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My Giving Tuesday.

Tuesday – November 27, 2018
Today, I gave myself.

Frankly, I don’t know the origins of the widely recognized “Giving Tuesday” or what it’s all about; and I may be using “giving” in the wrong sense, but either way, today, I gave myself so I could receive what someone was giving to me.

Some may call it random, but I know it was not. I was finishing up an appointment and needed to send out a couple emails before heading to my next one so I felt this inkling to stop into this little cafe bakery that I passed earlier.

It’s one of those places that has a cozy look on the outside and looks like it has the best homemade treats in the city. So I found a spot right in front of The Sugar Hill Bakery and gathered my things to go inside. I got to the door and it totally wasn’t what I was expecting. I was immediately greeted by decor that was enchanting and amazing and so inviting all at once. And if that wasn’t enough, Caryn and Naomi were super welcoming as well.

I still had work brain on so I wasn’t paying attention at first, but then it became very clear that God brought me to that wonderful little cafe for a reason. After finishing a local menu favorite, Nancy came by to say hello and somehow we just kind of launched into conversation which led to her providing confirmation on some things I’d been working through.

She told me to:
  • Cherish the uncomfortable. (If you’re uncomfortable, it’s GOTTA be God)
  • Focus on taking 2 inches a day. (You’re not going to accomplish everything at once, but if we can commit to keep moving (at least 2 inches/day), then we’ll make progress)
  • Set deadlines. (You’ll surprise yourself at what you’re able to accomplish)
  • Be the poorest person in the cemetery. (The richest place on earth is the cemetery because people die and all of those talents and gifts God gave them often go unused and instead get buried with them. Don’t die having never actualized the gifts & talents God gave you; share them now instead of burying them in the ground.)

The visit was so timely for me. I needed to hear what she was sharing and receive them, just as much as she needed to share. God has a crazy way of uniting souls with a purpose that leaves both feeling empowered and motivated to continue on.

If I hadn’t slowed down to listen, I would have missed those gems she gave me. A lot of times at work, I’m moving 100 mph and I’m not always the greatest listener, but I allowed myself to indulge…I gave my attention and ears and heart and I’m so glad I did.

I want to be careful not to lose my sense of curiosity. We get into routines and patterns, that sometimes limit our ability to notice the small whispers that tell us to “slow down,” “listen to that,” “talk to that person,” or even “stop there.” I serve a very unpredictable God that moves in peculiar ways, so if I’m strictly on my agenda, I’ll miss things or even worse, become insensitive to experiencing God.

I am thankful that I was led to The Sugar Hill Bakery & Cafe. I am also very grateful for the love and kindness Caryn, Naomi and Nancy shared with me on Giving Tuesday and I’m especially grateful for the words that Ms. Nancy imparted on me that gave me confirmation; It meant the world to me! ❤

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DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY.

One of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard – “DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY.”
I tend to think and have very high expectations of myself (which is good), but sometimes it overtakes me and affects how I operate. I become this rigid mess of a person piecing things together that may not necessarily fit.
And It’s an exhausting place to be – high stress and high let downs.
Hearing those words – “DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY.” felt SO freeing to hear (It felt freeing to write just now too)!
When I take a second to think about it, nothing is ever THAT deep. Perhaps that’s why “DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY,” has resonated so much with me…
I want to accomplish my goals and live and thrive, but I also have to loosen up and enjoy the journey. Otherwise, I’ll miss everything and never quite get that “live” part down.
Since hearing and heeding this amazing advice, here’s what I’ve gained from it:

1. A constant reminder that nothing is really that deep. (And some amazing self-soothing moments where I’m murmuring to myself “chill out bruh.”)

2. Permission to forgive myself. I’m human and faulty. I’m allowed to make mistakes AND forgive myself for them too.

3. Trust that God’s on my side. If I’m following God and what I feel led to do, there’s no failure in that. I’ll Learn and gain something from everything that I do and get through any and every obstacle presented.

4. Focus on the important things. When that drowning or overwhelming feeling surfaces, being reminded not to take myself too seriously helps me simplify things mentally, which helps me to focus on the important things.

5. Freedom. Free to be in the moment and to learn and grow and enjoy the fact I’m not always going to get it right on the first, second or umpteenth try, but I am free to keep going and striving.

—-
Life gets sticky and difficult and challenging, but in the midst of everything we have to find peace and trust that everything will be completely ok. We have to learn to savor and enjoy and not get so uptight and serious about everything that we forget what we’re living for. If life becomes a bit blurry/hectic/overwhelming/hard look in the mirror and say – “DON’T TAKE YOURSELF TOO SERIOUSLY.”
-Lauren

The things we try to carry-on

Back in 2015, I wrote this…

I’m sharing today.

It’s crazy tho; had this small thing not happened, I don’t think I’d even be married now.

Be careful what you carry-on…

————

I travel a lot. For work mostly. About 2-3 times a month during busy season. So you’d think with that frequency, I’d be a pretty expert traveler, right?

Well, the other night I went through security, and one of my carry-ons got stopped. I quickly remembered my lotion and thought they would just take that. To my surprise they took both of my new Shea butter mixes, coconut oil AND body lotion.

I don’t know if you’re familiar with the consistency of Shea butter, but pure Shea is kind of hard and often takes some prodding to get it to a usable form – you have to kind of do a deep finger scoop, and then rub your palms together for the butter to melt.

Of all things, I was least worried about the Shea because its not liquid. After explaining that to the TSA with no avail, I abruptly turned away from the additional security screening area where the woman may or may not have still been talking (I know, I know. That was rude, but shorty was upset). I kind of lost patience when she told me to check them knowing darn well there was no way for me to check those things once I’d gone thru security and still make my flight.

I’ve gotten so many similar products thru security, I really was surprised. I’m still kind of mad writing this, but as I stomped away, I had to just put on some music to calm down. However another voice spoke louder than whatever track was playing.

“Lauren, don’t worry about leaving some things behind.”

Not going to lie, at this point, a tear was on the verge of rolling down my pouty face.

“Don’t get so worked up over the things you have to leave behind. Some things you just have to buy/recreate again.”

Talk about watery eyes in public.

Before I even got off the train that takes you to different parts of the airport, I was at such peace with what just happened 7 minutes prior. Mostly because God has a crazy way of speaking into my life at the times I need it most. It didn’t just resonate with my TSA experience but that message also applies to other areas of my life.

In my relationship, I can’t bring all of the things that I want or think I need – some things simply just HAVE to be left behind.

At the end of the day, TSA took my products because it was a matter of safety and security for all people. In that same way, some of the things that I have to leave behind in my relationship, are for the safety and security of the relationship. Some of the bad habits, attitudes, etc. could harm the relationship as a whole. Therefore it’s important that I not carry some things on board (even if it hurts or costs me).

Proper credit.

“When we don’t understand something is a gift, we won’t give it the proper credit [appreciation/time/love] it deserves” – Luvvie Ajayi

—-

Sometimes, I silence my voice or deny myself an opportunity to experience and enjoy something because I fail to realize it’s a gift. I downplay it or I ignore it or a I take it for granted.

I have to practice calling my love what it is. I have to stop calling my passion a hobby and better yet, I have to stop treating my passion as a hobby. If I love it, it’s only right that I do/be it.

A lot of times, fear stands in the place of execution. Or even that annoying voice that tries to tell me I’m not special/unique/original/creative/pretty/entrepreneurial/confident enough to do what I want to do/be. But I am enough. I am dope as is in whichever space I choose to find my truth.

—-

Not everyone can do what YOU do. No one else can BE YOU. There may be some very similar in the same field or lane, but YOU hold your own special place. No one (not one) can take that which is yours. So give your gift it’s proper credit. Love on it; Call it by it’s name; pursue it!

—-

PS: I don’t know if y’all have been listening to the Jesus and Jollof podcast by Luvvie Ajayi and Yvonne Orji, but episode 3 and 4 blessed my ENTIRE soul so much so that I keep re-listening and finding new nuggets. Take a listen!

—-

This is a quick share simply to affirm in you (and myself) TRUTH. Love y’all – Lauren

Who do I say I am?

As I finished my corporate workday, this question continued to be asked of me “…But Lauren, who do you say you are?”

I’d think on it for a second and then lose focus and continue on with my work. After the 4th time I figured I should probably take the question seriously. If God’s asking four times then He must need my attention (I’m so hard headed).

So I put everything down and simply answered the question…well tried to, but I found it a little difficult. Truth is, when I first got the question over a week ago, I couldn’t answer it then either and it’s easiest to just ignore/avoid. So that’s what I did…avoided. But here it is again…“Lauren, who do you say you are?”

I am Lauren…I’m dope; full of love and light; super caring. i’m a good problem solver. i’m a beautiful human being with lots to share with others. i’m confident; I have a presence that is often felt, but not overbearing; I am Lauren…I’m empathetic – my heart is big; I’m a good listener with deep-rooted wisdom. I am Lauren…I’m goofy and a little awkward at times.

That took me a little time to answer, honestly. I know I’m a dope person. It’s just not always a fluid thought – but why is that? I think at one point it used to be, but it faded some when I started second guessing myself in everything I did and thought. I started caring more of how I came off to others and even what they thought.

We are quick to ask what others think of us or even who we want to be to the world, but WHO DO YOU SAY YOU ARE? I hope that question stays with you until you can answer it and its fluid for you. I kind of want it haunt you (and me). Not in an eerie way…I just want us to ask ourselves and know the answer. Its your truth. Your truth is to be treasured far more than who and what everyone else says.

We gotta affirm that which is inside and not just what others see in us. Because when we know it’ll be shown in how we walk, talk, AND how we think.

So…who do you say you are?

making time for me.

I remember boldly declaring, “This Summer, I’m going to fall madly in love with myself.” That was summer 2015. I hate to say I’ve fallen out of love with myself, but I certainly haven’t done a great job of loving me; spending time with me; making time for me; having a relationship with me.

It seemed like such a great goal to achieve that summer (and it was so needed, especially at that time), but as y’all know, we learn, we evolve, we change and we have to continue to get to know the person we are becoming. Sometimes that requires us to learn how to love ourselves in new ways too.

Previously, I had an abundant amount of free time, that I pretty much dedicated to just me..I worked out, I read books, I wrote, I planned for the future, I slept, I communed with others from time to time. Now, I have a demanding job, a husband, bills, responsibilities, commitments, a miniature social life, etc. And in all that, it’s imperative that I still find time for Lauren.

Even as other things fight to take my attention, I can’t forget my priorities.

Put importance on your priorities.

I have workaholic tendencies, so my hubby, being the caring and observant person he is, asked me when’s the last time I did something exclusively for Lauren. Of course he already knew the answer to that question, so he politely broke it down to me like this:

“You have 24 hours in a day – approximately 1/3 of the day goes to sleep/rest, the other 1/3 goes to your job and that last 1/3 of the pie – should go to you.”

I don’t know about you, but this was new to me. It’s very logical and makes complete sense, but I quickly found all the faults in his simple theory: it’s not realistic; what about all my other responsibilities; My job requires me to do work after hours; how would this work if you have a family?

Again, he knows me well so he was quick to rebut with “…that’s why I challenge you to give yourself just one hour per day where you’re doing nothing, but something enjoyable to you.”

I agreed with him that, that sounded simple and easy enough to do. And then POW! 2 months go by and here I am asking myself why I’ve yet to do more than 3 “Hour for Lauren.” I’ve come to the conclusion, that I make a lot of EXCUSES for why I can’t do something, because at this point in my life, where things seem pretty busy, I haven’t made myself much of a priority.

I know in theory, that I have to love and love on Lauren, but I put forth little effort to actually make that happen. I mean well, but I don’t necessarily do well.

We can intend to do something, but intention and action are 2 different things.

Anyone else at that same place? Intending to do well, but not really doing it??

What’s an excuse you cannot make for yourself today?

Personally, I can no longer stand behind the excuse that I have to work.

I’ve broken this down for me like this – Sure, there’s work that needs to get done, but my life goal is not to work myself to death; Not everything has to be done right then and there, some things can wait until the next day;  I also can’t be the best me at my job if I’m not renewing myself on a consistent basis.

I believe there’s time that can be dedicated to just you, it’s just a matter of us finding it and whole-heartedly believing we are worthy and deserving of that time.

We gotta do a better of job of not just talking about loving ourselves, but actually relinquishing those distractions and excuses, and making it a habit and priority.

-Lauren Relinquished ❤

Gettin’ married and whatnot

**So as you all know, shortie got married *oooooouuuuuu* 🙂 So, I wanted to write a quick blog post to give insight, show appreciation, give shout outs! There’s no way we could have done it by ourselves so the support around us has meant so much! I also wanted to share because I don’t loosen reigns all that easily, so planning over the last year has definitely been a testament of RELINQUISHING. I’ve personally learned a lot about myself; My husband and I have learned a lot; we’ve learned alot about how we work together as a couple; we’ve learned a lot about the people around us  too! It’s been quite the experience to say the least…**

 

Marrying my best friend: 

A lot of people speculated so much would change; So many things will be different, etc etc. But I can’t say much has changed. Personality-wise we’re still the same individually and with one another. Neither one of us feel too differently, I guess since we been at this for 7 years…

We’re definitely excited for this part of the journey tho!!

The support systems: 
 
Family! Wow wow wow! Thank you all so much! To the mommas, dad, sisters! Y’all came throughhhhh! We love y’all so much! Thank you for supporting us and then some! For the wisdom, the love, the calls, the just in cases, sacrifice, finances, EVERYTHING!
Let me tell y’all bout my wedding planner and coordinator thOooo. She often knew before i did. Challenged me to create my vision and walked me through the steps to make it come alive. When i deterred and wanted to be basic, she wouldn’t let me and always did so in the most loving of ways! Like y’all, she’s just amazing!  I’m definitely hard-headed and a lot of times didn’t want to take the help, but she insisted with a smile on her face. I can honestly say the day wouldn’t have come together if it weren’t for her. I’m a procrastinator and her leading and questions were clutch. I’m sure she wanted to hit me upside the head a couple times, BUT she did everything with so much love and professionalism. I’d recommend her to everyone I know! Currently planning? Looking to get married in a few years? Your cousin’s brother’s homeboy getting married? You need to know her. She did alterations on my dress (y’all saw me looking like a snack), my BEAUTIFUL head piece and bomb earrings to match! She even hand made my garter (i wanna cry thinking of how much she helped me). My point being – call her! Hit me up for the deets! Rajeanne Bridal –  THANK YOU! ❤
The melanin magic: 
So many beautiful brown people. My eyes were so in love 😍 big shout out to our families – mommas, daddies, sisters, pastors for showing up and showing out! Y’all fine! And of course the entire bride squad and all groomsmen! Yall’s support and sacrifices have meant so much to us and we are forever grateful! That “whatever it takes attitude” has us forever indebted. Our hearts are warmed and it meant so much to share the day with y’all!
Hired services and even more support: 
Loved the opportunity to work with these peeps to make the day everything and then some. My sanDs Courtney and Brittany are so bomb for coming through as make up artists and literally slaying! Y’all did an amazing job – faces were beat with excellence and i can’t thank y’all enough 😘😘*muah*
Shout out to Mr. Ray Keith IV for coming through for the men – everyone looked so handsome and stylish – thank you for seeing the vision and making it greater! I ain’t always the easiest to work with but you pushed through and we appreciate you good sir!
Shout out to my wedding singer – Tonie Cole! Voice of an angel! Choked up walking down the aisle! So special and such an amazing touch. Your professionalism is a breath of fresh air and your helpfulness is amazing! You even stopped in early and helped with some eyebrows (lol thanks girl!) can’t thank you enough!
Photography and Videography provided by Degrace Imagery! We opted for the wedding package and had an engagement photoshoot included. Hubby actually hates taking pics but they made us feel so comfortable. I’ll do a separate post of photos, but I wanted to shoutout the husband wife team because their awesome! 🙂
Hair for bridesmaids was done by Britney! – Lord thank you for her willingness to come in a hurry. I was playing about buns, but shortie came through for the ultimate hair slay! Everyone’s buns were laid and baby hairs were fleeky! Thank you boo!!
The food!! Big thanks to Rene’s Catering Kitchen for throwing down on the chicken and shredded roast!
Cake – I was Caked By Petite ❤ Love at first bite  and it tasted as good as it looked! Definitely recommend her for any occasion!
Also special shout out to D’Ominque for bringing her talents all the way to Atlanta and baking some bomb cupcakes at the rehearsal dinner! I can still take the chocolate ones with the chocolate icing (SO GOOD!)
And  also special shout to my self-appointed assistant (lol) Stephanie for being SOOOOOO clutch!
Y’all both were so down to help and ensure I had what I needed – THANK YOU!! Love yall!
And to all the extra hands that took the time to help decorate and make the reception pretty – WOW! Absolutely love y’all! The time crunch was a major setback, but y’all made it seamless. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU!
——
We love and appreciate you all! Thank you for helping to make our wedding  special!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           ❤

Delayed celebration.

Im a tardy “celebrator.” And naturally it always lessens the effect; the moment; the blessing.

It’s like i take a moment to celebrate and put it in a drawer labeled: “open and enjoy later.” But then time passes and i forget all about my things to celebrate.

And some things just don’t get better with time. I think this is one of those. It’s not wine. But it’s not milk either. It’s not like you forget it in the fridge and it starts to curdle and spoil. It’s just kind of there…like food you dont eat while it’s hot.

I don’t know if it’s this Latino blood in me or what, but all food intended to be hot, should be enjoyed HOT! And I’d even argue to say that it taste better that way too. (It irks me to no end to receive luke warm food at a restaurant. i don’t send it back anymore tho, i get worried people spit in it).

Anyhoo, what I’m saying is, if something is served to you, i think you should enjoy it in its intended form/purpose. This applies to celebratory moments, blessings, people, relationships (thadd and i almost never became “we” because i wasn’t too fond of his natural short form (just kidding, but not really)).

So I’m personally committing myself to celebrate more and to do so more often than not. Im confident that means I’ll have more posts and blogs detailing those celebrations. If y’all don’t see any – call me out. And if you need to celebrate more too – just do it. No excuses. And tell me – I’ll help hold you accountable too.

– Lauren Still Working on Relinquishing (and celebrating)

snow day findings & inspiration.

Snow days. First and foremost, I haven’t felt this freedom since college. Snow days were like getting an extra day back on your calendar. And these last few days, I’ve used it as my excuse to not leave the house. It’s been pure bliss my friends.

I’ve been able to knock out some wedding planning. Watch movies and specials. Read books. Reflect. Spend time with the fiancé. Talk and envision with self. Its been sooooo good. So very needed.

So a couple things I want to share:

The wedding is going to be bomb – celebration of the year (I’m claiming that)! We’re just really excited to celebrate with family and friends!

Bae and I watched Tiffany Haddish’s Showtime special – she’s hilarious y’all. It’s not an act – she just is who she is. I read another chapter of Issa Rae’s book – Awkward (y’all, I am her lol). I caught up on all the missed videos on Yvonne Orji’s Instagram page –she’s a nut lol, yet so inspiring. All of them had me yelling “Dope!” at the screen this weekend – like they are just who they are! I appreciate that. I’m inspired by that. They’re making a difference simply by showing up as they are.

I wanted to share a couple lessons I got from them:

  • No matter how dorky, how crazy, how awkward you are – you CAN be you.
  • The best you is the free you. (There’s no need to put yourself in a box nor operate in what others want you to be. When you submit to who you are and who you’ve been created to be, you can be you fearlessly and freely.)
  • If you believe you can, who can tell you differently? (If you gotta dream, go get it!)
  • Run your race! (No one can tell you how to live your life.)
  • Find the good in everything! (The power of positive thinking and goal setting.)
  • Know your why (Don’t forget what you’re doing it for. Let that be the thing that keeps you going.)
  • Keep creating your passions and don’t make excuses for yourself!

We all need reminders and inspiration. Be inspired. Be reminded.

Live life relinquished folks! –

Lauren ❤