Grief lessons: Love is intentional.

Grief is uncomfortable. It’s uncomfortable to be around someone that is grieving and it’s without a doubt uncomfortable to be the one grieving. Many parents of loss testify that their friends and family give them the cold shoulder when they have a miscarriage, stillbirth, or experience infant loss. Why is this? Is it that they no longer love the family member who experienced the loss (or never did)? No, I imagine that more than likely the miscarriage, stillbirth, or loss of a child shortly after birth made them feel too uncomfortable to show their love.


But, true love-the 1 Corinthians 13 kind of love-is sacrificial. It means I’m willing to sacrifice being uncomfortable in order to show YOU that I love you and that I care. It’s not thinking about myself for a minute, but putting your possible needs first.

On this grief journey over the past year, I have learned that many people will say that they love you and that they support you, but few people are willing to sacrifice their time, money, or personal comfort to put action behind their words. I spent a good chunk of the past year angry, disappointed, and hurt. But the beauty of it all was when I began to focus on what my experience could teach me about being more loving.

I was forced to do some serious introspection and asked myself whether or not I really show people that I care about that I love them. The answer is most of the time-No. I, like most of the human population, am addicted to my personal comfort and rarely do anything that requires me to sacrifice my own comfort.

This is where intentionality comes in. What does it matter if I tell my daughter that I love her over and over again, but don’t spend quality time with her doing her favorite things? My love for her requires personal sacrifice on pretty much a daily basis-meaning that even if mommy is tired and had a really long day, I’m going to do my best to make sure we read a story before bedtime. It means that even though I have literally ten billion things to do, I’m going to stop and listen when my husband needs to talk about something that’s bothering him. Love requires sacrifice. Love is intentional.

None of us will love perfectly all the time, but I think if we’re intentional about loving, our relationships will thrive and the people we love will feel that we truly care for them.

My family and I will be walking in the March of Dimes March for Babies on Sunday, April 30, 2017 in honor of our angel. We’d love for you to donate to our 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!

Guest Post: Pink Letter by Aaron Miles

It’s 17 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!

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Tonight I decided to give my wife a break and contribute to her daily post leading up to the March of Dimes walk. Although I struggled to find a topic, I decided to talk about my wife and how she is such an inspiration to me.

I was fortunate enough to meet Carla during my senior in college. I was finishing up my last semester at UIC and when I was invited to attend the UIC fashion after party at Harold Washington Culture Center. My best friend Elijah was meeting a friend at the party and he wanted me to go and play third wheel. To be completely honest, the party was boring and lame (do they still use that word 🙂 ) I stood there looking at my phone and updating my Facebook status. It was not until the end of the party that something got my attention. Elijah hooked up with the friend he came to meet and she happen to bring her friend, which was Carla. Sitting in this Toyota corolla, was this beautiful fair skinned woman that I had to meet. I approached the driver side of the window and introduce myself in my deep voice. “Hi, my name is Aaron”. She cited her name was Carla. We fell immediately fell into a lively conversation about each other.  What really struck me about the conversation was that she was extremely intelligent and engaging. She was well-versed in politics, faith, music, and understanding her dreams. I realize then that I made a right choice in going to that party that night. We decided to exchange numbers and coordinate a date.

As I finished my last semester, we connected time to time over text message and email. It wasn’t until early summer after graduation that I decided to ask her out on a date. I picked her up on a Saturday afternoon and went out on the town. What really struck me was how vested she was in me and liking me for who I was. I coined that summer “Black Summer nights” In our honor of our favorite album that year by Maxwell. It was summer, in which I really felt alive and at peace with someone that really cared for me. I was finally with someone who wanted to love me for who I was. With the financial crisis 2008, finding a job was very difficult. Majority of the summer, I struggled and battled to find work. I remember Carla was on a study abroad trip in London, England and she sent me a letter on Facebook encouraging me and that better days will be ahead. I remember her texting me before countless job interviews and giving me a dose of hope. She always has and will continue to support me in my endeavors.

After a couple of years, we decided to get married. As I look back on this day, I realize that I found the greatest thing that ever happen to me. Carla means so much to me in my life. She is a wonderful wife and goes above and beyond the call for duty. She does such a fantastic job caring for our 2 year old daughter as well as her 29 year old husband 🙂 The most powerful vowel is for better and for worse. Carla and I has shared our moments of triumphs and tragedy. The loss of Israel, was a tragedy that is very difficult to overcome. Through it all, we learn to continue to get closer to God and each other. It is our divine order to become stronger, wiser, and better in God. Overall, I appreciate the journey with Carla and look forward to continue to the travel the roads less traveled with the love of my life.

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!

1,440 Minutes

It’s 26 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. 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 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!

Sade said to “Cherish the Day,” but I would go so far as to say “cherish the minute.” A day is full of 24 hours, which is 1,440 minutes. I may have only gotten about 15 minutes or so with Izzy while he was still breathing so he taught me that each minute is invaluable.

I remember the delivery doctor saying, “One more push will do it.” I took a deep breath and pushed on the exhale and there he was. I didn’t know he was a he until my doctor with the big poufy twist-out (yes, I had hair envy even in the delivery room) quickly looked between Izzy’s legs and said that this long, wrinkly baby was my son. I looked at my husband. He looked at me. And for a few long seconds it seemed like the whole room held its breath to see if we would hear anything from Izzy. His heartbeat wasn’t being monitored during the delivery because the medical team thought it might be too stressful for me if I heard the baby’s heart become distressed (or stop altogether) during the delivery. But after those long, uncomfortable seconds, we heard Izzy’s shrill little cry. He only cried out once, then it was silent again. He wasn’t anything like his older sister who just wailed and wailed when she was born, making it fully known that she was indeed born and not at all happy about it (but that was already evident by the fact that she was born nearly 2 weeks after her due date).

No, Izzy was calm and quiet. He kept his big, round eyes closed as I held him close and told him all about his big sister and all of her stuffed animal friends. I knew in those moments with him that I had to be completely present because I didn’t have long with him. I had to tell him I loved him then because I didn’t know how many times I would get to tell him. I had to sing “twinkle, twinkle little star” to him then because I didn’t know how many other opportunities I would have to sing to him. I learned the value of each minute from trying to hold on to that time with him. A minute can be a long time if we really focus on it and give it the treatment it deserves.

So now when I have a bunch of things on my mind or things that I’m trying to do around the house, I try to remember to slow down and read when Izzy’s big sister, the Wailer, asks me to read her “Close Your Eyes” book for the millionth time or asks me to help her build a train with her Duplo Legos–help meaning build it for her. I try to remember what’s really important—each minute that we have on earth and with the people we love and who love us because we don’t know how many more minutes we’ll get.

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Izzy’s big sister, the Wailer 😉

 

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!

The Power of Vulnerability

Hello lovely popped people!

My New Journal :)

My New Journal 🙂

I know that it has been a long time and I don’t have any very good reason for my long absence except that I had to leave this blog alone to get my mind right. Although my mind is still not completely right, I feel like I’m at a place where I can bring you all along on my journey to living the best positively optimistic & powerful life that I can live. I’ve decided to start journaling again to help me sort through the cobwebs of my mind and to help me focus on obtaining inner peace and self-love. As a part of my new recommitment to journaling (the reasons why I stopped journaling would make a great blog post for another time), I will try to do/read/hear/watch something every day (or every other day) that uplifts and encourages me whether it’s a Bible verse, encouraging podcast, or TED talk.

Today, I watched this great TED talk by Brené Brown called “The Power of Vulnerability.” This talk caught my attention because man ole man do I struggle with being vulnerable. I feel guarded from practically everyone in one way or another so much so that I realize it’s getting in the way of achieving some of the things that I want most out of life, primarily the feeling of belonging. For the longest time, I viewed my fear of vulnerability as simply self-preservation (as well as chalked it up to being a suspicious Scorpio) but now I feel, quite bluntly, that the bullshit has to stop. While I had little control over the circumstances that caused me to have some of my hang-ups, as an adult, I have to take ownership of my mess and put in whatever work it takes, including learning to be more vulnerable, in order to attain healing.

Check out Brené Brown and “The Power of Vulnerability” and let me know if it hits home for you!

HVD! And 3 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Marriage

Happy Valentine’s Day from the PBWB!

First off, I’m sorry about lacking in the number of posts this week. You know how Monica was having “Just One of Dem Days” in the 90s? (see video below) I think I’ve been having one of dem weeks. But, I know being the positively optimistic and powerful woman that I strive to be that I have to push through it. One of my biggest weaknesses is seeing things through, so I need you all to hold me accountable on seeing the PBWB through. The love and feedback from the blog have been great, but I think that I tend to give up on things before they have a chance to fail. I can’t be afraid of failure anymore. The only failure is not trying and giving up without a good fight.

With it being Valentine’s Day and all, I figured I should reflect on love and relationships a bit. I just want to share three major lessons that my short, 2 years of marriage have taught me about life.

1) Nothing worthwhile comes easy.
As I’ve mentioned, I’m working on being able to push through all those yucky feelings of anxiety, fear, and doubt to see my goals become a reality. Likewise, there’s a lot of muck to get through in the journey of marriage. Nothing about marriage is easy. It’s not easy to be vulnerable and trust that another person wishes the best for you. It’s not easy to set your own wants aside for the sake of the family’s needs. It’s not easy to have the courage to be led when every part of you wants to lead. All of this have taught me that every goal that I have will require a trade-off. I can’t have a successful blog if I don’t put it in the time to write even when I would rather waste time surfing gossip websites.

2) I can only be my best self if I deal with my baggage.
Anyone in a serious relationship, or maybe not so serious, knows when previous baggage is ruining their relationship. For me, I had to do a lot of soul-searching on how my perceptions about men, myself, and marriage were affected by what I saw growing up. I had to stop ignoring the pain of my past and confront it. I realized that by only rejecting it without dissecting it, I was unconsciously perpetuating certain attitudes and behaviors without even thinking about it. I had to pull the baggage out, unpack it, save anything worth saving, and throw out the rest. The same is true in my personal development journey. I got to a point when I had to stop and reflect on negative opinions that came in my head and ask myself where they came from. I had to understand where all those self-defeating hang-ups came from in order to truly reject them and start believing that I can really do anything that I set my mind to and work hard at. IMG_1609

3) Everything has a season.
I don’t say this as a cop out from taking action. Sometimes, you gotta make stuff happen, but I do feel like as Ecclesiastes 3 says

For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; (‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3‬:‭1-2‬ ESV)

Like life, marriage has its seasons. Most couples repeat the vows “for better or for worse, through sickness and in health” because marriage will have its seasons. We are still at the start of the journey, but we’ve already had highs and lows. I see this concept of seasons clearly in my personal life. I’ve had times when I felt accomplished and times when I felt disappointed in the course of my life. Right now, I strongly feel is a time to “plant” so that I can “pluck up what is planted” when the time comes. It is a time to invest in my daughter’s early development so that I can say, “Look at the confident and secure daughter I have helped raise.” It is a season to invest my time and heart into my writing in the hopes that one day this effort will help put coins in my coffer. This season requires hard work without the reward. This season is about preparation so that when the harvest comes, I will be content with what is produced. My efforts now will determine my sense of accomplishment later.

Can you all think of any other life lessons that you’ve learned from current or past relationships? Let me know in the comments or on Facebook.

Hugs and kisses 😘,
PBWB

Black Women We Need You Too: A Plea Returned

This is a response to my “Black Men We Need You” post. Check it out and leave your thoughts on the two!

Our Voice Our Generation Our Truth

Black women, we need you to stand up for us as well, all of us, when so many of you put us down. We need you to correct and stand on those who put us down. For it is when you turn your backs on us & deny us as men, that prevents us from being men for you.

Black women, I need you to stop calling me a nigga. I am a man, I am a king, your king, as you are my queen.

Black women, we need you to believe in us. How can we create the foundation for you which you desire, when we are being destroyed mentally by the doubt you throw right in our face?

Black women, we need you to start respecting & loving yourselves. How do you expect to be appreciated and respected as the queen you are when as a queen, you’re…

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Black Men We Need You: A Plea

Black men, we need you to stand up for us when other men, and the world, puts us down.
For it is the ones in power that have to come alongside the powerless to spark change.

Black men, we need you to support us without saving us because no one really wants to be a helpless Disney princess, unless we ask you to save us.

Black men, we need you to create opportunities when doors close in your face. Our households depend on you to help keep our children clothed and fed.

Black men, we need you to tell our daughters that it is ok to speak her mind and stand up for herself.
She should not have to dim her light to be attractive or to make other men shine.

Black men, we need you to show our sons what it means to be a Man of purpose and character. This is something we can’t do even though it seems like we can do everything and more.

Black men, we need you to acknowledge that we are your equals and that you can lead while standing right next to us, instead of in front of us.

Black men, we need you to lead us. We want you to lead us. Not as dictators, but as democratically elected officials who have proven to have our best interests at heart. We know you will not exploit us for selfish gain. We trust you. Help us to keep trusting you.

Black men, we need you to empower us and know that our power does not lessen your power. It only strengthens it.

Black men, we need you to understand that if you abuse us, we have no choice but to leave you and replace you because our self-worth is worth more than our loyalty to you.

Black men, we need you to see us. To really see us even when the world treats us like we are not there. We need you to see us because we see you.

Black men, we need you to partner with us, in the household, in our communities, and as we climb the ladder of success. There is no need to compete when we complement each other so well.

Black men, please know that we will not race you to the top, because this is long-distance running for us. We desire the holy grail, because trying to be “better” than you is not a worthy task. We want to be our best selves. That is all.

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