Just Lay There

woman sitting beside window

Photo by Wesley Carvalho on Pexels.com

When I think of all the things that I have experienced in my 36 years, my memories run the gamut: love and loss, hope and despair, poor and less poor than yesterday, happy and sad, bitter and sweet-you name it, I’ve touched it at some point in my life.

These days it is a lot easier to get back up when one has been knocked down.  We listen to music, we go to therapy, we happily exit stage left and let the curtains close.  We embrace our challenges with new mindsets.  We forgive and even forget.  Not only are we learning to work through our knockdowns, but access to pick-me-ups are but a click, tap, and scroll away!  It is amazing to see how far we’ve come and how quickly we work to resolve our issues.  As proud as I am of how much I’ve grown in problem-solving and developing resiliency,  sometimes I just wanna lay there.

Just as true as the saying, “trouble don’t last always” goes, there are days that I am just not my happy self.  As a matter of fact, I am incredibly withdrawn and quick to anger.  Sometimes I am apathetic to the needs of others-spouse, kids, students, the dog-I practice no respect of the person and could care less about it.  This is me lying in the middle of my proverbial boxing ring because I have been rocked by some blow.  Sometimes my knockdowns are knockouts and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing Mike Tyson knock someone out, then you can understand that some blows leave you lying down and you aren’t getting up anytime soon.  I can tell you that, right now, at this very moment, I am lying on the tarp.  My face is swollen and wet with sweat and snot. My eyes are blackening and red from too many tears.  My mouth is bloody with a few loose teeth.  My hair is all over my head, my ears won’t stop ringing and I am just laying there. I don’t wanna get up.  I don’t want anybody to help me.  I don’t want to be reminded of all that is good.  I just want to lay in my experience and let the pain pull me from my peaceful shore. It’s not quitting, nor accepting defeat.  It’s being human.

Sometimes getting knocked down or knocked out can blindside us and best us in every way possible.  It is not a sign of weakness to feel its full impact. Sometimes just laying, face down in our despair, crisis, chaos, catastrophe-reminds us that we are indeed still human and we have breaking points. If we never let the full experience of adversity do its job of teaching us, we never build the capacity to become strong enough to go another round.  Life is not supposed to be wonderful and fulfilling all the time.  It is delusional to believe that.  Life’s experiences are like crossing through a mountain range; you start in the valley and work your way to the mountain’s base.  Then you start to climb. You are using all that you know including faith and what your mama taught you, your education, your skillset, your money and then one loose rock and down the mountain, you go tumbling!  Even still, you tend to your wounds and start to climb again.  You avoid loose rocks this time and find that your ascent has almost reached the summit, only to be exposed to its bitter cold and lack of oxygen.  Back down you go, but it is ok.

Just lay there.  Cry, kick, scream or just be silent.  Whatever is necessary for you to move through the experience, do that.  For it is in our face being planted, our ugliness, our hurt, and our pain that we finally learn the lesson that’s going to teach us what we’re truly made of.

 

 


5 Ways To Get You Some Sis!

woman wearing white sleeveless lace shirt

Photo by nappy on Pexels.com

Let’s be honest we all could use a little extra tender loving care-how we decide what care we need and how we get it can vary.  Here are 5 ways to get you some of whatever it is that you need.

  1. Book an appointment!  I grew up watching my mother heal, soothe and love on women during their hair appointments.  She would provide a listening hear and offer the Bible, her taser or shank-to help women push through whatever was ailing their minds.  I witnessed women release their tears while having their hair shampooed or vent as their hair was rollered set.  In the end, they left my mother’s shop empowered, fulfilled and beautiful!  Book an appointment to get your hair or your nails done.  Get a massage or better yet, sign up for a 1-hour therapy session!
  2. Go Where You Are Welcomed!  I have found that when I attend a worship service at a church I’ve never been to, the people are so welcoming.  I am greeted with a warm smile.  I am escorted to my seat and most of the time I am giving some type of welcome kit or informational pack.  Even though I am a stranger to the congregation, the efforts that are extended to make me feel welcomed are just what I  need to carry me through.  Try it and see just how loved you will feel.
  3. Do Nothing!  Some of us literally have our time accounted for down to the very minute from the time our eyes break open until we finally lay our weary bodies down.  That time is often delegated to needs outside of us:  our job, children, significant others, our homes, and businesses.  We are busy and productive, but little of that time is conducive to the refilling of ourselves.  It’s not until we snap, become physically sick or emotionally overwhelmed that we realize that we are doing too much!  This is our cue to do absolutely nothing at all or the bare minimum.  Unplug or log out.  Make the kids fix their own food or order takeout.  Binge watch a new series. Sleep, read-whatever is the opposite of your normal to-do’s.  The world can wait.
  4. Get Creative!  I am pretty sure that if you googled it, you would find research that supports the health benefits of activating creative outlets.  There is something about standing in the kitchen with the music blasting, broom in hand while belting out a Whitney Houston classic that renews my strength.  Whenever I am writing a steamy noir or playing around with my makeup, I feel relieved.  Engaging in creativity activates a part of our brains that is connected to pleasure.  The more we engage, the more we feel pleasure. That increase in pleasure is the release of dopamine which is a neurotransmitter that sends signals to our nerve cells which plays a major part in our happiness triggers.  Whip out your crayons, lip-sync like nobody’s business. Just create!
  5. Give and Receive Affection!  Did you know that kissing and hugging can have tremendous health benefits?  Google it.  If you have a significant other, share a passionate kiss in an unexpected place or at an unexpected time. I have been known to kiss the hubs in aisle 10 of the grocery.  Like, tonguing him down!  We hold hands and flirt until we just can’t stand it.  No significant other?  Hugs from kids, holding a baby or petting animals have render the same calming and centering results.  The exchange of affection has a way of assuring that all in the world is not lost.  That connection within showing and receiving affection reinforces our humility and that in itself brings us back into alignment with love for ourselves and others.

To Whom Much Is Given

 

monochrome photo of woman

Photo by Breston Kenya on Pexels.com

Sometimes I wonder if I really understood what I was asking for when I prayed for God to help me fulfill certain dreams.   Did my asking automatically sign me up for the turmoil that often takes place when trying to fulfill a dream? How could I have not known that I would be plunged into an abyss of dark days?  That some nights I would go to bed in tears and wake up with a puffy and swollen face and have to make like nothing was wrong.  Why didn’t I have the foresight to know that my vision would not only be misunderstood but also seen as arrogant or conceited?  How could a commitment to a better future for myself and the people that I love, be confused with willful neglect?  Better yet, why would God give me the capacity to dream big, see the signs all around me and cause me to think of myself as worthy of living those dreams, only to bring me to my knees? Why?

Nobody tells you that when you are pursuing your dreams that you will experience more fear and adversity than you could possibly imagine.  What they don’t tell you, is that the moment you say yes to yourself and a better life, you also attract every stumbling block and distraction there is to knock you off your feet.   Search anywhere on the internet and you’ll find an endless supply of inspirational memes, videos, threads, tweets and hashtags to convince you to say yes, but not enough exposure to the reality that your yes is signed in blood and will be paid with sweat and tears.  The price for your dreams is hefty, but the return on your investment is matchless!

The emotional, mental, physical and social suffering that comes along with trying to change the trajectory of your life is like trying to force the polar ends of powerful magnets to touch.  I imagine that the force it takes for the planets to align or the moon to block out the sun is likened to the effort one commits to when trying to bring their dreams to fruition.  Why must our masterwork be austere? Why is it that when we say yes to our dreams and cross that proverbial threshold that it also invites suffering?

“But he that knew not, and did commit things worthy of stripes, shall be beaten with few stripes. For unto whomsoever much is given, of him shall be much required: and to whom men have committed much, of him they will ask the more.”-Luke 12:48

All of life and everything therein is a transaction.  You must be willing to sacrifice and endure the suffering that comes along with living your best life.  The focus and intention that you invest in the pursuit of your dreams may cost you people who were near and dear to your heart, but you will gain folks whose life’s work is purposed just for you.  Your dreams may require you to scale down how you live for months at a time, but you will gain the skills and experience to steward a lifestyle that will blow your mind!  You may feel like you are alone and wandering in the dark, but this is when you can receive clarity the most.  You were born with gifts and talents that can provide you a life that you truly love, that’s a given, however, you will be required to endure all that comes with it.  That which has been vested in you from birth is only made perfect through toil.  Remember if it is already in you, then you also already have what it takes.  Do the work and reap the benefits!

 

 


Stay the Course

velvateen quoteI heard Michelle Obama say, “We are all in the process of becoming.”  This resonated deeply with me, as it reminded me of the words of Margery Williams from The Velveteen Rabbit, “You become.  It takes a long time.”  Currently, I am holding down my household, closing out the school year, working as the head bartender in my family’s business and trying to streamline my presence as a business owner.  I have more than enough to occupy my time, but I must admit I felt myself becoming weary in well doing.

I am set to host my business’ first event, MakeUP 101 Live- a hands-on make up tutorial that will also feature women business owners.  I launched my event earlier this month.  Initially, my post got about 9 shares and just 10 likes.  Nevertheless, I remained excited and sent out requests for vendors.  That post did even better and every vendor I sent an application to, responded with enthusiasm.  I have posted about the event via Facebook and Instagram multiple times a week since then.  I am not one to complain, it just isn’t in my nature, but I have had more strangers than family to share my post, and even less to like the post and not a single ticket has been purchased, nor a vendor contract with payment received-until today.  Just yesterday I could feel myself getting discouraged.  Just yesterday,  I began to entertain thoughts of cancelling the event.  Just yesterday, I started to question why I was doing it at all, if not even family was supporting me.  Today, I received my first vendor application with payment and a request for two tickets!  This, for me, is confirmation enough that I am in the process of becoming and that to become takes time and no matter what, I should stay the course!

If you are too in the process of becoming, I’d like to share with you some valuable nuggets that I have picked up along the way.  Feel free to apply them to your situation.

  1.  I was built for this life.  I may not have everything I want, but I have everything I need.
  2. Focus on the people that show up in your life.  People have a right and responsibility to work daily on whatever they need to, to build a great life for themselves.
  3. Never take it personal.
  4. Seek out opportunities to help another person.  The blessing is in the joy and ease from suffering that your help brings.
  5. Always, always have a grateful heart.  Gratitude keeps you grounded and is the anchor for hope!
  6. Do the work!  There is no other way to get where you want to go.  Encourage yourself, trust the vision, trust the process.
  7. Validation comes from within.
  8. Look forward.  Move forward.  Fall forwards.
  9. You do not have to do it the way it has always been done.  Who said so?  Fuck them rules!  Do you!
  10. God is listening!

 


To Thine Own Self Be True

I don’t recall when I first heard these words, but never have words been so evident in my life as these have been.  My self-love journey has taken me down many pathways; I have experienced some peaks and have wandered aimlessly in the valley, yet through it all, the most prevailing truth has been to embrace and practice self-trust every day that I have breath!

photo of black ceramic male profile statue under grey sky during daytime

Photo by Mike Bird on Pexels.com

I recently spoke at a women’s empowerment seminar and I wanted to share some epiphanies that I’ve had as I learn to trust the woman in the mirror more and more.

To the ladies of Delta Sigma Theta Inc.

My name is Traci Sanford and I am alive for the first time in my life! I stand before you as the most whole, complete, fulfilled, loved and honored that I have ever felt in my life.  I have immeasurable and immense love all around me.  I am head over hills, madly in love, crazy in love with an equally powerful man who matches me in word, deed, and swag.  He is a true king to this queen.  I have six beautiful, happy and healthy children- one daughter and five sons-y’all pray for me!  I am also a teacher at an urban middle school in Lexington, but my masterwork, my calling is teaching and mentoring women both young and seasoned how to live a lifestyle of self-love.  I recently launched The CRWND Life LLC, which is the umbrella of my self-love coaching, mentoring and empowerment speaking services.

The woman that I am today is a direct result of embodying self-love as a lifestyle.  To get here though, I had to accept some truths about myself.  I had to accept that where I was in my life then, was a direct result of the fact that I had at some point in time in my life become content with the idea that everything that I had experienced, from girlhood to adulthood, I deserved.  Everything!  From compliments to being choked out my kitchen, I deserved.  This kind of toxic and faulty mindset was rooted in the fact that I put my trust in everyone and everything, but myself.  So I want to share with you three stages of self-trust that I have identified through my experiences.

Stage One-Identity Crisis:  Who am I now and to myself?

When I made the decision to divorce my children’s father,  I suddenly felt like every title that I had-wife and mother-were stripped from me.  I was no longer the ideal two-parent household, happily married wife.  It was all I had come to be and now it was gone.  I was now about to be a divorcee and co-parenting.  I had to first let the devastation that I had a broken marriage run its course.  I had to grieve my former self so that I could make room for a newer version of me to begin to form.

Stage Two-Vision:  Here’s what I am, but here’s who I see.

Throughout my 15 year relationship, I secretly wrote in hundreds of journals.  I had them all over my house; in the bathroom, in kitchen cabinets, in my closet.  I would steal away to write whenever I could.  Within my writing, a pattern started to emerge:  I was always writing as a version of myself that was the complete opposite of who I was in reality.  The woman in my journals was strong and beautiful.  She was one with God and saw herself as a protector, provider and of a sound mind.  She was sexy and fierce, her voice was powerful, clear and concise and she never shook when she spoke her truths.  She was an ass kicker, vixen, CEO, healer, comedian, poet, dancer, wife, girlfriend, mother and friend-all of the things that I only fantasized about, but never really thought I could be.  The more I wrote her story, the more disrupted and unsettled my reality became.  I came to realize that the woman in my journals was already me, I just had to find a way to connect her to who I was.

Stage  Three-Do It Anyway:  Execution of a plan to become who I see.

Stage three is where I am now.  I have fully embraced becoming in all ways the woman from my journals.  She is not a figment of my imagination, she is ME.  She had always existed, I just lacked the ability to trust that I could do the work to manifest her.

Self-trust is knowing and believing that no matter what the outcome of any decision, be it positive or negative, I can handle the outcome.  The moment I embraced that self-trust is what solidifies our decision making and builds our capacity to take risks and move out of our comfort zones was the moment that I became true to who I am as a woman.  Life as I am meant to live it was revealed.  I am alive!  I am healthy and I am happy inside and out.

The moment we become aware of ourselves through the lens of self-trust is the moment that we begin to live the lives that we imagine.  We become who we are destined to be in an instant and the process of manifesting our best selves becomes our reality.  It is then that we start living our best lives.

Choose self-trust today.  Your life awaits you.


I Did It!

I started this blog one year ago.  It was an extension of therapy (self-prescribed) and a space to share my truths.  It is evolving into so much more.  I pray that this work become all that I envision it to be, that women and young girls will be guided to light and encouraged to be who they truly are, that no woman or young girl feel the need to shrink in the presence of others, that all women will discover reasons and ways to celebrate themselves, even if they’re a party of one, that all women feel safe to walk in the purpose and destiny that’s been set before them, that we empower, support, uplift and love one another.

My you reign supreme and live a CRWND Life!


Happy Thursday: To Thrive

Wednesday (1)

Happy Thursday!  How are you reigning supreme in your life today?

I have discovered something about myself that, I am learning to optimize in order to propel me forward in my life and it is this:  I thrive in the midst of chaos.  Whew!  Meriam-Webster defines thrive as:

1: to grow vigorously: FLOURISH
2: to gain in wealth or possessions: PROSPER
3: to progress toward or realize a goal despite or because of circumstances often used with on //thrives on conflict
Wow!  Thriving is about growing, gaining and progressing! So when life is hurling lemonade flavored grenades it is an optimal time for you to cultivate and prune, so that there is space for this new growth.  When we begin to change how we think about our lives during conflict, issues, problems and heavy circumstances to a mindset of preparedness and acceptance we will begin to thrive.
To thrive is to grow, gain and progress towards a higher calling, a clarified purpose, and a renewed and refined sense of self.
Speak to your self during the chaos and be reminded that best and greater is coming!

Happy Tuesday: Trust the Process

Text placeholder (2)

How are you choosing to LIVE, LOVE and THRIVE this Tuesday?  For me, I am focusing on the powerful transitions that are happening in my life.  I see signs of great change all around me.  Recently, I have been unusually susceptible to negative energy.  From bad news in the media, negative posts on social media, crankiness in my family-I seem to be getting hit from all sides.  There isn’t an area in my life that I haven’t experienced a high level of dissatisfaction in the past weeks.  I’ve had days where I had to push through the pain and days where I gave life the finger, but in the midst of it all, I had to keep my eye on the prize.

It’s in our lowest and most pressing moments when we feel defeated, unworthy and displeased with our lives that the greatest change is taking place.  Trust the process.  This isn’t the end, it’s a new beginning!


Back to Light: 3 Tips to Pull Yourself Out of Darkness and Into the Light.

asphalt dark dawn endless

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I must confess that I haven’t been operating as my best self.  This past couple of weeks, the challenges that I have faced have left me faced down in the mud.  I have cried in secret, found myself increasingly obsessing about changing my physical space, I have operated in a daze, lost my cool with my kids more than once, had a full-blown argument with my husband (our 2nd ever), all the while posting to my social media tips about how to reign supreme in your life daily.  Talk about irony.  Normally, I would allow myself to dive into a full-on pity party-dwelling on how terrible I have behaved, how much I haven’t accomplished, feeling like I am a fraud and not cut out to perform the work that I KNOW that I have been commissioned by my God to do.  I have experienced a complete spectrum of joy and pain in such a short time, but why?  Why am I experiencing life in this way, in this space and time?  How did I get here? God, what did I miss?  Questions that need answers.  As I was feeling the devastation of my present disposition, it occurred to me that I am fully in control of how long I remain in this unpleasant slump.  I was reminded that as easily as I relinquished my thoughts, actions, and feelings to the dark, I can most assuredly pull myself out and back into the light!

I offer you 3 tips to do the same:

1. Stop and say thank you.  One of the most powerful actions that we can take to moving ourselves from darkness back to the light, is to stop and be grateful.  I shared this week how I was feeling so overwhelmed with life’s challenges and in the midst of my crying my mind shifted to the fact that God has made me strong.  I literally started repeating, “thank you for making me strong.” The more I recited this simple thanks, the faster my mind and body began to shift from overwhelmed to ‘I’ve made it through this before.’  It was a powerful, yet simple action.  It’s easy to think of all the negative shit that we have going on: lack of funds, tension within the family, that endless to-do list, but deciding to stop and choose gratitude, shifts our minds from the negative back to what we’ve already overcome.  Life’s happenings don’t stop, but we can stop and shift our internal messaging by simply saying thank you.

2. Pray and revisit.  Once I moved from the place of being overwhelmed to a place of gratitude, I instantly felt physically better and I felt a mental relief.  Mind you, I was experiencing all of this alone.  Sometimes, it is not for us to bring in someone else (unless danger is imminent), but it is for us to practice and reengage in the work that brought us into light in the first place.  For me it is prayer.  My prayers are not beautifully scripted and sometimes sound a lot like rambling, but nevertheless, I pray.  There are times that my prayer is a simple thank you and other times it’s God, it’s me!  I have learned that God doesn’t need me to be able to recite scripture or even remind Him of what he’s done when I pray, He just needs the invitation to come in comfort and remind me that He made me strong.  Not only do I pray, but I revisit the very things that helped to guide me to light in the first place.  I revisit old journal entries, I look at photos, listen to songs and reread parts of books that were life altering.  What got me to a place of joy can get me there again.  One thing that I am mindful not to do is to go looking at other people’s joy because this most assuredly breeds comparison.

3.  Take one small step.  In order not to make the work of getting back to joy and to light overwhelming, we have to take small steps.  I do this by engaging in something as small as doing a 30-second plank or making a cup of coffee and sipping it in silence.  I read for a few minutes, go play with make-up or check-in with a friend or loved one.  All of these simple actions put my mind at ease so that I can then focus on the deliberate steps that I need to tackle the issues that put me in a dark place.  The time I take to sip that cup of coffee, allows me to focus on one thing that’s going to turn a dark situation to one of light.

There’s no shame in falling into darkness, the shame is choosing to stay there.  Light awaits us every day and so does darkness.  You have the power to choose where you want to dwell.  May you choose the light over the darkness!

 

 


Three Tips To Sustain Inner Growth

black and white color splash fountain pen hand

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

When I started my self-love journey back in 2012, I had no idea what I was doing.  I operated in secret because I was too ashamed to admit that I needed help and I didn’t yet have a name or a language to articulate what I was feeling.  At the time, every decision I made was rooted in fear.  I would wait until my house was empty or everyone was asleep to journal because I learned very quickly that journaling to some, was a form of secrecy.  I had been accused of keeping secrets after initialing refusing to let my significant other at the time, read my journal.  Even listening to music was suspicious, especially if songs like Jessie J’s Big White Room, played on repeat.  Most days, I drove to work in tears.  My car became the one space that I could be completely vulnerable.  I played songs that rallied my heart’s cry and soothed it all at once.  I drove to stores to try on clothes that I couldn’t afford but often imagined where I could go in such beautiful garments.  I perfected putting on a happy face, even though I was face down in the mud.

It has taken me nearly 7 years to begin operating in wholeness.  Over the years I have made small discreet changes like getting up an hour early to sip coffee in sweet solitude to major changes like packing my 3 babies up and moving in with my father.  Nevertheless, with each trial and error of this journey, I’ve picked up a few tips that have helped me to sustain my inner growth and I like to share 3 that are the simplest to implement and maintain:  get up, dress up and show up.

  1.  Get up.  I once heard author Elizabeth Gilbert say, “God is whatever lifts your face out of the dirt.”  I have learned that with love all things begin and end the moment you take a step forward.  It takes one decision to activate the first step and the first step to trodden the path that leads you to wholeness-but none of it matters unless you get up.  Every day that your eyes crack open, is an opportunity to raise yourself out of the dirt.  Get up.  Even when you’ve cried yourself to sleep and your body is a million times too heavy, get up.  Laying in bed can be a dangerous seduction.  You feel like it’s the safest place to be, but in reality, it only pacifies and breeds more of the fear that holds you captive and keeps you broken.
  2. Dress up.  For many years, I didn’t shop for clothes for myself.  I was made to feel that “looking cute” was an invitation for other men to approach me or a blatant attempt to disrespect my marriage.  So, because I would rather keep the peace than to argue how ridiculously insecure this was, I wore clothes that were out of style, drabby and too big.  Shopping for myself was out of the question and even thrifting was unacceptable.  It wasn’t until I decided to fight against the projection of this insecurity that I saw just how important getting dressed was.  When I put on clothes that fit and are a true reflection of how I see myself, I feel a surge of confidence immediately.  The ritual of getting dressed has become one of the best forms of free therapy.  Yes, therapy.  Dressing up helps to set the tone for the day.  It’s me walking into the arena (thanks, Brene’ Brown), ready to take on whatever challenges I may face.  In my profession, it often communicates to others how I should be approached.  I exude confidence, even if I don’t feel it.  Not only do I dress up externally, but I also dress up mentally and spiritually.  I play music that speaks to me, like Jessie J’s Queen (the acoustic version) or L. Spenser Smith’s My Life.  I recite my favorite scriptures, Jeremiah 29:11, Luke 1:45 and Zechariah 4:10 to set up my mind for a purpose.  These days, I have fallen in love with makeup.  I carve out time in the morning to apply it because, for me, it’s like the cherry on top.  Dress your mind and your body every day.
  3. Show up.  You can’t grow where you won’t go.  Sure, I could shut myself off from people and the outside world but I would never become whole if  I do.  I got through some of my darkest days by showing up for the people who depended on me.  Even though I cried all the way to work, I gave my best to my students.  I checked homework and made my children dinner.  I attended family functions, grocery shopped, groomed the dog, mowed the lawn and fulfilled my wifely duties all while being a complete mess on the inside.  Yet, the more I showed up, the more tolerable I became with my circumstances until I got to the point where I could change them.

I have discovered that growth truly happens when we get up to face our fears, dress up with confidence and show up for our lives.  This is how you turn fear into fuel.  This is how you push forward and power through to becoming a more complete version of yourself.  2019 is all about doing what it takes and this is what it takes.