Tuesday Tea: Seasons

tues tea seasons

It has taken me nearly a year and a half to return to this blog. Hey, y’all, I’ve missed you, and I am ready to share so, so much, so here we go.

Greatness is not determined by the absence of challenge in my life, but my response to it.

“If you have run with footmen and they have tired you out, Then how can you compete with horses? If you fall down in a land of peace, How will you do in the thicket of the Jordan? — Jeremiah 12:5 NASB

I am in an age of discovery still about many things. I don’t think that’s something that will diminish with time, with accrual of wisdom and [hard-headed] experiences. I am approaching the tender age of 27—the age when my parents had me. I am about to enter my 26th year of life, single as a 2 dollar bill, and trying to weed out ambivalent participants in my circle.

I want to be intimately known and understood, desired and advocated for, cherished, appreciated and protected. I welcome love: romantic, platonic, don’t care as long as it is deep and abiding. So many suddenlies leaving earth in the past year or two, folks that left an indelible mark on us, their mourners, their family and friends. So many who opted out of friendship for their own reasons. I have been coping with the fluctuation of emotions when OTHER PEOPLE’s chapters close in my life and I have to make room for new ones. Forge new bonds and new memories while simultaneously help folks who have “always been” in my corner feel less taken for granted.

Balance, discipline, and minding my own business—three things I have fought hard to maintain consistently for the past 5 years. I could attribute to perfectionism, getting in my own way, overthinking, fretting anxiously; people pleasing to my own detriment and muting myself to let others take charge. The truth is, there’s strength in simplicity.

I completed my first round of Celebrate Recovery 12 steps early 2017, around January/February. I thought that undergoing that process made me ready to go in the field and be helpful. I thought I was going to be committed to the heavy lifting and compassion that needs to be done there. Yet I found myself overextended, serving at my church with the teens ministry, and being a part of the core team to build the young adults ministry. And finding myself burnt out and willfully out of the loop with most things. I want to give despite that I’m empty, but I’m learning that rest is godly. Amen

I’m learning so much about the corporate engine. About being detached from outcomes because ultimately my worth is not bound in machine-like production.

I want to serve my best. I get frustrated with not feeling or thinking at my most creative or highest potential because of exhaustion, anxiety/depression.  But I have friends that pray and teammates that care, and I find my capacity is greater than I perceive. Amen.

Relationships. I could go for days. One: Friendship is relegated to the heart, the character of a person and how it aligns with yours, the interest and will of a person to engage you on whichever level is agreeable/beneficial. Two: Friendship is not bound by time (except for seasons which have expiration dates) nor by distance (sharing is caring is loving).

I have multiple types of friends and I am hoping to expand beyond even this in 2018:

  1. Artsy Friends: run in creatives’ circles; require attention and tangible support; love to critique & brainstorm but can be equally flighty or need as much high emotional maintenance as me.
  2. Project Managers: Know how to examine and demand logistics and rationale, keep my feet on the ground to execute a project; give great feedback for follow-through; often need help to fire away on creative tasks. I can advise on relational matters, give psyche insight.
  3. Accountants: Similar to project managers. They run the numbers. Critical insight: Does this choice make financial sense right now? I help see human perspective on other side of numbers.
  4. Visionaries: Dream up the big picture and then. go. get. it. Folks like Quentin who can get you to buy into their well-thought out concept, even if its risky (it’s always quite risky). Sound board ideas and goals with these folks all day long, and move when they tell you. or not 🙂
  5. Prophets: My spiritual gift(s) are mercy and healing; I often get paired for a season or more with a prophet. When a prophet’s spiritual compass points due north, they’re an invaluable asset. They READ me all day lol and see into my blind spots.
  6. Mentors: I put this one last because I really need to hone effective follow-up skills and not mute myself in an effort to appear as though I have it all together. I aim to develop lasting friendships and respectful alliances with folks who can mutually benefit from pouring into me. It takes time and effort to build a mentor-mentee relationship, and it would do me well to develop better ways of checking in.

Rules of Engagement — I will not entertain any ambivalent relationship in 2018, whether that’s a guy who is “kinda interested” in me, or a co-worker who is passive-aggressive, or a “new” person who claims to want to be friends but appears intent on sabotaging what I build, or an “old friend” who is anything but.

No more cleaving and clinging to people who have yet to show me that they are really for me. I don’t care if I met you at the liquor store, in college, at church, at work, through art and poetry, through mutual friends. I will not be overrun by your personal agenda.

No stuffing when I am upset. When I sense anger rising, I need to deal with it right then and in a tactful manner; otherwise I have unnecessary buildup, angst, stress, separation from God because of unforgiveness, and so on. If I have a pointed issue I am addressing it. I am not leaving room for ambivalence in my own communications; you will know where you stand with me. And we will keep it moving.

We will be strong, and we will keep it moving. 

More to come on Thursday. 🙂 *sips honey lavender tea*

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#TuesdayTea| Gratitude

Welcome to Tuesday Tea! Grab a mug, and have a seat. Today, let’s discuss the attitude that’s key to personal success: gratitude.

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought; and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” 
–G.K. Chesterton

 

I won’t complain. Complaining backfires.

It registers within the human spirit as focus on lack, discontent, trivial concerns, and acute myopia. That’s right–when you partake in emphatically negative observations about your life, your workload, your health condition, love life (or absent thereof, your annoying family and your “trifling” friends), your coworkers or fellow leaders, your dog, cat….You are only attesting to your own near sighted, extremely limited view of how things proceed in your corner of the universe.

I get it, though. Someone or something must be held responsible for the pain, anger, regret, frustration we feel–someone or something has got to be stoking the fire, right? So who or what can we blame? Who can I spin this yarn to in the name of venting, to placate these emotions? It’s a very human habit to direct our attention to something outside of ourselves to bear the burden of our own success, joy, peace. We have to talk about the thing bothering us to figure it out–or is it to scratch a persistent itch?

Here is the ugly reality: We do not complain in order to resolve anything. We complain in order to gain sympathy, to draw others’ into our pity party, to keep the negativity flowing. “Why me? Woe is me” feels a lot better than “What now? What’s next steps?”

In short, we are needy, and whiny. I’ve done this, you’ve done it, every child–and “grown-up” who has ever lived has thrown a temper tantrum, ran to a friend to give an earful, addressing their concerns to somebody who simply cannot fix the situation.

What is the solution to complaining? A shift in perspective.

 

A Pragmatic Approach to getting out of a funk and exercising gratefulness:

  1. Stop talking. You cannot even hear your own thoughts or anyone else’s while you wax poetic about your needs and your problems. Hush. Be still, cease from striving.
  2. Spin it. Let’s look at the issue from another angle: How may I benefit from enduring this to the end? What is my discomfort here rooted in? Is this circumstance bringing out the best or the worst in my character? Who am I a reflection of?

    2a: Face the real problem. If hanging out with your outgoing, loquacious friend always drains your energy and your pockets, let him know. If your well-meaning relative infringes on your privacy, go have a chat about where you stand. If you really dislike your 9-to-5 and have no spare minutes to put in your blog, take an inventory of your free time. Rehash your schedule. Whatever it is, own up to your responsibility to manage your mental state, your emotions, your willpower, and your creativity.

  3. Speak the good, out loud. Affirm that which is positive, even if you’re just learning more about how you resolve conflicts. Personal growth is a positive accomplishment. You have to negate the negativity.
  4. Say Thank you. Thank you for the help, thank you for the memories, thank you for the good intentions, thank you for the chaos, thank you for the hateful comments, thank you for the envy, thank you for the ugly, bad, and indifference. Thank you for causing me to build my confidence, strength in faith.

When you start taking the manifold blessings in your life into account (like your ability to read this from your smartphone you’re holding–that’s like 3 or 4 right there), even the situations that you cannot fix on your own, you won’t have room to complain about!

Here are the two best prayers I know: ‘Help me, help me, help me,’ and ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.’

–Anne Lamott

Will yourself not to complain and to express gratitude instead. You will find more gems of wisdom, more opportunities, greater goals, greener grass. 😀

 

#TuesdayTea | Still

Welcome to Tuesday Tea! Grab a mug and take a seat at the table. Today, we’re discussing a vital component of the inspiration process: the stillness.

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Journeying through this life as a creative is not that different from biking through the hilly countryside:
For every crest, there is a trough; for every apex, there is a valley. In fact, you are more likely to experience a lull in activity, a mental, emotional, and energetic low immediately following a fantastic victory!

Ask Elijah. Ask David. Ask Serena Williams, or J.K. Rowling, or your favorite celebrity or academician.

Ask Solange.

Transparent Moment: I crashed last week. Know that when you push and push yourself beyond your perceived limits–without rest stops or focused break, ignoring the signs that you may be unraveling–you will run into a brick wall. BAM!
I crashed, and I’m still smoldering.

Thankfully, I’m surrounded by loving family and friends, Scripture, blank canvases to cover, journals to fill, cute clothes to drape myself with, a stockpile of raspberry tea, and Solo’s new album A Seat at the Table. On loop.

And Luvvie Ajayi’s book, I’m Judging You. Lots of books, actually.

I didn’t set my goals for quarter 4, or do a vision board, or buy a planner for 2017. Instead, I have stared at my ceiling, cried, prayed, journaled, cried some more. I binge watched Luke Cage and danced to “Cranes in the Sky.”

When you find yourself in a valley, you cannot pass “Go” and collect 200. You must walk, dance, wail, crawl, tiptoe, float, run THROUGH it. And before, and after, you must be still.

“You know I have the world to think
And you know I gotta go ahead and take some time
Because the last thing I want 
Is think that it’s time that I leave the borderline”

–Solange, “Borderline: An Ode to Self Care”

Where is your borderline?
Between bouncing with joy inexpressible and crying bouts?
Between utter silence and defiant boldness?
Between great resilience and quiet resignation?
Between monotonous ennui and sudden bursts of inspiration?
Between the honeymoon phase and the real work?
Between excitement for the future and anxiety?

It’s okay. Quit being so unbelievably, incredibly busy, and be still long enough to take emotional and mental assessment of where you truly are. Be still long enough to hear the still, small, voice of the Creator affirming what He placed within you. Hear and respond to the call.

Be still and know that I Am God. I will be exalted amongst the nations; I will be exalted above the earth.
Psalms 46:10

Be still.Cease striving. Stop rushing around. Seek Me,  regard Me, listen to Me, and honor Me. I Am Above all things, including your burdens and the oppressive forces that war against your soul. I hold together all things .

Acknowledge the borderline. Dance upon it if you must.

Then release. Know when to let go…know when to let go…

 

#TherapyThursday| Purge

Welcome to Therapy Thursday everyone. Let’s get comfy.

As we enter into the last quarter of this year, I’m ready to do a LOT of introspecting. Are you ready to dig a little deeper? Look at what worked, what failed or fell short of expectations and why? Where you let yourself soar, where you let fear take the reins, where you dropped the ball?

I am.

I have so much from the last year (really, the last 3 years or so) to release. Even though September is such a triumphant month, being Recovery Month and all, and I’ve had some choice victories this 9 months, it’s been a roller-coaster 30 days.

Let me be so transparent with you, Saran wrap transparent:

I have struggled with clinical depression, anxiety, and seasonal affective disorder for 5-6 years, more like 10, really.

I am a survivor with invisible battle scars, who has chosen to bring those scars to light.

In the course of moving a week ago, I found a treasure trove of old drawings, sketches and paintings dating back to 2006. I didn’t have a medical term or label then, just some histrionic tendencies, and a whole lot of drama and brokenness. We had a running joke in my maternal family, that the more intellectual prowess you displayed, the more likely you were to be unstable emotionally.

Oh, boy, was I a hot mess!! and to see, just how far I’ve come… Here’s a glimpse into my mind, then:

 

Images from the darkest periods of my life, and this not even the half! (I should write a book, y’all.)

This is how I purge, how I clean house, how I divulge what was secret shame and rebirth in new light–creative outlets, and I encourage you to find what suits you. Thank you for allowing me to share. with you all. Truly God has brought me a long way. 😀

 

#TuesdayTea | Refreshment

Welcome to #TuesdayTea! Pull up a chair, grab a mug and get comfortable. Today, we’re talking refreshments.

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I love tea of all kinds! Green, white, oolong, jazmine, mint, hibiscus, peach, raspberry pomegranate, chamomile lavender, mango ginger–you name it, I probably drink it! (except for that “Throat Coat” stuff; I can’t stand the licorice flavor!) Iced or hot, there is nothing like a soothing cup to cleanse the palate and relax the nerves.

tea gif

What I’m referring to, however, is spiritual refreshment. When the chips are down, tensions are at an all-time high, our anxiety runs through the roof, or we’re simply too weary in our souls from carrying grief and stress, how do we find relief?

One of the quickest ways is to offer it ourselves.

When I find myself in a rut, discouraged, or in need of motivation, I look for someone else that may need that comfort and connect with them. I may send a motivational toast GIF on Twitter:

motivational toast gif

 

Whether that person responds immediately in gratitude or not, it cheers me up: I reach down to find enough joy in the reservoir to share–and it got amplified!

The generous will prosper; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.

Proverbs 11:25 NLT

When you are willing and able to give of yourself to other people, enriching others, extending to them your time, wisdom, encouragement, patience, connections, materials, and other resources, then you are setting yourself up for prosperity.

Enrichment. Blessings. Abundance. Profit. Fatness. Glory. Success. Generosity yields these things.

If I help meet someone else’s needs–without expecting anything else in return–then I in turn shall be satisfied. That’s the principle of sowing and reaping–God rewards us well for good expressed to others from a sincere heart, for that is how He gives to us: liberally and without reproach. (James 1: 5)

How does this manifest in practical ways?

  • You lighten up. It is harder to obsess over your present difficulties when you have shifted your focus to another person. Interrupt your pity party by intentionally seeking someone to show kindness to. Amplify Your Joy!
  • You realize you have influence, which is the basis of agency. You exercise power over your own mood and affect the people who surround you. That means you are not  hopeless, worthless, or purposeless whatsoever–so start tuning out those lies of self-defeat and condemnation! And hey, folks like it when you smile.
  • You realize you have hidden strength, buried beneath the weight of your oppressive,  less-than-ideal circumstances. You have joy–and “The Joy of the Lord is our strength.”  God graces us with supernatural vigor, resilience, to carry on despite the worries, chaos and drama that attempts to weigh us down (or, as in my case, an upper respiratory infection. yuck!) We need only to ask Him to be our strong tower (defense and offense, a refuge, a safe place).
  • You amplify whatever resources you dole out.  Whatever time, talents, or treasures you are providing for someone else, they do not come from you, but sourced from God–we are to be responsible stewards of our resources. In terms of being accountable, being of a generous spirit ensures that you do not waste what abundance he extends to you. God cannot be outdone in the generosity department, y’all. Whatever “little” energy you lend or “last bit” of change in your pocket, He richly rewards us according to the measure that we use: pressed down, shaken together and running over. these things are for us to be responsible stewards.
  • You build relationships and connections of value.
    When you continually reach out into the lives of others to give generously, you initiate soft relationships. You never know who you impact with your acts of kindness, or what could develop: A timely Get Well Soon card could lead to your next business partnership, collaboration or other opportunity. As you well know, I’m all for community building; one can chase a thousand but two can chase ten thousand!

    That well-paid compliment just might come back when you need it. 🙂

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
–Maya Angelou

Takeaway: In need of a pick me up? Go refresh someone else, so that you may be refreshed yourself.

How will you exercise generosity today? Share in the comments below.

#TuesdayTea | Quiet Time

Welcome to TuesdayTea! Come pull up a chair, grab a mug and settle in. Today, we’re getting some quiet time.

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You will find this more brief than most of my writings, esteemed reader. That is deliberate.

What I want you to do before the end of your lunch break, or at least by the time you get home from work/school today, is to seek solitude. Seek silence.

Get away from the tyranny of your To-Do List, and daily demands, hustle and bustle of routine living, and the incessant clamoring of many voices.

Surrender to silence and solitude.

Ride in your car without music blasting. Take a walk around the block without earphones in. Sit in a sunny spot and be still. Make it intentional.

You may be able to hear the still, small voice whisper to you: Perhaps you are in need of some encouragement, or direction and next steps to take, or to receive some unsettling truth, or feel some love today.

Check out what beautiful truth David found when he tuned in:

Hear, O Lordwhen I cry with my voice!
Have mercy also upon me, and answer me.

When You said, “Seek My face,”
My heart said to You, “Your face, Lord, I will seek.”

Do not hide Your face from me;
Do not turn Your servant away in anger;
You have been my help;
Do not leave me nor forsake me,
O God of my salvation.

When my father and my mother forsake me,
Then the Lord will take care of me.

Psalm 27:7-10

He found hope, support, confidence, help, safety, trust. All the prayers? Answered. All the worries, cares, questions, comments, concerns? Answered or settled. The bottom line to whatever is distressing you –putting you in a state of agitation and NOISE–is that the Lord will take care of you.

If you don’t believe me, try Him and see. Go and really patiently look for His presence–and watch Him cover you in peace and resonating joy.

(Transparent Sidetone: I really needed this word today, myself! The stress and struggle of keeping it all together and getting the things done can get to any of us, and all of us.)

Grace to all who read this.

Creatives, engage in spirit care for yourselves.

P.S. I’m engaging this quiet time in waves, and in more ways than one: For August, I’m taking time away for planning, resetting, etc.
So you guys won’t catch me on social media. 
If you feel a need to reach out, you’re more than welcome to comment below–I’ll be sure to respond!

 

#CultureFix| Healing in Response to Outside Trauma

In honor of Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (official government name),  I’ve partnered with #CultureFix, “a global, collaborative network of artivisits, cultural producers, & influencers who use arts to impact communities around the world,” founded by Nora Rahimian and Natalie Crue.

What’s in store from this fabulous collaboration? Two Twitter chats centered on mental health awareness for creatives and entrepreneurs of color, as well as an open resource for support. (Cue the fireworks.) By these, we aim to bridge these gaps of access and availability, and spark insightful conversations about mental health and wellness.❤

Catch a replay from Self-Care Pt 1 here.

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Who’s Up for Round Two? This time, we discussed “Self-Care, Creativity, and Healing in Response to Outside Trauma.”

Here were our guests:

  1. Zuwaina Murad (@zu_mu), psychotherapist working to heal traumas, foster coping and promote wellness. She is the owner of Amicus Group, GTA concierge therapy practice
  2. Roconia Price, (everso_Roco) ( pronounced “RuhCONNuh”), founder of @Moredinary. sometimes Ro. Sometimes Roco. Always writing, always fighting

This was a lively conversation on mental health and creativity, with several views and suggestions presented, with questions giving rise to more questions! Here I’ve captured a couple gems:

On reinterpreting cultural trauma for the masses, and its impact:

  • History is always being reworked and reinterpreted; potential for positive and negative in this! –Zuwaina
  • There’s this expectation that artists stay outside of cultural events so they can document/interpret them for others–heavy. –Nora
  • We wind up bearing a burden and not giving ourselves time to recover –Me
  • How do creatives access mental care? Where, outside of traditional structures, can we go? –Natalie
  • We start by creating our own structures, support groups, writing/art groups, initiatives like #CultureFix.–Zuwaina
  • Artists can help communities understand traumatic events, but it has to be their choice to do so. –USDAC
  • There’s this emphasis on not feeling emotions rather than learning to feel, face, work through them. –Nora

    There’s pressure to be overly dramatic and vulnerable which may bring emotions to the surfaces that shouldn’t be brought up..I definitely feel stoicism is valued…–AK
    This may add to the mythos of artist as superhuman, but we need space to decompress, also!–Me

  • Art/trauma- can make artists more aware of the aggressions they exp. themselves & allows to consider new methods of resiliency– Zuwaina

On artists’ responsibility to speak on social justice, and striking a balance for self-care:

  • While self-care alternatives like yoga, martial arts, retreats, etc sometimes are helpful in terms of mediating stress and mental health issues, they’re not a cure-all. –Chula
  • Can art relating to trauma be self-care?
  • Formal treatment is always good in addition to our art.–AK Kerani
  • Creatives are responsible to depict through their own lens, informed by historic context. Art not made in a vacuum…but of course exercise empathy and not speak over those who are closely impacted & grieving.

    We can feel compelled by emotional highs, but need to take time to process in order to create effective work.

  • We expect [artists and creatives] to interpret what we cant make sense of. Or act as intermediaries. Pick up the torch when you feel the need.–Natalie

On holding space for collective healing:

  • An individual artist can connect with a community that s/he identifies strongly with…There’s a level of empathy and understanding that an individual’s community can provide, allowing someone to feel supported. –Chula the Film
  • I have a responsibility to my fans. If they’re suffering, and me speaking can change it, I have to do it.–Takuna

On messaging, using art to change the conversation around mental health:

  • Art has a dope way of opening people up, so creatives being open about their mental health in their work is a major key. –Amirah
  • Combatting the stigma of mental health in communities of color is one message i’d like to put out there.–Natalie
  • Arts can open our minds to alternative ways of coping, encourage our differences, one size doesn’t fit all.–Zuwaina
  •  hopes to educate others on BPD and substance abuse, and empower people to educate themselves using film
  • POC suffer the most health disparities, less likely to seek treatment. We gotta help each other be well!

A final takeaway from yours truly:

Creatives, don’t forget to breathe. Don’t leave transparency out of your daily practice, whether you are using your art as therapy, or another constructive alternative to heal. 😀

(You can scroll through the full discussion here.)

This was such a great experience! I hope everyone gleans what they needed from these chats, in resource or connecting with like minds. Thank you!
Tune in to #CultureFix every Tuesday at 3pm EDT/ 12 noon PST! 

culture fix acct tag

 

#TherapyThursday | Forgiveness

This particular Mental Health Chat stirred up something at the core of many participants.

We discussed forgiveness and its tie-in to mental health. What a spirited discussion!!
Lines were drawn in the sand, beliefs and dogmas were challenged, folks agreed to disagree, and here we are.

Rather than my usual recap of those events (checkout the storify here), I elect to share what this chat churned up.:

  • Forgiveness is a part of the process of moving forward in life.
    Strongest lines drawn over this idea. I will stick to my guns about it:
    Had a traumatic event occurred in my life (and they sure have), I find it necessary and expedient to my own mental, emotional health to forgive the offender and release the transgression from my physical memory–or at least reshape what the event and its outcome represents to me. I don’t see the point in living my life as a victim of what happened to me.
    Several felt like forgiveness was not a part of the deal, that moving forward didn’t necessitate. which brings me to this:
  • Forgiveness is not emotional; it is a decision, one of the most difficult to make.
    AS such, forgiveness is in no ways WEAK. It takes incredible amount of mental fortitude to forgive.
    Also, because we are social animals, no one is above forgiveness. It must be at some pt or other extended to all of us. No one is beneath or beyond forgiveness either– even though there are degrees of transgression and personal injury and harm, anyone can be forgiven.
  • Forgiveness is a godly activity. It requires superhuman help to forgive the most abhorrent betrayal, crime, travesty, ignominous violation. I would never suggest abuse victims get in touch with their abusers and haul out for forgiveness.
  • You must begin with forgiving yourself. Another standstill about social conditioning, personal responsibility, and blame. For some, it’s easier to release the original offender than to release yourself from the knowledge and fact that you allowed the violation to take place. To some, I imply here that you are to blame for what happened–and I do not say so. You are not to blame for what happened to you. But you need to affirm that truth within yourself, for yourself.
    It’s a protective measure to forgive yourself for your perceived flaw or weakness, short-sightedness, or whatever else you internalize as the cause for why they targeted you. Picked you out, counted you out. Forgiving yourself affirms that you’re worthy of caring; you’re validating your own experiences, knowing that they play a part in making you who you are. Do you like the person you are now? Do you accept yourself without condition?

Perhaps what we really need here is an operable definition, because many seemed to think forgiveness as fulfillment of another person’s expectations, oppression, the delusion of religious pious nonsense and social elites.

Perhaps, their bone is not with the concept, but with the established institutions that are man made, therefore fallible. oye.

What forgiveness is NOT:

  • Dismissing the offender’s actions as insignificant or denying that you were offended/wronged:
    Part of forgiving someone is being willing to acknowledge that a transgression took place, and how that affected your physical, mental-emotional, spiritual well-being. To deny or to stuff your true feelings is to ignore the truth. And, the truth sets you free.
  • An opportunity to be re-victimized or re-traumatized by the offender:
    That is straight-up fear talking. False Evidence Appearing Real.
    You cannot center this process on who hurt you, because then your focus will not be on your own healing, growth and development, and personal agency. This whole process is about your agency!
    You can choose to submit to worry and fear, to relive trauma, or choose to have your thoughts, words, life centered on something more positive–true and effective liberation.Psalm 27:13
    I would have despaired had I not believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living. 
  • Vengeance, or conditional upon exacting retribution from the offender:
    Indeed, that defeats the purpose of offering forgiveness–vengeance connects you to the offense through anger, bitterness, festering pain, and possible self-destructive actions. You getting revenge or paying evil for evil will not erase the original offense or assuage your grief at being mistreated.
    It will, however, leave you open to attacks on your own conscience:
    If you originally perceived to have been violated on a certain level, what you value/care for/love being attacked and injured, are you not hypocritical for violating someone in turn? What does it say about your character that you would resort to causing that pain?
  • Synonymous with reconciliation:
    This misunderstanding often has tons of people up in arms.
    You can choose not to embrace your offender–in lots of cases, a clean break is essential to improving and maintaining your mental and emotional health. (esp. physical/emotional/ sexual abuse, grief/loss when the offender dies…)
    You do not have to stay in any communication with the person, because you do not owe them anything. You don’t even have to locate and speak directly to them in order to practice forgiveness. You could write a letter and burn it, or draw it out, or have an objective third party stand-in for the offender and say what you need to say.
    The decision to continue in relationship to the offender is entirely up to the injured party.

Forgiveness is a chance and opportunity to allow joy to return to your heart despite your circumstances. For Light to give you some revelation, to get objective insight and perspective about your life again. For doors to open because you have removed conscious and subconscious blockages that were rooted in pride, and your fear of being violated/rejected/mistreated.

Why allow pride and fear to steal any more from you??

 

 

Proverbs 19:11
A person’s wisdom yields patience; it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

 

 

 

#TherapyThursday | Anger

This week’s MHChat, we discussed anger, how to classify it, when it is hidden, how it manifests openly, impact of social ties, culture expectations and attachment styles, and how best to utilize or diffuse it.

Major Points:

“We all have experienced anger in self and others; increasing life pressures may add to sources of anger.”– @MHChat

  • Anger is a natural emotion, usually a response to a perceived threat, insult, injustice. We can create it when we aren’t able to manage our thoughts effectively in a situation.
  • This normal, healthy emotion often masks hurt, shame, and vulnerability.
    Anger = Sadness (grief) + Frustration (hopelessness)
  • Root causes of anger include disappointment, hurt, frustration, and other emotions concealed from stigma, perceived transgression, a boundary violation.
  • Experiences of anger can be wide-reaching and pervasive, used personally or politically.
  • Anger influences our thoughts, emotions and behavior: When angry, we compromise our rationale, judgment and critical thinking, and we center our thoughts on the offender.

“If the privileged anger/hate, the stigmatized suffer. If the stigmatized anger/hate, it becomes self-inflicted.”

  • Children’s anger is often silenced, seen as inappropriate and punished. Adults are pressured to make anger something productive so anger is often silenced.
  • Depression comes from suppressed anger. Manageable anger is healthy.
  • We learn to regulate our emotions within healthy attachments, nurturing, supportive, secure relationships.
  • Hidden anger seethes beneath the surface. It can manifest as a refusal to listen to someone or to cooperate, passive-aggression, manipulation, procrastinating and other self-destructive, asocial behavior.
  • Continually correcting others is a sign of hidden anger (a critical spirit).
  • Anger can fuel our greatest purposes, passions, and callings.
  • It may help to identify what other emotions you are experiencing besides anger, to access other vulnerable emotions.
  • Children need to see anger is best harnessed by patience, consideration of what motivated negative actions, and wisdom. –George A.
  • Bypass misunderstanding by communicating motivations and listening to others motivations.
  • Many consider anger inheritable genetic personality trait–they are relieved to find out it’s not inevitable.
  • If a belief about being weak/inept is activated, one may overcompensate by acting in a powerful, angry manner.
  • Society rarely acknowledges emotions in children or trauma in young people.
  • Channel anger into constructive energy.
  • We learn how to deal with anger over time, expect to become more patient, sympathetic to others.
  • As we learn to manage vulnerable feelings, and work through shame, and communciate we get better at dealing with what underlies anger.

#CultureFix | When Art is Not Enough

Hey, lovely, creative, resilient, faith-filled readers!

Jubilant July celebrations are still rolling through the rest of this month. 😉  I’m focusing on community building, tribe by tribe, family by family, one day at a time. #Takeover2016

In honor of Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month (official government name),  I’ve partnered with #CultureFix, “a global, collaborative network of artivisits, cultural producers, & influencers who use arts to impact communities around the world,” founded by Nora Rahimian and Natalie Crue. (Here’s a snapshot of what goes down every Tuesday at 3 pm EDT/12 PM PST.)

What’s in store from this fabulous collaboration? Two Twitter chats centered on mental health awareness for creatives and entrepreneurs of color, as well as an open resource for support. (Cue the fireworks.) By these, we aim to bridge these gaps of access and availability, and spark insightful conversations about mental health and wellness. ❤

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culture fix mh creative chat

It was my first time co-hosting a Twitter chat ever!!  Meet our esteemed guests:

  1. Ronald Draper (@inDRAPERweTrust), mixed media artist, art as activism educator, NAACP award winner, and director of Contemporary Arts at Harlem Hospital Center.
  2. Julia Nguyen (@fleurchild), developer, storyteller with Prompt, a community of people in tech who speak about mental health, living in San Francisco. She also leads open source mental health project if me, a communication app for loved ones.
  3. Ashley Freeman (@DontDieAfraid), a.k.a Resilient Ashley, creator and mental health advocate who empowers individuals to realize that their circumstances don’t hinder their future, through her initiative Don’t Die Afraid. (You can join the Resilient family here.)

This was a lively conversation on mental health and creativity, with several views and suggestions presented! Here I’ve captured a couple gems:

On working creatively, coping with career anxiety & other concerns: 

  • “There’s basic worries like bills and helath care. And then there’s bigger questions, like “Does what I’m doing really matter?” –Nora

  • Do people really want to hear what I have to say?
    Does it matter if people want to hear it? Am I creating for an audience or me?
  • I worry that my message won’t reach those who will be impacted by it the most.I cope by being vocal about mental health everywhere I go, because I will never know who needs it until I put it out there. We get caught up looking for our target audience instead of building and realizing people will be attracted naturally.–Resilient Ashley

  • Is it possible to be a part-time creative? There’s “artist as occupation” versus “artist as identity”; that compartmentalizing is significant…deep down we’re innately creative beings, to a degree or another.
  • When you feel a need to cope, look back and realize that you left a place you hated.–Ronald D.

  • Mentoring with young people and socializing about non-work topics helps me cope.
  • I stress about success and opportunity; practicing thankfulness helps me to be less worried.
  • It’s necessary to build a cypher, people that can support you in various facets, can lean or for resources, or talk, especially in mental health.–Natalie C.

On finding mental health access and resources, when the nature of creative work often means lack of access to health care:

  • Online communities are pretty good for this–be aware you have to learn how to navigate those spaces well though (DON’T FEED THE TROLLS!)
  • I talk to mentors, accountability groups.
  • There’s great spaces like Tessera Women and apps like TalkSpace!

On shifting habits: being OK with struggling:

  • Artist as identity make work failures feel more like personal failure.
    Exchange ideas; don’t be afraid of criticism.
  • Talk about your achievements; journal the good times. Let your light shine!
  • #MentalHealthCheckIn–Resilient Ashley

    Self-care is important especially when your work deals with intense topics.

  • Embrace the quiet.
  • Remember: Isolation is the breeding ground for negative thoughts.
  • Do you feel as though you’re in your head too much? Art can get you back into your body, get you connected to yourself. 🙂
  • To produce with your hands and utilize your talents to the best of your ability can be fulfilling in and of itself!
    It is also okay to make work for your own introspection or healing, and to not share it publicly. 

On creative expression not being enough, and breaking stigma against traditional treatment:

  • Find a fitting art form–art should be release hidden as a job.–Ron D

  • Resilience! Inhale! That’s crisis management 101.
  • Embrace what makes you uncomfortable.
  • Art is an extension of us, not all we are. Prioritizing health makes us better people and artists. –Jeron
  • Be vulnerable; talk about stigmas openly; be honest with yourself and others.
  • Be open about your experiences in therapy; be willing to share how it helped you cope!
  • We don’t talk because we perceive mental health [issues] as weakness. Sharing our story from our power positions challenges that. –Nora R.

  • We don’t have to discount our struggle, pain because it’s not as “grievous”/traumatic as others, i.e. (“just” my emotions but their realities #firstworldproblems ).
    If you are prone to self-deprecating comparisons, cut that out!
  • Reminder: Struggle is part of your story and why you’re strong.
  • Keep complimentary emails in a file and pull them out as reminders of your greatness.

  • Have different circles of inspiration, various friends and activities. Have empathy for yourself.

Natalie’s quote put an effective sum on this discussion:

  • Self-care is not about indulgence, it’s about self-preservation. –Audre Lorde

(You can scroll through the full discussion here.)

That’s all for today! 

Tune in to #CultureFix on Twitter, Tuesday, July 26th, 3 pm EST for part 2: Self-Care, Working Creatively, and Healing the Gap (when trauma is not ours).

culture fix acct tag