Vulnerability

I feel like I start every post like this… but I’m so embarrased at how long it has taken me to write on here. Back in the day, I started this blog for two reasons. The first was to help keep myself accountable with goals that I’d set for myself. I figured if I was writing about them publicly, and people knew about them, it would force me to do them, right? Clearly that isnt the case.  It’s been a while since I’ve started this blog and all the goals that I set are STILL goals that I am working towards to this day… over a year later. What’s that saying again? “Nothing in life worth having comes easily” haha. The road definitely hasnt been easy… and there’s definitely been setbacks along the way, but I guess I’ll find solace knowing that I’m a lot closer to most of them than I probably have been in my entire life.

The second reason I started this blog was to allow myself to be more vulnerable. To quote an earlier blog, I believe I wrote “I wanted to put myself out there more and show people the side of me that I usually keep to my close friends… or most often, just myself”… The problem is, when it came to doing it, I chickened out. For some reason, I thought it would be easy to say what I wanted to say because I was hiding behind a computer screen… but not knowing who could read this made it ten times more intimidating. So now, a year later, I have come to the revelation that maybe that was a bit aggresive… Time for a new plan haha.

Today I was reading through some of my old posts and then decided to go catch up on posts from the blog that inspired me to start blogging, Walking Barefoot. One of the reasons I love that blog is because she is always so open, and puts it all out there.. and honestly, I hope that one day that will be me. Anyway, as I was reading (creeping), I came across one of her blogs talking about bearing witness. She was talking about how her friends are going through a rough time and how her family has been able to be there for them. Here is an excerpt from her blog:

“My friends bare themselves, and now we can bear with them.  Now we bear together.  

And life gets just a little easier.  

But to bear with each other, we have to bare with each other. Which is really scary, and exposing.

It’s terrifying, if you get right down to it. 

You’d much rather cry in your closet and then go reapply your makeup before facing the world.  It would be much safer not to talk about it, and if it comes up, just duck and cover, duck and cover.

But then, miracle of miracles, you find that instead of ducking and covering, you stood still and told someone. You let them see your tears. You let them in. And instead of laughing at you, or offering you a Kleenex and walking away to go get someone who is much more experienced at helplessness and pain and wracking sobs, they stayed. They actually felt really special to be part of the inner sanctum of the three other people on earth who have seen you without makeup.  

They bore up with you.  

It’s the closest thing to heaven this side of heaven.”

As I read that, tears just started rolling down my face.

Had I read that even a few months ago, I dont think it would have had any effect on me. A few months ago, I dont think I could’ve understood what “bearing witness” meant or comprehended its impact. A few months ago I didnt know what it felt like to be that open with people… to tell them the things that are REALLY going on in your life – the things you keep under the mask. A few months ago I didnt know what it felt like to tell people about your “messiness” and have them love you even more in spite of it.

But now I do.

Over the last few months, I have been a part of a few mentoring groups/small groups that have really started to stretch me in this area of my life. Most recently, I was at a small group (or should I say “team” or “household”? haha) that I just joined. It was our first time meeting so we were going over norms, expectations, goals, etc. and one of the common themes that kept coming out was that we all really want to do LIFE together… that this group would be more than just a group that shares at the surface level but that really feels comfortable diving in, sharing the good, bad and the ugly, and lifiting each other up. When we started mentioning all these things my first reaction was excitement because that is something I’ve craved for a while. I want genuine, intentional, authentic realtionships. I want people who hold me accountable in my faith. I want to meet people in Richmond to “do life with”. Who wouldnt? But then fear started to settle in. The word “testimony” got brought up and I started to sweat. I’m already not good about asking for help and it’s even scarier being vulnerable and  telling people about the good, the bad and the ugly.

As the night wrapped and we were going over prayer requests, I asked the group to pray that I would have the courage to not hold back. I then, very briefly, shared a few struggles that I’m facing in some close relationships and some internal battles that I’m fighting. Honestly, it was somewhat vague but that was as much as I felt comfortable saying at the time. Since that night, one week ago, I have received numerous calls, texts, facebook messages, etc. from people checking in on me, offering words of encouragement, letting me know they’re thinking about me. It is so humbling. I honestly dont think i’ve cried this much in a while haha. But its not a sad cry. It’s more of a “shocked/surprised” one. That people would really think about my problems during their day… and really pray about them… and honestly want to know if they’re getting better… even after only knowing me for such a short period of time. 

It really is the closest thing to heaven, this side of heaven.

So thats my new plan: To let go of the fear. To learn to let go of shame. To learn that its okay to let my small group in and to show them how much I really dont have it together. I know it’s going to be hard. I know I’m nowhere close to where I hope to be… But I am confident that there is power in the name of Jesus and that He can break every chain.

And I’m excited to tell you about it someday… when I get the courage.

Present Tense

Came across this poem a few weeks ago & it really spoke to me. Being a planner (and mild control freak at times) I sometimes feel like I’m always looking to the next phase of life rather than appreciating the one I’m in. Over the past few weeks, I made a conscious effort to stop putting so much emphasis on the future & start paying attention to the beauty in the present. I can honestly say this is the happiest I’ve been in a long time… So here’s to sharing in hopes that it has the safe effect on others as it’s had on me :).

XX

It was spring, But it was summer I wanted,

The warm days, And the great outdoors.

It was summer, But it was fall I wanted,

The colorful leaves, And the cool, dry air.

It was fall, But it was winter I wanted,

The beautiful snow, And the joy of the holiday season.

It was winter, But it was spring I wanted,

The warmth, And the blossoming of nature.

I was a child, But it was adulthood I wanted,

The freedom, And the respect.

I was 20, But it was 30 I wanted,

To be mature, And sophisticated.

I was middle-aged, But it was 20 I wanted,

The youth, And the free spirit.

I was retired, But it was middle age I wanted,

The presence of mind, Without limitations.

My life was over.

But I never got what I wanted.

In honor of our Housewarming Pregame this past weekend…

It has been a LONG time since I’ve written on here… So many things have happened in the last few months: I watched friends celebrate their love by getting married, I have been to Spain, France and Italy on a Mediterranean cruise, and I moved into a new place! Since this past weekend was the first weekend since moving in early June where all 3 of us were in Richmond, we decided to have a Housewarming Pregame this weekend. In honor of that… I decided it was finally time to break the blogging drought and post some before and after pictures. Looking through these again has reminded me how far our place has come. So proud of all the work we’ve put in… Hope you like it!

Outside: My awesome Padre & Mama helped to improve the curb appeal by cleaning off spider webs, sweeping & planting plants. Shannon, my roommate, painted the planter boxes & I took care of the weeding.

After

Before

Now- still a work in progress

Now- still a work in progress

Before

Before

After

After

After

Now

Entry Way

 

Before

Move-in Day

After

Now

Hallway

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

After

Now

Hallway Bathroom (my roomate, Mia, and I share this bathroom)

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Now

Now

Family Room

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

During

During

Now

Now

Now

Now

Now

Now

Dining Room

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Now

Now

Kitchen

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Now

Now

Top of Stairs

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Now

Now

 

Basement (my room)- My sweet mama painted the accent wall for me, my sister bought me the mirror as a housewarming gift and I took care of the organizing.

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Now

Now

Now

Now

Laundry Room

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Now

Now

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Now

Now

Now

Now

Now

Now

Bedroom:

 

Move-in Day

Move-in Day

Now

Now

Now

Now

Now

Now

So happy with the way everything has turned out! Now all we need are visitors :).

Give Me Faith

Give me faith

“I need You to soften my heart,
To break me apart.
I need You to open my eyes,
To see that You’re shaping my life.

Pre-Chorus:
All I am,
I surrender.

Chorus:
Give me faith to trust what You say
That You’re good, and Your love is great.
I’m broken inside, I give You my life.

Verse 2:
I need You to soften my heart,
To break me apart.
I need You to pierce through the dark
And cleanse every part of me.

Chorus

Bridge:
I may be weak, but
Your Spirit’s strong in me.
My flesh may fail, but
My God You never will.”

Women Empowering Women

I was going through some blogs and happened to come across this speech that Gabrielle Union gave at Essence’s Black Women in Hollywood’s Luncheon earlier this year. It really spoke to me so I figured I would share. Hope you enjoy!

“We live in a town that rewards pretending. I had been pretending to be fierce and fearless for a very long time. I was a victim masquerading as a survivor. I stayed when I should have run. I was quiet when I should have spoken up. I turned a blind eye to injustice instead of having the courage to stand up for what’s right. I used to shrink in the presence of other dope beautiful women. I used to revel in gossip and rumors, and I lived for the negativity inflicted upon my sister actresses or anyone who I felt whose shine diminished my own.

It’s easy to pretend ‘to be fierce and fearless because living your truth takes real courage. Real fearless and fierce women admit mistakes and they work to correct them. We stand up and we use our voices for things other than self promotion. We don’t stand by and let racism and sexism and homophobia run rapid on our watch. Real fearless and fierce women complement other women and we recognize and embrace that their shine in no way diminishes our light and that it actually makes our light shine brighter.

So many of us in this room are sisters. We don’t always get to see each other and its good to see you here today. Women who we’ve laughed with, cried with, and struggled with, thank you for not turning your back on me, thank you for not tap dancing on my misery, even when I wasn’t always returning the favor.”

“For I know the plans I have for you” declares the Lord.

I was inspired to start blogging by a former teacher at Battlefield. I never had her as a teacher when I was in high school.. honestly, I doubt she even knows who I am. I, too, didn’t know much about her…I just knew she was married to another teacher at Battlefield. I remember thinking how cute they were as a couple. They just looked like the kind of couple that gets married and has the perfect wedding and make perfect beautiful babies and move into a beautiful house with the white picket fence.  Eventually, they both left Battlefield and I never heard about them again.

That all changed a little over a year ago. Their family had just lost almost everything in a house fire and many of my former classmates were trying to help raise money for them. Through their posts, I happened to stumble upon her blog and ever since then, I’ve just kept reading. Her blog is called “Walking Barefoot” and its all about what she calls her “mess”. She writes about her vulnerabilities and weaknesses and all of the things that she considers her shortcomings.. and I so admire her for that. I admire her for the fact that she is willing to put it all out there and showcase her faults. I think so often we all try to pretend that we live this nice, perfect, fairy tale life when none of us are perfect. Every “perfect” family and person has their own “mess” and instead of sharing that with each other we build up these walls because we are so afraid of what people’s reactions will be when they find out that we might actually be human.

When I started this blog, I started it with every intention of trying to follow in her footsteps.. I wanted to put myself out there more and show people the side of me that I usually keep to my close friends… or most often, just myself. I wanted to let people see the issues I deal with so that if they are dealing with those issues, they could know they’re not alone. I honestly must’ve been drunk or something because I clearly could not have been in the right frame of mind. I’m the kind of girl that keeps 99% of my feelings inside. I am so afraid of showing people emotions because in my mind, that’s giving them some power that they could potentially use against me…or worse, they might not like the real KK that exists under there that has a whole bunch of “messiness” inside… so instead I started writing about my goals & things I’m learning about myself… which isn’t a bad thing or “wrong”.. but it is definitely me avoiding the uncomfortable.

So today I’m going to do something new… I’m going to take very, VERY small baby steps because you have to start somewhere, right? I’m going to tell you that really, this week has been a really rough week for me and that I’ve been very unhappy and very emotional… I’ve been dealing with a lot of internal struggles and although the only one I’m ready to talk to  is God, I really could use some positive vibes right about now. (So that being said, please no calls or texts or comments… I don’t mean that to be mean, I just know it’ll push me back into my “shell” however, prayers & positive thoughts are much appreciated :)… I said baby steps, right?).

It’s ironic because last week I was talking to my dad and joking about how sometimes I feel like if I stay in Richmond, I will be single for the rest of my life. Even though I was COMPLETELY kidding (well, maybe not completely) my dad told me I should go read the posting he had just put on his Facebook. That night, once I got home, I clicked the link but got distracted and never read it… Tonight, 11 days later, I was cleaning up my internet tabs and happened to see it so I finally decided to read it.

The post was talking about Jeremiah 29:11 which states “‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” It said that most people read the verse and take it out of context. We read it and think that God is saying if we follow him, he will give us a life full of prosperity and wealth when really what that verse is saying is that he will never abandon us… even though sometimes we may not feel like he’s there. As I read the post I just found it so amazing that a post my dad had told me to read 11 days ago for a completely different reason could speak the words that I so desperately needed to hear after the past few days.

God, you are so amazing and I thank you for never abandoning me.

It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor

A couple of weeks ago the Women’s Network at work hosted an event called “Envision Your Best Year”. The Women’s Network hosts many events each year and sadly, I never jump at the opportunity to attend. It wasn’t until my manager sent out a note asking if anyone wanted to join her that I decided to give it a shot. I’m so glad I did because it made me realize a few things that I want to improve about myself & my life.

One of the first things the keynote talked about was how, in a lifetime, women make about a million less than their male counterparts. Some of the reasons she mentioned are that:

1.  We never “brag” on ourselves.  Rarely do women complete a project or milestone and stop to take a few moments to pat ourselves on the back- we tend to move right into a new project. Even when we do take a minute to recognize our progress, we tend to downplay the accomplishment. Men, on the other hand, are sure to let everyone know.

2. Women never ask for the things they want (for instance raises or promotions). We think that if we deserve a promotion, it will get noticed on its own or that it will make us look greedy to ask for one.

When she mentioned these points, I started to cringe because I know I am definitely guilty of both.

I am definitely my own worst critic and never give myself enough credit. Rarely do I stop in life to celebrate my accomplishments or pat myself on the back. Instead, I’m always looking for the next new thing that I think needs fixing.

I also feel like I had the mindset of “If I’m doing a good job, other people will notice”. It wasn’t until a couple of weeks ago when I was talking to a friend and she mentioned how in her 10/10s (weekly development meetings with your manager), she would make sure to call out the ways she has improved since her previous 10/10. At first it seemed so odd to me. I felt like calling out accomplishments was “bragging” and that it seemed cocky, when in reality, its important that we recognize progress and take pride in our accomplishments (within reason). I decided to start taking her advice and I feel like it has helped me in many ways.

First, it helps me to keep myself accountable. When I first started full time, I didn’t mind playing a backseat role and was always afraid to speak up. Even though my team is very supportive, I was always afraid of messing up or saying something stupid so I kept quiet. Once I made the decision that I wanted to be able to report back to my manager on my progress, it helped me to push myself out of my comfort zone. I speak up more and make offers to do tasks that I’m not necessarily comfortable with which has not only helped build my confidence, it has helped my team to see me as more of a leader.

Doing this new technique, also shows my manager that I’m listening to the feedback she’s giving me and that I’m making an effort to improve. While I don’t know that I would ever feel comfortable straight up asking for a promotion/raise, it has helped me to be more transparent about what my goals are as well as solicit feedback from her about what she thinks can help me perform at the next level. So far,  it has been very motivating to see the things I can be capable of when I stop holding myself back and is very encouraging to hear from my manager that she sees a difference as well.

Another point that the keynote speaker brought up is that we seldom take the time to assess our life satisfaction. While I actually think I do this fairly regularly, she did help me to realize something new. She made us write down all of our goals for the next 5 years. A lot of mine were things that I have already discussed in previous posts but there were a few were new ones such as “pay off car” and “get promoted”.  She asked what things we realistically thought we could accomplish this year if we had more time… and surprisingly, many  of them seemed reasonable. Next, she had us fill out a spreadsheet that asked how many hours per week we dedicated to different activities (Work,  Friends, Family, TV, Fun, Exercise, Service, etc). It was shocking to me to see how much time I wasted during the day. There are 24 hours in a day- even if I sleep for 8 (which rarely happens) and work for 8, there are still 8 more hours left… When I think about the things I do in those extra hours- I’m embarrassed… Too much of that time is taken up by meaningless activities such as watching Trashy TV or stalking people on social media (dont act like you dont do it too :P). It also showed me how little hours I put into “Service/Volunteer” (zero to be exact) and realized something needed to change… I want to do more meaningful things in my life and not spend half of it watching the Real Housewives of Every City.

Soooooo that being said, I have decided to join more extracurricular activities. Last week I signed up for the “Community Engagement” committee for our African American Network and am hoping to leverage that to get involved with CHOICES. I have also signed up for the “Development” committee for the Women’s Network and the United Way of Greater Richmond’s Women’s Leadership Initiative. Along with signing up for more extracurricular activities, I have decided that I will start to limit the time I watch TV to 1 hour a day. After that one hour, I am going to force myself to find something else to do… whether its call a family member/friend, clean my room, blog, go to bed earlier, etc. I also want to read more so I am trying to read a chapter each night before I go to bed. Currently, I am reading a book called “It’s Not a Glass Ceiling, It’s a Sticky Floor” which talks about ways in which women hold themselves back from advancing in the corporate world. Ironically enough, I won it at a Women’s Network event back in 2011 when I was interning. (Yes, I’ve had it for two whole years and never cracked it open. After the event a couple weeks ago, I figured it was time :).) I’ll be sure to keep you updated on my progress as well as celebrate any accomplishments ;).

In the meantime, I challenge you to evaluate how many hours you currently spend per week in each of the categories (Work, Commute, Spouse, Family, Friends, TV, Fun, Service, Exercise, Chores, Self-Care, Sleep, Spiritual Practices, Learning, Other- the hours must add up to 168). How many hours would you ideally like to spend in each of the categories? What are you willing to change to start moving towards your ideal? For those of you that actually take the time to do this, I would love to hear what you learned about yourself…

Until next time…

xx