of life. And once again, I felt my heart breaking for him all over again.

It also did make me realize that amongst the lies he told me, there was one truth. He really did want a family, just not with me. And while that is heartbreaking, I can’t hold someone back from finding what they truly want. I just hope and pray that this is truly God’s plan for him and that he does end up joyful and happy with his life choices.

I also pray that one day I find someone who not only deserves and can handle this type of love but who can love me in the same way. If this is how I feel and treat someone who cheated and left me for someone else, it’s unimaginable how it could improve for the person who actually loves me back.

That is exactly why I’m patient and willing to wait for the right guy, the one meant for me. I already tried it with the one not meant to be and it nearly killed me. But I still wish the best for him and his new family, even if that doesn’t include me. And I’m so very thankful God made it clear to me that we weren’t meant to be. This time I’m sitting still and listening to His voice to tell me His plan, in His timing. I focus my eyes towards Him and know that everything will work out according to His plan.

He’s already taken me this far. To Oak Park, to run my first marathon, to walk away from yet another toxic relationship, and to be given the blessing of my first baby girl due in another few weeks. I just keep focusing on the good and all the blessings I’ve been given. And through every season, I take the time to thank Him for it all. The good, the bad and the ugly.

 

This is Me: Take it or leave it

Once I heard the song This is Me for the first time (in church of all places) it instantly got stuck in my head. After looking it up and playing it on repeat for a few weeks, I finally sat down and watch The Greatest Showman. It was a great movie and in some ways reminded me of Hamilton. They both channel that whole this is me, this is who I am, and I’m not changing for anyone. Strong, powerful lead characters who are impossible to take down. And these characters fuel me.

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As a writer, I’m a lot like Hamilton. I could see myself writing pages and pages, the words flowing out of me. Actually, I’ve had days like that where I just write and write in my journal. Some stuff almost no one will ever read. But today I feel like sharing just a little bit more about me and why I no longer give a f*ck.

Growing up I had a lot of f*cks to give. I cared a lot what others thought of me. I’d go out of my way to dress a certain way, brush my hair, and try my best to be nice to everyone. I actually found myself between a rock and a hard place several times in elementary school as I tried to be friends with everyone, including the nerds and the populars. At the end of the day, I just wanted to be accepted and feel like I belonged. But I also didn’t want to make anyone else feel alone.

Most of my life I’ve been really nice. Actually I am still really nice. So nice that it’s been painful at times. But I always have and always strive to see the best in people. It’s both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because I’ve been around some of the best of the best. The people who I’m so glad I gave a chance. The people I love to love. It’s a curse because there are people who have and will stomp all over my heart for their benefit. I had someone who after I pushed past all of the barriers and obstacles only to choose him, over and over again, used that same blind love to stab me in the back and still demand a quick and low-cost separation. Of which I granted, out of kindness not only to him but also to myself.

So I am nice, but after crawling through flames I’ve decided to be nice to myself first and foremost. This is not to say I’m not nice to others, it’s just to say that I have to consider how being nice to others affects my niceness to myself.

In other words, I ask myself how much of myself do I want to pour into someone before opening up. I’ve been singed a few too many times to just openly love and pour on strangers. But I also still have the ability to love on the right people. The people who are there for me no matter what. The ones who show up in the middle of the storm and at the top of the mountain peak. I try my best to be as warm and kind to those who are there for me. And I give my standard kindness to everyone else.

But for those who shun me or judge me, I have nothing for them. I don’t have the time or energy to waste on draining individuals. Instead, when one person leaves, I tend to take that energy I almost wasted and pour it into myself. This way, with every person I encounter, I grow spiritually and emotionally. Whether they’re terrible or great, they bring with them a lesson that I learn and grow upon.

But never will you see me chasing after the wrong person. I would rather watch them walk out of my life than be anywhere near them. And to be honest, I’m running low on f*cks to give. I gave a lot of them to who I thought was the right person. Now, I’m taking the time to step back and breathe as I try to figure out what went wrong and how to avoid making the same mistake again. (third times the charm?)

Holding on to these last f*cks for the right guy. For now, they’re in the vault until the time is right to let them shine.

 

Love yourself challenge

Simple post today. I challenge you to post up your favorite recent picture of yourself and write down a snippet of what you love about yourself. Try to find a picture from the last year or so. Can be a physical attribute or something in relation to your personality. Try to write the first thing that comes to mind and embrace it. Then comment here or on social media with the link to your post.

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I love this picture because it’s artsy, but also because it shows that hard work pays off. I love my legs, arms and shoulders. I work hard on them and loving the results.

Now post up your picture! 🙂

The struggle to love unconditionally

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Love as the media shows it is not true love. It’s the love where you are happy and showered with all the feels, until it gets hard. Then it’s time to break up and move on to the next. This illusion of plenty of fish in the sea, and maybe the lie of that perfect person for us keeps us unsatisfied until we end up alone and grumpy wondering where we went wrong.

Most of my life, I have struggled to learn and apply unconditional love in all of my relationships. I’m talking family, friends and most importantly romantic relationships. And the biggest struggle I face is unconditionally loving people who can’t love me back.

Both historically (my exes) and currently, there are and have been people in my life that I have and still love wholeheartedly who don’t have the capacity love me back. I won’t drop names, but there is someone in my life right now where I have to sit and meditate, take several deep breaths, before composing myself to respond to him in the most loving way I can.

But he already rejected me months ago, and even without that I know he doesn’t have the ability to love me back. At least, not the way I love him. And I’m not going to lie, there are nights where I just feel like crying. But each day gets better, because God gives me the strength to continue loving him the way Jesus loves me. And I pray that one day, he too will know and understand that type of love. The one where there are no limits. Without conditions. The way love is supposed to be.