The Not-So-Favorite F-Word

“Forgiveness is giving up all hope of having had a better past.”  ~ Anne Lamott

I read the above quote earlier today and was blown away by its meaning.  Mostly because I, Rae, in all of my desire to be nice, appropriate and kind, it makes it even more difficult to forgive someone from time to time.  Anne Lamott, in all of her infinite wisdom also says that “Forgiveness means it finally becomes unimportant that you hit back.”

Honestly, I want to hit back some days.  There are only a few people on that list.  Who even after the time has passed since the offense, actions, deception, etc where I still wouldn’t mind hitting back.  I’m human.  I try and work on it.  I find the less I try to forcefully let go, the better I feel.  In times past, I have forgiven with almost no remembrance of it having been a chore.  Like one day, I’m as angry as Bluto and seeing red and a week or two later, I’m all zen and peace like Mother Teresa.  I’ve written about the importance of forgiving myself and talked about it when I wrote about choosing (or not) to give someone a second chance.

I think the quote mostly hit me like a brick today because I’m coming upon my 38th year of life.  While I can’t be more excited – I really am!  I also often think about how differently things could have been done if I hadn’t dated a certain person (or several), hadn’t moved to certain places, had allowed others to remain out of my life and kicked some out much sooner.  During this month I become very reflective often to the tune of becoming relatively critical of myself.  But seeing that quote this morning made me stop and think about a few things.  It made me realize I need to stop the hope of having had that better past and start realizing now is the time I have, now can create the next moments, the better moments for tomorrow. 

It’s easier said than done.   Like I said, some days, I still want to hit back.  I’ve found the best thing I can do for myself is to let those people out of my life and allow for it to remain as such.

No one really likes to talk about forgiveness.  At least not most people I know.  It [seems] is much easier to hold onto whatever offense someone has committed and hold them responsible.  It seems much easier to continue to think about the past and wonder:  What if I hadn’t ________?  What if I would have ___________? 

Lous Smedes

So this month, one of the things I’ll be working on is abandoning hope of having had a ‘better’ past.  A better past would mean I wouldn’t have met all of you.  It would mean I would possibly miss out on all of the current and future goodness.  There’s no future in spending time on all of the days past.  While it’s good to have some reflection, it’s better to understand where you are and why you’re there.   In honor of that, I’ll be creating a list with items I want and expect to accomplish over the next gifted year of life.

What are your thoughts on the Anne Lamott quote?  Any words of wisdom on the F-word?

Love,

Rae

Flaws, Gifts and Making Room: Guest Post on Michelle’s Motivation

Hi my loves!  You know, blogging brings so many people together.  This time it’s brought me into contact with a fabulous sister, who is the author and blogger for Michelle’s Motivation.  Michelle has one of the brightest spirits you’ll ever see, she’s gorgeous, she writes and she’s in charge.  She read one of my posts and we started chatting.  The hilarious thing is Michelle and I go to the same church (well, Michelle makes it to church I on the other hand am on the milk carton).  I digress.  So when Michelle asked me to guest post, I said yes immediately.  Then as is customary fashion, the question was what do I talk about? What’s on my heart? Well, this is what I have been thinking about lately. Please be sure to comment over at Michelle’s page:

Please understand what I’m saying today because it’s so very important.

God has a place for you and an assignment.

Years ago, I heard my pastor say during a Sunday sermon “You will be able to reach people I will never be able to reach.”  Meaning, as people there are places we go or have access to that others may not.  We may have access to certain people.  I have always remembered him saying this.  Sometimes, we are the only instance of God or of love a person may encounter.

Let me confess now, I am a complicated sister some days….

Continue reading at Michelle’s Motivation…

Why Being Vulnerable is Valuable

God clearly loves fools and babies.

I fall under both categories.  I am His baby and I surely act a fool. I have done outrageously foolish things and have made a whole set of specialized foolish decisions.  Repeatedly and without abandon.  Smiling and excited and acting like I was doing the right damn thing.  Really.  No faking.  I talk it ’cause I live it. Ward 7 DC. Repping fo’ the D. by way of Bomingham (aka Birmingham).  Yeah, I’m trill.  Even on my kindest, sweetest days I can rep. I have been known as ride or die.  Mostly I was a rider.

GOD has the best and most unique sense of humor I’ve ever come to know.  If you don’t think so, just look at the variety of human beings He’s placed on this earth and all of the crazy and funny things we do.  I’d like to think laughing was invented by Him.  It’s said, “If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.”  Needless to say, He must get a regular full belly chuckle out of me.  Hell, I laugh at me many days.

With all of the hardcore in me, I’m as soft as room temperature butter.  I cry at love scenes and movies and when Benji finally makes his way home.  I get upset when I see children who look like they don’t have anyone who cares about their whereabouts.  I love love.   I love my family.  I love my friends.  I love writing.  I love fresh flowers and good pizza and cheap wine.  I. Just. Love. Period.  As I’ve also been advised by my friend Henry, I’m a softy.

And because I’m a lover and not a fighter, I’m often the vulnerable one.  I’m the girl who likes to put herself on the line and admit she’s in love.  Even when it isn’t recommended, I’ll do it because I always secretly hope I’ll meet the one (or a facsimile thereof) who loves me as much (and shows me) as I admit I love him. In the end, it makes me susceptible to many things – both good and bad.  There is much to be said for that kind of vulnerability.

I also realize how rare it is these days.

Has anyone read Watchman Nee’s The Release of the Spirit?  It talks about how God consecrates us.  How much our makeup is like the construction of the egg.  With a hard outer shell.  The egg white and the yolk.  And how God causes that outer shell to crack and fortifies us so that when others look to us, they see God and not just us with our flaws and difficulties.  If they do see those flaws, it’s that moment people see the flaws as divine.  Really, this is a blessing.

The reality of it is vulnerability is a blessing for the following reasons:

  1. It cracks you wide open.  Whether good or bad, there’s no expansion, growth, metamorphosis or increase when you stay in your shell.
  2. It frees you.  Being bound is the worst thing in the world.
  3. It frees and helps others.  Seeing someone who isn’t bound up, isn’t shackled, encourages and builds up others.

So I could be called foolish in some ways.  I mean I’m not over here draining my bank account and giving money out.  I’m just open to all of the good and the possibilities that can come my way.

Writing over this last month has made me extremely vulnerable.  Anyone who is a creative, who shares publicly?  Vulnerable. Anyone who decides to love another human or quasi-human? Vulnerable.  Starting a new job, business, personal endeavor? Vulnerable.

There’s no real way to avoid it.  At some point in time, we’ll all be ass out.  It seems I’m often ass out but it becomes me. I just decided I didn’t want to run and hide anymore.  It takes too much effort and time.

So here I am.  Sometimes with my ass flapping in the wind, sometimes flying by the seat of my pants.  There are times when it definitely backfires, but more times than not, my vulnerability has richly rewarded me. Sometimes I’m embarrassed.  But the vulnerability has been an asset.  I’ve learned to turn it into one.

I’ve found my greatest love, my greatest lessons and my greatest gains in these moments.   But really, what do we have to lose?  What could we gain from it?

Love,
Rae

What Happens When Where You Are Ain’t Where You Thought You’d Be…By Now

AKA

Shit…

HOW TO RECONCILE WHERE I AM VERSUS WHERE I IMAGINED I’D BE BY ___ (INSERT AGE, MILESTONE, ETC)

So….

I’m not where I thought I would be at this point in my life.  I know people who are.  I know people who were on the fast track, got their degrees straight out the gate, got married, have the “American Dream.”

I ain’t that girl.

Some days I wish I was.  I wonder what life would have been like had I went to med school as planned.  Had I married a man who I dated in my early twenties.  What we would have went on to do together.  I wonder if I would have been happy.   The current me today still somehow believes I made the right choice.  All of these lessons and my unconventional ways/wisdom and manner of handling things may never have developed.  I’ll never really know.

On SuperSoul Sunday last week, Marianne Williamson was saying God has this plan for our lives and we have a choice to accept it or not.  In other words, He has a storehouse of blessings and good things for us and we have a choice to “download the file.”  That file never changes.  It just remains in storage for us, waiting for us to decide to get it.

Clearly when God was planning all of this, He had me in mind.   Mostly because I think He knew I would make certain, let’s refer to them as …detours so to speak.

It’s that moment I realize the things and dreams I planned for myself haven’t quite turned out the way I had imagined them.   That what’s happening at this time doesn’t have anything to do with what I thought would be happening. But wait. Did I even have a plan for this point?  Could I have even planned that far out?  I see young brothers and sisters some days and they know exactly what they want to do and where they want to be.  I used to be that girl.

I ain’t that girl.

I made a conscious choice not to pursue the beaten path laid before me.  Real talk –  my grades dropped and good ole Mrs. S decided not to renew my scholarship.  I choose to see it as divine intervention.  I divinely intervened with clubs and friends and road trips and sleeping in for about 18 months.  Then one day I realized I at least needed to finish college.  I made the bright decision I would major in Spanish because it was easy for me.  I was working 50 hours a week and still had a party schedule too.  I couldn’t deal with anything that was going to be too heavy.  I mean, I can look back on those moments all I want to, but the times were good times.  The friends I made in my detour – I still have most of them today.  And the debauchery that ensued in those years?  Lord if I didn’t learn some valuable lessons.

Days turn into months, adding up to years.  Milestone birthdays events.  Stellar moments.  Living life.  Hoping things will turn out the way they are supposed to, the way I want them to.  And as the days continue to pass, I watch my friends go on to do amazing, ground breaking and monumental things.  I watch them marry and have children.  Move across the country.  Move out of the the country.  Back to the country.  Start businesses.

I think about this as I truck to my part-time gig where I bartend. I really fucking hate having to work a side-gig. Shouldn’t I already be at a pay rate where I can avoid working extra jobs and still have some cash?

And when the moment comes again, an awakening of sorts to how unhappy I may be but manage to shovel that away.  Deep away.   Denial in it’s best form.   The day when I realize I haven’t done a damn thing on my list of the things I wanted want.

And then I do this for a while:


And mind you – this is an internal fight.  When the real, authentic version of myself wins (Elle) the imposter version of myself (Bea) thrashed around on the floor and screams internally for some time.  Well actually, there have been a few breakdowns spent on the floor for a while.  Again, I am well-acquainted with the floor and if you try to tell me you’ve never done this shit I’ll say you’re lying.  Literal floor or proverbial floor. Still the floor.  Rock bottom.

After I get through working at a part-time job I don’t think I should have to work at, I sequester myself in the house for several days.   Friends and co-workers look for me.  I mean, I called out for a few days.  But after about two or three days, the calls from my friends at work begin to roll in.  Friends who normally hear from me daily and don’t call me.  They come over or ask me out luring me with the promise of good food and cheap wine.  I prefer cheap wine.  Have I mentioned this before? I do.  Please address all bottles to…

But it’s this sudden realization nothing has been done on my list.  I’ve given over my life to whichever way the wind blows.  This is good and bad of course.  However, if it’s not the direction I want to go in this is problem.  I also realize time is ticking.

I decide the best remedy is to stay home another day.

And this is what happened when I realized where I am, ain’t where I thought/hoped/wished/prayed I’d be…by now.  And then it repeated itself over the years in varying degrees.

Then last year, right around the time I started this blog, being the genius I am, it dawned on me all of this is up to me.  So damn my fears and worries.  Let me take this list out.  Oh, wait, I didn’t write it down.  Well let me write this list down.  Then let me see what I can do.  I mean really – what can I do?  What can I try?  Where can I go?  Let me stay in my means and work some of these issues out.

All I’m saying is I realized at some point, although I am in a ditch, I am going to have to dig myself out.  So since then I have done this….

And when I get across this desert and get my Hatori Hanzo sword back, I am driving off in my ’83 Camaro and I’m not looking back.

It’s on.

Love,

Rae

Thoughts on 37 …..

Two weeks ago,  I turned 37.  For the first time in a while, I wasn’t alone or feeling lonely (on a birthday).   In fact, I now know I am in a good place.

Despite some of the chaos that’s been happening through the year, I find I am more secure and stable in who I am, what I want and where I am going.  I am certain of the people I have surrounding me.  I am certain there is a specific direction.  I may not always know where I’m going to land, but I can say that the road I’m traveling has been a good trip thus far.

May 29th restored me.  I shed some things I had been carrying for a while – doubt, uncertainty?  Yeah – it was time to leave them where it came from.  Best to send them right back.  Serves no use most of the time.  Or at least it wasn’t serving me.

Without further adieu, here are my “Thoughts on 37”: 

  1. Being three (3) years away from 40 is a serious wake-up call.
  2. 37 is no different from any other year. It’s just I’m different.  I’m a better me.  Lens is clearer.
  3. I feel like a unicorn at 37. At 40 I plan to feel like a fairy or a fairy queen.  When I was 25 I wasn’t even thinking about 40!! I’m staying young.
  4. I like to hear good news (see Philippians 4:8).  If you’re a nay-saying bad news bringer, I’m not checking for you and you must exit stage left immediately.
  5. Time is more important, more precious.   There is less time today than yesterday.  I’m going to spend it in a good place.
  6. This doesn’t mean tears won’t be shed.  Heartbreak isn’t a friend of mine.  It does mean, I’m less tolerant of people who bring this into my life consistently.
  7. It also means being able to go through things without getting stuck.  If there’s something happening, I need to get through it, experience it, process it, thank God I made it through it and then keep on walking.  Never look back.  I’m in no mood to turn into a pillar of salt.
  8. It also means being able to forgive.
  9. A disagreement doesn’t have to mean a dissolution (most times).
  10. Random: I’m wearing shades of red lipstick and loving it (you thought I was about to mention something about 50 Shades of Grey didn’t you? Nasty! Ha ha! Just kidding. Another story for another day).  All this to say, it’s been important for me to break out of my comfort zone on some things.
  11. There is a lesson in it all.  The good.  The bad. The traumatic.  The heart wrenching.  I’m taking notes.  I don’t like repeating classes.
  12. Motherhood and marriage are still close to my heart.
  13. It’s more important than ever to value my personal story and share it.
  14. My commitment to transparency and honesty is still a full-fledged journey.  Although I’m honest there are still many secret chambers of my heart I keep locked away for safe keeping.
  15. My level of discernment is off the charts these days.  If it ain’t right, it ain’t right.  If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck – guess what?
  16. Even though my discernment is off the charts, I  really don’t know too much of shit anymore (ironic? yes. Crazy? No.).  The longer I’m living I’m realizing there is so much more I don’t know than I do know.
  17. I am aware, more than ever, of my personal boundaries & deal breakers.
  18. As much as I love to teach and give, to help,  there will be times I cannot teach, I cannot give or offer help.  Sometimes I need to sit back, enjoy the ride and keep my mouth shut.  In fact, many things don’t need to be fixed or tampered with by me.  God’s got it under control.    (see #16 on discernment)
  19. I am aware of things I can handle, tolerate, deal with, make work.  I’m not talking myself into or out of what my gut is telling me to do or not to do.
  20. Sometimes, I’m not going to get an apology – and it’s ok. It’s not right, but it’s ok.  I’m just going to have to press on.  (See #8)
  21. God reeeeeeeaaaaaaallllllyyyyy loves me (and you).  I can’t even begin to tell all the stories on here – I will divulge some about how He’s rescued and steered me all these years.  Whew!!!
  22. Reading and prayer are keys to knowledge.  As is surrounding myself with the people who I believe have wise counsel.  I should never be afraid to ask for help or counsel especially when seeking the right people to help me. In other words, I’m not seeking water in the desert.  I only ask those I know have been where I’m at and where I’m trying to go.
  23. Everything is fine, in right order – just as it is. Right now.  Romans 8:28

Anyone else crossed this threshold?  Can you feel me?  My sisters over 40 – what was this time like in your life as you began to approach it?  Any wisdom you can impart?

Love,

Rae

For Those Ordinary People Longing to be Extraordinary

i am a regular girl.
no, no really I am
i mean i can get fancy – this make up, my love of wine, food,  art (in that order)
but I am a regular woman
phenomenally regular.
beating a consistent beat
daily
the bap bap bap bim bap bap bap bim
sounds of a regular and ordinary day
like the sound of rain beating on a tin roof
and it’s sound of comfort

i have longed to be exotic and amazing
to be noticed by someone special for how unusual I am
for people to “get” my vision
and the truth is, I wasted all that time
waiting
wishing
hoping

that someone would see me for the unnamed star, undiscovered
a burning white hot star
but we, the ordinary people are often the invisible ones
the ones that keep the lights burning
and the cars running
and make all of the visible, extraordinary people
extraordinary

but my ordinariness, is what makes me that extraordinary

that i shine silently, brilliantly, beautifully

even when no one else is looking

and that is the definition of character

who am i when no one else is looking?

i rather think God’s partial to the ordinary woman or man
blessings, honor, nobel movements, a fight for fairness, a call to arms, come through ordinary people who felt an extraordinary calling

for my parents and my grandparents, my great aunts and their mothers and fathers

all ordinary, everyday people

who were extraordinary to me and in their pockets of the world

but they planted the seeds of something extraordinary inside me

i thank you

i owe you the gift of causing extraordinary and divinely inspired shift & change in the world

even if it means I am kind to someone when they don’t deserve it

or just follow what you told me to do and fulfill my dreams

or maybe it’s that I’ll be that mother someday

or the wife

or just comfort those in need

or maybe I’ll just write

but I will be sure that you and all of those before you are remembered

and this is what happens when ordinary people discover they’re not really that ordinary,

and listen to the vision calling inside of them for excellence

 

be who you are

 

What Happens When Your Worst Fears are Realized?

“If I were to answer it just kind of bold-faced, I would say what scares me is that I’m going to ultimately find out at the end of my life that I’m really not lovable, that I’m not worthy of being loved. That there’s something fundamentally wrong with me … What scares me the most is not knowing and accepting that just about everything is not in my control. That makes me feel unsafe….I used to think that what scared me was the idea of being abandoned until someone said to me, ‘Only children can be abandoned. Adults can’t be abandoned because we have a choice. Children don’t have a choice.’ So I started to rethink. ‘OK, it’s not that. What’s the underlying thread that really scares me?’ I think what scares me is not having the courage to reach my full potential … That I would allow fear, insecurity, and doubt to rule me and that I would ask for only a little of what is actually there for me. It would mean that I would be settling.” ~ Demi Moore

courtesy of Page Six‘s article on Demi Moore’s Haaper’s Bazaar interview.

I need to speak on this today.  Probably because I’m fearful at this very moment.   I started writing this post on December 19 and it’s been sitting.  I was already feeling uneasy then for good reason that just continued to escalate.  When I read the quote above today from Demi, it really hit home. I need to thank her for her candor and for being open.  This statement got me right together.

I knew it was time to send this post out.  I’m not the only one who’s afraid.  She spoke about how I’ve been feeling.   Maybe that I’m fearful of the future and what’s coming.  I’m fearful of what I have no control over.  Fearful of not being loved.  Fearful of not doing the right thing or reaching my full potential.  Of losing the most valuable people in life.  Of the uncertainty of it all.

But how am I supposed to handle fear when it’s right at my door and about to come in and have a drink with me?  What happens when it greets me in the morning when I wake up?  That up-in-my-face-all-in-my-damn-business sort of fear.  I  can’t escape it.  It doesn’t plan on going anywhere.  It’s right there.  Sitting on me.  What do I do then?  Here’s a few of the things I do:

  1. Pray
  2. Get thankful. I remind myself of what I’ve gotten through at this point.  I reminisce over the good and the love in my life. It helps reset my tone.
  3. Assure myself said situation isn’t permanent.  Most things are in passing.  It’s about getting over a wave.  If said situation is permanent, there wouldn’t be anything I can do about it.  Or is there?  Am I just in panic mode because I feel hopeless?
  4. Seek help.  This is important.  There should be at least a couple of people who I don’t have to hide my true feelings or tears or nervous breakdowns aka panic attacks.
  5. Hide. This doesn’t solve anything but sometimes, just being able to be away from it all has helped me.  I “hide” at home or at a trusted friend’s “safe” space home.
  6. Take a nap.  Reset.  Start over.
  7. Breathe.
  8. Cry.
  9. Get a new plan of attack when things seem to fall apart.
  10. Find someone else that may need my help more than I feel the need to feel sorry for myself.

Thinking about everything that’s happened over the last few years, there were so many things I feared happening that STILL came to pass.  Some people will say it was the fear that brought it to pass.  Others would say maybe I knew things were coming and I was prepped in advance.  I don’t think it was either.  I just think it’s life.  Shit happens.  It’s about how you manage that shit and navigate it.  Me being afraid didn’t change anything.  Me standing still didn’t stop life.  Choosing not to move, not to fight, not to do anything is still a choice.

I admit here and now, I don’t always succeed at managing my fear.  Sometimes, I just have to stay home in bed and pull it together.  Sometimes it’s caused me to make the wrong decisions or just drop everything and not fight. Instead, I took flight. Because I didn’t face up to some things, I think I lost some valuable situations and people.  However, each situation was a learning process.   Sometimes running makes things worse.

All of us handle these things in different ways.  Sometimes it’s about loss –  the death of a loved one or it’s about a partner or spouse leaving.   The most amazing relationship suddenly falls apart.  It could be the loss of a significant amount of money, it could be unforeseen  illness or debt.  It could be a betrayal of trust.  It could be disappointment in ourselves or about where we are in our life.  Or about our own actions.  Or fear of the truth.  Fear of the truth!  Fear of having to face the inevitable.  What about the anticipation of the unknown?  Yup.  Afraid of that too.

By the way, everything on the above list has taken place in my life over the last few years in some form.   Each one has it’s own story.

But here’s the best part of it all –

When the worst of my fears were realized, I was freed.   I mean, I’m going to admit all kinds of shit has rained down.  But as it has, as I’ve forced myself to face it, I’ve become just a little bit braver, just a little bit more fierce and a little bit less fearful.  I work hard at being more brave these days.

So many things are out of my (our) control until most of the time, there’s no reason for the worry in the first place.  It doesn’t help with what I need to do and where I need to go.  It doesn’t stop things from happening around me.  It only paralyzes me.  I will say fear can save your hide, but that’s a discussion for another time.  I’m not speaking about caution today or how we process all of the warning signs that arrive before something tragic happens.  In this case, I don’t classify this as fear.  That’s intuition, caution, discernment.  I (we) should listen when that’s the voice that’s speaking.  There’s a difference.  It’s not negative.  It’s cautionary, warning.  Loving.

This fear I’m speaking of as mentioned above, is a nay-sayer.  It’s abusive.  It takes an unfair advantage over your movements and your mind and spirit.   It can wrap it’s bony little icy fingers and hold you down.  It’s not Godly.  It’s something different.  It’s the kind that talks you out of the good things appearing in your life.  It’s the kind that has you confused and making terrible, rushed and inappropriate decisions.

So, I just wanted to get this off my chest today and confess.  Yes, I am afraid.  I’m not as brave as everyone thinks I am.  I just have faith.  I have hope. I believe I can make it through because of who God created me to be and because He’s with me every step of the way.  I know where my help comes from.  Why should I be afraid?

Marianne Williamson said, “Sometimes we need to tell our fear to go to hell because that’s exactly where it came from.”

Today, I’m telling my fear to go to hell.  I encourage you to do the same.

Love,

Rae