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 ❤

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! ❤

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?

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 ❤

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*

Are you all in?

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.

-Lauren