Brown Sugar’s Weekend Noticings

5. That moment when you see those bright blue lights in your rearview mirror, so you slow down, but the police goes past you and gets behind the person in front of you. Ya’ll I let out a war cry that surely stopped the enemy in his tracks. COME ON SOMEBODY!!!! #WhatTheDevilMeantForBad

4.My playlist just randomly played India Arie, Hillsong, then Yo Gotti. In that order. The actual problem with all of that is that I knew the lyrics to all three songs. What does that truly say about me? #NawfMemphis

3. I was walking into the hospital, and walked past this black family. A lady was pushing an older lady, who appeared to be her grandmother. The older woman’s right eye was black and swollen shut. I winced just from looking at it. The girl was pushing the wheelchair with one hand, holding a little girl’s hand with the other, and held her phone on her ear with her shoulder. She was giving somebody on the phone the business. “We need to have a meeting about grandma? What day works for you?” She was real matter-of-fact, and whoever was on the receiving end of that phone didn’t have a lot of options. It made me smile. I guess who somehow believed that the “it takes a village” quote was only for children. We gotta take care of our folks. Don’t be afraid to rally the troops when no one else will. #ProtectTheBlackFamily

2. Sonic has a Philly Cheesesteak. It’s horrible, but has potential. #Foodie

1. I like personalizing greetings with my people. For instance, my sister is my favorite sister, my daughter is my favorite daughter, my son is my favorite son. Yall get it. Before I leave or hang up with my guy, I always ask, “have I told you how much I love you today?” We hit an unexpected health scare that resulted in him having an emergency surgery. After surgery, he was sedated. The doctors didn’t want him to wake up through the night so he could recover. This morning, after the nurses left, I was standing at his side, holding his hand and praying over him. Then, as I caressed his face, I asked, “have I told you how much I love you today?” He gently shook his head. I froze. Then he opened his eyes and motioned his hand as if he were writing. I found him pencil and paper. He wrote, “are you leaving me?” With tears in my eyes, I responded, “no baby I’m going back over here to lay down. I’m not leaving you.” The joy in that was an hour before that, I was lying in the chair watching Joel Osteen, and he was talking about there was no attack the enemy could try that would stop the blessing or purpose on your life. That stirred something in me, and my response was to ask God to show me a sign that he was alright. Then, just like that, God winked at me. #favored

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Pieces of Me!

“Pain is that last quarter of a mile. You feel it, but when you’re through racing, your whole body just feels elated. So the pain is worth it.” -Louis Zamperini

We’re officially into the last quarter (October – December) of the year, and I want to finish this year with just as much optimism and hope as I started it with, if not more! I thought about a few things I’ve started this quarter that I want to finish. If you’re reading this, feel free to ask me about them. Help hold me accountable! If I’m brave enough to share it here, then I’ve practically given you a seat at the table at my life… a lil bit. Accountability and being nosy are not one in the same!

  1. Devote attention to my physical health. I’ve started a 21 day challenge with Herbalife. I’m usually a beast with my workouts during the summer, but allow my physical health to fall by the wayside when I’m back at work. I’ve read that it takes 21 days to make something a habit. I need this lifestyle change to continue throughout the rest of this year.
  2. Stop being afraid to dream big. There are some things I’d like to see happen in my future, and my children’s future. Those dreams are so huge and terrifying, though! If I continue to think I don’t deserve them, then I’ll continue to get what I’ve always gotten. I’m attending a class at my church this Saturday to get the ball rolling on one of these projects. I expect this last quarter to reflect my efforts. Look for updates!
  3. Expose my children to more. Sometimes we can’t see the forest for the trees. We visited UAPB today, and literally everyone who came in contact with my kids were absolutely smitten by them, and to be honest, so was I. They code switched like a mug! They were both so well spoken, and asked questions that made me look twice! My son asked the Dean of the STEM program, “What percentage of your students go on to get doctoral degrees here?” I was like daaaaannnnggggg! My kids learned about doctorate degrees simply by attending college graduations with me a few years ago. Exposure can be so simple, but sometimes we shut off the thought because we associate exposure with expense. During this last quarter I’m going to network to find more opportunities for my children. They’re futures are too important for me to put it off to when I’m on break.
  4. My spiritual health has grown so much these past couple of years. The catalyst for this growth was going through Second Mile and Damascus Road (now LLC) at my church. I’ve learned so much about how valuable my relationship with God is in my life. Last quarter (July – September) brought some events that knocked me to my knees. Several nights I was in tears and angry with God because I didn’t understand why this was happening. On those nights, I’d go for a drive to play my music louder than my thoughts, cry, and call out to God through angry gritted teeth, “God I know what you say about me. I know that you know the plans you have for me. You created me to be your masterpiece. So God I trust you.” That was kinda my 3rd quarter mantra. Somehow, it helped me see it through. I literally said it until I believed it. It be like that sometimes. This last quarter, I have to spend more time in God’s word. It’s time to start back journaling.
  5. Acknowledge that my mental health is just as important. We treat mental health like we do tires for our car. We don’t tend to them until they give us issues. I’m a working single mother, and my job is without a doubt stressful.  Those two alone are enough for me to be proactive about seeing a therapist for real. I can’t afford to wait to talk to someone about my issues when something traumatic happens. A good therapist will help me cope with feelings, problem solve, and change behavior patterns that may inadvertently impact my kids. This last quarter, I’m going to find a dope therapist that will be straight up with me about myself so I can continue to grow. I’m going to remain consistent about attending appointments too. If ya’ll know someone, shoot me some referrals!

This 4th quarter is devoted to loving all of me because as I flourish, everything connected to me will flourish too.

“Starting strong is good. Finishing strong is epic.” Robin Sharma

Love & light,

Brown Sugar♥

Brown Sugar Balances

img_20181010_184523_628“Responsibility is learning how to budget your time and talents. It’s knowing when to work and when to play. It’s knowing that work is good and should be done to the glory of God (I had to receive this cause work don’t always FEEL good). It’s knowing that play is also good, and is to be used for refreshment and renewal, not escapism or idleness. There’s value in accepting challenges, taking risks and doing hard things. Push yourself, and allow others to push you, too. Sometimes, the easy road is the right road, but sometimes it’s just easy. Know the difference.” – Lisa Anderson (Host of the Boundless podcast)

Many of us have more responsibilities than we would like to handle. What leaves us overwhelmed, and at our wits end isn’t always the presence of responsibilities, it’s the absence of play. It’s the inability to separate the truth from our emotions. We struggle with balance in today’s society because there’s this unwritten and unspoken expectation that we have to work harder and be better in order to be the best in our careers. That may be true, but when you’re exhausted and unfocused, you’re no good to anyone, including yourself.

Generally when I’m on break, I catch up and much needed rest, fold the laundry that’s been sitting on my couch for a couple of weeks, hang out with my kids for a bit, eat worse than I already do, and binge watch all the shows I see people talk about on social media (let’s be real). Last week, my man suggested I get a change of scenery, and I decided to go for it. The kids and I packed our bags (I don’t have a clue what’s in their bags, but #YOLO), and we hopped on the road! Within 20 minutes they were both out cold. So, that left me with India Arie’s new track “That Magic” on repeat, an unforgettable sunset, and God.

Yesterday’s “Grateful” post had me in a really good place, and it carried over to that quiet time while driving. It’s that euphoric feeling you get when you see open road lined with hundreds of trees transitioning from a deep summer green to a fall festival of golden yellows, oranges, and reds fade into the crystal blue celestial dome just above the earth. I felt grateful. I was surrounded by God’s most beautiful artwork, and had his two best masterpieces riding (and snoring loudly) in tow. I felt so connected to Him in that moment.

Even though this break was a time to play, I decided that my play time needed to be intentional. “…used for refreshment and renewal, not escapism or idleness.” That part. The kids and I visited Little Rock Central High School and had a deep conversation around how we’re still experiencing similar situations now, and how they would have responded if it were them. To hear my babies say, “I would be scared to do it, but I would still go just to show them I could.” Made me want to hold my fist up and yell, “Do it for the culture!”

We plan to visit the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and Philander Smith while we’re here because they have to know who the trailblazers are as they blaze their own paths. Sometimes, I get so hype about who they’ll become, and what they’ll do in life…. They push me in all I do.  Loving and being in love is pushing me in a way I didn’t know was possible too. That man is unbelievable to me yall… His blog is coming too! *insert slight blush and quiet giggle*

Balance is something that I have to create, and what I create should be done to and for the glory of God (just had that epiphany while typing… Good stuff). This doesn’t mean my attempts for balance will be perfect, but it does shine a little more light into my purpose as a Christian, educator, mother, girlfriend, sister, daughter, friend…

Colossians 3:23 Whatever may be your task, work at it heartily (from the soul), as [something done] for the lord and not men…

 

-Brown Sugar♥

Brown Sugar is Grateful

“She’s strong, but she’s exhasuted.” -R. H. Sin

It’s easy to acknowledge what’s going wrong, because sometimes it’s so front and center, but I want to show an attitude of gratitude. Today’s blog is devoted to acknowledging 5 things for which I am grateful:

5. Fall Break! I’ve pushed myself to go hard in every avenue of my life, and this break was an opportunity for me to take a break before my body made me take it. Spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental rejuvenation going on over here, fam!

4. My career! I was offered a job before I graduated from college, so after graduation, I worked as the Program Coordinator for Martin Housing Authority. Within 3 months, God opened a door for me to work in my field of study. I worked as a middle school teacher for three years. After that 3rd year, because I wasn’t fully certified, I lost my job. 10 years ago, I started working at my school as a substitute teacher (with a new born baby). It was rough. When kids were on break, I didn’t get paid. My check as a substitute was half of what I made as a teacher, and I carried my entire family on my insurance (you don’t get benefits as a sub). My home took a hit I never could’ve imagined, but God! I’ve literally climbed the ladder and worked every job my boss told me to work. It’s hard, but it’s fair, and I’m grateful for being able to be a servant leader.

3. Sleep! This one is pretty self-explanatory, but not just sleep, but rest. My head and thoughts are clearer. Things that frustrated me earlier this week are still frustrating (God ain’t done with me yet), but I’m in a better head space to know how to deal with it moving forward. Oh, and I’ve been able to catch up on all my shows: The Good Doctor, This Is Us, New Amsterdam, Gray’s Anatomy, Station 19, Dear White People (Series), Married to Medicine. I think that’s all of them…

2. Friends! My tribe has been amazing. They hold me accountable with my health, keep me laughing, pray with me and for me, tell me when I’m wrong, and cheer for me when I’m right. I think I’ve unconsciously taken my friends for granted. I’m sending them tokens of appreciation (they’ll all be written; I ain’t balling like that) tomorrow!

1. My friend Stephanie’s oldest son! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL Ya’ll I NEVER want to forget the story she shared with me today!!!! She needs to start a blog behind that one! I have literally laughed about this since 11 am this morning! It’s classic!

Smile more this week!

-Brown Sugar♥

When You Know Better, Do Better…

Every time I go on a break, I find time to indulge in all of my hobbies. I started this blog over a year ago! Just took a few moments to finish it up. Happy reading!

fb_img_1538444781417 I read all of these different blogs daily, and realized that the best ones are when people divulge their stories. It made me realize how little I’ve shared of Brown Sugar’s Business! Let’s take a trip down this road for a mile or two…

A really special friend of mine asked me today if I’d ever thought I’d truly been in love. The obvious came to mind and then I responded, “I’m not really sure. I’m starting to think it was all fake news!” We laughed, and then he told me, “You know it’s love if it never stops. The intensity of it lessens, but it never stops.” So I sat and thought about it for a minute, and a familiar face barreled into my thoughts. I need to give this face a name… Let’s call him… Calvin.

Calvin was the first man I dated after I left my ex husband. The funny thing about dating after being with one person for so long (17 years :-o) is that it felt like I was cheating. I didn’t know what was ok to share, or what should be kept secret. So I generally chose the latter.

Calvin was so excited about us dating that he wanted it to be known that I was his girl, but I wasn’t comfortable shifting what we had into an official relationship (even though everything about it was straight up relationship-y). Now, I know you’ve seen the meme that talks about people being in your life for a reason, season, or lifetime. Well, Calvin was definitely a season I thought had lifetime potential.

Ironically, I learned more about myself with Calvin than I think I learned about him. I wish I could fully explain how I felt when I was with him. I loved him, but I loved who I was when I was with him even more.

I read a blog the other day, and Dr. Phanor said, “If we married a love like we give God, we’d be divorced.” My marriage was so toxic (another blog for another day, but it’s definitely in the works), and I absolutely lost myself. My self-esteem was practically non-existent, but Calvin loved me out of what I call “my dark ages.” That was his reason for that season. While dating him, I felt beautiful, desired, encouraged, and loved among other things I hadn’t felt in a long time. I literally saw myself through his eyes. For the first time in about 4 years, I was in love! I smiled more. I was more confident. I had become more reflective.

This man was amazing to me, but I knew I had not completely healed from my marriage, so I couldn’t fully commit to a relationship with Calvin. See, my marriage ended long before I made the decision to leave, and I had to take the time to come to terms with what I had done or not done as a wife. Calvin helped me start that journey. He’d ask me the hard questions about marriage, relationships, and what I desired. I started journaling my thoughts after these long conversations with him. One day he asked me in what way had I grown since starting over. I pulled out one of my journals, and saw that at some point the thoughts in my journal shifted from “never getting married again,” to “preparing myself for my future spouse.” His love led me to hope again. That’s what love should do.

Now, I know this is sounding like a real good love story, and as you’re reading, you’re waiting for the wedding bells and honeymoon, but remember, I told you Calvin was my reason for a season. What Calvin and I had was amazing, but it was far from perfect. Calvin was also pushy, impatient, and impulsive. He encouraged my healing process, but his actions soon showed me he thought I was taking too long, and that my healing was only acceptable if it benefited him.

I learned the hard way that I was dating like a wife. I definitely didn’t remember how to date, so if I’m going to be honest, I blew it. Calvin thought he was entitled to way more than he actually was, and when I pushed back because it was too much, we had major issues as a result. I remember what mainly attracted me to him was that he was everything my ex-husband wasn’t. He was attentive, loving, he listened, challenged me, he provided for me and the kids, and spoke my love language. But the trouble with dating before you’ve healed is that you unconsciously date your ex. Here’s the part of the story where the other woman enters, and on my birthday nonetheless. I wanted so badly for Calvin to be different… This time though, I handled the other woman differently. I realized I hadn’t exchanged vows with Calvin. I wasn’t obligated to stick it out. So, I walked. Now don’t get it twisted, I was devastated. Behind closed doors I cried, and was convinced all men were the same. During my prayer time, God spoke to me and said, “not all men are the same, but all of the ones you date will be if you don’t allow me to handle it.” Ouch…

So, I stepped back. I learned to love me. It was time to harvest the seed I planted for myself years ago. Interestingly enough, I’m able to see what I had with Calvin as pruning. Often times, we view failed relationships as an excuse to become bitter and hate the other person. That’s such a waste of energy. You have the power to master the chaos in you, and develop it into something absolutely breathtaking. The pruning I went through with Calvin prepared me to not only love, but to receive love. When we don’t fully love ourselves, we don’t know how to receive love from others. When I stepped aside to let God show me how to love myself, my life became richer. Everything that didn’t align with the love I deserved, didn’t have room in my life after that. I learned better, and now I’m doing better.

“For a seed to achieve its greatest expression, it must come completely undone. The shell cracks, its insides come out and everything changes. To someone who doesn’t understand growth, it would look like complete destruction.” – Cynthia Occelli

Brown Sugar’s Revenge…

We live in such a, “If somebody hits you, you better hit them back,” society. It’s practically human nature that when someone hurts you, you instinctively want to hurt them back. It’s called revenge.

I read a quote once that I’ve never forgotten: “A man who desires revenge should dig two graves.” That quote always give me pause. It’s always the flashing neon light before I make a bad decision. It’s the reason why I had to learn to walk away from certain relationships, friendships, and partnerships. That was probably one of the hardest lessons I had to learn, too: “When you’re being too loyal to the wrong person.” It’s not about them constantly doing the same things, it’s about me allowing it, and how my inability to stop it stunted my growth in various areas of my life.

It was at a wedding on Saturday, July 21, 2012 that I told my then best friend, “I didn’t do anything to you. I still love you, but I’m done with this.” I made the decision to walk away from a 20 year friendship. It was hurtful, but it was necessary.

It was Saturday, August 30, 2014 that I told my ex-husband, “The lease is up next month. I’m looking for places. I think you should start looking for a place too.” I made the decision to walk away from nearly 10 years of marriage, and the father to my kids. It was terrifying, but it was necessary.

“Every pain gives a lesson and every lesson changes a person.” In each of those situations, I had repeatedly been hurt to my core, and had to realize I was the cause of the continuous hurt. I was allowing it.  It blows my mind to think about how much God has shown me and grown me since then.

When we allow something to continue to hurt us, we have suppressed anger that eventually spews out like a shaken soda. When I get angry, I’m quiet. I don’t talk much because I don’t want the wrong thing to come out (I’m trying to cast out those spirits from my parents LOL!). I had to learn that too. The Proverb that tells us there’s life and death in the power of the tongue was a lesson I learned the hard way, but it was learned. I’ve had to learn how to let people know they’ve hurt me rather than seeking revenge, or even worse simply cutting them off. Being vengeful, or not making people accountable for the hurt they’ve caused only hurt me. There are some people I don’t even waste my breath on, but those people generally aren’t able to do anything for real to get me that upset either.

Just because I choose not to seek revenge doesn’t mean I don’t have the thoughts. I’ve chosen on several occasions to remain silent while I watched people lie on me or about me. It’s not an easy choice, but it’s one that has kept me out of jail. #LBVS So I encourage you, whoever took the time to read this, that the next time that person (cause it’s always a THAT person) provokes you like they do so well, stop. When you’re ready to talk, tell them what they did that you didn’t like, then wish them well, and send them on. Your future depends on it!

“Don’t get mad. Don’t get even. Do better. Much better. Rise above. Become so engulfed in your own success that you forget it even happened.”

 

-Brown Sugar♥

 

 

Brown Sugar Refocuses in the Pearl of Africa…

So, I’m straight up typing this blog on the steps of the ADMIN building on the campus of Watoto – Suubi Village. I’m able to overlook the campus, listen to the administrators discuss next school year, hear the children talking, and enjoy this 60-ish degree weather. There’s a bit of an overcast so the day is cooler than it’s been, and this gentle breeze low-key has my nose running, but it’s amazing. Everyone is returning from lunch now, and the teachers are walking up the stairs where I am. They are all so courteous. Several of them remember our names from the Education Summit and were able to call me by name, or told me to send greetings to someone else on our team here. They are so kind and generous here!

I didn’t hear Roy the Rooster this morning, thank God. Before I move on to the next day, I absolutely need to back track a couple of days. I’m a little behind in blogging because we don’t have Wi-Fi, and our days are just so full!!! One of these days, we went to see the Watoto Children’s Choir practice. These children travel all over the world singing songs of worship, and they are awesome for real! When we reached the church campus, it took us a minute before we could find out where to go because we were so intrigued by the goats and baby chickens. It’s hard to take us city folk anywhere. As we descended the two ridiculously steep steps of the van, we could hear the children rehearsing. I can’t even explain how full of life those children sounded and we weren’t even close to the building. Some of us walked towards the building, but most of us danced all the way over there. It was like your body couldn’t not celebrate on the way over there!

When we walked into the room, the children were finishing one song, and we sat there in awe! Because of the maturity of the voices, I was expecting to see a room filled with teenagers. I believe the oldest child in there was Brian, and he was 14 years old. I was tickled at the choir director sitting in front directing those children for their lives honey! YAS!!! She was on it! When they finished rehearsing that song, one of the adults let us know that they were in the middle of rehearsal and would love for us to worship with them. The director signaled for them to line up and the children quickly and quietly filed into a bowling pin formation. Then they passed the smallest girl in the room the microphone. So we’re all sitting their smiling super goofy like Americans do in another country, and as soon as that baby opened her mouth, all of our mouths dropped. The power that billowed from that tiny girl left us astonished! She welcomed us in perfect diction and dialect, and she had a smile that illuminated the entire room! Her presence was huge and she demanded your attention. By the time I snapped out of it and thought to record her, she was wrapping up her part. My bad ya’ll.

So the children began singing and dancing and the room sounded like it was filled with 50 children rather than the 15-20 that were in there. Those children were so anointed. I hope I can upload a few of the videos so you can grasp what we experienced. We danced along with the children and had an amazing time. When they got to this song that talked about here I am God. This is the very best I have to offer… I was so moved. To see the love, joy, and hope in those children’s faces moved me to tears. I’m standing on the front row watching these children genuinely express a love for God and it sparked something in me that shifted my focus here. I needed to clearly see the people in Uganda so I could serve them, but before I could serve them, I needed to identify a root that needed to be snatched out of my heart.

Big question of the day: God what is it I’m allowing to fester in my heart? Show me what it is, and give me the strength and courage to uproot it, and the guidance on what to do next to keep it from growing again.

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