Monday, December 26, 2016

One Word Theme

Embrace the choices, changes and challenges in 2017. It’s that time of year again for me to reflect on what I accomplished and what needs to be improved upon going forward. It’s been three years now that I’ve incorporated the “one word” theme in my New Year short term goals. I can honestly say it’s something I’ve been able to maintain its fostered positive personal growth. I can attribute my ability to adjust to the proactive methods I’ve learned, and making sure to implement them as life happens. My desire is to continue using this mindset as I aspire to press forward, moving around the negativity as best I can and embrace what’s ahead. Monday, December 19th the word “embrace” hit me as I prepared for work. I decided to share what came as a result of me taking some time to meditate on what my one word theme will mean in my life and how to translate embrace as I move forward in 2017.  

Choices~ Embrace MY choices. I learned the hard way that not everyone will understand nor approve of my life choices. The desire to have that approval is actually what use to keep me in a sad dark place for so many years. The fear of what people would say or do if I didn’t make their choice for my life. I am thankful for the day I removed that unnecessary weight off of me and began to make choices based on what makes me happy. A few years ago I read about an Australian nurse by the name of Bronnie Ware, she spent several years working with those who were dying and recorded their dying regrets. This is the number one regret she recorded: "This was the most common regret of all. When people realize that their life is almost over and look back clearly on it, it is easy to see how many dreams have gone unfulfilled. Most people had not honored even a half of their dreams and had to die knowing that it was due to choices they had made, or not made. Health brings a freedom very few realize, until they no longer have it." What other people think of you doesn’t define Latrice, so I set myself free from their judgment. Stop being afraid of choosing to make YOU happy. I know that it’s difficult to choose you, especially if you habitually put others before you. I recall how I felt “selfish” and would subsequently back out of choosing what made me happy. I’ve since figured out it’s not selfish to actually live your life for you. Hell, I’m still trying to figure out why I allowed others who were not really a contributing factor to my well-being be a FACTOR in my life choices. In 2012 I resolved that I only owe consideration to my kids(to a degree) and myself. I haven’t regretted one decision I’ve made since choosing ME! In 2017 there are a few major choices on the horizon and I must persist in embracing the choices that advance me closer to my dreams.    
Changes~ Embracing change can be quite unsettling especially since there is a level of fear attached to the unknown. Let’s face it being drawn out of a space you've been in for many years is going to cause some uneasiness. I’m almost sure this is why they call it a "comfort zone". I know that changes will occur as a result of the choices we make or through not making a choice which in itself is actually a choice. It’s imperative to acknowledge and accept that in changes are challenges but in the midst of your challenges you always have a choice. I’ve discovered that change isn’t always uncomfortable and can be refreshing. “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy; not on fighting the old but building the new.” ~Socrates
Challenges~ There is truly only one path to become better at anything and it’s through experience and practice (mastering levels, stages or degrees). Positive and negative experiences alike. I’m not actively seeking out heartbreak, failure, illness, loneliness and loss. However when negative experiences surface unexpectedly I feel the need to learn from it and use it to my advantage the way I use the positive experiences for enrichment. In this period of my life improving the person I am is my central focus. I want to raise my children to understand that living a life that makes them happy without hurting others is the root of successful living. Their challenge won’t be in obtaining information but applying it. The application is the true work, right? I swear the minute you state what you will do and won’t do, a test prepared by fate will be administered by life to see if you are truly ready for the choices you make, the changes and challenges to come.

I’m going to embrace happiness because I realize that this is my choice, a choice I don’t plan to leave in the hands of others.   

"This is a surprisingly common one. Many did not realize until the end that happiness is a choice. They had stayed stuck in old patterns and habits. The so-called 'comfort' of familiarity overflowed into their emotions, as well as their physical lives. Fear of change had them pretending to others, and to their selves, that they were content, when deep within, they longed to laugh properly and have silliness in their life again." ~ Bronnie Ware
Live Free

Friday, November 18, 2016

My Sappy Perspective on Love....

I feel like writing about love today because he makes every inch of me smile with excitement and I swear it’s the scariest feeling ever. I’ve taken some time to assess why and all I can come up with is I don’t want it to end it’s just to richly sweet, exciting and fun. It feels like the feeling you get when you are in a room with your favorite people sharing a good laugh and everyone is truly enjoying the fun moment. It feels like that exciting rush you got when you were a kid and it was time to go to bed on Christmas eve that anticipation for what the morning would bring. {Of course this is before you were told Santa wasn’t real.} It feels like the warmth you get in your heart when a baby smiles at you and they don’t even know you but it’s still sweet and it makes your heart melts. I mean who doesn’t smile back at a smiling baby?  
In the beginning I found myself thinking about the difference in how I feel about him than I have in my past two relationships. The major difference being how EASY it is to honestly communicate my feelings and listening to him without prejudgment of his feelings. I noticed how I will swiftly apologize if needed and accepting of constructive criticism. I want what we share to last but more importantly I want it to continue to grow stronger. II Corinthians 13:4-8 talks about what love is and I remember using it in a paper I wrote for an English class many years ago but it’s funny because now I really understand what love means, how it should translate into positive behavior not just feelings. For instances there is a part where it states “it keeps no record of wrongs” the few times an apology was needed in my current relationship are not reoccurring incidents. There is no desire to actively maintain a mental record of what happen only enthusiastically reaching forward for what’s to come and leaving yesterday’s issue where it belongs. We acknowledge that we are imperfect and we don't hold it against each other.

I love the smallest things he does for me the best and appreciate everything we do to maintain a healthy friendship in the midst of loving one another. It’s imperative to ensure a good balance of quality time together, time shared with friends and loved ones as well as time alone. I like that we encourage each other to reach our goals and remain open to suggestions. The sight of him warms my body and every embrace we share is valuable in supporting our solid infrastructure. “When I see your face there’s not a thing that I would change cause you’re amazing, just the way you are…” Sorry ya’ll I had a teenage moment, but you’ll have to give me a few more seconds to tell him;

Thank you Love, for being an impeccable man, sharing your heart, thoughts, feelings, perspectives, being honest, saying “I’m sorry” and meaning it, protecting me, wiping my tears away, kissing my forehead, supporting me, telling me I can, not causing me heartache, driving across town to put money in the meter so my car won’t get ticketed, holding my hand, opening the door, asking for my input, listening to my aspirations, loving me and offering me your last name….

Love is about cherishing every single moment you have with the person you say you love even in difficult moments. There isn’t a need to “force it” because its natural….Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, and it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes and always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Live Free and LOVE!

Friday, October 14, 2016

Make a Conscious Effort!

I had a conversation with my kid the other day, and by kid I mean 23 years old, one of the things I’m loving about our relationship is how it’s evolving. I know that the dynamics of our relationship have changed due to us both understanding that we had to let go of our former responsibilities as mother and daughter to embrace our new responsibilities. I would really love to get into my thoughts on the transitions necessary for parents to make so that their children can become successful as an adult. Perhaps I will write about that in the next blog, I pray it doesn’t take months for me to do. Unfortunately my life has been pretty hectic leaving no down time for me to release.
Back to the conversation I had with my kid yesterday about maturing, processing past pain and discovering your place in life. I sensed she was harboring some negative energy in the form of blame toward an individual. I shared with her that if she allowed herself to be consumed by blaming someone else for where she presently is in her life she will always be where she is at this moment. My exact statement was “Instead of recycling that negative energy channel that energy into accepting where you are. Identify what about your life that you don’t like, recognize what changes need to be made and focus on implementing them.” I believe that it is essential that she understands that if she does nothing she will always be stagnant.
I realize how absolutely easy it is to blame someone else for what has happen in your life, if they are truly at fault. I also understand complex it can be to move on when you feel like you’ve been mistreated. I personally know how much initial effort and readjusting one has to incorporate into their day-to-day to establish a new attitude or fresh perspective on life. I mean I completely “get it”! {Ya’ll did read the name I titled my blog page right? I didn’t come up with it because it’s catchy. Ok maybe that was part of it, however my point is I’m sharing the advice I am living.} The feelings of despair, isolation and being uncertain are not strangers to me. I refer to really difficult life experience as “climbing out of a pit”, think about just how damn difficult it would be to climb out of a pit. I mean no rope to make it easier, it’s dark and scary. The only way you will survive to embrace sunshine is to put in the necessary work to get out. It can be overwhelming just thinking about it but I challenge you, like I do her to disconnect from that comfort you’ve found in your pain.  

I have this saying I use, mostly when I’m in wonderfully stimulating conversation with my Guy, “Don’t Feed the Monster!” When discussing why a person can’t progress think about what they nurture. What we pay attention to grows, so instead of “feeding” what we don’t want in our lives, starve it by focusing on what you do want! How will you get it? Figure out the logistics, write down a strategy be active in where you want to go. This is what I meant about channeling your energy into being productive for you. Become consumed with being in a better place for you! We know that life is full of choices and we can dwell on what has already happened or we can learn from it. Treating harsh experiences like an old book, by placing it back on the shelf and moving on to life’s next adventure.
You have to be your strongest advocate of pressing through adversities and creating a positive happy center for self. Learning to let things and people go so that you can grow won't be easy but it will be worth it. I can testify to that! My 23 year old kid has always had a beautiful caring spirit so its tough observing her learn the lessons only life can teach her. I trust that GOD will continue to do an excellent job of keeping her covered with His grace and mercy. I will give her all that I have but she knows that she must also put in work! I can only take her so far she has to go the rest of the way with Him. She’s becoming more of a beautiful woman inside and out with every discussion and experience. I couldn’t have asked for a better kid than this brown eyed Beauty. Be Strong and Live FREE my darling Pooh!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

When an epiphany occurs....

About year and a half ago, I sat my daughters down to have a discussion. You see they’ve reached those possessed teenage years when the hormones are unstable and the attitude ranges from “I hate you and I really hate you”. Unfortunately for me the sweet days of watching one cry at the sight of the other one leaving morphed into the melodramatic “I wish you would just leave!” As a mom this was painful and exhausting to watch not to mention trying understand it often escaped or frustrated me. Our family discussions often assisted me as I practice being observant of the non-verbal displayed and actively listening to what was being said by both hostile teens. The older one of the two just wanted her space, have her own friends without being force to drag her kid sister around, well at least that’s what my assessment was. You know it’s easier to climb Mt Everest on the coldest day in swimwear than it is to get a teenager to openly discuss feelings to a parent while appearing vulnerable to siblings. I was also able to rely on my own experience as being an older sister.
During our discussion when my youngest daughter spoke about how much she missed her sister and she just wanted to be noticed in such sadness, I couldn’t help but think about my own younger sister. Then suddenly I didn’t see my youngest daughter crying with hurt feelings I saw my youngest sister crying. I didn’t just feel the pain as a mother but I felt the pain of my own mother. It was so odd but I decided to explore my thoughts and feelings later so that I could handle what was before me. I was careful to relax my speech so that I could comfort the youngest and try helping her understand what her sister was going through without making her feel disregarded. (Geesh talk about walking a tightrope)  I also had to make sure I wasn’t condemning to my oldest daughter because I did understand her desire but I also wanted her to tap into her sensitivity and compassion. It was quite the balancing act but during our resolution portion of the discussion I made sure we reviewed old pictures which triggered happier memories when they played together and it help them both to listen to each other, for understanding. The pictures helped to soothe them both and I admit me too.  
After assisting them in resolving their conflict, I decided to call my mother and my youngest sister. I felt the need to apologize for causing them both heartache. I saw for the very first time in my youngest daughter that my sister wanted to be “noticed” and shown some compassion. I identified the selfishness that I blindly cultivated at the expense of my sister's feelings much like my daughter was doing to her sister. Unfortunately for my sister and I, we didn’t have the guidance nor the knowledge on how to embrace and express our feelings. My mother comes from an upbringing where expressing how you feel wasn't really allowed, so feelings were often suppressed or masked as something other than what’s truly being felt. In its place anger was displayed instead of hurt, an attitude of disregard was being shown instead of sadness. My mother didn’t have the skill set to identify these defense mechanisms so there was no teaching or learning truly going forth to myself or my sister only a “band-aid” method. You know, where you just cover up the wounds without really treating the wound with Neosporin (knowledge) so there is no real healing until years later.(hopefully)   
The phone call with my sister lasted over 3 hours, I literally talked and listened to my baby sister for the first time in a really long time about our feelings, thoughts, ideas and past hurts. We were able to openly share how we truly felt for the first time, accepting what we did and didn’t do for each other. Being able to earnestly say “I’m Sorry” helped to truly apply the “Neosporin” to old wounds. Please understand that through the years we’ve supported each other like sisters are supposed to, we’ve gone on trips and spent holidays together; however there was always an underlying element not being addressed. In our three hour plus discussion I truly believed we were both able to release so much of it and embrace where we were in life continuously building and growing. Our strongest bond has always been our weakness for a good laugh we’ve never had problems being silly together, cracking jokes or enjoying a good laugh no matter what was going on in our lives. My sister is hilarious to me, she has the craziest laugh ever and I love how we’re able to talk about everything.
I love to witness strong genuine bonds between sisters that are based on more than blood ties. Bonds that are built in difficult times, cemented in loyalty, grow with encouragement and nurtured with respect and love. I believe that women who are not biologically related know how to cultivate a bond between each other by choice. It’s when you are related you have to learn how to like the person you are told and in some ways condition to love. This is why I appreciate my sister all the more NOW than I ever did before. We are friends and I treasure our friendship like I treasure our bond as sisters. She is on the brink of becoming a newlywed and to see her happily in love fills my heart with joy! It’s good to see people happy but it’s something about seeing someone you love and truly LIKE smile with happiness. She's her complete true self when she's with him and it's delightful to witness. I look forward to the days that my own daughters can truly appreciate each other and honestly like each other. I can see now why it meant so much to my own mother and why she usually has a ridiculous smile on her face when she watches us be silly together. I'm sure we'll have an awesome time together as we celebrate her nuptials adding to the wonderful memories and pictures we have.....this is one of my favorite pictures of us because it embodies how we are when we are together. It also depicts how I want us to be until the end of our days…..

Note: That’s our BIG sis with us, she’s a most ADORED part of our lives and is usually among our shenanigans and great time together. (HUGS to my Sister-friend Leslie for capturing one of our many great LAUGHS together)       

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

"Purple Monkey"

Purple Monkey

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me” you know even as a young child I knew that this saying was full of shit. It’s truly just something parents tell children to soothe them instead of stating “there are some children in this world who are as ignorant as their parents and I’m sorry you’re hurting because of it.” I mean isn’t that just a little more comforting? Unfortunately, I was teased a lot as a kid for my lighter complexion, wearing glasses and having a bigger than average size forehead. The damage kids do to each other is pretty damn extensive and could take years to recover from but that’s another blog post so I digress. {picture below: me at about 7 years old}

One of the first life lessons I learned many years ago was that conflict resolution actually doesn’t have to involve physical contact, of course this was after I left Detroit. It wasn’t easy embracing this concept due to not learning what to do with feeling “punked” if I allowed someone to say something disrespectful to me and did nothing then I was being “punked”. If it’s one thing black people don’t like is feeling like they’ve been disrespected and looking like a “punk” but again that’s another blog so I digress. Then what is this blog about? Well I was placed in quite the quandary about two week ago and it made me think of the opening quote, hurtful name calling and feeling like a “punk”.   

The Incident - During what resembled a mindfulness exercise the group I observe a colleague conduct were in the middle of doing a mental “grounding” exercise. The colleague stated “think of your favorite color” after a short pause he stated “think of your favorite animal”. A client broke the silence barrier by stating “oh I just thought of a monkey”. I thought it was odd he felt the need to share however overlooked the statement as just an outburst. The colleague then continued by stating “now think of your favorite color and favorite animal. Are they the same color?” The colleague took a slight paused then looked over in my direction, looked back and stated “Humph….I just looked at Latrice’s dress and thought “purple monkey”.  I froze internally as I tried processing what he just said….did he really just associate me with a “purple monkey”? I’m a black woman, he’s a white man why would he even think that would be appropriate to say in reference to anyone let alone to someone of African descent.  I retained my professional composure which helped me contain my emotions. I decided it would be best to address the situation instead of leaving the building with a lot of emotions brewing. I mentally took the time to calm myself so when I spoke I remain the professional Lady that I am and not the aggressive confrontational “set his ass straight” individual my anger was calling me to be.  After addressing my colleague about the incident, there wasn’t much resolve as a couple of his statements were condescending and he offered a meager apology. Granted I didn’t want him graveling on the floor begging for my forgiveness but a show of sincere remorse would have definitely defused the beast growing within. I probably should have referred him to my last blog on “disarming anger”.

The Aftermath - I experienced a few different emotions and did my best to process them all. I know that I can’t change what has happen but that hasn’t stopped me from wishing it didn’t happen. I’ve only shared what happen to those that are essential in the grievance and professional ethics process for my profession. I asked myself “did the words hurt, why did they hurt, were they true? The words were of course completely untrue but they hurt because someone took advantage of me in a vulnerable state by singling me out, embarrassing me and attempting to degrade who I am as a woman! I often wonder why anyone feels the need to hurt others by name calling it’s difficult for me to understand though because I don’t see how that could truly satisfy the insulting individual.

My Resolve – Thanks to my “thick skin” and excellent conflict resolution skills, I was satisfied with being able to swiftly addressing the individual respectfully, vent a little to my support system (My Guy & My Boss) and filing the appropriate paperwork gave me the power back he attempt to snatch away. I’m not here for any race baiting because in the end I know we all need each other essentially to make it! And besides there AINT a monkey alive that could look this damn good in a purple dress!!