I’ve always been the behind-the-scenes type of person ( #introvertedlifestyle #bornthisway #quietgirlsrock ). I was the one who volunteered to type the group projects while another person presents the work… the one who would keep score instead of being on the kickball team. Even as an adult who continues to gradually shed my social anxiety one blog entry and Instagram post at a time, I’m the one who feels more comfortable writing inspiration on a screen instead of verbally encouraging others.

One of the stars amongst one thousand suns… you know, the people whose light demands our attention. The ones who can stand in front of a room of people with articulation and ease. The ones that our attention revolves around.

I am not a sun. I am more like one of the billions of typically ignored stars in the universe. Yet, although it took me most of my life to realize it, I know now that my shine is not less than the light of the suns. It’s also not greater than the light of those suns neither.

We are all capable of shining our lights and being a source of brightness and positivity in this world. A constellation of stars is just as beautiful as the rising of the sun. We are ALL a Light.

xoxo Sheesh.

Last night I started a prayer journal (again lol, and I came across a scripture that snatched up my senses and inspired me to write a new blog post (Thanks God!):

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are mine

-Isaiah 43:1

I was reminded that I am not here (on this earth; in this city; within my family; at my job; associated with different people) as a trial run. I am not here to strive for the life that fulfills unauthentic expectations. Nor am I here to be a carbon copy of the next person. I am more… WE are more.

Have you ever felt strongly about a dream or goal, but your urge didn’t match your faith and so you never pursued them? I’m sure we’ve all been there…I honestly still find myself in that position:

• I dream of writing full time. Books and blogs and reviews and reflections all day!

• I dream of managing a Little Free Library in Bridgeport.

I literally dream about this life. But, then I start to think about whether or not anyone would find my writing to be impactful. I question whether or not I am capable of making sure a Little Free Library is stocked and cared for. I start to chip away at my faith in my own abilities to make these dreams realities.

I forget that I’m claimed by someone who literally created life… that He knows me by name. That I can endure the weight of my dreams simply because of His presence!

It’s super easy to lose sight of the possibilities of dreams when life is constantly putting up road blocks, potholes, and faulty traffic lights at every corner. After a while it seems as if the only option is to turn around and head back to the cozy familiarity of home, not realizing that those setbacks are merely pauses within the purpose.

So, here’s to pursuing the dreams, resuming the purpose, and remembering to whom you belong.

Here are three songs that reminds me that I am His:

1. “The Best in Me” by Marvin Sapp

2. “Marvelous” by CeCe Winans

3. “Journal” by Casey J

4. “Psalm 42” by Tori Kelly

Xoxo, Sheesh

The roots of my inner struggles… my emotional fractures and ruffles… are grounded in the folds of my childhood. True to it’s nature, the seeds that sprouted my twisted roots were never visible to others. Instead, they were swiftly planted within my soul, one by one. One seed for every childish verbal jab from childish humans oblivious to their invisible damage.

I actually remember a lot of those toxic seeds… the moments in which they were pushed into my soul and immediately rooted themselves within, as if they were finally home. The shameful “crybaby” seed. The seed planted when that one girl said I spoke like Donnie from the Wild Thornberries. The “the ugly twin” seed, which was thrown at me as I passed by a boy during a corner store run before school. And those familiar, nearly invisible seeds that were planted each time people looked past me (maybe even through me) towards my best friend to let her know just how beautiful she was whenever we were in public together.

My mind was a toxic garden full of lies solidified by consistency and time.

But even mighty trees can be uprooted if you dig deep enough. And so I dug… deep with therapy, and medicine, and my Spirituality, and through speaking my truth out loud… within myself until those solid lies were revealed as nothing but mere apparitions… smoke and mirrors playing mind games all along.

New roots have begun to settle within my soul. Pure seeds have been spread… seeds of Faith, of purpose, of forgiveness (given and taken), of self-acceptance, and even self-love. Now, positivity blooms and the fragrance is refreshing. Yet and still, there are moments in which the fragrance of positivity wanes, the thorns grow sharp where they once were dull, and the weeds strive to choke every ounce of beauty found in the process of this new beginning, this season of growth. Keyword: Strive. Because despite the sharpness of the thorns or the rapid growth of weeds, with love and nurturing, knowledge and determination for growth, the seeds of purity and positivity planted in the soul and mind will outshine… outgrow and overwhelm… what was meant to destroy.

Xoxo Sheesh

#SheeDiscoveredGrowth.

To “dare greatly”, according to Brené Brown, “means the courage to be vulnerable. It means to show up and be seen. To ask for what you need. To talk about how you’re feeling. To have the hard conversations”…


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I wonder how many people can agree with Brené… I wonder who is bold enough to call the act of being open and truthful about ones feelings courageous. For me, there are times when I question whether or not my vulnerability about my mental health journey and relationship with God is “too much”. Despite knowing that my words and my story is relative to so many people on my social media accounts and even those I see face to face everyday, there is still a small fear in the corner of my mind about how being open with my emotions isn’t acceptable.

That fear looks like my humiliation at being known as the “crybaby” throughout my childhood. It takes on the shape of my teacher’s face whenever I became upset at school. It sounds like the confused tone of my friend’s voice as she failed to understand my anxiety

when we attempted to go to a club on my 21st birthday. And it feels like the shame of having people look at me with concern, as if being emotional and expressing how I feel means that I’m weak.

Fear tried to diminish my vulnerability… it tried to stifle my ability to go against the grain of what we’ve been told (whether consciously or unconsciously) by the world around us. Don’t let them see you sweat; Leave your emotional baggage at the door; Don’t cry, you look like a girl; Keep your guard up or else you’ll look weak. Each of these phrases are basically telling us to not be human and ultimately feeds the fear of being open.

I’d be lying if I said that I always viewed vulnerability as a strength… it wasn’t until I began to go to group therapy that I realized being vulnerable and open about my truths and the emotions that came with them was beautifully difficult. Difficult because of how my vulnerability was addressed in the past, but beautiful because it was the first time many people responded to my overflow of emotion with understanding.

Where does the strength come in? It’s the foundation of vulnerability. Being vulnerable is something that takes energy, premeditation, and preparation as it goes against everything we’ve been socially immersed in. To be vulnerable and come out of it with any amount of peace, clarity, and self awareness is a courageously strong. For me, I found that the more I embraced vulnerability and shared the true pieces of myself, the more love I had for myself and the more connections I established with others…strength on top of strength.

It doesn’t matter how vulnerable a person is…it can be confiding in a close friend or family member, seeing a therapist, writing in a journal, or it can be writing a public blog for all to see. To be vulnerable is to be authentic, and to be authentic is strength. Continue to dare greatly. I know I will.

Vulnerably and candidly yours,

xoxo Sheesh.

“Failure is not an option”…

Next time someone says that to me, I just may respond with “Says who?” And then I’d patiently wait for that person to seriously tell me where God declared failure to be out of the equation of life. I may even throw in that right, failure is not an option… it is inevitable. It is as much a part of life as breathing. And just like breathing, failure is full of necessity and purpose.

My view on failure is different than what we’re generally taught. I wish I could say that I’ve always embraced failure as an occurrence meant to propel me closer to my purpose and to enhance me spiritually and emotionally. However, the truth is that for such a long time I would strive to avoid failure like the plague…and whenever failure made its entrance in my life, I would crumble and nearly drown in the idea of not being able to be perfect… of not being capable of having a boyfriend in high school like everyone else, of not getting a D+ in Family and Consumer Science because I suck as cooking, of not graduating from my first college institution in 2012, of not being able to avoid depression and anxiety and suicide attempts, of not being able to find a passion and career with a higher salary, of not having the funds to save money over time, of not being able to refrain from impulsively buying sour candy and pretty journals every time I go to Target, of not being that perfect friend who texts and calls consistently and who can hold a conversation for hours with no awkwardness or huge gaps of silence. Etc.

It wasn’t until I started looking at life through God’s lenses instead of the world’s that the truth about failure settled into my mind. He told me that I was fearfully and wonderfully made… that I was loved and known by Him before I was even knitted in my mother’s womb… that whether I’m in a season of abundance or a season of scarcity, His love remains, His presence is consistent, and my importance is solidified…and that through contentment in every season of life, joy and peace will be achieved.

And now, gradually, failure is becoming less of a handicap and more of a stepping stone to greater. For me, the connotation of failure is now filled with enhancement, self-awareness, reflection, and strength. It is no longer about not reaching the milestones thrown onto me by society; failure is about learning how to navigate through unexpected outcomes while seeing the beauty in each one.

I used to pray that failure doesn’t find me… now I thank God for them, and the growth that follows.

xoxo Sheesh.

I love Maria Shriver.

Ten years ago, my love for the former Mrs. Schwarzenegger would have been completely based on the fact that she is the daughter of the fierce Eunice Kennedy (I’m not ashamed to say I had a Kennedy obsession in high school…who hasn’t?). But today, I love her not because of her bloodline, but because of her.

Her. The girl who was born into an American dynasty that overshadowed her as a person. The woman who lived her life being a cheerleader and spokesperson for others. The woman who was brave enough to shed the expectations of others and wear her authentic self out loud.

Her. I love her because I am her. I clutch to the garment of expectation a little too tightly. I survive off of the identify given to me as a young woman maintaining a mental illness…As a native of Bridgeport…As an educator of young children…As a black woman.

But survival doesn’t require authenticity.

And how the world identifies me is not who I FULLY am… the problem is that I’ve been so wrapped up in the identity thrust upon me that I’ve yet to identify Authentic Me…fully.

So, I love Maria Shriver for reminding me that being clueless of my identify is human…that the search for one’s identity is a task we all have to endure eventually. Let the road to my authentic self, my identity, begin.

 

Xoxo Sheesh  

“For if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” –Esther 4:14 (My FAVORITE scripture!!!)

Isn’t it funny (in a not-so-funny-way) how one divine moment can happen in the most unexpected way? I NEVER would have thought that watching E.R. while wallowing and procrastinating on life would lead to the moment that humility and Truth crashed into me, resetting my whole outlook. The craziest thing about the whole thing was that I had no idea that my Faith needed to be replenished… I was oblivious to the fact that God was no longer my focal point.

This day isn’t about you, Mr. Carter.

Although I heard those words, what really processed in my mind was “This day isn’t about you, Shawanna”. I have no idea what the rest of that E.R. episode was about… all I knew in that moment, and the hour or so afterwards, were those words. This day isn’t about you. I have no doubt that those words hit me like a train for a reason. I know that it was God telling me something…planting Truth and tough-love within me, allowing for humility and peace to bloom.

This day isn’t about you.

I get it now. Completely. All that time I’ve been complaining about my debt, feeling exhausted, being single, not growing fast enough in my business, feeling underappreciated and overwhelmed, living paycheck to paycheck, walking the dog, not having enough time to stop by Dunkin Donuts before work, and that annoying noise that my car has been making for the last week… Years and years of feeling sorry for myself and feeling as if the world is always one step ahead of where I’m going, and God met me where I was at to let me know that it’s not about me.

It’s about the purpose. The end results. The crop of the harvest. And you know what, that reward in the end may not even be for me… Yes, I am beyond tired every day because I care for infants, but I know that my care as a teacher provided each child with love, support, and comfort continuously. No, I am not rolling in money a month after investing in a business, but it’s a blessing to be able to provide sources of beauty and inspiration through my jewelry. And yes, I am single, but He knows that while I am still working on my confidence and self-love that I cannot be that rib that my future husband deserves.

This day is not about you. This day, this moment, this second is bigger than our issues. Bigger than our discomfort. Bigger than our grudges. Bigger than our fear and insecurity. It is not about me. It is not about you.

Sheesh xoxo

I am sitting here alone in my space… filled with anxiety and trying not to scream as I’m drowning in emotional claustrophobia. At first, I couldn’t help but think, “Why am I feeling like this? I shouldn’t be in this mindset right now! I’ve come too far to be here!”
It’s true, I’ve come mad far. But… Life is a cycle.

LIFE IS A CYCLE!

Robert Frost was onto something when he proclaimed “nothing gold can stay”. I believe that nothing good can truly last continuously… as a cycle, life will always have its share of good times and also times of turbulence. It’s a given that we will all experience periods of smooth sailing and periods in which we encounter a few potholes and construction zones along the way. Even Jesus Christ and his disciples said it wouldn’t be easy; that we will definitely have to deal with suffering not only by way of the world, but also through God as He disciplines us, His children (John 16:33 and Hebrews 12:7).
So, yes… I admit that my anxiety level is beyond 100. That my season of growth scares me more than words can express. That I fear what God equipped me with (spiritually, mentally and emotionally) is still not enough to help me be a good daughter, sister, cousin, niece, friend, teacher… Aunt. But I also know that this part of the cycle I’m in right now is not where I will be forever. A shift will come. The anxiety and fear will give way to the presence of the Spirit. Faith will obliterate any self-doubt in the next steps of my journey.

*Self-motivation to get my Cycle of Life moving upward:

“You are from God, little [Shawanna], and have overcome [the negative spirits in the world]; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world” – 1 John 4:4

How are you speaking progress into your Cycle of Life?
Xoxo Sheesh

Here’s a not-so-fun fact about Sheesh: I struggled with misinterpreting the possession of tangible objects as the possession of happiness. My idea of happiness was going to Barnes and Nobel after a stressful day and charge $100 on my credit card. It was shopping on Amazon whenever I felt like life was pointless. It was purchasing a box of journaling supplies, even though I had multiple journals and pens and art utensils still secured in their plastic packaging. Materialism at its finest. Very pleasing…yet very, VERY temporary. It wasn’t until the credit card swiping caused more anxiety than excitement that the question “What is happiness?”

It was not until I noticed the increase in my own personal happiness throughout 2017 that I realized the Truth of happiness: the key to happiness is growth!

For me, authentic happiness is not something that is solid and universal… it is not one-size-fits-all. It definitely is not guaranteed, and it sure enough cannot be express shipped to us in an Amazon box tied in a perfect bow. Happiness is unique to each person. It is dependent on one’s choice to taking steps towards being an enhanced and truer version of themselves. It requires taking a leap of Faith and having a Believer’s heart. Taking actions in life that enables you to mature in the areas that are most valuable to you!

Growth.

“Discovering the value of life is an active choice that requires a leap of Faith and a Believer’s heart” -Shawanna

The thing about growth, however, is that it cannot happen without action. It cannot happen unless one chooses to takes the steps to make it happen. For myself, I realized that the areas in which I needed growth the most were spirituality and self-worth. As a result, I began to take the steps that would enhance my life in those areas: I joined a couple of amazing Faith-based women’s groups (Woman, I am Inc. and Purity + Peace); I found a new church home (New Vision International Ministries); I began to write out my prayers and listen to mostly gospel music; I discovered Christian podcasts that I listen to antidepressants as an extra method of self-care; I traveled more; I said “no” more often; I began to speak up more.

After a while I noticed that I was no longer getting to happy… I was growing into my happy. Of course, with growth comes growing pains. The days where taking that step towards growth seems impossible and where you realize that being comfortable with discomfort may come as a side-effect to growing into your happy. However, nothing worth fighting for floats down from heaven on a silver platter! I do still have moments where I find myself buying a random E-book after an anxiety attack, and I’d be lying if I said I haven’t done a drive-by to Barnes and Noble in over a year. Nobody is perfect, and the road to happiness is full of lessons learned. The key to happiness is growth, and growth is an uphill journey worth taking. Let’s make 2018 the Year of Growth and Happiness.

Are you willing to grow into your happy?

Xoxo Sheesh

January 2018. This has been the time of year that so many people have been anticipating. The season in which we declare to have a fresh start on life. When all through our social media forums the mantra “New year, New Me” is emphasized in capitalized and bold letters.

It is amazing how fixated so many of us are on connecting the start of a new calendar year with starting a renewed lease on how we want to live. We tend to patiently wait for the ball to drop… for our clocks to change from 11:59 PM on December 31st to 12:00 AM on January 1st… before we begin the journey of renewal and life enhancement. For me, the desire to make changes in our lives for the better is something that I value greatly; however, the struggle that I recently developed with this particular tradition of starting new in the new year is fairly simple: Why wait?

Throughout 2017, I have grown in many ways: mentally, emotionally, and in my sense of self-worth and confidence. Yet, my most significant area of growth has been spiritually. In 2017 I became saved, wholeheartedly. I was also led not only to Woman, I Am Inc., but also to my church home, New Vision International Ministries, and the women’s bible study group Purity + Peace. It was also the year that I found my therapist and began to get more invested in my mental and emotional health. In addition, this was the year I created my blog and began to dedicate my social media to more positive and meaningful content.

Want to know what makes all of these occurrences of renewal and fresh starts so special? It is the fact that my growth and the changes that enabled them occurred well after January 1st. There was no magic time frame in which I was suddenly able to make these life-enhancing changes and decisions. The only time that mattered was GOD’S TIMING!

In truth, what enabled me to grow in 2017 was Faith, Grace, Mercy, and Love. I made decisions that brought me closer to people of Faith. This led to me building up Faith in God’s timing and starting to believe that through Him all things were working for my good. Which led me to seeing, receiving, and giving His gifts of Grace and Mercy. All of which ultimately led to seasons of learning and growth!

There were many lessons learned during 2017, all of which opened my eyes to the many falsehoods that I held as truth for most of my life… among the most enlightening lessons I’ve learned is that is it never too late (or too early) to start anew! Just as we are renewed in Jesus Christ daily and with repentance, so we are also renewed in our ways of life through recognizing our need for growth and taking action towards being a Light in a world teeming with darkness.

Don’t be afraid to start NOW, in whatever place you are planted in this season.

#NewMomentNewMe2018

xoxo Sheesh