Advice for When You Feel You Have Nothing to Offer the World

Lately, I’ve felt that I have little to nothing to offer the world. That there is nothing of substantive value that I can give and that I’m more of a burden to the world, friends, and family than anything else.

It is not a fun place to be in. I’m also a ruminator, which means once I get that in my head, I spend hours and sleepless nights coming up with thoughts to support that notion.

Have you ever been there?

I spent last night and the night before engulfed in nightmare after nightmare (some real horror shit too) in which I just failed person after person. I saved no one and in many cases caused their pain or demise. In one, I even ended up becoming one of the monsters after being unable to save them from an inevitable death, because I realized (the monsters reminded me), “you’re just one of us anyway” as they casually played video games.

I was definitely in a bad headspace. I went into work today, to meet 8 college students that will work in the department I direct, thinking I ultimately fail everyone, how can I ever provide them anything? I felt hopeless and empty.

I walked in ready to fake it, and my office manager tells me how much her teen daughter loved meeting me for a brief 15 min this weekend. She told me that she thought I was funny and beautiful and really cool.

And then the 8 pairs of eyes and my two professional staff eagerly awaited my opening remarks this morning. I made them laugh. The staff enjoyed the breakfast I brought in. The students warmed up to me. Slowly, the day became a little brighter and little more hopeful. I laughed. I didn’t fake a single thing. I was in my element even for a few hours today and it felt good.

I am not sure if this is the last time I will like I have no value, but even the thought that I could impact a young woman with a simple interaction or serve as a good leader to my staff helped me to find a little ray of sunshine today. The universe knew I knew I needed to feel valued and loved. The universe delivered. She hadn’t forgotten me. I rejoiced at knowing that.

If you feel sometimes that you have nothing to offer, I challenge you to look for small incidents that can affirm that you absolutely are where you should be. Don’t be afraid to relish in those moments a little longer on days you need it most. Forget what people say about pride or boastful ways – sometimes it is an act of absolute survival to really enjoy every single affirmation of circumstance and belonging, no matter how seemingly small they are. None of this is a coincidence; you are here for a reason, exactly where you are, as you are, as imperfect as you stand.

And maybe that reason is for a 14 year old girl to look up to you and think you’re cool. And as seemingly small as that is, it could be inspiring the next generation after all. You are part of something bigger than yourself and you were no accident. You’re not a burden. You have so much to offer and you offer it all the time. You are time and place imagined today, at this moment. Do not give up.

With love always.

The Number

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The number those asterisks represent that had me almost in tears. The number of failure for me this morning. The number I avoid purposely (I’ve thrown out all scales in my home). The number that brought to this page, to my pen. The number that made me feel defeated. The number that isn’t that much different than it was 3 months ago, but enough different that it feels like a knife shearing through my heart. The number that represents my relationship with gravity. The largest relationship I’ve ever had with gravity. The number that I’m not even sure I can share with you all.

Today is a bad body love day. Today may even be a bad self-love day.

I consider myself a body positive advocate. I no longer post pictures about my workouts, runs, weight loss, before and after pics, or dieting plans. I think this is damaging. It makes women, young, old, accomplished, and everything in between, doubt who they are, think themselves less, and wonder why not me. It is also is quite boring to me. I’m tired of talking about diets, exercises, thighs, fat blasters and all in between. If that is your thing, go ahead! I don’t care what you do. Just don’t do it with me please. I also suffer from a history of disordered eating patterns, distorted body image, and likely undiagnosed body dysmorphia and an exercise addiction in the past (and I can diagnose myself because I’m a licensed counselor J). So, participating in those conversations are triggers for me and bring about serious self-doubt and pain. Like you have no ideas how many hours I can spend dedicated to speaking about that. According to my past therapists and researchers on ACES (adverse childhood experiences survey), it is also all likely a symptom of PTSD. Isn’t that bitch? Haunted by things that are not my fault and yet I still try to find it ways to make it my fault – enter all of the distorted images of self. Well, fuck. Either way, because of my experiences and experiences of my clients, I’ve realized that for some people, these images and talk are highly damaging, or at the very least demoralizing. It’s made me feel like a personal failure many times (me: why can he/she/they lose so much weight, and I can’t? brain: Must be a person defect.) So, I usually don’t any more.

Today is different. I took this picture below of me because I was disgusted and disgusted I was disgusted and needed evidence for this blog. I needed everyone to see an unflattering picture of me. I needed you to see some of the blooper reels. And then I needed to post it because I needed proof that I’m still human and loveable and all those things. And that fat people work out too, to be perfectly honest.

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And after that picture here is a running reel of things going on in my head as I worked out:

  • Your belly, do you see and feel how full it is? That’s probably why he disappeared after making out with you; he was probably disgusted.
  • Your doctor is going to poke at you on Monday and you’re going to feel awful.
  • Speaking of which, no need to bring in the concerns of your digestive system or any other ailments – it’s all your fault anyway.
  • You look awful in that t-shirt. Remember when it was loose?
  • When you go home, everyone will notice your weight and realize what a failure you are.
  • Two months ago, things were fitting looser. You’ve failed.
  • You are not pretty
  • You will never find love.
  • Some people are larger when they are younger, they are allowed to occupy bodies and look amazing in whatever size; You are not allowed that, because this isn’t your body type.
  • Why can everyone else lose weight so much easily? Did you see all those summer bodies online last night? HA, not you.
  • Why are you reading this book on radical self-love? Do you really think you are allowed that?
  • Your walks around the park aren’t enough twice a week. You know better. You know you need multiple days of intense exercise for 2 hours to lose weight. We have been here before.
  • The wine. It’s the wine. Also, the birthday fun. Nope.
  • You’re not worthy.
  • You’re not sexy.
  • You will be alone forever.
  • You should be embarrassed.
  • You are not enough.

As, I listen to India Arie as the soundtrack to this blog post, and reflect on the words and thoughts I had today, I feel even more ashamed but then it moves to sadness. Timely, she is is currently singing “Just let it go. Set yourself free. Healing is in your hands.” If I reflect on the past few months, this has been the first time in maybe 3-4 months that these voices have been this strong. I suppose that’s progress, although they have transformed into other lies about my incompetence (my work, friendship abilities, partnership abilities, and my intelligence). Even so it demonstrates that I have the capability to heal, I just need to create the capacity.

Speaking of capacity, I haven’t had much of that lately. I have been traveling a lot for work for a few months now, spending the majority of most weeks out of town. In fact, I am writing this from a hotel room in Lansing, MI. I can’t say that it has been fun. It’s been difficult to find food that makes me feel nourished and is nutritious. Workouts are hard to come by. I’m exhausted and not sleeping well. And I’m so very bloated all the time or gastritis is flaring up all over the place. I have had little time for reflection, painting my nails, a social life, or just play. I don’t feel like myself. I’m moody, my patience is low, and I miss my “me time.” On top of this, I’m making some major life changes right now and managing feelings of inadequacy and incompetence isn’t easy. But it’s familiar. It’s my limbic system’s way of dealing with threatening or stressful situations. I’ve started drinking more ginger tea (stomach issues) and my favorite is the Yogi teas. The Yogi teas come with inspirational messages on them, and every single one has been about compassion. Reflecting now, I think that this is the universe’s way of telling me that the person who needs my compassion most right now, is myself.

“I am not the voices in my head. I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside. I am light.” –India Arie, I Am Light

Just “Regular” Black

Often, the first things people notice about me are my  face full of freckles (that seem to take over my body the older I get) and my greenish eyes. It’s particularly jarring an noticeable to people because I’m just “regular” Black. 100% Black, nothing else and 100% proud.

Growing up, people constantly asked me “what was I?” Or complimented me on how I looked like a “white woman” or at the very least mixed. As I got older, redbone was the compliment of choice by men, who were always fascinated by my “exoticism” and wanted to know if my mother or father was white. Family members also often told me that I looked mixed, if only my hair was a silkier (My hair is the give away. In its natural state, it is a beautiful kinky, jet black, ball of wool – nothing European about it.). And as I got into weaves and wigs, this was even further solidified. I grew up thinking being Black wasn’t good enough, that it was a good thing to be lighter skinned, asked “what are you?” and to be mistaken as only half negro. Although I didn’t necessarily see it as better to me, I realized that it was compliment in the world I grew up in. And so I allowed it to happen, smiling sheepishly as I responded (gross).

After constantly being asked this question though, I began to get annoyed, quickly. I became confused every time someone’s face fell when they learned I was just “regular” Black. As I learned more about paper bag tests, and doll experiments, and well, colorism in general, I grew angry. When I realized my fellow sister friends with beautiful skin were often disregarded, felt inferior, and men trashed them, I was disgusted. And when my own siblings told me about hatred for their  darker skin and wishing they had mine, I felt incredibly sad and heartbroken. And then I realized that in a very complicated world of color and race, in some ways, I have privilege. And in other ways, I’m very much the victim of racism. And that either way, I had to shift my thinking and what I allowed others to say or do around me.

And so began my bitchy remarks to those who questioned my ethnicity. “I’m Black mixed with Black,” I replied before it was a popular t-shirt. “Redbone isn’t a compliment to me, and I’m actually offended that you would insult my fellow sisters like that,”  I replied every single time a man would send me a message complimenting me on my light skin and how he prefers that.  I try my best to affirm others about their beauty and advocating when I can for others when I can. I intentionally use a rainbow of shades in my presentations. I remind people that being multiracial is wonderful, but simply being Black is wonderful too.  Most importantly for my own self, I will not accept any compliment that is about how exotic or “other” someone finds me.

I’ve also learned that my skin color comes with down sides too. Many people think I’m a “safer” type of Black, and are surprised and annoyed that I’m afrocentric and speak about racism often. Men expect me to be a little less opinionated. I’m “pretty for a Black girl” in some white spaces. I’m sometimes stereotyped as stuck up, not down, or self-centered. I work hard to disprove these things, but I try to not get caught up in that, because I know for every time those annoyances happen, a darker skinned woman is denied a job, a relationship (you don’t need him or her though honey, you too good for that), stereotyped,  “pretty for a dark skinned woman” or humiliated. I’m so sorry you go through that. I’m so sorry if I have ever been part of that problem. Please know that I stand by your side and am an ally today.

I cannot change the color of my skin or eyes. I love my freckles.  However, what I can do is claim my Blackness, never back down or allow slick shit  people say to slide, and be an active participant in dismantling colorism in our community.

So to answer your question,  I’m 100% Black queen goddess mixed with Black strength. That’s it. Just you know, “regular” Black.

I’m Tired of Myself Not Showing Up and Out for Myself

A few days ago I posted a pic of me in a pink jumpsuit and everyone was kind enough to give me compliments about it out the wazoo. I almost didn’t post it, because I thought I looked ugly and fat. Last week, I posted a post about how my spiritual journey is not what most people expect and my beliefs don’t align with majority of the people I know. I almost didn’t post it because I was fearful of rejection. I am making some major life changes and am doubtful at every turn and tell little people about it because I’m afraid I look stupid or flakey. I set boundaries that are healthy for me and then feel immensely guilty because people don’t agree. I don’t want children because it isn’t for me, but feel constant pressure to explain why, and so I never talk about it, missing out on opportunities to inspire others because I’m worried about others opinions or being seen as less desirable as a romantic partner.

I could go on and on with examples like these. But what I really want, is to never have another example like this in my life. I am beyond done with not showing up and showing out for my own damn life and living it on my terms. My whole job as a therapist is centered around telling others to show up for themselves, why the hell do I not do this for me? I am tired of being bound by shit that has no positive or fulfilling purpose in my life.

My body image has held me back for years. I don’t pursue the men I want, I sometimes don’t wear the clothes I want, I avoid pictures, and I have spent too many days crying over fat rolls, doing only certain exercises to decrease fat, apologizing when I eat a donut, ans comparing myself to beautiful women. Today, I declare myself beautiful, with fat rolls, and worthy. Fuck your beauty standards I’ve internalized. I can be active and overweight and healthy and eat donuts.

I’m tired of playing small in every aspect. I will assert my truth, I will not stop talking about Black things, I will not stop talking about equity, I will not stop when you are uncomfortable, call me an angry Black woman, tell me to be sweeter. I will not stop sharing my ideas. It’s not me to be quiet or small. It’s not my soul. It kills me when I do it. I will not commit soul genocide anymore.

I’m tired of settling. I will go for jobs in my career that invigorate me, challenge me, and call me to step into the leadership position that I am called to be. I won’t be anyone’s entry level anything anymore. I will walk in my strengths humbly, but not self deprecatingly.

I will not settle with men. I deserve what I want. My body will not be used for pleasure unless I say so, and I will not settle for a man that does nothing less than challenges me to be better, loves and cares for me, can hold his own, and also is what I want. No more nice guys with potential, and certainly no more fuck boys here to waste my time. No more half committed, empty words, me chasing you, you being too cool. Stand beside me, be ready to commit, or get to walking. Also, this isn’t only your descision; I actively get to choose. I’d certainly rather be alone than to deal with any BS.

Listen. I’m ready to show up and show out for myself. I am tired of playing it safely and diminishing my light. I am soft and fierce and courageous and change maker and I no longer have a choice but to live up to this. And I’m excited AF.

So please know, I am showing up for myself in a big way and I hope you join me. But if it makes you uncomfortable, IDGAF.

Say it Loud!…I’m Black and I’m Proud!

I’m rooting for everybody Black.
-Issa Rae

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Despite popular belief, I’m black, and I love being black, and I would not trade that in for the world.

Watching Black Panther in theaters opening weekend was just such an amazing experience. An experience I have not been able to see at a mainstream level in such a long time, if ever. In its first weekend, Black Panther made $218 million. 218!!!!!! To put this in perspective, the Jordan Peele written and directed “Get Out”, which is another great movie, opened up with $33 million and “Girls Trip”, another movie for the culture, opened up with $31 million. Like, can your mind even process this right now? Black people have been WINNING for the past year and some months. However, even though “Get Out” and “Girls Trip” didn’t break the top ten grossing movies of 2017, they did place 15th and 26th respectively. Which isn’t an easy feat. We showed up! We did it y’all. But I can’t help but think we can do better. I can’t wait for when this doesn’t come as a surprise to us, because I can’t wait until other people outside of our race will finally recognize and know our worth.

Black Panther is leading in box office sales for 2018 right now and it’s not even close! Thanks to us for showing up and showing out! Additionally, I wnat to shout out the Marvel fanboys as well, but let me put this in perspective. Black Panther opened up their box office weekend outdoing Thor: Ragnarok, Spiderman: Homecoming, Wonder Woman, Justice League, Logan, AND Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 last year. Only being beat by Star Wars: The Last Jedi in 2017.

THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT PEOPLE! WE! SHOWED! UP!

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And what’s so much better about this, is that THEY. SHOWED. UP. The Director/Writer, the Actors, every single person who was a part of this project. Black Panther was more than just a superhero movie. It oozed of culture. It celebrated our culture! Even though Wakanda is very advanced, you see women wearing their hair beautifully, naturally, dressed in ensembles that oozed of African prints that seemed to be influenced by Kenyan cloth (I’m sure I’m wrong on the country here, don’t kill me). Even when you see T’challa and crew walking through the city, you see shops with Wakandans selling goods and merchandise, as it being the normal way of living. These people of Wakanda were showing their beauty. Taking Pride in their culture. The dances seen when the “battle” for King went on. The fact that the fate of Wakanda almost SOLELY depended on the women. When you think of advanced civilizations, you don’t think of markets, you don’t think of unpermed natural hair, you don’t think of African print clothing.. I LOVED IT. EVERY. SINGLE. SECOND.

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I’m so glad that Black Panther embodies this, because for the people that are not of color and do not know much about African culture, they were able to see a part of our history in a positive light. Usually, black people are portrayed as dumb, drug addicts, weed smoking, criminals of some sort and we are so tired of being represented this way in the mainstream. This is why we love ourselves. This is why we love to celebrate were we come from, because in most instances it has been stripped away from us. We barely see or know our history. We were taken away from our roots and forced to work as slaves for hundreds of years. This leads us to yearn and celebrate where we come from. From being descendants of Kings and Queens, to being knocked down to virtually nothing during slavery, only to come back out on top hundreds of years later gives me hope and promise and just joy that my black is beautiful and that I am worth it.

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The release of Black Panther is an event! It’s own “comic-con” of sorts. I encourage all of us to embrace our blackness and continue to show the world how amazing we are. I’ve only decided to focus on Black Panther for this post, but we are doing amazing things in music, TV, and movies. Continue to be proud and continue to support us, as we are worth every single ounce of our existence. And don’t let anyone tell you differently.

#wakandaForever

To all the women…

To all the women, like myself, who saw this meme and realized we were a “Ford F-150 extended cab 4×4 with pro Tow Package…

To all the women who are still trying to lose pregnancy weight 12 years later…

To all the women whose stomach sticks out further than their boobs or butt…

To all the women whose waist is not shaped like an hour glass…

To all the women who get super excited when they see unaltered images in your Lane Bryant emails

But even then feel self conscious because your body doesn’t even look “that good”…

To all the women who know there actually is an answer to this question…

And you fall on the wrong side of the scale…

To all the women who have made them self sick from dieting and exercising with little to no results…

To all the women who judge them selves harsher than anyone in the world ever will…

To all the women who know that very few people in the world respond this way

But you hold out hope that one day you’ll find someone who does…

For all the women who have been offered random fitness advice by people you don’t know or barely know…

To all the women who hate the gym…

To all the women who bought gym memberships in January but haven’t gone back…

To all the women who struggle to fit in airplane seats…

To all the women who crave chocolate cake during their period and afterwards…

To all the women who consistently give into cravings…

To all the women who know the pain that is “chub rub”…

To all the women who have decided they aren’t good enough based on something someone else has said or done…

Know this

And this

And we are gorgeous just the way we are.

“Today, I got time…”

There’s this saying from a YouTube video (that I’m kind of ashamed to even share here) that I’ve just really been embracing recently.  It’s kind of been my mantra.  “Usually I don’t have time but today, I got time”.  And the funny thing about this is that I thought I didn’t have time before, and that I just gave no f*cks, but come to find out, I do give a f*ck and I INDEED, got a lot of time.

Most people tend to say “I don’t have time for ______ today”.  But recently it has come to my attention that if you don’t have time for someone and their BS at that moment, you better find time soon because whomever you didn’t have time for then, WILL be back with that BS later.

So yeah today, I got time, and will considerably have A LOT of time moving forward.  I’m over ignoring ignorance and childish behavior, and I will no longer participate in it because honestly, some things just need to be nipped in the bud there and then.

So when you want to say some racist shit to me, I got time.  If I’ve told you “No” on multiple occasions and you’re still in my face, I got time.  If you defend Donald Trump and sincerely think he’s a good president, I got time. If you say some LGBTQ-phobic shit, I got time.  If you feel like you are going to disrespect me or anyone else I care about, I got time. If you’re on some anti-feminism, misogynist BS, I got time. If you come for me and I ain’t even send for you, I got time.  If you text me some off the wall mess, I got time.  If you lied to me and I find out, I got time.  

And sure, sometimes people just need to be ignored, but there are some people who just don’t understand. So for the ones that don’t get the silent treatment, I will, for sure, have time for them today. 

And for the friends who you got time for, but seem to still not get it, it may be time to cut them out completely… 

Because ain’t nobody got time for that…