I was done with Pageantry…

I don’t even know where to start on this one. Let’s start off by saying, I said I was done with pageantry. I thought maybe it was not for me after failure after failure after failure. Sometime around October-ish last year, I was getting bit by the bug. I decided one last time to come out of “retirement,” and to really give it my all and compete for Mrs. Delaware America 2022. After sharing my decision with a few friends, I was given encouraging words that made me feel like maybe I had made the right decision. I prayed and asked God to place people in my life that would be of assistance to help me be my best and do my best. I said I wanted to be me and not conform to the stereotypical “Pageant Patty” in order to feel as though I had a chance. Meaning, I didn’t want to alter anything about who I was: hair, style, personality, etc. I was nervous about my headshots showing my natural hair, but my gut said, this is the way to go. I set out what I thought was a decent budget for my gown and got a beautiful dress from Cecile Boutique in Newark, Delaware, and started my preparation. (Because of course, the gown is the most important part, right? Lol)

During this journey, I developed eczema rashes on my hands and neck, my right eye would sporadically swell up, I developed a severely dry and itchy scalp causing bad dandruff, and there was never a time where I truly felt like a queen. I felt ugly. My skin, hair, and nails were fighting with me. However, God continued to place people in my life who believed in me and/or help me with this goal. In an accountability group, I meant a former pageant queen, Miss Black USA 2011, Ocielia S., owner of Slay Your Pageant who happened to be a pageant coach (look at God). I began following her and connecting with her and receiving great feedback from her IG LIVES and even met for an interview coaching session. I started focusing on getting my mind right and building a brand for myself.

I connected with women I have met through my pageantry journey and received such positive feedback and critiques on things I may have needed to tweak. The winner of the pageant I competed in in 2010 has always been a great role model in my life, and I reached out to her for feedback and advice. I adored and admired her beauty and her heart and am so thankful that we kept in touch all these years. (One thing about pageantry, no matter the outcome, I have always stepped away with beautiful friends and awesome women in my life).

When I decided to return, it was all about me continuing to step out on faith and seeking God for guidance. It was me taking the limits off of myself and taking the limits off of God. I am continuing to practice courageous faith in my life. So even though this was a competition, in my head, I was not competing with the other women. They were beautiful and just as deserving. I was competing with myself and my past beliefs. I was challenging myself to dream bigger and not throw away a dream because of a few failures. Failures are necessary for growth and improvement. So, this journey meant more to me than just winning a title. It was about putting in the work and trusting God to do His work. And that He did.

I recommend pageantry to many people because it helps you focus on YOU. It teaches confidence, poise, and how to command and captivate an audience. It also teaches the importance of building positive relationships with other women. I spent an awesome weekend with amazing women, and that is what I appreciate most about the experience. Even though the journey started off rocky and made me feel like my outer image was far from beautiful, it truly made me focus on my inner man to assure what I exuded was that of a queen. It reminded me that beauty comes from within, and I am so thankful to the judges and the director for believing in me. So, here I am y’all, YOUR MRS. DELAWARE AMERICA 2022!!! Be blessed!!

You Good, Sis?

I cannot believe, it is May 4th, and I have NOT acknowledged that it is Mental Health awareness month!! I think I have said this before, I am a counselor by trade. I have a MA in counseling, and although not practicing at the moment, I am a Licensed Master’s Social Worker, Licensed Chemical Dependency Professional, and a Co-Occurring Disorders Professional-Diplomat in the state of Delaware. I say all that not to toot my horn, but to share how mental health has always been an interest of mine and is very near and dear to my heart. 

After getting honest with myself a little before the pandemic, I realized I was battling feelings of depression that stemmed from my issues with perfectionism, momming, wife’n, and all that can come with being a woman, in general, like superwoman syndrome (thinking we can do all things without the help of others). My skewed idea that I needed to be perfect in EVERYTHING had me feeling down in the dumps when I realized that was not possible. I cannot be the perfect mom, wife, employee, friend, woman, Christian, you name it because there was no such thing.  I didn’t recognize that it was depression until I started seeing how “dry” my personality had become, how irritable I was, and how I lacked the energy to do anything but the bare minimum.  Thankfully, I was able to overcome this, but I wanted to know, have you ever experienced this? Are experiencing this now? Long story short…you good, sis?

I know as wives, moms, and women…we tend to think we can do it all, but the truth of the matter is, we shouldn’t.  We run ourselves ragged trying to do everything under the sun, but that can lead to mental health concerns like depression and anxiety.  Depression because we are giving to everyone but ourselves, losing interest in our own hobbies and goals, anxiety because we feel like there is always something to do and we cannot seem to get it all done…we start speaking negatively to ourselves, eat unhealthily, never make time for self, become irritated, snap at everyone, etc.  All the time, we think we are holding it together, but really, inside we have 1000 tabs open trying to see which one is safe to close out of at the moment.   As moms, wives, and women, in general, we do not see this as a mental health concern.  We think that is just life, and just how it is. But girl, it is definitely something to be concerned about.  Your mental health should always be a priority to you!!  I know when I got down to the root of why I was so irritated and running on autopilot, it was because I had become depressed and was experiencing forms of anxiety.  I had to get myself together real quick!! The following helped me out tremendously:

  1. Calling it what it is—there is nothing wrong with recognizing you may be experiencing mental health symptoms. ***Please note: just because you are experiencing feelings of depression or anxiety does not mean you have a mental health diagnosis of depression or anxiety. Those are 2 different things; a diagnosis requires a continuum of symptoms that seem to worsen or never go away.  Having certain feelings of depression or anxiety can be temporary depending on the season in your life (makes sense?). However, if you are experiencing symptoms that are lingering and not going away, I highly recommend you to see someone for an evaluation to identify if there is a diagnosis so that you can better address it.***
  2. Take time to REST—My devotional this morning was about rest, and boy, how it spoke to me.  God says rest! Not just physical rest, but rest in Him.  He does not want to see you overwhelmed, running around like a chicken with her head cut off. He wants you to be prosperous, and you cannot do that without resting. Remember this scripture, Matthew 11:28: Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 
  3. Set aside alone time to pray, read, journal. This is a way to feed your soul, gain wisdom, and let out all that is cluttering your mind.
  4. Get dressed!!! No matter how you feel, get dressed up in what makes you feel good.  Sweats and messy hair can be comfy, but sometimes it contributes to our “sluggish,” depressing feelings.  Wear the opposite of what you feel!!!
  5. And last but not least, put on some good music and DANCE!!!!  Of course, if you are feeling sad, don’t play sad music.  Play the opposite of what you feel…any Michael Jackson or Bob Marley will work for me.  And you never can go wrong with some good, old gospel music!!

Of course, there are more things that I did, like revisiting old hobbies that made me happy, speaking to friends whom I trusted that had experienced the same thing, expressing what I was feeling, etc., but these are what stood out most.  So, if you find yourself a little shaky and experiencing some feelings that may show that mentally, you aren’t yourself, try these tips, if they worsen, seek a therapist. There is nothing wrong with talking it out with someone or getting on a medication regimen.  We need to make sure we are good. I said a few months ago when Miss USA, Chelsie Kryst, passed.  Let people know if something is not right.  Ask for help.  Always know that someone is rooting for you and want to see you thriving.  Just make sure you are good, sis!!! Be blessed.

Confidence is Key

This week, the word, CONFIDENCE, has been what I have focused on.  I posted on my IG, @thebookofalesha, how being a mom of girls really forced me to look at myself so that I am walking what I am talking.  In my younger days, I battled issues with my self-esteem. I felt confident in some of my abilities but doubted myself in others.  For example, I was a cheerleader in high school.  I know it was something I was good at, therefore my confidence in myself while cheering was high. I was also rather nerdy and smart, so I was always confident in my ability to pass tests. However, I struggled with self-image and because I was a bit eccentric, I was paranoid that my personality was NOT always relatable.  Now, as a woman, I have become more comfortable in my skin, and I want to make sure that I am always displaying this for my girls.  My goal in raising them has always been to make sure I nurture their self-esteem and teach them how to be confident in the abilities that God has gifted them with, despite how others may feel or think about them. In order for me to do that, I had to make sure I was walking the walk and not just talking the talk. Here are a few ways that have helped me with building my confidence.

1. I make sure I am always aware of what I am telling myself and challenge any thoughts that do not align with what God says about me.

2. I give myself grace, and do not beat myself up about things I cannot control. 

3. I make sure I am not taking myself too seriously all the time and remember to have fun!! 

4. I practice courageous faith. (This has created a confidence that is unexplainable).

5. I trust the process and know that all that happens is in divine order. God will NEVER fail us.

When I practice these things and love on myself. It teaches my girls to do the same. 

Some may ask, how does practicing faith and trusting the process build confidence?  Well, when you know that Your creator has plans to prosper you (Jeremiah 29:11), why wouldn’t you be confident? All of who you are was made to fulfill His divine purpose so why doubt it?  Your job is to live your life, nurture your gifts, and seek God for His guidance to fulfill the promise.  Makes sense? Hope so! Be blessed, y’all!

Discovering the Purpose in my Pain Series: What was the Purpose?

I know, I know. It has been a while but trust me, it has been for good reason.  I have just been trying to live in the moment and give myself some time to take care of some other goals of mine…I will have a new post on this soon. Anywho, while I have been on break, I have been focusing on my podcast. I had the honor of interviewing 21 ladies who were a part of the Purpose in my Pain anthology presented by the visionary author, Dr. Tamika Hall.  (Head over to the BOOK OF ALESHA podcast, in order to listen. Available where you listen to your podcasts).

While interviewing the ladies, I was led to think about any pain I may have experienced and what has become of it. I was drawn to what birthed the Book of Alesha brand, in general.  I was battling feelings of depression stemming from perfectionism, fear of failure, and all that encompassed motherhood, wifeyhood, and womanhood.  I had put unrealistic expectations to be the perfect mom, wife, and woman.  When that wasn’t happening. I was feeling like a failure and started operating on autopilot. I had nothing left to give.  I was just surviving. 

I begin to think, well as long as those around me were taken care of, that was what mattered, but I wasn’t taking care of myself.  Don’t get me wrong, being a wife and mother, aren’t painful roles.  Losing yourself in them is what becomes painful, unrealistic expectations are what becomes painful.

Not only was I feeling like I was failing, but I also noticed that all the things I wanted to do, I didn’t do.  All the things I wanted to pursue; I didn’t pursue.  I thought there was no possible way I could nurture my family and focus on myself as well. I decided that my family was more important than me.  Their well-being, their desires, their dreams.  Truth of the matter is, I am as equally important.  I realized that that had been a pattern in my life. Putting myself on the back burner…not seeing myself as important as anyone else. I am not sure where this thought process came from. I think we as women are afraid of appearing selfish, so we put ourselves low on the totem pole to appease the masses and to come off as modest.

What I have learned is, people rarely respect a woman who puts others above herself.  They will walk right over you, spouse and children included.  They respect a woman who knows how to respect herself, sets boundaries, and takes care of herself.  The woman who strives to be all to everyone but herself usually ends up a bitter, irritated, and frustrated woman.  That woman is usually drained and not good for much. Trust me, I know her. I was her.  When I think back to all the conversations I had with another wife and mom whom I confided in, I think, wow, I bet I sounded so bitter and negative.  I remember speaking so dryly every time we conversed.  I was always tired and had no energy.  I was running on empty and trying to pull from any source I could to pick me up. 

I realized that something had to change, and it had to start with a shift in my thought process.  I could no longer think I was less deserving of being cared for.  I could no longer think that being a wife and mother, meant my life was over.  I began to pour into myself by reading the bible, building my relationship with God, journaling, and surrounding myself with women who inspire me, and boy did things shift.  It makes sense now when they say on the plane to put your mask on first before you assist anyone depending on you.  I used to think, well that sounds selfish, but think about it, how are you going to properly assist anyone if you don’t have yourself together? If you are on a plane, losing oxygen, but trying to put the mask on someone else first, are you even able to fully function to know if you are assisting the person properly?? Get my drift? 

So, as I thought of finding the purpose in my pain, I thought of how The Book of Alesha was birthed.  I realized my purpose was to create a safe space for women who may sometimes struggle with getting lost in their roles, who may feel like they aren’t good enough, and who just need to be reminded of the queens that they are.  I see you; I am you!! Know that God has equipped you for all that He has given you.  You just gotta receive and queen it!

Are you OK?

I was so devastated when I read of the suicide of Cheslie Kryst, Miss USA 2019.  Even as I write this I get a little choked up as I think of how beautiful she was and how excited I was the year she won the crown.  It was a year that black women were dominating the pageant world.  I keep thinking, but she was so beautiful and looked so pleasant and happy.  As the news was spreading, I found myself going on her Instagram page, watching videos of her, trying to look in her eyes to see if someone missed something, wondering if something could have been done.  Then I realized, even if she had shown a sign, nobody would have caught it. Why? Because she was a smart, educated, beautiful woman who did her job well and touched the hearts of all who were in her presence.  Even had she shown a sign, it is possible it would have been dismissed. 

A week or so before Cheslie’s news hit, we heard about Regina King’s son.  Months before that, I remember stumbling upon a Facebook thread where a male had set a status that basically stated he was about to end his life, and all the comments were trying to reach him and saying don’t do this, and people were frantic, and all I could think is “My God!!”  I had no clue of who this male was, and I cannot remember how I saw it, but it was sad to watch unfold. 

Depression doesn’t have a face nor does it discriminate.  Mental illness is plaguing our country, and it is saddening.  I have heard different things about how the pandemic has caused a huge increase in depression and anxiety, and it scares me.  I reflect on my own bouts of depression and anxiety, and I find myself praying, “God, just keep my mind” because people are taking themselves out left and right.  What I come to understand is that is the enemy’s plan.  It is a spiritual battle.  If the enemy can get you to think your life is not worth living anymore, that there is no way out of your pain, and that it is too much to bear, he has won the battle.  He wants to make you feel alone and that no one can possibly understand what you are going through, but I just want to say anyone feeling this way,  “You are not alone, and there are people who love you who are there to help if you just speak up and say, I’m not ok, and I need help! You have a purpose, and God has a plan for you.  You may not see it now, but know that trouble doesn’t last always, and you will get through it.  Just keep going through because there is glory on the other side.   Ask God for guidance, seek therapy, reach out to friends you trust, and don’t believe the lies of the enemy….you are NOT alone, and there are people you can talk to.  

There is nothing wrong with seeking therapy.  Find one who fits you, talk it out, and/or get the right medications if you need to. Know that you are loved, and you are worthy of life.  I speak life to you right now.  You will get through this.  This is only temporary.  There is peace on the other side.  

Lord, as I end this post, I asked that you touch the hearts and minds of those who are battling depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts and actions (and all other mental battles).  I pray that YOU cover them and comfort them so that they feel Your presence, and they know that You are in control, and You have a purpose and plan for their lives.  I ask that You give them peace and that they learn to rest in You.  Send a friend, a word, a sound, any sign, that reminds them their life is worth living.   I asked all these things in the name of Jesus, Amen. 

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”  ~Joshua 1:9 NIV

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: If you would like immediate help, please call 1-800-273-8255 (TALK). Through this toll-free phone number, they offer a network of crisis centers across the country. These centers staff their lines with people who are trained to listen and offer support to people in emotional crisis.

Make Room and Be Ready in 2022

Man, it has been a while since I have had the opportunity to blog. But it has been for good reason. I have been a bit busy, but I am not complaining. It is Christmas day as I am writing, and I am reflecting on how fast this year has gone by. Not only that but how God has blessed me in 2021. I have experienced growth in so many ways, I don’t even know where to start. From learning how to deal with unhappiness on my job to creating my own outlet to get back to “me” that has led to great opportunities for me to expand my territory and share my gifts.

This year, my mantra was JUST DO IT! I was determined to take risks and invest in myself and trust that God will guide me every step of the way, and boy did He not disappoint. He opened my eyes to ways that I had begun to think that were not only limiting my growth but limiting my faith. I had put God in a box and had just settled for a life of complacency. I felt unseen on my job, not sure of what I brought to the table, not sure if I would ever walk in my gift or purpose. I was overwhelmed as a mother and trying my best as a wife, but running on empty. I thought He had forgotten about me. I began praying more and believing Him for bigger things and trusting Him with what I thought was impossible. All the desires I had stored in my heart, I begin to revisit and started taking action.

In the past year, I started my blog, podcast, and became a best-selling published author and publisher (click on the “shop” tab when you finish reading this). Never had I ever imagined I’d be able to say that. I battled with perfectionism, imposter syndrome, fear of failure and success, and despite my fears, I did them anyway. In doing so, my faith was renewed. I saw life differently, and I saw how much God wanted to see me prosper. He started dropping little things on my heart that showed me that He is not through with me yet. So this year, my mantra will be make room…and be ready!!

I kept receiving several messages over the year such as be still and to trust Him. Now, I am getting the message to make room. God has plans to prosper us and to fully receive what He has for us, there may be some stuff we have to get rid of. We need to make room and be ready. Make room can be in a physical way (in our closets, our homes, our offices) or mentally (forgive, let go of resentments, clear our headspace), or spiritually (create a space where you are meeting Him regularly). Prepare yourself!! Be ready for opportunities that He is going to bring your way so that when they come, you aren’t scrambling and sabotaging, get what I am saying?

In 2022, my focus will be on renewing my mind and speaking life. I wanted to make sure I attract the right people, places, and things in my life. Our words are powerful. Our conversations are powerful. Who we surround ourselves with can hinder us or propel us, so be mindful of the people you surround yourself with because God wants us focused on Him, and sometimes people can be a deterrent.

My prayer is that as I continue to walk in faith, God will continue to guide me. I pray that as I step into His assignment, I will be ready and can handle what he has bestowed upon me. I pray that I would have made room and created a space for Him to work in my life. I would hate to sabotage and prolong the journey because I held on to things that were not meant to follow me to where He is taking me, you know?

So as 2021 comes to an end, I celebrate my growth. I celebrate my journey. I will continue to be open to receive what He has in store. I am so thankful for the people who have come into my life over the last year. I am thankful for friends who encouraged me. I am thankful for the support I can continue to have from people who truly care for me. I will continue to send praises up and shift my mind to things to are good. I pray the same for you! May your 2022 be a year of renewal, opportunities, and growth. And may you not miss it because you were too overwhelmed with things to fully receive the blessings!! Amen and Amen!! Be Blessed, y’all!

Am I my sister’s keeper?

Growing up, I was always the girl that did not have many female friends.  Girls just irritated me.  Don’t get me wrong, I had friends but not many.  I just didn’t have the patience for the nonsense that I would see girls engaging in.  I think I have just always been past my time.  Looking back, I recall girls my age having the tendency to be a little mean, jealous, insecure, competitive, all those things and that was never a part of my character.  Not saying that I never experienced feelings of jealousy or didn’t have my mean girl moments, but it wasn’t a part of my makeup sooo for a long time it would bother me, and I was definitely convicted of any behaviors that I knew were wrong.  So, seeking friendships with other girls wasn’t a thing I did.  Any friendships that I developed throughout my life are definitely friendships I cherish because they were organically cultivated. I knew that they were genuine and really liked me for who I was at the core.

I used to think I was just weird because even though I was a female, I just didn’t do well with seeking out those friendships.  I was weird.  I was awkward.  I was just different.  But you know what I have learned.  God made me that way, intentionally. He made me to stand out.  He set me apart, and I accept that now.  Last week, I attended a women’s retreat, and at this woman’s retreat, I realized that as I have gotten older, my appreciation for women has changed.  When I was a child, there was only a select few girls that meshed with, and that was because we were in some way like-minded and set apart.  Now, as a woman, I realized being set apart puts you in a position to meet other women who are set apart.  Being set apart is in no way a bad thing, but a blessing.  It is empowering.

I was somewhat nervous when I thought about attending the retreat because I remember the times I had been around a group of females and they either irked my soul or was just up to no good.  I was also afraid that the ladies had already formed a bond because I joined toward the tail end of the planning and so I thought I would find myself feeling alone as I often have felt in rooms full of women. But once there, all those thoughts immediately went away.  I can sense that we were all there for growth and healing and to be each other’s keepers.  I didn’t feel odd.  I didn’t feel insecure.  I didn’t feel judged.  That’s it!! I didn’t feel judged. 

Growing up, I always felt judged because of my weirdness, as if girls were always talking about me for whatever reasons, and that has carried into my adulthood.  What I know now is… that is NOT the behavior of women who have been set apart.  Women who have been set apart understand they have a purpose, even if they are unsure of what it is.  They know they have a purpose. 

At the retreat, I experienced the beauty of women allowing themselves to be vulnerable amongst other women and not being judged by it but being supported by it.  I saw how the power of God moves when women come together to be their sister’s keeper. 

Being your sister’s keeper means sometimes being an intercessor. It means sometimes being an ear and giving sound advice. It means being an accountability partner and making sure she is always operating at her fullest potential.  Being your sister’s keeper is assuring her that you have her back and won’t let her fall.  It means when you see her down, help lift her up.  I guess that is why in my younger years, I just didn’t fit in all the time because many girls my age weren’t trying to be my keeper.  I didn’t fit the mold, and I realize now, I wasn’t supposed to.  Not saying that I was better than anyone, but I was just different and that is OK.  I am sure some of those girls now have grown to be lovely ladies but had I tried to seek out friendships that I knew wouldn’t fit who I was, I may have been steered in the wrong direction.

Now as a grown woman, I want to always make sure I am my sister’s keeper.  However, because I am still weird, I still don’t intentionally seek out friendships, but I am blessed that God always puts like-minded people in my path to help me continue to grow.  God has placed so many beautiful women in my life that have taken me under their wings and helped me go to the next level of my life that I can do nothing but pay it forward.  I have to be my sister’s keeper.  Her victories are my victories and vice versa. If she is thriving, I am thriving.  Why? Because I learn from her, and she learns from me.  It is just a beautiful thing.  So, tell me, are you your sister’s keeper?  

Domestic Violence Awareness Month

We may know October as Breast Cancer Awareness month but it is also domestic violence awareness month, and I thought it would be important to shed light on this topic as I think it is something that we hear about but don’t get much involved in. In today’s blog, I just wanted to give you information on what is domestic violence, signs, and resources for help.  All of the information I gathered by just googling and researching. None of what I am reporting is my own information, but information I have gathered from other resources. Most of the information is taken from https://www.un.org/en/coronavirus/what-is-domestic-abuse.

What is Domestic Violence?

Domestic abuse, also called “domestic violence” or “intimate partner violence”, is a pattern of behavior in any relationship that is used to gain or maintain power and control over an intimate partner. This may include behaviors that frighten, intimidate, terrorize, manipulate, hurt, humiliate, blame, injure, or wound someone. Domestic abuse can occur within a range of relationships including couples who are married, living together or dating. Domestic violence affects people of all socioeconomic backgrounds and education levels. 

Recognizing the signs of domestic abuse

Does your partner…

  • Put down your accomplishments?
  • Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions?
  • Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance?
  • Tell you that you are nothing without them?
  • Treat you roughly—grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you?
  • Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
  • Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
  • Blame you for how they feel or act?
  • Pressure you sexually for things you aren’t ready for?
  • Make you feel like there is “no way out” of the relationship?
  • Prevent you from doing things you want – like spending time with friends or family?

Do you…

  • Sometimes feel scared of how your partner may behave?
  • Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behavior?
  • Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
  • Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
  • Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
  • Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke up?

Most only think of domestic violence being physical abuse, but abuse comes in other forms such as emotional, psychological, financial, sexual, and stalking. 

Emotional abuse is undermining a person’s sense of self-worth through constant criticism; belittling; name-calling or other verbal abuse; damaging a partner’s relationship with the children; or not letting a partner see friends and family. Does not trust you and acts in a jealous or possessive manner. Below are examples of emotional abuse:

  • Monitors where you go, whom you call and with whom you spend your time.
  • Does not want you to work.
  • Controls finances or refuses to share money.
  • Punishes you by withholding affection.
  • Expects you to ask permission.
  • Threatens to hurt you, the children, your family or your pets.
  • Humiliates you in any way.

Psychological abuse is causing fear by intimidation; threatening physical harm to self, partner or children; destruction of pets and property; “mind games”; or forcing isolation from friends, family, school and/or work.

Financial is making or attempting to make a person financially dependent controlling financial resources, withholding money, and/or forbidding school or employment

Physical abuse is hurting by hitting, kicking, burning, grabbing, pinching, shoving, slapping, hair-pulling, biting, denying medical care or forcing alcohol and/or drug use, or using other physical force. The following are other examples

  • Damages property when angry (throws objects, punches walls, kicks doors, etc.).
  • Pushes, slaps, bites, kicks or chokes you.
  • Abandons you in a dangerous or unfamiliar place.
  • Scares you by driving recklessly.
  • Uses a weapon to threaten or hurt you.
  • Forces you to leave your home.
  • Traps you in your home or keeps you from leaving.
  • Prevents you from calling police or seeking medical attention.
  • Hurts your children.
  • Uses physical force in sexual situations.

Sexual abuse is forcing a partner to take part in a sex act when the partner does not consent. You may be in a sexually abusive relationship if your partner:

  • Accuses you of cheating or is often jealous of your outside relationships.
  • Insults you in sexual ways or calls you sexual names.
  • Has ever forced or manipulated you into having sex or performing sexual acts.
  • Holds you down during sex.
  • Demands sex when you are sick, tired or after beating you.
  • Hurts you with weapons or objects during sex.
  • Involves other people in sexual activities with you.
  • Ignores your feelings regarding sex.

Stalking is any pattern of behavior that serves no legitimate purpose and is intended to harass, annoy, or terrorize the victim. Typical stalking activities include repeated telephone calls, unwelcome letters or gifts by mail, surveillance at work, home and other places that the victim is known to frequent. Stalking usually escalates.

All of this information can be found on https://www.un.org/en/coronavirus/what-is-domestic-abuse.

With the pandemic forcing us all to make home our workplace, it is vital that we stress the importance of safety at home, specifically as it pertains to domestic violence.  More people are home, therefore more people are experiencing instances of domestic violence.  Understand that this is an important topic and must not be taken lightly. If you are in an abusive relationship or suspect someone you know may be here are some tips to follow:

For the victim:

Talk to someone. Tell someone you can trust about your concerns. If you have trouble talking about what is going on, write it down. Or, call a helpline for advice. Trained counselors can help you decide if yours is a serious situation or bump in the road.

Stay away from trouble. Do not start fights with a person that abuses. Do NOT make threats back. That may be what the abuser wants you to do, so you can be blamed for whatever they do to retaliate. Do not get in the way of flying fists. No one has the right to hurt another person.

Build a support system. Make sure you keep in touch with people who know you well enough to notice when you need emotional support. If your relationship is tearing you down, you need friends to build you back up. You do not need to tell them everything that is going on, but you do need to know there are people in your life who love and appreciate you for what you are. Just talking to them can help you remember who you were before the pain began.

Make a plan or make several plans. If you feel you are ready to change your circumstances, think carefully about what you will do next. Many people know how to help you do this, including those in advocacy organizations, counselors, clergy, and social workers.

What steps to take to get out?

  • Get help from a mental health professional or join a support group for victims of domestic violence.
  • If you are afraid for yourself or your children, call the police. Get a court order to protect yourself and your family. Let neighbors know and be on the lookout for violence. 
  • If your partner has left, change the locks or move.
  • Line up a safe place where you (and your kids) can stay. Make a list of important addresses and phone numbers you might need after you leave.

If you reach a point when you must leave to protect yourself or your children, remind yourself that you are taking a positive step forward. Using all the strength you have in you, move from a bad situation to a better one. Give yourself credit for being brave enough to make a hard decision.

For additional resources, go to https://www.thehotline.org/.

The Courage to be Free: You gotta have Faith

She got me!! ‘RONA GOT ME, Y’ALL!!  UGH, so after feeling ill for a few days, I decided to get tested for COVID just because I wasn’t feeling right and honestly, just did it as a last resort.  I am fully vaccinated and just figured hummm, just to be on the safe side, I would get tested, not thinking that it would actually return POSITIVE.  Y’all, I have to admit, this was so devastating to hear.  I hardly ever get sick, I rarely go anywhere and when I do, I mask up, sanitize, and keep my distance from folk.  I couldn’t believe I had gotten the Rona!  

The idea of quarantining hits differently when you have to quarantine in your own home. The first day when I learned of the result, I summoned myself to the basement and immediately, my mind started to play tricks on me. I started to worry about my family. I knew my daughter would have to quarantine and not being able to start school with the other kids.  My husband would have to report it to his manager. I was even concerned that because I was on call, my boss and coworkers would be upset that someone else would have to take on this responsibility.  I immediately started to feel guilty and get teary-eyed that as careful as I am, I somehow got the virus.  Then, I began to think of what I could do in insolation and asked God how I can use this time wisely.  I was already spending too much time in my head, and I didn’t want to make this a depressing experience. I asked God to help me finally rest (physically, mentally, and emotionally).  What he was revealing to me was, GIRL YOU NEED TO REST!!! THIS IS YOUR OPPORTUNITY!  I had to accept that.

Let’s back track for a minute.  I am not actually sure when the initial symptoms started. I woke up with a headache a few days before I even decided to go the urgent care.  I get migraines often, so I thought it was just one of those days.  I slept it off and just pushed through. The days following, I felt off, but just pushed through. I just thought I wasn’t eating right because I wasn’t eating much and when I did, nothing seemed to fill me up, and I attributed the sick feeling to not eating enough. By the time I decided to go to the doctor, I was aching, fatigued, and congested.  During this time, I was still trying to work. Still trying to make my commitments to other people.  Still trying to mommy.  I felt bad, but I wouldn’t allow myself to stop.  I kept telling myself, it’s probably just a little cold, and kept trying to go about my daily routines.  Granted, I was taking long naps during the day after I would log off, but I was really trying my best to push through.

Now that I am reflecting on this, I cannot understand why I struggle with allowing myself to rest and acknowledge that I am not doing well when I am truly not doing well.  I almost didn’t go to the doctor and was just going to let it just pass, but my husband insisted I go to the doctor because he knew I just wasn’t myself.  (Thank God I listened).  Y’all this was truly a tough experience for me, and since I was vaccinated my symptoms where quite mild compared to what others have gone through.  It wasn’t so much the sickness in my body but more so the mental strain it created.  The enemy knows the best way to get me is to mess with my head.

One thing he kept messing with me is the concept of faith.  I had already been talking about how faith can have you looking a hot mess because you can have so much faith in something and expect to have it, but if it is NOT in His will, you’re not going to get it. So, I had been learning that it is so important that you align with God so His will becomes your will.  But y’all, the enemy had me fearing that when I went back to get retested that the result would return positive again, and I would have to quarantine and isolate longer.  I started to go down a rabbit hole of crazy thoughts and started remembering all the times I had prayed for things that didn’t come to pass and was finding it difficult to trust that when I pray for this NEGATIVE test that it would NOT return as such.  Then I thought, how can I have faith in one area of my life by taking on the mantra “JUST DO IT!” but cannot have faith that this virus will leave my system in due time?

What I learned is, I tend to panic in moments that come unexpectedly and instead of expecting it to go well, I start to think I must have done something wrong for this to happen, and what sense does it make to pray about it because He is not going to pull me out.  It just has to play out!  Y’all ain’t that crazy!  I was literally having battling conversations in my head of bad things that could go wrong.  The devil was having a field day in my head. The isolation was killing me, and I had to intentionally focus my mind on God and His word.  I kept telling myself God has not given us the spirit of fear. I even starting singing, “Stir up the Gift” by the Colorado Mass Choir so that I could get it stuck in my head (head over to wherever you get your music and listen).

Overall, I definitely think it is true that an idle mind is a devil’s workshop.  I think because I asked God to help me take advantage of this quarantine and use my time wisely, the devil seeped his way in to make me waste my time so that I wouldn’t use it to go to God. Unfortunately, this made from some crazy ranges of emotions but at the end of the day, I know who God is. And even though it sucked to get COVID, and if I am being honest with you, I thought I was always being careful enough not to get it, I think the positive that I took from it was recognizing my weaknesses and the importance of being intentional when battling the enemy.  The only way to battle him is with God’s words and promises.  My devotional this morning focused on fighting spiritual warfare.  Particularly, Ephesians 6:17 where it talks about the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, and that was the lesson I learned. As a matter of fact, everything I seemed to hear or read focused on overcoming fear, having faith, and battling spiritual warfare. 

My prayer to anyone reading this is don’t allow the enemy to make you waver in your faith. Faith is a beautiful thing, and it shows God that you trust Him.  I know it is easy to think of all the times faith had you looking like a fool because you had all the faith in the world, but something just didn’t fall through. Trust and believe that was for your good.  Instead, remind yourself of all the other times you didn’t see your way through, and He made a way out of no way!! Meditate on these times and know that if He did it then, He will do it again!!

So for me, my family and I just took the retest, and I know the results will ALL return negative, and my home will return to a sense of normalcy once again.  So God, I thank you for this time of reflection and drawing closer to You and reminding me that my faith will carry me through.  Until next time y’all! Be Blessed!!

The Courage to be Free: She hated me

I wanted to piggie back off my previous post.  When I was pondering on things I wanted to be freed from, not only did I think of other’s people opinions when it came to my success, it was also being free from worrying about people hating me in general.  I thought about a time when I experienced someone hating me who had never even met me and figured I would share that story as well.

So, a few years ago, I remember an incident where a person was being treated unfairly because of their friendship with me.  Mind you, the person who was doing the mistreating of my friend didn’t even know me.  As a matter of fact, she had never even met me.  To this day, I really have no clue who she is or why she chose to have an issue with me.  All I remember is being told she “hated” me despite never even knowing anything about me.  The only connection we had was we worked for the same employer, and she was the supervisor who came after me when I left to come work at my current employer.

I remember how, at first, it bothered me so bad because I was like, who is this person?  Why does she not like me? Did someone tell her something negative about me?  I couldn’t fathom how anyone could hold any animosity towards me (especially for no apparent reason). That is just plain silly, but truth of the matter is, it is possible. Then I thought about it, and I prayed on it because I was bothered by the fact that someone would actually hate me. I realized, “Alesha, not everyone is going to like you…and that is ok.” I have to admit that it was hard to digest because I know my heart and I know that to know me is to love me. I am far from perfect, but I never mean any ill will towards anyone. I will never intentionally do wrong to anyone because my heart/guilt wouldn’t take it.  That very same thing is what helped me to accept the fact that not everyone will like me.  I cannot help it if someone does not take the opportunity to get to know me. As a matter of fact, it is their lost and I kind of feel sorry for them. Not because they don’t like me but because it must be hard to walk around with the spirit of “hate” in your heart.  It has to be tormenting and draining. That is not a life I would like to live. 

I remember having to dig deep and really do some thinking. I started to think of the many times I had interacted with people and how I would experience this weird vibe or there was just something “not connecting.” I also thought about how I have done nothing to give reason for someone to “hate” me or dislike me, yet they do!!!  This is what I came up with…there is a spirit instilled in each and every one of us. In my opinion, it is a God-given spirit.  This spirit alerts us of who is “like us” and “not like us.” What I mean by this is there is the law of attraction. You attract like-minded people. At times when I was not “cliquing” with certain people or just found myself receiving weird vibes from people, mostly likely it was because our spirits were not connected, there was no compatibility…something was conflicting. Often times this is how I knew who I trusted and who I did not.  Often people I didn’t trust were the very same people I had to work with and/or answer to. Imagine sitting in meetings with people whose heart/spirit was not like yours but having to bear it and maintain your joy. It can be difficult, but if you have the spirit of God, it is possible!! What you have to realize is when you have the spirit of God in you, people who do not have the same, cannot handle that. They see a light in you, and sometimes attempt to plot ways to dim it.  Oftentimes, people have told me, they cannot read me. They do not know what I am thinking because I always have the poker face. Usually, these people do not take a liking to me simply because they don’t get me.  What folks don’t understand is this is my God-given shield. This is my protection from those who have unlike spirits. Those who plot to kill, steal, and destroy.  So most likely, if you are not taking a liking to me, it is probably because you mean no good for me, and most likely it is God protecting me from the likes of you.

This was a lesson I had to learn years ago, but still stands today.  Although it sucks that there will be folks out there who don’t like you or even hate you…it’s ok!!! It is not always a bad thing. It is a reflection of them not you. I remember reading something years back that says people’s perception of you is really a reflection of themselves. (You know what, that may have been something I said in a group I used to teach…I don’t know, I heard it somewhere). Anyway, rest assured that you are an awesome individual!! You are a child of the Most High God who has ways of protecting you from the enemy…sometimes that protection comes in the form of people not liking you. So don’t be sad or hurt…just lift your hands in the air and shout, “THANK YOU, JESUS!!!!!” …and keep it moving!!…Won’t He do it!! Let the church say, “Amen!!!”  

****….If God be for us, who can be against us? ~Romans 8:31(KJV)