Oh, 2020!

Ask anybody in the entire world and I doubt that they would disagree that 2020 has been a year for the record books. Covid-19 came in and sat down like the unliked and uninvited next door neighbor who smelled our 2020 ambition on the grill and doused our flames with its foolery!

When I see memes that say, “throw the whole 2020 away”! I get it. Parents are stuck at home frustrated trying to teach their kids while also working full time jobs if they are lucky enough to skate by the upward tick and toll of unemployment. Weddings are being postponed. Vacations are being pushed back. Momentous occasions are being reduced to FaceTime or Zoom meetings.

2020 made us (as my Grandma would put it), “Get somewhere and sit down!”

When I was on Facebook earlier this year, I was a loud and proud advocate of the cancel 2020 movement. Friends witnessed me post things like, “Pass me the remote so I can fast-forward to 2021,” and “Just give me Christmas already” –that post was around April.

Interestingly enough, the other day, I paused and got a case of the gratefuls when I realized that 2020 has brought an abundance of good. It has ushered in wisdom, understanding, freedom, self-care and clarity for me.

Yes. 2020, with all it’s drama, disappointment and chaos was just what the doctor ordered for my life.

Here are just a few nuggets of my takeaways from this long and arduous year:

  1. There are just some things that are beyond my control, and when things are beyond my control, I should not let it control me.
  2. I spend a lot of time at work stacking up sick days in hopes that I can retire early. I learned to take my days. Take them for self-care. Take them to play hookey with my kids. Take them to ride the country-side with my guy. Take them. Seize the day. Carpe diem.
  3. Slow down. I don’t always have to be in a rush to do and get done. To check another box on my to-do list. It’s okay to leave unimportant stuff for tomorrow while I still have time to enjoy the rest of my today.
  4. Family time is precious and making memories when given opportunities are important. I can’t let the hustle and bustle of everyday life make me forget that the main thing should always be the main thing. Lock-down took away all of my options of recreation and helped me to recenter my joy and refocus my priorities–all of which happen to be in my house.
  5. My days are numbered. I’ve had loved ones to die this year, and I have watched dear friends lose brothers and fathers in the midst of this pandemic. Life has an end, and I must be prepared. I need to write my will. Make amends. Forgive.
  6. Sometimes, I don’t get a goodbye. Sometimes, the last time I see a person will be the last time I see that person, so I need to make every time I’m with that person count.
  7. To have living parents and grandparents is a fortune in and of itself. Cherish them. Cherish moments with them.
  8. I need to hug my Black sons tighter. As they get older, 2020 has shown me that the world is a cold place for them to be. I will not resolve myself to fear, but there is a reality that’s called America. For all its beauty, it still has its thorns.
  9. Life is too short to stay stuck. Instead of using energy to sulk, I can use that same energy to get unstuck.
  10. Tough times are temporary. Good will find it’s way back to me. Storms settle and rain subsides. Sunshine will make its way back around.

Sure, I could have talked about the lock-down, the quarantine, the masks, the Hunger Games during the pandemic trying to find rice, water, sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and toilet tissue. I could have talked about watching the live video of one too many Black men and women being murdered on my timeline. I could have talked about the poor politics, the rage and unsettling human behavior. I could have talked about any of those things, but instead, I divert back to my #1: There are just some things that are beyond my control, and when things are beyond my control, I should not let it control me.

Even though 2020 may not have been all you planned for it to be at the end of your 2019, it gave us some good. You may have to squint your eyes and tilt your head to the side, but I promise you that every coin has two-sides, and every evil has a match of good.

Now, join me in prayer that 2020 doesn’t have a twin we know nothing about called 2021. Yikes!

I’ll see you all in the new year, with all of the wisdom and insight you’ve gained this year.

I wish you all love, peace, prosperity, and, of course, a better year next year that riddled with all the happiness and hope you can stand!

Love, Lexcee

Shout out to LJRodgers Consulting for the T-Shirt gift!

Night in Armor

My daughter is a little older now, and our conversations have deepened from the once shallow waters we once waded. Just recently, we had a heart to heart, woman to young woman. We talked about life, school and men, and somehow it ventured into all three.

As I tried to guide her, I shared some of my story: the ugly parts, the unsure parts and the parts that I thought I had overcome, but I realized that my traumas are still there lingering like the smoke from a cigarette hours after it’s been put out. There’s no fire and no heat, but there’s a smell that has buried itself into the very fabric of my being.

At one point, I started crying, and my 17 year old morphed into a mute counselor at our old, familiar and formal dining table. She just listened as I verbally journaled the pain of being a woman and rattled off the anxiety of being a mother, who wants to prevent her from traveling a trail of tears similar to my own.

It was something about releasing my story and naming demons that day that made me realize that life has certainly done a number on me. But, the fact that I am still here, clothed in sanity is a nothing short of a modern-day miracle.

As women, life throws us scenarios that make us question our value and doubt our self-worth. It tries to make us shrink and reduce the magnitude of our greatness. These scenarios come in different forms, but most of mine came in the form of men who were mere mirages of knights in armor, but were really night with armor. They were violent, abusive and unfaithful, and cast heavy shadows over both my life and my light. I receded into places of submission when I shouldn’t have, and I chose silence in the midst of their violence.

Now that I’m older and wiser, I recognize control and manipulation in any relationship when I see it. They ring alarms in my soul and give me courage to warn others that if gone unchecked, those two things will lead sisters onto deep, dark paths filled with briars and barbed wire that make it difficult (not impossible) to get back onto the main road where there is purpose, and dignity, and light, and life. It’s a path that has trapped women for far too long.

I didn’t want that for myself, but somehow I stumbled into it. But, what I do know is that I don’t want that for my daughter, nor you. Your happiness, your hope, your self-worth, your mental health and the height of success shouldn’t have to be forfeited for the sake of any man. Any.

I wish you all love, peace, prosperity, and, of course, the wisdom and courage to navigate dark paths. I wish you light, and a way out if you are in it, and if you’re not, I’ll pray warning signs that you steer clear.

And, remember. When you have to choose, choose you.

Love, Lexcee

Cleaning My Closet & My Life

Mess was everywhere! Things were stuffed, tucked and smashed into corners. My closet was swollen, about to burst like the mouths of hungry squirrels storing too many nuts in their cheeks. I was tripping over shoes, and constantly being pummeled under a falling volcano of folded sweatshirts or tumbling shoe boxes. This weekend, I decided that I had had enough. Some things had to go.

Allow me to set the stage for you. I own a four bedroom house, but the closets in this house is better suited for a single, food-deprived, college student who owns a cat. Why a cat? I don’t know. Just roll with it. It seems metaphorically right.

So, this closet has two shelves, which makes for three levels of clothing. That sounds like a lot until I tell you that my husband and I can just barely stand in this closet at the same time, and we better not intend to make any moves that require us to turn around while another one is grabbing something off the shelf. That is an open and accepted invitation to get an unintentional elbow to the eye, chest or knee. So, when I tell you this closet is small, it’s small okay. Giant in a treehouse small.

I decided that the only way that I was going to get anywhere was to pull everything out, take inventory on what was and was not serving me, and make decisions about what I allowed to stay in that space.

Of course there were clothes, but there were also shoes, and coats, and hats, and belts, and ties, and handbags, and store bags, and receipts, and of course, all the snacks I buy that I have to hide from my children if I want any chance of enjoying them. Hey! Don’t judge me. Judge yourself. As a mom, I have very few pleasures, and hidden, Little Debbie Cakes in my closet is one of them.

Anyway, as I was cleaning, I realized that this was not only therapeutic, but it was necessary, as my closet mirrored my life: crowded and stuffed with stuff that I no longer needed or used. I mean, it was once relevant, but the time, place, and space once required was no longer needed, but yet, I held on to it. Most times, it was filed under the “just in case” clause. My lesson that day was to start with my closet, but to finish with my life, and to apply the same strategy. I needed to sit down and evaluate everything that was taking up space in my life and decide, ask three questions: 1.) Do I keep it in my bedroom close? 2.) Do I move it to another space in the house where it’s not as close, but I can go grab it when I need it? 3.) Do I usher it out of the house completely never to be seen again?

So, I evaluated my life using the same strategy I used to clean out my closet.

1.) Pull everything out: Every life experience, every conversation, every incident, every heartache, heartbreak, disappointment, success, triumph, every argument, every failure….all of it. I pulled it all out. I wrote it down. I literally looked at everything that was “crowding my life”.

2.) Take inventory on what was and was not serving me: I had to then decide to continue to hold on to each piece or to let it go. Some of it was hard to do because I’ve had it and carried it for so long. Some of it I have replayed in my head every day since it happened; so, it still felt fresh like an open wound even though it was decades-old pain. This is not to make light of my tragedies. They did hurt; they do hurt, and they come with an everlasting sting, but I realized that some stuff just wasn’t serving me. Instead, it was hindering my relationships with new people because of old people. Some things were keeping me in a place of fear or comfort, afraid to fail again, to look foolish in front of folk. So, I had to decide, “Am I going to use this?” or “Am I going to allow it to keep taking up space in the head, my heart and my life when I would rather have some joy or love there instead?”

3.) Make decisions about what I allowed to stay in my space: Like my closet after clean-out, I honestly feel lighter. I finally have some breathing room. I am not naive enough to believe that life won’t hand me more experiences and people to replace what I have just re-located or thrown out, but that’s when I know that I’ll have to take inventory again.

I don’t know if it’s the end of the year or if it’s the beginning of a new season of my life as I teeter on the brink of turning 40, but whatever it is, I am thankful for the understanding and wisdom this era of life has brought me.

Take inventory.

I wish you all love, peace, prosperity, and, of course, a day to put yourself first and free up some space in your head, your heart and your life if it’s too crowded with stuff that no longer serves you.

Love, Lexcee

Girl, what do “YOU” need?

I fumbled into a body breakdown this week. Exhaustion tackled me like a pro linebacker and laid me flat on my back, and it gave me brief moment to consider the why.

Currently, I am in graduate school, but I’m also working full time as a specialist, and also doing an administrative internship, and also working as a business owner, and also serving as a mom, and wife, and…and…and. Top it all off with some liver complications, and it makes for one tired sister.

This moment of exhausted pause helped me to see that there are a lot of people who rely on me that all have needs, and to them, every last one of those needs are an emergency.

I pondered for a moment and calculated just some of the cost of everyone’s demands.

My job:

  • needs me before work, during work and after work
  • needs me at the last minute to do “right now things” which causes me to move current “right now things” to “later things” that by the nature of the delay, will eventually force them to become “last minute urgent things”
  • needs resources, advice, guides and guidance, and for me to answer 1,000 texts and emails a day

My children:

  • Need breakfast and packed lunches and homemade dinners
  • Need washed clothes and a clean house
  • Need help with homework and schoolwork
  • Need to go here and there
  • And money…things that cost money…lots of things that cost money.

My Grad School:

  • Needs proof that I am actually working on my internship
    • and discussion boards
    • and Zooms
    • and detailed PPTs that analyze data and solves problems.

My husband:

  • Needs help finding keys, and phones, and whatever else he misplaces that somehow always seem to be right where I told him to look but doesn’t magically appear until I walk into the room.
  • Needs a wife that’s at least half-decent to look at
  • Needs food and loving and support with all that he has going on too.

Then there’s always the random calls from others asking, “Can you do this or that?”

I realize that I am giver, and one thing about takers is they will never mind taking as long as I am giving.

My body did me a favor by shutting down. It said, “Nope. No more. I have nothing left to give. I need rest.”

That rest made me stop and ask myself, “Girl, what do YOU need?” So, I took time to write it out.

  • I need help with the laundry and cleaning the house.
  • I need spa days and self-care.
  • I need frequent mini-trips where I don’t have to be mom, or wife, or employee.
  • I need to breathe to let go of what I can’t control.
  • I need to meditate.
  • I need to teach others how to be more self-sufficient.
  • I need a work-life balance.
  • I need to learn to say no without any explanation or guilt.

If you are a giver, like me, I pray that you have time to reflect before you crash. Trust me. It ain’t pleasant.

Therefore, I wish you all love, peace, prosperity, and, of course, a full-length mirror and the courage to stand in front of it and ask yourself, “Girl, What do YOU need?” Now, try giving yourself just that.

The day my body said, “No more!”

The Dirty Word: Therapy

Sometimes the blows in life come at you fast – faster than speeding bullets, subways and St. Bernards. They chase you down, run you over and what do we do? We get back up.

I’ve come to realize that I have survived all the things that could bring a woman low: abusive relationships, death of loved ones, poverty, depression, suicidal thoughts, health challenges, divorce, self-image issues, and obesity. Well, I’m still working on that one. It’s something about that middle age marker. My spare tire decided that it really wants to be committed to me until death parts us. We’re working through it.

Anywho!

I’ve realized that life has really done a number on me, but each time it ran me over, I quickly got right back up and convinced myself that I was okay, saying “Un unh. I’m strong. This will not defeat me.” While that may be true, I let my grief pile up like loads of unfolded laundry, and I let my wounds spill over into my spirit and taint my view of the world and people. I put up walls, and you know what they say about walls, right? Walls keep people out, but they also trap you inside.

So there I was, in 2019, trapped. I sat up against the walls I had built, and I battled chronic depression.

Those who follow me on social media probably noticed that my motivational videos practically became obsolete and my words of encouragement became nothing but vapor.

I knew something was wrong when I cried going to bed, I cried waking up, I cried driving my kids to school, I cried walking into work, and I cried coming home. I was surrounded my people who loved me, and yet, I felt so alone. Helpless & hopeless. Happiness no longer visited me daily, and when I asked was it ever going to come back around, and the answer was a resounding “maybe.”

So, I got help. Not from well-meaning friends. Not from family members with their own skewed views. Not from a quick Google search, and not from the Bible alone.

I sat on the cliche couch that all therapist have, and I gave voice to things that I had silenced. It was the most freeing thing I have ever done, and for the first time, I was able to tell someone, “This happened to me, and I am not okay.”

With each session, weight came off, and with each session, ghosts spoke and then said their goodbyes. I walked out of each session lighter.

Listen. Therapy is the most freeing thing I’ve done. Had I not been brave enough to go get help when I saw that I clearly needed it, who knows if you’d be reading this blog today. But here I am being strong enough to admit, I’m weak, and ironically, that’s the definition of strength.

I’ve watched so many sisters, like me, bear so many crosses and take so many shots from life, all while yelling, “I’m good! I’m fine.”

So, I’ll leave you with this…..

I don’t know what story is behind your, “I’m fine,” but I pray that even if you aren’t, that you will be.

I wish you all love, peace, prosperity, and, of course, a good therapist who will let you voice all the things you’ve silenced.

Love, Lexcee