Start. Stop. Continue. - New Year 2012 Edition

Saturday, December 31, 2011 5:21 AM


   
This edition of Start. Stop. Continue. will be a bit different.   I'll be reflecting on what I've learned in 2011 and what I'm focusing on for 2012.

My very first post of 2011 was Closure: Letter to the Me that Got Away.  How perfect!  I started this year by letting go of any remnants of the identity crisis that had me spinning precariously through my late twenties.  That post definitely set the stage for my 2011 journey towards becoming more unapologetically me. 




START:
*Walking the Walk*

I already know that I'm good enough just the way I am.  It's time for me to start acting like it.  I have a new perspective on my shortcomings and mistakes to take into the new year - They Don't Matter.  They only matter if I allow my thoughts about them to get the best of me.  In February, I wrote about giving up the victim mentality and holding myself accountable.  There are really no excuses -- only choices.

As such, I'm choosing to start trusting myself.  Particularly trusting the choices I make as a mother. 

When it comes to parenting, 75% of the time I feel like I don't know what the hell I'm doing.  But I'm trying.  I've never worked so hard at anything in my life.  Real talk - if anything else in life were this hard, I think I would have quit a long time ago.  I've been terribly afraid of missing out on my life and the things I want to do because I'm raising three children.  Terrified that my distraction with figuring out life for myself would hurt them in the long run.

But I know that I was chosen to raise them for a reason.  Being a mother is part of my purpose.  No matter how scary or complex it seems.  I have a new found resolve and I'm redefining what it means to me to be a mother, a woman, a creator, a soul with other souls to tend to.


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STOP:
*Holding Back*

I started this blog right when I was on my natural hair high towards the end of my transition.  I talked about hair much more often back then.  While hair is still a passion of mine, it's just a part of a whole lifestyle transition that also includes style, body image, diet, emotional and physical health, and much more.  As I've become less specifically consumed with hair, I've been considering changing the name of the blog.  While I feel that the content has evolved with me, the name doesn't seem to be the best fit anymore.   I'm still thinking about this one, but there may be a change coming.

With change comes the familiar yet unwelcomed concern about how everyone will feel about it.  "Will I lose subscribers if I change the name of the blog?"   Maybe so.  But maybe I will also gain some.   Either way, I'm not going to hold myself back.   In 2012, I need someone to charge me a dollar every time I act like I need to please everyone and their mother.  That mentality is such a hindrance for me.  I know I'm not alone.  How often do you avoid change to keep other people happy or comfortable?  Well, I've played it out enough for all of us.





CONTINUE:
*Figuring It Out As I Go*

I fully expected to have waist length (WL) hair by the end of 2011!  Right now, I'm just about grazing bra strap length (BSL).   I had two inches cut in August followed by another 2 or 2 1/2 in November, so that has a lot to do with it.  I don't regret it though because I want my ends to be healthy and they were not. 

I'm still hoping to reach my goal in 2012.  I'm happy that I've learned to listen to my hair. What I know now that I didn't know at the beginning of  2011 is that my hair needs to be trimmed more often than I thought (in order to keep it manageable), my hair likes some products with mineral oil (used strategically), and my hair is more cooperative when it's stretched in some way.  These discoveries have been significant in learning my natural hair and going from a novice when I started this blog in 2009, to maybe an intermediate level now (and that's generous).  I still have much to learn.

Much like my hair, my relationship has been a constant exercise of trial and error.  We've been together for the better part of 12 years and we've grown apart in some ways and we've grown together in other ways.  And it's been anything but easy.  Everyone says that it takes work, but how do you know when it's too much work?  We talk about that all the time and I can't say that we've come up with a practical answer. 

Anyway, I'll say this:  I get consumed with the kids - plain and simple.  I know it and I'm sorting through it.  It takes a dedicated effort to stay in tune with each other and keep the lines of communication open.   I will continue to be honest, loving and openminded (most of the time...)

I'd love to hear some of the things that you'd like to start, stop or continue in 2012.  Please share with me in the comments.  

Also, please have a safe and happy new year's weekend.  See you Monday!!
    
 

Simple Freedom: Define Your Own Happy Holiday

Monday, December 26, 2011 5:44 AM

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Hello my loves.  I hope you're having a peaceful holiday season.

I love Christmas.  I love holidays, birthdays, milestones -- essentially, any event that brings my family and loved ones together.  Now, I don't love the consumerism and expectations that come along with some of these things, but I try to keep it all in perspective.

Just like everything else in my life, I've had to reevaluate holidays and how I choose to celebrate them.  I used to do a lot of things that I'd been programmed to do, even though many of them didn't make sense or weren't meaningful to me.  I don't think anyone should be feeling overwhelmed or unhappy because all of these things they feel they have to do, gifts they have to buy, expectations they have to meet, face they have to save. 

Am I the only one that has ever dreaded the inevitable post-Christmas questions?   "What did you get?"   "Did you get everything you wanted?"  Gulp.  I don't know, maybe I'm making a big deal out of nothing, but it actually makes me pretty uncomfortable.  Always has. You just never know a person's situation.  I've had Christmases where I was barely able to pay my light bill.  I've had Christmases where my relationship was hanging on by a thread.  Gifts?  They're nice, but they're not what my holidays are about.

"In all affairs, it's a healthy thing now and then to hang a question mark on the things you have long taken for granted."
~Bertrand Russell


What makes a happy holiday for you?  Whatever your answer is, please make sure that it comes from within.  Not from the media, not from your peers or colleagues, not even from your parents if their traditions don't ring true for you.  Define your happy holiday for yourself.

As we close this year, I hope you will take a close look at your life and find ways to alleviate some of the strain or pressure that you feel from trying to live up to expectations.  Don't get caught up.  Who are you trying to please?  Whose life are you living?  Just give it some thought.

By the way, it bothers me that I've only been able to post once a week lately.  I'm adamant about not letting it drop any more than that.  This outlet is so important to me, and when I can't tend to it, I get cranky!  Over the next three months, I'll be studying for a test that I need to take for work, so I know it will be challenging to find time to write.  But I gotta write, so I know I'll find the time.  As always, thanks so much for taking the time to come see me.

Much Love,
GG
                   





Simple Freedom: Don't Let A Bad Day Make You Think You Have a Bad Life

Monday, December 19, 2011 6:00 PM



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Before I even go in on the subject of bad days, let me assure that I have my share of them.   So, I'm in no position to lecture anyone about how they should be happy and positive all the time.  That's unrealistic, and to be perfectly honest, people who seem happy all the time kind of annoy me.

I will say, though, that I've learned how to keep my bad days in the right perspective and not allow them to sour my whole outlook on life (like I used to).

While some days we walk around with our pockets full of sunshine, there are other days when dark storm clouds seem to follow us wherever we go.  Things go wrong.  We receive bad news.  We have arguments and misunderstandings.  And things just seem to snowball. 

And sometimes on these days, we feel so gloomy that we think everything about our lives is wrong. It's like we open ourselves up and allow every negative thought that comes up to just run free.

Here's where your perspective is so important.  Major tragedies aside, most things that bring us down are simply inconveniences that we've overemphasized in our minds. 

When things aren't going your way and you're feeling down and out, don't lose sight of these truths:

"Much of your pain is self-chosen."
~Kahlil Gibran

* The more you learn to roll with the punches of life, the less suffering you will endure. Remember, pain may be brought on by external sources but suffering is a state of mind that we can control.

"If you're in a bad situation, don't worry it'll change. If you're in a good situation, don't worry it'll change." ~John A. Simone, Sr

*Nothing is permanent. The more we come to accept the impermanence of things, the more peace of mind we'll have.  By definition, situations are always changing.  When we cling to things - we suffer.  So just let go, and observe what you can learn from the situation.

"The turning point in the process of growing up is when you discover the core of strength within you that survives all hurt."  ~Max Lerner

*Find strength and understanding in the midst of what's going on. You've been sad before. You've felt disconnected and uncertain before.  And you got through it. Take a break.  Don't make any decisions or sweeping assumptions while you're feeling bad.  Rest.  Pray. Get back to balance and start again tomorrow.

Y'all know that I'm very passionate about mental and emotional health.  With the holidays, and the short daylight hours and cold weather, many of us start feeling down around this time of year.  Be sure to stay active and do what you need to do to keep your spirits up.  Speaking of holidays, am I the only one that's not done shopping?!

    



    






  




My First Pinterest Creation

Thursday, December 15, 2011 8:00 AM





This here was created by moi for my Pinterest board: Wise Words.   I've been finding so much inspiration on Pinterest, so I decided that I needed to add some of my own original words and thoughts.  If you're not familiar, Pinterest is basically like a virtual vision board.  This particular pin is an excerpt from this post on PLPT.  I think I'm going to make some more of these. 

Are you making time for creativity in your life?  Have you tried something new this week? 
Well, the week isn't over yet!  Don't overthink it.  Just do it. :)

       

Captured: Bangs

Tuesday, December 13, 2011 5:19 PM






I've been toying with the idea of cutting my bangs for awhile now. I haven't had bangs since I went natural so I don't know how they'll look when I where my hair curly but I went for it anyway. I figure I can always just blend them in with the rest of my hair when I wear twist outs. I'm going to try and wash it tonight because I didn't get to it this past weekend. We'll see. Successfully washing my hair on a week night is an ambitious endeavor!  Hope you're having a great week so far!  xo

Simple Freedom: When You're Ready to Talk About It, You'll Know.

Monday, December 12, 2011 1:09 PM


I've been pretty ambiguous about my marital status on this blog. Afraid of judgment I guess. I'm not married and I don't know if I'll ever get married. I eluded to having a secret that I was keeping from you all here. I still wasn't ready to just come out and say it. As much as I try to act like it's not, it's a sensitive issue for me.

My significant other is the father of my children, my partner, my love - but not my husband.

There I said it. It feels really good to get that out. I'm sure if you've been reading for awhile, you can imagine how much I've wanted to write about this. I mean I share so much with y'all and this is an aspect of my life that I have a lot of feelings about.

In addition to fearing judgment, I also wanted to respect his privacy. He's very private when it comes to his personal life, and he is NOT a fan of social media. He supports my writing and blogging but does not like the fact that I get so personal here. Oh well, this is an area where he and I have to agree to disagree.

So, why am I all of a sudden writing about this? After starting countless posts about this and deleting them? After I just said that I wanted to respect his privacy?

Well, the answer is pretty simple. This blog is my sacred place. I don't go to therapy anymore - I write. I don't get to talk to my friends as much I would like so - I write. And over the last couple years, I write more on my blogs than I do in my personal journals. I find that just when I think I'm the only person in the world going through something, I blog about it and low and behold I find that I'm not alone.

So, over the last few months, I started feeling like I was ready to talk about it. Then, this past weekend, I knew that I would write about it this week. Then, this morning, I knew that I would write about it today.

This post is not intended to get into the gritty details of my relationship, but to show you by example how we can overcome our insecurities and accept ourselves for who we are. There will always be criticism and no matter what we do, someone is going to think we should do it differently.  So we might as well do what we feel is best for us and live authentically.

If you've been holding something back in your life, please know that when you're ready to address it, you will. If you're seeking freedom and awareness in your life, then eventually your need to express yourself will begin to outweigh your fear.

Let me tell you, now that I've put it out there, I feel so uninhibited. I even feel a little silly for not talking about it sooner. It's interesting how we hide things about ourselves and worry what people will think. Why do we care so much about the opinions of others when we know can't control them?  

Remember, this is your life, your story and your truth. And that's what this Simple Freedom series is all about - fully embracing your truth and letting go of the insecurities that distract you from being your best self.

Thank you so much for reading, lovelies. I can't find the words to express how much it means to me.   xoxo              

Simple Freedom: Nothing Compares to You

Monday, December 5, 2011 12:26 PM




 

It's hard not to compare yourself to others. We often have this perception that our weaknesses hurt us more than our strengths benefit us. And this usually causes us to undervalue ourselves. We compare ourselves to our friends, peers and colleagues. We measure our worth based on how much money we make, our homes, cars and clothes, or our relationship status. This habit of comparing makes it difficult to appreciate who you are, what you have and what you are doing with your life.

Recently, I was listening to a friend fill me in on what she's been up to. I only talk to her every couple months or so, and she always has a lot to say. Anyway, as I listened, I realized that I didn't have a lot of monumental life changes going on in my life right now. She seemed to have a little bit of everything going on. Part of me was slightly annoyed at how she was dominating the conversation, but another part of me was relieved because I didn't have much to report. I'm still a mom who writes and goes to work and raises her kids. Not much had changed since our last catch-up. I started wondering if I should feel some type of way about this. Am I stagnant? Am I not moving forward?


Once I had a chance to think through some of the unpretty feelings I was having, I had an enlightening moment of sorts. It was kind of like a "duh" moment at the same time, actually. Anyway, I realized that at this point in my life, my number one priority is raising my children. Everything else comes after that.

OK, duh, right? Here's the enlightening part...

Live life on your own path. Everybody's got something different and the combination of energies that makes you who you are is unduplicated.

Sometimes I feel like I'm missing something when I hear about the adventures that other women around my age are having. And maybe I am! But I'm reminded now that I'm OK with that. I'm raising three human beings who need their mom and dad to be engaged and highly involved in the intimate details of their lives. I know that won't always be the case, so I'm thankful for the ability to have an impact on them during this time. Because they are my priority, most of my decisions are centered around them. My financial decisions, personal pursuits, lifestyle choices, are all affected by my choice to be a mom (and three times over at that).

So, it doesn't really serve me at all to compare myself to anyone else because we all have our own unique situations. How we live our lives and make decisions are manifestations of those wonderful energies I mentioned earlier that make us who we are and create the texture of our lives. Why view someone else's choices as better or worse than our own? It doesn't even make sense really. Maybe we think our lives would be easier, but it wouldn't. More fun? No. More success? Probably not. Joy and fulfillment in life come from being fully in touch with who YOU are and living wholeheartedly from that awareness.

I don't want to do this life thing like anyone else. Even with all the ups and downs, my life is my own mysterious and amazing gift from God. Instead of feeling better or worse about my life when listening to someone else's story, I feel intrigued and curious about what makes people do what they do and feel how they feel.  I'm just fascinated with the complexity of life, I guess. 

What about you? How do you avoid comparing yourself to others?  Or perhaps you have a completely different perspective on it.  If so, I'd love to hear it. 

As always, thanks for reading.  1 4 3 :)

  









Love and Locks | A Week of Updos

Friday, December 2, 2011 11:52 PM

                       
As we speak, there are six little girls between the ages of 4 and 6 asleep in my living room.   My daughter is having a slumber party for her 6th birthday.  By the time you read this, the party will be over and hopefully I'll be somewhere napping. 

Since my time and energy is limited, I just wanted to share with you the updos that I improvised this week.  I put my hair in twists after a quick wash and condition on Sunday, then I rode that out all week by pinning and bunning my hair in different ways.  These aren't truly protective styles, but they are definitely low manipulation. 

I hope you're enjoying your weekend!