Hallmark Holidays Are Emotional Triggers

IMG_5310.JPG*This post was originally written the day after Mother’s Day.

I did not want to be a Debbie Downer yesterday, but that’s how I felt. 

When everyone is professing their love on Valentine’s Day, I either have to ask for flowers or we probably just had an argument in the days leading up to it. Okay, that’s an exaggeration but you get the point. 

My husband thinks flowers are useless. One year for our anniversary, he surprised me with an overnight stay at a garden resort, since I kept nagging him for flowers. 

I love Christmas but can’t stand the pressure society puts on families. Early on, children don’t feel loved if they don’t receive the same amount of gifts their friends do. Easter and Halloween is no longer fun, because I find myself defending my decision to participate or sit out of said holiday. “Pagan” holidays cause ridiculous debates about their origins and friends/families become divided in the name of what they believe. 

Back to hubby. From the outside looking in, he is not always the most romantic person. In this day and age of overly publicized intimate moments and the rise of #relationshipgoals, our special moments are usually shared between just the two of us. He does sweet things on a regular basis, but he ain’t hardly trying to do stuff just because everyone else it doing it (hence, Hallmark holidays). Don’t get me wrong-he buys me gifts on holidays, but he isn’t about to pull out all the stops. That’s usually on a random day & the funny thing is…it means more to me.

I know that this year is difficult with his mother being hospitalized. She has been on life support and we haven’t been able to speak to her for over a week. I had to remind myself of this when I noticed he was cranky and confrontational. Instead of engaging, I prayed. It takes so much more strength to hold your peace.

I had to remember that he regularly shows his love and affection for me in other ways.  We have completely different love languages and that’s okay. I don’t want to seem selfish knowing what he’s dealing with, so I sucked it up and kept it pushing. I chose to be his strength and not another burden.

When mamas are to be celebrated, I am sometimes left seeking validation. Feeling depressed. But I put on a brave face and graciously face the day every year. Wondering if I did anything wrong beyond repair. Then it dawned on me. These feelings are NOT about my husband. It’s not even about past relationships. It’s about the need to forgive myself. To offer myself grace. Motherhood is HARD. I’m not perfect, but I AM a work in progress. 

I try to pick my head up and repeat affirmations. Practice routine self care. Pray. Pour into other women the things I need and would enjoy myself. But it’s never enough and never will be. Because as long as I have that void of unexplained “why me, God” moments, I won’t be fulfilled. No mass production of greeting cards or flowers can fix that wound. You can’t place a band-aid on something that runs as deep as your soul. Yeah, that’s what it is–a soul tie. I realize that these feelings probably even go back as far as my great grandmother’s childhood. There is a curse that will be broken.

 I initially thought Mother’s Day began with disappointment, but it led me to the realization that I have work to do. Marriage does not make you whole. That is an inward assignment that only you can achieve.

I became a mother at the age of 19. While the pregnancy may have been unplanned, my son’s birth was intentional.* (Jer 29:11) His life has purpose. I may not have known at that time, but God knew him before he was even formed in my womb. Then, my daughter came along and became a little mirror. Ciara, version 2.0. As I watch her walk around the house in my shoes, I’m reminded to journey carefully. Try my best to ensure I leave footprints that I don’t mind her following. To build her up so well that she never feels inadequate or the need to compromise her morals for attention. 

I went to church and began cleaning my house when I got home. I’m reminded of an epiphany I had while sweeping the floor. I was thinking about how I normally despise cleaning but it felt therapeutic this time. Then, I pictured Martha. How frantic she was trying to get her house together. Jesus was in her presence, yet she gave priority to chores. (Luke 10:38-42) I gave the broom to my son, a little bothered by the fact that I had to tell him to take over. Started setting up for my brunch then decided to stop and spend some time with God. He gently reminded me that this day was for me, but everything is not about me. 

I don’t know your story. You may have children, or lost one. Maybe you’re battling infertility or just trying to make ends meet as a single parent. You may be a mother figure or pillar of support for the mothers in your circle. Maybe you don’t have a great relationship with your own mother. Pause. Release that toxicity today. The gift of forgiveness is the greatest thing you can give yourself. 

Know that you are appreciated. If your family does not recognize your hard work, I see you. I honor you and I love you, mama. 

“If we are going to heal, let it be glorious.”

*God’s plans are ALWAYS better than our own plans for our life. What you may consider to be a detour or setback, it could be the very thing that propels you towards your destiny. 

From Nothing to a Masterpiece

I’m an artistic person although I’m overly critical of things that I create. I have always had a love for the arts. I’ve been writing stories since Kindergarten, dabbled with singing (I am NOT a singer haha) and played three instruments. I grew up surrounded by my mom and aunt drawing, painting, writing poetry, designing clothes-anything creative, they did it. So, it was no strange thing that I’ve been wanting to express myself through painting for the last several years. The problem is, I had never painted before and I’m no good at drawing. Still, it’s like I could see the finished portrait in my mind.Whatever it may be, I knew it would be beautiful.

One day, I was browsing paintings for my daughter’s room and came across a little Black ballerina. Something told me to do a sketch of it. Okay, maybe it was me being frugal when I saw the prices of all the paintings I liked. [Sidebar: I’m the DIY queen when something is outside of my budget. End Sidebar] I started drawing the picture thinking that it would not be great, but I would try it anyway. I was shocked when the drawing came out perfectly.  I thought to myself, “I may be sitting on an undiscovered talent and that’s why I kept feeling the urge to paint. It no longer wanted to be hidden.” How often do we bury our gifts, meanwhile planting seeds for others to cultivate theirs? I decided that it’s time I start tending to my own crops, so I can eventually reap a bountiful harvest.

In 2013, I purchased a voucher for wine and canvas as a birthday gift for my sister, but never made it before the voucher expired. Three years later, myself and a group of friends surprised her with a Paint Night to close out her birthday celebration. A friend and I arrived long before everyone else. I was a bit drained, because we had just finished a women’s retreat an hour earlier, that I helped to coordinate (this is key for the revelation I received while painting). I had no idea that I would gain so much from the retreat. In fact, I feel that I probably received the most out of all the attendees, but I also feel that I was willing to go there and do the work. I did some big girl soul searching and root digging. I left with my heart pure and vision clear. I felt free and weightless. It was a purge I never saw coming, but was right on time. To top it all off, one of the workshop facilitators, Melissa Mitchell gifted me with a painting that she used for her session. When I saw the painting, I saw myself. More importantly, the take away from her circle, was that everything we need to be successful as women–the lives we want to build, the businesses we want to start, etc.–everything we need is in our hands. That experience created a space of gratitude and receptiveness. My heart was W I D E open.
 
IMG_5255-1While waiting for our party, I noticed an easel across from me that had my initials on the bottom right hand corner. The painted letters were identical to my handwriting. I took this as a sign that our festivities were much, much more than a ladies night out. It was personal for me. I began to think about all of the work that God is doing in and through me. I envisioned all of the special things that were placed deep inside me that have yet to be revealed. I got really emotional about my purpose in life. I am not here by accident. I pondered my true calling. I reflected on the diamond that I’ve become under pressure and accepted the multifaceted layer of my being. I have so many dreams that may seem like polar opposites, but they will all blend together to work towards one common goal: I’m passionate about making a difference in the world. The message became loud and clear to me: As complex as I may seem, I am a work of art.

The Paint Night crowd was a bit more rowdy than I would have liked, but I did not let their IMG_5265-1noise distract me as I focused intently on my portrait. Everyone in the class were supposed to do the same painting under the direction of an instructor. Although, we had the same task, each finished product was unique to the painter. That’s a lot like how we were formed by the hands of God. We were all made in His image and likeness, yet we have our own customized color spectrum that makes us who we are. We may have similarities of phenotypes, but genetically we are one in a million.

While I am far from being able to call myself a painter nor is that profession anywhere on my radar, I learned a few lessons from this experience:

  • Just try it: I would have never known my abilities if I did not try. Sometimes, things happen in our lives to stir up our gifts. Stop talking yourself out of doing something. Stop worrying and over-planning it. Take the first step. Got a business venture you’ve been sitting on? Write out your business plan. Design business cards. Get out and network. Do SOMETHING.
  • Cultivate your gifts: Like a farmer, you must spend time taking care of and growing that special thing that you were blessed with. Practice makes perfect, so have at it. Find your passion and then master your craft. Identify that wow factor that sets you apart from competitors.
  • Stay focused: Limit your distractions and never give up. Netflix and chill after the grind.
  • Be flexible to change: I noticed that I had to frequently change the size of my brush to achieve certain results. A lot of times I had to wash my brush and start over with a new color palette. It’s okay to start over. Fresh starts can be revolutionary to your journey! The instructor told me there is no such thing as messing up. That gave me the green light to relax, break the mold and paint outside the lines when necessary.
IMG_5256-1
Not bad for the first time, eh?

Painting was therapeutic for me. I literally felt the presence of God and was reminded of His love for me. I had to frequently reel myself back into the conversation my group was having because I was so caught up in my picture.

This is the year to follow your dreams. It seems that everyone in my circle have reached their breaking point career-wise. Tired of the limitations placed on us while working in corporate America. We no longer want to be bound by fear or doubt. The funny thing is, everyone in my circle are creative in some way. We are all in alignment to take a leap of faith and get outside of the box.

I am ready to take my blank canvas and turn it into a masterpiece. I’ve been saying that this is my year of harvest. Guess what? According to the season, it’s officially Harvest Time! This is the most labor-intense activity of the season, but it also calls for celebration. What seeds have you planted this year? What seeds do you plan to sow? It is time for you to reap the benefits of sharing your gifts with the world! No better time than the present. Let’s get it!

Melissa Mitchell’s art can be purchased via this link: http://abeillecreations.storenvy.com/?page=1