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.

 

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. 

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.

 

OG Mamas Need Love Too: What to expect while you are raising children

I’ve been searching the web for years to find a motherhood blog that I can relate to. I’ve only come across blogs for expecting mothers or blogs written by newbie moms with babies and toddlers.

I might find something for school aged children, but nothing for tweens and teens. I always feel left out. What about the OG mamas? Ya know, the mommies that have been around the block and back. The Veteran moms that can use a little support from time to time. The moms that are not privileged enough to stay at home or work from home.  The moms that were once trying to figure out what to expect while they were expecting and are open to advice long after childbirth.

Parenting plans, just like birthplans, often fail. You may have an idea for discipline, but every child (much like every pregnancy) is different. You simply cannot have a one-sized-fits-all approach to parenting.

One day, I had an epiphany that maybe I need to create what I am looking for. I have no idea what this will look like in the long run, but I sure as heck will try to make it work.

I know that I can’t be the only one that experiences some of the joys realities of parenting. It’s all fun and games while you’re staging monthly photoshoots to capture your baby’s first twelve months of life. And then they grow up and stuff just ain’t that cute anymore. No one tells you how to deal with a five year old that lies. Or that raising a teenager can be both fun and challenging. Add in a blended family from different cultures and that’s a whole lot of mixed emotions.

Sure, my children are my biggest blessings but it does get hard at times. I would love to hear the stories behind the highlight reel as one of my favorite bloggers often says. It takes a village to raise a child, but I spent a lot of time feeling like I let mine down.

Two halves of my heart

After years of trial and error, I am ready to help other mothers cope with different parenting styles and techniques. What are some of the things you wish you knew before you became a mom?  Sound off in the comments.

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

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

Cherish Each Day

I made a lot of plans for Labor Day weekend to close out the summer. The first set of plans were cancelled due to Hurricane Hermine. My back up plans were cancelled after I suddenly fell ill and had to be admitted to the hospital. I would like to walk you through my thoughts and revelations while I was literally fighting for my life. 

I work in the Emergency Room and it’s nothing like I thought it would be. I’m learning that I get way too attached to my patients. Not Izzie from Grey’s Anatomy attached, but more like Miranda Bailey-tough shell, soft heart-attached. It has taken a toll on my body to say the least.
On Friday, September 2nd, I was assigned one-to-one observation for a patient that arrived with a knife. He was checking in for mental health reasons, but he’s a veteran which tells me he’s also a trained killer. You may think I’m being pessimistic, but I think it’s being realistic. My stress level was through the roof. It was the second time I had to care for a patient with a weapon. While I was not in any immediate danger, the thought of that possibility frightened me. He told the triage nurse that he was suicidal and homicidal. Police were contacted, but had not arrived yet. What if he was not honest when staff asked him about weapons? The first time I had a patient check in with weapons was a month ago. He came in with a loaded gun, extra magazine of ammunition, knife, nun-chucks and who knows what else.
I’d been having severe migraines since August 20th and chest discomfort 9/1-9/2, but I kept pushing. I would tell myself things to refute the truth. Things such as…..Oh, it’s just really bad acid reflux/gerd from that Chinese Food-you know better than to eat that garbage! Maybe the headache is sinus pressure. Or from my glasses. Or from the filtration system in the hospital.
I came up with every excuse under the sun about what I was feeling. When I got home Friday night, I expressed to my husband how excited I was to be off work for a three day weekend. I vented about my rough week as usual. I had become accustomed to that routine. On a regular workday, I am mentally drained, but when I know I’m off the next day, it seems I run on adrenaline. Hubby just looked at me and bodly said, “I don’t know why you’re still there. I’ve been waiting for you to leave, but you must know what you are doing. I don’t think it’s worth it.”
Saturday night, September 3rd, I felt short of breath every time I walked in addition to the chest discomfort. We made a quick run to Target to get a birthday gift for my daughter’s friend. By the time I left the store, I didn’t feel right. We got to the friend’s home and when I tried to get out of the car just to say hello, I felt dizzy. I was so delirious I told my husband I would just stay in the car but he saw my face and took me home right away. Then, I began to have palpitations. I decided it was time to seek medical care. Grabbed a blanket, some footies and opted against extra clothing or my phone charger.  I figured I would be in and out. I wondered if I was a hypochondriac and considered not going. However, this feeling was weird. It did not quite feel like a heart attack, but I couldn’t say that it wasn’t my heart.
On the way out of the door, I told my husband to let our son know that we would be right back. For a split second, I thought to myself that I should go tell him. Then, I remembered that I had already told him that I love him before he went to his room. I stood on my porch staring into the dark, praying that I would see the light of day. I had no idea what was going on with my body. We finally got on the road and two miles into our trip was stopped by a long line of cars waiting for a train to go by. Imagine having chest pain, shortness of breath and being delayed on your way to get help. I started crying lol.
I went to urgent care, because I’ve had similar episodes of chest discomfort before and was told it was “just anxiety.” {insert side eye here} When I arrived, medical personnel hooked me up to the monitor and so the story begins.

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Knocked smooth out after that Morphine injection lol

My heart rate was in the 40s and systolic blood pressure was upwards of 130. My baseline (normal) vital signs are as follows: Pulse Rate-low 60s, Systolic Blood Pressure-no more than 110. This means that my heart rate was significantly lower than what it’s supposed to be and my BP was elevated. The doctor kept stressing that active people such as marathoners are known to have a low resting heart rate. Nah. I’m not that active. This wasn’t normal for me. I told the doctor of my 2012 Lupus diagnosis and was subsequently transferred to the hospital for admission.
While riding in the ambulance, I felt like I was having a panic attack. I made the paramedic sit beside me and talk to me; I felt alone and scared. (Hubby trailed the ambulance but I couldn’t see anything from inside). I arrived at the hospital and was briefed on my status. My intake doctor basically said that he wanted to redo labs because my liver enzymes were elevated. That normally happens if you have hepatitis, suffered a recent heart attack, or have some other kind of liver disease. I knew that hepatitis was ruled out and my Troponin test (helpful in identifying an active heart attack) was negative. My crazy behind was in the hospital looking up my lab results from my phone smh.

It was a very long night and since we got to the hospital at 3am, I was exhausted. As soon as I finally dozed off, the nurse runs into my room and wakes me up. She asks if I’m okay while putting a nasal cannula on my face. Once again, I’m scared, because… Just because. Why do I need oxygen?! Note: You cannot be a control freak and trust God at the same time.Apparently, my heart rate dropped into the 30s while I was sleeping. Now, I’m legit having a panic attack. Here’s the thing. I’m Advance Cardiac Life Support certified and the first thing I thought of was, “OMG that’s grounds to begin life saving interventions.” With eyes WIIIIIDE open, I sat up in my bed and suddenly was no longer sleepy. “Nope, not today. I aint going to sleep and not waking up. Not yet. I’m not ready. I have way too much to do.” My husband and I prayed together and specifically asked God to lead the doctors. To keep His hands on me and heal my body.

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Bedside reading in the hospital

 

The daytime doctor arrived early Sunday afternoon and discussed her plan of action. I felt peace in the fact that she was beyond brilliant. Plus, I understood medical terminology, so that eased my anxiety. She was an internal medicine doctor, well studied in widespread diseases and knew exactly how to treat my medical condition. For starters, she confirmed that my symptoms were in fact a lupus flare with labs instead of making assumptions. Most doctors look at me and because I’m young, healthy, fit and have no risk factors, they take shortcuts. *It is imperative that you advocate for your own health.

She started me on round the clock anti-inflammatory medication followed by steroids. I received two injections IN MY STOMACH to prevent blood clots. I drank a cocktail that had Lidocaine in it. Felt like my throat was closing and I was being choked whenever I swallowed. I can’t forget that the urgent care nurse gave me Morphine and I straight up lost it. That was the craziest interaction I’ve ever had after receiving a medication. My entire body felt like it was being paralyzed, my head became flushed and hot. My vision became blurred and speech slurred. It was a legit Twilight Zone feeling. Again, I had absolutely no control and had to trust God. Wholeheartedly. I began to feel better and my family kept me in good cheer. However, the funsnatcher Patient Care Tech would come in to do another set of vital signs and the realization repeatedly set in that my heart rate remained too low-in the 40s.
My faith went through so many highs and lows. Each time I saw those numbers I would sink into fear. At one point, I just sat on the bed and cried. I tried to hide the tears and even turned away from my children because I just couldn’t understand it. The whole time, my husband kept reminding me to remain faithful. Whenever I lost hope, he was right there encouraging me, never leaving my side.

 Proverbs 3:5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart 
and lean not on your own understanding.
 
I had to stop looking at the vital signs machine, throw away all of the information I had learned in my eight year tenure in the medical field and trust God. It. Was. Hard.
 I had to believe that I would be okay even though I did not feel okay. I placed my hands on my chest and prayed. I have power to lay hands on myself for healing, but what happens when you have to wait? What happens when your deliverance is delayed? I would soon find out :-).
I finally started making phone calls to family to let them know what was going on. I did not want anyone to worry, and I certainly did not want to call them until I had knowledge of my diagnosis. I had the biggest, most powerful circle of prayer. I knew I was loved, but jeese. The outpour of love I received was so very special. I am a firm believer of giving people flowers while they are still here. I know for a fact, prayer is what kept my heart going–slow as it was, it was still going nonetheless. Before doctors could determine what medication to give me all we had was prayer. When my body was not responding to medications we stood on prayer. I had people praying for me that I don’t even know. I had people praying for me that swore off church and religion. People prayed for me that thought they did not know how to pray. I prepared to face another day in the hospital and awaited results.
Monday morning, I got up and began posting inspirational pictures, replying to text messages and just surfing the web. Hubby asks if I read my bible, yet. I replied, “My plans aren’t good ones this time and I have to make myself read out of obligation. I like when I thirst for the word and can’t stop reading. I asked you last night to send me some of yours or give me recommendations.” He remained silent but that gave me the chance to correct my stance. Here I was bed-ridden and complaining about my reading plan not being captivating enough to hold my attention. Like, was I really in the position to pick and choose when I would read? Especially, when I normally read first thing in the morning. Ummmm, find a new plan. Duh! So, I started a few new plans, but the first one I read was soooooooo good tears of joy began streaming. I was much more confident that I would be okay and God would restore my health. Here’s an excerpt: “I am the beginning, my love. I am your beginning. There is nowhere else you need to look. There is nothing else you need to chase. I speak to your heart-in whispers. This moment now, my dear. This moment now. Each breath a testament to my life in you. I am right here, in the middle, child. You are held, and I can’t ever let you go. Let me show you what it is for us to do together. I have good plans for your life. Cling to me. I am steadfast. Cling to me. I give you words. Cling to me-a life of prayer, each thought and action in accordance with my spirit in you. You are not alone.” So, I did just that. I decided to let go of fear and cling to God. Tightly.
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Preparing to go home, by faith.
After reading and journaling, I washed up and let my hair down. I prepared to go home by faith, although I had not been given medical clearance yet. Hubby kept saying we would be discharged because he already made it up in his mind when he picked up our children and packed two outfits for me.”We aren’t staying a third day, you are in the tail end of this.” Me: I know, but my heart rate is still low. Him: You will be okay, you’re going home today. He was constantly reminding me to get my weight up and exercise visionary faith. Every time staff came in with unwelcoming news, he immediately rebuked it.
By evening, my doctor asked how I was feeling and orders for the Pulmonary team to measure my heart rate and oxygen while walking. For the first time since Saturday, my heart rate shot up to 75 beats per minute. I kind of stood there in shock and disbelief. When it finally hit me, I’m like OMG let me take a picture! The rest of the evening, my heart rate gradually improved, so I started packing. When I got official notice that I would be discharged I just repeatedly thanked God.
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I did not know if I would leave that hospital alive. That’s how bad I felt and how bad the reality of my situation was. Lupus had attacked my heart, lungs and liver. Guess what triggered the flare? Stress. I know that this is a lengthy post, but I really felt the need to share every detail. I hope that my story helps someone. I pray that you listen to your body and do not allow chasing dreams, or money or anything else get in the way of what’s really important. Most importantly, I hope that whatever it is you have been putting off or procrastinating to do, you decide to DO IT NOW. Once I realized my life was at stake, I immediately thought about all the things I had not done, yet.
 
Live each day like it’s your last. Proverbs 16:9 We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.

Lastly, about two weeks ago, I decided to make a purchase from the Women of Faith nonprofit tshirt campaign I started to raise funds for homeless women. When I got home, my shirt was in the mailbox.  It’s the first official sell, too! The very thing I created to help someone else, turned out to be a blessing to me. The same goes for my pulse oximeter/pulse rate monitor. (A long time ago, I had a patient that presented with a collapsed lung, but all of the pulse oximeters I could find at work were broken. So, I purchased my own to never be in that situation again.) My husband was able to monitor me throughout the night while I slept. Furthermore, the same selfless care I give my patients was returned to me. I had thee best team at Atlanta Piedmont Hospital. 
 
This past Sunday, I was praying that I would live to see another day. My birthday is this upcoming Sunday–I’m about to have an epic celebration! Let’s not even talk about the praise dance I’m about to do in church haha. The best gift God could have given me was another day and an increase in faith. I will never ever ever ever ever take another moment or person for granted! As I struggled to breathe, it became so much more clear to me, that each breath really is a blessing. I’m still here.
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By faith, I am healed <3
This year my birthday is super special, because I almost did not make it. You wanna give me a gift? Help me to pay it forward for another woman. So, for a limited time, I am offering the Women of Faith tshirts at a reduced price.
Enjoy 15% off by following this link:

All my love,
Ciara
 

Blessings x Seven

Yesterday, my husband and I celebrated our anniversary. It was nothing short of amazing and I STILL can’t form the words to adequately express how I feel. Normally, I plan our celebrations but this year I was dragging my feet. He kept asking if I decided where we were going before finally saying that he would make plans for us this year. I could tell he was as excited as I was which is a rarity.

On the flip side, this past week has been extremely emotional for me. I’m normally reflecting on how much we’ve grown through the years as a married couple. However, this year I thought about how many more celebrations we would have, considering I’m married to a Black man. An overwhelmingly crippling fear fell on my shoulders as I watched  the news chronicle the unjustified killings of two African American men. Because of my stupid settings on Facebook, I even came across video of both of them. I don’t think I can ever get those images out of my mind.

We have been planning to expand our family, but this week I wasn’t so sure about that. Do I really want to bring another child into this world? What can I do to ensure the safety of my family? I remember being pulled over by two racist cops with my children in the back seat a few years ago. I remember shaking with fear as the cops lied about why I was pulled over, and how humiliating it was to do a sobriety test, even though I don’t drink.  It was very clear to me that I was being harassed. Trying to maintain control and not cause my kids to panic, I took that moment to educate them on safety and etiquette when approached by the police. It’s crazy that I even have to include that “lesson” as part of parenting. There was absolutely no reason for them to stop me. No expired tags, no speeding, no busted lights, nothing…just the fact that I was a Black woman driving through an upscale, predominantly White neighborhood.

The bottom line is that these things happen as a direct result of hate. You can only overcome hate with love. I told one of my friends how much the murders bothered me. So much so, that I lost my appetite and was unable to sleep. She replied, “It’s very important to be whatever it is that you would like to see more of. If you want to see more love, then you need to become love. Everyone is asking what they should do, but the real question is what are you being?” That resonated with me throughout the weekend, as I began to shift my focus to love. Careful not to forget about what happened, but intentionally spending more time on positivity. Up until that point, the reality of racism had consumed me and it was painful.

The itinerary hubby had planned for us could not have come at a more perfect time. I always ask him for flowers so he made sure I was surrounded by them.  We went to a sprawling estate with gardens
and trails and an abundance of nature…all of my favorite things. On the way there, he said that it could be our regular weekend getaway if I liked it. All that he wanted me to do was to stay focused in school and be motivated at work. (Meanwhile, all I want him to do is come home safely every day).
The property was so huge it literally looks like an entire city. The best part? I love butterflies and have held a very dear place in my heart for them since 2001. I was able to actually see the process of metamorphosis which  in and of itself is breathtaking. Then, I opened the doors of the observation room to a tropical paradise of butterflies EVERYWHERE.
I told him that I am hereby resigning from planning any future dates. He completely outdid himself with our anniversary celebration. It’s so ironic that I spent the entire week really worried about him as a Black man, yet the plans he made for OUR anniversary were really for ME.

What does police brutality have to do with my anniversary? I kept thinking to myself that spending time with your significant other, father, brother, uncle, cousin, friend, son, etc. should not be like rolling dice. Getting in your vehicle or walking down the street should not be an involuntary game of Russian Roulette.

Sadly, things like this happen because people choose to view the world through clouded lens of corruption.  So, what can you do to uplift a man that is constantly put down by society? You can make sure that you are not a part of the problem. You can treat him with respect and shower him with words of affirmation. You can celebrate love in the midst of a world that’s driven by hate. You can be his refuge after a long day of battling against the odds and stereotypes. You can plant your feet firmly, rooted and grounded in faith, grab hold of his hand and tell him that you are in it for the long haul. When his back is up against the wall, you can pray your way through that wall until he can see the glory on the other side. You can bet your bottom dollar that Black love aint going nowhere.