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Sistah Take A Seat: Where Are Your Receipts?

I shared the Mother’s Day message with my home church this year entitled “Who Is On Your Couch?” In a conversation with someone the other day, she shared how important it was to find a space in every city she moved to where she can be herself. That space is on both the couch of a therapist and then the couch of a friend. I’ll talk about the former comment in a later blog: how to choose a therapist.

Naturally, this led me to reflecting on who was on my couch, what role they played and how did they enrich, challenge, and benefit my wellbeing. Wisdom, Accountability and Friendship were the three values I felt were necessary to keep my couch balanced. So as I chop up this speaking series into written form, allow me the license that speakers don’t necessarily have; to delve a little deeper. That’s why writing is my primary go to. There’s no timer included.

Let’s unpack this whole wisdom thing. The word wisdom is losing it’s appeal as the years advance. We live in a time where people want quick fixes and they’re not interested in the process of marinating in information, testing it out and then applying it. Heck! Half the time they’re not even interested in hearing the information to begin with! I encounter people who only want to hear the first minute of what you have to say and tune out thereafter.

It’s happened to me on the receiving end. If it’s in person, they start fidgeting with their phone, their eyes glaze over and it’s a wrap. If it’s over the phone, they ask you a question to break up your conversation in the middle of what you’re saying. Subtle hints that you didn’t give them what they needed in 59 seconds or less. Warning, if you don’t like to read anything with potential for added value to your life and you don’t care to read this, stop right here and go back to living your life business as usual.

Job 12:12 reminded me that wisdom is found among our elders and that living a long life brings with it understanding. We’ve lost that concept along the way. We think our contemporaries have the answers and we neglect the counsel of the (aging) wise. We’ve ditched mentorship for tolerance and ill advised behavior. I remember when one of my mentors and I were talking about homeownership and the cost of everything going up. It wasn’t too long after the housing crash. As new homeowners, hubby and I were skating on some tough times financially so she mentioned the concept of amortization and making bi-weekly payments. She also mentioned NACA (do your research) I had never heard of it and if I was that person who let things go in one ear and have it ooze out the other, I would have missed out on some wise counsel. We refinanced for the sake of our interest rate and it was the best advice she could ever give me. She’s my go to person on all things financial. From her I learned about creating a trust. It’s something I need to get around to doing and I can never say she didn’t tell me and that she doesn’t have the proof that she knows what she’s talking about.

Which leads me to the title of this blog. Where are the receipts? When people tell me something, I do this mental chewing of sorts. Earlier in Job 12, it says and I paraphrase, “Aren’t you testing out first what you hear? Aren’t you taste testing first what you eat?” Or are you the one that gobbles down the food without a thought and wonder why you end up with heartburn? So yeah…I chew on what’s shared with me. I look for the wisdom in it, the practical application in it. This particular mentor owns multiple properties, isn’t afraid to continue investing even in her advancing years and isn’t afraid to take risks. See, she has receipts. Her receipts read to me like this: she’s been in this game of life for several minutes more than me, she has loved and lost and loved again, she’s made mistakes and learned from them and she’s mindful of her financial prowess.

So yeah… I need to see that when somebody opens their mouth to speak on anything, they are backed up with facts. When the college student does a literature review, the professor is not looking for opinions, they are looking for facts from journals not what some YouTube vlogger is trying to sell.

How do you check receipts? Line them up with the Word of God—The Bible. Yeah, I guess you expected me to get all progressive on you and keep it PG. Welp! Nope. I read and learn from a lot of books. But the one book that stands heads taller than them all continues to be the infallible Word of God. Enough said.

How do you check receipts? By actually sitting with people and get this—conversing with them. What a novel idea!!! This whole mentorship via YouTube and Instagram or Facebook is a farce! A farce I say! I follow people I admire on the Gram but I can’t call them when I’m in a bind. I’m lucky to get them to even notice when I tag them! Lol! It’s a sad state of existence when we think that just watching people live life is going to be enough to infer on how to live ours.

You can’t identify counterfeit receipts unless you’re up close and personal with others. You need to be able to take a pen to their 100 dollar bills of values and principles to see if it’s the real deal or if it’s fake. It takes a lot of work to identify the real versus the counterfeit. Yeah, you can start by looking at patterns and behaviors, but unless you have studied and work in the fields human behavior and psychology and call out a fake a mile away (fringe benefit of my profession and Godly discernment) you have to take the risk to get to know who can pour into your life and who can’t.

I get paid to mentor people in the mental health profession. I automatically bring my best to the experience. But the fact that they are a consumer reminds me I owe it to my interns to be more than my personal best. Mentorship is not a paid experience. For each person you check receipts from, they have to demonstrate that they have cleared the path you’re trying to get on.

You looking for marriage mentors? Check receipts for years of marriage, transparency in conversations and the fruits yielded from their relationship with each other. One of my mentors was married and divorced and remarried to her husband again! Now she’s got receipts of all sorts from which I have learned from. You looking for professional mentors? Check receipts that include their resume, their line of work, their endurance in the profession, their level of ambition. You looking for a mentor period? Check their receipts for values, principals, integrity, relationships with others in the community, testimonials from other mentees. Above all, pray and ask God to lead you to the right person. I did. And He did.

Checking receipts makes you realize what and who you can then accept counsel from. There’s a right fit for everyone. I realized a long time ago, can’t just anybody handle my sauce! Some find it too spicy. I can be direct. Some find it too bland. I can be methodical. Some find it too rich. I can be altruistic (or use big words like altruistic). Lol! The one with cleared receipts is not going to change who they are to accommodate the one checking receipts. Like relationships, there is someone for everyone out there. If you don’t like what they’re selling, move on to the next person. Just. One. Thing. Though. Don’t allow your pride, your insecurities or your fears to be the reason why you missed out on sitting at someone’s feet.

Your homework (should you be brave to accept it):

Identify three real life people that you know and admire (work, church, organization, etc.) Invite them out for a meal. Be intentional in speaking to them about this season in your life and if the Holy Spirit is leading, ask the one you feel led to ask to be your mentor. Be specific in what you are looking for in a mentor and what you feel they can offer in the way of counsel, advice and challenges.

Now I know some of us have some deep rooted issues with rejection. It may not be the right time for that person or they know it may not be a good fit. But you won’t know unless you ask. People are not mind readers. It’s not fair for anyone to know they were your “pretend” mentor when you never gave them the opportunity to apply for the job. There is a level of intimacy in the mentor/mentee relationship that isn’t all roses and tulips. It may not be the right timing for them, but don’t look at it as a form of rejection. Rather receive it as you doing something fearless on your way to personal growth.

So go out there! Be brave. Check receipts and take the next steps to becoming a transformed and evolved version of you.

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Blogger’s Block

I’m a firm believer that if I don’t have anything to blog about, I won’t blog. New followers on the site won’t hype me up. Which got me wondering who are these new people and how did they find me? Introvert writer’s issues… A casual comment about my absence on WordPress won’t wake the sleeping dragon either. So yeah… there’s something percolating in my mind right now. It’s around the concept of mentorship, women in leadership roles, sisterhood. But I’m asking the Holy Spirit to show me some other things before I put fingers to typing.

In the mean time, do what I do. Read some of the old stuff, let it sit in your spirit for a few. Read a book. I’m like on five. One on spiritual awakening. One on how not to be a wife to a boyfriend. So yeah I’m married but there’s a summer book club that literally morphed into something unexpected. That’s usually God doing his thing. Who knows? I might get hyped after that! Lol!

Sometimes my own words come back to encourage (or haunt) me from a past season in my life. May is a tough month emotionally for me, so I go back and read the grief and loss blogs because I’d like to check my emotional pulse and see where I am with the whole missing my mom thing. There’s no getting around this month. So I might as well bulldoze through it.

Sooo much has gone on of late in my life. Some material for the blog and some for this book I really need to get back into writing. It’s true what they say. Summer bodies are made in the winter. Started on this quest for fitness again and I like the way I feel and look.

Oh yeah! I cut my sisterlocks. It’s this asymmetrical bob thingy. No I’m not going through a crisis. I just got up one day, didn’t tell anyone and just went to the barber. Now I have to get used to people staring at me when I first meet them after this hair cut. Introvert issues…sigh.

Enough about me. Do enjoy this spring, mom, grads and dad season. I know I plan to! Make new memories along the way.

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Sistah Take A Seat: Surviving Christmas

Yes, I was the one up at 3am, in line by 4am waiting for the Black Friday madness to consume me. Only to realize there were only five of those items I wanted in the store and they actually wanted me to walk around and buy up stuff that I really didn’t need. I’ve since given up those antics and haven’t seen a Black Friday event in some time.  No judgment to those who still enjoy the high of that type of stuff. I can certainly understand.  This year I got myself hyped for Cyber Monday and didn’t buy a damned thing. I didn’t need anything. Besides, when you shop year round and gift year round, the holidays become less about the giving and more about the being. 

And that’s been it for me these past few years. Finding ways to create moments with people. Losing a mother kinda does that to you. All I can think about are the times I spent with her on those doctors visits. The silence that usually enveloped us when I sat in her room just being there with her. It all came down to the time I spent with her. Not the stuff I bought for her. 

So I survive Christmas by decorating my home, inviting folks over to enjoy the whole “Currier and Ives” experience of eating from real plates and not having to worry about dishes. We put on some music. We play games. We eat good food. And we enjoy the “being” of our existence in each other’s lives. 

My extrovert husband starts looking at me real strange again this time of year. He knows it gets kinda rough for me missing my mom. But then I’m turning around to let him know I’m hosting something or other at our home. The male brain can sometimes get confused by the female brain’s intensions. But that’s for another blog. He’s just happy he doesn’t have to scrape me off the bedroom floor, because as long as I’m planning something, he knows I’m in my zone and I am going to be okay. 

You may not have lost someone but you may have lost something and the holidays simply suck. You’d rather the first of January be tomorrow so you can skip all of this fete mentality. Try finding those few things that bring meaning to your life. Do those few things that have depth and leave you feeling at peace. Whether it is service to others, traveling and creating new traditions, whatever it is . . . make it intentional and a point to carry them out. 

How do you survive Christmas? What’s that one thing you do each year to overcome the holiday blues? Share in the comment section. I’d like to hear from you! 

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Give Thanks: A Time Well Spent

Someone wondered if people were pillaging the malls for Black Friday like usual. Well if social media is a truth teller, 🤨, I ‘d like to think most were out and about doing other things. I saw a lot of “we at the house” activities. Lots of games were played. Lots of food was consumed. And the drinks. Well you already know …

Are folks slowly disrobing from the materialism that tends to take hold this time of year? Are the pockets thinner so that our choices become emaciated too? Are we just savvier shoppers these days, where we can spot a fake sale like a bad case of fake news? Or are we lazy and would rather just let our fingers do the walking? I’d like to say it’s a combination of all of the above. 

I can’t tell you how many white platters I dug through to pack for our family’s dinner. That was clue number ten that I needed to call a truce between myself and the lure of all things that looked like it was white dish related. My coins are more carefully counted these days for other things I’ve got lined up in life. IRA’s, business ventures and vacations don’t just pay for themselves. Priorities. I get so called “sales” stuff in my Gmail promotions inbox on a regular enough to know that those pair of boots will be on sale come January. South Florida doesn’t  see cold but two days a year so I pack patience and wait for the discount color codes to go into effect. And if it’s not there come that time…🤷🏾‍♀️. 

Online shopping has become my fave pastime. Amazon got me clicking speed checkout on a regular. So when you ask me to drive through five communities, circle around to find parking, lose my sanity and religion fighting the traffic to return home, I’m like who? Not me!  I’m a better human being in front of the laptop.  I now choose to scroll rather than stroll for my purchases as much as possible. I can compare prices, I can ask a friend a quick question, they can send me a link and I’m done. 

I didn’t “Black Friday” this year. Hadn’t done it in earnest for some time now truth be told. I love to shop. It is no secret. I’m just better at it than I used to be. I did some Small Business shopping and popped into some boutiques and bookstores instead. I spent time walking near the marshes, in the sunshine and viewing nature from the eyes of the enslaved ancestors. I spent time holding hands with children tugging me into the “snow bubbles” and basking in the carefree moment.  I spent it rekindling my love of jig saw puzzles and realizing the eyes ain’t what they used to be. I spent it tripping over puppies and toddlers. 

If I never stand in another 4am line haggling for a TV, I’m gonna be just fine. 

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How To Be A “Type A” Living In A “Type B” World

My husband makes it his life’s mission to remind me that my brain doesn’t function as others. That very few plan their birthday trips 18 months in advance. That it is a rare species who labels their shoes, office supplies and anything else an Avery label can be slapped on. That ‘OCD speak’ is a dying language. That Pinterest Boards for everything in life is not normal. I’m convinced he’s telling me the truth and taking jabs simultaneously. 

The Business Dictionary defines a Type A Personality as:

“A temperament characterized by excessive ambition, aggression, competitiveness, drive, impatience, need for control, focus on quantity over quality and unrealistic sense of urgency. It is commonly associated with risk of coronary disease and other stress-related ailments.” *Strike that last part.*

Type B Personality:

“A temperament characterized by moderate ambition and drive, accommodating attitude, cooperativeness, focus on quality over quantity and, in general, an easy going approach to life. See also type A personality.” *No ailment inserted?* 

Basically stated, the former will die a painful death while the latter gets to skip through fields of lilies with nary a worry. 

And this is why us Type A’s (my name is Delphine and I am…) should really get it together and compete to maintain our sanity. While it is easier said than done, it can certainly be done. You may be surrounded by the others who could give a rat’s behind about keeping to rigid schedules, dissecting data, or going way above and beyond, but it doesn’t have to be the death of you. Here are some tips to keep your sanity while remaining true to thineself. 

Build In Extra Time

You’re planning an event and the reservez s’il vou plaits are trickling in like Flint, MI water? Give yourself an additional two weeks to factor in time to make some individual calls. People get busy with life and while you are the person who logs everything in your electronic and paper calendar right away, not everyone does that. Build in some extra time for follow up. Whether it’s a work related project or major event, people are people. Life happens and you have to anticipate as much as you can. 

Plan 75% Trust 25%

Type A’s have some serious trust issues. Our inclination to compete can be at the cost of others’ feelings. Unless you’re willing to lose some friendships/partnerships along the way you might just want to avoid railroading people’s feelings. Working on a project for a community event? Allow for input and feedback. Give others the space and opportunity to assert themselves. While you may think people could care less and that you may as well do it all by yourself–some do care. They care enough to see you do well but may frankly get put off by your intensity to get things done. Because it is your pet project or your name riding on the line it’s okay to plan most of it but give the benefit of the doubt for others to help along side you. You need people who can check your blind spots and make sure you’re on the right track. 

Let It Go

Yes. Sing the song. Hum the song. Yell the song. Pray the song. Make it your mantra. If you elect to omit any of these suggestions, don’t let this be the one. Type As are notorious grudge holders. We don’t, I mean they don’t forget a thing. We are the absolute worst when it comes to just throwing it to the wind and walking away. Yet, there will be more times than we care to admit where it’s really not worth the fight. You already know who is who and what is what. You shouldn’t expect more or less based on that. So they come late to your party. Greet them and keep the festivities going. So they have ignored every deadline known to man. Remember the 75/25. Make it 100 and keep it going. 

Your locus of control is yourself–not on anyone or anything else. Understand what is within the realm of your influence and what is not. The world is a much well managed place with us in it. We just want to be sure it is also a well loved one too. 

Curious about where you lie on be personality spectrum? Disclaimer: there is no “type” written in stone. Check the link below. https://psychcentral.com/quizzes/personality/start.php

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Every Day Livin’: Only In America

Uber Opportunities

Only in America would both my Uber drivers today be non-English speaking immigrants.  The second one only eight months in from Cuba.  He’s learned “left, right, stop, yes and no” and was thankful that I knew some Spanish to get us there.  When he dropped me off to collect my car at the mechanic,  he even waited around long enough to make sure that I was talking to a mechanic and not just standing there alone.  He gets five stars for that.

International Women’s Day

Today I celebrate every real life XX Chromosome carrying chick.  It has been one of those unifying posts across my Instagram feed.  Men honoring their mothers, sisters, nieces, grandmothers.  Women honoring each other and enjoying the brilliance and beauty that is our true essence.  I remember my mom and her bestie (Madame Babier), both of whom now serve among the cloud of witnesses in heaven.  They had a great work and home life together.  We lived with Mme. Babier and her family for the first two years when we moved to Miami.  I never got the sense that there was ever any competition between them.  My mom was quiet.  She was outspoken.  They made sense together.  They worked together for years in a sweat box factory, always complaining about the management but never giving in.  I miss them both on this day.

My Kinda Funny

I’ve been on this Golden Girls series binge for the past few weeks.  I watch it when I get ready to leave for my day and at least one episode before I fall asleep.  I know why I’m watching it.  It reminds me of my mom.  It reminds me of afternoons spent hanging out with her in her room when my dad wasn’t around.  The wisecracks and sarcasm are epic funny.  “I haven’t been a virgin since The Louisiana Purchase was in escrow!” barks Estelle Getty’s character.  I died a thousand death on that one.  My husband doesn’t understand the binge but whenever he’s around long enough to pay attention, I hear him laughing at some odd situational comedic scene and I know he gets it.  He even humors me and sits through an episode-or two.  Not sure if it’s because he knows why I’m watching it or cause he finds it funny too.  Just glad that he gets it.

Social Worker Month

I never need an excuse or reason to celebrate my profession.  I figure if I don’t do it, who else will?  I’ve been working on some projects to exponentially move forward the field of mental health personally and professionally.  What I’ve discovered is that unlike five years ago when people would bow their head and pass the collection plate in pity when they heard what I did for a living, folks are now paying more attention-really pay attention.  In this climate where people are looking for answers, looking for direction, looking for anything; I’m humbled to be a part of what it is going to take to bring about hope and perspective to those who are searching.  I never take it lightly when a total stranger decides to entrust him or herself into the hands of another total stranger with their story.  There is no definitive role that a social worker plays.  He or she can be a political figure one day of the week, a play therapist another day, life coach, therapist, case manager, consultant–you name it.  The sky is the limit.  So pardonnez-moi as I scream from the rooftops that “I LOVE MY PROFESSION!” It’s more than a job, it’s a calling.

Un-Fastening My Potential

I’m two days into my 40 Day Fast.  I get the sense that people are becoming less traditional in their walk with Christ and more “progressive”.  Christ was the most progressive human being who ever walked this earth, so I know he’s provided me with enough tools to maintain a level of constant renewal in my spiritual life.  No need to reinvent the wheel in that department.  Some days it’s like automatic.  I can read my Bible, pray and remain centered.  Other days it’s like searching for a light switch in a pitch-black room.  Both types of days require my trusting in God for the answers regardless of whether they come easy or hard.  

Abstaining from certain foods and activities is part of that.  I have never been disappointed.  Tested, yes.  Annoyed, yes.  Bothered, yes.  Disappointed, no.  It doesn’t mean that I become some hermit and go in a cave until the day before Easter.  The Bible actually warns against those who would have themselves look like they’re in misery during a fast.  Nothing changed but my choices.  Limiting my social media and news intake to Pulse and Instagram.  I figure I still gotta consume news to remain updated and I still want to learn from others who I don’t even know in areas that matter to me.  Those two outlets meet those needs.  I’ve always grown personally during these fasting periods.  It’s not something I can place my fingers on during some years.  In some years, I can see the hand of God just moving in ways only He could take credit for.  In other years, it’s been quiet shifts in my paradigm.  Just one degree of change still means change.
I’m having major caffeine withdrawals and it’s not pretty.  Just thought I’d throw that out there.  Prayers needed.
Solo Field Trip

This weekend I get to go to the much talked about Game of Thrones Concert Experience.  The nerd girl in me is super psyched to be in this space.  The introvert in me is extra psyched that I don’t have to share this experience with anyone else.  Going it alone. Solo dinner and solo concert experience. Can’t wait to tell ya all about it.

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Sistah Take A Seat: All About Priorities

I spent way too many hours in this finite life stressing over what others thought of me, why they thought what they thought, or why did they even think at all! Only to find out that I really didn’t have the answers. Nor was it my right to even care.  You find yourself passionate about something and realize that some will nod their heads, give the thumps up and the high fives. And those smiles. You know the ones that never quite reach their eyes. Between the clapping and the 🙌🏾emojis you would swear you had their full support. Then reality hits. It was all just words. 
I would boil faster than my mama’s pressure cooker boiling beans on a Saturday afternoon. Why weren’t they sensing the urgency like I did? What about this issue that didn’t get them moving? Why wasn’t it important to them as it was to me? Then one day the Holy Spirit whispered that if they could celebrate a lone rider on a donkey one day and drive nails in his hand the next, who was I to expect any different? But it really doesn’t stop there. 

Human beings are fickle creatures by nature. Bell bottoms one day. Boot legs the next. Straight legs the day after next. And skinny jeans two days hence. Our likes and dislikes change with the rising and the setting of the sun. Why would we not expect this to be the same with things that matter to us? Facebook’s greatest invention is the “On This Day” feature. It’s been the perfect reminder that who I was in 2008 and who I am now is inherently the same. But something is very different. My priorities. 
I have grieved the loss of birthing children. I have lost my mother to breast cancer. I turned and walked away from a stable, well paying job. Those three major life events alone (not to mention the others that litter my life’s trail) set me back and propelled me forward simultaneously. All in all, my patience, my tenacity, and ultimately my faith took on a new meaning. My priorities–well they just changed. So I imagine it is the same for others. 

We can never understand what journey our neighbor is taking even when they share it with us. For the couple who prefer to make their children their priority during the formative years. For the single woman who is saving for her first home. Man or no man, she’s getting that house. For the friends who have made a pact to see the many wonders of the world. For that college student whose trying to get that degree and make it happen. These are all PRIORITIES.  

These priorities will mean that attention is being diverted. Energy is being spent elsewhere. Motivation is being shared in other areas. Just not in you. Just not with you. And that’s okay. It is going to have to be okay. It is not everyone that is out to hurt you. It is not everyone with a voodoo doll made in your image sticking it every week after Sunday service. Yes, those people exist. They are real and they are out for your blood. But truly, it’s not and should never be that serious. Greater is He who is in you… Remember that. So the next time you feel down in the dumps about the “lack of support” from friends or become frustrated with lack of response or some perceived apathy, just remember. It’s all about priorities. Keep that perspective and it will earn you more years and less stress.