Be True to Yourself

As life comes at me from every angle I am learning to find time alone to just listen.  We fight so many fights against so many people and the tactics we use to fight sometimes makes us change who we are.  We are so used to being defensive, so used to protecting ourselves and so used to going through so many ups and downs that we lose ourselves.  We lose who we really are and who we were created to be.  Being adaptable in certain situations is necessary for survival but changing the essence of our spirit and heart steers us off the path of greatness.  Everybody doesn’t want to be great. Some people would rather sulk in their mediocrity instead of pushing to break out of that box and discover more.

If you are on a mission, do what you know is right, help others when you can, but through it all continue to be true to yourself.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

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My FREE Nurse/Lawyer Advice

As a recipeint of two very vital degrees, I have come to realize that people will call you at random times, on random days for random things.  And that is okay because that means they value my opinion and trust that I will provide sound advice.  But there are a few things that I would like to share from a nursing perspective and from a legal perspective that everyone should know.  This is very basic information that is available on the internet, told to us in various ways, but yet we still don’t listen.  So here goes my free advice that is neither legally binding or information you should solely depend on but key information to consider.

Nursing Advice

1. If you are having an ache, pain, weird feeling or just have not been to the doctor in a long time, please GO TO THE DOCTOR.  If you call me with a mystery disease, I am going to tell you, “Go to the doctor!” I will not be held liable for anyones misdiagnosis and failed opportunity to treat because they listened to me as I Googled their symptoms.

2. If you or your loved one is in the hospital for 30 seconds or 30 days, please make sure that someone is present with you/them during visiting hours to watch everything that people are doing and to make sure your family member is being treated right.  Additionally, make sure EVERYONE (doctor, nurse, tech, aide) washes their hands as they come and go. Hospital acquired infections KILL.

3. If you do not have insurance, it does not meant that you should neglect your health.  There are opportunities to get your blood pressure checked, free clinics, ambulatory services and other forms of free treatment that you can access to maintain your health until you get some type of coverage.  Do not be above seeking government funded medical insurance because although we may be on the younger side of life, diseases have no boundaries.

4. Sign up to be a donor. Honestly, I am not sure why people don’t want to donate their organs if they die because you can take them with you but they won’t be doing you any good anymore.  I can spit statistics on racial demographics of those who donate and those who do not but we all know the basics and the only solution is that you sign up to donate your organs so that someone doesn’t have to decide later.

Read. Share. Sign up.

http://donatelife.net/organ-donation/

http://bethematch.org/support-the-cause/donate-bone-marrow/donation-faqs/

5. This is nurse/lawyerish (i.e. covers both areas): Let your medical desires be known to your family.  It would be great if everyone had a Living will aka advance directive, a document that advises your family of your medical wishes if your health fails, but knowing the average person (including myself), this is not on our priority list.  So, in order to minimize any potential drama, discuss your wishes with your closest family members and make sure everyone is on the same page and clear.  You can memorialize it unofficially and then take the final step and get an official advance directive.  (I can let you know how much this costs later).

Lawyerish (I am not a barred attorney and therefore my statements are that of experience and basic rights of the Constitution)

1. Create a Will.  This is different from a living will because this directs what will happen to your personal property and who will get what.  We all know what happens when people do not create wills.  Family drama at the funeral but this can all be avoided by simply getting a will well in advance of any incidents and keeping it updated.  For this you need a lawyer.  Not a generalized form you found online but a barred attorney who can guide you through the process and protect your interest.

2. BE CAUTIOUS WHEN TALKING TO THE POLICE. This is not apart of the anti-snitching campaign but serious advice for anyone who may encounter a police officer for any other reason than seeking help. Read this in its entirety and share with everyone you know: https://www.aclu.org/drug-law-reform-immigrants-rights-racial-justice/know-your-rights-what-do-if-you.  The  ACLU lays it out clearly.

3. DO NOT FIGHT THE POLICE. If you feel that you are being wrongfully arrested, do not hit a police officer. You will be charged with a crime even if they find that they did not have the right to arrest you.  The article above discusses this topic also. Although this will not stop all police brutality, it will keep innocent parties from going to jail.

4. Find a lawyer.  Everyone should have a lawyers number handy.  Seriously.  If you ever run into a lawyer and they give you their business card, keep it.  You never know when you will need them.  Surprisingly, life happens and having a lawyer on speed dial will help you get through those first few rough moments.

5. Know your rights.  This is not just in a criminal setting but even at work or as a property owner.  Knowing your rights can save you from being fired or losing your home.  Read your job’s employee handbook and follow the rules.  Air on the side of caution or ask for clarification if you have questions.  Know your rights and responsibilities as a property owner.  There are still many predatory lenders seeking to devour new home owners and you do not want to be that person that loses their investment because you did not read the fine print.  Be clear. Ask questions. Know what you don’t know and get more information on that.

 

DISCLAIMER: None of what is stated in this blog is legally binding.  If you read any of this advice and depend on it and attempt to sue me, you will only get dust because I owe a mansion in student loans.  This in no way is meant to create an attorney-client relationship.

Too Unworthy To Be Used

We are only limited by our imagination.  A statement that has been said in many ways by many different people.  If you can really think about the idea that is being conveyed through these words, then you will understand the power of you.  The only person that is holding you back from greatness and glory is you and the limitations you place on yourself.

Around 5 years ago I really got in tune with God.  I heard the voice of God very clearly but every time I would start to get close to breaking through a threshold where I was tapping into something so deep and so meaningful, I would retreat back to my cave of fear.  I would come back to my man-made created darkness and go through all of the reasons why I was unworthy of greatness.

Me? You want to use me? Why me? I don’t come from a perfect background.  I have struggled through the hell of poverty, been homeless, been shamed and ashamed, been too black, too fat, too stupid or just plain wrong.  Why would you choose someone as broken, as crazy, as loud, as emotional, as weak as me God.  I am not worthy enough to be used.

After years of arguing and playing tug of war with my destiny, I stopped complaining and making so much noise and listened again to God.  And He said, “Because you have been through poverty, homelessness, been shamed and ashamed, too black, too fat, too stupid or just plain wrong.  For all of these reasons I choose you to go forth and be a light to those just like you.  A light to those who want to give up and retreat back to their manmade cave of darkness.  There are many more like you than there are unlike you.”

So many of us have gone through the trials of life and survived and that is a truth that has to be shared.  Especially in a day and age where perfection is just a click away, a commercial away, a reality show away.  In a time where some of our girls are racing to pack on make-up, afford the highest designer fashions by any means necessary, and even willing to risk their lives with illegal or improper surgical enhancements.  Where some our young men glorify violence, rob, steal and kill their own and are dying to wear designers.  Where our intelligent young girls and boys are not getting the proper resources and support they need to succeed.  Where our children are marked in Kindergarten for a path to college or to jail.  The TRUTH has to begin to speak louder than the lies of Hollywood, the stories of reality tv, and the rhetoric of the news.  We have to begin to define and create the identity of beauty, unity, of greatness.

This is for everyone who can’t get past that certain point of greatness.  The one who keeps stopping or retreating back to that place of comfort.  For the broken young girl who is growing through those pains.  For the young boy who is vowing to be greater.  This is for the TRUTH.  This is for everyone who was told or ever thought that they were too unworthy to be used.  You are where you are so that you can help someone else.  You have gone through what you have gone through so you can save someone else.  Our lives are not our own.  Our stories are not our own.  Our truth is not our own.

My blog was never supposed to be spiritual or preaching any type of gospel.  It was an avenue for me to get out many of the things that I am supposed to share.  But my TRUTH is that God has a plan for my life greater than I can even imagine.  I may never hold a title, stand in a pulpit or be on the Word channel, but every opportunity I get, I have to share what He has put in my spirit.

It is my story.  It is my destiny.  It is my truth.  You are worthy to be used.  Let Him use you.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Do not be anxio…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Phillippians 4:6

When things seem to be spiraling out of control, take a step back from it all and have a quiet moment with God.  Make your desires and needs known to Him and let Him transform a seemingly large problem into effective solutions.  In the quiet of that moment, your sincerity and honesty is what God wants to see.  He wants to see you vulnerable and submitting to the great things He has in store for you. People can make suggestions but God is the only problem solver.  He can use those who you would never reach out to, to turn your problems around.  Don’t be anxious.  Pray.  Be thankful.  Make your requests known.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Positive Parenting: The Road to Transforming an Overthinking Control Freak

All parents should know that he who knows patience knows peace. Chinese Proverb

 

My friend’s mother gave my husband and I a book, “The Power of Positive Parenting,” a collection of bible verses, quotes and humorous statements about parenting.  When I first received the book, I read a few of the quotes and I immediately started to chuckle on the inside.  The quotes and statements reminded me that I am not the first parent to be driven crazy by a child who wouldn’t listen or the first to be so sleepy and delirious that my child ended up in the bed with me many more nights than not.  Parenting is a journey that will take you on a roller coaster higher and lower than any you can ever dream of. One of the lessons that I am learning as a fairly new parent is that this journey is not about just raising my son but transforming myself.

I am a very detail oriented, very meticulous, over thinking control freak.  I want things done a certain way, every time and I know that my way is best because I have thought or tried the alternatives and it has failed or looks like it will fail.  So when children come into your life and you are used to being hung up on the details, your entire method of daily living is derailed, in a good way. In the early days I have been dressed and ready to walk out the door and either my son would pee or release a poop that would seep out of his clothes and all the way up his back.  As he got older, I had to get him ready and then put him in a place that he wouldn’t move so that I could get ready.  That was the downside of him crawling, walking and then learning how to run!  And now we are at the point where we are tip toeing down the potty training road, so bathroom visits, extra pull ups and underwear are now our primary focus.  He understands now that when its time to go to get his shoes and backpack which helps but not having everything by the door causes me to run in and out and back in until finally I am exhausted and running too late to care about grabbing anything else.

Living in a city full of traffic, you have to be prepared at all times with snacks and planned places to stop to grab food if you are unable to get home before dinner time.  You have to leave early just in case there is an accident or a detour.  You have to know where to find the cheapest gas and when is the safest times to go.  You go from worrying about your own safety to protecting your child and their innocence at all times. For those without children, it may seem like I am being dramatic or over exaggerating, but in reality you cannot even put into words what it is to be a parent to a child, let alone more than one.  You get to watch this little being grow, learn and transform before your very eyes, but you also start to look in the mirror and see yourself changing into someone you weren’t a year or two ago.  You see yourself leaving baskets of laundry around the house because you don’t have the time to fold them perfectly and unmet edges are not going to cut it.  You see yourself scrapping tv time for outside play time and walks down the street to see your neighbors so your son can wave and make them smile.  You find yourself beating yourself up for raising your voice or getting upset, because now that you have calmed down you realized your child wasn’t being disobedient but just curious, as they should be.

You see yourself transforming from good to better.  I am a better person because I am a parent.  I am learning what is important in life and what is not worth the worry and the stress.  There is no perfect parent.  Successful children come from homes of varying socio-economic statuses, neighborhoods and parental make-ups.  Some parents are more hands on than others, some are great providers, while many others invest all of their time, attention and money into their child while putting their own dreams on hold.  Every parent can look back and think about things that they would have done differently, better or more.  In parenting, there is no beginning and there is no end.  There is a continuum of life and love that moves like the waves in the sea.  High tides and low tides.  Great moments and not so great moments.  But many lessons to be learned and shared with those around you, especially fairly new parents like me.

For me, my biggest challenge is to learn patience.  Over the years, God has tried to teach me in various ways, but I still reverted back to my impatient ways.  So one day he blessed me with a permanent lesson of patience.  I have failed many times at being that patient loving mom that I want to be, but I keep trying.  Every moment is a new test.  Every failure is a new lesson.  Positive parenting is not a task for me to use on my son, but for me to use on myself. Positive parenting is a journey to transform my mindset, myself, and my spirit.  God is working on me and he has already given me the reward for my future transformation.  My son is so sweet, smart and kind.  He is a loving child who is like most boys, busy and rambunctious.

My time away from him has given me time to review my parenting style and to cherish my job as a mother.  It is one of the most important and the one that pays the most. I always appreciate the wisdom of mothers who have been where I am.  Their words are affirming and encouraging.  I am placing my book on top of my dresser as a reminder and an outlet to look at when I am struggling with my patience.  We all have work to do.  Some work takes longer but I know this transformation won’t take a lifetime.  Soon I will be a more patient parent, detail oriented, very meticulous, over thinking control freak.  Because that is who I am.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

No More Obligations

 

NeeNee and Papa

Married for 49 years and 10 months

When you finally feel like you have life under control, something comes and knocks you right off of your feet to remind you of how unpredictable life can be.  My heart had already sensed that a tragedy was going to strike, but I knew that I could not change it so I tried to brace for it.  You cannot brace for death, no matter how many times you tell your self that death can be easier than life because your family member does not have to suffer anymore.

Last Wednesday morning was a complete whirlwind.  I received a call from my aunt that my grandfather had suddenly become ill.  Although they had not pronounced him dead, I knew in my heart that his battle on this side was finally over.  I began to cry and try to figure out how I was going to get home on such short notice and then the second call came, informing me that my grandfather had a massive stroke and that he was not going to recover from this one.

In those last few minutes of his life, my family rushed to get everyone together to say their last goodbyes.  I sat at my desk and tried to be apart of that moment through the phone as my family gathered at his hospital bed.  I got a short glimpse at him and said goodbye and I love you through blinding tears.  Within minutes he released his last breath and his soul was set free to the other side.

Then the tears began to flow even more.  The wails of grief rang through my silent house.  I began to contact my other family to inform them of my grandfather’s sudden departure.  And the stages of grief immediately set in.   DENIAL.

This could not be real.  This could not be happening.  This could not be happening right now.  Not during my bar prep.  Not when I didn’t have a plan to get home.    Not while our family was already dealing with so much else.  Not right now.  Not today.

As the hours passed and I decided that I could wait no more, I jumped in my car, prayed and set forth on my journey home.  I arrived into a whirlwind of emotions.  Everyone was dealing with this sudden lost of our patriarch in their own way.  The next few days was a roller coaster of moments.  Some preparing for my Papa’s farewell, while others were full of tension and distress.

I remained emotionally stable for the most part but all my built up strength crumbled onto the notes of Safe in His Arms in the service that paid homage to his life.  The reality set in that my grandfather was gone forever.  I could no longer call him and ask for advice about my car, talk about current events or update him on Baby Adam’s new achievement. I never got a chance to repay him for his many sacrifices and self-less acts that made me the woman I am today.  He always believed in me and my dreams.  He never wavered in his love for any of us.  He had a heart full of unconditional love spread evenly across each child, grandchild and great-grandchild.  He did everything he wanted to do, which was to simply care for us and give us better opportunities.

As I stroll through the last four stages of grief, staggering back and forth between depression and acceptance, I am comforted by the words No More Obligations.  These words were shared a few months ago at a memorial service for a professor who had passed away.  His friend shared these words of comfort with us and they never left my soul.  So I embrace the fact that my grandfather has No More Obligations.  No more appointments, no more medications, no more leg braces and wheel chairs.  No more dependence, no more restrictions, no more stress or strains.

As I deal with this loss and the minor set back in my study schedule, I am comforted in knowing that God has placed another guardian angel in my corner to guide me along the way.  Grandparents are special people.  Grandparents are even more special when they step into the shoes of your parents.  And for that, I am grateful.

Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

Papa Thinking

Never Complained. Just loved and lived.

What is Ambition?

Dreams + Action = Ambition

Ambition can be seen as a verb.  A verb conveys an action.  Ambition conveys you to use drive, determination, perseverance, resilience, and courage to elevate and complete the steps necessary to fulfill your dreams.  Ambition is taking the dream that no one may believe in, and writing out a plan of action.  Ambition is taking the plan of action and working on it day after day after day.  Ambition is failing and still believing in yourself.  Ambition is making small success along the way.  Ambition is starting a movement with just a few friends and creating a change that affects the world.  Ambition is getting an education or a job to help your family.  Ambition is getting up everyday to provide for your family as you try to remain passionate about your dream.  Ambition is being involved in your community, reaching back to lift as you climb.

Outside forces are diluting the hard work that goes into the word ambition.  The legs, backs and shoulders that ambition stands on did not dream, wake up then succeed.  They dreamed, failed, became doubtful and then kept dreaming.  Ambition allows you to develop your craft.  Ambition pushes you when you have become complacent.  Ambition is not fancy cars, clothes and houses.  Ambition is having more than enough, being fulfilled physically, spiritually and mentally.  Ambition is being in a place you never thought you would get to because someone kept telling you that you are undeserving, unqualified or unworthy.

Ambition. The word begets a cloud of dreams when you say it. Ambition.  It brings forth hope and power.  Ambition.  The blood begins to rush through your body and adrenaline kicks in saying, “Do something now!”  Ambition is not benefitting from an activity that diminishes those around.  Ambition is not elevating while tearing others down.  Ambition is not succeeding while everyone else around you fails.  Ambition is power.  Ambition is strength.  Ambition is also grace.

Be ambitious in your words and actions.  Be ambitious as you smile through it all. Be you.  Do you.  Tell your story.  On your own terms.

Nobody Owes You Anything

Nobody owes you anything.  Not your parents, your friends or your loved ones.  No matter how much you have sacrificed, supported or submitted for them, their present or future decisions do not have to benefit you or your dreams.  This premise sounds harsh and unnatural, but it is reality.  Once you are able to separate your success for others support, you realize that with or without them you will still get the job done.

When you go through life with an attitude that you are owed nothing from anyone, you are more likely to give freely to everyone you come in contact with.  If your love is not conditioned on a returned gift, you love, give and engage without limits.  There is a sense of freedom that comes with this spirit and a counter spirit that burdens you to continuously invest and inspire others.

If you wake up thinking that someone owes you something that they will never give, you will lie in wait wasting precious time going through unnecessary turmoil for a promise that you never received.  Your expectations in life will determine your outlook, your connections and how far you will rise.  There is a sense of power that comes with this mind-set.  You aren’t waiting for one person to enrich you, so you are welcoming when others see something in you and support you in ways you could have never predicted.

When your mind and spirit are free from chains that connect you to people who cannot see the dream, you begin to adopt their way of thinking and self-doubt creeps in and takes over.  But when you release the chains from everyone and appreciate the love of support from anyone, you give the key to your success to the universe.  Instead of forcing your way through doors, doors suddenly begin to open for you.  Instead of begging for opportunities, opportunities suddenly show up at your door step.  Instead of waiting for something to happen, you start grinding and putting in the work to make sure you are ready for YOUR moment.

One monkey don’t stop no show.  These aren’t just words but an attitude that allows you to step over, around or go under anyone who is in your way.  Change your mind then you will change your perception.  Change your perception and you will see things that were always there but you were too blind to see.  Your brain sees, but your eyes project.  So when my professor said, “You see and you see,” I understood the second see was going to happen when I changed my mind to see differently.

Life is too short to wait for unfulfilled promises.  If you wait for that promise to be fulfilled, you may miss out on many others that would have helped you to fulfill your mission.  The only person that is holding you up is you.  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your own story.  On your own terms.

 

When Taking Risks Leaves You Broke

I take a lot of risks.  I just live.  I think about something I want to do and I do it.  I always pray about it, do a balancing test but in the end even if the good outweighs the bad 51% to 49%, I am going to go for it.  Going to college was a risk.  Taking a job in Baltimore while all of my friends were still in DC was a huge risk.  Moving back to DC because I couldn’t take Baltimore anymore was an even bigger risk.  Leaving my job to go back to law school…RISK!

Although these sound like calculated decisions, which in many ways they were, in many ways they were not.  I have given all of my furniture away and slept on the floor of a family members house, slept in an empty apartment, went without cable and TV and much more because I am more risky than calculated.

Many times this decision has left me broke.  Prior to law school, I always paid my bills on time and lived off what I had left.  I worked ridiculous amounts of overtime so I could at least enjoy my weekends regardless of bills, but my risky decisions have left me in tears many nights, trying to figure out how I was going to pay for something I needed.

Surprisingly, I have never had to go without.  I am the Queen (ask my Twnnie) of getting random checks in the mail. GOD PROVIDES.  I have amazing friends who always come through in the clutchest of moments and now I have a supportive husband who is self-less and extremely humble.  But I am still hard on myself for not being the perfect saver.

Through this apparent self-pity party I realized that despite all of my many risk, everything has always worked out.  I received a grant for two years to pay for my undergrad loans.  When I moved back to DC, I met amazing friends and expanded my support system.  Law school was one of the best intellectual experiences I have ever experienced thus far.  My options in life are limitless and this is just the beginning.

I really am writing this post to remind myself that everything has always worked out.  That these anxiety attacks are the work of the enemy because there is something greater to come.  One day I will be in a position to help little girls like me and more importantly, I possess more in life than money can buy.

I want to be that person who has the suggested amount of savings, can lend people money without ever needing it back, and can live without ever being broke.  At this point, I know it will take time, patience, and a financial adviser (one is already on speed dial).  But I am happy, I am blessed, I have no regrets and I have done everything in life that I have ever wanted to do and will continue to take risks in the future.

Don’t be so hard on yourself and don’t focus on your imperfections.  If you were perfect you wouldn’t need God, your friends or anyone else.  It takes time to build an empire and your steps are ordered.  See the past 27 years of your life (insert your age for mine).  Be you.  Do you.  Tell your story.  On your own terms.