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.

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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.

 

 

 

Priorities and Persistence

Begrudgingly, I wake up in the a.m. only to realize that it is 7:45. I have exactly thirty minutes to get both my son and myself showered, dressed, groomed and out the door to school.  As you can imagine, this doesn’t end well. I hadn’t set out clothes the night before, Terrance doesn’t want to get out of bed, and I am a nervous wreck: attempting to put on makeup and comb through the mound of wrinkled clothing that should have been folded and put away the night before. When we finally make it out the door, it’s 8:37 a.m. and we’re late; which means an angry Terrance will not have time to eat breakfast at school and neither will I. Speeding around the corner, I stop at a local gas station up the road: chips for him (the only thing he will agree to eat), and a large coffee filled with sugar and cream for me. Singing praises to God that we only have to drive to one place two minutes down the road, I manage to make it through the back doors of the elementary school just as the last bell rings. Sigh… We made it! However, deep down inside, I feel like I’ve failed–I totally suck at life.

And this had been the story of my life for a while. On other days, things ran significantly smoother, however, the worst case scenario occurred far more often than it should’ve– that is– until I implemented some changes about a month ago. In early December, after a particularly rough morning of rushing and stumbling into the school’s hallway, I realized I didn’t have to keep doing things like that. It’s sad to admit, but chaos had begun to rule my life; it became my norm.

So, what did I do to change? I decided to do something drastically different; Something that would totally shock my internal clock into a more disciplined routine. I started setting my alarm for four a.m. and planning a short to-do list to complete before preparing for work.pexels-photo-24896 Now, I know to some this may be extreme, but I can guarantee you that it makes our lives a whole lot easier. I am never concerned with being late, and I am a whole heck of a lot more productive than I was before. Deciding to wake up earlier and get my priorities sorted out is the best thing that I could have done. Now I am very persistent when it comes to my morning routine. I set plans for what I’d like to accomplish each day, write out my to-do list, and by the end of the night I find that– even if I don’t get everything finished– I’m more satisfied with my efforts.

And Terrance is happier as well. Before, he’d fuss, whine, and refuse to get up; while I pressured and literally had to pry him from the bed to be sure that we’d leave on time.  There’s definitely nothing a kid hates more than being rushed in the morning. They live for routine and stability.  And so, now I feel less bad: my son is able to wake up calmly, get showered and dressed at a peaceful pace, and make it to breakfast each day (Although, he still only wants to eat chips).

Overall, I can see the benefits that a little prioritizing and persistence can offer. It turned out better for everyone: My son, my employer, and of course me. In the bible, there’s a scripture that talks about the qualities of a noble woman; it reads, “she gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family and portions for her maidens” (Proverbs 31:15). dawn-sunset-night-sunriseUp until recently, I’d hold on to my bed sheets for as long as possible; not wanting to start the day a moment before I absolutely had to. However now, I understand that part of being a responsible adult is doing things that may not feel good at the time, but are in the best interest of yourself and others who depend on you. I now enjoy waking up at four a.m. and I plan to never go back.

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.

 

 

You Can’t Afford That

More than anything, I’m inspired to make some changes. I often rack my brain at night: thinking of ideas to make more and spend less.

Often times, the worst statements that can be said to anyone are those involving the words you and can’t. Honestly, I despise the two together. When someone tells me I “can’t do” something, it makes me turn into an enraged creature, much like the temperamental hero, The Hulk.

Luckily, not many people have witnessed my not-so-jolly, green giant. As a matter of fact, in most cases, my goals and aspirations are embraced and cheered on by many. This is usually the case–except when it comes to spending money. Apparently, I am not to be trusted in making good financial decisions.  I have been told many times before, by others, that I should not or could not purchase something because I “can’t afford it.” It infuriates me. Why?  Because they are usually right.

And so, because of persistent unsolicited advice—and constantly being broke, I am now programmed to tell myself, “don’t even think about it Cheryl, you can’t afford it,” in almost all purchasing situations. And these words don’t sound or feel any better coming from myself. I still get angry. And although I usually don’t throw a hissy fit, admittedly, I’ve grown weary of denying myself. It seems that as time goes by, and more and more things become even more expensive, I’ve been having to say, “You can’t afford it,” quite often. And boy I’ll tell you, it really sucks.

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And I’m not talking about wanting flashy things that light up and make elaborate sounds. No, I just want to have a washer and dryer in the home, or have the ability to choose a better-quality meat from the grocery store. These things I can’t afford, and so I’m left lugging massive baskets of dirty laundry to my sister’s and eating more off-brand Bologna than what’s good for me. I mean, to put things into better perspective for you all, having a fifteen-year-old car that barely gets me to work is a luxury in my life. Believe me, I try to be grateful every day for the little bit I do have, however, just getting by doesn’t always keep me content.

Although I have adapted to living without things, I still get frustrated because at the end of the day the less I have, the less my son has as well. There are no special nights out to the movies for him. Music lessons and sports teams are totally out of question. And most importantly, I can’t help but feel that since he is without these things, he’s losing opportunities and advantages that would otherwise improve his future. When it comes to my son lacking things, this is where I feel like a failure. We are a single-parent, low income family and it’s all mommy’s fault. But of course, my five-year-old doesn’t notice any of this. Although he hears,” no, we don’t have money for that!” quite often as well, he’s still as happy as can be with what he has. However, I know the older he gets, the more he’s going to notice. He’ll notice that his mom can’t buy things for him as much as other parents do for their kids. He’ll notice that we live from pay check to pay check. He’ll notice that mommy isn’t always able to pay the bills on time, and at times, I really struggle to make ends meet. This motivates me.

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More than anything, I’m inspired to make some changes. I often rack my brain at night: thinking of ideas to make more and spend less. Fear, doubt, and ironically the lack of funds has held me back from attempting to earn more, but now I know it’s imperative that I try harder anyway. All in all, I know I must stay positive and not give up. My future and my child’s future both depend upon the decisions I make every single day– from here forth.  So, I’m starting by making a budget, sticking to it, and putting my skills to work in every side hustle that I have the time and energy to run. I’ve realized that as a single parent working just my full-time, low wage job is not enough to get ahead in life. So here I go, venturing out into unknown territory: on a mission to bring wealth to my little family.

 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.

Airing Out the Laundry

Take a good look at this picture. And tell me… what do you see?

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Perhaps, a metaphor of my cluttered brain? Or maybe… a representation of the endless chores a parent has (usually the mom) when there’s children in the home? Nope, none of the above. Just a random load of laundry on the living room floor. That, by the way, up until earlier this morning has been plopped in the same spot for the last couple of days. Am I embarrassed to admit this? Yes, of course I am. But this here pile, is the story of my life.

I am messy. And everything about this assertion has been confirmed by anyone who has stepped foot into my house. If, back in the day, you would have questioned me about my untidiness, I would have refuted it. But now, I humbly admit what my mother, various old roommates, and even secretly my own guilty conscience have been claiming all along; I. Am. Messy.

Why is this important to share with the world? For accountability, of course. And It surely needs to changed. The reason I have been able to cope with my higgledy-piggledy tendencies for so long is because my scattered clothing and empty perfume bottles never affected anyone, except me. So, all was well. Up until today, I could go on in my messy state of blissfulness without a care in the world. Then, this morning, the fairytale ended when I saw this…

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More mangled clothes on the floor, you wonder? No. Not just any ol’ clothes—they’re Terrance’s. Last night when we returned home, my five-year-old casually stripped down to his underwear, leaving his garments sprinkled in a trail leading towards his bedroom. This morning, when I fully noticed them there (and yes, it… took me that long to notice them) my views about the cluttered life slapped me right in the face and reality finally sat in. I am teaching my son to live like a pig.

Visions into my dear son’s future quickly flooded my mind revealing a 20-something year old bum, sitting amidst a hoarded living room; Pizza boxes, Cheetos, and dirty gym socks strewn all around him. All alone he slumps, crying his eyes out; his tired and wearied wife having left him, feed up with his filthy ways. I can’t let this happen, I thought, staring at his muddled little jeans. My baby cannot be someone’s nightmare of a husband, let alone just some mangy bum.dsc00315

 

So here I am, exposing my dirty little secrets in this blog, and promising that I will teach my kid –and myself that being neat is more conducive to a healthy life style.

 

This incident makes me think about how having lived in disorder for so long has really held me back over the years. Its hindered me socially, creatively and emotionally. However, the anticipation of all the more friends I’ll invite over, the space I will have clear to store and write in my journals, and just the overall mental clarity I’ll gain from having a clean space motivates me to stay on top of my house work. So, this morning, I can happily say I cleaned my entire apartment. From top to bottom, in the words of my mother I can definitely say “it’s spic and span.” And I intend to keep it that way.

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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.