No More Playing Small…

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” ― Nelson Mandela

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Today, I participated in a panel on WCIU’s The Jam TV Show as an expert for job hunters. This opportunity came to me because of a social media post I made a few weeks ago about hiring talented people. Anyone who knows me knows that I’m usually a behind the scenes person. Don’t get me wrong, I can speak live on camera, but when given the option I usually push other people forward to speak, and only speak when I have to.

I was also joined by two powerhouses on today’s panel, and two women I have deep admiration and respect for – Adrienne Samuels-Gibbs and Kris Christian.

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Today I made a decision that I will no longer play small.

When given the opportunity to highlight my accomplishments, my plans or my voice, I will seize it.

When someone sees something good in me that I may not see in myself, I will be gracious and receptive, instead of dismissive or reductive about it.

When someone advocates for me, I will respond to that advocacy with affirmation and confirmation.

When the next step toward my dream is visible, I will take it and will not feel guilty about it or feel bad about it.

When a person wants to take a photo with me, I will pose with great posture and serve face, hip and lip.

I will nominate myself. I will write myself in. I will show up for myself.

I will walk in my calling when I hear my name called.

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You can watch the full segment here.

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Thank you to Producer Melissa Perez for the invitation!

Note: I am wearing my signature Crystal Ball Bracelet in Pyrite + Amethyst, as well as a necklace from Love Peridot. My custom jewelry and accessories can be purchased here.

 

 

How To Practice More Self Love

According to the National Science Foundation, “the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are exactly the same repetitive thoughts as the day before.”

What this means is that every single day, the average person is thinking the same ugly, disturbing thoughts about themselves, other people and the world. This also means that we are basically repeating the same cycles, living the same life and going through the motions every single day.

I am here to interrupt my regularly scheduled program, and yours too. The human brain is a POWERFUL mechanism… think about all of the things that exist because of its brilliance! From the time I turned 25 until about now, I’ve been on this intense path of rewriting my script. I am now 6 months away from my 35th birthday, and now more than ever, I have this intense desire to share what I’ve learned.

How To Practice More Self Love

  • Write a love letter to yourself.  What do you love about yourself? Why are you proud of yourself? When was a time that you came through for yourself in a bind? What makes you beautiful? What is something that you have or can do that no one else has or can do?
  • Write down affirmations and at regular intervals read them. It is not always easy to just think positive thoughts. Sometimes we need tools. Take some index cards and copy down words of encouragement and positive affirmations. Take them out of your bag and read them at the top of every hour. Read them before meals. Read them when you first wake up and when you go to bed.
  • Listen to music that is affirming. Create a playlist of songs that are inspirational and motivational. I have a few of these playlists and will type them up and share them out later this week. I’ll share three of my favorites. “Flawless” by Beyonce. “Satisfaction” by Eve. “Brown Skin” by India Arie. Make these songs a regular part of your routine to combat the negative thinking that happens.
  • Express love and gratitude to others. When someone does something nice for you, send them an e-mail of gratitude describing what they did and how it made you feel. If someone inspires you online, send them a DM or a message about how grateful you are. Gratitude opens up the portal for more blessings, not because you’re going to necessarily get anything new, but because you will start to realize the many ways that your life is abundant… that your prayers are being answered… that your life today is better than it was yesterday… a week ago… five years ago… Gratitude is like putting on another pair of glasses. It changes everything.

So those are the nice and somewhat easy ways to express self-love. Here are more ways to express self-love that may be more challenging. At least these have been more challenging to me.

  • Saying no. Peer pressure is a motha. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve agreed to something or said yes just because I wanted to save face, not disappoint someone or not hurt someone else’s feelings. No is one of the first words that we learn, but it is also one that as we get older we start to use less and less. You have the right to determine how you want to spend your time. Who you want to spend time with. The other person will live… and so will you.
  • Allowing your self the grace of changing your mind, walking away or opting out. This is an extension of saying no. Sometimes how we feel today is not how we feel tomorrow. Circumstances change. Our energy changes. Our needs change. If something is not right for you, you have to right to exit or leave it alone. Now you have to do this with great sensitivity because everything that we do impacts other people, but do what you need to do. If you are quitting your job, and there is a two week notice, don’t quit today out of spite (unless your safety or health is at risk). Give them the two weeks notice and move along gracefully and graciously.
  • Value what you bring to the table. Don’t undersell yourself or cut yourself short. If your time is worth $1,000 an hour, then that’s what it’s worth. When I am going into a situation where I have to negotiate, I sometimes write out a list of what I’m bringing to the table and a dollar amount for each. I have an idea of what I’m willing to accept at the minimal and why. This is something that doesn’t just work for me in my head. I literally have to write it out in advance of the negotiation and before making a final commitment, I always say, “I will get back to you.”
  • Allowing yourself time. I picked up this tip from Myleik Teele. You can always ask for more time to think about something. Don’t allow people to pressure you into giving them a response or an answer. I often use the terms “bandwidth” or “capacity.” I will tell someone, I’m working on limited capacity. I need time to consider. Time is our most precious commodity. Now it is important that you honor what you say you’re going to do if you ask for more time. At least you are giving yourself the gift of more consideration, the opportunity to weigh out and explore more options, the opportunity to research, so that when you do return with a response or a decision, it is well thought-out and you can live with it.
  • Charting your own path. One of my favorite quotes is “comparison is the thief of joy.” Put two people who do exactly the same job side by side. I guarantee that they will describe very different pathways. Put two people who were born on the same day. I guarantee that their lives will look very different. There are 7.4 billion people on this planet. That means there are 7.4 billion different ways of thinking… of dreaming… of resting… of being fulfilled. Your life is yours alone and you have the right to live it however you want to.
  • Treating your physical body well. This one is probably the hardest one on the list for me personally. I often go with what feels (and tastes) good for my body, not necessarily what is good for my body. This looks like an addiction to sugar. An aversion to working out and a physical body that isn’t worked out enough. I am still working on this one, but I know that it starts with my mind and being more balanced in how I approach what I eat and what I do(in terms of physical activity). If any of you guys have had success with kicking the sugar addiction, please leave your comments below. If you have been able to make working out a regular part of your routine, please let me know how. My goal is to lose my age (35 lbs) before my birthday.
  • Stop waiting for someone else to come along to receive the type of love you want. Take yourself out on dates. Buy yourself nice gifts. Love on yourself (literally and figuratively). Write love letters to yourself. Say nice things to yourself (like “Good morning gorgeous.” “You can do this.”). Wrap yourself in nice fabrics (my favorite is cashmere and satin). Get massages and facials regularly. Eat good meals. Buy yourself chocolate covered strawberries. Buy yourself flowers. This pattern of self love will only be reflected to you when people come into your life. I’ve been blessed with a very healthy and affirming marriage. I have amazing friends who love and support me. I truly believe that is because I started doing all of those things for myself, so when people come into my life, they pick up on the cues. I am totally and completely in love with myself… but that was not always the case. I encourage you to be totally and completely in love with you. It’s not a permanent thing. Every day I have to wake up and first make the decision to love myself and then do actions that confirm and make that decision true.

 

 

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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Celebrating Love!!!

Usually I wait until February 1st to put out my Valentine’s Day decorations but this year I decided to put them out once I took down my Holiday Decorations.

Here they are:

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Valentine’s Day has always been one of my favorite holidays. I will keep these decorations up through March 1st!

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:

Avoiding Resentment in a Relationship

One of my sorority sisters posted a question on Facebook asking what people do better as a result of being married. The topic caught fire as everyone chimed in. I responded with:

1. Being able to understand that not all battles are worthy of being fought. Before engaging in a fight or an argument, asking “do I want to fight about this?” is key. Sometimes we have other stuff going on – we’re mad about something at work, we’re thinking about other family issues, we’re tired, etc. and our partners become collateral damage. Fighting affects other areas of the relationship and it often clogs the channels of communication and it makes things complicated. That is not to say that it’s not healthy to disagree and to debate, but to be cognizant of when, why and how you’re disagreeing so that you can change or improve the quality of your relationship.

2. Being able to articulate my feelings (and not allowing resentment to build because of not expressing my emotions). Our partners are talented!!! They worked up some magic to snag us lol. But even the most gifted individual cannot read minds. We can’t assume that by putting out stink bombs – nonverbal cues (eye rolling, slamming doors, being withdrawn, etc.) that our partners are going to get exactly what’s happening in our heads. We have to be able to articulate from our perspective what happened, how it made us feel and what we’d like to see or do moving forward so that we don’t find ourselves in a particular situation again. Being too general “you hurt me” does not give the information needed for our partners to modify their behavior. When the behavior isn’t modified, resentment builds, as the list piles up. It’s not fair to have resentment over something that has not been expressed.

3. Being intentional about growing together by writing down shared goals and a vision for us, versus separate visions (which can cause couples to grow apart). On a annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily basis my husband and I check in about our individual goals and our collective goals. One of the most important roles that we’ve agreed to share is to be accountability partners, which means we have to know what the other person is working on. We have a shared goal of being healthier, so we challenge each other when we see the other eating unhealthy & we purchased a treadmill to make it easier to get our workout in during these cold winter months. The person that I am now, is not the 25 year old my husband married. We all change and we all evolve. In order to ensure the relationship stays strong, you have to have shared goals & shared interests, otherwise you run the risk of one person evolving right out of the relationship, or one person staying so stagnant that the two fall out of love because they don’t have a shared vision for the future.