About Suffering

It’s 15 days until my husband and I will participate in the March of Dimes March for Babies in honor of the life and death of our son Izzy who passed away on January 25, 2016 due to bilateral renal agenesis, a fatal birth defect when a baby lacks kidneys. I’m pushing myself to write and post on the blog each day until the walk—some days a little and maybe some days a lot—in hopes of shedding light on issues like miscarriage, stillbirth, and infant loss so that other women who go through these types of things know that they’re not alone. Please share this post generously to spread awareness!

Life is too short to suffer quote

suffer: to become worse because of being badly affected by something

As we’ve all heard many times before, the outcome of our lives is based on our reactions to what happens to us, not what actually happens.

My family and I would love for you to donate to our March for Babies campaign! Any amount no matter how small may help other families of premature infants. Click here and know that we’re so thankful for you!

Make Sure YOU Win

Hello all my popped loves! I hope that you haven’t forgotten about me! I know that I’ve been a bit M.I.A. but Lord, if you knew what I’ve been going through…I had some really bad news a couple weeks ago that really threw my world upside down. I’m sure that one day, I will share more details about it, but all that I have the will to say right now is that it was news that shook the very foundation of my vision for the next few years of my life. You see, I had a plan, but of course, it’s often said that God laughs at our plans and does what He wants to do anyway! Have you ever been there? Have you had something happen to you that shook the foundation for your future or maybe even made you question your identity?

IMG_2890

“Don’t let disappointment or tragedy be the end of your story. Use it to make you even more determined to win.”

If so, I want you to remember something, no matter how bleak things may look right now, your story doesn’t have to be over. You may not be able to control everything that happens to you or around you, which is frustrating to the control freak in us all. However, we have full control over our reactions to whatever does happen to us. We can let something defeat us and make us kiss the game goodbye. Or we can use the disappointment, frustration, or [insert expletive here] to propel us forward. Don’t let disappointment be the end of your story. Use it to make you even more determined to win.

The inner pain I felt due to my situation made me want to crawl under my bed and stay there forever. But, I realized that if not anything else, I have a family—a daughter—that is relying on me to keep my ish together to be there for them. Instead of focusing on the things I couldn’t control, I decided to throw myself into starting Popped Handmade—a luxury, handmade, natural beauty product line for the everyday positive, optimistic, & powerful woman or man like yourself. Do I feel completely ready to take on this venture? No. Do I feel a bit overwhelmed at the mere thought of it? Yes. Will those fears stop me from giving it a shot and doing the very best that I can to perfect my products and grow my business knowledge? Hell no. The thing about feeling like you’ve hit a rock bottom of sorts is there’s nowhere to go but up. If this project fails, I will be right back where I started in the first place, yet I will have gained knowledge about business and myself that I would never have acquired otherwise.

If you, like me, are going through a valley in your life right now, use your experience as motivation to flip the script and make your story have a better ending. Don’t let the struggle win; make sure YOU win.

Check out the Popped Handmade Facebook and Instagram pages and let me know what you think!

Do I Have an Enemy Within? (Am I My Own Hater?)

”When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” – African Proverb (courtesy of happyblackwoman.com)

”When there is no enemy within, the enemies outside cannot hurt you.” – African Proverb (courtesy of happyblackwoman.com)

A few days ago, I found the African proverb above on the Happy Black Woman website (the post “67 Inspiring Quotes by Black Women on Happiness, Perseverance, Fear and Success”) and it just immediately stuck out to me. It seemed like a lightbulb went off in my head. Do I have an enemy within?

Many of us have a little voice inside of us that we constantly have to silence. It tells us all the things we can’t do or all the reasons why we aren’t good enough. More often than not, we probably can call those nagging thoughts into question and continue about our business. But, sometimes those little, lying voices may win in casting a cloud over us.

I’ve been a bit down in the dumps off and on for some time now and the proverb above made it clear that I have to cast out my enemy within.

It’s true that sometimes we really do have haters, but we have to be careful that the hater in our heads is not making us believe that someone on the outside is a hater when they really aren’t. I’ve realized that it’s very possible that a lot of the rejection we feel from others could be the projection of our own internal enemy out into the world.

It can be tough being a stay-at-home mom. Yes, I don’t deny that it is a privilege, honor, blessing, and pretty much every good thing that you can think of. When I went back into the workforce when my daughter was about 7 or 8 months, I immediately dreamed about the day when I could get back home to see her go through all of her major milestones without missing a beat. That day came sooner than I could’ve imagined and I was thrilled. Yet, every stay-at-home mom knows the challenges—isolation from the adult world, the blow to your ego and maybe even your self-esteem when those checks stop coming in your name, and the misperception about what you do on a daily basis (and don’t forget the misperception about your financial situation) from the outside world. It definitely can throw your sense of value and confidence threw a loop. Living simply and valuing other things over fortune, fame, and independence (gasp!) is so contrary to what society tells us we should want that we tend to look at ourselves sideways when we don’t live according to society’s standard of success.

However, the proverb above made me realize that if I have an enemy within that thinks very little of myself and my place in the world, every glance and remark from others—no matter how unrelated to me personally—will be filtered through the beliefs of my enemy within. If I’m my own enemy, I have no chance in the world no matter what endeavors I pursue. We all have to be our own biggest fans. We have to cheer ourselves on when the going gets tough and know that we can make it even if we are the only fan that we have.

So to all my positively optimistic & powerful people (in process) cast out the enemy within and build yourself up daily. You may use affirmations, inspirational podcasts, scripture, or self-help books. Whatever you need to do to get that enemy within out of your mental space and spirit, do it as often as you need to. This is oh so necessary in order to keep it poppin’ 😉

Happy World Suicide Prevention Day!

Disclaimer: I have no rights to this photo. Copyright by asboluv, "tortured soul (asboluv - stencil on cardboard)" CC BY 2.0

Disclaimer: I have no rights to this photo. Copyright by asboluv, “tortured soul (asboluv – stencil on cardboard)” CC BY 2.0

This Thursday, September 10, 2015 is World Suicide Prevention Day. Actually, September is National Suicide Prevention month. Because of this, I would like to take a little time to write about suicide since it is one of those topics that is still pretty taboo in most circles. We rarely even think about it until it affects us personally, professionally, or if we happen to see a news headline about it. However, I was surprised to find out, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), that

WHO has implemented a Mental Health Action Plan that aims to reduce suicide worldwide by 10% by the year 2020 and I definitely encourage you to check out their “Preventing Suicide: A Global Imperative” brochure. Drawing from the information I gathered from WHO’s website, other online resources, and just my own 2 cents, I’ve come up with a few simple things that can help each of us work towards reducing the global suicide rate in our daily lives:

  1. Educate yourself about suicide risk factors, signs, and facts. This post doesn’t even skim the surface of the multitude of information available about suicide. The National Institute of Mental Health, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, and HelpGuide.Org are great places to start to understand suicide, identify someone who is at-risk, and learn how to help a loved one that may considering taking their own life.
  2. Don’t perpetuate the “all suicidal people are weak or crazy” stigma when discussing suicide (such as in the news) when talking with friends, coworkers, and family members. You never know if someone in your midst is going through a difficult time. It’s a lot harder for people to reach out for help when they feel they will be ridiculed or not taken seriously.
  3. Take care of yourself. Even if you’ve never struggled with mental illness and are very resilient when life throws curveballs your way, never be afraid to reach out for help if you think you may need it. Talking about your feelings with someone that will support you can make a seemingly unbearable situation a lot more bearable. Eating well and exercising can do wonders for your outlook as well!

As in the words of Mr. Stevie Wonder, it’s my hope that “everything is alright, uptight, outta sight” for all of my positively optimistic & powerful readers out there. If it is, I’m hoping you show the people around you that you love them and support them on this World Suicide Prevention Day and everyday thereafter!

If you are in a crisis and are unsure where to turn, hit up the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). According to their website, someone will take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

How to Have a Great Day

Maybe most of you are so positively optimistic & powerful that you have a fantastic day every day. That is wonderful! You deserve a round of applause and a warm, gooey chocolate chip cookie because I don’t know how you do it! You need not read any further. Just leave comments on how you manage to radiate rainbows and sunshine all the time because the rest of us would love to know!

For those few people, like me, who have to work hard at getting and keeping those positive vibes going, I want to share with you a few things I’ve noticed about my best days. Please do share your own tips in the comments or on Facebook because I could always use help here!

  1. Get rid of your expectations.

This one is huge for me. I realize that when I am able to let go of all of those expectations about what someone else should do, how an event should turn out, or how I’m supposed to look in that dress, I feel so much better about life! Expectations that are too high, unrealistic, or simply out of our control do nothing while we’re on our quest to have a great day. They only cause us to feel disappointed when things don’t turn out quite as we planned. Get rid of those expectations!

2. Refuse to say anything negative or refuse to “have words” with anyone else.

I swear on those days that my husband and I say to each other, “Look here. No bs today. We’re gonna have a good day,” we actually don’t have bs and really do have a good day. Sometimes it just takes being aware of our not-so-great habits and making a conscious effort to change them to make progress. We can’t always control the random thoughts that pop up in our heads, but we can control the words that come out of our mouths. By choosing to only say the positive things that we think, we just end up spreading positivity everywhere and keep those good vibes flowing.

3. Be grateful.

A few people I'm grateful for :)

A few people I’m grateful for 🙂

Yeah you hear it everywhere these days and it kinda sounds hokey, but I absolutely can’t deny that reminding myself to be grateful for the things that are going right instead of harping on the things that are going wrong really helps me stay in my p.o.p. zone. When we’re complaining, even if it’s only in our heads, we forget that there really are people that are praying for the things/situations that we consider problems. Although it’s the last thing I want to hear when I’m having a moment, it’s true that it really could always be worse. If simply thinking about the things you are grateful for isn’t enough, try writing a list or actually saying aloud to yourself or someone else what you’re grateful for. It really can do wonders.

Just a little something I’ve been thinking about as I strive to have as many great days as I can. Sometimes we just have to let ourselves feel the weight of whatever we’re going through by venting or being in our feelings for a minute, but other times, I think these three tips can come in handy for the day-to-day funkiness that can try to steal our joy. Remember to share your tips! Have a great Monday and an even better week 😉

***And if you haven’t read the previous post, be sure to check that out here: The New PBWB: Getting Your Mind Right***

The New PBWB: Getting Your Mind Right

A few weeks ago or maybe even a month or two ago, I had an epiphany on the direction that I wanted to go with this blog. I was excited about continuing the topics I’ve written about already—inspiration, empowerment, self-esteem, goal-setting, sisterhood, motherhood, etc—but I also wanted to start writing about something that is still taboo in American society, especially in the black community—mental illness.

I’d been listening to a few T.D. Jakes sermons about finding and living your purpose. The phrase, “Nothing you’ve been through will be wasted” kept showing up whenever I watched one of his worship services online or read an article about him. It made me think about my life. It made me reflect on the trials that have molded me into who I am today–my own struggles with depression and the effects of alcoholism on my family. Even though I strongly feel that my purpose involves speaking out on these types of issues, I can’t deny that it FREAKS ME OUT! In fact, that’s probably why I’ve been quiet on the blogging front. I hadn’t mustered up enough courage to write about the topics that really moved me so I just didn’t write anything. But the wise Nelson Mandela once said that “courage is not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it” so I guess it’s okay to feel afraid, but definitely not okay to let that fear prevent me from action.

Disclaimer: I have no rights to this photo. Copyright by asboluv, "tortured soul (asboluv - stencil on cardboard)" CC BY 2.0

Disclaimer: I have no rights to this photo. Copyright by asboluv, “tortured soul (asboluv – stencil on cardboard)” via flickr, CC BY 2.0

Let’s face it, as black people, we have a hard time calling a spade a spade when it comes to the topic of mental illness. I think many of us still deny that black people deal with mental health issues like other races do. For one thing, we often don’t consider substance abuse, especially alcohol abuse, a form of mental illness. We don’t bat an eye at that relative that can wake up looking for a beer before breakfast or the one that we rarely, if ever, see sober. It’s just the way it is. Of course, alcoholism is not just a black issue, but I do think it’s time to start having frank conversations about all forms of mental illness that are occurring in our communities instead of acting like it’s a “white problem.” Even if many of us don’t have personal experience with mental disorders, we may have a friend that dealt with postpartum depression, a third cousin that had a nervous breakdown, or an uncle that has a drug problem. We are not immune to mental illness and it’s time we stop being ashamed of it, or worse, in denial about it.

Popped Black Woman Blog is still about being positively optimistic & powerful. Yet, I can’t sit here and act like it’s easy or even possible to live our best lives by simply telling ourselves to think happier thoughts if we are battling severe clinical depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, or some other serious form of mental illness. Sometimes all the self-help books, TED talks, or prayer group/Bible study meetings just won’t do it. Gasp! Don’t judge me on the last comment. I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. I’m just one of those people that believes that God can heal through doctors and therapists, not only through your pastor. Let’s keep it real here. Some people NEED medication. To deny this would be naïve, unhealthy, and possibly deadly.

I hope to discuss all of the same ole stuff, while also sharing resources available to those that struggle with mental illness, self-care tips for everybody, and simply shed more light on how mental health issues affect the lives of people of color in America. Don’t worry. I’ll still hit you all with my random 101 Things in 1001 Days updates, lotion-making/DIY progress, and any other topics that may encourage you all or make you smile.

As always, keep it positively optimistic & powerful folks and share any thoughts you have in the comments or on Facebook 😉