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“Toxic people will not be changed by the alchemy of your kindness. Yes, be kind, but move on swiftly and let life be their educator.” – Brendon Burchard
When I was little girl, I found a bird with a broken wing outside the front porch of my grandmother’s house, where I was living at the time. I had to be around 7 or 8 years old. I vividly remember asking myself, “how is it going to eat,” and “where is it’s mommy?” because the bird looked like a baby. I ran into the house to grab my orange pumpkin.
I filled the pumpkin with grass and carefully scooped up the baby bird and placed it inside. For the next week or so, I went out hunting for worms to feed the bird and with each passing day, the bird started getting stronger and stronger. Eventually the bird was healthy enough to fly on it’s own. We went outside and I sat it free in the woods behind our home. It was a defining moment for me, because from that day forward, I’ve always had this deep desire and need to care for & nurture other things – I enjoyed babysitting when I got a little older and took great joy in serving as a mentor in High School. As I got older, I started to realize that (a) not everyone wanted help & (b) helping some people could put my own happiness, peace, financial security, safety & health in jeopardy.
There are some people, that no matter how good intentioned or knowledgeable you are, will not accept your help. When I was a teacher, I had a student who had trouble reading. This student was in High School, reading at a 2nd or 3rd grade level. When I attempted to intervene, I was brushed off and told that the student was on his/her way to becoming a professional athlete & didn’t have time for tutoring. In this case, this was a parent who told me essentially to back off. I continued to provide the support that I could within the classroom and backed off from pursuing additional support out of respect for the parent. It broke my heart, but it was a situation that was out of my control.
Sometimes, people have mental, emotional or spiritual challenges that are beyond the scope of your ability to address their challenges to provide them with help. The individual(s) may not have control over their behavior. This may include people with diagnosed mental or emotional illnesses like schizophrenia or bi-polar disorder. This may include people who self-medicate through alcohol and drugs. People may need therapy, medication or other support, but we don’t have the professional expertise (or the licenses) to help them with their challenges. The best thing you can do in those situations is to recommend professional help (especially if you know the person has been diagnosed). It can sometimes be harmful (and insensitive) to try to diagnose a person – but if you care & have built a relationship of trust with the person, perhaps you can suggest you’re willing to join him/her for an appointment with a professional.
If you are a person with a documented medical condition that may impact your relationships and friendships, you may want to consider informing people so that they can support and advocate for you. Let them know the symptoms, the triggers and how they can best support you. There unfortunately is still a large stigma against people with mental health conditions, so please be sure that you are sharing the information in a way that won’t be harmful for you and in the case of employment, be sure that you are documenting things so that your employer can protect and support you. At one point in my life, I had both night terrors & I went through a period where my attitude was extremely bad. I could have certainly been written off as “toxic,” “attitudinal,” “ungrateful” or any other number of labels. Through the right support, I was able to address my internal challenges due to surviving a sexual assault, ultimately minimizing the negative effects on others & myself.
Moving beyond those who have difficultly controlling their behavior due to no fault of their own, are those who are intentionally hurtful, disrespectful, messy, etc. You know you are dealing with a toxic person if:
(a) Your mood instantly changes for the worst when you’re in their presence
(b) They make you feel uncomfortable & if you had a choice you wouldn’t be in their presence.
(c) Multiple people feel uncomfortable and don’t want to be around them.
(d) You feel heightened anxiety or stress when you have to communicate with them.
(e) They are always negative and question your positivity, optimism or goals.
(f) They bring out the worst in you.
(g) They try to isolate or separate you from your family or friends.
(h) Other people feel compelled to “defend” you or “speak up” for you in their presence.
(i) They want to tell you negative things that other people have said about you (especially when it is unbalanced and they don’t have anything positive to say).
Our instincts are a powerful tool. We can sometimes “feel” the vibe or energy of a person or space. Our instincts are always correct, but we should certainly pay attention and look into the “vibes” and “energy” reads we receive.
Sometimes there are people that are so unhappy or so destructive – I call these people “suicide bombers” because they are willing to not only destroy other people, they are also willing to destroy themselves. They have nothing to lose, leave a trail of burned relationships & are so consumed with themselves that they can’t even comprehend (or don’t care to see) how their actions may be harmful to innocent bystanders. There is also usually a pattern. Many of their relationships end in a similar fashion.
If you are generally a kind person, you believe and look for the good in people. You are open-minded and open-hearted and that is ok. Being open-minded and open-hearted is unfortunately a petri-dish for emotional manipulation. Toxic people can be masters of emotional manipulation! My rule of thumb is generally that people get three chances, unless they are suicide bombers. If I notice the characteristics of a suicide bomber, I immediately remove them from my life because anyone who is willing to destroy themselves will & can ultimately destroy me. For people that get multiple chances, with each incident I try to address it with the person and share my perspective & hear them out. If they continue to disrespect, intentionally hurt or offend me & other loved ones I put up emotional blocks. As we rebuild the trust, eventually the emotional blocks are removed. Remember, you do not have to attend every argument you are invited to, and as an adult you have the power to decide who will be a part of your life, and who won’t!
I collect quotes via Pinterest. I love this quote because sometimes we “glam” out things that are problematic. I think this is especially true with social change and poverty alleviation. Sometimes we need to cut through the “glitter” to see what we’re really dealing with and answer some hard questions about our real goals and impact.
This past weekend Donda’s House participated in Lake FX, the Midwest’s Largest free expo artists and entrepreneurs. We had a vendor table so I’m always looking for creative ideas to make our table more engaging and visually appealing.
Follow me on Pinterest to see my other boards & grab some inspiration!
Gardening always feeds my spirit. There is something very healing about digging in the dirt, caring for plants and creating a nice environment using nature.
This year I decided to go with purple, blue and white plants, the purple in honor of Prince. Here is what I did today:
Pardon the weeds. I will deal with those the next time I do yard work in the next two weeks. I was so excited to see my Hosta’s that I planted last year coming back! I have to have special gloves because some of the weeds have prickly leaves that pierce skin.
I still have to pick up my hanging baskets for the porch. I also want to add a tree or two to my porch. I may also plant some more flowers in pots this year. It all depends on what I see when I go to my favorite plant nursery.
I also updated my fireplace with cute summer pieces:
I also picked up this cute “S” book from Michaels for my bookshelf.
I also had an amazing bath using my Lush Bath products. I’ll share more about that later!
I truly enjoy planting seeds! If you’re celebrating Mother’s Day, I hope it’s been a relaxing and enjoyable day for you!
I was an early adopter of Pinterest. Even before Pinterest, I used to collect magazine and design book inspiration into massive binders. Pinterest is a visual “mood” board in a sense and there are thousands (maybe even millions) of users who also collect images there.
Every Sunday, I’m going to share my favorite pins of the week.
Style Pantry is one of my favorite e-fashionistas. I recently purchased a vintage pair of high waisted wide leg pants, and I’m looking for inspiration on how to style them. A button up silk blouse would be nice.
Our First Lady is my style icon. I love this look so much!
I’m always on a quest to get better organized and I love imagining my dream closet. I’m not a fan of white wood. I currently have white wood in my kitchen and its hard to keep clean but the chandelier is stunning! Looks like an orchid or a sea creature.
Another cute closet inspiration. Bookshelves can be used to store more than books. This actually looks like something made for the bathroom that was repurposed into a handbag organizer. My goal is for my closet to look like a little boutique. I’d definitely borrow this look!
For all of these pins you can follow me on Pinterest to see my curated collection!
Some people seemingly have it all… great careers, great partners, great health & great attitudes. The truth is, everyone is fighting a hard battle.
Every year for Mother’s Day, I send the mothers in my life, my mom, my grandmother, my mother-in-love (I don’t use the term mother-in-law) and my aunt cards and gifts. I know for a fact that I would not be the woman that I am today were it not for the incredible women who showed me how to wear a slip, wiped away my tears when I came home from school after being called “big nose,” and followed along with a finger as I attempted to sound out words as a five year old.
So much of me – my literacy, my fierceness & my “Donnie-ness” I owe to my mothers & mother-figures. It is incredible to have an entire day (really weekend) devoted to the mothers & mother-figures in our lives because God knows they deserve it. However, on December 9, 2011, Mother’s Day would take on an entirely different feeling for me. It was the day that my first pregnancy ended – at 5 months.
“Do you have any kids?”
“The moment you stop thinking about it, is the moment you’ll get pregnant.”
“God will bless you to be a mom one day.”
“Are those your kids?”
“You’re young, you still have lots of time.”
“If Janet Jackson can get pregnant, you can too.”
“You can adopt.”
“Have you considered a surrogate?”
“Are you guys still trying?”
(Note: all of the quotes/questions listed above have been said to me in 2016).
After December 9, 2011, – I’ve also housed two more babies in my belly that didn’t make it to their earthly birthday. We’ve chosen three names… I’ve daydreamed about three baby shower themes… I’ve collected co-sleepers and baby gates – all gifts from people who gave me things when I was pregnant. I’ve forced a smile whenever I’m told I’m going to be a mom one day. I’ve purchased maternity clothes. I’ve made phone calls, sent e-mails and whispered my excitement about the BFP (“big fat positive” pregnancy test) and sometimes when no one is around I hear my babies, all three of them calling me “ma” “mommy,” “momma.”
I can’t imagine anything more tortuous than smashing all of your life goals & dreams and being unable (at least until this point) to no fault of your own to have the one thing you want the most – a biological baby that you conceive in love, incubate for nine months and birth with the love of your life and your best friend. Pinch me – if it can be done without ovulation tests, shots, and a calendar with your “high fertility” days.
You wish there was an “it’s complicated” button for motherhood.
You wonder if Siri can respond on your behalf sometimes.
You fall to your spiritual knees often crying out to, negotiating with and seeking the comfort of your God – sometimes the only one with the answers (or silence) you seek…
On this Mother’s Day, I want to say “Happy Mother’s Day” to all of the childless Mother’s in the world. We carry scars that few people see, but I want you to know that your baby(ies) were here for a reason and the scars do get lighter with time…
Thank you to Casey May, for the inspiration to write this piece.
Caption: Photo Courtesy of Boss Babe’s Instagram: http://www.bossbabe.me/.
When I was a little girl, I believed that anything was possible…
My cousins and I used to make up dance routines because we were going to grow up to be professional dancers. Our routines were complete with costumes, grand entrances and exits and props – including chairs and stools.
I used to do competition double dutch because I believed that I was training for the Olympics. My brow furrowed, my hair flew all over the place, but none of that mattered, because I was willing to do whatever it took to win!
I used to try on careers like costumes… using my day dreams and my imagination to try things on for size… the secretary… the assassin… the professional poet…
Caption: Me trying on ballet as a little girl!
Something happens to little girls & little guys. We put on the coat of fears handed to us by other people.
“Do you know how much money that costs?”
“I don’t think you should do that…”
We walk in the shoes of doubt, sometimes following in the exact same steps of the original owner. Walking toward a path of mediocrity, disappointment and regret.
I want to remind you, right now, that the little girl or little guy in you is still in there. Waiting for you to give him/her permission to dream.
As adults, we don’t have the barriers that we had as children. We create the life we want based on our habits, decisions and executing our goals! Don’t disappoint him or her. S(he)’s waiting for you to make her(his) dreams a reality!