It’s December and we’re in the midst of the holiday season! What better time to talk about gratefulness than now!? Although we hope you’re grateful throughout the year, sometimes that’s hard. So this month Tonie B. Cole and I tackle the streets to find how people are exercising gratefulness and what tips they may have!
If you’re looking at your mountain and it feels impossible, I challenge you to take a walk down memory lane. How’d you get to this point?
This morning I found myself in the book of Numbers with the Children of Israel (I often read an aspect of The Children of Israel story and think they’re so ridiculous how they carry on and doubt, etc. But then I’m shown how similar I am to them. LOL in my every day life, I too struggle with doubt and forgetfulness and much more).
So at this particular place in Numbers, Moses has just sent a spy party out to canvas the area and find their promised land flowing with milk and honey (Numbers 13:1-3, 21-25). When the spy party returns, they tell all the people that the land flows with milk and honey, BUT there are giants living there who are much more powerful than they and there’s no way they can get the land. They even go as far as to suggest they find a leader to take them back to Egypt because they think they should have never left in the first place (Numbers 13:26-33, 14:1-4).
Y’all on the outside looking in, I am soooooooo confused as to why these fools are trying to go back! I almost threw my phone reading that – like what the heck?!
But then, I could see the correlation to that in my life. Can I be real with y’all? There are several unknowns when starting a business. Relinquish has been such a blessing and a challenge and thorn in my side. And honestly I don’t know what I’m doing a lot of the time, and I get a gnawing a feeling that maybe I should just close down shop and that “at least I can say I did it” attitude with the fake smile through the tears. But can I tell you – that mindset is such a cop out! Just like the children of Isreal, God has done numerous things to get me to where I am now. HE HAS MADE A WAY! He’s parted the Red Sea; He’s given food in barren paces; He’s led and guided me and STILL I get to a place and get presented with a few challenges and I’m ready to throw in the towel?? Like NAH bruh! Don’t just give up like that! Pause and ask “How did I get to this point!?”
Back to the story – apparently Joshua (who went out with the spy party) has some sense! He’s like (paraphrasing) “is that really all y’all saw?! God didn’t bring us to this land for us to be intimidated by the giants and go home.” And I think perhaps the dopest thing Joshua says is “…do not rebel against the LORD, nor fear the people of the land, for they are our bread…”(Numbers 14:9). <— Are y’all reading that?!? He said those giants are bread! That giant, that challenge, that mountain, that hurdle (whatever you are facing) should not be looked at as a wall but as a source of fuel (food) to give you energy to keep going!!!!
LORD HAVE MERCY!! I just took a lap around my townhouse y’all. I’m out of breath and don’t have anything left, so I leave you with this – as you recall how you got to this point, make sure you note every time The Lord has allocated; Every time He has made a way; Every time he has provided for you; Every time He protected you. And see there is a REASON you stand where you are today. Don’t turn back because it’s difficult or unclear. Follow through with what The Lord has started!
Love y’all! –
Lauren Relinquished ❤
Last year around this time I was preparing to shoot and introduce for THE very first time “Relinquish Wear.” I just got goosebumps thinking about it. I don’t think the planning was too much. I think it was that pit in my stomach that was my biggest hurdle to overcome. Sharing Relinquish publicly felt like so much (even if it was only 6 people at the shoot lol). I felt like my head was on the chopping block or something. Ok, that was really dramatic. I mean it really just felt like I was giving so much at that particular time. And I was. I’m a pretty private person, so sharing can be challenging at times. I felt so much of me was built into the apparel and the thought of sharing with others scared me, not to mention the thought of them also not understanding Relinquish and the affirmation apparel. But I told myself when I first started blogging in 2015 that I was doing it for me and that was that. If I really wanted to do something I shouldn’t be questioning and making excuses, I should just be doing. So that’s what carried me forward. I wanted to start an apparel line, so I did. I gathered some of the coolest people my fiancé knew and the 2 people I knew and we headed down to the streets of Atlanta and just shot and chilled.
Much of my weekday is a constant go-go-go.
Be here at this time; connect with this person; sell this account; handle this service issue; fill out paper work; call this person; etc. And because of the demand, I seldom take a break. However today is different. Over the last couple months, I’ve been really been mindful of my peace. Where it’s at? What’s standing in the way of it? What foundation its built on; etc.
My peace is so important to me. I think I’ve known that on a basic level, but never truly understood that until life got real, REAL (so to speak). Like, when I was in a depressed state, peace usually felt pretty unattainable. And then like now, having a sales job, there are a lot of stressors at play. And if not careful, they’ll run you. I can’t have that tho. My being CANNOT be dependent on every little thing around me affecting me. I have to be able to take things as they come (because life is always throwing stuff; and people are continually…um people lol), so I have to be able to manage what’s “real” and whats not; what I can change and what I cannot: What’s worth my attention and what is not; Etc.
So today, I decided to take a quick break….enjoy this bench in this breezeway and enjoy and regain my peace. Because I should and I can.
I’d say I’m past the days of shooting for perfection, yet I still find myself clinging and holding tightly to the idea of it. That “if I just do ____________ , it’ll be just right” type attitude. But that type of perspective throws off aim and focus. Forgetting what I’m doing “it” for in the first place. And when I find myself in those lost places I used to be kind of devastated you know? Now, I take them more like forced pauses, but in a good way. It’s an opportunity to stop. Just stop. Look around and observe my surroundings and how I got there. To take one hand off the the bar I’m holding so tightly to, and let loose a little. And it’s in those moments that I find God and my peace again and stop fretting. I’m told to Relinquish and right there…that’s all I need.
Be still. Breathe in. Breathe out. Remember to Relinquish.
-Where’s the power in playing small?
I wrote a note to myself in my phone “notes” app that said “blog about what it means to be all in.”
And now I’m like – uh…where do I start? *sheesh*
I write a lot of notes and unfinished thoughts on my phone with all of the intent of returning to finish them and post them like a good blogger would, but truth is, I get a great thought or pressing to really share something, and then I let time be the determining factor – like “nah, no one wants to hear that anymore.” I don’t think life topics ever expire, but sometimes it’s just a lot easier to tell yourself that. After the motivation or climactic moment has passed and your inclination to write has dissipated, just forget about it…
However, here I am and I know in this moment I can’t just “forget about it.” It wasn’t just a passing thought for me to cling to in one moment, but more of a thought that requires some greater digging because Lord knows the thought of being “all in” has plagued every aspect of my life over the last 5+ months. Whether it be my day job, RELINQUISH™ brand, friendships/relationships, whatever.
And of course, because it’s been a reoccurring theme I’m always curious to know where and how it started, etc. My guess is some of what I deemed failure in my day job, led to some mindset shifts and fears arising in other aspects of life.
The new job hasn’t been all that I thought it would and I haven’t been all that I thought I would in this new role. Talk about humbling y’all. Ya girl, thought she was great at everything and then I felt like I met my match. The crazy thing about it, I was whining about my job beating me up over the last months, but it was me beating me up. No one thing can ever overtake me. But I’ll tell you this – your mindset certainly can and will play a huge part in your success or demise. If you mindset says you can’t – then you can’t (simple as that).
So somewhere along the way I developed and fed these thoughts to myself – at least achieve average and your boss will get off your back; when I get to a certain point it’ll be smooth sailing and I’ll fly under the radar; just do it and if it doesn’t work out, you can at least say you experienced.
But there are so many things wrong with these ideas:
First, it’s easier to shoot for mediocrity because there is no perceived failure…at first. But if I have never been or seen myself as average, how in the world am I going to try and fit that mold now? That ain’t me and will never be me, and when you know you’re capable of more, you don’t settle simply because you can’t. Second, flying under the radar “feels” safer, but feeling and knowing are too different things. If I feel like this is enough, but know I’m capable of giving more than I am, then there’s no safety in that because I’m not being true to myself or my work. Third, doing something for the sake of doing it, isn’t actually doing it. If you’re going to do it, be all in.
So being all in for me right now means I have to change my attitude and my efforts. *Ugh* even just typing that makes me ache a little because I know there can’t be anymore “let’s just do a little” talk. I just keep picturing myself returning to the gym every day and doing reps with 5lb weights when I know darn well I need to be using the 50’s. If my effort isn’t matching what the task at hand is requiring then I’m not “all in.” If my mind is still questioning that which I already know the answer, I’m not “all in.”
Finding myself here is hard and I didn’t think I needed this lesson…like I’m beyond it for some reason or another, but truth is I’m not. I’m here. Working on being “all in”…yes even in the places that God has already blessed and given specifically to me. It’s hard, but having the honest conversation with self with where you stand and what you’ll do this day forward, does change things. There’s a lot of me not wanting to do stuff, but first and foremost what’s given to me is an honor, and also I’m an adult and nobody is going to do it for me. So its feast or famine, ya know? Your choice.
|I’ve never had to work so hard in my life.
I don’t mean that in a dramatic way, I just don’t think I’ve ever had to work so much.
Up to this point, it feels like a lot of things either came naturally or just weren’t that hard. Sure, there have been some difficult moments, but not like this.
I guess I’ll elaborate…I’ve never worked so hard at my romantic relationship, at work, on myself, on a passion.
Like back in school, I may get a tough assignment or shoot a tough course for the semester, but at least you can kind of gauge where you are and get a return on an investment for your actions (i.e. Study for a test à make a grade).
You ever feel like you’re just hanging in the balance? Not sure if you’re making the grade or not? Feeling like your output should look way different considering all you’ve input?? Yeah…
Nowadays, I feel like I have a lot of regrouping moments where I’m having to confirm with God a billion times about what He told me; repeat affirmation statements; cry it out; work it out; ask other people; etc.
It’s a lot at times. Through it all I don’t feel crazy tho. Although I’ve had those moments…feeling like I can’t hold it together, but not this time. However, I am constantly fighting for balance. When I feel my mental/emotional scale tipping too far in one direction, I know something’s gotta give and I make executive decisions to take “time outs.”
Those pauses consist of me relinquishing my grip on whatever has me wound tight and doing something that Lauren genuinely would enjoy, just because. Don’t laugh at me, but the other night, all I wanted to do was jog to the post office. Y’all I was so excited for a little bit of daylight and outdoor air! Never mind the fact I live in the hood where no one jogs for fun and the busy street I had to cross and the cars I had to dodge. I wanted to run and Watch the sunset AND check my mail and I did just that. But my momma would’ve beat me if she saw me because I let the street lights beat me home (please don’t tell her lol).
Anyways, I think what I’m getting at, is that I’m not used to working this hard with what seems like little return on my investments. It feels foreign to be in this place and I often fight the feelings of wanting to rewind or run to something “easier/different.” But despite those feelings I stay because with all my questioning, God gives me the same answer “show up.”
Show up to work, show up to my relationship, show up to the mirror and take hard looks at myself, just show up and He’ll work out the rest.
And that puts me at peace because I know my God is not a God of wasted time. He doesn’t waste His nor my time, so that tells me there’s something here for me. And as long as God continues to be in this place, there I’ll be also…pushing through the work, the tears, the frustration, the fatigue.
I was depressed.
So part of relinquishing is sharing – sharing the good, bad and sad.
And today, I cried and I needed it. I needed to remember where I came from and reflect on where I am today.
*I wrote this post 2 months ago and am just now finding the courage to share*
They started a series on depression at church today. I was a little surprised because I hadn’t realized the series I’d been attending for 5 weeks was over and to be honest it was so right on time, so I was sad we had to move on to another topic. But I felt a little something telling me to just tune in and listen even though I felt this new series on depression didn’t pertain to me. Afterall, it is a great topic to speak about (especially since depression affects the black community).
Anyways the whole time I was sitting there as if the sermon didn’t pertain to me really but as the pastor continued to tell his story I felt my heart growing closer and closer to his because I knew exactly the pain he felt; the loneliness he spoke of; the lost and trapped feeling he shared.
It’s been over 2 years and I’m just now coming to terms that I was battling depression during that time. The crazy thing is how seemingly great things seemed on the outside but how crumbly and broken and achy I was on the inside. I had no idea what I was going through, why I felt like I did. I just knew I didn’t feel much like myself and I was sad most the time.
I did this thing called closet-crying. Literally I’d cry in my walk-in-closet at the apartment I shared with my boyfriend. Whether you cry near your clothes or in a bathroom or in your car or wherever you do it…if you’re crying/hurting in private, you too are closet-crying.
I’d talk a little to others, but speaking things out loud to people didn’t really come naturally for me. It’s not that I didn’t have people, I just didn’t know who to talk to or what to tell them because I was having a hard time understanding for my darn self what in the world was going on. So I usually just remained quiet and stayed busy with all my activities but my energy to do those things changed a bit. I was always tired (fatigued would probably be a better word). I’d set alarms to get up but would sleep so hard I’d miss them. Probably because I was wrestling so hard mentally that I wore myself out which resulted in me having less and less…less to give to the day, to others, to myself, to work…etc.
I think my relationships is where I felt it the most..especially my boyfriend. Poor thing. I’m embarrassed to think about how many times he came to me addressing issues and needing feedback and how unable I was to give him anything except some tears and an “I don’t know. I’ll work on it” (which I almost never did). There were also times I’d go to places where I knew almost everyone but I’d walk in and feel like everyone was a stranger and they weren’t my friends. I specifically remember a campus event where I walked past tables full of my Sorors, mentees, classmates, friends, advisors, etc and couldn’t even bring myself to say “hi” because I was convinced that no one was nor wanted to be my friend. I acted out of character ALOT and would have out of body experiences where I’d see myself and know it wasn’t me, but couldn’t stop myself from blocking others off or throwing a temper tantrum over something trivial.
I didn’t feel like much of a friend to anyone…including myself.
It was all very strange for me. I didn’t seek out professional help because I didn’t actually know I needed help. But there was this one day in class when I couldn’t focus on anything they were talking about (this was common) and under the table I managed to type in “Why are people jealous?” in google.
Jealousy was one of my symptoms that I felt was really different for me and worse than it had ever been. So this probably marked the start of my “searching” period where I was tired of being lost and was thinking it’d be better to be found.
Slowly but surely, reading some of those googled topics and the psychology articles I found helped me to ask questions of myself and realize I wanted to find the root of where all of my symptoms were coming from.
I still never thought to speak to a professional at this point and I’m not really sure why – probably because I was independent and didn’t elicit help often. Probably because I was ignorant and still didn’t think it was necessary. Shoot…I really didn’t know any better.
Long story short I continued to deal on my own. And after another night of finding myself sitting on my closet floor crying and exhausted I asked for God to help me. He’s a good listener. And for about 3 months or so I felt I had this invisible helper with me that’d whisper and nudge me toward certain things like driving in silence and just letting things be quiet and peaceful. I also got the nudge to start letting go.
The hardest was my boyfriend. We dated since freshman year in college and spoke about one day being married, but because of the state of our relationship and also my inability to participate in it full time, it left us at odds with one another. We loved each other because we were best friends but the whole situation was hurtful and hard on both of us. We were graduating in a couple months and deep down we both knew we weren’t going to make it carrying on how we were. Not to mention I had a job offer back home in Cincinnati and he didn’t want to move to Ohio for several reasons. So that left me with my job in Cincinnati and him doing his own thing elsewhere. So we parted ways after we graduated.
That time after graduation was really hard at first because I was kind of isolated. Although Louisville wasn’t far, it felt distant and in the past most the time. One of my childhood friends was back in Louisville and the other was in the Cincinnati area, but I still felt lonely at times. I had my momma too but I still wasn’t much of a talker. I tried to keep myself busy mostly to avoid alone time with myself, so I decided I wanted to move and go into an MBA program so I reached out to advisors and friends and researched schools and cities and I had this excel sheet compiled with preferences. I got as far as doing a campus tour and even having a school call me, but she asked the fateful question of “Why do you want to pursue an MBA?” Although a very typical and expected question I finally faced several things at that moment –
- I have no idea why I’m trying to pursue an MBA
- I want to have a reason to move and start fresh.
(3 is the one that got me)
- I was AVOIDING something.
So when I got home I went to my computer and closed all the open tabs for schools and all of my started applications; I closed essays; I closed everything and said no more running. And that’s when I started taking things one day at a time and stopped trying to plan escapes and all of my future all at once.
I’m looking back now and realizing it’s been an eventful and interesting couple of years. I’m sitting in my car in the church parking lot now and still not clear on everything, but i know I’m supposed to be writing this out right now. I’m in a different space mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically. I’m so grateful for that, but I also know the journey continues.
I made it to church 45 minutes after it started and found myself sitting in that chair for a reason today. I needed to hear all of that message. I needed to remember and be reminded. And to be really honest, I tried to write down a couple thoughts and move on with the day, but a whisper told me to stay and write this out. So I’m letting it out. I’m sharing…