Trusting Where I Belong

I’ve always felt like I’ve never quite fit in. Besides being (slightly) socially awkward, that sense of belonging in cultural groups has often been fuzzy for me.

You see, my mom is black and from Portland, Oregon and my dad is Latino and from Panamá City, Panamá.

I can remember how confusing it was to fill in those bubbles on those state tests. First question – Spell your name. Second question – Put in the date. Third question – Choose your ethnicity (ONLY CHOOSE ONE) and the choices would be “Black, non-Hispanic” or “Hispanic or Latino”. *Slaps forehead* As a kid that was confusing. I always felt forced to choose where I belonged or just shoved into a category.

I didn’t get to choose my dad passing tho 😦

He passed when I was three. That left my mom to raise us on her own. So I guess you could say, I grew up “black.” We weren’t super close to my dad’s side of the family unfortunately (I can count on one hand how many times I spent quality time with them as a child). Like my grandpas funeral in Miami. I remember walking into a room and seeing a bunch of people who looked like me (our genes are SO strong!). I remember thinking that was so cool – long lost family easily identified me (so clearly I belonged there).

And the summer I spent a week in New York with mi abuela, mis tios and mis primos (Krystle, Kevin, Jackie, Melanie and Eric). Man. That trip meant so much to me, foreal. It’s probably a faded memory for everyone else, but I remember Jackie teaching me how to make sugar/cinnamon toast.  Sneaking around uncle Alfredo’s house with Krystle & Kevin lmao! Predicting my future with Melanie playing M.A.S.H (y’all remember that game!????) and Eric and I riding bikes around the neighborhood and him leaving me on some random Brooklyn street to find my way back to their house (Dude left me for like 15 minutes and it felt like a lifetime).

I know my oldest sister remembers that summer too tho – it was my first time seeing her since I was a toddler. I got to hold my oldest niece when she was just a wittle baby! ❤

At times, I felt like I was on an island. Kind of isolated from everyone (it didn’t help we lived so far away too – from both my mom & dad’s side). With that, I definitely developed a deep longing to know family and my cultures.

I felt this the most when we were living in Kentucky. That was a really uncomfortable place to live for awhile. When we first moved there I was in middle school and I had never been reminded so many times in my life that I was black. There weren’t a lot of black people in the area (unless we went to Cincinnati – we’d see WAY more). But the kids at school reminded me alot. I didn’t remember ever feeling that way living in Seattle. Everything seemed more diverse…the people, the viewpoints, the food, the things to do…just everything! I was told “you talk funny” (because I enunciate all of syllables in words). People would ask if I was mixed with white. I’d say “No. I’m black and latina” then they’d assume I was Black and Mexican…like people just didn’t get me. I remember being TOO excited to graduate because I didn’t really feel like I belonged there either.

Looking back, I don’t hate our move to Kentucky. I wouldn’t be who I am, married to the person I’m married to and doing what I do without that move.

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t ever wonder what life would be like if my dad was alive tho.

I’ve had so many questions for years and as an adult I’ve begun to branch out and reach out to family (slowly, but surely). But I feel like I’m in a constant state of “catch-up.” Like I have to make up for all the years of not knowing them and having a relationship with them. Because I grew up with what I’d call predominately “black” experiences, I sometimes feel like a “fake latina” too (especially since I don’t speak Spanish fluently).

However, if I’m trusting my truth, I must admit  that although I would have loved to grow up in a Black and Panamanian household; Knowing both sides of my family well; Having Latin experiences and Black experiences, that’s just not my story. My experience is my experience. If I continue to look at it as if all those things made me less than or I’m lacking in experience, then I’ll always have that feeling like I missed out on something. My story and background is unique to me, and It doesn’t make me any less Black nor any less Panameña. That’s my truth.

So I won’t condemn myself or let those little thoughts that I’m not _______ enough, control how I feel about myself and where I belong. My mother is who she is. My father was who he was. And I am who I am.

I am proudly Black.

Proudly Panameña.

Proudly Latina.

Proudly Black Latina.

Proudly Lauren.

Proudly Laurena.

Proudly Me.

 

-Lauren ❤

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Birthday 27. #TheseAreMyTruths

It’s so interesting to me that I felt so internally focused this birthday. I had no desire for a gathering with lots of people nor did I feel like I needed to get all dressed up. I didn’t feel sad nor did I finish 26 badly, it’s just my focus was not on celebrating outwardly this year. I love my friends and community and I am so appreciative of all the birthday messages, calls and thoughtful gifts from everyone (I needed that), but for #27, I needed some unadulterated time with me.

I admitted to a friend not too long ago that I felt myself avoiding alone time. It’s like I didn’t want to spend time with me because I was afraid to. I’ve been feeling some things churning over the last couple of months, but as usual, it’s easier to avoid than to spend that time with oneself. So I’ve been watching a lot more movies and shows, but I think I’m all tapped out on avoiding myself. In fact, right now my vision is clear like a freshly cleaned mirror and I can see my reflection perfectly. I can see that I need Lauren…and ALL of her.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last couple of years operating between 60-85% of myself. Now, there’s no exact science to how I came up with that number, but it’s my best guess considering I often quiet my voice and reduce my light in situations.

Can I tell y’all a secret?

I’ve always been a little afraid of my shine. At times, I fear it’ll make others feel uncomfortable. I’ve also been self conscious of my voice and influence and scared of what others will think. But, the crazy thing is I get this gnawing feeling in my gut whenever I’m not being fully myself. For instance, there may be something I’m good at that gets me quite a bit of attention. I’ll counter the attention with a meekness or act as if I don’t notice or say things like “I’m just o.k.” But if I know I’m the shit, it’s perfectly fine for me to know it and continue to deliver that excellence (no apologies necessary). Instead, I shrink myself and it hurts because it’s not my natural form. I can’t even walk in the greatness because I’m too busy being double-minded.

I diminish myself so often, that I’ve confused my truths. And honestly, I’m growing quite tired of that. Again, I need ALL of Lauren this year…not just pieces nor a percentage of her.

I’m embarking on a journey where I’m telling, being and showing my TRUTH no matter what (#TheseAreMyTruths). I’m a private person so I’m often going through things behind the scenes, but won’t share out-loud either because I’m shy, shrinking, feel it’s dumb or just hiding. So I wanna try something a little different. I’m going to share my truths publicly because I need for them to be out. Because it’s not right for me, not to be all of me. (I think I’ve operated as if its a crime to be all of me, for a long time.) What a pity, right? Have you ever felt this way too??

For the rest of January, My goal is to share my truths through various actions and posts using the hashtag #TheseAreMyTruths on both @LaurenRelinquished and @RelinquishWear because there’s some truths I’ve failed to share with you all on my business too (and for that, I’m sorry).

But, I don’t want to do this alone y’all. Join me – what truths do you need to share out loud? Please share using the hashtag on social medial #TheseAreMyTruths too! We’ve got some things to work through, and what better time than now??

Lauren Relinquished ❤

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).

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?

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 ❤

How did you get to this point?

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 ❤

Reminiscing the first photo shoot for Relinquish™

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.

It was amazing to be behind the camera. Director and shooter. Making up stuff as I went. Taking in suggestions and creating with everyone. Seeing the vision come to fruition was such a dope and liberating experience!
I remember that day vividly. And as I look back I hope I really savored that day too and what it meant. There’s been a lot of growth since that day. Relinquish is still coming along and has plenty of room to grow. We’re learning tho…you know learning and loving and growing through it all. So I’m staying faithful to the vision and purpose. Cheers to Relinquish Wear and all that it is so far and all it will become! *clinks glass*
-Lauren Relinquished
*Are you interested in participating in the next shoot? Email: LaurenRelinquished@GMail.com! or DM: @RelinquishWear on instagram*

Remember to Relinquish

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.

Show up.

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.

-Lauren

Opening up to others.

Talking is really therapeutic.

(Trying not to laugh or scoff  at myself for stating the seemingly obvious, because obviously that wasn’t too obvious for me! And honestly, it may not truly be to you either.)

I like to stay true to what I preach, but I realize more often than not, I’m quick to listen and encourage others to speak up about what’s going on, but I’m not nearly as forthcoming. I’m a private person who has tons of conversations in my head so I feel like I’m addressing issues, and sometimes it is more appropriate to have those self reflection times. But in these last few days, I’ve had some people check on me and open their hearts and ears for me and I’ve said some things out loud and (OH MY GOODNESS) there have been some revelations on things I’ve been conversing with myself about in my head for weeks…months…years…

Just like that, saying some things out loud to other people has created a different type of atmosphere and freedom around me. Things have been revealed. Sound counsel has been delivered. Prayers have been answered. Doors have been opened and closed. Truths have been illuminated. 

I don’t know your “thing,” but for me, I think it’s almost always been the way that I share and let people in – I struggle with that. Since I can remember, I’ve been more of a private person…not exactly sure why that is, however my momma raised me to be independent, but i think in some ways I’d internalized that to mean I have to work out almost everything for myself…then in the last couple of years, I’ve relinquished a bit more and it became what God and I work out together and now I feel like more than ever I’m being forced to see the beauty and power in relationships with others. Because quite frankly, I don’t think this season can be faced without me acknowledging my need for others and then actually opening up to others.

With work, I gotta accept that I don’t know what I don’t know and lean on the wisdom and guidance of others to help me.

With my relationship with my man, I/we have to seek sound counsel that can help us walk our journey.

With my business plan, I have to allow others to share with me what they have so I can learn and even have a chance at success.

I could go on and on with the list, but at the end of the day none of this can happen if I just continue to have conversations in my head with myself. I have to branch out. I have to get outside my comfort zone. This season calls for new things…sometimes I wonder if I’m ready for them, but honestly, I don’t have to be ready or super knowledgeable, I just have to be willing to try…one day at a time.

So hold me accountable y’all! Future posts should show results of me reaching out and conversing openly with others…

-Lauren