Life Coach

What’s Your Therapy?

I spent four hours the other evening revamping my church’s bulletin board. It was on the shabby side and my discerning eye was truly aggravated by it each time I saw it. Just the thought of redesigning it got me excited. I would get to do something I love and make me feel good in the bargain. 

The casual observer would have gone nuts with the number of times I had to get on a chair, get off a chair, walk away and return only to move something on the board for the hundredth time. “You look happy doing that,” someone said. Mind you I wasn’t humming or grinning from ear to ear but the person realized I was in my personal zen just cutting away and stapling away on this board. “It’s my therapy,” I responded. 

Baking is my therapy. Reading is my therapy. Turning chaos into order is my therapy. What’s yours?

There’s something in us that finds peace when we do it. Something that others find perplexing and frustrating to do, but you find it as your outlet and it brings a sense of calm to your soul. 

Some people run. Frankly pounding my knees on the pavement one in front of the other is more of an obligation, but I know folks who lace up and run to escape. 

Some people bake and have a kitchen dusted over with flour. They find the measuring and watching this mélange of ingredients turn into something others drool over is rewarding. 

Some people enjoy a good swim or anything dealing with the water. For them, subconscious reminders of their first nine months in the womb brings a sense of escape. 

Some people clean their house from top to bottom and erase the old and bring in the new. Their idea of peace is trashing huge bags of stuff they no longer need, decluttering their lives one piece of junk at a time. 

Some people enjoy all things music. Some play around with makeup. Some love quiet moments in reading. Some journal. Some blog. Some climb mountains in search of new adventures. Some like long rides. Some binge watch old episodes. Some do triathalons. Some travel. Whatever brings you a sense of relaxation or reward should be considered your therapy. 

March is social workers month and half of my work in therapy is guiding others in the discovery of their inner peace. We go stretches and stretches in our lifetime running towards illusions without settling down and finding contentment. We go miles and miles being unhappy in our skin without finding that “thing” that makes us smile on the inside and look forward to doing it. 

On this night, working on a bulletin board is what I needed. I also needed an Ibuprofen when I was done! Getting on and off a chair, stapling, unstapling, moving, removing. When it was all done, my sense of accomplishment of this task eased the long day I had endured. 

Find your therapy. Commit to taking care of yourself. 

Life Coach

2016: New Year Musings 

I quit my job on 12/31/15 and I’ve been on a journey of learning and experiencing ever since. I’m not making the same type of “change” (but I have never gone without for either my needs or wants). I don’t get to dress up in skirts and heels all the time and I don’t work alongside a whole heap of people. Wait. This is sounding more appealing as I write it. Lol! But if quitting a job yields the year I had, I kinda wish I had done this sooner rather than later. My year in review reads like a cross between a travel/self-help/spiritual/relationships book. I had fun. I really did. 
I traveled. To Martha’s Vineyard, The Poconos, NYC, Hawaii, mountains, beaches and all the other places in between. I ate garlic shrimp from the side of the road. I had pasta in a cozy New York restaurant. I stayed in a cabin one week and a multimillion dollar golf property the next. I enjoyed mountain living sitting on a porch in a rocking chair. Walking alongside a lake enjoying the late summer breezes. I enjoyed it all. 
I stretched myself professionally. Working in spaces with people I would not have otherwise been exposed to. Learning new systems, processes, approaches to the body of work in mental health. My brain appreciates the growth. My mind is excited to know learning is still my first love. 
I made new connections. Joined a mentorship fellowship and a leadership fellowship AT THE SAME TIME. While I wouldn’t recommend doing this simultaneously, I’m kinda glad I did. I experienced mentorship from different perspectives in leadership and personal growth. I’m blessed to have been mentored by women who look like me and by others who didn’t, but were willing to extend themselves all for the greater good. 
Tons of other things happened along the way in 2016. Some stupendous and some just downright stupid. I learned that when you exit certain circles, there will be those who write you off and out. There others who reel you in and make the experience so much more bearable. I started the year feel irrelevant and realized my relevance was based on the wrong things for the wrong reasons. Lesson learned. 
I was Indiana Jones looking at the chasm between where I was and where I needed to go. I took that first step and threw the dirt. I then saw the invisible path really wasn’t invisible. Many along the way served as the visibility I needed to keep walking one step at a time. The referrals. The calls. The references. The heads up. The emails. The opportunities. And when their voices dimmed, there stood God reminding He had never left me and never would. Even in the silent times. 
You may not have plans to quit your job. But I’m sure you’ve got some deep seated dreams you need to step out on. Scared money don’t make money. Closed mouths don’t get fed. You get the point. I had to crucify my personality and my fears on the cross of change to BEGIN to change to SEE change coming. It won’t be easy. Trust when I say. I went from buying a pair of shoes every week to buying a pair of shoes on a quarterly basis! Joking. But you get my point. 
It’s okay be scared. Goodness knows I was. Let your fear be a driving force. Not a hindrance. Here’s to 2017 and all that it holds. 

Career, Life Coach, Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: How To Avoid Career Suicide 

I’ve been on somebody’s job since I was a senior in high school. I never knew what it was to ever be without one. It would literally be me resigning from one, using up some left over vacation time and being on the next job a week later. No intermissions. No breaks. No hiatus. No explanations to hem and haw about during a future interview. 

The talking heads now say millennials will find themselves in and out of jobs more than they are in and out of underwear. It’s the natural trend now to avoid putting down too strong of roots. They say your stakes should be loosely drilled into the ground. One day you will need to snatch them up and leave in the dead of the night. I guess it’s true. And I guess this trend is here to stay for the foreseeable future. Yet I’d like to believe whether we remain on a job for one day or ten years there are some valuable lessons to be learned about ensuring one’s career doesn’t suffer great losses. 
Keep Your Nose Clean

I can’t fathom life in my younger years with social media as part of my everyday living. That everything I ever wanted to think, do, say or feel could be shared with the world in one fell swoop. Drunken rages, profanity laced rants, racial slurs said in the heat of the moment, compromising photos–all laid bare for the world to see. All have caused irreparable damage. One day you’re rubbing elbows with your colleagues. Next day you’re on snap chat and the rest is history. There will also be circumstances we face that will never make Facebook live but will certainly make the rumor mill, which my dear is still wildfire fast and merciless in its recounting. 

People have long memories. People have even longer reasons why they wouldn’t attach their names to anyone else’s for fear of being guilty by association. Who wants to ever get a call that starts with “Girl, that girl you sent me…child…a mess!” No one. Who wants to have to spend an iota of their breathing time explaining away some random decision made by someone they vetted or vouched for? No one. It makes for awkward conversations nobody wants to have. Whatever it is. Cut it. Whoever it is. Cut it. Stay on the front page for all things positive. Don’t be about that “hindsight is 20/20” life. Don’t live on the island of regrets.   Don’t be the one whose reference letters dry up like Death Valley. 

Remain Relevant
There is some Gen-Exer in a fetal position somewhere regretting she didn’t follow through with taking those Quickbook courses when she had the chance. The tears soaking her pillow speaks of many other missed opportunities. Don’t be like her. I was a payroll clerk, at the bottom of the office totem pole taking all the Microsoft training classes I could take. I was in undergrad, clocking in 16 hour days of work, internship and class. I missed a whole heap of random stuff. Or at least at the time I thought I did. I doubly paid my dues and expect you, my dear, to pay yours. 

When your boss sends out that upcoming workshops memo, you better be the first to sign up. Don’t spend your time deliberating with your colleagues on the merits of taking a refresher course or joining a mentirship peofram. Sometimes we lose out when we try and hash out with others our intentions. One glib comment can deflate you and cause you to miss out on your next win. If “Susie D. Hater” has no aspirations to move up and move out, that’s her business. You on the other hand came to survey the land and to conquer it. Keep learning, keep improving, keep being your personal best. 

I plan to build on this post in future blogs. Stay tuned. In the mean time, stay out of trouble and stay being your better self. 


Faith, Grief And Loss, Life Coach, Sistah Take A Seat

Sistah Take A Seat: Waiting Season 

I got caged in to teach at a local church last evening. I mean what else do you call preparing to speak about a subject that you’re still yourself wading deep in the water about? That God would deign the stars and moon to align in this season of my life to speak about grief and loss is beyond my peanut brain’s capacity to understand. But He’s that Father. You know the one who allows you to flay your arm in the water while he’s under you. And then out of no where goes missing just to see if you can float by yourself. He’s that Father who wakes up one day and says “training wheels off!” 

Well that’s what happened the other night and I suspect that’s going to happen more and more in this coming season of my life. I’ve been meditating on the Holy Spirit’s nudging of being in what I call the “waiting season.” For me it’s the season where I’m literally in a spiritual room where the doors are shut and I’m waiting to hear the prognosis from the doctor at any moment. I’m waiting to hear some news, any news about next steps, next goals, next dreams, next directions. I’ve ticked off some things off my list but I suspect God has some other things in store that had nothing to do with my five year plans.

 As I wait, God reminds me to remain faithful in my actions. That waiting isn’t an immobile activity. Rather it’s an activity where preparation is taking place for when those doors do open and the results are in. 

I once took my laptop to the ER with me. I had an ankle sprain that had been bothering me. I saw people just sitting there bored out of their minds, counting cracks in the wall. Me? Well I was pecking away at my laptop, trying to meet some deadline or other. Before I knew it I was in my flow; didn’t even realize time had passed and even got annoyed the few times they kept calling me up to verify information. You see in my waiting I found something to do. Something to keep me occupied. Something to keep my mind and body going. Something to keep me on top of my game for such a time as when that door of opportunity opened and voila! I would be ready. 

Last night was that kind of night. I didn’t get invited to speak because my mother had died and that by some random designation I had become some expert at grief. I don’t do random and I don’t do happenstance. That’s for people who just “let” life happen to them

 God’s people don’t let life happen. They make life happen. There was more to it than losing my mother to cancer. Words would only simplify the journey that led to that one hour of speaking to one of the toughest audience groups I know. Haitian adults. In a church. Both men and women. Most whom have me by at least 15-20 years of age. Most who have had some inexplicable losses that my mind can’t even fathom. Words would only serve to minimize how at peace I felt in that moment. In that space in time speaking to those I have prayed to God that I could share my heart with. There are no words for that. 

Your waiting season may be here now. It may be laden with impatience and frustration. Remain faithful in your doing. Those doors will fling wide open. Just you wait and see. 

Your waiting season may be just around the corner. Don’t get blindsided by it. Own it. Accept it. Prepare for it. 

Your waiting season may be a thing of yesterday and you are right now hollering your praise to the Most High. Just don’t forget there are others who were exactly where you were. They can benefit from your wise counsel. 

Off will come those training wheels. Off will come those flotation devices. And off you will go forward once your waiting season is done. 

Life Coach, Random Thoughts

Sistah Take A Seat: When You’re Not Being  “Present”

Gabby Douglas has been on my heart something serious this Olympic season. I know she’s all the way in Rio and I’m nothing but a mere observer–but her spirit speaks to me like it would if she was my girlfriend two miles away, a church member in my congregation–like she was even me. I watched her four years ago shine and sparkle and give us all that #blackgirlmagic we so craved. Sprinkle. Sprinkle.  I watched the media and Black women at large try to dissect every strand of her course hair. White folks could care less about our hair as much as we care about our own hair. Gabby fought back and brought home the golds. 

This time around, Gabby stepped onto the stage and her shine and sparkle, well, her #blackgirlmajic, hmmm…something ain’t right. Minimal eye contact. Detached. Performance for the cameras and back to “normal”. Apathetic. Flat affect. Smiles that don’t reach the eyes. Mood incongruent with the setting. That fake smile. Simply put, this girl is not happy. Why? I don’t know. I can’t begin to know why this beautiful young trailblazer has missed a step. That she simply is not present.  By present I mean not being in the moment. Not connecting with others. Not being your true self and relating to the experiences about you. 

But I feel Gabby. How many times have I checked out when I couldn’t deal with the emotional threats made against me (real or perceived)? How many times have I withdrawn to that quiet space in my head and just mentally floated away? How many times have I taken off my glasses and allowed the blurry world to just be that–blurry? 

Gabby is one among millions of women who may find it hard to cope with life’s challenges in one form or another.  It’s not the challenges I’m concerned about yet rather how we cope that separates the wheat from the chaff. I spent half my lifetime trying to pretend that I liked everyone I met. I pretended that people excited me when in reality they drained me. I pretended that I was happy with my body when I really was not. I pretended I wanted to be “cool” and relatable when in reality I wanted to be in my nerd space with the do not disturb sign on the door. To me there was something wrong with being smart, organized, opinionated and introverted. After all, “everyone else” was wearing the long weaves, the high heels, and the big purses. That being in roles of wife/pastor wife, daughter, sibling, friend meant I had to kill my true self to become someone else. The pressure. Oh the pressure of living a lie. 

Today, I still carry all those roles and then some. But it’s how I cope that has made me more spiritually and emotionally centered. My faith in Christ keeps me grounded. No, I’m not in seminary school reading the Bible cover to cover for the 100th time, but I’m connected to Him. 

Do people still drain me? Yep. I just know how to better manage my responses and time spent with others and make time to be alone. Balance. Do I still find it hard to manage my hips and thighs? Yep. Fitbit helps. Wearing clothes that flatter me helps too. Acceptance. Am I still a nerd? Yep. Til the day I die! Truth
Gabby is young. I pray it doesn’t take half her life time to strengthen her village, acknowledge who she is at the core, forgive herself and others and use this test to be her testimony. I want her to hurry up and feel better, do better, be better! But as with everything, I know it’s going to be more hard hills to climb before the road smooths itself out. Being present is no small feat. Come through Gabby. Come through. 

Life Coach

Forward To Fall

I know it’s like 99.99% summer time here in South Florida. Sometimes there are deficits to living in a city that’s always in “South Beach” mode. Folks down here tend to find it hard to transition with the seasons. Up north, there’s a brisk, crisp wind and chill in the air that ushers in football season, hay rides and warm soups. Well down here, we break out knee high boots in 75 degree weather. Such is life. 
Regardless of the change in weather temps, Fall is right around a corner. I recently came around the aisle at the local Walmart and nearly got slapped by a scarecrow. It looked like a corn field had cropped up on the shelves. Forget back to school! They had Thanksgiving on deck already. I wasn’t ready. Ready or not, change is our only constant. 
These lazy dog days of summer are drawing to a close. It’s nearly time to buckle down and get back to the business of “living.” So for those of us who had the luxury of being on chill mode during the past two months, it’s time to reconnect. For those of us whose pace hadn’t changed, it’s time to take stock. Fall is the time to reap the harvest. To count what’s in your storehouse. To take inventory. So be you a ten month working educator or a year round entrepreneuer, we all can stand to take some time to run through our 2016 “at a glance” book. 
Take a look at your 2016 goals and gauge where you are. Don’t beat yourself up too much for getting off track. Maybe snack yourself a couple of times. Just don’t hit too hard. Life happens. Yet it merits some looking into if you can honestly say you weren’t doing your part. It’s okay. Just admit it. Then take steps to remedy the solution. 
There are four months left in the year. Yep. FOUR MONTHS. Whatever it is you’d like to wrap up before year’s end, let’s have a go at it. Enrolling in college? Saving for a car? Closing on a house? Working on that business plan? You still have four months to shape something out of it all. 
Don’t go into Fall like a recalcitrant teenager. It’s here whether you like it or not. Welcome it with thankful arms. Thankful for yet another season to make the best of your life now. 

Faith, Life Coach, Love & Marriage

Sistah Take A Seat: Don’t Dull Your Shine 

I’ve been sitting on this Ayesha Curry Twitter rant for a minute, waiting to see how it would play out. I wanted to see who would come to her defense and who would drop her like a bad habit. Seems like the bipolar social media hounds are at it again with the teeth gnashing and the petty behavior.  One minute they were loving her quirky videos, her choice in clothing, her propensity for all things “domestic” and next they were hating her for having an opinion and actually sharing it. 

Some can argue that she should have tempered her words and avoided implications of coming against the NBA-her husband’s boss. After all, she did say that the NBA finals were “rigged.” Raise hands if you didn’t agree with Ayesha. Birds chirping. I thought so. I’m not here to belabor that. But I am here to explore the whole, women keep silent whilst their men go out and slay the dragons “gar-baj” I see is alive and well in 2016. A rather verbose sports commentator decided he wanted to go further and compare Ayesha with Savannah (Lebron James’wife). He essentially asked, why couldn’t Ayesha just sit at home and bake her cookies and stay out of man folks business? Well, that’s all it took! 

Disclaimer. I don’t ascribe to everything that feminism expounds. But I want my equal pay for my equal efforts. And I want you to “put some respect” on me as a woman who deserves to sit at the table where the plans are being drawn and the decisions are being made. My faith in Christ has already gained me equality in His eyes. I was fearfully and wonderfully made from day one and no amount of social media perceptions of women as objects can change that. I don’t operate in fear (most days) because my mind is sound and I am able to do all things because he gives me a soul deep type of strength. Regardless of what man has done to try and make me cower by the use of “religion” to magnify himself and minimize myself has failed.  I know very well that Jesus’ appearance on this earth cancelled out inequality among the sexes. Don’t get me started on where women stood in his ministry. That’s for a face to face. Just not tah-day. 

Back to Ayesha. Back to women at large. There’s a secret relationship book out there that says women should look pretty, act polite and keep their mouths shut. They are allowed a college education but not necessarily apply it. They are allowed to earn an income but not hold an opinion or share it. I mourn for the countless of women who have drank the “inferiority juice” and found their light slowly dim to a dull glow. I mourn for the women who died with dreams unrealized. I mourn for the women whose brilliance was never known while they were yet living. 

This was and should never be about the battle of the sexes. Our womanhood is not a handicap. It is a gift we give our men. They are the ones who “found a good thing” when our lives connect. Our wombs bear children. Our minds bear dreams and visions. When I’m blessed to find two individuals who decide to call their union a commitment in marriage, my silent prayer is always “Lord please let my sister remain true to herself, please let her never lose sight of her own purpose on this earth.”

For my sisters who seek that lifetime companion, seek one who will value your worth. One who will sit at the table late nights and go over the finances together. One who will call you first before he calls anyone else for decisions. One who will not become anxious when it’s your name that’s on everybody’s tongue. One who will recognize you as his “ezer kenegdo” his “strength and power.” One who will not shrink at the brilliance of your shine. 

There is plenty of room for the Ayeshas and Savannahs of this world. One likes to talk and be quirky and doesn’t mind being at the forefront. One is low key likely making waves that she rather not have promoted or shared on the public front. One should never make the other feel less of a person for the choices she’s made and the journey she’s chosen to take. 

Yet neither should ever, ever, ever let any man dull their shine.