#TuesdayTea| Replenish

Welcome to TuesdayTea! Come, grab a mug, pull up a chair and rest a spell. Today, let’s do a bit of replenishing.

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I have missed you, just a little. Transparent Moment: I have been going through a lull in transition, a mild episode of depression. Maybe it’s the seasons changing; time to shift for the home stretch of the year–and do some introspection along the way.

This too shall pass.

So, today my sister had this brilliant idea to play a wild card game with quote cards. We each will center our thoughts around 3 snippets most relevant to our life and purpose for this season. Sounds fun, yeah?

Here’s the first:

“No matter where life takes you…the place where you stand at any moment is holy ground. Love hard and love wide and love long, and you will find the goodness in it.”–Susan Vreeland, Lisette’s List

I have Affirmed:

I Am a vital being. I have the fullness of life inside me. I am a temple of the Holy Spirit. I embody love, because God is Love and He is pleased to dwell within me.

When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father,[e]  the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth.[f] 
I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 
Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.
 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

–Paul, Ephesians 3:14-19

Check out the verbs there, y’all: Love empowers you in your innermost spirit. Love grounds you when the entire world is upside-down and running backwards. Love that is so great it fills the expanse of the universe, yet cannot be weighed fully or even fathomed in its magnificence, will complete me. Love will fill in the gaps, will sustain me.

Everything is going to be alright. I repeat, every thing is going to be alright.

Stop fretting, stop worrying, stop recycling through anxious thoughts and defeated attitudes. God graces us with the strength and power to obtain the victory.

May you rest in that grace, in the fullness of love this week.

 

 

 

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Liebster Award!!!

“Her unique mix of mental health advocacy, faith and art will leave you smiling!”
AW!! Here’s proof that community building is super effective! I’m really honored that you nominated my blog for a Liebster award, sis. To many more years of advocacy, care and stigma fighting together!

Rowana Abbensetts

Woohoooo! We got nominated for our second Liebster Award! And when I say “we” I mean me and all of you readers! Wow, you readers keep me so inspired and passionate about blogging and mental health. I feel like I have a little community here and that really means so much to me!

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#TherapyThursday| Going up from here

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Welcome to #TherapyThursday. This is a safe space, so get comfortable. Inhale, exhale.

Today I’m doing things a little differently.

I woke up this morning heavy hearted, weary and retraumatized re: Alton Sterling, Dylan Noble, Phillante Castile, India Kager…the list goes on and on…the films, the outrage, the mind numbing rage… The past 48 hours (really, 3+ years) have raised more questions than anything.

How can we pick up and continue life as we know it within hours of an onslaught of evil?

How can we protect our sacred spaces when the sanctity of our very lives are in question?

Who can bear up underneath this burden? being set as sheep to be slaughtered? How do we keep from developing cynicism and hardened, apathetic hearts? How do we rally and support one another tangibly, substantially, impactfully?

Where and to whom may we turn to trust to process continual trauma at the hands of law enforcement and the media?

How might we produce a grassroots network to call in family, friends, and established mental health support groups for us?

It is officially Minority Mental Health Month, and Jubilant July unofficially. As a proud Black woman, visual artist, an empath and a mental health advocate, I sincerely believe it’s my duty to help the black community in particular to safeguard their mental health. To comfort us in the wake of fierce brutality, to reach out and touch.

So this is more of a check-in than anything.

Hide yourselves for a little while, My people, until the indignation has passed.

Take time to self-care. Make sure you can still breathe. Engage on righteous terms today.

Gentle reminder:

I know it’s beyond tough to move out of bed today. *hugs*

Joy is our strength. Joy is not happiness; not conditional upon ideal circumstances, not temporal or subject to the temperament of a person.

Joy is intentional, rooted in the reality that this world we live in is not home, that Christ guarantees they can cut down our bodies but cannot kill our souls. Oh but they try. It is grounded by the fact that Almighty God is close to the broken hearted. He is father to the orphan, friend to the friendless, and our only hope.

Lord make Your presence known and manifest to us. Minister to us. You said blessed are the poor and needy in spirit, blessed are those who mourn for they will be comforted. Grace us with Your supernatural strength to go forward, grace us with Your peace that’s personal and surpasses understanding, and Your joy. Make it bubble over from within us and comfort and heal from the inside out. We trust You. Amen.

I will defy the odds and expectations by cradling and protecting my precious joy.

be well.

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7 Effective Ways to Relieve Anxiety/Panic Attacks

Just in time for #TuesdayTea! Shout out to Sheeri J for his great read on combatting anxiety–I swear by tips #1, 2 and 7!

ri-Fresh

Over the past year or so I’ve been pretty open with my issues with anxiety. I had my first panic attack, that I can remember, back in 7th grade after a traumatic experience trying to transition from a public elementary school to a strict Catholic middle school. I’m not going to get into much detail because reflecting on that experience is still pretty triggering for me. The day my parents took me to the hospital and the doctor said that my chest pains and shortness of breath were due to anxiety was the beginning of many more awakening experiences.
Like many others, I’ve dealt with anxiety alone for years and I’m still learning how to cope. Maybe you don’t have the friends or family that understand what you’re going through. Maybe you’re not ready to reach out for help but the fact that you’re reading this post is a great…

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Hey, May!!

Announcements (cue the confetti):
It’s Lupus Awareness Month!! Wooohooo!! Purple ribbons all around!
It’s Mental Health Awareness Month!! Wooohooo! Green ribbons for everyone!

My Personal Challenge this month: Become a louder, stronger, better advocate.
Are you wondering how to be a good supporter of family and friends living with lupus or a mental illness/disorder?  No sweat, here are some advocacy tips for you! Below are my favorites:

  • Demonstrate empathy first and foremost. Always be much more willing to listen than to say, “Oh, it’s not that bad; just pray about it”–similar statements are dismissive of their experiences.
  • Create a safe space for easy-going conversation. Everyone’s friends here.
  • It’s the little things. Assist in the everyday things, like picking up groceries or helping someone having a breakout get dressed.
  • Be encouraging.

And, here go some additional resources for you, as well (Note: this is not an exhaustive list):

National Alliance on Mental Illness– Family and Caregivers:
On this page are articles for helping your child and family, finding a missing loved one, supporting recovery and maintaining healthy relationships, preparing for a crisis, taking care of yourself, dealing with police, and suicide.

OK2TALK.org:
A Tumblr account dedicated to youth experiencing mental illness:
“The goal of OK2TALK is to create a community for teens and young adults struggling with mental health problems and encourage them to talk about what they’re experiencing by sharing their personal stories of recovery, tragedy, struggle or hope.”

Anxiety and Depression Association of America:
Want to further advocate by learning and sharing the benefits of treating anxiety and mood disorders, OCD, and PTSD in American children and adults? Spread the word!
End the stigma with BringChange2Mind.org! 

Mental Health America:
This website is loaded with information about mental wellness, mental health screenings and other services, policy & advocacy, learning about specific disorders from anxiety to psychosis, eliminating stigmas, and getting involved!

A personal fave: 31 Tips to Boost Your Mental Health

MHChat:
Of course, I couldn’t close out this list without this huge resource.
“@MHChat is an online open access community with a weekly mental health twitter chat every Wednesday at 8:00 PM GMT / 3:00 PM ET / 12:00 PT. The hashtag for the twitter chat @MHchat is #MHchat.”
Join in and share your views with us tomorrow, won’t you! I’ll be right there, catching all the gems and major keys. 😉

We are dedicated to promoting and advancing a holistic interdisciplinary and psychosocial understanding of mental health and mental ill health.
We’re getting up close and personal this month! This year’s theme for Mental Health May is “Life with Mental Illness.” Share your experiences on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, IG with #MentalIllnessFeelsLike! 

#Flourish30 Day 5/6: Riding the Wave

Transparency- (n.) the condition of being transparent:
a :  free from pretense or deceit :  frank
b :  easily detected or seen through :  obvious
c :  readily understood
d :  characterized by visibility or accessibility of information especially concerning business practices

Transparent moments are sometimes private events, introspective moments to pause and reflect.
More often, though, they are a means for you to communicate just how entirely human you are. They prompt you to return to your call, to return to your place of reckoning and questioning, making. They place immediate emphasis on becoming more than doing. They show you where you have room for improvements, and can therefore endear you to your audience and customers. 
They urge you, in the depths of loneliness that you may be experiencing in waves, to reach outside of yourself for answers, for support. They remind you to be accountable to your community, that you are not alone. In your transparent moment, you may find out who is truly down for you like four flat tires, who offers you moral support and is willing to get their hands dirty to uplift you. 

In the silence following the outcry, embrace your transparent moment. Soak in the very fact that you are vulnerable, and do not resent it as though it were a sign of weakness.
Far too many of us live our lives looking in some mirror, obsessing over our images: How will this panic attack/ fright fest/ meltdown make me look? How will this mistake shake up my authority, or my credibility? How can I pretty this up? How can I cover up this fatal flaw or tendency, dress it up (put lipstick on a pig), or make sure it never surfaces in the public eye?

The more things change, the more they remain the same. The more we suppress a habit, hangup, hold up, the uglier it mutates in that darkened recess that we shoved it in.
Have you ever had one of your faults closely examined under the Light for the hideous thing it is—sin? Deceit? That nagging vice the enemy pokes and jeers at you with, holding over your head?
Could you even recognize that little white lie after it snowballed to encompass your entire life?

This is food for thought.

Many of us are too afraid to confront our own imperfections. We are afraid to face the monster under the bed, afraid that we will encounter is…our own face glaring back at us.
Does the idea of transparency scare you?: Being truly, clearly open, being see-through? Being able to hide absolutely nothing about who you are and what you are doing? Not being in control?

I learned and am still learning to practice this: If you do not fall apart, then you cannot come back together. You cannot overcome, or bounce back stronger than ever from something you don’t experience.

By falling apart, I do mean allowing yourself to not have “it” all together. I mean, relinquishing your composure temporarily, maybe even ugly crying, humbling yourself to be in total honesty with yourself and others. Assess what your reality is and discern the falsehood (the lies that make you vain, the lies that call you an imposter, the lies that make you miserable) from the realness.

This is not a natural work—letting go completely like this is something I do in my quiet time, in the presence of the Father, in surrendering my mind, will and emotions to the Holy Spirit, and letting Him take control. There I find peace that surpasses understanding, as a quiet calm resonates throughout my being. There I find joy, comfort, and protection, security in this secret place that I access by faith. There His abundant, all-sufficient grace and His unfailing love pours over me, and leaves me in awe.

Cast all your cares on Him, because He cares for you. 1 Peter 5:7

You make known to me the path of life; in Your presence there is fullness of joy;
  at Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11

The coming back together happens when we allow our Creator, our Sustainer, our heavenly Father to scoop up what remains of us, our broken pieces–all the shards that we’re thinking can impale or injure our loved ones, all the “advantages” and character traits we thought were beautiful and adequate in our own self-righteousness, but proved to be fragile and “ruined”–
clean us up, and fit the shattered fragments into a gorgeous mosaic of grace and mercy.

TuesdayTea| Happy Places, & Recharging

Good morning,  creatives. Ready to embrace the day ahead of you? Welcome to Tuesday Tea!

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Whom do I have in heaven but you? And with you, I lack nothing on earth. My mind and body may fail; but God is the rock for my mind and my portion forever.

Psalm 73:25-26 CJB

It’s the first day of March 2016. That’s right, ladies and gents, we are only a few short weeks away from the end of Q1, 60 days into 2016, enough time for you to have begun at least 2 new habits to propel you into the future you desire for yourself.

How are you doing on that grand scheme for 2016 that you wrote-drew-collaged-Pinned for yourself?
It’s time to reevaluate your goals, and your performance thus far: Are you closer to your end goals for this quarter? What adjustments do you need to make to your routine, your meal plan, your spiritual pursuits, your finances, your editorial calendar? Have you started to write your blog, put your business together, solidify that project, drop that mixtape?

What do you want to spend your time doing?

For me, the very first day of a month (and of the week, and the initial hours of my day) I devote to God. I may meditate on some Scripture, sit in quiet, and allow Him to speak to my heart, journal, and otherwise dedicate to this introspective close examination of everything.
My major goal is to be growing, to be in alignment with His mind, will, and heart concerning thoughts, plans, relationships, business and everything else. It’s in pursuing that intimate connection with my Savior and the Holy Spirit that He empowers me to accomplish whatever needs to be done and for His glory, not my own. I know that I am maturing in my faith when it gets stretched, when I can count the trials for joy.

A brief recap of February for me:

  • Doors suddenly swung open: In the past couple of months, I was presented with a number of different opportunities, and met some people who’d become my tribe. (Shoutout to #TakeOver2016–y’all the real MVPs). I had to ask the Lord for help to discern who was truly for me, and who was here to ride the wave as I progressed.
  • It was possibly the most lit Black History Month ever. Blackish and #JusticeForFlint during the Oscars sealed the deal.
  • I launched my first newsletter series ever, the Happy Place Project. I have a newfound respect for every single copy writer I have ever encountered; I don’t think I have had to work so hard on a few paragraphs a day! Whew! I’ve got a few takeaways on that whole mission:
  1. The bigger the scope of your project, the more intricately detailed your strategy needs to be–with failsafes included. I made a number of mistakes in the beginning that wound up creating more work for me, and draining good creative energy.
  2. The bigger the scope of your project, the more likely you will need to ask for help.
    Honestly, even women in labor have nurses and doulas. You don’t have to agonize over the details alone. Get some pointers instead of spinning all the plates; otherwise, you’re bound to drop some. Thanks to advice from my mastermind, HPP was broken up into more manageable phases. (Phase 2 coming this week.)
  3. The bigger the scope of your project, the easier it is to fall behind the 8 ball–especially when you wing it.
    3a. Schedule everything that is worth mentioning–every single thing. Parties, events, meal times, classes, commute and work, other projects, church, down time, outings with friends, Bible study, meditation, tea time, all of it gotta go on a calendar.
    How do you know if there will arise a major crisis that averts your attention from your passion project? How do you know if your computer has to get rebooted in the middle of saving to the cloud? You don’t. Schedule when your posts publish way in advance so you don’t flip out over deadlines, so things go more smoothly, and you look more professional. (Learn your CRM system early.)3b. Make a checklist for all that the launch/webpage/product is supposed to include.
    Are your images clean and consistent? Do your links work? Did you save that template? How does it look in plain-HTML? Does it read coherently, close to how cool it sounded in your head? Are you more vague than you would like to be?
  4. The bigger the scope of your project, the easier it is to lose objectivity. You are managing your own project and so it seems it cannot happen, but it can and does. It’s like when you’re painting for  a couple of several hours without breaks and you really need to step back and see with fresh eyes. You will critique yourself into a great big mess overanalyzing every little detail, and worrying over the correct spelling of grey.
    Tedium stifles creativity; tedious criticism breeds fear, doubt and unbelief.
    Don’t spend too much time dwelling on the significance of what you are creating unless it motivates you to keep pushing forward.
    Take the focused break.
    Simplify as much as you can.
  5. The bigger the scope of the project, the more you will learn about yourself and your purpose.
    Ironically enough, I needed the very concept (the “happy place”)  I was offering to my readers! All roads lead to more transparency and authenticity. A week before the launch, I was met with tragic news: the apparent suicide of activist MarShawn McCarrell, and then the sudden death of my childhood friend Marcel. Loss fueled my passion for this concept to become more than a nebulous idea sparked by a discussion on creating content. I wanted to continue to connect more of us, to engage discourse around creative expression, communicating difficult feelings, active listening, mental health and wellness and what that looks like. I didn’t want to just pedal some cool sounding eBook I pulled together; I want to address some real-time struggles that I see pop up around artists, poets, writers, but also small business owners, STEM folk, religious and philosophical leaders, social entrepeneurs, activists…
    I got more in touch with why and whom I aim to serve through whatever platforms God gives me.

I realized I am not “some expert”, but I am a thought leader, an influencer, an orator. I am a community oriented supportive person, a confidant, and friend. I realized just how much I would need to refine and narrow the focus of this ongoing thing, that I would need to link with others who share this mission of empowering others through creative expression and helping them heal their broken places.

I also realized that us empaths, ambiverts, and healers have to retreat, too. We must go recharge, by any constructive means necessary—else, we really are no good to anyone, including ourselves. That’s just a toxic dynamic, and it’s counterintuitive. You cannot pour out of an empty cup.
As Elisabeth Gilbert put in her TED talk last year,

Somehow we’ve completely internalized and accepted collectively this notion that creativity and suffering are somehow inherently linked and that artistry, in the end, will always ultimately lead to anguish.

And the question that I want to ask everybody here today is are you guys all cool with that idea? Are you comfortable with that? Because you look at it even from an inch away and, you know — I’m not at all comfortable with that assumption. I think it’s odious. And I also think it’s dangerous, and I don’t want to see it perpetuated into the next century. I think it’s better if we encourage our great creative minds to live.”

So, if this indoctrination into the martyred starving artist, #TeamNoSleep running off fumes and aspirations, bootstrapping android ideal sounds familiar to you, I want you to drop it like a bad habit (which it is.)

Assess where you are spiritually, mentally, emotionally, and physically. Give yourself enough margins for error, and for rest.
Get yourself a therapy session if you need to.

Pull away from your “I have to”, and take a quick jog in some fresh air.
Visit your favorite constructive places to unwind, like coffeeshops, restaurants,  bookstores or museums, arcades or skating rinks, or church, parks or the beach, or IKEA (no judgment)…Go somewhere, people watch and unplug.

Cop a Bible study app and peruse some devotionals. Read a book, a magazine, an article in Entrepreneur or Inc. Listen to a podcast, or watch a TED talk, or soak up some jazz (or classical or whatevs).

Eat apples, blueberries, almonds, dates, oatmeal, fish, rainbow carrots, fresh juice, ginger, citrus, walnuts–these foods help you get out the midday slump.

TuesdayTea | Happy Places, Quests, and Emails

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Good afternoon, loves!

 

 

Gentle Reminder:
Refresh yourself often!!!

I took a walk outside, enjoying this unseasonably warm Georgia weather, and I felt my soul stretch! Whew!

You see, after spending days on end glued to my laptop screen wrapping up some projects, I had become cramped in more ways than one.

My legs were practically jelly. My eyes were dry and tired. I was getting snappy. (Apologies to my family; I really haven’t been myself.)

That irritability, that moment when you are approaching the very edge of your wits and tension is building in your muscles, clearly shows that you must get away.

I’m not talking about escapism, per se. Just come away for a while so you can return with fresh eyes. A clear, sound, well-balanced  mind.

Today, give yourself a time out. Take a walk, exercise, meditate, read some scripture. Read the Grammy’s thinkpieces. Allow yourself to actually go on a mini quest. Go breathe real air. That blog post will still be on your computer. That template in MailChimp will autosave. Those beats you’ve been painstakingly putting together will get to Soundcloud.

But your audience, your customers, your readers need you to be the best you. Not half-slumping, frantic you.

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Updates on the Happy Place Project:

If you have already subscribed, please sign up again–due to some technical difficulties on my end, I’ve reopened registration with a new link on the page.
The journey begins February 17th midnight.

This has been a rewarding experience thus far, and I am so excited that you all keep rockin with me.
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Also, this week on social media:

Scroll through the #ImNotCray hashtag on Twitter for a great ongoing conversation about mental health and self-care; also, join #blkcreatives chat tonight at 9 pm EST/ 8 PM CST on anxiety!

 

5/7/13 Final Critique and Thoughts

This project was the bridge into abstraction, my “last hurrah” with figurative work, and my first foray into performance art. I wore a costume/outlandish outfit every single day for a month.
So began my intensive, 30-40 day concentrations on one subject, and me producing a large volume of small works.

It’s good to see how far you have come. 🙂

Methods with ASC

I presented my studio space to the art department. Welcome to my closet.

I may seek to do more performance based work, capture in video or photo montage. I will study costume and portraiture over the summer, visiting museums in Chicago.

fragmented mirror, palettes, influences, chart fragmented mirror, palettes, influences, chart

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listed by week: 1 ,2, 3, 4, 5 listed by week: 1 ,2, 3, 4, 5

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