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Putting the CL on that ASS!

A Bernie's Daughter Thing

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empowerment

Defensive Living

Happy Friday!  Well, Saturday now. My apologies for this late post, but I had some severe technological issues yesterday that prevented me from posting this yesterday. But what is a delay, save for a chance to try again? So here we go. Remember when you were learning to drive?  Remember hearing this term, defensive driving?  I do. I was taught that it meant that I needed to drive under the expectation that other drivers could possibly cause harm to my vehicle–either through illegal turns, running red lights, lane changes, etc.  I needed to be alert and aware that danger lurked behind the wheel of every vehicle and driving was a dangerous task.  As I ponder that idea, it has occurred to me that I was taught the same thing about life.  I wasn’t taught that life is full of joy and love.  On the contrary, I was taught that life is hard and full of struggle and danger.  I was taught that I needed to live defensively–being aware that any and almost every body in my life meant me harm and I needed to protect myself from said hard.  It has permeated every facet of my life, save for Motherhood.  I grew up expecting the worst from others–even in the most benign of situations.  It’s strange to think about now because I wonder how much more could I have enjoyed life (and my father as well) if I’d recognized this sooner? Just think about it. Defensive driving makes sense, but defensive living? I’m not so sure. I’m not saying that there isn’t danger in the world.  I recognize that it exists. However, I know for me, life hasn’t been nearly as bad as I’ve anticipated it to be.  And I’m not so sure that living defensively (not to be mistaken for living on the edge), has served me as well as I intended.

 

 

 

 

*About a month ago, I spoke about how we can actually become addicted to the negative experiences in our lives and this is one of the ways it can begin.

Heal That Masculine, Man!

Happy Friday!  What a wonderful time it is.  It’s Father’s Day weekend and I feel like that’s a wonderful time to celebrate men.  I love men.  I can admit that I haven’t always been able to say that. However, I’m so grateful that I can say that now.  I think Father’s Day is a wonderful time for us to examine and begin to take the steps to heal our relationship with the masculine because for many of us, the wounds we have in our relationship with the masculine are rooted with our relationship with our fathers.  That’s why I’m not speaking today of the absent dads–the ones who couldn’t (for whatever reason) be the men we needed.  The story is told so much.  I think it’s time for a new narrative. Although, I will sidebar right now and wish love and joy to all of those whose dad was absent.  I’m sorry he wasn’t there.  I’m sorry he wasn’t what you needed.  I hope you are at peace now, and if not, I hope you are on your way to finding peace.

So , as I was saying, dad’s (and men in general) have gotten a bad rep over the years, and it’s time to release those old ideas that no longer serve.  Men are great.  Men are vital.  After all, women may make the world go round, but men are the axis upon which it spins.  Happy Father’s Day to all the dads!

That Old Feeling

A magical and glorious Friday to you! How many of you know that life is grand? Or at the very least that it can be. Don’t worry if you you can’t answer “yes” to that question. For a very long time, I couldn’t answer “yes” either. For a while, I was in what I like to call the valley. The valley is where we go when we’ve been rejected, abused, disappointed, frustrated, and sometimes just plain ole’ pissed off. It’s ok to go in the valley. There are definitely some valleys along the path of life. But you know what? Sometimes you can stay in the valley for too long. Sometimes you can stay so long that you forget to travel up to the peaks and you then become accustomed to the valley and all its surroundings. We weren’t meant to stay in the valley. The valley, like everything else in life, is temporary. But we can spend so much time in the valley that we get a valley mind set. And the valley mind set only keeps the very things we truly want away from us. If you’re in a valley right now, I encourage you to do what you must to not adapt a valley mind set. In other words, get on up from that valley! As a wonderful friend told me, “There is no more valley. The valley is gone. The only way you’re in the valley now is because you keep dragging the valley with you.”

That Mother Wound is A Mutha!

Happy Friday and Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms! For many of us, it’s a wonderful day because it gives us a chance to celebrate our favorite women: Our moms! For others of us, it’s not as wonderful because mom is or was absent–physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually, or e) all of the above. Mother’s Day can be a reminder that mom was the first person to betray us, disappoint us, hurt us. And what do you do when that happens? What do you do when mom is not the safe place we think mother’s ought to be?

As Mother’s Day approaches, I am hearing more frequently the phrase, “Love your Mother because you only get one.” Actually, I hear the phrase a lot in every day conversation. While I understand the sentiment, sometimes I think this phrase is used to give mothers a pass. Yes, there are some good and great mothers who love, protect, nurture and guide their children to the best of their abilities. But there are also some mothers who are not; and we fail to acknowledge that. Some mothers are cold, heartless, cruel, and unloving toward their children. In the case of the latter, it is not enough to tell the children, “Love your Mother because you only get one.” While I believe in offering Love to all, I also believe you have to accept people for who they are. Not every woman who carries and births a child is capable of being a true Mother. So to those who await Mother’s Day with dread because their Mother is not, or was not a loving Mother, I offer my love and encouragement. I hope that you are able to find the Love that you feel you missed from your Mother–because after all, it really isn’t missing. Like Dorothy in the wondrous land of Oz, it’s been in you the whole time.

I love you and wish you well today and always!

I’m Not Your Superwoman! Hell, I’m Not Even My Own!

Happy Friday to you! Today is a wonderful day and would you like to know why? Well, it’s because you’re here. I become more convinced that there really are no coincidences the longer I live. So it’s no coincidence that you exist at this moment. It’s no coincidence that you happened upon my blog. Even if we can’t connect the dots as to the why’s behind it all, we can rest assured that there is a why. This past week was good for me because I was able to offer support to quite a few of the beloved women in my life. I was able to offer the support they needed because I have walked the path they now found themselves stumbling over. Let me just tell you, it’s taken me a long time to get comfortable enough with myself to share as openly as I now do. And I do it because I know what distress, pain, heartache, failure, and all the other yucky stuff of life feels like. If I can help at least one by offering support, encouragement, or just a glimpse of what it looks like to stand in the midst of it, let alone overcome, it is well with my soul. Today’s video was inspired by so many of the beautiful women I know and love and to the individuals who love them. May you all find peace, joy, and Soul! Wait, that’s the Soul Train, but hey, all aboard! Toot! Toot!

What’s Wrong With Being Confident?

“Happy Friday!  It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.  One of my favorite songs that I’ve been playing lately is Demi Lovato’s Confident.  It’s on my Theme Songs playlist and I love it because it speaks to me.  There is absolutely nothing wrong with being confident.  In fact, it’s absolutely necessary that we have some confidence in ourselves.  This is an area in which I have struggled.  I’ve put my confidence in people, things, events, but very rarely myself.  Well times they are a-changing because I’m finally learning to put some confidence in myself.  I hope you’re doing that as well.

And it’s so very easy to look at someone else and believe that they’re much better at the confidence game than you. But we all at some point or another struggle with confidence. And if you haven’t yet, just keep living, because it will probably happen.  I’ll leave you with one of my favorite quotes.

“If you have no confidence in self, you are twice defeated in the race of life. With confidence, you have won even before you’ve started.”
Marcus Garvey

Why I Love Yoga

In 2000, I discovered yoga at my local gym. I’d heard of yoga before, but never thought anything of it. I dismissed it because I wasn’t flexible, and after all, you need to be flexible to practice yoga, right? Wrong. I also dismissed it because I ignorantly believed that it wasn’t a workout. During that time, I was all about the gym life. I didn’t believe I’d worked if I didn’t wake up sore and close to pain the next morning. I’m laughing as I write this because I almost can’t believe how far I’ve come. I went to the gym one day for my wonderful strength training class, only to find that there had been a change in the schedule. Instead of the hard-core, weight-filled strength training class, there was a power yoga class. Not really wanting to do the treadmill, as it wasn’t cardio day, I didn’t want to go home. I mean, I’d made the trip to the gym, after all. So I decided to stay for this yoga class. All I can say is Ooh Wee! I worked my tail off! I had never sweated that much before! I walked out of the exercise room, spent and intrigued. I realized I was wrong about yoga. I wanted to practice it more because it kicked my butt and I was not about to have that. So I kept at it. I even bought some VHS tapes (Yep, I still had a VCR in those days and bought VHS tapes) to practice at home so that I could look better in class. I also did what I had a habit of doing back then. I stopped. I’m not really sure why I stopped, but I did. It would be 6 years before I picked it up again–during my pregnancy. Once I had my daughter, I stopped again. And then I picked it up again after my dad passed away. I think that’s when I was truly ready to have a yoga practice because it’s then that I fell in love with everything that it stood for and the transformation it initiated in my life–physically, mentally and spiritually.  I began to understand that yoga is not some exercise fad.  No, it is a spiritual practice.

Once I became really serious about yoga, it brought up a lot for me. There were many things I had to work through, and flexibility was the least of those things. But I stuck with it and I am still a practicing yogi today. Here are just a few reasons why I love yoga.

Yoga taught me to stop comparing myself to others.  I remember being in class with an elderly woman who was near 80 years old.  This woman was so limber!  She gracefully transitioned from downward dog to standing split, to peacock with such ease.  I felt ashamed that my barely 30 year-old self was getting my tail handed to me by this woman.  I began to practice more intensely and I was able to do the poses better. But then, there was the issue of how others looked.  I don’t have a yoga body.  At least that’s what I told myself then.  Many times, I would be the only Black girl in the class and I would feel so inferior to the other women in the class.  It took me a while, but I learned to stay on my mat and concern myself only with what I was doing on my mat.  Now, I don’t care what anyone else is doing.  If I happen to glance at someone else, I simply admire the beauty of their pose and that’s it, because I know today that all that matters is what I’m doing on my own mat.

Yoga helped me to become flexible.  This seems obvious.  After all, stretching our muscles leads to increased flexibility.  However, I’m not talking about simple physical flexibility.  Now don’t get me wrong. I have become much more flexible than I ever was in my previous years. However, I’m saying that yoga helped me to apply the same concept of stretching myself on the mat to stretching myself off the mat.  Something new has come my way? Instead of resisting it, I learned to try it and allow it to stretch me.  If it didn’t work the first time, I’d walk away and come back to it.  I learned that there is a difference between being uncomfortable and being in pain.  Flexibility develops right in the midst of that uncomfortable spot.  Who knew?

Yoga taught me to simply breathe.  Je’Niece what do you mean? Breathing is involuntary, so how the heck did you learn to breathe through yoga?  Well, I’m glad you asked me this because I’m more than happy to give you the answer.  Yes, it’s true that breathing is involuntary. However, most of us breathe shallowly.  That means we really only breathe from our chest up.  In yoga, pranayama, or control of breath, is taught.  Ujjayi breathing, which is diaphragmatic breath, is taught.  You breathe completely into your lungs down into your low belly.  Doing so brings your body more oxygen, and it also aids to bring awareness to your body, and release of pent-up emotions.  Learning ujjayi breathing helped me to release tension when I became tense, afraid, or just down right uncomfortable.  It actually proved to be quite beneficial for me when I found myself stuck in traffic.  Yoga helped me to understand that as long as I’m breathing, there’s life. And life means that I have an opportunity to  find something to enjoy in this moment.  And once I get the next moment, I can move into it with grace.  That means  I have not been conquered by whatever seemingly unsurmountable obstacle I see before me. Breath is everything.  The minute I stop breathing, is the minute my game of life is over.  Perspective is a mutha, ain’t it?

Yoga taught me to slow down.  As I have grown in my yoga practice, I’ve tried many of the different forms of yoga.  I’ve found that I am partial to slow flow.  I love slow flow.  My slow flow practice has helped me to understand that I don’t have to rush, rush, rush all in the glorification of busy-ness.  I can actually take things slow and steady.  And I actually like taking my time.  My slow flow practice has helped me to relinquish my to-do lists and adopt the mindset of knowing that I can only do what I can do, as I can do it.  Even more, I’m more apt to do things better the first time if I take my time.  Didn’t the tortoise teach us when we were children that slow and steady wins the race?  Why did we not take heed?

Yoga taught me to release the need for all the bells and whistles.  When I first became serious about yoga, I was serious.  (See what I did there?) To prove how serious I was about being serious about yoga, I went out and bought all the expensive yoga gear–clothing, mats, sticky socks and gloves, and yoga bag to hold them all.  I spent so much money and the funny thing is that I didn’t like most of the stuff I bought.  The bags weren’t big enough to hold my yoga stuff, or I simply wound up repurposing them.  The clothes were cool, but I eventually began wearing them more outside of yoga.  You know what I wear to yoga now?  My clearance bought leggings and tanks from Marshalls and TJ Maxx.  I do have a lululemon mat, but that’s about the most expensive thing I have.  I found I didn’t need all the bells and whistles.  I just needed me and a mat.  And the same is true for my life off the mat.  I don’t need the most expensive clothes, makeup, or car.  I don’t need the biggest house.  My needs are quite minimal when I think about all the things I convince myself that I must to have.  The reality is that I already have everything that I need.  There goes that perspective.

Yoga taught me to become comfortable with seeking support.  When I first began my practice, I balked at the idea of using a block or a strap.  I would risk severe injury by forcing a pose rather than use the supportive tools available to me.  It would take some years before I realized that my body just won’t bend in certain poses the way others can.  It would take a little bit more time to become comfortable with that. No matter how much I try, right now, I just can’t do some poses without the aid of the strap or the block, and that’s ok.  That’s exactly their purpose–to support me.  The same is true for life.  I’m not meant to go it alone. There are people who love me who want nothing more than to support me.  Working over time to prove how big that S on my chest is has done nothing more than cause more harm to myself, AND deprive those who love me the opportunity to actually display their love for me.  And when I think about it, it actually feels much better to be supported.

Sometimes I think if I could just live my life on a yoga mat, I would. I think life would be so wonderful if that’s the way I could live. Then I’m reminded that is one of the reasons I love and practice yoga: so that what arises on the mat will transcend and become what arises off the mat.

 

The Art of Detachment

Happy Friday to you! I am sending good vibes out with today’s post. I really feel like 2016 is stirring up some things for us. There seems to be a collective consciousness that is awakening. I think that’s one of the reasons we’re seeing these themes of unrest and disruption in our world events. Whenever a change is imminent, we mere mortals tend to hold on for dear life to what we have known. There is some fluidity, also known as detachment, that Life needs from us in order for us to get to that “more,” “better,” “different” that we all imagine and yearn for. We can do it. We just have to be willing to detach (there goes that word again!), or let go of the reigns in order to get it. Hope you have a magical weekend!

Trigger Points

I can’t tell you enough how excited I am to be a brand ambassador for Nikki Woods Media. I’m thrilled for the opportunity. I struggled with applying. I told myself that I wasn’t going to apply. However, I have a great bestie who would not allow me to sit idly by. So, I applied. It took me 3 days to complete the application, but dammit I did it. Receiving the congratulatory email that I received days later sent me on a high. I was thrilled. I have felt that this is an amazing opportunity that will only lead to more opportunities for me.

However, having said that, I must be honest and admit that this opportunity has triggered some things in me. Foremost of my trigger points is my confidence–or lack thereof. When I say that I struggle with confidence, many people don’t believe me because I seem to possess the superpower of appearing much more confident than I actually am. But this opportunity has triggered my confidence point. I have been fearful every day with it. And to be honest, I’ve actually struggled with the feeling that I’m failing in some way. In my monkey mind’s eye, I can see Nikki Woods and her team looking over me with the disapproving eyes and careless cackles of a mean girls set. Now of course, my true mental mind knows this isn’t true. My true mental mind knows that they would not have chosen me if they hadn’t seen something in me. But isn’t it funny how they can see what I can’t see in myself?

The other thing this opportunity has triggered for me is my tendency to compare myself to others. Let me tell you something. Nikki Woods chose some amazing women to serve as brand ambassadors. Amazing, I tell you! They are smart, beautiful, talented, and funny. And I have compared myself to every single one of them in some way. I was overwhelmed with their amazing-ness (Yep, I just said that) during our first meeting. I listened intently to each woman as she introduced herself. I grew increasingly anxious with each one because I felt they were all so much more than I. I felt they were doing so much more than I. I mean they had job titles and everything! And here I was, simply saying I’m Bernie Mac’s daughter. My bestie laughed at me when I said this to her and told me, “Well, if it makes you feel any better, you can give yourself a title too.” Don’t you just love best friends?

But she was right. I could give myself a title. I could say I’m Je’Niece the Storyteller, or Je’Niece the Healing Architect, or whatever title I want to give myself. But there’s also the title of me: Je’Niece. And that title is good enough. Actually, I am good enough. That one sentence right there says so much. Woo, felt so good I need to say it again. I am good enough! There was no reason for me to feel small. I was the only person who was making me feel small. Everyone else has been welcoming, encouraging, and supportive. I am the only one who has been failing to support myself. I’m the only one who has failed to see how I’ve shown up giving my best every day. But that’s the beautiful thing about triggers. They show up–and sometimes when you least expect it–to show you what areas need your loving attention. So I needn’t get down on myself–which was my first response upon realization of my triggers. I just need to acknowledge them and give myself attention where it’s due.

I also don’t need to judge the fear. The fear is the sign that this means something to me. And believe me when I say it does. But in that, I need to detach from the outcome. I don’t need to put all of my energy focusing on the potential outcome of this. Maybe Nikki and team love me and decide to continue to work with me and refer other people my way, or vice versa. Maybe they don’t. Maybe they like me, but decide I’m not their cup of tea. And you know what? Either scenario is ok. I will be ok either way. Now, that’s not to say that I wouldn’t love the outcome to be the former one, but I am saying that I will not allow myself to swirl my mind into a frenzied state that renders me incapable of enjoying the journey. It’s only been two weeks and I have grown already. I’ve been doing virtual streaming through Periscope everyday. Every day, y’all! I found Periscope to be so intimidating and so outside of my comfort zone. Yet, I’m doing a scope every day. I’m truly owning my story. I am Bernie Mac’s daughter, and that is ok. I’ve said it before, yet there was still some part of me that struggled with that. I never want people to think that I’m resting on that part of who I am. I never want people to think that I want pity or attention because of it. But that’s the part of me who has been allowing the voices of others to rule instead of my own voice. My own voice is telling me to just be who I am because who I am is beautiful and worthy and those who get me will be drawn to me. From those people, the opportunities I seek will arise. Those who don’t get me will get out the way, which will just make more room for the ones who are drawn to me.

And just think this has only been triggered with two weeks worth of working with Team Nikki Woods! I’m onto something beautiful here, and I’m so thankful for it.

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