Home

Saying Good-Bye to 2016

2 Comments

Image result for grateful

It’s almost time to say good-bye to 2016 so before I head out for vacation, I am posting my last blog for the year.

I started the year out in Hawaii – one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever visited – spending time with one of my most amazing friends. This trip created the tone for the year: intentions were set, wishes were cast, and my actions were aligned with my goals for the year. Albeit rocky, 2016 was a great year! As I scrolled through photo album on my phone, I was reminded of just how blessed I was during this year. From professional conferences and publications to an abundance of quality time spent with family and friends to so many chapters of my life ending – including finishing up my doctoral coursework 🙂 – this year was a wonderful one. I retreated more than ever and am now preparing to heard to my 3rd retreat for the year :-). I traveled; I celebrated; I cried; I laughed; I loved … real hard; I danced; I rested; I renewed and re-found me. I fell in love with my life all over again, remembering that I have the power to decide at any moment that “this is not how my story is going to end”.

As the year comes to a close, I continue to take moments to give thanks for all the ways that I received love, light, and favor.  In addition to all the memories that were created, I must say that 2016 has been my launching pad for what I anticipate to be an even better year in 2017! I look forward to sharing my world with you in the New Year and I hope that somewhere along the way, I inspire you to CREATE your best life.

Happy holidays and Happy New Year! #grateful

Seasons Change

5 Comments

seasons-change

This week I welcomed fall with open arms! After an adventurous, active, and somewhat rejuvenating summer, the end of one calendar season and beginning of the next seemed to bring with it much chaos and shifting in all areas of my life. New arrivals, deaths, sickness, and a whole host of other events happening in my family, friendship circle, and across the globe escorted summer to a frenzied end. And all the same, the new season brings with it opportunities to embrace change, new beginnings, and reasons to celebrate. While I don’t long in any way for a replay of the not so pleasant happenings of the last three months, I am reminded that there were many reasons to smile AND of the beauty in recreating. So here I am here and here we are just a week away from October. Ongoing dissertation stuff, a long awaited weekend retreat, a professional development conference and presentation, in addition to a wonderful group of students who I get to share space with twice a week all linger just around the corner. I’ve been spending more time journaling … a lot more time engaged in leisure reading and quiet time … more nights spent reflecting, reprocessing and rebuilding. I am taking more steps to embrace the new and carefully pack away what is no longer.

Hello Fall! Hello New Beginnings! Hello Opportunity to Recreate, Rediscover, Reinvent, Re-purpose, Renew … Rewrite another chapter of my life’s story. Hello World!

It’s My Birthday … and What Happened at the Party!!!

2 Comments

BIRTHDAY

I met a few friends out this weekend to celebrate my birthday. When I arrived at the venue I noticed that the event was being held in two separate rooms, which I assumed were adjoining. As I walked the corridor following a slew of people, I heard one of the hosts tell a guest in front of me that a particular entrance was only for VIP guests. I kept walking until I approached another open door. Once I walked in, I saw several people dancing, could spot the DJ, and found a place to stand where I could easily move between the dance floor and a resting spot. Once my friends arrived, we began texting back and forth about where to meet. After several failed attempts to locate each other inside the room where I was, I suggested that we meet in the hallway. Once I walked into the hall, I spotted one of my friends coming from a completely different area. I asked her where she was coming from and she asked me the same! Without even taking a look in the room I’d just exited she instructed me to follow her. We walked to a completely different section – near one of the doors I’d passed before – and she opened the door! This room was about 4 times the size of the room I just left with just as many occupants. Oh. My. Gosh. What had I been doing all this time? I danced in the other room and had a good time, but it was no comparison to the room where my friends were! Clearly I was missing out. Here were all my friends in the REAL party room and I was merely experiencing the overflow … at best.

How many times do we do this in life? How many times do we pass a door that is not open to us in the immediate future, only to never return again and see what is on the other side? How often do we settle for overflow or what is good and never made it to the real deal or what is GREAT? This was a lesson for me as I celebrate the blessings of this past year and look forward to another wonderful year of life. In honor of my birthday, I am sharing my affirmations for this year.

  1. I will not be held hostage by myself or anyone else by who I used to be and what I used to do! I reserve the freedom to change gears at any time, acknowledge when my actions don’t match the highest version of myself and change course without any explanations.
  2. I will be selective of who I spend my time with and what I spend my time on, including family, friends and everyone/everything in between.
  3. I will put my health FIRST!
  4. I will live my life as my authentic self ~ no apologies.
  5. I will honor seasons in all things: places, relationships and practices.
  6. I will dance. I will laugh. I will love. I will celebrate. I will teach. I will learn. I will write. I WILL LIVE!
  7. I will practice ongoing acts of kindness and gratitude through service, prayer, giving, meditation and periods of solitude.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO ME 🙂

Change Is In the Air: Prince, Lemonade and the End of Coursework

Leave a comment

Beyonce and Prince

A lot has happened over the last two weeks. As many across the world mourned Prince, I sat closely watching with awe at how many lives he has touched through his art, philanthropy and mentorship. He was such a complex man, a talented musician and a ground-breaker in ways that many never imagined or had the courage to face. Prince redefined manhood and artistry – doing this in such a way that I never even questioned who he was, why he wore eyeliner or heels or even bothered to wonder about his sexuality. He was just Prince – doing his own thing and many of us accepted him as so.

Just a few days after Prince’s death, Beyonce released Lemonade. I didn’t watch the visual album on the night of its release, but didn’t wait too long afterwards to indulge in craze. As a non-Beyhive member :-), I watched simply to see what all the talk was about. I found it hard to pull away from the first viewing and convinced that I’d missed something monumental, I watched Lemonade again on the same night.

There is nothing new that I can add to the seemingly endless praises, critiques, analyses, dissections, accolades, and affirmations. What I will share is that Prince’s death and Beyonce’s release of Lemonade came at a time when I was closing one chapter and opening another. For those of you who have been following me for the last four years during my academic journey, you’ve read about my many revelations and realizations; challenges related to attempts to find balance in my life, practice self-care, excel academically, sort out personal and professional relationships, recreate my voice, honor who I am … it has been a long FOUR years! But on Friday, I celebrated a HUGE milestone. This semester marks the end of my time taking coursework fulltime (four to five classes); it marks the end of evening classes and late night commutes; it marks the end of the academy controlling 70%-80% of my schedule with required courses, homework, and papers. Yes, I still have one more elective and my dissertation but no other semester will ever be like those I have experienced over the last four years.

I am in no way comparing Beyonce to Prince, but what I am doing is gauging the inspiration I gained from both these events. Prince’s legacy lives on in my life as a reminder to JUST BE ME. There are no boxes, no limits, not constraints on who I am and exactly how I perform in my me-ness. Both artists remind me that my platform – writing and teaching – is not for my own success or celebration, but as a gift to the world: to shape, recreate, define, alter, and inform those who I reach.

I approach this summer like many of previous years with grand plans, long reading lists, a quasi-schedule and high hopes of being renewed along the way. But this summer is also a little different. I am starting a 21 day vegan challenge on tomorrow, attending a 10-day silent retreat in July and aggressively attempting to regain control over my physical health. In their very own ways, both Prince and Beyonce gifted me over these last two weeks: they gave me an extra bout of courage to move forward, press on, and be me authentically … without apology. They also reminded me – yet again – that I can’t give or serve without first caring for me. Let’s see what the summer brings … stay tuned ;-).

Post Hawaii Reflection: These Things I Know for Sure

2 Comments

HawaiiII

It is just shy of a week since I left Hawaii and I am working hard to maintain the same sense of calm, intention and peace that I felt while I was there. As this semester nears this becomes more challenging so I am taking a few moments to share the gentle reminders I received in Hawaii and what I know for sure at the start of a New Year & season.

  1. I am a late comer to Mike Dooley, but am now a fan of his work and the daily #tut emails. I now know that taking a few moments each day to be inspired is invaluable. A simple email, an affirmation, a meditation or a prayer all go a long way in sustaining my sense of purpose.
  1. For the last few days I have been binging on podcasts by Myleik Teele of #Curlbox. I am usually reading, watching or listening to folks much older than me and attempting to apply their wisdom and insight to my current situations. It has been incredibly inspiring to hear someone my exact age talk about success, goal setting, overcoming challenges and continuing to grow. I now know that I need more of this. Thanks Myleik!
  2. Related to numbers two and three, I now know that I have to indulge in finding new sources of inspiration and encouragement on a regular basis, not just during a break or vacation. I now know that three months is too long for me to carve out time to simply be inspired!
  3. I have to exercise! This is a no-brainer to most, but when my schedule gets hectic my exercise regimen is usually the first to go. Like many of you, I feel so much better and less stressed when I am active. I now know (more than ever) that exercise is a necessity not a luxury.
  4. Alongside regular exercise, I now know that there is absolutely no excuse that is ever sufficient enough to justify eating poorly on a continuous basis. I know better – it is time for me to do better … consistently.
  5. After such a hectic semester last fall, I toyed with the idea of not renewing my license for Crazy Sexy Wellness (CSW). I now know that this is absolutely foolish! CSW is not where I thought it would be when I worked with a marketing professional 7 months ago; I haven’t done nearly what I imagined I would considering my schedule last fall, but it is still my venture. Slow and steady is where we are right now and I am okay with that.
  6. I now know more than ever that my life is purposed and intentional in every way and this is how my time must be spent. I now know that it is okay to honor my feelings about my aspirations in life; there is no need to try to fit in – in places I don’t belong. I now know that honoring me is critical for my mental health and well-being.
  7. In the midst of all this “soul searching” I also have some very tangible and relevant deadlines – finishing my dissertation being one of them :-). I’ve read countless articles and even a few books on the necessity of creating a daily writing practice. I now know that this is: 1) much harder than it sounds and 2) necessary for my success. I’ve created my schedule and am on day six of writing (or reading) for a minimum of 15 minutes each day on something related to my dissertation.
  8. While all of this (#’s 1-8) can be a bit much to stomach on a daily basis, I also now know that I have to remain flexible. Goals change, schedules bend and aspirations are re-imagined. I will be working to remind myself of this.
  9. And finally, I now know for sure – without a shadow of a doubt – that there is no one on this Earth like my friends and I am grateful for this! I was in Hawaii vacationing and visiting a very good friend of mine who I met while serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. We have grown and experienced so much through the years, but she has remained a constant reminder of the beauty of life, how important our decisions are and that dreams do come true. It was a complete honor to be in Hawaii with her for such an extended time and during a new season in my life. I know for sure that I must honor these friendships … nurture them with care.

Monday is the big day! I am back to both teaching and taking class. While I am a little anxious, this last week of vacation has given me time to resettle, create a semblance of a schedule and realign myself in preparation for the semester. I also downloaded Shonda Rhimes’ Year of Yes to listen to during the commute. I am excited about this moment, tomorrow, next week, next month, next quarter … this year! This I know for sure.

For Carter … Our Story of Infant Loss and Healing

13 Comments

Each year I wonder if this year will be the year that I share our story; almost every anniversary/birthdate, almost every Mother’s Day and several sentimental moments in between I stop and ask “Am I ready?” This year I finally feel ready. Because there is so very much I can and want to share, this will be a series of posts about my experience with infant loss, rebuilding my life and repairing my marriage. I hope that you enjoy and more importantly, I pray that it blesses you or someone close to you in a special way. 

ForCarter

I was never THAT type of women … I am an only child and spent my childhood playing with cousins in my neighborhood during the day and returning to the peace and quiet of our home in the evening. I never longed for children or kept a list of baby names. Until my late 20s, I didn’t think I would ever get married and wasn’t sure if I even wanted children. But then I met him and considerations that hadn’t received much time began to seem like a reality. After four years of dating, we got married and began a new phase of our lives together. About six months into our marriage, we began talking about starting a family. After several conversations and a little research, we decided that yes, we were ready and would begin family planning. By this time we’d heard several stories of it taking anywhere from months to years to conceive, so we approached conception from this standpoint. With calendar and ovulation kit on deck and prayers all around, we started the process. BOOYAH! First try and we were in!

The next few months were both nerve-wrecking and a joy. We did as we were advised: come back in however many weeks; be aware that many women miscarriage in the first 12 weeks; try to relax. Done. Done. And done. As you can imagine, when we went back for our 12-week visit and had a successful ultrasound we thought we were in the clear. We made our announcements to close family and friends first. Naturally, my mom was ELATED – her first and long-awaited grandchild!!! We slowly made announcements to others and became those giddy parents awaiting our next doctor’s visit – heartbeat is strong AND we have a “flipper” (our son would spend the majority of the ultrasound visits doing what appeared to be flipping around as if he knew we were watching :-)). We received random pre-birth gifts in the mail and my husband – I’ll call him Gregg – surprised me with a portable crib that he saw on sale and couldn’t resist. We traveled to North Carolina for Gregg’s birthday and took our first candid maternity photos – this was also when he remembers noticing my “baby bump.” And I made my epic announcement on Facebook with that same photo.

In December we flew to the Midwest for another family member’s baby shower – it was there that we made our announcement to the rest of the family. We had a fabulous weekend and by this time everyone close to us was aware that we were welcoming our new addition. We were at the airport and like most pregnant women, I made a visit to the restroom yet again before we went through the security gate.  I sat to use the restroom, felt a flood of water released and knew that something had happened … I immediately began crying! Amniotic fluid was all over the restroom floor. The moment that so many women wait for happened for me in a random airport restroom.

Everything that you could think of happened over the next six weeks. I was hospitalized while away and finally cleared to fly home.  We cried together, prayed together, and had all of our family praying with us – even one of my nurses joined in and gave us a crocheted angel as a token of support and encouragement. We returned home and connected with the top physicians to provide our ongoing care. I was confined to quasi bedrest – no work, prolonged standing or lifting and minimal activity outside of the home.

Three very important things happened while I was at home: I realized how incredibly blessed I was and am to have Gregg in my life. He cared for me every single day without complaints, even as tiring as I knew that was. I had A LOT of time to reevaluate my life: who am I? What do I want? Who has God told me I am? It was during this time that I came to see how deeply complacent and off track I’d become. I was working a job that stressed me to no end and had all but completely eliminated my community engagement and involvement. And finally, I began to know pain like I never have before. Up until that point, I’d never been hospitalized overnight. I’d never had so many tubes connected to my body and tests run and doctors inspecting me. It was miserable – the random emergency room visits, each time holding my breath as we waited to hear a healthy heartbeat.

On the eve of January 29th I began to experience excruciating pain. I called my doctor and she advised me on timing my contractions and what would need to happen as they increased intensity, decreased in time intervals. As Gregg slept peacefully, I looked at him knowing it would be the last night = for at least a few weeks – that we’d sleep together in our home. We had already been advised that I would probably deliver early since I had little to no amniotic fluid remaining. I would be hospitalized at ~32 weeks (the details of this are fuzzy now) and would remain in the hospital until I delivered.

At about 4am while still in pain I got up to use the restroom … and just like that I delivered at home. Everything happened in what felt like less than five minutes. There our baby was. Between us trying to follow instructions given by the 911 operator, our struggling to hang on to hope, the sounds we were hearing without knowing what do to and what felt like forever before the ambulance arrived some part of me slipped away.

Following my hospital stay, a series of tests, visits from the hospital chaplain (a role that I now have a tremendous amount of respect for) and final clearance, we returned home. After a few weeks of healing, we struggled to find ways to celebrate good health, to honor Carter (what we named our son) and to rebuild our lives. We attended multiple infant-loss support groups, found a therapist and returned to our church. The next few months were challenging – extreme lows with sprouts of highs. I was preparing to return to school – one of my many revelations while at home – and Gregg was still working on finishing up his doctorate. The pressures of stress, my continual questioning of who I was, what I wanted, what this experience meant to me and what was next slowly chipped away at me and our marriage.

What followed was what felt like a forever of me rediscovering myself and an arrival of what I thought was a point of no return for our marriage. While subsequent posts will discuss the aforementioned in more detail, I will say that this story or more appropriately, this chapter of our life story does have a happy ending :-). I’ve recommitted to my life’s work and am now happily matriculating through my doctorate program (as mentioned in previous posts). My husband and I have recommitted to each other, as well as our service in the community AND our life continues with the precious reality that there are a myriad of ways to be fulfilled in life.

The anniversary of our loss is no less painful – but we find time to perform rituals to honor Carter. I honor him through this blog – my commitment to keep writing. I honor him through being authentically me in every way I can. I honor him by not downplaying our experience of loss – the pain of losing a child at any time, including so far into my pregnancy, OR solely defining my womanhood by the absence of having children. And I honor our marriage for what it is: a story of love AND loss; laughter AND tears; building AND repairing.

As we approach Mother’s Day, I write this post as a release for myself, but also for women who may be like me. While I have friends who are faithfully awaiting their moment of conception, those who have conceived after years of trying and others who are currently exploring alternative ways of parenting, including adoption – I also write this post to and for women who have decided not to have children or submitted to their inability to carry a child healthfully (for one reason or another). I write this post for women who feel the pressures of the world to have children when they aren’t really sure that this is what they want for themselves. And I write this post for those who’ve experienced loss of any sort, but particularly the loss of a relationship or child and wonder how life will ever continue afterwards. I write as a woman who has chosen to embrace my life as is and find alternative ways to share my love :-). No matter where you find yourself, I hope that you too are actively practicing self-care on a daily basis as you wait for what you believe and know will come to fruition OR redefine your life after an unexpected event. Hang on to you – don’t get lost in the process. Seek professional help. Re-evaluate your circle and love yourself without ceasing!!!

Finally I want to send a special thank you to some amazing people who have supported me throughout this entire time: Venteria, Monica, Lottie, Liz, Elizabeth, Melissa, April, Charmaine, Vickie, Gregg 🙂  I will NEVER forget your kindness and care.

Thank you for reading!

I Learn a Little More Each Day

4 Comments

LOVE1

The end of February is just a few days away and all month my mind has been dominated by thoughts of the lessons I have learned about loving and being loved. I can credit this to many things, including my mom’s birthday, all the incredibly cheesy Valentine’s Day cards, stuffed animals and balloons that I saw this month, a very special anniversary and an even more special celebration. So in honor of the aforementioned, I am sharing a more intimate version of my lessons in love. Enjoy!

  • I am not always right.
  • Even when I am, I don’t have to make it known ;-).
  • It’s not that helpful to continuously point out the flaws and shortcomings of the person you love. Unfortunately, the world will do that for you.
  • Our home should remain a place of peace, love and comfort … there will never be another place like it.
  • “Please” and “Thank You” go a long way.
  • As long as we are on the same page, no one else has to approve or agree.
  • There is always time to celebrate.
  • Creating time for love – cultivating love, making love, nurturing love – is essential.
  • Forgiveness is the 2nd best medicine … laughter is indeed the first.
  • Remember why you started, how far you’ve come and where you’d like to go.

I met the love of my life during the month of February exactly 8 years ago. When people say love is a roller coaster, I don’t think those of us on the other side truly understand what this means. We have experienced more than either of us ever imagined – the wonderful, the not so good and the very ugly. Since the creation of my blog I have never, ever talked about my marriage – I do this because I feel that so much of our lives are unprotected, exploited and undermined so I try my best to hold sacred and private those things that truly matter – however, on today I just want to say that being in love and loving someone like him is one of the greatest gifts of my life. Each day I learn so much more about forgiveness, kindness and the true gifts of life. If you are reading this post and have learned some valuable lessons in love, please take a moment to share below. Please and thank you ;-).

Sabrina

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: