Are You Ready to Say Yes to the Dress?

Every woman desires marriage until it’s time to actually be married. Let me tell you a secret: The wedding is easy, it’s marriage that requires work. It’s all fun and games until the reception is over. A lot of women gather all of their prettiest closest family members, friends and sorors to stand beside them during the ceremony. However, the bridal party is not only meant for partying and getting the bride down the aisle.

Every woman needs a trusted set of individuals who can pray with and for her. I have a tribe that can offer sound advice and talk me off the ledge when I’ve been ready to call it quits. (Oh, I’m not talking about you. I know your marriage is perfect). Women also need friends that won’t judge them if they take longer to walk the aisle or never marry.

I think that our society places so much emphasis on the dress that the woman underneath the veil is oftentimes unprepared after she says, “I Do.” I learned the hard way that it is impossible for me to be the wife God called me to be or that my husband needs me to be if I am operating out of my  flesh. PAUSE. That’s a tough pill to swallow.

Let’s talk about marriage God’s way. Disclaimer: If you are not a believer, you can still benefit from the foundation of marriage that the bible portrays. If you consider yourself to be a Christian, you will likely find yourself teetering between agreement and anger. At least that’s how I felt when I first read about submission LOL. Be prepared to swallow your pride.

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By nature, I am sweet and considerate of other’s feelings. I love pouring into women and sharing my story with them. I strongly believe that I can offer at least a glimpse of hope to another woman by my transparency.

How does this look in a relationship with a man? The same way, until he says something I don’t like. “Who does he think he is talking to?” My solution has always been to just end the relationship. Dump him before he dumps me.

 

 

I never had any real plan on facing problems, just a short term solution of running away from them. That doesn’t necessarily work in marriage. I have been forced to face my insecurities and deal with them. Marriage God’s way holds a mirror up to you both. Your spouse reveals a reflection of your spirit that you would otherwise ignore.

I believe in protecting my space and only having people around me that emit positive energy. You know…GOOD VIBES ONLY! I have gone through too much and worked to hard for my peace. Then, I read about Paul in 2 Cor 11:16-33. I guess I haven’t went through THAT much after all. And the crucifixion? Jesus makes my problems, issues, past betrayals etc. seem minute in comparison. Suddenly, the “cross” I carry does not feel so heavy.

What has #wifelife revealed to me? I had to face the music that I tend to be passive aggressive until I reach my breaking point. Then, I turn into The Hulk on PMS. I’m not Ms. Perfect. Not by a long shot. I know that I can have a bad attitude. I do not like being told what to do if I already know it’s my responsibility. I despise being micro managed or controlled. I’m grown, so I can do what I want to do, right? Wrong.

I’ll maintain a straight face, but chances are, this is what I’m thinking.

I have become enraged for the smallest things. Sometimes, I am angry and I don’t even know why. I can blame hormones, my past, or I can take a step back and check my heart. This is different from negative self talk. This is doing the work to journey through self love and healing.

 

 

Recently, I was praying and pouring my heart out to God. I had to quiet my spirit and ask Him to reveal the source of the emotion I was feeling.  I heard clear as day: I cannot intervene if you keep getting in my way. Let ME talk to him. The same love and attention you desire from him is what I want from you.

Suddenly, it dawned on me that as long as I am doing what I am supposed to do, I am honoring God. When I step outside of those parameters, all hell breaks loose. Literally.

Do I know that my husband loves me? Yes. Does the enemy still lie to me and tell me otherwise? Absolutely. We have different love languages but the enemy will use that to communicate division. This is why I have to stay in constant fellowship with Christ and like-minded individuals.

I can show the love of God or turn people away from the faith through my actions. This goes for my household and everyone else I encounter. Even for people I don’t realize are watching me.

I went to a Marriage Retreat with our church earlier this year. The speakers burst my bubble when they revealed the following: I am to submit to my husband whether I feel he deserves it or not. There were no exceptions listed in that scripture. Being submissive does not mean that I get bossed around or walked on like a doormat. We are very much a team. And when I feel like he is being a jerk, I have learned to shut up and pray about it. God always softens his heart a lot better than I can. God will either reveal to me the source of the disagreement and give me peace, direct me to talk to my husband at the right time or remain silent. In that time, He also deals with my wrongdoings as well. This is not a sign of weakness, but of resilience and strength.

So, there you have it. It took me almost a decade to learn so that I can save you lessons of remediation. Submission is not a choice nor does it equate to weakness or inferiority. What are your thoughts on this?

Daniel Fast Day 21

When you have an infection, your doctor will prescribe a course of antibiotics to complete for a number of days. Oftentimes, the dosage is twice per day to ensure your immune system is strong 24/7. The physician instructs you to continue taking the medication even if you start to feel better before you finish. If you fail to do so, then you risk the chance of not only becoming sick again, but the antibiotics will not be effective next time (the organisms that made you sick would have developed a resistance by then).
This is how we should look at our walk with Christ. There are times when we will feel extremely low and discouraged. People tend to pray more and do everything right during these times, but most stop once they receive the desired results. How many have ever said, “Lord, if you just get me out of this situation I won’t mess up again” like me? These are the times I would try to cross all the biblical Ts and dot all my Is more than ever. As I matured, I realized I had it all wrong. Truth is, “I can’t do anything for Him to love me more nor can I do anything for Him to love me less.” Shaylin J. via Romans 8:38-39
The danger in being a situational worshiper is when things are on the mend, you no longer thirst for the word. It’s amazing how much people praise when they are living comfortably. They walk around saying the joy of the Lord is their strength when really it is their nice cushion of savings in the bank. As soon as they are facing financial difficulty, everything they normally profess suddenly changes to words of defeat. Recently, I realized the shift in my mood when I had to pay a large bill as soon as I got paid. My “joy” should have never been in the money to begin with. Chase Bank is not my source.
Confession. I can be pretty extreme. I began this fast needing some divine intervention. Desperate to hear a word from heaven, I dove head first into this thang. What was clear to me is to be careful of only praying when I am sad, stressed, worried, angry, etc. Our relationship with Christ should not be based on our feelings only. We have to get to the point that we trust God even when our emotions tell us otherwise. I am learning to trust when the facts of what I am going through seem to outweigh my faith. This can be difficult, because I am super analytical. However, our faith needs to be based on who He is, not what temporary situations portray. Faith is believing in something you cannot necessarily see, anyway. It is visionary in a supernatural sense.
Remember, faith comes by hearing and hearing the word of God (Romans 10:17). As you increase your devotion time, your faith increases.
Do not commit yourself to God only when you want something. You cannot manipulate Him into blessing you. Neither can you perform or pay for blessings—they were already paid for on your behalf when Jesus went to Calvary.
In life, the rug can and will be repeatedly pulled from under your feet. But if you are standing on the rock, it can never be moved. Stand on the promises of God instead and you will have unshakable faith. (Jeremiah 17:8). No matter what is going on, we have to make a conscious decision every single day to trust that all things are working for our good. The Bible tells us to count it alllll joy (James 1:2). Everything. No exceptions.
Maintain a cheerful spirit. Laughter is medicine. Continue to sacrifice and spend time in communication with the holy spirit even if you start to feel great, because it will prepare you for the next attack that comes your way. (Ephesians 6:12) You will build up a resistance to the enemy that will force HIM to flee. You will be able to run towards your giants instead of running away. (1 Sam 17:24, 45-50)
Our creator, the Great Physician, wants us to pray without ceasing. The greatest revelation I received from this Daniel Fast is this:
Read and pray at least twice per day to ensure your spirit is strong 24/7. It doesn’t have to be a whole chapter or a super long prayer. You just have to set the time aside. Never find yourself too busy to spend time with your Father. You can also use supplemental resources like spiritual books/prayer guides, but they are not to be a replacement. The attacks will come, but they will not prosper. The tests and trials will happen, but you will be victorious. Thoughts of doubt and fear may try to creep in, but you will have enough word in you to rebuke them (2 Corinthians 10:5).
I wish you all the best this year and pray that each day you wake up, you are closer to living in your purpose. Be intentional for God and watch Him change your entire life!

Daniel Fast Day 1

However, this kind does not go out except by prayer and fasting. Matthew 17:21

I’m not really concerned about the elimination of certain foods. I don’t even have an appetite now. I’m looking forward to the spiritual nourishment that I need. I’ve been feeding myself appetizers and snacks but I need a four-course meal. Better yet, a buffet. I need to binge on the word because I’m facing some giants that can only be defeated through fasting and prayer. I’m ready..

Revelation: Get to the root of the problem in order to solve it. Address underlying issues and don’t be afraid to face them. Words hurt. I put too much energy into trying to change a person’s thoughts or perception of me. Their opinions and views are not my business. When someone says hurtful things to me, I can replace the lies of the enemy with The Word. I can override negativity by listening to who God says I am. That’s exactly what Jesus did in the wilderness after being tempted by satan. Those same ministering angels are waiting to assist me, but I have to first resist the enemy.

No Gym Membership, No Problem

We have all heard the phrase, Summer bodies are made in the winter. I love to cozy up beside the fireplace with my boo and a movie. Now that I live in the south, I find myself eating more comfort foods, but as a result I’ve packed on extra pounds.

I am typically a fair weather exerciser. There is something about the sunshine that gives me an added boost of energy and makes me want to go for a light jog in the park. When it’s cold outside, you will only catch me running to and from my car to quickly get warm again. However, I cannot afford to wait until the Spring to get active. Neither can you. More and more young adults are experiencing heart related diseases.

Come January 1st, gyms across the nation will be bombarded with new memberships. Sadly, statistics show that only 80% of those new year resolution sign-ups will fail by the second week of February. I love my gym, but I don’t always like going depending on the day. I have decided to compile a list of exercises that can be done from the comfort of your own home. That way, there are no excuses!

1. Commerical Break Ab Blasters

I don’t watch much television, but when I do, I end up binge watching my favorite shows. 90 Day Fiance, anyone? Instead of sitting there the whole time, take advantage of commercial breaks and sneak in two minute abdominal work outs.

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2.  Thick Thighs Don’t Save Lives

The thicker my thighs became, the more my knees hurt. Aint nobody got time fa dat. Also, I need my dimples to stay on my face, not on my behind. What’s up with all this cellulite out of nowhere? So, this exercise is great for glutes, thighs and lower abs (flex and keep your belly button sucked in). Related image

3. Eight Count Body Builders

That’s what we called this exercise in the Marine Corps. I hated it then, but love it now because it literally targets your muscles for a full body workout. Get some!

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4. JumpStart Your Fitness Goals

Good old-fashion school yard cardio. All you need is a minimum of thirty minutes, three times per week for heart health. You can find an inexpensive jump rope from Target, Walmart or your local sporting goods store.

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5. Light Weights:  Arms

As if sweeping the floor, lugging around laundry baskets and detangling your hair isn’t enough :-/. If you don’t have light weights, grab two canned foods from your pantry. Works just the same.

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There you have it! Let’s take better care of our temples and lead healthier lifestyles. I wish you an abundance of blessings this Holiday Season and a Happy New Year.

All my love,

Ciara

Purpose Over Popularity

“Don’t love the world’s ways. Don’t love the world’s goods. Love of the world squeezes out love for the Father. Practically everything that goes on in the world—wanting your own way, wanting everything for yourself, wanting to appear important—has nothing to do with the Father. It just isolates you from him. The world and all its wanting, wanting, wanting is on the way out—but whoever does what God wants is set for eternity.” 1 John 2:15 MSG

I’m not here to judge anyone. I have a lot of things that I am working on and praying for God to change. I recently got very angry and cursed. I felt convicted immediately. I didn’t even know those words were still in my heart and I repented right away. The very next morning, the verse of the day, Ephesians 4:29, was about foul language. Ouch

I can’t condemn you, only God can do that. What I will do is share revelation that I’ve received during my personal prayer and meditation time.

Memes like this have been circulating around the internet basically making people comfortable with the way they are. Which leads to being comfortable with sin, because, “The Lord knows my heart.”

What happened to 2 Corinthians 5:17/Romans 12 becoming new creatures and being transformed by our minds? Why are we becoming more and more like the world when The Word is clear that we are to be set apart? Jeremiah 1:5, Psalm 4:3

Come as you are but at some point you should make lifestyle changes. That way, we can be an effective witness.  Keeping our spirits pure is essential to discipleship. You may think you can tolerate whatever filth you entertain, but know that every seed of wickedness that’s planted will grow. It can manifest in different ways like anxiety, depression, anger, lack of patience, etc.

In spiritual warfare, we need to be aware of what we are fighting against, be prepared by wearing the full armor of God and exercise the power we possess over the enemy. Luke 10:19, Ephesians 6:10-18

We can reach people in dark places without compromising. We can share our testimony, thereby planting a seed for God to water, without mirroring whomever we are trying to lead to salvation.

When Jesus traveled to preach, never once did He become like everyone else to be relatable. He routinely went against the status quo and did not care about what people thought about his unorthodox teachings. He set the standard to which people wanted to emulate.

We are called to be like Christ.

Stop trying to be like them, and be more like Him.

Years of Remediation & Lessons Learned

 

Social Life: This photo is hilarious now that I feel better. It’s the perfect depiction of my mood ever since the solar eclipse. I went from feeling super anxious & wanting to isolate myself, to not feeling like I had enough people in my corner. I was mad at everyone. “Why don’t people call and check on me? I’m tired of being the strong one all the time.” I show up for people in a major way but don’t always feel that it is reciprocated for me. *This statement does not apply to my entire tribe.

Love Life: I thought my husband wasn’t hearing me on a few issues but the last two weeks showed me that he’s actually been very attentive. He knew my desires without me having to say anything. Shout out to all the women who were hurt and decided to love again. Shout out to the men patient enough to learn them, love them & stay committed to growing with them.

Work Life: I have been so darn frustrated at my job. I teeter on the edge of wanting to quit like every other day. I know that my presence there makes it a better place and I am making a difference in the lives of those I encounter. But do I really want to keep “saving a life” at the expense of my own? I do not feel like I am living my best life. I feel like I am just existing and I don’t know what to do about it at this point.

Lesson Learned: Repetitive obstacles shed light on underlying issues that need to be resolved. It’s not always a matter of what the other person has done wrong. Certain things can be indicative of something that YOU have not healed from. For example, I grew up in a household where children were seen and not heard. As an adult, whenever I felt like my point wasn’t being heard, it triggered the frustration I’ve felt all my life about communication. So, I would end up exploding. I spent so much time in my marriage thinking HE was the sole source of our communication problems, never considering what I could have done differently. *Don’t waste years of your relationship repeating the same mistake.

My job is a source of income but it is not my destination. I have to remember that my discomfort is temporary and that this season is necessary to go to the next level. There is a reason I was assigned this task and I must be the light even in the midst of darkness. Le sigh.

I had a patient that was practically alone, but had one visitor who introduced himself as Mr. John Doe’s really good friend. I’m sure John Doe never thought he would outlive his spouse, daughter AND grandson but he had a friend in his corner to help him through the  most difficult time of his life. This reminded me to take time to nurture my friendships. I’m so used to pouring my all into work and family that I don’t realize when I neglect my girlfriends.

What you think you don’t want or keep pushing away may be exactly what you need.

Family Feud

Remember the infamous Jay-Z and Solange elevator incident while Beyoncé looked on? There was no audio, so no one except the parties involved, their loyal confidants and God know exactly what happened in those intense moments preceding the 2014 Met Gala.

Speculation centered around Jay’s infidelity judging by the look of an unbothered Beyoncé. She never jumped to her husband’s defense which  made people think that Solange was defending her sister’s honor and Jay deserved whatever blows he was dealt. Pun intended. Others said maybe Solange was in a drunken rage and this was a regular occurrence of family drama between the  always polished, prim and proper celebrity power couple. Days after the elevator surveillance video was leaked, all three released a joint statement to the Associated Press:

Jay and Solange each assume their share of responsibility for what has occurred. They both acknowledge their role in this private matter that has played out in the public. They both have apologized to each other and we have moved forward as a united family. The reports of Solange being intoxicated or displaying erratic behavior throughout that evening are simply false. At the end of the day families have problems and we’re no different. We love each other and above all we are family. We’ve put this behind us and hope everyone else will do the same.

That’s commendable. Not only did all of this play out in the public, they maintained their dignity and respect for each other. Kissed and made up. So, if they can do it why can’t we? Celebrities fear people getting close to them with the intent of learning intimate details about their private life and selling information to the tabloids. But some regular folks betray their loved ones for free. It boggles my mind.

Art imitates life. With the duo’s latest album releases, Lemonade and 4:44, both albums were more than likely loosely based on their life–or not at all. Hashtag plot twist. I’m sure their experiences helped shape the musical genius that was created, but I highly doubt the notoriously private couple pulled the curtains back on their marriage just to make more money.

If the elevator incident was because of marital strife, this is a great example of the aftermath of venting to your family. While you may be completely over it and back to living happily ever after, ya mama, auntie, brother, sister, cousin, Pookie and them are still upset from the last time you and bae had a disagreement. And now there’s tension all over again.

The thing that I love most about The Carters is regardless of what happens behind the scenes, the only negativity you read about them is always from outside sources. They aren’t taking shots at each other even if they have every right to do so. No one is putting the next person on blast.

That’s unity. That’s love. Because, after all….no one wins when the family feuds.

 

Look Up!

In California, we lived in a townhouse at the bottom of a hill for six years that wasn’t very appealing on the outside and way too small inside. My dream home was at the top of that hill. Whenever I would feel discouraged on the way home before pulling into my subdivision, all I had to do was look up for motivation. The cost of living was expensive, but I never stopped dreaming for more.

In hindsight, the whole looking up thing had nothing to do with a house. I am reminded of the scripture that says, “I will look to the hills from which comes my help, my help comes from the Lord.” Psalm 121

The same house that I thought was out of reach because of its half a million dollar price tag, is now mine with a larger yard. God did it.

In comparison to the townhouse, our new family room is the same size as our old living room, dining room and kitchen combined. Just think of what I could have possibly blocked had I stopped believing for more or refused to look up during difficult times.

The crazy thing is I was not planning on shopping for a house when we started the process, yet we were blessed to build one. God did it.

It all began with a seemingly insignificant thought to inquire about a community. This reminds me of the importance of being spiritually connected to the Vine. Your relationship with the Father determines the quality of your thoughts.

I am believing for even greater, the same way God made so many other things possible for my family and I. Our new house is just the beginning. It was never about anything materialistic; The blessing is the ability to speak things into existence and the manifestation of my prayers.

Stay encouraged and remember, always look up!

The Dangers of Social Media

Run at your own pace

I read a post the other day that said: Stop comparing your life to someone else’s controlled content on IG. The author hit a home run with that meme.

I always come across profiles of superwomen that seem to have it all together while I am falling apart. I’ve seen women that, regardless of their profession, can give your favorite model a run for her money. I don’t have a clue about makeup, but apparently that’s a prerequisite to post a bomb photo. Here I was thinking my twist outs and dimples are sufficient. Tuh.

I can’t keep up with the DIY queens and creative gurus. I can’t sew and I don’t have time for Pinterest. I have a few staple meals that my family loves and when we are at the table I’m like ohhhhhh yeahhhhhhh. But I can easily start to feel like my cooking is sub par. I’m not a gourmet chef and that’s okay.

Don’t get me started about the hashtag “iwokeuplikedis” underneath a glamour shot. Meanwhile, I wake up frantic because chances are I’m running late since I hit the snooze button one too many times. I probably have dried up drool on my cheek and my hair is a mess. No Egyptian cotton or satin sheets here.

Winning looks different for every person and happiness has a different meaning for each family. I’m lucky if I can get to work on time, shave my legs and clean my house. Winning to me is cooking dinner at a decent time. Remembering to switch over the load from the washer to dryer, AND folding laundry the same day it was washed. Remembering my to-do list for the day.

Baewatch

What may look like the picture perfect relationship can actually be two people holding on by a thread. Last year, DJ Envy and his wife participated in a twelve days of Christmas scavenger hunt of extravagant gifts and love notes. They take a lot of vacations with their beautiful family. While the masses are all googly-eyed and deeming their relationship as #goals, DJ Envy has always been very open about cheating on his wife.

Whitney Houston sang about good love. Well, Papoose and Remy Ma are the face of hood love. But what about the fact that he waited for her while she served a several year prison sentence?

While looking forward to a Barack and Michelle Obama companionship, you have to be willing to go through some tough times together. Everything is not always what it seems on the outside. Social media has a way of highlighting the joyous moments, and leaving a false expectation that marriage is perfect. No one likes to talk about the work and constant willingness it takes to honor your vows. True love is a never-ending journey of forgiveness and compromise.

I believe that our generation misses out on a lot of memorable moments, because we are too busy documenting everything on Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook. Heck, even the next President can’t control his urge to Tweet lol.

It’s almost like people have become subconsciously competitive with each other to see who can best portray living the life. Even when someone is supposedly being transparent and caption a photo about how their life is not so perfect, the photo usually is.

One can easily get discouraged from comparing themselves-especially when it’s a false lifestyle they are envious of. Even I had to stop worrying about what everyone else was doing. I used to get depressed around graduation time, because I’ve been in school forever. I would feel that my goals were taking too long while I sat on the sidelines and cheered my friends on. It’s hard to celebrate moments in sheer happiness when comparison, the thief of joy, creeps in and reminds you: But what about me?

I guess I have said all this to say, try inspiring someone instead of bragging. Call or text that negative person on your friend’s list who may actually be crying out for help. Humble yourself and be who you “post” to be.

Stay classy my friends. Happy scrolling.

 

Holiday Toy Shopping: Representation Matters

I took a Sociology class last year that investigated the correlation between dolls and racism. The study revealed a preference for the white doll among all children, internalized racism and self-hatred in African-American children, likely the result of segregation.

elfTaking a trip down the toy aisle of any major retail store, you will find a distinct difference between the availability of white dolls in comparison to brown dolls. Privilege. I went shopping for an Elf on the Shelf, a popular Christmas tradition for young children to be on their best behavior, in San Marcos, CA. I searched three different stores in my neighborhood for a brown Elf before being told that they are only manufactured in white. Privilege.

I couldn’t believe that I was experiencing white privilege while toy shopping. The sales associate tried to brush me off until I demanded he check the inventory for stores within a 15 mile radius.  I also suggested that he not offer information that he was unsure of. I had already checked online and knew for a fact that the brown option was available.

princess

Last year, I was shopping online to take advantage of Cyber Monday deals. As a mother of a little girl, I was super excited to find that Target had a Disney Princess 7-pack of dolls on sale. At first glance, I noticed that Princess Tiana was not in the group. Bummer. Then, I realized that ALL of the ethnic princess were noticeably absent from the 7 pack of dolls-major deal breaker. Privilege. Why does toy shopping for minorities mean not inclusive?

I searched Target’s website today and only found a $99 Shimmering Dreams collection of Disney Princesses. However, Walmart still has the original gift set. I did complain last year and posted my dissatisfaction to all of my social media accounts, encouraging my friends to do the same. I’m not sure if it helped or if Target simply discontinued the product. Either way, I look forward to a day where all of our children can feel important and represented.

Target is not the problem, it’s Disney that I had an issue with. It’s bad enough that it took so long for them to make a movie about a Black princess (I’m not even going to get into the horrible story line). I found it strange that the set included Elsa, although Frozen was released four years after The Princess & the Frog. Privilege.

Disney has recently announced their newest Princess, Moana, a Pacific Islander. I’m waiting to see if she will make the cut for the classic gift sets this year. My guess is that it’s highly unlikely.

Barbie is guilty of this as well. Their white dolls are usually adorned with all sorts of accessories and come in different careers/characters. For black dolls, selections are already extremely limited and depending on the area you shop in its worse. Upscale shopping areas will have more white dolls available.

White privilege is being able to go shopping for your children and not worry about finding suitable toys that represent your family whether it’s skin color or hair type. White privilege is being able to shop at upscale stores without possibly limiting your purchase options. White privilege is always having toys that portray your race as the norm..

This topic may seem insignificant to the average American without children. However, it represents a larger problem within society. Representation matters for all children. I know that it’s not completely up to toy manufacturers for children to be comfortable in their own skin, but it can certainly help. Body image is another thing that must be tackled to do away with perfection, but that’s an entirely different argument for another day.

I want my children to choose the toys that closely resembles their own skin. Thankfully, my son loved hot wheels and was never into action figures because that would have been an issue for me, too. I want my daughter to feel that black Barbie and baby dolls are just as beautiful as the white dolls. I wish I can go back and undo the time I had to encourage my four-year old daughter to embrace her curly black hair and not feel ostracized because all of her classmates and their dolls have straight blonde hair. Heck, I just want my daughter’s brown skin to finally be normalized.

Signed,

A Fed Up Mama

 

*Sound off in the comments section and let me know about your experiences with toy shopping this season. Thank you, for reading. <3