Thursday, October 29, 2009

So Ambitious?

“The motivation for me, was them telling me what I could not be. Oh well. I’m so ambitious!”Pharell on Jay-Z’s “So Ambitious” (Blueprint 3)

On this track, Jay-Z recalls all the people in his life who told him he’d never amount to anything, that he couldn’t make it and that he was destined for nothing; and how he used this negativity to fuel his ambition. As I listened, I began to think about my own life and what it was that I was told about myself growing up. I realized that ironically, I was told just the opposite all my life! I was encouraged and pushed and told that I was destined for greatness; that I was intelligent and talented and could shoot for the stars! There was praise and opportunity and more praise. Instead of being propelled forward by this though, my response was to shrink from it and to live below the expectations placed upon me, for fear of disappointing all those people who were rooting for me. I had thoughts like, “What if I’m not as smart as they think I am?” “What if I CAN’T do it?” I was not in tune enough with myself to be able to see me as others saw me and I was terrified that I would be discovered to be a fraud. Crazy, huh? Yep, I know.

It’s interesting to see the ways in which fear manifests itself in our lives. I had and still struggle with a fear of success. Oh, I can see it for what it is now, and my self-talk is such that I counter it with positive thoughts and push past it, but it kept me stagnant for a significant portion of my life. I never really did whatever it was that I thought I might like to do, or anything that felt purposeful, or worked any harder than what came naturally--because I thought that I might fail and that people might be disappointed in me. But even worse, I thought that I might SUCCEED—and oh boy, what would I have to live up to then? What I didn’t do then, that I do constantly now, was to counter that thought with the one that says it is okay to be successful. It’s desirable to be successful! Success, earned through the efforts of our God-given gifts and talents, is what we were made for!

Not only have I learned to ignore that crippling limitation called fear, I’ve also learned to care just a little bit less about what other people think; especially because in reality, it isn’t really about what they think at all—it’s my own doubt that rises to the surface. So I have to remind myself to be my own cheerleader and to stay focused on my vision. And now, even if I make a mistake or don’t get it right the first time around, I don’t worry so much about what people will think. Chances are, they’ll be supportive either way, and when I am winning at my endeavors, I’ll only be proving to myself what they’ve known all along.

So my ambition is now fueled by my own self-doubt, negative self-talk and fear. When I find myself responding to the same old things in the same old way, I pause and conduct a little exercise.

1. What is it that you’re afraid of?
2. Why are you afraid of this thing?
3. What are the challenges presented here?
4. How can you turn them into opportunities?
5. What is the worst that can happen if you just give it a try?

1. You CAN do this.
2. If you couldn’t, you wouldn’t have been given the tools, the insight or the opportunity. They would all be someone else’s.
3. It is okay to be successful!
4. It is okay to exceed expectations—even your own!
5. Accomplishment is nothing to feel embarrassed about.

Try this exercise when you find yourself facing the things that you’re fearful of and see if it makes a difference. I think you’ll be amazed at how clearly you see things and how well you can focus on them without the veil of fear covering them.

I’m so thankful for the opportunity to see myself as others see me, and to be ambitious enough to succeed beyond my wildest dreams!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lean On Me

Atleast once a week, I get completely overwhelmed with everything I have to do, need to do, want to do, and don't do. Last night, my weekly visitor was here and in full effect!! Wooooosaaaaaaa!

This excerpt reminds me not to be so hard on myself, to ask for help when I need it and to take life as it comes.

Have a peaceful and productive day!
Every woman is every other woman trying to figure out who she is.
Women of color have been led to believe that they must be everything to everyone. As a result, we do not know how to ask for support when we need or want it.
We become angry with others when they are not there for us, but we must realize people cannot, will not and do not know how to help if we do not know how to ask.
Take sixty seconds for yourself and ask what yourself what you need. If it is assistance with a project, a shoulder to cry on, a special something you need or want for yourself, let other people support you. We make judgments about what people can and will do and we move on our assumptions. We never really know what a person is willing to do or capable of doing until we ask. Nothing is too big or too small to ask for if we need it.
When we don't ask for what we need, the need keeps getting bigger.

If I need support today I will ask for it.
~author unknown
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Sunday, October 25, 2009

A Spiritual Assignment

"A Spiritual Plan is a statement of clear intention about what you desire to experience within yourself and a clear definition of what you must do to make it happen."

I thought I would share a portion of my spiritual plan--some of the broader statements that apply to many of us, but that we sometimes forget when we're in the midst of the very things that threaten our peace of mind. When it comes to peace of mind, it's all about the little things that we do each day to bring us joy in the midst of all the external "stuff" we have to deal with that is out of our control.

I desire to experience total transformation from the inside out, that will affect my physical and mental well-being, and lead me to live in my purpose and live out my destiny. A transformation that will bring a peace that radiates throughout the entire accumulation of my experiences--from motherhood to relationship to career to friends, family and finances. I want to know who I am, have faith in who I am, and believe in what I am capable of; I want to be okay with all that I am, no matter what negative words, thoughts or influences try to arise to combat it. I want to be able to move forward to new life experiences without the fear that comes with walking into the unknown, and without the regret that can come with leaving the old life behind.

In order to make this happen, I must:
- Spend time in silence, meditation and/or prayer daily
- Look for the lesson in every single experience
- Stop judging my experiences to be "good" or "bad" so that I can see the lesson in them
- Revel in all things positive around me--even down to the tiniest things
- Be honest always with others, but more importantly with myself
- Do what feels right and true and honest--not what feels good at the moment
- Pamper myself physically, mentally and spiritually

What is your spiritual plan? How will you work to achieve it?
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Friday, October 23, 2009

Is it me?

Do you wonder why you keep attracting the same kinds of men into your life? Friendships? Financial Situations? It doesn't matter - the law of attraction does not discriminate. I recently came across the following excerpt and wanted to share. If we are honest with ourselves, we can all relate to the truth in these words. And if we take it a step further and are proactive with that honesty, we can make actual changes in our lives to break these cycles. The only way to make change in your life is to change yourself.

When you are not happy with yourself, you cannot be happy with others. Everyone comes into your life to mirror back to us some part of ourselves we cannot or will not see.
They show us the parts we need to work on or let go of. They reveal to us the things we do and the effects they have on ourselves and others. They say to us openly the things we say to ourselves silently. They reveal to us the fears, doubts, weaknesses and character flaws we know we have but refuse to address or acknowledge. We can usually see the faults of others very clearly. We all have people in our lives who anger or annoy us, who rub us the wrong way. They may create confusion or chaos. They may bring pain or disruption. They may reject us, abandon us and create some sort of harm.
Before we get busy trying to fix the person or remedy the situation, we should ask ourselves:
Why is this person in my life?
What am I doing to draw this to myself?
How do I do what they do, and how can I release this need?

When we cleanse, heal and bring ourselves into balance, everyone in our lives will do the same or DISAPPEAR.

~author unknown
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Until Today

Excerpt from Until Today! Daily Devotions for Spiritual Growth and Peace of Mind....

I will realize my own worth when I accept...God has given me some things that nothing can change.

Your worth is not measured by what you do. Nor can you calculate the degree of your worthiness by what you possess. Your worth is a function of your being. Your being is colorless, genderless and believe it or not, ageless. Your being is worthy of honor, admiration and respect. It is a vessel of love and light. It is a beacon of inspiration. Beneath all the things that you have told yourself, been told about yourself, maybe even hold against yourself, there is a being that you must learn to honor, value and embrace. It doesn't take much to learn how to do it, and it is well worth the effort. How you learn to "be" with yourself and how you honor the being that you are will ultimately determine how worthy you feel.

Don't be harsh with your being. Don't waste your time regretting things you have done or ways you have been. If you take a nice, long slow, deep breath, you will feel the truth of your being. Try it now. Take a nice, long, slow deep breath. Slowly release that breath and take another one. Sit in the stillness that is sure to fall over your being while you silently remind your being of its worth and value to the world. This simple practice will put you in touch with all of the love, light, joy and inspiration you need in the world. This practice allows you to embrace your being.

In learning to embrace your being, don't look at your mistakes. It is a given that we will all make some mistakes in life. It is a given that you will make inappropriate choices for inappropriate reasons. They will in no way affect your worth. No matter what you say or what you do, nothing can minimize the worth of your being. Your worth is a gift from God. Your worth is a gift of grace.

Until today, you may not have realized that God established the worth of your being when you were given the gift of life. Just for today, remain focused on the idea that your worth is not what you do or have. Embrace the gift of your being.

Today I am devoted to embracing my worthiness as a divine gift!

Click here to purchase
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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Love and Sacrifice 101

Just like a song in my heart
Just like oil in my hands
Oh, I do love you

Still I wonder why it is
I don't argue like this
with anyone but you
We do it all the time
Blowing out my mind

~Like a Star by Corinne Bailey Rae

There's just simply nothing easy or effortless about love. Once the euphoria of infatuation fades, understanding how to love your partner is the only thing that will sustain a long term union. We have these ideas of how love should look, talk and feel and often these ideas prevent us from experiencing the authenticity of true love. We all know that putting love first is the key to making a relationship work. But how many of us truly know how to love without conditions, without pride, and without judgment?

I would argue that most people don't even know how to love themselves that way, let alone another person.

Love is one thing and expressing it is another. Where many of us fall short is that we are not able to put aside our expectations so that we can actively express love in a way that feeds the relationship.

For example, what makes me feel loved is not necessarily what makes my partner feel loved. Taking the time to learn each other's needs -- whether we understand them or not -- is crucial.   This creates an atmosphere of safety and trust where communication keeps the chemistry alive.

Speaking of safety and trust, when disagreements do arise, our egos are on the defense - telling us that we cannot let someone get the best of us, outshine us, or have the last word. But humility tells us that we are secure enough in our character to step aside and let someone else be heard. What would happen if we didn't feed the fire and we just stopped and listened? What if we could be quiet long enough to consider another perspective and honor it, even if we don't agree with it? Imagine that. You have to decide what's more important to you - strengthening the relationship or strengthening your ego?

Much like my relationship with myself, I've also come to understand that love is not dependent on how much growth we see, whether it's spiritual, intellectual, financial or otherwise. We are all in a constant state of growth, and the real opportunity to show love is to accept the person for all of their circumstances - favorable or not. You can support and encourage change, but if your love is dependent on that change, your partner will feel that and reciprocate that doubt back to you.

None of this will make sense or resonate for you if you don't already have a healthy relationship with yourself. Self-love is a prerequisite for any healthy relationship. For years, I felt cursed that I would never be happy in a relationship until I realized that my unhappiness came from within. My self-loathing manifested in a build up of resentment, misperception and dishonesty. Ultimately, honesty saves relationships. Constructive honesty creates the space for intimacy and friendship to grow.

What do you think? Consider the idea that love is not about expectations and demands but finding a middle ground on which two people feel respected and treasured as individuals.
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Buried Treasure

Gifts are an interesting thing. They're innate and planted into our spirits--designed to help us grown, learn, commune, share and affect the world around us in a way that is special and unique just to each individual. Many people can have the same gifts, but not one of us can use them in exactly the same way, or give and receive the same things when they pour out of us. We have a responsibility to these gifts; to honor the truth that sits deep in our souls, waiting to be lived--waiting for us to do something, to help someone, to initiate change in our little part of the universe.

Communication is my gift. The spoken, sung and written word are my tools. To use my words in a way that is dishonest, deceitful or hurtful is an abuse of this precious gift I've been given. I endeavor to always use my words in a way that is truthful, helpful and freeing for myself and for everyone around me. It is my intention that my voice be healing to any ears that hear it, and that it always matches the pure intention of my heart.

What is your gift? How are you using it? Are you sharing it with others or are you being selfish with it? What can you do to expand on your gift? Take some time and explore these questions. Write down the answers in your journal. You'll be surprised what you'll learn about yourself and what peace the journey into self-discovery can bring.
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Sunday, October 11, 2009

My Hair...Don't Care!

To relax or not to relax? To loc or not to loc? To fro or not to fro? Once upon a time, in a little world called Conventional, I never considered any of these questions. Straight meant great, and life was simple. As soon as my mother allowed me, with no ifs ands or buts, I relaxed, fried, straightened and spritzed my hair into forced cooperation to achieve the shiny, frizz-free look that I desired. How I loved the sizzle sound that the curling iron made on my freshly spritzed hair! Me, not relax? Absurd.

I have always loved hair and paid more attention to it than clothes, shoes or makeup. In the 80s, I loved shiny, tight freeze curls and fingerwaves and ponytails shaped like fans on top of my head. In the 90s, I sweated asymmetrical haircuts, more frozen spiral curls and fierce swoops in the front that covered one eye like Aaliyah. I tried it all. I posted pics of my favorite artists all over my wall from Word Up and Right On magazine, and these were the images that I emulated.

When I entered college in the mid 90s, I remember thinking that natural hair was only for women with naturally silky hair that didn't "require" a relaxer to be manageable, and "african pride" women who were channeling their ancestors through their hairstyle as a show of rebellion and nonconformity. In my mind, I never considered myself to fit into either of these categories, so as if I didn't have a choice, I relaxed my hair all through college.

It's now been 10 years since college graduation, and I'm finally noticing the ongoing discussion and controversy around Black hair. Wow. Where the heck have I been?? To relax or not to relax? It is a big, fat, hairy deal to some - and to others, not so much. After all, it really is just hair. But just like light skin vs dark skin, skinny vs full-figured, and the haves vs the have nots, we always find a way to let the hate creep in and distract us from loving and supporting each other.

At one extreme, you have those natural hair advocates that have obvious disdain for Black women with relaxed hair. From comments I've read on blogs, they believe that if you relax your hair, you are denying your true self i.e. trying to be something you are not. At the other extreme, you have relaxed Black women who view natural hair and the women who rock it as unsophisticated and unkempt. School Daze, anyone?

Isn't there always going to be someone who doesn't appreciate your beauty? Do I need to fulfill one definition of beauty in order to feel worthy and appreciated? Is it my duty as a Black woman to wear my hair a certain way? Can I explore myself without my relaxed or coily sister making sweeping assumptions about my identity? Can I live????

You know what? It's my hair and I don't care. I don't care about the people at work who stare at my hair and ask why my hair is poofy and big on some days and straight and subdued on other days. I'm happy to educate them...or not. On the other hand, I didn't go natural to join a club of women who sit high and look down low on those who still relax. It's my hair - my choice. Your hair - your choice. Why anyone would feel threatened, angry or unhappy about how someone else chooses to wear their hair escapes me.

Trust me, I'm not trying to play down the significant impact of hair on women in the black community. I am aware of the controversy and the implications. I, too, want my daughter to feel beautiful with her hair in its natural state. I, too, see the need for discussion and education abuot the cultural stereotypes and pigeon holes. But with all that said, it's still JUST hair. I DON'T want my daughter to define herself by anything other than her character. All tangible things like hair, clothes, skin, shape - the things that define beauty for most people - are guaranteed to pass away. We should enjoy what we've been blessed with and have fun with it while we have it. Our preoccupation with the physical will only lead us into jealousy and egotistical thinking which are counterintuitive to inner beauty.

I feel that God gave me this head of hair to explore my creativity and express myself. I see the warmth and quiet abandon that are characteristic of my spirit reflected in my hair. For me, it's part of the adventure of my life. From fried, dyed and laid to the side to twists, braids and unruly curls who knows what I will try next. Learn. Create. Unlearn. Recreate. Relearn. Do it all and do it YOUR way.
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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Infinite Possibilities

Mike Dooley, author of the infamous notes from the Universe, has put more of his insight into his newly released book, "Infinite Possibilities, The Art of Living Your Dreams":

"Infinite Possibilities is a fresh and inspiring look at how each of us can turn within to discover our true purpose, ignite our imagination, and manifest our desires. Mike Dooley explains that our dreams are not accidental or inconsequential, but rather serve as invitations to understand the truths about ourselves, hinting at the lives we can create. Once you learn to open your heart and mind, thinking far beyond what spirituality has traditionally meant, it becomes evident that life itself is the ultimate adventure, filled with opportunities that day by day lead us to discover who we really are and why we are here."

As a devoted subscriber to the daily notes from the Universe and a believer in the message of self-love and spiritual understanding that they promote, I can't help but think that this book is going to take the reader on a beautiful journey into the realm of self-fulfillment and purpose.

If you are interested in hearing more, you can tune in tonight at 9pm EST to hear Mike talk about "Infinite Possibilities", read some of his favorite passages, and explain the trail that has led to the release of this book. Leave a comment if you would like the call-in information. You may also purchase the book here.
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Friday, October 2, 2009

S on my chest

I came across the following post recently and was immediately drawn in by the plight of the writer that seemed to be plucked out of my own personal book of grievances. I have these lofty aspirations of being Every Woman, but I get tired y'all. Tired of trying to be everything to everyone and everything to myself and on top of that keep my house clean and my toes done. I have my outlets, but I'm forced to protect them like a guard dog and that in itself often drains me.
Am I wrong for turning my ringer off when I need peace and quiet?

Should I feel guilty that my sanity requires that I write everyday and sometimes I have to shut the world out to do so?
Well, maybe not.
But I wish people wouldn't take these things personally.
And I wish that I didn't care so much when they do.

This was how I was feeling when I came across this post from The View From Here ( This blog is a great find. There's no bells and whistles and no pretenses. Just candid thoughts and opinions, honest observations and amusing anecdotes delivered with intelligence in a girly context. So me.

The following excerpt is from the archives of The View From Here. The post is called I'm Not Your Superwoman and you can check out the article in its entirety when you visit the site.

So what exactly do y’all think would happen if I gave up my Strong Black Woman card for a few hours, a few days, a few weeks, shit a few years even? Would I ever get it back or would it be permanently revoked? I understand that as Black women we are supposed to be all things to everybody cause that’s how our mamas did it, our grandmamas did it, they mamas mamas did it…that’s how us Black women have survived through slavery, brutal rapes, family separation, Jim Crow, the Great Migration, segregation, discrimination, racism, strife, disease, poverty, and just regular day-to-day living. But I gotta admit something, I’m tired. I need a break. And I don’t even have kids or a husband, so I can only imagine the extra stress those things bring.

I do have what seems to be that innate gene in Black women that makes us feel that we have to carry the world on our backs, like Atlas. But what if we shrugged? What if we took time for ourselves and did what made us happy for once? Forget what our friends, our family, our church, our co-workers, our men (or the man we tryna get) say we need to do, should be doing, haven’t done, please volunteer for this, please cook something and bring it to the potluck, teach Sunday School, chair this committee, read this essay for your cousin applying to college, help mama with this, the dishes need doing, your husband or man needs loving, the kids noses need wiping…what if we just said fuck it all and lived for us?
As I get older, I find myself taking on a lot of responsibilities. And sometimes it becomes overwhelming: working, side hustling, volunteering, trying to fulfill my personal dreams and have a social life. And I wonder, who can I turn to if I’m always the one who is called on? When do I get to crack? Sometimes I fear that maybe I say “yes” to too many things, so that I don’t have to time to be sad. And that’s not the way to go either. Balance is necessary. Listening to my body and accepting my emotions are necessary. I am reminded of lyrics from Jill Scott’s song, I Keep : I keep smiling when I come through, and I cry when I need to…So, I am learning to find joy in all aspects of my life. I am learning to stop worrying about what I don’t have yet and just keep moving towards my goals. I’m learning to take care of myself first because it’s the most that I can do. I am beginning to accept that I can’t do it all. And I’m not even going to try. So let me get that Strong Black Woman guest pass.
Written by: Rum Punch

A note from The View From Here:
WE ARE: 5 women navigating our twenties in search of peace, happiness and love (or not).
WE WRITE: about everything and nothing. From the insane to the mundane- you will find different paths taken, lessons learned and lives lived.
WE THINK: you'll enjoy it...Warning: Consumption of these views may leave you enlightened while intoxicated.
**Special thanks to Rum Punch for allowing me to resurrect this post from 2007 to share it with PLPT readers. I know they will dig it.
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