Seasons

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September…

I can’t keep up with this race. Yesterday Summer sparkled with shorts and smoothies. Today I run around the house looking for socks. Fuzzy socks. The kind that feel like the insides of Uggs. But I can’t complain yet because colder weather inspires writing. Hot chocolate + my journal + my laptop… and socks.

I flipped open my journal to pen down some thoughts and realized it is the first time this month I am writing. I haven’t held a pen to those pages since July. Summer… Which, like I said, was pretty much Yesterday so I guess that’s not so bad. It’s better than March – which is the last time I blogged.

March. The last time my fingers jumped all over these keys…

To be honest, since I decided to be more open and personal with my writing, it has been a struggle to write. “Personal” doesn’t want to belong on the pages of a book. I have a vivid imagination of a child clinging to their mother refusing to let go. That’s the relationship between “Personal” and my mind.

I miss the season of easier writing. Take me back to two years ago when I would go through Journals like it was going out of style. When Barnes and Nobles was the hot spot for new ideas. But it’s a different season…

A different season, a different life journey, different goals…

SEASONS are inevitable… like CHANGE. (I’m not a fan of change, but I respect it). Difficult seasons have a way of inviting themselves over at the most inconvenient time possible. And I wonder if [Life] sometimes thinks of us (people) and feels bad enough to give us a break…

Because different (challenging) seasons drain energy. You run, but gradually loose footwork in the race, and before you know it, it’s September (no offense to you oh colorful ninth month)

All jokes aside, this has been one of those difficult seasons (not just with writing). But I’m reminded that just as Winter gave way for Spring and Summer, difficult seasons will give way for calm, manageable, uncomplicated, easier seasons.

They don’t have a choice. Winter didn’t.

It is a part of the process of living life. We only need to be ready to embrace it and learn the lessons that should be taken from it. It gives us insight to what needs to be reevaluated, and it is up to us to keep up with the race or fall back even further.

Because September with its colorful leaves will eventually give way to Turkey, Lights and Presents, which will eventually give way to more Sun, Shorts and Mango smoothies. As nice as fuzzy socks are, I wouldn’t want to be stuck in them when I could be drinking up the sun with a smoothie. Would you?

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Sorry About Yesterday…

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Lately I’ve been saying all the wrong things.

Saying the wrong things, doing the wrong things, thinking about saying/doing the wrong things… And I’ve been trying to figure out exactly why that is… Because usually I am very careful.

Careful to not hurt the feelings of others with my words and actions. Careful to not do anything I would regret later on (pet peeve). But to be honest, in the past month, I’m sure I’ve hurt more people than I care to think about. Technically one is not so bad (right?). Three or more in a month is like… Come on! And I am talking about saying/doing stuff and cringing later when you realize how wrong you were…

NOT GOOD.

So I was thinking, and I wondered if it is because we try so hard to please everyone and not hurt people that we end up doing the exact opposite… Or whether it is coming from a place of being weary of always trying to do the right thing that sometimes we want a break and end up taking it out on those closest to us… Or whether we get to the point where we just don’t care, just because we feel like it.

[Those reasons sound like someone trying to justify their actions]

I know when I’m about to say something that’s not quite nice. I think we all do. Going ahead with it is regardless, is the problem. Regretting it and apologizing is what makes it 10 times more horrible than it was probably intended for in the beginning.

BUT! Before you bring up the cliche – “Think before you speak…”, I have a few words about that.

In the heat of the moment, we all THINK of what we’re about to say. Whether for a split second or for a couple minutes, it has to go through your thought process. So thinking/”not-thinking” is not necessarily the issue.

Example, I think before I speak, usually… I have no choice really, I am a thinker. But the 1 second momentary high you get from saying what’s on your mind and the 2 second satisfaction of “Yeah, I went there! I said it!”, sometimes seems so much more appealing than “Breathe… Hold your tongue… Walk away… Let it go…” Let’s all be honest.

So maybe that cliche should be changed to “Process before you open your mouth. Then count to ten before you speak” ;)

Anyways as beautiful as this non-confession rambling is, I will leave it here. Let me know what you guys think… Why do we say or do the wrong things, when we know (or have the slightest inkling) that it will negatively affect someone?

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Notes To Self

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January 11th.

I’m finally getting around to my reflections from last year. I don’t think it is ever easy when you have to take a critical look at yourself and decide what’s important to work on to be a better person. But it is very necessary, so here goes… 7 notes to myself (just because 7 is my favorite number).

New Year, Better Decisions.

7. Learn to move on.

I find moving on one of the hardest things to do, because sometimes it feels more like “giving up”. I’m the kind of person it takes a while to get it through my head that some things are just not worth laboring over. But moving on and giving up are two completely different paths. Basically if something and/or someone is not adding value to your life, move on. It is a lot easier on paper than it is in actuality. But I think the biggest mistake is when we allow ourselves to be taken for granted more times than needed. We do not help anyone by “staying”, definitely not ourselves.

6. Value true friendships.

If I should mention one of my overall favorite things from last year, it will have to do with the uncharacteristic burst in my friendship belt! I am usually not good at adding on people to my life (hides face). I always think those I have are enough. But I met some really incredible people last year and it showed me that you should never really stop people from coming into your life (you can’t anyways), AND also, you can determine whom you want to stay. Some come for a season, some forever (those are the one’s I love!) Some are there to teach you something about yourself, others are there for you to learn something from them. BUT! Never EVER force a friendship or relationship past its expiration date. It does not look good! I know I like to keep everyone that comes into my life forever, mostly because I hate awkward goodbyes (said or unsaid), and maybe that’s why I’m not a fan of adding on because I never want to deal with that if it ends up coming to it. But at the same time, it is wrong to force that which is just not [happening]. Value the truest friendships and nicely let the bad-tasting, expired ones go… Nicely, of course :)

5. Be open-minded.

Boy do I have a problem with this or what?! I honestly thought I was pretty much all set with being open minded. But I’m realizing that usually my opinions and ideas are [IT] for me, and sometimes I struggle with allowing new ideas to take precedent over mine. But I have found that being open minded is one of the most liberating concepts to embrace because it exposes you to a whole lot more than your own “little world”. I have learned so much more these past couple of months by being open to try out certain suggestions I normally wouldn’t give attention to. And guess what, the one who does not immediately shut h/herself against anything without thought, is more powerful than the one who thinks they know it all and whatever they are familiar with is [IT]. It is amazing the things that work out when you give it a chance. So don’t close the door to certain possibilities (use discretion of course); You never know what’s waiting on the other side.

4. Know your worth.

Very few matters get to me. Honestly, I can’t think of a whole lot that gets under my skin. But one of the few things I struggle with is (drum roll please…) “REJECTION”. Now, I am not talking about men and relationships! :) Just the minute/seemingly “insignificant” stuff that should not really affect you, but yet somehow it does. Example, when I received my first (and only, yay) rejection sticker on my car a few years ago, it was one the saddest days of my life because that label just felt like no one wanted me or my car (dramatic, I know). But even more serious rejections that people deal with are those from say friends, or even schools or programs you might want to be a part of, etc… I was talking to a buddy and he reminded me of how rejection most often has nothing to do with the person, especially if you know you fit every qualification for that particular [thing]. (Now I can make this work for the car scenario, but that’s for another day).

Sometimes what we try so hard to expose ourselves to, or hold on to, is just not the right thing for us.

And I know that’s hard to believe when emotions are involved. But we have got to get the point where if something does not work out the way we want it to, we understand that maybe it is not the best thing for us. And we have got to believe in how great a person we are regardless of things that do not work out that feel like a rejection; I have GOT to believe in how great a person I am regardless of things that do not work out that feel like a rejection (repeat over, and over again)! And that belief goes with knowing your worth. Worth does not come from “stuff” or people, or what we have. It does not come from a degree or any material entity. I cannot stress this enough… Know what you’re worth outside of the “stuff” you possess; Know who you are in Christ.

You were created for a purpose. You are precious. You are favored. You are loved.

No one can ever take that kind of WORTH away from you! Okay lets move on before I write a book on this alone…

3. Regret nothing.

This is NOT a ‘take risk’ spiel. This is a “Kus, do not do anything foolish that you will regret in the future!” Just don’t (sorry Nike). The burden of guilt is too big and unnecessary to deal with, and sometimes we humans make the dumbest mistakes that should have never been made in the first place. And if I have to be real with y’all, I came pretty close to making some pretty dumb moves last year. But what kept me straight is the word “REGRET”. Because I never want to be at a point in life where I think back on something and regret it. It is not healthy; It is not cute; It is just not, not, NOT [insert word]. Do what you know is right, and don’t be fooled into something that you know is not good for you. It is a waste of a perfectly perfect sane piece of mind. Simple :)

2. Common sense over feelings.

I surprised myself with this… When did I start placing feelings over common sense? STAHP IT, KUS! I don’t even have that much to say about this because, well, it is pretty much common sense. Feelings are temporary. Following them when common sense is right smack in your face will put you in trouble. Unless the problem has to do with your feelings over whether to have a Boston Creme Doughnut verses not having it (which of course we all know what should happen in the end), then don’t even sweat it. Hey, there are always exceptions!

1. Stop running.

So the other day Momma said to me, “Akusika, you run from anything difficult.” See now, it is different when you know things about yourself. But when someone points it out to you, it gets a little serious. I have been trying to work on this for the longest time, but I think the issue is “trying”. I need to stop trying and just do it (…and we’re back Nike). It is so easy to run from anything that doesn’t feel like it is worth the trouble to work out. But surprisingly (and I know this for a fact) those same things usually work out with just one more effort, one more try. So with all ego, and pride, and dignity (no, no… not dignity)… Uh, smugness aside — Make it work! Re-evaluate what needs to be done, change a couple things, and take another stab at it. If it is better for the greater good, and if it is important to you, make it work. If it is not, then well… Sorry momma ;)

>>> The Last Word <<<

Did you know the most famous Eiffel Tower took a little over 2 years to complete? That’s approximately seven hundred and thirty days, and then some. Everything great takes precision; it takes time. I know every year millions of people try to work on being a better version of themselves and never really see it through. And I think one of the reasons is that we look at it as one cumbersome project. One huge block of issues bundled up, and within a few weeks, we get tired at chipping away at that block. Greatness does not happen overnight. Whatever goals or plans you have for yourself this year, you have three hundred and sixty five days to work on it. That is a whole lot of days! Take it a little at a time; you will most definitely get there.

Happy New Year! ~ Afehyia Pa! ~ Buon Anno! ~ Feliz Año Nuevo! ~ Bonne Année!

A.

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Reflections of a Troubled Mind – Part 2

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[Read: Reflections of a Troubled Mind – Part 1]

What then do you do, when thoughts of depression and confusion rain down like confetti?

Challenge your thoughts.

Three Words. Never easy. It is a fight.

The battle of the mind is a powerful thing… But it is very possible to win it.

I can’t sit here and tell you I know every feeling associated with depression or suicide. The truth is I don’t. I was pulled out before I spiraled in deeper. I stood in front of that door and listened quietly to the repeated knocks. And even though I felt so broken, I pushed against it, even as I felt it push back. I refused to let it take absolute control, but I struggled with multiple thoughts.

Thoughts of unworthiness, thoughts of sadness, thoughts of failure, thoughts of fear, thoughts of giving up, thoughts of loneliness, sad thoughts, scary thoughts…

And until I made up my mind to rise above [them] and fight, I was in a constant struggle.

“The devil will give up when he sees that you are not going to give in.” – Joyce Meyer

I usually refrain from writing about my faith because most times I feel very inadequate to talk about something I struggle with sometimes. But today I am reminded that faith is not a perfect journey. Personally, having faith in God is one of the hardest things to do but also a very beautiful thing.

Let me put it into perspective. I have a problem trusting people. I would need to know you for a rather long time before I place a level of trust in the friendship, and even then most times I’m very cautious. Now coming from a girl who has issues trusting someone she can “see/feel/have a face-to-face conversation with”, I am allowing myself to trust someone I can’t technically see. (Sorry God, just an explanation). Anyway, do you see what I am getting at?

But this is where faith is also interestingly beautiful. Because as scary as it is for me to trust in what I can’t see, it is amazing to know that there’s someone who will take everything off my shoulders, if I just give it up to Him. I don’t need to know how He will make it right. I just need to trust that He will – Challenging my thoughts.

For anyone that is going through a rough time, or depression, or contemplating suicide – You need to know that you’re not alone, and there’s a God who can make it right.

It doesn’t matter what your race or faith or ethnicity or gender or socioeconomic status is… It certainly doesn’t matter whether you’re black or white or short or tall or the funniest comedian in the world… First of all I’m sending hugs your way (because hugs from strangers are sometimes the best things ever). Secondly, believe me when I say you need to talk to someone about it. Find ONE PERSON you can confide in and talk about it.

If you don’t have that person (or even if you do), I would like to recommend someone to you – God. Whether you choose to believe it or not, you should know that GOD CARES. Denying or accepting that won’t change the fact that He does.

There is a freedom in letting go, and letting God, that you won’t ever understand unless you give it a try.

Everything you go through has a purpose. If you give up now you will never know what it was. Challenge your thoughts. God’s grace is never far behind.

GRACE.

It is hard for me to explain exactly how much this means to me. Writing this post and sharing this journey has taught me the knowledge of God’s Grace. And I am so humbled because I realize now that it is the Grace of God that brought me out. God’s grace is greater than my struggles, my failures, and my fears.

And because of His Grace, I am more than any thoughts of unworthiness, thoughts of sadness, thoughts of failure, thoughts of fear, thoughts of giving up, thoughts of loneliness…

Believe that you are more than your thoughts.

It will be a constant battle until you can see the light at the end of the tunnel. And you will, eventually. You will rise above it. I am not saying that there wouldn’t be times when you want to give up. There will be many times, but you have got to fight. Do not allow yourself to drown. If others have made it above the current, you can too. If I made it through, you definitely can.

but He has said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you [My loving kindness and My mercy are more than enough—always available—regardless of the situation]; for [My] power is being perfected [and is completed and shows itself most effectively] in [your] weakness.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9

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Reflections of a Troubled Mind – Part 1

 

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I remember when he said he had once contemplated suicide. I thought he was crazy. It felt like it was the most selfish thing anyone could do. I didn’t think going through something horrendous could ever justify taking your own life.

Then it almost happened to me… almost.

In the blink of an eye I was on the other side. Somehow the worst possible battle was taking place in my mind, and controlled my thoughts, my mood, my actions.

However way it happened, one day there was a knock on the door, and I peered through the window to stare at Depression. Both of us wondering whether I was going to eventually let it in. It waited, I waited…

***

Sometime during my last two years of college I was going through a rough time. I was struggling in so many things.  But I was also very good at hiding it. Not many noticed because normally people assume that you’re OK when you’re always laughing, smiling or making jokes. It was a great cover-up.

In trying to deal with this mess on my own (keywords: on my own), I started thinking about a way to get out of the haze. This was not a good idea because a troubled mind NEVER thinks clearly. More so evident because one thought kept re-surfacing… In order for me to ‘win’ this battle, something bad had to happen to me.

I was at a place where I didn’t feel worthy of anything good, and I became so worried about pleasing everyone but myself.

At this point I knew I had walked away from the window, to stand in front of the door (still closed). How does someone with the absolute best of friends, someone who is a leader of two Campus Christian Organizations, someone who had great family support, get tangled in the web of depressed thoughts? I should have been “all good”.

There’s another unspoken truth here… Toying with depression often opens room for suicidal thoughts. Obviously there are different levels of depression and I know I wasn’t anywhere near that point. But I also know now that if I continued down that path I might have been pretty darn close. Thinking back, there was no way I would’ve possibly inflicted pain on myself as a result to end my life. It seems impossible now, thinking with clarity.

I came up with the ‘perfect’ coping mechanism. If I welcomed pain from another source (not self-inflicted), then people will feel sorry for me. I remember wishing I would get sick, really bad. That might seem strange to you, but I wanted to feel like it wasn’t my fault things were not going the way I wanted them to, so the blame would be focused on something else [sickness]. And if I became associated with something seriously bad as illness, then mission accomplished.

Some of you are probably puzzled and might think this sounds wacky. But I really want to squash the idea that “it is impossible for ‘certain people’ to go through dark periods”, because I used to be one of those thinkers…

I need to say that it is widely illogical to think it absurd for anyone (regardless of stature, reputation, or importance) to go through dark times, or refuse to accept that it is possible for it to happen. And it is wrong to brand [them] as such, based on your limited knowledge of certain aspects of their lives.

For example, I’m a preacher’s kid. Therefore to many many people, there should be absolutely no way on this planet, or mars, that I should ever “entertain” thoughts of depression. First of all I find it strange that others use a word like “entertain” for something as menacing as depression. As if bad/horrible/repulsive thoughts chooses to haunt a certain demographic. Uh… No.

Thoughts circling pain/depression/suicide, does not care about race or faith or ethnicity or gender or socioeconomic status. It doesn’t care if a person is black or white or short or tall or the funniest comedian in the world

***

There is one conclusion I’ve made through all this. I have come to understand that the battle of the mind is spiritual. And if there is one thing I am absolutely sure of, it is that dark thoughts are not of/from God.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7

It is interesting that while I found myself in this mess, my faith in God was failing. In all honesty, I felt like a confused, lost Child [of God]. But I also know that as humans, our mind and body have such a magnetic pull to the reality of this world. And sometimes it is just hard to look above reality and “pray” and hope for the best. POINT BLANK, PERIOD.

What then do you do, when thoughts of depression and confusion rain down like confetti…

[Read: Reflections of a Troubled Mind – Part 2]

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