A Word on Walking Away

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Do you remember the first time you had to walk away from someone – an intimate partner or a family member or a friend – because they did not serve you, care for you or respect you in ways that you needed them to?

Do you remember the first time you had to walk away from a way of being, from a reality that you wanted for yourself but wasn’t what God wanted for you?

Do you remember the first time you chose unhappiness over happiness because you thought that duty and obedience meant being miserable rather than experiencing a life of joy and freedom? The first time you bought the lie that suffering and sacrifice should be a norm for your life?

Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy. – Robert Tew

When was the last time you walked away from that which no longer served you, grew you or made you happy? Continue reading

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Guest Post: A Word on Coming out of the Shadows

One of my hopes for Embracing My Shadow is that it becomes a platform for people to not only share their stories of sadness and despair but also to share stories of survival and hope. It is my deep desire that it becomes  a space where people receive encouragement, support and the knowledge that they are not alone.

In 2016, I will be featuring guest posts, some of them anonymous, so that more voices might be heard and stories might be shared about peoples’ journey of embracing the fullness of who they are. As we all seek purpose and meaning, it becomes so very important that we stop running from and fearing the darkness in our lives. It’s time for us to confront our shadows and to seek help, healing and wholeness and we grow in our love of self.

This is not an easy task; it is one that requires vulnerability and shouldn’t be taken lightly. I remind all that engage this space that I am not a therapist and if you or someone you know is contemplating hurting themselves, please reach out to the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1 (800) 273-8255. Seek help before it’s too late.

Below is a post shared by a fellow Shadow Lover. I applaud their courage in putting their story in writing and I also encourage them to seek support.

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TRIGGER WARNING: ***The following article contains imagery and language that might be a trigger for some. If you struggle with suicidal thoughts, please seek help and know this article might be a trigger.***

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2015 has been a year! A year of friends and fun; of weekend get aways and smiles, selfies and drinks; of working out and healthy eating. At least that’s what my Instagram would lead you to believe…

In reality, 2015 has been filled with challenges, massive depressive swings, loneliness, doubting my self worth, and suicidal thoughts. But no one knows. Continue reading

A Word on Publicly Embracing My Shadow

11053139_899139343499134_6248358955284661034_nSaturday, July 18, 2015 is a day I will never forget. I had the distinct pleasure and honor to be a speaker at the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering. When it was announced that I was speaking, many people sent me messages of encouragement. I realized very quickly that most people thought I was going to talk about racial justice or gender equity, two things I speak loudly and unapologetically about. However, my invitation to speak  at the Gathering was not about current events and the church’s response. My invitation to speak at the Gathering was an invitation to share my story with 30,000 people.

I remember the first time I publicly shared my story. It was the fall of 2012 and it was the first blog I published on this site. Fast forward three years and I was asked to share this story verbally. Leading up to the event, I was quite anxious. But something happened as the hour drew near for me to speak. I felt that all elusive peace that we often talk about in faith circles, the peace that surpasses human understanding. When I stepped on stage I had a moment where I thought, “This is exactly where I’m supposed to be.”

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A Word on My Birthday

TRIGGER WARNING: This post includes information about suicidal ideation. If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide, please get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifelline at 1 (800) 273-8255. You can also call 911 or go to the emergency room where care is mandatory.

I never thought I would make it to 35. I don’t know where this thought came from but I never saw myself as someone who entered the second third of their life. I could see my young adult years clearly but I couldn’t envision being the age I am now. I used to think that I would be married with kids. That all changed after my divorce, which became official three years ago this month. In addition to that, the more I learned to embrace the fullness of who I am, the further away I got from the vision of being a mother. I don’t know that I’m cut out to parent. In many ways, my life has gone in a  direction that I never could have imagined and for that I am grateful. But I never thought I would make it to see myself where I am today. My depression convinced me that my life wasn’t worth living.  Continue reading

A Word on Darkness

It’s lurking. I can feel it hovering at the corners of my mind, of my spirit. It’s moving towards me, but this time I am not being caught unaware. This time, I see it coming. And I can do something about it.

It’s like being in the Berkeley Hills, looking out towards San Francisco as the fog rolls in. You can see it and feel it coming. It takes over. As the sun goes down the darkness and fog become one. I’m not afraid of it, per se. I’m afraid of not being strong enough to not get lost in it.

Fog rolling in

A year ago I stopped taking my medication. I had been on meds for a few years prior and I wasn’t stopping just because I felt better. I wanted to stop to see if I could do life without a dependency on drugs. It might sound silly or presumptuous, but I wanted to see if I had what it took – though I’m not even sure what that means – to live life without a regular dosage of a Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor (SSRI). I am a supporter of medication and recognize that depression is not just a feeling but is a biological reality that has chemical implications. I am clear now that I am not one who can just pray, exercise, eat and sleep my way through dealing with my depression. Continue reading

We Belong To Each Other

By: Maya Mineoi, Nicole Newman (Author of New Black Girl Rules) and Rozella White

This reflection on race, faith and justice was written by the 2015 team leaders of the Multicultural Youth Leadership Event (MYLE), a pre-event of the ELCA Youth Gathering that empowers young people of color and those whose primary language is other than English to claim their story as a part of God’s story, in order to move toward healing and wholeness as transformational leaders in the church and in the world.

Judging others makes us blind, whereas love is illuminating. By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are. – Dietrich Bonhoeffer

As we write this, our hearts are breaking. The events of the last few months, the extreme responses from some and lack of responses from many have left us questioning. For such a time as this, we are uncertain about the role of the church and our own roles as women of color within the church. When some people are left thinking that our social patterns of hate and fear are the only way and others know of more life-giving ways but are paralyzed from realizing them, how do we speak hope to all? How do we speak out against injustice? How do we address the issue of racism? How do we use our prophetic witness of the gospel to not just speak out but live out our commitment to transnational justice in this world? Click here to read more.

 

A Word on Breath

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As I took the train home tonight, I had a hard time catching my breath. Tears fell from my eyes as I thought about all that has happened in the past week. Here’s the thing – at any given time in our world, trauma and death and suffering occur. It’s not lost on me that so many of our global community suffers and we turn a blind eye, ear and heart away from them. But this week…this week, has been too much. It has hit so close to home. It has become home.

I am an anxious person. I took medication for anxiety for a few years and now only take it as needed. Today, for the first time in a while, I felt like I needed my anti-anxiety medication. The symptoms I was experiencing reminded me of my last panic attack. It was the only time I’ve ever felt like I was going to die. My heart raced. The world around me was spinning out of control. My palms were sweaty. My head pounded and my lungs constricted to the point of me wheezing out, “I can’t breathe. I can’t catch my breath.” I thought I was dying. I think this is how Eric Garner felt  in the moments preceding his death.

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