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 ❤

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

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 ❤

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

Checking-in :)

Hey y’all!

It’s real…I really live in a new place now. New job. New place. New challenges. New friends. New license. New bills. lol Etc.

I know I’ve been a little distant lately…I’m just trying to get settled and when I tell you I am learning so much about myself – you wouldn’t believe it.

From something as small as conversations at work, to how I’m dealing with the challenges at my new place and the property manager…it’s definitely stretching and teaching me so much.

There are definitely some things that are different and I’ve had to adjust the way I do things, such as how I use my resources, how I think about things, how I interact with people, how I eat, etc. The list goes on and on, really!

But through it all, I’ve been reminded of my “root” word time and time again – RELINQUISH.

When different challenges or frustrations arise, there’s like this strange calm that comes over me and reminds me everything is going to be fine. I’ve been way more passive in situations that in the past I wouldn’t be, but I still feel this gentle whisper on my spirit telling me to “let it go…”

I can’t wait to update y’all more, but I wanted to check in and share a little as well as remind you that no matter what’s been placed in front of you, what you have coming up, what steps you have to climb – RELINQUISH and let God plan your steps and really guide your path. You don’t have to control every little thing nor have an understanding of everything to be obedient. Just let go and keep pushing forward.

Love y’all!

-Lauren