Letter to Self

Ultimately, I feel like this was something the man upstairs gifted to me, so that I can spread hope to you all as well.

Frustrated and disappointed, I sit looking at the screen. The word is relatively small but the impact on my spirit is huge. Rejected. My first official “comeback” article –written for this low paying, bottom of the barrel content mill –has been denied by the editor. What started out at the beginning of the year as a renewed sense of hope and excitement that my writing career would take off, has quickly withered into a heap of self-pity and doubt. And that wasn’t all. The newspaper editor that I’d offered my services to, last week, never replied. And I’m constantly thinking about the low wages I’d written for before, and combined , all these things are very discouraging.

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I want to give up again. Maybe get a second job, something “normal”like… working evenings in a grocery store–Come to think of it, Meijer, had been calling me to schedule an interview. But a large part of me won’t let me quit writing, for I can’t keep letting go of my dreams because they seem too hard. So it’s 1 a.m., by now. Terrance is asleep, and I’m at the dining room table shifting through tons of old journals and other writing: looking for clips to put in my portfolio.  Then I stumble upon it; the perfect word that God could have sent me in my moment of discouragement. It is a letter I wrote at the very beginning of last year (2016), siting in the same spot at my dining room table on January 1st. As I read the letter my spirit was renewed. And ultimately, I feel like this was something the man upstairs gifted to me, so that I can spread hope to you all as well. The words of my letter apply to anyone who needs a little bit of a boost in their spirit. Here is what it says:

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Dear Cheryl,

You are an awesome human being. You are very intelligent and you have a lot going for yourself. If you are going to make progress towards your goals and dreams, then there are a few things that you are going to have to do this year. One thing you must do is allow yourself to be imperfect; stop giving up on things, people, experiences, and dreams just because there is a chance that the outcome of pursuing them may not be “perfect.” Give yourself room to accept things that you say, do, and feel as good enough. Sometimes “good enough” is better than “perfect” because it shows effort, resilience and determination.

Secondly, this year you need to learn to love yourself. Accept your flaws and know that no matter how unlovable you think you are, there are always people out there that are willing to love you just as you are–love yourself unconditionally. You deserve love because that was God’s intention for mankind: for man to be kind to one another.

Thirdly, lose weight. And not just physical weight, but all that yucky mental stuff that keeps you bottled up and isolated from the world. Study the reasons why you choose to hold on to things. Solve the problems and give everything else over to God. Do all you can to become physically and mentally healthy. Exercise frequently, take warm long bathes, fix yourself up and take pride in your appearance, as well as who you are as a person.

Develop friendships, relationships and personal bonds with others. Love others. And don’t be afraid to show affection. Don’t be afraid to get close to people. Trust God that he will shelter you from all who have ill intentions towards you. Relax.

Most of all, live and live life abundantly; to the point that you have joy in living, and it’s so much that that joy overflows into the lives of all those you touch. Eat well. Work well. Think well. Love well. But most of all…live well.

Love,

Self

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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.

 

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.

 

 

Can This Wounded Bird Still Fly?

My intentions for this blog were to go in a completely different direction, but a wise woman once told me, “write from the heart, and convey your thoughts with authenticity.” (Thanks Betsy!) And so, I’ve decided that… I’m putting my heart into this.

” There lies a sacred place inside of us reserved for the people we love. And when that love is lost, we are wounded like a bird with a broken wing– emptiness is felt” 

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The loss of loved ones through death, the loss of friendships through mutual—and sometimes not so mutual—partings, and even the result of broken family ties will inevitably take a toll on even the strongest of persons. Often, when feeling the pain of losing someone you thought—for sure— you needed to go on in life, you feel wounded like a bird with a broken wing. How do you function? When all the memories, thoughts, and feelings of someone you loved are ripped from their neatly placed positions in your heart and tumbled into a mental and emotional storm at the forefront of your mind, you can’t help but have side effects. 

 dadHow is this relevant to me? Because this bird’s wing is broken. Over the last few years I’ve experienced my own personal loses… and they hurt. Five years ago, my brother whom I adore and admire dearly had a heart attack and died suddenly. And in July, of last year (2016), I lost my father the same way. Even still, as of now the most pain I feel comes from cutting ties with a close family member. The difference is this person is still alive and we… just don’t talk anymore. Our relationship was insufferably toxic, yet the bond is still incredibly missed. Examples like these have left parts of me empty–wounded in a sense. And for me the side effects are feelings of despair, emptiness, —pain.

So, the question of the hour is can this wounded bird still fly? The simple answer is yes. But it’ll take some nurturing. It’ll take a surplus of blessed love that can flood into the heart and fill those empty spaces. The rejuvenating power of love, goes above and beyond all other forms of therapy, but the acceptance of that love must be deliberate. I naturally have a hard time accepting that I am loved. However, this is slowly changing because I know deep down that to fully heal I must embrace love. Bask in it. Immerse myself in it. This I’ll do this year, from here on out, by remaining positive and understanding that nothing else can matter until I matter first. And this is the prerequisite for a marvelous flight—a strong, vibrate heart scattered in scares, yet restored by love.

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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.