“You are the source of my life. You are the source of my strength. I lift my hands in total praise to You.” – Richard Smallwood

America. We stink.

I thought of several short essays I could write for this post of affirmation, but this is what resonates right now.

I could’ve written an eloquent letter to my black men letting them know just how much I loved them; how I admire them for their poise and persistence during this tumultuous time.

I could’ve written a letter to people with fairer skin about the plight of the people and why it’s time that the message of Black Lives matters started to resonate.

I could’ve written a message full of anger and and hate. But that’s not my style.

It hasn’t been for quite some time.

THE PROVERBIAL CHIP ON EVERYONE’S SHOULDER

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a post about getting past the “b” word. I allowed people to assume what the “b” word was. In reality, the “b” was for bitter.

I’m not sure if bitter ever has a place? In food, it’s hardly ever regarded as a positive note. In life, it’s what we like to call people who seem to have this everlasting chip on their shoulder.

And that’s what we’re seeing today. A lot of bitterness living out loud.

People are bitter – standing with the presumptuous chip on their shoulder. But the reason for the chip is different.

Blacks have a chip on their shoulder because from the day the majority of us were brought to this country, we’ve had to fight. We’ve had to fight to live. Fight to eat. Fight to get married. Fight to rest. And for centuries, we’ve been fighting for equal rights.

Generation after generation, we’ve run, hidden, fought physically, picketed, marched, and staged sit-ins. In the midst of all this, generation after generation, we’ve continually been told we’re not good enough. We’re ugly. We’re only good enough for sports. We’re not smart. We’re stupid. We are not the elite. And when we finally do something for ourselves, we’re told we’re racist and separatists.

No homie. We’re just trying to survive.

This is survival, yo.

And then there are people who don’t look like us who have a bitter chip on their shoulder for multiple reasons: Some think we’re taking their jobs. Some think we’re not good enough for the sons or daughters. Some think we shouldn’t have the same rights. They think we’re inferior.

Then there are those who think we should “be over” the “slavery thing.” Some think we haven’t worked hard enough; they think we’re riding on a free pass. They think our men are dangerous or drug dealers.

Then there are some who feel they are (and may be being) blamed for the plight and hurt of people of color. So they rebel. Or maybe they harbor feelings of hurt because they can’t understand why they have to bear the burden of things that happened long before they were even born.

Ultimately, this bitterness stems from hurt, fear, pride, and rejection — sometimes all combined.

IT AIN’T JUST YOU

I know because I have experienced this bitterness. It’s a bitterness that I have to keep in check — appropriate it for the right moments, places and times.

Yes, I get ticked off when I go to work and don’t know whether the person walking the halls are friend or foe. Yes, I question whether or not a “friend” is no longer speaking to me because of my outspoken nature surrounding the Black Lives Matter campaign. Yes, I get ticked off when I think that I may not be getting a promotion or treated fairly because of my race.

But then I’m reminded of my friends who’ve brought their kids around me. Laughed with me. Joked around with me. Watched me cry. Those FRIENDS are white.

I’m reminded of the promotion and support given by my white boss. I’m reminded of the encouraging words white people have said to me as they’ve watched very vulnerable steps I’ve taken in this journey. I’m reminded of the white people – adults and teens – who joined the picket line with me…and those who stopped to simply say “we agree.”

If all people who didn’t look like us were our enemies, I wouldn’t have stories like this.

In the midst of all of this, we must stop. Pause. Remember racism is an individual thing.

Just like we don’t like stereotypes to be applied to us, we must implement the same thinking and behavior.

Finally, I’ve learned we must be willing to be vulnerable enough to share our stories and compassionate enough to hear the other side. We must be willing to speak as well as to listen, even to those who don’t share the same view points.

C IS FOR CONVERSION

If we don’t have any other example, we can think about our conversion to Christ.

There was a time when we were on the other side of the Jesus fence. We couldn’t stand Christians. We just didn’t get them. And thought, why would we give up our “freedom.”

Those on the other side of the fence knew there was so much more to gain on the other side, but we had to be willing to cross to the other side.

America. We have to be willing to cross to the other side. There’s so much to gain on the other side of hate, anger, separation and inequaltiy.

To my fellow black Americans, be righteously angry, but sin not.

To my fellow white brothers and sisters, know that all we want is equality. Not perceived equality, but one where we don’t have to worry about who is calling us the “N” word behind our back. One where we don’t have to hide who we are when we go to work…or to a restaurant…or to a club…or to the mall. One where we don’t have to worry about being “the good black.” Where you’re no longer referred to as “one we can trust.”

We should get to a point where we’re simply referred to as people. PEOPLE.

Is it going to take time to get there? Absolutely.

Will we ever get there? Probably not.

But we can get closer.

We’re closer than ever before so let’s keep moving.

HOW TO GET THERE

It all starts with you. It’s a matter of your heart. His heart. Her heart.

The bible says that what a man thinketh, so is he. It also says to be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

We have a lot of things to unlearn, America. Ignoring it like a moldy leftover pot that’s been left in the sink for too long isn’t going to help. The only way we’re going to get the smell to go away is by putting in the work.

Examine your biases. Check yourself. Identify how you can make a difference. Then do the work.

If it’s by picketing, do it. If it’s by breaking down the barriers and having the tough discussions with people who look like you and those who don’t look like you, do it. If it’s by simply affirming within yourself that you won’t let another day go by living in hate, do it. Do whatever it takes to bring unity AND equality.

It’s time to start cleaning up this stinkin’ thinking and move on because #weareone.

AFFIRMATION

I will not go another day with hate and unforgiveness in my heart. It starts and ends with me. I will be the difference.

PRAYER

Lord, help me to not allow my heart to be a residence for hate. Lord, replace hate, bitterness, and anger with your joy and peace. Help me to live the life that you’ve taught me to live; one where I love my neighbors as I love myself. Lord, the world is ugly; America is ugly, but there is not one hurt that you cannot heal. Help us heal. Help us to not only cover up the bruises. Let us feel the hurt. But then let us move on. Let us do the hard work. Help us to cry in front of one another. To argue, but utltimately to not let the sun go down on our wrath. Bring unity. Bring joy. Bring genuine laughter and peace.

Lord, we will lift our eyes to you. Amen.

See you next Wednesday.

Gina

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WHERE ELSE TO FIND ME

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I want to move, but I don’t want to leave my family.

I feel like I’m living a mediocre life, but I don’t know what else to do.

I want to dream, but I’m kinda scared of dreaming. Every time I do that, I fail.

Ironically, this has seemed to be the story of this overachiever’s life as of late.

Afraid…always freaking afraid.

Afraid to take steps ahead. Not exactly sure where I want to go. (Well, I have an idea now, but that’s only of very recently.)

I’ve always had dreams of being larger than life, or at least larger than what I can currently see. I still have that dream. It hasn’t really gone anywhere. I want my name in the limelight. I want to be the best at something. I just want…something; something greater than what I have right now and something greater than anyone around me has ever done.

Well, that’s kinda hard since my cousin is the great Floyd Mayweather, Jr., but though our families are close, I’m not that close to that side of my family beyond my first cousins, aunts and uncles. So, in my world, his fame doesn’t dictate my decisions. But, as usual, I digressed.

Let’s get back on track. Journey with me as I try to unfold this state of – well lack of – progression. Frankly, most of the journey has been documented here.

1) Work disappointment. Two years ago, I was very abruptly laid off from my job during the middle of great forward movement.

2) I was in the middle of an emotionally abusive relationship at the same time.

3) I feel like I failed miserably at RRP Marketing. Between not feeling like I was “doing it right,” stressing over clients, and fighting for money from clients made me call it quits. I was no longer feeling it. Lots of compliments. Not a lot of income. I felt like a bafoon in front of my friends and a fake to those I was working with to be honest.

4) I felt very discouraged at my current employer to the point where I asked my boss to go part-time. I was just not fulfilled and felt I had so much more to offer to the world. (I don’t do well when I don’t feel like I’m being challenged…and the paycheck was good.)

5) In the relationship realm, the struggle is real. The stuff I go through with guys has been ridiculous. I’ve had one person disappear and another call me the week after a breakup for sex. If you know me, you’ll know…I can have my moments, but to think you’re going to use me…I’m not about that life. I am too good for that. (Ladies and gents, there are times when it’s okay to remind yourself you are too good for some things.) And for the one who just disappeared, now that just caught me off guard. Talk about being embarrassed.

So the desire to keep pressing has been a bit disconcerting. Frankly, after some of the things I went through, I just needed a break. And the break was good.

But now I think it’s time to get back on the bike and start riding. Start dreaming and pressing toward those goals. That’s what makes my world goes ’round. It’s what makes me excited. Being an overachiever is what makes me tick.

Being laid back was cool for a while, but it’s time for Gina P. to come back and take this world by storm. (That’s the sassy, don’t give two craps in the most positive way you can think, hilariously fun-loving, Gina). And I’m gonna do it.

I’m about to have fun on this journey again.

Watch out friends. Goal-setting, anyone?

Stay true,

Gina
Mission: Bring hope to the hopeless.
Vision: Eliminate “I can’t”

Work

  • Travel. 2 business trips, which means 2 hotels, 8 times in airports, subway trips, and cab rides. The good: I’m becoming a pro at this travel thing, and I felt pretty accomplished being able to take the subway…and actually understand it on my own.
  • I’m a Mac girl. The slow PC did it to me. Since my job believes in BYOD (bring your own device), I’ve opted to use my Mac for work. Much faster and it weighs less. (Being a mobile worker, meaning my bag plays the role of my desk at times, this lighter weight is much more helpful.)
  • Google Drive. If I had a man, Google drive would be my mister. I spend a ridiculous amount of time on Google Drive, and being an MS Office power users, I was a little hesitant. It hasn’t been bad so far. Guess you can teach a girl new tricks.
  • Calendars, meetings and planning. Oh my. I’d like to give the Emmy to Google Spreadsheets for helping with project management
  • Yearly performance review. Grade: A. Okay. We really don’t get grades, but if there were a grade, I would receive an A. Almost two years in, and I’m still seen as an asset. I can’t say reviews have always been this way. Nice to be appreciated, seen as intelligent, and your work seen as beneficial.
  • WORKING HARD. PLAYING LESS. I’m definitely earning my pay.

Read. Watch. Listen.

  • My Selfish Existence. 1st because she’s my friend. 2nd because I like to stalk her life. 3rd because I adore her writing style.
  • This post on Life Doesn’t Knock. Anyone who suffers from depression can relate. The amount of transparency is astounding. Simply knowing that someone else “gets it” is comforting.
  • Come ye sinners, poor and needy. In this blog, where the tagline is “savoring the beauty of everyday,” the author looks forward to Easter as she writes about apathy toward everyday things. Not only was I drawn to the mood of the post, the comments were also attractive and relatable. Emotionally tired is an understatement some days. Apathy, or even hopelessness, can set in. The author’s way of “keeping it real” helped me once again I’m not on this journey alone.
  • Stand-up comedy. Anjelah Johnson got on my good side with 2 of her stand up shows on Netflix. I LOL’d in my house, and I found myself laughing for days to come.
  • Vines. I love to laugh and funny Vine compilations hit the spot. Who cares I was home alone when watching. It was fun-ty.
  • YouTube. These people > her, her, this family, him, and her < have been getting my YouTube attention. While I’m still into the beauty vloggers, watching the same stuff by the same people over and over again gets to be a bit too much for me. Whether it’s through humor, substance, or transparency, I find these YouTubers often adding some sort of value – though shallow it may be at times –  to my life.
  • Pandora. Stations I’ve been tuning into are Byron Cage, Tye Tribett, Michael Jackson, India Arie, Deborah Cox, and Hip Hop Road Trip. I like to feed my spirit with gospel music in the morning. In the afternoon, I use a little NeoSoul, R&B, Pop, and Hip Hop for support and  motivation.

Spiritual

  • Lumina Bible study tool. Wanna dig deeper into the Bible? I definitely recommend this app.
  • Mad at God. I was really struggling with being single; to the point I’d become bitter.  I saw this plan on the YouVersion and decided to dive in. 2 days into the plan, and I’d gotten to the root of my problem.

Food

  • Guilty pleasure. Peanut M&Ms. Delicious. I devoured a huge bag all by myself within a week.
  • Chicken chunks. I’ve recently rediscovered these pre-cut chicken breasts with thigh meat.  I sear them and then let them simmer to finish cooking for a quick, yet tasty meat solution. My Weight Watchers grade for this option: A.
  • Sweet potato fries. Though I suffered an injury, I successfully made them at home for the first time. They went well with said chicken chunks and work well with the Weight Watchers point system.
  • Lettuce wrap tacos. They were surprisingly delicious. Beef and salsa on top of romaine lettuce. Another winner for the Weight Watchers category.
  • Shrimp. Cooked the same way as I cook the chicken chunks with different seasonings and served with white rice and sugar. (Judge me if you like. My family has southern roots.)
  • Smart Ones Pizza. Pop these babies in the microwave
  • Activia Strawberry Greek Yogurt Light. Great snack. Even better since it’s only 1 Weight Watcher point.

Leisure and the Interwebs

  • Flute. I’ve wanted to pick the flute back up for a while now…so I did. Purchased it from amazon.com
  • I had a nasty breakup with Facebook. If you haven’t seen enough about this, you can read more here and here.
  • Twitter and I became reacquainted on a personal level. And I get why it get’s the approval of so many, yet, so many just don’t get it. It’s hard to “get it” in 140 characters or less. But that’s what makes it beautiful.
  • Pinterest. I’m just like the others. Food, home decor, and fashion. So typical. No apologies. *insert evil laugh*
  • Le blog. I’ve been writing a lot on life lately. I’ve also done a couple of Daily Post challenges. I’ve found blogging to be my happy place. It’s cathartic, gives me an opportunity to exhale, and pass on a bit of what I’ve learned.

Home

  • Office and bathroom makeover underway. Almost complete…but not. Typical me. But if you like the colors peach, light gray, dark gray, and white…you may like one or both of these rooms. One thing I’ve noticed is that I’m in a color rut. By the end of all my current makeovers, almost my entire house – excluding my basement – will be shades of coral, peach, orange, gray, turquoise, and white.
  • Cleaning. Shout out to my friends who made it okay to have someone help around the house. From folding laundry to cleaning the kitchen, bathroom, and spare bedroom, the young lady who helps me is awesome. Maybe I’m a bit lazy, but I’m excited this is one thing I don’t have to carry the burden of alone.

Piston the Pooch

  • Peeing and pooping. INDOORS. It’s generally my fault when she doesn’t go outdoors, but I have pads for her. One by the front door. One by the back. But nooooo. She prefers to go BY THE PADS. My floor and Meijer brand Swiffer wet pads and Meijer disinfectant wipes are now on a first name basis.
  • Less peeing and pooping indoors. I’d like to give a shout out to my Lord and Savior for better weather. I hated taking Piston out in the winter. Now that it’s warmer outside, it’s less of a chore…meaning she’s less apt to do her business inside.
  • Disobedient. When she blatantly ignored me, it was a sign that something had to give. After going to the Dog Whisperer’s website, I learned a thing or two; namely, go back to the basics. To the backyard we went, treats and food in tow. Sit, stay, slow, lay were all things we worked on. Rewards were given. And my friendly spray bottle is the firm hand of the law for when she disobeys or does something I don’t want her to do.