Just Me

I was born a fighter.  I’m sure God must have known what I’d endure over my lifetime and He just decided to build me to last.  I can remember the exact day life as I’d known it had changed.  I was in seventh grade and I just knew.  That morning, I woke up a confused, withdrawn, sad and very angry child.  That was all I could think to be at that time.  I had lots of questions but no one I trusted to answer them so I learned to be silent.  I let my attitude and anger speak for me.  I often heard people say, “what’s wrong with her”, yet no one asked me directly.

Adults are funny that way.  Instead of facing issues directly, they make excuses for why children behave a certain way or they choose to ignore it altogether.  Getting to the heart of the matter may shine light on their own insecurities so they teach children to be quiet and what children learn to do is suffer in silence. What we all end up with are generational curses that span decades.  Children who learn to be silent become adults who often suffer through abusive relationships, allow anger to fuel promiscuity, develop mental heath issues or other toxic, unhealthy problems.  The cycle continues until one brave soul decides to break the curse.

 

Very few people know my story.  For me, there has to be a need to share it.  I have to know that the person who hears it will benefit from it in some way.  Other than that, they are mere words spoken with no direction or path.  As I’ve gotten older and have had the opportunity to share my story, I usually hear one of two things, “how have you not lost your mind” and “you should write a book.”  I always laugh because there was a time when I thought I had “lost my mind.”  In order to cope with all that I had endured up to that point in my life, I simply became someone else.  Due to the fact that I’d lost my identity at such a young age, through my anger and frustration, I learned to be the person everyone expected me to be.  Yet, I never felt quite right.  I didn’t have balance.

I lived my life in this crazy limbo until I was twenty-eight years old.  I had the privilege to meet this great lady, whom I affectionately refer to as Shug, at a point when my anger and false persona was causing more grief than help.  She literally spoke life into me.  Over the course of about a year, she changed my life and opened my eyes to the endless possibilities that I’m still riding today.  She gave me direction which is something I hadn’t had since I was about twelve years old.  She asked the hard questions, expected truthful answers, pressed and pushed until I was ready cut her out of my life forever.  I am thankful and grateful that she never quit.  Prior to Shug, I thought my anger made me a fighter.  She helped me to see that my true resilience, perseverance and innate ability to believe that there is more to me and my life than what people see or may perceive is what makes me a fighter.

It’s just in me to keep pushing.  I don’t quit.  When I look back over my life and reflect on all that I have lived through, the fires I’ve walked through and all those who told me I’d never amount to anything I think, “wow, look at that! If that didn’t stop me…nothing will.”  And I don’t quit!  Everyday is not my best day and I’m not always as positive as I should be.  I have my moments.  I cry, scream and if you catch me on a good day, I might even throw something.  However, I’ve learned not to stay in that place of anger because no one can get a level head when they are fueled with anger.  When my anger begins to subside, I pray, listen and plan.  (I’m learning to pray in my anger.  Not all the way there yet.)  I encourage myself and remind this girl that she is a fighter.

Through it all, I’ve always come out better than I went in.  Tension, challenges and struggles will produce growth if you don’t quit.

Planted but not buried…😊

 

The Importance of Sisterhood

I was very lucky to find a great friend early in life.  She is usually the first person I call when anything happens in my life.  Currently, we live on opposite sides of the country, she’s in California and I’m in Florida.  We met at church when we were about nine or ten years old.  We are the same age, our birthday’s are on the same day, different months (she’s in December, I’m in September), and we were born at the same hospital.  To say that we were meant to be is an understatement for us.  I only get to see her once a year but for us nothing has changed except a plane ride.

Over the years I’ve tried to form bonds with other girls/women but the friendships never seemed to connect well.  I think it’s mostly because of me though.  I’ve had some really bad friendships with some who claimed to be a friend but ended up doing or saying something that caused me to not trust them and to pull away.  I learned to keep my circle of friends very small.  Basically, it was just my friend Swayla and my sister.

Recently, I’ve come to understand that creating a sisterhood can be very important in a women’s life.  A sisterhood, community of women, can help to strengthen one other when a safe place can be created that allows women to openly and honestly share with one another.  Two weeks ago I was invited to a gathering at coworker’s house.  While she and I do talk periodically by phone, we don’t hang out or meet up regularly.  I am not one to attend too many get-togethers because I don’t want to open myself up to false friendships.  However, I wanted to support my coworker who was hosting because I find her to be very kind and genuine.

Surprisingly, I had a very nice time.  What stood out to me most that afternoon was the story my coworker told about a group of women she recently began working out with.  At a stressful point in her life, my coworker decided that she wanted to start working out to clear her mind and relieve stress.  After some research, she came across this group of women who met to work out together.  In this group, they not only support one another during work outs but have created a sisterhood to support one another inside and outside of the gym.  They support each others goals, hold one another accountable and regularly meet up to personally check in.

Through her story I learned three important aspect of building trusting, lasting friendships.

First, to find a friend, one must show themselves as a friend.

Second, connect with like-minded people.

Third, don’t be afraid to share your story because God didn’t intent for us to walk this journey alone.

As I have continued to read Craving Connection, I have learned what it means to be a friend and also how silence about my pain and struggles can sometimes push me into isolation and make me fearful of letting others in.  While I am not suggesting that you go out and blab your business to everyone in order to find friends but start small.  Look around the outer ring of your current circle of friends.  See if there is one or two women you could possible have a deeper connection with.  Invite them to lunch or coffee and hang out.  The more you are around them the more you may feel comfortable and this may help you to open up more.  Some friendships may simply be general and pleasant from a distance and that’s ok.  The overall goal is to not isolate yourself to the point where you are not reaching out or growing to your full potential.  Work on developing relationships that will stretch, support and encourage you.

 

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. – Maya Angelou

 

 

Morning Drive – Part 2

So a few days ago I posted about my struggles with my morning drive to work and the subsequent solution to my problem.  Now that I am having an extended quiet time as I drive to work listening to positive people discuss positive things I must say that not only is my attitude better but I am learning a ton.

I totally agree that Smartphones can be so very annoying in that they seem to be all up in our business based on things we search and apps we use.  Of course, YouTube does the same thing and posts in your feed videos that are similar to those you’ve watched and searched for.  My go to morning inspiration person from YouTube is Pastor John Gray.  Every now and again when I want to switch it up a bit I listen to Joyce Meyer or Priscilla Shirer.

Then last week as I was scrolling through YouTube looking for a new message for the day I came across this Pastor named Michael Todd of Transformation Church in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Man, have I been encouraged on my drive this week!  When I began listening to Pastor Todd he was beginning an eight week series on what he titled Relationship Goals.

In this series he talks about all aspects of relationships; friendships, dating, engagement and marriage relationships.  I have learned so much from this series. I am currently on Part Five and plan to finish the series and maybe even listen to more from him later on.  I think the most important thing I have taken away from this series so far is that relationships of any kind will only work best when God is in the middle.

I can definitely see how that can be true.  From personal experience, I notice that the more I grow in my relationship with God the more I feel disconnected from the relationships/friendships I have with others who do not have a personal relationship with God.  I’m growing and changing in a way that is different from theirs.  Of course I’m not saying that I am in anyway better and they are less, it’s just different.

The more I learn about God and myself, the more I want to do better.  It’s kind of hard to grow and do better in relationships with those that don’t hold you accountable or encourage you to to better.  When those around you don’t grow in away that promotes the best of God it can be difficult to maintain a positive and successful relationship with them.  If they are still hanging out in the same places, using the same language, behaving in the same way you both did before you decided to build a relationship with God, then it stands to serve that your relationship with them will not be the same.

I know that I am much different now than I was prior to my relationship with God. I still have some of the same friends however the friendships are different.  I have to set boundaries not only for myself but for them as well.  However, those friendships that attempted to hinder my relationship with God had to be severed. I still love them and wish them the best but my relationship with God was much more important.

Moving on…:)

A Growth Mindset

This year,  my school’s theme is Grit.  Our goal is to build academic skills through teaching students self-awareness, passion, perseverance and an overall growth mindset.  Thinking about themes from my previous school years, it has been a while since I’ve really connected with one and had been able to incorporate it into my teaching.  This year’s theme is one that I can make personal in my life as well as blend it into my teaching.  Over the years I have noticed how education has moved from what seemed like a “whole child” approach to what feels like a “just barely touching the surface” approach to teaching.

Although I absolutely love what I do, the past few years in the classroom have been a blur.  There is so much that the kids are required to learn, know and be able to do that it felt like I was always “on” and really didn’t have a chance or the time to get to know my students.  It is expected that the behaviors and attitudes of students will change from year to year but it seemed that the more pressure we put on students to perform academically and on standardized tests, the worse the behaviors and attitudes got.  From the moment students set foot on campus, they are expected to perform academically with no end in sight for the next seven to seven in a half hours.

This growth mindset feature of our school’s theme this year, I think, will not only help students find and develop their passion and educational purpose but also expose teachers to a new way of viewing students.  Our districts theme, the past few years has been, Preparing Students for Life.  I think once we teach students how to build resilience and tenacity within, they will then be able to see the need for developing their academic skills.

On a personal note, I love the thought of the growth mindset.  I have always believed that perseverance and hard work will go a long way.  I can never give up because hope and something better is just around the next corner.  I heard a talk show host a few days ago say, “keep the faith and never give up.  Believe that God will do just what he said he will do but losing faith is like moving to Despair Blvd.  All of God’s blessing will be delivered to you on Faith St and that is where you need to stay. You move and you will miss God’s blessings.”

Never stop growing…:)