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.”

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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.

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.