Thank You for Your Service | #100daysofhappy

This morning, as every morning, I head in to 7-11 to grab my $.53 coffee.  I am always in uniform and I am literally known as the Army girl.  It’s kind of cute.  People always speak to me; they are always so kind to me in my community.  There is a cashier in the 7-11 who is best friends with my son and another cashier who tells me the story about his brother who served in the Navy.

There is one patron in particular who greets me just about everyday.  I don’t know his name, I have never asked.  Each time we meet, he always thanks me for my service.  I always return the gratitude – as opposed to other times when I thank people for their patriotism.  Little known fact – most of us servicemembers are embarrassed about being thanked for our service in public; it’s actually kind of weird.

I know this man – I want to call him Frank – served in the Navy because we have discussed it previously.  Our morning conversations are always the same.  He thanks me for my service and he tells me that no one thanked him when he came home.

This morning, we were getting our coffee together and he says:
“Thank you for your service. I know I say it every time I see you, but I mean it, sincerely. I served in the Navy for four years as a cook. I never starved, I’ll tell you that. But when I came home, no one said thank you to me.”

I return my gratitude for his service and shared a bit about my grandfather who also served in the Navy for four years as a cook. I feel his pain. He gave his service to an unforgiving country. It breaks my heart.I can’t imagine how that feels.  I have been supported thoroughly through my journey of serving my country.  I have now come to learn that it is a privilege to be thanked for your service and for your service to this country to be recognized and celebrated.  I thought for some time that maybe it was a race thing, but I have also come to learn that it is more of a patriotism thing.  Civilians sincerely do not understand the level of sacrifice that we endure to serve this nation – under any and all circumstances.  Each servicemember has their own reason for their service but each servicemember SERVES.

As baffled as I am about patriotism, I am humbled by this mans display of gratitude.  In all that he has experienced, all of his pain and confusion, he still has a mind to thank me for what I do.


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In an effort to hunt the good news story in every day during this #100daysofhappy, this is my good news story.  Frank is my hero today.  Frank is sincere and kind and he has become a part of my family.  I regard him with the same respect and honor that I have for my grandfather.  My heart goes out to him for his service to his country, no mater how unforgiving they were towards him.

Frank, thank you for your service.

Love & Light, Fam!

#100daysofHappy

I love these little challenges and I am so excited to bring one to you guys!!

A few years ago, I did a very similar challenge for myself, by myself.  During my #100daysofhappy, I made sure to focus on the things that were good – hunting the good news story.  Everyday, instead of focusing on the negative aspects of the day, I would celebrate the good things that were happening.

For example – instead of focusing on the traffic that I am stuck in, I revel in gratitude for having reliable transportation. Instead of being disgruntled about the rain, I focus on the growth that will follow once the rain ceases.  Instead of focusing on the crisis at hand, I dwell in contentment with my ability to be resourceful.

This was so helpful for my personal growth and development.  I wanted to change my mindset and I wanted to develop a better level of thinking for resourcefulness and success.  The success mindset – I discuss this with my clients quite often.

As I am in the beginning of a transition in my life, I am looking forward to hunting the good news story. I have now shared this experience with you guys – my Fam!!!

This 100 days will span over the holiday season and into the New Year.  We always look to the New Year to start something new, but I felt this was a different approach to take something good into the New Year.  This is especially important for me because I always tend to have a hard time struggling with depression and suicidal thoughts around the holiday season.  I am hoping that you will join me through the next 100 Days to hunt the good news story.

Make sure you are following She Lifts on Facebook and Instagram to stay up to date with each new day during this period.  There will be some exclusive content coming your way, so be sure to get locked in!!!

Thank you so much for going on this journey with me! I hope that it proves to be as impactful for you as it will be for me!

Love & Light Fam!!

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

I think this is the single most commemorated and observed observations there is.  Even the NFL (probably the most hated sports league in America right now) commemorates this month by wearing pink gear.

Through my research I found BreastCancer.org (I didn’t even know this existed).  Their mission statement is:

Breastcancer.org is a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing the most reliable, complete, and up-to-date information about breast cancer and breast health as well as an active and supportive online community.”

There are podcasts published via this organization that discuss the entire scope of breast cancer from diagnosis to treatment to remission.  Here is a link to their podcast.

The site is ironclad with information and resources, but I will highlight a few here.

  • About 1 in 8 U.S. women (about 12.4%) will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of her lifetime.
  • For women in the U.S., breast cancer death rates are higher than those for any other cancer, besides lung cancer.
  • In women under 45, breast cancer is more common in African-American women than white women. Overall, African-American women are more likely to die of breast cancer. For Asian, Hispanic, and Native-American women, the risk of developing and dying from breast cancer is lower
  • Some breast cancer risks include:
    • eating unhealthy foods
    • smoking
    • drinking

I won’t go into great detail about this, but I will note that prevention is key.  Please take your boobs seriously!!  Please get your annual (or in some cases semi-annual) mammograms and conduct at-home-breast exams often.  If something doesn’t feel right, DO NOT HESISTATE too contact your doctor and have a conversation about it.  It could be nothing, but it could be something and it is best to know rather than rule it out yourself and cause more problems in the long run.

Long live the tatas!!

Love & Light, Fam!!

Well, HELLO October!!

The months of August – October are my favorite.  They always serve for me a fresh perspective.  As we get settled into fall this month and we look forward to all the things this harvest season has to offer, I am continuously building and looking for dope ways to bring you all relatable content.

This month has a ton of celebrations, including but not limited to Halloween (if that is your thing) and Columbus Day (again, if that is your thing).

I have compiled a list of the observances that we will be observing this month here at She Lifts.  I see these as opportunities to educate not only myself, but you guys as well, hang a little tighter with family and friends and have some fun!

  • Antidepressant Death Awareness Month
  • Breast Cancer Awareness Month
  • Eat Better, Eat Together Month
  • Emotional Wellness Month
  • Health Literacy Month
  • National Book Month
  • National Depression Education and Awareness Month
  • National Domestic Violence Month
  • Photographer Appreciation Month
  • Self-Promotion Month
  • Tackling Hunger Month

Honestly, prior to looking for this information, I had no idea that all of this stuff was going on in the mighty month of October.  For a full list of all that October has to offer (and every other month, too!), click here.

Stay tuned for all of the fun and festivities this month and as always, thanks for putting your ears on it!!

Love & Light, Fam!!

The Semicolon Tattoo

It is officially September and I always look forward to this time of year.  This is a time for change.  The weather is changing.  Things begin to slow down a bit.  The leaves on the trees begin to change colors and cover the streets with a colorful blanket.  The sunlight even hangs around less and less and we get to spend more time with the moon.

September is also the month set aside to observe suicide awareness and prevention, among other things.  This month has historically been very near and dear to my heart for this particular reason.

Suicide, suicidal thoughts and ideations and grieving after losing a friend or family member to suicide in’t something that people usually discuss openly.  This month gives us a chance to normalize these kinds of discussions.

Suicidal thoughts and ideations never just spring from one particular event and feeling this way isn’t easy nor is it easy to abandon.  Committing suicide has a painful trickling effect that isn’t seen very clearlu from the vantage point of the one who is merely struggling to stay alive.  If you are lucky, you can make it to other side, but for some of us, life ended far too quickly.


I write this article/post with a heavy heart, as a survivor.  I am not only a survivior of a dark period of self-loathing and suicidal thoughts, I also survived self-harm.  I struggled for years trying to find my place in life, my purpose.  I struggled with not loving myself and not knowing myself well enough to see all of the tens of thousands of amazing reasons I had to love myself.

I wanted to die.

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On my left wrist, I have a tattoo of a semi-colon.  This tattoo symbolizes a rebirth for me.  It symbolizes the moment that I decided to live.  When I could have ended my life, I didn’t.  I got this idea from a video I saw on Faceboook one day.  A girl got a semicolon tattoo in honor of her father who was suicidal, but decided against taking his life.  Basically, you are the author and the story is your life.

Why would you write a bad story about yourself?

I purposely got the tattoo in its place because on the opposite side of my arm are scars from self-harm.  Some days I look at these scars and the sight reminds me of that dark place that I was in.  I can remember exactly how it felt.  I can remember the thought process throughout and each and every emotion I encountered.  Sometimes, I look at them and they fill me with overwhelming shame and guilt.  Most of the time, I want to hide them, but I know that I can’t run from it.

I decided to heal through it.  This tattoo was the first step for me.  It was more than just a mere marking on my body (that some people firmly frown upon).  For me it was an outward expression of a conscious decision that I made.  I chose to live.

I am still here and I celebrate that every single day.

I began to confront my internal issues head on.  With the help of a therapist – who iis awesome an amazing in every way – I was able to really dig deep on the experiences and encounters that had caused me so much pain.  I was able to be begin healing.


Now, I freely and openly telll my story.  I want to hellp in erasing the stigma around depression, anxiety and mental health.  I want people to know that they should treat their minds the way that they treat their bodies.  We shouldn’t be abusing our minds and shoving all of these overwhelming thoughts and feelings into it without having an constructive way to get them out.  Trust me, they will find a way to release themselves – and it’s not always the most healthy way.

This month will be an amazing month for She Lifts – The Brand and She Lifts Podcast and we journey through and uncover suicide prevention.

Love & Light, Fam!

September: Suicide Prevention Month

My my my, these statistics are startling:

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As I began my research for this month’s She Lifts Podcast series, I found these statistics hard to digest.  What is worse is the fact that this doesn’t truly capture all of the suicides in the US.  The stigma surrounding mental health and suicide (which are not always synonymous) typically deters people from reporting it.  There are families who cover up the cause of death if it resulted from suicide to uphold an appearance.

This has got to end.  We HAVE to talk about it.  Losing just one more person to suicide is one too many.  There are a ton of resources for people who are experiencing a rouhg time, no matter what the cause is.  Occassionally, the cause is clear — break up/divorce, assault or even loss of a job or loved one.  However, there a tons of other underlying reasons for suicide and suicidal thoughts and ideations including mental health disorders and certain medications.  There are trained professionals who are passionate about assisting to sift through the dust and help you find the answers.

One thing for sure – suicide is not the answer.

If you know someone who may be suicidal or who has even attempted suicide in the past, has a history of self-harm, is a danger to him/herself or others, or is simply experiencing a rough time coping with life changes, please check out the resources section on this site.  Of course, if they are in danger or danger to others, alert your local law enforcement immediately.  This page is updated periodically.  If there is a resource in your community or anything that may be missing, please submit it here for update:

As a part of your community, we all have a responsibility to one another to watch over, assist and guide.  No one person is journeying thorugh life alone.

Today, I charge you to search your heart for the compassion and kindness that it takes to rebuild from brokenness.  It is time to stop worrying about what others may think or say and focus on healing and love.

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Suicide can be prevented if we all do our part.

Love & Light, Fam!

Self-Care: How do you care for yourself?

I struggled with this for a long time.  I try my hardest to be a selfless person.  I didn’t realize that I was standing in my own way and that self-care was far less an issue of selfishness and much more a necessity.

I began asking myself, what do I like to do?  The answer to this question seemed to always involve another person, or the role that I played in someone’s life.  The answer never quite returned with “I do this because I want to do it for myself.”  This discovery led me to really uncover who I really was.

I found that I had been defined by my role as mother, fiance, Soldier, NCO and all of the other labels and positions that I had placed on me by other people.  I was stuck in my roles.  I thought that I was being true to myself by honoring these roles when at the end of the day, there was nothing left for me to give to myself.

I was dreadfully empty.

There is so much more to me and who I am than what I am or whose I am.  I had to relearn and rethink my idea of ownership and take back my life.  I wasn’t in super bad shape, but probably because I was able to catch it before it completely consumed me.

I had to take time and redefine myself.  I wanted to be able to look in the mirror and know exactly who that girl was.  I could barely answer the question “What do you like to do?” and that was, for me, unacceptable.

Through this journey (which was part of my self-love journey) I was able to identify activities that I could engage in both alone and with others that truly brought me joy and peace.

I came across this AWESOME list and I thought it was definitely worth sharing!!  Check it out! I’d love to hear your feedback on what some of your favorite self-care methods are!

Feel free to comment below!!

 

Am I Doing Enough for God?

I never ever post any religious pieces.  I try to stay away from that kind of pressure and I try to stay out of the shadows of what my calling may or may not be.

However, I couldn’t stay away from this one.  I felt compelled to write on it, at full length.

Today, I saw a movie on YouTube, which I have added here for your viewing pleasure, that was very, very thought provoking.  It fixed my heart in a way that I think nothing has ever done before.  I am lying, there have been some very real experiences in my life that were this good, but this hasn’t happened in a long time.  I was completely inspired.

The movie is centered around the rapture and the scripture:

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘LORD, LORD,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22Many will say to me on that day, ‘LORD, LORD, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ 23Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”

Matthew 7:21-23

Before I watched the movie, I saw this extremely compelling scene where God had already come and the people who were left behind were shocked, hurt, confused and plain ole out of time.

My jaw was on the floor.  I felt a confusion brew in my mind and my heart.  When I set out to create She Lifts, I could have sworn that I was doing God’s work.  I thought I was doing what God wanted me to do, which was reach out to His people and give them what Gid was giving me.  I literally believed that God had given me each episode for me to share.

I know, it sounds crazy.  I thought, and still kind of think, that God wants me to minister to His people.

However, I never prayed over my episodes.  I never prayed over my business ventures.  I never thanked God for all of the insight that He had given me.  I never, not once, acknowledged God in any of my episodes.

Why? I was scared.  It was too much pressure.  I wasn’t ready for that kind of thing.  I wasn’t prepared for the scrutiny that would come my way.

I was afraid that I would be labeled.  I was afraid that people would look at me differently.  I am so imperfect.  Being myself has always come naturally for me, but being one of those “God people” hasn’t.  I am super rough around the edges.

I was also afraid that my podcast would be “catgorized” and “inclusive” and not for all people.  That it would deter people who aren’t Christians to not even listen.  I didn’t htink that was what God wanted.  I know that with bringing people to Christ, you have to meet them where they are.  Evangelism and Street Ministry has always been a strength of mine and I love being out in the community and reaching the “unreachable”.  But with the podcast, I was so afraid of being put into a box and that box wouldn’t allow me to reach the people who needed me to reach them.

But in all this fear, I  lost sight of what I set out to do.  I recorded an episode entitled Paralyzed By Fear and I think it’s time for me to take my own advice.

I have always had this idea that the work of the church isn’t always done within the walls of the church.  I always believed that there had to be foot Soldiers out in the streets meeting God’s people where they are and guiding them into church where they can access Him through authentic experience and employ their spiritual gifts.

Reviewing the scripture posted above, I  realize that, maybe I am not doing enough for God.  He requires all of me, not just the pieces I am comfortable with or the pieces that I am not afraid of, all.

I don’t think I ever asked God what it is that He truly wants me to do.  On the flip side, I don’t think I ever actually listened to what He was trying to tell me.

I wonder now how many people are struggling with this.  I wonder how many people are just screaming Jesus but not truly living for Him and then how many people want to live for Him but are afraid, like me.

This just got real interesting.

Love & Light, Fam!

The Depression Tunnel

I was talking with a trusted friend on the topic of depression.  This discussion was prompted by a recent Facebook post by a mutual friend that I felt was a bit controversial.  I reached out to her to discuss it, before passing judgment.

Our talk helped me to understand his trajectory, but in turn helped her understand mine as well.

As a person who has seen depression rear its ugly head (I hope I said that right), I found so much trouble finding God.  I literally went from feeling God use me and move through me to feeling completely abandoned by God.  I can’t honestly tell you whether or not depression is of the Devil or not.  I cannot tell you whether or not depression is such a dark place that God chooses not to dwell there but, what I will say is that I literally couldn’t feel Him, at all.

I went from holding prayer calls and praying for people to not even being able to utter a word to God on anyone else’s behalf, let alone ask God to heal me.  Every time I would try to pray, I would just break down and cry and give up.  No words would come out anyway.

So, the idea of “try Jesus” seems so “smoke and mirrors” to me, even as a Christian.  Here is why:

Depression is like a linear tunnel.  The tunnel has two obvious entrances, the one you came in through and the one that you’re trying to find on the other side.  Truthfully, you have no idea how you got into that tunnel.  You don’t even know who you are inside that tunnel.  It is so dark in there, not even a glimmer of light shines, at all.  There is no mirror, no reflection of who you were and glimmer of hope for who you can become.  You are just literally stuck in the middle of this tunnel, cold, alone, depressed.

Along comes this person, who doesn’t understand what you’re going through.  They think you’re late to work because you just overslept, or your hair is messy because you rushed.  You’re skinny because you’re dieting, or you’re gaining a little weight because you’re getting older.

Or maybe you have none of these signs, these outward physical manifestations (there could be so many more).  Maybe you have mastered the art of smiling when you want to cry.  Maybe you have gotten so good at hiding the pain that you function through it until   no one is around and you drown your sorrows.

*Remember: Depression isn’t always sad and gloomy.

So here you are, in your tunnel, and some how, some way, someone figures you out.  And they stand there, on the edge of the tunnel giving you tips and pointers on how to get out of that tunnel.

While that seems like they’re being there for your, at least to them, what they don’t realize is that serves you very little, if at all.  This is a more self-serving act than it is a solution.  If you’ve never been in that tunnel, you wouldn’t understand.  But for those of us who have actually dwelled inside that tunnel, we know that it takes a person to come and sit with you inside that tunnel, until you have the strength to get up and walk out.

See, the act of sitting in that tunnel there with that person is truly selfless and it works.  It makes a difference.  It can sometimes mean the difference between life and death for some.  It takes a ton of courage to let someone into that space.  Letting the wrong person in, a person who won’t even come in when invited, can truly damage an already depressed person. Or anyone, for that matter.

People who don’t understand, or have never been, depression/depressed think that it’s something that you can snap out of, as if it were a choice to begin with.  It is a painful, painful experience for the one who is going through it and the ones who they are closest to.  It is not merely a choice, because if it were, I would just choose my way out of it.

So, if you know a person who is battling depression and/or anxiety and you don’t truly know how to help them, be very careful of how you’re helping and what you’re doing and saying.  Do some research, ask questions.  But most importantly, listen to them and fully be there for them – in the way that they need.  If you can’t (because this take some expert level fortitude) find someone who can.  Advocate for that person, because right now, they are not in a position to advocate for themselves.

Depression can be beat, but it takes a ton of work and you have to be active in the process.  It is definitely doable, I know because I am still here.