Today’s Thoughts on Relationships


PA’s thoughts on relationships:

Relationships take work regardless of your level of involvement. Let’s face it, we’re all uniquely made. Along with our uniqueness comes the quirks, idiosyncrasies and isms that define who we are. Maybe you don’t like the way your significant other addresses conflict. Maybe you have a relative who only does things that are selfishly beneficial. Maybe you have a coworker who lacks accountability. It all boils down to how you react to these people and situations. It has been said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting a different result. Perhaps you’re waiting on the wrong person to change.

Relationships have always made me feel slightly uncomfortable. I am extremely guarded, I listen more than I talk and I am constantly observing a person’s actions in order to determine their motives. I have the tendency to end relationships before they even start if I feel that a person isn’t genuine, untrustworthy or simply doesn’t understand discretion. The older that I get, the less time I have to decipher what people want from me or why they want it. This causes me to keep my circle extremely tight in order to minimize the majority of guesswork that coincides with letting strangers in. Even with this, I often ask myself if it’s me that is supposed to be learning how to accept people for who they are? Am I the one that should be acquiring skills of both adaptation and acceptance? Everyone isn’t worth your time, but for those who are, can you put in the work?

LB’s thoughts on relationships:

Relationships make the world go around, and they take up 100 % of my energy on a daily basis.  I’m hard at work on them at any given moment because they are the life source that keeps me going.

Me, Myself, and I relationship

The most important relationship I have is with the one with me because it governs how I deal with myself and how I interact with my environment.   When I say “me”, I am talking about how I deal with myself and how I relate to God while being me simultaneously.  I know that may not make sense, but it does to me.  Even if I think I am dealing with myself in a vacuum, I’m quickly reminded otherwise.  This relationship has been through many ups and downs, and I am constantly working with me to maintain balance.  I strive to live on a regimented schedule and pray for order in my life.  Order helps alleviate 98% of my problems because it allows me to prioritize what I need to be working on and put things into perspective.  This is an incremental process, and it isn’t linear.  I constantly have to feed the spiritual, mental (emotional), and physical facets of myself.  The relationship I have with “me, myself, and I” is the most important one I have because I am my biggest priority and my biggest responsibility.  I cannot help anyone else if I am not taking care of myself.  I can’t keep pouring outwardly without replenishing myself and practicing self-care.

Family relationships  

If I could write a book with never ending pages, it still wouldn’t be enough to speak on the impact my relationships with my family has had on my life.  My family includes people that aren’t blood, but have become family.  I recently went home.  Being with my father felt like walking beside a rushing river as it coursed endlessly through the base of thousands of mountains. My soul felt at peace because we echoed each other’s existence without explanation.  I visited my mother this summer and I was reminded of her insurmountable strength and determination.  My mother is my superhero because she’s the first person I ever knew that could leap over tall buildings in a single bound.  She reminded me of the importance of self-care.  As summer changed to autumn, I celebrated my birthday cocooned in love.

These relationships are vital to me and I cherish them with every fiber of my being.  I have to water, prune, and tend to my relationships with deliberate determination in order to enjoy a fruitful harvest.  The harvest that I collect from my relationships gives me the strength to go out into the world and make a living, while sharing my gifts to make a positive impact on the world around me.


Stumbling Through Life: Wandering in the Desert for 40 Years

PA’s words of wisdom: “God gave us two hands and one mouth for a reason.  It takes less time to show what you’re about than to talk about it”


LB’s Thoughts: 

Ezekiel 34:6: “My flock wandered through all the mountains and on every high hill; My flock was scattered over all the surface of the earth, and there was no one to search or seek for them.”

 I left Ohio in 2005 in search of a solid career and armed with the hope that all the pieces in my life would fall into place because I had worked so hard to get to the point where I was free to live my life on my own terms without the guilt of having to save people or use my back as the last beam to prevent the inevitable collapse of the old guard.  I thought I had life figured out.  I was so full of foolish entitlement and baseless expectations when I left.  Even though I physically left, I brought all of the emotional baggage I had yet to unpack.  I had learned to stuff my baggage in closets, under beds, behind couches, and anywhere else they would fit in order to pursue a career and create the life I wanted.  I had been in school for my entire life, and I never stopped to work on myself.  I figured that as long as I slayed every dragon and push through every concrete wall in my way, I’d make it to my destination.  Everything was a fight and often accompanied by major setbacks.   That’s all I knew, and I literally fought through each stage in life.  Finally, I had graduated and all of the adversity I wrestled with would be a thing of the past I thought.  I was nothing but wrong.  Not only was I slapped out of my fantasy, but I was punched in the gut with the same disappointment and grief I had in Ohio.  What had I done?  Why was God punishing me?  I thought I did everything He told me to do, so why wouldn’t he give me the desires of my heart?  He revealed to me that my desires were idols.  Plain and simple.  I was enraged because I saw the other children dancing around the golden calf, and they weren’t struck down.  I could not understand why it seemed other people were allowed to have the desires of their heart, but mine were elusive.  Every time I believed I had reached the shore of my dreams, I knew deep down in my heart it was only a mirage.  So I kept wandering in the desert.  God always whispered warnings that urged me to keep walking because I hadn’t found my new home yet.  I’ve met wonderful strangers in the desert.  Over a decade has transpired, and I am still revising my plan in order to meet shifting demands and new challenges.  I’m accepting that life is not linear, and just because I thought life would go one way, doesn’t mean life ever agreed to those terms.  My pride and ego are forever being injured, and I do believe it is by design.  Do I have an ego problem?  Am I prideful?  What would I be like if I was granted all of my whims with little to no resistance?  Would I be lazy?  Would I lose sleep over maintaining my integrity?  The most confusing part is  that this whole conversation takes place in my head, and I absolutely agonize over it.

Responding out of emotion has caused some of the worst mistakes I’ve made in my life, which makes me gun shy about making the next life altering moves.  I hate making mistakes, even though they’re unavoidable.  Sometimes this causes me to sit on the fence.  I’ll punish myself well after the situation has gone by, because I’m very hard on myself.  I do pray for clarity, but sometimes I worry I either don’t hear God, or He hasn’t gotten around to responding.   Since nobody can rush God, where does that leave me?  There is the presence of wisdom and discernment, but the fear of making the wrong move sometimes causes me to sit on the fence too long.  I still have problems with letting go of the mistakes I’ve made throughout life, and sometimes my desire to be understood overrides all rationality.  I have a deep need to express myself because for a large portion of my life, my voice was stifled.  I insist on marching to the beat of my own drum, and I don’t believe I was created to follow someone else’s definition of what it means to be a black woman.  This fight is in direct conflict with what the world tells me I am, was, or will be.  I wonder what life would be like if I didn’t fight so hard to see my dreams materialize?  What if I just rolled with the punches and assimilated into life?  What if there was no voice inside of me that urged me to fight back even though I hate conflict?  Am I hiding behind past hurts in order to prevent myself from moving forward?  I know I deliberately do and say things to put myself in direct conflict with the world around me to ward off situations I am not interested in handling.

I’ve paid a large price for trusting strangers, and I’ve paid larger ones for sharing with those I’ve known my entire life.  The greatest transformation has occurred in my life when I dared to trust a stranger.  The reason I made it to college was because of a stranger.  The reason I survived in college was because of a stranger.  The reason I am no longer in Ohio is because of a stranger, and the reason I have a career is because of a stranger.  Oddly enough, the reason I am writing this blog is because of a stranger.  When I’ve risked being vulnerable with a stranger, my life has literally shifted, and pushed me to grow.  Strangers have been absolutely life altering, and I do believe there is a reason for this.   I’ve recently accepted that home is no longer where it used to be and sometimes God’s sends messengers into the desert where I’ve been wandering.  I’ve spotted a place to pitch a tent, and I think it is on high ground and has plenty of shade. I’ve found a home after 40 years of wandering in the desert.  God has shown me people that I can take refuge with that won’t abuse the fact that I was vulnerable and showed my true self.  After years of wandering in the desert, I think I finally identified an oasis that has fresh water and shade from the brutal sun.  I visit this oasis frequently, and continue to unpack my baggage.  If I remove my “Comedy/Tragedy” mask to get a better view of what’s on the other side, and I am met with rebuke, I quietly place it back on and return to my oasis where I’m free to be my true self, and nothing less is accepted.  I don’t have all the answers, and I’ve made so many mistakes, that I cannot count them anymore.  What I did say yes to this year was listening to the feedback I received from others.  I trust that I can bear the criticism (for the most part), and my discernment will let me know what to process and what to disregard.  This is a process, and I am learning everyday to open my ears and eyes back up to God’s message.  Even if it hurts, there may be something in the feedback that will allow me to grow.  No matter how much the feedback has hurt, I’ve welcomed it in an effort to grow and move forward in my life.  This is a painful journey, and I embrace the fact that I am allowed to feel and cry.  Growth doesn’t feel good.  There are no cliff notes in life, and frankly I’m not interested in lying to myself in order to front like I have it all figured out.  I’m literally doing the best I can each day.  Everyday I’m blessed to wake up means I get one more day to improve and learn from yesterday.

Reflecting on the Summer of 2016

PA’s personal thoughts on Summer 2016:

It used to be that violence held a 30 second segment on the evening news. Today, we are plagued with instances of violence everywhere we turn. Social media has made it possible for random and not so random acts to be streamed worldwide for anyone to see. We are becoming so desensitized that we allow our youth to see and witness unfathomable things far before their minds are ready. Black men are killing each other at nauseating rates. Children, cops, mothers, fathers and even grandparents are being taken away from their loved ones far before their time. I don’t know when hatred, negativity, violence and disregard for the human race became so acceptable, but this cannot continue to be the societal norm. Something has to change. People have to change.

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LB’s personal thoughts on Summer 2016:

Alton Sterling and Philando Castile..their execution by the police sent shock waves through my system, and left a dull sickening pain in the pit of my stomach. I watched as Philando took his last breath with a gun pointed at his face and his girlfriend recorded it to stream on Facebook. His eyes rolled into the back of his head and his shirt stained with dark red blood. His girlfriend calmly pleaded with the police officer as her four-year- old daughter sat in the backseat. The girlfriend talked in a calm tone towards the police, asking him for help as Philando slipped away.  She kept her hands on the steering wheel as instructed, and continually referred to the officer holding the gun as “Sir”. Isn’t it something to behold how well trained some black people are towards white people? Even in the face of death, she gave deference. Philando and his girl were pulled over for having a broken taillight. The taillight wasn’t actually broken and Philando had been stopped while driving black about 52 times.

Alton Sterling was selling cigarettes in front of a corner store and the police threw him to the ground, placed their knees on him and shot him in the chest after saying he was reaching for a gun. Alton’s hands were pinned down. He couldn’t reach his pockets. Philando had a license to carry, and told the police, but they killed him anyway.

Charles Kinsey, a behavior therapist was shot while lying on the ground with his hands in the air next to an autistic man. The police claimed they were aiming for the autistic man with the toy in his hand. I went to work and kept a blank look on my face.

I spoke to no one about the events because I was at work. You must keep your mask on at work. The Dallas police shooting happened and I heard a white man at work talk about it over the phone, but nobody speaks of the carnage in our communities. It also made me angry at how silent we are when a whole cookout is shot up, or children are murdered while they are sleeping in our neighborhoods. When will we figure out that we must value and honor each other in order to make a difference in the world? As much as I hear the angst and anger over these injustices, I also seek to put my community on the stand and charge us with not being our brother’s keeper in the first place. I can’t march on Sunday against police brutality, but remain quiet about the the drive-by shootings or the domestic violence in our communities. When is it okay to snitch? We pick and choose when to be outraged, and that’s the problem. Nothing will change if we don’t examine and address our own trauma. Yes, it is connected, and frankly I don’t care who disagrees. Shame on us for not addressing the massacres we inflict on one another, while demanding justice at the same time. I have to be even with my assessment on the threats we have from the law, and the real threats we are to each other. Fighting an internal and external war won’t work. It will keep us spinning around with no aim or direction. What can you do to stop the cycle of violence? How can you change as an individual? If we understand we are stronger together than apart, we can move forward like an army ready to battle on a united front against a common cause. This is systematic and we must be strategic in how we move. Until we do, enemies will continue to infiltrate and keep us off balanced like the Tower of Babylon.

Mental Health Doesn’t Mean Crazy

                                                                   LB’s Thoughts

Life has knocked me down repeatedly and I’ve always managed to get back up somehow. I can recall the first time I felt helpless. As a small child, I remember feeling like the ground had opened beneath my feet and I began to fall with no end in sight. I lost all sense of security and safety when my family had to leave my childhood home in a rush. All of my toys, clothes, pictures, and keepsakes were thrown into boxes and bags. This chaotic episode became the norm, and I didn’t find solid ground until years later. This was one of the earliest events in my life that severely impacted my mental health.

In order to create temporary security, I developed defense mechanisms at a young age to protect myself from experiencing that “falling” feeling. It was my own way of activating fight or flight tactics. I now know that it is okay to seek help to develop healthy tools to manage my mental health. I’ve outgrown my defense mechanisms because I’ve found healthy alternatives. Admitedly, I sometimes revert back to them, but I’m a work in progress. In the same way I can’t exercise once and expect a lifetime of good health, I have to stay on top of my mental health daily. I only keep honest people around me that love me for who I am, no exceptions. I walk daily, try to eat right, and continually push myself to grow. I’m excited to work on myself. I can’t be any good to others if I’m no good to myself. A wise woman told me to “Getcha mind right”. I’m taking her advice, and I no longer feel bad for taking care of myself first and foremost.

What is mental health? The Department of Health and Human Service stated mental health ” includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being.” ( para 1.,n.d.).


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). What is mental health? Retrieved from

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                                                                      PA’s Thoughts

It was Friday, May 9, 2008. My desk phone rang, and a familiar voice greeted me on the other end, “They found George in his apartment, he’s dead”. I felt overwhelming fear, confusion, concern, and anger. Then I experienced a brief moment of clarity. “He killed himself, I’m sure of it”, I said in a voice barely above a whisper. He had always tried to mask his mental illness. Always the life of the party, he was the person everyone loved to see. He secretly lived a life of turmoil, was verbally and emotionally abusive, and buried debilitating childhood secrets that only he and God knew.                             

8 years later, I have much more understanding for an act that seemed unfathomable only a short time ago. With mounting daily stresses, increasing financial responsibilities and what seems like a decreasing number of hours in the day, life seems to be constantly overwhelming. These days, I find myself questioning my own mental health more and more and am adamant about taking time away to regain clarity and focus. Within the past few years, I have solicited the expertise of a mental health professional in order to help me prioritize and to put life back into perspective. I wish that George would have sought help rather than the alternative, but the reality is that no one is exempt from these thoughts or feelings. 1 in 5 adults in America experience a mental illness ( With the multifaceted lives that many live, remaining in good mental health is essential for continued progression. My mental health is paramount, and I am committed to maintaining it at all costs.


National Alliance on Mental Illness. (2010, June 28). Billy graham’s 35,000 souls: One in five will experience mental illness. Retrieved from,000-Souls-One-in-Five-Will-Expe 

Today’s Thoughts on Body Image

PA’s reflects on body image…My 4-year-old recently looked at his little chocolate hand and said, “I want to be white.” Flabbergasted, I replied, “What do you mean?  Has someone commented about your skin?”  He explained that as a ‘project’ his teacher had all of his classmates place their hands in a circle so that they could learn to appreciate their differences. My immediate thought was, ‘What the hell?’  It’s February and this is the best you could do for a Black History Month project? Especially since there are only four black children in the entire school and 50% of them are mine? This is where it begins. It is in these moments that children are made to feel ashamed of their God-given physical characteristics and the effects could potentially last a lifetime. I spent the remainder of the evening explaining differences amongst people and because God made us all, you should always treat people with respect and kindness.

I thought back to when I was in second grade; my family had moved from a predominantly Black neighborhood to one that was the complete opposite. I was now one of the only brown faces in my school, and I felt like an anomaly. I recall trying to sit with my legs elevated off of my chair so that my thighs wouldn’t spread. After all, the white  girls had slender thighs that looked the same whether they were sitting or standing. I expressed my concerns to my mother, who quickly explained that God doesn’t make any mistakes and that I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Her reasoning sounded like Charlie Brown cartoon to me, “Womp womp womp womp”. I just wanted to fit in, and to not feel like an outsider. As I grew older and my perception of beauty began to change, I learned to appreciate my curves, my color and my differences. I now want the same for my children. I want them to be confident, self-assured and comfortable in their own skin. I want them to know that they can accomplish anything. I want them to know that they are great and that the color of their skin is not a hindrance, but an asset. This conversation made me wonder about body image. Are decisions about how we treat one another honestly made based solely upon skin color? How much of a role does social media play in determining ‘what’s poppin’? According to the Office on Women’s Health, parents should “Restrict television viewing, and watch television with your child and discuss the media images you see (para 4, 2009). Also, “keep the communication lines with your child open” (Office on Women’s Health, para. 4, 2009). Implementing these small changes can make a world of difference and have the potential to impact a lifetime. Is there still an inferiority complex that exists amongst minorities? The thought of what our society places an emphasis on is exhausting, disgusting, and overwhelming. We have to teach our children to accept themselves exactly the way that God made them. Otherwise, our youth don’t stand a chance.

LB’s offers her thoughts… I danced around the Thanksgiving table like a devilish imp with loved ones in reckless abandon and jubilee. It’s finally Thanksgiving and I get to let loose and celebrate the wonderful year we’ve journeyed through. There is usually a basketball game blaring in the background, and a toast is made to each three point shot. Let’s not forget the plethora of spirits and the sweet taste of pigs in a blanket (topped with spicy mustard). I love sports, but when coupled with this time of year, it’s a true love affair. I LOVE this time of year because I get to slow down and enjoy a delicious meal with loved ones. For a moment on the calendar, I can finally breathe and relax. We are all giving thanks for the blessings we have received throughout the year, and cares are discarded, even if only for a few days……breathe, smell, taste, touch, laugh, love, enjoy, repeat….We pregame all day until it’s time to dine on succulent turkey, sage infused dressing, roasted potatoes, buttery rolls, and heavenly scented gravy. A few glasses of red wine accentuate the flavors, creating an intoxicating aroma that lulls me into a trance. Or am I really drunk? Okay, yes, more than likely. Should I go back seconds? Thirds? What does it matter? Who’s counting?—My damn scale that’s who. And I will have to account for all of those calories on my day of reckoning. At the first sign of warm weather, spring will rear its beautiful head, and I won’t be able to hide! I knew I had enjoyed falls’ bounty and winters’ good graces by wearing heavy sweaters, long sleeves, and bulky coats that hide the true damage I may have inflicted upon myself. I seriously wondered if I had gone too far. Now I had to start the torturous ritual of trying on spring clothes to see what no LONGER, fits. See there? I’m already setting myself up for disappointment, and this is a key factor in negative self-talk as it relates to my own body image.  Why do I constantly whip and punish myself for my weight? Why can’t I just enjoy the changing of the season? I am not alone, and this reaction is normal according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “Many women in the United States feel pressured to measure up to a certain social and cultural ideal of beauty, which can lead to poor body image.” (Office on Women’s Health, 2009, para. 1).

With vacation season quickly approaching, I decided to make my physical and mental health a priority. I accept where I am physically, and am working to become healthy in every aspect of my life. I refuse to waste time complaining about stretch marks while standing on Cape Cod or Myrtle Beach. How can I appreciate the beauty and blessings of life, while thinking negatively about myself? I plan to only worry about what sunscreen I bought and to let elephant ears with powdered sugar be food for my soul!


Office on Women’s Health. (2009). About body image. Retrieved from

Office on Women’s Health. (2009). Body image and your kids. Retrieved from