Is It Time To Let Him/Her Go?

Whenever the seasons start to change, I think about what, and who I need to let go. Relationships take work, and it can be a challenge to figure out and establish relationships norms. Sometimes, you have to make a decision to let someone go, and to no longer be a part of your life.

How do you know when it’s time to let someone go (friends, romantic partners, etc. )

1. It doesn’t feel good to be in their physical presence. You feel discouraged, unhappy, anxious, stressed, etc. in their presence. The vibe or the feeling that you get is probably strong. It may also be evident when your feelings change immediately before engaging with the person.

2. The individual is the common denominator of “mess” “stress” or drama in their own & potentially in your life. Generally there is a pattern of behavior that keeps being repeated over, and over, with different people.

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3. The person is verbally, emotionally, spiritually or physically abusive to you. This could also include manipulation. Abuse of any kind is not acceptable. Take the necessary steps to ensure your safety and security, and seek healing if you have been abused.

4. You’ve attempted to help the person & they are not heeding your advice (or the advice of others). You do not have the capacity or the responsibility to help everyone, especially those who are unwilling to change or make adjustments.

5. The person is a “suicide bomber” who doesn’t have anything to lose or care for. They are destructive & volatile & its only a matter of time before they destroy you or things that you care about. Be careful with people who are willing to do anything to hurt or harm others. That same venom could eventually be turned on you.

6. The person doesn’t respect the boundaries that you’ve established. They call or text when you’ve asked them not to. They share confidential information with others. Express your desires and your feelings, and if someone doesn’t respect that, it may be time to let them go.

7. The relationship is one sided. You seem to be the only person investing in the relationship or friendship. You feel used, depleted or taken for granted.

8. Other people that you love & that love you express concern or notice red flags and it may be more than just one person in your life. EVERYBODY in your family isn’t crazy, or “hating.” People that love you may pick up on things you can’t see. Especially if you are “blinded” by love.

9. The person is regularly dishonest with you, so the trust has eroded, and non existent. Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship. Once trust is violated, it requires great care to rebuild it.

10. When you think about the future, you envision yourself and your life better without this other person. Close your eyes and imagine your future. Do you have positive or negative feelings when you consider the other person’s role in your future?

Tips For Being A By Blessing Parent/Mentor

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Caption: Me with King Ron (one of my favorite young people & our favorite host) & DJ Mike P. I met both of them when we worked together on Teens in the Park (TIP) Fest. 

One of the most important roles that I have is being a bonus mom. I take this role very seriously because (1) I do not have biological children of my own yet and (2) I believe that it is a part of my purpose on this earth. My first career was that of a teacher, largely because I have always enjoyed helping people to get from a place of not knowing… to knowing. Even now as an Executive Director, a large part of my job is to teach, to share, to facilitate.

I had breakfast with one of my by blessing suns DJ Mike P today. Mike and I met a few years ago when he was selected as an influencer for Teens in the Park (TIP) Fest and Donda’s House was selected as a partner. I was quickly impressed with Mike’s professionalism, his energy and his work ethic. We’ve been inseparable ever since. Mike is now the official DJ on WCIU’s “The Jam” and is probably the youngest DJ on TV right now.

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Caption: Me with another one of my by blessing songs Hex Hectic

On my way home, I started thinking about what it means to be a bonus mom and wanted to share some tips for those who find themselves as bonus moms or bonus dads.

(1) Understand that your by blessing children have biological parents. – As a step mom and mentor to many, I never want to replace or overshadow biological parents. I also never want to contradict them. I see my role as more of an assistant coach or an accessory to my by blessing children’s lives.

(2) Consistency is super important. – The most important thing you can do is be consistent. Show up when you say you’re going to show up. Check-in when you say you’re going to check in. Honor your promises and your commitments.

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Caption: Me and my step son Solomon, who will be 20 this year! I’ve known him since he was 10 years old [insert dramatic ugly cry]. Where has the time gone?

(3) Be an accountability partner. – Learn about your by blessing child’s goals and dreams and help them in any way that you can. As an accountability partner, your goal is to make sure they are doing what they can to make their goals and dreams come true. If they are not, it is important to redirect them. If you notice someone around them is shady or may be taking advantage of them, warn them just as you would your own biological child.

(4) Check in regularly. Life happens fast. Don’t wait until there is a crisis to catch up. Share funny messages. When you think about them send them a text or give them a call.

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Caption: Me and John The Author, another by blessing sun! 

(5) Celebrate milestones. When they accomplish amazing things celebrate with them. Mark birthdays, weddings, and other life milestones. Share experiences from your own journey including your milestones. It’s super cliche but true – experience is the best teacher!

(6) Be vulnerable. Share pieces of your journey. Your challenges. Your mistakes etc. You don’t want your by blessing child to think that life is perfect. You want them to learn how you address challenges and problems so that they can take pieces from your journey and apply it to their own lives.

 

After Cupid Shoots You: A Reflection on Love

I LOVE love & celebrating love. I had a huge work event today & enjoyed watching the social media posts of all of the couples. As I typed up my message, I started really thinking about love & what it means to love.

1. Love is not always neat & easy. There is this myth that once you fall in love you live “happily ever after.” Loving someone (and yourself) through the darkness can be difficult. We humans do not always yield to our highest good. Sometimes things get out of order in relationships & it takes hard, collaborative work to put things back in order

2. Love & relationships are a slice of our identity pie. We are so much more than girlfriends, boyfriends & spouses. The best relationships try to honor the fullness of our humanity & allow us to explore the many facets of our identity beyond the insecurity, guilt & shame of living & expressing our whole selves.

3. No two relationships are the same. I enjoy learning from people who have been married longer than Che & I, but I don’t seek to duplicate or imitate them. Relationships are as diverse as the paint on the walls in our houses. You have to come to an understanding with the person(s) you’ve committed to & move on from there.

4. Needs & tastes change over time. As you & your partner grow & change, so will your relationship. Your partner may need certain things now that they didn’t need even a year ago. Communication is key to navigate this successfully. When couples can’t navigate this it often leads to break up or divorce.

5. Assume nothing. Don’t assume that your partner knows that you love them. Don’t assume that your partner doesn’t care about something. When in doubt ask. If you can’t prove it confirm it to be true, then release & move on.

6. Your partner may not express love the way you want, that does not mean they don’t love you! I love fresh flowers so much I started buying them for myself. I don’t expect my husband to give me flowers. He enjoys giving other types of amazing gifts. If you want something, instead of twisting your partners arms, just purchase or gift it to yourself.

7. Keep people out of your business. Don’t complain to other people about your spouse. It leaves the door open for them to eventually complain about your spouse. People are not neutral & they have their own baggage. If you & your spouse can’t handle it, consider going to a minister or therapist. The therapist is great because he/she is usually neutral & can be trusted by both parties. Others will usually have a bias.

8. Try new things together. The brain craves novelty! Work with it by “pre- arranging” the novelty. Don’t wait for life to create it for you! Jump in front of it!

Remember that love is beautiful after Cupid shoots you, but it’s still a shot!

It’s A New Dawn So I Cut My Hair!

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I have probably rocked every hairstyle imaginable – from the Jheri Curl of my pre-K years, to beads and braids, to the locs I wore from age 16 – 24. When I turned 24, I got tired of my locs and decided to have them combed out as I craved versatility.

From there I went to sew-ins, box braids, Senegalese Twists and faux locs. My motivation for hair care has always been whatever is easiest in terms of maintenance. I enjoy my hair looking nice, but I’ve never wanted to be the one to do the maintenance myself. Even when I had my locs, I went to a loctician who would retwist my new growth and put my hair into various styles including rod sets and loc buns.

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Caption: For bad hair days, or when I don’t feel like being bothered I always rock my The Wrap Life wraps. I have about 15 of them of both the Traditional African Fabric and the solid colors. 

Around November of last year, I started getting that itch that it was time to do something else. I can always tell when it was time to get my hair done because I can’t keep my hands out of my head. Not to mention, many of the hairstyles that I was wearing, if I washed my hair the hairstyle wouldn’t look as good. Eventually the hair holds a weird odor, plus I started to get oily build up.

Many of the hairstyles I wore were considered “protective styles” meaning they were meant to protect your natural hair. However I started suffering from hair loss around my perimeter and started getting even more concerned. I’ve tried every growth treatment known to man and nothing was working.  I’ve even rocked frontals with sew-ins.

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Caption: Me before my cut. Super nervous but ready for the change. 

During my research I came across Razor Chic of Atlanta. I lived on her page inspiring by the women who had the courage to make such a drastic change to their appearance. I decided that I was going to cut my hair and that it had to be done by Razor Chic of Atlanta. I also decided to relax my hair. My natural curl pattern is so tightly coiled that with my workout routine and lifestyle, it was nearly impossible for me to manage. I booked my appointment and my travel arrangements and decided to make this change just before my birthday (which is Sunday, January 21st). I haven’t had a relaxer since I was 14 years old! Exactly 20 years ago!

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Caption: Razor Chic doing her thing. Side note: I need a ring light lol. 

Razor Chic confirmed for me many things that I knew intuitively and I’ve already learned so much and it hasn’t even been 24 hours.

(1) The braids and the weaves were too heavy for my hair. I was told to never wear them again to avoid any further damage.

(2) Wigs don’t allow the scalp to breath and in order for the hair to grow it needs Oxygen, All I could think was that most living things require Oxygen, why would my hair be any different?

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(3) It’s incredibly liberating to let go of things that are dead. I wasn’t sure how much of my natural hair we’d keep and how much I’d have to let go. There was much more dead hair than I anticipated, and now I can basically start over.,

(4) Confidence is key! No matter what you decide to do, hold your head up high and own it.

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(5) I’ve always had a love affair with accessories and now I get to showcase them. All of my earrings and necklaces were buried under my weave.

(6) Now that my scalp is breathing, I feel like my brain can breath.

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(7) My nighttime routine is so much more simple. All I have to do is sleep on a satin pillowcase. No bonnet. No scarf. It’s the simplest evening routine I’ve ever head.

(8) In the morning all I have to do is shake and go. No curling irons. No elaborate time consuming processes. A little spray sheen here and there. A quick comb and I’m done.

(9) My features are popping in all of their glory and I’m happy about that. I can see my cheekbones, my jaw line and I feel good.

(10) Razor Chic gave me several products that will help me maintain my own hair and make it healthier. Shampoo, conditioner, wrap lotion and even a special hair growth treatment for my problem areas.

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Razor Chic recommended a stylist for me in Chicago that I will see periodically to maintain my style. She told me to commit for at least one year to the cut so that I can see what my hair will do, before deciding to do anything else.

This was one of the scariest decisions I’ve ever made but I jumped. I’m thankful to my husband who supported me 100% and I’ve received so many wonderful comments on social media.

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Just wrote the first page of Chapter 34! Thankful to God that I’ve been able to revolve around the sun 34 times and hopeful for more blessings, courageous acts and radical acts of self-love and acceptance.

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Couple’s Field Trip: Oriental Institute

“And as an mc you will study verbal magic
But watch what you say ’cause you’ll attract it
Control your subconscious magnet from pullin in havoc” – KRS-One

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Che & I decided to visit the Oriental Institute to check out the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead Exhibit. One of the pillars of our marriage is learning together. For the last year or so, I have been studying Metaphysics, Reiki and Energy pretty heavy. As I get older I am concerned with alignment of my mental, physical, spiritual and emotional energies as well as growing my capacity to be a better human being in all ways. I’ve had glimpses of experiences where I’ve been in total alignment and I’d like to make that my norm. I also have high blood pressure. In addition to changing my diet, increasing my physical activity and transforming my relationship with stress, I have been interested in holistic approaches to addressing.

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The Ancient Egyptians basically used the Book of the Dead to guide the deceased person into the afterlife. They believed that if a person could navigate the afterlife, pass the judgement of Osiris and the other Gods, then they could attain immortality.

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Here are some of the notes from the exhibit

“Osiris, his sister wife Isis, and their son Horus, formed one of the primary divine triads of ancient Egypt. The trio evokes the epic myth of Osiris involving his murder by his brother Seth, his mummification by Isis, and his redemption by Horus. Through the spells in the Book of the Dead, ancient Egyptians sought to emulate Osiris by triumphing over death. They assumed his identity in spell 69 by reciting: “I Am Osiris, brother of Isis, while my son Horus with his mother Isis, saved me from my enemies who do everything evil against me.” The dead gained their Osirian form as a result of the appropriate funerary rituals, which ancient texts described as “giving an Osiris to” someone.

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“They believed that language and writing were imbued with magical power and that reciting and recording such declarations would make the statements come true.”

“Like all of us, the people of Ancient Egypt wondered what would happen to them after they died. to alleviate the anxiety about our human mortality, a life-affirming religion developed in ancient Egypt that emphasized the possibility of immortality – an everlasting life in the hereafter among the gods. Each Egyptian needed to undergo the proper rituals of embalming and burial to ensure their continued existence in the next world. Magical spells of ritual power accompanied these rites. So powerful were these words that Egyptians wanted to take the spells with them to the grave. To do so, they gathered the spells into a compilation we now call the Book of the Dead.”

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In addition to using papyrus, “spells” were also inscribed on other items including linen bandages, amulets, coffins, sarcophagi, statues, stelae and the walls of the tomb.

“To the ancient Egyptians, these spells were called the ‘spells of going forth by day,’ a reference to the ability of the soul to leave the tomb at dawn.”

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“The Book of the Dead, then, is a grimoire of magical incantations intent on resurrecting the deceased, and turning them into a powerful immortal spirit, called an akh in ancient Egyptian. As an akh-spirit, the dead joined with the sun god Re as he sailed in his solar barge across the sky during the day and with Osiris as he ruled the netherworld at night. Living relatives often petitioned the akh-spirits of their ancestors to intercede on their behalf in earthly and spiritual matters, for akh-spirits were divine entities like other gods.”

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“The ancient Egyptians sought to change reality by speaking words out loud while performing accompanying ritual actions. Through the power of magic, they believed that saying it made it real.”

IMG_7896“The heart was the seat of thought for ancient Egyptians and carried with it the memories of the individual. In the afterlife, the dead recited spells against their own heart, using magic to maintain control over it to prevent the revelation of any misdeeds in the tribunal before Osiris.”

“Ancient Egyptians employed Book of the Dead spells for over 1,500 years from the Second Intermediate Period (ca. 1700 BC) down to the Roma Empire (ca. AD 200). Afterward there was a rise in a new set of texts called the Books of Breathing. These Books of Breathing represent the las stage of Egyptian funeral literature before the Christianization of the country in the third and fourth centuries AD.”

The thing that I will take away from me from this exhibit is the power of the written and spoken word, and the importance of documenting culture in a sustainable way. My fear is that as we rely so heavily on technology that future generations may not be able to easily access our cultural artifacts. I also think that one can and does achieve immortality through legacy. Lastly, there is nothing more humbling than standing in a room of artifacts that predate not only your existence but that have endured for thousands of years. I can only hope that something that I, or that we create lasts that long!

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We were also excited to see the Ancient Nubia Exhibit with CRYSTALS!!!! Nubia was originally called Kush.  There was lots of jewelry that included Carnelian, Quartz, Shells & Rose Quartz.

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Our First Face to Face Meeting

This morning I had to pick my husband up from Midway Airport. The funny thing about that was that after speaking on the phone for a month, our first face-to-face visit was at Midway Airport. So we decided to retell the story and re-create the moment.

We have different versions of what that day was like, but almost 9 years later, I’m just grateful that we can still make each other laugh, and smile until our faces hurt. Before Che, I prayed for and craved that type of love. I’m thankful that God answered my prayers. Enjoy this candid video: