In The Valve, I described what it felt like to reach a pressure point. Tonight, Sweetheart, I’m going to give you some practical tips to regroup after you’ve emptied out. Sometimes it’s a struggle, but the more you do it, the easier you can reach for it when you need it.
Remember who you are, not what you feel. I read Bible verses that remind me of whom I belong. I may feel like crap or be treated like it in a situation, but how I feel doesn’t reprogram the Truth of who I am. What I feel is valid; however, I have to live like I’m still wearing a crown. If you need suggestions, here are a few.
Write it out. If you’re like me, sometimes (who am I kidding… most times) I don’t feel like talking when I need to do so. On most occasions, instead of venting to a friend, I’ll release it on the page. I have cheap notebooks and fancy journals — it doesn’t matter. A page is a page. The beauty of writing is that it’s between you and you. Sometimes I talk to God through the pen and by the end of the sequence, His spirit has answered my questions.
Be still. When was the last time you paid attention to your breath and heartbeat? One of the most valuable lessons I learned in college was how to stop for a few minutes to check-in with myself. Each heartbeat is a blessing. Each breath is a beauty. If you have a high-energy personality, set a timer for 15 seconds. Put your hand over your heart and focus on it. Tune everything else out. After a few days, try 30 seconds. Work your way up to 5 minutes. You can say truthful sayings or Bible verses between exhales or stay silent. This practice saved me on many lunch breaks so I could return to work in a calmer state of mind.
Solo jam. – If you know me personally, you know that music runs through my veins. Another way I fill up is to jam to some favorite songs. I could be driving, standing in a check-out line, walking, or in my kitchen. The location is irrelevant. If you have a friend that can jam it out with you — even better.
So, if you see me out and about and I’m bobbin’ my head and snapping my fingers, you know what’s up. Ask me what I’m listening to and join in. lol
One of my favorite things to do is stargazing. As a child, I had an astronomy book to help me locate the constellations and understand the galaxies. It was fascinating. I would look outside my window when my mother fell asleep and let my imagination run completely wild. Somewhere in the world, there was another child looking at the same star as me. I was taking a nap on the crescent moon unafraid of heights. I could walk on the clouds.
As an adult, there’s nothing like looking up at the end of the day and realizing how small my problems are. I see the night sky as a midnight blue blanket sprinkled with twinkling promises of God loves for me. I smile every time at the thought of that Truth. Regardless of what is going on in my world, looking up inspires me to keep going.
Though they are far away, they are clear reminders that cause me to stare in awe. They are silently loud. I pray that God’s Light in me is able to be seen for thousands of miles. Onlookers will see me but admire the Father. Admire His Spirit. Honor His Glory.
When you go about your week, I want you to remember that you’re covered. You’re safe in His arms. You are Loved. You are protected. Your problems can only overtake you when you forget those stars. Breathe, look up, and smile every chance you get.
As you wind down for the day, I pray this message reaches you with good health in mind, body, and spirit. I can’t wait to share what I heard this week.
One of my favorite athletes is Manny Pacquiao. No, I am not a boxer, but I admire the profession and Manny has earned my respect over the years.
On FOX Sports PBC FACE TO FACE, I watched undefeated Welterweight Keith “One Time” Thurman talk about how excited he will be when he defeats Filipino Senator and Legendary Champion Manny “Pac-man” Pacquiao. Frankly, he was talking a lot of trash with shots of cockiness. Thurman spoke jovially of Pacquiao’s age and career statistics. He said that he studied Manny’s fighting style and described ways he could penetrate his speed. I shook my head at the television while my athlete remained unphased on the screen.
The reason why Pacquiao is on my respect list is that he keeps his priorities straight — no matter what. I love how cool he is under pressure. I love how he keeps the main thing, the main thing – faith, family, then the fight. I appreciate his ability to train hard and serve his country equally hard. I admire his work-life balance. So, as I continued to watch the dialogue, I couldn’t help but notice the dichotomy in demeanor. In the midst of this observation, I heard 3 things that can help us prepare for battles in our lives.
1. There’s a difference between training to obtain and training to maintain.
Looking at sizzle reels of their training sessions revealed how different they trained. Thurman’s clip was grizzly. His workouts were aggressive. He explained his rise to fame and his teenage decision to choose boxing over academics. I loved it actually. So much passion at such a young age and still tenacious as ever. Pacquiao’s clip was seasoned and strategic. He looked like wisdom in motion, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my favorite. Their attitudes during exercises were visibly different as well. Thurman kept repeating his goal of being a history maker for bringing down his opponent. Pacquiao never mentioned him. It was like watching a car in the acceleration lane versus on the open road.
2. Let your fight talk for you.
The moderator asked for pre-, during, and post-fight predictions. Pacquiao had little say. His words were light, short, and clear. “I respect every opponent,” he said. When asked how the fight would end, he said that both fighters worked hard and made the fans happy. Thurman? In his best announcer voice, he claimed himself as the champion. Pacquiao smiled.
3. Let your enemy keep talking.
Throughout the entire session, there were opportunities for Pacquiao to retaliate with a fiery response. He let Thurman talk as much as he wanted and only spoke when asked a question by the moderator. His face didn’t flinch. He didn’t smirk. He didn’t grimace. His eyebrows didn’t furrow. He was calm. Even his instinctive blinks were undisturbed. I study communication like coaches study plays. I can’t deny my sentiments — I loved it. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking, but he definitely wasn’t moved.
So, on July 20, 2019, we’ll see words and training in action. Of course, I am #TeamPacquiao all day and regardless of the prediction, his character is a winner in my book. My prayer for us is that we take his lead when faced with situations underneath our royalty. Enemies always have a lot to say. Let your character be just as loud. Now, I’m not saying Thurman doesn’t have good character; I do not know him. What I am saying is stop engaging in every conversation as if you have something to prove. You don’t. Let your work speak for you.
Good Evening, Sweethearts! How are you? I hope you’re doing well. Here’s a thought for your week just in case.
I find myself saying “thank you” for the oddest things. Just this week, the wind wrapped Himself around me and it felt like a supernatural hug. I was overwhelmed with gratefulness, so I looked up and smiled at the sky. To someone else, that doesn’t make sense, but to me, it’s how I choose to live.
The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving. – Psalm 28:7
It’s easy to thank God for the good stuff. The stuff that feels warm and fuzzy. The good stuff that you don’t see coming. It takes skill to be grateful for the stuff that feels awful and unexpectedly hits you. You read correctly — I said skill, as in something you learn and hone over time and experience. Now, I don’t believe that God plays chess with our lives; some things we bring upon ourselves. It’s called volition and it can be a help and a hindrance.
The ability to make decisions is what saved my mouth from going into overdrive while I was paying a bill over the phone. I could have invoked the Earth-given privilege of speaking my mind, but in actuality, it would have been speaking my emotions. It would have been sharp, egregious, and unapologetic. In the mix of the moment, I chose to be grateful instead of spiteful. I thanked God that the payment amount was at the level I needed it to be and that my account was current. I also thanked the Lord that I had the money in which to pay it this month. It was a split-second decision (with a dash of reluctant maturity) to be grateful for the Truth and not distracted by the disrespect. It made me think of how quickly things can escalate at the drop of a word and how gratefulness saved the future chain of events.
This week, my prayer is that you find gratefulness in the little things that are truly big things to someone else. I pray that you say thank you to all of the “sandpaper” people in your office because they are making you smoother for your future. Find the moment. Dig for it if you have to. You don’t have to like it, but you may need to hold that “thank you item” in your hand to keep from crying or doing something destructive.
Have an awesome week out there. No stoking the fires, OK?
Good Evening, Sweethearts. Here’s a shortstop for your week.
What do you do when you’ve messed up? How do you handle it? Guilt and shame usually wait at the door of any misstep. It’s easy to think that you’re invincible and if others think the same, the fall can feel fatal. So, what do you do next? Where do you start?
One of the first things I do is remember to whom I belong. I remember that God sees me as His daughter because I allowed His Love to envelop my heart. Here are some Bible verses that can help you get back on your feet. They have helped me over the years and have never lost their flavors.
Wherever you are, I pray that you remember that you are loved and that you are never too broken to be valuable. You are worth another try. So, give yourself a dose of God’s grace and smile at your fresh start.
Peace & Thanks for listening.
Bible Verse photos courtesy of my Free YouVersion Bible App
Today is Father’s Day in America and since I had already written an homage to my late father and to my friends who are fathers, I decided to post a special message to men everywhere.
Men: Generally speaking, you get a bad rap when it comes to the family circuit. You thrive in the business and economics (hence the glass ceilings that still exist), but when it comes to matters of the heart, you don’t receive your spotlight when you do well. If you have received shade all day, all month, all year — let me be the first to tell you, thank you.
A deeper look: You may be discouraged to extend your love for fear of being rejected or emasculated. Perhaps you were dismissed when you tried to hug your parents as a child or attempted to kiss your significant other. When affection is rejected, it can cause men to shut down and not feel emotionally safe. The result can be an adult male who does not know how to adequately express his feelings. This can manifest itself in destructive or distant behaviors and your family suffers the most from those inaudible blows. Furthermore, you may have a positive father reference to model, let alone a positive friendship with other men to keep you lifted. I encourage you to not to shrink into the shadows. No matter what you think, it won’t make things better.
From a daughter who experienced an estranged father and later an involved one, please consider the following for your future:
Never underestimate the power of your presence. Whether your reputation is tarnished or squeaky clean, your love will shine through anything when you decide to show it. Let them say no, but don’t let them say that you didn’t try. I believe my biological father did the best he could within his capacity. The father who raised me simply had a deeper well from which to draw.
You’re the blueprint. I’m a firm believer that a man’s interaction with his child(ren) can create a customized definition of provision and protection. Sons and daughters tend to use their fatherly relationships as reference points for platonic and romantic relationships. You’re more than a sperm donor. Your fingerprint is part of their growth. You’re a life-giver and women grow what you plant. We nurture what you give, so remember that as you interact with your family.
You need a team. In the name of sports, be humble enough to be a team player. If you have friends who are also fathers or men that you will take you seriously when it’s time to confide, let them know what you need in order to stay on track. Whether it is an addiction, temptation, or a knot of anger you can’t comb through, talk to your tribe. Just like on the court/field, everyone plays a role to win the game. Let your friends play their roles.
I encourage you to breathe through each attempt to be better and if you are already doing those items listed, offer to be a safe space for another man as he grows into a better version of himself. Mentor a neighborhood child who could use a father figure. Offer to make amends with a family member. Just don’t stop trying. Let them say no. You can live with the peace of knowing that you extended the opportunity for them to meet the new you.
That’s what I heard for you this week. It is such a loaded and misunderstood directive.
Showing Jesus means toting my bible everywhere, quoting scriptures when someone says “Good Morning,” and barely be tolerable at social functions because of all the judgment seething through my pores, right? Quite the contrary.
Jesus has many faces (just look at all of the colorful faces in the world) and there are opportunities to show these faces in various situations. One of them could appear as a person in need of assistance while walking across the street. Another opportunity could be a co-worker in need of a kind word. We find these moments easily because the needs are relatively visible, but what happens when the need is underneath a layer of pride or anger? I agree– it’s a bit challenging to succumb to a higher level when the low blows are trying to knock you out. Truthfully speaking, this is the perfect opportunity to show His face to someone who may have never seen it or even believe it exists. You may not see the need because his/her words are too loud or they are absent from your life, but believe me, it’s there.
Here are a couple of examples of how I try to show Jesus –
I met an atheist this week and we had an intellectual and humorous conversation (Sidebar: Christians, stop arguing with everybody).
Someone raised her voice at me and I did not return the behavior.
I pick up fallen clothing at the department store on a regular basis.
I’m truthful with my feelings even when I don’t want to be.
I smile at strangers.
I don’t return road rage.
I say thank you to police and military officers.
I pray for people when they ask me to, sometimes at that moment.
I encourage as many people as I can.
Now, I am not a saint. I just try to live my faith in real life and not just at church. It’s not easy, by any means. There are plenty of times when I want to use profanity to prove that I am not a punk, but the truth of the matter is that doesn’t prove anything except a poor vocabulary to express my emotions. There are times when I want to reciprocate negative behavior so the other person can understand that I am very much capable of doing so, but that would only show me contradicting my belief system. I choose daily to show Jesus when I don’t want to do so. Sometimes, it’s a firm stance of Truth and sometimes it’s a warm hug. I make mistakes like other humans, yet I do my best to rectify it as soon as possible. That’s showing Jesus, too.
This week, I challenge you to show Jesus to the person that gets on your nerves. Notice that I didn’t say you had to agree with them or be their best friend. Just think of ways your actions can resemble His so that His Love is recognizable through you. It may seem like a small gesture or it may be a great sacrifice on your part, but at least you have made Him visible. At least you’ve provided the proof they’ve been waiting to see.
Peace & Thanks for listening. Have an awesome week!
Hello, Sweethearts! I know it’s Thursday, but this one took some simmering… and you may be wondering where I’m going with those two letters. I’m going exactly where you think I am.
In the world of social sciences, there’s a term called emotional dishonesty. Various definitions exist for it, but in essence, it is when someone does not own up to their feelings or needs, yet s/he holds the other person accountable for the offense. This can manifest itself as passive, aggressive, or passive-aggressive behavior.
When I taught adult education communication courses, we would always engage in authentic and lively dialogue about relationships (platonic, professional, romantic, familial, and social). Every quarter, someone would attribute a lack of intimacy to dysfunctional communication. Every quarter, someone would tell me how lack of trust was the undercurrent in their relationship deterioration. After my first year of teaching, I learned to carve out two days in my lesson plan to discuss the conflict chapter because it always birthed the fruition of self-discovery among my students. The chapter also landed in the middle of the textbook, so by that point in the course, they usually displayed sharpened self-awareness and reframing skills. They were not only able to professionally assess and verbalize the conflict but also express ownership of its escalation which was often via emotional dishonesty. You can bet that made me one happy educator. 🙂
To listen to a man say “I see it now. I’m not helping the situation.” To hear a woman say “Yeah, I don’t really listen to my kids. I need to do that more.” That was what kept the blood flowing in my teaching career. That is what produced life within those four walls and fortified adults to engage in healthy relationships of all kinds.
Speaking of blood flow… let’s talk about that ED.
When a man experiences erectile dysfunction, it can be emotionally crippling. He may not be able to communicate how emasculated he feels and his behavior can be misunderstood and misdirected toward his partner. Multiple factors can cause ED and one of them is decreased blood flow.
How interesting it is that a lack of life in one area can be the cause of death in another? If blood is not allowed to flow and recycle through our bodies, we experience death. Then again, there are two types of death… two organs that are vital comrades in the cessation of life – the brain and the heart. I believe the effects of dysfunctional communication resemble the intimacy breakdown that can occur from ED. Emotional Dishonesty can lead to Emotional Dysfunction. One deters the physical production of life while the other deters the flow of spiritual exchange. In both instances, there’s a broken piece – trust.
And let’s be real… What good is a relationship without trust? How can a relationship survive without the trust that all valves are open… that the flow is free and clear? After all, there are 4 valves in your heart – two for incoming blood and two for outgoing blood, so obviously God knew that circulation and regeneration were vital in keeping you alive in both your head and in your heart. Why don’t we give it a try in the spiritual realm as well? Why not gift that freedom to each other and to ourselves? Be emotionally honest with yourself and with those you love. When you don’t, it hurts yourself because you’re blocking healthy intrapersonal communication, and it hurts the other person because it creates a disconnect from the intimacy you desire from her/him. As I mentioned to some friends this year –I’m in the business of having real conversations with real people that want real relationships.Sweetheart, can you say the same thing?
This doesn’t mean that you need to bleed your heart 24/7 to everyone you meet. As in physiology, that could leave you spiritually drained and unable to function effectively.
Ask God to balance this spiritual flow as you learn to communicate truthfully in HIs Love from one person to another. It can be done; I promise. I have witnessed and experienced it. You may have to be gentle or set some ground rules, but allow truthful communication to flow between your lips. Cherish those in your circle who provide opportunities for that to happen. No matter how messy or how awkward it may be, it is worth the trust structure. Letting communication flow between two hearts creates freedom amidst two people… and that’s the pinnacle of God’s Love toward us and Christ’s sacrifice for us. Freedom in mind, body, and spirit. The kind that can only come from the Prince of Peace and the Author of Love.
For more information about emotional dishonesty, check out this article. It’s one of my favorite classroom references.
Peace & Thanks for listening. Have an awesome week and I love you all!
This post is dedicated to my aunts and uncles. How many of you can attribute something you do to a family member, better yet, a family member older than you? I can. The older I get, the more I realize how much of my behavioral traits can be directly traced to my family and I’m proud of that truth.
Aunt Janice – She’s so creative and resourceful. I have fond memories of helping her create flower arrangements and searching for just the right item to make it perfect.
Uncle Buck – Supa fly. Had style and swag like no other. Military veteran, strong confidence, and a breezy disposition. We could talk about anything.
Uncle Mack – Passionate and resilient. It is what it is. When I broke my arm as a child, he was limping but carried me down about 15 steps. When I rode in his car, we always listened to R&B classics, and I fell in love with them.
Uncle Bo – Any question you have, he has a wise answer. Practical, a well of knowledge, and can get along with just about anybody. Taught me how to change my brake pads too.
Uncle Greg – The life of the party, daring, and devout in his faith. Always smiling and laughing. When I was a kid, I remember wanting to be fearless like him.
Aunt Lisa – Full of joy, intuitive, and a garden goddess. Pure horticulture athlete. I get my playful side from her. She always looks at the bright side and helps people along the way.
Uncle Ed – The debater. The intellectual. The Bible scholar. His drawer full of cassettes compelled me to dive in and listen to everything, then try to put all of them back before he came home.
Uncle Ced – Courageous. My first superhero besides my mother. Military veteran and family man. My fondest memory was him returning from deployment and me acting like he had just come from the moon.
My musical love affair comes from my family. My fierce ride-and-live (I don’t say ride-or-die) loyal spirit comes from my family. My insatiable appetite for learning, desire to enjoy life and relentless drive comes from my family. My grandfather and grandmother empowered their children with life-long skills that have reached throughout generational branches. I am so blessed to be part of this family tree and I encourage you to dive into yours and explore yourself. You may be surprised by what you find. More importantly, I encourage you to pour into the fruit around you. Don’t leave a person in your home in the dark about something that you’ve learned from your elders. That water needs to be pulled through the roots in order to drip from the leaves. It’s valuable. It’s what make you rich. It’s what makes you live forever.