It’s Hard Out Here – Pimping or Not (Part 1)

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Life Lessons: Learning How to Find Meaning in Rough Times

In times like these, hopelessness is increasingly becoming a common feeling. There are tragedies on the news every day and in our lives frequently. The economy. Riots. Pandemics. Discord every where we turn. On top of that, our daily lives can bring challenges and negativity as well.

Every person faces these situations differently, though. For some, comfort is to be found in religion and spirituality; others turn to meditation or therapy. And still others, unfortunately, adopt unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as drinking, drugs, and other risk-taking behaviors to manage their grief, anguish, frustration, or hopelessness.

However, a shift in how we look at hard times can also help in adopting more positive coping mechanisms.

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens.

Khalil Gibran

One good way to reinterpret hardships is to find meaning in them.

And how can you do this?    

Breathe.  

In the face of a negative event, sit back and ask yourself how you can make the event meaningful.

For example, let’s say you were fired or let go from your job, a distressing situation that can leave you feeling afraid, angry, and ashamed. Particularly if you have a family, debt, or live in an uncertain economy where your opportunities to find a new job are slim to none.

Consider asking yourself questions such as:

  • Did I really like that job? In many cases, we’re stuck in a job that no longer makes us fulfilled, but we are too scared to quit.
  • Is this situation freeing my time for better opportunities? A job you no longer enjoyed could have been a roadblock in your professional development.
  • What did I learn from that experience? The skills you learned at that job can be a jumping board to find better opportunities.
  • What went wrong? In this case, be honest with yourself — why were you fired? Address the causes non-judgmentally.
  • Are there any areas for growth? Regardless of what caused the negative situation, think of how you can use the experience to grow.

By asking yourself these kinds of open-ended questions, you don’t only give meaning to a negative situation. You’re also taking back control of it. And you take control of it by re-framing negative situations as opportunities to grow and thrive in unexplored areas.

It is our attitude at the beginning of a difficult task which, more than anything else, will affect its successful outcome.

William James

That is a lot to swallow and possibly the furthest thought from your mind. Especially right in the moment. But the retraining of the mind is possible. It all starts with practice.

This was not my instinctual reaction either. But being frustrated was not yielding the growth, results, or progress I sought either. Then, reading something in a psychology book opened my mind up to possibilities of positive thinking and cognitive behavioral protocols. Long, BORING story short: your mind is powerful and can be trained. Who better than to train your brain than you?

Next time, I will share a different way to extract a lesson from hard or difficult times. For now, start a journal and track your thought patterns or reactions to negative situations. The power of change is in your hands.

Talking to Our Kids About Freedom

I really wanted to write a thoughtful post about teaching kids about aspects and perceptions of freedom. But Black Moms are already all-too-familiar with “The Talk”. In my experience, it has always been delivered to me from the perspective of what I “couldn’t do” or where I “couldn’t go”. I delivered to my eldest daughter the same way and it has served her well to this point (she will be 20 years old in January). And she gets it. My little one, who will be 8 in September, does not process “can’t” and “don’t” AT ALL. So for the past year or so, have been trying to speak to her in terms of what she can do. I do not know that she has learned all that much, but I certainly have.

She naturally exists in a place in her mind where she can do and experience all things. She does not perceive any limitations that she or, with the help of one of the adults here in the house, cannot overcome. She is freedom personified. As this facet of her perception unfolded, I realized that she intuitively does the right thing. She strives to match the freedom in her mind to her environment. She speaks freely, eats, sleeps, plays freely, and this is just her expectation. We tend to call it naivety or innocence but it is so much more than that. She is aware that others are experiencing the same environment differently. But guess what? She does not understand why and she certainly does not care. She is living her best free life.

I am linking to an article here that I will unpack next week in the Mommy Mondays post. Happy Reading! Let me know what you think or want to talk about!

7 Ways to Teach Your Kids about Freedom

July: The Freedom Series

Since June, I’ve thought about the notion of freedom in earnest. In the wake of all that is going on regarding systemic racism, police brutality, and health inequities, freedom just feels… absent; more of a lofty goal than a reality.

For this reason, each week I’ll explore an adjective of freedom. This week I’m focusing on the thought that freedom starts in the mind. My enslaved ancestors were still free to daydream. They were free in spirit. In their mind, they aspired to transcend the physical limitations of their environment. Had this not been true, today could look a lot different.

I posit that names like Idlebird and Freeman were not just about enslavement. They represented a state of mind…a free state of mind. A place that is sacred because autonomy, agency, and promise dwell there. That place is magical and cannot be taken away from any person.

Questions to consider this week abound. A few I’m contemplating are:

  • Are there circumstances that are limiting my growth?
  • Am I shackled to a toxic relationship?
  • What thought patterns are preventing me from liberating my loved ones and myself?

I’m acutely aware that as a Black woman my perception of freedom has always been colored by my people’s history. It’s limited by circumstances such as political, economic, or even this pandemic, all of which are beyond my control. The very acknowledgment that I cannot do what I want, when I want is, to me, there antithesis to being free. But yet, when I close my eyes and dare to seek the comfort of my mind, of solitude, of connectedness, it is when I feel the most free.

TSC 1: What does it mean to be a sister?

What is sisterhood? IMG_5161

My younger sister and I would most likely not be friends if we were not sisters born 19 months apart to the same parents. Don’t get me wrong; she’s funny, intelligent, a good dancer, and I love her, but our circles don’t overlap. When I think of our personalities, interests, and things of the like we are more opposite than mirrors of each other; we do have some shared tastes, probably a result of living in the same household. Admittedly, I have not always been the best big sister to her but I love her unconditionally. If someone else did something to cause her grief, distress, or harm, she’d have no greater defender.

“I don’t believe an accident of birth makes people sisters or brothers. It makes them siblings, gives them mutuality of parentage. Sisterhood and brotherhood is a condition people have to work at.” Maya Angelou

This sisterhood–as a condition–is where it is at!  We all feel this way about some real down-ass women that we are not related to at all. After nearly 4 decades of sisterhood with my little sister — a point of blissful agreement — we both recognize that we both have sisters other than each other. The bonds we have with each other are solid and true, as are the bonds that we have formed with other sisters. There are blessed gatherings or events were a few or many of these sisters from other misters get to mix. These good times are special and the good times amplified because our sisterhood has been amplified.

Lessons have been learned–some hard, some easy. My sister and I are better sisters to each other because of our sisterhood with other sisters. Sisterhood-true sisterhood-squeezes out pettiness, jealousy, and put-downs. It’s just not what we do.

This is the essence of sisterhood to me. That unconditional care and support that we give each other in the face of what the world dishes out.  Now, check it. Sisterhood is spelled with the letters S-I-S, not C-I-S. This is so nice that it worked out this way. I must embrace all that display, hone, and represent the infinitesimal expressions of the divine feminine self. So much beauty to behold, admire, and emulate. YASS!

I think about the state of sisterhood because of the pair of sisters above, my daughters. They have 11 years between them and soon, Big Sister will be in college. I want their relationship of mutual love and as much respect a 6 year old can muster to grow and not diminish when proximity does.

This little DIY blog is a place where all sisters and lovers of sisters can meet, share, shout-out, and be welcomed. Thank you for growing my sisterhood. I look forward to getting to know you