Self Care Chronicles: Visit Your Friends

NOTE: Self care is essential. On the blog, I plan to share what I do to restore myself from time to time. 

After the election, Vince and I snuck away for the weekend to visit Tamra and Robert in Kansas. Originally, it was a birthday trip for me and a getaway trip for him after a tough election season. After the traumatic election of Donald Trump, it turned into a decompression-what do I do with these emotions-is laughter still a thing-trip.

In a rudimentary way, I thought Kansas was full of fields with bails of hay. One would think I would not be so simplistic in my thinking seeing how most people think Texans ride horses to work and wear cowboy hats everywhere. Kansas was a lot more city than I expected and was really beautiful in the fall. I was determined to take a picture with the colorful leaves since we almost never see this in Texas.

Vince and I arrived for our short stay on my birthday, which was on a Friday this year. Weekend birthdays are the best. We got in the car and the laughter started immediately as Tamra lamented about the fact that our plane arrived early and she was going to be on time. The early plane had made her late to pick us up and she was determined to show me that she had been cured of her chronic lateness. We made a quick stop to grab a burger for Vince and headed to her house where Rob was waiting. Rob had some big important medical school test thingy coming up, so he didn't get to go out with us. Responsibility is overrated. 

All three of us love real estate and looking at homes. It is borderline obsession. As we drove to and through her neighborhood, she pointed out all of the amazing homes and we remarked about the beauty of each one. And I mean these houses were beautiful ya’ll. They weren’t cookie cutter and each had it’s own character. I could actually see myself living there. I wish I had pictures, but we were too busy taking it in with our mouths gaped open. Tamra’s house was no different. We loved everything about it, their minimalist and intentional style and felt right at home. Hopefully she will do the blog post about her house that I have been begging for since forever. 

The first day we did a quick photo shoot so Tamra could flex her photography muscle and we could get some photos for our Christmas card BEFORE Christmas this year. Vince and I are not the easiest photography subjects as we slide between cheesy and forced. So the photos Tamra created are a true testament to her skill. After the photo shoot, we checked out Pizzareria Locale and it was amaze. Vince and I do not go anywhere, and I mean anywhere, without eating pizza. We also did some shopping at The Plaza, the local shopping center. I hate shopping, but Tamra loves it so she picked out everything for me.

The rest of the weekend, we really just did some hardcore relaxing. Tamra and I cooked an elaborate breakfast on Saturday while the boys watched football. We sung, vented, shared stories about our men and danced while we cooked. Needless to say, we were tired after. We took a much needed nap and finally went out to explore at the ripe time of 4 pm. We went to the Nelson-Atkins museum of art and loved it. I thank God for a husband who loves museums as much (really more) than me. We topped the day off with a delicious meal at Urban Table. I enjoyed the decor and ambience as much as the food. 

This was a simple trip spent connecting with our family. Simple things made it so perfect: going in the refrigerator and eating whatever I wanted without asking, not having to worry about how my hair looked, wearing my silk bonnet at all times at home, effortlessly laughing at all the same things, not having to wear any masks the entire weekend and learning that laughter was indeed still a thing. It is so important to have people and places where all of you, whoever you may be at that time, is accepted. That’s when real rest is possible and Lord knows we needed some real rest.

Photocred: Lots of the pictures were taken by Tamra. All of the good ones are hers. :)


On Supporting Black Women

A few months ago, I had a wonderful conversation with close friends in my circle about the struggles of black women and the overall feeling of not being fought for by men, especially black men. We explained that black women have never been allowed to express all of their humanity freely. We have always been "too" something and simultaneously expected to be oxen strong enough to carry our communities; we have done so. Sadly,we have never been given the support or praise deserved from anyone. I know that it is possible to change the narrative about black women and the reality for black women. To do so would be revolutionary.

One of our male friends asked how he could support us better. After dialoguing some more with them about the pain of being black and woman in this country, I attempted to give him actionable steps. I decided to post here as well and I have expounded on some of them more. Now this is not an exhaustive or exclusive list. There are lots of ways for men to support black women. This was just my answer to a very close friend who was sincerely asking for practical advice. 

ONE: Celebrate us publicly.

TWO: Don't let your friends say negative and damaging things and just laugh. Cite examples from your life that are different. They may need help realizing what they have internalized. 

THREE: For better or worse, social media matters, so post positive images of black women.

FOUR: Encourage us for more than our physical beauty. Extol our minds, work ethic, brilliance, tenacity, ingenuity and strength. Basically, praise our whole being. 

FIVE: Openly challenge any threat to us being able to exemplify our full range of humanity (anger, joy, sadness, intellect, rage, disappointment, etc). Fight alongside us for the right to be as tangibly human as the next person. 

SIX: Internally fight the tendency to believe what everyone else has said about us.

SEVEN: Fight for equal pay and equal power.

EIGHT: Care when we are murdered and assaulted as much as your care when a black male is. Show up for us. 

NINE: Educate your children about black women throughout history. Openly challenge and critique the narrative that is taught in schools with your children. 

TEN: Do not explain away male privilege to us, listen to our thoughts and consider our experiences thoughtfully. And if you ever have an opportunity to yield the floor to a black woman for her to express her perspective, pass the microphone proudly.

I would love to hear your thoughts about how to support us more in the comments. I'm sure my friend would appreciate it too. 


On Power and Belonging

This is a really personal post and I almost did not post it but I think others might be able to relate. 

I've been spending a lot of time thinking about last year. One of the most notable highlights was being a part of a leadership program in my city. In the end one of the most valuable lessons was taught indirectly. For the first time since I can remember, I knew, unequivocally, that I belonged in the room. 

As a minority on at least 2 fronts: black and woman, I am sometimes affected by how I believe others see me. That has caused me to struggle to believe I can fit. I am painfully aware of my difference and I am naturally very shy.  The combination of those two things often causes me to shrink back. It became so commonplace for me that I often didn't even notice it happening. Surprisingly, what illuminated it anew for me was something that is usually viewed as inherently negative: comparison. On social media, I am inundated with strong confident beautiful versions of black and woman. I am flooded with affirmative posts on my feeds daily that celebrate confidence. I started to really contemplate how I viewed my place in the world and what I believed about what I had to offer. 

What I realized was that at some point I had not only let my power go, I stopped believing I had any at all. It simply boiled down to this: I didn't think I belonged in the room. The room is a metaphor for whatever scenario in which a person shrinks. It could be a job, a relationship, a volunteer opportunity, an athletic team, etc. Whatever it was, I had come to believe that every achievement or accolade was acquired through some divine orchestration and that I nothing I possessed was particularly special. Don't get me wrong, I think humility is a necessary and commendable quality. I think God is real and that I have been blessed beyond what I deserve. But there is also false humility and that's the kind that's dangerous. Usually it's fear with a veneer of gracious deference. For me it showed up in small ways: my constant deflection of compliments, my hatred of self-promotion, and my hyper-criticalness.

I often wonder if this is a product of nature or nurture. For example, I have a friend who has always believed her power. It’s actually quite electric to be around because she has a graceful confidence that is attractive in a way that causes others to feel empowered. A conversation with her prompted this post because we differed on our feelings about belonging. It saddened her to know that I felt stifled or like I had wasted time simply because I didn’t trust what I had to offer. I cannot pinpoint if she is that way because of something her parents did or if she is naturally hard wired with an extra dose of confidence. I’m not sure, but I know that I have encountered other people like her who seem to innately believe in their own power. They know deep down in their guts that they belong in the room. What room? Any room. And not just that they belong but that they can lead it and change it. They trust their own power and they do not shy away from it. They also do not need permission to use it. That assuredness seems to lead them to a more emboldened life earlier.

Thankfully, it all started to change for me in that leadership program. I now realize that I was accepted because I possessed a unique ability to add value to the conversations and activities that was necessary. Even typing that felt weird because it felt so braggy. However, I do not mean it in that way. I simply mean that me being there mattered just as much as everyone else. I realized that I would honor God best by embracing the full power of who I am. I now know that I belong in any room just as much as anyone else. I won't always be the leader or the most recognized but someone else's recognition does not diminish my value. And owning that value allows me to truly be humble and to exercise the full range of power in an effort to maximize my contribution to my little slice of the globe. 


Our 2nd Wedding Anniversary

in a couple of weeks rob and i will be celebrating our second wedding anniversary. in just two years of marriage we have: moved states, changed jobs, lost a baby, completed a master’s degree, began a medical school program, purchased a home and have adjusted to living with only one full-time salary.  i think it is fair to say that this has been quite the journey. i work with young women and every day i watch as they fantasize, plot and plan for marriage and life. they scroll through my instagram and squeal “relationship goals” whenever they see a cute picture of rob and me. they have these surface ideals and expectations about married life. i literally laugh out loud at the thought of them experiencing the beautiful yet painful process of merging your entire life with another human being; they are clueless.

i would be lying if i said that i didn’t enter into marriage with a few unrealistic expectations. let me keep it real, i had more than few expectations! even after completing a long pre-marital counseling program i was still unwilling to let go of my expectations. instead i fought for them, defended them and became discontent when my husband did not meet them. deep down inside i expected marriage to be like a really good scene from love jones that never ended ha! so you can only imagine my disappointment when life refused to line up with my expectations. in the real world husbands and wives ain’t sitting around playing vinyl records, writing poems and sharing cigarettes. 

look here, let me be the first to tell you that the whimsical blogs and ig pages that we follow create a false perception of what marriage really is. marriage is about growth, forgiveness, commitment, choosing to love, forgiving again and moving forward. it’s about enjoying the laughs, special moments and memories that you create between working and paying bills. it’s about adjusting and readjusting to whatever life throws your way. marriage has a way of bringing to the surface all of the ugliness and beauty that you never knew existed. it sharpens you. although most of us know this going in, we often struggle to accept it. 

as i reflect on all that rob and i have experienced over the course of these two years, i am so grateful for god’s faithfulness through it all. i’m thankful for rob’s unwavering love for me and him choosing to love me even at my worst. i am thankful for his commitment to our marriage and for him striving to become a better husband as i stumble my way to becoming a better wife.  i’m thankful every day he gets up and works hard to ensure that we have a better future. i’m thankful for the way he cares for my family. i’m also thankful that he’s so good-looking, it really does help when he’s working my nerves! seriously though, what i am most thankful for is knowing that i get to share many more anniversaries with him!


Photocred: StillLife Media

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