What I See- Is Not Me

~Hey BPL Family! I pray this week has brought you beauty, passion, and love. Let’s jump right in! Indulge and enjoy!~

I need a favor, grab something you can see your reflection in. Got something? Good, now look into it.  What do you think about the person you see? How do you feel about the reflection staring back at you? Why do you associate those feelings/thoughts, good or bad, with yourself? Are they yours or have they been fed to you over the course of your life? Do you even know?

Okay, let me start by saying this post is going to take you being honest with yourself. I mean, it’s not like we’re sitting in a circle, in the middle of a room, staring into mirrors shouting what we hate about ourselves to the person across from us. So seriously, take a deep breath look at your reflection and record(write down) what comes to mind when you look at yourself.

Looking at my reflection, words such as broken, damaged and unworthy come to mind. Feelings like sadness, discouragement, hurt and anger fill my heart. But why… While in reflection, I think about the first time I felt diminished. A very unintentional event taking place all the way back in Kindergarten, where children’s only concerns should be making friends and snack time. I remember, literally like it was yesterday, being in recess with my best friend Tess, my cousin Jonathan, and his best friend Dallas.

We were having the time of our lives trying to evade nap time, riding those red tricycles, that were in every school back in the 90s.  We had a couple of lunch monitors on the playground with us while our teachers, I assume, were off having lunch of their own (or maybe naptime). One of the “lunch ladies”  wanted to know what we all want to be when we grow up, a 5 or 6-year-olds favorite question. Now, I don’t remember how Tess and Dallas answered this question but, I’m almost positive my cousin said he wanted to be a firefighter. No, he has not yet fulfilled his childhood dream, but there’s still time! (He probably doesn’t even remember it to be honest.) I waited for my turn to come along, as patiently as a 5-year-old could.

Back Story Break: I’ve been on the heavier side for as long as I can remember. Definitely since before I started school. I skipped pre-school, which is why I say I don’t know how to play well with others, and while my mom was at work she would have her Aunt watch my little brother and me. My cousins’ nickname for me was “Fat Mama Lu-Lu,” which I never understood because the nickname was 10x longer than my real name. I understood the reference though because it focused on my weight. Looking back at it, them being in their late teens and early 20s, I don’t think they intended to hurt my feelings but they did. Wow, this may actually be the starting cause to my low self-esteem.

Back on the playground, it’s my turn to share, “I want to be a Beautiful Ballerina,” I shout with excitement! The lunch lady looks at me. With no hesitation or thought, she responds “Well, you’re going to have to lose a lot of weight for that to happen.” I remember my heart dropping, of course at the time I had no idea it dropped, I just knew what she said wasn’t nice. I didn’t know how to respond. Johnathan, Tess, Dallas and I continued playing, I’m pretty sure they never thought about it again. I did though.

Now,  I’m not an expert on children nor are either one of my degrees in behavioral studies but, I believe, the most critical time of finding out who you are and what you like as an adolescent is from 4 to 8 years old. These are the years of discovery that will lay the foundation to who you will become. The question, “Do you like to color or solve puzzles?” Will one day become, “Are you more artistic or logical?” Children, at this age, should still be operating in the mindset of “Anything is possible,” to ensure they don’t set premature limitations on their future.

Before the age of 10, I was made aware of the “not being good enough” notion, and how it applied to my life. I was too big to be a beautiful ballerina. For me, “anything” was no longer possible, my naivety was stripped from me and I was jolted to reality. What can I be- became what can’t I be- and doubting my ability became normal to me.

Though I wasn’t directly told I couldn’t be a ballerina, the doubt had been planted. Even worse than doubt being planted, my appearance was criticized.  I became aware that you could be too big to do certain things. How does a 5-year-old process she can’t be whatever she wants because she’s too big? INTERNALLY.

Though my Mom is an AMAZING mother, she was always tough on me and didn’t like cry babies. I didn’t feel comfortable going to her with what the lunch lady said. I also never to her being called “Fat Mama Lu-Lu,” by my cousins, really hurt my feelings. What I did instead was “suck it up.” I’m sure most of you are familiar with the term “suck it up” but, if you look it up in the Urban Dictionary, one of the most common definitions is to endure a period of mental, physical, or emotional hardship with no complaining.

Sucking it up” was introduced at such an early age by this time in my life it was already second nature. What I never knew was, all the obstacles I was getting through by “sucking it up” I would have to be dealt with one day or they would only get worst.  Today, I am the result of the latter.

So, you know how I felt about the person looking back at me and you know some of why. What’s even more important to know is, those thoughts and feelings aren’t me! They aren’t even my own to think or feel. From the age of 5 until now, I’ve heard so many negative things about myself, I held on to all of them and, replayed them constantly. But, what happened to all the positive things I’ve heard throughout my life? I held on to them also, I just forgot to press play!

It’s time to press stop and delete on the negative and press play on the positive! As always, feel free to ask questions and/or leave feedback in the comments section. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook!

Beautiful Passionate Love

(All new post will be uploaded Saturdays by 12:30 EST)

I am BEAUTIFUL. I am PASSIONATE. I will LOVE.

The Strength of the Voiceless

~Hey Family! I pray this week has been absolutely amazing! I’ve been racking my brain all week as to what I wanted to share with you. Usually, it’s easy but, this week was a little tough. Anywho, this topic hit me and I think you’re going to love it! Indulge and Enjoy!~

For as long as I’ve been old enough to knowingly voice my opinion, I’ve never thought it held much weight. (I touched on it a little in Who Am I??) I question if people care about what I think and say. I also hold back my thoughts and opinions out of fear of being rejected. Well, this week and last week have taken my opinion of being voiceless to an extream. I mean, I LITERALLY HAD LITTLE TO NO VOICE!!!

Let’s start from the beginning. The Sunday before last, October 21st, was my first Sunday singing in front of my whole church. I was nervous as heck mainly because I don’t hear what everyone else hears when I open my mouth. I genuinely don’t feel that I can sing, though I love doing it. I wanted to join the praise and worship team the moment I  joined my church but, because of my fears and insecurities, I remained in the crowd. A member of the team asked me to come to a practice 3-4 months back and I’ve been committed ever since!

So, here I am, Sunday morning, I wake up and can barely talk. Still at home, I open my mouth to practice the songs we will be doing in service one last time, and NOTHING CAME OUT!!!  I was devastated! So, I reach out to my praise and worship teammates for any remedies they had to at least hold my voice until service was over. One of the leaders said, “Drink warm tea and a tablespoon of olive oil,” I didn’t think twice. I run to the kitchen, mix up this little concoction and start sipping away. I finish getting dressed and head to the car. No, I didn’t finish the tea. It went down the drain on my way out the door.

(Side note: The whole time I was trying to force this tea down, I’m wondering how people drink this grotesque mixture. At the same time, I was like, “Man this oil is doing something for my lips if nothing else!” Upstate, New York can be rough of the skin, so I wasn’t mad at that at all.)

I get to church we do our set and we were absolutely awesome! I struggled on several parts because I couldn’t hit my note but it didn’t seem to bother me, the congregation or the team. Once we were finished we congratulated each other and quickly chatted about how great the newbies were. I lowkey don’t like that term but, I am new to the team after all. We settle in for the rest of the service and it was great. I felt a shift in myself that day and, I’m still trying to figure out what exactly changed.

Throughout the week my voice gets worst and worst. At a practice, I asked my leader how he drinks the disgusting recipe he prescribed to me. He looked at me and said “Its just tea...”  Confusion began to flood my mind wondering “what happened to the olive oil?” Then it hit me… WATER AND OIL DONT MIX.

I know someone out there is wondering, “What’s the point?” By now, you should know there’s a method to my ramble. I mean we learn that water and oil don’t mix in like 5th-grade science class right? So why, at 26 years old, am I trying to mix them? And what does it have to do with not having my voice?  And what did this teach me? Well, here we go…

If you have a cup of water and pour oil into it what happens? The oil remains at the top of the water and you may even see some oil bubbles within the water but they definitely don’t mix. Don’t believe me? Google it! Or better yet do a quick science experiment when you’re done here. For me, this is the perfect depiction of my good and bad emotions. Water being the good, oil the bad.

The last couple of weeks have shown me that the volume of my voice doesn’t matter.  My first week of having no voice, I literally couldn’t do more than a whisper. In that week, I got more accomplished at my job than I had in a very long time. I went from hating the company I work for, on the verge of getting fired, to helping new members get started on the team and even worked on backlogs that needed to be completed.  My managers were thanking me for going above and beyond in a time that I could have been an even bigger burden.

(Side note: I wasn’t getting fired because I couldn’t do my job. It was the sad/angry coat of oil that was layered over my happiness. I was coming across as angry no matter what I said or did. I couldn’t see my wrongs so I blamed everyone around me, the customers, my managers, even my coworkers. At the end of the day, it was me.)

I realized it became more about the strength in my voice and the action behind it. My co-workers were listening to my whispers. My friends appeared to be gravitating to me, opposed to “not wanting to get sick.” Everyone was finally seeing me.  At a moment when it would have been so easy to fade into the background, even more, I was finally sanding out and in a good way.

Two weeks in, and my voice is almost back to “normal” and something in my heart is telling me, “You will never be voiceless again.” Now, this doesn’t mean I won’t ever feel like I can’t be heard. What has happened is now, I have a moment that I can reference when I do start to feel voiceless. If they can see and hear a woman who literally has no voice, then they can see and hear the woman with a voice. Remember, not only did they see and hear me but they cared about what I had to say.

So, back to the water and oil. No, they don’t mix, however, think about what happens when there an oil spill in a large body of water? THEY FILTER OUT THE OIL. That’s what I’m choosing to do with my life, filter out the bad and submerge myself in the good.

If you’ve made it to the end of this post, Thank You. Please know you’re voice has strength behind it and as long as you never lose your strength you will never be voiceless. As always, feel free to ask questions and/or leave feedback in the comments section. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook!

Beautiful Passionate Love

(All new post will be uploaded Saturdays by 12:30 EST)

I am BEAUTIFUL. I am PASSIONATE. I will LOVE.

The Master Plan

~Hey there!! I pray your week has been amazing thus far! Before we get started, I just want to take the time to remind you IT’S OKAY TO LAUGH! I laughed at myself constantly while writing this particular post. Looking at me today, you’d never know the mess of my yesterday. Enjoy!~

Ever since about the age of 16, I’ve had a master plan for my future family. I planned to be engaged by 21, married by 25 and pregnant by 26. I wanted a huge wedding where my Grandfather, who was also my Pastor, bound my husband and me together forever. We would have 3 children: first, our boy, then our girl, and the sex of the last child didn’t matter, we would love it just as much as the other two…

If your wondering who I planned all this with at the age of 16, the answer is… NO ONE!!!! I’m pretty sure was single at the time and if I wasn’t, it couldn’t have been anything serious because I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 18. (I know my mom was extream.) Now that doesn’t mean I didn’t date or experience heartbreak, that just means I had some serious “pholationships,” phone relationships,  oppose to up close and personal ones.  I never discussed marriage or being with them forever because I usually only saw them at school.

So, let me tell you how serious I was about this plan… Here I am fresh out of high school, going to MCC, a community college in my area, in my first official relationship. He was a pretty decent guy, a year older than me, in college and working. He didn’t have it all together, like me, but he was on track.  Literally, less than 6 months in I tell him about my master plan and he was like “Okay…”  Now for those of you that don’t know me, “Okay” means yes to me.  So in my head, I was 100% engaged!

Now, fast forward to the year and a half mark. things between said guys and I are going smooth. Lowkey, I have my entire wedding planned, just no ring.  Mind you I’m working at a jewelry store in the mall so all I do is look at rings! Pretty sure you’ll know what’s about to happen next. Yep, you guessed it… I start dropping hints. He would walk by my kiosk and I’d make sure to be standing at the ring section, or I’d be cleaning a ring that just happens to be my size and of course I’d have to try it on! I’m positive he noticed but he intentionally ignored me. I can be pretty annoying at times.

At our two year anniversary, I had just turned 21, I knew for a fact that he was giving me the ring of my dreams. I mean, I had already purchased it and  placed it on his side of the room with a note that read, “Pay me back after you propose.” (Please don’t sit here reading this and act like you’ve never done something absolutely insane!) We pull up to the restaurant of my choice, Chili’s, hold the judgment, we were still college kids and money was tight on both ends.

After hours of eating, laughing, and exchanging gifts, we paid and left the restaurant. HE NEVER EVEN MENTIONED THE RING OR THE NOTE. You know I had a WHOLE attitude right? Now we’re driving home and he’s trying to ignore my eye rolling and teeth sucking while singing Lotus Flower Balm by Wale. The song was big at the time but, my attitude was bigger!

We get home and are supposed to be watching a movie. I’m on Facebook writing subliminal messages about how all guys are the same (Blah Blah Blah)… you know how that goes. He finally gives in and asks me what wrong and I explode! I told him I would not spend another day with him without a ring. I know… childish but in my head, he had no choice but to give me my ring now… Absolutely wrong, he had other choices, I was just too stubborn to see them. I woke up the next morning and he had left me a note… “Return the ring and maybe we can talk…

I’m sure someone reading this is wonder what the point of this story is… There are tons but I’ll give you a couple. This generation (my generation) is so stuck on all things happening their way when they feel it should. That mindset is the very thing crippling us! Clearly, I don’t have it all together, I mean  I’M ON A JOURNEY TO DISCOVER WHO I AM. I say that to say this, I don’t know it all and will never claim to know it all. What I do know is some of the mistakes I’ve made and the obstacles those mistakes have caused me to go through could have been avoided.  Here are two things I’ve learned to stop doing…

  • STOP TRYING TO PLAN EVERY SECOND OF YOUR LIFE.

Take a second to realize how much life you’re missing out on by trying to plan everything. Until the age of 25 I found myself trying to get back on track with this master plan. I remember even thinking, “If I’m not married by 26 I’ll just have a baby so that I will at least fulfill one of the steps in my plan.” How crazy does that sound? I was okay with risking being a single mother as long as I stayed on schedule. I’m so thankful, I didn’t risk my children’s future for structure. An even more frightening fact is, about 4 years after he and I broke up, I did get engaged. In that engagement, I wasn’t happy to be starting my life with someone I loved, I was happy that I wasn’t too far off track. What type of marriage would that have been if we had gone through with it? (A short one…)

  • YOU CAN’T CHANGE THE MINDSET OF ANYONE BUT YOU.

I thought by giving him an ultimatum that would change the fact that he wasn’t ready to get married. All it did was change his decision to be with me… Now, I’m not at all saying he and I would be together to this day if I hadn’t done what I did, I don’t believe that to be true. I do, however, believe that we could have learned a lot more from each other about ourselves. I know I could have at least. The truth is, we remained friends for about 4 years after our breakup and it was one of the most genuine friendships I’ve ever experienced. I watched him grow into a completely different person than the one I originally met! He’s actually getting married on October 31st and I wish them nothing but love and prosperity!!

Now, at the age of 26, I look back and admit I was in NO WAY ready for marriage back then. I’m still not ready if I’m being totally honest. The thought of marriage is still so beautiful and precious to me and I know the me that I see today isn’t ready for that precious gift, AND THAT’S OKAY!!!! I use to say “I can’t wait to get married” now, I realize I am very excited about that time/journey in my life but, I can and will wait. I often reflect on the choice I made to embark on this journey– discovering me– and I wonder, “How was I going to marry someone when I have no idea who I am…

Thank you for spending some time with me today! As always, feel free to ask questions and/or leave feedback in the comments section. Don’t forget to like us on Facebook!

Beautiful Passionate Love

(All new post will be uploaded Saturdays by 12:30 EST)

I am BEAUTIFUL. I am PASSIONATE. I will LOVE.