Feel.

I guess I could’ve chosen another word this month, for July to focus on, but as a Nation, I believe this is where we are. I chose “Feel“.

America is changing. There are many things that have occurred that causes trauma to bring out actions that were once hidden and contained in one space – to open up into the main arena- which often is the community, at large or even small communities as of late.

The mass murders that have occurred over the past few months have caused me to put a few projects on hold and to take take to be present to you feelings, lately. I am not feeling just for myself, but I find myself feelings for others, as well.

The victims, the perpetrators, the communities affected. And I’ve been doing the only thing I know how- which involves prayer, and open lamenting. Open lamenting involves talking about the grief , and the actions and behaviors and losses I don’t quite understand. I choose to feel.

I am still feeling. And possibly will be all year- who knows… Because someone has to. Someone has to make the things people numb out to – be at the forefront. And if that’s what I do by writing, so be it.

Someone has to speak to the pain, the hurt, the challenges, the shifting of this world as it evolves. Sometimes faster than we are changing ourselves. Someone has to respond with love, encouragement, to love this life with freedom even when it seems it’s too risky to go out in communities for fear of being harmed.

I used to live on the Arkansas River in Tulsa, Ok. And this photo above was a place where I considered to be my safe space. When things began to shift and change, I would walk the path alongside the river and it would calm me. Until one day the river overflowed its banks. And it was in my backyard. We had to move. We shifted. And not reluctantly, at all. We just knew it was time. So together, we shifted with the way life was leading us.

Even as things shift and change in your life, find yourself safe space. As life shifts and challenges, you and atrocities happen all around. Remember also what “centers” you. Remember to ” give thanks” even when it’s hard to. Keep a heart of gratitude.

We need to have a certain level of adaptability to life, when things shift. We cannot choose numbness, or indifference, or ” anger” as our way of dealing; because it may cause self- sabotage, or systemic sabotage, or even resentments and hate. We have to tap into where love is. We cannot freeze up. We must feel.

Pray. Cry. Deal with and talk about how you feel about women’s rights, death, loss, grief, murder. Don’t distance yourself, don’t ‘veg out’ on TV.

Feel. Believe. Trust.

Even if believing is a challenge.

Choose to feel. Allow yourself to breathe. Because when challenges sometimes happen , the first thing we do is hold our breaths.

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Forgiveness.

photo by You Are So Beautiful Photography

So I don’t write on forgiveness often. But I do read about it. And I do have conversations on it.

Because its complex. And recently I had a conversation with a group of people about it and I had an epiphany : Forgiveness is an act of self-love.

That it’s a gift to myself to not take on the burden of stress, overwhelm and complexity of being hurt.Choosing to be present to life and living it with purpose, intent and joy. Not resentment, fear and discontent.

It’s freeing when you can notice what helps you to thrive, and man, to be honest- unforgiveness isn’t what helps you thrive. It negates your spirituality- your Oneness with the God of Creation. And ,your inner being is at the core – to be kind, gracious, loving hopeful, and at peace. And to practice all that in the humility of loving yourself first. This is completely impossible if I forgiveness is in the way.

And i’ll be damned – excuse my French~but choice words can be literal- if I allow a ‘person or persons’ to steal that level of self- love within me, then it’s a slow death, for me..

But how do we know the level of self-love within? If all we have ever experienced is harm and hate and displeasure? I believe it begins with acceptance of the things we cannot change. The Serenity prayer. The wisdom to know the difference. Surrender. Even to things we don’t like, want or need. Finding rhythm, despite the tumult.

I do not have all the answers- but I do have experience. It can be discovered. And discovery with forgiveness takes much courage and faith.

No… we cannot forget about the harm and the pain and the years of disgrace and the numbness that wants to forever keep us hidden and “feeling” safe… however, that really isn’t safety. If you thought it was, you’ve been misinformed.

Seek Safety. Safety begins with an act of volition. of choosing to ‘say yes’ to you- to being your own healing by forging a path of self- honesty that says : “ I matter”. First.

And that’s where forgiveness begins.

With self-prioritization. And once you realize your healing and freedom is wrapped up inside of it- you will release everything that comes in opposition.

Yet you must realize your worth, first.

Selah.

If forgiveness had a mantra: it would be:

I seek Healing.

I seek Wellness.

I am Worth.

I am Content.

I Matter.

I Belong.

Me First.🌺

The Value of Vulnerability in My Life.

As I look back on my life, I’ve had my share of unhealthy relationships. I believe the hardest part during this season of life for me was discerning was what was really “healthy” and what was really “unhealthy”. I don’t really know that Ii had been taught that by example.

I believe I was simply unaware. Looking back, I wish i had spent more time with my younger self to determine who I was and what I desired in life, in order to have clarity about what I needed in a relationship.

I had not defined for myself what I needed, and valued and had not committed completely and wholeheartedly that those values were essential for me to thrive and to grow & thrive, in life .

Looking back: I am thinking of my journey saying to myself:

“What in the world was I doing?!”

Yeah, and it makes so much sense now that I know who I am …what my self -worth needs in order to thrive and be connected to another human being. I know what it means to be loved, and ‘in love.’

So I am going to share some thoughts on being in a healthy ‘vulnerable ‘ relationship, that helps us to thrive and be our best selves in our relationships .

I have decided to approach it from a vulnerable place, because I just like to be transparent . Vulnerability requires trust. And if you love someone vulnerability should be an essential part of helping that relationship to grow completely as individuals and also as a couple. Vulnerability with your partner should never be considered a weakness. You should continually be moving towards fruitfulness and transparency and greater love.

Here are a few things that being vulnerable in a relationship teaches you:

1. Vulnerability teaches you to ask for help. You increase your connectedness to others and learn to empathize with them. It’s essential for growth.

2. Being vulnerable teaches you the unknown parts of yourself. You develop a sense of resiliency and it challenges your authenticity – your heart mind and soul. It also helps you to be more self-aware.

3. With vulnerability, you develop a new appreciation for self-care. Self-care is essential to a certain level of awareness and patterns with yourself. Being able to address them with honesty, help you to grow in vulnerability.

4. Vulnerability teaches you to walk in realness. There’s a level of authenticity that comes from sharing honestly with others and you choose to listen, share and engage differently.

5. Vulnerability teaches you to connect better to your emotional self. Knowing “why” you’re angry; “why “ you’re sad, and why you’re emotional and choosing to do continual, intentional self-evaluation – helps you notice yourself on another level.

6. Being vulnerable allows you to have a better relationship with Grace. Not everyone understands grace and how to live in congruence with it; but what vulnerability teaches you is that grace is something we can ‘expect ‘ and ‘choose’ and live with intentionally, despite how we feel about life and how they occur- that things will get better, we will overcome ; and life can depended upon to operate in a full circle, that’s complete .

7. Vulnerability teaches you to be grateful and share your thankfulness. Appreciation comes in several selfless acts. When you share openly, of what you’re thankful for you’ll find people appreciate you, and consider the same blessings . Is this something that is reciprocated in your relationships? If not, it’s something to consider.

8. Vulnerability teaches you to be patient with yourself . When you push yourself past your limitations and you learn how to deal with successes despite being frustrated. You teach others how to be patient , as well.

9. Author and spiritual leader Spencer Kimball says that “Humility is royalty without a crown.” Humility is learned by truly being vulnerable. Being able to acknowledge your weaknesses and to grow in wisdom and grace daily with intention, are life’s truest blessings.

10. Vulnerability teaches you the most meaningful thing in life are learned by “pacing yourself ” through life. When I ‘slow my roll’ , I am informed, I am clear, I make room for more. Vulnerability leads me into the experience of “more”…

11. Vulnerability teaches you to release. It helps you to recognize when you’re burdened or heavy, and that relationship , or situation needs to be let go. Maybe you’re carrying more than you should, if you have not yet recognized the value of letting go. When you choose to really ‘ think about what you’re thinking’, choosing to let go of weight that causes anxiety and stress helps us find a way to cope with our inadequate thoughts and insecurities. That’s truly being vulnerable.

Well …. we’ve come to the end of this segment. what have you learned that’s new today? Take one element of vulnerability and commit to trying something new in your relationships and trusting yourself to grow just a bit more.

Did you enjoy this reading? Do you desire more self-guided exercises on self -development? If so, visit my newsletter and get regular updated reading in which you can practice self- actualization exercises. We are located at the Mentor My Sister site, simply click here.

I Am Enough Because I Care.self

Have you checked your “care” barometer, lately?

The “care” I am  talking about is this kind of care:

1.) Self-Care;

2.) Personal  Development as care;

3.) Care that involves you  being  a caring individual in our society.

But  sometimes that’s the norm – that we  forget about others.    We can barely care for ourselves; at times –  so how do we manage to reach out to others? I know. I am guilty.  I remember once,  I was in church, and the pastor was  saying if we want to make a difference:  “Ask God to help you be a blessing to someone else.”

It was deep that entire week, I felt like I was the most compassionate human being  I had been in a long while!  I had started something.  I  believe the lesson  was  to  show me that everyone has needs. And that sometimes we can  ANTICIPATE them, if we think ahead. 

I  am a person who cares for others, and I  am so grateful I do.  In many ways it’s my profession- as a social worker –  yet also in several ways, its also my  calling.   I care because someone cared for me. To be honest, I am not sure caring would come as easily as it does, or had I not gone through a few  situations to  cause me to be cared for. And have had  people reach out to me, in very merciful ways. I am very thankful God is in my life, because caring took on a new meaning  for me when I met a few sisters and brothers who love God, in a very   caring and  completely  selfless way.   I remember a time when I was “car-less”. Not careless.  (Haha)

My car broke down,  and  I was  living alone and I  was devastated. “How was I going to get to work?!

jen-woods-photo

How was I going to go grocery shopping? And how was I going to take care of all my business?”       I already felt lonely this particular summer… and   I  took a break from  a relationship- a very needed one – that summer, and it was  HOT outside.  Things were looking pretty bleak for me. I believe it was a Friday, and my car caught on fire in the parking lot where I work. The engine just blew on me. I  remember having tons of hope, though. I was encouraged. Why… I don’t know, but I just began to count my blessings, because there were so many things going well for me, that  I couldn’t complain.   I wasn’t working that summer, and I  found out I could get employment during the summer months, and I wasn’t even expecting it.  As surprised as I was, I was completely hopeful things would work out.  I went to church that Sunday with a smile on my face, and telling every one it would work out, just by a testimony, and  I as thanking God. After church,  a  couple came to me and said , “Hey, I have a car you can use  its our second car, we don’t use it very much, but we’d like to bless you.” Another friend, said: ” I am going out of town for two weeks, and you are welcome to hold the keys to mine.” I was shocked! These two persons will be forever imprinted on my life and a part of my compassion  list of people who care..  I  still love them very much to this day. And not just because they gave me something, but because I saw God in their actions, and they trusted me with  something valuable.  They made  me smile and believe God even more.

I have had aunts, friends,  and  people in my life who knew me and knew how devastated, broken,  feeling unloved and  hurt I have been in situations and  man,… when you are down, and you have even more to struggle with,  as a result of being down –  it’s just good to have someone reach out, and love on you.   I  try to remember that feeling, because  it helps to  know you are in valued in that way and people  care about you. 

It feels  really, really good, to have someone come and give you a makeover to your office when you feel so disorganized – (my girlfriend Steph,  in Texas); or someone to give you the keys to a car when you  have none (my former church member friends in  NY), or for someone to buy you a meal when you are starving and have no money. ( My friend  and sister in Christ in everywhere America.) Smile. 

I was once even was kicked out of someone’s home, and had no place to go, and a friend stepped in and opened up their home to me!   I have been on BOTH ends, and I tell you, as  great as it felt to receive, it feels even better to give.

Just today,  I was  out with my best friend –  and we got  pedicures –  and we just had lunch together. ( Uh… that would be my husband.  But don’t tell him I told you that!)   Haha…. And that was self-care.  Was it expensive? Sure was… but it felt so good to be pampered, and his smile- worth a million to offer him that experience!   Having  done this for the first time,  for him – it was priceless.

We all need a little pampering sometime. Ask your self how you  can be instrumental in this process and give yourself some  time, once a month, at least to :

DO YOU.

Alright?

So I admonish  you, WATCH who God has sent to cross your path. Be aware of those around you. Love on them.  Pay attention to detail in your life, and how you benefit from being in right relationship with them. Feel their sorrow with them.  Ask them if they need anything. Call them and tell them you love them, even if it does mean feeling vulnerable  for a moment. It’s ok.  And you will  see them turn toward you, or turn a little closer towards God, if that’s the hope you desire to give. I have learned so much from such giving people in my life about how to treat others when they are down.

 And ASK yourself?

What’s my spirit and soul like today?

Do I feel drained, out of touch with myself?

Has life been a little foggy, lately…. Then COMMIT to self care.

God can work even greater in you, when you  are open and have such a surrendered heart.

Did you enjoy this reading? If so, visit my newsletter and get regular updated reading in which you can practice self- actualization exercises. We are located at the Mentor My Sister site, simply click here.