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The 30 Day $elf Care Challenge

Hey guys, welcome back to the blog. If you’ve been following my journey then you know just how important self-care and self-love are to me. It’s vital that we learn ourselves and better acquaint the person inside of the mirror. Practicing self-care and self-love allows you to identify your needs at a deeper level, what you need mentally, emotionally, and physically. It reminds you that you need to hone in and pay attention to you before anything or anyone else at times. We often forget how important that is when our days consist of working, taking care of children, and living amongst other things. Sometimes we need that reminder of “hey, you matter.” Self-care and loving yourself is a way to reconnect with your inner being because it’s so easy to come apart, and if you continue on it’s even easier to lose yourself and that’s not something that we want to happen.

Self-care isn’t always about doing what makes you feel good, it includes making tough decisions, asking for help, allowing vulnerability, and quite frankly enduring the pain of not only being honest with yourself, but with your loved ones as well about what you need to be a better you.

I decided to create a 30 day challenge to encourage people to commit to 30 days straight of caring for themselves and showing themselves self-love. You’d be amazed at how much you could learn from meditating or journaling, or simply being still and quiet. Keeping yourself company allows you to be comfortable with you. If you aren’t comfortable with yourself how can other people be comfortable with you? Practicing self-love and care allows us to set the boundaries for how we want to be treated and approached. People only mimic what they see so we should be treating ourselves with the most care in the world. The relationship with self should be one of the best relationships we have. When we build that bond we learn that we don’t have to depend on outside relationships to find meaning or define who we are.

So what is the challenge you might be asking, it’s a 30 day challenge to inspire you to take care of your mental, emotional, & spiritual health. The challenge is broken into daily tasks and journal prompts.

Why did I choose self-care? Because self-care is a way to nourish yourself and there are many methods but it starts with learning what you need. Do you need a peace of mind every now and then or a fresh start? Spend some time with yourself and you’ll see how much of a difference it makes. It’s also the practice of regularly taking care of your physical and mental health needs. Self-care gives us the tools and strength to take care of & appreciate ourselves. I’m here to spread awareness on mental and emotional health and how important it is that we care for ourselves. Exposure to mental health care, and increased knowledge of mental illness & health are factors which could potentially change beliefs about symptoms of mental illness and mental health overall. A simple change in daily habits and moods could potentially change mental health outcomes as well.

On my own journey of self-care and love I’ve learned to move with the intent to love me better because in loving myself better I set the tone. I love being selfless, I love helping others, I love the way I love, but I’ve learned that I can’t pour from an empty cup therefore I have to fill me up first and it’s okay to be selfish. It’s necessary to take all the “me time” I need to nurture my soul and continuously fall in love with me, myself & I. Befriending and loving myself has allowed me to heal, and while I still have work to do, I commit to working on myself daily. Health is wealth, especially mental health. Whenever I feel myself seeping into negative thoughts I work on myself even more because depression is real as well as other mental health disorders. Let’s dedicate some time to ourselves.

If you’d like to participate in the challenge you can find it here. Make sure you’re following the blog’s Instagram to stay updated and for self-care tips, motivation, inspiration, and empowerment.

30 Day $elf Care Challenge by Breyana I’Jae

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What’s New? 
Aside from the latest blog post that are waiting to be read, I have published my third book! If you’ve kept up with the blog then you’ve probably read the snippet.  The Key To My Brother’s Heart – Kennedy’s Reign is now available in electronic and paperback editions on Amazon. It’s available electronically on Barnes & Noble. All 3 of my books and $elf products and apparel are available on my website findingyourself.bigcartel.com For easier access, simply click “Shop” right here on the blog.

Be sure to subscribe to the blogs monthly newsletter!

Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.

Checking Back Into Reality

Hey guys! It’s been quite some time, a few months actually. Nevertheless you guys have still been checking in and reading because we hit close to 46k views. Thank you!! Super exciting stuff.

I’ve been wanting to blog and write but I just couldn’t find the motivation and I LOVE writing so this came as a shock to me. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago when I initially started this post that I woke up and decided I wanted, no needed to make some changes. And guess what? I had the urge to write. When I need it the most I always return to my natural element, what I’m passionate about.

So what’s been going on? Honestly, I’ve been struggling mentally over the past year and it didn’t really hit me until I felt this overwhelming surge of negative feelings and emotions towards work and my current place in life over the summer. It was strange because I’ve been relatively happy these past couple months. The happiest I’ve been in a minute. I had just got a work from home job in April that paid good, my dating life was going pretty well, have this amazing kid I get to experience life with, I got a new car in June, so many things to be grateful about and for. Yet and still something felt like it was missing. I would pick up the latest book I’m working on to write and could only produce a few lines. I would come to my blog to start a post and find an excuse as to why I could do it later. Hence the reason I am finally getting back to posting. I started writing this in July my last published post was in February. And work? Let’s not even get started on that. Between having to change jobs due to not having reliable sitters and having trouble finding a job at all was exhausting. Then this work from home position came along but whew, having the flexibility to create your own work schedule can have its cons if you don’t have the discipline. At first things were well, I liked the job and had the drive to get things done on a daily basis. As time started passing I found myself waking up later in the day, putting task off until a later date, submitting things late, and preferring to spend time in my head instead of doing work, things I enjoy, or socializing.

I couldn’t understand why a job that was perfect for my current situation wasn’t bringing me any satisfaction. I had no job, my son wasn’t in daycare so I felt like I hit the jackpot when this came along. A job where I periodically had to make home visits but can work from home!? Work from home sounded absolutely perfect but the job itself brought me no joy, it only added to the negativity I was feeling. It also had its issues and stressors as any job and raising and caring for a one year old on top of trying to work through and with a clouded mind was not easy at all. I struggled because I wanted to be grateful for the employment and I was, but I became careless about it. I ended up losing the job in August and surprisingly it was a relief. I couldn’t quit because I obviously needed the money but in the end it wasn’t worth the effect it had on my mental health. This wasn’t a job I went to school 4 years to have and in turn my mind became my worst enemy. I kept thinking and feeling like I was supposed to have reached so many pinnacles by now, it brought out all the negative criticism I had towards myself. I didn’t want to admit it but I was depressed and I’m still not 100% but I’m both trying and aware so that has to count as something. I’ve never spent this much time away from my blog or even writing for that matter but I couldn’t shake the unhappiness I was truly feeling inside. I couldn’t even bring myself to journal or self-reflect. It takes a lot to openly admit when you are struggling mentally, but I’m always transparent in my journey. Blogging/writing is not only a source of motivation, inspiration, and empowerment on my behalf, but also a form of self-care that I was selling myself short on. Looking back at the past year I had to take a step back and look at the magnitude of things that I’d been dealing with.

Within the past two years alone I’ve experienced pregnancy, bringing life into the world, heartbreak, transitioning into motherhood, job issues, financial problems, and so much more that I didn’t give myself time to really digest everything that was happening emotionally and mentally. So many new and different major life changes and stressors. It shouldn’t have been a shock that this job felt like the end of the world but it was simply the tipping point and brought me some clarity when it was all said it done. Now, I’m working towards making the necessary changes and choices to better my life as a whole by factoring out anything that isn’t effecting me positively 100%, including people.

I’m working again and actively searching for a job where I can find a home in until I can go back to school and work towards what I really want. Focusing on showing up for myself so I can show up for others. I’m beginning to speak more to family and friends about what I’ve been feeling which is super important. I’m also taking more accountability and choosing to seek additional help/guidance. I’ve been considering therapy for a while but now I’m taking the initiative to do the work and research. I’ve disappeared for far too long and I’m ready to be present again in ALL aspects of my life. I’m taking it easier on myself, nurturing me like I nurture others. Trying to do more of what I enjoy and placing my energy and time in the right places.

It’s so easy to bypass your own feelings when deep down you don’t want to face them. Throwing a rug over a hole in the floor won’t fix the hole. Breezing over how you feel because you feel “alright” in that very moment can turn out to be toxic. I’m sure the rug looked nice until someone walked over the hidden death trap. Start having the same conversations with yourself that you have with other people, “How are you feeling?”, “Is there something bothering you that you want to talk about?”, etc. check in with yourself daily. By checking in with yourself you can minimize stressors and learn your triggers. Triggers are external events or circumstances that may produce very uncomfortable emotional or psychiatric symptoms, such as anxiety, panic, discouragement, despair, or negative self-talk.  

Remember that depression is not a choice, you can’t just snap out of it and finding or doing something that brings happiness isn’t a cure. It’s actually quite common, can effect anyone at any age, may not have a direct cause, and can’t be fixed overnight. There are different types of depression as well as severity. It does not look the same for everyone and even those who appear to be strong willed can suffer from depression. No one knew how I was feeling because I didn’t really speak on it or act different around others. I confided in very few. I also did not know or allow myself to come to terms that I was experiencing depression until it became a constant and repeated feeling among other signs I began to observe in myself, like appetite changes and weight loss in result. I didn’t feel like myself, I started having too many unhappy and mentally draining days. There are not always clear signs. Check on your loved ones. A simple, “hey, how are you? Just checking in to see how everything is going” can make a difference. Take it easy on yourself, cut yourself some slack when necessary, and pay attention to you and those you care about.

A young lady I follow on social media accurately described how I’ve been feeling about my career and passions in her short film below.

Depression and Depressive Episodes:

A depressive episode is a period characterized by low mood and other depression symptoms that lasts for 2 weeks or more. When experiencing a depressive episode, a person can try to make changes to their thoughts and behaviors to help improve their mood.

Symptoms of a depressive episode are more extreme than normal periods of low mood and may include:

  • feeling sad, hopeless, or helpless
  • feeling guilty or worthless
  • anxiety
  • irritability or frustration
  • fatigue or low energy
  • restlessness
  • changes in appetite or weight
  • loss of interest in things once enjoyed, including hobbies and socializing
  • trouble concentrating or remembering
  • changes in sleep patterns
  • moving or talking more slowly than usual
  • loss of interest in living, thoughts of death or suicide, or attempting suicide
  • aches or pains that do not have an obvious physical cause

Tackling depression as soon as symptoms arise can help people recover more quickly. Even those who have experienced depression for a long time might find that making changes to the way they think and behave improves their mood. The way you think has the biggest impact on your life. That’s why helping and caring for yourself not only daily, but when you feel negative feelings entering your mind, is important.

The following tips may help people deal with a depressive episode:

  1. Tracking your triggers and symptoms – Keeping track of moods and symptoms might help a person understand what triggers a depressive episode. Spotting the signs of depression early on may help avoid a full-blown depressive episode. Use a journal or diary to log important thoughts, feelings, and moods.
    • Possible triggers include:
      • changes in daily routines
      • disrupted sleep
      • poor eating habits
      • stress at work, home, or school
      • feeling isolated, alone, or unloved
      • living with abuse or mistreatment
      • medical problems
      • some medications
      • a significant life event, such as a bereavement of a loved one, or divorce
      • a traumatic incident, such as a car accident or sexual assault
      • However, it is important to note that not every depressive episode will have an obvious or identifiable trigger.
  2. Stay calm – Feeling panicked or anxious is an understandable reaction to the initial symptoms of depression. Instead, focus on staying calm. Remember that depression is treatable and the feelings will not last forever. Anyone who has experienced depressive episodes before should remind themselves that they can overcome these feelings again. They should focus on their strengths and on what they have learned from previous depressive episodes if applicable. Self-help techniques, such as meditation, yoga, and breathing exercises can help a person learn to look at problems in a different way and promote a sense of calmness. Self-help books and phone + online counseling courses are available. Use your resources.
  3. Understand and accept depression – Learning more about depression can help people deal with it. Depression is a widespread and genuine mental health disorder. It is not a sign of weakness or a personal shortcoming. Accepting that a depressive episode may happen might help people deal with it when it does.
  4. Recognize the importance of self-care – Self-care means taking time to relax, recharge, and connect with the self and others. It also means saying no when you feel overwhelmed and taking space to calm and soothe yourself. Any action that enhances mental, emotional, and physical health can be considered a self-care activity.
  5. Practice mindfulness – Take some time every day to be mindful and appreciate the present moment. For ex: if you are focused on the things you don’t have that can add to your negative feelings. Focus and be grateful for what you do have. Mindfulness allows people to fully experience the moment they are in, not worrying about the future or dwelling on the past. Do more of what you love and makes you feel good internally.
  6. Get enough sleep – Sleep can have a huge impact on mood and mental health. A lack of sleep can contribute to symptoms of depression, and depression can interfere with sleep. To avoid this, try to go to bed and get up at the same time each day.
  7. Record the positives – Depressive episodes can leave people focusing on the negatives and overlooking the positives. To counteract this, keep a positivity journal or gratitude journal. This type of journal helps to build self-esteem, can help you self reflect, and it’s a great way to vent and express how you feel. Before bed, write down three good things from the day.
  8. Ask for help – One of the most important steps in dealing with a depressive episode and overwhelming feelings, thoughts, and emotions, is asking for help. Seek help from: friends and family, doctor, therapist, support group. There are also several self-help apps, books, etc. which I’ll share in a different post. For apps, if you type in “self care” in the App Store that should provide a list. A few good ones are “Calm” and “Headspace: Meditation & Sleep.”
  9. Remember you are not alone – 10/10 there is always someone who can relate. A part of asking for help is attempting to be more vocal with those you love and care about so they can support and help you. If you have neither of those options I’m here and always a listening ear, there are also those resources I mentioned above.

Helpful numbers in U.S. include:

Support groups and helplines similar to these are also available in other countries.

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Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.

“You Still Look Pregnant!” – The Truth About Postpartum ‘Snapbacks’

“You Still Look Pregnant!”

Childbirth and motherhood are experiences that words really can’t describe well enough. It’s something you have to be apart of and see to really grasp how monumental it is. Housing a human is one of the most craziest things to go through from the moment conception happens. The changes a woman goes through emotionally, mentally, and physically are life changing.

Some pregnancies are harder and easier than others and I’m not just talking physically. I think we forget that many things impact experiences like support, current life circumstances, and so much more. My pregnancy was in the middle. not too bad, not all good. My ‘morning sickness’ was any time of the day sickness up until about 13 weeks, I was working retail in my early pregnancy and standing on my feet all day did not mix well with growing a baby. The back pain was unmatched, my hormones had me emotional 90% of the time, and things were taking place in my life that added on to the physical and mental pressures I was already feeling.

Pre-pregnancy

 

I had never been big in regards to weight throughout my life, it was always hard to gain and keep weight. The biggest I weighed pre-pregnancy was 108-110lbs but it never stayed around long. I was excited to be gaining weight, especially in all the ‘right places’ you know, when the booty and boobs start growing you can’t tell a woman much. As I progressed throughout my pregnancy I always had this fear and underlying thought of “what if my stomach doesn’t go down?” Or “what if my stomach is wrinkled and has tons of stretch marks afterwards?” Amongst other thoughts and questions I had about postpartum and the new life I was embarking on. In the grand scheme of things and looking back now it was shallow to think about, but in those moments I felt that I would be less beautiful not only to myself but to others as well. That’s how society works though and those are the cycles that need to be broken because these standards of what beauty are, is not beauty at all.

37 weeks pregnant.

 

By the end of my pregnancy I weighed 152-159lbs. The biggest I had ever been. I was mostly all belly but I had spread all over. My arms were bigger, my face was chubbier, my legs, butt, everything had grew in weight and size. The end was the most difficult, I had to come out of work early because my lower legs down to my feet were so swollen to the point that it hurt to walk and the only shoes I could wear were slides, nothing else. Nothing was comfortable anymore, it wasn’t even comfortable to sleep. I wanted my baby OUT!

I went into labor at 38 weeks and 6 days on May 13th, Mother’s Day 2018, the best day ever. After 18 hours of labor I cried tears of joy and relief to hear the sounds of my son crying. When everything began to die down and those who supported me through labor started to leave for the night I was left with my newborn, my child’s father, and my thoughts. Even through all the excitement I was experiencing I couldn’t help but to notice my stomach as I stood for the first time. I’m a fairly positive person who practices self-love and care daily but the many changes my body went through still threw me off and caused me to observe myself under a microscope. It looked like this foreign object that just drooped away from my body. It was darker than any other part of my body, wrinkled, and reminded me of free form jello just hanging out on my midsection. I tried not to think about it much but it was just there, I felt it, I could see it. When I showered for the first time in the hospital and got to look at my body naked for the first time it was strange. I now had this flabby little pouch that I could hold in my hands. I wasn’t used to having extra skin or extra weight in my stomach area without a baby taking residence. It didn’t help that people around me were going “mine didn’t look like that” and then the dreadful, “You still look pregnant.” So now not only was I effected physically, but mentally.

1 month postpartum

 Postpartum depression can stem from the slightest things and   that is one of the worst things you can say to a mother who just   went through not only carrying a baby for 9+ months but just   went through a long and sometimes difficult labor, and who’s   also adjusting to her new self, her new life, and her new baby.   Not only that but after giving birth a woman’s hormones and   emotions go haywire trying to regulate and figure out wtf just   happened. It was like a slap in the face. Instead of saying ‘Hey,   good job. You just housed and birthed a human, you look great!”   You hear “You still look pregnant”. It took me a while to lose my   extra baby fat and afterwards I was left with the leftover weight I had gained and kept. I was happy with my new booty, new thighs, and overall weight gain but it took me a very long time to become comfortable with my stomach and some days I still struggle with the fact that it’s not how I would like it to be but I’m working on it. It was a battlefield and it showed but I wear my war wounds proudly because I fought to bring life into this world. The stretch marks and wrinkles may never go away as I shed my weight and that’s okay, I’ve accepted it. I love my postpartum body either way.

It takes time for women to fall back in love with their selves after giving birth. We enter a whole new dimension of life. Our bodies are different, we move different, and some things never ‘snap back’ or revert to how it was. Our bodies go through a traumatic experience and this era of ‘snapping back’ post-pregnancy doesn’t make it easier. You can’t look at these celebrities or Instagram models who snap back almost immediately after giving birth because that’s unrealistic. It depends on your body individually and your birthing experience. We can beat ourselves up and criticize ourselves for how we look or we can be thankful and confident in what our bodies are able to do. You should feel like a bad ass no matter what you look like afterwards. Your stretch marks are merely roots that stem from the tree of life, and your wrinkles are waves of nourishment. You earned them.

Some women also experience ‘diastasis recti’ which isn’t talked about as often as it should be. Women don’t know that it can be an outcome of childbirth, there’s no warning sign to prepare yourself for the possibility. In short, it’s a gap in between your right and left abdominal wall muscles that can result in a rounded, protruding belly. There are slight and severe cases where some can be fixed by exercising and some not at all. You can read more about it here.

Present – Almost 9 months postpartum

 You can be grateful for what your body has done and still   want to make changes, that doesn’t make you any less   grateful for the experience. I personally plan to lose and tone   the bit of stomach and back fat I still have. Instead of   normalizing snap backs and perfect figures post-pregnancy   we need to be real with ourselves. It saddens me when I see   people posting their experiences and postpartum bodies and   people are commenting saying things like “cover up” or “why   don’t you get surgery?” These continuous cycles of body   shaming need to stop because they effect people mentally. Be mindful of what you say and how you say it. Learn to talk positively about not only yourself but those around you, those you encounter, and communicate with. Normalize normal. And if a woman, still “looks pregnant” after giving birth then so be it, it’s normal.

There aren’t any set rules on how to lose baby weight or postpartum stomachs, yes, breastfeeding helps but not everyone can or chooses to breastfeed. Working out sounds great but you can’t jump right into working out after giving birth. There are tons of products geared towards helping you lose weight but ultimately what works for you may not work for someone else. Don’t compare, do your research and see what works best for you.

Loving and accepting your body is a process even when you aren’t pregnant or have gone through the experience of childbirth. If you’re dealing with accepting your postpartum body or body in general, and scrolling through social media comparing how you look to others, stop right now. A lot of people only show the good, or their body after they’ve gotten work done or put the work in to change it. No one wants to show themselves at a vulnerable state but the real, and the normal should be talked about. Give your body time, space, and extra love and care to heal. Stomach muscles need time to recover, your body needs time to recover, regain strength, and restore energy. Try looking at the reality of things and not your emotions so much. You housed a human you bad ass. Erase those negative thoughts and turn them positive. Find beauty in what you may call your ugly, even if means you only find beauty in the experience. Give your body and yourself credit where credit is due. Focus on your transition into motherhood and not the number on the scale or your outer appearance those things can be worked on, comparison is a thief of happiness and joy.


Ways To Fall in Love With Your Postpartum Body:
  • Give it time.
  • Don’t hold yourself to your pre-pregnancy weight and physical appearance.
  • Get active and set new goals.
  • Do not compare your postpartum body with any other moms’ postpartum bodies (especially celebrities). Do not measure the speed at which other moms are losing their “baby weight” against your progression and timeline.
  • Talk about the feelings you have about your body with your partner or a trusted friend/family member who will remind you to be kind and gentle with yourself, and remind you of your inner and outer beauty.
  • Accept that your body may never be the same after giving birth as it was before you gave birth, just like your outlook on life and the love you have in your heart.
  • Journal and self-reflect.
  • Admire your body for its strength, power, and grace.
  • Before you think about talking down on yourself look at your baby and how amazing you are for sheltering, nurturing, and paving the way for them.

My son has been the best thing to ever happen to me but I will admit that some days are hard, some days are frustrating, some days I want to complain, and some days are smooth sailing. Some days I’m on the verge of tears and some days I wear the biggest smile. Motherhood has tested my patience but most importantly allowed me to experience a new level of love, and a new level of strength. You will learn sacrifice in parenthood; you will learn many things about yourself but you get to do those things alongside a person who admires everything about you and who is learning many things with you. You know what the biggest reward of all is even on my worst days? Seeing his face light up when I enter a room. Or when he’s sleeping and he does the most just to lay on me and cuddle. All he knows is how happy I make him and that’s what matters the most throughout anything I’m faced with ✨ No matter what I’ve done in life, being his mother has been the best. When things get tough just look at your kid because 9/10 they’re looking at you. Be a mirror of strength, happiness, and love. Via Instagram @breyanaijae_

 

Multifaceted ✨ – Apart of self-love is learning to enjoy and accept my least favorite angles. The least favorite parts of myself. You know it’s so easy to criticize, critique, and find every flaw within yourself but you choose to love all the good parts of someone else and pay less attention to their flaws don’t you? Can you give yourself the same amount of love plus more? Because even on my less appealing days physically, mentally, and emotionally, I still look in the mirror and say “damn you’re a bad b*tch 💁🏽‍♀️” and I don’t just mean my outer appearance 😌. Via instagram @breyanaijae_

 


Related Post:

What’s New? 
Aside from the latest blog post that are waiting to be read, I have published my third book! If you’ve kept up with the blog then you’ve probably read the snippets.  The Key To My Brother’s Heart – Kennedy’s Reign is now available in electronic and paperback editions. It’s available electronically on Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle as well as paperback on Amazon. All 3 of my books and $elf products and apparel are available on my website. For easier access, simply click “Shop” on the blog’s homepage.

Be on the look out for The Key To My Brother’s Heart 2 and my newest book The Girl Next Door – the stories that bind us.

Be sure to subscribe to the blogs monthly newsletter!

Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.

 

Bosses & Business – A Sit Down With Perfectly Unbalanced

Creators & Entrepreneurs
a closer look into creativity & business.

Perfectly Unbalanced: Therapeutic and community based program for adults.

Today I had the pleasure of taking a seat with Loren. I met Loren a few years back when we both were interning for Girls Incorporated and working with young girls on life, leadership, preventing adolescent pregnancy, and STEM careers. Over the years we stayed in touch through social media and have worked together on different things. I love to see people flourishing but y’all know I love my girl bosses. Let’s get into it.

Hey Loren! First and foremost thanks for having a virtual seat with me! Your organization Perfectly Unbalanced is all about providing information and resources for adults. This often includes discussions based on adulting, sexual health awareness, mental health awareness, self care, and so much more. You’re doing a great thing for the community. Myself and my readers love our girl and guy bosses who strive to make a change! 

MeTell us a little about yourself and your inspiration behind all that you do. What made you start Perfectly Unbalanced?

Loren: Currently I am a graduate student at Temple University studying Counseling Psych so I can obtain my LPC license so that I can one day open up a private practice and expand ‘Perfectly Unbalanced’ as a private practice. My inspiration behind it was to create a small black owned business, a small start up of what I want to do long term, which is to be a Doctor of Sex, a Sexologist. I do plan to go back to get my PhD but as of right now I’m just focusing on getting my licensure as a LPC. Perfectly Unbalanced like I said is a start, a way to allow the community to understand what I want to do, what to expect, and I personally started it up for myself to learn how to network, to learn how to reach out to different entrepreneurs, different people in the social services and medical fields that I can learn from; also seeking mentors that can help me or give me knowledge that I’m not going to receive at Temple University such as owning a business or how to structure certain aspects of being a counselor and owning a business and how to reach different people, what’s the demographics that we need to target due to lack of education, etc..

So I started Perfectly Unbalanced as an awareness program, and it’s a therapeutic and community based program for adults and I’m focusing on adults because as adults we kind of forget that we also need outlets and seek therapeutic professionals or groups/activities like children do. For some reason we think as adults we’re supposed to have it all together and that’s completely not right. I was so for teaching children, I love children as well but we have so many programs that are targeted towards children and we have so many programs to uplift our children which is great but somehow when they turn into adults we kind of just drift away. We think that we’ve impacted their lives so well that they no longer need assistance and that’s a lie.

As adults we have children that look up to us so if we have adults that are not efficient or advanced in understanding their mental and physical health, etc. enough to be able to lead and teach the children then we’re actually failing our children.

We have to make sure that we build our children and once our children become adults that we continue to make sure that they are stable. That’s what Perfectly Unbalanced stands for, bringing that therapeutic and community based involvement together for adults to make sure that we continue to function and we have some form of insight.

Me: Educating people on mental health and providing the resources for people to learn and be involved in the conversations that take place is awesome. What are your plans with it and where can we find more information?

Loren: You guys can find more information on Perfectly Unbalanced page on Facebook and our Instagram page. We are creating a landing website right now due to the adult scholarship fund application being launched in the Spring, so once that scholarship application is created the website will be launched as well. We’re super excited about that and that should be done within the next 2 or 3 months.

Me: I’ve seen that Perfectly Unbalanced provides volunteer opportunities. Can you tell us some more about that and some examples of the volunteer work you guys have already done?

Perfectly Unbalanced Volunteering with ‘Muslims Serve’

Loren: Yes, we do provide volunteer opportunities and right now we go to the Hub of Hope which is located in Center City, it’s an old subway stop. It’s run by Project Home, the chefs are Muslims who serve, they’re there Monday-Friday and they serve from 3pm-5pm. They look for volunteers every week, the link is in my bio on Instagram for Perfectly Unbalanced and my personal bio as well where you can sign up for the days that we (Perfectly Unbalanced) goes. I highly encourage that if you have a younger sibling  or a child that is 10 years or older that you bring them with you, it’s a good experience for everyone. We set up meals, serve the community, and clean up afterwards. It gives you the opportunity to not only speak and learn from individuals who come from different backgrounds but you also get to build and it makes you humble. You’re not only serving the community but giving back as well, it gives you some form of comfort to know that you have the ability to not be a selfish person. We go to the Hub of Hope every 4th Saturday. The link is in my bio and the days for February are already posted. The more volunteers the better, and if you can’t volunteer on those days you’re welcome to volunteer on days that aren’t offered right now for Perfectly Unbalanced.

Me: Hopefully we can encourage the youth to get out there and start being more involved in the community. Diving some more into mental health, why is it important to spread mental health awareness and why did you choose to do so?

Loren: I believe it’s important because I feel like people fail to realize that everyone has mental health. If you don’t experience some kind of mental health situation then you’re not human. There are going to be times in life where you are depressed, you’re stressed, feeling anxiety, you may have mood swings. It’s mild to severe for all mental health diagnoses and you don’t have to be diagnosed with a mental health illness/disorder to be considered to have mental health and I think that’s the stigma. People also believe that if you have a mental health illness that you are the word, and I don’t even like using it even though it’s been used for years especially when mental health was first kind of being introduced and studied, but a form of retardation. You know, people like to call people “re-re” or just say really rude and stereotypical things which then hinders people from seeking help or taking their medication, or to be true to themselves. Mental health awareness also allows us to understand why people act, think, and do the things that they do. It also gives us the opportunity to figure out ways to approach, communicate, and help people who may have a mental illness.

Me: There are definitely lots of stigma surrounding mental health, especially in minority communities. People are quick to label you ‘crazy’ or view you as an outcast when really there doesn’t have to be anything wrong to seek professional help, advice, or just to talk. I think everyone can benefit from therapy and counseling. You also talk about sexual issues and safety, is sexual health a problem in Philadelphia? What are some things we should know?

Loren: Absolutely. Right now Gonorrhea and Chlamydia are the top two STD’s for our teenagers and young adults. Our black men in the LGBT community are being frequently diagnosed with HIV and that comes from many different factors, unprotected sex, drug use, etc. Sexual health is such a broad term, I can talk about it in so many different ways. People don’t like to get tested, I always tell people individually even if you are in a relationship or not, whether you’re sexually active or not, to get tested every 3 months. Once you get into the habit you establish a routine. Knowing what’s going on with your body is important before you go have sex with anyone, having that piece of paper says a lot. It says that you care about yourself, you have some form of self-love, and you’re not trying to put anyone else’s health in danger. I also see a lot of stigma around the condom usage, people don’t like to use condoms, “I’m allergic” or when they’re in the act of sex it’s not satisfying, a lot of unnecessary excuses for a lot of bad sexual habits. Condoms come in female or male style, they come in different materials as well besides latest like lamb skin for example. I’m such an advocate for comprehensive sexual education being taught in the high schools because right now Philadelphia county does not teach it due to religion, cultural views, and diversity of students. It may come off as trying to promote sex which I think is total bullshit. Most of the time young adults or children (18 and younger) are already experiencing some type of sexual activity and they know what sex is. So at that time teaching them about the pros and cons of the things they’re going to get into, telling them what a vagina looks like, what are lips called on a vagina, where do babies come from;  we need to have those conversations and we need to have those conversations young because so many children are not just getting chlamydia or gonorrhea. There are small cases of 14 and 17 year olds getting HIV and also Herpes Simplex 2. It’s more than just talking about sex, it’s relationships, dating men that are not in your age group, the whole dynamic can go so many ways.

Me: Condom usage is a big one, we have so many people advocating for unprotected sex because it ‘feels better’. There are non-latex condoms and condoms that are made to resemble the feeling of skin-skin sexual contact. Valuing not only your health but others as well is a huge part of self love and care. How do you display selflove towards yourself? How would you encourage others?

Loren: I always say that self-love is learning how to put yourself first and being sure that you are okay with what’s going to go on next in your life. If you are spiritual or religious and you believe in a God, I always say that you put God first and you seek leadership through him, you ask your questions, you ask for forgiveness, insight, whatever the case may be. You talk it out with him, you pray, you put your best foot forward, and self love can also mean taking care of yourself. Putting yourself first through all situations rather you have kids, a husband, a wife, girlfriend, other family situations, make sure your mental capability and physical capability of carrying other weight is okay. You don’t ever want to put yourself in a situation where you’re fighting your own demons and you’re not going to be able to assist, help, or support another person.

You have to make sure that you are stable for what’s going to go on at work, or in your personal life. If you’re not complete and don’t know how to love yourself and you’re not understanding what’s going on within yourself you can’t love another person, you can’t help or lead them. Before you try to take on those helmets make sure that your helmet or your crown is fitted correctly and that you know when to step out and to step in. If you feel like you’re suffering or you’re not understanding what self love is, I would encourage you to sit down and write out what makes you happy and unhappy. The list of what makes you unhappy should not be longer than those that make you happy. If it is, that’s where you need to make adjustments. Also write down what you like to do and how often you’re doing those things because we all have hobbies and things that make us smile or happy that enlighten and makes us more satisfied with our life. If we’re not going to the movies, reading a book, taking a bubble bath, or doing the things that relax or makes us happy, that’s a issue. I would suggest trying to make a schedule of how much self love and care activities that you can do in a week and monitor it and see if it effects the way that you feel,

Me: Self-love and care is really important to me, what we do for ourselves shows up in what we do for others and how we maneuver through life. I’m aware that it takes a lot of focus and discipline to build an organization, and you yourself are ultimately your brand and are apart of the work. The work you put out ultimately speaks for itself. What kind of self-care techniques do you use to refrain from becoming overwhelmed with juggling life, work, and creating new content, what do you do to relax and get your mental together? If you don’t have any what kind of self-care techniques would you like to incorporate?

Loren: Some self-care techniques that I use is that I leave work at work. I work a Full time job, I work 9-5 Monday-Friday. I’m learning to leave work at work, I’m learning to ask for help, I’m learning to communicate with my supervisor everyday. I’m learning that I’m not going to do more than what’s on my job application. With that being said, Monday through Friday 9-5 that’s it. Now with school, school is twice a week, it can range from Tuesday-Thursday, Monday and Wednesdays, however the schedule can be. I tend to do homework on the days that I have school. Although it sounds possible and doable, when you work a 9-5 then you have a 5:30 – 8:30 class then you try to do work, you’re already drained for the day. I try to do at least an hour or two of homework on the days that I do have class and if I do need to work on something that’s going to take longer then I’ll work on it throughout the week.

For example, if I have a 5 page paper, on Monday I’m doing the outline, Tuesday finding sources, Wednesday I’m going through those sources and finding more information. Thursday, I’m starting the paper. I’m learning not to stress over it, not to procrastinate, but taking it day by day. Realistically sometimes we do have to dedicate more time per day for school work or have an overload of work to do for school. You have to do things how your schedule permits but not in a way that make you anxious because you don’t know how to manage your time. I would recommend getting a planner and a journal that way when you have different events or activities mapped out you can see what you have open. Establishing a healthy work life is important. I have an assistant who helps make new content, I have a graphic designer that assists with making new content, new content sometimes is done a day before the week so I come with everything I want to post and all I have to do is copy and paste. It keeps the flow of my Instagram better. As far as my personal life I fit it in when I can. My social life isn’t impacted I’m very social at work and school. Going out for birthdays or happy hours is not really a priority right now. It’s not something that I try to squeeze into my planning but I do make sure I make time to enjoy myself when I can. As far as self-care techniques I incorporate sleep as much as possible. Understanding that sleep is definitely important and prioritizing what’s important.

Me: You currently have an adult scholarship fund to assist Philadelphia adults who are currently experiencing financial crisis. Can you tell us about that? Some of our readers may be able to benefit from this.

Loren: The adult scholarship is geared towards students who are 18 and older. It’s for adults who are either in graduate school or returning to school. Financial aid is not always the best nor are grants and scholarships guaranteed especially for graduate students, there’s not a lot of ‘free money’ out there. By me being a graduate student I know this for sure and sometimes it can be hard to get the small things that you need for class like the $250-500 fee you have to pay just to start graduate school or the money you need to buy books, a computer, etc. I wanted to do this to give information and assistance to those who need it. It’s to assist Philadelphia adults who are eager to get their degree, eager to continue their education, and have a goal that goes beyond graduation.

Me: Fill us in on any upcoming events Perfectly Unbalanced will be hosting or apart of.

Loren: Perfectly Unbalanced doesn’t have any prevalent events coming up right now but we will be hosting a happy hour in April to try to get the last bit of funds we need for the adult scholarship. All information will be posted soon on our Instagram.

Me: Do you self-reflect or keep a journal or do you spill your thoughts through other outlets? Mental health involves releasing stress and clearing your head space. How do you do this and how do you encourage others to do it?

Loren: I did keep a journey but I’m really lazy so I don’t journal as much as I probably should being a business owner. I do self-reflect everyday; I self-reflect in my prayer, I self-reflect with my friends, I self-reflect with my mother, I self-reflect within myself. I talk to myself a lot and I think what can I do better, how can I improve, what have I been doing great, what has been working, how can I advance myself, what do I need to slow down with, who do I need to reach out to, how can I do this, how can I boost the moral of my business, how can I grow, how can I extend. I think about those things almost everyday and I used to stress about it a lot when I first started but right now I’ve been through trials and tribulations and I take it for what it’s going to be. Starting a business is not easy, having support is not easy, getting the funds to support your business is not easy. Taking it day by day, knowing that this is just the beginning and it’s only about to be a year since I started. It’s many more years to come and it will continue to grow as my education grows. I try to understand and put that into my head. I keep  in the back of my mind that hopefully I am impacting someone and so far it seems like I am so as long as I do have some form of leadership or have someone be able to confine within Perfectly Unbalanced I’m moving in the right direction.

Me: Self reflecting gives you major insight on not only yourself but the world around you. I encourage everyone to develop some form of reflecting whether it’s journaling, meditating, yoga, listening to music, relaxing in silence, or however you deem fit. Taking that time to tap into your inner being is so crucial and necessary. What are some of the goals you hope to achieve with Perfectly Unbalanced?

Loren: One of my goals is definitely obtain more volunteers for when we do events and when we go to The Hub of Hope. Those are my number two goals. I have other goals like traveling for networking events, traveling outside of Philadelphia for women conferences, business conferences, etc. I want to work with other businesses to work on merchandise packages so we can send them out to celebrities or corporate workers to try to get people to fund our businesses.

Me: Do you have a specific audience you gear your resources towards, or do you feel like everyone can take something away from the things you provide?

Loren: I feel like everyone can take away from the things I provide even though my target demographic is adults. I gear it towards adults because I’m an adult right now so whatever I’m going through or experiencing I can speak on versus what I can speak on for a child. The demographic I’m focusing on now will also help me for what I plan to do in the future.

Me: Is there anything that you wish more people knew about your organization or the issues you are trying to bring more awareness to?

Loren: Yes, I want people to understand that we’re trying to stress the importance of why therapeutic and community based programs are important in Philadelphia. There are not enough programs that are available for adults as there are for children. I also want people to understand that mental health activities can be very different. It doesn’t mean that you have to sit in a room and talk in a group, it doesn’t mean that you have to sit in a room and talk to a therapist for an hour. Mental health activities can be anything that changes your perspective on life, or changes your attitudes and emotions towards things. A mental health community event can be going to the movies, some type of dance class, art or music therapy, it can be an array of things and I want people to understand that the stereotype of mental health has to stop.

Me: How are you collaborating with similar organizations? How do you plan to collaborate in the future?

Loren: I reach out to many people as far as supporting goes such as events, they’re selling something, or maybe they need help with an event or ideas, etc. Right now I don’t have any collaborations in the works but there have been discussions but no official plan yet but I’m open to it.

Me: What have been some of your failures so far on this journey? What have been some of you successes?

Loren: Some of my successes have been my turn out for events and that people seem to understand what Perfectly Unbalanced is and seem to support. Sometimes I wish it was more but I’m learning to take it day by day and just understanding that it will grow and as long as I continue to feed the business it will grow so I’m not worried about that. Failures in my journey has been me trying to collaborate with other organizations and it completely fails. I’ve learned that just because you own a business doesn’t mean that you’re a business person or that you know how to communicate or plan and that has been the issue I’m running into with certain brands and businesses. Another failure has been I don’t know where to go for funding so I’m heavily working on that this year. I can’t keep taking from my 9-5 to fund the organization, for the first 2 years it’s fine but after that you need to establish funding from elsewhere to maintain your business.

Me: What kind of work, organizations, or brands are you most drawn to viewing yourself? Do you find yourself viewing work similar to your own, or completely different?

Loren: As of right now there are a few community based programs like Philadelphia Charity Group or Helping Hands, there are a few that are similar and even though we may be similar in regards to the work we do or impact, we are different. We work with different demographics, we offer different programs and services but our goal and missions are similar.

Me: How do you balance your organization and daily life?

Loren: Like I said before I have a planner, my life is basic, I go to work, I go to school. I do homework and play time is the last thing that I think about. In doing all of these things and working on my business I add in self-care time, I read a book, listen to music, I read poetry, I may go shopping for a few hours on a Saturday, I spend time with my dog Chestnut and he’s really a good self love and care companion.

Me: Do you have any advice on starting a non-profit business/organization?

Loren: I would say with any business, figure out what it is you want to do, figure out your passion, what you want your future to hold, what your mission is, what kind of work, services, and programs you want to provide. Write all of these things down, read it, become passionate about it, and it has to be something that’s not going to feel like work. Once you do that and you have an idea and game plan, you should be okay. That’s when you can take your foot and move it forward, take baby steps if you have to because sometimes you’re going to step forward and step back. It’s okay to take it slow. Write out your goals and possible pros and cons of running your business, what kind of failures you may run into, how you’re going to fund your business. Once you develop a strategy to your game plan then that’s when you can make the efforts you know, getting your fictitious name, your EIN number, business certificate, all of those great things that comes with starting a business. I would definitely network with other people who have the same interests, and build a support team. You may not want it to be too big or be your family or friends but if you know your family and friends are going to support you build that small support team. Also have a small fund set up for all your startup fees.

Me:  How do you motivate yourself to keep going or does it just come naturally?

Loren: It comes naturally, I am a self motivator however there are days when I do want to give up because I feel like ticket sales are slow or there are miscommunications between other businesses trying to collaborate on events. I have to realize that my mission is greater than myself and the next person. It’s greater than worrying about ticket sales or whether somebody is going to work with me and be consistent. Understanding that everything I do for the community and learning from the community to help me grow into an LPC. That’s what keeps me going.

Me:  How do you get people to interact with your organization? How do you gain your audience? Do you find social media beneficial for that?

Loren: Social media is definitely beneficial in trying to gain your audience. You can reach your family and friends, celebrities, politicians, you’re able to reach different people on different levels through social media. I do most of my interaction on Instagram however I do have a business phone number. I gain my audience by using hash tags and tagging people within my post and also by networking, exchanging pages, etc.

Me: Excluding yourself, are there any people in the world that you admire? Any people or brands that inspire or motivate you?

Loren: I want to say that there are people in the world that I admire but there is not just one person. I’m going to be honest, there’s not anybody that I really admire when it comes to business. Now are there brands or people who inspire or motivate me? Absolutely. There’s @tayshedope who is actually my business mentor and my personal mentor, she definitely is someone who I go to for business consulting and someone I can look up to when I need support for my business. I would definitely say @glamitoccasions has been supportive. I would say @chooseyoualways, @helping__handz, the list can go on and I know most of these people personally. They inspire and motivate me to continue to do what I’m doing and definitely look forward to continuing to support these brands as they continue to support me.

Me: I’m happy I was able to make the cut in inspiring. If you could change just one thing about our society through your organization, what would it be?

Loren: One thing that I would change about our society would be the bias and negativity, stereotypical and judgmental behavior and ideas towards culture and religion. Culture and religion sometimes separates us as humans and the views on each other alters who we talk to or hang out with. If society viewed people as people and let the person pick and choose their own values without society placing labels on them, you put the label on yourself. This is what you want to be, not what society wants you to be.

Me: What makes your organization unique?

Perfectly Unbalanced Volunteers

Loren: I’m all about the community, everything that I do, I do through polls and surveys. A lot of the stuff that I do is just basically what the community wants to do, what the community wants to see, what’s going to help out the community. So I focus on that heavily, I do follow trends on what the community needs or is suffering from like the sexual health aspect I spoke on. I try to make events or find things to do based off the things or education that we need based off those topics.

Me: As an individual working in the field that you do, do you believe that you perceive the world differently from other people? What role do you think emotions play in your process of providing information and resources?

Loren: I do perceive the world a little bit differently than others. I’m not big on clout jumping, valuing celebrities or politicians, I’m a very religious and spiritual person so I put my faith and my time into God. I don’t put my faith and time into materialistic things or into other people. My role as far as emotions I’ve worked as an HIV/STD tester, I currently work as a service coordinator working with people who have physical disabilities. I take all emotion out and I don’t take anything personal only because it ties back into self-love. I can’t let someone else’s negativity or the things that are going on in their life effect me, I can’t pick that up and put it on my back. I leave them where they are and help them the best way that I can in my position. I can’t put them on my back and help them while I’m still trying to grow. So what I’m saying is, you can help, lead, and be there for people from a distance without getting too emotionally involved and keeping your emotions low.

MeWhere do you see yourself in the next 5 years? Where do you see your organization?

Loren: I should be done graduate school, I should be wrapping up the hours I need to get my licensure and creating not only a non-profit but a private practice. I see my organization still running fully and having an office, I see my organization traveling a lot more.

Me: How can we donate, contribute, or invest in Perfectly Unbalanced?

Loren: You can donate by using our Paypal link, we only need $211! Donating consistently will help us bring awareness and contribute to the community. You can contribute by volunteering most importantly. You can invest financially and we can talk about that if you’re interested.

Me: Where did the name Perfectly Unbalanced come from?

Loren: One day I was just looking on Instagram at names like how do people find their business names and I literally was just like okay look at myself, I’m perfectly unbalanced. I’m perfectly unbalanced because no one is ever going to be 100% perfect and that’s okay. Perfectly Unbalanced basically means that you are understanding who you are. You know you may not be the best at certain things like cooking, expressing your emotions, communicating, being humble, lowering your pride, etc. but understanding that you are working on those things. As long as you live you’re always growing so you’re always going to be Perfectly Unbalanced.

Me: Fun fact about yourself?

Loren: I have no children, I’m 24 and I have a dog-son named Chestnut and I definitely love traveling.

Me: Anything else you’d like to share? Advice, tips, motivation, etc.

Loren: No one is 100% perfect and that’s okay, we are perfect in Gods eyes because we are made in his image. Sometimes we are going to fail in life, there’s nothing to learn from if you don’t fail. Sometimes you have to take baby steps, if you stay consistent and work hard those results will come in due time.

Me: Drop your socials so we can be sure to follow you!

You can follow us @PerfectlyUnbalanced on facebook and Instagram. Please like, follow, and share. My personal Instagram is @iam__loren_chanel, and our email is perfectlyunb@gmail.com

Thanks for your time Loren!

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The Importance of “Me Time” After a Breakup

spending time alone taught me ‘real’ love

Most of us have experienced heartbreak, if not consider yourself lucky. It sucks when you build a bond, get to know all of these things about a person and then boom, relationship over. You feel sadness, anger, grief, you go through all the stages of a breakup which often includes loneliness as if being by yourself is so horrible. We forget what it was like to be single, what it was like when we were focusing on ourselves.

It wasn’t until this year that I actually had the chance to sit down and spend time with myself after a break up. In the past I turned to different people as a ways to deal with my hurt but that only hurt me more in the end. My last relationship ended in September of 2017, there was a lot going on around that time. I had just moved back home the month before from living on my own, having trouble finding a job, and quite frankly things just weren’t looking up for me. Well, my boyfriend at the time apparently didn’t care too much because he broke up with me. The day after he cut ties I found out I was pregnant, and had so many other things going on. So in my mind I’m like wow, I gave this guy multiple chances, bypassed his mistakes and infidelities and he broke up with ME!? Not to mention I was already at ends wit, and now a baby? Double wow.

So of course I was upset, we weren’t on good terms for a while and then the loneliness set in. I had needs I wanted fulfilled and in my mind only he could fill them despite what he did. That led to one thing which led to the idea that maybe we really could work it out and rebuild. We collectively chose to work on building a good relationship with the possibility of us getting back together and being a family. We dealt with each other for about another year until this past August when I realized he just wasn’t going to change his ways. Throughout that year I felt my strength increase mentally and emotionally because although we were dealing with each other I still had lots of time to myself physically, and most importantly mentally; when I felt it was time to walk away I was able to do it and mean it with no intentions on turning back around.

Being alone was the best thing I did for myself. When he broke up with me initially I reclaimed some of myself, and I say some because it took me to truly be done with him to open my eyes to what I was accepting and allowing. It didn’t hit me until he inquired about us having sex after I decided to end things for good in August. He had been so used to me saying I was done and repeatedly going back on my word. Being alone taught me that my worth goes far beyond what a man can do for me but instead what I can do for myself. No one determines my worth but me and in allowing what I allowed I had set the bar really low unintentionally and that’s why he felt comfortable enough to say and do everything he did.

We get into relationships with the idea that we want to see the other person happy but what about you? Just because you enter a partnership doesn’t mean you lose sight of yourself and it happens so often. After a breakup it’s natural that the space we once held for that person becomes empty. Okay we used to watch this show together at this time, what do I do now? The nights of falling asleep on the phone, talking and laughing until the sun rises becomes nothing but silence. In those silent moments we have nothing but opportunity to open the doors to hope of reconciliation even when it shouldn’t be an option. Fear and pain creeps into those midnight hours. How will I start over? Where do I even start? I can’t trust. Who will even want me? And the list goes on. In these moments of vulnerability we either leap or be still and accept it. I leaped before and jumped into situation-ships and a relationship. This time around I embraced it, I found comfort in being alone and focusing on me. I was able to see myself for who I was and most importantly I had the chance to see what I needed to work on within myself.

Spending time alone made me stronger. I looked into the mirror of truth, faced things in myself that I wanted to avoid, and learned to stand on my own and on my word. Now I’m not afraid to speak my mind or be clear about what I want. Now I know that just because someone else wants to be in a relationship doesn’t mean that I have to go along with it. I learned to be an advocate for me. I allowed myself to feel and gave myself the proper space to heal and forgive. Forgive myself for allowing the treatment I received, and forgiving anyone who ever wronged me. I self reflected and reflected on how I compromised the love I had for myself all for the sake of being loved by someone else. A lot of us have done it, a lot of us do it, and a lot of people aren’t aware that they’re in a toxic relationship until it’s over. Making excuses for our partner when they do wrong, giving the benefit of the doubt when you know you shouldn’t, ignoring the red flags and signs, blaming ourselves, and compromising our value.

The most important take away I’ve engraved in my brain is that love isn’t a search for completion but compliment. I never want someone to complete me because that means I am incomplete on my own. You must go into a situation whole in order to have a healthy and long lasting relationship or else you’ll always be searching for something and looking for a void to be filled. Be aware that a strong emotional connection does not equate to a healthy relationship, you can love someone so much and feel like you’ll never find that kind of love again but that’s not true. I now have a better sense of what I want in a relationship, what I will and won’t tolerate, and when those signs appear that tells me to get the hell away, I listen and get the hell away. I can notate character more quickly and know when someone or something is for me before I even attempt to waste anymore time on them. I feel more comfortable with myself than I ever have before, all of my flaws, every part of me. I found my backbone. I learned to channel negative energy by journaling, spending time with my son, or doing anything I enjoy. Now I use my experiences and energy to give better advice when it comes to love and relationships.

In working to heal myself it only encourages me to help others become aware, heal, and place their love and energy into the right places. In emitting my positive and healing energy I invite new opportunities while releasing the things that no longer serve me. Now I use my free time to continue to build myself, my brand, while pouring tons of love into myself and those around me. That time alone and the time I continue to spend alone reassures me and rewards me with the confidence to stand on my own. I look to myself first before I look elsewhere and that’s growth. I’ve gained the strength, confidence, and self-discipline to walk away from people and things that don’t bring me happiness, wellness, or inspire me to be a better version of myself. It’s crazy to look back at the version of myself that I was last year around this time and it almost makes me want to cry because I’ve grown so much. Self love is truly the most important kind of love you can have, it will open your eyes to so many things and stop you from making choices that mean you no good. I hold no hate in my heart because regardless of what I endured I take responsibility for the role that I played in it. I still want everyone to win and be happy with the life that they live, we all deserve that. Even if life never brings you happiness, I hope peace and content finds a place in your heart.

For those who can relate or ever find themselves in a similar predicament after a breakup, take that time to stand alone, be alone, embrace yourself, and rediscover your worth and value. Know and learn what you bring to the table, and as I like to say I bring my own table to the table to stand aside yours. I am the catch, and I deserve to feel like the shit or feel myself because I can. I know who I am and who I have the power to be.

Love doesn’t depend on others, it depends on you, just like you shouldn’t go searching for happiness in someone else. Learn to feel love and happiness from within rather than searching elsewhere. Nurture the relationship you have with yourself before anything else. Be patient with love, be patient with yourself. Everything is a work in progress. The minute you stop searching for a partner, or a anything for that matter, and being impatient, is the moment many doors of opportunity will open up for you. Those questions of “how will I know when it’s really love?” will go out the window because you’ll already know based on the love you give yourself. Stand your ground, stop accepting less, and stop investing in situations and relationships that give you no return.

Know that people will wake up everyday and choose themselves, it’s time to choose you too. Learn to be okay with people wanting to go their way, hold the door for them on the way out and get your blessings okay. Because they’re coming and the person who left just made more room.

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Aside from the latest blog post that are waiting to be read, I have published my third book! If you’ve kept up with the blog then you’ve probably read the snippets.  The Key To My Brother’s Heart – Kennedy’s Reign is now available in electronic and paperback editions. It’s available electronically on Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle as well as paperback on Amazon. All 3 of my books and $elf products and apparel are available on my website. For easier access, simply click “Shop” on the blog’s homepage.

Be on the look out for The Key To My Brother’s Heart 2 and my newest book The Girl Next Door – the stories that bind us.

Be sure to subscribe to the blogs monthly newsletter!

Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!

Can Men Handle an Independent Woman?

Is Dating an Independent Woman Out of The Equation for Men?

I don’t think it’s a question of “can” when it comes to men and independent women, instead it’s do men want to? Is there a difference between the way men treat independent and dependent women?

In speaking to a woman I know she was telling me how she recently had a conversation and the topic was men and the way they treat independent and dependent women. Some guys said to stroke the ego, another said that women who don’t have much are more appreciative (dependent women), while independent females want more than money but guys don’t seem to want to really give them time and effort. Women who can do for themselves get the short end of the stick; guys start off good and do everything to get them, but get them and then don’t do anything to keep her. All independent women want are dates etc., not money. Then I came across this video and knew I needed to share what I thought.

Okay, so here’s what I think, things like this can’t be generalized because it all comes down to men, their egos, current living situation, and preferences, etc.. Some can deal with an independent woman and add to what she brings to the table while others are insecure. Too much independence can make a man feel like he can’t play his role of wanting and needing to be the dominant partner because his woman is equal in regards to finances. Because that’s what this all is really about right? Money. Some men seek women who will rely on them and let them lead with finances but that can turn into control issues quickly. As in, this is mine, you stay with me, you don’t have anything if you leave but the shirt on your back.

I personally feel like within relationships everyone should have some level of independence. You should always have your own money, something to fall back on if things go left. A lot of men don’t like the idea of women being independent because she can up and leave when she isn’t happy vs a dependent woman who can’t leave because she’s depending on a man for so much. He can up and leave and leave her right where she’s at if he feels like it then what does she have? It happens. Then you have those who say if you go into a situation with the thought that things may end then you shouldn’t enter but that’s not being negative, it’s being smart. People change, feelings change, things happen, people pass away, etc. I rather be safe than sorry. Me and my man, husband, whatever can both work and have our own then come together but that doesn’t make him any less of a man. Leading and being dominant does not begin and end with money. Men want their egos stroked and to know that they can provide, they want their masculinity validated. They want to feel needed.

Listen here, I’m not losing my independence and would never encourage anyone else to lose or belittle their independence to make someone else feel needed. We don’t stroke egos around here. Either you’re going to be a man or you’re not, period. What I have in my pocket and bring to the table will only accompany what my man has and become ours and vice versa. Just because someone is independent does not mean they won’t ever need any help or need to depend on their partner for something. I need to be able to go to my man for guidance, or maybe he’s strong suited in something I know nothing about, etc. That’s what partnership is about, being able to pick up where your partner slacks. All of this who makes more and who has what is bullshit. If what you have really makes a man feel like less than a man then that isn’t the man for you. The problem is men feel like an independent woman won’t submit to them but until you put a ring on that finger you’re speaking a different language and it’s not even really about submission then, it’s a union. I can’t say don’t do wifely things for your boyfriend because within a relationship that’s what eventually happens within time if you really want the relationship to go anywhere; the rule is don’t do wifely duties for f*ckboys or someone you feel is undeserving. You want to know who you’re going to marry and what they’re capable of doing. Therefore you want to know if your man can lead (husband duties) and if your girl is capable of being your wife.

Let’s look at submitting for what it really is in biblical terms because submission is often confused with control; “A wife shows submission unto her husband when she allows him to take leadership in the relationship.  His position as leader is biblical (1 Corinthians 11:3).  Abraham’s wife, Sarah, is an example of a woman following her husband’s lead (1 Peter 3:6).  Sarah has never been confused with being a woman who was a frail doormat. Peter notes that she was not afraid in life. Submission should not be confused with a person being weak.

A submissive wife is not relegated to idly sitting by while her husband makes all the family decisions. In a healthy marriage, husband and wife work as a team. When a decision cannot be jointly agreed upon, the leader makes it, knowing he is responsible foremost unto God for that decision. In these circumstances or in a decision that the husband must make alone, a submissive wife is not overstepping her boundaries by offering counsel. She must learn to do it in a way that shows respect for his God-given position as head of the family. A submissive woman also offers abundant encouragement, understanding that making decisions is a heavy responsibility on a mans shoulders.

Some women are not satisfied with this. They want to be in charge. But realistically, marriage cannot work this way. Unity requires relational structure.  We see this pattern in other relationships. But submission is never a sign of value. Jesus submitted to the will of His Father (Matthew 26:39).  It would be heresy to say that Jesus is of lesser value than the Father. They are One, and Jesus cannot be of lesser value. His submission had nothing to do with His value—it had to do with God-ordained structure.  It is the same with husband and wife.”

A man is not meant to be controlling but to lead and there are many ways to lead within a relationship. In a relationship you should be able to depend on each other, it shouldn’t be a battle of who can depend on who more. The problem is everyone wants to make the rules, everyone is so focused on being the boss when in a relationship both people should have a voice within that relationship. Some men also need to make up their mind because they claim they don’t want an independent women but if a woman asks to get her hair or nails done or a bag, she’s a gold-digger and always has her hand out, or if she’s solely depending on you she’s a liability, so which is it? What do you really want? A man should be confident in what he brings to the table and who he is that it doesn’t matter what kind of women he’s dating whether she’s independent or dependent.

Men who seek women who will depend on them and avoid women who are independent in any way are control seekers. They are the type who want their egos stroked and to constantly feel like “the man.” They can’t handle a independent women and don’t want to because she will challenge his masculinity and make him feel insecure. It all comes down to the individual though. I will say that the vast majority of men don’t want women with no desire for autonomy or independence, especially in present times. But there are some men who want women who are submissive and not at all independent. Men whose sole purpose is to take care of a woman and buy her whatever her heart desires and she never has to lift a finger. They want women who will be housewives, and greet them when they come home from work, often after spending some of his money on something that is not a necessity. And that’s fine, to each its own because there are still plenty of women out who are living their lives with the sole purpose of getting an engagement ring, married, and then living comfortably on their husband’s money. It all comes down to relationship dynamics and what each person wants and will tolerate. Everything is all about establishing healthy boundaries and deciding what works for you.

Related Post:

What’s New? 
Aside from the latest blog post that are waiting to be read, I have published my third book! If you’ve kept up with the blog then you’ve probably read the snippets.  The Key To My Brother’s Heart – Kennedy’s Reign is now available in electronic and paperback editions. It’s available electronically on Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle as well as paperback on Amazon. All 3 of my books and $elf products and apparel are available on my website. For easier access, simply click “Shop” on the blog’s homepage.

Be sure to subscribe to the blogs monthly newsletter!

Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.

“I Thought I Could Change Them.”

Does the saying “you can’t change people” ring true? Often times we hope our efforts change the way someone behaves, thinks, or acts in general. This happens a lot not only in intimate relationships, but personal relationships as well. I’ve been there before, hoping my words of encouragement brought someone out of a depressive mood, or stopped them from making bad decisions, or having hope that within my intimate relationships just being of support and playing my role would be enough to keep a man on the straight and narrow. The only thing worse than being in a really bad relationship is being in a relationship that’s only half bad. When things are bad it’s easier to walk away but if you feel like it’s not entirely wrong and that person would be good for you if this or that changed, that’s where it gets difficult. You start falling for their potential self and convincing yourself that everything would be great if they only changed, so what do you do? Try to get them to change.

The truth is, you can’t change people. No matter what you do, what you say, you just can’t. You can influence them yes, it’s possible to make some sort of a difference but when it comes to changing, ultimately that person has to decide that they want to change. There’s no guarantee that because you’re a good man or woman your partner won’t cheat. There’s no guarantee that because you give good advice, your friend or colleague is going to listen. We make our own choices, we make our own decisions, and in a lot of cases there’s nothing you can do or say to change someone or their behavior.

In regards to intimate relationships, there’s nothing you can do to stop your partner from leaving or cheating on you. They have to make a conscious decision to want to be with you and not want to cheat on you, period. You can cook 5 star meals, clean, go to school, work your ass off, have amazing sex, give them unconditional love, be of support, be everything they want in a person, be loyal, the whole 9. It means nothing because ultimately none of that is going to stop them from making their own decisions. Sadly, being a good person and having amazing qualities isn’t going to keep someone, it literally comes down to that person wanting to be loyal and making a decision not to cheat or do you wrong in any way.

One thing that’s important to be aware of is those who try to convince you that they’ve changed, especially if it has the potential to end the relationship. They put on this act, they alter the truth, and manipulate. The best liars are the ones who can look you straight in the eyes while doing it. The best liars are the ones who don’t want to lose what they have. And don’t be naive, people know the consequences and risks of doing wrong but that wont stop them from testing you. And once they see that you’re buying it, it only gets worse. When you accept the bare minimum, that’s the only thing you’ll ever get. It’s like going through your partners phone, reading text messages, their private messages on social media, email, etc. and finding something, just to continuously stay. Now instead of trying to change the behavior you’re unknowingly enabling it, especially it if begins to be a reoccurring issue.

The focus is on intimate relationships because people really have this thought process that they alone, can change a person. You have these posts on social media glorifying women for staying down because their man finally changed after years “Only a special kind of woman can change a man“, come on sis it’s possible in some cases but don’t fall for the hype. And guys stop the bs, after years have passed, she had little to do with that. Yes, he probably finally came to his senses and realized what he had at home but quite frankly he just decided he was tired of entertaining other females, living the street life, etc… You can give someone an ultimatum, threaten to leave, cause a scene, talk things out, give twenty chances, whatever. It still doesn’t guarantee that a person will really change for you, they have to want to change FOR THEM. Some people stick around long enough to see that change manifest but know that it wasn’t you alone who changed them because if you had that power, they would have changed long ago.

You can get down to the bottom of things and figure out the root of the problem if there is one. Some people cheat because they’re unhappy within the relationship and instead of leaving they seek what they’re missing elsewhere, and some people just cheat or do wrong because they can’t help themselves. You know, the “it’s not you, it’s me” way. Quite frankly, when people just want their cake and to eat it too, there’s nothing you can do. Attempting to change a cheater into someone who sincerely wants to stop cheating and is willing to succeed at that goal is slim to none. Then you have those who go “my partner changed my life.” That’s awesome you’re giving them props and they’ve helped you, but you decided to change your life in the end, they just influenced you because no one can make you do anything. I don’t believe you alone can change people because they have to put in the effort to change as well and it’s them who ultimately has to make that decision. So no, it doesn’t take a special kind of woman to change a man. But it takes a special kind of person to be able to influence someone into changing for the better. Sometimes people need that extra push and support while others just have to come around to doing the work on their own. Be aware that sometimes it really isn’t you, but them. There’s something prohibiting them from wanting or being able to change, sometimes it’s just coming to terms with making that decision, and other times people truly need professional help.

You can lead a horse to the water, but you can’t make it drink. People who are engaged in destructive behavior have to be ready to listen and be helped by others. Key word “ready”, in the words of Tao Te Ching, “When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”. We have to realize that people have to pull themselves out of behaviors alone, with the support of others, but with their own strength. We also need to keep in mind that we never know the purpose of someone’s self-destructive behavior. Believe it or not, some people actually like to suffer and are always looking for situations or surround themselves with people that set them up for “failure” or “suffering” in some way. Some people self-destruct as a cry for help or want to be loved and even when they are given love, they don’t know how to handle it. Trying to change people who aren’t ready to be changed or who simply don’t want to change ruins relationships. Know when to step back, walk away, or insert yourself.

Overall, people will not change until they are ready to. They will not heal until it is time. There is no ultimatum, no threat, no promise that will make them shift their behavior. It has to come from their own will and genuine wanting to change. Nobody has ever changed their mind about something because they were shut down, shut out, humiliated, insulted, threatened, retaliated on, or even corrected. It is an illusion that we’re capable of making change in anyone’s lives but our own. Change is a choice, a self-generated choice. The only person you have full control over, is you.

You can’t change people, you can only love or care for them and sometimes that is enough.

Related Post: 

What’s New? 
Aside from the latest blog post that are waiting to be read, I have published my third book! If you’ve kept up with the blog then you’ve probably read the snippets.  The Key To My Brother’s Heart – Kennedy’s Reign is now available in electronic and paperback editions. It’s available electronically on Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle as well as paperback on Amazon. All 3 of my books and $elf products and apparel are available on my website findingyourself.bigcartel.com For easier access, simply click “Shop” on the blog’s homepage.

Be sure to subscribe to the blogs monthly newsletter!

Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.

Single Mother vs. Single Woman

Because the world creates a debate out of anything of course there’s a debate on who really deserves to call themselves a “single” mother or parent. The rule I’m seeing is that you can’t be a single mother if your husband, partner, or child’s father is temporarily away, working, or constantly busy. You also can’t be a single mother if the child’s father is emotionally, physically, or financially available to their child. In that case you are not a single mother you are a single woman. Now, I didn’t make these rules, these are just what I’ve come across.

So is this true? I obviously agree with the fact that you’re not a single mother if you’re married or in a relationship with the child’s father and they are temporarily away. But things start to get tricky when a mother is now in a relationship with someone other than the child’s father and lets say the father isn’t around or giving less than 50%, is she a single mother now or primary parent (this is probably a post within itself but it’s interesting to think about). Or what if mom does not live with the child’s father and he’s around emotionally, physically, and financially but mom is pulling the weight in the parenting or in any of those three categories? Mother’s who don’t have any of those three elements would consider themselves the true or real single moms and by all means that’s correct but there’s no such thing as a “real” or “true” single mother. If you have no support whatsoever from the child’s father then you are a single mother.

What happens often is women misconstrue being a single woman and single mother. If you are no longer in a relationship with the child’s father and he is not involved = single mother, but a single mother does not always equate to deadbeat dad or a dad who isn’t involved. Just because the relationship failed doesn’t mean you have to put someone on child support but that’s where we get into the bitter baby mama club discussion. By default if someone asked I’d refer to myself as a single mother because I wouldn’t think twice about what a single mother really is because why should I? If that’s what I identify as then I shouldn’t have to defend why. My child’s father is involved in his life and does what he can, when he can so I could never and would never bash him just because we aren’t together; but I am his primary parent because he lives with me so in turn I end up doing the bulk of the footwork that comes with parenting. I don’t go around asking for a trophy because of it or boasting because that’s what a mother does. Mothers make the biggest sacrifices. When I chose to become a mother I signed up for sacrificing my body, sleep, work, energy, and the list goes on. I have endless support within my family but the point is when you decide to become a parent you take on the responsibilities of what comes with parenting. No one wants to do all of the work because it takes two to make a baby but sometimes that’s just how things play out, the load doesn’t always get to be 50/50. There are single fathers just as there as single mothers. So when it comes to who deserves to call themselves single mothers or parents? It’s those who identify and does more than 50% of the parenting. The ideal picture perfect situation would be being married and having a loving and supportive husband who gives 100% just as I do because let’s be real, there’s no such thing as giving 50% in motherhood, you either give your all or you don’t. In most situations a father’s role has become providing financially but these kids need a father physically and emotionally too.

The takeaway is this, a single mother doesn’t equate to an absent father or struggling alone all the time. And just because someone identifies as such doesn’t mean that they’re struggling at all. There’s so many negative connotations towards single mothers and people thinking that babies change everything in a relationship. Yes, they do but it’s not always bad. Often times relationships were already ended or nearing an end and a pregnancy just so happened to be introduced. I found out I was pregnant literally the day after me and my child’s father ended our relationship so my child had nothing to do with the demise of our partnership. A lot of things play a role in relationships ending. It doesn’t matter what happened or what led to both parties choosing to go their separate ways but just because someone ends up single doesn’t mean that they are unhappy with their life or circumstances. A single mother or parent comes in all forms.

Comparing the daily, weekly, yearly and forever duties of a single mother to a single woman is comparing apples to oranges. Comparing the actual job of being a single mom to that of a relationship status is an unfair attack on single motherhood. Being a mother is a thankless job — one of the hardest jobs that one could ever sign up for, whether it be alone or not. The attempt to downplay those that are doing a majority of the work is slanderous and almost presents the idea of one crying wolf. Every situation is different, therefore it will never be black and white. However, if a woman defines HERSELF as a single mother, one should be respectful and identify her as such. These interpretations of what a single mom is should be left for self identity, not those on the outside looking in. -@itsjoitomyworld

What prompted this blog post to begin with was a post on Instagram I resonated with by @erynamelism which said,

“Today was hard. And so have been the days before it. Single is how I entered this world. & I entered into single motherhood what seemed to be at least 4 years ago. But I’m still not use to feeling so “alone” in the struggle. The stronger I grow into my own womanhood, the more I realize that single and isolated- are two different levels of loneliness in mothering. I have amazing friends, who step in where they can- I have my sons father who does what he can- but somehow I still feel selfish for demanding that “what everyone can do” is frankly, not enough. Because people doing what they “can do” doesn’t negate the fact I still HAVE to provide for my child, my mind, and for tomorrow. And realizing you have no one to turn to in those moments is extremely isolating. I knew I was single, as in one kind, but isolated- sinking under the pressure of living a life I didn’t ask for, and having to do so alone is the hardest most frustrating truth for me to swallow. Growing older has shown me quality is better than quantity- and having bodies laying around only makes for a booming cemetery if those bodies aren’t carrying life in them. And by life, I mean sense. And by sense, I mean- something in common between us.

Truth is. There are single mothers in marriages. Single mothers going back and forth with their co parents- single mothers who have not one friend outside of their children. There are single mothers who have their families support- and then there are mothers like me, never really alone but unable to depend on anyone when I need it. I broke down crying today in the pediatricians office- the nurses were so sweet to me, called in my sons Dr explained. To them that I was sitting there alone and she just sat with me. Explained that it was “ok” to feel this overwhelmed and in control at the same time- she told me that this isolation doesn’t last forever, but its been forever since I felt like that could be true. I know its true- but knowing whats good for you and actually believing in it- is where the true work comes in. The feelings of isolation, self doubt and over working are not only reserved for unwed mothers, because i know many mothers in isolating marriages – who believe that was their destiny. we came into this world alone, yes – but with all these eyes looking back at me i refuse to believe this feeling is destiny. i guess i still have more accepting to do. or poking for more treasure. #SingleMotherhood #isolation #Findtheothers #sheneedsmoresupport #respectItsjustthemininmum #dowhatyouhaveto #notjustwhatyoucan”

It doesn’t matter if you’re a single parent or not. The goal and what matters is providing examples of healthy relationships for your kids. If you’re co-parenting,  married, whatever, don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Kids only know what they see, and what you tell them, how their parents interact sets the boundaries for the people they will choose to date and how they treat those people. Parental relationships means a lot when it comes to the development of children. Healthy relationships only!!

Related Post:

What’s New? 
Aside from the latest blog post that are waiting to be read, I have published my third book! If you’ve kept up with the blog then you’ve probably read the snippets.  The Key To My Brother’s Heart – Kennedy’s Reign is now available in electronic and paperback editions. It’s available electronically on Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle as well as paperback on Amazon. All 3 of my books and $elf products and apparel are available on my website findingyourself.bigcartel.com For easier access, simply click “Shop” on the blog’s homepage.

Be sure to subscribe to the blogs monthly newsletter!

Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.

The Real World of Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding Experience & Tips

As soon as you find out you’re pregnant breastfeeding is automatically pushed on you by doctors. You start hearing “breast is best“, “You’re breastfeeding right?” and let’s not forget the various books and pamphlets you get just to inform you even if you’re not breastfeeding. Not to mention all the new moms you see on Instagram posing with their breastfeeding babies making it look so easy. You’re told everything about breastfeeding except for how hard it really is.

A lot of mothers think that it’s as simple as just plopping the baby on the boob and that’s it but boy oh boy, it’s nowhere near that easy. When I gave birth to my son my plan was to solely breastfeed by putting him on the boob and introducing the bottle a few weeks in so I could both pump and nurse. I was lucky because he latched perfectly. I was happy that things were going well but the next day is where the frustration kicked in. We had visitors and in the middle of the visit he began crying, the issue was he’d eat and then act as though he was done so I’d remove him from my boob and a few minutes later he’d be crying. Then by the time he was crying and I’d attempt to put him back on my boob he wouldn’t take it because he was already frustrated. It didn’t help that my visitors weren’t necessarily being helpful with the comments they were making suggesting that he wasn’t getting enough milk and that I’d have to resort to giving him formula because breastfeeding wasn’t working out. That coupled with the fact that he wanted to eat back to back, sometimes for an hour, then he’d stop and 15 minutes later he’d be eating again, I was becoming overwhelmed and super frustrated. He also preferred my right breast over my left so I had trouble getting him to latch on my left although that was the first side he fed on when he was born. Yet and still, it was all fine and dandy until that night around 3 in the morning, he started crying and would not stop, as a sleep deprived mom who’d freshly given birth I was exhausted and felt postpartum depression slowly creeping up on me. I first asked for a pacifier and the nurse on hand wouldn’t provide it because I was breastfeeding. So I tried to get him quiet some more, tried giving him the boob but he wouldn’t take it in the middle of screaming. I gave in and asked for a formula bottle. Looking back I wish I hadn’t because that was the onset of my battle with breastfeeding but I did what was best for my mental health. Sleep deprivation, around the clock feeding, it’s a lot to handle right after giving birth. Giving birth is exhausting in itself.

At first, he had a struggle adjusting to the bottle nipple but he was able to grasp it after a few minutes. My plan was to still breastfeed as I’d ordered a pump and wanted to try it out plus I was still putting him on the breast and hand expressing milk while supplementing with formula until the pump came in. 4 days after I gave birth I was given a Medela manual hand pump. I tried it out but I assumed I was doing it wrong because I wasn’t getting much. So I gave the manual pump a rest. The next day my Ameda Finesse electronic double breast pump came in. I was really excited to use it, I gave it a try and I still wasn’t getting much milk from either boob. Here I was with a dilemma, my milk production was really low, I was producing less than 1oz and my baby was now preferring the bottle over my boobs and was giving me a hard time each time I tried to nurse so he was getting nursed directly from my boobs only 1-2 times a day. I talked with lactation consultants and was told to keep trying, keep pumping, and keep going. Now, with pumping you’re supposed to pump every 2-3 hours which for me is really hard to keep up with even with having help. Taking care of a newborn is really exhausting so when you get a break all you want to do is sleep most of the time. So that’s what would happen, I would pump a few times and then fall asleep not keeping up with the schedule. I was also still hand expressing, especially in the shower just to keep the little milk that I had. Hand expressing is just taking your hand and getting the milk out yourself. After noticing that my production really wasn’t increasing as the weeks went by I decided to look into supplements like lactation cookies and teas to help up my production. I settled with Mother’s Milk Tea and that didn’t work for me and gave me a headache 90% of the time I would drink it. Not to mention you’re supposed to drink it 3 times a day for it to really work. I googled and googled different methods, products, you name it, tried power pumping, looked into different pumps, tried a nipple shield, and here I am almost 2 months in still struggling.

I’m not giving up just yet because I really want my son to have breastmilk instead of the formula. So my plan is to increase my supply naturally by drinking lots of water and eating foods that are supposed to help with increasing like oatmeal. I also still nurse my son at least 1-2 times a day or more if he’s up to it. Some days he feel likes doing the work and other days he wants the bottle to do the work for him. It’s definitely been a struggle and a lot of things have played a role but I’m keeping the faith. It helps to talk to other mothers who breastfeed and sharing experiences and problem areas. My main thing is that I’m not beating myself up over it, I was really discouraged at one point because I felt I failed at the one thing I wanted to be able to provide for him but I’m okay with knowing he was solely breastfed during the most important time of his life which was that first 24 hour window of birth. I’m also happy because he still gets breastmilk daily I just want to solely have him drinking breastmilk so it’s my goal to get there. If I don’t get there it’s okay because although breast is best, fed is better. As long as he’s not hungry, I’m happy.

Although my experience hasn’t been perfect and I’m still learning here are a few tips for other mothers who are breastfeeding or plan to breastfeed.

Breastfeeding Tips:

  • Be patient with yourself and your baby, your baby is still learning just as you are. It’s natural for them to cry and cluster feed (eat back to back) because breast milk is digested quickly, so take it easy and try to remain calm and get comfortable with knowing your baby will spend A LOT of time on your boobs. Having a good support system helps a ton!
  • Watch for hunger cues (opening of the mouth, turning head towards boob or turning head to search for food, making smacking sound) instead of waiting until baby is crying to feed them because when they’re crying it’s almost impossible to latch them. A good trick is to place your hand near the corner of baby mouth to see if they’re hungry, it works all the time with my son.
  • If you want to keep your baby on your boob wait a few weeks to introduce a bottle or they may develop nipple confusion.
  • Drink lots of water and eat well!
  • Do your research. Read stories, information pamphlets, etc.
  • Your breasts work on supply and demand. The greater the demand, the more milk your body will produce. Your baby is helping your body to learn how much milk it needs to make. The more you nurse and pump, the more milk your body will produce.
  • When your baby seems like he/she is always hungry it’s easy to worry you’re not making enough milk. I’ve learned that how much milk you can pump is not at all related to how much milk your baby is getting because baby is able to get more milk when they nurse than you can when pumping. As long as your baby is making at least five or six wet diapers a day, your supply is just fine.
  • Have nipple cream on standby because your nipples can become really sore, raw, and cracked by constantly feeding. Lansinoh has a really good cream called “HPA Lanolin” that I’ve used. Keep your nipples moisturized when you’re not nursing.
  • Ask for help if you’re struggling. Talk to lactation consultants, other mothers who have breastfeeding experience and ask questions!
  • Skin to skin helps your body produce more milk! Even if you’re pumping have your baby close as it may help get more milk.
  • Invest in bottles that closely mimic breastfeeding/breast. My favorites so far are Tommee Tippee “Advanced Anti-Colic” bottle, they also have a “Closer to Nature” line that I haven’t tried but closely resemble the ones I just mentioned, and Boon “Nursh” bottles.
  • Breastfeeding shouldn’t hurt. Often times the initial latch may sting a little but as baby eats, it should not hurt. Make sure he/she is latched right. The best way to latch is to get baby to open wide.
  • Keep it up for as long as you can. Even if it’s a week, a month or a year, however long you can nurse for, do it! Take it one day at a time, literally, and don’t compare your journey to anyone else’s.

Related Post: 

  1. Confessions Of A Mother
  2. Don’t Tell Me How I Should I Feel While Growing A Human!
  3. Birthing Makai

What’s New? 
Aside from the latest blog post that are waiting to be read, I have published my third book! If you’ve kept up with the blog then you’ve probably read the snippets. They are no longer available but the feedback has been nothing but good. The Key To My Brother’s Heart – Kennedy’s Reign is now available in electronic and paperback editions. It’s available electronically on Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle as well as paperback on Amazon. All 3 of my books and $elf products and apparel are available on my website findingyourself.bigcartel.com For easier access, simply click “Books” on the blog’s homepage.

Be sure to subscribe to the blogs monthly newsletter!

Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.

Breathing Life Into Dead Situations

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Letting go is one of the hardest things to do, and years later you can still find yourself holding on to fragments of that relationship. In a past relationship I had to let go, I didn’t want to hold on and then find myself questioning what I was holding on to. We had history but that’s exactly what the relationship was beginning to feel like, “history”. There were many thoughts running through my head; I love him. I don’t want to leave. Maybe we can work things out if I stay a little longer. He’ll change, I just know he will. I’m never going to find someone like him. He cares he just doesn’t know how to show it. I’m never going to love like this again. We can get back to where we were, right? I laid everything out on the table, had my hands up ready to fight but I was in the ring by myself.

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There are those breakups that happen suddenly filled with cheating, lies, and deceit. Then there are those breakups where you put everything on the table, you lay your soul out and the other person just walks by without even noticing. But he says he loves me I don’t understand? Yet I’ve been complaining for months now. I understand you’re busy but so am I, can’t you at least text me every now and then? Our conversation lacks substance, I hardly even talk to you. You’ve been distant and emotionally unavailable. I just want to help. No response again? Okay, I understand, just hit me up when you’re not busy. I kept swinging.

I didn’t want to wake up one day and resent the person I loved. I didn’t wish to stay in a relationship where I was constantly holding on to “what ifs” and potential. But the fear, the fear of him moving on and dating other people, the fear of me building him up and teaching him things just for him to go show his new tricks to a new chick? Hell no. Let’s try this again… This is my last time bringing this up and then I’m done, I’m tired of the way we communicate. How many times do I have to bring it up in order for it to be fixed? Maybe we should take a break and be friends. It only takes minor changes to change what I’m complaining about! I care but I feel unappreciated. Your actions don’t match your words. I don’t know if you’re scared to express how you feel or maybe you just feel you don’t have time. I get it, I’m not on your list of importance right now. Wow, is that all you have to say? I didn’t mean it before when I said I would have to let you go, but this time is different. I realized all the memories of us being happy were from months ago. When was the last time he called me beautiful? When is the last time I felt loved and appreciated by him? When is the last time this felt like an actual relationship? Where has the spark gone? So I tell him how I’m feeling, and that I feel things aren’t changing, it’s either they change or I go.

I laid my hurt out on the table, repeated what was bothering me. And even after the initial breakup, I did a U-turn. Can we talk? You know about what… Sorry I missed your call, are you going to answer the phone? Forget it, I don’t want to talk anymore if that’s how you’re going to act. He moved on shortly after so I had no more chances to turn around but given the opportunity I would have; it took me years to get over that relationship but at least I was done breathing life into a situation I felt was dead. But then I did the same thing, met someone new, fell in love, went through the dialogue again and again, they hurt me several times, and for some reason I kept swinging as if I never learned my lesson in the past until I was done being hurt. It was then that I used my past and current experiences to nurture myself and learn/love me consistently and correctly. Now, my tolerance for things I once experienced is nonexistent. If it makes me feel anything less than happy, I don’t want it.

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We hold on to situations and think we’re holding on out of love, but that’s not the case at all. We hold on out of fear AND love. But when that love has shifted, changed, or even stopped growing it’s the fear that keeps us. Fear of change, fear of having to find someone new, fear of starting over, the fear of letting go. Unfortunately, sometimes you have to love people from a distance. Just because it ends doesn’t mean it wasn’t real. It becomes unfair when you tell people that your happiness depends on them. We all deserve happiness but it begins with us. If it’s meant to be, it will eventually be. A question that burned in my head was how could I take back 3 shots and know that I was done I needed no more liquor, but I didn’t know my limits in love. I didn’t know when to stop drinking, I had this insatiable thirst for a love that was not interested in filling me back up. I had this constant urge to fight when I was the only one swinging. Why do we do this? I have encountered numerous women who have been in my shoes and I in theirs. Constantly giving so much of ourselves without anything in return. So many of us falling in love with potential and memories of the person we once knew being naive to the fact that we can’t change a person, only they have the power to do so. The quickest way to lose yourself, is to fight for a love who is no longer interested in fighting for you. You know why we do it? A lot of women aren’t comfortable being alone, and until you become content with being alone first, you will forever find yourself in the ring exhausted, lost, and confused because you just spent so much time fighting your gut and intuition when it told you this relationship was over a long time ago.

I’ve been there, losing myself that is, and  I was shocked when I looked into the mirror and didn’t recognize the girl looking back. Love will change you, a good love will change you for the better, but an unhealthy situation will only lead you downhill. Sometimes it takes a toxic situation to show us how badly we were loving ourselves in the midst of loving someone else, and it makes us change our whole perspective and the way we maneuver. Different experiences reshape your love language towards yourself and others. Don’t stop forgetting that you come first, just because you get in a relationship doesn’t mean you stop loving and working on you. Don’t ever let anyone make you believe that you need them to maintain your happiness and if you find yourself depending on others for happiness ask yourself questions. Why am I unhappy? What changes can I make? What can I do to make me happy? I know we like to please our partners but don’t forget that you deserve the same happiness and love that you pour into other people. Don’t lose yourself in love. You are love, you can’t lose you, never forget that.

Interested in reading more like this? Shop my books “Heartbreaks & Heartaches” and “Finding YOUrself: The Road to Self-Love & Discovery“.  Below you can find a poem that’s featured in H & H.

Must Reads:

I Lost Myself In You
I lost myself in…
The way your eyes sparkled when you laughed.
In the way your voice resonated through my phone when you were miles away.
In the way I could never stay mad.
I lost myself in you.
In your being.
In your energy.
In your radiation.
Was I wrong to give you my all?
I adored you, reassured you.
Gave you everything I couldn’t give myself.
Time, patience…
Tearing pieces of myself off to share with you.
Now you’re emotionally whole while I’m emotionally unstable, unable to grasp the railings of my mind because in hindsight my sight is clouded of what could be.
Of what could be…
Fell in love with someone that I thought was you.
But in reality the actuality of that someone being “new” was true.
Now I look at this guy standing in front of me and every hand motion he makes is a gun to me.
Every syllable he speaks and types and writes hits the ground and turns into glass all around me.
Now I’m left to feel the pain of the baggage with no extra hands or support to help carry it.
What an embarrassment.
Now my feet are subjected to pain and not even the rain can wash away the blood that stains the walkway.
A piece of me now stays behind and lives in the past.
And every time I hear your name I’m reminded.
And every time I see the stain I feel the same pain as if it just occurred and the memories are restored and more vivid than before.
Time passing and I’m still removing shards of a broken bond.
Half convincing myself that we could still be covalent.
Like an atom in a metal releasing its electron I released my energy to flow freely through YOU with no expectations to receive anything in return.
But I’m the one that ends up burned out and turned out making decisions I would never make.
And they say a relationship shouldn’t be about give and take.
Yet I lost myself in the midst of the good, the bad, and the ugly even when I didn’t have to question the question of you still loving me.
Unaware that while I was busy giving I forgot to give myself.
So when it was all said and done I was left hollow looking for pieces in someone else.
Because once a giver gives what do they have left to take for themselves.
I was convinced that we would never end because the end was never clear to me.
But see now it’s clear to me that because of you I found the clarity.
And this is not to bash or clash heads or bump fist because I know the truth already hurts.
All in all to say while you were putting me last I was putting you first.
But I’ve grown now and I’m singing a different song now.
Me, Myself, and I is all I got and we ready for war now.
My mouth geared up and ready to verbally catch cases.
And no I could never erase you, replace you or retrace my steps to figure out where it all went wrong.
And over the course of this merry go round I’ve learned…
That you should never depend on anyone for your happiness.
And on my libra scale from now on I’m weighing words and actions.
New glasses on so new vision. And to all the guys who ever played me or betrayed me you made this girl into a woman on a mission.
New me who this, new phone who this, and none of you are important enough for this to be a diss but just know I’m unstoppable like Kim and if you’re reading this it’s never too late to fix your mistakes and take claim over your life.
Nothing was the same and I’m the furthest thing from perfect but I’m perfecting myself a little more each day and from time to time I still want to own it, and connect and make you my wu-tang forever love. We can still start from the bottom and end up nowhere.
Did I change? I say hell yeah, hell yeah fucking right and at night when you think of me I hope it hits you like an epiphany. But lord knows that the fireworks were unforgettable baby but I had to shut it down go 100-0 real quick. Because it only takes but so much to become tired of the bullshit.
It was me who was unhappy and yeah I’ll take that and the same time I’ll take back and reclaim myself and the woman I’ve became. Pain and anger does something to the soul that the body can never interpret and we’re all a little tainted. But no one ever said that when your image becomes unclear that you can’t repaint it.
People come into your life and leave imprints in your mind and sometimes they help you lose and sometimes they help you find. And although I’ve lost a lover I found the love within myself and as selfless as I am I am we all deserve time to be selfish.
New mindset, new everything and a lose ain’t always a loss right, because in the midst of losing you I found the biggest star and she shines bright.

What’s New? 
Aside from the latest blog post that are waiting to be read, I have published my third book! If you’ve kept up with the blog then you’ve probably read the snippets. They are no longer available but the feedback has been nothing but good. The Key To My Brother’s Heart – Kennedy’s Reign is now available in electronic and paperback editions. It’s available electronically on Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle as well as paperback on Amazon. All 3 of my books and $elf products and apparel are available on my website findingyourself.bigcartel.com For easier access, simply click “Books” on the blog’s homepage. 

Be sure to subscribe to the blogs monthly newsletter!

Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.

Confessions Of A Mother

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It’s 1:40am and I’m holding my son who has been crying on and off for about the past 2-3 hours, I don’t even know I’ve lost count tbh. He’s super cranky and won’t let me get much done; I’m typing this on the iPad with one hand, rocking him in the other. I figured I’d write this post while I still have an ounce of energy otherwise if I put it off it won’t get done. I’ve been doing this parenting thing for a month now and it’s been quite the experience.

I always wondered when I’d truly feel like a mother, you know that moment when it hits you that you actually birthed a human being because maybe pregnancy or labor and delivery wasn’t enough to convince you that this was really happening. It didn’t hit me until I had to travel with him alone. You may be asking why, and it’s because as soon as we got outside he cried, in order to get an accurate visual lets note that he was in a carrier and I was also carrying a baby bag that’s quite big in size. Let’s also note that I’m pretty small. We were making our way to the uber and because it was uber express we didn’t get the luxury of door to door service. So he chose to cry, coupled with it being hot and me toting a baby and bag while both trying to comfort him and shuffle my way to the car, not to mention I was trying to bottle feed him and hold my phone at the same time while trying to find it. As all of this is happening the uber lady decides to call me because apparently I’m taking too long and I’m not at the meet up spot. I answer with a crying baby in the background while simultaneously out of breath and sweating trying to hurry and in that moment of pure frustration it hit me. That was the defining moment for me.

It wasn’t after labor and delivery or holding him for the first time because it all happens so fast. After you give birth you’re automatically thrown into Mommy role and for me it was constantly putting baby on the boob and signing this, talking to this person, test getting ran on baby, the shock of just giving birth, people visiting, nurses in and out the room around the clock, and lack of sleep that I wasn’t able to take a moment to reflect. And when you do bring baby home that’s when more visitors come and then it’s a never ending cycle of tending to baby and trying to get rest when you can. After my initial realization I’ve had many other moments where it hits me, it not that I forget, but just those moments that enhance what’s already known. Like when he stares at me or follows me with his eyes or smiles, or when he does something new. Sometimes I just stare at him in awe and say to myself “Wow, I really had a baby“.There is so much joy in being a mother, to know that I get to be apart of so many “firsts” for him, to watch him develop and grow day by day. But sometimes those frustrating moments remind me more and give me strength because I realize that it’s me who always has to be there for him. I do 95% of the work by myself and I wouldn’t trade it for the world because I love my son with everything in me but it gets frustrating. Me and his father don’t live together and on different sides of the city so that makes things a bit more of a challenge for me when he can’t show up to assist. People tell you day in and day out becoming a parent isn’t easy, you have to be willing to make sacrifices, you have to be willing to put yourself on the back burner, all in all you have to be “willing”. Its a Full Time job in itself and when I have help it makes a huge difference and takes a little weight off my shoulders but being his mother, I can’t pick and choose when to be present, there are no days off for me. And on nights/mornings like tonight when he’s screaming his head off for hours, no matter how frustrating it may be, I’m the one who has to be there. In a perfect world and ideal situation I’d have help during the night, as a matter of fact I’d have help 24/7, but when I get help it’s all during the day so I take what I can get when I can get it. You learn to make sacrifices and you learn to be okay with those sacrifices. You learn to accept the way your cards were dealt and prepare yourself for the next shuffle.

Some days me and my son don’t get out of bed until 1 in the afternoon and I’ve learned to be okay with that. I’m up at wee hours in the morning tending to a newborn, some nights I don’t fall asleep until 4 or 5 in the morning just to be back up every 2-3 hours, and some days I don’t eat until it’s dark out. Like right now, it’s 3:05am because I had to stop and feed him, and calm him again because he was crying. I ate one meal today, and as hungry as I am, it’s just not happening until I wake up later. And it’s okay to take a quick breather, it can get really frustrating when you’re alone and your baby is screaming bloody murder and nothing you do is calming them. If no one is around to help, it’s actually suggested that you stop and take a breather before you implode. At times like this I remind myself that it’s okay if I want to cry right along with him, and that he can’t help it, he’s a baby who depends on me to comfort him and give him what he needs. If I need a moment, I take it, or else I’ll be no help to him or myself. It’s a constant learning and readjustment process and I don’t think it gets any easier but this is what I was made for. I’ve always admired mothers but this transition into motherhood has made me admire mothers more. It doesn’t matter if you’re doing it on your own or have some sort of help, parenting is hard. But it makes you grow up and put your responsibilities and priorities in order, it molds you into a better person. My only goals right now are to make sure my son is fed, happy, safe, and most importantly loved; everything else falls in line afterwards. I’ve become content with knowing that how I want things to go may not be how they will go and that has been my biggest take away through pregnancy to postpartum. On the journey through parenthood, but motherhood especially, a lot of things will be frustrating and it doesn’t get easier but you learn from those frustrating experiences and that’s what makes it feel a little easier the next time go round. I’ve had to accept that I’m no longer on my own time, but my baby’s time. Until I can put him on a schedule he makes the rules! I’ve had to accept my breastfeeding journey and come to terms that it’ll take time for me to get where I want to be with it. I had to accept my postpartum body and I’ve accepted the fact that it’s okay to be okay with change and different outcomes than the ones I had prearranged in my head. This is motherhood, a constant readjustment and learning process.

Want to read about my labor and delivery experience? Click here to read “Birthing Makai”.

Must Reads:

What’s New? 
Aside from the latest blog post that are waiting to be read, I have published my third book! If you’ve kept up with the blog then you’ve probably read the snippets. They are no longer available but the feedback has been nothing but good. The Key To My Brother’s Heart – Kennedy’s Reign is now available in electronic and paperback editions. It’s available electronically on Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle as well as paperback on Amazon. All 3 of my books and $elf products and apparel are available on my website findingyourself.bigcartel.com For easier access, simply click “Books” on the blog’s homepage.

Be sure to subscribe to the blogs monthly newsletter!

Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.

Don’t Tell Me How I Should I Feel While Growing A Human!

Pregnancy is such a beautiful experience, I gave birth to my son 3 weeks and 2 days ago and I’m still in awe. One thing I’ve noticed is that people hardly discuss the downside of growing a human. I questioned why that was and then found my answer via social media; a lot of women are afraid to voice their true thoughts because of the backlash they may get. But why does this backlash even exist? Growing a human has never been a simple walk through the park. It can be frustrating, exhausting, and overwhelming.

I came across this video on Facebook which I thought was cute and funny of a mother expressing how she’s still pregnant, she’s overdue and doesn’t know when baby is coming.

How Far I’ll Go

 

The comments were a mixture of people being understanding and completely the opposite. One person commented, “OMG I’m so freaking sick of hearing women whine and complain about pregnancy, childbirth, nursing, sleepless nights, babies, potty training, teething, toddlers, teenagers….I can guarantee you that I, and millions of other childless women, would be happy to switch situations with you any day!” Another, “Pregnancy isn’t suffering. Everything y’all are listing are normal symptoms that everyone knows about before getting pregnant. Toughen up. Suffering is losing the child before you can even give them a name or losing them in general.” Telling a pregnant women to “toughen up” is RIDICULOUS,  it takes a lot to have a person growing inside of you and can be a toll on the body. There will be pain, and sometimes it does feel like suffering because some women get gravely sick and are confined to the bed for majority of their pregnancy or experience other complications. Everyone is different, some women have smooth sailing experiences while others do not. But who says suffering in regards to pregnancy has to look a certain way?

Some of the replies to the above comments were really great; “Suffering is WHATEVER the freak someone feels it is! I’m not gonna look at you and say that I wouldn’t consider you losing your child suffering so don’t speak on other’s suffering…pregnancy is really hard for some of us...”, “This was meant to be funny, no where in her video was she “attacking” or “calling out” or even name women who are infertile. Everyone understands that there are women who are infertile. Everyone understands that there are women out there that can’t get pregnant & we are sorry, but just because you are having a hard time having a baby, does that mean those of us who can have to sensor jokes we make about being overdue in our own pregnancies? I don’t think so. Seriously, grow up a little.” The woman who made the initial comment came back to defend herself, “I wasn’t talking about the video. I was talking about every single comment on it complaining how pregnancy is so terrible. Again READ my comments. I wasn’t talking about the video. I’m not offended by it but what is the point in complaining about something that’s over and done with. Pain, throwing up, being uncomfortable, high blood pressure, ETC all are normal things that can happen during pregnancy. Instead of thinking “oh that won’t happen to me” y’all should be thinking it COULD happen. If it doesn’t good for you. If it does oh well. Don’t get pregnant if you can’t handle it.” That was the kicker for me “If it does oh well. Don’t get pregnant if you can’t handle it.” then someone commented “that’s like someone saying if losing a baby is so bad, don’t get pregnant. Losing a child is ALWAYS a risk of pregnancy to EVERY mom. No need to complain, right.” It’s the truth, her comment was really insensitive and it’s not okay to try and dictate what others consider as suffering. Pregnant women are allowed to voice how they feel during their own pregnancy, and if they choose, PREGNANT WOMEN ARE ALLOWED TO COMPLAIN.

Every pregnancy isn’t planned, and some of those unplanned pregnancies aren’t smooth sailing and since the woman above suggests not to get pregnant for women who complain should we just be refraining from sex altogether? That’s unrealistic and it is possible for women to get pregnant while on birth control, there’s always that risk of becoming pregnant no matter the precautions a woman may or may not be taking. My pregnancy was not planned and I complained during the last few weeks of being pregnant and you know why? One, because I could, and two, because everything hurt, my feet and lower legs were so swollen that it hurt to walk or wiggle my toes, there was no comfortable way of sleeping, and with every turn I received a random ache or pain, amongst other things. Did that make me any less excited or grateful for my son? No it did not. People complain all day everyday about simple things like work but complaining about growing a human is such a crime. A lot of us end up trying to smile through it and deal with it quietly to avoid the “stop complaining”, “you’ll be fine”, “be grateful”, etc. when in reality pregnancy can be draining mentally, emotionally, and physically. There were many times I cried out of frustration because of the changes my body went through. I couldn’t wear sneaks or any of my shoes for that matter, I had to buy adjustable sandals. Throughout my first trimester the toilet bowl was my best friend, I didn’t have morning sickness, I had any time of the day sickness. Sometimes it was miserable, and sometimes you do feel like a prisoner in your own body, especially in the third trimester. I hated to rush my son but I was more than ready to meet him. Was all the pain and emotions I experienced worth it in the end? Yes, of course it was, and as much as it hurt I’d go through my 18 hours of labor again just for my son but that doesn’t mean I won’t express the downsides because that’s just keeping it real, pregnancy f’ing hurts. Pushing out and growing a baby hurts.


Nicole, an expecting mother, was nice enough to allow me to share her own experience with her pregnancy.

Why Isn’t Anybody Talking About How F*#K~N Hard This Is?!

No, I don’t feel weird posting this. Ever since the rocky start to my unplanned pregnancy, I’ve felt a call to share my experience. Because reading other women’s journeys has been one of the only things to make me feel less alone these past 20 weeks, so I feel strongly about adding to the convo. Being pregnant is hard AF, for more reasons than you can fathom if you’ve never done it.
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Yup, brave women have been keeping the human race alive since the beginning of time, so pregnancy may sound routine, but let’s set the record straight:

Brushing your teeth is routine…housing what feels like an alien life form who’s sucking the life out of you and rearranging the organs inside of your body for 9+ months THEN shoving it out of a hole it rightfully doesn’t fit through is anything but routine or normal feeling. Honestly some days I wonder if I’m on a sci-fi version of PUNK’D.

PSA: EVERY WOMAN’S EXPERIENCE WITH PREGNANCY IS UNIQUE AND VALID!

Guess what? I wasn’t excited about my pregnancy right away, and I didn’t feel OMGOMG #SOBLESSED like everyone told me I was. I cried so hard and felt so trapped inside of my morphing, aching body. I grieved the loss of my identity, and resented my new responsibilities. And I know I’m not alone in that, so why aren’t more women talking about it?

I want to. Because I now see the light, and know I’m not the monster I felt like during the first-trimester. I want to use social media for what I think it’s intended for – authentic connection. I don’t want to only post a cute bump photo and contribute to the false narrative that makes pregnancy/motherhood look like a perfectly curated breeze, when in reality the only breeze behind said photo is from pregnancy-induced gas (not like, mine, of course, because I’m a lady…).

So if posting about the good AND the bad of this experience helps even ONE pregnant woman feel less alone, then as corny as it sounds I’ll feel glad I did. Or I’ll settle for one judgmental person reading it and learning their opinions on someone else’s pregnancy journey are grossly naive and unnecessary. 😉 –@nicole__walker


Women should be able to vent about their experiences without fearing what people will say, people will be quick to say a woman isn’t grateful and tell her how she should feel blessed, happy, etc. when in all reality she feels a whole lot of things and emotions because she’s pregnant duh. It isn’t easy as some make it look nor is it always as joyful. Some days are spent being uncomfortable, sad, and unhappy, and as much as we’d like to be all smiles and look at the experience as something beautiful and amazing, it doesn’t always feel that way. Just because a woman says she can’t wait to go into labor or expresses how much pain she’s in doesn’t mean she doesn’t love her baby. I just want people to stop acting like it’s an easy process to go through or that complaining takes away from those who are having trouble conceiving or can’t. For every women that complains, there will be a million people in the comments or in life already condemning the mother and calling her everything but amazing and powerful for taking the risk of giving life. I’m here to say I feel you, I get it, and even if I never went through the experience of pregnancy, I’d still applaud you. Women already go through a lot outside of pregnancy and instead of finding flaws in everything and telling people what they should and shouldn’t be doing, or how they should and shouldn’t feel, let’s try listening for once and being open minded and realizing that everyone’s experience with childbirth, pregnancy, and trying to conceive is valid, and none takes away from the other!

So to answer your question Nicole on why more women aren’t talking about it? It’s because when they do people tend to make them feel shamed and discouraged for doing so but I’m glad you were brave enough to be brutally honest about your experiences so far because so many women can relate!

Related Post:

What’s New? 
Aside from the latest blog post that are waiting to be read, I have published my third book! If you’ve kept up with the blog then you’ve probably read the snippets. They are no longer available but the feedback has been nothing but good. The Key To My Brother’s Heart – Kennedy’s Reign is now available in electronic and paperback editions. It’s available electronically on Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle as well as paperback on Amazon. All 3 of my books and $elf products and apparel are available on my website findingyourself.bigcartel.com For easier access, simply click “Books” on the blog’s homepage.

Be sure to subscribe to the blogs monthly newsletter!

Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.

Birthing Makai

I don’t know about you guys, but I always wondered how pregnancy and labor & delivery was before I even conceived my son. How does it feel? What is it like? etc. I spent majority of my pregnancy using the Glow Nurture app and scrolling through all the community post. My favorite? Birth stories. I asked people I knew about their experience, I watched a number of Youtube videos and vlogs, it was something about hearing about them that made me feel both excited and scared. Through the countless stories, videos, and discussions I’ve had, none of them really prepared me for my own labor experience. Reading and listening does help in a way to shape your mind to prepare for anything, but always go into the situation knowing no labor & delivery is ever the same.

Two days before I went into labor I can look back and say my body was in preparation. While a pregnant women body prepares the whole 9 months for labor, this was different. On the Friday before I went into labor I was experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions, by night fall they were consistent for about a hour and put me in enough pain to make me nauseas that when I got into the house I threw up. It was unusual since I hadn’t been throwing up but still, I had it in my head that I wasn’t heading to the hospital unless I was in tears and unbearable pain because I had two prior visits to triage and got sent home. I didn’t want or need the inconvenience with traveling. The next day I woke up and was fine, en route to my sister’s graduation I started feeling slight cramps but nothing alarming enough to make me concerned. But again by night fall I came in the house complaining of my stomach hurting. I had just had a long conversation about labor & delivery with my aunt and mom, hearing about their experiences and laughing about how swollen my feet were and how I was ready to go in. Before I went to lay down and express my last complaint about my stomach my mom said “keep me updated, don’t text me if you go into labor, knock on the door.” I laughed it off thinking my son was just doing one of those “I like to see you in pain but I’m not coming yet” things.

By this point in pregnancy (38 weeks and 5 days) it was already very uncomfortable to sleep, I had to constantly switch sides to get comfortable and cramping wasn’t unusual, so that night was no different. It wasn’t until I woke up around 3 in the morning Sunday to use the bathroom; after I used the toilet my stomach was hurting pretty bad to the point I cried out of frustration when I got into my room. I stalled a bit then laid back down when I experienced a cramp, turned over, and felt a gush. Slight panic mode set in but I surprised myself with how calmly I reacted, I said to myself “oh my God“, got up, and waddled to my mom’s room as the water kept leaking. I said to her “I think my water just broke” and she was just as shocked because she said “did it!? let me see, are you wet?” she had to see it to believe it. I kept trying to change my pants because each time they kept getting soaked through until my mom asked me what the hell I was doing and to just accept the fact I was going to have a wet booty. My cramps weren’t that bad until I got into the car and by then they were no longer cramps, but contractions. I breathed through them but when it came time to get out the car I was doubled over in pain and crying. And let me tell you this, it’s no lie when people say when you’re in labor you’ll know because you won’t want to talk. I was greeted with a wheel chair and the guy started asking me questions like, “when are you due?” “did your water break?” my water was legit leaking from the chair so he was asking the dumbest questions in the state of mind I was in. When I got to triage my mom had to answer all of my registration questions for me, and again they ask did your water break and by this time mine was all over the floor so they gave me a room. As each minute passed my contractions got worse but I was still breathing and rocking through them. My plan was to go natural but I found myself begging for pain meds. I had reached 5cm natural and couldn’t take anymore.

Once I got wheeled to the room I would deliver in, I just wanted alleviation from my pain. By 7am I had my epidural in place and had some alleviation, I was proud that I made it to a 5 all natural but my body needed some relief. I can’t say that I wasn’t upset at first, my goal was to go all natural but sometimes you have to focus on needs vs wants. The problem now was that I wasn’t dilating, I had doctors coming in and out telling me that if I didn’t start progressing I would be faced with a c-section.  I was getting discouraged, I heard the word c-section so many times I was beginning to fancy the idea. Not only that, but my baby’s heartbeat dropped after each contraction meaning he was in distress and couldn’t handle the intensity of the contractions. They tried giving me pitocin to increase my contractions to help me dilate because you can only be in labor for 12-18hrs after your water breaks, but after two attempts we knew it wasn’t a good idea because baby couldn’t tolerate it. We went through hours of c-section talk, hours of not dilating, hours of changing positions and trying peanut balls to help me dilate and stabilize his heartbeat. I hopped on all fours, rocked, squatted, played music, hummed and moaned through each contraction wave to try to decrease the pain and place my focus elsewhere. I had my sons father massaging my back while my mother helped me rock, and my sister placed cold compresses on my face because no matter how cold it was in the room, the intensity of the pain made me hot. I did everything I could to attempt to make it easier on myself and baby. Internal monitors had to be put on my baby’s head while he was still in the womb to get an accurate read of his heart rate, and even that was uncomfortable as the only way to do that is through the vagina.

People glorify epidurals and make them sound like heaven but they don’t take away the pain completely. I was so exhausted once I started dilating more because the pressure was so much that I wanted to push but I couldn’t, I was losing hope. Before I went into labor I just knew I would be one of those people who reassured myself through positive affirmations during labor but I found myself shouting “I can’t” and doubting my body more than ever. But in my head I was telling my son we were almost at the finish line. The doctors tried helping me dilate by placing their hands inside of me and pulling my cervix open as I contracted which I can’t say is a good feeling. After a few of those attempts they let me and baby relax but it got to the point I was screaming because I wanted to push, no I HAD to push. I was at a 9.5 and my cervix still wasn’t fully cooperating so they helped me some more. I was exhausted, beat, on the verge of giving up but I had made it too far. The doctors could sense I was tired and baby was tired too so they had to help me even further by placing a vacuum on his head and pulling while I pushed. Things got hectic, I got lost in my pain and focus on getting my baby out of me that I only heard the various voices around me as I screamed through every push, and finally, all of my hard work and energy paid off..

After 18 hours of labor, contractions, and pain, my son finally entered the world at 8:14pm Mother’s Day Sunday weighing 6lbs and 15oz; I cried like I was the baby being born. I cried out of relief, out of gratefulness, I cried because the little human I’ve been growing for 9 months finally entered the world and at that moment the pain and trauma I endured didn’t even matter because I had him. He tore me in 3 different places coming out with the force of them pulling while me pushing but I still wouldn’t change a thing. Overall, I can label my labor as a traumatic experience but so can any other mother, the closest a women can come to death is during labor. But it wasn’t “traumatic”, it was beautiful to experience firsthand what my body can do. I may not have felt these emotions during, but after I can appreciate the process.

I didn’t have any expectations for my labor but I had an idea of some things and how I wanted things to go, yet there was no way I could know things would happen in the way that they did. It was a life changing experience and my life is still changing as its my 3rd day with my son earth-side and I’m still learning to adjust and be content with accepting that how I want things to go may not be how they will go. I always share my experiences to give people a real idea of how things are, some will sugarcoat things to make it sound easy or make you less worried but I’ll be the one to say it, nothing was pretty about my labor, it hurts and you will be in pain, I’ve never heard of a delivery where a mother wasn’t. You may have moments where you feel like giving up but don’t. Pain is only temporary but the love I have for my son is forever. I wanted to vlog my experience but in the midst of everything I left my camera behind. The footage I do have is thanks to my support team who captured the experience for me. The people you have surrounding you during labor plays a part in everything as well. I’m very thankful for my support system who stood by my side throughout the whole process. If you are expecting, always be prepared for various outcomes during labor because you don’t make the rules, your body does. Your body will only do what it can and your mindset will carry you through it all. Even through your doubts and through the pain, have faith. Know that you can’t physically prepare for labor as things can go in any direction, the only preparation you can do is mentally and emotionally and even that may waiver as you actually start to labor. All in all, nothing matters but the health of you and your baby and knowing that you hold the power to bring life into the world. Expect nothing, mentally prepare for everything.

Related Post:

What’s New? 
Aside from the latest blog post that are waiting to be read, I have published my third book! If you’ve kept up with the blog then you’ve probably read the snippets. They are no longer available but the feedback has been nothing but good. The Key To My Brother’s Heart – Kennedy’s Reign is now available in electronic and paperback editions. It’s available electronically on Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle as well as paperback on Amazon. All 3 of my books and $elf products and apparel are available on my website findingyourself.bigcartel.com For easier access, simply click “Books” on the blog’s homepage.

Be sure to subscribe to the blogs monthly newsletter!

Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.

What Self-Love Means: 15 Questions to Ask Yourself.

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Practicing self-love is not always an easy task. Some don’t know how to love themselves or where to start. You first have to ask yourself, what does loving myself mean to me? It involves learning to accept and be brutally honest with who we are and who we have the potential to be. It requires growth and hard work mentally, emotionally, and physically.

There’s so much more to self-love than bubble baths, spa days, and pampering. Self-love isn’t only for women, it’s universal. We all should be dedicating quality time to ourselves. Self-love is choosing ourselves even if that means upsetting others. My motto is “choose you always” because you matter, you come first. It may sound selfish to a lot of people but you can not truly love another person until you know what it’s like to love yourself. You have to acquaint the person you see in the mirror, get to know you fully. The things we tend to search for in other people can easily be obtained through self (time, attention, love, care, etc.) and it’s okay to seek those things from others but are you giving them to yourself? Anything you receive from others should only add on to what you’ve been pouring into yourself.

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Is your relationship with yourself as strong as it could be? Do you treat yourself how you treat others? Do you talk to yourself with kindness and honesty? Your love-language with yourself should be 100%. You have to fill your own cup before you focus on pouring into others and be aware of those who have no intentions on filling you back up. It’s not selfish to take care of you and to make your happiness, peace of mind, and you as a whole, a priority; it’s necessary. In my own life I learned that there needs to be a balance between selflessness and selfishness. I’m the kind of person who likes to pour into others and it took quite some time to realize the love and energy I was giving out wasn’t being reciprocated in some areas. Instead of letting that change who I was, I let it change the way I do things. I now move with the intent to love me better because in loving myself better I set the tone for how others love and approach me. I love being selfless, I love helping others, I love the way I love, but I can’t pour from an empty cup. I’ve accepted that it’s necessary to take all the “me time” I need and to nurture my soul and continuously fall in love with me, myself, & I. We sometimes get lost in others, we get lost in life, we subconsciously allow people and even things like our work, to use us until we no longer recognize who we are.

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There’s a lot that goes into practicing self-love but it involves building a life we are happy with instead of depending on a significant other to build or help us build a life we are happy with. Can you truly be happy alone? It involves accepting all parts of ourself and committing to not making the same mistakes and dragging ourselves into dark places when we know we can only learn from the past, not change it. Self-love is making time to do what we love, listening to what we need physically, mentally, and spiritually, it’s connecting with ourselves. It’s setting boundaries and knowing our worth. Once you learn how to be happy with yourself, you won’t tolerate being around people who make you feel anything less.

I live for self-care and self-love, it’s whats brought me through tough times, it’s gotten me through heartbreaks and heartaches. It’s what keeps me grounded, loved, and balanced. In journeying through self-love, here are some questions to ask yourself. Answer them however you wish whether you journal, speak them out loud or to yourself, etc. but self reflecting is important.

  1. What do I need to be more at peace with myself? How do I get there?
  2. What has stopped me from forming a healthy relationship with myself in the past?
  3. Do I have healthy relationships with others? Do I have a healthy relationship with myself?
  4. Have I ever valued someone’s opinion about myself more than my own?
  5. Thinking back on past situations; How would some of these situations differ or what would they have looked like if I put myself first?
  6. On my journey to self-love have I forgiven myself? What do/did I need to forgive myself for?
  7. Do I love myself enough to forgive others?
  8. What toxic thoughts and behaviors do I need to rid myself of?
  9. What am I going to do to make sure I stay committed to loving me?
  10. What am I holding on to that isn’t serving me?
  11. How would I like to show love to myself today?
  12. What am I grateful for?
  13. What do I love and value about myself?
  14. How am I feeling? If negative, How can I change the way I’m feeling?
  15. When is the last time I told myself “I love you” or “I am enough”?

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What’s New? 
Aside from the latest blog post that are waiting to be read, I have published my third book! If you’ve kept up with the blog then you’ve probably read the snippets. They are no longer available but the feedback has been nothing but good. The Key To My Brother’s Heart – Kennedy’s Reign is now available in electronic and paperback editions. It’s available electronically on Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle as well as paperback on Amazon. All 3 of my books and $elf products and apparel are available on my website findingyourself.bigcartel.com For easier access, simply click “Books” on the blog’s homepage. 

Be sure to subscribe to the blogs monthly newsletter!

Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.

Support During Pregnancy

It’s true that at some point in life we all envision how our lives will be. When I was young I wondered how I would look as a teenager, how high school would be, how I would turn out. As I got older I imagined when I would have kids, start a family, get married, etc. We paint this ideal picture and it’s never  how things unfold 9/10.

I never imagined I would be having a baby at this point in my life but that’s how the story is being written. Had I known I would be meeting my son so soon I would have done some things differently, but some things we can’t prepare for, life just forces us to react and adapt. As I’ve journeyed through this pregnancy I’ve learned a lot of things but what I’ve realized is that one of the most important things pregnant women need is support. While there are several forms of support, emotional is what’s really needed. Pregnancy isn’t just hard on the body, it’s hard on the soul; pregnant women go through a shift mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Depending on the circumstances of a women’s pregnancy and who she is surrounded by she will look to support from different people, that may include parents, siblings, close friends, partners, the child’s father, etc. The support she receives can have an impact on her emotional and physical well-being which can effect the health of the unborn baby. It is said that one of the main causes of emotional distress during pregnancy is a stressed relationship between an expecting mother and the child’s father.

“The closest a woman will come to death is through pregnancy and labor. A woman never forgets the actions of a man during pregnancy. Treat her bad or disrespect her during pregnancy and you’ll scar her for life. Show her unfathomable love and compassion during pregnancy and she’ll adore you for as long as she can breathe.”

 Positive relationships on the other hand make for a positive experience. Emotional support is hard to separate from other forms of support during pregnancy as they all seem to be intertwined. Have you ever wondered how to support your pregnant partner, friend, sibling, etc. during pregnancy? I’ll share a few ways how in no particular form towards relations, as each pregnancy will differ in terms of who is involved. So what does that support look like?

  • Ask questions about worries, fears, concerns, or simply listen when the mother needs to vent – many pregnant women may be excited but many of us are also scared. Scared of the unknown, of being responsible for a human being, worried about labor, birth, the baby, relationships, worried about everything. Pregnancy brings on a ton of ideas and concerns for the future. 
  • Try to be understanding even if you can’t understand – Pregnancy hormones can be the devil, literally. One minute you can be happy, the next you’re sad and on the verge of tears. As a woman progresses throughout her pregnancy even the most simple things become harder to do like tying shoes, rolling over in bed, walking. The slightest things make us emotional and the last thing we want to hear is “relax, it’s just your hormones.” Sometimes it can seem like we’re whining or complaining but pregnancy is hard, it’s exhausting, hormonally charged, and sometimes (almost all of the time) pretty painful and uncomfortable. 
  • Attend prenatal classes, doctor visits, appointments – Pregnant women attend tons of appointments and going alone can suck sometimes, when someone takes the initiative to attend it can reassure her that she’s not alone. Being present is one of the best forms of support you can give. 
  • Help with preparing for the delivery – this can be done by talking to the expecting mother about her birth plan, trying to relax her if she’s afraid of the birthing process, helping to put together furniture, etc. 
  • Spend time – pregnancy can feel lonely, you can no longer do some of the things you used to which often times results in less invitations and communication from people. Spend time when you can, pregnant women love to eat and there are plenty of other fun options like going to the arcade, museums, having a movie night at home or going to the movies, spending time can be anything, the effort just has to be made.
  • Encourage and reassure her.
  • Ask her what she needs.
  • Show affection.
  • Help her make changes to her lifestyle – This can be a good time to make some lifestyle changes that you’ve been thinking about.
  • Encourage her to listen to her body – Hormones during pregnancy can change a woman’s energy level and need for sleep.
  • Be open to changes in how you express intimacy – sex if involved, may change (increase or decrease) talk about what the expectant mother is comfortable with. 
  • Take walks together – It gives you exercise and time to talk.

Pregnancy is a time of change, challenges, struggles, excitement, and pain. There are a lot of ways to be of support and if you have a good relationship with the expectant mother then you may know how to be of support but if you don’t ask questions. Ask what she needs and if you can help in any way, communication is key. 

Related and Latest Post: 

  1. Why Close Relationships May Change During Pregnancy 
  2. A Letter To My Black Son
  3. Fatherhood Is Important Too!
  4. Is Circumcision The Norm?

What’s New? 
Aside from the latest blog post that are waiting to be read, I have published my third book! If you’ve kept up with the blog then you’ve probably read the snippets. They are no longer available but the feedback has been nothing but good. The Key To My Brother’s Heart – Kennedy’s Reign is now available in electronic and paperback editions. It’s available electronically on Barnes & Noble and Amazon Kindle as well as paperback on Amazon. All 3 of my books and $elf products and apparel are available on my website findingyourself.bigcartel.com For easier access, simply click “Books” on the blog’s homepage. 

Be sure to subscribe to the blogs monthly newsletter!

Thanks for reading, Be Blessed & Stay Humble. As always Choose You Always!

Feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below.

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