The Subtlety of Stories

It’s true when they say time will sail beyond if you don’t stop to look around. With less than 30 days left in this year, I find myself stopping in moments a whole lot more to witness the day’s wonders and live through the breaths I have the opportunity to take. In doing so, I’ve recently felt the subtle joy from

Bubbles escaping the window of the car next to me at a red light…that made me smile

My angels speaking to me through repetitive numbers on the clock, speedometer, receipts, and off ramps

A colorful flower dancing from side to side in the wind

A canopy of the fall season draping over my car as I looked up to the sky on a country road less traveled with sister company

Surprise packages on my doorstep at times when I wasn’t looking for anything but needed a heart

The friendliest welcome and big smile from the Trader Joe’s grocer who bagged my flowers with an extra touch of kindness

The happiness in my friend’s voice when introducing me to mochi donuts and durian…the latter that made me twist my face in unpleasant shock (try for yourself though)

My grandpa’s usual reply that “he’s knocking along for an old man” when I ask how he’s doing

Traveling along a familiar road and suddenly noticing a sign of my grandma’s presence

A case of the FaceTime giggles during homework time with my bayou babies

Walking the cobblestones in a new city and expecting to discover a gift shop or snack to remember

Rotating holiday lights on someone’s wheelchair as we eagerly awaited the Christmas parade featuring a famous mouse

A new mug with pretty perfect colors or a witty phrase calling my name from the shelf in a store I frequent more than I’d like to admit

Works of art depicting the vastness of the color wheel and a nod to discovery through books

It’s so easy to think everything in life is supposed to be a long story to tell. But, the length matters not as the takeaway shall always be that the author is alive to be a part of the story.

Stop. Notice. Look for the stories. They’re in the subtly of what can easily sail by.

Clap For Yourself

To land on the other side of an intense year unscathed is nothing short of a blessing. I was tried on every side and certainly had moments when I thought I’d fold. But, I didn’t. My word for 2021 was “thrive.” Little did I know when I chose and meditated on that word that it would require me to be strong when I had little to give and that I’d have to ride a ton of waves of uncertainty all while believing that I wouldn’t succumb to volatile drifting tides. To thrive is “to grow or develop vigorously.” Take that a step further and you recognize that “vigorous” is characterized as energetic and forceful. I’d say that this year’s experiences lived up to the description with many lows and highs.

I did things and moved in the ways that made me step up and step out. None of it was to have a boastful story to tell. That’s not how I roll. But, all of it was to refill the cup that I have successfully managed to drain over the years by overdoing it with compromise and choosing one time too many to diminish my desires. I am an unconsciously selfless person. Now, you might think that’s admirable. And in a way, it is. However, if you’re not careful, it also means that it’s easy for imbalances to go unchecked. When that happens, you can sometimes place less emphasis on what works for you because you’re in a perpetual state of being there for everyone and everything except yourself. Well, I made it a point in 2021 to choose me and not feel guilty or weird about it. I’d like to profess that it was a rather simple personal order, but that would be a laughable lie. I had my moments when I slipped back into my old patterns of it’s a small sacrifice or you know what I can say less and wait a little longer on that. However, I had more moments when I was like nah, I choose me or go big or go home, girl. In fact, it makes me think of a GIF that I sent to a friend to symbolize my declaration to self that I wasn’t playing small or with people about my feelings or pursuits.

Here’s to doing me!

I dedicate this year’s manifestations of prosperity in my thoughts, my home, my career, my relationships, my sorority life, my cooking (I came. I saw. I killed it with more than a couple recipes.), and a host of dope experiences to my silent prayers, loyal friends, pools of tears, countless calls to my mom, supporters who carried me, and God’s winks. I thrived because of it all. And for that, I’m not entering 2022 with a list of resolutions. Those never worked for me. Instead, I’m here with a chilled glass of La Marca clapping vigorously for myself because what was supposed to stop me only helped me to level up in the best ways possible. Cheers!

If you do nothing else this year, do you for you! And then clap for yourself about it! Happy New Year, friends! xo

Monday’s Mantra: Do More Little Things

IMG_5965Two years ago, I became an independent jewelry designer for a company that’s built on doing more of what you love with the people you love.  As a charms based company, there’s an extensive selection of charms that represent family, hobbies, seasons, sports, and much more.  But, my favorite charms in the collection are the engravables, because they can be customized with dates, initials, names, and quotes.  These are particularly appealing to me, because they’ve given me the opportunity to wear my values on my wrist.  Each time I look down I can be reminded of what I believe and stand for.

My most prized engravable is my hematite geo bar that reads, “little things.”  If you’ve been following my posts over the years, you probably know that I base my life on the little things.  For me, the small gestures of kindness toward myself, my presence for the celebratory and even non-celebratory moments for loved ones and friends, and the thoughtful gifts that I curate or purchase is what brings me the most happiness.  I try to be intentional about the way I care for myself and those in my life by not being consumed with flashiness.  Instead I purposely choose to invest my time, energy, and being into what makes my soul smile.  Some days that might mean that I stand outside and listen to the whistle of the wind, go to the library to see if my knowledge of Dewey Decimal System is up to par (yes, I know what that is!), or randomly mail a card to someone letting them know I’m proud of what they’re doing.  I do this because I’ve recognized that it’s the small things that we often take for granted that bring delight to our days and a boost to who we are as human beings.  When we remove our focus from the little things it’s easier to become overwhelmed, overworked, and overly consumed by materialistic or shallow things and feelings.  That instantly robs us of the ability to appreciate our blessings and privileges.

If I could give one piece of life advice, I’d say do more of the little things.  That could come in the form of saying “no” when you know you’re not really committed, finally booking the plane ticket for the vacation you’ve never taken because you don’t want to get behind, not feeling guilty for leaving work on time so you can grab dinner with friends, devoting a portion of your day to pursuing your passions, calling the family member you haven’t heard from in a while, or eating the slice of cheesecake because you want to celebrate an accomplishment.  The truth is that all of those little things will be the peace that you’ve likely searched for in other places.  Everything we do doesn’t have to be big, bold, and witnessed by the masses.  But, everything we do should be a collective representation of every little thing that makes us stress less and cherish more of what we love while we’re here.

Monday’s Mantra: Don’t Take It Personal

I think I deserve a pat on the back for growth.  Rarely do I ever toot my own horn about anything, but nowadays I have to celebrate the fact that I’ve made some strides in a rewarding direction.  There used to be a time when I would take everything personally.  The weight of a conflict, letdown, or confrontation was a burden that I believed had everything to do with me and how I may have initiated or reacted to the disturbance.  I often proceeded to carry the blame for things that I should’ve let fall away like the leaves from a tree on a brisk autumn day (is it just me or did this season waltz in quickly like it’s ready to put on a show stopping performance?).  While I may not have held any grudges toward the parties involved, I allowed myself to be far too consumed with the ways in which things had escalated and why someone could be so discourteous with little regard for my feelings.     I think one of the reasons why I’m not too fond of merry-go-rounds is because I had one that was constantly spinning in my head.  I’d go round and round with myself only to feel irritable and drained once I decided the ride in my brain was closed for the day.

It only took a few years for me to learn that a surefire way to exhaust your peace is to walk around being angry and offended.  I’ve lived long enough to know that there will be people in life who will do and say things that will make you scratch your head or want to let out a few expletives (again, God is not finished with me yet!).  There will be words that sting and actions that hurt.  But, you can’t take it personally.  The truth is that most of the time people’s responses have nothing to do with you.  This is why you’ll find yourself in situations with people where the apology or discussion you want will never come.  You’ll be told a lie before they realize you would’ve respected them more with the truth, and you may even have to settle with being wrong when all the evidence says you’re right.  And guess what?  You can’t take it personally. People respond in life based on their individual experiences and perceptions.  Some responses will be favorable and some you’ll wish they had been counseled on before you crossed their path.  Either way it’s not something you can control since God works on all of us in different ways and at a different pace.  Why give energy to what you can’t control when it’s a battle you were never meant to fight?

I can assure you that the less you take personally, the more years you’ll add to your life.  So, stop being mad and start being mindful of what you allow to rest in your spirit.  Everything and everyone isn’t meant for you to handle.  And something tells me you weren’t meant to slay other people’s giants!

 

I Choose My Peace

garden of peaceIf I had a choice between $1 million and my peace, I’d choose my peace.  First off, $1 million isn’t a lot of money once Uncle Sam gets his cut.  Secondly, peace can stay with me for the duration of my life; if you don’t make money work for you, then eventually it runs out.  I don’t ever want to be in a place where I no longer have my peace.  That tranquility.  That stillness.  That unshakable love for who I am and where I am (and even where I’m not).  Those are all things that money can’t buy, keep you happy, or plugged into the miracles of life.  I look for peace in everything.  And with age I’ve learned how critical it is to make a concerted effort to be peace, give peace, and accept that peace isn’t always going to look like you have the upper hand.

To be peace means that you choose to approach each day with gratefulness and an expectant heart for that which is good.  Every minute of every hour is not going to be something to write home about.  The volatile details that make up our lives can be challenging, annoying, and unnerving.  But, allowing those things to alter your attitude and drain the delight from your character will not change the story.  You have to be intentional about maintaining the energy that makes you bright, bold, and bountiful in your love for the delicate tapestry of your being.

To give peace means that you choose your battles.  I can think of more than a few things and offenses in my life that didn’t warrant a response or reaction, but I gave one.  And what exactly did that do besides cause a volcanic eruption of emotions between all parties involved?  I’d venture to say…nothing.  Sometimes it’s best to let things pass right on by.  And it’s not because you don’t have valid points, but because making those points is going to infringe on the harmony you need to be a better human.  In that moment, there’s so many more things of importance.

To accept that peace isn’t going to always look like the odds are in your favor means that you understand everyone you encounter is walking a path that you don’t know much if anything about.  Living ain’t easy, and all of us govern our lives according to our personal experiences.  The fact that we process and internalize differently can sometimes lead to rifts in relationships because we all want to be understood.  But, typically no one understands why we are who we are until the dust settles.  Frankly, some people have a little more living to do before they know what it means to give peace.  You have to be attuned to the concept of loving people where they are to tap into the peace of what it means to win the war instead of exhausting all of you on the battle.  A lot about life isn’t about you, and 99% of the time people know when they’re wrong.  So, when you have to be the mirror, be patient enough for people to see their reflection.  Accept that you haven’t lost anything or been forgotten.  You’re really a lifeline for someone who probably hasn’t had the courage to divulge and embrace they’re imperfections.

A life without peace is a life without joy.  And if you don’t have joy, then you simply don’t have life.  So, as long as I’m here, I choose peace because with that there are mountains I can climb, roads I can travel, seeds I can plant, and no limit to the skies that I can touch.

 

 

Monday’s Mantra: Show Up for You!

It’s about time some of us learned how to be selfish.  I know that’s prohibited and doesn’t sound all that compassionate or “churchy,” but that’s because it’s not meant to be either one of those things.  Women, in particular, don’t spend enough time loving who they are and celebrating what they do.  Instead we’re out here stressing ourselves to the max trying to

make our homes look like something from HGTV,

cook meals to satisfy a few picky palates,

refrain from being seen as “that employee” in the board room who goes against the status quo because you have a few non-conventional ideas,

make our selfies look like we’re having the time of our lives every weekend

and find the right outfit for a date with a stranger we’ve somehow been convinced we absolutely must impress because the holidays are coming and our eggs are vanishing one by one.

Well, that’s all fine and good until you recognize that you’re doing all of that for other people, and you’re basically a non-factor in the equation.

This week I challenge you to show up for y-o-u!  It’s not a bad thing for you to want to do something for yourself…to say no because you don’t feel like it…to spend your lunch break actually taking a break…to leave people behind who choose to act oblivious of your feelings…to confront who and what is giving you pause…to believe for a dream that’s so big that you have to chuckle…to let him figure out how you manage to make dinner, monitor homework, and pack lunches simultaneously (that’s what I call bad-assery!..he has no idea)…to take yourself out for dinner and pinot because you know you’re not desperate…to go outside and let out a scream because life is hard…to get in the car and just ride with no particular destination simply because you want to enjoy the scenery…to stop apologizing for how you feel…to present your business idea to the investors…to soak up every moment for what it is and continue handling life like a boss. Every day you have to live with you.  If you don’t ever invest anything into understanding what helps you to be great, everything you do, attract, and care for will be below average.  So, yes, do for others, but do for you too!

Monday’s Mantra: Live

It has been a while since I posted a mantra for the week, but hopefully you’re following my blog and have seen some of my recent posts on my Inspire page.  No days off here. 🙂  This week my encouragement is simple:

  1. Live – let your thoughts and actions be productive and good. It’s very easy to become budsdiscouraged or feel depleted when there’s so much going on around us every day.  But, like I’ve said on several occasions before, life is really short.  Get busy doing what brings you joy, shines some light on the somber places of your soul (and maybe that of others’ too), and what makes you feel like a kid again.  Adulthood is taxing and routine.  We forget that life is meant to be enjoyed.  And although I may not know what “living” means for you, I would guess that it’s something you haven’t been doing.  Don’t let the complexities of this life keep you from drawing near to the simplicity and priceless treasure of taking in all there is to your humanness.
  2. Lead – by now, you’ve probably realized that sometimes people will disappoint you.  If it hasn’t happened yet, just keep living!  Even if it takes everything you’ve got to respond in a way that doesn’t defame them or show your disdain, take the high road.  It might not make any sense now, but I promise in the long run it pays to be the compassionate and sensible example.  You’re probably the water needed to refresh, renew, and repurpose someone who has never fully seen what leading with love looks like.  Be the fountain.  Be the spring.  Be the reason new and better buds finally blossom.

Make it a great week, friends!