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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)

The Courage to be Free: Success vs. Other People’s Opinion

If you have been following me for any of 2021, you will know that I have been on this path of JUST DOING IT, meaning stepping out on faith.  In doing so, I have gotten involved in several projects, including 3 anthologies.  One of the anthologies was entitled THE COURAGE TO BE FREE.  This was an anthology of women sharing their stories of how they were freed by something that kept them in bondage. This inspired me to write about the fear of success, and the things I am learning I need to free myself of in order to have the courage to succeed.

Although I am not going to give everything I discussed in my chapter on this post (you would have to purchase the book to get the whole story), I am going to share one thing that is important to free yourself of, and that is the opinions and concerns of others.  Believe it or not, this was something that frightened me about becoming successful.  I was afraid that others wouldn’t approve of my success! Isn’t that crazy, y’all? As I was sitting here thinking of how crazy and unhealthy that was, I decided to blog about it. 

I have hindered myself and my growth out of fear of what somebody was gon’ say…lawd! However, how many of us do that?  Have you ever slowed down your progress out of fear of leaving someone behind? Or fear that you weren’t deserving because someone else didn’t get what you got?  Let me tell you a story.  A few years ago, I was a drug and alcohol counselor.  Leadership was encouraging us all to go for a certain credential because it would assist with funding and billing purposes.  So, if we were eligible, we were told if we took the test and passed, we would receive a raise. 

There were quite a few of us who were eligible to take the test.  Now, I hate standardize tests.  I freak out and try to fill my head with all kinds of knowledge because you just never know what is going to be asked, right?  So, I made sure I studied as best I could because I hate failure. I mean who doesn’t?  I knew I would feel humiliated if I didn’t pass that test.  Mainly because at the time, I had the highest degree (as a counselor) at my job.  Granted there were others who were pursuing higher degrees, but I was the only one with a master’s at that time, so ain’t no way I was going to let my degree be in vain, you feel me?

Anywho, I went to take the test and passed it! I was excited. During a meeting, the program manager at the time shared with the others that I had passed and mentioned that another co-worker had taken the test as well and was awaiting their results.  Time passed (maybe a few days), and I remember walking by this coworker and was given an eye roll. Now if you don’t know me, let me share that I am a person who will not purposely hurt a soul.  Because of this, I can be oblivious to some things like someone showing animosity towards me.  So, you can imagine me being like, “hey girl!” not realizing that eye roll was aimed at me.  As the day went by, the aura the coworker was giving off was just off, kind of one of bitterness.  Then it clicked, she had not passed the test to receive the credential. Now, what that had to do with me? I don’t know but because she made it about me, I made it about me. I started to feel bad and didn’t want to talk about the achievement and slowly started to dim my light.  I was feeling like I didn’t want to “outshine” anyone or make anyone feel bad for not achieving their goal. (Mind you, several other counselors had taken and passed the test so I don’t know if they were getting the same eye roll and vibe I was getting, but I know I was feeling it heavy). 

As I sat in my office, I started thinking, I hate feeling this way.  I can’t even feel happy for myself. I should feel proud of myself, and I am over here feeling guilty. Guilty for what?  I began to give myself a pep talk and reminded myself that I should not allow anyone to make me feel bad for achieving a goal I set out for myself.  Their disappointment isn’t my burden.  I told myself that I had to stop feeling bad for doing well in areas where others may not.  THAT IS NOT MY ISSUE! That pep talk made me feel better and took a weight off of me that I didn’t realize I had taken on which was someone else’s disappointment.

Here I am, years later, and I find myself occasionally fighting the same battle.  In the Courage to be Free anthology, I share how I still struggle with shrinking myself and not truly celebrating my achievements out of fear that someone will have a negative opinion about it.  Do you know how dangerous that is?  It is not just the idea of shrinking because of other’s opinions, but the idea that someone else’s opinion matters more than God’s.  I can imagine how disappointed He is when we do not take His word for truth.  Let’s just reflect on Jeremiah 29:11,  “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (NIV) I love this scripture because it tells me I am in good hands.  If He has plans for my future, doesn’t that mean there will be some successes along my path?  And if there are successes along my path, shouldn’t I be thanking Him for keeping His promises instead of allowing someone to make me feel undeserving?  The late great, Maya Angelou says in her poem, Hater, what you have is by divine prerogative and not human manipulation.  Look, at the end of the day, I am trying to bask in all of His glory and blessings. I want to live a life of abundance and favor, and I no longer want to jeopardize that by not acknowledging my blessings and walking around trying to make myself small so someone else can feel big. Nope, no ma’am!!  That was why it was vital for me to free myself of the notion that I was responsible for someone’s else feelings and opinions.  I had to free myself from stunting my growth just to make someone else feel adequate.  First of all, that ain’t my job, and second of all, who do I think I am anyway?  I ain’t got no control over nobody (excuse my ebonics).  They are responsible for themselves!!  As much as I understand this, it is still a process, and I still have to watch myself and remind myself that someone’s opinion of me is not my business.  

So, I say this to you.  Anytime someone is feeling some type of way about your success or just plain “hating” on you, thank God! Why? Because it means you are doing something right, and He is keeping His promise. Just keep working and keep praying.  And although there will be some who may be uncomfortable with your successes, there will be plenty more who will be in your corner; inspired, proud, and rooting for you!! Those are the people who matter. Be blessed, y’all!!    

Momming and Queening: 2021 Mommy Challenge

Ok, so let me start this post off by saying that the Momming and Queening anthology is now available for purchase. Click on the “shop” tab on this site, and you will be able to purchase via the site.  This week I will be completing the momming and queening series on my blog, but I encourage you to purchase the book to read the stories of 7 awesome ladies who share how they are rocking this thing called motherhood. Thanks in advance for your support.  I pray you enjoyed the series. Ok, back to our regular scheduled program.

Last night, I had trouble falling asleep.  I am not sure if it was because of the neighbors partying or because of my excitement for the release of Momming and Queening, but it was a struggle. So, I decided to reflect on my parenting and what I would like to do better. What I realized and what I am kind of ashamed to say is, I don’t love on my daughters enough.  Sure, I love them, but I don’t express or say it out loud enough.  I am very tough, stern, and serious most of the time.  Yeah, we TikTok and dance around in my kitchen, but when we are not doing those things, I am usually serious and tough and getting on them for not being “the perfect children.”  Ugh, I hate to even admit that, seeing as how, I have been spending a lot of my time in 2021 doing all I can to get over my issues with perfection.  But it is true.  I am so worried about messing them up, that I may be messing them up. 

My oldest is 9, and it kills me how she cannot keep any space that she is in, clean.  It drives me nuts, so I am constantly fussing about how messy she is and getting frustrated of the fact that no matter how many times, I tell her, she just won’t clean. I think this is a legitimate frustration, however, I think a better way to handle this is figuring out a way to get her to clean without showing that I am frustrated about it.  Honestly, that is the hard part.  It is so easy to get mad about it than figure out a solution.  I think that is where I sometimes go wrong with parenting; wanting to go the easy route.  The time and energy it takes to figure out a solution takes longer than throwing in the towel and doing it myself.  The problem is, this creates a lazy child and angry mom which leads to an irritable mom, which leads to a mom living each day uptight and resentful leaving little room for loving and hugging.

Sometimes I say to myself, Alesha, if you love on them more, they will be more willing to do what is asked of them. They would want to please you and make sure they are making you proud. But if you are constantly yelling and pointing out what they aren’t doing, they are going to just want to tune you out and keep it moving.  So, I have decided to make this my challenge for the rest of 2021.  I will be intentional with my words, assuring them, and showing them how much I love them.  Most importantly, I will speak life and be more careful of how I communicate my expectations to them.  I will make more attempts to be creative in teaching them morals, values, and the importance of hard work, and be more forgiving when they don’t always get it right.  Sure, I will still appropriately discipline them, but I won’t discipline so much that I forget to love and be kind.  I have to remind myself that some things are normal for children to do and that doesn’t mean I am doing something wrong, it just means I have to have more patience.  Lord knows, this is going to take some serious prayer on my part because my girls can push my buttons, but that makes it a win, win because my goal has also been to build my relationship with God by increasing my prayer life.  So, what do y’all think?  Are there any moms who can relate to this?  Prayerfully, by the end of the year, I will have a testimony for y’all!!! Stay tuned! In the meantime, be blessed y’all!!

Momming and Queening: Affirmations for Moms

So, I am coming to the end of my momming and queening series.  Last week, I had to take a break. The funny this, my children are away with my parents so I thought I would be able to relax and knock some stuff out, but goodness, tell me why I felt even more anxious.  I was coming out of week of dance recital preparations, end of the school year, parties, birthdays for mom and daughter, and promotion for THE COURAGE TO BE FREE (another best seller, thank you!) project. Then, the coauthors of the MOMMING AND QUEENING anthology and I started our best seller campaign where we launch the Pre-orders for the Kindle for Amazon, (again, another #1 best seller on Amazon, by the way), work seemed stressful, people were irritating me, and  I couldn’t seem to relax.  My mind was constantly thinking of all the things I needed to accomplish. Not to mention, I had prepared to go out of town with my husband for Father’s Day weekend, and I couldn’t see how I was going to accomplish the goals I set.  It was a lot and honestly, I needed a break, but because I didn’t want to be selfish while preparing for Father’s day weekend, I literally just had to suck it up; but sucking it up can drain your energy and definitely messes with your mental health.  So, in the process of sucking it up, I started to think of positive things to say to myself to overcome my feelings of being overwhelmed. Some of the things I started to tell myself were,  “Alesha, you are human. You are not superwoman. You have to learn to not beat yourself up. Relax.  It is ok.  Stop feeling like you have to do EVERYTHING!”  As I started to say these things, I also began to say short prayers and listen to gospel to shift my mood and mindset. Surprisingly, it helped. I thought of how as moms, we need to practice the art of affirming ourselves.  Granted, my children are away, and my mommy duties aren’t as stressful, but sometimes it is hard to get out of mommy mode and focus on the present moment.  That was why I couldn’t relax.  I couldn’t fathom that I could actually give myself a break.  So, I googled some affirmations that I thought would be helpful to us, mamas and that I would share. Here are a few that I thought would be easy to memorize.

  1. I will make the most of my day.
  2. In the eyes, mind and heart of my child, I am a good mom.
  3. I am loved.
  4. All is well. They are well, and I am well.
  5. Taking care of myself makes me a better mom. I give myself permission to nurture ME.
  6. I am the exact parent my child needs to prosper.
  7. There is peace and love in my home, even in the midst of chaos.
  8. My family appreciates and loves me, even when they forget to tell me so.
  9. I am letting go of any guilt weighing on my shoulders. I am not perfect, but I am what my child needs.
  10. I will love fiercely, laugh freely and live courageously.
  11. One bad day does not make me a bad mom. One bad day makes me human.
  12. Though these times are difficult, they are only a short phase of life. This too shall pass.
  13. I am enough.
  14. I trust my intuition.
  15. I am brave, strong, and courageous.

I also would like to share a few bible scriptures with you that helps me when I need a pick me up. I hope they do the same for you….

Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

John 16:33 I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

John 14:27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Matthew 11:28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Psalm 121:1-2 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

Be blessed, mama!! You got this!

Momming and Queening: 5 Tips for Self-Care

Last week, I posted about not losing yourself in motherhood.  This week I thought it would be cool to give 5 simple ways to get a little self -care in.  Sometimes we tell ourselves that we cannot get in self-care because we are so busy, but I encourage you to take advantage of any opening you may have to get yourself together.  When I am feeling overwhelmed or as if I haven’t poured enough into myself, here are few small things that give me a pick me up.

  1. MUSIC! MUSIC! MUSIC! —  I LOVE music. It just does something to my soul.  I will have a certain song on repeat and will dance until I can’t dance anymore, and it makes me feel so happy.  It energizes me and changes my whole mood.  Here is the secret though:  You must always play a tune that is going to give you the opposite of what you are feeling.  If you are feeling overwhelmed, sad, depressed, tired, the idea is to play something that is going to change that feeling.  Where we go wrong is, we tend to play songs that will amplify our feelings and not change them.  Refrain from putting on slow, sad songs if you are feeling overwhelmed. Instead, put on some Michael Jackson (never fails for me, but of course you can play whatever lifts you up) or some Gospel (Lawd knows nothing can uplift you like a good old gospel song).
  2. Watch a good movie – A good movie always makes me feel good. Particularly, movies I used to watch growing up.  Some of my favorite “old school” movies to watch are B.A.P.S, Pretty Woman, anything with a black cast from the 90s, Pretty in Pink, and Karate Kid (The original one).  I don’t know what it is about those 80s and 90s movies, but they just make me happy.
  3. Journal – I have found that getting my thoughts out on paper have helped tremendously when I feel like I am NOT at my best.  Sometimes I jot down my thoughts, but most times, I jot down my desires and prayers to God.  It just makes it easier to organize my thoughts and feelings without them swimming around in my head. Gratitude journals are great, but also writing down legit things that make you sad can be helpful as well because it can help you to problem solve and challenge your thinking towards that particular thing. For example, if constantly cleaning up behind your family can make you a Debbie Downer, think of ways to lessen the stress. For me, it is limiting my girls to one play area and creating a game to make cleaning more fun to get them to participate and not allow it to all fall on me (or the hubs).
  4. Read – I know reading is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it can be really relaxing and not to mention enlightening.  I have set a goal to read at least a book a month, and I must say, I have been pretty good at achieving this.  My selections are mostly self-help, spiritual books, but I also have thrown in some fiction to give me a good laugh or feel good feeling.  I apply the same rule of music to reading, always read something that is going to change your mood for the good. If you are feeling low about yourself, gravitate towards uplifting, powerful books. I recommend, Woman Evolve by Sarah Jakes Roberts.
  5. Last but not least, speak life into yourself.  I read this quote that said, “if speaking kindly to plants help them grow, imagine what it would do to humans!” Are you speaking life?  Be mindful of the words you speak over yourself (and your family). I am truly a believer of, death and life are in the power of the tongue, Proverbs 18:21. You will be amazed at how your atmosphere shifts just by what you speak.  Affirmations may seem uncomfortable and weird but trust me when I say, it works.  Think of how your children and loved ones feel when you say something nice to them. See how their face glows and their posture straightens up.  Imagine what happens to your brain when you speak life to yourself.  Go ahead, try it, and let me know what happens!

Sure, there are more things to do for self-care, but I thought this was simple enough to start with. Self-care is what you make it.  Anything that you can do that puts a smile on your face is self-care.  It can be sitting in the yard soaking up the sun, taking a walk around the block, rolling up in a blanket like a taco (I do that sometimes), or even just sitting in silence after the family is sleeping.  Whatever works for you, indulge!! You deserve it momma!! Be Blessed Y’all.

Momming and Queening: Don’t Lose Yourself

I am excited to share that I will be publishing my first anthology on June 26th. The title is called Momming and Queening. The purpose of the anthology is to share stories of raising children in the millennium. I think motherhood is often glamourized and we don’t always express our true experiences as mothers. I want to dedicate the next few posts to the mothers as we all work this thing called motherhood. I salute you.

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I was losing myself. I had become a shell of a person.  I was set in autopilot.  I would get up, get the girls ready for school, head off to work to a job that was slowly but surely becoming unfulfilling, come home, do some momming and wife’n, go to bed to wake up to the same routine.  The weekends would come, and the hubs and the girls would want to go somewhere and do some type of family time whether it be walk around the mall or outlet stores or something that required us all to be involved.  Self-care was non-existent. 

The year 2019 was ending, and I remember just being in constant sadness.  It took every effort to make sure I looked decent on the outside because on the inside I was exhausted and tired.  Everyone seemed to need something from me, and I had nothing left to give.  I was being overlooked on my job, not vibing well with my new boss, and really doing just enough to get by.  At home, my girls’ energy was sucking me dry.  If I wasn’t being a mediator, counselor, taxi to dance class, nurse, playmate, and/or pillow (my youngest has to lay on me at some point in the day), I was being a wife.  There was no time that I had set for myself to be alone in my own thoughts and world.  (The only thing I could maintain was my manicure and pedicure which is probably what kept me from fully falling apart).  However, I started to feel constant fatigue and was extremely irritable.  I even went to the doctor because something just wasn’t right.  When the bloodwork returned normal, he did a depression screening.  Seeing as I have mental health background, I had to admit that yep, part of what I was feeling was depression.

This made me really sit down and think.  I knew I needed to be in the right mind if I wanted to be a present and effective mother.  I needed to get to the bottom of what was making me feel depressed, and then it was like a lightbulb went off.  It was the fact that I was losing myself. I had become so wrapped up in my mommy role that I neglected myself.  All the things I enjoyed doing, I no longer did them.  I couldn’t remember the last time I had watched a Rated-R movie or read a book uninterrupted or even listened to music that was not censored.  This may not seem like such a big deal to you, but I had tailored my life to my children so much that I didn’t leave anything for me.  I left nothing to fill me, and yet I was trying to pour into everyone else. 

I say this once and I will say this again, I was lowkey thankful for the 2020 lockdown. It blessed me so much because I was able to stop all the daily routines.  There was no getting ready for school and daycare in the morning, and no more going into the office.  Granted, everyone was home, but it left an opening for me to be able to stay up later at night after everyone was sleep and work on Alesha.  I started binge watching shows on Netflix that made me feel good and laugh.  I journaled and started doing bible plans on the bible app.  I started spending time with God and airing my grievances.   I wanted to strengthen my relationship with Him and build myself up again. I needed to find my identity as Alesha again.  Not as a mom or a wife, but as a woman who has interests and desires that do not entail my family. I felt bad for admitting that at first because I thought that would come off as ungrateful, but in order for me to be mentally healthy, I needed to be secure in my own identity. 

After months of doing some self-work, I noticed my mood began to change slightly. I was calmer when dealing with my girls and had more energy to give to them.  Because I was designating time for myself, I was able to refill my cup.  Not only was I intentional about doing things I enjoyed, but I was also intentional about what I chose to take in.  I made sure to read scriptures that were encouraging and uplifting, and that spoke to my situation.  I read books that were entertaining and were hard to put down.  I watched shows and movies that inspired me, and I was also thankful that I had someone to hold me accountable.   If it wasn’t for me having a circle of sisters who prayed for one another and made sure that I was ok, I probably wouldn’t have taken the time to actually recognize and acknowledge that something had to give.  If you don’t have praying friends in your life, get you some!!

Motherhood is a beautiful thing, but no one ever really talks about the struggles.  Society paints this picture-perfect idea of what a mother is and how she should be, and the picture usually denies her of her own interests and self-care.  It usually portrays mothers as always giving and sacrificing, but never shares what happens when giving and sacrificing depletes you of yourself.  Even worse, it doesn’t share what to do when it does.  I love being a mom, and I love my daughters very much, so it is vital for me that I am able to function at my highest capacity to be able to care for them. I don’t mind the giving and the sacrificing because they are deserving, but I also know that I am doing them a disservice if I find myself operating in autopilot because there is nothing left to give. So, to the moms out there, always fight to keep your identity.  If you find that you are losing yourself, take some time out and recharge.  Watch a funny movie, take a walk, sit in your car, walk around Marshall’s/HomeGoods, oh get a facial steamer (the best feeling ever!!), do whatever makes your feel like you again. Revisit an old hobby, or even set some goals that you want to achieve or go back to the ones that you may have pushed to the side. Connect with God and work on building your relationship with Him because there is no better comforter than Him!! (Oh, and stop beating yourself up! You are an awesome, mother!! You know the scripture; you are fearfully and wonderfully made.)  You have to make sure you are good because no one else will be if you are not!!  You cannot pour from an empty cup.  Always find time to refill and know that you are not alone out there! You got this, mama! Be blessed!!

Let’s Celebrate!

A few weeks ago, I received a word by a friend that I needed to start to express myself more. I was told I needed to learn to celebrate myself and my victories, no matter how miniscule.  She went on to say that once I began to celebrate myself, more blessings and opportunities will come my way. This made me do a self-examination, and I had to admit, she was right on.

Humility is a weird thing to me. According to google, humility is a modest or low view of one’s own importance, humbleness.  We are taught to be humble and not to get a big head when it comes to our accomplishments and for me, that meant not to gloat or celebrate when I achieved anything, but to take it for what it is and keep it moving.  As I have grown into a woman, I come to see that that has been a detriment for me.  Any accomplishments or goals I have achieved, I rarely make a big deal of them, and if someone else does, I am grateful to them, but in the back of my mind, I am thinking, it is no big deal.  I may paste on a smile and muster up a thank you or even “act” more excited than I am, just trying to take in the moment, but for the most part, I have trained myself to not celebrate or express myself when it came to my achievements. 

I remember when I was preparing to go away to college. I was going to be miles away from home (an 11-hour drive), and for the first time ever, going to be on my own.  One day, I heard my mom talking on the phone saying, “She hasn’t really shown any emotion about it (going to college), so I guess she is ok.”  Going to college is a big deal. Not everyone goes and not everyone gets accepted to the colleges of their choice.  Here I was, someone who’d gotten accepted to all of the colleges I’d applied for, not fazed by it one bit.  It was a goal I set for myself, and I had achieved it.  To me, it was no biggie. I didn’t feel excitement or fear, I just saw it as a new chapter in my life that was a normal transition for me.  I think I tricked myself into not feeling to avoid sadness, fear, or worry.  Tricking myself caused me to not feel any other emotions either. Even the ones that were meant to make me happy.  I didn’t realize at the time that this type of mindset made me numb.  It wasn’t until I allowed myself to feel and explore that I began to appreciate where I was in life.  While in college, I began to come out of my shell (sort of), make friends, and truly take in the experience. As a result, those 4 years of my life were some of THE BEST years of my life.  I was open to receive what college life had to offer, and my blessings overflowed. From beautiful friendships, great professors, and priceless experiences and moments.

When I think of things in the spiritual realm, I think of the song that says when praises go up, blessings come down.  Celebrating yourself and giving God praise can go hand and hand.  Praising God for what He has done shows our gratitude and love of who He is.  When I choose not to praise Him as well as celebrate myself, perhaps it gives off ungrateful vibes, therefore, not attracting many occasions that truly bless my life.  Sure, I am blessed, but I could be hindering myself from receiving miraculous opportunities when I fail to acknowledge it.  Think about it. If you believe in the law of attraction, you believe that you attract what you constantly think and feel and/or give energy to.  When you give God praise, you express gratitude, exuding an aura of joy into the heavens that will in turn give you more to be grateful and joyous about.  Make sense?  I strongly believe that anything you water will grow and manifest a beautiful harvest.  This would include myself.  So, what does “watering me” look like? Well, it looks like being proud of myself, recognizing and acknowledging small victories, and being ok with patting myself on the back when I achieve goals, I may have set for myself.  It means acknowledging that I am favored and praising God for the many blessings He has bestowed upon me.  So, now that I have figured this out, it’s time to celebrate!! Be blessed y’all.