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…

 

#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!

 

#MMHM| Self-Care with #CreativeSmartGirl

Last Thursday was a tumultuous day for several of us. After a week of horrible, gut-wrenching reports of state-sanctioned violence, black men and women brutally murdered at the hands of law enforcement officers for petty offenses and retraumatized via the media–we really all needed to breathe. People of color, black women in particular, are not afforded a chance to recover from the shockwaves of violence, grief, and fear incited against our own. A collective Selah moment was in order–thankfully, Nia Phillips, founder of #CreativeSmartGirl, and her guests Brittany Josephina, Wilsar Johnson, Lauren Ash, Yetunde Ajayi-Obe and Chastity Cooper, offered us just that.

We discussed how to engage self-care in the midst of hustler culture, and political chaos:

On making self-care a part of your lifestyle:

  • Self-care is self-preservation. It’s restorative, allowing for a preventative release and affirmation.
  • It is imperative that we learn how to prioritize ourselves, our needs and work towards holistic health.

On prioritizing self-care as a creative and entrepreneur:

  • Allot time for self to regroup, renew and refresh. –Chastity Cooper
  • Take breaks from social media–it places too much emphasis on insignificant things.
  • Take time in your day before you are bombarded with work–establish a morning routine that smooths your transition into the day.
  • “Break down monthly goals into small weekly bullet points. Tasks are achieveable with time to breathe.” –Oheneba Sankofa

  • SLEEP!
  • Listen to your body/mind: Warnings I’m off-kilter and in need of rest: I’m snappy, strained, drained, juggling too many things, and lacking focus.

On managing guilt from prioritizing self over work, family and deadlines:

  • True friends honor your commitments to yourself.–Lauren Ash

  • Creativity suffers when your focus is divided.
  • Schedule and plan time to spend with friends and family to let them know they are still a priority. –Anekia Nicole
  • “‘No’ is a full sentence.” —Shonda Rhimes

  • Understand where that pressure is rooted: pride, perfectionism, attempts to manipulate, selfishness, insecurity, an inaccurate assessment of your worth (ie: performance-based). Give yourself and others some grace.

On making improvements since implementing self-care:

  • Workouts help get past the mid-noon slump; they reenergize you…Take care of your body! –Wilsar
  • SLEEP + LACK = SLACK. —Kiyla Monet

  • Self-care enables you to make time for the most important tasks and projects without overcomitting to satisfy egos, thanks to time management and boundaries. 🙂
  • “It doesn’t have me feeling like the world owes me something.” —Nefertiti Anderson

On the role self-care plays in maintaining mental health and wellness:

  • Breathing and taking up space allows you to find comfort in sharing your gift with the world. –Ashley J.H.
  • Be on purpose!
  • “The messages we get say that WOC are not important. That takes a toll mentally, emotionally…” —Shannon Franklin

 

The clincher question of the night:

What is currently missing from the self-care, mental health and wellness space for overwhelmed creatives and entrepreneurs?

  • Self-care is overused and losing its meaning, in need of personal redefinition.
  • Superwoman super-shero syndrome has GOT to go!
  • We’re lacking honesty and transparency. What about the bad days?
  • Sister circles…self-care can be practiced with others. –Brittany Josephina
  • Open forums to state if you are struggling with a lack of self-care –Chivon John
  • Unhurried conferences with break out sessions, few panelists, and lots of time to chill–Ingrid Green
  • Misunderstanding: POC, especially WOC suffer mental illness the most! Most WOC diagnoses go untreated.

  • Being unabashed and unapologetic when discussing mental health

I learned tons from some fabulous ladies. Safe to say we all felt a bit more loved and encouraged that night. 🙂

Challenge: What do you think is missing in the self-care, mental health and wellness space for creatives and entrepreneurs of color? 

Join me and #CultureFix on Twitter tomorrow at 3 p.m. EST/ 2 p.m. Central/ 12 noon PST, where we discuss Career, Anxiety, and When Art Is Not Enough. It’s gonna be a blast!

Ascension: A Heart Check

Who shall ascend into the hill of the Lord? or who shall stand in his holy place?

 He that hath clean hands, and a pure heart; who hath not lifted up his soul unto vanity, nor sworn deceitfully.

He shall receive the blessing from the Lord, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.

This is the generation of them that seek him, that seek thy face, O Jacob. Selah.

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Psalm 24:3-7 KJV

Ascend: to go up or climb; to rise through the air
Synonyms: escalate, soar, lift off, climb

The world would have you think ascension is some sensual process, all about feeling, the pursuit of the next high. As if we move from mountain top to mountain top by apparation, just chasing down what gives us adrenaline rushes.”I always rock the new, new.” As if ascension is purely a work of human effort or magic:  Levitate, levitate.

Merriam-Webster defines buoyancy as:

  1. a :  the tendency of a body to float or to rise when submerged in a fluid
    b :  the power of a fluid to exert an upward force on a body placed in it; also :  the upward force exerted

  2. 2:  the ability to recover quickly from depression or discouragement :  resilience

  3. 3:  the property of maintaining a satisfactorily high level (as of prices or economic activity)
    In other words, buoyancy is the ability to stay on top of the surface in a fluid or in the air; it is to maintain an elevated position.


Ascension is about spiritual positioning, 
a supernatural buoyancy. You have to be relatively lightweight to float.

What weighs us down?

  • Shame: guilt, negative emotions, secret sins, regrets, worries…
  • The pursuit of validation: concerns about other people’s opinions and approval, man-made traditions that defy God’s commandments (which rule out blessings for yourself and those connected to you)…
  • Despair: deep-seated sadness, grief, loneliness, inane amount of pressure to succeed by earthly standards (status) and resulting discontentment…
  • Extraneous attachments to earthly things keep us anchored to worldly systems: money & politics, image-building, self-serving causes (entertainment at large), ungodly (misaligned) relationships
  • Legalistic religion that’s all about rules and not intimate relationship with God; ritualistic tasks and not radical life transformation

You must gain and maintain a proper perspective, because you cannot go upwards, looking down.
Set your thoughts on things above, not below: whatsoever is true, noble, righteous, pure, lovable or admirable, virtuous, excellent, praiseworthy–think on these things. (Colossians 3:20; Phillippians 4:8)

Gotta have a destination in mind to go somewhere.

Where are we aiming when we say we want to go higher?  
The Word says that one who can reach, should come up to the sacred, set apart place where God is present, meaning it is possible, attainable and desirable as a goal: “SHALL.”

In order to ascend, 2 things are required, then:

  1. Clean Hands–Have you craved, picked up, touched, grasped at impure things, unclean things? Coveted your friend’s partner, position, gifting? Done deals under the table, not 100% legitimate?
    Examine yourself and your activities–what’s that in your hand?
    What’s in your possession that is devoted to destruction? What are you holding onto (habit, hangup, dead situation, dead relationship) that you need to surrender for redemption? Are you clutching your own ball and chain for dear life?

    More importantly, have you claimed the righteousness of Christ for yourself?

     even the righteousness of God, through faith in Jesus Christ, to all and on all[h] who believe. For there is no differenceRomans 3:22

  2.  Pure Heart–What are your underlying intentions and motive?
    What is driving you to do what you do: a thirst for validity and attention, envy, anger, pride–or love?

    Do your current commitments honor God as the Head of your life, and others as you brothers and sisters–or do they just serve you?

    Are you operating in peace, gentleness, kindness–or snapping on everybody?

What does it mean “to lift yourself up to falsehood?”

To trust in falsehood: to rely on, devote energy and resources to, commit to, depend upon a lie, something deceitful, that which is not true; an idol.
Relying on any entity, concept, person as your source aside from Almighty God guarantees you tethering yourself to something earthly, to handling an impure thing, and hindering your ability to hear from God, even lacking the desire to spend time with Him!

On the other hand, according to 1 John 1:6, We walk righteously as a result of faith, and fellowship with Him. Right standing with God gives you wings!

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

Therefore, laying aside every weight, and the sin which so easily besets us, we run with endurance the race set before us… Hebrews 12:1-2

He makes my feet like the deer, causes me to tread (climb, ascend to) high places…
Habbakuk 3:14

Whenever you are feeling low, experiencing heaviness, shame, or uncertainty, read these verses to remind yourself of the truth–

Christ ascended first, (Ephesians 4:8-10), so that by virtue of His righteousness (belief in Him and His finished work on the cross), we can ascend to favor with the Lord.

#TuesdayTea| #JOYDayMovement

Welcome to #TuesdayTea! Come in, fill your mugs and make yourself at home. 🙂
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Last week, Mental Health Awareness Week 2016, was all about relationships–family, friends, frenemies, colleagues and co-workers, romantic partners, lab partners, masterminds and everything in between.  It’s vitally important to your health to recognize how your connections to others impact you spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically.  #Relationships are everything.

In that spirit, I came across #JOYdayMovement in my Twitter timeline (thanks, Maura Chanz) and was not disappointed in the slightest.

Created by Morgan B. Daniels, #JOYdayMovement was initiated to bring about mental health awareness and advocacy to schools nationwide, providing a space “for people to fellowship, love and be joyful for everything in which God has done.”  Amen to that!

This first chat had a variety of participants: proud Spelmanites and recent grads, ministers, counselors, and creatives from all walks of life chimed in to share their responses to the following:

  1. What makes you happy?
  2. What is mental health to you?
  3. What do you do when you are overwhelmed?
  4. How do you respond to your friends when they are feeling down and out?Do you believe it’s okay to receive professional help?
  5. Have you ever felt like you weren’t “enough”? 
  6. What does JOYday mean to you?

Major takeaways:

  • Creating, serving and helping others, planning and accomplishing goals, and getting much needed downtime are all keys to happiness and success.
  • Mental health is “maintenance of your inner self.” –Maura, @maurachanz
    “the state of my mental well-being–how alert, in tune and present I am to my life” — Gabriella, @gabgotti
  • Imposter syndrome can be a serious, everyday struggle for many of us; we must be gentle with ourselves. Know that it’s in you to accomplish all things in line with your purpose!
  • You can combat overwhelm through prayer, playing gospel music, taking a bath or another solitary activity. Maintain your outlets!

    “Take deep breaths, pray, journal, just try to provide myself with a productive distraction.” –Samantha, @OnYourCallender

  • Be supportive of your friends in their low moments: listen, understand, cheer them up, or even just sit with them.
  • Seeking professional help is nothing to be ashamed of–you’re “still strong, still you.” –Dwight, @chelseesya

    “I think it’s important to know when you can handle something yourself, and know when to reach outside for help.” Giselle

  • That being said, we need to find ways to make therapy, counseling and other mental health services more accessible.
  • You can balance faith with practical methods to protect your mental health:

    “Remember it is okay to trust God and still get help from a professional or take meds.” –Carefree Queen Project

  • Feeling inadequate on a regular basis can lead to an identity crisis, feeling condemned to fail, but sometimes life has to fall apart to fall in place.

    “Mental illness is real but my God, He is much realer.” –Morgan B. Daniels, @MorganBDaniels

  • “Stop for a moment and check up on your mental health; do something that makes you happy.”– @janinecarriee

  • “JOYday is loving yourself mental illness and all. It’s feeling like you’re enough when you have nothing to look for.” –Carefree Queen Project, @_carefreequeen

Overall, this was an uplifting experience for me, as I witnessed everyone’s transparency, affirmations and especially the tremendous outpouring love to Morgan. This is community building at its finest–and it’s just the beginning!

joydaymvmt

Interested in bringing light, love and mental health awareness to the forefront of your conversation? Join #JOYdayMovement  on Twitter every other Tuesday at 7:30 pm EST!

Next week: The impact of your #mentalhealth on #Relationships. Tune in!

 

#TuesdayTea| Creatives, Cravings & Community

Welcome to #TuesdayTea! Pull up a chair, fill your mugs, and get comfy!
In honor of #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek (May 16-22), I’ll be highlighting the importance of relationships in your growth and development. In particular, let’s talk creativity, cravings and community.

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I really love to explore the dynamics between couples, or siblings, or friend groups, or families–watching other people interact with one another is a fun way to gauge your social skills (and to be sure you are adding value to conversations; most introverts will agree with me there).

Fact: Every connection you forge with another human being is significant in its own right. Don’t discount the impact of any one person’s relationship with you. It’s not so much about the length of time you’ve known someone as much as the quality of that time and the depth of intimacy (divulging secrets, trust, reliability, etc.) that you’ve developed.

Fact 2: We all need people.
Please stop championing the “team of me” as if that were an effective measure of your greatness–it’s not. Self-reliance is actually a deadly combination of pride and foolishness–you just cannot know everything, experience everything, or gain enough traction in your life without depending on someone at some point to help you level up. Accept that.

Two are better than one, in that their cooperative efforts yield this advantage: 10 if one of them falls, the other will help his partner up — woe to him who is alone when he falls and has no one to help him up. 11 Again, if two people sleep together, they keep each other warm; but how can one person be warm by himself? 12 Moreover, an attacker may defeat someone who is alone, but two can resist him; and a three-stranded cord is not easily broken.

Ecclesiastes 4: 9-12 CJB

This holds particularly true for us, creatives. As a whole, we tend to be more sensitive to our environments that the average Jo, more likely to seek out like-minded individuals with whom we can share our dreams and build, and of course, we require an audience to maintain our livelihood. See fact #2.

We tend to crave tranquility and peace in our surroundings, so we can think more clearly (chaos amplifies the scattering of thoughts).

We tend to crave unity amongst ourselves, cooperative economics, so the whole group can win as opposed to an elite few. We want to forge truly diverse, supportive, loving communities to reciprocate the love and care. #ForTheCulture

But then, if we’re being honest, there’s those other, self-centered, fearful, egotistical desires we have. The ones that drive us to scramble to the peak of the summit and kick our brothers and sisters off, Lion King-style.  The ones that take “By Any Means Necessary” as license to take the low road, compromising our integrity and dignity for a few coins. The ones that whisper for us to make instant gratification moves at the expense of our connections, torching once sturdy bridges.

So how do we begin to build (or rebuild) that ideal community to foster dynamic growth, nurturing relationships, and peace of mind?

  • Start with everyone else in mind first and foremost.
    Whether you are joining with folks online, in industry meetups, through non-profits and civic engagement, or some other means, keep in mind how you can benefit other people. Think, “How can I be of service?”

    Do nothing out of rivalry or vanity; but, in humility, regard each other as better than yourselves —  look out for each other’s interests and not just for your own.
    Philippians 2:3-4 CJB

  • Invest in a cause with your time. Find some folks who share your interests, an organization that has your passion, and ask how you can be a part of the team. Volunteer, fundraise, do stuff for free.
  • Invest in people with your time. Take the time out to get to know somebody and have fun with them. Determine to make new friends. Invite for tea, lunch, a movie, bowling, whatever–but make it about them. Ask “How are you?” with a genuine interest in their well-being. Do/make something kind and spur-of-the-moment. Say Happy Birthday.
  • Share! Share the load, share the credit, share their work, share your resources. Enough of the stingy, reclusive, celebrity-genius mentality–we’re too smart and interdependent for that small-mind, big ego nonsense. Practical insight is like a foreign language: if you don’t use it, you lose it.
  • Be family-oriented without being cliquish. This is a major one to me. Why do artistic, creative, underground communities find themselves spliced up into this set versus that one? I get that the world is cutthroat, but you do not have to be ferociously dogmatic at “protecting” your peoples. In a truthful, loving way, support your crew’s endeavors–and that of up and coming creatives, folk new to the scene/out of town. There really is room for all of us to be fulfilling our dreams and our purposes at the highest level. Can your family/squad/crew expand beyond who you’d expect it to include?
    Also: love on your family–those in your household need you to pour into them also, whether that means partner, spouse, siblings, parents or your cat Louie.
  • Reciprocate, and go beyond reciprocating. Your community may shower you with affection or become indifferent to your personal plight, but negativity or lack of attention does not mean it’s time to abandon them. Dig deeper; give more generously what you perceive to be lacking, and it will be returned to you. (That may actually mean time for pruning or refining, discerning what connections are fruitful and what aren’t, but more on that later.)

All this is vital to maintaining a vibrant support system that you will lean on in good times and rough patches. In the most difficult struggles and transitions of my life, I made it through because someone prayed for me, someone held my hand while I cried, a friend took a phone call at 4 a.m., a mentor told me the hard truth about myself, folks let me crash on their couch, sis gave me lunch money…I could go on and on. My community helped me become more resilient, more compassionate, more creative, more resourceful, more faithful to God, more righteous.

Hey creatives: Do you have friends who will stick closer than a brother? Have you become that sort of friend to someone else? Choose to examine and invest in right relationships.

PSA: It’s that time again. Are you feeling overwhelmed by life’s pressures? Wanting to ignite your creative passions and get unstuck?  Ready to take an inner vacation to rediscover your happy place? Sign up for the #HappyPlaceProject! 

 

 

 

#TuesdayTea| Chapter 24

Welcome to TuesdayTea! Let’s get cozy.

 

4Happy birthday to ya, happy birthday to ya, happy birthday!!! 🙌🏽🙌🏽🙌🏽🎓🎓💁🏽💁🏽🙋🏽🦄🦄🙏🏾😂☺️😘😉😭☺️👏🏾☺️😁😚🐼😚🙌🏽😃

Jordan Year is over with. *cue noisemaker*

God has graced us with another year of life.
It’s highly likely my mother will recount for us for the umpteenth time, with tears, just how my sister and I came into this world, that we were miracle babies, born so prematurely that doctors said we wouldn’t last 2 months. And now here we are, 24 years healthy!

I digress.

Here are 24 of the most important lessons I’ve learned while walking this Earth:

  1. I was created to make God’s praise glorious. That’s my intrinsic purpose–I do so when I create, when I serve, and when I live righteously.
  2. It is a good thing to be sympathetic to someone’s plight. It is a better trait to be empathetic, to walk miles in their shoes and even carry them.
    Enduring pain primes us to be more compassionate to others who are suffering.
  3. I hurt myself and others connected to me when I act selfishly. Disobedience and disrespect always lead to some type of destruction.
    Be community minded.
     
  4. Every penny counts. Do not bypass loose change. 
  5. My relationships are vitally important because they shape the person I’m becoming! Mind my connections; nurture the right ones. Money is not more important than people.
  6. Comparisons steal joy and kill friendships. There is more potential in collaboration than competition.
  7. The fear (read: reverence, love, obedience, respect) of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom. Pay no mind to those other fears. 
  8. Stealth mode is truly an art form–you gain far more by quietly observing and listening than you can by running your mouth. Only your ego needs you to announce your presence, when in fact, your presence will speak for itself. 
  9. All game stops once the truth emerges. 
    The truth is much simpler than we devise it to be. It stands on its own merit and requires no carnal defenses.
  10. I need God, I have always needed God, and I will always need God. Thankfully, He loves me to wholeness, is always with me, and His presence will always astound me.
  11. There is no time like the present moment to let someone know how much you care for, love, appreciate them. Hold yourself to conveying that constantly.
  12. Quit quitting. Quit being emotionally led and press in and through the valleys and plateaus in your life. You only delay the magnificent destiny laid out for you when you procrastinate. On the other hand, commitment is liberating and diligent execution is satisfying.
  13. No one can help you when you haven’t asked. No one can come alongside you when you haven’t gotten up to do the work. Ask, and keep on asking. Seek, and keep on seeking. Knock, and knock continuously, and the door will be opened.
  14. Mercy triumphs over judgment, every single time.
  15. You get to choose how much access you give to the people who want to be attached to you. Ask for discernment and sound judgment, to operate in honor, and to speak the truth in love.
  16. How your family treats you is how you anticipate the world will handle you. 
    So allow your family to fluctuate with the seasons, to become unconventional, and to grow–spiritual kin will enrich you.
  17. Rejection is okay, and necessary. You cannot make anyone love you, or accept you, or choose you over their own interests, no matter what you do, say, or refrain from doing/saying. We don’t recognize how we are being protected from things that could distract our minds, derail our purpose or disrupt our character.
  18. Always be generous, especially to folk who can never pay you back. Generosity and gratitude are always excellent attitudes to have. 
  19. Align yourself with God’s divine will; then you will have peace. Execute justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God, and you will be blessed. Love God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind and all your strength.
  20. Know the state of you at all times–your faith, your relationships’ statuses, your bank accounts, and your personal value:
    (a) Your worth is not bound up in your academics, or your career, or your talents, or your material wealth. Not in your mistakes, nor in your triumphs
    (b) Your value as a human is bound up in Christ, in your legacy, in your community. How many lives did you touch? How many hearts did you give wise counsel to? How many hugs?
  21. Love grants us the courage to dare to dream on a fantastic scale. I love people immensely, like the Ntozake Shange poem–I’m currently learning to love myself just as gently, patiently, fervently, unconditionally. To give myself second chances. To take care of my #mentalhealth and extend that knowledge to others–to have a ever-expanding vision of fulfilling God-given purpose.
  22. Get out of your head. 88% of the negativity/worry in our self-perception comes from getting stuck in our heads. Surround yourself with folk who can help you get out of your head. If you think you’re overthinking things, you most likely are.
  23. Let go and LIVE. Do not hold on and stagnate, linger, and die. You are stronger without it than you can realize while attached to “it.
  24. Learn the practical things, during the fitting season. This minimizes regret, having to go back to redeem time and make corrections!

Happy birthday to me,  happy birthday to me…