Sharing with Strangers

Then I think about all that the world would lack of Cheryl, if I didn’t share my truth. And now I say, “I’ll share it all.”

While chatting with a buddy of mine this Friday, the conversation veered towards a dilemma that I’d been struggling with for the better half of a week. Tracy, another comrade whom buddy and I are both acquainted with, has been dealing with a tragedy that has affected her entire household. “How can I express my empathy towards Tracy, without being awkward or worse, making her feel uncomfortable?”, I asked. “That’s a sensitive situation”, buddy replied. And as we brainstormed further about solutions to this problem, the more irritated I became with myself. In exasperation, I asked, “why is expressing love, concern, and genuine kindness towards others–you’re not necessarily close with, so difficult?”homeless

I thought further about this question throughout the day. And as I began completing my daily duties, I started noticing some things. Walking down the halls of the elementary school where I work, it has become second nature to me to greet the children, teachers, and other staff members. However, today I noticed more than usual that even kind gestures of saying, “Good morning” or “hi,” are not always reciprocated. Like little deer captured in head lights, the children (and unfortunately some adults) stand stunned after I greet them, awkwardly scurrying away to avoid any further contact.  

Today, it seems that we are an impersonal nation: taught to not make new friends and intentionally guard ourselves from all forms of intimacy with others. Caring, sharing, love and support are agreeably reserved for our small close-knit circles. Thus, much of the time, we all are left lacking. We are lacking in hugs. We are lacking in concern for the fortunate and the less fortunate. And we are lacking in assurance that we all–every single individual on the face of this earth–matter.

And I get it. There’s many reasons (and excuses) to not get close lonely-girland personal with strangers; there are people in this world who legitimately seek only to hurt others. However, I feel that the lack of vulnerability and openness in our society is a disservice to unity and positive interaction. So, I now understand that candidness and free expression must be retaught and relearned. We must teach our children that, in most cases, it’s okay to say hello to strangers. It’s okay to give a hug to someone who’s clearly hurting, and it’s okay to share yourself: in hopes to inspire, uplift and embrace others.

 

As more and more family members, friends, and associates become aware of this blog, the more I ask myself “how much of my life’s journey do I share with strangers?” Then I think about all that the world would lack of Cheryl, if I didn’t share my truth. And now I say, “I’ll share it all.” Someone out there needs to know that they aren’t alone in daily struggles, that life isn’t all peaches and cream, and that even the worst of obstacles: we can overcome. I also feel it’s important to show that no one is perfect; the same Cheryl that struggles to wake up in the morning, is the person smiling, laughing, motivating and encouraging others outside the home. hands-699486_1920

So, I’ve decided that I will not be the woman who doesn’t share her age, weight, or insecurities with the world. I will not be the person ashamed of my past, future, or present. And I will not be afraid to show compassion to individuals who aren’t in my social circle. I feel, more and more each day, that it is important to, at the very least, hear the experiences of people who aren’t like me. We all are valuable–not because of our commonalities, but
because of our differences. All of us combined make up a beautiful people. The faster that we as a nation understand that we need each other, the better our lives, the lives of our children, and generations of the future will be.

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The purpose of this blog is to come from a place of love, strength, discovery and vulnerability. Please join me as I share my journey.

 

 

 

MLK on a Sacred Saturday

We were all different shades, shapes and sizes, yet we were the same in love, acceptance, and support.

Over the past few weeks, you all have been able to view some of my inner most thoughts; and even learn some of the not so pleasant things about me as well (see Airing Out the Laundry). However, there are still some things that y’all don’t know about your girl. One of which is that I am a self-proclaimed extreme introvert. And I’m sure you’ve all seen my kind before. Perhaps by observing that very quiet co-worker who never goes to office parties, or even that family member, Little Johnny, who spends all day in his room, and must literally be bribed to show his face when guest come over? Yes, both would describe me perfectly. I like to be alone. Settled in my own space, far away from meddling people. Not that I don’t like people. The thought of hanging out with tons of friends and crowds of happy stranglers is exciting…yet, utterly terrifying at the same time. I often persist in an internal battle: aspiring to be a socialite princess, while simultaneously indulging my groundhog tendencies of stowing away, in my own little dwellings, resisting all communication with other life forms. But, to sustain somewhat of a productive life style, I accept that I must be around people, at least on most days.

pexels-photo-24105And so, I reserve my seclusion time for the weekends. In this sacred time, when I’m not working and Terrance is away (visiting with his beloved cousins), I retreat.  I bury myself in my room with a heavy blanket and a ton of books: happily drifting off into a world where I am the only one there. I look forward to Saturdays like this. So, naturally, when someone invites me to go out somewhere, I secretly interpret it as a direct threat against my happy time. Nine times out of ten, I say “no” or find clever methods to cowardly weasel my way out of going. The other ten percent of the time I force myself to just go– mainly out of guilt, but also to avoid being labeled as anti-social. Surprisingly, I often really do enjoy it when I go out on weekends. Time after time, I am reminded that communing with others is not so bad. The hard part is persuading myself to go in the first place. One of my many new year’s resolutions included making a real effort to get out more, and rid myself of my introverted ways. This is the reason I decided to go to an MLK event; which just so happened to have occurred on one of my sacred seclusion Saturdays.

I got a text from a friend Friday morning, inviting me to this event. I opened the message, and shortly afterwards began to take slow labored breathes, feeling signs of an acute panic attack coming on. “Hey Cheryl, I wanted to be sure you saw the MLK event…It would be great to see you”. No. No. No! I thought: going through my normal –or not so normal—routine of mental anguish. I can’t go… I want to go… I should go, but I want to stay home… I haven’t gone out in a while, oh my god, but why this weekend… I am not going! … And before I could change my mind again, I grab my phone and message back, “see you tomorrow.” So it was settled, I was going.

fb_img_1484421955707The Historic Roosevelt Center in Elkhart, Indiana, is an awesome pillar of the community. And Saturday, its facilities was used to house The Peoples History of Elkhart’s event: Reviving Dr. King’s Call for a Poor People’s Campaign. I must admit that, though I was interested in the topic, I wasn’t stoked about being in a crowd of people. I was a tad anxious up until I got inside of the auditorium. Then my entire mood changed. The experience brought me alive and I left feeling the way that I often do: wondering why I don’t get out more often in the first place. There was singing, there were awards and speeches, and most important, there was discussion about Martin Luther King, his legacy and how his life’s mission of gaining equality, peace and justice for all still stands today. I enjoyed the presentations, the conversations, and the comradery amongst the attendees: who all shared a common goal– to learn, understand and apply the knowledge gained from one another. We were all different shades, shapes and sizes, yet we were the same in love, acceptance, and support.

There, I was in my element. That extroverted socialite that I often dream about came out and took over. I talked, I laughed, and I met some amazing new people. I also in the process rekindled a need and desire to involve myself in more civic activism.

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Saturday, was a great day for me. So, from here forth, whenever I’m invited out to do something besides just lay in bed, I’ll think back on this lovely occasion, and then quickly reply, “yes, I would love to go!”

The purpose of this blog is to come from a place of love, strength, discovery and vulnerability. Please join me as I share my journey.

 

 

Time to Stop Running

Fear, Insecurity and inadequacy have not been kind to me, and it’s time that I finally leave them behind.

 

Sitting at my desk—it’s 4:30 am. I’m tired from lack of sleep and anxious, for what I’m about to do has become a terrible habit and I’m fully aware of the mistake I’m about to make. “Dear Fate…,” I begin the tumultuous email, “I am saddened to inform you of my decision to resign from life’s amazing opportunities.”  And moments later, the letter is complete. Now, all I must do is press the send button, and for what seems like the thousandth time in my life, I will successfully quit something that– deep down– I know I am meant to do.

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Quitting is not a decision I ever intend to make when staring a new venture or enlisting in an amazing opportunity. No, usually I’m excited– pumped even, for the new adventure. Almost always, I am approached with chances of a life time that can potentially have great outcomes and extremely positive consequences for me. Yes, I admit it, I’m absolutely blessed; the favor of God is always evident to me. However, the problem has been and continues to be me. 

Fear, insecurity, and the feelings of being inadequate, have all been constant companions on my journey through life. They are horrible passengers, weighing down all thoughts of creativity, accomplishing goals and gaining success. As I attempt to do well, I am often outnumbered by this trio: all persuading me to run. Run far away, as fast as I can, from the possibility of getting hurt, the possibility of looking stupid, and most terrifying, the possibility that I just might achieve success.

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So, still sitting at my desk, it’s now 9:45am. I am hesitant on following through. Frozen with my courser hovering over the send button, I’m realizing that I’m tired. Tired of giving up, tired of running away, and tired of leaping forward only to feel myself sliding right back. This needs to stop. Fear, Insecurity and inadequacy have not been kind to me, and it’s time that I finally leave them behind.

 So, how do I begin to change, I wonder, while staring at the computer screen. And quickly, I press delete. Erasing the unsent email, destroying all my past mistakes and rejecting the cowardly work of the three frenemies, whom I’ve become so accustomed to. With relief and renewed determination flooding through my veins, I think about a better future. A state where I execute my goals, exercise my abilities, and stand in spite of disappointment and success. I can totally do this, because although running away is easy, under those circumstances my potential is never reached. Now is the time to try something different. Optimism, confidence, and faith have been dying to meet me, and I plan to spend as much time as possible with my new set of friends.

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The purpose of this blog is to come from a place of love, strength, discovery and vulnerability. Please join me as I share my journey.