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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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

 

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

Relinquished on another level.

It seems Relinquish is still the word to live out this year (and I can’t say that surprises me).
It’s now been 2 years since I started blogging and it’s been a journey for sure. I’ve shared, encouraged and let others in on a different level than I ever have, and it’s stretched me and opened me up to see myself from another angle.
And I suppose God sees it fit to continue this stretching and growing process. So I’ve been learning to push a little further and dig a little deeper. And it’s been a whirlwind these last 6 months. But as I continue to mature and evolve, so does the word and meaning of Relinquish in my life.
And it certainly isn’t just a word I selfishly keep for myself. I happily share it in hopes it resonates with you in a unique and special way.
I’ve talked and written about Relinquish and now I’ve been led to bring it to life in a new way. And y’all, I’ve struggled with doubts, you know…”Is it even good?” “Will people get it?” “Can I afford this?” “Do I have time for this?” “How do I even get a store?” “Am I capable?” etc. I’ve had ALL the questions, but I’ve also always had the answer…Just Relinquish. Set the idea and concepts free and let be! So here goes it!
I introduce to you…

RelinquishWear.com

I was depressed.

I was depressed.

So part of relinquishing is sharing – sharing the good, bad and sad.

And  today, I cried and I needed it. I needed to remember where I came from and reflect on where I am today.

*I wrote this post 2 months ago and am just now finding the courage to share*

They started a series on depression at church today. I was a little surprised because I hadn’t realized the series I’d been attending for 5 weeks was over and to be honest it was so right on time, so I was sad we had to move on to another topic. But I felt a little something telling me to just tune in and listen even though I felt this new series on depression didn’t pertain to me. Afterall, it is a great topic to speak about (especially since depression affects the black community).

Anyways the whole time I was sitting there as if the sermon didn’t pertain to me really but as the pastor continued to tell his story I felt my heart growing closer and closer to his because I knew exactly the pain he felt; the loneliness he spoke of; the lost and trapped feeling he shared.

It’s been over 2 years and I’m just now coming to terms that I was battling depression during that time. The crazy thing is how seemingly great things seemed on the outside but how crumbly and broken and achy I was on the inside. I had no idea what I was going through, why I felt like I did.  I just knew I didn’t feel much like myself and I was sad most the time.

I did this thing called closet-crying. Literally I’d cry in my walk-in-closet at the apartment I shared with my boyfriend. Whether you cry near your clothes or in a bathroom or in your car or wherever you do it…if you’re crying/hurting in private, you too are closet-crying.

I’d talk a little to others, but speaking things out loud to people didn’t really come naturally for me. It’s not that I didn’t have people, I just didn’t know who to talk to or what to tell them because I was having a hard time understanding for my darn self what in the world was going on. So I usually just remained quiet and stayed busy with all my activities but my energy to do those things changed a bit. I was always tired (fatigued would probably be a better word). I’d set alarms to get up but would sleep so hard I’d miss them. Probably because I was wrestling so hard mentally that I wore myself out which resulted in me having less and less…less to give to the day, to others, to myself, to work…etc.

I think my relationships is where I felt it the most..especially my boyfriend. Poor thing. I’m embarrassed to think about how many times he came to me addressing issues and needing feedback and how unable I was to give him anything except some tears and an “I don’t know. I’ll work on it” (which I almost never did). There were also times I’d go to places where I knew almost everyone but I’d walk in and feel like everyone was a stranger and they weren’t my friends. I specifically remember a campus event where I walked past tables full of my Sorors, mentees, classmates, friends, advisors, etc and couldn’t even bring myself to say “hi” because I was convinced that no one was nor wanted to be my friend. I acted out of character ALOT and would have out of body experiences where I’d see myself and know it wasn’t me, but couldn’t stop myself from blocking others off or throwing a temper tantrum over something trivial.

I didn’t feel like much of a friend to anyone…including myself.

It was all very strange for me. I didn’t seek out professional help because I didn’t actually know I needed help. But there was this one day in class when I couldn’t focus on anything they were talking about (this was common) and under the table I managed to type in “Why are people jealous?” in google.

Jealousy was one of my symptoms that I felt was really different for me and worse than it had ever been. So this probably marked the start of my “searching” period where I was tired of being lost and was thinking it’d be better to be found.

Slowly but surely, reading some of those googled topics and the psychology articles I found helped me to ask questions of myself and realize I wanted to find the root of where all of my symptoms were coming from.

I still never thought to speak to a professional at this point and I’m not really sure why – probably because I was independent and didn’t elicit help often. Probably because I was ignorant and still didn’t think it was necessary. Shoot…I really didn’t know any better.

Long story short I continued to deal on my own. And after another night of finding myself sitting  on my closet floor crying and exhausted I asked for God to help me. He’s a good listener. And for about 3 months or so I felt I had this invisible  helper with me that’d whisper and nudge me toward certain things like driving in silence and just letting things be quiet and peaceful. I also got the nudge to start letting go.

The hardest was my boyfriend. We dated since freshman year in college and spoke about one day being married, but because of the state of our relationship and also my inability to participate in it full time, it left us at odds with one another. We loved each other because we were best friends but the whole situation was hurtful and hard on both of us. We were graduating in a couple months and deep down we both knew we weren’t going to make it carrying on how we were. Not to mention I had a job offer back home in Cincinnati and he didn’t want to move to Ohio for several reasons. So that left me with my job in Cincinnati and him doing his own thing elsewhere. So we parted ways after we graduated.

That time after graduation was really hard at first because I was kind of isolated. Although Louisville wasn’t far, it felt distant and in the past most the time. One of my childhood friends was back in Louisville and the other was in the Cincinnati area, but I still felt lonely at times. I had my momma too but I still wasn’t much of a talker. I tried to keep myself busy mostly to avoid alone time with myself, so I decided I wanted to move and go into an MBA program so I reached out to advisors and friends and researched schools and cities and I had this excel sheet compiled with preferences. I got as far as doing a campus tour and even having a school call me, but she asked the fateful question of “Why do you want to pursue an MBA?” Although a very typical and expected question I finally faced several things at that moment –

  1. I have no idea why I’m trying to pursue an MBA
  2. I want to have a reason to move and start fresh.

(3 is the one that got me)

  1. I was AVOIDING something.  

So when I got home I went to my computer and closed all the open tabs for schools and all of my started applications; I closed essays; I closed everything and said no more running. And that’s when I started taking things one day at a time and stopped trying to plan escapes and all of my future all at once.

I’m looking back now and realizing it’s been an eventful and interesting couple of years. I’m sitting in my car in the church parking lot now and still not clear on everything, but i know I’m supposed to be writing this out right now. I’m in a different space mentally, spiritually, emotionally and physically.  I’m so grateful for that, but I also know the journey continues.

I made it to church 45 minutes after it started and found myself sitting in that chair for a reason today. I needed to hear all of that message. I needed to remember and be reminded. And to be really honest, I tried to write down a couple thoughts and move on with the day, but a whisper told me to stay and write this out.  So I’m letting it out. I’m sharing…

Relinquishing.

-Lauren

share.

Sharing is undeniably one of the greatest duties you have.

You are you. No one else can be you. Therefore, no one else can share what you share; No one else can share what you share the way you share it.

There’s so much power in that truth. And the weight of that power can be felt in so many ways. I can only imagine what you’re thinking; how deep the pound in your chest; how weighty that great knowledge of self feels.

What’s on your mind?

What do you feel a great need to share?

What are you scared to share?

Don’t deny yourself the great pleasure of sharing – it’s unnatural.

Share with one body…two bodies…somebody!

It’s your undeniable duty to share —

s  h  a  r  e.